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The 2010-11 Boston Bruins: Your Eastern Conference Champions

May 28, 2011

The Bruins celebrate their 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning last night in Boston.

I could look at that picture all day, really. Just as hockey fans the world over could watch last night’s game over and over.

It was a spell-binding game. Not much more can be said about it. Each time played its heart out. Both ended the series with 21 goals apiece. Each had identical regular season records. But last night, a fast-paced breakout across the neutral zone prompted by a slow, slugging Ference in the Bruins’ zone kicking forward, led to a beautiful dish from Krejci and a perfectly timed pop-in by Mr. Game Winning Goal Horton.

Ahead lie the Vancouver Canucks, the team seemingly fated to win the Cup from the outset of the season. They were the Presidents’ Cup winners and followed a meandering path in the plays. Their trajectory was similar to that of the Bruins, in that they slayed their mortal enemies in the first round, in seven games, in overtime. Scraping their way through that opening round at once drained these two clubs, but emboldened them as they moved through the second and third rounds.

The similarities continue; a 39 year drought keeps the Bruins from the Cup, whilst the Canucks have yet to have the pleasure in their 40 year history. Both clubs went to the Conference Finals and/or Cup finals as recently as the early 1990s. Both clubs have undergone a slow but steady resurgence since the 2004-5 lock-out. Both clubs have Vezina nominees in net. Both clubs are deep. Both clubs have rabid fan-bases.

But the differences end their. As my brother apparently likes to note, the Bruins’ power-play is “the time when the other team has an only marginally smaller chance of scoring on the Bruins” while the Canucks’ man-advantage is downright lethal. Their penalty kills are sturdy enough–nothing exquisite. While there’s Bieksa, Hamhuis and a host of others on the blue-line with top-notch credentials, none match the shut-down qualities of Chara (especially paired with Seidenberg). The Canucks have struggled offensively in the playoffs, while the Bruins have finally found their stride (polar opposites of the regular season). As has been widely noted, the leadership in the room will outweigh any insights by the coaches at this stage of the playoffs. That especially seems the case here. The life-blood of both teams, their two-way forwards, Kesler and Bergeron, provide ample direction in the alternate captain role (home games only).

Beyond this, Lucic can be expected to shine in Vancouver, his hometown, just as he did in the lone regular season game between the two clubs.

The next game isn’t until Wednesday, giving both teams time to rest and recover, to recuperate, prepare and reflect.

The big show’s up next.
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