VANCOUVER – The blue and green hordes are now just blue. A few black and blue, after the post-game unrest in Vancouver’s streets.
Video of injured forward Mason Raymond waving to the crowd, the Green Men, multiple face painters, fans hoisting home-made Cups and 18,860 terrible towels. All faded in the face of a resilient Boston team that soaked up Vancouver pressure, relied on a goalkeeper as reliable as a Swiss watch and took advantage of its chances.
Rogers Arena rocked to chants of “We Want the Cup” before the puck dropped on a glorious West Coast on Wednesday. But the Bruins worked harder for it than a home side that perhaps was beginning to feel the pinch of absent injured and suspended players.
Despite being outshot 37-21, Boston won 4-0 and had sucked much of the oomph out of Game 7 in the second period.
A tense first saw the Canucks apply pressure and the Bruins deflect it, occasionally counter-attacking. Both teams protected their goalies, cluttering up the lanes or blocking shots.
Roberto Luongo had little to do in the Vancouver goal but every time he did, the crowd shouted “Lou.”
The breakthrough came after a first-period TV timeout.
Boston’s Brad Marchand went unmolested for a skate with the puck after a faceoff in the Canucks’ end, then sent it through several bodies in front before Patrice Bergeron swept it home at 14:37
The Sedins, who had earlier shown signs of exerting their offensive presence, were on the ice for Vancouver at the time.
The Bruins, who came into the game 11-1 in this post-season when scoring first, began to find their game in the wake of the goal, dumping the puck in and hitting Vancouver players.
Still, the home team served notice late in the period the game was not over when a Canuck ran over Bruins captain Zdeno Chara at the blue-line, leaving him crumpled on the ice like a giant noodle.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was a rock, stopping 238 of 246 shots in the series. Luongo, to his credit, took time after the game to pound him on the shoulder as they shook hands, giving credit where credit was due.
As he sat in front of reporters, his bulky goalie pads jammed under the table, Thomas took time to read some of the names etched on the Conn Smythe Trophy.
“Patrick Roy, Ron Hextall, Ken Dryden. Those are the three goalies that I can just see on this side facing me. It’s amazing.”
Thomas is a worthy addition.
The 37-year-old becomes the oldest player to be honoured as the playoff MVP. Along the way, he set records for most saves in the final (238) and playoff year (798). He also faced more shots (849) in one playoff year than any other goaltender in NHL history.
“Tim Thomas, in these playoffs, just totally dominated,” said Boston coach Claude Julien. “And that’s the sign of a great goaltender and he was on top of his game from start to finish, especially in this final round. He was outstanding every game. … He was in the zone, he was focused, never let anything rattle him—even questions about his style of play.”
The Bruins gave Thomas some breathing room with two goals in the second period, although it took a while for their offence to get going.
The period was almost seven minutes old before Boston got its first shot, adding to the modest five it collected in the first. And this despite a string of flubbed Canuck clearances inside the Vancouver end.
Nine minutes in at the other end, Chara was forced to play goal, stopping Alex Burrows after Thomas was pulled out of position.
Marchand struck again, this time serving as scorer rather than provider. He went around the goal and stuffed the puck in at 12:13 for a 2-0 lead.
The first penalty of the game did not come until 16:07 of the second—Chara for interference—and Boston was the team to profit.
Killing the penalty, Bergeron broke out of his zone between two Canucks like he had been fired out of a cannon. He was pulled down as he neared Luongo but managed to propel the puck in the net as the Canucks goalie went down in the face of the falling Bergeron and the defenceman.
The play was reviewed but the goal, at 17:35, stood.
Marchand rubbed salt in the wound with an empty net goal with 2:44 remaining.
The Sedins were on the ice for all four goals while Boston’s Marchand, Bergeron and 43-year-old linemate Mark Recchi stole their offensive thunder.
Luongo, who had run hot and cold all series, was somewhat in themiddle this time. But his defence collapsed around him on several occasions and the Bruins made him pay.
Plus he had no breathing room.
The Canucks, all mighty in the regular season with 262 goals, managed just eight in seven games when it counted the most. And the scoring machine was stuck in neutral Wednesday.
The Bruins came into Game 7 with some dodgy numbers.
—5-12 in Stanley Cup final, last lifting the Cup in 1972.
—Five straight losses in final series (1974, 1977, 1978, 1988 and 1990).
—3-10 in Stanley Cup final elimination games.
But they calmly orchestrated some history of their own, winning three Games 7s en route to the Cup. No once can say these Bruins didn’t work for the championship.
“That’s been our theme for these playoffs—60-minute efforts,” said Julien. “Because they’ve heard me say it all year, whenever we haven’t won games, I’ve talked about having one bad period or two bad periods.”
Julien said his squad—which ranked seventh overall during the regular season, 14 points behind Vancouver—performed best when it kept a lid on its emotions.
“Our team, if it gets stressed out, has never performed well,” he said earlier Wednesday. “So I don’t want us to go out there stressed out, but I expect our team to go out there excited and determined to do the job. “
Julien, like many of his Bruins, had family with him to see history. He was joined on the podium by five-year-old daughter Katryna.
“She came all the way from Boston to watch us win the Stanley Cup,” he said proudly.
Thomas had 10-year-old daughter Kiley cheering him on—and watching from the back of the post-game news conference.
The Bruins came across as a tight blue-collar group with few airs. The Canucks seemed grumpier, a little more aristocratic and ultimately fragile.
“We scored eight goals in seven games … Me and Dan are the one who score and we didn’t do it. We didn’t score enough and that’s the way it is,” said a tight-lipped Henrik Sedin.
For Vancouver and its diehard Canuck fans, it’s wait until next season.
Thanks to some locals, it will take a while to live down the black eye left by the antics outside the arena in the wake of the Game 7 loss.
Members of the UFC’s travelling troop—in town for UFC 131 last Saturday—marvelled at the city’s celebrations following Game 5.
Tapout co-founder Dan (Punkass) Caldwell tweeted at the time that the whole city was “goin Crazy! Someguy just ran up&stuck half his body in our car!
“Hate to see what happens when they lose!” he added.
We found out Wednesday night.