Two teams are vying for the infamously worshiped Stanley Cup, and of all aspects of this matchup it’s not the scoring or goaltending that I’m interested in… instead, I’m most intrigued by the fact we have our first Stanley Cup Final in which both team captains are not North American.
For some, it’s not a big deal, but it’s interesting to note that only one European captain has ever led a team to win the Cup and only two have led teams to the Finals in the entire history of the NHL.
In the era of the NHL every Stanley Cup final has consisted of American and Canadian captains save for two. Zdeno Chara becomes the first captain from the Czech Republic, and Henrik Sedin becomes the third Swedish captain (following Daniel Alfredsson and future Hall of Famer Niklas Lidstrom).
Referring to an article I wrote a few weeks ago, it only furthers my belief that hockey is continuing to become more and more an international game.
Looking onto the ice for this year’s Cup Final, Vancouver is the most commonly picked team to win. Ryan Kesler and the Sedin Twins have been absolutely unstoppable as of late, and unless Chara can shut them down, Tim Thomas is going to be given a run for his money in net. As for the Canucks’ defense, it’s a testament to their consistently strong play that they haven’t attracted much attention for themselves.
It seems only when someone’s playing poorly or well that they get noticed, while average performance yields very little attention. Roberto Luongo, the former Vancouver captain, has finally hushed a few critics with some interesting play. If he can perform like he did for Team Canada in the Olympics, it’s a good bet that the Canucks will hoist the Cup.
Meanwhile, the Bruins are my pick for “most well-rounded team” in the NHL. When everything is working, they have a complete squad capable of excelling in every area. If it comes down to a game of depth, I would put my money on Boston, but they first need to figure out a way to shut down the Canucks’ first two lines. Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder are a few of my favorites on this team as underdogs, third liners who are producing a few extra, needed goals.
The smart money is on the Vancouver Canucks, but my gut is telling me that it’ll be the Bruins who emerge victorious, with the series going at least six games either way.
I’m sure the ratings for this series will be off the charts, as fans from two huge hockey markets gear up to watch arguably the two best teams in the league. It should be an incredibly exciting series, and I cannot wait for the puck to drop.
Writer for The Reed Review, The Checking Line, Hockey Independent and Inside Hockey