May 31, 2011

Stanley Cup Finals

Pictured: the last time the Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup Finals

There is no more feeling nervous and pre-upset. It's no longer bad luck to be hopeful. This is the Stanley Cup Finals. We're too close to winning it all to be afraid of losing. This is one of the best experiences of my life and it's nothing but fun.

Most people don't think the Bruins are all that close to the Stanley Cup. Standing in their way is the Vancouver Canucks, the best team in the league this year and numerically the best team I've ever seen. Everybody thinks they're going to win, including the Canucks themelves. The feeling in Vancouver seems to be one of jubilance and confidence.

This is an advantage for the Bruins. The feeling in Boston before this series was one of pure terror. Right now? Feistiness. We know we're the underdogs. Losing to the Canucks won't be letting us down once again-- it's expected. Instead of being terrified of the worst, we've finally accepted it. Oddly enough, this means we have more faith in the Bruins. It's not about being perfect, it's about fighting harder. They can do that. Boston is made to fight (the first one).

However, it's not the underdog story everyone is making it out to be. The Bruins have actually been better in the playoffs so far. We've scored more goals, let in fewer, and Timmy has been better than Roberto "Italian Stallion" Luongo. As usual, special teams have been our weakness. The Canucks have been slightly better at killing penalties and much, much better at scoring powerplay goals.

I actually believe this can be another advantage for the Bruins. As long as we don't let Brad Marchand off his leash, there will be fewer penalties called in the Finals. While we've been slightly better than the Canucks overall, we've been vastly better at even strength in the playoffs. Powerplay goals accounted for 1/3 of their total scoring and less than 1/10 of ours. To put that another way, at even strength, the Canucks scored 1.83 goals/game, and we scored 2.94.

Vancouver may have been the top offensive team in the regular season, but they're 8th in the playoffs and have only been +3 through 18 games (not counting empty net goals). The Bruins have been +11. To put that in perspective, if these teams had been +1 in every win and -1 in every loss, they would be +6. The Canucks have actually been subpar for making it this far in the postseason.

This is the Stanley Cup Finals-- nothing is certain. The more certain you are, the less you know. Canucks fans seem very certain. I hope they don't know what the Bruins capable of.

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