Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bruins vs. Canucks

Who wins this series? I think anyone who claims to know is either delusional or lying. I would not be surprised if the Bruins swept in four. On the other hand, I wouldn't be all that surprised of the Canucks completed the sweep. Six games? Seven? I guess that's why they play the games.

Some people seem to think the Western Conference is much stronger than the East, and therefore the Canucks will win. The Western conference has won three of the last five cups. But these days the two conferences are almost like two different leagues. Not many people follow all 30 teams. Most of us have way more experience with one conference or the other. You can cite stats between the two, but when it comes right down to it the final is between the Bruins and the Canucks, not the two conferences, so I don't think this line of reasoning says all that much.

I think of the Bruins as bigger and better 5 on 5. Most people seem to think the Canucks are more skilled, but this may just be bias. Higher skilled or just more prominent? Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. I've noticed that various network commentators seem to underestimate the Bruins.

Both teams have been buzzing around the playoffs for several years looking for deeper success and both seem to be just a bit surprised to find themselves in the final. So I doubt there will be a big difference in desire to win.

The people who should know how the teams stack up (such as Chiarelli and various players) all seem to say the same thing: the teams are in fact very similar. So who knows?

The one thing I can say is this: I don't believe the Bruins have given us their best yet. We saw them take their game to another level in game 7 vs. Tampa but I think they can do even better.

A big deal has been made of the Bruins terrible power play and their less than stellar penalty kill in the playoffs. But the past in the playoffs isn't much of a predictor of the future for special teams because it's all about how the teams match up. There is no reason to believe the Bruins won't have a breakout on the power play. Or they could remain just as inept. Over the regular season the Bruins penalty killing was very good, although better at some times than others. So again, the potential is there. We'll just have to see.

A lot has been said about the officiating in these playoffs. Some have complained that Colin Campbell has favored the Bruins because his son plays for the team. That's completely silly of course. The biggest discipline decision regarding the Bruins so far this year was the hit Tampa's Marc-Andre Bergeron made on David Krejci. They chose not to apply rule 48 in that case. And everyone knows Campbell has excused himself from discipline questions regarding the Bruins all season long. At best you could argue that the guy who replaces him isn't entirely consistent with Campbell. Regardless, there is a report today that Campbell has officially stepped down.

Much more important, in my opinion, is how inconsistent the officiating has been. In one game every little thing is called and in the next they call nothing. Sometimes one team seems to get penalized much more than the other. The officials have been all over the map on hooking, holding, interference, and goaltender interference. This is frustrating for players and fans alike. Here's hoping for more consistency.

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