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The Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup Championship in 39 years, as the defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. Let's break down the numbers and find out exactly why Boston was able to defeat Vancouver, despite being a significant underdog heading into the series.
Thomas had a playoffs for the ages, finishing with a 1.98 GAA and a sparkling .940 SV%. Dig a little deeper, and you'll find the stat line for the Stanley Cup Finals:
1.14 GAA, .966 SV%, all while facing an average of 34 shots per game. Thomas could have had a Junior League hockey team in front of him and still won the series with those numbers.
Contrast that with Roberto Luongo's ugly Finals numbers:
2.86 GAA, .891 SV%, and that includes his two series shutouts.
It'd be fairly easy to end the series recap right there. Tim Thomas was spectacular, Luongo was inconsistent and shaky.
Let's compare the two teams' offensive production.
The three combined for two goals, three assists, and a -19 rating for the series. Dreadful. 42-year-old Bruins forward Mark Recchi scored as many goals in Game Three as the top three Vancouver forwards did in the entire Finals. Canucks fans can blame Luongo all they want, but with their top offensive talent playing this poorly, it's a credit to the goaltending that this series even went seven games.
Boston scored five power play goals in the Finals; they had only scored five power play goals in the three combined series previously.
Vancouver scored a single power play goal in the series, after leading the league in total power play goals and power play percentage during the regular season.
Boston scored an unheard of three shorthanded goals in the series. Vancouver had none. Boston so throughly dominated the special teams phase of the game that they actually outscored Vancouver on the Canucks power play, 3-1.
Boston looked to be in trouble at the start of Game Three, until Aaron Rome's hit on Nathan Horton knocked him out of the playoffs. Suddenly, the Bruins offense could not be stopped. The Canucks tried playing physical; the Bruins showed them what physical hockey actually looks like.
The biggest difference in this series was confidence. Boston knew that Thomas would cover any mistakes, allowing the Bruins forwards to play aggressive and fast and the defensemen to cheat up in the zone.
Vancouver didn't know what they would get in net from Luongo on a nightly basis. His inconsistency forced the forwards to stay back instead of their crisp, free-flowing passing game that they prefer. Simplistic? Sure. But the fact is Boston beat Vancouver at their own game, and they did it handily.
It may not have been the greatest Finals of all time, but it was certainly one of the most intriguing to witness. These two teams entered the series with no history; they leave as rivals. If they play during the upcoming regular season, it becomes must-see television.
After a grueling nine-months of hockey, the season is finally over and the Boston Bruins are the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions. On the Vancouver Canucks' home ice for Game 7, the Boston Bruins won, 4-0, for their first Stanley Cup championship since 1972.
Patrice Bergeron scored the first goal of the game late in the first period and added a second goal, shorthanded this time, in the second period. Brad Marchand also added two goals in the game, one in the second and one in the third, for 11 overall in the postseason. He also assisted on Bergeron's first goal.
Boston goalie Tim Thomas pitched a shutout on 37 shots faced. Based on his strong play throughout the playoffs, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy. He is just the second American player to win the award. The other was the New York Rangers' Brian Leetch in 1994, the year the Canucks last appeared and lost in the Stanley Cup Finals.
This is it. The Final Game of the 2010-2011 NHL season has arrived, and of course it's a Game Seven in the Stanley Cup Finals between two franchises suffering long Cup droughts.
The Boston Bruins have not won the Stanley Cup in 39 years.
The Vancouver Canucks have never won the Stanley Cup in their 40 years of existence.
One of these two franchises will hold the party of a lifetime tonight; the other will mourn their continued struggles.
Canucks star forward Daniel Sedin guaranteed that his team would win their franchise's first ever championship in Game Seven, just hours after suffering their third straight rout in Boston. Perhaps it was a bit of coincidence that Mark Messier famously proclaimed the New York Rangers would win their series against the New Jersey Devils 17 years earlier. The Rangers ended up winning the Cup that year -- over the Vancouver Canucks.
Messier backed up his guarantee with a hat trick the very next game. Sedin? Well, the Vancouver fanbase will take any production from him in Game Seven. After leading the team with 104 points during the regular season, Sedin has been invisible on the sport's biggest stage. He tallied two assists in a meaningless Game Six -- his first two points of the series. The Canucks' offensive struggles have been well documented, and Daniel Sedin's glaring lack of production is at the epicenter, and deservedly so.
