For one night, we can forget the crap about the debt ceiling, we can walk away from Herman Cain , and lose the joyous news that cell phones increase your cancer risk, and my usual self-interested crap.
Tonight, we puck.
THE RHINO’S WILDLY INACCURATE STANLEY CUP FINALS PICK!
But before I get to the pick, let’s go over my picks for the last round.
Eastern conference final: #3 Boston Bruins vs. #5 Tampa Bay Lightning My Pick: Bruins in 6. Reality, BRUINS IN 7.
I made this one sound like all it was going to take was the Bruins getting angry, and playing with some heart to come out ahead in this battle of wills, but that clearly is not the case. Both teams played with an incredible amount of will, played their hearts out. Both teams had great offensive games, and bad plays go against them. It all turned on game 7′s goal-tending match up. For most of the game, the Lightning’s Dwayne Roloson, and Boston’s Tim Thomas played shutout hockey, both gave goal-tending clinics on the ice. And then Nathan Horton, helped by a rare defensive lapse by the Lightning, was able to get one behind Roloson after a sweet pass from David Krejci that put Horton in perfect position, and was able to get the only tally that the B’s would need to ice the game, and the series, and make it to the Promised Land, the Stanley cup finals.
Western conference final: #1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #2 San Jose Sharks My Pick: Sharks in 7. Reality: Canucks in 5.
The pick was not even close. It’s not, however, like the sharks were woefully outclassed here. They weren’t. The Canucks were simply the better team, and they fell victim to that team’s superiority in all aspects of the game. All you needed to know about this series you could have witnessed in game 2 of the series. On a night when Ryan Kesler, one of their best offensive players, was held scoreless, the Canucks had 6 different scorers, and 12 different players with points in the game, including 2 power play goals in a game that got increasingly chippy as it went on.
This Canucks team may well be the best team that City has ever produced, maybe even better than the team that Pavel Bure lead to the finals 17 years ago.
Viddy of the day: Nathan Horton scores only goal of Game 7 5/27/11
The side stories in this series are as interesting, if not more interesting than the actual game that will be played on the ice beginning tomorrow night at 8:00pm on NBC. Stories like:
The almost miraculous comeback of Manny Malhotra from getting hit in the eye with a puck that put his career in jeopardy a mere 2 months ago.
Milan Lucic, the Bruins left wing who is from Vancouver, returning home to try to steal the Canucks thunder, and keep the Stanley cup from his hometown Canucks.
Can the Bruins win a last cup for Mark Recchi, 20 years after his first, and can the Bruins win their first for grey beard goaltender Tim Thomas?
Can the Canucks finally bring the cup back to Canada, after an 18 year hiatus, and their first ever for the city of Vancouver?
These stories will cease to be mysteries in time and we’ll all learn the answers together.
Let’s talk about the game itself.
#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #3 Boston Bruins
Looking at some of the numbers for the goalies here, this looks like there is at the very least the possibility of more than a few shutouts during this series. Tim Thomas has only faced the Canucks 3 times in his career, but shut them out on 2 of those 3 occasions, and gave up but a single goal in the other game. Roberto Luongo has tossed 4 shutouts against the Bruins over 24 games, and has a career 2.40 GAA vs. the Bruins during his career.
The offensive numbers are limited, but telling. Most, but not all of the experience that these teams have against the other is, like I said, limited, usually 10 or 11 games against, or in some cases as few as 3 or 4 games worth of play against over an entire career, so there isn’t much to glean.
But there is something, small perhaps, but something.
Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic average a point a night against the Canucks, and the only man with extensive experience against the Nucks’ on the Bruins roster, Mark Recchi, has 26 points against them in 33 games. For the Canucks, the Sedin twins, Alex Burrowes, and Ryan Kesler have not been so lucky. The Sedins have scored a total of 4 goals in 22 games between them vs. the Bruins. The biggest point guy against the Bruins for his career for the Nucks’ is Chris Higgins, with 15 points in 33 games.
Like I said, not much, but it’s something.
This series is going to turn on the power play. Call it a hunch. The Bruins Power play has been horrendous, and one of the Canucks strengths is their power play. That will more than even out the strength of the Bruins even strength play. This series looks for all the world like a very tight one, one that could well turn on a single goal in the final game. There’ll be no blowouts here.
And I can’t help but feel that the kid Lucic is going to have a special night should it come to a game 7, in the place where he watched hockey growing up in Vancouver, and I tell you this series is going 7.
Bruins in 7.
That’s it from here, America. G’night.