The Canucks sit one win away from their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Now all they have to do is figure out a way to win in Boston and the silverware will return to Canada for the first time since 1993. The problem is, the Canucks have been terrible away from home so far in the Stanley Cup Final. So, which Canucks team will emerge once the puck drops at TD Garden in Boston tonight for Game 6? The Canucks have been dynamite at home, playing tight, defensive hockey and winning all three games by one-goal margins. The problem, however, is that the Bruins have had their way with them on home ice, outscoring the Canucks 12-1 in Games 3 and 4. So, with the home team unbeaten so far in the final, will the Canucks be able to put up a fight in Beantown? The Canucks are hoping they’ll be able to rebound and exorcise the demons of Games 3 and 4. They’ll try to look back to the killer instinct that allowed them to bury San Jose and Nashville with games to spare and do their best to get the job done in six. Otherwise, they will allow Boston back into this series for a one-game playoff on Wednesday in Vancouver. Consider this: the Canucks are 3-4 in potential series-winning games so far in these playoffs and have been outscored 24-15 in those games. The Canucks are 5-5 on the road so far, including the three road wins they garnered in Nashville. The Bruins, meanwhile, are 2-2 in Games 6 and 7 in the post-season, with an even score line of 10-10 in those four games. They have not won a Game 6 yet in the playoffs, though both were played on the road. The Bruins are 9-3 at home in the playoffs, including dropping their first two games of the playoffs at home to the Canadiens. So, can this Canucks team finally close out a series on its first opportunity? Or, will they be forced to go the distance and hope they can grind out a series victory in Game 7 like they did in Chicago in the first round? Both teams have played a vastly different game at home than they have on the road. With the Cup on the line, which Vancouver team will show up? The answer comes to you 8 p.m. tonight.
Until the next puck drops,
Oh Gary when will you learn! Gary Bettman, the beloved National Hockey League (N.H.L.) Commissioner for the better part of the last 18 years, has failed to realize the error of his ways. He’s sent the N.H.L. in such a downward spiral, it may never recover. The continuous expansion into inferior markets has crippled this once prominent league. In June 1994, just over one year into his term, the N.H.L. was considered one of the top four sports, possibly surpassing the National Basketball Association (N.B.A.) for number three. In June 1994, Sports Illustrated ran a cover story headlined: “Why the NHL is hot and the NBA is not.” Now, nearly 17 years later, the sport ranks near the bottom of the top 10. What baffles me along with many other fans and reporters of the N.H.L. is that he continues to keep teams in these markets where they are constantly losing money and holding the league back. He is even considering relocating a franchise to Kansas City, a market which failed miserably in the 1970s. In the late 1990s he expanded into two markets which failed in the 1970s, those being Atlanta and Columbus. Those markets continue to fail today. There is a lot of speculation this will be the last season in Atlanta, possibly relocating to Winnipeg or Quebec City. Phoenix is another location whose future is in jeopardy and could be relocated this year. Here is the main difference between Bettman and his predecessors Clarence Campbell and John Ziegler Jr, who ran the league in the 1970s. When the N.H.L. tried expanding the game in to different markets, both acknowledged the failures of those markets and either relocated or folded the franchises in less than a decade. Bettman continues to keep them running for over a decade even though they lose millions a year. He insists on keeping teams in Atlanta, Columbus, Dallas, Miami, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh and Tampa Bay when they should have never been there in the first place. His reign has been, in the words of television broadcasting legend Ralph Mellanby, “a disgrace”. Mellanby, the brains behind CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada for two decades, was exacting when he said: “He’s done so much damage to hockey it may never recover.” In summary, 18 years of glowing pucks, mid-week all-star games, uneven schedules, bankruptcies, horrific TV exposure, lockouts and lost seasons. This league will not get better until Bettman is gone. Hopefully that happens one day soon and the N.H.L. can flourish once more.
Until the next puck drops,