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Canucks searching for answers after Boston massacres

By Dan Di Sciullo
NHL Editor


Dan Di Sciullo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Boston is known as the Hub of Hockey, so it's fitting that the Bruins used home ice to spin the momentum in the Stanley Cup Finals back in their favor.

The Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, have to be a little dizzy with the series headed back to British Columbia tied at 2-2.

Boston simply tore the Western Conference champions apart in Games 3 and 4 at TD Garden, pounding the Canucks by a combined 12-1 margin and silencing the critics who said the Bruins lacked the offensive firepower to compete with Vancouver.

After Monday's 8-1 victory both head coaches downplayed the lopsided score, saying that it still counted as only one win. However, with another dominating performance by the B's in Wednesday's 4-0 triumph, the Canucks are now the club facing feelings of inadequacy.

Vancouver left home after the first two games with a 2-0 lead and allowed just two goals over those contests at Rogers Arena. When the teams get back at it Friday night in Vancouver, the question will be: Can the Canucks regain the swagger they apparently left back in B.C.?

Game 3 turned in Boston's favor in the first period after Nathan Horton -- one of the team's top forwards -- was left with a severe concussion following a vicious hit from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome. Both players involved in that play are done for the Cup Finals -- Horton due to the collision and Rome after the league handed him a four-game suspension.

Vancouver has to be a little dizzy with the series headed back to British Columbia tied at 2-2.
The Canucks had some jump at the beginning of Game 4, but Boston goaltender Tim Thomas sapped that energy by making some key saves with tons of traffic in front of him in the first period. Sure, Vancouver wound up with 38 shots on net in Wednesday's affair, but many of those were of the harmless variety. The Bruins, on the other hand, made the most of their chances, chasing Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo from the contest early in the third period with four goals on 20 shots.

Of course, whenever the Canucks are struggling, the blame usually falls on Luongo and the Sedin twins. Sometimes those critiques are unfair, but currently they are right on the mark.

Luongo surrendered all 12 Bruin goals in the last two games, and while many of those tallies were the result of poor defense, the Vezina Trophy candidate did let some soft ones in on Wednesday. Predictably, Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault will now have to deal with questions about whether Luongo or backup Cory Schneider will start Game 5.

In the Sedins' case, the identical twins have clearly struggled to generate offense for most of this series. Daniel Sedin notched a goal and an assist in Game 2, but otherwise the duo has been held without a point and has a combined minus-3 rating over the four games.

When asked after Game 4 how his team could solve Thomas, Canucks captain Henrik Sedin fittingly responded, "I don't know, do you have an answer for me?"

After getting manhandled in two consecutive games, Henrik can't be the only Canuck left scratching his head.

Perhaps the heat wave that hit Boston this week was part of the reason Vancouver seemed sluggish in Games 3 and 4. The blazing outside temperatures wreaked havoc on ice conditions at TD Garden and could have negated the Canucks' speed advantage over the Bruins.

The good news for the Canucks is that there is moderate weather in the forecast for Friday's game in Vancouver, so slow ice shouldn't be an issue. Still, the Canucks, who were heavy favorites heading into this series, will have to deal with a different kind of heat, the type that comes from being in the pressure cooker that is the Stanley Cup Finals.

With Game 6 set for Monday in Boston, the Canucks should be viewing the next game as a must-win if they want to take home the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. After all, they would be silly to like their chances in Monday's tilt after how badly things went this week at TD Garden.

Recent history suggests Vancouver has a great chance to win Game 5, as home clubs are 15-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals since 2009 and 4-0 in the current series. That's not to say one should count the Bruins out of Friday's game, especially since they lost a pair of close games in Vancouver to start this series, including an overtime setback in Game 2.

Momentum is an elusive concept, but the Bruins have at least put a seed of doubt in the collective mind of the Canucks. Vancouver has a chance to swing the pendulum back in its favor on Friday, but first the Canucks will need to put what happened this week in Boston behind them and that's easier said than done.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Dan Di Sciullo at ddisciullo@sportsnetwork.com.

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