Game 1 SCF Report Card ; Patience

VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 01: Raffi Torres #13 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates with his teammates Victor Oreskovich #38 and Kevin Bieksa #3 after a goal late in the third period against Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins during game one of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Rogers Arena on June 1, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Wow. That did not take long to get the dislike and hate going.  It looked like the hitting was with purpose before Bergeron and Burrows took it up to eleven.  For me, the cross check to the head of a prone and obviously helpless Dan Hamhuis by David Krejci was far more gutless, dirty, disgusting, or whatever other descriptor gets used for the Burrows / Bergeron confrontation.  To each his own.  Talking points for the next two days, right?

What drama with waiting until the last thirty seconds before scoring huh?  Like Axl says  "sometimes I get so tense, but I can't speed up the time..."   I thought G'N'R were Kings fans!  The Canucks did play a patient game though. They attacked when they had the chances, but were very good at thinking the game and not giving up outnumbered rushes very often.  Or keeping it to the outside when they did.  Or clearing rebounds or players when shots came in to prevent rebound chances.

All I know is the Canucks are now 3 wins away from ending 40 years of waiting.  They played tonight like they are on a mission to end that.  The Bruins will have to not sag into the trap as a default position like they did in the third to prevent that from happening.  But for Tim Thomas's heroics earlier, and in the third, it would have been a higher scoring game for the Canucks. They outshot the Canucks 36 to 34, and Luongo was great, but the saves Thomas had to make were more , as they say, "ten bell saves".  Both goaltenders were the story of a great Game 1.  Cannot wait until Saturday. 

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The Canucks are now 4 and 0 in series opening games, and Luongo. apart from 2 goals against the Sharks in a 3-2 win, has had three shutouts.  The Sedins were a force. The Kesler line was great, and the Lapierre line just flat out kicked ass.  The defensemen were great after going down to five just 4 minutes into the second.

Think everyone was not finishing their checks?  Boston won the hit count 31 to 30 tonight.  Everyone finished checks like they were human missiles.  Yeah, we love playoff hockey, but man, this Cup Final stuff is another level entirely!

 

Wonder Twins activate!  Shape of a Stanley Cup!

 

Those that might still harp on the Twins as possible playoff ghosts are definitely getting smaller in number. They gave the Bruins all they could handle tonight. Kudos to the Boston team for the great penalty killing ( 16 blocked shots after all the special teams time after two ) for a great job tonight. The home team did a solid job killing penalties too, but let's face it, that Bruin PP was simply not as dangerous tonight.  Not to say they did not have chances, they had plenty.  Just predictable ones.  Or maybe it just looked that way because TimmAH makes it appear like that with his street hockey style.

Henrik Sedin was a solid frigging Swede tonight.  I even saw a big hit on ( Marchand was it ) in the third that rattles the boards and sent the team the other way.  In 24 shifts and 22:22 TOI ( 7:17 PP / :15 PK ), they 1st line went right at the Chara. Seidenberg duo, and whomever Claude Juilien put out ( usually the Bergeron line ) was chasing and on the back foot more often than not.  That 1 hit, 1 giveaway, and only 8 for 25 on faceoffs was not a stat sheet filling night, but I liked his game. 9.1/10.

Daniel Sedin was getting to the open spots, and forced some of Thomas's best saves.  In his 23 shifts and 23:01 TOI ( 7:17 PP / :08 PK ), he used Hank's passes and hard work to lead the team with 8 shots ( 2 misses ) and more that were blocked.  2 takeaways offset 2 giveaways, and he won the 1 draw he took.  That 4 minute penalty for a lazy high stick to start the game did not help.  9.2/10.

Ahhh, Alexandre Burrows.  Who knows. It seems some media are saying it was absolute in the bite on Bergeron, but I don't know. That video looks kinda 50/50.  Regardless, like I said when it happened, that is a patented QMJHL move.  Push the glove in the mouth and face, and then accuse the other guy of biting. Its a thing that works on guys like Burr that have a reputation.  For what its worth, this is what was said by both 

"They didn't see it," Bergeron said. "We were speaking French, me and (Burrows), and I told him, 'Why did you do that?' That linesmen speaks French, and his explanation was he said that I put my finger in his mouth and he had to do it. I'll leave it at that, but I'm sure the league is going to look at it.Burrows, who received a double minor for roughing -- Bergeron only got one minor penalty for roughing -- denied biting Bergeron."I don't think so," Burrows said. "He had his fingers in my mouth, but I don't think I bit him. He put his hand up and put it in my face and his fingers in my mouth and that's what happened."  Notice the code words by Patrice bolded.  Yeah, OK.  I doubt a suspension happens.  But that line about letting the league handle it is what everyone says.  Hopefully they "look at it" for the Krejci crosscheck as well.  No matter what the NBC guys say they were "shocked" by.

