The Final Countdown

BOSTON– It’s always been a question in every sport. Every time a team reached an important milestone or game in the season, the questions of experience came into play.

Putting rookie Tyler Seguin into the last series against Tampa Bay turned some heads, though he ended up scoring three goals and three assists during a crucial time without Patrice Bergeron. Nathan Horton who is appearing in only his first playoff run ever, scored two game winning goals in Game 7s so far this year, making history as the first player to ever accomplish that. Captain Zdeno Chara has never won a Stanley Cup as well as many of his other teammates.

Combine that with the fact that the Bruins haven’t made it to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1990 and suddenly the argument of experience suddenly doesn’t seem as crucial as once thought.

Looking over at the Western Conference Champions, the Vancouver Canucks, who have not seen a glimpse of Lord Stanley’s Cup since 1994 nor have ever won a championship before, are equally as hungry and equally as inexperienced. It’s been a while since a Canadian team has brought home the coveted Cup, and they have not only the pressure from their home fans, but from the entire nation resting on their shoulders.

Two teams that have left desperate and downtrodden fans year after year suddenly will meet face-to-face for the chance to hoist the cup for the first time in a long time.

And while you can throw out the experience card, you can also bet neither team is going to fold easily.

While they both boast the inexperience of the Stanley Cup Finals, they also both carry a talent and strength that can’t be passed over. For example, no one can ignore the talent of Vancouver’s Sedin twins. Henrik and Daniel finished the regular season on top of the point standings and in the post season standings. They have combined for 37 points in the 18 games they have played in the playoffs.

But in order for their successes to continue, the first obstacle in their path is Chara. The 6’9” Bruins defenseman knows how effective they are as well, and hopes to cool down the talented Sedin brothers.

“Being together for so long, and since growing up together, they know each other extremely well,” Chara said. “They know where they are, even without looking at each other. So it makes it obviously a challenge and hard to play against them, but we just have to try to take as much away from them as we can.”
It won’t be all about taking away, though. While Chara will be busy tying up the duo, the Bruins will have to attempt to bring their own fire. With a recent winning goal from Nathan Horton in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay, the first line will continue to expect big opportunities and production from itself. And not just the first line, but every line that steps out onto the ice for a shift.

For some, that might mean tempering some emotions or nerves. For forward Brad Marchand, it means trying not to get caught up in the excitement or the wonder of it all if it causes a distraction from the game. The Bruins left for Vancouver Monday afternoon with a large crowd of fans seeing them off at TD Garden. The series starts tonight, and will remain in Vancouver for Game 2 on Saturday.

“I’m trying to keep it out of my mind because if it starts sinking in I’m going to realize how big it is and I don’t want to get too nervous,” Marchand said. “So I’m just trying not to think about it at all and just make the days go by as fast I can, sleep the days away and hope I don’t realize what I’m doing here before the game starts.”


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