For most of us in the east coast, it’s not often we get to see a full game of Vancouver Canucks hockey, for those of you lucky enough to see them play, you’ve certainly been entertained.
The Bruins Stanley Cup Finals opponent will definitely be the best team they’ve seen this postseason. The Canucks can beat you with goaltending, offense, and defense.
How they got here: The Canucks won the NHL’s president trophy during the regular season (Most points). After jumping out to a 3-0 series lead in the opening round of the playoffs against the defending Stanley Cup Champion, Chicago Blackhawks, the Hawks struck back with three wins in a row of their own forcing Game 7. Vancouver won a thrilling Game 7 in overtime.
The second round saw the Canucks take on a pesky Nashville Predators team. The Canucks ousted the Predators in six games, but the Canucks won three of the four by a goal.
The Western Conference Finals looked to be the matchup of the playoffs as the Canucks took on the San Jose Sharks. It was a easy series for the Canucks. Vancouver advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994 with some double overtime luck in Game 5.
Dangerous twins: The Canucks are led by twin brothers, Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The Sedin twins may be the best 1-2 punch in the NHL. The duo has won back-to-back Art Ross Trophies (Most points during regular season) with Daniel being the latest to earn the award. Through three rounds thus far, Henrik leads the playoffs with 21 points. With eight goals Daniel trails Bruins forward David Krejci and Lightning forward Martin St. Louis by two for the lead in NHL Playoff goals.
Depth at forward: Like the Bruins the Canucks are very deep at the forward position. Playing along side the Sedin twins is Alex Burrows. The Pincourt, Quebec native has a solid 14 points (7 goals) through 18 playoff games. Many people say playing on the same line as the twins is the reason for his success, but believe me folks, Burrows has plenty of talent to do it on his own.
My favorite Canucks player, and in my opinion the best all-around American-born player Ryan Kesler is a name that many Americans fell in love with while watching him during U.S.A’s amazing run to the Gold Medal Game during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Kesler is second on the Canucks with 18 points. The six-year-pro is someone the Bruins will need to keep a close eye on throughout the series. Kesler does it all, he scores, plays sound defense, and wins the one on one battles. He is known as the agitator version of Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron.
The Canucks will gain a huge boost with the return of Manny Malhotra. Two months ago Malhotra suffered an injury that many people thought would end his career, when a deflected puck nearly caused him to go blind. Malhotra has been cleared for contact and is expected to be in the lineup for Game 1 on Wednesday.
The Canucks have other dangerous forwards like Mason Raymond, and a pair of former Canadiens, Chris Higgins, and Maxim Lapierre.
Skill on the blue-line: Without taking anything away from the Canadiens, Flyers, and Lightning, the Canucks defenseman will be the best the Bruins have seen, offensively and defensively. All six defenseman for the Canucks are very talented.
The best Canucks defenseman in the postseason has been Kevin Bieksa. The unrestricted free agent to-be has shown some offensive firepower in the playoffs. Including his series clinching goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, Bieksa has lit the lamp five times, and also has added four helpers.
Another great blue-liner for the Canucks is Christian Ehrhoff. Despite missing the final two games of the Western Conference Finals, Ehrhoff leads all Canucks defenseman with 11 points. Like Malhotra, Erhoff is expected to be ready to go for Game 1
Dan Hamhuis is a name Bruins fans should recognize. It was rumored that the Bruins had some interest in acquiring the defenseman at last year’s trade deadline. No deal was made and Hamhuis signed a six-year-deal with the Canucks as a free agent during the offseason. Although he hasn’t put up the points as the other top Canucks defenseman, Hamhuis is averaging 25:46 of time on ice, a huge reason for the Canucks success.
Alex Elder and Sami Salo are two other solid defensemen to watch in the series.
The man between the pipes: Playing in his fourth postseason, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has been exceptional for Vancouver. In his past three playoff runs Luongo has been shaky; many people blamed him as the reason why the Canucks never reached the promise land.
After looking dominate in the Canucks first three postseason wins, Luongo looked like the playoff demon of the past allowing a combined 10 goals in less than five periods of play between Games 4 and 5. Luongo was able to bounce back, and bounce back in a big way propelling the Canucks to the finals. Luongo’s 2.29 goals against average and .922 save percentage show how good the goalie has been.
It’s obvious that the Bruins need to be much better than they were in the Eastern Conference Finals if they plan on bringing the Stanley Cup back to Boston for the first time since 1972.