An equal congratulations to Tim Thomas, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner for 2011 after allowing only 8 goals in the seven Stanley Cup Final games (also set the NHL Record for Saves).
What a series it was – we saw it all, from Luongo being pulled on two separate occasions, ‘Bitegate’, seven thrilling games and even an attempted kidnapping, but I’ll get back to that later.
Let’s look at how the Bruins got the chance to compete for Lord Stanley’s Mug.
Zdeno Chara, Captain of the Bruins successfully lifted the Stanley Cup higher than it’s ever been before, when he accepted the trophy from Commissioner Gary Bettman following Game Seven.
The series was undoubtedly the strangest in recent memory, with each team winning each of their games in the home arena, however, by the complete opposite of margins. Let’s take a quick look at a Game-by-Game Summary.
Game 1 (Vancouver): The Canucks score in the final minute of regulation to secure a 1-0 victory and take the first series lead. Game 1 was also host to ‘Bitegate’, the first scandal of the Stanley Cup Finals, as Alex Burrows was rumoured to have bitten Bruins player Patrice Bergeron during a scrum during the contest.
Game 2 (Vancouver): Alex Burrows was the hero, as he capitalized on a wraparound goal, just 11 seconds into overtime to widen the series gap to 2 games to none.
Game 3 (Boston): The Bruins drew motivation from an early exit of Nathan Horton, who was injured in the first period on a play which earned Aaron Rome of the Canucks a four-game suspension (remainder of the playoffs). The Bruins scored four goals in the second period, and four more in the third to rout the Canucks 8-1 and cut the series lead to 2-1.
Game 4 (Boston): It was more of the same from the Bruins, as they managed to chase Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo early in the third period after taking a 4-0 victory, a score that stood until the end of the game to even the series at two games apiece.
Game 5 (Vancouver): Luongo silenced his critics, as he turned in an impressive 24 save shutout and 1-0 victory to bring the Canucks within a single game of the Stanley Cup.
Game 6 (Boston): The Bruins scored early and often in a 5-2 victory, chasing Luongo a mere eight minutes into the game. Early in the game, on a questionable hit by Johnny Boychuk, the Canucks lost Mason Raymond, a longstanding member of their franchise.
Game 7 (Vancouver): The Bruins scored a single in the first period on a Patrice Bergeron marker, they followed it up with two more in the second period, the first by Brad Marchand in a chipping contest in front of the net, and the next by Bergeron again on a shorthanded breakaway. The Bruins solidified their Stanley Cup victory with an empty-net marker by Marchand.
As mentioned in the Game-by-Game Summary above, the Bruins were relentless at the TD Garden Arena in Boston, scoring 17 of their series 23 goals in their home arena, an average of 6.3 goals per game. Whereas the Canucks were relatively quiet, scoring only three goals themselves (Average: 1 goal per game) in Boston.
The tide was turned in Vancouver, as the Canucks outscored the Bruins 5-2 at the Rogers Arena, prior to a Game Seven 4-0 victory for the visiting side.
In an arena, where only 16 months prior he was among the heroes of Canada‘s gold medal performance in the 2010 Winter Olympics, when Sidney Crosby beat Ryan Miller for the ‘Golden Goal‘ for Canada. Luongo was forced to watch the visiting Bruins celebrating their Stanley Cup victory.
The Luongo debate didn‘t end there, as he also found his way into the media through a war of words with Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, following Game Five when he felt that his own style of play would have been better suited for making a save on the lone goal of the game, which was scored by Maxim Lapierre of the Canucks, early in the third period. Thomas responded via the media by noting that he was not going to ‘pump the tires of the opposing goaltender’.
Speaking of scapegoats, what was wrong with the ‘Sedin Sisters’, the two-time reigning Hart Trophy Winners as the leading scorer in the NHL were all but invisible in the Stanley Cup series and aside from Luongo, were the biggest disappointment for the Canucks.
For many fans, this series was about more than just the eventual winner. Some coined the series to be a battle of Canada vs. USA, but was this really a fair comparison seeing as though the Bruins team featured a roster of 69% Canadian players, including every single one of their forwards, except David Krejci of the Czech Republic. The Canucks featured a roster of 58% Canadian content. Whereas the Canucks featured six American players, versus only three American players on the Bruins. Sounds backwards to me.
The Canucks were powered through the playoffs by their biggest fans, the Green Men and who can forget the super Canucks fan who decided to ruffle a few feathers in the Western Conference Championships, reminding Ben Eager that their fans were not meant to be taken lightly. The Green Men became a cultural icon early in the playoffs before fading off as of late. In the end, were the Green Men more of a motivation, or a distraction for Canucks players?
Unlike the Blackhawks, last season’s Stanley Cup Champions, both the Canucks & the Bruins rosters are pretty steady heading into next season. Key components of the Canucks who will need to be resigned are Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo and Maxim Lapierre. While the Bruins will look to sign Michael Ryder, Brad Marchand and Tomas Kaberle.
It is very unfortunate that the Vancouver fan, whom posted on the morning of Game Seven seeking the abduction of Tim Thomas, did not get his way – as Thomas managed to once again stymie the Canucks, this time in their home arena. This guy should’ve learned from Celtic Pride, that kidnapping the opponents best player never works out.
As a recent huge fan of the show, ‘How I Met Your Mother’, I couldn’t help but post a link, although the discussion is of the 1994 Canucks-Rangers series, it was still worth a laugh.
Thank you Canucks Fans for keeping things under control after your loss, NOT!
The NHL season has now come to an end, and sports fans in Canada are left with solely the Blue Jays, who have struggled of late. The collective fan will host that they improve over the second half of the season.