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Canada's Cup Dream Ends with Vancouver Loss.

Written by Jim Biringer
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It was suppose to be Canada’s year. Vancouver was the team to hoist the Stanley Cup for Canada. The Canucks had the backing of not only their city of Vancouver, but the whole nation. This team was the best chance for Canada to regain the Stanley Cup. The last time a team from Canada hoisted the Stanley Cup was the 1993 by the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal was a team of destiny, winning 10 of 11 games in overtime to win the Stanley Cup. Many people had drawn comparisons between the 2011 Vancouver Canucks and the 1993 Montreal Canadiens. Vancouver had exercised their demons eliminating their arch rival in the playoffs the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. Vancouver got fortunate bounces in the second and third rounds to eliminate Nashville and San Jose. Vancouver, the President Trophy winners, had home ice advantage through the playoffs. Their team was going to end Canada’s 17 year drought, but in the big moment they crumbled. How could everything go so right through the first three rounds and then seem to completely fall apart in the Stanley Cup Finals?

Vancouver played with confidence and swagger that went away when the Bruins started to push Vancouver around the on the ice. The one thing Vancouver tried to eliminate was their immaturity on the ice. Alex Burrows especially started to talk less and to play his game. Good things started to happen. Little things in the past bothered the Canucks, but this time it appeared to be different. Vancouver was going to focus on their game and not outside factors which they could not control. The Canucks were easily agitated against the Blackhawks last year the playoffs, and that same agitation showed up against the Bruins. When the Canuck players got hit they looked towards the officials for penalties. Something they had not done all season. The Canucks reputation during the playoffs was they were diving to get calls. During the finals, the officials would have none of that. When it was time for the offense to push back against the Bruins, it came up empty.

Vancouver showed great pride all season long when they fell behind in games. With their high powered offense there was no reason a two or three goal lead should have not been insurmountable. Yet, the offense was unable to recover from being behind on the scoreboard.  Vancouver’s confidence dipped and the players’ demeanor on the bench was poor. The games in Boston got out of hand because Vancouver could stop the bleeding. One goal would turn into four goals. Vancouver showed no heart in those games. Perhaps Tim Thomas get in the heads of the Vancouver players. Maybe, but that should not have stopped them from trying. Hockey is not just a physical game, but a mental one as well. If a team knows they can rattle their opponent, they will. Vancouver was the best team all season long in every category, but could not get in sync during the finals.

Vancouver’s best players were not their best players. Luongo’s demons reappeared that seemed to gone away after he beat Chicago in the first round. Henrik and Daniel Sedin could not get into a rhythm. Ryan Kesler did not show up. Granted he was playing hurt, but so is everybody at this stage in the playoffs. Kesler was the Canucks best player in games six and seven. Vancouver’s third line was their best line and that cannot be the case when you want to win the Stanley Cup. A team’s top players   must be their best, and the role players to do their job like they have done all year.

Confidence is everything when it comes to winning and losing. Daniel Sedin after game six said “We will win game 7.” He later back tracked his statements, saying that was not how it was suppose to come out. If you believe you are going to win, then stand behind that statement. Will power beats skill every time. There is no doubt Vancouver can win the Stanley Cup. They just need to be mentally stronger. It takes four wins four times. It is a two month grind to hoist the Cup. Battles will be won and lost, but a team must not to lose confidence. Once your opponent gets in your head, you will lose. Believe and good things will happen.

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