Since the lockout, every Stanley Cup Final has opened with one side taking a 2-0 series lead. Only one team – the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins – came back to win the Cup. Those odds don’t look very good for the Boston Bruins. However, it’s somewhat more optimistic when you remember that the Boston Bruins have already come back from a 0-2 hole in these playoffs. In the first round against Montreal, the Canadiens took a quick 2-0 lead in the series by winning twice in Boston. The Bruins evened things up with a pair of wins in Montreal. They eventually took the series in seven games.
But can the Bruins do the same thing against the Canucks?
Vancouver has blown a series lead once in these playoffs already, as they watched the Chicago Blackhawks storm back from a 0-3 deficit to force a seventh game. However, since that series ended the Canucks have developed the “killer instinct” that they once lacked.
In round two they had a chance to finish off the Predators in five games after they’d built up a 3-1 series win. They weren’t able to do in five, but they ended the series in six. They didn’t give Nashville the opportunity to get back into the series by taking it to seven.
In the Western Conference Final they honed their finishing skills and they eliminated the San Jose Sharks in five games.
In this series against the Bruins, they’ve showed the ability to turn it on and go for the jugular when they need to.
In game one, it was a huge goal in the dying seconds of the third that brought the Canucks victory. In game two, they scored only 11 seconds into overtime to win the game. The Vancouver Canucks are no longer letting teams hang around. They’ve not giving their opponents the luxury of time. These are not the same Canucks that watched as the Chicago Blackhawks almost pulled off a huge upset. They’ve become more confident. They’ve become more deadly.
The Vancouver Canucks are not going to let this series slip away from them. Yes, a 2-0 series lead is not insurmountable. It’s certainly not a sure thing. Teams come back from 2-0 deficits somewhat regularly. But it doesn’t seem like it will happen this time. These are not your grandfather’s Canucks… or even your father’s Canucks. These aren’t even the Canucks of a few months ago.
Beating the Chicago Blackhawks has given this team swagger. They carried that “choker” label for a long time, but they’ve finally brushed it off in a big way. They no longer “think” they can win, they KNOW they can win. There isn’t a doubt left in that locker room.
When it comes down to it, the Vancouver Canucks have been able to deliver.
These games have been close. They’ve both been decided by one goal. Game one was won in the final seconds of the third and game two needed overtime. Either of those games could have feasibly gone the other way. But realistically, the Canucks have been the better team.
The Bruins will likely pull off at least one win in this series. But, from where we stand right now, it doesn’t look like Boston will be storming back and taking the Cup. The Canucks won’t let them.
There has always been a cautious sense of trepidation in Vancouver. No one ever really wanted to come out and proclaim that the Canucks were the best in the league, even after they won the Presidents’ Trophy. While fans of many other teams would have been planning the parade long ago, Canucks fans have always been more guarded.
But they no longer have to live with that fear. The choke job won’t happen this season. This is a different team.