Tonight the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins will face off in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals, and the battle will be on to win the most sacred trophy in sports. When it comes to writing about this match-up, there are so many ways to approach it that it’s hard to know where to start.
As a Lightning fan, I ended last Friday boiling with anti-Bruins rage. But my cooler head has since prevailed, like cream rising to the top, and now I am looking at the SCF intelligently instead of emotionally. For what they are worth, here are some of my thoughts.
Conventional wisdom says Canadians will cheer for the Canucks and Americans for the Bruins, and there is probably some truth to that. However, in reading comments left on some Canadian blogs I have encountered a surprising (to me) amount of anti-Vancouver sentiment. From what I can gather as an outsider, it appears that some Canadians, especially from the interior provinces, look at
In any event, the idea of national rivalries among NHL franchises seems overblown because every NHL roster is multinational. Vancouver’s highest profile players are the Sedin twins, who are from Sweden, while Boston’s highest profile player is Zdeno Chara from the Czech Republic...And Vancouver has eight fewer Canadians on its roster than Boston has…And when you look at the most effective performer on each of these teams during this post-season, you will find that both of them (Ryan Kesler for Vancouver and Tim Thomas for Boston) are Michigan natives…Need I say more?
East vs. West
There is a school of thought that Western Conference hockey is wide open and freewheeling while Eastern Conference hockey is defensive and hard-hitting. That same school of thought holds that Western Conference teams lack the toughness that is needed to win against the more physical teams from the East. People who subscribe to this school of thought tend to overlook the fact that the last ten championships were divided evenly between the conferences, and that three of the last four were won by teams from the West. They also tend to overlook the fact that
Tim Thomas was a journeyman who spent most of a decade bouncing around foreign leagues and the minors. But since reaching his mid-thirties he has become
Roberto Luongo backstopped Team
For Thomas, a Stanley Cup championship would be a testimony to perseverance and to the reality that people can bloom late. For Luongo, it would silence his critics and vindicate his unfairly maligned career. No matter which team wins, the story of the man in net is sure to inspire.
“Original Six” vs. “Newcomer”
I have heard some people depict this as a kind of old vs. new final, with the Bruins playing the part of the old, storied organization and the Canucks the part of the yappy young gun. That storyline rubs me wrong.
Yes, the Bruins are one of the “original six” franchises, but the very concept of the original six is misleading because the franchises in question were not the NHL’s first six. They were simply the ones that happened to be playing in 1966, one year before the league’s famous 1967 expansion. Many others had opened and folded in the decades leading up to then.
Meanwhile, the Canucks are far from a new franchise since they have been playing hockey in
…I will be satisfied. The Bruins have been knocking on
…I will be satisfied. The Canucks are fun to watch, and their defense is just as stout as their offense is creative. Plus, I am sympathetic to fan bases that get dissed by fans of the original six. And even though I am an American, I have to admit that after an 18-year drought it would be nice to see a Canadian franchise win the Cup and take it “home” for its fans to see.
Of course, if the Lightning was playing in the SCF there is no way I could say “I will be satisfied” about the prospect of anyone else winning. And as the series unfolds and I see how
I hope you watch and enjoy it as much as I plan to. And although the Lightning are sitting home at this point, I have to close by saying this again: Go Bolts!