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Bruins year in review: Save of the year 06.21.11 at 2:11 am ET
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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.”

- Gregory Campbell

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)

Read More: Brian Gionta, Bruins Year in Review, Steve Downie, Tim Thomas Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Shawn Thornton on The Big Show: Bruins used Canucks’ comments as motivation 06.20.11 at 6:28 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton

Bruins forward and two-time Stanley Cup winner Shawn Thornton joined The Big Show Monday to review the Stanley Cup finals and the entire Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, check out The Big Show audio on demand page.

Following Game 7, rookie forward Brad Marchand said that he hated the Canucks given how “cocky” they were throughout the series. Thornton wouldn’t use Marchand’s words, but he did share the same feelings.

“No, I mean I don’t want to talk bad about them and be a sore winner, but I will say some of the comments that were made and kind of the way everyone had us dialed in,” he said. “They were planning the parade on Monday and they hadn’t even won the game yet. Stuff like that motivates the other team. We did a good job of toeing the line and not letting anything get out into the open. Even though we were a confident bunch as a group we weren’t out there talking about it as much.”

Even though Thornton’s line, the fourth line did not score much during the playoff run, Thornton knew what their role was and how it changed from series to series.

“Our line, when we played over a certain amount we did a good job getting the puck deep, and creating energy,” he said. “That’s our role. In different series’ our line was used in different ways. The Montreal series not as much, they are run and gun, the Philadelphia series we were used a little more and Tampa not as much again because they are built a little different, but that Vancouver series the first couple games they came out and were really physical, so our line did the same thing and we wanted to push that and be physical.”

Thornton did not play in the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals, but was inserted into the lineup for Game 3.

“Right before warm up I found out,” Thornton said. “That was tough, I’m not going to lie. I thought he [Claude Julien] was going to make the change, but you are never 100 percent. I was ecstatic. I prepared like I was playing, but it’s different when you’re not sure. You’d rather know, but I guess it was a last minute decision and it worked out just fine.”

After going down dropping the first two games in Vancouver the Bruins knew that they weren’t out of it.

“We knew we were in them, we were a goal away in each game,” Thornton said. “We knew if we got back playing the way we needed to play we could win. We did a good job all year of not letting the highs get too high and the lows too low, and we did a really good job after that game of just focusing on the next game and the game after that. That was our main focus going into those games.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Stanley Cup toes the rubber at Fenway with help from the Bruins 06.19.11 at 6:00 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and the rest of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins were paraded around the warning track for 10 minutes prior to Sunday’s Red Sox game against the Brewers.

Chara and Thomas were on the lead duck boat of four that were in the processional that began by entering through the center field wall about 15 minutes before first pitch.

Chara was holding up the Stanley Cup for nearly the entire time during the procession around Fenway.

After making one round around Fenway, the players departed in the center field triangle and made their way to the infield with the Stanley Cup, in addition to the Eastern Conference trophy and the Conn Smythe trophy, earned by Thomas as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoff run.

The pre-game ceremony was capped off by all members of the Bruins throwing simultaneous first pitches to the Red Sox players, who stood in a line from dugout to dugout behind home plate.

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Peter Chiarelli happy he didn’t trade Tim Thomas 06.17.11 at 1:19 pm ET
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Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was a popular guy last offseason, as he was brought up in trade rumors, some of which were falsely reported. Though the goalie was never going to Philadelphia in exchange for Simon Gagne, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday at TD Garden that he did have talks with other teams about Thomas, who was coming off hip surgery, had lost his starting job to Tuukka Rask and at the time had three years of a $5 million annual cap hit left on his deal.

“At the time there was kind of a mutually agreement between myself and Tim and Bill Zito, Tim’s agent, just to explore it and on the premise that Tim does not want to leave Boston,” Chiarelli said of trading Thomas. “And that’s really where it ended. It’s really where it ended. And there was some calls in that and they kept him in the loop at all times and he kept stressing he didn’t want to leave. I said ‘I know, let’s just look at this very briefly.’ And I know there are a lot of stories that flowed from it, but I can’t stress enough the fact that Tim never wanted to leave.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I at least didn’t look at some things, and I did. You go through those things, on a number of fronts on a number of fronts, on a number of players. You just field stuff, you look at them, you talk to other teams. And at the end of the day you make the decision yay or nay. And here it was nay. And it was an easy nay.”

Thomas ended up reclaiming the starting job, turning in a shutout in his first start of the season Oct. 10 in Prague against the Coyotes. He ended up allowing just three goals in six starts in October, and even after leveling out was still dominant throughout a season that will undoubtedly earn him his second Vezina trophy in Vegas next week. His .938 save percentage is the best for a goalie in a single season since the stat has been recorded.

