The time is finally here…right around 12-hours from the puck drop on Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks at the Rogers Center.
Right now, here’s our pregame installment, by placing Dani Toth on the hot seat for some burning questions:
Mark Marino: 1. What one thing has made the Canucks so successful this post season?
Dani Toth: The ability to have player step up their game when they are needed to. When the Sedins were being shut down by Weber and Suter during the Nashville series, Ryan Kesler went out and won the whole series himself. And even on the back-end when Christian Ehrhoff was out with injury, Sami Salo slid into his position on the powerplay and was able to make the transition so seamlessly.
MM: 2. What are some of the deadly-looking power play units that Vancouver will roll-out against Boston?
DT: The first unit is the one that usually gets the job done and they have been converting at a 40% clip on the road, though those three goals on the 5 on 3 are helping out that statistic. The Sedins and Kesler have been the primary goal scorers with some help coming from the back-end from Ehrhoff or that laser of a shot from Salo when Ehrhoff was injured. They were the top of the NHL in the regular season and there hasn’t been that much dropoff in the playoffs.
MM: 3. Explain to the East Coast what exactly happened to Roberto Luongo/Cory Schneider during the Blackhawks’ series?
DT: I don’t know what it is about facing the Hawks, but Luongo just got progressively worse in the series and when the confidence was gone, benching him ended up doing him some good. Alain Vigneault made a bold move with his decision to bench Luongo and although it was expected to occur for Game 7, it came as a bit of a surprise to see him start Game 6. Canuck fans that were wanting to see Schneider in net also got to see Schneider make some really rookie mistakes in his puck-handling behind the net and that may have changed their minds about wanting him to see him in net ever again during the playoffs (unless he is given a very short leash).
MM: 4. This canucks team is solid top-to-bottom. If there’s a grey area where they may be a little thin, or weak, where or who is that?
DT: I think every Canucks fan would love to see a little bit more secondary scoring. The top line and Kesler has been producing, but there are players like Mason Raymond, Chris Higgins or Jannik Hansen that we’d like to see put up a few points as well.
MM: 5. We all know the Kesler’s and Sedin’s of this team. But give us one player who’s flying under the radar.
DT: I don’t think Alex Burrows gets enough credit for being able to play with the Sedins as well as he can, but someone who has been flying under the radar has been Dan Hamhuis. He’s been a solid shut-down defenceman so far going up against the top line guys of other teams from Jonathan Toews to Joe Thornton. You won’t notice him on the ice much unless he makes a mistake but he’s been a great addition to the team.