Monday, June 27, 2011

"Butch" Cassidy To Lead Providence

Boston Bruins Name Bruce Cassidy as Head Coach of Providence

Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that they have named Bruce Cassidy head coach of the club's American Hockey League affiliate, the Providence Bruins.

Cassidy, 46, becomes the 10th head coach in Providence history after serving as the team's assistant coach for the past three seasons, during which time the P-Bruins compiled a 117-103-10-10 (W-L-T-OT/SOL) record. He replaces Rob Murray.

A native of Ottawa, Ontario, Cassidy has a lengthy resume from both his playing and coaching careers. He was selected 18th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. He played with the Blackhawks and their affiliates from 1985 to 1990. During those years Cassidy appeared in 36 NHL games for Chicago, scoring four goals while adding 13 assists. The following three years, he played in the Italian Ice Hockey League and German Hockey League, suiting up for Alleghe HC in Italy and Kaufbeuren. He retired with the Indianapolis Ice in 1996 to accept a head-coaching job with the Jacksonville Lizard Kings of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).

Cassidy was promoted to head coach of the team in Indianapolis during the 1998-99 season and went on to coach the Trenton Titans of the ECHL and the IHL's Grand Rapids Griffins before being hired as Head Coach of the Washington Capitals in 2002-03. That season he lead the Capitals to the postseason where they were eliminated by Tampa Bay in the first round. The Capitals had an overall record of 47-45-9-6 while Cassidy was Head Coach.

Cassidy signed with Chicago in June 2004 as an assistant coach, working with the AHL's Norfolk Admirals during the 2004-05 NHL lockout season and then the Blackhawks in 2005-06. He again became a head coach in 2006-07, guiding the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs to a 31-30-7 mark and a trip to the playoffs. His time in Kingston concluded with a two-year record of 33-39-8, bringing his overall head coaching record to 295-253-36-37 (W-L-T/SOL-OTL) in 621 games.

Cassidy resides in Providence, Rhode Island, with his wife Julie and their daughter Shannon.

Cassidy will be made available to the media during the team's upcoming Development Camp. The schedule of the upcoming Development Camp will be released at a later date.

*Information gathered from

Friday, June 17, 2011

Boston Bruins - 2011 Stanley Cup Champions

They Can Never Take It Away
By Thomas Chace Jr.
June 17, 2011

The Boston Bruins are the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions. That will never get old. The Bruins players and their loyal fans brought home the Cup to the city of Boston and to all of New England. A formal celebration in the form of a rolling “Duck Tour” from the Bruins home ice at TD Garden to Copley Square will take place Saturday in Boston. A huge crowd with no intentions of turning over cars or lighting fires is expected.

Boston’s way of doing things has been on display for several weeks now. The Bruins continually displayed professionalism and class throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs and particularly in the Finals. With Vancouver bringing so much attention to themselves by complaining, whining, biting, insulting, head-hunting, and playing a generally unmanly game, the Bruins took it all and gave it back in spades but never talked about it.

There were so many events from the Finals that were memorable. For me, Tim Thomas decking last years NHL MVP, Henrik Sedin, in front of his crease as Sedin attempted to make a play with the puck sent a very strong message. It showed that even the Bruins netminder was going to push back and never give in to any Canuck.

Game 6 in Boston had a similar incident involving the other twin Sedin, Daniel. This year’s likely MVP was treated like a speed bag by pugnacious Brad Marchand, as he jabbed Daniel’s face with multiple punches drawing no push back at all from the Swede or his teammates. When asked after the game why he did that to Sedin, Marchand simply stated “Because I felt like it.” Those actions and that statement would never fly in Bean Town.

I have posed this question to many of my friends. If you only watched the Stanley Cup Finals, would you believe that the Sedin twins are the back to back MVP’s of the National Hockey League? I think not.

The Canucks played a very physical series, especially in the first two games of the Finals. Vancouver soon realized that the Bruins thrive on that physical style of play, and are conditioned for just that style. Where Vancouver had more perceived skill they were playing a Bruins type of game, that took its toll as the series went on. The Bruins were built for physical board play, punishing defenders, and great goaltending. Thomas will likely win all three major trophies available to goaltenders, the Vezina, Conn Smythe, and of course Lord Stanley’s Cup. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg turned the twins into sisters in the Bruins defensive end. Numerous Bruins players took every opportunity to “let ‘em know you’re there.”

