May 27, 2011, 11:35 PM EDT
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.
Sep 19, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT
The Winnipeg Jets would settle for far less after he scored just 19 last season.
Sep 19, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT
The last thing he wants is to suffer a setback by rushing his recovery.
Sep 19, 2014, 9:37 PM EDT
That’s not the only summer statement he took exception to.
Sep 19, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT
Bob Suter was a defenseman on the “Miracle on Ice” team.
Sep 19, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT
That usually doesn’t end well, but this might be an exception.
Sep 19, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT
He suffered three concussions in under a year.
Sep 19, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
It’s part of the reason why the defenseman is playing for Washington.
Sep 19, 2014, 4:58 PM EDT
He suffered a concussion last season.
Sep 19, 2014, 4:17 PM EDT
Greg Sherman stayed on as his assistant.
Sep 19, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT
He’s not the only member of the Ducks that’s hurting.
Sep 19, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Held out of Kings’ on-ice activities on Friday.
Sep 19, 2014, 2:06 PM EDT
“We’re a cap team now, despite us being in the bottom five of the league in ticket revenue.”
Sep 19, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Flyers captain currently being evaluated.
Sep 19, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT
“We have two NHL centermen right now,” said Dallas Eakins.
Sep 19, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT
Just like they did last year.
Sep 19, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT
But most of them wouldn’t have gone public with the negotiations.
Sep 19, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT
What does his future hold in Calgary?
Sep 19, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT
Will the men have to face NHLers?
Sep 19, 2014, 11:07 AM EDT
“But maybe we can control the top lines and outperform the lower lines.”
Sep 19, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT
“I’m sure they’re up to the task.”
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