|06.22.11 at 8:53 pm ET|
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was named the 2010-11 recipient of the Vezina trophy, awarded to the league’s top goaltender in the regular season.
Thomas beat Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne for the trophy, winning it for the second time in the last three years. Thomas led the NHL with a .938 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against average. His save percentage is the best in a single season since the statistic began being recorded by the league.
Thomas is now the fifth goaltender to win the Vezina multiple times since 1982, when the criteria for the distinction switched from allowing the fewest regular-season goals to being the top regular-season goaltender.
When the regular season began, Thomas was not expected to be the team’s starter. Though he had won the Vezina in 2009, hip issues and a dip in performance saw him lose the starting job to Tuukka Rask down the stretch in the 2009-10 season. Rask started each game of the 2010 postseason as the Bruins were eliminated by the Flyers in the second round.
Thomas had offseason hip surgery, and when Rask allowed four goals in the team’s season-opening 5-2 loss to the Coyotes in Prague, coach Claude Julien gave Thomas the start the next night. Thomas shut out Phoenix in that Oct. 10 contest, and never relinquished the starting job or the league lead in GAA and save percentage.
Thomas is now the first Vezina-winner since 2003 (Martin Brodeur) to win the Stanley Cup in the same season. He is the first goalie since 1975 (Bernie Parent) to win the Vezina, Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy in the same season, though at that time, the criteria for the Vezina was as listed above.
|06.22.11 at 7:33 pm ET|
Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was named the 2011 recipient of the James Norris Memorial trophy at Wednesday’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas, edging out Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Predators blueliner Shea Weber.
Lidstrom has now won the award, given to the league’s top defensive player, seven times in his career. Only Bobby Orr has won it more, as he achieved the honor eight times in his career.
Though Chara did not take home his second Norris trophy, he did win the Mark Messier leadership award. The award has only been around since the 2006-07 season, with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby winning it last season.
While the Messier award isn’t anywhere near the Norris’ level, it is a good achievement for the Bruins’ captain. While he’s always been one of the most feared defensemen in the league, his qualities as a captain have often been overlooked due to his straight-laced, serious demeanor. Chara finally got his Cup, and now he’s getting his due.
|06.22.11 at 3:09 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. So far, we’ve looked at the goal of the year, fight of the year and save of the year. Up today is the Bruins’ rookie of the year, a no-brainer for anyone who followed the championship season.
BRUINS’ TOP ROOKIE
Brad Marchand: 21 G, 20 A, 41 points (regular season); 11 G, 8 A, 19 points (postseason)
“I was impressed with with Marchy from the moment I saw him play. I obviously wasn’t too familiar with him, but having seen him early in training camp’¦ then just build his way up and keep getting better and better, to be honest with you, he was so important to our team. When we were successful, usually Marchy had a big game or played well.
“Playing with Marchy, I enjoyed it a lot’¦ He deserves everything that he’s gotten. He’s worked for it. He had the opportunity. He made the team and he started with us and worked for his ice time. Rightfully so, he’s an important part of this team. To even do what he did in the playoffs, that’s even more important, and says more about him as a player that he can step up in those big games.”
At the beginning of training camp, Tyler Seguin was a household name in Boston. He was perhaps the only Bruins rookie a Bostonian could pick out of the very lineup Seguin assured he had yet to crack. By the end of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run, people were talking about a few Boston rookies. Seguin’s goals got him the hype and Adam McQuaid‘s mullet got him the cult following and customized t-shirts from Andrew Ference, but no Bruins rookie came close to bringing it the way Brad Marchand did.
When the B’s opened the regular season in Prague, Marchand was a fourth-liner who got around 10 minutes of ice time. When the season ended, he had assisted the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and scored two of his own. When all was said and done, Marchand hoisted the Cup having scored 11 goals in the postseason, one behind David Krejci for the postseason lead. He worked his way from being a famed member of the Merlot Line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton to forming perhaps the team’s most consistent line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, and aside from missing time after being rocked on a beautiful P.K. Subban hip check in December, the 5-foot-9 Marchand looked invincible in the process.
The story of Marchand’s preseason confidence has been well-documented. He told both Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien that he would score 20 goals (the very number Milan Lucic was optimistically aiming for prior to the season) in his first full season. Chiarelli told him to think about what he was saying. While thinking may never be Marchand’s game, he certainly backed up his words by popping 21 in the regular season.
