The Conference Finals are over and we have finally reached the Stanley Cup Final. What a series this promises to be as well with the Boston Bruins taking on the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver defeated the San Jose Sharks in five games and looked very comfortable all over the ice. San Jose, especially Joe Thornton, put in a lot of effort, but they could not compete with Vancouver's determination to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since '94.
The Bruins overcame the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in one of the best series' of the Playoffs so far. Tampa Bay exploded offensively, like we know they can, several times throughout the series and scored plenty of goals. Their special teams were excellent as always and they were more than a match for the Bruins who probably went into the series as favourites. However, I think the fact that the Bruins are a better 5-on-5 team than the Bolts was the big decider in the end. The size advantage started to tell as the series went on too.
It was almost a fairytale story for 41 year-old Bolts' goalie Dwayne Roloson who put in some fantastic performances throughout these playoffs, perhaps none better than in the last game. Unfortunately for Roloson, another wily veteran in Tim Thomas sat between the pipes for Boston and played just as well.
How do the two teams stack up going into the final?
Well, I would say that Boston are the bigger team, but Vancouver have some heavy hitters too in Raffi Torres and Kevin Bieksa. Vancouver probably have the better (and deeper) defence and have more of a scoring threat from their defence too with Ehrhoff and Edler. Going forward you would also give Vancouver the edge now that the Sedin twins have decided to show up. Horton and Krejci have been fantastic for Boston and I would be surprised not to see them step up again. Kaberle, Seidenberg and Chara have also been as solid as ever and Patrice Bergeron has shown his quality in the faceoff circle too.
I think the one area that Boston are ahead on for sure is goaltending but that isn't to say that Luongo isn't an outstanding goalie on his day. Thomas just has added experience and comes off the back of a particularly amazing season.
It should be a great series and I can see it being a very close one. Both teams have been solid at home and I would not be surprised to see both teams win all of their home games, with the Canucks taking home their first ever Stanley Cup in seven.
My Prediction: Canucks 4 – 3 Bruins