Well, here we are. After several rounds of questionable logic and a wee touch of groupthink, we're pleased to announce that we got the "Vancouver" part of our Stanley Cup Finals prediction right, but the fact that so to a man, we all picked Tampa Bay to knock off the Bruins? Whoops.
Regardless, we'll try to polish the cracks out of our crystal ball one last time, and give you a look at who we think will be hoisting Lord Stanley when all is said and done.
Remember how I said that Boston's survival hinged on Patrice Bergeron returning to the lineup? Yeah, that seems to still be the case. After Bergeron returned, the Bruins turned a switch, and I don't think it's a coincidence that both of their shutouts against Tampa came with Bergeron logging almost 20 minutes a night - in fact, he's averaged more ice time than any other Bruins forward except for David Krejci.
Tim Thomas has been a big reason the Bruins are in the finals, and he was spectacular at times, but frustratingly loose and floppy at others. He's a huge battler, but if his emotions run too high, it can get the better of him.
On the other side of the coin, ever since Roberto Luongo banished the demons of the Chicago Blackhawks, he's been getting better and better. Though he did allow 4 goals past once in Nashville and again in San Jose, those were nights where the Canucks as a whole were totally discombobulated, and even Luongo's normal high quality of play couldn't keep them afloat.
Meanwhile, Ryan Kesler, the Sedin Twins, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows have all been finding the net for Vancouver, while Boston has primarily relied on Nathan Horton and David Krejci, with the occasional appearance by Tyler Seguin.
Both sides, honestly, have the character, the skill, and the drive to be champions. For each advantage the one has, the other has something that counterbalances them. But I can't help but feel like Boston may be a bit behind the 8 ball offensively compared to the Canucks, especially considering the fact that their power play has been a constant Achilles heel. Don't get me wrong - there are a lot of talented guys on both sides, but for Boston to win you have to ask Tim Thomas to take the masterful performance of Game 7 and repeat it again and again - and I'm just not sure they can do that for an entire series.
Canucks in 6.
I considered staying off of this one, since I was so horribly wrong in both of my conference finals picks. But, I figure I've got a 50/50 shot on this one, so here we go...
The Canucks answered a lot of questions for me in the conference finals, dispatching the Sharks with relative ease, and managing to show that Roberto Luongo could help to carry the load. Once the offense got going for the Canucks with the Sedins and Ryan Kessler, it was easy to see why this team won the President's Trophy.
We saw how Tim Thomas can affect a series, so I look for this one to be low-scoring across the board if both goaltenders continue to bring the pain.
I don't think the Canucks can be stopped now that they seem to have reclaimed their momentum from the regular season. I was surprised and impressed with how they handled San Jose, and I look for more of the same against the Bruins.
Canucks in 5.