BOSTON — You associate Henrik Sedin with calculated calm, a measured response to any query and a sensible approach to any game plan.
This is not just any game.
The Vancouver Canucks captain is calling for swagger on Monday night as the National Hockey League franchise attempts to capture its first Stanley Cup championship. The normally sedate Swede wants the Canucks to take it to the Boston Bruins in Game 6, to stick a dagger and kill their resolve to extend the series to the limit.
And that's all good because the centre doesn't have a single point in this series where the Canucks have been clobbered 8-1 and 4-0 at the TD Garden. And you have to go back to 2006-07 to find a string of five games where the captain went pointless.
"It's important that we go out there and play with a lot of swagger," he said. "We know we have a great team and that we can match up against anyone. We have to go out there and feel we're the best team. We can't go out there and think they're going to outplay us. When we play our best, like we showed at home, it shouldn't matter where we play.
"We have to put our best game on the ice and we're not taking any chances to play a Game 7. We can have a good team for a long time, but it's really difficult to get this far and if we can't do it this year, we might not get another shot. And that's the reality."
Again, that's all well and good. The Canucks talked about being more composed and more in sync in Games 3 and 4 here and simply weren't. But the magnitude of this moment is not lost on them. They didn't want to talk about what a victory would mean to those in the room, those in their inner circles and those who have given so much to the franchise.
In victory, they will salute the longest-serving current Canucks in Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa and also the fallen Luc Bourdon. They will toast Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund who have had their numbers retired. They will hail Ring of Honour inductees Orland Kurtenbach, Kirk McLean, Thomas Gradin and Harold Snepsts. But not now, not quite yet.
The Canucks have to reverse a power play that has gone 1-for-25 in the series and must find a way to get their first two lines going. The Sedins have combined for two points, so has the entire second line that's been anchored by an ailing Ryan Kesler, who will play on a leg that is ailing with more than just a groin strain.
That's why Raffi Torres, who came within a game of being measured for a Stanley Cup ring in 2006, will speak to his teammates before the game. That's why Manny Malhotra had trouble sleeping on Sunday night. The Cup is in the building. What more needs to be said?
"We want to be the aggressors tonight," said Malhotra. "We want to take the forecheck to them and establish our game. That mentality of hoping and hanging around and seeing what happens at the end is far from our mindset."
Not that it's easy. There are family and friends here and hopes and dreams of a lifelong sporting pursuit. Malhotra tossed and turned for a bit thinking of what this all means — especially after a March 16 eye injury threatened his playing career.
"A lot of thoughts racing through my mind and it took me a while to finally get to bed," he said. "This is the worst part of being a player, the waiting time until game time. I'm just really looking forward to tonight."
Bieksa knows a series in which the Canucks have managed but six goals in five games, is going to be determined by getting to Tim Thomas and getting the best out of Roberto Luongo.
Thomas may have a leg up on the Conn Smythe Trophy with a 1.21 goal-against average in the series, but Luongo has two shutouts and another such effort in Game 6 will change a lot of votes.
Bieksa also knows that the ongoing maturation of the team and its resiliency is a major asset. It's easy to forget that the Canucks were a Patrick Sharp overtime goal away from having the roster dismantled and the coach likely fired. That all seems like so long ago because the two-month marathon to get to this point has the Canucks much more in anticipation of what can be rather than any angst of what a loss would mean.
And really, nothing needs to be said. It's all about the game.
"Everybody knows what is at stake and it's about staying in the moment and thinking about the game," said Bieksa. "We're going to throw everything we have at them tonight and we're not even thinking about a Game 7. We're at our best when we're playing with confidence and making plays. We're a highly skilled team. For us to just making plays along the boards is not to our advantage. We need to be making plays and executing.
"We expect the best from them tonight and no secret they're a lot more aggressive and physical team at home because they feed off their crowd."
Maybe Torres said it best. The Canucks went about their business Monday morning like it was just an ordinary day. But it's not. And Torres should know.
"I can't stress enough to leave it all out there," he said. "You never want to say you didn't give it your all. You don't want any regrets."
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