The 10 best games of 2011 (as viewed by me) – #8 – Stanley Cup Finals Game 7: Boston Bruins vrs. Vancouver Canucks, June 15, 2011

Assistant Captain Patrice Bergeron scored twice in Game 7

The Boston Bruins hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1972.  They were just 13 months removed from an embarrassing playoff collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers.  They were a tough but young team, sometimes undisciplined.  They were a sleeper to make a deep playoff run and they did have a hell of a run to the Stanley Cup.  They had two grueling series against the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning with a revenge sweep of the Flyers sandwiched in between.  Then came the hard fought and sometimes chippy Stanley Cup finals vrs. the Canucks.  The Canucks were a finesse team and the Bruins were a power team.  The Canucks had ultra conservative veteran netminder Roberto Luongo.  The B’s had the risk taking maverick Tim Thomas in goal.  The two teams couldn’t be more opposites.  This series also came down to a game 7, played in Vancouver.

B's sparkplug Brad Marchand celebrated his 2nd period goal

The Canucks came out aggressive on their home ice, taking 5 of the first 7 shots on goal.  Thomas stopped them all.  Luongo stopped his first 3 shots on goal until Patrice Bergeron got the Bruins on the board at 14:37 into the 1st period to take a 1-0 Game 7 lead.  Thomas had 8 saves for the period.  Luongo had stopped 3 but let the Bergeron goal in and the Bruins led 1-0 after a period.  Thomas stopped the first two shots of the 2nd period and Luongo tried to get back on track by stopping the first B’s shot on goal of the 2nd.  Alexandre Burrows had the best chance at Thomas the whole night.  He actually had him beat but Zdeno Chara came in and blocked the shot after Thomas had gotten too far from the net.  Brad Marchand struck 12:13 into the 2nd period with a wrap-around goal to make it 2-0.  The next goal came from Bergeron while the Bruins were short-handed at 17:35, his 2nd puck in the net, making it 3-0 Bruins.  Through 2 periods Tim Thomas already had 21 saves.  Luongo saved 10 of the 13 shots that he faced.  The Rogers Arena in Vancouver was stunned silent after 40 minutes of hockey.

The Canucks had a 3 goal lead to surmount and only 20 minutes to do it and Tim Thomas was playing lights out.  The Canucks had no choice but to give it their best effort in the 3rd period and Tim Thomas was ready for every bit of it.  He stopped shot after shot, not needing help from Chara this period, as he stopped all 16 of the shots that came at him.  Brad Marchand put the cherry on top at 17:16 into the 3rd after Luongo had vacated the net.  A little over three minutes later Thomas had completed the shutout and the Bruins had completed the storybook run to the cup.

The Bruins and Lord Stanley's Cup

The Bruins celebrated their first Stanley Cup in 29 years on the Vancouver ice while they rioted outside.  Veteran and Assistant Captain Mark Recchi announced right on the ice during the celebration that he had played his last NHL hockey game that night.  Every Bruin skated around the ice and celebrated with the Cup.  It was the icing on top of the Boston sports domination cake that started with the Patriots Super Bowl ten years earlier.  The Bruins came back to Boston and partied all over the city with the cup.  It was really the culmination of an incredible run, two months of hockey that Boston sports fans will never forget.  This ranked as only the third best game of the Bruins’ run on my list but this was the celebration of a greater accomplishment.  It was a microcosm of the tenacity the Bruins showed all summer long and of the domination by Tim Thomas behind the net.  This will go down as one of the great team victories in Boston sports history.

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