The longest playoff season of the year is coming to a close, and it's hard to argue that the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins don't deserve to be playing for the right to hoist Lord Stanley's cup. The Canucks have easily been the best team the entire 2010-11 season, winning their first President's Trophy and finding themselves back in the finals for the first time since their historic 1994 matchup with the New York Rangers. And while the Bruins might have been an afterthought in an Eastern Conference that consists of Sydney Crosby's Penguins and Alex Ovechkin's Caps, Boston has earned the chance to play for their first NHL championship since 1972. An interesting fact, the “Original Six” Bruins are second only to the Detroit Red Wings for the most Stanley Cup titles for an American team with six.
On the surface, it would be easy to predict the Canucks walking away with their first Stanley Cup. The Sedin twins are one of the most remarkable stories in sports no one this side of the border is talking about. Two twins, playing for the same team as the captain and assistant captain, who lead the team in scoring. Why this is not talked about more is beyond me. Aside from that bit, the Canucks were the best offense and defensive team in the league, and sport the second best goaltending. The Bruins were no slouches either, as the second best defensive team and fifth best offensive team in the regular season, with a past Vezina winning goalie who's having another Vezina-calliber season. It's much closer than the Canucks runaway season would suggest. So like my NBA Finals prediction, I'm going to base my pick purely on emotional ties instead of facts.
Yet unlike my NBA prediction, this time the facts back my gut feeling. Yeah, I pretty much hate the Bruins; they eliminated my Sabres in last season's playoffs and have a giant goon defensemen as their main star, but when you look beyond the twins, the goon and the excellent goaltending matchup, you will see a Canucks team that is so deep top to bottom, it's nearly impossible to see them losing. Their next top two players, , would be just about any other team's one-two. And just to top is all off, the Canucks came into the league as an expansion team in 1970, the same year as the Buffalo Sabres.
All my personal opinions aside, the NHL will benefit tremendously from a Canadian team winning the cup for the first time since the 92-93 Montreal Canadians, especially within a few weeks of moving a team back to Winnipeg. The timing is right. The team is right. And Lord Stanley's Cup will return home to the great white north.
Prediction: Canucks in 6