THE BATTLE FOR STANLEY CUP SUPREMACY BETWEEN THE BRUINS AND THE CANUCKS WILL BE WAGED BY SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN THE GAME. A FORMER NHL COACH BREAKS DOWN THE THREE CRITICAL MATCHUPS
ZDENO CHARA Defenseman
HENRIK SEDIN Center
June 5, 2011
Chara, who stands 6'9", is one of the NHL's best defenders down low, using his nearly 7-foot stick to break up plays, particularly in the corners. Sedin—who leads the playoffs with 19 assists—has an uncanny knack for cycling the puck and wearing down defenders, along with his twin brother, Daniel. But it won't be easy to tire Chara and partner Dennis Seidenberg. The pair has logged heavy minutes throughout the postseason, and their physical style will test the twins.
DAVID KREJCI Center
RYAN KESLER Center
Both players are highly skilled and play with grit and passion. The 6'2", 198-pound Kesler, one of the league's best two-way forwards, will most likely use his size against the smaller Krejci, who is 6 feet and 177 pounds, but the latter will have the support of imposing wingers Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. The trio makes up the Bruins' highest-scoring line (with 21 playoff goals), but it must limit turnovers—Kesler has the speed to punish even small mistakes.
TIM THOMAS Goalie
ROBERTO LUONGO Goalie
Not since 1989 have two Vezina Trophy finalists squared off in the Cup finals. Both Thomas and Luongo ranked in the top five in save percentage and goals against in 2010--11, while Luongo won an NHL-best 38 games. Each man is prone to giving up the odd soft goal—Thomas when he begins to dive and flail, Luongo when he's peppered with bad-angle shots. Both, however, also make plenty of jaw-dropping saves. Their battle alone may not decide the series, but it will play a huge role.