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Five Thoughts on a Stanley Cup clinching night for Boston

Jun 16, 2011, 9:23 AM EDT

Tim Thomas Getty Images

An incredible run, an incredible team effort, a set of incredible performances, and one Stanley Cup championship to last a lifetime. Give it up to the Boston Bruins who fought hard all playoffs and made the adjustments necessary to win and did what no other team could do this year. Boston’s 4-0 Game 7 win showed what they had all series long in that when they get rolling, they’re tough to beat. This year, they were the toughest to knock off.

1. What more can be said about Tim Thomas? A 37-save shutout on the road in Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals is an unbelievable way to close out a season. A road shutout in Game 7 of the Cup finals is a first in NHL history. He’s also the oldest Conn Smtyhe Trophy winner in history and just the second American to win it. With the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy locked up, the only one left for him to win now is the Vezina Trophy. If/when Thomas wins that he’ll be the first goalie since Bernie Parent in the 1970s to sweep those three awards in the same year. That’s a pretty fantastic year.

2. A couple more fascinating tidbits on Thomas’ accomplishments this postseason brought to my attention by a friend of mine (Thanks Yuri). Thomas is the first American starting goalie to win the Stanley Cup since Mike Richter did it in 1994 with the Rangers. The other American Conn Smythe Trophy winner was Brian Leetch who also did that in 1994 for the New York Rangers. The Rangers opponent that year, of course, was none other than Vancouver.

If I’m on the Vancouver Canucks and my team makes a deep run in the playoffs again, I know I’d start rooting against teams with American goalies. Imagine the freakout that would ensue should the Canucks make the Cup finals against the Buffalo Sabres in the near future.

3. It’s pretty easy to make a scapegoat out of Roberto Luongo. He was solid, even great, in three games in this series. He was awful, terrible, and useless in three others. Tonight he wasn’t flawless and the Bruins took advantage of that. Of course there were other problems he had to deal with as well. Through seven games of the Stanley Cup finals Luongo had just eight goals scored in support of him and the Canucks were shutout twice themselves.

To give you an idea of how poorly the offense played here’s a fun stat: Roberto Luongo was tied for third on the Canucks in goals scored in the finals with zero. He was tied with 17 other players. That kind of offense, regardless of how well they played tight, defensive hockey in their three wins, is never going to get it done in a seven game series. Luongo will eat a lot of the blame, but there’s a lot of forwards in the Canucks locker room that have some soul searching to do.

4. How fun is it to be Patrice Bergeron? It’s got to be really awesomely fun to be that good at hockey. He’s won a gold medal at the World Junior Championships, an Olympic gold medal in 2010 with Team Canada, and now the Stanley Cup with the Bruins. For a guy whose career was put in doubt thanks to a major concussion years ago at the hands of then Flyers defenseman Randy Jones, Bergeron’s bounced back from that to be the Bruins’ most steady two-way forward.

He scores, he assists, he wins faceoffs, he defends against opposing team’s top centers. Having him score two goals, including the game-winner, in Game 7 was a perfect coda to what’s been a fantastic season for him.

5. And now for the sad side show that developed in Vancouver after the game as hordes of moron fans and non-fans alike decided rioting was the best way to grieve. When you mix loads of alcohol, a reported number of 100,000 people in the streets, and a soul-crushing loss in a city where fans are known to take things a little bit too personal when it comes to hockey you get what happened last night.

The observations that there were anarachist jerks mixed in with the crowd to help feed the ill feelings that lurk in the hearts of some fans is not shocking, especially if what CTV in Canada reported was true about some of those being the same band of cretins that stirred things up at the G20 summit in Toronto last summer.

I’d like to believe that the vast majority of hockey fans in Vancouver went home peaceably to drown their sorrows with their loved ones and friends, but the sheer number of jerks clad in Canucks gear caught on video and in photographs starting trouble is hugely disappointing. I’m sure all hockey fans are proud that this pack of punks helped give everyone in Vancouver and all over the NHL landscape a bad name.

