There has never been a Stanley Cup series, let alone a Stanley Cup Final, that has followed such a bizarre path en route to reaching a deciding seventh game.
In one sense, it has been by the book: The home team has won each game. But beyond the what, there has been the how. The three Vancouver Canucks victories in Rogers Arena have been by one goal. One deciding goal came with 18.5 seconds remaining in regulation. A second came 11 seconds into overtime. The third came 4 1/2 minutes into the final period. The winning Vancouver scores have been 1-0, 3-2, and 1-0.
But one must wonder whether an evil spell has been cast on the Canucks while playing in TD Garden. The three games there had been amusingly noncompetitive, the Bruins winning by scores of 8-1, 4-0, and 5-2, with all three Vancouver goals being inconsequential and ceremonial, coming after the Canucks have trailed, 5-0 and 4-0. It was more than dominance: It was utter subjugation, and it all began with the Vancouver goaltender, a man with a notoriously fragile psyche.
Roberto Luongo has had a rather odd playoffs. With his top-seeded team leading the eighth-seeded Chicago Blackhawks, three games to none, in an opening-round series, he imploded, being pulled from Game 4 after yielding six goals and being pulled again in the second period of Game 5 after being beaten on four of the first 12 shots. He began Game 6 on the bench before being summoned when backup Cory Schneider was injured. Back as a starter in Game 7, he made 31 saves in a 2-1 overtime triumph.