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BRUINS WIN THE STANLEY CUP!!!! Thomas wins the Conn Smythe with shutout performance

The Boston Bruins are Stanley Cup Final Champions!! After 39 years of this ling journey, and tons of heartbreak, Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins can say that they are Stanley Cup Champions. The game was a perfect script for the Bruins, and the only thing that could have made it better is if they won it at home. The Bruins won it with hard work, determination, and big hearts. As opposed to the Canucks, who had a far more talented team, but lacked the attitude and determination to win. The Bruins played a great game all around. They had great offense, scoring 3 goals on Roberto Luongo. For once they were able to capitalize on their scoring chances in Vancouver. The defense was great, making very few mistakes. I can think of 2 turnovers in their own zone that lead to good scoring chances, and that shows how careful they were with the puck in their own zone. Tim Thomas was everything that you can imagine. This entire series can be summed up by the way that he played. And in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the biggest stage there is in North American hockey, Tim Thomas was perfect. Thomas became just the 4th goaltender in NHL history to have a shutout in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and the 1st to do it on the road. The Canucks didn’t play a bad game, and Roberto Luongo wasn’t that bad. Thomas was just better, and the Bruins showed that they had a more determined team. When push came to shove, the Bruins wanted it more, and all the talent in the world wasn’t going to help the Canucks. The thing I’m most happy about is that guy in the picture below. I personally feel very happy for Tim Thomas. Thomas has gone through a lot of adversity in his life just to get to this point, and if the Bruins had lost this series it wasn’t going to be his fault. And that would have hurt very bad to me, and I know everyone in Boston would have had that same bad feeling in their gut. To top things off, Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy, for the MVP of the postseason. It’s a great feeling Boston, enjoy it!

Tim Thomas lifts the Stanley Cup, after dominating game 7

Tim Thomas lifts the Stanley Cup, as he lead the Boston Bruins to their 1st Stanley Cup since 1972.

1st Period

The game is on, and the Canucks have great pressure. Vancouver is controlling the puck, and plugging up the neutral zone. The Bruins came back with a great set up by Marchand. Marchand skated into the far circle, and passed to Peverley at the post. Luongo challenged him, and Peverley centered a pass for Kreci in the crease. But great stick play by the Malhotra denied him a tip in. Kreci got a seconds chances shot off, but Luongo made a diving glove save. A big chance for Boston early, and one wonders if that might come back to haunt them. The Bruins had some sustained pressure, but Vancouver took control right back. The Canucks were outskating the Bruins, and had a very fast tempo in this game. Higgins had a great chance skating into the slot. He just split the Boston defense, and was all alone on Thomas near post. But Thomas stayed strong, and made a butterfly save. The only line doing getting pressure for Boston was the 4th line. Thornton was throwing his weight around, and Paille was outskating the Canucks defense. Boston forced a face-off in the attacking zone. It was actually won back by Henrik Sedin, but Brad Marchand picked the puck off. Marchand just skated circles around the Vancouver defense in the near circle. He passed towards Reechi and Bergeron in the slot, hoping for something, and he got it. The puck went through Recchi and a Canucks skates, and Bergeron ripped a one-timer off into the back of the net. Luongo lost the puck in-between all the skates, and never even saw the shot. Boston had a very important 1-0 lead 14:37 into the game. Vancouver came right back with a 2-on-2 chance, but Thomas again made the save. The Canucks decided to resort to more dirty tactics coming up ice. As they were entering the Boston zone, Siedenberg and Chara were back skating into the zone. Both defenders were looking at the puck up the far boards, and Higgins skated right into Chara up high. He appeared to leave his feet, and Chara lay on the ice for a moment. Chara appeared to be ok, perhaps a bit woozy, but fine nonetheless. The whistle was blown, but not for a penalty. Vancouver was called for an offsides, so they had 12 more seconds left to play. The Bruins would exit the 1st period with a 1-0 lead.

