BOSTON -- Hockey isn't defined as well by numbers as other sports are. Goals-against average and save percentage do not indicate which goalies make the big saves. Plus/minus rates players' defensive abilities but does not reflect if they play at key moments.
By most statistical measures the Vancouver Canucks trail the Boston Bruins during the Stanley Cup finals, but it is the Canucks who will be in position Monday to earn their first Cup title with a win in Game 6 at TD Garden.
The Bruins have outscored the Canucks, 14-6, have the slightly better of two feeble power plays -- the Bruins are three for 21 (14.3 percent) and the Canucks are one for 25 (4 percent) -- and are winning the goaltending battle on paper. Boston's Tim Thomas has a 1.21 goals-against average and .965 save percentage in the Cup finals; Vancouver's Roberto Luongo's numbers are 2.97 and .910.
In addition, the playoff scoring lead has been seized by Boston's David Krejci, who has five points in the finals. Vancouver's Henrik Sedin, last season's NHL scoring leader, and twin Daniel, the reigning scoring champion, have two points, both by Daniel.
All of which reinforces the notion that there are lies, damned lies and statistics.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Sunday that his team's numbers have been skewed by poor second-period performances in Games 3 and 4; the Canucks gave up six goals total in the second periods of those games. He's right. Nor do the statistics reflect Luongo's tone-setting 1-0 shutouts in Games 1 and 5.
But the only number relevant to the Canucks now is one: They need one win to lift the Cup and will have another chance at home Wednesday if they do not prevail Monday.
"We all know that we need to be better," Vigneault said. "We need to make every shift in every period count, and that's what we're going to try to do."
The home team has won each game, a pattern the Canucks hope to break by scoring the first goal and quieting the crowd at TD Garden.
"We know if we get that first one in on their ice it's going to change their game a little bit," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "And they're a very good defense, so they don't give up a lot. So we'd like to change their game plan as much as possible."
Winger Alex Burrows said the Canucks want to be more forceful than they were during their last trip to Boston.
"If we start with the puck and we put pucks in the right places and get in on the forecheck, we will be able to generate some physical play," he said. "And if you're always sitting back on your heels, it's tough to make body contact."
The Bruins' plan is to be as physical as they were in their previous two home games and to dictate the pace in Game 6.
"We always say the same things before every game. We want to be physical, we want to get traffic in front of the net," defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said.
"The keys are we have to execute our game plan, being physical, getting pucks to the net with guys in front and just being hungry. And we just have to do a better job than last game."
Center Patrice Bergeron agreed that desire will be more important Monday than any statistic.
"They've done a good job boxing us out, but we've got to fight our way to the front of the net," he said. "Luongo is a great goalie and obviously we have to do a better job in front of him, but we're thinking about us right now and not about them.
"It is a great challenge. It's something that we can do. It's up to us, in front of our fans, to take all that energy and emotion that's going to be in the building and carry that on the ice."
There's no number to measure that.