Boston or Vancouver: Which Team Is Destined to Choke?

Bobby Brooks@BrooksBetsAnalyst IIIJune 9, 2011

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 08:  A Boston Bruins fan holds a sign that reads, 'Scared??? Better Be!!!!!!!' during Game Four against the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 8, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, it looked like a foregone conclusion that the Vancouver Canucks would finally exorcise their playoff demons and finally win a championship.

This is the part when you would hear crickets or a record coming to a screeching halt.

At the same time, a team isn't in real trouble until it loses a game on home ice.

The Bruins held serve with two Mike Tyson knockouts in Boston, and now we have a best of three for all the marbles.

One would think that the Bruins have all the momentum, but we all know how much home ice has mattered in this series. The Canucks aren't going to come out and roll over and die in Game 5.

Or are they?

There is a real sense of apprehension and dread among Vancouver faithful right now. The finger pointing isn't reserved for the players on the ice anymore. Now fans have plenty of blame to throw around.

Some cheerleader writers are pointing towards the refs. Other fans are calling for Roberto Luongo's head on a stick. Will we see Cory Schneider in Game 5? But what about the Sedins? Have they really shed the choker label yet?  Has Ryan Kesler run out of gas, or is he injured? How much do they really miss Dan Hamhuis?

There are questions galore, but one thing is certain when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks—they usually choke come playoff time.

Most people know by now that they made their first stamp on the playoffs in 1982, but not much was expected of them against the big bad Islanders. The franchise toiled in the basement of the NHL for the rest of the decade until the Trevor Linden/Pat Quinn era.

Under Quinn's watch, the team began to win division titles and finally had expectations on them. But during this golden era in franchise history, they couldn't get past the second round more than one time. In 1994, despite all the puck luck, hard work and heroics, they ultimately came up short against the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final.

In fact, this is the first time they've made it past the second round since their '94 Cup run.

In the glory years (or "West Coast Express" years) of Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund, the team had a real chance to make a Cup run, but it never happened. The team could never overcome minor-league goaltending with Dan Cloutier in net, and a championship window came and went.

In the post-lockout era, the team has been primed for another championship run once again, but it couldn't defeat the Chicago Blackhawks. A large part of the reason why they lost the last two seasons was because of self-implosion. Bad defensive mistakes, questionable goaltending, lack of discipline and Sedin no-shows have all contributed to more chapters in the history of Choke-ville.

Make no mistake about it—these fans have suffered immense heartbreak and watched the franchise throw away opportunities year after year.

But does a history of losing automatically make the Canucks the odds-on favorites to choke again this year?

Not if you look at the Boston Bruins' playoff history.

Yes, they have five Stanley Cup championships to point to, but when did these occur? You have to go all the way back to 1972 to find Bruins player names on the Cup.

What's more important is what has happened since.

Boston reached the Finals three more times in the 1970s but lost them all. They were on their way to another Cup run in 1983, but much like the Canucks, they were knocked off the ice by the mighty Islanders dynasty.

In the following five seasons, Boston was eliminated in Round 1 by the Montreal Canadiens four times straight. It wasn't until 1988 that the Bruins finally broke through the first round and went all the way to the Finals, led by guys like Ray Bourque and Cam Neely.

The Oilers used them as a doormat and swept them in four straight.

This didn't deter the organization though. In a five-year span the team played in 16 playoff rounds. It reached the Finals again in 1990 but couldn't surpass a Wayne Gretzky-less Oilers team. Mark Messier and Bill Ranford made short work of them once again.

Despite having great talent like Adam Oates, Rick Tocchet and Jozef Stumpel, the team never made it past the second round after that era. In a 16-year span the team either missed the playoffs or bowed out in the first round 13 times—including three Game 7 losses.

Which brings us to last season.

In 2010, the Bruins completed what was arguably the worst choke job in NHL history. They not only had a 3-0 series lead on the Flyers, but they also held a 3-0 lead in Game 7.

As many have stated, no one would have believed that in a Hollywood script, so the fact that we watched it play out in reality was nothing short of a shocker.

A prideful sports city like Boston didn't live this one down. When you are used to winning championships with the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics, choking a glorious opportunity in that way is a scar that never goes away.

Until now?

Boston got its revenge on Philly this season and now seems poised to complete another 0-2 comeback on the mighty Canucks.

Which team will overcome its dismal past to finally achieve glory?

Both fanbases must feel like impending doom is just around the corner, but only one of them will be right.

The playoff choker status is still up for grabs. The last question we have is which franchise will step up and reclaim its rightful throne?

What say you?


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