Tanev jumps right into fray
Rookie is a hit in his Final debut
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — If Christopher Tanev was excited, he didn’t show it. If he was nervous, it wasn’t apparent. If he was relieved, he didn’t show that either.
The Canucks rookie defenseman stepped in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final last night and was a solid presence in a pairing mostly with Andrew Alberts as Vancouver beat Boston, 1-0, to take a 3-2 lead to reach the brink of winning hockey’s most coveted prize.
Defenseman Keith Ballard had a tough night in Game 4 and he certainly wasn’t alone, so coach Alain Vigneault elected to sit Ballard and give Tanev a shot. It was Tanev’s first appearance in the Cup Final and third game of the playoffs. He played two games against San Jose in the Western Conference final.
“Chris, every time we’ve needed him this year, he’s showed a lot of poise,’’ said Vigneault. “He can take a hit to make a play and move the puck real well. I was confident that putting him in and putting him with Andrew, that it would work out real well for us and it did.’’
The 21-year-old Toronto native, who played the 2009-10 season at Rochester Institute of Technology, the only time the school reached the Frozen Four, said his goal was just to keep things as simple as possible.
“It’s always stay simple, stay calm, and don’t do too much,’’ he said. “Don’t do what you can’t do out there, let the guys who have 100 points try and score. I’m just trying to get the puck up to them.’’
He said it was helpful to have gotten his feet wet in the Sharks series so he would have some idea what to expect.
“It’s fast, it’s the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s emotional out there,’’ said Tanev. “You’ve just got to have fun out there. It was definitely faster [than the previous series] but you just try to enjoy it.’’
When asked what it was like to be part of a shutout in the Cup Final, Tanev’s eyes lit up.
“It was incredible,’’ he said. “[Roberto Luongo] is an incredible goalie and he made some real big saves tonight to help us get the win.’’
Not so special One of the Canucks’ strengths all season has been the power play. Not so in the first four games of the Cup Final. Vancouver was a combined 0 for 14 in Games 3 and 4 in Boston. In Games 1 and 2 here, they were only slightly better (1 for 8). Last night they were 0 for 4.
“It’s kept the opposition honest,’’ Vigneault said before the game. “We’ve got some really skilled players that can make it work and go to the areas where it can work, and it’s been real good all year. We’ve run into a patch here of a little bit more of a challenge. But I’ve got a lot of faith in these guys.’’
Vigneault wanted is team to continue to have good starts, but not fall off after the opening 20 minutes.
“I think we came out real good in their building. But for whatever reason, the second periods have been a little bit more challenging for us, and we’re aware of it,’’ he said. “You’ve got to make every shift and every period count and you’ve got to play to your strengths.’’
Lucky Lapierre Canucks forward Max Lapierre, who scored the winning goal, said he was just trying to take advantage of an opportunity. Lapierre’s tally, which came at 4:35 of the third period, started when defenseman Kevin Bieksa rifled the puck from the right point. It caromed off the end boards and around the net to Lapierre, who was positioned on the left side of the net. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas had committed and Lapierre had an empty net to shoot at. “We got lucky,’’ said Lapierre. “It bounced for us right there. We know he is challenging a lot so it was the right spot at the right time.’’ . . . Fans and fighters gathered at Jack Poole Plaza for the UFC 131 weigh-in, with many in attendance wearing Canucks jerseys. But not Dover, Mass., native Kenny Florian, who is fighting Diego Nunes on tonight’s card at Rogers Arena. Florian surprised the crowd by showing up wearing a Shawn Thornton jersey.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.