The Vancouver Canucks host the Boston Bruins tonight in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Is it me, or has this become only the second biggest hockey story in Canada at the present time? It might be big in Vancouver but I think the rest of Canada is still buzzing with the news that the Atlanta Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg.
It would be interesting to see if yesterday’s developments will spark a rivalry between Vancouver and Winnipeg? I wonder how many Canucks fans are saying the following right now, “Great, our team is in the Finals and a Canadian team is hosting Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993 and we cannot get any national focus! I can’t stand Winnipeg already!”
That said, it is now time to take a look at the Stanley Cup Final.
I like Vancouver over Boston in six. I feel the Sedin twins are playing at a very high level between them. After an outstanding Western Final, Henrik Sedin now leads all scorers in playoff points with 21 (2 goals and 19 assists). Meanwhile, Daniel Sedin is playing much better defensively as of late. He was a +4 against the San Jose Sharks, after being a -8 in the Canucks’ first 13 playoff games.
Another player that is receiving high praise for his defensive positioning and is even being rumored for Conn Smythe consideration is defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who is a team high +10 in the playoffs and scored the series clinching goal in double overtime against the San Jose Sharks last week.
The only player in the NHL Playoffs that has a better +/- is Boston Bruin captain Zdeno Chara at +11. But I feel more has been expected offensively from him, as he only has five points in 17 games. Chara averaged more points per game in the regular season (44 in 81 games played).
Boston has seen strong offensive production in the postseason from David Krejci and Nathan Horton, who each have 17 points, but I feel that the two of them aren’t explosive enough on the power play like the Sedin twins are.
Boston’s power play has been terrible in the playoffs. They have tried everything, including putting Chara right in front of the opposing goalie to block his view. Claude Julien’s strategical change has improved the Bruins’ power play a little bit, but not significantly.
I picked the Canucks over the Bruins at the end of the regular season, and will keep that prediction now.