Saturday, January 7, 2012
Congrats To The Vancouver Canucks, The 2011-12 Regular Season Stanley Cup Champs
The biggest game of the regular season in the NHL took place this afternoon at TD Garden. Oddly enough at 1 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, a Stanley Cup Finals rematch occurred with the Bruins hosting the Canucks.
I understand why the NHL chose to keep this away from primetime with the NFL playoffs beginning today as well but a matchup of this magnitude deserved even more of the spotlight. Regardless, the 4-3 win by Vancouver (26-13-3) over Boston (26-11-1) proved once and for all that the Canucks have not and will not change their pathetic style.
This much was clear yesterday when they mysteriously announced that franchise goaltender Roberto Luongo would get the day off. Yes, Vancouver won today and celebrated like the Jets in their annual September Super Bowl but make no mistake, that team just doesn't get it.
The B's were their own worst enemy as they got too caught up in setting a physical tone and therefore were goaded into dumb penalties. Milan Lucic was given a bogus game misconduct-later rescinded tonight in a baffling NBA-style move-for jumping in to help teammate Shawn Thornton when the enforcer was surrounded by six (no lie) Canucks. Bruins fans could live with that play but Brad Marchand's reckless flip of Sami Salo late in the second period cost Boston dearly as they gave up two goals on those concurrent penalties.
This all played right into Vancouver's hands since they still possess the top power play in the NHL. The Canucks were 4 for 11 on the man advantage, accounting for all their goals, while the Bruins did their best 2011 playoffs impression with an ugly 0 for 7 clip on the power play. That was obviously the difference in the game.
This was the first time in 2011-12 that Boston failed to win (22-1-1) when they scored three or more goals. Not surprisingly, it wasn't Tim Thomas's (32 saves; 17-7-0) best game but who could blame him?
The largest brawl of the game was 3:54 into the first period when the Canucks jumped Thornton. Eventually, Nathan Horton fought something named Dale Weise in a long, emotional bout. Don't ask me how Vancouver got a power play out of that scenario but they did and Ryan Kesler (11th of the season) gave them a 1-0 lead at 5:41. Boston had almost killed that power play but a deflection went right to Kesler and he knew what to do with it.
Marchand (16th of the season) tied it at 14:57 of the first when he took a beautiful pass from Tyler Seguin and put a backhander behind Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider (36 saves). Patrice Bergeron had the other assist.
After Daniel Paille was stoned on a penalty shot, haha he wristed it right into Schneider's glove, Rich Peverley (7th of the season) gave the B's their only lead of the game at 2-1, 7:12 into the second. Benoit Pouliot had the assist on Peverley's top shelf snipe job.
After Tyler Seguin was called for tripping, finger biter Alex Burrows (16th of the season) tied it at two with a power-play goal from Cody Hodgson and Kevin Bieksa at 15:21. Hodgson was originally credited with the goal but apparently Burrows tipped it past Thomas.
Exactly one minute after Marchand's gaffe, Henrik Sedin (11th of the season) scored a backbreaking goal with 13 seconds left in the second period. Yet again, it was a tip-in on a power-play. Alexander Edler and Bieksa had the assists.
Hodgson (10th of the season) scored the game-winner 1:09 into the third when his slap shot went over Thomas's shoulder. Dan Hamhuis had the lone assist on the fourth and final power-play strike.
Boston had no business being in the game at that point but they certainly made it interesting as David Krejci (10th of the season) scored 42 seconds later from Joe Corvo. Alone in front of Schneider, Krejci was able to take two shots before he beat the Marblehead native.
Speaking of Schneider, the former BC star deserves plenty of credit for holding it down despite a 19-10 shot advantage for the Bruins in the third period. There's no doubt in my mind that Luongo would have crumbled under similar circumstances. Local bias aside, Schneider is one of the NHL's top backups and like Tuukka Rask, he would start on many other teams. Hell, he should probably start on his own.
Since the only other times these clubs could meet is in June for the Stanley Cup Finals, that got me to thinking. If the B's make it that far, maybe I don't want to see the Canucks there. Not because Boston won't win but rather I've already had my fill of Vancouver's diving, flopping and embellishment on way too many plays. Boston meets Montreal six times per season. I'd much rather see the Bruins play the Blackhawks or Red Wings, super-skilled North American (that's the key I guess) teams that don't play such a lame style. Just an idea, that is all a long way off anyway.
The Bruins have their third installment of a four game homestand, all against Canadien teams, on Tuesday when they host the Winnipeg Jets. The teams have split the first two games with the Jets winning most recently 2-1 on December 6 in Winnipeg. Even if they're without Marchand (likely) and Lucic (not as likely since the misconduct was overturned), I am positive the Bruins will bounce back from today's disappointment and that loss to the Jets.