Published May 31, 2011
Canadian Press hockey writers Chris Johnston and Bill Beacon have had varying level of success in making their picks through the opening three rounds. They pull out their crystal ball one final time in an attempt to forecast the Stanley Cup final:
Johnston (11-3 record): The Bruins are the forgotten team in this final. And that's a mistake.
They will not simply be cannon fodder for a Canucks coronation over the coming week or two — not with Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic and others ready to give them a rougher ride than they've experienced so far this post-season.
Both teams have been far from perfect. Boston survived two Game 7s during the first three rounds while Vancouver looked a little shaky in closing out opponents.
Chara should have a major impact on this series while drawing an important assignment against the Sedin twins, who came alive during the Western Conference final. The guess here is the big man gets the best of that matchup — with some help from goaltender Tim Thomas.
Pick: Bruins in seven.
Beacon (7-7 record): The Vancouver Canucks finished first overall and have been the NHL's best team all season. There's no reason that won't continue in the final.
If they were going to lose, it would have been in the first round when they won a gut-check Game 7 over Chicago.
Drumming out a very good San Jose team in five games in the conference final confirmed that they have the skill, grit and confidence to go all the way.
The one-two punch of the Sedin and Kesler lines and very good defence group that is both solid in its own zone and a key part of the attack give them an edge over Boston's top units and their defence. Their power play, at 28.3 per cent, is vastly superior to the Bruins' feeble 8.2 per cent unit.
Goaltending is a saw-off between two veterans who can be either airtight or leaky from one game to the next. Both have good, gritty third and fourth lines. But the Canucks also have home ice advantage.
Boston is better than some give them credit for, but not enough to stop Vancouver from becoming the first Canadian team to win since 1993.
Pick: Canucks in six.