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Tim Thomas and the Bruins have waited a long time for this

05.28.11 at 12:41 am ET
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Tim Thomas has waited his whole career to get to this point and now the Bruins goalie will have the chance to play on hockey’s biggest stage and play for the most famous trophy in all of North American sports. Thomas stopped all 24 shots Friday night, posting his second shutout of the playoffs and third career in the postseason, in Boston’s 1-0 win that sends them to the Stanley Cup finals starting Wednesday in Vancouver.

“This is a great moment,” the 37-year-old Thomas said. “There’s no doubt about it. When’s the last time Boston’s been to the Stanley Cup finals? Twenty-one years. It’s been a long time for Boston, it’s been a long journey for me to get here. Now, you want to take advantage of this opportunity. There’s more work to be done. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. You can’t ever be too happy for too long until you’re the last man standing.

“They had to earn. We pressured them, offensively. The only reason it was a 1-0 game was because of Dwayne Roloson. He played an incredible game.”

Roloson stopped the first 34 shots he faced before Nathan Horton put one past him with 7:33 left in the third for the deciding goal in the Eastern Conference finals.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Dwayne Roloson, Nathan Horton, NHL

Video: Bruins react to Game 7 win in locker room

05.28.11 at 12:39 am ET
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Next Stop: Vancouver — Bruins advance to Stanley Cup Finals

05.27.11 at 10:58 pm ET
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By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin

The Bruins have had to wait a long time since they last played in the Stanley Cup finals, so the 50-plus minutes they had to wait for their first goal in their series-clinching 1-0 Game 7 victory over the Lightning probably felt like nothing.

With the game scoreless through the first 52 minutes of the game, Nathan Horton took a feed from David Krejci at 12:27 and tipped it past Dwayne Roloson for his eighth postseason goal. It was Horton’s second series-clinching goal, as he played the hero in Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals with an overtime tally past Carey Price of the Canadiens. He became the first player ever with two Game 7 game-winners in the same postseason.

For a game with such a high billing, it did not disappoint. Both teams played an impeccable game, with Roloson and Tim Thomas and shining for their respective clubs.

The Bruins will now play in their first Stanley Cup finals since 1990, and are shooting for their first Cup since 1972. In order to get the elusive Cup, they’ll need to get past the Vancover Canucks, who led the NHL in points during the regular season and are coming off a five-game Western Conference finals victory over the Sharks.

The Bruins and Canucks met only once in the regular season, with the B’s coming away with a 3-1 win at Rogers Arena. Game 1 will be played Wednesday in Vancouver.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins clearly got the memo that they needed to get more pucks on Roloson, as they landed 15 shots on net in the first period after totaling just 20 in all 60 minutes of Game 6. Andrew Ference led the way with three shots on goal in a very fast-paced, high-energy first period. The team’s first-period assault on net was tied for their third-highest total of the postseason. The B’s had 18 first-period shots in Game 2 vs. the Lightning and had 16 in Game 2 vs. the Flyers.

– Good showing from Rich Peverley, whom Claude Julien decided very early on to use more. Penciled in on the fourth line, Peverley was moved around in the lineup and skated on all four lines. Peverley gave Milan Lucic the pass that set up No. 17’s first-period breakaway, which was the Bruins’ best chance early on. Roloson stopped Lucic on the play in an early sign that the Tampa goaltender had brought the good stuff.

Dennis Seidenberg blocked an incredible four shots in the first period (for comparison’s sake, no one else had more than two in the frame) and a game-high eight shots over the full 60 minutes. Two in particular stood out — one on a shot from the high slot that had a chance of beating Thomas had Seidenberg not kicked it away, and another on an odd-man rush. Friday night marked the fifth time this postseason that Seidenberg, who entered the game with a team-high 47 blocks in the playoffs, has blocked at least four shots in a game. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise given the fact that Seidenberg led the NHL in blocks two seasons ago and ranked eighth this season.

-Much has been made about Tomas Kaberle‘s play throughout these playoffs, but there’s no denying that he’s been much better these last two games. On Friday night, he broke up two quality scoring chances to keep the game scoreless. The first came in the first period when he tied up Dominic Moore on a rebound in the slot, allowing a teammate to clear the puck away. Then in the second, he lifted Steven Stamkos‘ stick on a backcheck to break up what started as a 2-on-1.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– Horton had something going on after a collision with Blair Jones in the first period. He left the bench, came back to the bench, took a shift and left the bench again before making his return at 1:11 of the second period. He played regular shifts as the game went on and managed five shots on goal through the first two periods. Obviously, whatever the issue, he ended up contributing in a huge way.

– Roloson was on all night for Tampa, and nothing — redirections, second chance opportunities, or anything else — shook him. He came up with a pair of mammoth stops on Mark Recchi in the second period in succession to keep the B’s from getting on the board. The stat of Roloson being 7-0 in elimination games is a bit deceiving given how poorly he played in Game 6, but he proved his reputation right throughout the night. It seemed a real shame for his streak to be ended on a night in which he turned in such a stellar performance.

