|06.10.10 at 10:31 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Nick Boynton dreamed of a moment like Wednesday night since he was three. And finally, on the ice of the Wachovia Center, the 31-year-old Blackhawks defenseman was finally able to hoist the Stanley Cup over his shoulders.
There was a time when Boynton thought those dreams would be realized in Boston. After all, he was taken by the Bruins as a defenseman in the 1999 NHL Draft and there were those who thought he would be able to help replace the legendary Ray Bourque as a defenseman who could move the puck and kick-start the Bruins offense.
Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 1997 NHL Draft, Boynton was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes just before his first camp with the Bruins but the disease did not keep him from pursuing his life-long dream.
His best season was 2003’04 with Boston, when he had six goals and 24 assists. During the NHL lockout season of 2004’05, Boynton played for the Nottingham Panthers in the British Elite Ice Hockey League.
“It’s hard to describe,” Boynton said. “But this is what I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. It’s the greatest thing ever.”
He played one more season for Boston before being dealt to Phoenix for fellow defenseman Paul Mara. Since then, he’s bounced around, going to Florida, Anaheim and finally stopping in Chicago after being traded there this March.
What a break for him. He winds up with a ring out of it.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my career, starting with the Bruins,” Boynton said. “I love Boston and have so many friends back there. I’m a lucky guy. I head back to Boston every summer and I miss it. Those were my younger years and made me who I am today so I love it there.
“It was everything you expect and more. It’s been 31 years. Since I was three years old, I’ve been dreaming about this. It’s been a long time.”
|06.10.10 at 9:22 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — What if a team won the Stanley Cup and no one noticed? Not even most of the players on the team that just made history.
No, that’s no cruel joke or a shot at the NHL. That’s what happened Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center when Patrick Kane’s simple shot – a lesson in why you always put the puck on the net – got past Philadelphia’s Michael Leighton just over four minutes into overtime to give Chicago a 4-3 win and its first Stanley Cup title since 1961.
Without question, the ending to the 2010 Stanley Cup will go down as one of the most bizarre and surreal endings to a championship in recent memory.
Let the man who scored explain why.
“Well, I shot it, I saw it go right through his legs and it was sticking right under the pad in the net so I don’t think anyone saw the puck in the net,” Kane said. “I just booked it to the other end. I knew it was in right away and tried to sell the celebration a little bit and everyone came down.
“I think some guys were still iffy to see if the puck was in the net. I saw the coaches pointing at the puck and just jumping around. It’s pretty surreal right now, for sure.”
[Click here to hear Kane explain his Cup-winning goal and the ensuing celebration.]
[Click here to hear a stunned Leighton explain what he saw from his point of view.]
|06.10.10 at 1:28 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The team of destiny that made history in Boston went to the well once too often in overtime and it finally cost the Flyers their Stanley Cup dreams. Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored on a bizarre goal that few people in the building even realized went in just over four minutes into overtime and the Blackhawks claimed their fourth Stanley Cup with a 4-3 win over Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center in Game 6.
They then matched up against the No. 6 Bruins, and no one in New England needs to be reminded that ‘ up three games to none and 3-0 in Game 7 on Garden ice ‘ the Bruins let the Flyers come back to tie and win Game 7 and the series, 4-3, on a power-play goal by Simon Gagne with the Bruins serving a penalty for too many men on the ice.
It was in Game 4 in overtime when Gagne scored his first goal back from injury to re-ignite the flame for the Flyers.
Three wins later it was the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern finals. The Habs proved little opposition for the Flyers, who prevailed in five games.
Then the Chicago Blackhawks. The team that hadn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1961 won a shootout, 6-5, in Game 1 and another one-goal game in Game 2, 2-1.
The Flyers showed their character by winning Game 3 again in overtime and handling Chicago 5-3 in Game 4. After a 7-4 loss in Game 5 the Flyers were again on the brink, down 3-2 with 3:59 left in regulation when Scott Hartnell scored to force ‘ yep ‘ another overtime.
