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Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup Finals

Take a second to breathe it all in. The Boston Bruins are advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals! In a very intense game 7 at the TD Garden, the Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0. This game is a classic. It had everything you look for in a game 7, and the fact that it was 1-0 just adds to the drama. Tampa is lucky though that the Bruins only scored 1 goal all night. Roloson was standing on his head all night,. The only goal scored on the night was a perfect goal, set up off a perfect breakout by Boston. Roloson never had a chance at that one. Everything else though had no chance of going in. Roloson faced 38 shots, and a lot of them were great scoring chances by Boston. Thomas was great in net as well, but not as good as Roloson looked. It just happened that the Bruins controlled the offensive flow of the game more, and that is what allowed them to win this game. So how did the Bruins get back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the 1st time since 1990?

The Prince of Whales trophy comes to Boston

The Boston Bruins pose with the Prince of Whales trophy, after defeating the Lightning in game 7, 1-0.

1st Period

Game 7 has started at the TD Garden, with both teams getting equal scoring chances early. St. Louis was just leveled by Seidenberg, possibly a sign that the Bruins have a different approach to tonight’s game. As McQuaid went behind the Boston net to pick up a dumped in puck, he lost his footing and fell. The puck was pick up by Jones, who fed it to the high slot for a one-timer by Moore. The puck was knocked down by Thomas, and it rebounded out of the slot. Boston brought the puck up ice and Campbell dumped the puck in. Clark Picked the puck up behind the Tampa net, and brought it through the far slot. He passed up ice to Marc-Andre Bergeron, who flew by the defencemen to get a great scoring chance on Thomas. He came up threw the far circle, and made a wrist shot to the near side, but Thomas kicked his leg out to make a spectacular save. The 1st lines for each team had great shifts against one-another. But both goaltenders looked great early. The 4th line for Boston was getting great energy that has not been seen this entire series, and possibly postseason. Midway through the game, we were still scoreless. This game was just fast and furious, and the Bruins had a great tempo. This is exactly the type of game Boston should have played in game 6. Tampa Bay had a huge chance to get on the board, when Ryan Malone threw a puck on net from the end boards. The puck deflected off a body in front of Thomas, and there was a battle for the puck. Tampa and Boston players piled at the Boston net, trying to get the puck. Thomas had no idea where the puck was, but just kept his head moving trying to find it. Finally the puck squirted out from the pile of bodies, and was picked up by Peverley. He skated up the centerboards, ass Tampa was now caught with men up ice. Lucic came screaming up through center ice, and Peverley hit him with a pass in stride. Lucic had a clean breakaway, but Roloson made a fantastic left pad save 5-hole. Peverley has been fantastic to start tonight’s game, and hopefully Claude gives him some more time tonight. The period would come to an end, with the game scoreless. A very intense and fast 1st period. The Bruins looked great, with their offense providing great scoring chances, their defense controlling the puck, and Thomas was terrific.

