The Vancouver Canucks rolled through the regular season with very few bumps in the road. One of those, a 3-1 home loss to the Bruins in February, was the fifth win in a perfect 6-0 road trip by Boston. At the time, there was nary a word about a potential meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs three months down the road.
But here we are.
And in the span of six periods, the Canucks have gone from resting comfortably in the driver’s seat to being hog-tied and helpless in the trunk. A loss in tonight’s Game 5 in the Rogers Centre would be absolutely devastating for Vancouver, which entered the series as heavy favorites.
But something was lost during that cross-country flight on the heels of Vancouver’s demoralizing overtime victory over the Bruins in Game 2. Or maybe it was simply Aaron Rome’s brutal cheap shot hit that ended Nathan Horton’s season that provided the wake-up call Boston needed. Since then, the Bruins have outscored the Canucks 12-1 and thoroughly dominated play.
The Bruins have been maddeningly inconsistent at times this season but seem to have regained their focus at the absolute most opportune time. Perhaps a return to home ice will provide the boost the Canucks need. But if the Bruins play their game — aggressively forecheck, stay out of the penalty box, capitalize on turnovers, get rock-solid goaltending — there’s no reason to believe they won’t be returning to the Garden holding a 3-2 series lead.
If that’s the case, you might as well start decorating the Duck Boats right now because, come Monday night, there will be a sparkling piece of sterling silver being hoisted overhead by a bunch of black-and-gold cult heroes who could really use a shave.