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Bruins Face Canucks with Season on the Line

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The good news is that the Boston Bruins are two wins away from a Stanley Cup.

The bad news is that the Vancouver Canucks are one win away from the same thing.

Monday night in Boston, the Bruins will play their final home game of the season, seeking to extend the Stanley Cup Finals to a game 7 on Wednesday night.  Home ice has meant everything in this series, with the Canucks taking all three games played at the Rogers Center, and the Bruins dominating the two games at TD Garden. 

The Bruins have been heavily reliant on Tim Thomas throughout the postseason, and seldom more than in the Finals.  Thomas boasts an absurd 1.21 GAA and .965 save percentage in this series.  And if he wasn't already sufficiently motivated, figures to be so after Roberto Luongo casually mentioned that he would have stopped Maxim Lapierre's game winner on Friday night. 

Apart from goaltending, Boston's primary area of success in this series has been in keeping Vancouver's big guns off the board; Daniel and Henrik Sedin have combined for 2 points in the entire series, and Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg must be given a huge amount of credit there.  If we knew before the series that the Sedins would combine for 2 points and the Bruins would outscore the Canucks 14-6, we'd feel pretty good about Bruins winning the series; alas, here we are.

After a pair of dreadful performances in games 3 and 4, Luongo bounced back with a game 5 shutout.  The Bruins have to get traffic in front of Luongo, something they've done only sporadically in this series.  Luongo has been holding the puck a lot, content to give up the defensive zone faceoff, and so the Bruins need to make it harder for him to see the puck cleanly.  And, failing that, win the ensuing draw and keep the pressure on. 

The power play, a running punchline in these playoffs, didn't look bad in game 5, but also didn't score.  Exactly why Claude Julien thought that giving Gregory Campbell time on the power play was a good way to get the unit working remains a mystery.  Happily, Campbell was nowhere to be seen on the power play during practice.  We may see more of Tyler Seguin on the power play, as he was rotating with Michael Ryder on the second unit.

On defense, the Bruins need to clear the zone more quickly.  They haven't had a huge problem handling the Vancouver forecheck, but when they've given the Canucks multiple chances to score, they've been burned, most notably in game 5.  Thomas has faced a lot of rubber: 171 shots in this series, an average of 34.2 per game.  Like the Bruins, the Canucks have done a poor job of getting traffic in front of the net.

The injury situation for the teams remains pretty much the same.  Ryan Kesler was held out of Vancouver's Sunday practice, but Alain Vigneault said that they just wanted to give him a day off.  Kesler had a groin injury that was seemingly aggravated in game 2.  Dan Hamhius and his ruptured testicle will presumably miss the duration of the series.  (Canuck or no, we feel for you, Dan.  Ouch.)  On Boston's side, Nathan Horton is obviously out. 

Broadcast will be at 8 pm on NBC.  And hopefully, we'll be back here Wednesday night.