“The Vancouver Canucks are trying to cheat their way to a Stanley Cup victory,” went the prevailing narrative prior to Game 5.
“But now they seem intent on simply stealing it,” can be the new one.
Questions of clownery and purity aside, the Vancouver Canucks are within reach of outright thievery in the Stanley Cup finals. It's not meant as a negative comment, they've earned their victories in close, tight games which demanded excellent commitment to playing a team game, the one which was the best in the regular season and for very good reason.
But even still, six goals in five games and they have a 3-2 series lead—just one win away from eternal salvation.
Six goals. Five games. A 3-2 lead.
The numbers simply don’t compute.
They have a single power play marker in the series, the Boston Bruins are outscoring them 14 to 6 on aggregate and two of their three wins have been by 1-0 margins.
Halfway to victory on two measly goals.
From Raffi Torres and Maxime Lapierre.
Raffi. Torres. And Maxime. Lapierre.
But this is hardly uncharted territory either. As has been pointed out here previously, during the Nashville series the Canucks were held to less than two goals in three separate games—and they won two of them. Again, half of their series wins on the backs of three goals.
This team has done it all kinds of ways all season long, and the playoffs have been no different. But this outing, in the finals, seems to be pushing it to an extreme.
It’s almost difficult to believe they’ve scored any goals this series, let alone the six they have.
Their special teams has been abysmal, their superstars relatively invisible (on the score-sheet) and their losses nothing short of incredible.
Yet here they are, one win away, and the swagger is back. A level of arrogance and sense of entitlement which is presumably and logically responsible for this teams disfavor around the league.
And who could blame the rest of the league? It’s an attitude which is easy to hate.
Winning the Stanley Cup with a negative goal differential—throughout both the entire playoffs and the Finals itself—certainly wouldn’t go very far toward reversing that feeling.
Does it matter? Of course not, but if this team does win it all, it’s not difficult to imagine them not getting their due or their respect. Which will go nicely with the lack of credit Roberto Luongo will get in such a scenario, even in Vancouver circles, despite his position as goaltender on a team that won a championship series without scoring goals.
The more nagging questions, however, will surround whether or not the Vancouver Canucks deserved to win. And if they do in fact win, whether or not the rightful winners were in fact the unlucky and tragic Boston Bruins, felled by circumstance and a few bad bounces which put them on the wrong side of a few too many one-goal games.
Theft is never fun to watch, and for the victim, it's always hard to stomach.
Regardless of what happens now over the remainder of this series, there's no way left for the Vancouver Canucks to leave this series with both the Stanley Cup and their professional reputations left in tact. It's one or the other.
I suspect they don't care.
But everyone else will. Which is really a shame, they play some fantastic hockey that's been overshadowed by nonsense and preconceptions.