Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Lu.

Alex Burrows is yelling something.  G-Rated, I'm sure.
The Vancouver Canucks took game five of the Stanley Cup Final Friday night, rebounding from an awful two games in Boston to defeat the Bruins 1-0 inside Rogers Arena in a hard-fought, gritty, defensive affair.  Maxim Lapierre scored the only goal of the game 4:35 into the third period and Roberto Luongo was spectacular, making 31 saves for his fourth shutout of the playoffs and second in this series to lead Vancouver to the win. Tim Thomas was also stellar in nets, stopping 24 of 25 for the visiting side.  With the win, the Canucks take a 3-2 series lead and have the chance to bring home their first championship in team history early next week.

The Bruins came out hard and drew a power play just 1:39 into the game when Raffi Torres was called for tripping, but Boston was not able to capitalize on the early chance despite a few close calls.  Vancouver slowly began to gain some offensive momentum of their own and Mason Raymond got a golden chance in front, but he was denied by Tim Thomas.  Boston was awarded another power play at 6:54 when Henrik Sedin was boxed for interference, but again were held off during their man advantage time.  Using momentum from another successful kill, the Canucks started to press again, but that momentum was killed when Andrew Alberts gave the Bruins another power play with 5:47 left.  This Boston power play was dominant, but Roberto Luongo made several big saves to keep the Canucks from falling behind.  The rest of the period was fast and furious but neither team could break the ice and the period ended tied at 0.
After Alex Burrows and Milan Lucic were called for matching minors at the end of the opening period, the second frame started four on four.  Nothing came of the extra ice, but the Canucks then began to try and tilt the ice towards Thomas again, to no avail.  Ryan Kesler was called for interference after trying to rattle Thomas at 4:18, and again Bostons power play was dominant but unable to break through Luongo.  Even at five a side, the Bruins kept the pressure on the Vancouver net full tilt, until Chris Higgins was called down on a fast break by Adam McQuiad and the Canucks got a power play at 7:22.  Though they got some solid zone time, the Canucks were unable to convert; but kept up their pressure in the Boston zone.  With abound eight minutes remaining, a furious scrum occurred in front of the Bruins net and Tanner Glass had a yawning net to shoot at, but whiffed clean to keep it scoreless.  After another dominating shift from the Canucks, they were awarded a power play with 4:04 remaining when Patrice Bergeron was called for a hold, but again, Thomas stood tall and they could not take the lead.  The period closed with even more furious back and forth action, but no one could score and it ended still tied at 0.
The Canucks got the first chances in the third period, but whiffed again; this time it was Alex Burrows with the great chance that he could not put on goal.  Finally, however, Maxim Lapierre was able to convert a beautiful pass from Kevin Bieksa to take a 1-0 lead at 4:35, sending Rogers Arena into bedlam.  Vancouver kept coming after their goal, refusing to sit back on their lead, and Lapierre got another chance four minutes later on a 2 on 1 that Thomas was able to stop with a sprawling save.  Then it was Boston's turn to come at Vancouver, but Rich Peverely was called for a hook at 12:39 to set up a critical Canucks man advantage.  The home side set up a dominating man advantage but Thomas held firm, refusing to let Boston fall behind by two.  Inside three minutes, Boston began their final charge, but despite many great chances, could not equalize.

What a performance by Roberto Luongo.  After being shellacked in two games away from Vancouver, including being pulled last game, Bobby Lou put together a masterpiece.  He made several amazing saves and never looked nervous; it seemed as though he got better as the game wore along.  I said in my preview that he had to be at his best for Vancouver to win.  He was, and they did. Coincidence? Um, no.

Tim Thomas is some kinda goalie.  I don't know how he does it, but he is without a doubt the best goaltender in the league.  He was absolutely incredible tonight, as he has been in every game this series, and he had no chance on the one goal he allowed (which has been the case for all but one goal in this Final).  Now it's his turn to have the biggest game of his career in Boston on Monday.

Max Lapierre scored the game-winner?  Seriously?  The hockey gods must be up to something funny, because he is probably the most hated Canuck besides Raffi Torres and Alex Burrows (they scored game winners too). Especially against Boston, Lapierre has been a thorn in their sides and it must be all the more cruel that he scored the goal.

**Bonus observation: the Canucks may try out for Canada, Sweden, and the United States' diving teams in the 2012 Olympics.

Game six is Monday night in Boston.

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