You hear it all the time in the regular season -- fans of the losing team, after watching their team play pretty well and get nothing out of it, say to themselves, "We deserved to win that game."
But the problem with that logic is that in sports, especially the playoffs, there's no such thing as deserving to win. It's wins and losses, black and white (OK, there's some gray with overtime losses and shootouts, but let's shove that aside for now).
You could argue that the Boston Bruins, with a few bounces on their side, could have snuck two road wins out of Vancouver. They certainly controlled the flow of things in Game 1, and spent a significant portion of Game 2 dictating the pace and preventing Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin from doing their thing.
But there's no such thing as deserving to win. The difference between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks right now is that the Canucks capitalized on their chances -- or in the case of Game 2, revved it up when they needed to in the final ten minutes of the game.
We've seen it during the entire Vancouver playoff run. In about half of their wins, the Canucks are on their game and running over their opponent. And in the other half of the wins, the Canucks are standing back on their heels, getting pushed around and caught flat-footed, only for Roberto Luongo to bail them out before the puck somehow finds its way in the back of the opposition net.
If you believe that sort of thing, you could say that the hockey gods are smiling upon them. Or you could think about it another way -- Luongo has always been the type of goaltender that's thrived on a lot of shots. Think back to his days with the Florida Panthers: Luongo would get bombarded every night, and while his goals-against numbers were never that great with Florida, his save percentage was. In situations when the Canucks are asleep for half a game or more, Luongo gets into his zone and carries them. Sure, he's certainly had his share of big rebounds and bad goals, but his stellar bend-don't-break play has overridden his mistakes.
That might not have been the case in previous seasons, but this year is certainly true -- with an assist to Vancouver's stacked defense for clearing those rebounds.
After last year's Antii Niemi vs. Michael Leighton Stanley Cup Final, there was talk about the era of the budget goaltender. Luongo's contract was mocked in many parts, and there's still probably some logic for mocking the term of Luongo's deal. But it doesn't kill the argument for having a big-name goalie in the net when you need it most.
True, there's not a big difference between the top starters in the NHL and the bottom tier of goalies. Every goalie gets hot and every goalie gets cold. The ones that get paid better stay hotter longer and have fewer cold streaks. They bail you out when your team falls flat, and it's happened during the entire playoff run for Vancouver.
You may hear some Bruins fans musing about how Vancouver didn't necessarily "deserve" to win the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, but that really doesn't matter. Champions bend but don't break -- they find a way to win, even if they've played the rest of the game poorly. Right now, more than ever, the Canucks have the look of a champion.
The Stanley Cup Finals are ongoing, as the Vancouver Canucks battle the Boston Bruins. For full coverage on the Finals, stick with our Stanley Cup Finals hub, our Canucks blog, Nucks Misconduct, and our Bruins blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder.