Tenth anniversary of magical cup run brought euphoria and heartbreak
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
Canucks fans were biting their nails, but the Canucks would dominate the series by winning the first three games, and then the Blackhawks mounted a comeback, winning three straight games to force a game seven at Rogers Arena.
This June marks 10 years since the Vancouver Canucks’ memorable run to the Stanley Cup Final. They would eventually lose to the Boston Bruins in seven games. Nonetheless, it was a run to remember albeit later overshadowed by another ugly riot in downtown Vancouver. Soon after the Bruins claimed victory and hoisted the cup inside Rogers Arena.
During the 2010-2011 season, the Canucks were the “goats” of the NHL. They won the Presidents’ Trophy as the best team in the league with a record of 54-19-9 and 117 points. Daniel Sedin won the “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s top scorer in the regular season with 104 points. His brother, Henrik, won the same trophy the previous season. In 2011, Henrik Sedin led the league in assists with 75. Forward Ryan Kesler set a career best in goals scored in one season with 41. And head coach, Alain Vigneault, was nominated for the Jack Adams Award (NHL Coach of the Year) and had won the same award in 2007 (first season with Vancouver).
Sportsnet senior writer, Iain MacIntyre, stated in an April 2020 article about the Canucks 2011 team: “With the advantage of time and context, we can look back  years at the 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks and conclude a couple of things. They really were freakin’ good, one of the best teams of the last 20 years not to win a Stanley Cup. Nearly a decade later, this isn’t exactly a revelation.”
In April 2011, the Canucks faced their nemesis, the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round. The two teams met in the second round of the playoffs in 2009 and 2010—both series won by Chicago (Blackhawks also won the cup in 2010). Canucks fans were biting their nails, but the Canucks would dominate the series by winning the first three games, but then the Blackhawks mounted a comeback, winning three straight games to force a game seven at Rogers Arena. In game seven, the Canucks led by a score of 1 to 0 on a goal by Alex Burrows in the first period at 2:43. Then late in the third period, Chicago’s “Captain Serious,” Jonathan Toews, tied the game at 18:04 with a “serious” and determined solo effort while shorthanded.
In the early part of overtime, the Blackhawks looked ready to pack their luggage for round two while on a powerplay. Canucks’ goalie Roberto Luongo, quickly moving from his left to right, made a crucial save from a Patrick Sharp one timer who was standing inside the left circle. Afterwards, at 5:22, Alex Burrows sealed the victory after intercepting a poor Chris Campoli clearance. Burrows gloved the puck and then beat Chicago goalie, Corey Crawford, with a high slapshot. Rogers Arena erupted in euphoria as Canucks’ play-by-play announcer, John Shorthouse, stated in his famous call of the winning goal, “They’ve slayed the dragon!”
In the second round, the Canucks defeated the Nashville Predators winning the series in six games. Canucks forward, Ryan Kesler, was a standout and carried the team on his back after scoring five goals and six assists in the series. The Canucks’ next opponent was the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final. The Canucks would easily win the series in five games.
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa scored the series winner (known as the “stanchion” goal) at 10:18 of double overtime in game five. Alex Edler, trying to keep the puck in at the Sharks’ blue line, attempted to shoot the puck into the corner. The puck took a fortuitous bounce off a stanchion and landed near Bieksa who quickly slapped the puck past Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. Rogers Arena erupted in jubilation and the Canucks were heading to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in franchise history. Their opponent would be the Boston Bruins, making their 18th appearance in the final.
Next issue, a look back at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final between the Canucks and Bruins.