The trips are often uplifting
Over years, Cup has been full for numerous visitors
If the Canucks claim the Stanley Cup on hostile ice tonight, they’ll have done it the way the Bruins did when they won their last championship in 1972.
Boston could have wrapped up the Final in five games on Causeway Street but let the Rangers off the hook with champagne in the house. “I guess we were having a holiday before we earned it,’’ Johnny McKenzie said then. The Bruins won two days later in New York with Gerry Cheevers backstopping a 3-0 shutout.
Hoisting Lord Stanley’s mug on the road isn’t as difficult as it might appear. In the 19 Cup series that have been decided in six games, the visitors have clinched on 15 occasions, including the last six — Chicago at Philadelphia last year, Detroit at Pittsburgh (2008), New Jersey at Dallas (2000), Dallas at Buffalo (1999), Pittsburgh at Minnesota (1991), and Calgary at Montreal (1989).
The Canadiens managed it here twice, in 1958 and 1978.
When the Canucks last played in the Cup Final in 1994, they won the sixth game at home before losing to the Rangers away. If Vancouver does prevail tonight, Alex Burrows said he won’t make a point of showing up the fans who love to hate him. “That’s not my mind-set, to rub it in anybody’s face,’’ he said.
Double take Henrik and Daniel Sedin may only have accounted for 2 points in the series (both by Daniel in Game 2) and none here, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been taking nights off.
“I do think they’re playing much better than their point total indicates,’’ said coach Alain Vigneault. “I think they’re moving the puck well. They’re doing a lot of the right things and a lot of things that should enable them to get on the score sheet. You’ve got to give credit where credit is due. Their goaltender has made some great saves on them. And their defensemen have done a great job. They have been shut down now for a few games. But I’m confident that the tide should turn here soon.’’
If the Sedin twins get to carry the Cup tonight, they’ll do it in the same building where they were drafted second and third overall in 1999. “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 know what a tough league this is. We’ve been through ups and downs and we learn a lot.’’
Traffic report So the Bruins want to create more traffic in front of Roberto Luongo? What else is new?
“I think it’s part of every team’s game plan,’’ said the Canucks goaltender, who is used to seeing Leverett Circle-style pileups at the Garden. “That’s the way we try to score goals. That’s the way pretty much every other 29 teams want to score.
“That’s the way you score in this league. You gotta get gritty. You gotta go to the hard areas, whack away at rebounds, tips, screens, all that kind of stuff. Especially when a team plays good defensively, you gotta get your noses dirty to get some goals.
“So for me, nothing changes. Just play my game. Make sure that I stay focused on the puck and not get distracted by all the other stuff.’’
Stuck in the middle Why is the score sheet so lopsided against the Canucks despite their 3-2 series lead? “Two games in Boston, the second periods were a problem,’’ observed Vigneault, whose club conceded six goals here in the second period but allowed only two in its three home games. “We played real well in the two first periods and for whatever reason the game got away from us in the second. Obviously we all know that we need to be better. We need to make every shift in every period count and that’s what we’re going to try to do [tonight].’’
John Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.