That aside, how did the Pincourt native do?  Well, in 25 shifts and 18:53 TOI ( 2:37 PP / 2:19 PK ) included less penalty kill time, because he was in the box too much.  Chompgate aside, he took a holding call on Ference that might have been a little light, and a tripping call on Thomas that was flat out wrong.  They have to get clarity on that, as AV mentioned in the post game oresser. Thomas comes out all the time, and was at least three feet out of the net, and initiated the contact with Burrows that was called tripping. That was a tough one. Still, 2 blocks, 2 shots, and 2 giveaways, with all the penalties is a little light when the Sedins are flying.  8.5/10.

 

OK Claude, who is Chara and Seidenberg going to check now? ;

 

Ryan Kesler and his line mates were out against the Krejci, Lucic, Horton line most of the time, but what was telling is that Chara was out against his line almost as much as the Sedin line, though sometimes he was paired with Boychuk.  Either way, the speed and power of the Kesler line seemed to have the number of the Krejci line especially.  He went 13 for 22 in the circle ( 4 of 5 in the 3rd ) In 22 shifts, he led his team forwards with 24:23 TOI ( 7:00 PP / 5:02 PK, including most every second of a 5 on 3 against ) An assist on the GWG with a great play at the blue line, a +1, 2 shots ( 4 wide, some on great chances off the rush ), 2 hits and a giveaway. 9.4/10.

Chris Higgins was flying as well.  He and Raymond missed a few chances with passes deflected, but they and Kesler were tremendous on the forecheck.  That line, and all the lines, actually, looked faster than their Eastern counterparts all night.  In Higgy's 23 shifts and 15:49 TOI ( 2:03 PP / 1:50 PK ) he won 1 of 3 draws, had a shot, blocked 2, and had 2 takeaways with his speed.  Some solid hits. 9.1/10.

Mason Raymond will score in this series, mark my words. He was dangerous with his speed all night.  He was one of several forwards that forced defenders to turn and chase.  In 24 shifts and 16:43 TOI ( 2:14 PP / 1:50 PK ), he had 4 shots, missed 1, and had a takeaway. I thought I saw more than zero hits from him, but he was awesome on the PK as well. 9.25/10.

 

Best line of the night, for both teams ;

 

Maxim Lapierre is fast growing into one of my favorite players.  He had himself a game. The third line was a force all night against any line from the opposition.  In his 20 shifts and 13:03 TOI ( 1:16 PK ), he was only 4 of 11 in the circle, but those were usually defensive zone draws, and his line especially was excellent at recovering pucks after losing draws.  He had 6 shots, and far more times when a pass or a shot was deflected or blocked while his line pressured. His 3 hits included some big ones. Solid night for the former Hab ( you knew the Bruins knew who was on the ice when Marchand skated over to him at the bench and literally flopped at his feet to try and draw a call. It was the most funny of the gamesmanship moments ) 9.25/10.

What can you say about Raffi Torres?  The man had himself a game.  In 19 shifts and 12:52 almost all 5 on 5 TOI ( :11 PP / :04 PK ) he led his team with 5 hits, many of the big variety. His 1 shot led to this...

...1 takeaway and a +1.  Kicking ass and taking names Raffi ( or "Tico" as I head both Kes and Lui refer to him in the presser ). You score the only goal in a 1-0 game, and make that kind of impact in less than 13 minutes, I will give you a 10/10.  This time!

If that is the case then, what about Jannik Hansen ? He was probably the best player on the ice tonight.  In his 21 shifts and 15:26 TOI ( 2:00 great minutes on the PK ), the Great Dane was so fast in comparison to the Bruins. One play in particular, where he worked a puck loose on the PK, and raced straight up the wing faster than Chara, and with the guy who went from the corner with him falling farther in his rearview was very impressive.  1 assist ( what a pass, the fake shot fooled both Chara and Thomas ) , +1, 3 shots, 2 blocks, 2 hits, and one kick ass night for the 287th pick in the '04 draft. 9.99/10.

