Five reasons the Bruins will win

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:26 PM ET

Bobby Orr. Phil Esposito. Wayne Cashman. Gerry Cheevers.

Those were the stars of the Boston Bruins team that previously won the Stanley Cup, way back in 1972.

Heck, Paul Henderson hadn't even scored his famous goal against the Soviets in the memorable Summit Series yet. That's how long it's been since the Bruins have hoisted hockey's Holy Grail.

Since that time, they have been to the final on five occasions, losing every time.

Can they finally end their 39-year Stanley Cup drought this time around against the Vancouver Canucks?

Here are five reasons why they can:

1. THE PLEA FOR BIG ZEE

He will be on Roberto Luongo's doorstep on the power play. He will be in the faces of the Sedin twins whenever they attempt to cycle the puck. Sure, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara might not have enjoyed his most consistent playoff to date. At the same time it could be argued that there is no more disruptive force in the game than the former Norris Trophy winner. Chara had already left Ottawa when the Sens reached the 2007 final against Anaheim, so this is the first time he's made it this far. You can bet he'll want to take full advantage.

2. WHO'S YOUR DADDY, VANCOUVER?

Answer: Tim Thomas. At least during the regular season. In three previous meetings against the Canucks, Thomas posted two shutouts and stopped 96 of 97 shots. Both Thomas and Canucks coach Alain Vigneault tried to downplay those numbers Monday, claiming the stats accrued against a team you only play once a year can be misleading. At the same time, behind closed doors, Thomas has the confidence of knowing he can beat these guys. At this time of year, that's a key intangible.

3. MILAN'S MOTIVATED

Returning to his hometown for the Stanley Cup final is a big deal for Vancouver native Milan Lucic, whose fierce forechecking could lead to chaos for Canucks blueliners. The key will be how -- or if -- Lucic can contain his emotions. If he gets too pumped and starts taking stupid penalties, it will be a disaster for Boston. But if he can play on the edge without making regular visits to the sin bin, he'll stir up significant problems for the Canucks.

4. TOUGHNESS STARTS BETWEEN THE EARS

The 1942 Detroit Red Wings. The 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins. The 2010 Boston Bruins. Those are the only teams in NHL history to have blown a 3-0 lead in games and ended up losing a best-of-seven post-season series. When the Bruins collapsed against the Philadelphia Flyers a year ago, many claimed it was a sign of weakness and lack of character. That couldn't be further from the truth. Here they are in the final 13 months later, having beaten the Habs in overtime of Game 7 in the first round. This team has proven the critics wrong with its ability to bounce back from adversity. Just call it mental toughness.

5. NATE THE GREAT?

The whispers around the Florida Panthers for years suggested the ridiculously-talented Nathan Horton was an enigma and underachiever. Not any more. The former Oshawa General has become a late-game hero for the Bruins, scoring the OT winner against the Habs in Game 7, then collecting the series winner against Tampa Bay, also in Game 7. It took Horton a number of years to get his NHL act together, but it appears he finally gets it.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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