Want some interesting numbers?
Tim Thomas has turned aside 79 of the last 80 Vancouver Canuck shots he has faced – a save percentage of almost 97 per cent.
Roberto Luongo has stopped 39 of the last 51 Boston Bruin shots he has faced – a save percentage of about 76 per cent.
Boston’s penalty kill has outscored Vancouver’s vaunted power play, 2-1.
Boston’s 14th ranked (playoff) power play has outscored Vancouver’s third-ranked one, 3-1
On the basis of numbers, the Canucks should just about be on the ropes by now.
The important number, however, is two, the number of games each team has won, and has still to win, to hoist the coveted Stanley Cup.
So, there is hope, however much it is waning among the mostly bandwagon-jumping Vancouver fans, for the Canucks yet.
Vancouver still has more team speed, and more depth across the board, than Boston. Vancouver still has the last two Art Ross (NHL scoring leader) trophy winners on its top line. Luongo outplayed Thomas early, allowing just two goals in the first two games.
But, and it is a big but, the Canucks have looked lost, just terrible, in the second and third periods of each of the last two games and almost never win (eight times in 40 years) in Boston.
So it comes down to tonight.
Either Vancouver sorts itself out and wins tonight’s game or the Cup quest will stretch into a fifth decade. Worse than that, having built the ultimate contender for this season, Canuck management is likely out of ideas (and money) that might help them get over the hump at playoff time.
Vancouver’s brass has made all the moves it can think of, and unless the Canucks turn things around in a hurry – tonight – it might all be for naught.
Sure, the Canucks miss Dan Hamhuis on defence and probably shouldn’t be dressing the ineffective Manny Malhotra no matter how much they think they owe his grit, but, the Bruins are missing players, and hurting, too.
It always comes down to that in the playoffs.
Bottom line, either Luongo re-learns how to stop the puck and the rest of the roster re-learns how to outskate the slower Bruins, or the three-year push by Vancouver, intended to culminate in a Cup parade down Georgia St., will end as a failure – with Canuck managers trying to work around some big contracts to re-build rather than re-load.
A lot on the line tonight for Vancouver, wouldn’t you say?
If I were a Canucks fan, I would have spent any spare time today looking for four-leaf clovers, digging out prayer beads, preparing a lucky meal, whatever, in pursuit of feeling hopeful and transmitting that to the team – in time for the puck drop tonight.