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The Boston Bruins are Stanley Cup Champions

June 16, 2011

It still hasn’t hit me yet. It probably won’t for a few days, maybe until the parade. It’s funny because I was welling up with emotion all day long thinking of what could be and what is. I guess it was the way the game unfolded. A first period lead turned into a three-goal advantage in the second period and from there it was all but sealed. There wasn’t a Nathan Horton overtime goal, or even a goal in the last 10 minutes to seal it. If there had been I would have lost it. Definitely. But the last 30 minutes were so decisive, so defensive, such Bruins hockey that it didn’t feel like anything beyond comprehension.

Let’s talk about the game before the fun stuff. In the first period the Bruins struggled mightily to match the Canucks in all aspects. The Canucks were threatening constantly, skating hard, and had the Bruins on the ropes but Tim Thomas played Superman once again and kept the Canucks off the board with some of his sharpest play in the playoffs. Really, the fourth line was the only line worth a damn in the first period. Luckily, something was said in between periods and the rest of the team matched the checking lines intensity.

The second line was dynamite tonight, scoring all four goals and keeping the Canucks top two lines off the score sheet. It was their best line in the regular season and it was their best line when it needed to be. Patrice Bergeron’s first goal was flukey but a great play that really changed the tide. Brad Marchand created the play along the boards, got the D scrambling, and put it in front. Marchand had a three-point night. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t expected to make the team in September. Patrice Bergeron, the guy who has best represented the Bruins this decade had a huge game as well. He potted two goals, the second one on sheer will and was tremendous all night, going a game-high +4. Then there is Mark Recchi. The ageless one went out on top with an assist and had 3-4-7 this series, in his final seven games. And oh my God what if he had scored on that breakaway. He showed legs I didn’t know he still had. That would have been awesome.

Honestly, I bet you the Sedin’s are already over this loss. They certainly played like they didn’t care a bit about the Stanley Cup. Disinterested, shut down, ghost-like all series long. I was a big fan of the Sedin’s before this series but they are two guys I wouldn’t want leading my team to the promised land. They can’t play outside of their game and when they go up against good defensemen they go silent.

Ryan Kesler on the other hand showed me something these last two games. He gets it. I mean he still only managed one point this series and was -6 this series but at least he was skating hard and going for broke. Rip the C off Henrik‘s sweater and put it on Kess’ immediately if you want to change the culture in Vancouver’s room.

You know, I really thought the cheap stuff would stop in Game 7 but it didn’t. Jannik Hansen took a run at Andrew Ference after getting high-sticked by Zdeno Chara, hammering the unsuspecting D-man miles away from the play. There was another hit on Chara by Chris Higgins, what should have been at least a two-minute interference after a huge collision at the blue line, but wasn’t called. Thankfully the Hockey Gods finally intervened and gave the Cup to the deserving team.

So that whole 3-0 collapse thing isn’t as bad in retrospect, huh? The collapse actually helped this team in a perverted way. If they don’t blow that lead they don’t get better, more focused, and better prepared. How good were the Bruins with their back against the wall this postseason with the same group of leaders? It’s pretty easy to see that they probably don’t win this Cup without the collapse of last year.

Also, you can no longer point the finger at Zdeno Chara and say, “he can’t win the big one”. Chara was a revelation all post-season long, posting a playoff high +16. He played through sickness and played against the opposing teams best players in four rounds and came out the resounding victor in each matchup. By the way, the pictures and videos of Chara celebrating are awesome. Maybe better then Sturm Face. Maybe.

Then there’s Dennis Seidenberg. Just as important a defensive asset as Chara. He got more minutes in the playoffs then he did all year and rose to the challenge. He was a force along the boards, sometimes having better games then Chara. I still can’t fathom how this guy bounced around so much before finding a home in Boston. He’s a beast. He’s so strong, so tenacious, so smart, and so hard-working. Along with Krejci, if he was healthy last season there’s no way that team collapses against Philly.

Tim Thomas. What a story. They should make a movie about this guy and it should be narrated by Morgan Freeman. He was a 30-year-old rookie, kind of a sideshow for his incomparable style, then worked his ass off to become a Vezina Trophy winner at 35 and a Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup winner at 37. He’s had perhaps the best total season by a goaltender of all-time. Nah, screw that. He’s had the best total season by a goaltender of all-time. That probably sounds ignorant but if someone puts a better, more clutch, important one in front of me I’ll gladly shake their hand.