There is much love for this Bruins team for very good reasons. They all get along so well and they truly care about each other. That was evident all season long. Anyone who took liberties with a Bruins player would pay eventually. Patience in hockey is a trademark. The Bruins play a New England blue collar style of play, tough but fair, hard working, with a team first attitude. Like a family. It’s New England through and through. Rugged winger and fan favorite, Shawn Thornton, says “We’re blue collar, not flashy. We work hard. We take pride in that.” Their pride was tested in three Game 7’s in this years playoffs, a new NHL record. They won all three.

The Bruins deserve to be crowned champions. They worked harder, they wanted it more, and they exerted their will on their opponent. They did all of that with class and professionalism, which could describe their coach, Claude Julien. Defying all odds at keeping his job, he turned in a yeoman’s effort and continued to tweak his defensive system to adapt. His players believed in him and bought into his system, culminating in winning the sport’s ultimate prize.

The plane ride home from Vancouver saw the Cup move from player to player, much like it will in the summer of 2011, and as it did on Vancouver ice and their visiting locker room. I hope all of New England will get a chance to enjoy the Cup before the season starts again in several short weeks. The NHL season is over 100 grueling games to the finish, and yet it begins again this summer. Not enough time, in my opinion, to savor this long awaited event. However, they can never take away this feeling or the title of champions.

Chara said “It’s unbelievable. It’s very exciting for the whole city, for us, for the whole organization. It’s a very special day. We’re so happy.”

I’m guessing that Providence will benefit from a surge in interest and attendance next season. They were fourth in the American Hockey League in attendance last year so things bode well in Rhode Island’s capital city. A new coach for Providence will be announced “mid-week” according to Boston GM Peter Chiarelli. Assistant Coach Bruce “Butch” Cassidy is being considered along with several other interviewees. It should be a different vibe this season in Providence after this Stanley Cup Finals victory by their parent club.

This victory will be savored forever by all of New England. I believe a new younger generation of Bruins fans has emerged. They will play, they will watch, and their parents will spend, on the great game of hockey. Like Orr and Espo in the ‘70’s, Thomas and Marchand will be responsible for a surge in the interest of Canada’s game. Ironic, ‘eh!

Preview of Game 7 in Vancouver

Bruins Dream Season
By Thomas Chace Jr.
June 15, 2011

When I was a young boy I used to go to my Uncle Charlie’s house to watch the Bruins, because he had a UHF antenna that could pick up Channel 38 which showed all their games. My cousins, Michael and Paul were a year older and a year younger than me. In between periods we would head to the basement and Paul, my younger cousin, would play net as Michael and I would pretend to be Bobby Orr and Ken Hodge and drill him with whatever we could use as a puck. My Aunt Marie would yell at us to keep it down but she didn’t know the best way to beat Paul, was glove side high.

As kids from my generation, we played outside all the time. We were not allowed in the house except to eat or use the bathroom. Get out and play! I’m glad we did, it was great fun to play games all the time with friends in the neighborhood. No matter what we played, we wanted to win and have fun. We learned that practice and repetition made you better. Those were fun times.

Playing basketball we would pretend to take the last shot as time was running out to win the NBA Championship. When we played baseball, all the kids wanted to hit the home run to win the deciding game in the World Series. Personally, I wanted to snare that home run ball before it cleared the wall to save the game. Football was all about that winning pass or super catch to win the Super Bowl.

Then there’s hockey, the sport we loved the most. It had passion, speed and violence. Players would fight when opposing players took liberties with their teammates. It was a manly game and you felt all the players were responsible for their actions on the ice. This brings me to the most amazing thing about hockey. The fact that hockey is played on a sheet of ice by players with thin blades of steel on their feet defies logic.

In their storied history, the Bruins have never played in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals. They can make history tonight. Some of the Bruins players could become Boston sports legends tonight.

The Bruins need to out hit the Canucks in their building tonight. They need to get their fore-check going and punish the Vancouver defenseman, wearing them down. Ideally, getting the first goal would boost their confidence level on the road where they’ve been beaten three times by Vancouver in this series. However, they were only beaten by a total of 3 goals in three games. Those games were very close but several defensive lapses were efficiently turned into game winning goals by the Canucks.

