Friday, June 17, 2011

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?

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