Vancouver Canucks To Meet Boston Bruins in Stanley Cup Finals

Kevin WContributor IIMay 28, 2011

VANCOUVER, BC - MAY 24:  Captain Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks shakes hands with Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks after the Vancouver Canucks won Game Five of the Western Conference Finals 3-2 in the second overtime to win the series 4-1 during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 24, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

The matchup for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals has been set as the Boston Bruins punched their ticket after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 with a 1-0 shutout win.

Nathan Horton broke a 0-0 tie with 7:33 left in the third period when he snapped home his eighth goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The goal would end up being his third game-winning-goal of the playoffs and second Game 7 and series clinching goal.

Earlier in the playoffs, Horton scored in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens to send the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinalists packing in the first round in seven games.

The Bruins are making their first Stanley Cup appearance since 1990 and are vying for their sixth Stanley Cup—the first since 1972.

The Canucks, on the other hand, are in the finals for the first time since 1994 and third time overall. They are seeking their first Stanley Cup victory in their 40-year existence.

This past regular season, the Canucks and Bruins met once at Rogers Arena and the Canucks were handed a 3-1 defeat after local boy Milan Lucic broke a 1-1 tie with less than five minutes to go and Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron potted an empty netter.

The loss was typical for the Canucks as in their 40 years the Canucks have a 25-66-15-2 record against the Bruins. On the flip side, the Bruins are 68-24-15-1 against the Canucks.

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has been lights out against the Canucks in his career as well.

Despite playing in only three games against the Canucks, Thomas is 3-0 with a 0.33 goals against average, a 0.990 save percentage, and two shutouts.

In 24 career starts against the Boston Bruins, Roberto Luongo is 11-10-3-0 with a 2.40 goals against average and a 0.929 save percentage.

Luongo also has had four shutouts against the Bruins—tied for the most against a single team with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Canucks fans fully know that these statistics go out the window in the playoffs.

Nikolai Khabibulin and the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Canucks in six games in the second round of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Khabibulin had not defeated the Canucks since January 26, 1998 when he was 25 years old and still with the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes franchise.

In the regular season, the Canucks and Bruins were the league’s top defensive teams with a goals against per game of 2.20 and 2.30 respectively.

Fans could be in for a gruelling and tight series.

The Canucks will try to counteract the Bruins size, power, and abilities to hit by playing a puck possession, speed and transition game.

The Canucks were able to take care of the San Jose Sharks’ size by playing aggressive defense through the neutral zone that forced the Sharks to dump the puck in and saw the Canucks move the puck back out quickly before a hitting forecheck could be established.

In the first round, the Canucks used physical play against the speedy and puck possessing Chicago Blackhawks. Then the Canucks used speed and puck possession to counteract the Sharks’ size and physicality.

It could come down to coaching and how well the system is executed.

As Bob Cole would say, we could be in for a dandy.



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