The Stanley Cup had never been higher when the giant Zdeno Chara lifted the famous trophy above his head at Rogers Arena.
Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins shut out the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in the deciding game of the Stanley Cup finals to become NHL Champions.
Last season it looked as though Thomas’ tenure at the Boston Bruins was over. With his form dwindling and faith put in the young Tuukka Rask, it looked bleak for the veteran.
However, hard work paid off for Thomas who took his good form from the regular season into the playoffs, where he shrugged off the challenge of the Presidents’ Trophy winners – marking Game 7 with his second shutout of the series.
Thomas made 238 saves across the seven-game series, and surpassed Vancouver Kirk McLean’s record for saves in the post-season.
The 4-0 Bruins win was quite the anticlimax. With so much hope and expectations on the shoulders of the Canucks’ players, it was the Bruins who lifted Lord Stanley’s Mug for the first time in 39 years.
Having previously eliminated the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning in deciding games, the Bruins remained calm against an eager Canucks team early on. Thomas remained a rock as the Bruins’ depth allowed them to slowly take the game out of reach.
The heroes on the night were Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron who netted two goals apiece. The Canucks started better but rarely threatened a cool Thomas, who picked up the Conn Smythe Trophy.
It soon turned sour for the Canucks as Bergeron’s quick shot opened the scoring. There was no panic until Marchand’s wrap-around gave his team some breathing space.
The Canucks had the chance to strike back with the first power play chance, but it turned into a nightmare. Bergeron found himself on a breakaway, and was bowled over. However, the puck found its way into the net and the goal was awarded. Marchand added a forth in the third period as the Canucks gave up, allowing the Original Six team to claim their sixth Cup.
Much had been said prior to the playoffs about the strength in depth of the Canucks. However, it was the depth of the Bruins that sent the Cup back to Boston. Boston’s forth line was the most creative in Game 7, and helped them throughout the series.
The Canucks looked in control of the series after winning the first two games. However, a late hit by Aaron Rome on Nathan Horton woke up the Bruins as they stamped their physical mark on the series. The Canucks, and in particular Roberto Luongo were overwhelmed by the Bruins’ effort as the champions went from strength to strength.
Luongo struggled in Boston, but credit is due to Claude Julien for the way his team attacked the Vancouver stopper. The Canucks have a deadly offense but it was unable to flourish against a strong Bruins defence.
Bergeron kept Ryan Kesler out of the headlines with some gritty play in the face-off circle. The Sedin twins were poor throughout the series, largely due to the organization of Shawn Thornton, Dennis Seidenberg and the rest of a solid defensive unit.
Mark Recchi said an emotional farewell to his NHL career. The three-time Stanley Cup winner goes out on a high at the age of 43.
The big bad Bruins are back, and with such a young roster tied down for several years, we could be seeing more of the bruising Bruins for a while.