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Cullen: Running diary of Bruins' Game Seven victory

Scott Cullen
6/16/2011 1:26:13 AM
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Game Seven for the Stanley Cup doesn't happen that often, so I thought I'd borrow a page from Bill Simmons and go through the game with a running diary.

I also understand if reliving this game isn't going to be particularly popular on the West Coast.

FIRST PERIOD
18:12
The Canucks' first shot on goal is registered by Chris Tanev, giving Tim Thomas the record for the most saves in a playoff year. Thomas was on track to win the Conn Smythe whether the Bruins won Game Seven of not.

17:22 An early turnover by Adam McQuaid resulted in a good scoring chance for Vancouver's Jannik Hansen. Hansen was showing good speed and energy early.

16:17 Roberto Luongo lunged across the crease to stop David Krejci, the playoffs' leading goal-scorer to deny a rebound attempt.

15:55 Henrik Sedin missed a great chance, hitting Tim Thomas in the pads after cutting across the slot.

12:33 Tim Thomas looks behind him after stopping a backhand chance by Daniel Sedin.

During the commercial break, Mason Raymond was shown on the scoreboard, wearing a body brace and waving to the still-raucous crowd.

Raymond's broken vertebrae is an undeniably terrible injury, like so many serious injuries that befall hockey players, so it was encouraging to at least see him able to travel back to Vancouver and attend Game Seven, but it's going to be a long summer as he tries to rehab and prepare for next season.

Without Raymond in the lineup, the Canucks inserted Jeff Tambellini onto Ryan Kesler's line and, truth be told, Tambellini played well.

For the next six or seven minutes, the Bruins sustain pressure on maybe one shift and the Canucks had the better of the territorial play, but neither team had any outstanding chances.

5:23 Following a face-off in Vancouver's end, Brad Marchand controls the puck along the boards and makes a deft backhand pass to Patrice Bergeron, who one-times it off the post and into the net, behind Roberto Luongo.

Christian Ehrhoff had been responsible for Bergeron, coming out of the corner, but the Canucks had three players within a stick length of Bergeron on the play and not one of them prevented him from getting the shot off. Bergeron's release seemed to surprise Roberto Luongo, who didn't move until the puck was already in the net.

4:27 Ryan Kesler, who was skating as well in Game Seven as he did in any other games in the series, had a good chance off a rush, picking the puck up from  Tambellini, but Kesler was stopped by Thomas.

0:12 Canucks winger Chris Higgins flattened Bruins captain Zdeno Chara as he was skating backwards through neutral ice. It's difficult to determine intent, but even if the contact was entirely accidental, it was puzzling that this play was somehow not deserving of an interference penalty.

Neither team has done much on the power play in this series, but the "Let 'em play" approach to officiating (both ways - Bergeron broke Kesler's stick with a slash earlier that wasn't called either) actually does take the game out of the players' hands.

There was a panel at this at this year's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, that discussed how the refusal or reluctance to call penalties can alter the outcome of a game, effectively changing the rules under which the game is operating, on the fly.

At the end of the first period, Vancouver had outshot Boston 8-5 and Dan Paille, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell each had a shot for the Bruins, giving the fourth line more than half of Boston's shots on goal.

SECOND PERIOD
19:20
Kesler with a good shot after Tambellini wins a race to an icing, hit Thomas in the face mask.

18:53 Off a faceoff in the Vancouver zone, Brad Marchand walked out of the corner and hit the post after getting the puck past Luongo. Marchand was showing a ton of confidence early in this game.

11:10 Alex Burrows with a terrific opportunity in the slot, off a Chara giveaway, with Dennis Seidenberg and Tim Thomas diving in vain to stop him. But, even after Burrows put it past Thomas, Chara was guarding the net, with his ample frame, to block the shot.

At the game's midway point, the Bruins were being outshot 14-8.

7:47 Brad Marchand beat Kevin Bieksa to a loose puck rebound and then Marchand's wraparound beat Luongo, suddenly giving the Bruins some breathing room. Luongo should have caught the puck, leaving no rebound, but once the puck was up for grabs, Bieksa was beaten to it by Marchand. After losing defence partner Dan Hamhuis in the first game of the final, Bieksa was minus-5 in the last six games. Luongo was also tangled up in a collision with Daniel Sedin as he tried to recover to get across the crease to stop Marchand.

