Update: Canucks move on to the Stanley Cup Final against Boston
Update: Vancouver wins game 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final!
That's 14 wins and 3 series successfully completed!
The series with San Jose was won by Vancouver 4 games to 1. The action in the series wasn't reflected in the scores. San Jose didn't get scoring production out of their stars. Vancouver made the most of it moved on the the finals against Boston.
The Vancouver Canucks finished their 40th season on a high note and now they are making a playoff run. They earned the most points in the league and were awarded the President's Cup. They won more games than any other team. They lost the fewest games. They scored the most goals and gave up the least. It was a spectacular season by all accounts. Of course, in the National Hockey league, you are not judged much by what you do in the regular season. It is the second season, where a team has to shine. Good teams finish the season strongly. Great teams have a strong playoff run that culminates in the winning of the Stanley Cup.
It has often been said that the Stanley Cup is the hardest professional sports trophy to win. There are 30 teams vying for the honor. Many of these have very talented players. Others manage to form strong teams from effective co-operation during the game. Each team plays a few training games in the early fall then they play 82 games during the regular season. The season establishes the team rankings at the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Many players experience injuries during the regular season which can have a severe effect on the chances of their team winning the Stanley Cup. Injuries are also a danger during the playoffs. Players compete with even higher intensity and speed.
During the playoff run, the teams compete in best of seven game series. Each team that wins 4 games moves on to the next round. This is where the Vancouver Canucks find themselves now. Since they won the President's Cup for having the best record this year, they are the top team in the playoffs. That means that they will have a home arena advantage throughout their playoff run. Truthfully, however, home advantage means a lot less in the playoffs. Visiting teams are extremely motivated to win while they are away from their home arena. There are some benefits for the home team, though, so having this advantage during all playoff series should be somewhat helpful for the Vancouver Canucks.
The Vancouver Canucks started their playoff run by taking on the Chicago Blackhawks. This series marks the third year in a row that Vancouver has met Chicago. Chicago won both of the previous two times, once going on to win the Stanley Cup. This year is different as Vancouver is now the favored team. The Chicago team has changed quite a lot since they won the cup. A key change is the fact that Dustin Byfuglien is no longer on the roster. A powerful force last year, Dustin was traded in an effort to build for the future. Without him, however, Chicago was barely able to earn a position in the Stanley Cup playoffs. As the lowest team in the conference to make the playoffs, Chicago was matched against the Vancouver Canucks.
The first round of the 2010-2011 playoffs started on April 14, 2011 with the Chicago Blackhawks visiting the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver was strong in the first game. As they have done very often during the regular season, Vancouver scored the first goal of the game. They later added a second goal. Chicago was not able to score any goals during the game despite numerous chances and very close calls. The Vancouver goalie, Roberto Luongo, was very effective as he managed to earn his second shutout in his playoff career. Vancouver was able to eliminate Chicago by winning the seventh game of the series.
Of note during the final series will be the play of the Vancouver Canuck twins, Henrik and Daniel Sedin. They have seen intensive pressure against them during the playoffs thus far. They will be looking for opportunities to improve their scoring ability during the rest of the final series games. Each of the brothers has won the NHL trophy for highest number of points earned in a season. Henrik accomplished the feat in 2009-2010 and Daniel did it in 2010-2011. They are seldom held off the scoresheet for long. When they are, as was the case on April 13, their opponents usually assign top defensive specialists to contain the twins. This often leaves other Vancouver Canuck players to face somewhat lesser skilled defencemen. Vancouver players then have the opportunity to score more often. This is exactly what happened on April 13. Higgins and Hansen were able to score. Although they are quite talented players, each has been far less prolific scorers than the Sedins. With more pressure on the Sedins, less was available to Higgins and Hansen so they were able to find ways to score their goals.
The Stanley Cup playoff run is very long and difficult. A team must win 16 games in order to win the cup. These games are arranged in series of up to 7 games in length. A cup winning team must win 4 series against other teams. Each series is a major challenge as the losing team is eliminated from further competition. As teams face elimination, they play to their utmost ability. In order to win, a team like the Vancouver Canucks must overcome this stronger drive in their opponent. Great teams are able to do so. This gives them the ability to win a series and still have enough capability to take on another team in the next series and do it again. Each series can take up to two weeks to complete. Since the Stanley Cup playoffs began on April 13, the winner of the cup might not be determined until mid June. With luck and skill, that winning team might be the Vancouver Canucks this year.
Vancouver beat Chicago in the first round in overtime of game 7. They eliminated Nashville in 6 games. Vancouver took the Western Conference final against San Jose, 4 games to 1. Games 1 and 2 saw the Canucks pull away from the Sharks. Game 3 was a highlight for the Sharks. Unfortunately for them, they weren't able to establish themselves in game 4. The were unlucky to give up a late goal in game 5 so Vancouver took them to overtime. A pretty fluky goal by Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa propeled the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in franchise history.