Preview: 2011 Stanley Cup Finals
The playoffs started on April 13, and now more than a month-and-a-half later, the Stanley Cup finals are upon us.
Two teams remain: the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins.
The Canucks beat the San Jose Sharks in the conference finals in five games, while the Bruins fought their way to the championship series in seven games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The teams played each other only once during the season, in February (the Bruins won 3-1). The Canucks entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed of the Western Conference and the Bruins as the No. 3 team in the Eastern Conference.
The Canucks have never won a Stanley Cup in the 31 years the team has been in the NHL.
The Bruins, on the other hand, have won five total but haven’t won since 1972.
“I’m in the Stanley cup Final now playing against the Bruins, a team I was raised to hate so it’s pretty fun. If you were to tell me that the beginning of the year I would not have believed,” Canucks forward Maxim Lapierre told canucks.nhl.com.
The biggest advantage the Canucks have is their powerful duo, the Sedin twins. Daniel and Henrik have won many accolades and trophies in their 10-year careers and the finals will be another opportunity for the Sedins to show their talent on the ice.
Henrik is ranked first in total points, with 21 in the playoffs (two goals, 19 assists) and Daniel is ranked ninth with 16 points (eight goals, eight assists).
The Bruins have David Krejci, who has scored 10 goals during the playoffs, with a hat trick during Game 6 against the Lightning and four game-winners (three against the Flyers and one against the Lightning). Krejci, 25, is ranked fifth in total points during the playoffs, with 17 (10 goals, seven assists). His teammate, Nathan Horton, is ranked sixth with 17 points (eight goals, nine assists).
Bruins forward Tyler Seguin, 19, has the potential to make a big impact in the final. The rookie scored three goals in the seven game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning and now has an opportunity to show the world what he can do on the ice.
Zdeno Chara is a key component of the Bruins defense. The 6’9”, 255 lb. defenseman will no doubt play a prominent role in stopping the Sedins from scoring.
Dennis Seidenberg, another defenseman who has helped the Bruins win games, joins Chara. Seidenberg has also had five assists and a goal during the playoffs.
Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieska scored the game-winning goal in double-overtime against the Sharks in Game 5. Bieska has support from Dan Hamhuis, Alexander Edler and Aaron Rome.
Veteran goalie Tim Thomas has logged the most time on the ice of any goalie during the playoffs.
During the conference finals, Thomas had two shutouts and a .929 save percentage.
Roberto Luongo had a shutout against Nashville in Game 1 and has a .922 save percentage.
During the 2010-11 season he had the most wins of a goalie, with 38 wins in 60 games played.
The Bruins are clearly the underdogs. However, they shouldn’t be written off so early on. What they lack in offense they make up in their brilliant defense.
They won 54 games (117 points) during the season, and the Presidents’ Trophy. They have also had a few more days to rest during the playoffs than the Bruins have, and now boast home field advantage for game one.
Their offense has been impressive throughout the playoffs and much stronger than the Bruins.
Both teams deserve to be in the finals but the battle for the Cup will end with only one true champion.
The fight for the Cup begins on Wednesday, June 1 in Vancouver. Game 1 between the Canucks and Bruins will be on NBC at 5 p.m. PST.
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