clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Stanley Cup Finals 2011: Will Blowout Loss Shake Vancouver Canucks' Confidence?

No one could have predicted the Boston Bruins' 8-1 blowout over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3. Will Vancouver shake it off as just a bump in the road or has Boston finally gotten under their skin?

Getty Images

There are two ways for the Vancouver Canucks to look at Monday night's 8-1 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

On one hand, sometimes it's easier to move on from games where the entire team played poorly -- bad penalties were taken, coverage was missed all over the place, and Roberto Luongo let in his share of bad goals as team focus deteriorated. Sometimes, everything simply goes wrong, but in the playoffs, it's just one game.

On the other hand, there's clearly cause for concern. The Bruins not only figured out how to stymie the Canucks power play, but Boston forced their hand, creating several critical shorthanded scoring chances and scoring two goals while down a man. Like the San Jose Sharks, Vancouver's opponent in the last round, Boston found success chipping the puck in past the Canuck blueline to create a number of scoring chances.

Complete Coverage of Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals

The home crowd seemed to energize the Bruins, and the team in black and gold brought a grittier, more physical game that translated into positive results. And while Aaron Rome isn't nearly as valuable as, say, Kevin Bieksa, his hit on Nathan Horton will most likely garner some suspension. For a blueline that's already missing Dan Hamhuis, another loss isn't going to help.

Where do things actually stand? I'm not a big believer in game-to-game momentum; once the puck drops for Game 4, all of the good things that Boston did get erased. That's not to say that they may have discovered tactical things that work against Vancouver -- they've obviously done something right to put eight pucks in past Roberto Luongo. But there's no reason why Vancouver's defense will miss so many assignments for half of another game. Nor will Luongo offer up as many juicy rebounds.

From a strategic perspective, the biggest concern for Vancouver is how Boston found some success on both the penalty kill and the power play. Momentum may not necessarily carry over from game to game, but confidence can do wonders for special teams: a little mental edge goes a long way in creative playmaking and aggressive pursuit while mental lapses and second-guessing can send both special teams units spiraling downward quickly. If Boston's tightened up both ends of things, Game 4 will be very interesting.

However, the playoffs are all about opportunity. Every game is a new opportunity; perhaps more so this year than previous years, that statement holds true. The Canucks have seen just about everything during this year's playoffs. The last time they were in this situation, they admittedly played a worse game than the San Jose Sharks -- and yet, the Sharks deteriorated in a penalty-laden five-minute stretch that turned the entire series. It's not about dominating a full 60 minutes, it's about bending without breaking while capitalizing on the other team's mistakes.

The Canucks have been so mentally tough after slaying the proverbial dragon in the Chicago Blackhawks that there should be no shattered confidence going into Game 4. What's more enticing is that a win in Boston means a chance to raise Lord Stanley at home.

So the stakes are clear: win and the Canucks get an opportunity to raise the Stanley Cup on Canadian soil in Game 5; lose and the series becomes a best of three -- regardless of how it got there.

Short memories are critical in the playoffs. Vancouver has shown the ability to come back from disappointment with a strong game. With the Stanley Cup almost within sight, there's no reason why they can't simply write off Game 3's blowout and move forward undeterred.

The Stanley Cup Finals are ongoing, as the Vancouver Canucks battle the Boston BruinsStick with this StoryStream for full coverage of Game 3. For coverage on the Finals, stick with our Stanley Cup Finals hub, our Canucks blog, Nucks Misconduct, and our Bruins blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder.