Friday, June 17, 2011

Line up the Duck boats...

By scoring the first goal of their Game 7 showdown with the Vancouver Canucks, and then adding three more markers for  good measure, the Boston Bruins secured their passage on the famed Boston Duck boats, taking game seven of the Stanley Cup Final with a definitive 4-0 victory.

And while Patrice Bergeron an and Brad Marchand  took care of the scoring, it was once again,  as he had for most of the seven game series Tim Thomas who became the story.  Turning aside a frantic Canuck attack in the early going, which combined with a fair bit of luck in the form of near misses by the Canucks served to settle down his team.

The play of the Bruins goaltender was the admission fare for the parade to come,  allowing them to score the goals that propelled the Bruins once again to the ranks of the Celtics, Red Sox and Patriots as champions, delivering yet another title to a city that has become rather spoiled by its pro teams.

The Canucks gave their final shot at Stanley Cup glory a good run, but between the remarkable talents of Thomas in the Bruins net and the shutdown defensive plays of the Bruins defence, the Canucks from their top line down to the fourth found frustration a frequent companion while in the Boston end.

Much has already been discussed about the goals from game seven,  some point the finger at Roberto Luongo, the goaltender who has had more than his shares of hits and misses in the Stanley Cup playoff run, but in game 7 he really only could wear the horns on the third goal, where a less than strong block allowed Patrice Bergeron and the puck to slide into the Canucks goal, boosting the lead for a team that has played some of the stingiest hockey seen in this series.

That third goal was a pivotal moment in the game no doubt, the sag on the Vancouver bench grew deeper, while further down the boards the Bruins confidence level was at its peak, the Bruins feeling that the Stanley Cup just within reach.

The more disconcerting statistic for Canucks fans in game seven, wasn't perhaps Luongo's Goals Against Average, but the combined minus eight between the two offensive stars of the team, the Sedin brothers.

They were on the ice for each and every goal of game seven,  perhaps not unexpected when the Canucks needed  their offensive skills, the plus minus numbers are a fact that was only overshadowed by the continuing bad luck they suffered in the offensive zone, where their goal scoring drought continued,  and while they came close, the puck never found the back of the twine when it was needed most.

That's not to dismiss their efforts or point a finger there for that matter, in fact, a bounce here or a wink from the hockey Gods there and either Daniel or Henrik very well could have been the heroes of a magical game seven, but the bounces went against them and when the puck seemed destined for the net, there was Tim Thomas.

His was the dream run of every kid that has been put in the nets from road hockey to timbits and beyond, he was the wall that held back the Canucks, providing some of the most inspiring and remarkable goaltending in recent NHL history.

He too struggled through the playoffs, there were games early on in the Bruins run where Thomas was not the machine that he became, his legend not yet recorded,  yet after those games he dusted himself off and went back to work,  providing the required response in the net that allowed his team mates to regain their composure and their momentum.

Thomas was one of the most deserving of Conn Smythe Trophy winners we've seen in a long time, if not for their goaltender these Bruins would not have been on the Rogers Arena ice on Wednesday night accepting their Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup final had some great moments of drama and others that left us wondering for the future of the game, in the end though, as it always is the team that worked hardest, when it was needed most, was the one carrying off Lord Stanley's trophy.

In Vancouver they probably don't want to hear much about how great a year their team had this year, how strong their lineup is and what it may portend for the future.

Boston came into their rink and took the trophy that the Canucks had dedicated their work towards all year, when the Bruins clamber aboard those Duck Boats on Saturday the place of honour will belong to Thomas, for as he went, so went the Bruins and as we all saw, he and they went very far.

You can review the Final series and the entire playoffs from our archive pages, a game by game trip down the season that was.

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