The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals will likely be decided by one thing: the Bruins ability to play tight, defensive hockey. If the Canucks are able to wheel and deal they will be very successful. If the Bruins are able to check the Canucks’ top scorers, the Bruins ability to score five-on-five will win the series.
A lot will be made of the goaltending match up. Tim Thomas will likely be the Vezina Trophy winner and Roberto Luongo has forever been branded as the guy who can’t win the big one. Thomas had his troubles against Tampa and their firepower while Luongo has given up a few bad goals as he has recovered from a rough first round quite well.
However, I don’t see the goaltending as what will truly decide the series. Boston proved that they are arguably the best five-on-five team in these playoffs. They also have the depth to check two lines with their forwards and defensemen. The Canucks have a lethal power play and have scoring outside of their top two lines. Plus, their defensemen are more than capable of providing scoring when needed.
If Zedeno Chara and guys like Patrice Bergeron, Dan Pallie and Chris Kelly can check the Sedins and Ryan Kesler this will be a long series. I also think if the Bruins are able to get in Bobby Lou’s face they may be able to find some goals.
The Sedins will need to be clutch in order for the Canucks to succeed. Ryan Kesler and the Canucks other “depth” scorers will have opportunities to provide support, but it is the Wonder Twins who need to show up in a big way. I would assume a steady diet of Zedeno Chara will make that difficult. Of course the same goes for the Bruins power line of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. They need to score goals early and often in this series. I would say Lucic has been very quiet this series, it is time for him to show up if the Bruins are going to get some major mojo.
Still, I think the Canucks have a little too much talent to be evened out by the Bruins. If Thomas makes a million saves every game there is a very good chance the Bruins will win. I don’t know if Thomas alone will get the job done, I still like the Canucks in this one. Vancouver in six.