And then there were two.
It may come as very little surprise to some, but the final pairing has come down to what have been probably the two most consistently strong teams all year in both conferences: the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins.
And now they face each other with everything on the line. Each sits a mere four wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup as the champion of the National Hockey League.
But when the dust settles after this one final scuffle, who will be the one on top of it all?
Or even more importantly, who will be the team to end a very long championship drought?
Unfortunately, I found this question much easier to answer this year than I have in years past, as really this is shaping up to be a matchup between David and a very large Goliath.
The Vancouver Canucks are absolutely rolling, playing some of the absolute best hockey ever played, and it's pushed them to where they stand now.
Defensively, they're playing well, however the San Jose Sharks did actually make me start to believe that their blue line might be their one "weakness," if you can really call it that.
The Sharks managed less than 30 shots in just one of the five games of their conference final. In fact, the Sharks out-shot the Canucks by a whopping 129-77 over the final three games of that series.
However, Roberto Luongo has not only removed the playoff monkey from his back this year, he's absolutely destroyed any shred of its existence.
After many years of shaky playoff performances, the veteran goaltender has answered every call the Canucks have sent out to him, turning some absolutely brilliant performances.
And on top of that the Canucks were the best regular season team when it comes to both goals for and goals against, a trend that has held very similarly this playoffs as they're posting similar numbers in both categories.
However, if history has anything to say about this series, then there's a serious advantage to Boston.
All-time, the Bruins have absolutely dominated the Canucks with a 68-24-15-1 record. In fact, in their history, the Canucks have struggled more with the Bruins than any other team they've played more than 100 games against, winning only 25 times (and even further, only a paltry eight times in Boston).
That includes this season when the B's took the only meeting between these two in Vancouver by a score of 3-1.
Tim Thomas has been equally as brilliant as Roberto Luongo, carrying the Bruins on his back and stealing the games that the B's needed to advance to this point.
However, Boston does not have the same depth as the Canucks either offensively or defensively.
No doubt the biggest matchup is going to be Boston's Dennis Sidenberg/Zdeno Chara pairing against the Sedin/Sedin/Kesler trio for the Canucks.
However, the depth and stability of the Boston defense is going to be severely tested in this series by the high-power and extremely deep Canucks offense.
Additionally, the Bruins are going to have to do absolutely everything they can to stay out of the penalty box, as the Canucks boast the best power play in the playoffs to actually advance beyond the first round.
All of this leads me to believe this series is going to be a very tall order for the Bruins, and while history is definitely in their favor, the comparison of the teams on paper is not.
Prediction: Canucks in 5
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