VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Injured Canucks forward Mason Raymond made it back from Boston in time to cheer on his Vancouver teammates in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Raymond appeared on the overhead scoreboard during a break in the first period Wednesday night. Wearing a large corset to support the broken bone in his back, he waved his hands and incited the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation.
Raymond was driven awkwardly into the boards by Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk just 20 seconds into the Canucks’ 5-2 loss in Game 6. He spent the past two nights in a Boston hospital, but returned to the West Coast in time for the conclusion to Vancouver’s season.
Raymond didn’t score in the finals, but played solid defense on the Canucks’ second line. Jeff Tambellini replaced him for Game 7.
“We obviously wish Mason was in the lineup right now,” Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. “But I’ve said from the beginning, we don’t need extra motivation. The Stanley Cup is enough motivation for us, so we’re not looking for any extras to help us get to that peak motivation. We’re in the Stanley Cup finals. We would like to win it for him, and for everyone in this dressing room.”
NO GUARANTEES: Daniel Sedin says he didn’t mean to guarantee the Vancouver Canucks would win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
He’s still quite confident in his Canucks heading into their biggest game of the season.
The NHL scoring champion backed off what appeared to be a guarantee of victory to the Vancouver Sun after the Canucks’ 5-2 loss in Game 6.
“That was probably me being excited, and the words came wrong out of my mouth,” Sedin said Wednesday. “What I said was if we put our best game on the ice, I like our chances. That’s the way it’s been all year. When we play our best, we’re a tough team to beat. We show that at home. We like our chances.”
Sedin hasn’t been much of a factor in the finals except while scoring the tying goal and assisting on Alex Burrows’ overtime winner in Game 2. The 104-point scorer has just two goals and two assists in the finals, scoring in only two of the six games.
Yet he isn’t the first superstar to end up as a role player under the tension and defensive pressure of the Stanley Cup finals.
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews had three assists and was a minus-5 during the Blackhawks’ triumph last season. Sidney Crosby had one goal and two assists in seven games for Pittsburgh in 2009, but still raised the Cup.
TAMBELLINI’S TURN: Jeff Tambellini has only been with the Canucks for one season, but he knows better than any of his teammates how much a Stanley Cup would mean to his hometown and his boyhood team.
The son of Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini is the lone Canucks player who grew up in Vancouver, and his earliest playoff memories come from being on the ice with players like Trevor Linden and Cliff Ronning, the key figures in the 1994 run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Tambellini replaced Raymond in the Canucks’ lineup for Game 7. He skated on Vancouver’s fourth line in the first three games of the finals, but was a healthy scratch in the past three.
Steve Tambellini played three seasons in Vancouver from 1985-88 before working his way up from public relations to assistant general manager during 17 years in Vancouver’s front office. Jeff Tambellini was only 8 years old when he started going on the ice to skate after the Canucks practices, while his father went to the office to work.
“I was just a big fan,” Jeff said. “Just always wanted to be around the room, loved being next to the guys, feeling the atmosphere and trying to be as close as I could. It’s something I’ve been very fortunate to grow up in.”
Tambellini was 10 when the Canucks lost Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals to the New York Rangers — 17 years and one day earlier. He remembers watching the game at home with his mom, while his dad was with the team in New York.
“It was heartbreaking,” he said. “It was hard to watch. I remember sitting there almost pulling my hair out. So hopefully we turn this around now.”
Tambellini relishes the chance to make an impact on Game 7, likely on Vancouver’s second line.
“I’ve always enjoyed the big games,” said Tambellini, who played in just five previous playoff games and hadn’t scored since Dec. 28. “That’s what you look for, what you look back on in your career, four or five that were really big, and this is one of them.”
Especially since he knows how badly the city wants it after 40 seasons without a championship.
“It means so much to this city,” he said. “This city is so ready to win and so excited to win. I take so much pride in being a part of this group, because I know how many people care and how passionate they are about this, and how crazy people are wanting this team to have success.”
VIDEOGAME ACCURACY: EA Sports, which makes the popular NHL 2011 video game, used computers simulations to pick the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup before the playoffs started.
That might not sound like a big deal, especially since the game is produced at their nearby Burnaby campus. But the EA Sports simulators not only called Chicago winning last season, but picked 13 of this season’s first 14 playoff series correctly.
The only series that the simulation got wrong was picking Detroit to beat San Jose in seven games of the second round. The Sharks won the series in Game 7.
EA Sports also called the home team winning all seven games of the Stanley Cup finals, a trend that held up going into Game 7 in Vancouver.
Of course, the video game did predict Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who was pulled from the last two games in Boston, would win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP.
BOYCHUK’S PSYCHE: Boston coach Claude Julien wasn’t worried about the mental state of defenseman Johnny Boychuk, whose hit on the first shift of Game 6 left Raymond with a broken bone in his back.
“Johnny is strong enough,” Julien said. “When you know as a player you didn’t mean to do it, you don’t have to worry about the psyche. If it’s something that was done in a cheap manner, then you would. But Johnny certainly didn’t intend on hurting him, and right now we feel for Mason Raymond, honestly.”
Raymond was hurt after getting spun around with Boychuk’s stick between his legs as they went into the corner. Raymond ended up with his head between Boychuk’s legs as the defenseman finished the check by delivering Raymond backward into the boards, leaving him facedown on the ice.
“I know (Raymond) was in an unfortunate position,” Julien said. “I didn’t see any extra (effort) to try and injure him. He was in a bad position, and it was unfortunate. I’m more worried about him, hoping he gets better.”
NOTES: Ticket brokers were getting up to $8,600 per seat at Rogers Arena before Game 7 with demand that’s outstripping the Vancouver Olympics and the last Super Bowl in Texas. The average ticket price with online ticket broker StubHub was $2,749, the highest for any sporting event in its history, including Super Bowls. … Boston F Milan Lucic, who grew up in East Vancouver and won a Memorial Cup with the local junior team, said his mother, Snezana, would attend Game 7. She skipped Game 5 out of fear she had jinxed the Bruins during their first two losses in Vancouver. “It’s a big thing for them, too,” Lucic said about his parents. … Vancouver G Roberto Luongo could be the first goalie in the Triple Gold Club, reserved for players who have won gold medals at both the Olympics and world championships to go with a Stanley Cup championship. Bruins F Patrice Bergeron would be just the 25th player in the club.