The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals have been dominated by the home team in every game, and Friday nightâ€™s contest was no different.
Vancouver came out lead by all-star goalie Roberto Luongo, and shut out the Bruins for the second time this series in another defensive battle.
To nobodyâ€™s surprise, this series between the Bruins and Canucks has been back and forth. Three defensive battles, and two high scoring blowouts, as the home team seem to dictate the flow in every game.
Games 1 and 2 in Vancouver were won by the hometown Canucks by a combined winning margin of two goals.
Game one proved to be another legendary game from Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo recording his first shutout of the Finals.
Similarly, game two was a nail-biter that went into overtime, but was short lived as Vancouverâ€™s Alexandre Burrows buried the puck in the net within the first 14 seconds of the overtime period.
On the other hand, Games 3 and 4 belonged to Boston. With Bruin fans in a frenzy, Boston rallied around their injured young star Nathan Horton, and stomped the Canucks in both games. Luongo was even pulled in Game 4 following the barrage of goals against him in both contests.
Strangely, Luongo could not have looked further from his normal self in Games 3 and 4.
In three home games played in Vancouver over the course of this final series, Luongo has put up an astonishing .979 save percentage and a 0.67 goal against average, – along with an undefeated 3-0 home record – he has literally been comparable to a brick wall.
As previously mentioned, it was Games 3 and 4 that were the eye opener.
In the two road games played by the Canucks, Luongo has been a different goalie. He has seemed out of his element on the road with a .793 save percentage and a 6.97 goal against average, along with a 0-2 record.
Coming into this series, not many Vancouver or Boston fans would have ever guessed that the Canuck coaching staff was debating whether or not to start an un-injured Luongo in Game 5. As most could have guessed, Luongo got the start, and the coaching staff will most likely never ask themselves that question in a playoff series again.
Luongo has had many great performances, but arguably none as great as his performance on Friday night. Canuck teammate Kevin Bieksa was quoted saying that Luongo had a different look in his eyes going into Game 5.
That look apparently means that Luongo is about to go out and record a legendary performance.
Luongo faced 31 shots and stopped every one of them. No matter what the Bruins did they simply could not beat him. Luongo had some great defensive support from his team, but little scoring support.
As great as Luongo was, Boston goalie Tim Thomas had a phenomenal game as well. He stopped 24 shots and was working on a shutout of his own until a bouncing third period puck found its way into the back of the net.
With just over fifteen minutes left in the game Canuck defensemen Kevin Bieksa sent a shot wide of the goal forcing goalie Tim Thomas to shift his body into position regarding the shot. The puck then bounced off of the backboards and somehow found its way onto the stick of Maxim Lapierre who managed to find the only net seen all game.
Tim Thomas was not to blame for this loss, as Game 5 proved to be yet another epic goalie performance. Both teams defenseâ€™s were moving fast and hitting with the same intensity seen in Game one.
Now, the series shifts back to Boston for Game 6, and both teams are looking to bounce back.
Vancouver is looking to rebound following a terrible outing on their previous two road games against Boston in which the Canucks were absolutely embarrassed. And Boston is looking to get things turned around following the second time they were shutout in this Stanley Cup Finals series.
This has been a heated series, and Boston at home brings an intensity that the Canucks have not figured out how to match.
Which teams will we see? Will it be the high scoring, hard hitting Bruins that destroyed Luongo in back-to-back games in Boston? Or will we see the stingy Vancouver defense backed by a motivated Luongo?
Game 6 is on Monday at 8:00 with the Canucks on the verge of their first Stanley Cup win.
As most could guess, Boston most likely isnâ€™t about to roll over and allow Vancouver to hoist the trophy in their hometown.