Possession of the puck and puck management are the keys for the Bruins start tonight. If you see the Vancouver defense going backwards a lot and getting hit behind the net, then goalie Roberto Luongo is going to see some rubber early. If he lets in an easy goal early, he will be pulled for back-up Cory Schneider. Vancouver’s $10 million dollar goalie on the bench in Game 7 would make New England swoon with joy.

This is Game 7 and anything is possible but 20 men on the Bruins bench remember when they were kids, dreaming of scoring that winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals. Someone may realize their dream tonight. Their Bobby Orr, Stanley Cup moment is right there in front of them.

I was 9 years old when Bobby flew through the air and was 11 in 1972 when the B’s last won the Cup. I’m thinking about my Uncle Charlie and my cousins, Paul and Michael, tonight. Remembering those days and nights when we never missed a Bruins game.

This series has made me a child again. Privileged to cover the three Boston home games as a writer for Pro Hockey News, I have been overwhelmed with memories of the old Channel 38 days. You can make your dreams come true.

Drop That Puck!
Let’s Go Bruins!

Game 6 Final - Bruins 5 Vancouver 2

Déjà vu For The Canucks
By Thomas Chace Jr.
June 13, 2011

The Boston Bruins came out of the runway with the plan. The plan is always the same, beat their opponent to the puck, win the battles along the boards, maintain possession of the puck, and manage the puck. Do all of this with willful physicality. Apparently, they can institute this plan in only one place, at Boston’s TD Garden.

The Bruins came out flying and hitting just like Games 3 and 4 in Boston, routing Vancouver with 8-1 and 4-0 victories. Twenty seconds into the contest, defenseman Johnny Boychuk locked up with Vancouver winger Mason Raymond in an awkward collision that left Raymond favoring an injury to his left knee or leg. Raymond had to be helped off the ice with help from his teammates.

Likely Conn Smythe winner, goaltender Tim Thomas was tested early in the game and as usual was more than up to the task. Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara and the Sedin twins continued their unfair physical battles in front of the Bruins net. Chara continued to manhandle the Sedin’s and went off at .56 seconds for interference. Henrik Sedin joined Chara in the sin bin for yet another flop to the ice. The officials refer to this as unsportsmanlike conduct, to save them from the embarrassment of what it really should be called.

The games first big hit was thrown by Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg in the offensive zone behind goaltender Roberto Luongo. This was a sign that the Bruins were comfortable pinching in the Canuck defensive zone and following the plan. Unable to fore-check in Game 5 effectively, Coach Claude Julien felt the Bruins needed “match hit for hit, if not be better than them at that. So it’s something that has to happen, not for the sake of trying to run ‘em out of the rink, but for the sake of establishing what we want to establish and creating the things that we want to create.”

A little over five minutes into the game, rookie Brad Marchand scored on a terrific wrist shot that beat Luongo on the glove side. Mark Recchi and Seidenberg got the helpers on Marchand’s 9th goal of the playoffs; he leads all rookies in the playoffs. The Bruins are 11-1 when scoring the first goal. Rich Peverley nearly scored on the next shift but it was Milan Lucic who did light the lamp at 6:06 to make it 2-0. The place was rocking.

The crowd was led tonight by the “Ultimate Bruin”, Milt Schmidt, as Honorary Captain and he got the Bruins fans riled up before the puck dropped. Schmidt a four time Stanley Cup champion and Hall of Famer is a beloved member of the storied Boston franchise. However, the biggest ovation and outburst was for injured Bruin right wing, Nathan Horton who appeared on the huge scoreboard at about the 7:25 mark. Horton had a huge smile, was pumping his fist, and waving a Bruins towel. The TD Garden crowd went crazy with good reason, as Horton looked healthy and happy.

Immediately following the emotional moment with Horton, Canuck defenseman Alexander Edler was sent off for boarding Rich Peverley. Boston’s struggling power-play found the net just .40 seconds into their opportunity. Andrew Ference scored on a shot from the blue line that was set up by Recchi and Michael Ryder, that made the score 3-0 at 8:35 of the first period.

Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver goaltender, claimed after Game 5 that he would have made the save on the lone goal that Vancouver scored in their 1-0 victory. This weak gesture to build up his self esteem backfired in a huge way. Luongo was pulled after the Ference goal by Coach Alain Vigneault. Vigneault did not ask Luongo this time if he’d like to stay in the game. The old Boston Garden was loud but the Luongo exit caused the nearly 18,000 in attendance to scream with venom and glee as he went off in favor of former Boston College netminder, Cory Schneider. Schneider was welcomed back to Bean Town with a Michael Ryder goal a little over a minute later. Tomas Kaberle assisted on Ryder’s tally at 9:35, and it looked like the rout was on. Déjà vu?

Tim Thomas was at his best on several Vancouver opportunities in the period and even disrupted a breakaway chance by Jannik Hansen, and immediately followed that with a nice save. The period ended with a 4-0 score and the shots favored the Bruins 19-11. The Bruins dominated the Canucks physically, just as Coach Julien had prescribed in order to be successful.

The pace that the Bruins had established was impossible to keep up in the second period. Patrice Bergeron crashed into Schneider just .28 seconds in and received his first of three penalties in the period. The Vancouver club nearly succeeded in the first minute of the man advantage, but Thomas stood tall and made several four bell saves. The Bruins killed another self inflicted infraction, and again held the vaunted Canuck power-play to just one goal in the series.

Vancouver missed several opportunities to score on an empty net while Thomas scrambled but they appeared to be overwhelmed at times here at TD Garden. Schneider made some huge saves of his own and survived a long Bruin possession that lasted almost a minute.

Vancouver started the third period on the remainder of a power-play and scored at just the .22 second mark. Henrik Sedin made it 4-1 and the Canucks really started to pepper and pressure the Bruins in their end. A controversial goal by Vancouver was reviewed by NHL off-ice officials and after a short delay was determined not to have crossed the goal line behind Thomas. A good thing for Boston, it would have made the score 4-2.

Two minutes later the Canucks committed back to back infractions giving the Bruins a 5on 3 man advantage. David Krejci made them pay after Schneider stoned Recchi on almost identical plays. Schneider moved from post to post twice to stop the veteran winger. Krejci’s goal made it 5-1 and invited more chants for Luongo from the crowd while he sat on the Vancouver bench. Vancouver scored a meaningless goal with 2:26 remaining.

The Garden Party was on; it seemed like a continuation of Games 3 and 4. Like Déjà vu all over again for the club from British Columbia. Perhaps they have learned to just play hockey and keep the comments and the whining to themselves. They could learn a lot from the Bruins. On to Game 7, does it get any better than that?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Preview of Game 6 in Boston

Let’s Get Physical
By Thomas Chace Jr.

June 13, 2011

“I’m excited, I can’t wait.” Those were the words Bruins center David Krejci used today when asked about tonight’s Game 6 in the TD Garden. Krejci went on to talk about playing their brand of hockey, he said “we are going to have our fans behind us and we have to play just like it’s our last game.” The reality is, it could well be their last game, and the Bruins don’t want to allow any team to celebrate on their home ice.

Game 5 began with a much maligned Vancouver defense, establishing some physical play that was unseen in Games 3 and 4 in Boston. The defensemen who were still standing for Vancouver were being pummeled by the big Bruin forwards. Turnovers resulted in goals and a territorial advantage for the Bruins was clearly established. Each home game was played the way the Bruins want to play. That successful style of hockey resulted in two blowouts and a question of whether the British Columbians were already packed between periods of Game 4, looking forward to getting home.

Alexander Edler and Christian Ehrhoff banged and bruised any Bruin at the blue line early in Game 5. The Canucks had 23 hits in the first period alone. The Canucks out hit Boston 47-27 overall and were able to turn the tables on the Bruins. A lone goal by Maxim Lapierre beat likely Conn Smythe winning goaltender Tim Thomas on a deflected pass that came off the boards behind his net. However, it was the physical play of the Canucks that won them Game 5.

Boston Head Coach Claude Julien agreed in his a.m. press conference this morning. “I think they were more physical than we were and that's certainly something that they did very well in that game. We know that we have to be better in regards to that ifwe want to establish our fore-check. We've got to, you know, match hit forhit if not be better than them.”

That will be the focus tonight and the question of the day. Can the Bruins bring their Game 3 and 4 mentality and energy to tonight’s critical Game 6? The Bruins are looking at this like two Game 7’s and hope to get another shot at Vancouver in their building.

