The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup with a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 on Wednesday night. Here’s a report card on the two teams through the final series (with performances rated 1-to-10).
Boston: Tim Thomas may have won the Conn Smythe Trophy for his play through the first three rounds alone, but in the final, he was spectacular, holding the NHL’s highest-scoring team to eight goals in seven games. The Canucks found no answers to the league’s least orthodox goalie. There were no weak goals. The lasting image will be his frequent, reassuring smiles after skirmishes in front of his net. 9.
Vancouver: For six games Roberto Luongo was Jekyll and Hyde, posting two shutouts while being all but unbeatable at home and getting bombed for 15 goals and being pulled twice in three road games. In Game 7, he got beat on a good shot off the post, was bumped by teammate Daniel Sedin on the second goal, and was soft on the third (the fourth was into an empty net). Overall, not a command performance for one of the NHL’s highest paid goalies, who is signed through 2022, but without him, the Bruins would have put this away much earlier. 6.
Defence: Without being dominant, they did a solid job of keeping the Canucks forwards from zipping the puck around in the zone and in clearing the front of the net. Thomas was able to see most of the shots game after game. There were no tip-in goals. The Sedin twins who mesmerized defences all season were almost completely neutralized. 8.
Vancouver: Losing Dan Hamhuis to injury in the first game proved devastating. Aaron Rome took his spot and looked a little lost at times until he finally took himself out with a suspension for an ugly hit on Nathan Horton. The Canucks had dealt with injuries at the back all season and had some depth, but some regulars struggled, particularly Christian Ehrhoff, who was minus-7 for the series. Kevin Bieksa could not do it all himself. 6.
Boston: They crashed and banged and made classic north-south hockey work, even without Horton. David Krejci led all playoff scorers with 12 goals and 23 points, and had two goals and four assists in the final. Patrice Bergeron was superb from the opening round and capped it with two goals in Game 7, while his linemates, rookie Brad Marchand (five goals, two assists in the final) and 43-year-old Mark Recchi (three goals, four assists) were equally impressive. The energetic play of their fourth unit, led by tough guy Shaw Thornton, let them roll four lines and keep everyone fresh. 9.
Vancouver: Captain Henrik Sedin had 22 playoff points, but only one in the final. Daniel Sedin had 20 points, but only four in the final. The invisibility of their two stars left it to the second and third lines to put pressure on and score. Max Lapierre and Alex Burrows shared the team lead with two goals each in the series. Second line centre Ryan Kesler played with heart, but as a group, there was a surprising lack of creativity in the attacking zone. They seemed to spend the series trying to put the puck through Thomas instead of going around him. Even at home, they had only five goals in four games. Lots of harmless shots. 3.
Boston: It was supposed their biggest weakness but the Bruins won this battle hands down. They scored a middling five times on 29 power play opportunities, but that matched their output in the first three series combined. They were especially good killing penalties. They held Vancouver to 2-for-33 and scored three short-handed goals in the series. Bergeron and Marchand were particularly dangerous while on PK. 7.
Vancouver: The collapse of the power play was key to the series because they needed to punished Boston’s nasty physical play with goals. When they didn’t come, the Bruins’ confidence kept rising. The shots tended to come from the outside, making Thomas’ job considerably easier. They were given a gift power play in the third period of Game 7 and produced nothing when a goal could have got the crowd back and maybe started a rally. The PK was so-so. 3.