Neither team seems willing to take advantage
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Let’s be real here, they’re not going to win the Stanley Cup without a power play, right?
Not true. Five games into the Cup Final, neither the Bruins nor the Canucks truly can prove that five men are greater than four — at least when it comes to putting one puck in a 24-square-foot hole — and one of those teams is going to win the big silvery mug. We think.
The Bruins were stoned on the man-advantage again last night, going 0 for 4 across eight minutes and not posing much of a threat. The Canucks were a lockstep 0 for 3 and also didn’t cause Tim Thomas much sweat in the Boston net.
The Bruins are now 3 for 21 on the power play in five games of the Cup Final, and a near-ossified 8 for 82 since the start of the playoffs. The Canucks had the No. 1-rated power play in the regular season, and clicked at a near-impressive rate in the first three rounds. But faced with the Bruins penalty killers, they are 1 for 25. If these clubs entered a battle of the bands, the bleachers would clear out with everyone in attendance covering their ears.
“We had some good chances on it . . . I know I had one in front,’’ said Patrice Bergeron, who now centers the Bruins’ No. 1 power-play unit, with David Krejci and Milan Lucic his linemates. “Hey, we have to find a way.’’
Bruins coach Claude Julien, who continues to balk at conventional wisdom that would have rookie Tyler Seguin on the power play, used checking center Gregory Campbell to pivot the No. 2 unit, with Michael Ryder and Mark Recchi.
“I don’t think we are capable of doing much with [Campbell] in front,’’ said Julien, “because we weren’t getting the set that we wanted to get in the offensive zone. Certainly didn’t play in our favor.’’
Hits keep coming While some might have been surprised at the physicality of this Cup Final, the Bruins and Canucks expected it. And, at this point, with the blood continuing to boil with every punch thrown or slash to the leg, there seems to be no end in sight to the scrums.
“It’s been an intense series,’’ Bruins winger Daniel Paille said before last night’s Game 5. “From watching years in the past, I don’t know if there has been so much hatred on either side. I think we all want to win and we all put it out there as much as we can. It’s been that type of series where everyone is sort of getting away with things and it’s been kind of interesting to watch.’’
From the stands and from the ice, apparently.
“The first two games they were playing physical and so were we,’’ Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “It’s not like we changed anything, but we’re going to be doing the same things that they have been doing.’’
Buyer’s market According to StubHub, ticket prices plummeted for last night’s Game 5 after the Canucks lost Games 3 and 4. The low ticket price went from $825 to $420 in a day. The average price for a single ticket fell from $2,000 to $1,500 to $630.
And while it was clear Canucks fans have been flocking to Vancouver, the same isn’t true for Boston fans. More than 75 percent of ticket sales on StubHub are from Canada, while less than 2 percent are from New England. Buyers from British Columbia make up 49 percent of the ticket buyers.
Heavy workload Only one goaltender has saved more shots in a single postseason than the 725 Thomas has posted. Vancouver’s Kirk McLean saved 761 in 1993-94. McLean (820) also is the only goalie who has faced more shots than Thomas’s 774 . . . At this point, Lucic has been through the circus of coming home to Vancouver once before. On the second time around, though, things seemed to have calmed down. “It’s gotten easier more and more you come back,’’ Lucic said. “Obviously, when you come back, everyone wants to see you and come to the game and whatnot. It’s funny, I only had to get one ticket for tonight, and that’s sort of nice.’’ . . . Julien was asked before last night’s game about the team’s confidence level and how it compared to before the series started. “We’re at the same place, to be honest with you,’’ Julien said. “I don’t think we ever came into the finals saying, ‘Well, boys, we’re overmatched here.’ We got here because we deserve to be here. We felt we had just as good of a chance as they did, no matter what predictions or people say. You don’t come in here with an inferiority complex. You come in here with confidence. I think that’s what we’ve done. Even being down, 2-0, we took the responsibility that came with the losses and said we’re capable of playing better. We didn’t deserve those first two games, so it’s up to us to make up for it and went back home and did that.’’