Here we are folks, the Stanley Cup Final! For everyone involved in hockey from players, to coaches, to the media, and fans, this is what we have been waiting for since the puck dropped back in October. It is the most important part of the hockey season and now, it is time to see who can bring their game to another level.
With that in mind, here are five players who need to step it up in this final playoff series:
1) Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
So far, Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo has done his part in getting his hockey club to the Stanley Cup Final.
He has won all 12 games for his team, has posted a 2.29 goals against average and a .922 save percentage to go along with two shutouts. Yes, he has allowed some soft goals but for the most part, Luongo has done all the right things for the Canucks this postseason.
If Luongo carries over his great performance from Game 5 in the Western Conference Final (54 saves) into this final series, the Bruins may have a rough road ahead.
2) Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Throughout this postseason, Boston's team captain and best defender, Zdeno Chara, has survived the first three rounds with mediocre play.
Now that it is the Stanley Cup Final, it is time for him to raise his game to the next level. A Norris Trophy finalist this season as the league's top defenseman, Chara has just five points in 17 games, certainly a drop off from what his team and its fans are used to seeing from "Big Z".
If Chara can get his booming shot going, he will have the Canucks' defensemen and goaltender shaking in their skates.
3) Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks
While Canucks forwards such as Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burrows have performed well in these playoffs, Mason Raymond has been extremely quiet on the stat-sheet.
A 25-goal scorer just one season ago, Raymond has just 2 goals and 8 points this postseason. While those numbers are not terrible, they could certainly be a lot better.
This will need to be the case with increased pressure from the Bruins' players to be put on the Sedin twins, Kesler and Burrows. Raymond has the speed and talent to make a difference.
4) Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins
If there was ever a time for a Vancouver, BC native to step up his game, now would be considered the perfect opportunity.
Milan Lucic, a 30-goal scorer this season for the Bruins, has just 3 goals this postseason and has not been his dominating self in front of the opponents' goal. His other linemates, Nathan Horton and David Krejci, have done their part to score goals. Now, Lucic must do the same.
Being that he is from Vancouver, it would be great for him to get on the board in Games 1 and 2 in Vancouver to build some confidence.
5) Kevin Bieksa, Vancouver Canucks
Right now, Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa is a hero for getting the OT winner in Game 5 against the Sharks to send his team to the Stanley Cup Final.
With that said, that goal means absolutely nothing in the Final and as such, there are things that Bieksa needs to do to get his game to be more consistent. He's been great throughout these playoffs but he needs to cut down on the amount of penalties he takes, as he currently has 37 minutes in that category.
Special teams play will be huge in this series; so if Bieksa and his teammates can stay out of the box more often than not, they should be fine.
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