VANCOUVER – Every little edge counts and the Vancouver Canucks are looking to video to provide one in the Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins.
The two teams face off in Wednesday’s opener but hardly know each other in game situations because they are in different conferences.
They play each other maybe once a year, most likely on a long road trip that is part of the NHL’s regular-season grind and allows little preparation time.
But the two clubs will know each other a little better through video before they step on the ice in Vancouver Wednesday and for Game 2 on Saturday.
“That’s what we’re going to use the next couple of days for,” goalie Roberto Luongo said after Monday’s practice.
“We’re going to get as much video as we can on them, go through their players, making sure we know everything we need to know about them, their systems and their tendencies and make sure we’re as ready as we can be and we don’t get any surprises.”
Even though he used to play in the Eastern Conference, Luongo said he’s familiar with only two Bruin forwards—Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron.
Horton is a former Florida Panthers teammate who has two series-winning goals and 17 playoff points for Boston and Bergeron won Olympic gold with Luongo last season.
Knowing shooters’ tendencies is important for a netminder.
“Most of them are going to be (familiar) through video and talking to (goalie coach) Rollie (Melanson) and guys who have played with their players,” Luongo said.
Forward Alex Burrows, who kept Vancouver’s season alive with a Game 7 overtime winner against Chicago in the opening round, said video could show the Canucks how to create more scoring opportunities.
“I think I’ve seen (Boston) three times in my career, four maybe at most so now we’ll be able to see them a lot closer,” said Burrows who has seven goals and 14 points in 18 playoff games.
Video will likely reveal more than recent games, such as Boston’s 3-1 win in Vancouver this season or the 3-2 Bruins shootout loss in Boston in 2009-10.
“We’ve played them twice in Boston in the six years I’ve been here, on a long eastern road trip, playing an afternoon game there so I don’t think you can look too much into it,” Burrows said of game results.
Coach Alain Vigneault said watching video of the Bruins will be like looking at a brand new opponent.
“That one game in the season is probably not reflective of how both teams play on a regular basis,” Vigneault said.
“It can be but since we don’t see one another very often I don’t think you can put too much emphasis on the stats from that game.”
While the Canucks have watched the Bruins’ playoff run on television, facing them in the best-of-seven final won’t be like meeting a team you see four to six times a season.
But as the series progresses that will change, said defenceman Aaron Rome.
“When you get in the playoffs, you have your certain matchups. You’re basically playing against the same guys all night,” Rome said.
“It could be seven games so you get to know the players pretty well.”
Dan Hamhuis, who with partner Kevin Bieksa will likely face Boston’s top line of Horton, Milan Lucic and David Krejci, has been following the Bruins on television.
“It’s hard to get a feel for it on TV,” said Hamhuis. “Obviously we do some scouting on the video but you don’t want to do too much either.
“You want to make sure you have a good feel for the game, you’re not thinking too much, you’re just playing.”
One Canuck who won’t need much video to become familiar with the Bruins is Maxim Lapierre who has faced them many times as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
His scouting report was succinct and to the point. “It’s a team that’s going to show up every shift on the ice,” he said. “They’re physical, they’re going to block some shots.
“This is going to be a real Stanley Cup final. It’s going to be tough and it’s going to be a war.”
NOTES: Canucks scrimmaged hard for the second straight practice, then worked on special teams as owner Francesco Aquilini and general manager Mike Gillis watched from the stands … Bieksa, who plays on the second power-play unit, left the special-teams session early but Vigneault said he’ll practise Tuesday … Luongo got his first NHL win against Boston on Nov. 28, 1999 … he blanked the Bruins a month later for his first career shutout.