For the first time in 39 years, the Boston Bruins are Stanley Cup champions.
A convincing 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks in the seventh and deciding game put an end to the 2010-2011 NHL season, which gave Bruins captain Zdeno Chara the chance to lift the coveted trophy in celebration.
“It’s a huge honour and it’s a privilege,” the 6’9” Slovak defenceman said. “I’ll probably remember that feeling and that moment for the rest of my life.”
In similar fashion to much of this series, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was once again unbeatable between the posts. The unorthodox netminder made 37 saves to record his second shutout of the series, and was also the focal point of the post-game dog-pile from his teammates.
The final buzzer also put an end to the worst kept secret of the playoffs so far, as Thomas was awarded with the Conn Smythe trophy. At 37 years-old, Thomas becomes the oldest player to ever win the award, which is presented to the playoff MVP.
In a series dominated by home-ice advantage, the Bruins finally managed to translate their play at TD Garden into a victory North of the border. After coming agonizingly close in each of the first three games in Vancouver, Boston made sure to leave plenty of distance between themselves and their opponents this time around.
Patrice Bergeron gave Boston the lead with just over five minutes left in the first period. When rookie Brad Marchand scored to make it 2-0 in the second period, a dejected crowd remained hopeful that their Canucks could mount a comeback.
But a shorthanded goal from Bergeron proved to be the backbreaker.
Instead of cutting the lead in half, a Canucks power play gave a 3-0 lead to the Bruins. A determined effort by Bergeron to fight off Christian Ehrhoff and create a partial breakaway resulted in the pair hitting the ice and crashing into Roberto Luongo. The collision allowed the puck to slide over the goal line.
After review, the goal was good.
Everyone in the building (along with a record-breaking audience of 8.76 million on CBC) knew the cup was heading to Massachusetts.
For the Vancouver Canucks, the loss signals a bitter ending to arguably the best season in franchise history. After an impressive display through the opening three rounds, the President’s Trophy winners were simply outplayed by their Eastern Conference opponents.
“Obviously, we are really disappointed, we are real proud of what [the players] did, of the organization and of our fans and their reaction [in the arena] tonight,” Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault was quoted as saying by TSN. “But we have to give credit where it’s due. It was a really hard fought series and Boston deserved to win.”
Despite the desire of many to point the finger at Roberto Luongo, the Sedin twins and the rest of the Vancouver Canucks for failing to deliver on the biggest stage, it is the Boston Bruins who should be reaping the praises of hockey fans.
Make no mistake, Vancouver did not give away this series. The Boston Bruins took it from them.
And for their efforts, they will now be immortalized in NHL history.
By the Numbers: The Stats that tell the Story
Goals Scored: Boston outscored Vancouver 23-7.
Points: Captain Henrik Sedin registered only one point in the Stanley Cup Final. Rookie Brad Marchand notched seven, including three in the decisive seventh game.
Goals against Average: Tim Thomas recorded a 1.15 GAA in the series, while Roberto Luongo posted a 5.28 mark in the final two games.
Power Outage: The Canucks scored only two goals in the series with the man-advantage. Boston managed to net three goals while shorthanded.
Getting off to a Quick Start: The team that scored the first goal won every game of the series.
— Photo courtesy of David Elop