Tag: Blackhawks-Canucks

Tim Thomas, Nathan Horton

How the Bruins, Canucks performed in previous Game 7’s in the 2011 playoffs

Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals is uncharted territory for these editions of the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. It’s actually the first time the Bruins franchise has ever been in a Game 7 in the championship round while the Canucks hope to be more successful than the 1994 edition was against the New York Rangers.

That being said, both teams have already experienced Game 7 matches in earlier rounds of the 2011 playoffs, so it’s not like they’ll feel totally out of place on Wednesday night. Let’s take a look at how each team played in their Game 7 contests.

April 26, 2011 – Canucks beat Blackhawks 2-1 (OT)

Goal scorers: Jonathan Toews scored for Chicago; Alex Burrows scored both of Vancouver’s tallies.

Roberto Luongo’s performance: 31 out of 32 saves made.

Summary: Luongo came into this Game 7 with about as much pressure as a goalie could endure in a first round series. He responded brilliantly, making huge stop after huge stop although Toews beat him on what could have been a heart-breaking shorthanded goal in the waning moments of regulation. Burrows scored the early goal and then nearly became the goat by taking a penalty in overtime. He redeemed himself by scoring the game-winning goal by exploiting a Chris Campoli turnover.

Defining video

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April 27, 2011 – Boston beats Montreal 4-3 (OT)

Goal scorers: Yannick Weber, Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban for Montreal; Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Chris Kelly and Nathan Horton for Boston.

Tim Thomas’ performance: Thomas stopped 34 out of 37 shots against the Habs.

Summary: The Bruins’ special teams flopped almost comically in this game, allowing two Montreal power play goals and a disturbing shorthanded tally by Plekanec. Boston made their bones through most of this year’s playoffs by playing great in 5-on-5 situations and this Game 7 was no exception. They stormed off to an early 2-0 lead before stumbling a bit, but didn’t allow stomach punching moments to derail their hard work. Thomas made 31 out of 31 saves and Boston out-scored Montreal 4-0 in even strength situations, including Horton’s bombastic overtime game-winner.

Defining video

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May 27, 2011 – Bruins beat Lightning 1-0

Goal scorer: Nathan Horton for Boston

Tim Thomas’ performance: Thomas made 24 out of 24 saves for a shutout.

Summary: As phenomenal as Dwayne Roloson was (making 37 out of 38 saves), the Bruins finally played the suffocating defensive style that they rarely maintained against Tampa Bay for most of the series. Thomas earned his shutout while Horton scored the game’s only goal on a tip-in after being exonerated of water bottle-throwing charges (although he did face a $2,500 slap on the wrist fine for the infraction).

Defining video

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As you can see, both goalies have had a great Game 7 performance already in these playoffs. There’s evidence that Luongo can bounce back from embarrassing moments but there is also proof that Thomas can close out an opponent even amid in-game setbacks. Each team won those games at home, though, so the Bruins will have to break that trend by winning Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals on the road (and become one of the few in NHL history to do so in the process).

Alain Vigneault on Roberto Luongo starting in Game 5: ‘You can bet on it’

Roberto Luongo

To some extent, it feels like we’ve been through this drill before. Roberto Luongo struggles mightily in two straight games after the Vancouver Canucks take hold of a series, prompting media members to debate which Vancouver goalie should start. The feeling was that head coach Alain Vigneault would remain loyal – maybe stubbornly so – by sticking with Luongo rather than his capable backup, Cory Schneider … yet there was the sense that he wasn’t telling the whole truth.

Last time the Canucks were at this fork in the road, it was during their first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Vigneault seemed to give Luongo the nod to start going into the game. Of course, Vigneault flipped the script when the puck dropped, placing Schneider in net instead.

Naturally, it’s not the same exact situation since the Boston Bruins haven’t drop-kicked the Canucks out of the playoffs for two straight years like Chicago did, but the parallels are meaningful enough. Either way, Vigneault is giving a similar indication that Bobby Lou will be the go-to guy in Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. Here’s what he said during a press conference.

“You can bet on it,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “Roberto is the guy. He’s my guy and he’s playing.”

Of course, it’s probably important to note that misinformation is often used as a weapon during these high stakes finals matches. Could Vigneault have a trick up his sleeves? (He did seem to smirk a bit when he made the announcement, which probably doesn’t mean anything … but still.)

We might not know who Vancouver’s Game 5 starter will be until around game time, but for now, we’ll take Vigneault’s comments on face value. That being said, we’re going to pass on his suggestion to make a wager on that decision.

While the Canucks carry baggage with them, Blackhawks face first Game 7 since 1995

Patrick Kane, Corey Crawford, Patrick Sharp
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When it comes down to tonight’s two Game 7 matches, the Chicago Blackhawks share some things in common with the Buffalo Sabres. Along with being a lower seed playing this decisive game on the road, they also somehow go into this contest with far less controversy and confusion surrounding their team.

The Canucks face questions about the psyche of their franchise goalie Roberto Luongo, their killer instinct after dropping three straight games and criticism for their GM’s penalty-related complaints.

