The Stage Is Set …. Then There Were Two
By John Panarese
It is down to Vancouver and Boston. I am not all that surprised that Vancouver has made it to the finals, but I am a little surprised that Boston has done it. However, that is why the games are played, and that is why the Stanley Cup playoffs are the most exciting and entertaining playoffs in any sport.
After the Canucks dispatched the Sharks, it took until the very end for there to be a winner decided between the Lightning and the Bruins. Dwayne Roloson proved, once again, his unique ability to come up big in elimination situations by taking the series to seven, and a 1-0 score decided it for Boston in the end. Roloson certainly didn’t deserve to lose, but Tim Thomas simply was one goal better.
So, who will win it all? Who will skate away with the 2010-11 Stanley Cup? Which team will prevail when the smoke clears?
In my humble opinion, I simply think that this is the year for the Vancouver Canucks. I know that is probably the “no brainer” choice, as they have been picked to be the winners throughout much of the season. Even so, well, there has been good reason for that tag to have been placed on them. They overcame a dog fight against the Black Hawks to get out of the first round, and they have battled through Nashville and San Jose to get to the finals. Each series, they have found ways to win and have won the “big games” when they have needed to do so.
Not that Boston hasn’t truly earned there spot. No, they overcame their own adversity throughout their run and, along the way, avenged their collapse to the Flyers last season by sweeping them out this time around. In many instances, it looked as if they weren’t going to make it, but also found ways to win the critical games to keep advancing further.
The reality, to me, is Vancouver simply has so much talent. With Roberto Luongo in net to their impressive defense to four, solid offensive lines, they have a complete package, and, on top of that, are a well coached team as well. Ryan Kesler has stepped up big time, and the Sedin twins surely raised their game in the last round against the Sharks. Even with a few injuries on the back line, they still got great games from their defense, Kevin Bieksa standing out quite a bit.
It can be argued that it won’t be an easy task for Vancouver to raise the cup, though. Unlike the Sharks, the Bruins do have a good, shut down pair of defenseman, particularly in the form of the 6’9 Zdeno Chara. San Jose did not really have any true “shut down” d pairs, and the Sedins did not fair as well against Chicago and Nashville, who did have a good top 2 blue liners matching up against them every game.
Nevertheless, to me, I can’t see Boston being able to take Vancouver. The Bruins defense did not play well at times, and Vancouver can exploit that just as effectively as the Lightning did. I think, on the other hand, that the Canucks have among the best defensive group in the NHL, while the Bruins do not have the firepower on offense that Vancouver possesses. Goaltending could very well end up being the big factor in the end, yet I still think that Luongo will fair better with his D-men in front of him.
Thus, I will make the “prediction”, for what it’s worth, that Vancouver will win the cup in 6. Of course, Bruins fans will disagree, and respond with plenty of reasons why they differ in my opinion. However, in the end, it’s the boys on the ice who will decide and if I end up with egg on my face, I will gladly accept that. As long as we have an exciting, entertaining final, I will be satisfied.
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