6:56 43-year-old Recchi dangled around a flat-footed Christian Ehrhoff for a great scoring chance, but was stopped in close by Luongo.

The Canucks line of Chris Higgins, Ryan Kesler and Jannik Hansen had created more chances for the Canucks and a shift of buzzing around the Bruins' net finally drew a penalty on Chara; the first power play the game. Chara led the Bruins with 3:36 shorthanded time on ice in the playoffs, so his absence on this kill could have been a big deal, but the Canucks' power play, having fallen on hard times, ending up 2-for-33 (6.0%) in the final.

2:25 Not only could the Canucks not score on the power play, but after the puck bounced off a stanchion on a clearing attempt, Patrice Bergeron was sprung on a partial breakaway. As Bergeron was harrassed by Christian Ehrhoff, who was going to get a penalty, the puck ended up sliding in past Luongo after Bergeron bumped into him.

That shorthanded goal gave the Bruins three shorties in the series, one more than the Canucks' two power play goals.

After two period, the Canucks held a 21-13 shots on goal advantage but, more telling, the Sedins were each minus-3 as the Canucks were down 3-0.

THIRD PERIOD
20:00
The Canucks shake-up lines to start the third, switching Hansen and Burrows, looking for a spark.

14:25 After getting clipped in the nose by Zdeno Chara, with no call, Hansen took out his frustrations by leveling Andrew Ference away from the play, a selfish reaction when playing for a team facing a huge deficit in the third period of Game Seven.

11:55 Tim Thomas stoned Daniel Sedin on the backhand off the rush after Dan Paille lost the puck in neutral ice. This wasn't the first time that the Canucks' first line was out against Boston's fourth line.

Midway through the third period, down3-0, the Canucks had registered five shots on goal in the first half of third period.

8:26 A backchecking Milan Lucic was called for hooking Henrik Sedin, possibly giving the Canucks one last gasp but, by now, you can guess how this power play turned out.

3:07 Desperate times call for desperate measures and the Canucks pulled Roberto Luongo to go with six skaters, but there was no surge to follow.

2:44 Brad Marchand scores into the empty net to seal the deal. (The Sedins were on for this one, too, making it minus-4 apiece on the night.) Fitting that it was Marchand, who was outstanding in Game Seven and, really, throughout the series, scoring five goals and seven points to lead the Bruins.

Mark Recchi, who announced his retirement after the game, also had seven points in the final series, while Michael Ryder and David Krejci contributed six points apiece.

0:00 As the final seconds counted down and the Bruins started skating towards Tim Thomas to start celebrating, there was one last shot fired the length of the ice that Thomas had to stop. It seemed unnecessary, given the 4-0 score, but at least there would be no doubt about who had the puck at game's end.

Thomas was a deserving Conn Smythe winner, posting a .967 save percentage and 1.15 goals against average in the final. Thomas' .940 save percentage in the playoffs was even better than his record-setting .938 save percentage from the regular season and was the third-best save percentage for a goaltender playing more than 20 games in a postseason (behind Jean-Sebastien Giguere in 2003 and Olaf Kolzig in 1998).

That Thomas was even in this position is a remarkable story. He had been supplanted as Boston's starter late last season by Tuukka Rask and Rask was the opening night starter, but Thomas forced his way back into the discussion with his early-season performance, allowing a total of three goals in six starts in October.

In addition to the magnificent play from Thomas, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg shut down the Sedins in the series and, even with a healthy lead, both got a lot of time in the third period of Game Seven, both playing between 10:30 and 11:00 in the third.

Daniel Sedin led the Canucks in scoring in the final, with four points, but significant offensive players Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins and Mason Raymond were all held to one or zero points in seven games against Boston.

For his part, Luongo was the second-best goaltender in the series. His .891 save percentage simply wasn't good enough and, despite all quality games that he played on this playoff run, his reputation is still going to be diminished by coming up short, even in a series that his team set a record for the fewest goals in a seven-game series, with eight.

It was an impressive display by Boston. As Chara said, they brought their game from Boston (where they had dominated Vancouver thoroughly) on the road, winning their first Stanley Cup since 1972.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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