With the circus in town, and plenty of days to think about it, no one knew what expect for a start in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The talk before centered on many things, but one of the biggest was the goalie matchup.
Luongo versus Thomas. Two Vezina contenders. They did not disappoint on this night, as both were fantastic, though Thomas was the busier, and had the bigger saves. Luongo made many ten bell saves himself though. But the Canucks sure had a lot of chances as the Bruins fell more and more into their trap as the game went on.
You knew it would be physical, and it was. ( Bruins 31 hits, Nucks 30 ) Boston had 36 shots to the Canucks 34, but the 14 to 10 third period advantage for the Canucks belies the fact the home team were the aggressors and the Bruins, though they tried to not play it early, were purely a trap team in the third.
The special teams were huge as well, but not in the way you would think. Both teams went 0 for 6 tonight on the power play. Both had a five on three. Both got tremendous penalty killing and the goalies masterwork, though Timmy has more work by far, as the Bruin’s power play did not look powerful at all.
They were tested right off the hop, almost, as Daniel Sedin high sticked Chara to take a 4 minute penalty at 4:03 of the opening period. It stopped the huge early rush of energy by the Canucks, the home team dominating early.
The Bruins got a bunch of shot, but they were mostly from the outside, or Seidenberg from the point. It was handled pretty well by the penalty killers.
The special teams play just kept on coming, with the Bruins giving the Canucks a power play on a Kelly high stick, and a very light Burrows holding call after that. Marchand was almost made to pay for a dumb dumb holding the stick call to stop a Sedin rush, and the back and forth continued.
The final five minutes or so was finally five on five, and the hockey started to flow. The end of the period came with a late chance where Burrows went to the net, and there was a donneybrook top end the period which will be the major talking point.
Look, I am not saying Burrows is a saint. He is not. But after three gloved punches to the head from Bergeron, he shoved his glove into the mouth area of the Pincourt Quebec native. What followed will be debated. Bergeron said later that he “bit” me. I remain not 100% convinced, if only because that is an old gamesmanship move by a QMJHL player like Patrice Bergeron. ( I think the move was patented in that league ). Face wash, glove in mouth and face, followed by the “he bit me ref”. Its a solid move because whether it happens or not is irrelevant. Besides, what are you shoving your hockey glove into someone’s mouth for Patrice? Checking his fillings?
Whatever. Bruins fans will say it happened, and Canuck fans will say it did not. I thought this part, where Thomas follows up his superstition and taps the post at the end of the period, was funny. Even when they are not there, huh Timmy?
I don’t know if this means anything other than the referee ( O’Rourke ) believed Bergeron and not Burrows, but the Canucks got the extra penalty from all that. Boston outshot the home team 17 to 12 in that first period. Here are some of the best from the goalies…
One of many Luongo saves on Seidenberg…
Thomas on Daniel Sedin, but check out how fast Hansen goes from defense to offense. He was awesome this night, and speed is going to kill the Bruins, if the first game is any indication…
Disaster struck for the Canucks about four minutes into the second period, when Hamhuis made a beautiful hip check on Lucic, but looked to tweak his knee on the follow through. Note how David Krejci is so sporting as to cross check a prone and obviously injured defenseman in the head. I guess he remembered about Hamhuis having a concussion earlier. Please Bruins fans, if you are going to complain about Burrows for the above, you must remember this too.
The parade to the box continued in this one. But it was the Bruins that took more in the second, four to two. The most decisive was a tripping call on Burrows when Thomas initiated the contact, took a dive, and was three feet out of his crease at the time. It was a bad call, by the rules, but you know how reputation calls go. Too bad it took the home team off their 5 on 3 PP.
The Bruins were the shot winners again in the second, but only 9 to 8. I won’t bore you with a ton of saves, but you can find them at NHL.com anyhow. The Canucks seemed to have the better chances again though, but the Bruins had several chances to score too, but for the metronome steady goaltending of Luongo counteracting the acrobatics of Timmy Thomas.
The third was devoid of calls entirely, and the teams responded with some fun hockey to watch. It went back and forth at times, with rushes leading to chances. Mainly, it was a case of the speed and aggressiveness of the home team forcing the Bruins deeper into their trap.
Oh yeah, and this happened with 19 seconds left. Watch a couple things. Hansen makes a great fake shot to put Chara on his knees, and Raffi Torres closes the deal. But Kesler was the man on a rush, and check how he dances the blue line to beat Boychuk at the line, and set the whole thing up.
So, there you are. The home team won 1-0, and that happening resulted in them winning the series 44 out of 51 times in the past. I am looking forward to a great Game 2 on Saturday. I would suggest that you might want to watch whether the refs follow Burrows closer…( though, Dan O’Rourke has long had a hate on for him, and he was the one that made most of the calls on Burrows tonight )…and…look for someone to make Krejci play for his cowardly cross check on an injured Hamhuis ( even if you don’t know he is injured, he crosschecked a man on his knees in the head with both hands. Total bush league )
It. Is. On.