|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.
|Tim Thomas earns Conn Smythe with historic playoff performance||06.15.11 at 11:02 pm ET|
In delivering one of the most dominating goaltending performances in postseason history and leading the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years, Tim Thomas was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as the most outstanding player of 2011 playoffs.
He earned the honor with staggering and historic numbers. He established new all-time records by making 798 saves on 849 shots in 25 games, both new standards. Thomas appropriately ended his epic season with his fourth shutout of the playoffs.
Thomas made several spectacular saves in the third period, including a pair on Jannik Hansen, finishing with a 37-save performance in the first Game 7 of a Stanley Cup finals series in Bruins history.
The Flint, Michigan native is the second U.S.-born player to take the Conn Smythe, joining New York Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch in 1994, and, at 37, is the oldest Conn Smythe recipient.
Thomas was the Bruins’ only goaltender during their Stanley Cup-winning run, finishing the playoffs with a 16-9 record, 1.98 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and four shutouts.
Thomas Playoff Highlights
* set NHL record for most saves in one playoff year (798)
* set NHL record for most shots faced in one playoff year (849)
* set NHL record for most saves in the Stanley Cup Final (238)
* fourth all-time for most shots faced in the Stanley Cup Final (246)
* finished with an 11-1 record when facing 35 or more shots
* led all NHL goaltenders in goals-against average (1.98) and save percentage (.940) and shared lead in shutouts (four) in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs
* became the first goaltender in NHL history to post a shutout on the road in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final
* posted a 1.15 goals-against average in the Stanley Cup Final, the lowest in the modern era among goaltenders with at least five appearances
* posted a .967 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Final, third all-time and tops among goaltenders with at least five appearances
* became the 13th goaltender since 1927 to post multiple shutouts in the Stanley Cup Final (two)
* made 52 saves on 54 shots in the Bruins 3-2 win at Philadelphia in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals
* stopped all 24 shots in posting a 1-0 shutout victory over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals
* posted the first shutout by a Bruins goaltender in the Stanley Cup Final since May 18, 1978, when Gerry Cheevers made 16 saves to blank Montreal 4-0 in Game 3 at Boston Garden (Game 3)
|Plain and simple: Bruins win the Stanley Cup||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.
|Canucks fan offers tickets for Tim Thomas kidnapping||at 3:13 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Check out this post to go up on Vancouver’s Craigslist. Looks like this fan is willing to go “Celtic Pride” style on Tim Thomas Wednesday night.
This series, he’s had an easy time at Rogers Arena, picking up a couple of shutouts in games in which the Bruins’ offense didn’t show up. He’s also shot his mouth off, and when he’s tried to make it better, it’s gotten worse. Then there are the 15 goals he’s allowed in three starts (less than two games’ worth of play given that he was yanked twice) in Boston.
As a result of Luongo’s up-and-down (but overall messy) series, local boy and Canucks backup Cory Schneider has also been popular. He’s gotten to play twice in Boston, and he’s done so well. Yet the former Boston College goaltender and first-round pick seems sure that he’ll stay on the bench the entire game Wednesday.
“Lou is more ready than anybody. He’s had to take the most flak, he’s had to sit there and listen to people mock him and insult him and point fingers at him,” Schneider said. “It’s not easy to do. I don’t care how much you get paid or if you’re a pro athlete or what. No one likes that stuff. It fuels him, it drives him. it makes him want to be better. We’ve seen it before in gold medal games and Game 7’s, he’s answered the bell in big moments. We expect nothing less from him because he’s our guy.”
Schneider received cheers in Games 4 and 6 when he skated to the net in relief. Of course, the love thrown at Schneider in Boston is both a combination of the fact that he’s a native and the fact that when he’s in, Luongo’s out.
“They’re a rowdy crowd and they feed off that stuff,” Schneider said of the folks at the Garden. “They kind of pander to the crowd and get them more riled up every time they show him on the bench. They kind of get whipped into a frenzy about it, but we’re not in Boston right now, so who cares? We’re in Vancouver right now. Lu’s been phenomenal here, and our crowd is great as well. We’re going to hope that they’re going to get on [Boston’s] guys and their players and make it easier for us.”
Tonight will see the culmination of a series between two stylistically different goaltenders who have found ways to dominate in their own ways. Both Tim Thomas and Luongo are Vezina finalists, with Thomas set to receive the award at the end of the month. The B’s goaltender also figures to win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.
