|Bruins year in review: Top rookie||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
|Jeremy Jacobs: ‘Welcome home Lord Stanley’||06.18.11 at 11:23 am ET|
With the sun breaking through the clouds and basking hundreds of thousands in the afterglow of the city’s first Stanley Cup in 39 years, Boston kicked off another “Rolling Rally” Saturday morning in the parking lot outside TD Garden.
“Lord Stanley, 39 years, welcome home!” exclaimed Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, one of the first to speak before the duck boats began their three-mile procession from the Garden to Copley Square.
Boston City police termed Saturday’s rally the biggest in the city’s rich sports history, eclipsing even the 2004 Red Sox rally in the rain on Oct. 30, 2004, with well over a million people lined up between 10-15 deep in many areas along the route.
“We got the Cup! We got the Cup!” added Patrice Bergeron, whose two goals in Game 7 led the Bruins to a Cup-clinching 4-0 win in Vancouver on Wednesday night. Since then, the organization and city has been looking forward to celebrating the organization’s sixth Stanley Cup with hockey-loving city and region.
|With Tim Thomas rising to the occasion, one goal all Bruins needed||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.
|Plain and simple: Bruins win the Stanley Cup||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.
|Bruins and Canucks: The little things lead to the big prize||06.13.11 at 1:50 pm ET|
It was a little thing – a little thing that Claude Julien works on often during practice. But on this Monday morning, the small detail of winning faceoffs could have a huge impact on who wins Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Last Friday, in Game 5 in Vancouver, the Canucks found a way to win 34 of 65 draws while the Bruins only won 29 of those 65 one-on-one battles.
While none of them led directly to a goal, it did skew puck possession in Vancouver’s favor as the game progressed.
It’s actually been an area the Canucks have won in nearly every game of this series, including in both blowout wins by the Bruins in Games 3 and 4. But add the faceoffs in with losing puck battles and not getting enough bodies in front of Roberto Luongo and the small things become huge problems – problems the Bruins cannot afford tonight with no margin of error left.
In a close game, losing those battles can be deadly, especially when you’re the Bruins trying to kill one of best power play units in the game. So far, the Bruins have killed 24 of 25 Vancouver power plays.
“I don’t think we would be putting them there if it was just a faceoff thing,” Julien said. “But between Bergeron and Krejci are right-handed shots, and whether one of them is on the half fall, doesn’t really matter. The other one can be on the goal line. Krejci can make some plays from down low and Bergeron can take pucks at the net. We just feel that right now that’s a good scenario for that power play.
“We’ve got [Rich] Peverley who does move the puck well and [Dennis] Seidenberg who can shoot the puck well, we’ve got a good combination there. It’s shown some flashes of being very good, and when it hasn’t, it’s been not because of who you got out there, but what they’ve done. We’ve lost some battles in the last game. Certainly didn’t make some strong passes that were cut off. Vancouver does a great job. They’ve got good sticks on the penalty kill. If we don’t make crisp passes, you end up turning it over.”
The same goes for Vancouver.
“We have to bring our ‘A’ game and play the right way,” said Daniel Sedin. “When we win faceoffs and we have a lot of puck possession, we’re a good team. They’re obviously a good faceoff team so that’s going to be a big thing tonight. If we play the right way, and we play tight the way we did at home, it’s hard to get good scoring chances against us. When we play like we did in Games 3 and 4, we’re going to get some scoring chances but they are too, and that’s not the way we want to play.”
|Patrice Bergeron: ‘We haven’t done anything yet’||06.09.11 at 7:48 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins have returned to Vancouver having tied the Stanley Cup finals after dropping the series’ first two games and winning two at home. Though the 2-0 hole may have seemed insurmountable, the Bruins were able to overcome it for the second time this offseason. With the team still two wins away from their first Stanley Cup championship since 1972, center Patrice Bergeron said now is not the time for the B’s to feel accomplished.
“We’ve done it against Montreal, when were down 2-0 [in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals], so we knew we could do it, but with that being said, we haven’t done anything yet,” Bergeron said Thursday at Rogers Arena. “Yes, we came back, but we need to make sure we’re not stopping there.”
The Bruins and Canucks will play Game 5 Friday night at Rogers Arena.
|GQ’s Jonah Keri: ‘No one wants’ Bruins to win||at 4:31 pm ET|
In a piece written for GQ.com entitled “The Boston Bruins vs. The World,” noted sportswriter Jonah Keri has a simple but sharp message for the Bruins and their fans.
After spending a few paragraphs discussing the “We want the Cup” chant that has filled the TD Garden and discussing how every other NHL team wants a Stanley Cup, Keri writes, “But you, Bruins fans? No one wants you to have it.”
He notes that there are plenty of good reasons to root for the B’s. Among them are Tim Thomas‘s long journey to stardom, Alexandre Burrows‘s bite on Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton‘s season-ending concussion. But Keri still adds “You know what? We’re still not rooting for you.”
His main reasoning behind this thesis is that Boston fans complain of “The Drought,” the 39-year period since the B’s have lost won the Stanley Cup, when the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics have all took home trophies in the last decade. Since Keri claims that all Bruins fans also root for these other squads, there should be no remorse for those who don the black and gold.
“You sound like the douchebag who [expletive] that, after the three-bedroom in Tribeca, the place in the Hamptons, the kids’ boarding school, the annual trips to Paris and Aruba, the four cars, and two alimonies, you’ve barely got enough left for that third bottle of Dom at Per Se,” Keri writes before concluding, “We feel for the 12 Bruins fans who’ve shunned the city’s other franchises and waited nearly 40 years for their shot. The rest of you? Prepare yourselves for heartbreak. Until the day after Vancouver wins the Cup, when you can watch your first-place Red Sox try to break Boston’s Three-Year Curse.”
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