The Vancouver Canucks return Saturday afternoon to the scene of three mostly ugly losses in the Stanley Cup final when they take on the Boston Bruins in the only regular season meeting between the clubs.
The Canucks lost all three games in Boston in the final series, outscored 17-3 in the process by the Bruins.
Vancouver had a chance to secure the Stanley Cup on Boston's ice in Game 6 on June 13, but after a decent first few minutes, the Bruins exploded with four goals in the first to chase Roberto Luongo and win 5-2.
Despite the paltry offensive showing in Beantown, Luongo bore the brunt of the criticism after getting pulled twice in the three games en route to stopping just 51 of 66 shots (.773 save percentage).
Vancouver fans don't need a rehash of what happened next, but Saturday's game will likely be more meaningful than a garden variety regular season contest for a number of Canucks.
Henrik Sedin, the NHL's assist leader last season, was able to muster just one goal and no assists in the seven games.
Sedin told Hockey Night in Canada Radio's Gord Stellick and CBCSports.ca's Tim Wharnsby that he has "lots of memories" of last year's final. "Mostly bad ones," he added.
For Mason Raymond, it isn't a matter of ruing what could have been done differently on the ice. Raymond was sent to the sidelines for months with a back injury just seconds into Game 6 in Boston.
It was announced Friday that Cory Schneider of Marblehead, Mass., and not Luongo, will get the start in net for Vancouver.
Slow start for both contenders
Both the Canucks and the Bruins stumbled out of the gate in October, raising questions about everything from their off-season activities to whether they were fit to be contenders again.
In recent weeks, Vancouver and Boston have each demonstrated the form that got them to the championship final. Each team has 53 points, with Boston having played four fewer games.
"I think for us it was mostly mentally to get going in the early part of the season. From playing in the finals, the attention that comes with it, the media, the fans...everything. It took us a good 10, 15 games to get going," Sedin said.
Vancouver is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games after topping Minnesota 3-0.
Luongo recorded his second shutout of the season — both coming against the Wild — with Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows and Manny Malhotra scoring the goals.
Sedin also added an assist for 46 points, tied for third in the NHL and two points behind his twin brother.
Henrik Sedin, with two assists, now has three goals and 21 assists in 17 games since Dec. 1 and is tied with Philadelphia's Claude Giroux in the league's scoring race.
After an uncharacteristic performance on New Year's Eve in Dallas, the Bruins have bounced back from that loss to pound the New Jersey Devils and undermanned Calgary Flames by a combined score of 15-1.
Boston drubbed the Flames 9-0, with backup goalie Tuukka Rask improving his save percentage to .949.
As a result, the Bruins have now scored precisely twice as many goals as they've allowed, 138-69.
"[The Bruins] don’t give up a lot of chances and when they do, they have a great goalie [Thomas] back there so its tough to beat them skill wise and its tough to beat them physically...they've got a very deep team both up front and in the back end," Sedin said about his team's upcoming opponent.
Tyler Seguin, Benoit Pouliot, David Krejci and Nathan Horton all finished with three points against Calgary.
Seguin, with 16 goals and 20 assists in 36 games, has not gone more than two games all season without registering a point.
With Rask getting the call in that game, the Canucks are likely set to face their Stanley Cup nemesis, Tim Thomas. Vancouver managed just eight goals on 246 shots on net against the Bruins netminder.
With respect to the games in Boston, the Canucks converted on just 2.5 per cent of their shots.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault expressed his displeasure Thursday that the team's four game road trip is beginning at 10 a.m. Pacific time.
Sedin doesn't believe the early start time will affect the Canucks' play in this game. "I don’t think it's going to be too bad. It’s a little bit tougher, but at the same time it’s a big game for us so it shouldn’t be any problem," he said.
The Canucks will move on to Florida to take on the Panthers on Monday.
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