BOSTON - The Vancouver Canucks have been using a motivational tool behind closed doors while trying to complete their journey to the summit of the Stanley Cup.
A picture of the trophy on top of a mountain gets a carabiner—commonly used by climbers—added to the chain with each successive victory. Heading into Game 6 on Monday night, they were one win away from completing the link on a picture that reads "No Shortcuts To The Top."
The picture was left sitting in the dressing room after Monday's morning skate, but the Canucks weren't too eager to discuss it.
"You're not supposed to know about that my friend," said defenceman Kevin Bieksa. "You've got privileged information. That's something we don't talk about, that's our own personal thing. That's our jacket."
The Boston Bruins have drawn motivation throughout the playoffs by handing out a vintage-style team jacket to the player that contributed the most to each victory. When Nathan Horton was knocked out of Game 3 by a big hit from Aaron Rome, the jacket hung in his locker. He made an emotional return to the dressing room after Game 4 to hand it off to Rich Peverley.
When asked about the Bruins jacket earlier in the series, Bieksa cracked that it was something a peewee team might do.
The origin of the picture used by the Canucks is tied to world-class climber Ed Viesturs, who has reached the summit of Mount Everest seven times. He's given a couple motivational speeches to the NHL team.
"He spoke to us at the beginning of the season and spoke to us before the playoffs," said Bieksa. "So he's been our guy."
Viesturs was able to impart a number of valuable lessons.
"The challenges and teamwork obviously," said Bieksa. "He summits a lot of the peaks but it takes a whole team just to get up there. It's months and months of climbing and it's years and years of training, too.
"There's a lot of parallels there."
Vancouver's picture included a "base camp" symbolic of the individual playoff rounds and every carabiner had the date and score of the victory placed on it.
"Obviously we've talked about it, to get to the peak of the mountain," said Canucks forward Alex Burrows. "That's what we'll try to do tonight."
He wouldn't say who puts the carabiner on the board after each victory.
With the Canucks on the verge of capturing the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, a number of family and friends of the players made the trip to Boston. The Bruins hope that might distract the Vancouver players.
"Absolutely, of course it is," said defenceman Johnny Boychuk. "You're worrying about having your friends and family here, it might be a distraction. Obviously they want their friends and family here, but they've still got to come into our building and win it.
"It's a tough thing to do."
There was plenty of tension in the air in the hours before the final game of the season at TD Garden.
"I probably won't have the best nap today," said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton. "I'm still pissed off about Game 5 and I hope everyone else is too. Tonight's the night, right?
"We'll see what happens."