Thursday, June 16, 2011
39 years of misery are gone for the B's as they capture their first Stanley Cup Final since 1972
When the Boston Bruins lost three straight Game 7s over the last three postseasons, who would have ever expected that the team could make such a drastic leap in 2010-11?
Honestly, any B's fan had to have serious doubts that head coach Claude Julien, GM Peter Chiarelli, not to mention owner Jeremy Jacobs would ever be in charge of the team when they finally broke their long Stanley Cup drought.
Yet here we are, the day after Boston snapped a 39-year skid and picked up the franchise's sixth Stanley Cup with a thrilling 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals at the Rogers Arena.
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas picked up the Conn Smythe trophy (playoff MVP) with one final masterpiece, 37 saves, as the B's picked up the first road win of the series for either squad in the Original Six team's first ever Game 7 in the Finals.
Patrice Bergeron (2 goals) and Brad Marchand (2 goals, 1 assist) were the offensive catalysts in the deciding game for a team that didn't have the name recognition of the Canucks but proved that heart, will and effort can sometimes trump talent in this wonderful sport.
One more time, Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo (17 saves), the Sedin twins, Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler and Co. cracked under the relentless pressure of the Bruins and the enormity of the moment.
It's also fitting that Boston's fourth line (Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton) was the key to the game as they were able to calm the Bruins down in the first period as Vancouver predictably came out on fire. Thomas held the fort but the toughness of the fourth line was able to impose itself on the Canucks and that's when the game started to flip.
Bergeron scored his fifth goal of the playoffs at 14:37 of the first period as Marchand shook loose in the corner after a Bergeron faceoff win then threw it to the middle for him and a one-timer. Luongo barely moved, showing that he was ready to poop his hockey pants like everybody in New England hoped and dreamed of heading into Game 7.
Marchand (10th of the playoffs, setting a Bruins rookie record) scored a classic Marchmont ("I don't like Marchmont, I don't even understand why he's on the team,") goal at 12:13 of the second period. Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Recchi (playing his last NHL game and going out a three-time champion) assisted on the tally but it was all Marchand. He wrapped around Vancouver's net on his backhand and stuffed it on Luongo. The fraud they call Bob Louie had it tied it but then he kicked it in with his leg pad.
If you thought that goal was soft or leaky, and it was no matter what term you prefer, I have never seen anything in an NHL game like Bergeron's second goal that sucked the life out of British Columbia and Rogers Arena. At 17:35, Bergeron came in on a shorthanded breakaway and was hooked down. He didn't even shoot the puck but it kept moving forward. Luongo is huge but for some reason he was more worried about the bodies coming at him then his job (you know, to stop the puck) and as a result, the puck went in. Haha, one of the most absurd goals I've ever seen in my life in any sport with goals (hockey, soccer, lacrosse, etc.). Seidenberg and Campbell assisted on Bergeron's goal that sealed the Cup even with more than a period remaining.
I said in the third period that Thomas would get another shutout (his fourth of this magical run) not that I was going out on any sort of limb. This was a team of destiny, as cliche as that sounds. How else to explain becoming the first NHL team to win three Game 7s in the same postseason?
Marchand put the punctuation mark on it with an empty-netter (tying the second highest goal total for a rookie in a postseason) at 17:16 and the party was on in Boston which rightfully regains its moniker as City of Champions (three Super Bowl titles, two World Series trophies, NBA title and a Stanley Cup in a ten-year span).
Like children (or so I'm told), it's impossible to rank championship runs for your favorite teams, especially when you've seen them all win in the last seven years (kisses ground). With that said, it's hard to picture a much sweeter and fulfilling run than this one we were lucky enough to witness.
They did it! The Boston Bruins are Stanley Cup champions, I never thought I'd live to see that day.