Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2011 Stanley Cup Finals Prediction

Well here we are, the moment we've been waiting 82 games + playoffs for. Its been a great ride hasn't it? The ups, the downs, the loop-de-loops. The optics of this final series look to provide a wealth of entertainment and sappy storylines.

...Ryan Kesler, the American boy turned Canadian hero...

...Tim Thomas, rises from the ashes to become two-time Vezina nominee...

...against fellow Vezina nominee, Roberto Luongo, and usual goat for western Canadians, despite winning Gold...

...Patrice Bergeron, concussion king, and rock on the Bruins squad...

...the magical Sedin twins, playing for hockey respect...

...Milan Lucic, Vancouver Giants favorite returning to the City to play in the Stanley Cup Finals...

There's plenty to love about this matchup, but its just not even. I'm not sure its even fair.

Goaltending, the most important element of the NHL playoffs (despite what Chicago and Philadelphia will tell you), is a wash. These two are great when they're on, and miserable when they're off. Its as simple as that.

Defense, this edge has to go Vancouver by a huge margin. Boston has Zdeno Chara and his partner's Dennis Seidenberg surprising play, and that's it. If you are going to argue that Ference and Boychuk are solid defenders then you're not sure what defence is exactly. The Canucks regularly sit Keith Ballard, a guy who's for sure a top 4 d-man on most teams. And almost every defenseman the Canucks have can join the rush and bomb it from the blue.

Offense, again I've got to give it to the Canucks. Sedin's on one line, Kesler on another, Malhotra coming back eventually to the third line, for if nothing else a solid defensive set. Krecji, Lucic, Bergeron, Horton, Ryder, Seguin, its just not matching up for me. The speed and transition game on this Canucks team is going to eat the Bruins alive.

I like this Bruins team, I really do, but I don't see any way around this unstoppable force. Just like Chicago was last year, Vancouver is this year.

I'm giving Boston one game, that's it. Its the Canucks time. It may sound cliche, but it really is their time.

Canucks in 5.

Odds and Ends

First off this 8pm start time is bullshit. Granted the games probably won't actually start until 8:30pm, but this is still 5:30pm on the west coast. This is not enough time to get home from work, let alone to find a bar in California that's actually got the game on. That's not really true, its the Stanley Cup Finals, the game will be on, but it won't be a "hockey bar" that's for sure. But the whole schedule is way too drawn out. Since all the games are primetime, I don't see why we couldn't have kicked off on Monday night, and then do the every other night thing while the series is in the same city. Instead, we start tonight, then wait until Saturday, teams travel to Boston, play Monday/Wednesday, back to Vancouver for Friday, then wait until Monday/Wednesday again if it goes back that far.

I'd like to tackle the whole Atlanta to Winnipeg thing in another post. I know I've promised Phoenix game and 'Playing with Fire' reviews in the past but I hope to deliver on all of them this summer. While in the process of buying a new home, having another baby, and all the other day-to-day joys of life.

I'm not sure what's sadder, this guy losing his hockey team or losing his marriage. Losing both at the same time would be enough to kill most men. Kidding aside, the Falconer is one of the best bloggers around, and he'll be sadly missed if he decides to hang 'em up. And no one could blame him for doing so.

Guy Boucher is my new favorite head coach if only for the soundbytes in postgame interviews and gif images. The hockey world is better place with smartass coaches like Ron Wilson, and John Tortorella telling Larry Brooks to fuck off.

Tampa is really an incredible turnaround. Think about what that team was a few years ago with Barrie/Koules at the helm, and where it ended this season. Lots of respect.

Glad to see the Isles making some progress in signing Grabner and Okposo to multi-year deals, and a brighter potential for getting a new building.

Rafalski is one of the smoothest defenseman I've ever seen. He'll be missed.

Boogaard's death was pretty humbling, as death usually is, but the thing that ate at me was the fact that all the media wrote how they never really knew the guy because they didn't think he was worth talking to, and now they discover what a great guy he was.

Both teams deserve this Cup, but only one's going to win it.

Enjoy it.

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