Stanley Cup Finals 2011: What a Game 7 Win Means for Vancouver and Boston

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Stanley Cup Finals 2011: What a Game 7 Win Means for Vancouver and Boston
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Following tonight's Game 7 in Vancouver, one fan base will be the central focus of hockey, and the other will have a bitter taste in its mouth, being one game away from the Stanley Cup and failing to win.

So what does the Stanley Cup win in Game 7 mean for the Bruins and Canucks and, perhaps just as importantly, what does a loss mean?

If the Canucks win, it's a much more national win. Sure, Leafs fans aren't going to run out tomorrow morning and rip Kesler jerseys right off the rack (especially because he's an American). Still, Canadians are going to appreciate the fact that for the first time in nearly 20 years, the Cup is back in the country that birthed the sport.

More importantly for Vancouver, it would be their first Cup win in the team's 41-year history and maybe the first in the near future considering the current core of players they have locked into contracts.

But Vancouver's success now is going to have some negative effects in the future. Their conference rival the Chicago Blackhawks dealt with cap problems last year when they had minimal cap room with multiple players hitting free agency.

If the cap goes up to its $62 million projection, the Canucks will have roughly $16 million in cap room. $16 million is a lot to work with, but the Canucks will have to sign a minimum of six forwards and three defensemen, including Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff, who are both looking at paydays of over $5 million a year regardless of whether or not the Canucks win the Cup.

With only two weeks to sign free agents before they're open to the entire market, Vancouver will have to scramble to get deals done and it's unlikely that Ehrhoff and Bieksa both get signed by the Canucks.

What would the loss mean for Boston? First of all, there's certain to be fingers pointed at the NHL for not suspending Alex Burrows for Game 2, which he was the first star in. Secondly, it means the team may have blown their best chance at keeping their Cup drought from reaching the 40-year drought next year.

For Tomas Kaberle in particular, the loss will mean a lot. Boston certainly has the cap space to keep him, with $10 for three defenders and two forwards, but the question is will they want to?

Kaberle had an opportunity to have a huge payday and he failed to convert, which has driven his value down on the the market. Will Boston see that as a chance to sign a good defender at a low price, or will they see Kaberle's lacking play as a sign that he doesn't belong?

Now, if Boston wins Lord Stanley, it will likely have no effect on Kaberle's value, but it will have an effect on another Bruin. Mark Recchi's retirement following a Cup win would almost be as obvious as Scotty Bowman's after raising the Cup for the third time with Detroit, or Ray Bourque's after lifting Lord Stanley in Colorado.

The Cup win would also mean Boston's first title since 1972 and it would be the third time in four years that an Original Six team took the Cup home (Detroit in 2008 and Chicago in 2010).

For Vancouver, a loss would be a huge embarrassment. The rest of Canada would quickly get over the fact that Stanley wasn't brought back to Canada and would make Vancouver the punch line to as many jokes as you can think of, considering Vancouver was the landslide favorite to win the series and was dominated every time they set foot in Boston.

And would anybody want to be in Roberto Luongo's shoes? Fans were questioning his performance over the last few years, but after allowing 15 goals in three games in Boston and being pulled twice, the sound of Canucks fans calling for his head would be earth-shaking. If Vancouver fails to deliver tonight, the glares of Vancouver fans towards Luongo might be enough to make him never put on his pads again.

Regardless of who wins, Game 7 promises to be a thriller, and one team will go home with a long awaited Cup victory, while the other will leave with the most bitter taste you can experience.

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