NHL Stanley Cup Finals Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Vancouver Canucks

VANCOUVER, CANADA - FEBRUARY 26: Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks is checked off the puck by Michael Ryder #73 of the Boston Bruins during the first period in NHL action on February 26, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Bruins are back in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 21 years and are looking to bring the Cup back to Boston after a 39-year absence. Mission 16W for the B's is now down to just four more wins, but those victories will not come easy. The Vancouver Canucks have been the most dominate team in the NHL this year, cruising to a 54-19-9 regular season record.

The Canucks' path to The Finals went through Chicago (4-3), Nashville (4-2), and San Jose (4-1) (...I hope I don't see a pattern forming here).

The Bruins and Canucks met just once this season, with the Bruins topping Vancouver 3-1 during an impressive February Western Canadian road trip that was part of a 6-game winning streak.

Series Schedule

Wednesday, June 1 at Vancouver, 8 p.m. NBC, CBC, RDS
Saturday, June 4 at Vancouver, 8 p.m. NBC, CBC, RDS
Monday, June 6 at Boston, 8 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Wednesday, June 8 at Boston, 8 p.m. VERSUS, CBC, RDS
*Friday, June 10 at Vancouver, 8 p.m. NBC, CBC, RDS
*Monday, June 13 at Boston, 8 p.m. NBC, CBC, RDS
*Wednesday, June 15 at Vancouver, 8 p.m. NBC, CBC, RDS
*If needed

 

Series at a Glance

Bruinsnewlogosmall_medium

  Vancouver_canucks_logo_medium
12-6
Playoff Record 12-6
3.22
Goals/Game 2.78
2.50
Goals Against/Game 2.56
31.8
Shots/Game 31.2
33.6
Shots Against/Game 31.6
8.2%
Power Play 28.3%
79.4%
Penalty Kill 80.6%
52.3%
Face Offs 50.4%
11.9
PIMs/Game 15.2
1.74
5 on 5 Ratio 1.07
Davis Krejci (10)
Leading Goal Scorer Daniel Sedin (8)

 

More after the jump...

In Net

The match-up in net features two Vezina Trophy candidates with an identical playoff GAA (2.29) in Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo. Although, Tim Thomas has not faced the Vanouver Canucks very often throughout his career, he has been downright dominant against them. In 3 career games versus Vancouver, Thomas has two shutouts and has allowed just one goal (0.33 GAA). Luongo struggled a bit early in the playoffs, but has been a rock in goal for the Canucks as the playoffs have progressed.


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Tim Thomas  18 1,125 12 6 43 2.29 603 560 .929 2


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Roberto Luongo 18 1,076 12 6 41 2.29 528 487 .922 2


Injury Report


Boston Bruins Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Marc Savard concussion 01/23/2011


Vancouver Canucks Injuries

Probable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Ryan Kesler groin 05/31/2011
Christian Ehrhoff shoulder 05/27/2011
Aaron Rome head 05/27/2011
Manny Malhotra eye 03/17/2011

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Mikael Samuelsson leg 05/19/2011
Lee Sweatt foot 03/01/2011

Canucks' Strengths

Goaltending: The big knock on Robby Lou has been his inability to win big games, but you can't argue with his talent.

Power Play: The Canucks have a 28.3% success rate on the power play in the playoffs and were 24.3% in the regular season.

Creepy Twin Power: I'm not sure if the Sedins can read each others' thoughts on the ice, but click very well togther on the Canucks first line.

Bruins Keys to the Series

Stay Out of The Box: The Canucks are dangerous on the power play. The more the Bruins can play 5-on-5, the better. I know the penalty box boobs in Vancouver have made it a popular destination, but try to stay away. Think of all the boobies you will see along Boylston Street while you are hanging out of a Duck Boat with Lord Stanley's Cup.

Take At Least 1 Game in Vancouver: If the Bruins come back from Vancouver down 0-2, this series is over.

Figure Out What the F&%* is up with the Power Play! I know I said that last round, but it still holds true.

Notes:

- 16 different players have scored a goal for the Canucks in the playoffs.

- Several members of the Bruins organization have links to British Columbia: Milan Lucic grew up in Vancouver and played junior hockey for the Vancouver Giants. Mark Recchi grew up in Kamloops, BC. Team President Cam Neely was born in Comox, BC and played for the Vancouver Canucks before being traded to the Bruins.

