Every Stanley Cup Finals series carries the potential to produce one of the most storied moments in NHL history.
As each game unfolds, hockey fans witness the intense, passionate game at its absolute highest level. The series that determines the winner of the most sought-after athletic trophy in all of North America never fails to remind die-hard fans why they love this sport.
Though any finals series is sure to have its share of storylines and discussion points, the events that have occurred in this year's finals seem to stick out.
The first six games have delivered: a "missed" offsides call, a bite, a check that resulted in a four-game suspension, and a silly argument among goaltenders that was a professional athlete's version of passing angry notes in a schoolroom.
The strange collection of events will conclude tonight, June 15, when the NHL season reaches a finale.
Just as the players who will be out on the ice that night do, die-hard fans of both teams go into Game 7 knowing that within a few hours, they will reach either complete euphoria or utter dejection.
Winning the league championship is the most fulfilling aspect of being dedicated to a sports team, and whoever watches their team hoist the Stanley Cup tonight has nothing to complain about in terms of hockey.
However, it's inevitable the fans coming out on the short end will look for excuses they can use as complaining points until their team comes that close again (see 1999 for an example).
In an effort to curb the whining and help that losing side deal with the season's end maturely, here is a collection of the most-likely griping points for each side—and reasons why the fans should keep their mouths shut about them.
This bite occurred in game one, but Boston fans were furious that Burrows was allowed to play in game two.
Not only was Burrows allowed to play, but he scored two of Vancouver's three goals (assisting on the other), and his second goal was the overtime winner.
For one thing, let's get it straight that biting someone is never okay.
Men do not bite men. Hockey players do not bite hockey players. Men that are playing hockey in the Stanley Cup Finals should not be biting other men that are playing in the Stanley Cup Finals.
It's quite a simple concept and Burrows should be embarrassed for what he did.
If a dispute on the ice cannot be settled without physical action, then the two players are supposed to drop their gloves and fight each-other like men.
Biting wasn't even accepted in grade school recess quarrels; it's just downright pathetic on the stage Burrows did it.
There's the video of the suspension-free professional biter beating Boston in Game 2.
What you'll notice is that Alex Burrows was indeed on the ice, and Boston was still required to defend against him.
The Bruins just didn't do it.
They were beat by the man who got away with biting them—not because a suspension was overlooked, but because when Burrows stepped on the ice for Game 2, he was ready to play, ready to win, and he wasn't stopped.
Regardless of whether a player should or shouldn't be allowed to play, the other team still has to defend against him if he does play. His goals still count whether fans like it or not.
Another reason Bruins fans have no right to complain about it is because—despite the action being as crazy as it was—suspending someone for biting a gloved hand would probably be too severe of a punishment.
In addition to this fact, one of their own players got away with the same exact action during last season's playoffs.
During the second round of the 2010 playoffs, Boston's Marc Savard bit Philadelphia's Dan Carcillo.
Carcillo did not complain for a suspension like Boston fans did when Patrice Bergeron was bit by Burrows, he simply criticized the act of biting, then went back to playing hockey and helped his team win the series.
Not only was this slashed a clear—but missed—penalty, it was cowardly retaliation for a clean body check.
Despite this, Vancouver fans should be thankful Burrows didn't get any supplemental discipline for his bite, and keep quiet about this hit.
For Boston, this is just another reason why there's no complaining allowed for the Burrows bite. A two-handed slash to the knee can do a lot more damage than biting a gloved hand.
The only reason a huge deal wasn't made out of this event is slashing is much more common and normal than biting.
Neither team's followers should be complaining about this hit or the resulting circumstances.
Here the hit will be discussed in the most basic sense. For a more in-depth look at the hit, check out this article.
Simply enough, Boston's Nathan Horton skated through the neutral zone without looking where he was going. He passed the puck away before he was hit, but the hit being a little late is not the reason it was so devastating.
From the moment Horton received the puck until he was nailed, he was not looking where he was going. An NHL player skating through the neutral zone with the puck should always be aware of his surroundings.
Horton was not, and it cost him big time.
With Horton clearly hurt on the ice, and subsequently declared incapable of playing for the remainder of the series, Bruins fans called for a suspension.
They got what they wanted and therefore can't complain.
Vancouver's Aaron Rome has not played since the hit and will not be playing in Game 7. The only aspect of this hit Boston should be upset with is Horton's carelessness when skating through the neutral zone.
Vancouver cannot complain about Rome not being able to play, despite the fact he was punished for his attempt to apply a clean, hard hit to a player who skated through the neutral zone without looking where he was going.
The Canucks lost a third line defenseman while the Bruins lost one of their key scorers for the series.
Check the NHL rulebook, and if there's a rule against goalies checking skaters, then Vancouver fans have a case that Tim Thomas should have been penalized.
This was simply something far out of the ordinary.
Thomas likes to attack the puck instead of sitting back and waiting. When Henrik Sedin attempted to place the puck down to the ice and take a shot, Thomas persisted with his aggressive strategy and drilled Sedin.
Vancouver fans: Take note that Burrows slashed Thomas' stick out of his hands first. Don't complain about the slash by Thomas.
Boston fans: Thomas got his revenge immediately, so don't complain about the slash by Burrows.
Boston, calm down about it.
Luongo was asked to comment on the difficulty of the save, and he did so honestly.
What he said is absolutely accurate: An aggressive goalie like Tim Thomas can be beat on a play like that, but a goaltender with the style of Luongo would not be caught out of position.
Luongo was not saying the likely two-time Vezina winner and leading Conn Smyth candidate was bad at what he did.
He was not saying "I'm better than Tim Thomas."
He was answering a question and comparing different goaltending styles. Anyone who thinks differently is just looking for reasons to bash Vancouver.
Anyone discussing hockey in the vicinity of the Bruins fanbase cannot avoid hearing how Vancouver is a dirty, disrespectful, diving, cheap-shotting, arrogant, goon-laden team that lacks character and integrity.
These are all comments that have come from Bruins fans during the past week. One even went as far as saying: "If [the Canucks] win the cup it should have a black mark on it."
Perhaps the "Hub of Hockey" has forgotten that in the playoffs alone, the Boston Bruins have been responsible for a board from behind by Milan Lucic on Jaroslav Spacek, a suckerpunch by Lucic on Zac Rinaldo, a suckerpunch by Nathan Horton on Dominic Moore, and yet another suckerpunch by Lucic on Victor Hedman.
That's not even including the countless dirty, disrespectful cheap shots the Bruins took during the regular season.
So, for Boston to complain about Vancouver being classless is downright hypocritical.
The latest event involves this cheap shot by Brad Marchand on Christian Ehrhoff. As Marchand jumped around Ehrhoff, he smacked him in the face, invoking a scrum.
The Canucks are disrespectful?
Stay classy, Boston.
Over the past two decades, two-thirds of NHL teams have played in the Stanley Cup Finals.
That means in the past 20 years, 10 teams across North America have not been able to please their fans with a season as good as these two teams have.
Despite the agony of coming so close only to lose, there can be no denying the ride was the best a die-hard fan from either city has seen for nearly 20 years. Vancouver has only come this far once, in 1994, and Boston hadn't made it past the second round of the playoffs since losing the finals in 1990.
On the way there, Vancouver finally managed to beat Chicago in a playoff series and avoided the embarrassment of blowing a 3-0 series lead.
Boston's route included eliminating its biggest rival and sweeping the team it had blown a 3-0 lead against a year ago.
Each trip produced an exciting wave of events for each team's following entities that fans should be able to look back upon in a positive light, regardless of Game 7's outcome.
There's only one team with more bragging rights than the loser of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Furthermore, both of these teams have the opportunity to return to the finals next season. If the Chicago Blackhawks could break up half a roster's worth of players and still compete in the playoffs, neither of these teams should have much trouble putting together another quality team for the 2011-2012 season.
Game 7 is going to be decided by Roberto Luongo.
During this series, he's either been really great or very awful.
In the three games he's won, he's faced 97 shots and given up just two goals, for a .979 save percentage.
In the three games he's lost, he's faced 50 shots and given up 15 goals, for an absolutely abysmal 0.700 save percentage.
What should be noted is that his good games took place in Vancouver and he's played terrible in Boston. This is either a heavy coincidence or an extremely revealing statistic.
If Luongo implodes like he did every game in Boston, it'll be a cakewalk for the Bruins. Vancouver could blame him then.
If Luongo plays in Vancouver like he has during this series already, the better, more-skilled Canucks team will probably win the Stanley Cup. Boston could blame Luongo for not blowing Game 7 the same way he faltered in their other three wins.