Published November 20, 2014
BOSTON -- Every Canucks player at some point or another late Saturday night drove or walked past a group of partying fans going bonkers.
No matter how they left Rogers Arena or where they were in downtown Vancouver, be it around Granville Street, in Yaletown, Gastown or up in the Financial District, the Canucks couldn't ignore the sea of people in the streets or the cars driving by with screaming fans hanging out of the windows, flags rippling through the wind and drivers incessantly honking their horns, leading others to do the same.
It was impossible not to get caught up in all of it after the Canucks grabbed a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final. Cory Schneider even wrote about in his blog for NHL.com, saying he, his girlfriend and his father went out for dinner and "walked around Vancouver a little bit just to soak in the atmosphere and feel the energy and excitement."
That was then. Vancouver's season-long mentality of following the process, staying in the moment, forgetting about what they've done and focusing solely on the task at hand is back in effect now with puck drop for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final nearing.
While they admit that the challenge of keeping that mentality gets tougher now that they can sniff the Stanley Cup, the Canucks have enough practice in buying into the one-game-at-a-time, one-day-at-a-time philosophy that they preach to the media.
"We worked throughout the season to stay on an even keel and treat every game the same," captain Henrik Sedin said Monday morning from TD Garden. "It's helped us in these playoffs."
The Canucks believe it's particularly going to help them Monday night in Boston. They say Chicago has already taught them what can happen when they take their focus off of the task at hand (the Hawks came back from an 0-3 deficit to force their first-round series all the way to overtime in Game 7) and it's something the Canucks think about all the time, and guard against every single day.
"This is Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final -- this is the biggest game of our lives," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "We don't look behind."
Or ahead, apparently.
Nobody in the Canucks' dressing room spoke of the obvious bigger goal of winning the Stanley Cup when they met with the media Monday morning. Some players told NHL.com that nobody mentions it when the doors are closed to the gaggle of reporters and cameramen either.
"It's always been (talking about) the little things," Chris Higgins said. "I'd be lying if everyone in this room hasn't thought about winning the Cup at some point in the playoffs, but every player that plays in the playoffs thinks that. I don't think anyone is denying that, but it's just where your focus is, and our focus is on Game 3."
The stakes are obviously so much higher now than they were in the regular season and against Chicago, Nashville or San Jose, and it would be human nature for the Canucks to at least glance at the Stanley Cup painted on the ice surface at TD Garden and start to daydream.
"Yes, it's different, but that's what you have to guard against. If that creeps into your mind I think you're in trouble," Daniel Sedin said. "It's everyone's goal … but you can't let that affect how you play. It's about the next game, it's about the process."
It has been all season for the Canucks.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl