2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals Game 5 - Vancouver 1, Boston 0 – Canucks lead series, 3-2
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This really is becoming hockey’s imitation of the 1960 World Series. The Vancouver Canucks hope that the ultimate outcome of these Stanley Cup Finals will indeed match the resolution of the World Series just over half a century ago.
When the Canucks once again topped the Boston Bruins not only by a one-goal margin, but by a 1-0 score, in hockey’s world championship series, the remarkably schizoid patterns of this series were affirmed. Boston tore through Vancouver twice in New England, but while the Bruins have been extremely competitive in Western Canada and the province of British Columbia, the Eastern Conference champions have absorbed three one-goal defeats in low-scoring but intensely exciting contests. Game 1 was a gut punch caused by a Raffi Torres goal for Vancouver with just 18.5 seconds left in regulation. Game 2 proved to be just as frustrating for the Bs, who watched a crazy scramble unfold near the goal mouth just 11 seconds into overtime, allowing Alex Burrows to bury the game winner for the Canucks.
On Friday night, a similarly stinging sequence – just one – put the Bruins on the brink in the Cup finals, as Vancouver’s Maxim LaPierre took advantage of a hard bounce off the boards behind the net and slipped the puck just over the goal line from a severe left angle. The shot barely beat Boston goalie Tim Thomas, but it did the trick, and that’s why the President’s Trophy winner is now one game away from upholding a remarkable progression in Canadian sports history. The last two times a Canadian city has hosted the Olympic Games, that city’s hockey team has won the President’s Trophy and the Stanley Cup the following year. In 1976, Montreal hosted the Summer Olympics. In 1977, the Montreal Canadiens won the President’s Trophy and the Cup. In 1988, Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics, which meant that the Calgary Flames were on their way to the President’s Trophy and Lord Stanley’s great trophy in 1989. Last year, Vancouver hosted the Winter Games, and here we are: The Canucks, bereft of a title in 41 years of existence, are now one win away. It’s an improbable occurrence if viewed through the prism of the aggregate score in this series, and that’s where the 1960 World Series angle comes into the picture.
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In Major League Baseball’s ultimate throwdown 51 years ago, the New York Yankees badly outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates over the course of seven games. The Yankees racked up 55 runs to just 27 for the Bucs, but Pittsburgh won four games to just three for the Pinstripes. Pittsburgh’s four victories were achieved in white-knuckle games – the Pirates’ average margin of victory was a scant 1.75 runs. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ three wins occurred by a combined total of 35 runs (38-3). Pittsburgh took Game 7 by a 10-9 count to steal the series, shocking the baseball world against the dominant team of the day.
Now, over 50 years later, it’s clear that Vancouver has inhabited Pittsburgh’s place, while the Bruins are – weirdly for a New England team – occupying the position the Yankees once held. Vancouver’s one-goal win merely reduced Boston’s overall goal margin from plus-nine to plus-eight. That’s right – Boston has scored 14 goals in this series to just six for Vancouver. Yet, the Canucks’ unerring ability to win all the tight games in the Cup finals has them in the driver’s seat as this show heads back to Boston.
We’ll see if the Yankees – make that the Bruins – can stay alive.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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