Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals

Boston Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup Champions
Over the last few months, ice hockey and basketball have taken center stage in the world of sports. The NBA Playoffs and the Stanley Cup Playoffs always generate great excitement and this year was no different. I will be writing an article on the NBA Finals later, but I will start by looking back at the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.

Leading up to the Stanley Cup Finals, we witnessed an intensely fought playoffs. I have included a bracket of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs below.

Conference Quarter-finalsConference Semi-finalsConference FinalsStanley Cup Finals
1 Washington Capitals41 Washington Capitals0
8 New York Rangers15 Tampa Bay Lightning4

3 Pittsburgh Penguins3Eastern Conference
5 Tampa Bay Lightning4
5 Tampa Bay Lightning3
3 Boston Bruins4
3 Boston Bruins4
6 Montreal Canadiens3
2Philadelphia Flyer42 Philadelphia Flyers0
7Buffalo Sabres33 Boston Bruins4

E3 Boston Bruins4

W1 Vancouver Canucks3
1 Vancouver Canucks41 Vancouver Canucks4
8 Chicago Blackhawks35 Nashville Predators2
4 Anaheim Ducks2
5 Nashville Predators4
1 Vancouver Canucks4
2 San Jose Sharks1
3 Detroit Red Wings4
6 Phoenix Coyotes0Western Conference
2 San Jose Sharks42 San Jose Sharks4
7Los Angeles Kings23 Detroit Red Wings3
So as you can see the Boston Bruins scraped past the Tampa Bay Lightning in a thrilling seven game series to become Eastern Conference Champions. Out west, the Vancouver Canucks had an early scare against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Conference Quarter-Finals as the reigning holders of Lord Stanley's Cup battled back from a 3-0 series deficit to force a game seven which the Canucks would win 2-1 in OT. The number one seeded Canucks would then go on to capture their 3rd Conference Championship.

Then there were two. The Boston Bruins were looking for their 6th Stanley Cup and their first since 1972. The Vancouver Canucks had yet to win the Cup despite being in the league since 1970.

The Canucks took Game One after Raffi Torres scored with 18.5 seconds remaining in the third period to break a scoreless tie and give the Canucks a 1-0 win. The series stayed in Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia for Game Two which was won by the Canucks in Overtime. Alexandre Burrows scored 11 seconds into the first overtime to give the Canucks a 3-2 win and a commanding 2-0 series lead. The overtime in Game Two was the second fastest overtime in Stanley Cup Final history.

Aftermath of Aaron Rome's hit
The series then shifted to Beantown for Games Three and Four. In the 1st period of Game Three, something happened that would change the series in a split second. Vancouver's Aaron Rome delivered a crushing late hit to Boston's Nathan Horton. Horton was badly concussed as a result of the huge hit. As for Rome, he received a major interference penalty, a game misconduct and an automatic ejection. He would later receive a four game suspension. Shockingly, it was the first multi-game suspension in Stanley Cup Finals history. The Bruins failed to capitalize on the ensuing five minute power play but they exploded into life in the 2nd period with 4 goals and another 4 in the 3rd in an 8-1 rout. The Bruins dominated again in Game Four and left Boston with the series tied up a 2-2. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas made 38 saves in the 4-0 shutout win.

Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo bounced back from a horrible couple games in Boston with a very good performance in a Canucks 1-0 win at home in Game Five. Luongo made 31 saves and Maxim Lapierre scored the games only goal early in the 3rd Period. The series headed back to the TD Garden in Boston, MA for Game Six as the Bruins forced a Game Seven after beating the Canucks 5-2. The Bruins scored four goals in a span of 4:14 in the 1st period, breaking the record for the quickest four goals scored by one team in the Stanley Cup Finals. Game Six was also the 2nd time, Roberto Luongo was replaced by backup goalie Cory Schneider. He had been subbed out in Game Four.

Conn Smythe Trophy Winner
The world was watching as Game Seven took place in Vancouver. Prior to this decisive game, in this year's Stanley Cup Finals the team playing on home ice had been victorious in each game. However, Game Seven was not all it was hyped up to be as the Bruins were clearly the better team in every aspect. Tim Thomas made 37 saves in the Bruins 4-0 shutout to win the Stanley Cup. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand both scored twice in the win. After the game, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was rightfully announced as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner(MVP of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs). At 37 years of age he is the oldest player to win the award. Also he is only the second American born player to win the award in NHL history after Brian Leetch. Unfortunately, riots in Vancouver immediately after Game Seven have somewhat tarnished the legacy of this brilliant series. The riots were similar to those that took place in Vancouver in 1994 following a Canucks defeat to the New York Rangers in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.




2011 Stanley Cup Finals logo
Teams12*34567Games
02840544
13101203
* – Denotes overtime period(s)

What a great end to another great NHL season and congratulations to the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins.

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