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Preview: It's the Vancouver Canucks vs the Boston Bruins. It's Hockey Night in Canada.
The Boston Bruins return to Vancouver on Saturday night and, yes, we all know what happened last time.
But maybe – just maybe – that storyline doesn't matter as much as your first thought says it should. The Canucks on Friday distanced themselves from the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, writing tomorrow's impending affair off as just another game and, frankly, a little overrated.
It was, after all, two and a half years ago and the faces have changed. No more Tim Thomas. No more Alain Vigneault. No more Max Lapierre or Nathan Horton.
And, enter John Tortorella.
"All you guys talk about is Boston," Tortorella told Vancouver's media congregation, after the Canucks pasted the Edmonton Oilers, 4-0 on Friday night.
"Didn't that happen about 20 years ago?
"Well, we'll play the game hard. They'll play the game hard, and we'll see what's left after 60 minutes."
Tortorella, who was coaching the New York Rangers in 2011, was then asked whether he remembered the series at all.
"Not a thing. And I really don't care."
Ryan Kesler was quick to hop on Tortorella's anti-hype train, on Friday:
"I think you guys (in the media) do a good job of hyping it up," Ryan Kesler said (NHL.com). "It happened so long ago. You circle it on your calendar but we played them already and got all of that out of our system a couple of years ago. There's a lot of new faces, new bodies."
Yeah, there are new bodies, but one of the guys expected to be Pez-dispensered out of Vancouver was Roberto Luongo. And he's still here, still the starting goalie, and he'll be ready to face the same Boston scorers – Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron – who torched him for four lopsided wins in that '11 Final.
"I think it's been made a bigger deal outside this locker room than what it really is," Luongo said, on Friday. "Obviously it's a fun game, there is a history there, but that's where it stops for this group, I think. There's not much we can do about two years ago."
To hear the Canucks speak of Boston, it's all journalism's fault. But you can't help yourself from getting excited for it. Sure, the Stanley Cup Final was two years ago, but the Canucks have only met the Bruins once since then and it quickly turned into a circus.
Despite the Canucks' best efforts to deflect the attention, Saturday night's game is a big deal, and it's a big deal for a few reasons that have nothing to do with that Cup loss (or win, depending on your side).
The Bruins are, at this moment, the best team in the Eastern Conference. They have 46 points through 32 games and they're the reigning Stanley Cup runner-up, having lost last year to a Chicago Blackhawks team that also has a history with Vancouver. Boston has won four games in a row and eight of their last 10.
The Canucks, meanwhile, are cruising along with a six-game win streak that has put them right back in the middle of the Western Conference's playoff hunt. Vancouver sits in sixth place in the West after Friday's win, with 43 points in 34 games.
Both Boston and Vancouver enter's Saturday's contest coming off their own wins over the Edmonton Oilers.
Boston beat the Oil in Alberta, 4-2, on Thursday. Vancouver shut Edmonton out 4-0 on Friday night.