If they get there, they’ll face a franchise as desperate as they are to win the Cup.
While the Bruins’ Cup drought runs through the spring of 1972, the Vancouver Canucks’ decades without a Cup win goes back all the way to the start of the franchise in 1970-71. With their win over San Jose last night in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, the Canucks earned just the organization’s third trip to the Cup final.
Sure the San Jose Sharks have suffered their share of frustrating losses over the years without a trip to the Cup final, let alone a Cup win. But their history only goes back to the 1991-92 season. The Canucks have battled through more than 20 more years of assorted failures.
In a somewhat silly tradition, Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin didn’t touch the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl that’s presented to the Western Conference winner. Players over the years have claimed it proves there’s a bigger trophy that’s the only goal of their team, and Sedin was no different.
“Well, I didn’t put in a lot of thought about it. I know it was going to be a tough game to win. I talked to a few guys. I mean, this is not the trophy we want to have. That’s the bottom line,” said the star Swede.
What should worry the Bruins and Tampa Bay about the Canucks, in addition to franchise and city desperation to finally finish on top, is that the Canucks were able to close out San Jose without playing their best game in Game 5. The Sharks outshot the Canucks, 56-34, over the course of the double-overtime thriller.
“That’s what good teams do. I mean, we got different guys stepping up each night, like I said all along,” said Sedin. “[Goaltender Roberto Luongo] usually closes the door in the third. We were able to come back. We got a good feeling in there. We work hard for each other. It’s a fun team to be part of.”
Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault, of course, wouldn’t reveal a preference for a Cup final opponent between the Bruins and Lightning, who play Game 6 tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum.
“Well, I think, first of all, we’ll try to enjoy this tonight,” said Vigneault. “This is a great day for our team and our fans. Once we know who we’re playing, then we’ll get ready for them and make the adjustments that we need to make there.”
One thing that doesn’t need adjusting is the enthusiasm for their team the Canucks fans show or the yearning for the Cup that’s burning inside almost everyone in British Columbia. That’s going to make the Canucks a formidable opponent standing between Boston and the potential end of its nearly 40 years without a Cup win.