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.
May 23, 2013, 3:49 PM EDT
Shutting down the Blackhawks will do that.
May 23, 2013, 3:30 PM EDT
But Drew Doughty says Galiardi is the biggest diver on the Sharks, so there.
May 23, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT
For a headshot on Flyers prospect Taylor Leier.
May 23, 2013, 2:48 PM EDT
Good news for Phoenix hockey fans? (Or just…news.)
May 23, 2013, 2:34 PM EDT
“You don’t win a Stanley Cup without going through something like that.”
May 23, 2013, 2:07 PM EDT
It’s not pretty.
May 23, 2013, 2:01 PM EDT
What happens to the coach if the Rangers get swept tonight?
May 23, 2013, 1:24 PM EDT
When asked if Ottawa could come back from a 3-1 series deficit against Pittsburgh, he said “probably not.”
May 23, 2013, 12:56 PM EDT
“That’s the way he plays.”
May 23, 2013, 12:21 PM EDT
It would cost them $24 million over 14 years.
May 23, 2013, 11:36 AM EDT
Cue the buyout speculation.
May 23, 2013, 11:34 AM EDT
Will he be challenging Ryan Miller for it?
May 23, 2013, 11:09 AM EDT
The home of the Oilers’ AHL affiliate.
May 23, 2013, 10:54 AM EDT
He’s frustrated nothing got done in Calgary.
May 23, 2013, 10:45 AM EDT
The big unveiling will be on June 4.
May 23, 2013, 10:37 AM EDT
He constructed the silver medal-winning team at the 2010 games in Vancouver.
May 23, 2013, 9:51 AM EDT
“It’s been pretty quiet for a while now.”
May 23, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT
“(Gillis’) fault all the way.”
May 23, 2013, 8:02 AM EDT
Additionally, Chicago will play Detroit and the Kings will host the Sharks.
May 23, 2013, 7:13 AM EDT
Thursday’s collection of links
- Couture accuses Kings captain Brown of diving 32
- Three reasons why the Rangers might buy out Richards 19
- Richards made a healthy scratch for Game 4 30
- Don Cherry: Canucks GM Gillis threw coaches ‘under the bus’ 25
- Playoffs Tonight: Bruins know series vs Rangers isn’t over 19
- Sens’ Alfredsson: We probably won’t win this series 20
- Discuss: Penguins overwhelm Senators to take Game 4 75
- Report: NHLPA director Fehr wants to address issue of fighting 104
- Gillis: Vigneault fired because results weren’t there 21
- Official: Canucks fire head coach Vigneault, assistants Bowness and Brown 33
- Report: NHLPA director Fehr wants to address issue of fighting (105)
- Question for commenters: What, if anything, needs to be done about the officiating? (100)
- Discuss: Bruins rally in third, take 3-0 series lead (99)
- Discuss: Detroit takes 2-1 series lead vs. Chicago (95)
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators (91)
- Lochte says Phelps will return soon
- Tebow fact: He reminds Chuck Norris of Chuck Norris
- LeBron stuns Pacers with OT winner in Game 1
- HBT: Astros vendor fired after taking food into bathroom
- Pens overwhelm Sens, take 3-1 series lead
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
- Bears great Urlacher announces retirement