2nd Period

The 2nd period started with an icing call against the Canucks. Boston had an early chance to extend their lead. Lucic had a chance in the far slot, but his shot went wide. Off another icing call, the Bruins created another chance. Mark Recchi won the puck back for Boston, and Marchand pick the puck up. He skated below the far circle, and to the far slot. He took a bad angle shot, and hit the far post. Boston had just missed 2 good chances to extend their lead early in the period. But in the first 5 minutes, the Canucks were out shooting the Bruins 4-0. The Canucks had a great chance off a Boston turnover. Chara picked the puck up behind the Boston net, and held the puck as one of the Sedins skated towards him. He made his pass, and the puck deflected right off Sedin’s stick to Burrows in the center slot. Thomas came out to challenge him, and Burrows dragged the puck to the near slot. Thomas caught out of position, and dove back across ice to make a potential save. Chara saved himself though, as he covered up the empty net with his enormous body. Burrows took the shot, it went by the diving Thomas, and hit Chara in his left knee. The puck stayed out, and Boston had caught a huge break midway through the period. Boston came back up ice with pressure, started by Tyler Seguin. Seguin passed ahead to Ryder as he entered the zone, and he took a shot from the circle blocked off by Luongo. The puck went around the net, and up the boards. Recchi stopped the puck, and passed to Seidenberg at the point. He took a shot, and it was tipped in front. Marchand picked up the loose puck, and Luongo was in a bad position, out of his crease far side. Marchand used this to his advantage, and skated around the net for a wraparound chance. Luongo dove back across ice, and stopped the shot with his stick. But Luongo fumbled around with the puck, and lost control of it as he tried to cover it up , and the puck slipped past the goal line. Boston had taken a 2-0 lead, 12:13 into the game. Boston came right back when Mark Recchi flew up ice with a hop in his step. He blew right by  the Canucks defense, and got 1-on-1 with Luongo in the far slot. He backhanded a shot off, but Luongo came up with a big save. The Canucks picked up the pace, and when Johnny Boychuk lost his stick, Vancouver took control in the Boston zone. It would result in a Boston penalty, as Chara was called for interference on Kessler in the slot. The Canucks had nothing going, and the Bruins created their own scoring chance. The puck was picked up by Seidenberg, and he chipped the puck up ice. Patrice Bergeron picked up the puck in the neutral zone on the fly, and skated 1-on-1 up ice with Edler. Bergeron pulled the puck to the far side, and was tripped down by Edler. The puck slide right into the pads of Luongo, but the momentum of Bergeron and Edler smacked them right into Luongo. The puck slid off Luongo, and into the back of the net. The play was reviewed, and Bergeron was awarded his 2nd goal of the night, shorthanded, at 17:35. Boston was now up 3-0, and had a lead that seemed insurmountable. Boston has now scored on 7 of their last 21 shots against Luongo. The Bruins killed off the rest of Chara’s penalty, and they were back to 5-on-5. The Canucks seemed deflated the rest of the period, and the Bruins just skated around with them. The period ended with the Bruins up 3-0. 20 minutes is all that stands now from the Boston Bruins and a Stanley Cup victory.

