The Vancouver Canucks opened the Stanley Cup final with a 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. Here’s a report card on the two teams (with performance ratings on a one-to-10 scale):
Boston: Tim Thomas was 19 seconds away from a sixth straight period without allowing a goal, but had no chance when he was finally beaten by Raffi Torres on a tic-tac-toe play in the final minute. Thomas at his sprawling best was the reason the game was close as Vancouver’s high-speed attack controlled stretches of the game, especially in the third, which was highlighted by a stop on a Jannik Hansen breakaway. He faced 34 shots. 9.
Vancouver: Roberto Luongo was sharp during an early Boston two-man advantage and he ended up with 17 first-period saves. He never looked out of control and used his quick legs on a handful of chances when it looked like the Bruins may steal a Game 1 victory. Thomas had more difficult saves to make, but it was a mistake-free 36-stop shutout for Luongo. 9.
Boston: The Bruins leaned heavily on Zdeno Chara (28:09 of ice time) and Dennis Seidenberg (27:13), and they looked exhausted in the third frame. Chara was on the ice for the game-winner, but not with Seidenberg. It was Johnny Boychuk that Ryan Kesler tipped the puck past to set up the goal. An otherwise solid night for the group, including Andrew Ference who absorbed some thundering hits. 7.
Vancouver: It looked like disaster when first-pair rearguard Dan Hamhuis left the game in the first period with an injury after a hip check that sent hulking Bruin Milan Lucic head over heels. But Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome, both just back from injury, were strong and top rearguard Kevin Bieksa didn’t miss a beat despite juggling by coach Alain Vigneault. 8.
Boston: A slew of penalties to both clubs through the first two periods made it hard for either team’s forwards to find rhythm and Boston’s looked particularly disjointed. David Krejci and Nathan Horton had five shots apiece on their line with Lucic, and Brad Marchand had some dangerous moments, but not much was created by others like Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly. 3.
Vancouver: The two top lines had moments when their speed of execution was dazzling. Daniel Sedin had eight shots, while second-line centre Kesler was a force on attack, in the faceoff circle and in his physical play. Kesler showed no sign of the injury suffered at the end of the Western Conference final. He was on the ice with third-liners Torres and Hansen for the game-winner, and Max Lapierre also had a strong game, although the fourth line hardly had any ice time. 7.
Boston: They power play went 0-for-6, including a long 5-on-3 advantage, and had a few chances as they dropped to a woeful 5-for-67 for the playoffs. Using six-foot-nine Chara up front to screen Luongo simply didn’t work as Luongo still saw the puck and Chara was slow to react to rebounds. Their penalty killing held Vancouver to 0-for-6 and allowed the Canucks few chances close to the net, despite two occasions when PK ace Bergeron was in the box. It also killed off a brief Vancouver 5-on-3. 5.
Vancouver: The power play looked sharper once Sami Salo was moved onto the point after generating only four shots on their first three chances, but one of the strongest parts of the Vancouver attack was still held off the scoresheet. 5.
Total score: Boston 24, Vancouver 29