Is this happening again?
The Vancouver Canucks went into game three against the Boston Bruins Monday night with a huge amount of optimism after winning the first two games of the series on home ice. Canuck fans all across Canada had their hopes set on their team stepping up in Beantown and finishing off this series fairly quickly. But, when the final buzzer had sounded, that optimism was nowhere in sight, the Bruins had cracked this series wide open with a 8-1 destruction of the Vancouver Canucks.
The win, for many Bruins fans was overshadowed by the injury to our own Nathan Horton. Horton single handily helped push us through many games in the playoffs, scoring clutch goals, and coming up big when he was called upon. But, the Bruins now know they need to carry on, and try to win as best the can without him, as he will sit out with a concussion for the rest of the playoffs along side also concussed team-mate Marc Savard.
Not only is this hit played over and over again in the minds of many Bruins fans, but the Canucks and their fans also have to ask themselves, “Is this happening again?”
To find out what I mean by this statement, we go back to April 19, 2011. The Vancouver Canucks enter game 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks in hopes of sweeping the series. During game 3, Raffi Torres lays a very questionable hit on Brent Seabrook, injuring the young Blackhawk defensemen. The hit goes unsuspended, but it turns out it had sparked Chicago more than anyone could have thought possible.
The Blackhawks end up coming out of the gate in game-4 guns blazing , with a sort of “Do it for Seabrook” mentality. Chicago goes on to outplay the Canucks from start to finish, and eventually embarrass Vancouver by handing them a 7-2 loss. Chicago would then keep momentum rolling off their big victory, to shutout Vancouver 5-0 in game 5.
In game 6, Seabrook returns to the Blackhawk lineup and plays a great game. The Blackhawks maintain their momentum once again, as they fight a hard battle and eventually walk away with a 4-3 overtime victory, tying the series at 3 games a piece. Though it is never mentioned by the team, the hit by Torres was regarded by all as a massive series changer. Fortunately, for the Canucks, they mustered a win in game 7 overtime to move on to the next round.
Now, in the Stanley Cup final, after being down 2-0 in the series, the Bruins who had been looking down and out, appearing as if they had lost all magic and had given up the battle now have new hope. The hit by Rome on Horton resulted in the Bruins rallying, scoring 6 goals, to trample the Canucks 8-1. Again, it was a “Win it for Horton” situation, and the Bruins answered the call, as the series is now up for grabs.
Now, with Horton out of the lineup for the remainder of the playoffs, Bruins head coach, Claude Julien will have to once again reform his lines. Rookie Tyler Seguin will now more than likely play alongside Michael Ryder. The series, according to Ryder has quickly become a power keg, ready to explode.
“We still have business out there,” Ryder said. “We’re still down 2-1. We have to make sure we in the game. We have to make sure we have the same mindset we had last game and try to play the same way and hopefully take the series back to Van 2-2.”
Swirls of Roberto Luongo easily winning the Conn Smythe as MVP of the playoffs prior to the game have all but been silenced. Whether influenced by the hit by Rome or not, letting in 8-goals in one game takes a massive toll on the Canucks net minder, and can really throw him off his game, just as it did before in the first round after being lit up by the Blackhawks, resulting in Cory Schneider needing to fill in for the Canucks starter. The decision not to take out Luongo is a very questionable move by head coach Alain Vigneault nonetheless.
When asked about the decision to leave Luongo in the net, Vigneault said, “At 5-1, I asked him what he wanted to do. He said, Don’t even think about taking me out, so that’s what I did.”
When everything was said and done, the Canucks still lead the series 2-1, and the Bruins, despite having all the momentum right now still have a lot of work ahead of them. The Bruins have to find a way to keep producing by having guys like David Krejci, Michael Ryder, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand play the best hockey of their lives. As for the Canucks, they just have to keep a level head, continue playing just as they have all season long, and try not to ask themselves “Is this happening again?”