He concentrates on little things
Third-liner Hansen constantly in motion
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — He was one of the most visible players during a game in which space and time on the ice were at a premium.
Bruins defensemen Zdeno Chara and partner Dennis Seidenberg did a masterful job shutting down Vancouver’s potent Sedin twins, but one forward they couldn’t contain in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was right wing Jannik Hansen.
It was Hansen, charging through the right circle, who found Raffi Torres for the winning goal with 18.5 seconds remaining, giving the Canucks a 1-0 victory at Rogers Arena and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Hansen, a member of the Canucks’ third line, was all over the ice in the third period. He had a breakaway early in the period, but Bruins goalie Tim Thomas shut down his attempt to score through the five-hole. He also had a terrific dish to linemate Maxim Lapierre later in the period but Thomas turned him back.
The 25-year-old native of Denmark said his goal and that of his line is to create opportunities wherever possible.
“It’s a matter of doing something every time you’re out there,’’ said Hansen. “Obviously, we’re not going to score in bunches like the twins and [Ryan] Kesler and those guys, but it’s a matter of providing energy and doing the little things right.’’
It didn’t look like either team would score in regulation. Both Thomas and Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo were very sharp, and neither side seemed inclined to budge. Hansen said it was a matter of being patient.
“Obviously, we know coming into the series that Boston is extremely good defensively, and Thomas in net is hard to score on,’’ said Hansen, “so it’s a matter of not getting too down on yourself when he’s making save after save.’’
With the top lines canceling each other out, it took a grinding combination to get it done, and Hansen’s line doesn’t shy away from that.
“Boston is a big, physical team as well,’’ he said. “They’re going to come out hitting and playing a physical game, so it plays into our style a little more.
“We’ve seen other series where one game has been tight and the next has been a shootout — you never know what’s going to come at you. But again, Boston is a very good team five-on-five and defensively, so we know we have to bear down every time we’re out there.’’
Hansen said the game was reminiscent of the series against Nashville, which the Canucks beat in the second round.
“Obviously, Boston has more offense and more ways to score at you, but similar goaltending, you can say that for sure,’’ he said. “It’s just a matter of keeping at it. [Thomas was] obviously making a couple of big saves early on, but if we keep coming at it and not getting down on ourself, we feel we’re in the game and we just need that one chance to get it by him.’’
Lapierre, who has the best vantage point to appreciate how dangerous Torres and Hansen can be, said it’s the way they apply themselves that makes them effective.
“Him and Raffi are really working hard every game,’’ said Lapierre. “They are smart players on the ice, they’re always in good position.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault saw glimpses of Hansen’s talent in previous seasons when he was called up because of injuries, but he also saw that the young player needed more experience in the minors.
“He went back to Manitoba and needed some more time there,’’ said Vigneault. “I think he had a great role model in Mike Keane, who really helped him with positional play, penalty killing. It’s paid off.
“He’s been with us now for a couple of consecutive years. He’s logging important minutes. [Game 1], obviously, was a great game where he used his skill set. He’s real good when he plays with an edge.’’
Hansen plays his part on his line, but he said it’s the totality of the trio that makes all the difference.
“We play the same style and we kind of have the same mentality,’’ he said. “It’s getting pucks in deep and getting in on the forecheck, finishing a check and taking pucks to the net.
“Playing with Max and Raffi, they’re two bigger guys and they like to throw their bodies around as well as [bringing] quite a bit of speed, too.
“So it’s a lot of different aspects, but just the fact that we’re able to get in on the forecheck, and making [defensemen] look around and [wonder] ‘where are they coming from now?’ and making them maybe rush a play a little more than they wanted to.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.