VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The wait is over. After a nine-day delay, the Stanley Cup Final finally gets underway this afternoon and the city is buzzing.
What’s the number one strength that will lead the Canucks to victory over the Bruins? Depth — in all areas of their game.
Offensively, Henrik is the leading point-getter in the playoffs; he collected 12 points in five games against San Jose. Daniel picked up another six and Ryan Kesler continues to sail along as Vancouver’s Conn Smythe candidate.
The Bruins will have their hands full with a pair of twins; can they contain the Sedins’ cycle game? When Daniel and Henrik get that going in the offensive end, it usually ends up with a goal or a penalty being taken. With the way the Canucks’ powerplay has been firing, Boston doesn’t want to end up in the box.
Defensively, the Canucks have the best set in the entire league. “Anytime you can sit Keith Ballard in the press box, you know you’ve got a weighted blue line,” explains News1130 Sports Director Ann Schmaltz. “Kevin Bieksa’s toughness will be huge against the Bruins.”
In goal, Luongo has certainly found his groove; he’s a Vezina Trophy finalist. And — if they need him — Cory Schneider had 16 wins during the regular season; he’s a back-up that can get it done.
One school of thought is that Bruins netminder Tim Thomas plays too frantic a style to keep consistency so deep in the playoffs and that Luongo is more efficient and under control. But don’t count Thomas out; he’s made doubters look foolish for most of his career.
A special moment for Sami Salo
The fans are anxious, but the team is also on edge; it’s a special time for the players, and one in particular — Sami Salo.
“The veteran of 12 NHL seasons says it’s almost too good to be true,” explains Schmaltz. “Let’s face it; this is a guy who’s suffered 40+ career injuries and has taken a lot of heat and at times has even been made fun of for not being able to stay healthy.”
His latest injury last summer, a ruptured achilles tendon, initially appeared to be career-ending. He even admitted that in those early stages of rehab, there was a ton of doubt.
“He battled back and he knew when he started skating at Christmas that he would be back,” adds Schmaltz. “He wants this; Sami has never won anything. The closest he’s come to is a silver medal in the ’06 Olympics and a Bronze in 2010. But now, he’s got a chance for the Stanley Cup.”
Once the puck drops in today’s game, News1130 will have updates every 10 minutes on the fives.
Salo wants to win the cup for himself and his dad, who never got a chance to see his son play in the pros, having passed away just two months before Sami was drafted.
Advice from fans:
Canucks fans, like proud moms and dads, have messages for their team that may just make you weep:
“I play hockey myself and I can’t even imagine being on the ice [with] 18,000 fans and the city behind them going absolutely nuts,” says one fan. “Go out there, put in your best effort, and the city supports you! We love you and we really feel that we can do it; this is our year!”
“I’ve been a fan since ’68… I used to go the games with my dad when I was 10 or 12 years old. So, I’ve followed them for a long time,” another tells us. “Play smart, stay out of the penalty box, and give 100 per cent.”
All over town, the countdown is on. Every Canucks jersey out there will be on someone’s back today. We have survived a nine-day dry spell and saved ourselves for tonight.
The vibe in Boston
The Canucks count on Roberto Luongo for a lot and it seems Boston also puts a lot of faith in its goalie.
“[The Bruins] count on Tim Thomas a great deal, along with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg to backbone the defense,” explains Walt Perkins, Sports Director with WBZ Radio in Beantown. He spoke live on News1130 this morning.
“The city is decked out; everybody’s in black and gold,” he tells us. “Even the statue of Paul Revere is wearing a Bruins jersey north-end of Boston.”