Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks

Your primer for Game 1 of 2011 Stanley Cup finals between Bruins, Canucks

The wait for any Stanley Cup finals contest can be unbearable, but fans of the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks must be on the edges of their seats even more than most would be right now.

In the bigger picture, the Canucks have been waiting for 17 years while the Bruins haven’t gotten this far in 21 years. Yet even the recent versions of the two teams have been waiting for quite some time. Boston received a hearty break for a team that just finished a seven-game series on Friday while Vancouver’s most recent game began on Tuesday, May 24. No doubt about it, these teams are anxious to drop the puck.

Boston @ Vancouver (NBC) – 8 p.m. ET; Game 1

The Canucks go into this game as heavy favorites, earning the PHT staff’s unanimous selection and the votes of many others. This team is well-rested, rugged and deep in just about every area. On the other hand, they also must deal with the pressure of delivering the first Stanley Cup in franchise history and Vancouver’s first Cup since 1915.

Meanwhile, the Bruins could be a very dangerous team in the underdog role. Few should be surprised if Boston’s all-world goalie Tim Thomas steals some victories – maybe even four – in this series. There’s also reason to believe that Zdeno Chara could give the Sedin twins some serious headaches, as well. The B’s have their flaws in some areas, but their overall talent level should not be underestimated.

If you’re still waiting on pins and needles, check out the plethora of PHT posts leading in to Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
AP Photo
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.