Bruins vs. Canucks (The 2010-11 Stanley Cup Finals)

The Boston Bruins in my concious lifetime as a fan have never won a bigger game than that of Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, at the Garden, on May 27, 2011. A one to nothing shutout which will go down as the greatest Game 7 I have had the privilege of being apart of. I repeated a mantra in my head throughout the game, preparing myself for defeat, not in a pessimistic way, but as a defensive Bruins fan, who has watched this team avidly for fourteen years. I have done so all season, in fact, in situations where my mouth screams out contesting their mistakes, but my head remains scared and impatient. I have called for the Cup all season, staking claim that they will succeed on the skates and pads of the eventual Vezina Trophy winning goaltender. I praised their offseason and mid-season lineup adjustments and made it known that Julien’s structured defensive system, without a superstar goal scorer, would lead them to victory none the less, promoting a level of skill achieved only by heart and resilience. During Game 7 I hinted towards my fear by claiming that win or lose, if they left it all out there, a loss would be easier to overcome. I claimed that if it had to be anyone out of the East, I prefer it be the Lightning, because they have that rare combination of heart, skill and respect, that I see in only a handful of other teams in this league. The Bruins are one of those teams. The Canucks, are one of those teams.

 There are no keys to winning a Stanley Cup final. There are strategies and they will skate hard in practice and pinpoint who to shut down, when to commit, when to take shots, take hits, make plays, and ultimately overshadow the Vancouver powerhouse, and solve Luongo. This will all be talked about, and hockey analysts will have a field day breaking it down, stride by stride, game by game, and look back and say we were wrong or we were right. No one has a clue what team will show up for each city in any given game, or who will be the eventual hero. At this point, having muddled through personal and team rivalries, overcoming the demons from last year in near poetic fashion, and out skating their opponent in what was the most evenly matched series to date, in the 2010-11 playoffs, the Bruins have nothing left to do but play hockey. Win or lose each game, they are as prepared as they can be, and if they needed more or if they deserve to win it all, it will show on the ice.

Nothing to be said anymore of Nathan Horton, and the surprising level of tenacity and skill he showed throughout the year, and this playoff season. Nothing to be said of Tyler Seguin, and an oppurtunity seizing performance in the Lightning series, which will go down in Bruins lore in the years to come. Since that first day when they both stood side by side, garnering the black and gold for the first time, numbers 19 and 18 in succession, Bruins upper management and all of Bruins fandom looked at them to play like Bruins, maintain the respect this franchise brings to the NHL, and leave it all on the ice. They both earned the right to play on this team, and earned the right to play for the Cup. Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly became that hidden depth, imperative to winning playoffs series, and with Michael Ryder forcing me to chew my own words, and all three of them playing cohesive and strong, Chiarelli and Neely can only sit back now, admittedly having put together the best team they new enough to realize; a well-oiled machine of fore-checkers, puck controllers, and who knew it, goal scorers.

Nothing to be said for who their number one goalie is.

Nothing to be said until the Cup is lifted.

The matchup for now reads that the two best goaltenders in the NHL will go head to head, while the best powerplay, meets the worst, and the “scrappiest” offense meets the most structured. The game will be won, not in the neutral zone, or down low, but all over the ice. The Bruins will need to win the entire rink, because the Sedin twins, Burrows and Kessler will be everywhere. This isn’t an Eastern Conference Team, and there is no Bruins edge, coming off of a Game 7 win. This is Vancouver’s year to win the Cup, and the Bruins year to take it from them.

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