 

I think I saw the 4th line in the 3rd ;

 

First off, I am totally OK with that. If the coach that has got us this far wants to play them not that much, hey, success means not caring too much about that kind of thing.  There were a couple shifts where they were better than their counterparts, but there was a couple spent entirely in their own end.  I almost feel like giving them an incomplete!

Alexandre Bolduc had 3 shifts and a miniscule 1:39 TOI !  But he was 1 of 2 on draws and had 2 hits in his 99 seconds.  8.4/10.

Victor Oreskovich had 4 shifts and 1:54 TOI. I giveaway on the stat sheet.  Umm...8.2/10.

Jeff Tambellini got to play in Game 1 of the SCF in his home town.  He only saw the ice for 4 shifts and 2:30 TOI and had a hit. 8.3/10.

 

This playing five defensemen is no big thing any more ;

 

Lets start out with Dan Hamhuis.  Before getting injured on his big hip check on Lucic ( was it the hit, or the cross check to the head by Krejci when he was on his knees?  Maybe the "league will look at that" too. Yeah, I don't think so either!  In his 11 shifts and 8:09 TOI ( 4:07 on the PK is a lot of that! ) he had two hits.  I hope the Smithers native will be OK. 8.6/10. Would have been higher, but for the loss of him to injury.  He was having a very good game before that.

Kevin Bieksa had a solid night. In 27 shifts and 22:43 TOI ( 2:29 PP / 3:33 PK ) he was a +1, had a shot on, another missed, and a smart quick up to Kesler at the blue line that led to the goal.  4 hits and 1 takeaway was solid, the penalty to give the Bruins a 5 on 3 not so much. 9.1/10.

Alexander Edler was one of the beasts on the blue line tonight.  In his 29 shifts and 24:57 TOI ( 4:39 PP / 2:38 PK ) he was really solid when out against the Krejci line. He had a team high 5 blocks.  1 shot, and he missed 3 ( but his best chance was a rush where he hit the crossbar and did not even get credit for either )  2 hits and 2 takeaways complete a very good night for E-Money. 9.4/10.

Christian Ehrhoff was another beast of the blue line tonight. His defensive play was very solid. He only had one giveaway all night in his 25 shifts and team high 26:26 TOI ( 5:48 PP / 1:07 PK ) he had 2 shots on and missed 3.  1 blocked shot, and a great night. 9.2/10.

How about that Turkko Finland native? Sami Salo just gets it done.  His 27 shifts and 17:25 TOI ( 4:32 PP / 3:15 of solid PK time ) included 3 shots on, 1 missed, 2 hits and 1 giveaway.  9.1/10.

And then there is Aaron Rome.  The man just gets it done, and may have had his best game of the playoffs tonight. Pushed into more minutes by the injury, Romer had 27 shifts and 19:29 TOI ( 1:39 PK ). He was solid in almost all of them.  +1, 4 hits, 2 takeaways, and several occasions where the Bruin forwards went "who is #29" after he sent the play the other way or rubbed them out.  Dependable like a Swiss Watch tonight. 9.45/10.

 

My Vezina nominee beat your Vezina nominee ;

 

Yeah, I know. They don't really play one another. But Roberto Luongo stood up to every acrobatic save by Thomas with a perfectly positioned one of his own.  He handled Chara in front like a champ. He made great saves on the PK. He made great saves when the Bruins came on against the run of play.  His rebound control was wonderful.  Maybe his best was a save on a Lucic shot and the rebound, but its hard to pick just one, because he was in position for all of them.  He is now 4 and 0 in series opening games, with 3 shutouts, and a measly 2 goals to San Jose in those four games.  10/10.

So, I know that there are almost three 10/10s in this Report Card.  I did not feel like being too nitpicking on the guys that got them.  Deserved I thought.

In the meantime, we will hear all sorts of quotes over the next two down days over the Chompgate.  If Lucic's comments afterwards ( "you guys in the media did not give us a chance, and we proved we can play with these guys..." ), the Bruins feel they played well.  They will need to give more, or learn how to skate faster though. To me, that was the biggest difference tonight. The Eastern Champs just don't have the speed of the Western Champs.  Even in the unlikely event Burrows is suspended, and the possible replacement of Hamhuis with Ballard, I did not see enough from the Bruins tonight to change my pick from Canucks in 5.  Not saying it will be easy at all. I liked the Bruins game tonight.  I just do not see how you can suddenly get faster.

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