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Your Boston Bruins-Vancouver Canucks 2011 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 primer

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This is it, ladies and gentlemen. At this point, you’ve heard all the cliches about boyhood dreams of heroic imaginary moments carried out in backyard rinks and the streets of various burbs. Tonight’s game is for all the marbles and every other go-to description for a single contest that decides an annual NHL champion.

The hockey world couldn’t ask for a much more peculiar and entertaining first six games, either. The first three games in Vancouver were tense, nail-biting affairs. A couple bad bounces against the Canucks might have stripped their chances of even getting this far (or at least changed the makeup of this series). Meanwhile, it’s likely that you already know about the jaw-dropping 17-3 disparity in goals for the Bruins in their games in Boston.

Of course, Game 7’s tend to throw out the rulebook (and not just because officials rarely use their whistles). Tonight’s game could go either way, so it should make for some fascinating TV.

Boston @ Vancouver (NBC) – 8 p.m. ET; Series tied 3-3

Despite the numerous storylines buzzing around this strange and captivating series, it seems like it always comes back to Tim Thomas vs. Roberto Luongo.

As you’ve heard before, Thomas probably has the Conn Smythe Trophy locked up already, but there might be a subset of people out there who won’t give his odd style full credit unless he wins The Big One. It might be an honorable group, but Thomas probably doesn’t want to get heaped in the “great in defeat” bin with Ron Hextall and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

That’s still an enviable position compared to the pressure heaped upon Luongo right now; even a great performance in defeat probably won’t wipe away the stain of his three awful games in Beantown. It’s unfair to downplay all of his career accomplishments because of a handful of bad nights, but it’s no doubt that is how most people will feel if he loses Game 7.

Want more Game 7 meat to chew on? Devour these clips from PHT.

Your Boston Bruins-Vancouver Canucks 2011 Stanley Cup Finals Game 6 primer

Stanley Cup Bruins Canucks Hockey

No matter what happens tonight, we’ll have something interesting to talk about. Either the Vancouver Canucks will win their first Stanley Cup in their 40-year franchise history or the Boston Bruins will play in their first Game 7 in their 17 Cup finals runs. Will we see champagne fall on the heads of Canucks players or the pain of a pressure-packed deciding Game 7 on Wednesday?

It seems like it can go either way. The Canucks remain the strong favorites and hold a 3-2 series lead yet the Bruins have dismantled Vancouver by a 12-1 mark at home.

Vancouver @ Boston (NBC) – 8 p.m. ET; Canucks lead series 3-2

From the look of things, there won’t be any major lineup changes, but that can always change in the cat-and-mouse game of the playoffs. Still, to many, it will all come down to Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara vs. the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo. Which side will improve their legacies (and chances of winning it all) tonight? We’ll have to watch and see.

Check out all of these posts for PHT’s wall-to-wall coverage for Game 6.

Your Boston Bruins-Vancouver Canucks 2011 Stanley Cup Finals Game 5 primer

Green Men

When the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks left Vancouver for Boston in that lengthy flight, it seemed like the Canucks might be primed to take control of the series even though they barely earned their wins. That concept didn’t hold for very long, though, as the Bruins rode the anger and inspiration that came from watching their big goal scorer carted off on a stretcher to turn around this series in a jarringly demonstrative way.

Now the Canucks hope to get their acts back together – and the series lead with it – back in the friendly confines of Rogers Arena. Of course, that venue won’t be a very friendly place to Roberto Luongo if he flops for a third straight game. (If he does start as Alain Vigneault claimed, that is).

Boston @ Vancouver (NBC) – 8 p.m. ET; Series tied 2-2

The only lineup change of note is another shuffling of Vancouver’s defensive sets, as raw rookie Chris Tanev will take Keith Ballard’s place as Ballard coughed up a disturbing array of turnovers. As much as Luongo is (rightly) blamed for letting in some softies and falling apart, the Canucks’ defense hasn’t exactly been rock solid, either.

The Bruins harnessed the negative energy from being down 2-0 and being without Nathan Horton to crush Vancouver at home, but can they duplicate that success on the road? We’ll see soon enough.

For more on this pivotal Game 5, check out this bevy of PHT content.

Boston Bruins hope to retain momentum, tie series with villainous Vancouver Canucks

Derrick Leger

If unbiased fans were sitting on the fence going into Game 3, it’s likely that the Aaron Rome late hit on Nathan Horton might have pushed them in one direction. Forgive the generalization, but it might be safe to say that the Vancouver Canucks will be seen as the villains while the Boston Bruins are likely the heroes by default going forward.

Of course, Game 4 could bring about all kinds of ugly situations from both teams that might swing things the other way. The word is that Canucks fans might be advised not to wear their team colors in Boston, although Milan Lucic thinks that ugly fan backlash is a two-way street. This series started off pretty rough for two teams that didn’t know each other particularly well, but the vitriol level is rising with each game.

Vancouver @ Boston (Versus) – 8 p.m. ET; Canucks lead series 2-1

It’s a good thing for Vancouver that cumulative scoring means nothing in the NHL playoffs. After winning two heart-stopping one-goal games at home, they were unceremoniously throttled 8-1 in Boston on Monday. Maybe it’s merely circumstantial, but it seems like the Canucks don’t play as well when the stakes are much lower for them than their opponents. (They were pretty lucky to beat San Jose in Game 5, too.)

With all the positive momentum for Boston, the brutal truth is that they still need to win Game 4 to really be “in” this series. They’ve been a scrappy bunch all playoffs long, but winning three out of four games against Vancouver might be their biggest test yet.

Let’s take a look at some of the best PHT content going into tonight’s game, then.

Your Boston Bruins-Vancouver Canucks 2011 Stanley Cup Finals Game 3 primer

Manny Maholtra

Many Boston Bruins fans are probably still stewing about Alex Burrows’ great Game 2 performance. They should relax, though, since their own team benefited from a game-winning goal by a could-have-been-suspended player when Nathan Horton scored Game 7’s only goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Fairly gained or not, the Vancouver Canucks take a 2-0 series lead into Boston for Game 3. Both of the first two games came down to last-minute goals, leaving the Bruins wondering what could have been. How will they feel about things after tonight? We’ll have to wait and see.

Vancouver @ Boston (Versus) – 8 p.m. ET; Canucks lead series 2-0

The lineups shouldn’t be drastically different tonight, although there are some rumblings that Shawn Thornton might play for Boston tonight (possibly for not-so-hot-anymore rookie Tyler Seguin). Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis almost certainly won’t return to the Vancouver lineup in Game 3 (and beyond, perhaps).

The Bruins have a chance to make the series score match what has been some tightly fought games so far. PHT produced a ton of content for Game 3, so check out some of the highlights below.