|06.16.11 at 5:33 am ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins knew their season was going to end Wednesday, and hours before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, word emerged that regardless of the result, it would be the last game of Mark Recchi‘s historic career.
It’s a storybook ending for a legendary player to end his career with one last championship, and one that is rarely realized. Players stick around a long time trying to get that last taste of victory, and now Recchi has it. He has won the Stanley Cup three times, each one with a different team, and now he’s done. The ultimate winner is leaving the game in fitting fashion.
‘It is amazing,” Recchi said after the Bruins’ 4-0 win over the Canucks. “Not too many people get that chance. I can’t thank these guys enough, the players and everything they did for me.’
What they did for him? Recchi taught the Bruins how to be winners. His skill certainly wasn’t where it was when he was a younger lad, but Recchi’s heart trumped all in the finals, as his line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand produced three of the Bruins’ four goals, with Bergeron scoring the other on the penalty kill.
“I talked to Recchi last night and I was feeling nervous and I asked him to give me some advice,” Bergeron recalled after the game. “He told me to relax and go out there and play the game and to do it for him. ‘¦ I’ve learned so much from him on and off the ice, it’s a great feeling that we’ve accomplished this as a team.”
The mark that Recchi has left on the Bruins is obvious, and while nobody can make a player like Marchand into a saint, the lessons Recchi taught the Bruins’ young winger will never be forgotten.
“The amount he’s pushed me and helped me grow as a player, I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for him,” Marchand said. “Everything that I learned from him on and off the ice, it’s unbelievable. It was such an honor to be a part of this, going through it with him and to have played with a guy that I watched growing up. [He’s] a hall-of-famer, one of the best guys to ever play the game. It’s truly an honor to have played on his team.”
The Bruins may have lost one of the game’s best winners, but they have a room full of those after Wednesday.
|06.16.11 at 5:08 am ET|
VANCOUVER — Admit it, Bruins fans. After Patrice Bergeron took Brad Marchand‘s pass in front of the net with just over five minutes left in the first period and sent it past the right leg of Roberto Luongo, you started thinking about the Cup. Who needed three more goals?
In some sick, twisted way, that’s just what Bruins fans — supporters of the very team that had gone 39 years without winning the Stanley Cup — had been conditioned to believe. When Tim Thomas is the man in net, it’s only human to believe that one goal could be enough. Playing in the biggest game of his career, Thomas capped a historic season by shutting out the Canucks on their own ice and helping the Bruins to that elusive Cup.
“I was hoping someone else would score so I wouldn’t have to shut them out,” Thomas said with his signature grin when recalling Bergeron’s first goal. “I was happy going into the game, talked about not getting too high. If we do score, you can’t act like you’ve won the Stanley Cup because you will get an emotional high and it will end up showing on the ice.
“I was just trying to stay level. It was just one goal. It was a huge goal, the game-winning goal, but at that time, there was still a lot of game and a lot of work left to do.”
There was a lot of game left, but as the Canucks failed to convert on chance after chance (Alexandre Burrows really bit the bag when Zdeno Chara gift-wrapped a game-tying goal in the second period) and Thomas stoned them everywhere he could, it became clear that the Thomas’ season was destined to end just the way it began: with a reminder that when he’s on, there isn’t a match for him. He proved in these playoffs that he was this season’s best goaltender, and despite some high-scoring games against the Lightning, he never let up.
“No matter if we had slow starts, no matter if we didn’t play our best game, we always had a chance with Timmy, because Timmy is great,” Claude Julien, who gave Thomas the second start of the season in Prague, said after Wednesday’s win. “These finals, seven straight games and there wasn’t a bad game from Timmy, only exceptional ones.”
Thomas did fear that his play may have begun to waver in Game 6. Given that it was a contest in which he only allowed two goals (one of which was in garbage time), even when Thomas didn’t feel like his dominant self, he still got the results of a Vezina and Conn Smythe winner.
“Right off the opening face-off there was a guy that whacked it backhand from the outside blue line right off the opening face-off and I just lost it,” Thomas said of Game 6. “It was up in the air and I went into full panic mode in my mind. Then Vancouver put the pressure on and whizzed the puck around the crease four or five different times, shot just wide. I was on my heels there for a second, and that was the first time that I’d gotten nervous during the finals.
“So, yeah, I was scared. I won’t lie. I had nerves yesterday and today. I faked it as well as I could, and I faked my way all the way to the Stanley Cup.”
Thomas may have faked confidence, but when it comes to a miraculous season in which he led both the regular season and postseason in save percentage and GAA, there was no faking that production.
|06.16.11 at 12:43 am ET|
VANCOUVER — Cam Neely finally won the Stanley Cup Wednesday night at Rogers Arena, and though he did it in a suit rather than a uniform, the Bruins president had difficulty expressing the emotion with which he was overcome.
“It’s been very special,” Neely said after the Bruins took Game 7 of the finals over the Canucks. It’s been extremely special. It’s hard to really put into words, but it’s so special to be able to say that you’re involved with a Stanley Cup champion team.”
The former Canucks and Bruins forward played 13 years in the NHL, totaling 395 goals and 299 assists for 694 points. Hip issues forced him to retire without having ever won the Stanley Cup.
“It was difficult. Especially when it’s not really your terms when you have to leave the game, it was very difficult,” Neely said. “To be out here now is very, very special.”
|06.16.11 at 12:24 am ET|
|06.15.11 at 11:02 pm ET|
In delivering one of the most dominating goaltending performances in postseason history and leading the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years, Tim Thomas was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as the most outstanding player of 2011 playoffs.
