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June 01, 2011

Stanley Cup Finals Game 1, and some other hockey news... (tmi3rd)

Good evening, Morons and Moronettes, and welcome to tonight's coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals, Game 1, with Boston visiting Vancouver. We've got a great deal of news to cover in hockey, so let's get to it...

From the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks are making their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1994, where they lost to Drew M.'s New York Rangers in seven games. The story with Vancouver tends to be goaltender Roberto Luongo... he's been aggressively hyped as Canada's goaltender of the future since the mid-1990s, but his first taste of success came in the 2008 Winter Olympics, winning the gold medal with Team Canada.

Vancouver has been paced through the playoffs by the remarkable play of forward Ryan Kesler. Even in the second-round series against Nashville, where the Canucks' top line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows were shut down by the suffocating defensive play of the Predators, Kesler (a Team USA stalwart) scored several hard-working and timely goals. In addition, appearances are that defensive center Manny Malhotra (who has been out with a serious eye injury) may return to the lineup.

Defensively, the Canucks are extremely deep. Each of their six defensemen would be a likely number-one defenseman on most other teams, and they've had significant offensive contributions from tough guy Kevin Bieksa.

The Boston Bruins parallel the Canucks with Vezina-caliber (the Vezina Trophy goes to the best goaltender in the league) goaltending from Tim Thomas. Defensively, they are paced by 6'7" Zdeno Chara, and their defensive corps survived a ferocious assault by the firepower-heavy Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.

Offensively, Boston appears to have slightly more offensive depth... they've had a great postseason from forwards David Krejci (10 G, 7 A) and Nathan Horton (8 goals, and a +10 in plus-minus). Center Patrice Bergeron has been utterly superhuman on faceoffs, and carries an impressive plus-9 into tonight's Game 1.

So who to pick in this series? I frankly hesitate to call it. It's hard to pick against Vancouver, but Boston has survived two Game 7s on their way to the finals. Perhaps it's more my heart than my brain, but I'm thinking Boston in seven.

There's more news out there- the first key bit of news is the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment, and their resultant move to Winnipeg. As a Saints fan in the NFL, it grieves me to see this for the hockey fans in Atlanta... I've nearly had two teams pulled out from under me, and it's gut-wrenching. At the same time, I'm very happy for the city of Winnipeg- those are some great hockey fans there, and the notion of having the Winnipeg Jets back in the league just plain feels right.

In other news, Brendan Shanahan (a colorful NHL veteran and also a bit player in Forrest Gump and Me, Myself, and Irene) will be taking over as head of discipline for the NHL. Campbell was regarded by many as being somewhat subjective about how he handed down suspensions and fines, and the movement of fan and player favorite Shanahan into that role lends it a certain credibility.

I'm going to try to check in as often as possible this evening- I'm taking care of a sick tmi4th, but as soon as I've got him down, I'll be floating around a bit more. Enjoy the game!

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posted by Open Blogger at 06:23 PM

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