Saturday, May 28, 2011

Breaking Down the Stanley Cup Finals

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again, the time of year when there are only two NHL teams left to duke it out for the greatest trophy in all of sports: the Stanley Cup. Our two teams left are the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins, one team has never won the cup, and the other hasn’t won it in eons. One team is notorious for playing dirty, the other is known for being the most skilled in the league this year. I’m going to try to break down everything you need to know going in to what should be a very entertaining Stanley Cup Finals showdown.

On the side of the Vancouver Canucks, this is a team that has never ever won a Stanley Cup in their entire history. The last time they were in the Finals was 1994 when they ran into the Mark Messier-led New York Rangers, and were heartbroken in seven games. This year’s Canucks team is probably the most impressive team that has ever been assembled in the history of the franchise: Henrik Sedin is the reigning MVP; while his twin brother Daniel Sedin led the league in scoring is up for the MVP this year. Ryan Kesler (remember when the Flyers signed him to an offer sheet?) has transformed into one of the absolute best two-way forwards in the league, and goaltender Roberto Luongo has appeared to finally get the monkey off his back in terms of playoff failures. Those players, plus the stingy defense led by Kevin Bieksa, owned the best regular season record in the NHL, yet nearly got knocked out in the first round by last year’s champs, the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite that though, the Canucks were put together to win it all before the season even started.

On the side of the Boston Bruins, we have some of the dirtiest and nastiest sons of bitches around. Team captain Zdeno Chara is a seven-foot tall monster who practically broke Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty’s neck as the regular season drew to a close. Oh, and he’s also one of the toughest and best all-around defensemen in the NHL today. Power forward Milan Lucic is a nasty bastard himself, and is practically the reincarnation of Hall of Famer and Bruin legend Cam Neely (who ironically enough, began his career as a Canuck, but I digress), and has the power to change the flow of a game thanks to his style of play. While the Bruins don’t have the same kind of talent that the Canucks possess, they make it up in toughness and leadership, thanks to veteran goalie and Vezina Trophy (goaltender of the year) shoe-in Tim Thomas, and the ageless Mark Recchi, who even at 42, still plays better than most 20-something’s in the league today.

On a head-to-head matchup scale, the Canucks definitely outmatch the Bruins. The Canucks win on the talent scale alone, but the Bruins are definitely the more physical and punishing team. As long as the Canucks don’t let the Bruins style of play throw them off their finesse game, the Cup is as good as theirs. I for one would love to see the Canucks win it all here, but that’s mostly because I hate the Bruins with a passion, and always will.

On a side note here, if you want to try something fun, try and find how many ex-Flyers/Flyers properties are in the Final between both teams (I do this every year and am always shocked at the number I come up with). By my count, I’ve got Mark Recchi, Dennis Seidenberg, Ryan Kesler (signed to an offer sheet), Dan Hamhuis (Flyers owned his rights), and Andrew Alberts by my count.

This is going to be an entertaining series regardless though…all we need to make it sweeter is have a dramatic return of Marc Savard only to get another concussion, and see Tomas Kaberle get his head shoved up his ass by Alex Burrows.

One can only hope anyway…

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