After 4 games of the Stanley Cup Final, two teams that only played each other 4 times in the last 4 years previously now are very familiar with each other after 4 intense games. The first two games in Vancouver showed two defensive minded teams, the difference being Vancouver is a puck control team that works well when they can get their speed game going, meanwhile for Boston, Tim Thomas was brilliant, and the only reason the games were decided by one goal. When the scene shifted to Boston, the game changed in the heat wave stricken East Coast, which meant for a slower game more suited to the Bruins, and once again Thomas was great, stopping 40 and 38 shots in Games 3 and 4.
The Bruins also changed tactics when the scene shifted to Boston and that was to channel the likes of Terry O’Reilly and Mike Milbury and play as chippy as possible before and after the whistles. It’s what most good teams do but up to a point. Bruin coach Claude Julien (and many others in the hockey world) called some of the Canuck players out for after the whistle shenanigans. Julien even stated that he wouldn’t allow “that sort of behavior” on his team, yet Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic were seen with ridiculous taunting antics that seemed to go against what their Coach was saying. When asked about it after Game 3 Julien said that he had only said that to the press, and not to the players, but had told them after the game he didn’t like it. Then in Game 4 Brad Marchand was seen doing the same thing. So is Julien lying when he said he talked to his players, or are they just not listening? Perhaps the players are just taking things into their own hands and playing the only game they know how to play on the biggest stage. The NHL apparently has been very concerned about the antics and warned the teams before Game 4 that it wouldn’t be tolerated, but once again, they either lied, or the on ice officials just refused to listen as Marchand was seen doing the exact same things after every whistle, and no matter how much the Canucks tried to ignore it, it was impossible to. Marchand is playing just over the edge on every single shift, and perhaps because the officials were afraid of calling penalties on him every single time in the hostile Boston atmosphere, he got away with it. The type of respect the officials are giving to Marchand is unprecedented especially for a rookie, and the officials are in danger of letting this series become a mockery of the game.
One thing is for sure, the only way the Canucks can really put a stop to Marchand and the Bruins is to score on the power play which is 1 for 18 in the series. If the Canucks can find potency on their power play, it will put an end to that Bruin tactic and this series could end quickly. The Bruins have played the last two games with the knowledge that they’ll be without their top scorer in Nathan Horton, so they’ve responded by playing desperate, chippy, and aggressive hockey. Back on Vancouver ice, the Canucks could regain some momentum if they can score first, which will put Boston in a position they’ve only been in briefly this entire series and that’s playing from behind. Boston also has not had to travel that much all year playing on the East coast, and hasn’t had to much in these playoffs, playing all their games in their own time zone, so the travel veteran Canucks should have the advantage. With a little boost of confidence from the home crowd, an early goal, or some saves from the maligned Luongo (who can’t be blamed for either loss), the Canucks could roll to a victory in Game 5.
History has shown that in the past two years of the Stanley Cup Final the home team has won each of the first five games. The home team has won the first four games, and should win the fifth.
orriginally posted at betfair.net