Stanley Cup: Canucks could set dubious record


Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Associated Press

BOSTON -- Although the Vancouver Canucks were the NHL's highest-scoring team this season, they just might win the Stanley Cup with the worst offensive performance in finals history.

The Canucks have scored only six goals in five games against Boston goalie Tim Thomas heading into Game 6 on Monday night. According to STATS LLC, Toronto's nine goals in 1945 were the fewest scored by a champion since the finals went to a best-of-seven format in 1939.

The Maple Leafs were shut out twice in that postwar series and never scored more than three goals in a game, but beat Detroit 2-1 in Game 7 of a series featuring three 1-0 games and a pair of 2-0 scores. Toronto and the Red Wings scored nine goals apiece in the series -- nearly half of them in a 5-3 Detroit win in Game 5.

In the modern era of trapping defenses and dominant goalies, Vancouver is an awfully unlikely candidate to beat the 1945 Maple Leafs' mark. Led by the NHL's last two scoring champions, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, the Canucks scored 262 goals in the regular season and added 49 more in the first three playoff rounds before running into Thomas and his .971 save percentage.

"We're still confident," captain Henrik Sedin said Sunday. "You lose confidence when you're cheating or doing things wrong, but this is a tough team. ... We're battling hard. They're a good team. We know we aren't going to get the chances maybe we get usually. That's the way it is. We have to bear down and get chances, and find a way to beat Tim Thomas."
Vancouver's power outage starts with its NHL-best power play, which is 1 for 22 against Boston.

Henrik Sedin, last year's NHL MVP and Art Ross Trophy winner, hasn't scored a point against the Bruins after leading the playoffs with 21 points entering the series. Daniel Sedin has one goal and one assist -- both in an 11-minute span of Game 2 -- after leading the NHL with 104 points in the regular season.

Second-line center Ryan Kesler has just one assist, making an exceptional play in Game 1 to set up Raffi Torres' winner, while struggling with an apparent groin injury after excelling during the first three postseason rounds. Second-line forwards Mason Raymond and Chris Higgins, the Canucks' ever-changing fourth line, and their entire defensive corps are all still looking for their first goals in the finals.

Vancouver's unsung third line has scored half of its goals in the series. Torres and Maxim Lapierre got the game-winners in the Canucks' two 1-0 home victories, and Jannik Hansen also scored.

The Bruins have outscored the Canucks 14-6 in the series -- but Boston scored 12 of its goals in two home blowouts, managing just two goals in three road games.

At least Vancouver won't break the old-time record set by the 1928 New York Rangers, who scored six goals in a best-of-five series while beating the Montreal Maroons for the Cup.
"We're just going to keep working hard, doing the right things, and hopefully we can score a few goals," said Alex Burrows, who scored the overtime winner among his two goals in Game 2. "We're a good team on offense, but this is as tough as it gets."

Kesler sits
Vancouver center Ryan Kesler didn't participate in practice Sunday, but coach Alain Vigneault expects him to play in Game 6.

"He's fine, just gave him a day off, that's all," Vigneault said, departing slightly from his monolithic refusal to discuss player injuries.

Kesler is widely thought to be playing with an injured groin that requires extensive treatment when he isn't on the ice. He appeared to get hurt during the Canucks' clinching Game 5 victory in the Western Conference finals, and the injury might be one reason he has managed just one point in the Stanley Cup finals after scoring 18 in the West playoffs.

"He's a tough player who's going to keep fighting through whatever is in front of him," said Mason Raymond, Kesler's linemate. "We know we can count on him."

Depth forward Jeff Tambellini and injured defenseman Dan Hamhuis also skipped Sunday's workout at TD Garden. Hamhuis hasn't played since Game 1 after getting hurt while throwing a low check, and the Canucks have refused to provide any information about the top defenseman's injury.
Back in Boston
Henrik and Daniel Sedin could reach hockey's pinnacle in the same building where they took their first steps into the league.

The NHL draft was held in Boston in 1999, and Vancouver took the Swedish twins with the second and third picks.

"I think always we were excited that Vancouver picked us both for the same team," Daniel Sedin said. "That was a big surprise for us. We didn't expect that."

The Sedins played their first game for the Canucks a year later, and they've steadily risen in prominence over the past half-decade.

Their scoring struggles in this series have been the Canucks' most surprising problem, but Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault says the brothers push each other hard enough that he hasn't considered pulling them aside for a motivational speech.

"I do think that they're playing much better than their point total indicates," Vigneault said. "They're doing a lot of the right things and a lot of the things that should enable them to get on the score sheet."

The Canucks are 11-4 in one-goal games in the postseason, including three wins in this series. ... Vancouver F Alex Burrows says the prospect of winning the Stanley Cup in Boston is no added incentive. "That's not my mindset, to rub it in anybody's face," Burrows said. "I just want to get the job done tomorrow and get ready for a big game." ... F Rich Peverley believes the Bruins' top line struggled in Game 5 partly because of Boston's four straight power plays early on. So much special-teams work didn't allow him many shifts to get into a flow with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. ... The Bruins rose extra-early on Saturday before their flight back to Boston, hoping to get their body clocks back on East Coast time.
2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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