The Stanley Cup Final, which begins Wednesday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca., 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET) at Rogers Arena in Vancouver will see one team end a long championship drought. The Boston Bruins haven't hoisted the Holy Grail since 1972, while the Canucks have yet to capture an NHL title in their four-decade history.
With plenty of storylines to follow, CBCSports.ca's Tim Wharnsby and Scott Morrison debate four burning questions in preparation for hockey's final showdown.
Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas are the two final goalies standing. But who really has the edge in goaltending and why?
Wharsnby: Both Vancouver's Roberto Luongo and his Bruins counterpart Tim Thomas have enjoyed good times and struggled through bad times in this playoffs. But because of Thomas' determination and slightly better save percentage, he has the edge.
Morrison: Well, I guess you give a slight edge to Tim Thomas, but I only think it is a slight edge. Both goalies have given up "odd" goals, but both have shown they can get the job done and bounce back strong. Thomas may have to steal games for Boston, Luongo hasn't been forced to do that yet for the Canucks. Give Thomas the edge, but it isn't a huge edge by any stretch.
One of the crucial matchups will be Boston's defensive duo of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg against the Sedins. How do you see this matchup playing out?
Wharnsby: The twins certainly enter the final with plenty of confidence after a strong conference final. But they weren't productive against Nashville's Shea Weber-Ryan Suter shutdown pairing in the second round, and Chara and Seidenberg are as competent as the two Predators.
Morrison: Do you play them against the Sedins or Kesler, match size versus size? The Sedins speed may be a challenge for the two big men, so you might want to look at the different matchup. Then again, the way the Sedins played against San Jose, you probably want to start with your best pairing against them.
Vancouver has a big edge on the power play over the Bruins. Can Boston actually win the Stanley Cup with its power play working at a dismal 8.2 per cent clip?
Wharnsby: If the Bruins can advance this far with only five power-play goals, why not? They just have to be disciplined and make sure their five-on-five time is better than the Canucks.
Morrison: Boston has gotten this far without a power play because they are so darn good five-on-five, provided they can continue to provide offence that way. As key as the power play, though, will be maintaining discipline and not giving the Canucks' top-rated power play too many chances. The thing about the Bruins power play, when it fails miserably, it sucks the life out of them and gives it to the opposition.
What is your prediction for this series and who will skate away with the Conn Smythe Trophy?
Wharnsby: Bruins in seven and Boston centre Patrice Bergeron will continue his quiet but efficient play to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. He has been offensively productive with 15 points in 16 games and leads all players who made it to the final with a 62.3 per cent success rate in the face-off circle. The next best is Vancouver's Ryan Kesler at 54.7.
Morrison: I think the Canucks are not overmatched in goal, are better on defence and deeper, have three lines rolling with great speed and physicality and skill. Boston is a terrific team, the Krejci line stepped up, Bergeron has to step up, but I think there is too much with Vancouver — President's Trophy, Vezina nominee, Jennings award, back-to-back Art Ross winners, potential back-to-back Hart winners — hard to see them losing. Canucks in five with Kesler the Conn Smythe winner.