The downside with Marchand is that with the good, you must take the bad, but depending on how you look at it, the bad isn’t all that bad. He crosses the line often, whether it be with his on-ice actions or words. He was suspended for elbowing R.J. Umberger in the head, but at the end of the day he’s a far cry from a dirty player. He’s one of the Bruins who have been guilty of embellishment, but with Marchand, it’s nowhere near the point of some of the players the B’s saw in Montreal and Vancouver. If anyone wants to deem Marchand’s feistiness a problem, it’s a problem every team in the league would love to have. He’s a special type of player, and the B’s are fortunate to have someone who’s just as good in all three areas of the ice and at killing penalties as he is at getting under opponents’ skin and scoring goals.
Now, after a rookie year in which he became a hero in Boston, Marchand will get paid. A restricted free agent, Marchand couldn’t have asked for a better time to be due a raise, as it should be a big one. He had a salary cap hit of $821,667 last season and could now get upwards of $3 million.
Just a note before we get to the honorable mention section: While McQuaid was a far more mature player in his rookie campaign and provided far more stability than Seguin did (it’s an apples and oranges comparison anyway given the difference in age and position), the argument could be made that the B’s could have won the Stanley Cup without him. In this scribe’s opinion, the Bruins would not have won the Cup were it not for Tyler Seguin. The youngster may have singlehandedly changed the Eastern Conference finals with his performance in the second period of Game 2. As a result, if we had to make this thing a list, Seguin would be the runner up to Marchand.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tyler Seguin, Adam McQuaid
|06.22.11 at 12:01 am ET|
Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty signed a two-year contract extension with the team this week, and upon signing told The Score that he could not watch the Bruins celebrate winning the Stanley Cup last week given that the Habs nearly eliminated the B’s in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Pacioretty did not play in the series, of course, as he missed the rest of the season after a March 8 hit into the stanchion at the Bell Centre from Zdeno Chara left him severely concussed and with a fractured vertebrae.
“I’m going to be dead honest with you, I actually turned the game off when I knew it was over. I didn’t want to see any of that,” Pacioretty said of the celebration. “Just knowing that that team won the Cup was definitely hard, because I know that we were so close to beating them.
“Maybe if we had a full roster, we would have beaten them. It’s unfortunate, but it’s given me a lot of motivation this summer, and I hope to use it to be strength and be able to do whatever it takes to get ready for next year and hopefully be the one lifting the Cup next year.”
Pacioretty’s recovery from his concussion has gone well, much like that of Nathan Horton, who was lost for the rest of the Stanley Cup finals in Game 3 on a head shot from Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome. A host of the show asked the Habs forward a very leading question, seemingly to get him to call out Horton for embellishing much like Mark Recchi did of Pacioretty, but Pacioretty, who had tweeted his well-wishes for Horton at the time of the Rome hit, was just happy to see that his rival was OK.
“Concussions are a weird thing. Everyone’s brain is different, so it doesn’t matter really how hard you’re hit or how hard you’re knocked out for. Everyone’s brain reacts differently,” he said. “I think mine was similar to the case of Horton’s, where we were both unconscious for a long period of time but came back a couple days later and had no symptoms since. I hope the same for him and I would never say he embellished his injury at all. I know exactly what he’s going through and I hope a lot of fans out there are trying to realize the same thing now.”
As for Recchi’s and many people on Twitter’s reaction to him seeing a movie days after his concussion, Pacioretty still seemed a bit burned.
“It definitely shows the type of fans that Boston Bruins fans are,” Pacioretty said, “because I definitely still — I try not to look at it, but through Twitter I still get some pretty nasty stuff regarding embellishing injury, and it’s sad that people can actually think that way, especially after it happens to someone on their own team.”
The NHL reworded Rule 48, which focuses on hits to the head, on Tuesday. Pacioretty has made his thoughts on Chara’s hit very public, and was outwardly disappointed with the league when Chara was not suspended. He hasn’t let up on his line of thinking.
“It was definitely frustrating,” he said of the fact that Chara, who was tossed from the game, was not suspended. “It’s like what everybody really talks about. They’ve got to stay consistent with head shots. It might not be the same type of head shot as everyone else’s experiences, but everyone who plays hockey knows that that’s an illegal play. I mean, he got kicked out of the game, and it ended up with me having a broken neck and out for the season with a concussion as well, so I definitely would have liked to see something. That didn’t happen, but I hope down the road that they can clean up the game a bit and keep stuff like that out of it. Players don’t want to see it and fans don’t want to see it either. There’s definitely no place for it.
|06.21.11 at 5:44 pm ET|
The NHL Board of Governors has approved changes to two rules, and as such both boarding and Rule 48 (illegal check to the head) have been reworded. The more hot-button of the two is Rule 48, as each year it seems hits to the head leave vulnerable players concussed and teammates stressing that such hits need to be removed from the game.