3rd Period

The 3rd period started with a good push from the Canucks. The Bruins defense was just weathering the storm, and able to push the puck back up ice. And the Canucks again resorted to dirty tactics. Skating in the center of the ice, Hansen just decided to run right into Ference. Ference stayed down for a moment, but he recovered and got back to the bench. Ference wasn’t anywhere near the puck, and it was just a dirty and pathetic play. So the Bruins were on the powerplay at 5:33 for interference. The Bruins looked very lackadaisical on the powerplay, just allowing the Canucks to clear the zone. It wasn’t until late in the powerplay that they created an opportunity off the rush. Marchand skated into the far slot, and centered a pass for Seguin. But Luongo made the pad save, and the puck bounced away. The powerplay ended without much noise, and the lead remained 3-0. Midway through the period, the Bruins were playing a defensive game. They were allowing the Canucks to get offensive chances. Then a bad break for the Bruins, as they would receive a bad penalty call at 11:34. Lucic was called for hooking on Henrik Sedin. Lucic lifted his stick, and never wrapped around Sedin with his stick. So Vancouver had a chance to break into this lead, and perhaps get some momentum. The Canucks looked terrible on the powerplay, with the Bruins killing it off easily. Claude Julien decided to use his timeout at this time, to energize his guys for 5 more minutes of hockey. The Bruins game plan was simple, collapse around the puck. With 3 minutes remaining in the game, decided to empty his net. But the Bruins would be the ones capitalizing on it, as Brad Marchand took the puck away at center ice, and ripped a shot from the near circle. It’s now a 4-0 lead for Boston 17:16 into the 3rd and final period. As Brad Marchand celebrated his goal, you could see the tears in his eyes. He went to the bench, and you could see everyone celebrating and giving hugs. This is it, the Boston Bruins have won the Stanley Cup 4-0, behind Tim Thomas’s shutout performance.

Post-Game Breakdown

How about that! It feels a little surreal to say it already, but the Boston Bruins are Stanley Cup Champions!! The Bruins played exactly the type of game they wanted to, and forced the Canucks to play their game. Vancouver played great in the first 5-7 minutes of the game. As I was watching the game, I just kept saying, if the Bruins can whether this storm they’ll be in good shape later in the game. And that is exactly what happened. The Bruins just played careful in their own zone, did a good job not to make bad turnovers in their own zone, and of course Tim Thomas stopped everything in sight. Once the Canuck fans calmed down from the high of game 7 starting, the Bruins started getting some offense moving. The 4th line for Boston was instrumental in the getting the offense moving for the Bruins. It came down to hard work in the corners and along the boards, and the Bruins got on the board 1st. I though the Canucks would win this game, but I did say that if the Bruins scored 1st I would guarantee a victory. They scored 1st, and I felt very good about it. You could tell that the Bruins scoring 1st just took the life out of the Canucks and their fans. spending so much energy early in the period hurt them. The Bruins played the rest of the game with the same intensity, and never let the Canucks even sniff a goal. Well, Chara’s turnover almost resulted in a goal, but the big man bailed himself out. Boston played a full 60 minutes of dominate hockey, and the Canucks played decent hockey for 5 minute stretches at a time. Like I said earlier, Luongo didn’t play a bad game, but he wasn’t great either.

He surely wasn’t the reason they lost, but unlike Tim Thomas, he wasn’t the reason they won. When the Canucks lost, it was Luongo’s fault. When the Canucks won, it was because the Bruins offense failed. Thomas never cut his teams legs out from under them, and you always felt that the Bruins would win just because he was in net in these Finals. Thomas becomes just the 2nd American born player to win the Conn Smythe trophy. The only other was Brian Leech with the New York Rangers in 1994. Their opponent, the Vancouver Canucks. Thomas also set a postseason record for the most saves in the Stanley Cup Finals, as well as the most saves in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Those are exactly the type of stats I’m talking about.

The Bruins also smothered one of the best powerplays in the NHL, holding the Canucks to a meek 2-34 on the powerplay. The Sedin twins combined for just 5 points all series long, while Ryan Kessler had just 1 assist all series long. Before this series started, I stated that the Bruins wouldn’t win because of these guys, and how good they were. Well they didn’t show up, and the Bruins defense, namely the Captain Zdeno Chara, shut them down each and every night. The celebration was something to see as well.