Milan Lucic wants to end their last home game on a good note. “It’s a great experience so far, it’s a great opportunity, and we want to make the most of it.”

They must, or the ice will hold a celebration the Bruins and their fans do not want to be a part of.

Drop that puck!

Preview of Game 5 in Vancouver

Of Mice and Men
By Thomas Chace Jr.

June 10, 2011

Tonight’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals is fast approaching in Vancouver, BC. Their residents and fans, much like their team of late, complained before Game 1 was played. Playing at 5:00 was inconvenient for workers and the masses, who wish to witness the magic that is the Stanley Cup Finals. Canadiens are learning that American sports television will dictate when and what time you will get to watch.

Let’s get to the game. Can the Bruins continue to physically dominate the recently meek Canucks? Scoring first is important for both teams. When the Boston Bruins score the first goal they have a 10-1 record in the post season.

The Bruins have had the lead 32.1% of the time in the Stanley Cup Finals. Vancouver has led for only 9.5% of the series thus far. Looking back at Games 1 and 2, the Bruins lost with .18 seconds left in Game 1, and .11 seconds into overtime of Game 2. Are these two teams separated by a mere .29 seconds? It certainly was not a dominant showing by the favored Vancouver club. In reality, those two games could have gone either way. Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo were both outstanding in net. Vancouver, a very efficient team took advantage of two Boston defensive miscues and made them pay.

Boston is built to win board battles and outmuscle you for possession of the puck. It is Vancouver, however, who is actually out hitting Boston in the series, although it is clear that Boston is dominating the physical play. The Bruins have been much rougher in their treatment of the Canucks, especially to the MVP Sedin twins. Canuck’s Ryan Kesler has not looked right since he got rocked by Bruin co-leader in hits, Johnny Boychuk earlier in the series. The addition of Shawn Thornton to the Boston line-up has made an emotional and physical impact in the series. Games 3 and 4 were physically dominated by the Bruins as they romped over the Canucks 8-1 and 4-0. Boston exerted their will at the TD Garden; will they be able to continue this physical play on the road?

The formerly horrible Bruins power-play is 3 for 17 (17.6%) in this series and outgunning the vaunted power-play of Vancouver. The fantastic penalty-killing of the Bruins has held the Canucks to one power-play goal in the series. They are 1 for 22 (4.5%) in this series on the power-play, which is well under their 24% average earlier in the post-season and during the regular season. Will the law of averages catch up with the Bruins in Game 5?

The Vancouver defense is beat up and are playing guys who were supposed to practice and watch from the press box. They were thrown into the fire and now have played and gained experience after sitting for weeks. Can they step up and limit their mistakes?

Roberto Luongo was pulled mercifully in Game 4 after the Bruins made it 4-0 on Wednesday night. He should have been pulled in Game 3 instead of being asked if he’d like to come out by Head Coach Alain Vigneault. What kind of athlete would volunteer to come out of a game? Luongo should have rested in the third period and perhaps that would have helped his mind focus on the next game instead of the next shot in a game that was long over. Will Luongo bounce back in Rogers Arena? When he was pulled in Game 4, 10,000 fans cheered while watching in disgust on the arena’s large video screen.

The Canucks have been trying to play like the Bruins. That has proved futile. They need to look at Montreal and Tampa Bay video to see how to beat the Bruins with speed and skill. They face a rock in the Bruins net though. Tim Thomas is playing as well as any goalie in Stanley Cup Finals history. Will the Canucks be meek and mild in their home building, I think not. I do believe that Boston can play with them on any level though.

Boston believes they can play their style on the road, and feel they can have the same success they experienced in Boston. Tim Thomas, when asked about being physical said “I think it’s important for us to play the same type of game that we played the last two games. That’s what led to the success that we had in those two games.”

He admits it easy to talk a good game but performing it is something else. “It takes an extreme amount of effort and people laying their bodies on the line and that’s what we’re going to need as a group and as a team to come out of tonight’s game victorious.”

What will happen tonight in Game 5? Who knows? Will Vancouver stand up to the “Big, Bad, Bruins?” That’s what makes sports so special; you have to play the game. Any number of things could happen, but if it’s a battle of wills, I like Boston. It should be a great game and may not look like any of the other contests. I see overtime deciding Game 5.

