One city will celebrate the end of a long Stanley Cup drought while another will be left to wonder what could have been.
The Vancouver Canucks joined the NHL in 1970 and have never won a championship. Vancouver hopes to join Montreal in 1977 and Calgary in 1989 by winning the Stanley Cup one year after hosting the Olympic games.
Boston has celebrated a Cup victory five times before but not since Bobby Orr was leading the Bruins in 1972. The team hopes to bring Lord Stanley’s mug back to Beantown.
#1 – Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver rolls into the final looking to build off its five-game series win over the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks haven’t played in over a week and coach Alain Vigneault hopes the long layoff will not affect his team
Ryan Kesler is fourth in playoff scoring with 18 points, including seven goals, but he enters the series battling a sore groin. Despite waiting until the second round to score his first goal, Kesler has played like a MVP and looks like Vancouver’s Conn Smythe Trophy favourite.
Captain Henrik Sedin leads post-season scoring with 21 points, 10 on the power play.
Vancouver’s defence may be the difference in the series: the Canucks blue line has scored 14 goals in the playoffs. Kevin Bieksa, the game five overtime hero, leads all NHL defenceman with five post-season goals.
Less than three months after a career-threatening eye injury, Manny Malhotra has been cleared to play. The defensive centre took a puck to the eye on March 16 but seems to have recovered just in time to rejoin his teammates for the final.
#3 – Boston Bruins
The Bruins have lost in the final five times since their last Cup victory in 1972. In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final, the Bruins used a Nathan Horton goal and a Tim Thomas shutout to down the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0.
David Krejci is tied for the NHL playoff lead with 10 goals. Krejci started slow, scoring just one goal in the first round, but the centre has been finding the net since.
Vancouver native Milan Lucic won the Memorial Cup with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants before joining the Bruins as a 19-year-old in 2007. The big forward hopes to win his first Stanley Cup against the team he grew up cheering for.
Norris candidate Zdeno Chara will need to shut down Vancouver’s potent offence. Chara and defence partner Dennis Seidenberg will have the tough task of lining up against the Sedin twins all series.
Keys to the Series
This year’s Stanley Cup features two Vezina finalists facing off in goal. Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Boston’s Thomas enter the series looking for their first championship.
Boston’s 37-year-old Thomas set a NHL record with a .938 save percentage. The much-travelled veteran reached the final for the first time after shutting out the Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.
Luongo hopes to deliver a Stanley Cup to Vancouver and end the team’s 41-year championship drought. The Canucks goalie is 12-6 with a 2.26 goals-against average.
Wednesday, June 1 at Vancouver, 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 4 at Vancouver, 8 p.m.
Monday, June 6 at Boston, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, June 8 at Boston, 8 p.m.
*Friday, June 10 at Vancouver, 8 p.m.
*Monday, June 13 at Boston, 8 p.m.
*Wednesday, June 15 at Vancouver, 8 p.m.
* – if necessary
Vancouver in six games