Sedin has guaranteed a victory; if he produces, it's a very likely outcome.
It seems impossible that a team can hold a 19-8 goal advantage through six games, and yet be tied in the series. The Bruins have feasted on shaky Canucks goaltending in Boston, but have struggled to score anything in Vancouver. This schizophrenic behavior may cost the Bruins a championship they certainly deserve to win if they can't figure out the Vancouver crowd in their last chance of the season.
Coming into this series, the questions revolved around the Bruins' offense. Was it deep enough to compete with Vancouver? After Nathan Horton suffered the severe concussion in Game Three, would the Bruins have enough forwards? Veterans Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder have stepped up, and the continued blossoming of Brad Marchand and David Krecji should give Bruins fans plenty to hope for in the future. Even the Bruins power play has stepped up this series, scoring five goals this series after only scoring two total goals in the three previous series.
Boston has come very close in Vancouver, losing all three games in one-goal fashion. The championship is laying at their feet, but they need to find a way to get over that last hump. Stats no longer matter; this is a pure effort game.
The key to the series is Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. He has determined every single game in these Finals with his inconsistent play. In Vancouver, he looks like a Vezina Trophy candidate. In Boston, he might as well keep a seat on the bench warm.
For a series that has been impossible to understand, Luongo is the center of the confusion. How can a veteran goalie -- considered one of the best in the world -- have such dramatic shifts in quality of play? Some of the blame for his road play can fall directly on his defense, which has been very disappointing. But the sheer number of soft goals falls directly on Luongo.
Thankfully for the Canucks, they earned the President's Trophy this season. They have the home ice advantage. If Luongo continues his stellar home play, then the Canucks should lift the Cup by the end of the night. But there's now a lingering doubt that Road Luongo can show up at any time. It's well deserved.
Luongo doesn't have to be perfect in Game Seven if his star cast (Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler) show up. But if they continue to be shut down by the Bruins' Tim Thomas, who is already a shoe-in for the Conn Smythe Trophy win or lose, then Vancouver cannot afford any errors. It's the game of his life, and Luongo better play like it if he wants to get his name on the Cup.
For a series that has been wildly unpredictable to this point, one thing remains the same. The home team always wins.
The Boston Bruins continued their home ice dominance with a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks to tie up the series at three games apiece. There will now be a decisive Game Seven in the Stanley Cup Finals for the sixth time in the past 10 seasons. Of those five previous series to go the distance, the home team won the four times -- the only exception was the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game Six got off to a scary start, as Canucks forward Mason Raymond was forced backwards into the boards just 20 seconds into the game. It was less of a hit and more of tangled limbs, but Raymond had to receive help skating off the ice. Raymond may have suffered a fractured vertebra on the hit, and may not be ready for the start of next season. He remains in the hospital.
The somber moments for Vancouver continued shortly after, as the Boston Bruins blitzed the Canucks defense and goaltending for a shocking four goals within a 4:14 minute span. It was the fastest four goals ever scored by a team in a Stanley Cup Finals game, shattering a 45 year old record. Brad Marchand beat Luongo with a snap shot that flew past Luongo's glove, and the floodgates were opened. Milan Lucic tallied another 30 seconds later, then Andrew Ference added a power play goal to chase Luongo from the game. In three games played at Boston, Luongo has been chased twice from net. The one game he completed? The 8-1 blowout in Game Three, when he allowed all eight goals. Backup goalie Cory Schneider entered the game and allowed a goal to Michael Ryder on the very first scoring chance he faced, but was solid for the remainder of the game.
Aside from that brief four minute span, the Canucks managed to play a decent game, though the holes in their defense were obvious. After that quick four minutes, the result of the game was inevitable.
But now the Canucks have hope, as they head back to Vancouver for the final game of the 2010-2011 NHL season. One team will finally break their long championship drought. The Bruins have all the statistical advantages in this series, but Vancouver holds a serious home-ice advantage -- one that they earned after their franchise-best regular season. It should make for fascinating drama.
All the Vancouver Canucks needed was a bit of home cooking, as they scored midway through the third period of Game Five, ending a scoreless tie and sending the Vancouver fanbase into a frenzy. They are now just a single win from the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship.
On the other side, Boston couldn't capitalize on their historic two games in Boston -- they outscored the Canucks by a 12-1 margin in Games Three and Four -- and now they are on the brink of elimination.
The Boston Bruins faced a deep hole after the first two games of this series. Though they were only outscored by a 3-2 margin at that point, they were down 2-0 in the Finals and needed to win big in Boston. They answered, merely setting a record for two-game margin of victory in the Finals.
Twice this postseason, the Bruins have faced elimination at home. They beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in overtime. They beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in an incredibly close game. They've won nine of the past 10 home playoff games, and are a different team on their home ice.With Tim Thomas playing at a historic level, the Bruins hold the advantage in tight games. The Bruins will need a boost of support from their home crowd.
The Canucks have depended on the elite offensive output of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler this season. These three carried the offensive load throughout the regular season, and have all been the difference in this postseason. Kesler willed the Canucks past a tough Nashville Predators team, and the Sedin twins were the best players against the San Jose Sharks.
Their combined offensive output during the Finals? One goal, and two assists.
It's a credit to the rest of the Canucks squad, one that runs three levels deep in offensive talent. They have good defensive balance and enjoy great goaltending (at least at home). But for the Canucks to truly put away the Bruins, they need their top players to take control of this series. With all the pressure riding on this team, Vancouver needs to see something from their three best players. Yes, Boston's defensive schemes are designed to shut them down. Yes, Tim Thomas is nearly unbeatable. But your top players should be able to use their overpowering skill and talent to beat any defensive scheme. Right now, the Bruins defense wants it more than the Canucks' top three forwards.
The NHL Playoffs are a long, exhausting journey. The Bruins have played in two seven game series, and a total of 23 playoff games. The Canucks have played in one seven game series, and a total of 23 playoff games. At this point, every player on the ice is suffering through multiple injuries and exhaustion.
It's 2508 miles between Vancouver, BC and Boston, MA. Each team has traveled 5,016 miles through the air in the past three days, had multiple morning skates and practices, and played a very intense and physical Game Five in Vancouver.
Fatigue takes away from a player's speed; it takes away from reaction time; it takes away from decision making. The Canucks depend more on speed and skill, and this fatigue can inhibit their style of play more than the Bruins' physical defensive mindset. If the Bruins force a Game Seven, this could become an even greater factor.
Puck drops Monday, June 13 at 8:00 p.m. EDT, on NBC and CBC.
The Vancouver Canucks have been a franchise for 40 seasons and have never won Lord Stanley's Cup. In 1994, they fell a victim of history as Mark Messier's New York Rangers took the championship. After Friday night's 1-0 shutout victory over the Boston Bruins, they are once again a single victory away.
This season's Cup Finals continues to be unpredictable. After getting blown out the previous two games in Boston by a 12-1 score, the Canucksk appeared to be reeling. At the center of scrutiny (as always) was Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who had given up all 12 goals in Boston. Many were calling for backup goalie Cory Schneider to start in net and save the Canucks' season. Instead, Luongo was brilliant, stopping all 31 shots he faced. It was his second shutout of the series.
His counterpart was just as good. Bruins netminder Tim Thomas continued having a series for the ages as he stopped 24 of 25 shots. The lone goal occurred in the middle of the third period, as Canucks forward Maxim Lapierre threw an impossible shot on Thomas from alongside the goal. The puck hit Thomas' chest and his backwards momentum carried the puck into the net for the gamewinning goal.
The Bruins offense had found a rhythm during Games Three and Four, but a spectacular effort from the Canucks defense held them at bay. The action was physical along the boards, and both teams had to work hard for their chances.
The story of the game -- and the playoffs -- is the Bruins "power" play. The Bruins had five power play opportunities during the first 25 minutes of the game, but were unable to put any real chances together. They were only able to manage seven total shots on goal during six power plays. Credit goes to the Canucks special teams, but the Bruins power play attack continues to be impotent and has cost them at least two games in this series alone.
Now the series goes back to Boston, where the Bruins hope to force a Game Seven. With their recent play on home ice, it would be a shock if this series didn't go the distance.
Game Six is scheduled to begin on Monday, June 13 at 8:00 p.m. EDT, on NBC and CBC.
The Boston Bruins have dominated the Vancouver Canucks the past two games, outscoring them 12-1 on home ice. BUt now, even though all the momentum is with the Bruins, the series moves back to British Columbia for a critical Game Five. If Boston continues their recent success, they'll head home with a chance to win their first Cup in 39 years. But the Canucks have played well on their home ice.
Even though Boston has looked incredible the past two games, it's important to remember that the Canucks won the first two games of the series in their home building, and that two of the last three games will take place in Vancouver as well.
Of course, the alternative viewpoint would show that the Canucks have struggled with Tin Thomas and the Bruins' defense all series and barely won the first two games. Still, you would rather be in Vancouver's position at this point rather than facing two of three games on the road in front of a ferocious crowd.
For the second time this postseason, fans and members of the media are demanding Luongo's head after another poor performance. He responded with an incredible Game Seven against Chicago, and now must win two more games against a Bruins team that is playing their best hockey of the season.
Postseason Road GAA: 3.49
Postseason Home GAA: 1.84
Luongo may have struggled in Boston, but then again he's struggled everywhere on the road this postseason. Once he returns home, he becomes a elite goaltender again. Is it idea? Not especially. But there's a reason the Canucks fought all regular season to win the President's Cup; to gain home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
When the alternative is starting (extremely) talented, but inexperienced Cory Schneider -- with his grand total of 35 NHL games -- the choice is clear. There isn't an alternative. If Vancouver wants to win their franchise first Stanley Cup, they have to start Roberto Luongo.
Tim Thomas will probably never allow another goal for the rest of his career.
Okay, it's a slight exaggeration. But with such a strong defense in front of him, Thomas' electrifying play in net has allowed the Bruins to help out on the offensive attack, and it has been the difference in the series. Boston has forced many odd-man rushes, and have converted quite a few of them. The Canucks have been pushed off their quick attack, cross ice passing game because they have been burned so many times after a quick turnover.
Offensively, the Bruins no-name forwards are quickly growing into a fast and energetic group that just throws pucks on net. They're brash, aggressive, and confident. Since players like David Krejci and Brad Marchand are so young, it's tough to grasp how good these players can be long term. But they're enjoying a superb breakout postseason and could give the Eastern Conference fits for years to come.
The Bruins have all the momentum heading into Game Five, but they still face an uphill climb against a proud, and talented, veteran Canucks team. It should be an incredible final stretch of the 2011 playoffs.
Puck drops at 8:00 p.m. EDT, on NBC and CBC.
For the second straight game, the Boston Bruins have played with a chip on their shoulders since the loss of forward Nathan Horton to a severe concussion. For the second straight game, the Canucks have played timid and afraid of the physical contact.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a series.
After two tough losses in Vancouver, many were skeptical of Boston's chances at a comeback. After Horton was carried out on a stretcher in Game Three, many proclaimed the Bruins done in this series. (Yes, that includes me.) Instead, Boston has punched the bully square in the mouth and Vancouver has yet to recover. Just two nights after an 8-1 blowout, the Bruins continued their torrid assault on the Canucks' defense with a 4-0 rout.
Rich Peverly started the scoring midway through the first period as David Krejci made a fantastic move along the boards to carry the puck into the zone, then pass to a wide open Peverly who snapped a shot five-hole past Luongo. It was obviously not Luongo's evening on the second goal, as he allowed a soft goal on a wrister from the faceoff circle from Michael Ryder halfway through the second period. The vast majority of goalies easily catch that shot, but for some reason Luongo didn't even see it, though it was unscreened.Luongo was pulled for the second time these playoffs after Peverly made it 4-0 just 3:39 into the third period. After two dominating series against the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks, the Bruins depleted forwards are embarrassing Luongo. He finished with 16 saves on just 20 shots.
His counterpart for Boston, Tim Thomas, was again invincible with a 38 save shutout. It was the first Stanley Cup Finals shutout for a Bruins goalie since Gerry Cheevers on May 8, 1978 against the Montreal Canadiens. Thomas has been decisive during these Finals, and his aggressive style has played well against the normally excellent cross-ice passing of the Canucks.
From there, gameplay became chippy. The Bruins continued to punish the Canucks along the boards and kept the center of the zone clear with their physical play. It was an inspired effort by Boston's forwards, and a shutdown performance from their defensive corps. The third period alone had 24 penalty minutes and three 10 minute misconducts, including one on Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for slashing Alexandre Burrows in the final minutes and causing a multi-team fight.
This series has been action-packed and full of storylines. As it heads back to Vancouver for two of the next three, hockey fans everywhere can only hope it goes the distance.
The Boston Bruins made their presence known in Game Three, scoring eight goals in the final two periods and forcing their home crowd into a feeding frenzy. With Game Four imminent, can the Bruins turn in a repeat performance? Or will the Vancouver Canucks head home with a dominant series lead, only one win away from their first ever Stanley Cup?
Boston's total postseason special teams goals prior to Game Three: 7
Boston's special teams goals scored during Game Three: 4
Does this sudden outburst signal an end to the Bruins' hapless power play, their greatest weakness in this postseason? Or was this more likely a one game fluke by a proud team defending their home ice after their star offensive forward was knocked out for the remainder of the postseason? There's been no doubt that Boston has played extremely hard in the Finals; but can they continue playing with the energy and dominant passion that we saw in Game Three? This may end up being the most important question left -- if Boston can fight with that ferocity for the remainder of the series, they have an excellent shot at taking the Cup home this season.
Aaron Rome has claimed he did not intentionally mean to injure Bruins forward Nathan Horton with his brutally late, blindside hit. There's no way of proving intent, but Rome's ejection and subsequent suspension for the remainder of the series has now become the key factor for the rest of the Finals. Before Rome leveled Horton, Game Three was fast and engaging, but the Canucks were getting more consistent pressure on Thomas. They had the early advantage and likely could have taken a 3-0 lead in the series.
Instead, the Bruins completely decimated the Canucks with a barrage of physical play and endless energy. Vancouver shrunk from the moment and allowed themselves to be embarrassed in the championship round. For a team that has shown great tenacity and strength of will this postseason, it's a troubling sign from the Canucks. Granted, Luongo isn't likely to give up eight goals every game. He's not likely to give up four goals in a period, either. But the concern lies with the lack of effort displayed by Vancouver during the last two periods of Game Three. Instead of accepting the challenge and raising their game, they played like they wanted to get off the ice.
Let's imagine that the Rome/Horton collision marked a sea change in this Finals, and that the Bruins have found a new level of play for the remainder of the series. The question still remains; where is their offense going to come from? Horton was easily their best postseason player, and now he's out for the rest of the season. David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand are the Bruins' best remaining offensive players, and there is very little depth behind them. Chris Kelly? Michael Ryder? Mark Recchi? These are all playoff tested veterans, but to count on significant offensive contributions from them is a very risky endeavor.
Sadly, it appears that the Canucks may win their first Stanley Cup because of a dirty hit.
The Bruins did their best to disprove that theory with the Game Three massacre, but their depth is being severely tested now. The adrenaline and pride gave them an extra edge for a single game, but there's a reason that the Cup is decided in a seven game series. The talent gap between these two teams has widened considerably, and talent usually wins out.
The Boston Bruins entered Game Three in their home building down 2-0 in the series to the heavily favored Vancouver Canucks and desperate for a victory. They blew out Vancouver in an 8-1 rout, but suffered a loss before they had even started things.
Midway through a back and forth scoreless first period, Aaron Rome laid an illegal, blindside hit on Bruins forward Nathan Horton. Horton lay on the ice for several minutes and was eventually carried off on a stretcher to a local hospital. Rome was given a game misconduct and five minute misconduct major, but the damage had already been done. The already thin Bruins offense has now been stretched to the limit. On the ensuing power play, Boston was unable to solve the enigma that is Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo and the game remained scoreless after the first period.
Just 11 seconds into the second period, an Andrew Ference shot was deflected wide by David Krejci and fluttered over a helpless Luongo's shoulder into the net to open up the scoring and give the Bruins a much needed 1-0 lead. It was only Boston's second lead of the series. Just four minutes later, the Bruins made it 2-0 when a cross crease pass from Mark Recchi was mistakenly deflected by the Canucks Ryan Kesler in the crease and trickled between Luongo's pads, marking the first two goal lead for either team in the entire series.
