The last playoff series of the season is clearly significant, but its singularity often adds layers to the spectacle.
With one game on the schedule, storylines become the storyline and teams that rarely play one another become fierce rivals. In the case of Vancouver and Boston, this is a good thing. The games themselves have been entertaining and filled with a fair amount of drama. There have been momentum swings and big saves and great goals.
The storylines, however, have involved biting and taunting and dirty hits. Entire periods have been filled with message-sending and as Bruce Arthur wrote, neither team has the moral high ground in this series.
I find that point so interesting because it seems that’s what generally impartial observers of this series are searching for. Fans not sided with the Bruins or Canucks want to feel good about rooting for one team or the other, and the Finals pairing have certainly made that task a tough one.
As someone who appreciates the styles of both teams it’s been an interesting series to observe from the sidelines. Vancouver’s beauty has been lost in its own ugly play, while Boston’s grit has overpowered the Canucks the past two games as Luongo teeters on the edge.
If anything I’ve learned over the past four games just how unlikable the Canucks can be. From my perspective the diving and Ryan Kessler’s complaints have removed any trace of the spectacular ability Vancouver has on its side. Perhaps it’s a bit of confirmation bias working against the Canucks; I already know Boston has unlikable players on the roster because I’ve seen them. Vancouver’s dirty work doesn’t often make the highlight reel, but it’s been front and center in this series.
If you were to ask my Mom which team was dirtier, however, she would hands down say the Bruins. This fact didn’t surprise me when it was disclosed over lunch the other day, but it is interesting to note the contrast. Perspective, it seems, is everything.
I’m looking forward to the next three games not because I know what will happen, but I’m curious to find out what they mean. If Vancouver can bounce back and take control of the series tonight then they deserve to win. Forget morality and all that, we’re at the point where the last team standing deserves the big trophy.
I’m working hard to stay somewhat impartial and enjoy the spectacle of it all, forgetting who roots for who and which team’s fans deserve it more. Give it some thought and that logic is a bit silly, and there are likable players on both teams if you dig deeper than the trenches they’re currently playing in.
The long term impact of this series, however, has yet to be determined. Bill Simmons feels the game itself is building momentum, but I wonder just how much impact the eventual winner will have on the psychology of the league.
Sometime over the next fortnight someone is going to write that (insert Stanley Cup Finals winner)’s success will cause a fundamental shift in the makeup of the league. Sure there are copycats and efforts to sign a Cup winning team’s unrestricted free agents, but I think this apparent result is overblown. Physical Western Conference teams have made deep runs into the postseason since the lockout ended, and goaltenders get hot. It happens every season and unless someone’s going to clone more wonder twins I doubt there’s a new formula out there to replicate.
The impact one team or another could have with winning a Stanley Cup over the other seems negligible. One joy of living in the Age of Immediacy is that every event is the most important thing ever in the history of everything. Until, of course, the next thing. That makes it difficult to ground yourself in these talks so I say forget it. Tonight’s game should provide some damn good atmosphere and maybe a bit of spectacle.
Take it in and consider the rest when it’s decided.