The Stanley Cup Final in 2011 between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks was one for the history books. A classic seven game series that pitted two teams against each other with obvious disdain for their opponent. It was everything a hockey fan could hope for in a cup final, outside for their club being involved. With the recent play of the Bruins and Canucks we could be in store for round two this spring.
Last night the Boston Bruins romped over the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that was once promised for the postseason. The big, bad Bruins jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two periods and cruised to a 6-2 victory. The win has them just one point back of the idle Montreal Canadiens for the division lead and the second seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re playing tough, physical hockey and capitalizing on their scoring chances. Backed by some stellar goaltending of Tuukka Rask, the Bruins have a blueprint that resembles their championship team in 2011.
Similar to the Bruins, the Canucks have been playing great hockey as of late and are now a full four points clear of the Minnesota Wild for the Northwest division lead thanks to a 2-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes last night. They’re 8-2 in their last ten games and adding Ryan Kesler to the lineup, who scored last night, will only make them stronger. The Bruins and Canucks could be on a crash course to meet in the finals in what would surely be another epic battle for supremacy.
Of course there is a lot of hockey to be played and the playoffs is a whole new season. The Los Angeles Kings taught us last year that ranking or home-ice doesn’t mean squat so waiting on a Vancouver/Boston final might take year’s off your life.
One team that could have something to say about who comes out of the west, aside from the Chicago Blackhawks, are the Anaheim Ducks. They continued their winning ways last night with a 2-1 win over the visiting Edmonton Oilers. The Ducks remain three points back of Chicago for first overall and they appear to be content sitting in the two hole.
As for the Oilers, the loss was their third in a row and has now put them between a rock and a hard place in terms of making the playoffs. With only nine games left in the season and three teams to try and pass, the Oilers need to likely win seven of their last nine to have a shot. Granted they are headed for a higher finish than the last three seasons that saw them pick first overall, it’s looking like an early spring for the Oilers and their fans.
With the Oilers heading for another spring of no playoff hockey, the Toronto Maple Leafs look poised to provide the postseason to their fans for the first time in what surely feels like forever. A huge 4-3 win over the New York Rangers last night, the Leafs are now eight points up on the ninth place New Jersey Devils and barring a late season meltdown, they should get into the dance known as the playoffs.
As for the Rangers, they continue to battle for their playoff lives, sitting with 42 points, tied with the Islanders for seventh and just two points up on the Devils and Jets who are in a tail spin of late.
Nine games are on tap tonight with plenty of playoff implications. Check back tomorrow for the morning after and we’ll look at the headlines inside the headlines.