12 minutes into the second period, and the rout was on. Bruins forward Brad Marchand caused a turnover during a Canucks power play and, with Milan Lucic on the bench, he beat the entire Canucks defense, skating through multiple defenders before holding the puck and outlasting Luongo, then firing the puck top shelf to make the game 3-0. After two frustrating games and an infuriating first period at home, the Bruins finally took out their frustration out on the Canucks team that looked like they wanted to hurry up and finish the game so they could return to the locker room.
Game Three was Boston's game to win, and they took advantage despite the absence of their top forward Horton. Was it a statement game? Does Boston have enough firepower to overcome the loss of Horton for the remainder of the playoffs? Was it a fluke, an emotional beatdown over a Canucks team that checked out of the game early? Game Four just became must-see TV.
Game Four is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. Television will be on Versus and CBC.
While Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins created buzz, Game Two may have been just as thrilling, though the result was inevitably the same. The Canucks scored the game winning goal just 11 seconds into the overtime period, taking a commanding lead in the series and putting Boston into "must win" mode for Game Three, the first of the series to be played in Boston.
The Bruins are down by two games in this series and must win four of their next five against the NHL's best team this season. Statistically, teams that lose the first two games of the Finals came back to win the Cup a total of four times in 46 attempts. Not pretty.
But unlike those other teams, the Bruins have played well enough to win both games. Vancouver has scored both game winning goals on the basis of 30 total seconds of gameplay; Game One, with 19 seconds left on the clock and Game Two with 11 seconds into overtime. Vancouver has lead for a total of 17:05 seconds in this series, while Boston has held the lead for 18:02. You cannot have asked for a closer series. With three of the next four games in front of a Cup-hungry crowd, the Bruins have a great chance to leap back into this series.
Anyone remember the Conference Quarterfinals, when Luongo was benched against the Chicago Blackhawks? Since that (well deserved) benching, Luongo has been simply stellar. Check out his numbers since Game Seven versus Chicago:
.935 SV%, 2.21 GAA, 4 overtime victories.
Since he was called washed up, Luongo has simply been the Canucks' best player every single night. Vancouver does not make it this far without his stellar performance in net, despite facing an average of 34 shots per game. As the pressure has built, Luongo has found another level and is making a case that he deserves the Conn Smythe trophy should Vancouver finish out this series. He has been that good.
The Bruins have depended on their young talent throughout the season, and their young forwards have answered the call. Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Nathan Horton have all been dynamic this postseason. But what they are missing is a veteran presence, a stabilizing force on that bench. It could have been Marc Savard, but he hasn't fully recovered from multiple concussions.
The past two games, the young Bruins have fought the best team in the league to a standstill, but are still winless in the series because of two turnovers. The Canucks have capitalized because of the play of veterans Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burrows; the Bruins have not yet been able to take that leap. If Boston is to have any hope of winning this series, they need someone on their bench to make a play and turn momentum. The Canucks are a great team in a great position, but the Bruins have a puncher's chance.
After being caught on video biting the finger of Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, most assumed that Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows would be suspended by the NHL for at least a game. The league determined that there was no convincing evidence that the bite was intentional, and Burrows was cleared to play in Game Two.
He ended up being the decisive factor in all three Vancouver goals.
Burrows started the scoring with a power play goal in the first period, with Bruins captain and best defenseman Zdeno Chara in the box for interference. But the Bruins fought back, scoring two effort goals in the second period against Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, making the score 2-1 Boston after two periods. This would be the first lead for the Bruins in this series. But Daniel Sedin ensured it would not last, scoring a beautiful wrister past a diving Tim Thomas for the game-tying goal. It was Sedin's ninth goal of the playoffs.
While everyone thought Game One was headed into overtime until Raffi Torres scored with 19 seconds left in the third period, Game Two did eventually head into overtime. The period would not last long at all, as another turnover gave Burrows a breakaway that pulled Thomas out of position. Burrows completed the wraparound on the empty net to give Vancouver a 3-2 victory and a dominating 2-0 series lead as play heads to Boston for the first time.
Game Three is scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m. EDT on Versus and CBC.
The Stanley Cup Finals resume with Game Two between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. With Game One already an instant classic -- one of the best playoff games in years -- these two teams will again meet in Vancouver with two possibilities.
If Vancouver wins, they have all the momentum in a series they are already favored in. Two home victories would put the pressure on the Bruins to hold serve in Games Three and Four, lest this become a short series.