Schneider has been able to observe both goaltenders, as he played at BC while Thomas was tending goal for the B’s. Though he doesn’t know Thomas, Schneider admires the uphill climb he has overcome as a ninth-round pick who has spent time playing in Europe.
“Clearly the path [Thomas] has taken has been one of obstacles and difficulty that he’s overcome and has managed to find a way,” Schneider said. “That kind of seems to be the theme of his game, is that he finds a way. He’s a competitor and a battler, and we’re going to need everything we have tonight to get a few past him and get a win.”
Having said that, Schneider doesn’t feel Luongo, the fourth overall pick in 1997, should be blamed for traveling an easier road.
“I don’t think you can hold it against him that he was a high draft pick or has a great pedigree. He worked hard for that, he earned that right,” Schneider said. “He’s been a competitor and a warrior from the day I’ve met him. He’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve seen. He hates to lose. He hates giving up goals, he hates all that stuff. People might see it as arrogance, but I see it as confidence in himself, as a belief that he shouldn’t be beaten ever. I think you have to have that mindset as a goalie that if you’re not 100 percent confident in yourself, you’re not really in the right position.”
Former NHL player and current Vancouver sports radio host Ray Ferraro joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday to preview Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and give some perspective from the Canucks fan base. To hear the interview, check out the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Ferraro said that despite another Boston blowout in Game 6, Vancouver fans aren’t too worried about their chances Wednesday.
“I was really surprised, they’re actually very confident. I don’t know if they even watched Game 6,” he said. “I guess they put their faith in the fact that it’s almost been like two completely different books for this series. … For the life of me, I can’t figure out why it’s been such. Vancouver’s been so bad in Boston and Boston hasn’t been able to punch through here in Vancouver, so I guess that’s what it’s all about, Game 7, you play all year to get home-ice advantage and the fans here, they’re pretty happy that it’s in Vancouver.”
“I think [Vancouver fans] were, almost to a person, disappointed with Luongo’s comments after Game 5,” he said. “Where it really went sideways was the next day at the airport. He had the chance to kind of soften the blow a little bit and say, ‘You know, it’s not really what I was trying to say, this is what I was trying to say …’ But he didn’t do it, so that’s one thing. And then you come out and you last eight minutes in Game 6, you know, you get torched.
“I don’t think the fans here are really thrilled with that. I do know there’s no player I can think of on either team that gets scrutinized more in their hometown than Luongo. I can’t think of a Bruin player who would be under as much heat as Luongo is here. And not just in this series. Almost since the day he’s been there.”
Turco has been a guest analyst for NHL Network since his team was eliminated by the Canucks in the opening round. Chicago, the defending Stanley Cup champion, fell behind 3-0 in the series before rallying to force a Game 7 that Vancouver won 2-1.
Turco made it clear that he doesn’t like the Canucks’ brash style.
“That’s where it really got me, was when we were in Chicago and they’re up in the game, and they’re running their mouths, and they are real cocky,” he said. “Never mind that my team beat them the two previous years, knocked them out. You think they’d learn their lesson and just go about their business, but that wasn’t the case. It was quite interesting to watch us come back and know that we had them. We know that they’re playing differently.
“It was eerily similar in this [Bruins] series. I didn’t see them as cocky as they were going up 3-0 against their arch nemesis, but certainly they faltered. You can’t blame [Roberto] Luongo, you can’t blame just one person. You’ve got to blame everybody, from top to bottom. They just weren’t able to show up on the road.”
Asked about the Bruins’ strategy to get to Luongo, Turco said: “The game plan is always the same: Score often, score early. That would certainly be their best asset. Just continue to put pressure on him, take shots. Sometimes, pucks hit goalies that might not be 100 percent confident early in the game. That’s what they need sometimes. I think he’ll actually play really well. I think it’s going to be another tight game here in Vancouver. I know Bruins Nation would love another blowout. ‘¦ I think it will be a pretty good one.
“They just need to continue to get in front of the net. I don’t think they were doing that early in the series, and certainly on the road. ‘¦ They’re going to have to fight to get in front of the net. We saw those goals, some tip-ins, some screens. Those types of goals are harder to come by, but you just have to follow through and work to get there.”
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