Nathan Horton was in the arena, and he put on his jersey and skated out to celebrate with his team. It was a beautiful sight, and one that I know I will cherish forever. And I will always remember how classless the Canuck fans were in defeat. They actually booed the Bruins as they celebrated, and as the NHL awarded them with the Stanley Cup. They did cheer Tim Thomas as he skated around with the Cup. So at least they know who deserves some respect. Lucic received some cheers, seeing that he was born and raised, and won a Memorial Cup in Vancouver. Looking ahead to next year already was Mark Recchi. Recchi announced post game that this was his last game, and that he would “… ride off into the sunset.” In his 22 NHL seasons, Recchi became just the 8th player in NHL history with the Stanley Cup in 3 different decades, and the 3rd player to win the Stanley Cup with 3 different teams. He also played in 1,652 games, which is 3rd all time in the NHL, with 1,533 points, which is 12 all time in the NHL. Recchi is a sure firer Hall of Famer, and it was a perfect ending to send him out with a Stanley Cup win. Brad Marchand became just the 8th NHL rookie to score 10+ goals in the postseason, and set a record for most postseason goals by a Bruin rookie with 11. The Bruins became just the 2nd professional team in American sports history to win 3 game 7’s in one postseason. The only other team to do it, was the 1988 L.A. Lakers. The Bruins also won a series when being down 0-2 for the 1st time in their team history. The actually did it twice in this postseason. The 1st against the Canadians, and the 2nd of course to the Canucks. This postseason just had a different feel to it. When the Bruins came back and beat the Canadians, then they had the Flyers. The broke the hearts of Boston last year, and the Bruins came back with a sweep. As the series went on, it just felt like this was a team of destiny. This is the pinnacle of greatness in hockey, and the Bruins are at the top of the mountain. And what’s more, I think this Bruins team can get better. But, I’ll leave that discussion for another day. For today, tommorow, and every day after that, the Boston Bruins will always be the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup Champions.

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.

Bruins win game 7 in thrilling OT. Advance to Eastern Conference Semi’s to face Flyers again.

Wow, I can’t say it enough times, what a game. This was a great game to watch, providing great, although sometimes unnecessary drama. But, the Bruins came out on top, winning the third OT game of this series, 4-3. Nathan Horton scored 2 of those 3 game-winning goals, and Boston was 3-0 in OT in this series. Going into this game, the Bruins had not won a Game 7 since April 29 1994. And that game was against the Montreal Canadians. To make matters worse, Tim Thomas was 0-2 career in game 7’s, with a 3.45 GAA and a .889 save percentage. All time in game 7’s Montreal 13-8, and Boston was 9-10. Nothing was on the Bruins side, except that they had home ice. But even still, this is a team that plays terrible at home, losing the first 2 games of this series at home in fact. But through it all, the Bruins showed that they are a very resilient team. So, let’s see how we got here.

