VANCOUVER — It’s the last road trip they will make this season and the Vancouver Canucks are hoping to return home carrying some extra luggage.
The Canucks received rock-star treatment from a large, noisy crowd jammed into the Vancouver airport Saturday to cheer their heroes as they boarded an airplane for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final.
The Canucks lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can claim the first Stanley Cup in franchise history with a win over the Boston Bruins Monday night.
“It’s very close,” said goaltender Roberto Luongo, shouting so reporters could hear him over the screams of fans. “We can feel it. It’s at our finger tips right now.”
Luongo recorded his second shutout of the final as Vancouver used a 1-0 win over the Bruins Friday night to move to within one victory of the NHL championship.
The Canucks have an opportunity to put 40 years of frustration, missed opportunities and the memories of some very bad teams behind them.
“This is our chance,” said captain Henrik Sedin. “You don’t get too many opportunities to finish off a Stanley Cup.
“We are going to make the most of it.”
Canuck supporters partied late into the night on Vancouver’s streets following Friday’s victory.
The enthusiasm carried over to the airport, were fans waved signs, pleaded for autographs, and shrieked with delight when seeing their favourite players.
“This is pretty cool,” said defenceman Kevin Bieksa.
“It gets bigger and bigger every time we go on the road. There is a lot of support in the city.”
He knows the Canucks won’t be getting much love when they step on the ice at TD Gardens.
“We have to be very focused and stay together as a group,” said Bieksa. “It’s going to be a hostile crowd. They are loud there, they are violent, they are everything.
“We have to stick together. We are one game away right now. We have to pull it all together for one game.”
The Canucks have adopted an us-against-them attitude during the playoffs.
Current and former players like Dave Bolland and Jeremy Roenick have criticized Vancouver. They have called the Canucks villains and accused them of embellishing hits to draw penalties.
Bieksa said he’s too busy playing hockey to care.
“Who really cares what those guys are tweeting,” he shrugged. “Consider the source.”
Henrik Sedin was angry over comments Mike Milbury made on television. The former New York Islanders’ general manager called the Sedin twins Thelma and Louise while working on the U.S. television network Versus.
“If you make fun of us on TV, I think that’s what you do when you are kids, not when you are grown up,” said Henrik. “That’s too bad.
“Apparently he keeps doing what he does.”
Daniel Sedin, who won the NHL’s scoring title this season, has just one goal in the final. Henrik Sedin, last year’s scoring leader and league MVP, has no points.
“We know we have to play better,” said Henrik Sedin.
The home team has won all the games during the series. If the Canucks can’t get the job done on the road, Game 7 will be at Rogers Arena Wednesday.
“It’s always nice to clinch when you have the chance,” said forward Jannik Hansen. “You don’t want to keep giving them second lives. It’s a matter of playing this game as a must win.”
Boston forward Brad Marchand said the Bruins know their room for error has been reduced to nothing.
“We know we’re fighting for our lives,” said Marchand, who has been an irritant to the Canucks. “We have to be very determined.
“We have to make sure we’re ready because we’re in a very tough spot.”
The Bruins have faced elimination twice during the playoffs. They needed Game 7’s to defeat both Montreal and Tampa Bay.
In each of those games Nathan Horton scored the winning goal. Horton has been knocked out of the series with a concussion by an Aaron Rome hit. Coach Claude Julien said the Bruins have other players able to step up.
“I believe in this group of guys and we’ve been through a lot,” said Julien. “We lost Nathan at the beginning of the third game here and we did extremely well getting ourselves back into the series.
“They have injuries as well and we don’t look for excuses. We feel right now we have a team that can compete right to the end. The only thing we have left to do is go out there and show it. ”
The Canucks first trip to Boston during the playoffs was a disaster. Vancouver lost the two games by a combined score of 12-1, allowing the Bruins to tie the series 2-2.
Scrappy forward Alex Burrows said the Canucks have to be patient and disciplined.
“We have to manage the puck like we can, be physical,” he said.
“We believe we can do it.”
All the Canucks wins during the series have been by one goal, while their losses have been blowouts. The team that led the NHL in scoring this season has managed just six goals in five games against Boston. Vancouver’s power play has been a laughable one-for-25.
All that would worry coach Alain Vigneault a lot more if his team had not been finding a way to win.
“What we want to do is put our best game on the ice,” said Vigneault. “If we put our best game on the ice, the results usually take care of themselves.
“We are going to go out there, and work really hard. We are going to try our best.”