This extra session would be the heartbreak of heartbreaks for the Flyers. A weak shot from Patrick Kane, almost an afterthought, was thrown on Michael Leighton. The goalie didn’t see it until it went under him and the lip of the goal on the right side.
“He walked out of the corner, and there was a guy driving the net so I thought he was going to pass it,” Leighton said. “He just threw it at the net and it went underneath me.”
Bang. Game over. Stanley Cup over. Team of Destiny denied.
But still, this Flyers team will have its fondest memories of one of the most remarkable playoff run in recent sports rooted in Boston.
It was at TD Garden on May 14 that the Flyers became just the fourth team in major professional sports to wipe out a 3-0 deficit and win a series and the first to overcome a 3-0 hole on the road in Game 7 to do so.
“Yeah, you look back at a lot of games throughout the whole season,” Hartnell said. “The way we got in, the way we came back against Boston to beat a great goalie and New Jersey and Montreal was on fire as well. We have to be proud to a certain point but certainly it’s disappointing, too.”
|06.09.10 at 10:02 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — After falling behind for the first time in the game, the Blackhawks showed the kind of determination that makes Stanley Cup champions. As a result, they took a 3-2 after 40 minutes and stand one period away from their first Stanley Cup title since 1961.
The Flyers broke a 1-1 tie when Ville Leino skated into the high slot after Duncan Keith fell down. Danny Briere skated down the right wing with Leino, who fed Briere for a wrist shot that beat Antti Niemi for his team-leading 12th goal of the playoffs.
But Chicago has outskated the Flyers from the get-go and that continued even when they were behind. The Hawks used the open ice of a 4-on-4 to get Patrick Sharp a shot from the low right circle and he didn’t miss, beating Michael Leighton 5-hole at 9:58 of the second period to tie the game.
Then Andrew Ladd redirected a Niklas Hjalmarsson slap shot from the left point to beat Leighton and the Wachovia Center fell quiet with 2:17 left in period.
The Hawks are 1-for-5 on the power play while the Flyers are 1-for-4 on the man-advantage.
|06.09.10 at 9:00 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Blackhawks played the opening 20 minutes like they wanted to end a 39-year championship drought.
The Chicagoans outshot the Flyers, 17-3, in the first 19 minutes and registered the first goal of the game on a very questionable high sticking call on Flyers defenseman and emotional leader Chris Pronger.
With Blair Betts on the ice with a broken stick, the Hawks took advantage of what essentially was a 5-on-3 when Dustin Byfuglien stuffed a shot past Michael Leighton at 16:49.
But it was evident the officials had some remorse for helping set up Chicago’s first goal as the Hawks were whistled for two penalties in the final three minutes of the period.
First, Brent Seabrook was called for elbowing with 3:01 left in the first. Then, just as the Hawks killed off that penalty, Brent Sopel was called for an interference penalty near his own blue line. Sensing the desperation, Danny Briere shot a puck from the left circle toward Scott Hartnell, who was just getting to his skates after getting shaken up. Hartnell collected the loose puck and put a backhander past Antti Niemi with just 26.5 seconds left in the period to tie the game.
The Flyers used the momentum to fire the last four shots of the period, getting outshot, 17-7, for the period.
|06.09.10 at 6:00 pm ET|
The Bruins have retained a key player (Dennis Seidenberg), a fan-favorite (Shawn Thornton) and are just over two weeks away from adding someone who could instantly become their most talented forward (Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall). While everyone is focused on who’s staying and who’s being added, the Bruins’ bench may be in store for a subtraction.
Craig Ramsay, who has served as Claude Julien‘s assistant coach since the offseason following the 2006-2007 season, is a serious contender to become the Atlanta Thrasher’s head coach. The former Sabers left wing has already met with Thrashers GM Rick Dudley about filling the coaching void created when the 35-34-13 Thrashers opted not to bring back John Anderson.
