Friday, May 27, 2011

Eastern Conference Finals - Game Seven

The end of game six of the Eastern Conference finals spouted some controversy. As the Bruins were skating off the ice and back to the dressing room, Lightning fans were throwing hand clappers onto the ice and at Bruins players. This caused Bruins forward Nathan Horton to react irrationally by spraying a fan with a water bottle and later throwing that same bottle into the crowd. No disciplinary action was taking by the league as a result of the incident. How would Horton respond in game seven? Lets just say he responded just fine.

The two greatest words in all of sports are in fact the words "game seven" and this one lived up to the hype. The first and second periods of tonight's game were very fast paced. The conditions of the ice slowed things down at times as players from both teams slipped and fell trying to chase the puck. Even though the score remained at zero, the Bruins were clearly getting the better chances. They ended up tallying 38 shots on Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson. A scary moment occurred in the second period when Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk drove a slap shot right into the face of Lightning forward Steven Stamkos. He managed to return to the game despite having his nose almost shattered and blood all over his sweater.

In the third period of this penalty-free game, the Bruins started to get a sense that it was just a matter of time. Brad Marchand and Michael Ryder each had perfect opportunities to score but Roloson was there to shut it down. The lone goal of the game came when Andrew Ference slid the puck over to David Krejci who made a beautiful pass over to Nathan Horton for the tip in goal. Krejci's pass was so perfect that Horton did not even have to move his stick in the motion of a shot. The Bruins defense held off a late rush by the Lightning and Boston held on to win game seven by a score of 1-0. They win the Eastern Conference and advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1990.

This was one of those rare games where every single player on the ice contributed to the win. Whether it was a goal, an assist, a hit, a key save, or a defensive stand, every player that suited up tonight (with the exception of Tuukka Rask) played great. However, we all know that Claude Julien will find something wrong with the victory. That is part of being a unique coach to say the least. Whether you take that as a positive statement or a negative statement, it all depends on the individual. The Bruins will take on the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals and game one will be Wednesday night in Vancouver.

Gold Star: Tim Thomas (24 saves on 24 shots, 1.000 save percentage)...he will arguably challenge Canucks forward Ryan Kesler for the Conn Smythe Trophy (MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs).

Black Star: Daniel Paille...the lack of playing time cut into his production tonight. Only six shifts for a little over five minutes of ice time. The Bruins did a solid job of keeping Dwayne Roloson from heading to the bench for the extra attacker in the final minutes. Paille would have been on the ice if Roloson got to the bench sooner because Paille is one of Boston's great penalty killing forwards and with the Lightning having six attackers, that would have been his job.

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