May 14, 2011 |


     There were some exciting  finishes to the previous round (Sharks/Wings) and some not so exciting matchups (Caps flameout). Now we are on the the final four of Lord Stanley’s Cup. All four teams have a legitimate shot to take home the whole thing. Vancouver probably has the best combination of goaltending and offense, hence their great regular season record; but none of the teams is fatally flawed in any particular facet of the game. It should be another fun week or two of hockey to pare this down to the Finals.


                                              EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

                  #3   Boston Bruins               vs.        #5  Tampa Bay Lightning

season series                 3                                                                                     1

Top Scorers           Patrice Bergeron                                           Martin St. Louis

                                      David Krejci                                                   Steven Stamkos

                                      Brad Marchand                                             Vincent Lecavlier

Goalie                        Tim Thomas                                                      Dwayne Roloson


                 This may turn out to be a classic matchup between lights out goal scorers and a rock solid goalie. The Bruins with Tim Thomas in goal and Zdeno Chara playing tremendous are difficult to score on. The Lightning are a team with numerous scoring options. St. Louis, Stamkos, Lecavlier are of course outstanding; but Steve Downie and Sean Bergenheim amongst others are also putting pressure on the opposing net. As great as Tim Thomas is, he will need some help from the Boston O. Milan Lucic needs to get back into his regular season form, and the Bruin power play has to begin making something happen. The Bruins have to put the pressure on Dwayne Roloson. He has been as steady a veteran as they come, but he has never been confused for a super star. We will see how he react being one series away from the Stanley Cup Finals. Like the other series this one is a tough call, but I am going to go with the playoff experienced leadership of the Lightning.

MY PICK:                   LIGHTNING IN 6

             #1   Vancouver Canucks       vs.        #2  San Jose Sharks

season series                 3                                                                         1

Top scorers         Daniel Sedin                                                   Ryane Clowe

                                   Ryan Kesler                                                    Joe Thornton

                                 Henrik Sedin                                                   Logan Couture

Goalie                     Roberto Luongo                                                  Antti Niemi


                The Sharks are bound to be tired after their classic series with Detroit. Statistically , it was the closest 7 game series in the history of the playoffs. Vancouver has rolled into this position with a great regular season and a tough first round series with the defending champs. The Canucks boast the MVP Sedin twins and gold medal winning goalie Luongo; but the most important piece in the playoffs has been Ryan Kesler. So far his postseason has been one of the most impressive in years. Antti Niemi usually gets considered a minor player in the BlackHawks Cup victory last season, if he brings San jose a cup this year that will have to be reconsidered. In the end Luongo will have to come up big. San Jose may be tired, but they are very deep up front. They will generate many scoring chances against a somewhat fragile Canuck defense. Kesler and Lunogo just won’t let this opportunity get away.