Vigneault not done shaking things up for the Canucks


Vigneault not done shaking things up for the Canucks

By Mary Paoletti

Alain Vigneault tried to shake up some good luck for his Vancouver Canucks this weekend.

Vancouver surrendered a 3-0 series lead to Chicago, letting the Blackhawks claw back to 3-2 before Game 6 rolled around. This is when Vigneault made his changes.

1. Team warmed up with tennis balls instead of pucks during Saturday practice.

2. Vigneault wore jeans to his presser and shorts to a media meet on Sunday morning.

3. Vancouver went helmetless in pre-game warmups.

4. Cory Schneider started intend of Vezina Trophy finalist Roberto Luongo.

The results weren't quite what Vigneault wanted. In fact, his Opposite Day approach actually produced the exact opposite of what he wanted (WEIRD!!!!!): the Canucks lost again.

Game 7 is scheduled for Tuesday, 10 p.m. Think Vigneault is going to give up that tactic, so his team doesn't do something grotesquely horrifying like blow a three-game series lead?

No way! WGS has the inside info on what the Canucks coach has planned for the Final Countdown.

1. Team will warm up with kittens instead of tennis balls. Vigneault's theory is that the little buggers will hone his Canucks' skills even better because they're wily and will try to escape being hit with hockey sticks. Reportedly, Chris Neil is going to provide the kittens. (You know, because he's not busy right now.)

(Days of Y'Orr photo)

2. Vigneault is going to dress in a cheerleader uniform during Tuesday morning media scrums. What better way to get the Canucks pumped up than to show he believes that they can get the job done.

And he's going to bring some cheerleader friends!

They might want to practice a little more.

3. Vancouver will not wear any pads during the game on Tuesday. This is the plan anyway. I assume there will be some push back.

4. Dan Ellis will start in goal instead of Roberto Luongo.

The Twitter account is fake and so was the deal, but somehow Vigneault got it extended for Game 7. Ellis is quoted as saying "Whatevs, I was bored anyway." The Ducks sometimes-netminder is considering having eyeholes punched into this gold Incan mask so he can have it attached to his helmet.

Why? Why not.

"It was a problem for me," says Ellis. "I've got all these precious antiquities laying around and no use for them. The mask will make my helmet heavy, but whatevs. Gold is super shiny and I like that."

Will all of these tricks work? Sad Bear hopes not.

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic


WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the 76ers at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Bruins put finishing touches on reeling Canadiens


Bruins put finishing touches on reeling Canadiens

MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins weren’t about to dance on any Montreal Canadiens’ graves after it was over and done with, but they effectively closed the door on any flickering playoff hopes for the Habs this week. It all ended with Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre that finished off the sweep of all three meetings between the two arch-rivals over an eight day span, and with the reeling Montreal a stunning 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

It was a close game nearly all the way through in Montreal until David Pastrnak and Riley Nash scored in the final few minutes of the third period, but the Bruins outscored the Habs by an 11-5 margin while clearly establishing they were the better team in all three contests. It all makes sense given the opposite directions that the two hockey clubs are headed at this point in the season, and because of that the Bruins were playing it pretty cool after burying the Habs.

“It was kind of a crazy week because we were playing them three times, so we obviously wanted to play good hockey,” said Tuukka Rask, who won all three games vs. the Habs while improving his lifetime record vs. the Habs to 10-15-3 in the process. “[We wanted to] get as many points as possible, and won all of those games along with the one on Long Island. So it was a great week for us.”

Certainly it seemed like there was more genuine emotion from the Bruins in Claude Julien’s return to Boston midweek, and perhaps a little more adrenaline in last weekend’s first game at the Bell Centre where rookies like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Danton Heinen were dipping their toes into the storied rivalry for the first time.

But on this Saturday night it was more about a complete dismantling of the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge even as the Bruins initially fell down by a goal after a bad McAvoy turnover. Instead it was Boston’s Perfection Line that went to work with an efficient, dominant performance as David Pastrnak scored the game’s first goal and insurance third goal in the third period. They also accounted for the game-winner when Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak hemmed Montreal’s fourth line in the defensive zone, and Torey Krug eventually stepped up and rifled one short side on Carey Price.

Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak combined for two goals, six assists and a plus-8 in the resounding victory over the Habs, and had a dominant 12 of Boston’s 31 shots on net when the final horn had sounded. They simply overwhelmed Montreal with their depth, the high end quality of their lineup and the fact that Boston was rested while the Habs had to play in Washington DC on Friday night in a three games in four days stretch.

All of that allowed the Bruins to drive the final nail into Montreal’s coffin when the game was over, and it furthermore allowed Boston to keep worrying about the teams they’re trying to catch (ahem . . . Tampa Bay Lightning) rather than Eastern Conference bottom-feeders like the Canadiens.

“We talked about doing the job against them and finding a ways to push teams down while gaining ground on the teams above us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought it was a great effort again. We knew that they would be ready for us, but we also knew that they had played last night. So maybe if we had a good start we could jump on them. I thought we had a good game.”

Clearly there have been ebbs and flows to the Bruins/Habs rivalry over their long history together, and both Boston and Montreal have been in the catbird seat at different times even in the recent editions of their history. But right now Boston is beating the Canadiens badly at their own skill and speed game and dominating thing with pure hockey rather than bullying, and that’s got to sting for a Habs group that simply couldn’t compete with the Bruins in three different chances to do so this week.