May 27, 2011, 11:35 PM EST
Exactly a month ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning managed a 1-0 Game 7 shutout against the Penguins in Pittsburgh to continue Dwayne Roloson‘s undefeated streak in elimination games. The Boston Bruins flipped the script on the Lightning this time around to make it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1990.
Tim Thomas made 24 saves for the third shutout of his playoff career (and second of this series), but Roloson often stole the show with his 37-save performance. Roloson’s undefeated streak in elimination games ended tonight, but he was the No. 1 reason this game was a nail-biter in the first place.
Boston 1, Tampa Bay 0; Bruins win series 4-3
A lot of hockey fans (especially from Tampa Bay) will cringe at the fact that water bottle thrower Nathan Horton was the only player to score in this tight-checking Game 7. There weren’t many odd man rushes in this defensive-minded deciding game, but Horton connected on a nice 2-on-1 one-timer pass from David Krejci to earn his second series-winning goal of the 2011 playoffs.
The Bruins dominated most – if not all – of this contest, but there was almost a sense that Roloson’s amazing goaltending would allow the Lightning to pull off a “rope a dope” in Game 7. That didn’t happen, but Roloson made huge saves, including a breakaway stop against Milan Lucic and a nice 2-on-1 stop against Brad Marchand. Something tells me Roloson will get the chance to continue his NHL career in 2011-12 … if he chooses.
Horton showed some heart by coming back to create some nice chances (six shots overall) and the game’s only goal after taking a tough hit from Nate Thompson, but he wasn’t the toughest player of the night. That badge of honor goes to Lightning star Steven Stamkos, who barely missed a beat after taking a brutal slap shot to the face.
Roloson faced a series of shots and dangerous chances in this game to steal the show, but Thomas was never beaten in the biggest game of his quirky (but impressive) career. The Bruins enjoyed great work from players such as Horton, Krejci and Patrice Bergeron in this series, but Thomas was the obvious MVP of the Eastern Conference finals. One could partially attribute his lesser performances to some spotty defense, but he was especially sterling in Boston’s four wins. He bailed the Bruins out many times in their wild 6-5 Game 2 win, but was nearly impenetrable in their other three victories. Here’s a quick at what he did in those four wins:
Game 2: Five Goals Allowed on 41 shots.
Game 3: Shutout with 31 saves.
Game 5 One Goal Allowed on 34 shots.
Game 7: Shutout with 24 saves.
Overall: 124 out of 130 shots stopped in Bruins ECF wins, which would translate to a 95.3 save percentage.
No doubt about it, the Bruins are in the Stanley Cup finals because of Tim Thomas more than anyone else.
The Bruins often seemed schizophrenic during this series, rarely playing the sturdy defensive game people expected. Tampa Bay’s speed and skill exposed Boston’s weak defensive depth (and yes, they even made Zdeno Chara look bad from time to time) for much of the series. Still, Claude Julien’s crew got the job done when they needed to in the first playoff game without a single penalty since 1973. It could be a short, one-sided series against the Vancouver Canucks if they don’t bring their “A-Game” consistently, though.
It will be little solace for a Lightning team that finished two goals short of an unexpectedly quick return to the Cup finals, but they took a quantum leap in their first year under GM Steven Yzerman and coach Guy Boucher. Their impressive and opportunistic offense didn’t show up very well in Game 7, but it’s reasonable to say that this franchise has a bright future ahead of it.
Of course, they face some tough questions this summer, but we’ll get to that later on.
In the mean time, the Bruins prepare for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals in Vancouver on Wednesday. Click here for the schedule of games to start planning for what (hopefully) will be a great final round of playoff hockey.
Jan 28, 2015, 1:45 AM EST
Vancouver has now been shutout in back-to-back home games.
Jan 28, 2015, 1:00 AM EST
Pittsburgh was without Crosby and Malkin.
Jan 28, 2015, 12:15 AM EST
He’s going to need some dental work.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:45 PM EST
Philly erased an early 2-0 deficit to earn two points.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:15 PM EST
Carolina is now 7-1-2 in January.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:45 PM EST
Both players are unrestricted free agents after this season.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:15 PM EST
Okposo missed his first game due to an upper body injury.
Jan 27, 2015, 9:30 PM EST
Received a major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding.
Jan 27, 2015, 9:00 PM EST
Happened during the first period tonight in Philly.
Jan 27, 2015, 8:30 PM EST
The 19-year-old underwent hip surgery in November.
Jan 27, 2015, 8:05 PM EST
The Philly starter allowed two goals on the first four shots.
Jan 27, 2015, 7:35 PM EST
Jim Benning was “exploring” a trade for the goaltender.
Jan 27, 2015, 7:00 PM EST
Appeared in 1,260 games.
Jan 27, 2015, 6:30 PM EST
Tampa has won both meetings between the two clubs this season.
Jan 27, 2015, 5:41 PM EST
7:30 p.m. ET, from PNC Arena, on NBCSN.
Jan 27, 2015, 5:06 PM EST
“There’s a potential even to bring him to Arizona for at least a cup of coffee at the end of the year.”
Jan 27, 2015, 4:26 PM EST
For the old barn in Anaheim.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:33 PM EST
He’ll play on the top line with John Tavares and Josh Bailey against the Rangers.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:11 PM EST
Kick off six straight games at Rogers Arena tonight versus Anaheim.
Goalie nods: Greiss starts for Pens, which has nothing to do with Fleury getting lit up at the All-Star Game
Jan 27, 2015, 2:27 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
- Trade: Pens acquire Lapierre from Blues for Goc 35
- Video: Habs’ Emelin ejected for hit on Stars’ Spezza 7
- Martin Brodeur to retire, become Blues asst. GM (Updated) 40
- Mike Richards clears waivers 32
- Game on: Islanders-Rangers to be played despite storm 15
- Flyers’ Rinaldo suspended eight games for his hit on Letang 56
- Isles’ rise to be tested as they lose Okposo for 6-8 weeks 16
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards 123
- Bobrovsky out 4-6 weeks, Jackets recall goalie Forsberg 3
- Blue Jackets proud as Columbus shows it’s a hockey town 24
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards (123)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)
- Video: NHL offers Flyers’ Rinaldo in-person hearing (57)
- Flyers’ Rinaldo suspended eight games for his hit on Letang (56)