If Boston wins, the Bruins can feel good about themselves. Already underdogs, they played extremely well in a close loss in Game One. If they can split the first two games of the series in Vancouver, they have a good chance of winning their first Cup in 39 years.
The Bruins played the perfect Game One. They were energetic, physical, and were able to dissect the Canucks defense for quality shots on Luongo. They needed Tim Thomas to steal a game or two in this series, and he came within 19 seconds of stealing Game One with one of the best Finals goaltending performances of the past decade.
Despite everything going their way, the Bruins still find themselves at a deficit in this series. Mentally, the challenge must be tough. They played the favorites to a draw, and at their pace of play. Their goalie had a career game, but they are still in a near must-win in Game Two. As a team of young players in the biggest series of their careers, they will have to play against their own mental demons as well as the Vancouver Canucks, who will no longer be rusty. If they played their best game, and still lost, can they possibly bring an even greater effort the remainder of the series?
The Canucks won Game One in the final seconds, but it took an effort play by Ryan Kesler, two perfect passes, and an essentially empty net to score just a single goal on Bruiins netminder Tim Thomas. This has to be cause for concern for a team that loves to fly up and down the ice, creating offensive pressure. Vancouver's greatest strength in this series is their world-class offensive talent, a group of talent that barely managed a single goal against Thomas and a stingy, physical Bruins defense.
The Canucks are talented enough to win the Cup with their defense and goaltending, but that's essentially a coinflip proposition. Their offense needs to find a way to solve the Tim Thomas Enigma if they really want to stay the favorites in this series.
Special teams has been the Achilles Heel of the Boston Bruins all postseason. Though their young players like Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron have come up big offensively at even strength, the Bruins have only scored five total power play goals this postseason.
In Game One, Daniel Sedin was called for a double minor penalty early in the first period but the Bruins were unable to score with four minutes of the man advantage. The Bruins started the second period with a man advantage, but were unable to convert a single goal. This has been the trend all postseason for Boston, and it could cost them a championship, especially with the Canucks vaunted power play performing well all postseason.
Game Two is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EDT on NBC and CBC.
The Bruins and Canucks started off the Stanley Cup Finals with one of the most exciting playoff games in recent memory. Boston goalie Tim Thomas and Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo both turned in career performances to give their team a shot to win, but it was a gorgeous play from Ryan Kesler that ended up giving the edge to the Canucks.
The first period was frantic, as both teams flew up and down the ice. Luongo kept the game scoreless by killing off two minutes of a Boston 5 on 3 advantage early on, a trend that would continue throughout the game. Boston's poor power play this postseason has dangled over their heads, but they have survived and advanced -- so far. Against the Canucks, the Bruins will need to convert these chances to compete in the series.
The end of the period had a strange sequence of events. In the middle of a scrum after the final whistle, Canucks winger Alexandre Burrows was caught on film biting the finger of Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. Three penalties were called on the play. Burrows faces a possible suspension, though it would be an unprecedented event for the NHL -- and at the worst possible time.
The game remained scoreless through the first two periods (and most of the third) until an effort play by Kesler at the blue line set up the game winning (and only) goal with 19 seconds remaining. Kesler poke checked the puck over the blue line while simultaneously dragging the toe of his skate to stay onsides and then completed a near no-look pass to rushing winger Jannik Hansen. Hansen feigned a shot to pull Thomas to the side of the net before firing a perfect pass onto the skate of Raffi Torres for the one timer deflection past Thomas, thus securing the victory for Vancouver.
This spectacular game is a boon for NBC Sports, who recently renewed their contract with the NHL, and was the highest rated Finals Game One in 12 years, despite one of the teams hailing from Canada. It even beat last year's Final between the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks -- two big market US teams suffering from long Cup droughts. Everything is shaping up for a Finals for the ages.
Game Two begins on June 4 at 8:00 p.m. EDT. Watch it.
The Boston Bruins haven't won the Stanley Cup in 39 years.
The Vancouver Canucks have never won the Stanley Cup in their 40 years as a franchise.
One of these two historic fanbases will finally have something to celebrate after this series. Let's break down the matchup.
The Vancouver Canucks are completely loaded with offensive talent, headed by Ryan Kesler, Henrik Sedin, and Daniel Sedin. These three players tore up the league during the regular season and have been the best players on the ice for the Canucks throughout this playoff run.