Drop that puck!

Game 4 Final - Bruins 4 Vancouver 0

Frustration Reigns for Canucks
By Thomas Chace Jr.

June 8, 2011

In a day filled with whining, the Boston Bruins gave the Vancouver Canucks a real reason to cry, all the way home. When the Bruins Zdeno Chara leveled Max Pacioretty earlier this season, Montreal fans called 911 and wanted “Big Z” arrested. Vancouver fans should be calling 911 for several reasons of their own. The Bruins team should be charged with assault the way they have dominated the Canucks in Beantown and they should also file a missing team report.

The Vancouver team complained that Aaron Rome should not have been suspended for his hit on Nathan Horton. They felt it was a clean hit but the NHL felt otherwise, handing Rome a four game suspension, ending his Stanley Cup run.

The Canucks players talked about how bad the ice was in their morning skate. As far as I know both teams play on the same ice surface, even Head Coach Alain Vigneault acknowledged that.

Coach Vigneault did ask the league for help in determining whether or not Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was playing by the rules as he tends to venture out of his crease in his aggressive style. When Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli was asked about this, he said he called the league and was told it was a “non-issue.”

Defenseman Kevin Bieksa said today that the Bruins are playing like bullies. He was right. Since Nathan Horton was taken off on a stretcher, the Canucks have shown no interest in standing up for themselves.

After all of that, there was a crucial Game 4 to play. To begin Game 4 the Bruins brought out number 4, Bobby Orr, as their honorary captain for tonight’s game. He stood amongst the crowd and waved a Nathan Horton flag as the huge throng of Bruins fans roared like lions.

Despite the bad blood in this series the officials allowed the teams to play without infractions for almost half the period. Vancouver received the first power play of the night and was shut down again by the excellent penalty killing of the Bruins. Immediately after the kill the Bruins Milan Lucic was stoned by Canucks goaltender, Roberto Luongo. Luongo, who stayed in net for all eight goals on Monday night seemed like he had regained his confidence.

Vancouver tested Thomas at the 1:01 mark but he was not really challenged the rest of the first period. A surprise, as one would expect Vancouver to step up after their drubbing on Monday night in Game 3. Vancouver did not capitalize on the two power play opportunities they had in the period. They have scored only one power play goal in this series.

The first goal of the game was scored by Horton’s replacement, Rich Peverley, at the 11:59 mark and sent the building into a frenzy. The first period ended with Vancouver leading in shots on goal but it didn’t seem that way as Boston skated off with a 1-0 lead.

The Bruins fourth line featuring Greg Campbell, Danny Paille, and Shawn Thornton had two shifts in the first six minutes of period two and hemmed in the Canucks and kept up the Bruins momentum.

Vancouver was clearly frustrated as they continued their futility on the power play, missed passes, committed icing, and were offsides quite often. They were completely out of sorts and at 11:11, Michael Ryder scored to make the score 2-0. This occurred right after the announcement that “Bobby Orr Soars” was named the greatest moment in Stanley Cup history. Several moments later Brad Marchand scored during a 4 on 4 situation for a commanding 3-0 lead, resulting in Coach Vigneault calling a timeout. Marchand beat defenseman Keith Ballard, who was replacing Aaron Rome on the blue line for Vancouver.

Right out of the gate in the third period Henrik Sedin was sent off for an uncharacteristic slashing call, a sure sign of the player’s and team’s frustration. At 3:39, it was Peverley again with a score and the rout was on again. The Bruins crashed the net and burned Bieksa and got goaltender Luongo pulled and took a 4-0 lead. In Boston, the crowd screamed “We Want the Cup”. In Vancouver, 10,000 fans watching the game at Rogers Center cheered the move by Vigneault.

With 7:38 left in the game the sellout crowd chanted “Nathan Horton, Nathan Horton”. A fitting tribute to their first line right wing, who unexpectedly showed up in the Bruins locker room after the game to present the game jacket to his replacement Rich Peverley. How fitting.

The series will head back to Vancouver now for Game 5. The Sedin twins were called “Thelma and Louise” tonight by Versus analyst Mike Milbury. They certainly have a lot to complain about now. Only now they can keep it to themselves on their long flight home.

Game 3 Final - Bruins 8 Vancouver 1

Will Trumps Skill
By Thomas Chace Jr.

