After extended time off, finalists meet in Game 6 tonight
Boston Bruins’ forward Michael Ryder takes part in a media availability in Boston. The Bonavista native has seven goals and eight assists in the playoffs and is tied for fourth in post-season scoring for the Bruins. Boston plays the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston tonight. The Canucks lead the series 3-2 and can claim their first-ever league crown with a win. — Photo by The Canadian Press
Under the roof at TD Garden, the Vancouver Canucks organization was changed forever.
When former general manager Brian Burke stole the spotlight at the 1999 draft by completing a series of moves and selecting Daniel and Henrik Sedin second and third overall, he accomplished something no other team did that day. He added two future scoring champions and two franchise cornerstones in one fell swoop.
There were plenty of growing pains — the twins combined for 63 points in their rookie year, a total they’ve eclipsed individually every season since the lockout — but the team would likely not find itself back in Boston with a chance to lift the Stanley Cup tonight were it not for that memorable draft.
On the eve of a Game 6 that could be the most memorable in Canucks history, the twins reflected on the road back to Boston.
“I think always we were excited that Vancouver picked us both for the same team,” said Daniel.
“That was a big surprise for us. We didn’t expect that. Over these 10 years, we’ve (seen) what a tough league this is — we’ve been through ups and downs and we learned a lot.
“I think we’ve grown as people and as hockey players and that’s the most important thing.”
Vancouver finds itself leading the Bruins 3-2 despite a number of puzzling statistics. The Canucks are the first team in NHL history to lead a best-of-series despite only scoring six times in five games — made possible by the fact Boston’s Tim Thomas has held the Sedins to just two points in the final.
Despite the low offensive output, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault is far from frustrated with his stars.
“I do think that they’re playing much better than their point total indicates,” said Vigneault. “I think they’re moving the puck well. 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.”
They’ve also run into the Bruins shutdown tandem of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, to say nothing of the spectacular goaltending from Thomas.
Henrik Sedin enters Game 6 still looking for his first point of the championship series.
“This is a tough team — they don’t give up a whole lot of chances,” he said. “If you’re going to start cheating to get points, it’s going to hurt us more, so...
“I don’t think there is anybody in that dressing room panicking. We’re focused. We understand the situation. When you’ve been through it quite a few times, you certainly know how to deal with it a lot better and we’ve certainly been through it enough.” Bruins coach Claude Julien
“Like I said, we’re battling hard. They are 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.”
What little scoring there has been from Vancouver has come from some of the lesser lights — two from Alex Burrows and one each from Raffi Torres, Jannik Hansen, Maxim Lapierre and Daniel Sedin.
The Bruins, meanwhile, are facing an elimination game for the third time this spring. They’ve won five straight games on home ice and are hoping for the same effort they had in blowing Vancouver out by a combined score of 12-1 in Games 3 and 4.
“I don’t think there is anybody in that dressing room panicking,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “We’re focused. We understand the situation. When you’ve been through it quite a few times, you certainly know how to deal with it a lot better and we’ve certainly been through it enough.”
Added defenceman Tomas Kaberle: “Everything’s on the line right now. This is the Stanley Cup final and you have to leave everything out there.”
Vancouver is on the verge of the first championship in franchise history. A number of players spoke openly about visualizing what it might be like to lift the trophy — something only Mikael Samuelsson, out indefinitely with a groin injury, has done.
It would be fitting if the twins were able to accomplish the feat in the same building where their NHL careers were born.
“I think it’s natural to be excited,” said Henrik Sedin, who is vying become the second European captain to lift the Stanley Cup. “We’re in a great spot. Like (Roberto Luongo) said, we’re one win away from winning it, so we’re excited.
“But we know if we get out of our comfort zone and start getting overly excited, it’s going to take away from our game.
“That’s a key for us, to come in here tomorrow and play the way we have all year.”