Under the new wording of Rule 48, the terms “lateral” and “blindside” can no longer be found. For a rule that’s always been up for interpretation to a fault, the emphasis on simply not targeting the head is a little less clouded.
Here’s the new wording:
48.1 Illegal Check To The Head ‘ A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was unavoidable, can be considered.
48.2 Minor Penalty ‘ For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed.
48.3 Major Penalty ‘ There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.
48.4 Game Misconduct ‘ There is no provision for a game misconduct for this rule.
48.5 Match Penalty ‘ The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.
If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion.
Here’s part of the previous wording, as was applied to Brad Marchand‘s hit on R.J. Umberger when the B’s rookie was suspended:
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head ‘ A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.
|06.21.11 at 9:31 am ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined the Dennis & Callahan show to talk about what his life has been like after winning the Stanley Cup championship last Wednesday. The veteran D-man told the guys that unfortunately the Cup in all its glory is no longer in Boston but is rather on its way to Las Vegas to be showcased at the NHL Awards Ceremony. Ference also deemed rookie forward Brad Marchand the “runaway winner” for the team’s resulting celebrations after beating the Canucks in seven games to take home the most prized trophy of the four major sports. (To hear the entire interview, visit the D&C audio on demand page.)
The blue-liner said as much fun as Marchand and some of the other guys have been having, the most difficult part of the process for him is perhaps just trying to go down the block.
“It’s taken me a lot longer to do a few chores, that’s for sure,” Ference said. “It’s great. I wouldn’t want to be in a hurry to get anything done, but the people are pumped. We know a lot of people so most of the time it’s people we already met and already know and just pass on a congratulations and tell stories where they watched or whatever it was. It was great. It’s been that way for a number of years now, living that way. [Zdeno Chara‘s] been riding his bike and a lot of teammates walk over [to the TD Garden] anyways so I don’t think you’re going to see things change too much unless we start showing up late to practice because we get stopped for conversation.”
Ference also said during his interview that he had an inkling that the B’s would win the Cup even before the three-month grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs even began.
“Even before the playoffs started, I had a really, really good feeling. I was almost scared to have that kind of feeling. A few of us teammates talked about it that we’ve had good years and good teams in the past where we thought we had a chance. But in the process of talking about it, we knew this would be more than just a chance. We knew that there’s something different about the team and that it was a legitimate shot. When it really sunk in was after the first round because the first round is just so tough, doesn’t matter what year it is. I think it’s the toughest round of the playoffs. To get by the way we did against Montreal, that series was so close and our team got so much better from the beginning to the end of it. I think after that first round I had a really, really great feeling.” Read the rest of this entry »
|06.21.11 at 2:11 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. We started it off by looking at the goal of the year and fight of the year. Up today is save of the year, and it should be fresh enough in people’s minds to remember.
SAVE OF THE YEAR
Tim Thomas on Steve Downie, Game 5 vs. Tampa Bay
“I was thinking, ‘Thank God he saved it.’ We were up by one goal in Game 5, so that was possibly the turning point in the series. They could have scored, won, gained momentum and had a chance to go back home and win. I was happy, but there’s been a lot of moments like that when there’s just a sigh of relief that ‘there he goes again.’ As amazing as his saves are, I don’t think anybody in here is amazed that he makes them, because he’s so good.”
A shoo-in for the Vezina, Tim Thomas had enough candidates for this before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning. Then he turned in what may be remembered as one of the greatest stick saves of all time when the stakes were just about as high as they could be.
With the series tied at two games apiece and the Bruins holding onto a 2-1 lead in the third period, Eric Brewer took a slapshot from the point that went wide of Thomas’ net. With Thomas at the top of the crease, it would seem that Steve Downie would be a fortunate man to have the puck bounce off the endboards and right to him next to the net. Downie went to put the put in the net to tie the game, but Thomas came to the rescue, knocking the puck down in mid-air with his stick despite hitting the post with his blade. No player had a better view of the play than Gregory Campbell, so his amazement with Thomas’ save should not be taken lightly.
The save yielded an insane reaction from the Garden crowd, and the Lightning would not get another opportunity like that for the rest of the game. Tampa would eventually pull Mike Smith for an extra attacker, and Rich Peverley would put the game away with an empty netter.
This was just one of the many outstanding saves Thomas made in a postseason in which he was the easy Conn Smythe winner. While his regular season was record-setting, his postseason was even better. There may be no better illustration of how Thomas stepped up than that save.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tim Thomas on Brian Gionta (Game 5 of quarterfinals), Tim Thomas on Francois Beauchemin (Dec. 4), Tuukka Rask on Kyle Brodziak (Jan. 6)