- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2011

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Daniel Sedin absently scratched his red playoff beard, thinking back on a decade of struggle and setbacks before the Vancouver Canucks reached the Stanley Cup finals against Boston.

Down the hallway, his identical twin rubbed his identical beard exactly the same way.

Henrik Sedin was considering a more pressing problem, though: Now that the Swedish superstars are finally close enough to touch the Stanley Cup, how do they get it away from hulking defenseman Zdeno Chara and the bruising Bruins?

“We’ve had a lot of challenges along the way to get here, but he’s the biggest one yet — literally, I guess,” said Henrik Sedin, last season’s NHL MVP. “It’s going to be exciting to see what happens.”

The only sure bet is that one championship drought will end for one long-suffering hockey-loving city after the Canucks face Boston in the Stanley Cup finals, starting in Game 1 on Wednesday night in Vancouver.

The Canucks have never won it all, falling in their only two previous finals appearances in four decades of existence.

The Sedin twins finally have justified their sublime talent with team success in Vancouver, winning the Presidents’ Trophy during a dominant regular season before winning nine of their past 12 playoff games heading into the finals.

The Bruins have lost five straight trips to the finals since Bobby Orr led them to their most recent title in 1972. With only moderate expectations this spring, Boston survived a rough Eastern Conference run in which it faced elimination twice in the past three rounds.

The Bruins coolly won two Game 7 showdowns, both on clutch goals by Nathan Horton, earning the right to travel thousands of miles from home to the opposite coast for a shot at their ultimate goal.

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