May 13, 2011
Western Conference Preview: Vancouver vs. San Jose
This Western Conference Finals features two long time bridesmaids going at it for their chance for the Stanley Cup on the line. If the series goes anything like some of their memorable regular season match ups, we could be in for a real treat - the most entertaining series of hockey yet. That's saying something, as both of these teams have already been involved in arguably the two best series of the 2011 playoffs.
Here's a look at the regular season clashes. The March 10th game in particular was incredible, perhaps the best regular season game in the NHL schedule.
Had San Jose closed out Detroit in 4 or even 5 games, I would concede that San Jose would be favored over the Presidents champion Canucks. The Sharks have been the best team in the second half of the season, and until their bad stumble against Detroit, impressive in the playoffs.
The Canucks have not been all that impressive in the playoffs. But they are still alive and have yet to play their best game. That's either a good or scary thought.
Can the Sedins find their game? Joe Thornton has found his, though Marleau and Heatley haven't. Can Ryan Kesler handle Jumbo Joe? Can Kesler keep up the offense while trying to shutdown Thornton? Can Luongo eliminate the bad goal per game? Can Vancouver's defense handle San Jose's big forwards? They are going to clogging the front of the net unlike anyone since the days of Dustin Byfuglien.
I am going to go against my brain, against my gut, and I am going to pick with my heart. I will pick Vancouver to win, with no great confidence in doing so. Vancouver needs to use their speed - hard on the forecheck, and playing a transition game with speed through the neutral zone. Alex Burrows, Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen will be key figures in this match up.
And I really hope the Sedins step it up - for their own rep and for the Canucks chances.
at May 13, 2011