Stanley Cup Finals 2011: Top 5 Storylines for Game 7

Ben Cousins@@cousins_benCorrespondent IJune 15, 2011

Stanley Cup Finals 2011: Top 5 Storylines for Game 7

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    The Stanley Cup playoffs have been great. 

    But it all comes to an end tonight. 

    Will it be the star-studded Canucks team, or the big, bad Bruins who take home hockey's ultimate prize? 

    Who will win the Conn Smythe Trophy? 

    Where are the Sedins? 

    These are all questions that have been asked, and each will be answered tonight. 

    Here are the top 5 storylines headed into tonight's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. 

    As always, feel free to comment with your opinions and predictions. I'm always interested. 

5. Mason Raymond

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    In Game 6, Vancouver forward Mason Raymond when down on an innocent looking play. 

    But a press conference yesterday revealed that Mason is out 3-4 months with a vertebrae compression fracture. 

    This is a big loss for the Canucks as Raymond is one of the top forwards in the league, with speed and scoring touch. 

    The question remains how this will affect the Canucks. 

    Reports indicate the Jeff Tambilini will fill in on Raymond's second-line position. 

4. Trash Talking

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    This series has all been about the trash talking. 

    Whether it be the whole "bite" story with Alex Burrows, or Luongo being critical of Thomas' play, the series has been more about the stuff in between the whistles than anything else. 

    This is not how it should be, and I would love to see a clean game tonight, where the hockey is tough but during play, no punching between the whistles. 

    This may be just a pipe dream, but it would be nice. 

3. Vancouver's Stars

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    One storyline throughout the series has been the absence of Vancouver's top players. 

    The Sedin twins and Ryan Kessler have almost nothing to show for themselves this series. 

    The question remains whether the stars are just not playing well or if the Bruins are just able to shut them down defensively. 

    Injuries may also play a part in this as it looks as though all three of them have been hurt after certain plays. 

    One thing that is fact and not speculation: if the Canucks want this game, their three stars will have to get it done tonight. 

2. Conn Smythe Trophy

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    The Conn Smythe trophy is awarded to the MVP of the postseason. It is given out simultaneously with the Stanley Cup. 

    There remain only a few candidates for this award. 

    Tim Thomas remains the front-runner in most people's opinions, however, a loss tonight will hurt his chances. 

    Ryan Kessler has dominated in the other three series, but he has not put up the same numbers in the final, though he should get some consideration. 

    In my opinion, Thomas has the Conn Smythe locked up, no matter the result of tonight's game; but stranger things have happened. 

    In fact, I think if Boston wins tonight, Zdeno Chara should give the Cup straight to Thomas (like Joe Sakic did to Ray Bourque for the Avalanche) because he is by far the best player on the Bruins and arguably the only reason they have gotten to this point. 

1. Goalie Battle

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    The series has ultimately been a goalie battle.

    Both on the ice where, in Vancouver, Luongo and Thomas have been so good that there has only been only seven combined goals in three games. 

    Meanwhile, the games in Boston have been a different story. But let's choose to ignore those for Luongo's case. 

    The main storyline for this game is who will take the greatest goalie battle seen in a long while. 

    Luongo must be on a short leash after is Game 6 performance, but he has always bounced back from poor games. 

    During a press conference in between Games 5 and 6, Luongo was critical of Thomas' style of play, but will be eating his words if Boston takes home the Cup tonight.