The Stanley Cup Finals are almost here. The Vancouver Canucks haven’t won the Stanley Cup in their 40 years of being an NHL franchise and the Boston Bruins haven’t won the Cup since Bobby Orr lifted it in 1972. One of these teams will end a long draught, and the Vancouver Canucks are the heavy favorite. The series will ultimately come down a few key matchups and situations.
Chara vs The Sedins
Both the Sedins and Chara have had their fair share of playoff woes. This year has been different for Chara though. Since recovering from an illness against the Montreal Canadiens, Chara has been in Norris Trophy form. He has been the anchor of the Boston Bruins defense and did an admirable job against the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top scorers St. Louis, Lecavalier, and Stamkos. The Sedins have largely struggled in the playoffs again this season. Dave Bolland’s return mid way through round one caused a scoring draught that lasted through the second round series against Nashville. Once the Sedins were clear of players like Bolland, Keith, Seabrook, Shea Weber, and Ryan Suter, they enjoyed more success. Chara is on top of his game right now and an absolute beast of a man. He will punish the Sedin Sisters and shut them down for the majority of the series. Advantage: Boston
Tim Thomas vs Roberto Luongo
One is an all-american underdog success story. The other is a mentally weak, french Canadian grease ball. Luongo has a history of epic collapses in the post-season and was even benched for Game 6 in the Chicago series after getting lit up in games 4 and 5. Luongo will most likely have at least one game where he is shaky and that could be the difference in a tightly contested series. Tim Thomas had arguably the greatest season ever by a goalie and should a unanimous selection for the Vezina Trophy. He must out play Luongo for the Bruins to win the series. Advantage: Boston
This could be the deciding factor for the series. The Vancouver Canucks power-play and penalty kill have had great success throughout the regular season and playoffs. The Bruins special teams have been awful. Their penalty kill rate should probably have been better, but Tim Thomas has let in the occasional ill-timed soft goal. The Bruins’ powerplay is converting at a horrendous 8% in the playoffs. They are so desperate that have moved Chara in front of the net. While I am not an advocate of taking Chara’s bomb of a slapshot off out of the equation, Luongo has had difficulty in the past dealing with over-sized bodies at the top of his crease. Advantage: Vancouver
Ryan Kesler is the key to the series for the Canucks. I can easily envision Kesler exploding offensively against Boston, much the same way he did against Nashville. He won’t have as difficult of a task in this series. Boston has great depth, but they don’t possess an elite offensive player like Toews or Joe Thornton that will occupy Kesler’s attention. Given more freedom, Kesler could be a force at both ends and win the Conn Smythe Trophy
Tyler Seguin. Seguin needs to make plays in this series for Boston to win. The Canucks like to play a more open style which could create opportunities for Boston’s most talented player. Seguin is the only Bruin capable of creating an opportunity out of thin air, and if Claude Julien allows him to get more than 5 minutes a game, Seguin could make enough special plays to give Boston an edge.
My heart says Bruins, my head says Canucks, and my balls say Bruins. Usually when my balls and heart agree it’s a recipe for disaster…but I don’t care. Bruins in 7. Suck it Canada.
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