Confessions Of A Canucklehead
Okay. Now’s when I take a break from my journalistic ambitions and I write about something on my mind.
Normally during most of the year, I don’t pay attention to hockey that often until playoff time. Then, like most Vancouverites, it’s my focus on how far they make it through the playoffs to the Cup. This year was a landmark year for the Vancouver Canucks. For years, Vancouverites have been hoping they’d win the Stanley Cup and this looks like the first year they might do it. They’ve made it to the Stanley Cup finals before–in 1982 and 1994–but they’d lose both times. The latter was especially famous for the rioting that happened for days. Since then, Vancouver has had a reputation of being the unofficial riot capital of North America.
Since the 1994 Stanley Cup, Vancouverites have been hoping their Canucks would have another shot at the Cup. The time since the 1994 Stanley Cup to the 2004 NHL Lockout were not the best of times for the Canucks. Despite a new arena with the GM Place, now called Rogers Arena, it had some difficulties including four years in a row failing to make the playoffs. Whenever it did qualify, they would only get as far as a Conference Quarterfinals of Semifinals. After the 2004 Lockout, the Canucks have had a change for the better. Upon returning to NHL play, they didn’t qualify for the 2006 or 2008 playoffs. 2007, 2009 and 2010 would see them win the Northwest Division but only make it as far as the Conference Semifinals. one bright note was that Roberto Luongo was named Goalie Of The Year by the NHL for two years straight.
The 2010-2011 was a different year for the Canucks. After the usual trades and free agent deals, the Canucks were ready to start their new year, which was also their 40th Annivarsary, with a bang. After losing their first game against the Los Angeles Kings 2-1, the rest of the season was complete magic.With 54 wins and 19 losses, including scoring 262 total goals and conceding only 185, the Canucks were the top team of the NHL in regular season. Upon having the top standings in regular season, they were awarded the President’s Trophy.
When the playoffs began, their first round pairing was against none other than the defending Stanley Cup champions the Chicago Black Hawks. The first three games were wins against the Hawks and appeared to have a comfortable lead over them. Things sure changed once the fourth game began. The Hawks showed that even though they entered the playoffs the last of the Western Conference teams to qualify, they were not going to give up their Stanley Cup chances easily, and boy did they pour it on once the fourth game started. The Hawks came back with 7-2, 5-0 and 4-3 overtime wins. That left the seventh and last game a nailbiter. Played at Rogers Arena on Tuesday April 26, the Canucks appeared poised to win with 1-0 until Hawk Jonathan Toews scored the game-tier with 2 minutes to go. This left fans nervous as the game went into overtime. It took a goal from Alexandre Burrows at 5:22 to win it for the Canucks and move them to the next round. It’s a good thing too because the previous two Presidents Trophy winners lost in the Conference quarterfinals. If the Canucks did the same, three-in-a-row would make the Presidents Trophy a curse!
After the Conference quarterfinals, things were easier for the Canucks although they still had to put in a good fight. The conference semis against the Nashville Predators was also a tight competition but the Canucks prevailed four games to two. The Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks were possibly the easiest of the bunch. The Canucks won four games to one and the Canucks wins were in spectacular fashion. They’re the first Canadian NHL team in four years to qualify for the Stanley Cup finals. For the record, the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup was Montreal in 1993. Will the Canucks break Canada’s 18-year drought?
Now the Finals. The Western Conference winning Canucks will be up against the Eastern Conference winning Boston Bruins. How well do they stack up?:
CANUCKS-What haven’t I talked about already. A team loaded with talent, but all coming down to how they play as a team unit, and under the pressure of the Stanley Cup. They showed they could lead well but almost give it up, as they did against Chicago. They also showed they can come on strong as they did against the Sharks. It all depends how they play against the Bruins. One thing about the Presidents Trophy winner is that those winners that qualify for the Stanley Cup final have the odds with them. Of the nine previous Presidents Trophy winners that made it to the Cup Finals, seven won. Will the Canucks be the eighth to do so or the third to lose?
BRUINS-They finished third in the Eastern Conference and won the Northeast Division. Like the Canucks, they had a tough fight in their Conference Quarterfinals against the Montreal Canadiens and qualified for the semis on a seventh game overtime goal. Their Semis against the Philadelphia Flyers were magic as they won four straight games en route to their Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Their Conference Finals against the Lightning was a tougher affair as Tampa Bay proved to be a tough opponent. In the end, the Bruins won their seventh and final game with a single goal by Nathan Horton with 7 1/2 minutes to go in the third period. That’s all it takes! One important fact: In their one regular season game against the Canucks, they won 3-1. Even the Canucks will admit that they are a good rival. The Bruins had one of the highest goals-per-game averages in regular season this year. The defence of the Bruins is so good, even Luongo will admit it’s their strongest asset. However in playoffs, their scoring magic has taken a backseat. They’ll have to pour it on against the Canucks featuring Luongo if they want to win their sixth Stanley Cup.
Anyways on with the show. Hopefully the Canucks will win their first ever Stanley Cup. What’s especially noteworthy is that I promised my Admin team at work that if we win the Cup, I will buy them all a cake! I’ve already bought cupcakes for them when we won the Conference quarterfinals. Make it a yummy win guys!