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(Moments later, Rep. Anthony Weiner would regret sending this as a Twitter photo with the caption "Can't even wrap my hands around the base of this thing!")


The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks play Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night, with Game 7 scheduled sometime in mid-August. To recap our previews for this epic battle between an Original Six team that hasn't won the Cup since 1972 and a 1970 expansion team that's won as many Stanley Cups as the Blue Jackets:

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So who wins the Stanley Cup? Puck Daddy's usual gang of knuckleheads go over their predictions; please add yours in the comments.

Greg Wyshynski, Editor

Vancouver in 6

The Boston Bruins enter this series seeming very much like the foil for the Canucks. Like they're a formidable but ultimately disposable obstacle for The Team of Destiny on the other side of the bracket. Whether that's due to their blue-collar, underdog nature or the reality of their surroundings, that's the read.

Vancouver's the better team in almost every facet of the series, save for between the pipes, behind the bench (in my opinion) and 5 on 5, where Boston might be the best team in hockey. But the disparity on special teams is so stark that it could turn the series; especially if the Bruins allow the Sedins to cycle like a bike wheel in the offensive zone for 2 minutes like the Sharks would.

There are a few paths to victory for the Bruins. If they make this series about Roberto Luongo(notes), rather than have him continue to be a cog in the machine, there's always the hope they can get to him. If they contain the Sedins, that's asking a lot from the supporting cast in the final round. If Tim Thomas(notes) shuts the door three times, then all you need is some pond hockey nutty game to go in the Bruins' favor for the series win.

But there are a lot of "what ifs" in the last round. The Canucks are the safer bet. It'll go six, thanks to Thomas, but the Cup goes to Vancouver.

Conn Smythe: Ryan Kesler(notes)

Even if Henrik Sedin(notes) wins the playoff scoring race, there's no question that Kesler's offensive (in the Nashville series) and defensive (against Jonathan Toews(notes)) accomplishments are the stuff of MVPs.

Sean Leahy, Associate Editor

Vancouver in 6

Ever since the Canucks survived against the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 1, they've played as a team on a mission. They've barely faltered en route to Game 1 Wednesday night; and from the production of their depth players to the fortunate bounce that ended up on Kevin Bieksa's(notes) stick to win Game 5 against San Jose, the hockey gods seem to be smiling down on the Canucks.

The inconsistent way the Bruins are playing entering the Cup Final should be of concern. The low-scoring games against Tampa Bay were won by Boston, meaning they're going to have to shutdown yet another offensive arsenal if they're to end their season with a victory. The Bruins looked disheveled at times against the Lightning and you know Alain Vigneault and his staff will be pinpointing exactly what took Boston off their game.

In the end, Vancouver will finally have the parade they've been planning forever and the Stanley Cup will return to Canada for the first time since 1993.

Conn Smythe: Ryan Kesler

It's been the Year of Kesler and why not end that by continuing to be the motor that runs the Canucks?

Kesler wasn't the scoring machine against the Sharks like he was against the Nashville Predators, but he didn't need to be. A 100/1 shot to win the Smythe before the playoffs, he'll once again play a huge role in Vancouver winning a series and with the play of Daniel and Henrik Sedin carrying the load of offense, Kesler can continue his defensive responsibilities and will chip in a timely goal en route to a Cup victory.

Ryan Lambert, Columnist


Vancouver in 5

Lots of people are picking the Canucks to win. You're not going to hear me say this often, so savor it: The most popular choice is the best choice.

They were the best team in the regular season, they have been the best team in the playoffs (after that three-game hiccup against Chicago). They've played in some close ones, but apart from that opening-round near-nightmare, there's rarely been doubt that they could or would win their various series.

The Bruins are a fine, fine hockey team, especially in their own end, but lack the all-encompassing menace Vancouver provides in spades. It's difficult to imagine one single facet of the overall game in which the Canucks could not be considered the favorite. At best, you might call the coaching matchup a wash. In all other respects, Vancouver is superior and will win the Cup with ease.

Conn Smythe: Ryan Kesler

It seems like it would take a near-miracle for him to not win it — either a huge series a la Malkin-in-2009 from one of the Sedins or for Luongo to win three games 2-1 and 3-2. As Kesler has gone, so have the Canucks. He's 5-9-13 in the Canucks' 12 wins, and just 2-2-4 in the six losses (and both of those goals came in the same game).


Justin Bourne, Columnist

(Puck Daddy's "we all look really smart cause basically everyone nailed the final which is basically a crap shoot but still manages to convince people we know what we're talking about" finals prediction.)

Vancouver in 5

I didn't pick Vancouver in five because I think they're grossly superior to Boston, or because I'm from BC, or because I think Boston sucks (I quite like them, actually). In fact, I think the games will be the type of hard-fought battles that'll result in close scores and thrilling finishes. I just think the Canucks are that much (holds fingers one millimeter apart) better at every position.

In the end, this series will likely come down to some crazy circumstances — an unforeseen injury here, a bad call there, that sort of stuff.  But if all things are equal, what position are the B's better at than Vancouver (everyone screams goalie, Bourne shakes his head in disagreement)? What reason is there to predict Boston to win (someone screams Seguin, sane people shake heads in disagreement)?

So if the teams are that close and one team happens to have the defending Hart Trophy winner and the guy who's probably going to win it this year (and the two are telepathic), aren't they more likely to win?  Especially given that they're on the team with the slightly deeper d-corps and the dude who's currently the Conn Smythe front-runner in Ryan Kesler?

