BOSTON — Even after all the taunts, bites and vicious hits that the Vancouver Canucks have thrown at the Boston Bruins over the past two weeks, skating the Stanley Cup around the Garden ice would be the biggest insult of all.
The Canucks could do it after Game 6 tonight, when they'll attempt to finish off the testiest Stanley Cup finals in recent memory. If the Bruins win again, the Cup will be claimed Wednesday in Vancouver.
After racking up the regular season's best record and then surviving several playoff scares, the Canucks don't want to wait another day for their franchise's first championship.
"We're in a great spot," captain Henrik Sedin said Sunday after the Canucks' last practice in Boston. "We're one win away from winning it, so we're excited. But we know if we get out of our comfort zone and start getting overly excited, it's going to take away from our game. That's a key for us, to come in here tomorrow and play the way we have all year."
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Although New England has rallied behind the Bruins in their quest for their first Cup since 1972, the streets of downtown Boston are unlikely to be filled Monday night with more than 100,000 screaming hockey fans and revelers, as Vancouver was last Friday when the Canucks moved to the brink with a 1-0 victory in Game 5.
Vancouver might be ready for a party that will make last year's Olympic festivities look like a high school dance, but nothing in the series' first five games suggests anybody will be celebrating before Wednesday.
The home teams are unbeaten in the finals, and Boston has won nine of its last 10 at the Garden after losing its first two to Montreal in the first round.
"We don't want to see anybody raising the Cup on our home ice," Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "We can't focus on the future or on the past. We have to be in the moment in Game 6."
The Canucks have been anticipating this moment all season long while moving to the brink of the first Stanley Cup title for a Canadian club since 1993. Vancouver has persevered despite key injuries, a brutal travel schedule and a fan base that's both adoring and hypercritical.
"When they say it's the hardest trophy to win, they're absolutely right," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "It's so taxing physically on the players, so demanding with the travel, that it makes it a challenge. But our group, we said all along since Day One that we were ready for this, and we're trying to prove it."