Bruins capture Stanley Cup

The Boston Bruins went into Vancouver and skated all over the Canucks on their way to a 4-0 victory in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final.

After three dominating performances in Boston, the Bruins found a way to bottle their home game and bring it west. Aside from a few players, the Canucks came out flat and got average goaltending, yet again. The Bruins were good from top to bottom and received great goaltending from the slam-dunk Conn Smythe winner.

A lot of credit needs to be given to the Bruins for not only finding a way to steal a win on the road but roll up two stellar games in a row to flip the series in their favor. After Vancouver’s 1-0 win in game five the Canucks had all of the momentum. Unfortunately Roberto Luongo was bad in game six and bad again in game seven. The Bruins first goal was rather fluky but goals two and three needed to be saved. In fact, it looked to me like he gave up on Patrice Bergeron’s shorthanded goal. Continue reading

Game seven, who has the edge?

You have probably heard t at least twice today. “It is the game every young boy dreams of. Scoring the winning goal in overtime of game seven to win the Stanley Cup.”

If that isn’t said by Doc Emrick is some form tonight I would be happy to buy a Carolina Hurricanes championship hat. But I have faith that some facsimile of that statement will be utter by an NBC staffer on live TV this evening.

What I’m curious to see is how short of a leash is given to Roberto Luongo (LeBrongo if you wish). If the Bruins pot one or two in the first you have to think Corey Schneider will get tossed between the pipes quite quickly.

However, I don’t see t getting to that point. The Canucks rebounded for two horrible games in Boston for a big win in game five that was ripe with sound defensive hockey. The Nucks came out hitting that game and didn’t allow the Bruins to establish themselves. Expect to see that again tonight.

The Canucks will had the benefit of the last change and he ability to keep the Sedin’s away from Chara and Siedenberg while keeping Beiksa and Edler locked down on the Krejci line. They will also have their home fans behind them.

What will work against the Canucks is the ever tightening noose around their collective necks. They took hold of the series in game five but took too much rope as they headed to Boston for game six. They have just about hung themselves. Luongo is also not a safe bet, no matter how good he has been at home.

Meanwhile the Bruins have Tim Thomas and an angry attitude as they carry another blowout win into Vancouver. The one guarantee I can make you is that Thomas will win the Conn Smythe. Outside of Ryan Kesler blowing up for like 8 points, the trophy is going to belong to Thomas. The Bruins also have more healthy players and the sense that scoring the first goal will do the Canucks in.

I picked the Canucks to win this series and I felt really good about my pick after the first two games. However, I’m taking the Bruins to win tonight. They have imposed their will on the Canucks at TD Garden and, truthfully, they were two bounces away from winning games one and two. The fourth game is always the toughest to win, especially after the team on the brink is given new life. That is what has happened here. the Canucks let the Bruins back into the series and they will pay for it tonight. Just like in 1994, the Canucks fall in a seventh game.

Game six, will the ‘Nucks close it out?

If the first two games in Boston were any indication, it will be a chore for Vancouver to close out the Stanley Cup Final on the road. In fact, the first two games may make this an impossible game to win for the Canucks.

Looking at the situation there isn’t much of a difference. Vancouver recaptured the momentum in game five, their goalie found his swagger and the penalty kill regained form. Not to mention, the team stopped acting like a bunch of hormonal teenagers and just played hockey in game five. Boston returns home on their heels and in a must-win situation. Add to that their power play continues to be a bugaboo.

The only difference that lies in the weeds for game six is the mental factor. The Bruins have to play a flawless game in order to force a game seven. The Canucks also know they are one win away and 60 good minutes will grant them Lord Stanley’s Cup. All the players will say “we just have to forget about it and play our game” or “this is just another game, we just need to go out and win it.” That is all fine and dandy, but they are certainly thinking of what lies at the end of 60 minutes. How will it affect the game? I can’t say. I just know they are huffing grass if they haven’t started sweating a little about the prospect of this game. Continue reading

Bobby Lou or Corey Schnider in game five?

Roberto Luongo wasn’t very good on two of Boston’s goals last night. The other two weren’t fantastic either. That doesn’t even begin to explain game three.

When the Canucks began to melt down against the Blackhawks, the epicenter was in net. Most of the blame was shouldered on Roberto Luongo. He wasn’t good in the middle of that series, nor was his team. Now, the rest of the Canucks were very average in games three and four and Luongo was just as average. Continue reading

Rome gets four games

Aaron Rome delivered a monsters hit to Nathan Horton at the Vancouver blue line last night. The hit left Horton unconscious on the ice and Rome was ejected.

The fallout is this: Horton will miss the remainder of the Finals with a severe concussion and Rome will miss the remainder of the Finals with a four-game suspension.

I think the NHL’s punishment is appropriate. Rome left his feet and hammered a guy way too late. The result was a serious injury and Rome will now pay the price.

A lot of people seem to think the four-game ban isn’t enough and i have to disagree. I don’t think this was a hit to the head, nor was it blind side. Face it people, when the players are skating AT each other there is not a blind side. Sure Horton was vulnerable but it wasn’t a blind side hit. I do agree that the hit was far too late and that by leaving his feet Rome was putting Horton in a position to be injured.