  1. miketoasty - Jun 16, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    Congratulations Bruins and your fans for an awesome year! Thomas was stellar from the start of the season and just dominated all year long.

    But now to the sad part of these 5 points. Number 5. When they play all the riots on the news tonight, all anyone who isn’t a hockey fan is going to see is the Canucks jerseys and just go “Oh those hockey fans can’t control their emotions, what a bunch of goons”.

    So just wanted to post this and congratulate the Bruins for a great run and just make everyone realize how much of a step back these riots will be to non hockey fans alike who were starting to get pulled in after a great Olympics last year, and what ended up being a great playoffs this year (I mean come on how many game 7’s did we have?!).

  2. govtminion - Jun 16, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    If you really want a scapegoat, don’t look to Luongo. He didn’t have a great series, and probably will panic from now on whenever he has to fly to Boston for a game, but he’s not the reason the Canucks lost this. It’s time to have a serious sit-down and figure out just what the hell would motivate the Sedins to show up for something like this. Game 7, the Cup is in the hall waiting, and they get nothing? Between the two of them they picked up one goal and a handful of assists? If you’d told me two weeks ago that would happen, I’d have been happy to hear it as a B’s fan- and I’d have thought you were insane. But here we are.

    Luongo shares the load on this, no doubt. But the Sedins are the ones deserving of any tar-and-feather treatment they get.

    • bigbear42 - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:45 AM

      You’re right, Luongo didn’t play well, but it certainly isn’t his fault the Canucks lost. Vancouver only scored 8 goals in 7 games, and I don’t care how out-of-this-world Tim Thomas is playing, that just isn’t good enough. Every game the Canucks won was by one goal and Luongo’s play in those games had a lot to do with why they won them. As for the games in Boston, not a single one of the Canucks showed up to play there.

      • dongaudreau - Jun 16, 2011 at 4:37 PM

        I don’t think Luongo was horrible but the extra criticism heaped on him is undoubtedly because of his arrogant comments about Thomas’ style, or how he would have had no trouble with the game 5 goal Thomas gave up and the nonsensical comment saying He “pumped Thomas’ tires up” and didn’t get back any compliments. Huh??? I must have missed those nice things he said about TT. All I heard was an arrogance especially after game 2 when he mistakenly thought the Canucks were gonna wrap up the series shortly. I love it when anyone including athletes (Lebron) have to choke on their own haughty words. I don’t dislike the team but it was really fun to watch the coach, the biter, the floppers, and the cheap shot (how ’bout that icing call when Marchand was almost taken out, a CLEAR indication from the ref, arm up signalling icing…. no honour in that type of play no matter if it was a Canuck or Bruin…. I fault the coach for that type of crap. No surprise he came from Montreal.

  3. warpstonebc - Jun 16, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    I can’t blame Luongo. The Canucks don’t get out of either the Chicago or Nashville series without him. They also wouldn’t have pushed this to 7 without his 3 great games.

    I also don’t think the blame falls only on the Sedins. No one contributed offensively. It was a team-wide failure. They could not score on set plays and were bailed out on individual efforts for most of their 8 goals. Frankly, when that happens the only common denominator is coaching.

    I’m not saying Vigneault coached badly. Obviously, he is an excellent coach. But he never adjusted his team to the Bruins style of play. I don’t know if it was just a sense that eventually his team would click, but he kept sticking with strategies that didn’t work. Everytime Vancouver spent 4-5 seconds setting up in the offensive zone, the Bruins collapsed on passing lanes and played to the strengths of Thomas’ positioning.

    The Canucks only scored on rushes and on broken plays. I’m just stunned they kept on going to the “let’s be patient on the corners” well even when it had run dry for 6 games.

    BTW, if anything, Hamhuis’ injury just proved what an underated player he is in the Canucks system. When they lost him, they lost the quick transition game they exploited to skin teams during the entire season

  4. florida727 - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    Congratulations to the classless idiots of Vancouver that embarrassed their city and rendered it as the single biggest disgrace in all of Canada.

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