A final decision may be a few days away, as Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti is a candidate but will not be interviewed until the conclusion of the Stanley Cup finals. Dudley believes that interviewing a coach while his team is chasing a cup is unfair to the coach’s current team, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Ramsay, in addition to having experience as head coach of both the Sabers (on an interim basis in ’86-’87) and Flyers (interim in ’99-’00, hired back but lasted just 28 games), won a Stanley Cup in ’04 while coaching alongside John Tortarella in Tampa Bay. Dudley, then the GM, hired his former NHL teammate in Ramsay back then, which makes for an easy connection now.
“The truth is John Tortorella is a volatile guy,” Dudley told the Journal Constitution. “He needed an intelligent guy to come in and know what his role had to be. We didn’t need another volatile guy in there. Craig softened all the blows there. When John undressed somebody, he would go and make them feel good again. He knew that was his role and he did it really well.’
The other candidates according to Journal Constitution writer Chris Vivlamore are Chicago Wolves (AHL) coach and former third overall pick Don Lever and Rockford IceHogs (AHL) coach Bill Peters. Scott Arniel was also viewed as an option but took the same position with the Blue Jackets.
|06.08.10 at 3:20 pm ET|
With just over two weeks to go until the NHL Draft, it has become a logical line of thinking to believe the Bruins would be quite risky to assume Windsor Spitfires left wing Taylor Hall will be available with the second overall pick. While either Hall or Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin would be a blessing to the offense, there is no doubt that the Bruins could use a well-rounded winger more than they could use a center. The Edmonton Oilers, who hold the top pick in the draft, have needs all over the ice and will ultimately do what what they feel upgrades their team the most.
Here’s where the irony hits: This draft features the best offensive 1-2 punch since 2001, a class that starred left wing Ilya Kovalchuk and center Jason Spezza. Kovalchuk went first to the Atlanta Thrashers, Spezza went second to the Senators and each embarked upon their careers as NHL All-Stars. If the parallels aren’t apparent yet, recent chatter suggests it could be one of the ’01 stars that messes things up for the Bruins this month.
Spezza, whose contract will see a no-trade clause kick in on July 1, has reportedly grown frustrated with the Ottawa and may want out. While talk that he may have requested a trade could be nothing more than speculation, many have begun guessing where the center could call home next season. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, who Bruins fans should have bookmarked by now for a Hall of Fame Edmonton writer’s take on this draft, sees a potential gameplan for the Oiler’s offseason that “might solve the Taylor vs. Tyler debate.”
“Draft winger Taylor Hall on June 25 with their No. 1 pick at the NHL entry draft, pass on centre Tyler Seguin and trade for Spezza later.
The Senators would almost assuredly take the same three players that were on the table for winger Dany Heatley last summer ‘ Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid ‘ in exchange for Spezza, who would become the Oilers’ much-needed first-line centre.”
There you have it. Both teams could afford to due that trade, as Matheson stacks the cap numbers against one another and calls the deal a “virtual wash.” The Oilers would see offensive improvement and have a top line that would be among the best in the NHL, while the Bruins would be improved with Seguin, but would enter the 2010-2011 season without a 30-plus-goal-scoring winger — again.
So what should the Bruins do? If Oilers GM Steve Tambellini targets Spezza, an offer of Blake Wheeler and the second pick isn’t exactly going to change his mind. In fact, if Edmonton can get both Spezza and Hall, the Oilers might even prefer that combo to a deal that included the second and 15th overall picks, which the Bruins likely wouldn’t want to do anyway.
The Bruins may have their hands tied. There is no logic in a wing-deprived team trading a wing or a top pick to move up one spot and one can’t assume the Oilers would even be interested in what the Bruins have to say. SensChirp is reporting the Bruins have interest in Spezza themselves and that the second pick “could be in play” but I would take that with an entire mound of salt. The reality is the team may just have to do two things: Hope Spezza is dealt elsewhere so the Oilers have a bigger shot of taking Seguin and convince themselves that potentially landing the Plymouth center is better than giving up a king’s ransom to secure Hall. For now, all anyone else can do is wait.