Okay, so there’s only been three. But they’ve all been memorable and entertaining games decided on literally the game’s final play.
Last night’s tilt ended in somewhat similar fashion to the Canucks’ last game one Stanley Cup Final appearance, when another Greg Adams overtime winner earned the Canucks (and mostly Kirk McLean with 52 saves) another clutch performance. This time it was Raffi Torres converting on a quick strike pass (this one from Jannik Hansen and not Cliff Ronning) and another brilliant Roberto Luongo effort (a 36 save shutout performance).
And there was the 1982 version, who trailed the champion Islanders 4-2, but then surged to a 5-4 third period lead before Harold Snepsts completed the worst night of life. Let’s just leave it at that. Though it’s worth noting that an autographed Snepsts jersey fetched more at last night’s silent auction than the price of admission. Yes, we still love our losers.
And before the naysayers start complaining that this series is shaping up as another Nashville snoozefest, they clearly were looking only at the scoresheet.
There were plenty of interesting story lines - the Dan Hamhuis hit (and injury), an Alex Burrows biting allegation, another typically remarkable performance from Tim Thomas and an arguably better performance by the maligned Luongo who still may be three wins away from being considered a true clutch goalie in the minds of most.
But besides these obvious plot lines, what about the Bruins’ decision to put Zdeno Chara up front on a power play that has been and continues to be absolutely brutal. Sooner or later, this inability to score with the extra man will cost them their playoff lives. With Chara in front of the net, his lethal slap shot is completely negated and a good portion of his monstrous frame is above the goalie’s perspective anyway. Clearly, when it comes to screening the goalie, bulk is more important than height. And it’s not like he’s going to be able to bury too many loose pucks with that ten foot barge pole. But we’re giving away too many secrets here…
And what about the Canucks’ third line, whose performance against the grinding Bruins just might be the pivotal performance of this series. Can we please put to bed the notion of a Manny Malhotra return for now? Don’t get us wrong, Manny is a useful player. But can he really be expected to be an impact player? Especially now after over two months of inactivity and with his replacement fitting in perfectly on a third line that has been very difficult to play against, let alone providing some of the signature goals of this now remarkable run.
In the end, despite the power play ineptness of both teams last night, we shouldn’t have been surprised with what we got.
The Canucks came out buzzing with the Bruins’ only reprieve provided by a run of penalties.
By the mid-point of the third period, it looked like the Canucks were running on low and the Bruins were in good shape to capitalize.
But the typically fit Canucks found another gear only to find that Tim Thomas will stop pretty much everything he can see, no matter how perfect the set-up. Indeed, the Canucks will have to get some greasy ones to take this series.
And before we get too far into our parade planning, we might want to consider that while we’ve won every game one of this playoff run, the Bruins have lost all but one.
With Dan Hamhuis out, and possibly Alex Burrows, the battle has just begun. Enjoy the ride.Tags: Alex Burrows, Boston Bruins, Greg Adams, Harold Snepsts, Kirk McLean, Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres, Roberto Luongo, Stanley Cup Finals, Tim Thomas, Vancouver Canucks, Zdeno Chara