I’m no expert, but if there was ever a time that I should have bet my life’s savings, and yours on a game, Wednesday’s game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final was the one to do it. I had predicted that the Boston Bruins would beat the Vancouver Canucks before the series started and while that rang true, I took some heat from people who thought that with all the weapons that Vancouver had, there was no way the Canucks would fail. People felt that just because I had this growing hatred of the Canucks that I was thinking with my heart and not my little brain. It’s no secret around these parts that I have wanted Vancouver to lose since the playoffs actually began. I wanted them to lose more that I wanted the Bruins to win to be quite honest with you. The Canucks have somehow moved to the top of my list of teams that I hate the most. They have been classless, whinny, unprofessional, overly antagonistic, and an embarrassment. Sure I still despise the Pittsburgh Penguins and have a hatred for the Detroit Red Wings, but I somehow am able to have some respect for those two clubs…… Some, but not much. For as much as I love the city of Vancouver, it’s hockey team makes me vomit.
So what happened? The Bruins for one were the better team. In many aspects. They played harder when it counted…. banded together as a team when they lost one of their top players. And they refused to be pushed around, let alone get bitten to death. It also helped that their goaltender stood up to the challenge that he was faced with. And he did it all season including the playoffs. Vancouver on the other hand did exactly what I thought they would do. CHOKE. While I wanted the epic fail to happen in the first round against the Hawks, and it almost did, they didn’t show up in the final two games. This team has been faced with adversity, and has had their backs against the wall many times over the past three or four seasons in the playoffs, and I knew in my gut what the result would be. Easy to say now, but it was just a feeling I had all along. I wasn’t worried about the Bruins losing game seven. Having weathered a bit of a storm in the first few minutes of the match, Tim Thomas held the Canucks at bay, stopping several scoring chances early. Something he had been doing all series. The longer Vancouver went without a goal, the stronger Boston became. Boston proved to be too much for a wilting Can’t Nucks team.
I would bet that the plan for Boston was to survive the first five minutes, which they did. Then five became ten and so on. Take the crowd out of it and score the first goal. A very simple road game and that would hopefully be enough to bury Vancouver. They have a track record in big games, and it’s not a good one. They unravel as we have seen by taking stupid penalties, making mistakes, and by their goaltender giving up soft goals at the most inopportune time.
Roberto Luongo had the most unbalanced finals performance that we have seen for the first six games of this series. Anywhere from solid to really good at home, to just plain awful on the road. Yet there were those that believed that he would rise to the occasion in game seven. Sorry the cake I’m baking in the oven has a better chance of standing up than Louie. The questions about Luongo and his abilities, or shortcomings will become even greater now as he has had his fourth exit from the playoffs since his arrival to Vancouver five years ago. While his game five performance made everyone feel as though he was about to turn the corner because he took a long walk beforehand, once he started running his yap and making comments about Tim Thomas, I knew he had put his foot not only in his mouth, but his arse. He should know better, but he set himself up for disaster. There’s only one Mark Messier you know. Memo to Bobby, it’s best of seven, not five. It is important for you to know, that Luongo has never won a big game. He’s never stolen a big game either. EVER.
In addition to Bobby Lose and his sub par performance, he didn’t lose game seven all by himself. He had some help from his teammates. The
sisters twins twinkies Sedins were a virtual no show not only in game seven, but throughout the series. Scoring in the regular season by a couple of soft Europeans often never translates well in the playoffs where the game requires a much thicker and tougher skin. Give Boston all the credit you want for shutting them down yes, but those are two very highly skilled players, who are expected to carry this team. Combining for a total of three points in the entire seven game series, questions should abound about their poor performance. They offered no push back either. They seemed to be more interested in drawing penalties than scoring goals. It’s about time that these two emotionless players face the music. This isn’t figure skating. Ryan Kesler had one assist the entire series, and many thought he might have been hurt. He denied such talk. Alex Burrows had three points, two goals and one assist…..but they all came in one game. No need to go any further, but when your top four players flop as much as these boys did, you find out real quick what you’re made of. In the end, they were jello. Soft. Alain Vigneault made his mistakes as well as coach. Leaving Luongo in for eight goals was an absolute abomination. I don’t care how much of a hissy fit the goaltender threw, his coach needed to grow some stones and tell him to sit down and relax. He also didn’t use timeouts effectively, and needs to harness the aggression in his players. They seem to be bipolar. His team also celebrated beating the Hawks in round one like they had won it all. Me thinks that he should have warned his players that it takes 16 wins to win the Cup.
Finally, and this is the element that is the icing on the cake here…. The Ex-Panther Factor, which also did them in. My Chicago readers know what I’m talking about, as this is direct correlation to the Ex-Cub Factor. But for those of you who may not, I describe the Ex-Panther Factor here. The Vancouver Canucks had loaded themselves up with six Ex-Panthers. No offence to the current Panther organEYEzation but, let’s be honest, to have so many players who had played for a losing organization, and without even sniffing the playoffs has disaster written all over it. The factor itself has worked in each of the last two post seasons, and even with the Canucks advancing as far as they had, in the end, the curse prevailed. Led by Roberto Luongo who had the most tenure of all with the Panthers, there was no way that Vancouver could have won. Missed shots, blown breakaways, and soft goals all are traits that curse these players. The Boston Bruins meanwhile only had three Ex-Panthers on their roster. Therefore as described in my previous article, the team with the most Ex-Florida Panthers going into the championship game, doesn’t win. Not that the Canucks needed any more help than their own self destruction, and overrated goaltender. But unless the speedos on Alain Vigneault are too tight, he’d better have a long talk with general manager Mike Gillis about the makeup of this roster. I understand the reasoning behind not playing former Panther defenceman Keith Ballard, as he has a habit of whacking his own goaltender in the head as shown here. Although maybe that would have woken up the mentally weak netminder.
Now Vancouver can think about what went wrong all summer. Bobby Lose can take some long walks and sort things out in his head. The Sedins can still believe that they are the doublement twins and are better together than apart. GM Mike Gills however should look to unload his roster of all Ex-Panthers and maybe a few others. If they ever expect to win a Stanley Cup, he’ll have to.
I enjoyed Vancouver losing…. but I have to admit, it’s more fun when it happens against the Blackhawks.
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