Boston vs Montreal Game 7

Picture courtesy of bruins.nhl.com

1st Period

The game started with Montreal getting the first shot on net. Boston brought the puck into the attacking zone, and Seidenberg got a point shot off for an easy glove save by Price. Boston controlled the tempo of the game early, which was a good sign. If the Bruins want any chance of winning this game, than they need to control the tempo. The B’s can not play a fast paced Canadian type game. Off a face-off win by the Bruins, the puck was brought around the net by Marchand, and passed to Boychuck at the point. He got a slapshot off that gets by Price on the glove side. Boston had a quick 1-0 lead, just 3:31 into the game. Boston was out shooting the Canadians 6-3, just 5 minutes into the game. Montreal won a face-off in their own zone, but pressure from Recchi forced a turnover. Marchand would pick the puck up, and send it around the boards. There it was picked up by Recchi, who passed towards Ference in the near circle. The puck was lost amongst a few bodies, before Ference finally found it. He passed the puck back to Recchi, who got a pea off from the high slot to beat Price high blocker side. Boston had a quick 2-0 lead against Montreal, just 5:33 into the game. Montreal took a time-out, to try to calm things down. This was exactly the type of start the Bruins needed, now they just had to break Montreal’s back with another goal. Montreal seemed to find themselves little by little as the period went on. And at 8:22, we would have our first penalty of the game. Off a dump in by Boychuck, Michael Ryder and Plecanek went into the corner for the puck. Plekanec had his stick lifted, and he fell down. Well, that was enough in the eyes of the officials to warrant a hooking call. The very dangerous Montreal powerplay now had a chance to get right back into this game. Boston did a great job on the penalty kill, quickly eliminating 1:20 of the penalty. But then, Daniel Pallie would lose his stick. Montreal took advantage of this, and set up a man on his side in the slot. Yannick Webber made a tremendous shot, just beating Tim Thomas high glove side. The game was now 2-1, 9:49 into the first. Both teams would start dumping the puck in, not being able to set up any offense. Both defenses stepped up their play, and their was no space for either team to operate. Boston had a chance, as Bergeron brought the puck into the attacking zone. He passed to Marchand, who took a shot from the near circle. The puck was deflected down, and went wide. Recchi would recover the puck on the far boards, and passed around the net to Marchand. Marchand skated to the near circle, and passed down to Bergeron. Bergeron passed back to Marchand at the top of the circle, and he passed to Recchi in the slot. He couldn’t get a shot off though, as he appeared to be hooked by Hamerlik. No call from the officials though. Boston dumped the puck into the corner boards, and Pialle and Sopel went to retrieve it. Thornton hit Sopel from the opposite side, and apparently lead with his elbow. He would go to the box at 16:02 for elbowing. The Montreal powerplay wasn’t doing anything this time around. Boston dumped the puck in, and Subban and Campbell went into the boards for the puck. Subban was pinned against the boards by Gregory Campbell, and he took an absolute dive. When Campbell went to skate away, Subban held onto his hand and fell down. It was just pathetic! The refs need to be looking for these kind of plays, and call a blatant dive when they see one. On they played, with no call to either team. With under 20 seconds remaining in the penalty, Montreal dumped the puck into the Boston zone. Kostitsyn got an inadvertent stick up high on Seidenberg, as he was trying to avoid contact with him. It was now 4-on-4 for 3 seconds, before Boston would go on the powerplay. Boston started with lots of energy, but they cooled off after a clear by the Canadians. Boston had a good set-up in the attacking zone, and were passing the puck around looking for a hole to open up. Seidenberg passed from the point to Kaberle at the top of the far circle. He slap-passed to Kreci at the top of the near circle. He passed to Lucic in the slot, but a great play by Sopel to tie up Lucic didn’t allow him to get the puck. The penalty ended, and Boston ended the 1st period with a 2-1 lead.

2nd period

The 2nd period started with heavy attacks from the Canadians. Tim Thomas made back-to-back incredible saves seconds into the period. The Bruins brought the puck up ice in a 3-on-2 rush. Lucic passed from the near circle to Kreci in the crease, but the puck went right through without a touch. Montreal started getting tons of pressure on Thomas, but he was stuffing everything. Chara went for the puck in the corner, and took a hit from Eller. Chara appeared to go down a little easily, and was able to coax a cross-checking call at 4:41. Just seconds into the penalty, Montreal cleared the zone. Thomas went to stop the puck behind the net, and Travis Moen poked the puck away from behind him. Thomas scurried back to the net, and was able to stop the puck 5-hole at the near post. Seidenberg brought the puck up ice, and tried to pass back to Mark Recchi. The puck hit his skates, and was picked off by Plecanek. He now had a breakaway, and he beat Thomas shorthanded. Montreal had come from 2 down to tie the game at 2, 5:50 into the 2nd period. The Boston powerplay looked pathetic, and resulted in 1 shot on net. Boston looked like a much better team 5-on-5. Nathan Horton brought the puck into the attacking zone. He skated into the far slot, and passed across to Kreci in the near slot. He got a backhand off, but the shot missed high. It was like the shorthanded goal reminded the Bruins that Montreal is a good team, and they need to finish this game out. Their play started to increase, and they were getting good looks at Price. Boston had upped the tempo, and was attacking furiously. Boston was now caught with men up ice during a line change, and the puck was passed beyond 2 lines to Jeff Halpern. Halpern now had a breakaway, but this time Thomas made the save. Boston came right back with the pressure. Off a neutral zone face-off win by Montreal, Subban skated back towards Price with the puck. Subban then attempted to make a dee pass, but he fanned on the pass. A pressuring Kelly took a stab at the puck, but was unable to make anything happen, and Subban recovered the puck. Montreal brought the puck up ice, and Boychuck hit Halpern in the numbers, and he hit the stanchion. It was a hard hit, but nothing serious. The refs though felt that was enough for a boarding call, and the B’s would now be a man down for the remainder of the 2nd. The Boston pk looked good, able to clear the puck, and block shots before they reached Thomas. The 2nd period would end, and the game was tied 2-2 heading into the 3rd. This was setting up to be a classic.