Boston depends on young forwards for their scoring. Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, and David Krejci lead the Bruins in playoff scoring; all three are 25 years or younger and just entering their prime. While the young players have stepped up for Boston, they're still outgunned by a Canucks juggernaut.
Boston prides themselves on being a stout defensive team, and the results are sparkling. They've shut down three excellent offensive teams in a row, including a 1-0 shutout over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the clinching game of that series. They slow down the pace and use their size to keep physical players off the puck. Boston has an elite top pairing headed by captain Zdeno Chara and plenty of depth behind him. This is the Bruins advantage in this series: they cannot get into shootouts with Vancouver. Keep the score low by frustrating the Canucks' top line.
The Canucks are very solid defensively as well. Kevin Bieksa is having a playoffs to remember and will earn himself a sizeable contract in free agency this offseason. While defense is not their team identity, they did shut down a fearsome San Jose Sharks attack in the Conference Finals -- no small feat. They're good defensively, and likely good enough to frustrate the young Bruins forwards.
Tim Thomas. Roberto Luongo. Two of the very best veteran goaltenders in the league. Slight edge goes to Thomas for a better overall playoffs, but Luongo is no slouch in net and has become stronger and more confident as the playoffs progressed. Luongo will get better scoring support, but Thomas has the better defense in front of him. Call this an even matchup.
Boston has scored five power play goals in these playoffs. Vancouver has scored 17 power play goals, and against more elite defenders. This is a potential landslide advantage for the Canucks. If Boston wants any chance to win this series, they have to play clean and stay out of the penalty box against a Vancouver team that is one of the best at drawing penalties.
Vancouver wins in six games.
The Canucks have been the best team in the league throughout the regular season and have confirmed their dominance in the playoffs. They thrived in the tougher conference and have more skill players.The Canucks have beat a Chicago team with elite talent, an offensively peerless San Jose team, and a Nashville Predators team that posed more of a defensive challenge than this Bruins team. Boston has a solid defensive identity, but do they have a player that can step up and carry the offensive load? Advantage goes to the elite, veteran Canucks forwards.
Can Boston win? Of course, but they'll need Thomas to steal at least two games and at least two of their young forwards to play out of their mind. The odds are certainly against them, but I've been doubting Boston all postseason. A championship against this Canucks squad would be the biggest surprise of them all.
Conn Smythe Trophy: Daniel Sedin
The talented forward will get plenty of scoring chances, as Canucks forward (and Hart Trophy favorite) Ryan Kesler is likely to see most of the top defensive pressure from Boston. This will open up plenty of chances for the leading goalscorer in the regular season, and he has the talent to take advantage of these opportunities. If Kesler gets his name on the Cup, I don't think he'll mind losing out on this award even though he's been Vancouver's best player through the playoffs.
The final two teams are set, and the race for Lord Stanley's hallowed Cup is reaching its inevitable conclusion.
The Boston Bruins, depending on youth and strong defense, have emerged out of the Eastern Conference desperate to break their 39 year championship drought. Their young forwards have emerged and carried the team offensively, and look to extend their surprising run to a championship.
The Vancouver Canucks have been in existence for 40 seasons, but have yet to claim a Cup of their own. The best team in the regular season, the Canucks look to be the favorite in the Finals. After this season's final series, one of the two longest droughts in professional hockey will finally be snapped.
Here is the schedule for the last series of the 2010-2011 season:
Game One -- Wednesday, June 1: Boston Bruins at Vancouver Canucks, 8 p.m. EDT on NBC, CBC
Game Two -- Saturday, June 4: Boston Bruins at Vancouver Canucks, 8 p.m. EDT on NBC, CBC
Game Three -- Monday, June 6: Vancouver Canucks at Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. EDT on Versus, CBC
Game Four -- Wednesday, June 8: Vancouver Canucks at Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. EDT on Versus, CBC
Game Five* -- Friday, June 10: Boston Bruins at Vancouver Canucks, 8 p.m. EDT on NBC, CBC
Game Six* -- Monday, June 13: Vancouver Canucks at Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. EDT on NBC, CBC
Game Seven* -- Wednesday, June 15: Boston Bruins at Vancouver Canucks, 8 p.m. EDT on NBC, CBC
*Will only be played if necessary.
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