Stanley Cup playoffs: A memorable head-spinner

Members of the Bruins and Canucks fight for a loose puck on top of goaltender Tim Thomas during...

Members of the Bruins and Canucks fight for a loose puck on top of goaltender Tim Thomas during Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final in Vancouver, B.C., June 10, 2011. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:26 PM ET

VANCOUVER - It is only just that this memorable, unpredictable (well, unless you're EA Sports), crazy, finger-biting, tire-deflating, comeback-full spring of some of the best hockey we've ever seen should come down to a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final -- one game for the Cup, just like we all played it on the streets outside our houses or in our garages or on our knees as kids or with kids in our basements.

The final simply ramped up all the dramatic stuff we saw during the first three rounds, which included both the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks surviving to make it to Wednesday night's finale, both having pulled Game 7 wins in overtime in the first round.

That close to being out then.

That close to being to the Cup now.

The first-round wins were both against their demon teams, the Canucks beating the Chicago Blackhawks right here in the Rogers Arena and the Bruins beating the Montreal Canadiens.

The immediate employment future of both coaches, so the talk went, was on the line in both those games, which seem so long ago.

While the Canucks and Bruins went on remarkable runs from there, there was nothing like the run EA Sports -- the video game folks, using their NHL '11 Simulation Engine -- was on. It correctly predicted 13 of the 14 series going into the final (they picked the Detroit Red Wings to beat the San Jose Sharks in the second round for their only miss.)

Going into the final, EA Sports continued its run through the first six games, correctly picking the home team to win each of the first six games. OK, so they didn't get the scores right. Big deal.

Here's how they picked:

Game 1: Vancouver 2, Boston 1 (OT). It was actually 1-0 for the Canucks with that Raffi Torres goal with 18.5 seconds left in the third period.

Game 2: Vancouver 4, Boston 2. The score was 3-2 for the Canucks.

Game 3: Boston 1, Vancouver 0. The score was 8-1 for the Bruins.

Game 4: Boston 3, Vancouver 2. The scored was 4-0 for the Bruins.

Game 5: Vancouver 4, Boston 2. The score was 1-0 for the Canucks.

Game 6: Boston 3, Vancouver 2. The scored was 5-2 for the Bruins.

Going into Game 7 Wednesday night, EA Sports was predicting a 3-1 win for the Canucks.

The EA Sports simulation had Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs' most valuable player. After having a wretched time in Boston (Question: What time is it in Boston? Answer: A quarter past Luongo. Get it? Fifteen past Luongo? Oh, never mind), Luongo would have had to score eight goals and get another shutout in Game 7 to even get his name back into the conversation.

Luongo, though, helped make this final memorable with his analysis of the play of Boston's Tim Thomas after Game 5 and wondered why Thomas wasn't pumping his tires the next day.

The stories continued right up to game time Wednesday night with talk Vancouver's Mason Raymond, who had a vertebra in his back fractured on a hit early in Game 6, expected to be in the house to whip up the faithful.

Boston's Nathan Horton, knocked out of the series on that hit by Vancouver's Aaron Rome early in Game 3, was caught by cameras pouring what supposedly was "Boston" water on the Rogers Arena ice before the game.

Horton might have been the one concussed, but all the developments of the past few days in one of the most memorable finals in recent memory, it was everybody else's heads that were spinning.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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