The time has finally arrived. Tonight, the Stanley Cup Finals begin, and, well . . . what a couple of really hard-to-like teams. As before, it’s time to take a look back at the predictions from the last Conference Final round (wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong) and dole out one last prediction that, if trends mean anything, will also be wrong too.
Grading the Conference Finals
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (3) San Jose Sharks
Prediction: Sharks in 7
Actual Result: Canucks in 5
Well, wrong again. The Canucks outplayed the Sharks for the majority of the series, except, ironically, for the deciding game, in which a missed icing call allowed the Canucks to tie on a deflection goal from Conn Smythe favorite Ryan Kesler (yet another, besides the Sedin twins, of the Canucks’ best players who happen not to be Canucks themselves), and then a really bad bounce allowed Vancouver’s biggest asshole, Kevin Bieksa, a primarily talentless goon squad defenseman, to score the winning goal on a slapshot from the blue line as everyone else thought the puck was behind the net. That said, Vancouver definitely deserved to win the series, Roberto Luongo acquitted himself well in goal, and we can all rest assured the world really won’t be ending soon, since the Sharks once again failed to make the finals.
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning
Prediction: Lightning in 6
Actual Result: Bruins in 7
Wrong again again. The Bruins ended up winning this one 1-0 in the final game of the series, almost entirely on the back of their veteran savior in goal, Tim Thomas. The Lightning were the far more fun team to watch, and are generally a more likable group of players, so of course they didn’t make the Finals. Instead, we get a mediocre bunch of “hard workers” carried entirely by their goaltender and one excellent defense pairing. Post-lockout hockey is not supposed to allow teams like this to win anymore. I give up.
Conference Finals Grade: F
This commercial is the only thing I’ve ever liked about the Vancouver Canucks. At least since Trevor Linden retired, anyway.
Stanley Cup Finals Predictions
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (3) Boston Bruins
Hey! Both of these teams are annoying! They both have really annoying fanbases! The Vancouver Canucks are frontrunners with a history of choking in big moments, and the Bruins are a mediocre bunch of grinders with a history of choking in big moments. What a showcase for the NHL in a pivotal year. Utterly gross. All that being said, the series will hinge upon the goaltenders. Roberto Luongo of the Canucks doesn’t have to be great, but he can’t be terrible. Tim Thomas will have to be great. Which is more likely? It’s a toss-up, so, what the heck, Vancouver takes the series, and Ryan Kesler wins the Conn Smythe, and Tim Thomas retires after being the last likable human being in the series, playing his ass off and getting let down by the underachieving likes of Patrice Bergeron, Michael Ryder, and Dennis Seidenberg. Also, Zdeno Chara will be tall and overrated.
Prediction: Canucks in 6
The Stanley Cup Playoffs began with sixteen teams, and now only two remain, a last series to see who raises Lord Stanley’s Cup. Drama, slow-motion shots of sweat-dripped bearded guys, hunched over, breathing heavily, and over-poetic announcing from Mike “Doc” Emrick (as he annoyingly says “One hundred seconds remain” instead of “One minute and forty seconds remain”) will follow, beginning tonight. Woohoo!