After months of hits, fights and complaining about Gary Bettman’s total incompetence, we are finally down to our final two teams. The Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins will spend the next month flying over 15,000 miles to fight for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Who will win their first Cup in a good long while (the Bruins have waited 39 years, the Canucks, 41), and who will have to wait one more year to get their turn? Read on, dear hockey fan, read on…
Why The Bruins Will Win:
Youth over Experience: The Bruins have nine rookies on their roster at the moment, while the Canucks only have five. While this may be a disadvantage to some teams, this might actually work in the Bruins’ favor in this series. They’ll probably have the energy to skate with the Canucks for seven games if it comes to that and might actually be able to tire them out by the end. If the veterans falter in any way, I do believe the rookies will be able to pick up the slack and take the Bruins the rest of the way to the Cup.
Master Motivator: When I look at the two coaches competing in this year’s series, I have to give the edge to Claude Julien of the Bruins. Yes, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault has captained the Canucks to one of their best seasons ever, but ever since their seven-game shootout with the Blackhawks, the Canucks have just been good altogether. Julien has had to motivate his Bruins to keep going through two seven game series and another four game series. I have to applaud the kind of man who can steer his team through that kind of adversity consistently throughout a playoff run. He’ll definitely have his team motivated and ready to go throughout this series. Julien has certainly been the unsung hero of these playoffs, and I hope his bosses give him a long contract extension for his run here.
Experience over Youth: Right winger Mark Recchi has been in the league 22 years but is still producing like he’s only been in five years. His stats may be somewhere in the middle of the road, but he always plays each shift like it is the last shift of the Stanley Cup Finals. He’s getting up there in age, so this might be his last chance to win another one. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, the Canucks’ younger players might skate circles around him if he should falter in any way, and that might be the end of the Bruins. However, the motivation to win that final Cup could be enough to give Recchi new-found energy to give the Canucks a run for their money.
Why the Canucks Will Win:
The Wonder Twins: Without a doubt, twin terrors Henrik and Daniel Sedin are two of the best players in the NHL. In the playoffs, they have 37 of the team’s 140 points combined (no one else has more than 18), one-fifth of the teams 50 goals combined (no one else has more than seven) and own the last two Art Ross Trophies. Simply put, if the Bruins can’t contain the Sedin twins, they won’t even win a game in this series, much less win the Cup. It’ll definitely put the pressure on the Bruins to contain them, and to be honest, I don’t think they have the firepower to do it.
Goalie Battle: This could be a low scoring battle, as two Vezina Trophy finalists—Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas—face off in this battle. I have to give the edge to Luongo in this one, because he has gotten progressively better over the Canucks’ three playoff series. Thomas has had to go all 18 games for the Bruins, while Luongo has had some rest. His backup, Cory Schneider, has had some playoff experience, while Tuukka Rask and the rest of the Bruins’ backup goalies haven’t played any games this season. The Bruins can’t depend on an already tired Thomas to carry them all the way, but considering the alternative, they might have to, and might get ripped apart for it.
No Rest for the Weary: The Canucks are definitely rested and ready to go for this series. They’ve had the luxury of three extra days to rest and study their opponents, and there is no doubt that is a huge advantage in this series. Also, because the Canucks will be hosting the first two games of the series at home, they will not have to make the more than 3,000 mile trip to Boston; instead, it will be the other way around, and that is another huge advantage. The Bruins will be jet-lagged and weary, and that makes for a long, long trip to a 22nd year without a Stanley Cup. The Canucks have the rest and the home-ice advantage, which will make that 17-year wait end in a sweet celebration north of the border.
Prediction: Canucks end a 41-year wait in 5 games. The Bruins can’t control the Sedin twins, they’re worn out from their two seven-game series (the Canadiens in the first round and the Lightning in the conference final), and overall, I do believe that the Canucks are the superior team. Goaltending will definitely be a factor in this series, and the Canucks definitely have the edge in that sense. Expect a low-scoring, high-octane series that will have a definite deserving winner this year.
So there you have it…Lord Stanley’s Cup finally comes back to Canada after 18 years in American hands. Will this be a high-octane series, filled with lots of great games? Will it be a physical series, filled with lots of hits and fights? Will Gary Bettman somehow find a new way to embarrass himself amidst a shower of boos? You’ll just have to watch the Stanley Cup Final to find out!