Thomas was also named the Conn Smythe trophy winner after the Stanley Cup finals concluded. The award is given to the player most valuable to his team during the playoffs, and Thomas clearly proved that by allowing just eight goals in the seven-game series vs. the Canucks.

Thomas, 37, has two years with a $5 million cap hit left on his contract.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Peter Chiarelli, Stanley Cup Finals, Tim Thomas Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
The day after the Cup: Pierre McGuire talks to The Big Show 06.16.11 at 3:55 pm ET
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NBC analyst Pierre McGuire was a guest on The Big Show on Thursday and he noted that as the Bruins were inching closer toward capturing the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night in Vancouver, there was a major difference between the two teams.

“There were definitely chemistry issues on one bench,” McGuire said. “Coaches overreacting. I thought in the case of Alain Vingeault when the frustration set in, and the composure and the focus and basically every one of the Bruins players acting as coach. It was really an interesting dynamic to witness.”

McGuire added, “When you have a knockout game and things start to go south in a hurry, guys just deviate from the plan and you could sense that. You didn’t see the same Vancouver Canucks team in the third period that you saw in Games 1 or 2 or Game 5 when they were in Vancouver.”

McGuire said that he thought Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo hurt himself with his comments about Tim Thomas after Game 5. “The damage was done to Roberto Luongo [after Game 5],” McGuire said. “The whole thing, the two-day break, putting the foot in the mouth, questioning Tim Thomas’ ability to make a save against Maxim Lapierre in Game 5.

“The one thing I thought was very apparent and I’ve been through this twice as a coach winning a Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh in 1991 and 92, you have to manage the message and make sure your players are debriefed before dealing with the media. You’ve got to be so careful because everything is scrutinized. I really felt the Vancouver PR machine went off the rails going into Game 6. They were too brash, too arrogant. I give Boston full credit. They managed their message the entire playoffs and they deserve a lot of credit for the way they handled themselves. On the Vancouver side I don’t think it was handled very well.”

McGuire also had praise for Bruins’ coach Claude Julien, particularly his decision to practice as soon as the team landed in Vancouver. “Instead of practicing the day of the game they practiced as soon as they got off the plane,” McGuire said. “They had a much better start. They had livelier legs and they were ready to go. They really believed in their plan. That little deviation helped them a ton. That’s where Claude Julien isn’t getting enough credit.”

McGuire also felt Julien was more willing to adapt this year as opposed to last. “The one thing I was really impressed with from Claude compared to a year ago, the ability to make adjustments both in-game and during the series,” McGuire said. “We didn’t see that last year. I think that’s a big reason they lost last year. [Peter] Laviolette outrcoached him and obviously the injury to [David] Krejci. But this year I saw a man prepared to make changes. He could deviate from the matchups if he had to, he wasn’t afraid to get his fourth line on the ice and I thought they were a huge factor in Game 7. Claude deserves a lot of credit.

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The day after the Cup, 1 p.m.: Other NHL players congratulating Bruins at 12:54 pm ET
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After the Bruins Stanley Cup clinching victory many current NHL players congratulated the Bruins on their accomplishment on Twitter:

- Brent Sopel, a defenseman for the Canadians tweeted, “Hooray Black and Gold!”

- Predators center Blake Geoffrion praised Tim Thomas “Congrats to Boston. What a series and what a year for them. Tim Thomas is the man.”

- Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto tweeted, “Congrats to the Canucks and Bruins. Hard fought series and year. Hats off to every player!”

- 2010 No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall tweeted, “The game gives me chills. When does camp start!?”

- There was also a bit of humor offered up by Phoenix Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette. When the game was out of reach he tweeted, “”I wonder what Cory Schneider‘s doing right now?”

- Suns guard, and Canucks fan Steve Nash also got involved, “”Congrats Boston. Head up @VanCanucks incredible year. We’ll be back!! Thanks for the thrills.”

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The day after the cup, 11 a.m.: Tim Thomas joins list of goalies to win Conn Smythe at 11:03 am ET
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Since 1990 six goaltenders have won the Conn Smythe Trophy, that is until Tim Thomas won it this year as the most valuable player during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Bill Ranford won it in 1990 with the Oilers, Patrick Roy won it in 1993 and in 2001, and he also won it back in 1986. Red Wings goaltender Mike Vernon captured it in 1996. Only one goaltender won the award even though their team lost in the Stanley Cup Finals, Jean-Sébastien Giguère earned it in 2003 when the Ducks of Anaheim lost to the Devils. Cam Ward was the last goalie to win the award with the Hurricanes in 2006.

Seven centers, four defensemen and one winger were the other positions to win the award in that span. Since the award was originated in 1964 there have now been 14 goaltenders have win the award.

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