He earned the honor with staggering and historic numbers. He established new all-time records by making 798 saves on 849 shots in 25 games, both new standards. Thomas appropriately ended his epic season with his fourth shutout of the playoffs.
Thomas made several spectacular saves in the third period, including a pair on Jannik Hansen, finishing with a 37-save performance in the first Game 7 of a Stanley Cup finals series in Bruins history.
The Flint, Michigan native is the second U.S.-born player to take the Conn Smythe, joining New York Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch in 1994, and, at 37, is the oldest Conn Smythe recipient.
Thomas was the Bruins’ only goaltender during their Stanley Cup-winning run, finishing the playoffs with a 16-9 record, 1.98 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and four shutouts.
Thomas Playoff Highlights
* set NHL record for most saves in one playoff year (798)
* set NHL record for most shots faced in one playoff year (849)
* set NHL record for most saves in the Stanley Cup Final (238)
* fourth all-time for most shots faced in the Stanley Cup Final (246)
* finished with an 11-1 record when facing 35 or more shots
* led all NHL goaltenders in goals-against average (1.98) and save percentage (.940) and shared lead in shutouts (four) in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs
* became the first goaltender in NHL history to post a shutout on the road in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final
* posted a 1.15 goals-against average in the Stanley Cup Final, the lowest in the modern era among goaltenders with at least five appearances
* posted a .967 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Final, third all-time and tops among goaltenders with at least five appearances
* became the 13th goaltender since 1927 to post multiple shutouts in the Stanley Cup Final (two)
* made 52 saves on 54 shots in the Bruins 3-2 win at Philadelphia in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals
* stopped all 24 shots in posting a 1-0 shutout victory over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals
* posted the first shutout by a Bruins goaltender in the Stanley Cup Final since May 18, 1978, when Gerry Cheevers made 16 saves to blank Montreal 4-0 in Game 3 at Boston Garden (Game 3)
|06.15.11 at 10:45 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Stanley Cup never entered TD Garden when the Canucks had a chance to win it on Monday. Now, it’s safe to say it will be in plain sight in Boston for quite some time.
The Bruins knocked off the Canucks, 4-0, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night to win the Cup for the first time since 1972 and take the trophy for the sixth time in franchise history.
It was only fitting that the longest tenured Bruin, Patrice Bergeron, sure-fire Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas and top rookie Brad Marchand stole the show in Vancouver in providing Boston with the most coveted trophy in all of sports.
Both Bergeron and Marchand had a pair of goals on the night, factoring for all of the Bruins’ tallies. Marchand’s second was an empty-netter with just over two minutes remaining.
Bergeron opened the scoring for the Bruins at 14:37 of first period, taking a pass from Marchand in the slot and sending the puck past a pair of Canucks skaters and just past Roberto Luongo‘s right leg.
The goal marked one bookend of a telling issue for the Bruins, as they did not record another shot on Luongo until 7:40 into the second period. Marchand had another superb opportunity in that span, though he saw his backhanded bid in front of Luongo go off the crossbar.
Despite the lack of work provided for Luongo, Marchand made his presence felt by beating the Vancouver netminder on a wraparound at 12:13. The rookie finished the postseason with 11 goals, and the B’s won all nine games in which he scored.
If it’s possible for a dagger to come in the second period, Bergeron provided it with a shorthanded goal on a breakaway late in the period. The play was reviewed to determine whether Bergeron punched the puck into the net, though the goal stood, and so too did the Bruins’ lead.
Thomas’ performance capped a remarkable series for the anticipated Vezina winner, as he allowed just eight goals over the entire series and set the record for most games in a Stanley Cup finals series. His shutout was his fourth of the postseason and second of the finals.
Though first period yielded the Bruins’ first goal, though it was not the most encouraging 20 minutes. The B’s managed only five shots on goal, with the fourth line of Gregory Campbell between Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille. The line’s tireless work and aggression stood out for the Bruins, with each member getting a shot on Luongo. By the end of the period, the line had contributed 60 percent of the team’s shots on goal.
An injury scare occurred for the Bruins early on as well, as a hit from Chris Higgins at the blue line in the first period left captain Zdeno Chara down on the ice for a few moments. Chara got up and returned to the bench without any further issues.
The Canucks came out of the gate much stronger than the Bruins, and had quality opportunities throughout the night despite the Bruins’ attempts to push the play to the side. Vancouver’s best opportunity came a little over nine minutes into the second, when Chara was attempting to send the puck up the boards in his own zone, only to see the puck deflect off of Henrik Sedin and in front of the net to Alexandre Burrows. The controversial Vancouver winger had an empty net to work with, but Chara made up for his own miscue by getting in position to save the puck for Thomas.
A few odds and ends from the game:
– Dennis Seidenberg is now the second German to win the Stanley Cup, joining Uwe Krupp (1996).
– Both Henrik and Daniel Sedin were on the ice for the first three Bruins’ goals. Henrik was one of the players in front when Bergeron’s shot went past him on its way to Luongo on the first goal.
– The Canucks’ power play finished the Stanley Cup finals just 2-for-31.
– Tyler Seguin has gone from No. 2 overall pick to Stanley Cup champion in less than a year.
– Of the four major sports, the Patriots now have the longest Boston championship drought, as they las won the Super Bowl in February of 2005.
|06.15.11 at 7:52 pm ET|