2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals Preview – Boston Bruins vs. Vancouver Canucks

The Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins square-off against the Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks in this season’s best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals. The first two games will be at BCPlace Stadium in Vancouver starting this Wednesday night. The series then shifts 2200 miles east to the TD Garden in Boston for games three and four. If necessary, Game 5 and Game 7 will be played back in Vancouver and Game 6 will be played in Boston.

The price for this series as listed by Bodog.com has the Bruins at +195 and the Canucks the favorite at 235. Boston opened as a 170 road underdog for Wednesday night’s Game 1 with the money line on Vancouver at -200. The ‘over/under’ line has been set at 5.5. The odds on a four-game sweep by the Bruins are listed at 25/1, which are the longest odds in this series. A Canucks sweep to win the Cup is listed at 15/2. The odds that the series goes a full seven-games with Boston winning it all are listed at 15/2, while Vancouver winning in seven games is listed at 15/4. The shortest odds in this series are 13/4 that the Canucks end this series in Vancouver in Game 5.

Boston’s road to the Stanley Cup Finals began with a first-round, seven-game tester over the pesky Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins needed a dramatic 4-3 victory in overtime as a 175 home favorite to advance to the second round. They were then able to exercise the demons of last year’s historic collapse against Philadelphia in the conference semifinals with a four-game sweep of the Flyers this time around. The conference finals were another battle as the Tampa Bay Lightning took them to seven games as well. This time, Boston ended up on the right side of a hard fought 1-0 victory in Game 7 as a 153 home favorite.

The Bruins are 12-6 overall in this year’s playoffs. They are 7-3 at home and 5-3 on the road. Boston is 9-4 as a favorite and 3-2 as an underdog. The total has gone ‘over’ in 10 of the 18 games overall. It has been evenly split in 10 home games at 5-5 and gone ‘over’ in five of its eight games on the road.

Boston has played solid defense this postseason and is giving up an average of 2.50 goals a game. The Bruins’ offense has been spotty at times especially on the power play, but they are still averaging 3.22 goals per game. Nathan Horton and David Krejci have led the way with a combined 34 points. Horton has eight goals and nine assists and Krejci leads the team with 10 goals, including a hat trick in Game 6 against Tampa Bay. Goalie Tim Thomas has played every minute of the playoffs for Boston and has a goals-against-average of 2.29 and a .929 save percentage.

Vancouver came into the postseason with the best record in the NHL as well as the highest goals-scored and lowest goals allowed average in the league. Its 2-1 overtime victory over Chicago in Game 7 as a 165 home favorite in the first round ended years of frustrating losses to the Blackhawks in the playoffs. From there, the Canucks eliminated Nashville in six games and San Jose in five.

Record-wise in the playoffs, Vancouver is a perfect mirror of Boston at 12-6 overall; 7-3 at home and 5-3 on the road. The Canucks are 11-4 as a favorite and 1-2 as an underdog. The total is 8-8-2 overall in their 18 games. It has stayed ‘under’ in seven of their 10 games at home and gone ‘over’ in five of their eight road games.

Henrik Sedin only has two goals in the playoffs but lead leads Vancouver in total points with 19 assists. His brother Daniel is the leading goal scorer with eight. When you add in Ryan Kesler, these three players have accounted for the bulk of the team’s scoring as Vancouver has averaged 2.78 goals a game. Defensively, the Canucks have given up an average 2.56 goals a game. Their goalie, Roberto Luongo has very similar numbers to Thomas with a 2.29 GGA and a save percentage of .922.

Both teams have players that can put the puck in the net, but the goalies should have the biggest say in which team wins this series. Both Thomas and Luongo have been able to make some crucial saves to get their team to this point, but they have also given up their fair share of soft goals over the course of the playoffs. The slight edge in this matchup goes to Luongo so take the 4/1 odds that Vancouver wins this series in six games.

Dave Schwab

DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.