All the Vancouver Canucks needed was a bit of home cooking, as they scored midway through the third period of Game Five, ending a scoreless tie and sending the Vancouver fanbase into a frenzy. They are now just a single win from the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship.
On the other side, Boston couldn't capitalize on their historic two games in Boston -- they outscored the Canucks by a 12-1 margin in Games Three and Four -- and now they are on the brink of elimination.
Can Boston's Home Magic Continue?
The Boston Bruins faced a deep hole after the first two games of this series. Though they were only outscored by a 3-2 margin at that point, they were down 2-0 in the Finals and needed to win big in Boston. They answered, merely setting a record for two-game margin of victory in the Finals.
Twice this postseason, the Bruins have faced elimination at home. They beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in overtime. They beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in an incredibly close game. They've won nine of the past 10 home playoff games, and are a different team on their home ice.With Tim Thomas playing at a historic level, the Bruins hold the advantage in tight games. The Bruins will need a boost of support from their home crowd.
Will Vancouver's Big Three Show Up?
The Canucks have depended on the elite offensive output of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler this season. These three carried the offensive load throughout the regular season, and have all been the difference in this postseason. Kesler willed the Canucks past a tough Nashville Predators team, and the Sedin twins were the best players against the San Jose Sharks.
Their combined offensive output during the Finals? One goal, and two assists.
It's a credit to the rest of the Canucks squad, one that runs three levels deep in offensive talent. They have good defensive balance and enjoy great goaltending (at least at home). But for the Canucks to truly put away the Bruins, they need their top players to take control of this series. With all the pressure riding on this team, Vancouver needs to see something from their three best players. Yes, Boston's defensive schemes are designed to shut them down. Yes, Tim Thomas is nearly unbeatable. But your top players should be able to use their overpowering skill and talent to beat any defensive scheme. Right now, the Bruins defense wants it more than the Canucks' top three forwards.
Is Fatigue A Factor?
The NHL Playoffs are a long, exhausting journey. The Bruins have played in two seven game series, and a total of 23 playoff games. The Canucks have played in one seven game series, and a total of 23 playoff games. At this point, every player on the ice is suffering through multiple injuries and exhaustion.
It's 2508 miles between Vancouver, BC and Boston, MA. Each team has traveled 5,016 miles through the air in the past three days, had multiple morning skates and practices, and played a very intense and physical Game Five in Vancouver.
Fatigue takes away from a player's speed; it takes away from reaction time; it takes away from decision making. The Canucks depend more on speed and skill, and this fatigue can inhibit their style of play more than the Bruins' physical defensive mindset. If the Bruins force a Game Seven, this could become an even greater factor.
Puck drops Monday, June 13 at 8:00 p.m. EDT, on NBC and CBC.