3rd Period

The 3rd Period started with the Bruins having to kill of the remaning 12 seconds of the Boychuck penalty. They pinned the puck in the corner boards, and we were back to 5-on-5 hockey. Boston was controlling the puck early, getting lots of shots on Price. The 1st line of Lucic, Kreci, Horton looked particularly good. They were controlling the puck, and not allowing quick counter-attacks by the Canadians. Kreci had a great chance of a drop-pass by Horton in the high slot, but Price made a great save. Bergeron brought the puck up the sideboards, and passed back to McQuaid at the point. He got a shot off, and the puck rebounded right to Recchi at the far post. Recchi had 2 chances on the doorstep, but he couldn’t find the back of the net. The first chance bounced on his stick, and the second hit the post. A huge miss for the Bruins, and the game remained tied. Montreal had a couple of chances coming up ice, but some great back checking by the Bruins would negate their chances. As Boston passed the puck out of their own zone, Jeff Haplern skated towards Andrew Ference. Ference didn’t have the puck, nor did he just pass the puck. For some reason, Halpern bumped into him. Ference leaned his shoulder into him a bit, but it didn’t look that harmful. Halpern immediately hit the ice, and stayed down. He was helped off the ice.  It was quite an odd play. The game continued without any penalties to either team. The Bruins were taking the puck up ice, when Kelly’s stick rode a bit high on Hamerlik, and poked him in the chin. He hit the ice, trying to draw a penalty from the refs. There was no call, and the Bruins now had numbers up ice. The B’s set up a great triangle, with Peverley bringing the puck through the high slot. He passed to the point to Ference, who got a shot off that hit Chris Kelly in his skates. Kelly picked the puck up in the crease, and buried it in the back of the net. Jack Edwards said it best when referring to Hamerlik, “He dove one time too many!” He really cost his team by diving, and leaving his team outnumbered. Oh, and Jeff Halpern came back off the ice, just 2 minutes after the hit he “suffered”. No 15 minute quite room for him I guess. Boston was playing with a fire in their belly. The offense was getting some great shots on Price, while the D was hitting everything that came near them. Ryder made a great back-check on Gomez. He chipped the puck off the boards, ahead for Kelly. He was in behind the Montreal defense, and he had a clean breakaway. But Price made a tremendous blocker save. The puck flipped just over the net, hitting the top of the net in fact. Montreal had a sense of urgency now in their play. They had a tremendous burst of offense, coming from a face-off win in the Boston zone. The puck was sent back for a point shot, but Thomas made the save. The puck rebounded to Cammalleri, who tried to get a backhand chance off. The puck appeared to bounce on him, and he couldn’t get a clean shot off. Thomas had dived to make a potential stop, and was now in a bad spot. Cammalleri passed the puck to the slot for a one-timer, but it hit Adam McQuaid in the chest. Boston brought the puck up ice, and there was now less than 5 minutes to go in the game. Recchi had the puck in the far circle, with a couple of bodies in the way. He shot across ice to the glove side, but Price made a ridiculous glove save. Boston had a face-off win in the Montreal zone, but Chara couldn’t handle the puck. Cammalleri took the puck, and had a breakaway chance. But great pressure by Seidenberg limited his space, and forced Cammalleri to pull up on his chance, and he lost control of the puck. Bergeron was attacking the puck, controlled by James Wisniewski. Bergeron tried to lift his stick, but instead hit him in the shoulder. Wisniewski swung his head back like he was hit in the face, and he drew the penalty. Watching the replay, you can see the stick hit Wisniewski’s shoulder. Just another fake, from a team built on faking and embellishing hits. Boston was called for a high stick, and Montreal now had a powerplay for 2 of the 3:23 left in the 3rd. And Montreal would get on the board, off a one-timer by P.K. Subban at 18:03. There was now just 1:57 left in the 3rd period, and it was all tied at 3. Boston would control the puck during the last minute, getting tons of pressure in the Montreal zone. But, it would not matter, as this game was headed for sudden death overtime at 3-3.