It’s pretty strange that the defending Stanley Cup champions go into a Game 7 with a relatively clean slate, but that seems to be the case. Here’s the interesting thing, though: the team actually never faced the do-or-die pressure of a Game 7 in last year’s playoffs. That probably underscores just how dominant they were in their Cup run in 2010, but it shows that Vancouver isn’t the only team under the microscope.

In fact, Chicago hasn’t played in a Game 7 since 1995, when the team beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2. The Blackhawks and Leafs would need to meet in the Stanley Cup finals for such an event to happen again.

Chicago’s all-time record in Game 7 contests: 5-4

Vancouver’s all-time record in Game 7 contests: 5-4 as well, with their most recent game being a 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars in 2007.

For all the well-deserved criticism sent the Canucks’ way, young players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have never played in a Game 7 before in their NHL careers. Kane can only look to his experiences in the minors and maybe that 2010 gold medal game he played against his current teammate for comparable feelings of mutual desperation. He still thinks the heat is on the Canucks, though.

“It was in the OHL,” Kane said of an Ontario Hockey League showdown when he was playing for the London Knights. “We were actually up 3-0 on the Soo Greyhounds, and they came back 3-3 and we ended up winning at home. It was a pretty fun game to be a part of.”


“I still feel all the pressure’s on them,” Kane said. “They’re the ones who were up 3-0, they’re the first seed in the West, they were kind of predicted to win the Cup this year and go really far.”

Kane’s probably right, but this young group’s first Game 7 provides a nice little wrinkle to all the Canucks-centric hysteria. It just proves that Chicago faces pressure as well, even if they probably don’t need to worry about being the laughing stock of the hockey world in defeat.

Video: Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick preview tonight’s Game 7 matches

Craig Rivet, Daniel Carcillo

If you want to follow the most intense and gripping sporting events on TV tonight, then you might as well keep your clicker fixed on Versus. With all due respect to the NBA, Tuesday’s slate of Game 7’s features the final round of a manic Buffalo Sabres-Philadelphia Flyers series (7 p.m. ET) followed by the story-filled final game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET).

In other words, Versus will feature about six hours(-plus?) of the highest pressure hockey you can find in the first round. (Naturally, the telecasts will also keep you abreast regarding the slightly lower profile Game 6 match between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.)

We will have our own rundown of tonight’s three games later on, but if you want an idea of what to expect in those two Game 7’s, then Versus has you covered. Check out takes from Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick in the video below.

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Roberto Luongo’s legacy is on the line as he gets the start against Chicago in Game 7

Roberto Luongo

Amid all the craziness of this flipped-upside-down Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks series, it only seems right that it comes down to Roberto Luongo in Game 7.

It doesn’t really matter that he’s looking more nervous than a high school kid before a first date. The Blackhawks’ psychological edge is growing with each crippling win – whether those victories come in blowouts or overtime shockers – but this is one of those moments when a highly paid player needs to earn his money. To extend the analogy, Luongo is now that unemployed post-grad who needs to get his head out of the clouds and just get the job done.

The Vancouver Canucks might not be comfortable with this situation, but they must live and die with their $10 million franchise goalie on Tuesday night. Alain Vigneault announced that he will start Game 7 and also said that the team told him he’d start that decisive game even before they went with Cory Schneider in Game 6.

Fair or not, a win or loss in Game 7 will have an enormous impact on Luongo’s potential Hall of Fame legacy.

He’s had an oddball career up this point. After being chosen fourth overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, Luongo had a falling out with team management and was eventually traded to the Florida Panthers in 2000. He was rightly described as a hidden gem in Florida for five seasons, putting up outstanding numbers despite a heavy workload and facing a ridiculous amount of shots (including an NHL record 2,488 in 2005-06 and 2,475 in 03-04).

Luongo “escaped” from Florida after that 05-06 season in another comically one-sided trade that sent him to Vancouver in an exchange that included Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld.

Since then, his reputation has hit some interesting peaks and valleys. He became an unofficial captain during the 2009-10 season, an outside-the-box move that ultimately backfired. Luongo won a gold medal with Team Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics after Martin Brodeur faltered. After years of carrying an awful team, Luongo now benefits from an elite supporting cast while sporadically receiving blame for his team’s worst defeats.

Make no mistake about it, though. This troubling rivalry against the Blackhawks is almost growing into a complex at this point.


Vigneault was at least half-correct when he said “He’s been on the big stage before, he’ll be fine.” Luongo is accustomed to big-time pressure, but judging from the last two starts and one ill-fated relief appearance, it’s tough to argue that he’s truly “fine.”

Yet the Hollywood scriptwriters in all of us want to see how he responds, even if the collective blood pressure of the Canucks fan base will suffer. Ultimately, Luongo might not be able to totally mute his naysayers with a big performance, but a win would help him at least turn the volume down.

That’s because win or lose, Game 7’s have a tendency to amplify things.