- On the flip side, their are a few Canucks with Boston connections: Defenseman Andrew Alberts played for the Bruins and Boston College. Cory Schneider is a Marblehead, MA native, who also played his college hockey in Chestnut Hill.

- Most books have the Canucks as -235 favorites to win the series.

- Great Quote from Claude Julien about "The Green Men": "Well, I think our guys sent an e-mail asking for the other one that was there to replace them." (H/T to Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy). Whatever do you mean, Claude?

- While we on the topic of The Green Men, can we all agree that they are unoriginal hacks? I guess, I should not expect more from the city that spawned Nickelback.

- I'm glad that the Canucks have finally made Johnny Canuck a more prominent image of the franchise. I mean if you are going to have a borderline ethnic slur as a team nickname, you might as well embrace it.

- Mark Recchi has stated once again that he will retire if the Bruins win the Stanley Cup.

- In a lame marketing ploy, Canadian Pizza chain Boston Pizza has changed the name of its British Columbia stores to Vancouver Pizza during the Stanley Cup Finals. The chain did the same with its Montreal area stores during the Bruins-Canadiens series. Boston Pizza is a terrible name for a Canadian pizza chain to begin with. Have these people ever tried getting a good pizza in The Hub? It's not exactly what we are known for.

- For more on the Canucks and the Stanley Cup Finals, check out Nucks Misconduct (Go for the Lumber Jack Power logo. Stay for my interview.)

Staff Predictions

Evan (Stanley Cup of Chowder): Canucks in 6

I nailed Round 1 and the Eastern Conference Finals with my predictions, but was way off in the Philly series. I hope I am wrong again. The Bruins are playing some great hockey right now, but I think they have met their match in the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks dominated this season while playing a very difficult Western Conference schedule. The Canucks are able to get scoring from throughout their lineup and have the most potent power play in the league. Vancouver just seems to keep getting better and better as the playoffs go deeper. I'm not sure the B's can get past this team. Prove me wrong, Bruins.

Phil (Phunwin): Canucks in 7

Throughout the playoffs, Boston's calling card has been strong 5 on 5 play.  In each series, the Bruins absolutely dominated 5 on 5, with Montreal and Tampa Bay able to keep it close with superior special teams play.  (The Flyers would have needed nothing less than a mass outbreak of Ebola in the Bruin locker room for that series to be close.)  Here's the bad news: Vancouver is every bit the B's match when it comes to 5 on 5.  Great 5 on 5 play or not, the fact that Boston is in the Finals at all is pretty mind-blowing when the power play has scored about 1 out of every 12 chances.  Here's the good news, though: it's not that bad.  The Bruins scored at a 16.2% clip (43/266) during the regular season.  And as the Tampa Bay series went on, the PP looked better.  More importantly, the inexorable power of regression to the mean has to take hold at some point.  So I do not believe Boston's anemic power play will continue.  Ultimately, though, Vancouver brings too much to the table for me to predict a happy ending to this story.  They're just as good, just as deep, and even if the Bruins' special teams improve, the Canucks are still better in that department.  Boston's best hope for winning this series lies in these three things: 1. Tim Thomas stealing at least two games, 2. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg repeating Shea Weber and Ryan Suter's success against the Sedins, and 3. the Bruins being healthy, while the Canucks are rather banged up (who knows how much Manny Malhotra will play, or how effective Ryan Kesler will be?).  I don't think Boston's a longshot to win the series by any stretch, but unfortunately, all this leaves me with Canucks in 7. 

UPDATE: Our Emergency Call-Up/Black Ace Timmy got his act together and sent me his pick for the series.

Tim (timmorrison23): Bruins in 6

This is an extremely tough match up for our beloved Bruins. After a wide mix of talent/physicality in the first 3 rounds, they draw an opponent that is much like themselves. In my opinion, the Bruins are the best 5 on 5 team in the NHL and to me that is the key in the series. I think Chara/Seidenberg vs Henrik/Daniel is a good match-up. You won't completely shut them down, but if you can minimize their damage and hope that Bergeron vs Kesler will be close to the same then I think the Bruins definitely have a shot at this. If the Bruins can stay out of the box, but remain physical, then I think they win this series in six games.

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