Bruins-Canucks Playoff Preview

VANCOUVER, CANADA - FEBRUARY 26: Alexandre Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks jumps out of the way of a shot as the puck sails over the head of goalie Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins during the third period in NHL action on February 26, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

When I predicted that the Bruins-Lightning series would be a "Shoe Drop Series", I didn't really expect for both pairs of shoes to drop.  That said, Tim Thomas's other shoe dropped a bit less, and it made the difference.  What was interesting to me was that, essentially, regression caught up to them in the same games, and was likewise stymied the same games.  As Tom Awad suggested, these two teams had been toying with predictions all year; why quit now?

But that's not this series.  The Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins meet in what I feel is an ideal scenario (for an NHL fan not claiming affinity to either team): the former has never won the Cup, and has a top-flite goaltender harassed by media for what appears (to them) to be the inability to be clutch.  Additionally, the Canucks have been the best team in hockey, an achievement that has done anything but guarantee a Stanley Cup (4 of the last 15 Cup winners have also won the Presidents' Trophy).  The Bruins haven't won in almost 40 years...you know, the same period of time the Canucks have been in the league.

They need Cam Neely to color commentate this one so he can cry at the end.

What can I say about Tim Thomas and this Bruins team that can't be said?  They give up a lot of shots, but I'll be damned if they haven't found a way to stop enough of them this year.  Having said that, and sans any less-hokey catchphrases, the chickens might finally come home to roost.  The Bruins were heavily outshot their last series, and they face a team that offers all the offense with less of the defensive volatility.  I spent a lot of time chewing over the Bruins last time, and I still think they have a solid team when their lines are healthy (they might be even better had Marc Savard managed to recover from his concussions this year).  But Vancouver comes into this matchup with the better offense, defense, powerplay, and maybe penalty kill (rumor has it that Manny Malhotra could be back for Game 1, albeit with one fully-functioning eye).  The goaltending, though it seems to be in Boston's favor, is probably more of a wash.  I stretched a bit against the metrics last round for the Bruins, but I'd be completely turning my back on them here.  Vancouver might be scared a bit early, and Thomas steals a game here and there, but they pull it out:  Vancouver in 6 games.

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