-The refs were clearly letting the teams play, which is good, but only to a certain extent. Regardless of the magnitude of the game, obvious penalties need to be called. That didn’t happen in the second period when Moore basically tackled Horton into the right goal post on a Bruins rush. In any other game, that would have been called without hesitation. It should’ve been called Friday night, too. Letting the ticky-tack stuff go is great, but letting guys get away with blatant interference is not.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs,

Sean Bergenheim out for Lightning in Game 7

05.27.11 at 8:01 pm ET
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Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim is out Tampa’s lineup for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Bruins. Bergenheim missed Game 6 with an undisclosed lower body injury suffered in Game 5 of the series. Coach Guy Boucher said Friday mornign that it was “doubtful” Bergenheim would play in Game 7, though he did participate in team’s warmup prior to the game.

Prior to suffering his injury, Bergenheim’s nine goals led all postseason players. David Krejci and Martin St. Louis are tied for the lead with 10.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Sean Bergenheim,

Bruins-Lightning Live Blog: How the Bruins punched their ticket to Vancouver

05.27.11 at 7:31 pm ET
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Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and plenty others from the Garden for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Bruins and Lightning.

Bruins-Lightning Game 7 Live Blog

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs,

Jeremy Roenick on The Big Show: Tim Thomas needs to play better

05.27.11 at 5:34 pm ET
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Versus hockey analyst and former NHL star Jeremy Roenick joined The Big Show show Friday afternoon to talk about the decisive Eastern Conference finals Bruins-Lightning Game 7 matchup. To hear the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.

Though Bruins goalie Tim Thomas will likely win the Vezina Trophy for the year’s best netminder, Roenick said he needs to improve his play for Game 7.

“I really don’€™t think he’€™s been very good in this series,” Roenick said. “I think he has to find a way to be just a little bit better, a little bit sharper. He doesn’€™t have to make saves like he did in Game 5. That was probably one of the best saves I’€™ve ever seen. But he has to find a way to keep this team, Tampa, down to two or three goals, because if he gives up another five goals, I don’€™t know if they’€™re going to be able to do anything.”

Roenick was even more critical of defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who came to Boston in trade from the Maple Leafs in February.

“He’€™s got a stick made of Jell-O,” Roenick said. “Kaberle doesn’€™t have a very good shot. He’€™s a playmaker and a very good playmaker. He shouldn’€™t be at the top putting shots on net. You should have Dennis Seidenberg up at the top pounding the puck on net, Kaberle on the side dishing the puck to the net.

“I think Kaberle played his best game maybe of the playoffs his last game. But I don’€™t think he’€™s been very good in the playoffs at all, not to mention since he’s come over from Toronto. He’€™s got to up his game another level. He hasn’€™t been in the playoffs for seven years. He’s got to show it a little bit harder tonight, but he’€™s one of those guys who can make a difference if he just makes the simple play and the right play like he has for many years, which has made him so good.”

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Read More: Jeremy Roenick, The Big Show, Thomas Kaberle, Tim Thomas

Regardless of age, Bruins know they might not get this opportunity again

05.27.11 at 2:01 pm ET
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At 19 years old, Tyler Seguin may be as close to the Stanley Cup as he’ll ever be.

Well, at least that’s a possibility. With the Bruins one game from a trip to the finals against the Canucks, the cliche of “you never know when you’ll be back” rings true.

“You know that that’s the case, but you’re going to do everything you can to seize the moment, seize the opportunity,” Seguin said after Friday’s morning skate in anticipation of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. “Obviously it’s a great opportunity, and it could be the only conference final Game 7 I ever play in, but who can predict that? Every year you just go out, work your hardest, stay focused and see what happens.”

Soon-to-be 23-year-old Milan Lucic is in a similar boat. He said after Game 6 that Friday’s game was the biggest of his and many of his teammates’ careers, and reiterated his point on Friday. In his case, there’s even more incentive to take down the Lightning at TD Garden, as a win at home would take him to his real home in Vancouver for the finals.

“You never know what can happen in the future. You look at myself, as young as I am even, you never even know if you’ll get another chance like this,” Lucic said Friday. “Especially for myself it’s a chance where if you win a game here, you get to play in your home town for the Stanley Cup. You’ve got to go out there and have fun with no regrets, and lay it all out on the line.”

In Seguin’s case, his rookie campaign has him somewhere where many of his veteran teammates have never been. He isn’t surprised by that, but he knows he and his teammates have to make the most of it.

“Obviously, coming into this year, I knew the Bruins were a Cup-contending team, and you never can predict or know what’s going to happen,” Seguin said. “You’ve just got to take advantage of everything you have, every opportunity you have. That’s what I’m doing and that’s what the team’s doing.”

The Bruins are able to appreciate that this isn’t just any opportunity. Regardless of age, it could be the only time (or the last time) they come this close to playing for a Stanley Cup. They have perhaps the best man for getting that message across to the youngsters.

“We’ve talked a lot about it. You just don’t get that opportunity all the time,” 43-year-old Mark Recchi said. “It’s tough to get to this point in this league. It’s a hard league, and there’s a lot of parity in the league. We have a chance to grab it and run with it. It’s just something you’ve really got to enjoy.”

None of the Bruins know whether they’ll ever come this far again in their careers. Their job now is to take it further.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 7, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic
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