Dixon: Bruins must not be underestimated in Stanley Cup final

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

While most acknowledge the disparity in talent levels between Boston and Vancouver is not on the same scale as the staggering geographical chasm between the two cities, you’d be hard pressed to find any prediction that states the B’s will win the Cup. That trend won’t be bucked here.

But it seems somewhat odd to me that a team as good as Boston and with as many different competent components to its club is more or less being brushed aside as a serious contender.

Maybe that’s just a nod to how good this Canucks club really, really is. The consensus entering the conference final was the club that won – but didn’t touch – the Clarence Campbell Bowl as West champs would go on to win the whole enchilada. I’d be picking San Jose to beat Boston had the Sharks emerged from that series, which means it’s that much more of a slam dunk to side with Vancouver. But the Bruins aren’t some one-trick pony that’s gone further than it deserved to based on blistering goaltending or out-of-his mind play by one star having the run of a lifetime.

Depth is the word most associated with Vancouver, but it applies to Boston, too. The Canucks’ top two lines will almost certainly outscore the Bruins’, but the latter’s bottom two trios – and in particular, Michael Ryder and Tyler Seguin – have the potential to impact games on a larger scale than the former’s.

Closing the gap on those first two lines is a tall order that will be left for the tallest guy in NHL history. The Canucks have a deeper and overall better blueline than Boston, but Zdeno Chara represents a single-man shutdown show Vancouver can’t answer. If he can find a way to befuddle either the Sedins’ synergy or the Ryan Kesler Express, it will go a long way toward improving the Bruins’ chances.

Boston has the chops to win a couple games on merit, which means if Tim Thomas can steal one the B’s are in business. Both Thomas and Roberto Luongo come with some question marks, but Thomas has shown an innate ability to show up every time his team really needs him. At this point, I like his chances of impacting the series in a seriously positive way than Luongo’s.

Vancouver’s top-to-bottom strength and complementary high-end skill have rightly placed them as Cup favorites. But if you think Boston stopped to gather some smoke and mirrors en route to the west coast, you’re in a haze. The Bruins have enough in the barrel to compete with the Canucks and keep this a close series.

Then all they have to do is get the puck to Nathan Horton.

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays.

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