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Haruko Haruhara On May - 29 - 2011

Roberto Luongo ... I don't think he looks like Sasha Baron Cohen

Someone is going to win their first Stanley Cup in at least 39 years.

 

The NHL got lucky … AGAIN. The Vancouver Canucks are playing the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals beginning Wednesday. This is great for the NHL. A big hockey-crazy market in Boston which hasn’t won a Cup since 1972, versus a big hockey-crazy CANADIAN market in Vancouver which has NEVER won a Stanley Cup in its entire existence. Just like last year, when the Chicago Blackhawks, which hadn’t won since 1961 and the Philadelphia Flyers, which hadn’t won since 1975. It will mean good ratings for the NHL in two big markets for two years in a row. The Tampa Bay Lightning almost made the NHL Finals, which would have been a disaster for the league. While the Lightning are a very good team, no one pays attention to them in Florida and the TV ratings would have been terrible. The NHL has to get out of the South. It’s like trying to have NASCAR in Canada.

Tim Thomas

The Vancouver Canucks may have never won a Stanley Cup, but a team called the Vancouver Millionaires did win the Stanley Cup in 1915. But, they were not part of the NHL. The Canucks are part of the NHL’s early expansion, joining the league 41 years ago in 1970. The Canucks were real sad sacks of the NHL for many years (they sneaked into the Stanley Cup Finals in 1982, but lost to the Islanders, then lost again in ’94 in seven games to the heavily favoured New York Rangers), and had the ugliest uniforms in the NHL, but beginning in the 1990s, they started putting together some powerhouse teams. Several times the past few years, they followed strong regular seasons with poor showings in the playoffs. Finally, this year, they seemed to have put it all together.

Zdeno Chara -- 6-9, 280?

The Boston Bruins are an Original Six team … one of a handful of teams that survived the Great Depression. It’s amazing to me that the NHL only had six teams from 1932 to 1967. Boston was never one of the strongest teams in the league, but they did win Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972 behind Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers and of course, Bobby Orr, one of the most famous players in history. Since 72, Boston has been up and down. They played in the NHL Finals in 1974, 1978, 1988 and 1990, but lost all four times.

Henrick and Daniel Sedin ... er, I mean Daniel and Henrik

So, neither team has been in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1994, and no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since 1993 — and Vancouver is heavily favoured. This is an exciting time for Canadian hockey. Not only are Canadians hoping for a Canadian team to win the Cup for the first time in 18 years, but Canada is getting a new team next year in Winnipeg, and possibly another new team the following year in Hamilton or Quebec City.

Unlike the Blackhawks and Flyers last year, which were incredibly playing a second-string and third-string goalie respectively in the Stanley Cup Finals, this year’s finals features two of the top goalies in the world.

ha, ha, look at these Canuck uniforms from the 70s!

Vancouver’s success seems to ride on the shoulders of Roberto Luongo (yes, with that name, he’s Canadian). He was the goalie for the gold-medal winning Team Canada in the Olympics last year. He’s been a Vezina Trophy winner (Goalie of the Year), but has never had much success in the playoffs until now. He was even shaky this year, having to be taken out of a couple of games in which he was playing poorly. Canadians are really hard on Luongo. A lot of Canadians call him “Hands of Stone” Luongo because the one flaw in his game is he is terrible with his trapper. Some people think he looks like Sasha Baron Cohen, but I don’t see it.

The stars for the Canucks and Daniel and Henrik Sedin, two Swedish twins who always play together. They are almost like one person, constantly passing to each other and helping each other score. This year, Daniel had 41 goals. Henrik is a little more of a passer and assist man. Another good player for the Canucks is Ryan Kesler, a big American who scored 41 goals.

Tim Thomas, save of the year

The big star — and I do mean BIG — for the Bruins is Zdeno Chara, a defenceman from Slovakia. He is the largest and more feared player in the NHL. He is 6-foot-9 and weighs anywhere between 270 and 290 pounds, depending on who you believe. He also holds the World’s Guinness Record for hardest slap shot –at 105.9 miles an hour. He is very, very physical and crushes players who don’t keep their heads up. He also gets in a lot of fights (though you rarely see fights in the Stanley Cup Finals and you rarely see good players like Chara who will fight — especially Europeans), however, I have noticed that whenever he gets in a fight, it’s the other player who usually picks it. And the other player usually gets beat up. I think everyone feels compelled to take on Goliath. The Bruins’ best scorer in the playoffs has been David Krejci, a Czech, but unlike Vancouver, the Bruins don’t really have any big scorers (their best player, Marc Savard, has actually been hurt all year with a concussion.). They just tend to come at you waves.

Roberto Luongo

The Bruins are riding American Tim Thomas in goal, like Luongo, a Vezina Trophy finalist. Thomas arguably made the greatest save of the year against Tampa Bay a couple of weeks ago.

