The 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals get underway Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC and CBC) and the home-standing Vancouver Canucks are favored to defeat the Boston Bruins in Game 1. Vancouver is -200 to win Game 1 according to Bodog, while Boston is +170. See more on SB Nation's NHL Odds page.
Both clubs have had plenty of time to rest for this best-of-seven series since winning conference titles. The Western Conference champion Canucks have been off since ousting San Jose from the postseason on May 24. Boston has been out of action since beating Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Friday.
The Canucks, who have never won a title, were last in the Cup Finals in 1994 when they were bested in seven games during a classic series with the New York Rangers.
The road back to the Stanley Cup Finals has been a long and tough one for the Vancouver franchise, as the club never made it past the second round between '94 and this spring.
Vancouver's Manny Malhotra has been out since March 16 with an eye injury and it appears the veteran centerman will not be ready to return for Game 1. Malhotra was hit in the left eye with a puck and although the injury was originally expected to keep him out for the remainder of the year, it is now believed he could return at some point in the Finals.
While the Canucks last played for a title 17 years ago, it's been an even longer road back to the Cup Finals for Boston, which made its last appearance in the NHL's championship round in 1990.
Boston, which was ousted in five games by Mark Messier and the Edmonton Oilers in the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals, hasn't won a title since Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito led the franchise to the 1972 crown. All told, the B's have claimed five Stanley Cup titles in their storied history.
-- Sports Network contributed to this report
-- See our Canucks blog, Nucks Misconduct, and our Bruins blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder for more coverage.