Game one of the Stanley Cup Finals is tonight (Final? Finals? Who cares?), and I’m still steeling myself for it. The previous rounds have been intense, and there is no reason for this round to be any different. Colorado have been firmly out of the playoffs this year since 2009 or so (it seems like it, anyways), and I’ve been cherry-picking who I want to win each round. A little Sharks love here, pulling for the Kings a bit there, maybe even some Capitals when things looked bleak. I will even admit I wanted the Coyotes to win a round, but only one or two. But one team has held firm in my heart this post season: the Boston Bruins.
Last season, the first game of the season to be broadcast nationally was the Bruins vs. the Capitals. At the time, I said I liked the balance of the Bruins, while I liked the forwards on the Caps. And take a look at what happened this year:
- The Capitals got more defensive, which solved a few of their problems, but not all.
- The Bruins performed some surgery, cutting out what wasn’t working, and retaining what did work.
A huge factor for the Bruins this year was goaltender Tim Thomas, who is my odds on favorite for winning the Vezina this year. If he doesn’t win, something is rotten in Denmark. He’s one of those players that is hard to dislike, unless you were playing against him this season. Last season was a different story, as he struggled in the latter half of the season, and Tuukka Rask easily claimed the starting job. I think I said it before, but I was in Boston for four weeks last season, and Bruins fans were worried. They thought Thomas was washed up, and that GM Peter Chiarelli had made a terrible mistake in signing him to a long term deal. I told those fans to wait and see what next season brought. You didn’t go from winning a Vezina to choking out of the league like that. A little off-season hip surgery, and Timmy is back. And I couldn’t be happier.
(as an aside, I told those fans cautiously to wait, because in the back of my mind, I was thinking about Dave Anderchuk and that he wasn’t picked up by anyone after the lockout. That wouldn’t be that weird, had he not been the first guy to lift the Stanley Cup the last time it had been handed out. In other words, there are no guarantees.)
I mean, I really, REALLY like Tim Thomas. Just look at his play:
I’ve written about my love for Thomas before, and make no apologies for it. I wish he had stayed in the Quebec Nordiques system (they drafted him in 1994, in the 9th round (217th overall)), if only so he could possibly be an Avalanche goalie today, but it’s been better for him that he is where he is, obviously. The way the Avalanche have gone through goalies since the lockout, they are looking to only draft netminders with the last Kleenex.
But Houston, We Have a Problem:
And yet, the Vancouver Canucks are the favorite team in this year’s finals. And I can understand why. They have flash and shine, they are playing like a very complete team, and they look unstoppable. They’ve faltered in the past in these playoffs, but that all looks behind them. The Canucks look like a really good hockey team, which is a problem for me:
I do not like the Vancouver Canucks.
Hey, I’m a Colorado Avalanche fan. It still boggles my mind when people are shocked to find this out. But as an Avs fan, I am contractually obligated to not be a fan of the Canucks. They don’t inspire the kind of loathing in me that the Detroit Red Wings do, but they are still there in my top three most disliked teams. The Steve Moore incident has something to do with it, but even though Todd Bertuzzi has moved on to the Wings (thanks you, Todd), there are other factors. Although Roberto Luongo is a bit underrated sometimes in my opinion, I feel like he earns the label with his on ice dramatics. The Sedins are good players, yet I get sick of them being treated like they are possible clones of Sidney Crosby. Raffi Torres is closer to Dion Phaneuf than anyone else, and boy, am I sick to death of the entitlement that seems to follow this team around.
No other division rival comes close to the way I dislike the Canucks. The Flames were a lot worse with Dion Phaneuf, but they still earn some dislike. The Oilers are the Oilers, and hard to really hate. And the Minnesota Wild are like the Earth in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: mostly harmless. Oh, one of your players scored the last goal on Patrick Roy? Yeah, we’ll take him off your hands for a few years.
The only real conundrum here is that I have friends that are pulling for the Canucks with all their soul. I can’t get behind them on this, but I want them to be happy as well. Something has to give.
I have to get right with the idea that the Vancouver Canucks will probably, one day, win a Stanley Cup. The Red Wings won the Cup a few years ago, and the world didn’t end (even though I was prepared). Considering some of the other goofy teams that have won one, a team as committed as the Canucks are will win it one day. It’s going to happen, and the sooner I accept that, the better off I will be.
I just hope it isn’t this year.
This post is the first in my Stanley Cup Finals Dead Blog Challenge, designed to kickstart myself, and hopefully you as well, into writing more on your blog. If you’ve been lagging behind on your posting, and want to do something about it, check out the challenge here.
As part of the challenge, I will also provide something to help you with your writing, in one way or another. Today’s is from Merlin Mann, who I will refer to and link to a lot in these. Go watch his talk, How to Blog. It’s a little long, and you have to get around some of Mr. Mann’s quirks, but there are some real gems in there. As a blogger, you are doing yourself a disservice by not watching it. And hey, it’s quicker than reading a book on blogging, eh?