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Five storylines as the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins head into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final Wednesday:

1) Droughts

The Canucks have never won the big prize in 40 years of NHL participation. The Bruins haven't won a Cup since 1972, when Bobby Orr was patrolling the blue line. One of these cities will be a happy hockey town when it's all said and done.

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2) Officiating

It's always a story in the final, especially given how subjective hockey is. The Canucks are coming off a Western Conference final where the men in stripes called everything. The Bruins are fresh from an Eastern Conference final where not a single penalty was called in Game 7. Where officials draw the line will be important, because...

3) Special teams

The Canucks used them to beat the San Jose Sharks. The Bruins want to avoid them at all costs. The Canucks are converting 28 per cent of their power-play chances in the playoffs, compared to just 8.2 per cent for Boston. Even after allowing five straight goals to San Jose to open the West final, Vancouver's postseason penalty-killing (80.6 per cent) is still superior to Boston's (79.4). The Canucks held the edge in the special teams department in the regular season as well (24.3 to 16.2 on power plays; 85.6 to 82.6 on penalty killing), and would love nothing more than a series decided by these units.

4) Goaltending

Both with Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo, the numbers often belie some nervous moments. Thomas has been inconsistent but posted a shutout to clinch the East. Luongo was benched during a first-round series against Chicago, but bounced back and made 54 saves to eliminate the Sharks. This should be a goaltending-and-defence series, unless one of the goaltenders starts scuffling again.

5) Manny Malhotra

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The Canucks centre is primed to make a miraculous comeback. But has he been out of action too long, or can he make his presence felt?







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