June 6, 2011

When the Stanley Cup Finals began in Vancouver the experts predicted the Canucks would win. They had the best record in the NHL and were prohibitive favorites to win their first Stanley Cup in their 40 year existence. They claimed the Canucks were more skilled than the Big Bad Bruins. They said Vancouver was too fast and just as big as the Bruins. They have twins who will probably win back to back MVP’s. Ryan Kesler is one of the best players in the world, and he plays on the second line. Their goaltender, Roberto Luongo, is one of the finalists for the Vezina Trophy. Vancouver has the best power play, a great penalty kill, great coach, great fans, and on and on, and on.

In Vancouver, the Canucks won their home games in demoralizing fashion. Game 1 was a nail biter until the Canucks scored with 18.5 seconds remaining in the game. In Game 2 it was Alexandre Burrows, a new Bruins villain, who scored 11 seconds into overtime. Burrows had bitten Patrice Bergeron’s gloved hand in Game 1 but faced no league punishment in a bizarre ruling. Things seemed to be going according to plan, although reality dictates that either team could have won those games.

A return to Boston on a long flight after those losses could not have been a picnic. Yet it was exactly what Boston needed to review their mistakes and heal their wounds. They made but a few mistakes but the Canucks made them pay each time.

Game 3 was in Boston’s barn, and fan favorite Shawn Thornton was replacing rookie Tyler Seguin. The Boston crowd was in fever pitch when highlights of birthday boy Cam Neely were shown on the Jumbotron. Ironically, Neely was obtained by the Bruins on this day, 21 years ago, from Vancouver. The Bruins fans matched the Vancouver disciples with their own singing of the National Anthem with crooner Rene Rencourt. The Bruins came out banging bodies and crashing the net. Veteran Mark Recchi and defenseman Andrew Ference nailed Kesler with great checks early.

However, more bad Bruin karma was to come. Aaron Rome sent first line winger Nathan Horton to Massachusetts General Hospital on a stretcher, on a questionable shoulder to head hit that was compounded by his head slamming on the ice. Rome received a five minute major for intent to injure, which gave the horrible Bruins power play a chance to even the crime. No such luck. There were too many passes and not enough shots. Goaltender Luongo did make several tough saves but the B’s once again failed on their man advantage. They did however, have a great penalty kill which soon followed. Tim Thomas made perhaps his best save of the series on Mason Raymond with 1:07 left in the period. There was no score after one period of play.

When the experts discounted the Bruins, they did so without considering their resolve. Two years ago they lost to Carolina in the playoffs, a series they should have won. Last year they lost to Philadelphia after leading three games to none and leading 3-0 in Game 7. This year’s first round series with Montreal left them down two games to none after two losses at home. They won in seven games. The Bruins dispatched Philadelphia in a sweep to resolve last year’s nightmare. When Tampa Bay had them on the ropes, they came back and won in seven games.

Just eleven seconds into the second period, Andrew Ference scored and the Bruins led 1-0, the fans went ballistic. Thornton then drew a penalty and believe it or not the Bruins scored on their man advantage, as Recchi scored to make it 2-0. The Canucks looked completely out of sorts, icing the puck and giving it away. All the momentum was with the Bruins. This turned into mayhem in the stands when Brad Marchand threw a head fake at Luongo on a breakaway and scored a shorthanded goal making it 3-0. Daniel Paille nearly scored another shorthanded goal moments later. With 4:13 left David Krejci scored to make it 4-0 to end the second period. Krejci now leads the playoffs in goal scoring with 11. Special teams surely favored the Bruins tonight.

Many expected Luongo to be relieved of his duties in net. The third period featured a lot of face washing, some fighting, and some bad blood that has festered since Game 1. The Bruins scored their second shorthanded goal by Daniel Paille and peppered Luongo to the tune of an 8-1 final. Tim Thomas was outstanding, especially in the second period where he stoned the skilled Canucks one shot after the other.

Tonight it was clearly will over skill in a duel that was supposed to feature only one team with bullets. Turns out that Tim Thomas will probably win his second Vezina Trophy in three seasons. David Krejci maybe the most underrated skill player in the NHL, and Zdeno Chara maybe the best defenseman in the world. The Bruins and their fans showed how much heart, resolve, and will they have and they look forward to trying to even the series on Wednesday night.