With Luongo and Thomas in net and lots of chippy action around Chara and Kesler, expect the games to be very, very physical and low-scoring. And also expect wildly enthusiastic fans in Vancouver and Boston.

Zdeno Chara, warning, bloody!

Categories: Sports

9 Responses so far.

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  1. Khirad says:

    18 seconds left! Yeah!

    I must admit, actually caring about the city has made all the difference for me. I picked it up in the middle of second period and couldn’t stop watching.

  2. KQuark says:

    GO CANUCKS!!!

    That’s it I jinxed them.

    I’m so pissed we lost our team in Atlanta I barely will be able to watch the finals.

    Go 👿 next year.

  3. oldpol2 says:

    well done HH, I enjoyed your piece. Just for fun here is a link to the 10 oddest places Lord Stanley’s trophy has ever been to. The use as a baptismal font was particularly awesome.
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/The-10-oddest-places-the-Stanley-Cup-has-ever-vi?urn=nhl-wp6036

    That being said….GO CANUCKS!!!!!!

  4. Khirad says:

    I was a bit surprised to recognize a few of those names from the Winter Olympics, too. I have to admit, I did enjoy that game between Canada and the US.

    Otherwise, apart from using the glass and power plays, or drawing icing (?), I might as well be watching Aussie rules football, trying for the life of me to figure out the strategies and searching (in vain?) for plays.

    Also, I’d create a blinged-out puck that gives off a nuclear glow, ’cause I can never follow the damn thing until the siren goes off and I’m too late.

    I went to a Canucks game a few years back in Phoenix. While I far prefer the current uniforms (and the firm that decided on the previous scheme should be punished for crimes against the color palate), there were still Vancouver fans wearing it. I only hoped the throwbacks were worn ironically. Then, it’s almost cool. And the flying skate was far more an eyesore than the V in my opinion. I mean, take me. I never knew much about hockey, but the uniforms were so notorious they transcended hockey as being among the worst in all of sportsdom. How they didn’t revert back to the original colors earlier -- like after the 70s ended -- is a mystery to me.

    But, judging by clothing and accents, the Vancouver contingent was well represented and far more passionate than the Coyotes fans (who also had some tacky early uniforms of their own IMO). But yeah. I’m glad a hockey fan says it, ’cause it comes off rude when I do. It’s nothing against the game, but I’ll be blunt. There just isn’t the same culture the further south you go. In Arizona it’s hard enough to get enthused by the Cardinals, never mind the Coyotes. It’s ironic that there’s few places where Gretzky could be less appreciated. Nobody really cares. Not a knock on hockey, but it’s just not in the DNA like it is in Canada, the Northeast and Midwest.

    But, another thing which will continue to befuddle me is how Seattle plays in the same league as Camloops. Fun trivia I found by accident. The Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup. But, I guess not even that was enough to win over and cultivate an appreciative hockey fanbase that translates to today, though the Thunderbirds and Winterhawks do have quite a heated rivalry and devoted loyalists locally.

    So, as such, the choice is clear. I root for the Cascadian team without question. There is no choice. Canucks all the way. They aren’t just playing for Canada, but the Northwest. Hail Cascadia!

  5. whatsthatsound says:

    Thanks, HH! That’s pretty much all I know about hockey, right there! I also heard something about some Gretzky guy…

    Having read this, I’ll make a point of paying attention.
    The Sedin twins seems almost unfair. Those guys have been able to learn each other’s every nuance from their mother’s milk stages. What an advantage that must be.

    Thanks again!

  6. ADONAI says:

    If Tim Thomas is playing as well or better in goal than he was in the last series, Vancouver could be in trouble. But Boston has been terrible in power plays. They need to cash a few of those in for some goals if they want to win.

    Vancouver may have come through a tougher conference but Boston has a lot of play makers. I think it will either come down to the goalies or Boston’s inability to score when it needs to which is weird since it was never really a problem in the regular season.

    And yeah, the fact you have two highly physical teams with hot goalies means this could be along brutal series. Great hockey.

    I say Vancouver in 7. Home ice will help them.

  7. Pepe Lepew says:

    I’m not big on conspiracies, but years ago, there was some pretty fishy officiating in a playoff series between Sacramento and the L.A. Lakers in which they called a ton of penalties on the Kings and basically let Shaq travel at will and knock guys down in the key at will … It sure LOOKED like the fix was in, like Stern had called the officiating crew and said, “keep it fair … (wink)…”

    That Boston and Lightning Game 7 had ZERO penalties called. ZERO. It smelled suspicious. They didn’t want to give the Lightning any power plays, so they didn’t call any penalties on either team to “keep it fair…”

    The point is, don’t allow franchises in markets that you really don’t want to see in your championship series…

    • Khirad says:

      I know what you mean. Think of the great legacy team, Steelers, vs. the lowly Seahawks — an NFL team far removed from any other, regionally. I still have my own conspiracy theories, along the same reasoning. In all they involve the more lucrative championship merchandise…


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