So Rome deserved a suspension and he got one. He will not play in the rest of this series and that is fair. There is a theory that playoff games count double when dealing with suspensions, so the critics can rest with the fact that Rome is suspended for eight games, technically speaking. Personally, I think that theory is a load of garbage. Four games is four games, period.

However, this was the exact length the guy deserved. There is no previous history with the guy, in fact he has been the victim twice this season. So don’t hate on he discipline system on this one. Had they only given him one or two games thee would be a case, but missing the remainder of their run is all Rome needed to be given.

NHL’s consistency bites them again

This topic has been rehashed far too many times. But the fact of the matter is Alex Burrows should not have played in game two of the Stanly Cup Finals. However, he did and he had a very small impact on the game.

I am a Canucks fan, have been for a while now (didn’t jump on the bandwagon this year). I wanted Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler shipped to Buffalo at least three years ago. This is a team I have a vested interest in, I still think it is a sham that Burrows was able to play. We can all admit he bit Patrice Bergeron’s finger, there is no doubting that one. Most people can probably admit he should have been suspended for the infraction. I also think it is safe to assume that a vast majority of hockey fans think it is brutal that the NHL didn’t give him a single game for chomping down on Bergeron’s channel changing digit.

I will admit when I saw the incident live I conceded that he could get away with the bit because it looked like he was attempting to pull Bergeron’s hand out of his mouth rather that ingesting it. Still, there is little evidence to show he didn’t bit the guy and he should have gotten at least one game. Here lies the problem.

Even with Colin Campbell, the previously assumed culprit of the NHL’s wishy-washy discipline, out of the decision making process, the NHL still got it wrong. The same goes for Nathan Horton not getting suspended for throwing a water bottle at a Tampa fan (even if he/she deserved it). Add to that his borderline headshot on Steve Downie. Horton probably shouldn’t have played in game seven of the ECF and he scored the clinching goal. Hell, Andrew Ference went out of his way to knock Jeff Halpern in the face during the Bruins’ series with the Habs. Ference ended up having a say in the outcome of that game too.

It seems as if the NHL isn’t capable of drawing that line. They are afraid of banning their stars and they’re equally afraid to drastically affect the outcome of a game or asides with a ruling. Unfortunately they are doing exactly that be being consistently inconsistent. Perhaps Brendan Shanahan will be able to bring some stability to this process, because now it is nothing short of a train wreck.

2ITB Stanley Cup Finals prediction

The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals will likely be decided by one thing: the Bruins ability to play tight, defensive hockey. If the Canucks are able to wheel and deal they will be very successful. If the Bruins are able to check the Canucks’ top scorers, the Bruins ability to score five-on-five will win the series.

A lot will be made of the goaltending match up. Tim Thomas will likely be the Vezina Trophy winner and Roberto Luongo has forever been branded as the guy who can’t win the big one. Thomas had his troubles against Tampa and their firepower while Luongo has given up a few bad goals as he has recovered from a rough first round quite well. Continue reading

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Finals recap

Better late than never. My stats got a major boost as I went two for two on my Conference Finals predictions. I really enjoyed the two series. I thought San Jose could give the Canucks more of a test, but Vancouver’s talent really came to play in the WCF. There was a long period of time when I thought the Lightning were going to steal that ECF from Boston. The Bruins managed to grind out the series victory, but it certainly wasn’t as easy as many expected.

#3 Boston Bruins defeat #5 Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3

This was quite the back and forth series as both teams received stellar and porous goaltending, from the same guys. Dwayne Roloson showed some serious signs of fatigue as he had carried Tampa through the first two rounds. He was pulled and replaced by Mike Smith. Smith kept the Bolts alive and ultimately it was the inability to score that killed Tampa, not goaltending. However, a few key saves would have closed the series in six, maybe even five games for Tampa. Continue reading

Another game seven, just what the doctor ordered

I am not a fan of the NBA. This is no secret. I am no fan of over-extended seasons (Super Bowl in February, World Series in the snow) either. However, I feel it is better press for the NHL to finish the marathon second. That means I am really pulling for a quick finish for the NBA playoffs while a drawn out, dramatic end for the NHL.

As the NFL and NBA potentially head toward a work stoppage the NHL needs as much solid press as it can get. Even Jim Rome is talking hockey. This is a good thing. To capture more casual fans the NHL needs to hit a broader audience. Hell, even the bandwagoners down in Tampa are selling out the arena. The Canes couldn’t pull the same feat in the 2006 Conference Finals. Continue reading

Save of the season, check

Tim Thomas made the save of the season on Steve Downie tonight. Observe:

Thomas said after the game it was more luck than anything else – it was the booze dancing, I suppose. But still, just a nasty save by Thomas. Could turn out to be a major point in this series. If Downie ties it up there, who knows where that game ends up. The Bolts had been pressing hard the entire third, I feel like they had the competitive edge for the final 20. But Thomas robbed Downie and sent the series back to Tampa 3-2. Now Tampa has a lot more to worry about.

Credit to Mike Smith for a beauty on Chara at the other end. I thought he was toast when I watched it live, best back-to-back saves I have seen in some time.
Stick tap to Wysh @ Puck Daddy for getting the video uploaded so fast.