I wouldn't be shocked to see this series go longer than five games.  I would be surprised to see the Bruins win it.

Conn Smythe: Henrik Sedin

Playoff hockey is crazy hockey. Everyone gets ramped up like a pitbull puppy on speed, and half the time it looks like the game is being played with a reaction ball instead of a puck. Very few people seem to be able to maintain composure throughout the madness. The Sedins can.

They had one series that didn't go well (Nashville), and Ryan Kesler picked them up and carried them through. Beyond that, it's been a sight to behold for the twins, with Henrik being the better of the two.

He currently has 21 points, which leads playoffs — if he's able to once again do what he does best and help set up some sneaky calm goals through the madness, he'll be deserving of the Conn.  Few people can do what this guy does, and I think he's got one more series of greatness left in him this season.

Rob Pizzo, Co-Host, Puck Daddy Radio

Vancouver in 5

Remember at the end of "The Matrix" when Neo finally realizes he is "The One"? I think that's the feeling that is going through the Vancouver dressing room right now.

Like Neo, the Canucks started slow. They didn't reach their potential because everyone kept telling them that they were not the Chosen Ones. They got better throughout the playoffs, and when they scored the OT winner to eliminate the Sharks, you could almost hear Morpheus (i.e. Alain Vigneault) say, "They are the ones!"

OK, enough of the geek analogy. Pure and simple, the Canucks are the best team in hockey right now and they are peaking at the right time. This team has every possible tool and they have it all the way through their lineup. There is just no way the Bruins can match them. Even when you look at the only advantage I believe the Bruins have (Tim Thomas), Roberto Luongo is not far behind him.

Then you have the Bruins power play (I know, you are probably sick of hearing about it), but a struggling PP against the this Canucks PK is a recipe for disaster.

Nice job by the Bruins in winning the East, but this is as far as the ride goes.

Conn Smythe: Henrik Sedin

Before the playoffs started, I said "one of the guys that shared a womb" would win the Conn Smythe. Well it looks like the older and wiser brother is now leading the race (Henrik is 6 whole minutes older!).

Everyone (myself included) was all over the twins to show up ... and they have! I see Henrik having a great Finals and will take home the MVP.

Erin Nicks, Columnist

Vancouver in 6

I had Vancouver and Boston in the Finals with the Bruins winning it all… but it's hard for me to maintain that prediction with a straight face. To be fair, my relationship with the Canucks is similar to that of Maggie Simpson vs. the Unibrow Baby. I think it will go down easier (quiet, you) if I tell myself that, in a way, this is for Roger Neilson.

I could make claims that Chicago wasn't the same team, or Nashville wasn't ready yet, or that the Sharks can never really win when it counts. Some of those claims may be accurate, but it's time for me to give the Canucks the credit they deserve. They've finally gotten their psychological hiccups behind them — which many believe were their biggest hindrance — and they are firing on all cylinders (even if it took a while for the Sedin twins to join the party).

As for Ryan Kesler, I'm confident you would need to separate muscle from bone to keep him from playing. He's aware of his significance and the stakes. You could say he's the "X-factor," but that still is not enough to get me to switch back to Boston — especially with their PP still being featured on the side of a milk carton.

Conn Smythe: Ryan Kesler

He's the obvious choice. Both finding the back of the net and averaging a point-per-game (seven G, 11 A in 18 games) — even if he produces less in the Finals, he's been the MVP for the Canucks since the playoffs began.

Dobber, Fantasy Hockey

Vancouver in 6


Vancouver in six because of its depth. Again I'll go back to Ryan Kesler -- he won't let them lose. This team is on a roll right now, so there is some concern that integrating Manny Malhotra(notes) back into the lineup would disturb that. But if that works out, then this team will be tough to beat four times out of seven. However, if this series comes down to a goaltending battle, let's give the nod to Timmy Thomas and the Bruins.

Conn Smythe: Ryan Kesler

A point-per-game, two game winners and leads all Vancouver forwards (tied with Jannik Hansen(notes)) with plus-6. He also leads all forwards among Boston and Vancouver in ice time by at least 2 minutes per game. Three minutes per game killing penalties and 3 minutes per game on the power play. Mr. Everything.

Matt Barr, Atlanta Thrashers fan (and Stats Guy)

Vancouver in 5.5

Lo these weeks ago I said the Red Wings would beat the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.  The Vancouver Canucks, I had losing in the first round to their personal Freddy Kruegers. And then to Nashville in the second round.  I had them beating the Sharks, when it came to that, but that's not exactly rocket science.

So now that it's the team I saw all along as the class of the East against a team I didn't think had the steak sauce to make it past rounds one or two, naturally I'll take the Canucks in the Final.  I've learned quite a bit about the Canucks these last three rounds of playoff hockey. Haven't we all?

Every team and every series is new, and there's no predictive value in this, but it is at least interesting that the Bruins franchise is 1-10 in Stanley Cup Finals against Canadian teams, including a 4 1/2-game sweep at the hands of the Oilers in 1988.

Perhaps on some inscrutable level it is significant that the hockey gods have served up Canada's Washington Generals to the championship-starved Canucks; whilst the holy team, new Winnipeg, comes down from Atlanta out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and Manny Malhotra, he that liveth and was dead, and behold, suits up for Game 1, amen, and has the keys of hell and death.

O-face, Canada.  Spike the football, baby.


Conn Smythe: Kevin Bieksa, ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!

It's not a year for an American or Swede to be the MVP.  Maybe Luongo, but I don't see him having to play MVP goal for the Canucks to win.


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