By Brian Monzo
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It happens every year. The playoffs are amazing, but they come and go quickly.
We are down to the final two now, as the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks each look to earn the right to raise the Stanley Cup.
The Canucks have not been to the finals since 1994. I think all of us in New York remember that one quite vividly. The Canucks start with their premier goaltender in Roberto Luongo, their top tier twin forwards in Daniel and Henrik Sedin and finally their heart and soul in center Ryan Kesler.
The Bruins have been removed from the finals for 21 years. They have been a grinding, tough team with a blue collar goalie in Tim Thomas. Their acquisitions in the last year in Nathan Horton, Tomas Kaberle and Rich Peverley have been key players for them in their playoff push.
One thing is for certain — this is going to be a hard fought war that you are not going to want to miss.
The two teams met one time this season, and the Bruins won 3-1. Throw that game out the window.
This is what I’ve liked about both teams throughout the playoffs: Their best players have been their best players. Thomas has been lights out (mostly) for the Bruins every game. Kesler has been as clutch a player there has been for the Canucks. Each team is getting what they expect from their top performers — which is something great teams need.
I like the Bruins’ forwards better in this series. I like the depth. After Horton, they have the likes of David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, rookie stud Tyler Seguin, 43-year-old Mark Recchi Michael Ryder and more. After the Canucks top players, their offense peters out a little. After the twins and Kesler and even Alex Burrows it becomes Mason Raymond and Chris Higgins, which isn’t that jaw-dropping.
The defense goes to the Canucks. I know the Bruins have Zdeno Chara and Tomas Kaberle, but I haven’t seen what I would have liked consistently throughout the playoffs. The Canucks defensive core of Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis and Sami Salo have been as solid as any four defensemen could be. Each is reliable and can get it done on both ends of the ice. Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg do not scare me. They will not scare the Canucks.
I can’t rate coaching in the playoffs. Each coach has their job for a reason and is good at what they do. I will just go ahead and tell you that I think this will come down to seven games. When it does, Luongo will outplay Thomas, giving the Canucks their long-awaited Cup. Rating the goaltending is tough, so on a game-to-game basis I think each one will upstage the other.
It will come down to seven — and the Canucks will get it done. It will be a blast to watch — and I’ll be sad to see the season end.
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