2nd Period

The 2nd period started with a denied opportunity for Boston. Bergeron had the puck at the far boards, and he centered a pass for Recchi in the slot. But good stick play by the Tampa D denied him a chance. Then the 1st line created more havoc for Tampa. Horton had a tip, off a Chara point shot, but it went right into Roloson’s chest. Tampa came back with a chance of their own, off another face-off in the Boston zone. Bergeron won the puck back, and Seidenberg tried to backhand it around the Boton net. The puck was picked off by Purcell behind the net though, and he passed to Lecavalier in front of Thomas. Thomas was looking to the near side, where the puck was originally going to be. So Lecavalier now had a wide open net to shoot at. But a great poke check by Bergeron kept him from receiving the pass, and thus Tampa off the score board. After an icing call, the puck was brought back to the Tampa Bay zone. Boston had won the puck, and was setting up along the points. Boychuk took a rocket of a shot from the point, and drilled Steven Stamkos in the high slot. He hit Stamkos right at the tip of his shield, barely missing taking off his whole nose. Stamkos immediately hit the ice, and then skated right off into the Lightning dressing room. Tampa Bay had probably the best scoring chance of the night thus far, after a point shot by Marc-Andre Bergeron. Kaberle went down to block the shot, and the puck came out to the slot. Gange picked up the puck, and flung a shot on Thomas. Thomas was just outside the top of his crease, as he went into his butterfly to make the save. Midway through the 2nd period, we were still scoreless. Stamkos was back on the ice, but with a few changes. He now had a full mask on, and a huge blood stain where his nose used to be. Boston then just missed a scoring chance by Bergeron, when he deked by Stamkos into the slot, but then lost his footing and the puck just trickled to Roloson. Kreci followed that up with another great set of moves, splitting the defense in the near slot. He got a wrist shot off that Roloson stopped, but it was what happened behind the goaltender that was interesting. Horton was charging hard towards the net, and Dominick Moore locked sticks with him, and sent Horton into the net. It looked like the refs were going to award Boston with a powerplay, but the refs made a last-minute change that took away any penalty by Moore. I have no idea what the refs were thinking, but that was a terrible non-call. Tampa Bay had a huge chance off a turnover at center ice by Boston. Downie picked the puck off, and skated into the near circle. He centered a pass for Stamkos, but great stick-work by Kaberle denied him a shot attempt. Boston came right back with their own great scoring chance, this one by Mark Recchi. Patrice Bergeron went behind the Lightning net, and forced a turnover with a body check. The puck was picked up by Marchand, who fed Recchi right in the slot for a one-timer. Roloson made a spectacular right pad save, and then another right pad save off the rebound shot by Recchi. The period came to an end, and we were still scoreless heading into the 3rd and final period of the Eastern Conference Finals. Another great period by the Bruins. They played with purpose, and had a very fast tempo. Everything they did in the 1st was carried over into the 2nd. It’s shaping up to be a very good 3rd period, Boston just needs to get 1 bounce to go their way.

3rd Period

The 3rd period began with a huge chance for the Bruins to break into the goals column. Lucic skated into the far slot, and fed a backhand across to the far slot for Kreci. His one-timer was stopped by Roloson though, and the puck rebounded out to Horton at the far post, but he just tapped it off the post and through the crease. As Boston collected the puck back, the brought it into the attacking zone. Bergeron set up along the far boards, and he made an across ice pass through 2 defenders to Marchand. Marchand made a terrific one-timer shot, but Roloson made an even more impressive save. Boston was dominating the first 5 minutes of the 3rd period, but Roloson was standing on his head in net. It looked like it was going to take some luck to win this game. Guy Boucher decided to call his timeout just before the midway point in the period, before a face-off in the Lightning zone. Whatever he said didn’t help all that much, as Lucic came in to take a face-off for David Kreci, and took a shot on net when the puck was dropped. Luckily though (or rather unluckily), Roloson was paying attention, and he made a glove save. At the 11:00 minute mark, Claude Julien decided to call his timeout before a face-off in the Boston zone. With the 1st on for Boston, they moved methodically into the attacking zone. Andre Ference had the puck at the Boston point, and he passed ahead to Kreci. Kreci entered the attacking zone. He went into the far slot, and slapped a pass to the crease. Horton was right there, and he just tipped a pass by the skate of Roloson. Boston had broken into the score column, and lead the game 1-0 at 12:27. All the Bruins had to do now was keep Tampa from having any good scoring chances, and stay out of the box for the next 7 and a half minutes, and they would be on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Tampa Bay was not helping their cause either. The Lightning had no offense going in this period particularly. Boston had another huge scoring chance as the 5 minute mark approached. The Lightning had the puck in the Boston zone. As it was passed back to the far point, Chris Kelly knocked the puck away. It was picked up by Marchand, who now had a 2-on-1 with Ryder. He skated all the way into the far slot before making a cross ice pass. Roloson made a spectacular right-to-left move though, and denied Ryder the goal with his left pad. As the game approached under 3 minutes to go, Boston was in full defense mode. Every chance the Bruins had, they just dumped the puck into the Lightning zone. Under 2 minutes to go, under a minute and a half to go, but still Roloson was in the Tampa net. Even after the announcement of 1 minute remaining in the period, Roloson was still stuck in the Lightning net. Finally with under 30 seconds to go, the Lightning net was emptied. Down to 10 seconds, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and finally 0.0. It was all over. For the first time since 1990, the Boston Bruins are heading to the Stanley Cup Finals. They had defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in 7 games, winning game 7, 1-0.

Post-Game Breakdown

What more can be said about game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. It was a perfect game for Boston. They played terrific all night. The Bruins most impressive stat might be the no penalties committed. Both teams went the entire game without a penalty in fact. This created a great, fast paced environment. It also allowed the Bruins to keep their specialty teams off the ice. The Bruins pk was very weak in game 6, and their powerplay has been atrocious all year. So keeping the red-hot Lightning powerplay off the ice was extremely important in the Bruins coming away with the win. Their offense was controlling the puck all night, and had dozens of scoring chances. Roloson was forced to make 37 saves on the night, while Thomas only face 24. The Bruins had many more scoring chances, and much better shots on net than Tampa. The only reason they were kept off the board so long was because of Roloson. Roloson was standing on his head all night, and is the reason Tampa Bay had a chance to win the game. The Lightning played just fine on defense, and played decent enough on offense. But they never had some of the great scoring chances that Boston had, and their offense never took control of the game like Boston’s did. Part of it was how well the Boston defense played. The 1st line for Tampa was absolutely shut down. Stamkos and St. Louis had just 1 shot a piece. The 1st line for Boston looked like it was on fire all night. They had many chances to break into the goal column, and they finally did off the stick of Nathan Horton. Horton scored his 3rd game-winning goal of the playoffs, and the Bruins improve to 8-0 when Horton scores. He is also the 1st player in NHL history to have 2 game winning game 7 goals in the same postseason. Something that I know I’ll be happy not to listen to anymore, is about Tampa and their stupid 1-3-1 system. All series all we heard about is how great the 1-3-1 is, and how would Boston be able to beat such a great scheme. Well Boston beat it in game 7, when Nathan Horton scored the game-winning goal. That play specifically beat the 1-3-1, and you can see it on the replays. It was so sweet to watch, and I will not miss listening to that crap for another 2 weeks.

So on to Vancouver we go. This will be the toughest matchup for the Bruins in this postseason. Not just because it’s the Stanley Cup Finals, but because of how good the Canucks truly are. Vancouver finished the regular season winning the Presidents’ trophy (the team with the most points at the end of the season). Vancouver was picked by many experts to win the Stanley Cup before the season even began. Vancouver was the #1 team defensively in the regular season. A Boston offense which has trouble scoring already, will be hard pressed to get goals in this series. The Boston defense will be tested as well, as the Canucks have a group of goalscorer’s on their team. Vancouver has the deadly Sedin twins. Henrik Sedin is leading the NHL postseason with 21 points, while his twin brother Daniel is tied with Nathan Horton for 3rd in playoff goals with 8. They also have Ryan Kesler, who has 18 points this postseason, and has been nominated for the Freddy Selke award (awarded to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game). And last but not least, the Canucks have a Vezina trophy finalist in their net as well. Roberto Luongo has been notorious for choking in the postseason, but he has turned things around this time. So if the Bruins want to win their 1st Stanley Cup since 1972, they are going to have to be perfect. I don’t know if I can expect that from the Bruins in 4 games in this series. I think Boston has a great chance to win, but I don’t know if they can pull it off. The Canucks appear to have too much firepower, and a great goaltender to boot. I expect the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup in 7 games. But always remember, to never count out the resilient Boston Bruins.

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