If there was a rule that the Conn Smythe winner had to go to the winner of the series who the hell would have gotten it in Vancouver? Henrik Sedin had 22 points but was -7, similar stats for Daniel. Ryan Kesler was 7-12-19 +2, so maybe him but none of them did a thing in this series. The three players combined for just six points in the seven-game series.

As my father predicted, the Bruins put The Jacket on the Cup in the room after the game. God, I love that thing. If whoever made the jacket re-released it it would rival the Belichick hoodie as most-coveted ugly sports apparel in New England.

It was also a nice touch to have all the players who didn’t dress to wear their uniforms, even the Black Aces and of course Nathan Horton. The Bruins understand that those players are just as much Bruins as the ones on the ice, whether it be busting their ass in practice, sitting on the 9th floor, or being injured. Lifting the Cup in a suit must just feel lame.

How awesome must it have been for Milan Lucic to lift the cup in his hometown. He got a nice ovation, which was a nice touch by the Vancouver fans, you know, until they burned their city to the ground. He had a good game too, tying together the first line well and skating hard and fast all night long. He’s a big game player folks and he’s two months older than me. I knew there was a reason I bought his Winter Classic jersey.

Speaking of big game players I love Rich Peverley. When Horton went down in Game 3 I was worried that the first line would dissolve into a hapless mix of players trying desperately to plug a big hole and I admit, I initially didn’t think Peverley was the solution. I thought Michael Ryder should have gotten that chance but boy was I wrong. Since Game 3 Peverley netted four points, including two goals in Game 4 when the Bruins turned the series around. His speed, skill and tenacity in all three zones are rare to find at the trade deadline but Peter Chiarelli did. Plus, he had an awesome playoff beard.

Pretty sure Tyler Seguin was one of the last players to lift the Cup and deservedly so. Not because he wasn’t a considerable part of the playoff run but because the damn kid is 19. He didn’t have to wait at all. Mark Recchi had a 15-year gap between cups to put that in perspective.

Bruins were 9-0 when Marchmont scored a goal. Oh yeah, he had 11 in the playoffs. And he’s a rookie. Beyond comprehension.

Just a little more believable, but not much was that David Krejci had 12 goals this playoffs, and was certainly the second best player in the playoffs. He had 13 goals the entire season.

Things that will live on together. The save. and the other save. Michael Ryder, if this is your last game as a Bruin, which it should probably be, I will always look back to that glove save and smile knowing you may have saved the Bruins season, you Newfie bastard.

Team who scored first in the Finals was 7-0.

Whoever shot the puck on Tim Thomas at the end of the game is kind of a jerk and kind of not at the same time. We’ve heard the tale of Chicago’s missing SCF puck but ASSUMING Timmy held on to that thing, the Bruins will have that puck forever. I can only hope that in all the excitement somebody took care of that tiny bit of rubber.

How spoiled am I? I’m 22 and have seen seven championships by Boston teams in my lifetime, all in the last 10 years. There are entire generations of sports fans who haven’t seen one for any of the team’s they love. I’ve seen six by my three most beloved teams. (I could care less about the Celtics, sorry folks)

Cam Neely has got to feel good about finally getting his Cup. He was cut down in his prime by cheapshots and got so close. It’s got to be validating for him (and Don Sweeney) and all the other Bruins who have stayed in the area but couldn’t win it themselves. Red Sox-esque in that fashion.

So how many ‘Fire Claude’ calls will the radio stations get tomorrow? I’m dead serious. I’ll be shocked if there isn’t one. People are that crazy. Someone, I think my Dad, made a great point tonight. Terry Francona wasn’t well liked UNTIL he won the World Series in 2004. It’s hard to think that now but it was. I remember everyone calling him FranCOMA and a lot of people calling for his head.

While we’re on cross-sports talk, how jaded are Boston fans going to be now? The Pats was a nice surprise and I was a little too young to really appreciate it in full (I think I was 12) and it was so unexpected. The Sox championship was perfect, I was 16, had suffered SOME heartbreak by that team and was a seminal moment for all of Boston. After those championships the Boston fan got jaded and expected championships every year. Except the Bruins fan. The only remaining pure fan base of the bunch. Now what the hell do we do now that we’ve lost that yearning? I don’t really care right now because wanting the yearning instead of the hardware is utterly insane but I do wonder how it will change us.

This team was perhaps the best ‘team’ in the purest sense of the word of all the Boston sports champions. At least since the 2001 Patriots who stressed team over all. Then again that’s the nature of hockey. They truthfully do it for the guy next to them just as much as for themselves. It’s what makes it the best sport in the world and the most admirable athletes in the world.

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