Vancouver Canucks vs. Boston Bruins
Vancouver looks to take a commanding 2-0 series lead heading in to Boston. The Canucks are -185 favorites over the Bruins tonight with an over/under goal total set at 5.
While many expected Vancouver to handle Boston rather easily in the Stanley Cup opener it was anything but easy. In a classic defensive struggle that seemed destined for overtime, the Canucks scored the only goal they would need with a mere 18 ½ seconds left in regulation and in the process take a 1-0 series lead with them in to game two set for Saturday night also in Vancouver. Despite the defensive struggle it was a poor play by Jonny Boychuk that started the winning play for Vancouver. Ryan Kesler stole the puck from him and sent a pass to Jannik Hansen near the right circle. His pass found Raffi Torres behind the defense in the slot and his shot from the left side found the back of the net to put an end to what was a highly entertaining contest despite the lack of scoring.
Roberto Longo who has had some trying moments in this year’s postseason was nothing short of spectacular with a 36 save performance. His counterpart in Boston’s Tim Thomas was just as steady in defeat with a 33 save effort. While many will look at the final score and automatically think this was a boring feel me out type opener the box score reveals these teams combined for 70 shots on goal so this was an exciting offensive game but just lacked scoring with two net minders that played some of their best hockey in the playoffs to date. These are the type of games that made Thomas and Luongo Vezina Trophy candidates and silenced some vocal critics of both after some uneven play in these playoffs.
This game was still an unfortunate reminder of the Bruins struggles while on the man advantage which have plagued them this entire postseason. They were 0-6 on the power play and squandered a five on three in the middle frame but they weren’t alone in that aspect as Vancouver was also 0-6 with the man advantage. The Canucks also missed a golden opportunity on a five on three PP because it didn’t last long enough. It was only eight seconds in length because Alexandre Burrows was sent to the penalty box for tripping. Neither team showed any rust from the layoff between conference championships and the Stanley Cup opener with the Bruins having four days off and Vancouver seven.
Game one was also far from a slow feeling out process where sometimes-conservative play dominates the action with a combined 29 shots on goals. Interestingly enough Boston launched 17 of those shots and appeared to be the more desperate squad. After 12 power plays through two periods neither team was whistled for a penalty in the final 20 minutes as the officials let both teams go at each other at full strength. The keys for both teams is lighting the lamp on the power play and staying out of the box. Limiting shots on the respective net minders also has to be at the top of the list simply because pucks eventually find the back of the net if there are enough opportunities. I think the Canucks light the lamp a few times in game two. I’m taking the Canucks tonight!
Vancouver Canucks -180 Boston Bruins