For the third consecutive year, the Western Conference has a chance to clinch the Stanley Cup on the road against their Eastern Conference foe. In 2009, the Detroit Red Wings lost Game 6 and Game 7 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, while in 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks tasted their first Cup victory in 49 years with a Game 6 road win in Philadelphia.
On Monday night, the Vancouver Canucks will most certainly be hoping their fortunes are that of the latter. After winning again at home, the Canucks can grab the first series road win and take the Cup home to Vancouver with them.
Friday's Game 5 was another 1-0 game, with noted goon, one of a few on this Canuck squad, Maxim Lapierre knocking in the only goal on a rebound. Other than that, it was another outstanding night by Tim Thomas, despite Vancouver fans' best efforts to rattle him.
Surprisingly, Roberto Luongo had some comments after the game about that goal, noting that the goal Thomas allowed was an easy save for him. Yes, there is such a thing as an "easy" save for the guy who gave up 12 goals in his two games in Boston. Nonetheless, Thomas looks to be a shoe-in for Conn Smythe Trophy, having allowed just six goals in five games.
What these next two games are going to be determined by is the success of Boston's offense. We know how stout they are defensively and how stellar their goaltender has been throughout this series. But the loss of Nathan Horton showed on Friday, as the Bruins were able to garner few chances on Luongo, despite the big head he got from the shutout.
If the Canucks do win the Cup, it could end up being one of the more tainted victories in recent memory. As a Blackhawks fan, I obviously feel the disdain for the franchise due to the rivalry that has exploded over the last couple of years, but that has become something of a national idea since these finals started.
Several hits throughout these playoffs, and most notably the Alex Burrows bite and Aaron Rome hit on Horton, have many questioning whether or not this Canucks team, with Alain Vigneault as the ring leader, deserves to hoist their first Stanley Cup.
Nonetheless, the league's Presidents Trophy winners in the regular season have proven to be the deepest team in the league, which is quite obviously a key factor in winning anything in this league. If you thought the celebrating in the Vancouver streets was a big deal, and just a little ridiculous, after Game 5, imagine what could happen should this team win on Monday night.