The Boston Bruins earned their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 21 years when outlasted the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Friday's victory earned them a berth against the Vancouver Canucks, who knocked off the San Jose Sharks in five games and will have had a week to rest before the Final gets under way on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
Here's a look at some of the key numbers and figures as we get ready to determine a champion:
With Vancouver and Boston set to drop the puck for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, we at NHL.com can't guarantee who will win. But we can guarantee this: Whoever does win the Cup will have waited quite a while.
The Canucks joined the NHL in 1970 and have yet to win the Stanley Cup in 41 years of hockey, a drought so long that only two franchises in NHL history -- Los Angeles and St. Louis, who both entered the League in 1967 -- have gone longer without a championship since their inception. The Bruins, meanwhile, have five Stanley Cups in their history, but have come up empty since they topped the New York Rangers in six games in 1972, meaning the Hub has gone Cup-less for 39 years.
One of the NHL's longest championship droughts is going to end soon.
The Boston Bruins, who haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1972, will have the chance to end that streak after outdueling the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night. Nathan Horton's third-period goal and Tim Thomas' flawless goaltending carried the Bruins to the Final for the first time since 1990.
The Bruins will take a breather before they fly to the Pacific Northwest and a date with the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night (link to first look) -- and while Boston fans have been waiting 39 years for a Cup, Vancouver fans never had the opportunity to celebrate a championship since the Canucks entered the NHL in 1970.
One group of long-suffering fans will see its agony end soon.
What does a team need to win the Stanley Cup? Weeks of hard work, loads of dedication, maybe a few teeth sacrificed to the cause -- and a little bit of luck never hurts. But the team that looks best on paper isn't always the one that ends up drinking champagne from the Cup.
The NHL has had its share of unexpected champions over the years. Here are seven teams that surprised a lot of people -- maybe even themselves -- by ending up as champions.