OT

The game started out very scary for Boston. A harmless chip shot by Gionta was deflected by a skate, and went right towards Tim Thomas. Thomas just kicked out the left leg, and then lunged at the puck with his stick. He poked it way away from the net, and Boston survived a quick scare. Kostitsyn had a chance coming into the Boston zone. He got a shot off from the high slot that Thomas stopped. The rebound came out, and trickled just past the far post. Thomas was making some tremendous saves early, with Montreal getting all of the pressure on Boston early. But Boston never gave u, fighting hard to get the puck on Price. Montreal won a face-off back behind their own net. Pressure from Lucic forced the puck around the net, and Subban tried to chip the puck out of Montreal’s zone. Adam McQuaid pinched up the sideboards, and kept the puck in the offensive zone. Lucic gloved the puck down, and brought the puck through the far circle. He passed to Nathan Horton in the high slot. He skated back towards the top of the near circle, and got a shot off. And for the second time in this series, Nathan Horton had scored a game winning goal in overtime. The Bruins had won the game, 4-3 in sudden death overtime, and had now advanced to the Eastern Conference Semi Finals.

Post-Game Breakdown

This was a classic, easily. Boston had a quick early lead, let it slip away, and then got it back. With under 2 minutes remaining in the 3rd, Montreal was able to tie it. And in an overtime that the Canadians dominated, Boston came away with the win. Just a great game to watch. Boston had plenty of chances to put this game away though, being up by 2 goals just 5:33 into the game. But, a lack of attention and attentiveness allowed Montreal to come right back into this game. The real problem was the special teams for Boston. Boston scored all 4 of their goals at 5-on-5 hockey. The Canadians meanwhile, scored 2 powerplay goals, and 1 shorthanded goal. The Bruins pk unit looked very good, but the Montreal powerplay is too good, and had been extra effective against the Bruins. I do expect the pk to improve going into the next round. Boston will need to improve their powerplay though, which was 0-21 in the series. The first time in NHL history that a team had won a playoff series, when never scoring on the powerplay. I was very impressed by the first line in this game. They looked better in tonight’s game then they had all series. Nathan Horton was of course, very clutch. He had 3 goals in the series, with 2 of them coming in OT. They need to build on this game, and turn it up against the Flyers.

And what an interesting match-up we have now. The Bruins will play against the team that knocked them out last year, after having a 3-0 series lead, and a 3-0 lead in game 7 at home. I feel very confident going into this series though, for several reasons. The Flyers really struggled down the stretch, losing the #1 seed that they held for most of the year. They had a grueling series of against the Sabers, including being shut-out twice by Ryan Miller. The Sabers and Bruins are similar team, so this could be a good thing going into the game. Philly is having some trouble with their goaltending, switching back and forth between Sergie Bobrovsky, and Brian Boucher. If Tim Thomas plays just as good, or better than he did against Montreal, then Boston could come away with a win against Philly. The Bruins did have a 3-0 lead against a very similar team last year, and Boston has made some changes to their lineup. Boston needs to make a few changes to their game though to come out on top. Obviously, they need to change something about the powerplay. Their D needs to continue to make good decisions with the puck, especially when making passes out of their own zone. Tim Thomas needs to keep out those soft goals, and the offense needs to be more consistent. The 1st line showed improvements, and they need to build on tonight’s game. I think that the Bruins will win the series in 6. If it goes to 7 games, then the Bruins will probably lose game 7, since it’s in Philadelphia.