Vancouver is looking for their first ever Stanley Cup, and with the way Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler have been playing recently the Canucks are coming into the Stanley Cup playing their best playoff hockey yet.
Boston has five Stanley Cup championships to their name, but the Bruins have not won one since 1971. They have the best goaltender in the game right now in Tim Thomas, and his road to this point has been a long one, having faced two Game 7s in this postseason alone.
The late-blooming goaltender has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, as well as the weight of the die-hard Boston fans.
Here is the TV schedule for this year’s Stanley Cup finals:
|2011 STANLEY CUP FINAL|
|Wednesday, June 1||at Vancouver, 8 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
|Saturday, June 4||at Vancouver, 8 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
|Monday, June 6||at Boston, 8 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|Wednesday, June 8||at Boston, 8 p.m.||VERSUS, CBC, RDS|
|*Friday, June 10||at Vancouver, 8 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
|*Monday, June 13||at Boston, 8 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
|*Wednesday, June 15||at Vancouver, 8 p.m.||NBC, CBC, RDS|
And now a position-by-position look at the two teams.
Vancouver, as already noted, has been led by Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler the past two series, but their offensive attack is a lot deeper than two scores. The Canucks have depth thanks to the third line of Maxim Lapierre, Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen. Not always scoring, the third line gives the Canucks a burst of energy that many other NHL teams lack in their third line.
Boston is mainly a defense-orientated team, but they do have some players who can light the lamp. David Krejci has a playoff-leading 10 goals along with seven assists. Krejci shares a line with Nathan Horton. Both have been Boston’s two biggest clutch players. Horton has three game winners, and all of his eight goals have been in victories.
Edge: Vancouver. You won’t find a better attacking team in the NHL, especially when on the powerplay.
The Canucks also have depth on defense. Led by Kevin Bieksa, the Canucks’ defensmen go nine men deep. They’re a tough bunch, but they can be bullied. Their defensive confidence relies heavily on the play of their goaltender, Roberto Luongo. Otherwise, you could be looking at the best defensive team in the NHL.
Boston’s defense has struggled this postseason, but may have fallen back in place last series against the Tampa Bay Lightening. Zdeno Chara and Denis Seidenberg have been key for the Bruins and have really flourished since their pairing after the first two losses in the first round.
Boston’s second line of Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk haven’t exactly been the players the Bruins have hoped, but they have had their moments.
Edge: Vancouver. When this defensive unit is hot (and that’s nine out of 10 times) you won’t play or watch a better defensive unit.
The big question heading into the playoffs for the Canucks was Roberto Luongo. Luongo has been one of the most consistent goaltenders in the league when it comes to playing in the regular season, but come playoff time he has a bad case of choking.
Besides a small hiccup in the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks, Luongo has been pretty solid for the Canucks this year. A calm and collected Luongo is very important if the Canucks want to win their first Stanley Cup.
Boston has the best goaltender in the league in Tim Thomas. Thomas is a grinder, and a very good one. He hasn’t been perfect the whole series, but he has been perfect when the team needed him the most. He’s more than able to make that game-changing save or shut out a great offensive attack. It’s safe to say that Boston relies on their goaltender more than any other player on the team.
Edge: Boston. You can’t replicate or ask for a better goaltender than Tim Thomas.
Vancouver Canucks in seven.
When push comes to shove, you can’t deny that the Canucks have the best all-around team in the NHL. The series will be a grind to the very end though because of the stubborn Boston defense and goaltender, but I suspect the Canucks offense and tremendous power play unit will be the deciding factor in this year’s Stanley Cup championship.