Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stanley Cup Finals - Game One

The city of Boston has been draped with black and gold over the last five days in preparation for the Stanley Cup Finals. The Bruins have not been to the Stanley Cup finals since 1990. In that time span, Boston has experienced three Super Bowl titles, two World Series titles, and an NBA title. The resurgence of hockey in the city has been extraordinary and quite honestly disappointing that it took so long because Boston was originally a hockey town. The Bruins appearance in the Finals this year against the Vancouver Canucks have brought its fair share of supplemental stories.

First of all, the distance between the two Stanley Cup hosting cities is 2,537 miles, the longest distance between Finals match-up opponents in history. Also, the Canucks are heavily favored to defeat the Bruins in less than seven games. However, there are some stats that might help ease the minds of Bruins fans. The last four teams to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in seven games (Bruins defeated the Lightning in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals) have won it all. Another interesting fact is that only one of the last seven President's Trophy winning teams (Canucks led the league with 117 points) have won the Stanley Cup. Now there are some things to think about.

Before we get to the game, I need to say something about a comment that was made today by British Columbia newspaper writer Tony Gallagher. He writes for The Province as a sports writer and he made some comments about the Bruins getting possible favorable treatment from the referees. The reason for this is that Gregory Campbell, Boston's fourth-line center, is the son of Colin Campbell, now ex-disciplinarian for the NHL. Gallagher also made a comment that referred to Colin Campbell's resignation
today: "Oh, now that his son (Gregory) made it to the Finals he can retire." Seriously? Colin Campbell had nothing to do with the referees or the way the game is officiated. Also, the Bruins have been one of the most penalized teams in the playoffs with 211 penalty minutes. Just another arrogant Canadian who writes fluff with nothing to back it up.

With all of that pre-game information taken care of, the Stanley Cup Finals were under way. The first period saw both teams getting off several shots. Even though Boston had more shots at the end of the first period (17-12), a majority of them came from a four minute power play that the Bruins failed to capitalize on. Vancouver had quality opportunities from Daniel Sedin and Alexandre Burrows. However, penalties hurt the Canucks as well. 10 total penalty minutes for the first period. The game was scoreless at the end of the first 20 minutes.

The second period contained moments of sloppy play from both teams, in which they were making poor passes to players who were out of position. The second period was also loaded with penalties. The Bruins even had an opportunity with a 5-on-3 man advantage. Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo made great stops and with a six foot nine inch Zdeno Chara standing in your way, that is not an easy task. The Bruins forwards were contributing on the defensive end of the ice as well. David Krejci and Tyler Seguin deflected shots away that could have had the chance to get into the cage. The game remained scoreless heading into the third period.

The story of the third period, and the story of the game, was the goaltending. Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo had a total of 70 pucks shot their way. Unfortunately, the only goal conceded in the game belonged to Boston. With less than 20 seconds left in the game, Raffi Torres (VAN) put the Canucks on top 1-0 after catching Thomas committing too early to a shot and slid the puck into the goal. Jannik Hansen and Ryan Kesler had the assists. Vancouver held on to win the game 1-0 and they take a 1-0 series lead. In all honesty, the Bruins did not have a real great scoring chance tonight and the Canucks deserved to win this game. Game two will be Saturday night in Vancouver.

Gold Star: Tim Thomas (33 saves on 34 shots, 1 goal allowed, .971 save percentage).

Black Star: Johnny Boychuk...sometimes when he plays along the boards it is his greatest asset but tonight it was his downfall. He committed to the puck and missed it right at the blue and that led to the only goal of the game that was scored by Vancouver. It is tough to just give Boychuk the blame since it was towards the end of a fast-paced game where stamina comes into play and there were other players who could have played better. At the professional level, however, you cannot use stamina as an excuse.

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