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
* – Denotes overtime period(s)

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

TV Show Review - Friday Night Lights

So now that have reviewed three sports books, I have decided to broaden my horizon by taking a look at a TV show based around sport. Eventually, I hope to have reviewed just about every sports TV show and movie to make your job as a sports loving consumer a little bit easier. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the Friday Night Lights TV series.

A couple weeks ago, I watched the final episode of Friday Night Lights and I was left speechless. After watching all of the 76 episodes contained in five seasons, I can legitimately say that this is my favourite TV show ever. Now that is quite a bold thing to say but it's true. Even if you don't care about football, you are sure to like this show. Neal Gabler of the Los Angeles Times sums it up for me, saying that Friday Night Lights "may have the greatest emotional range of any series ever on television".

The show is from the book and film of the same name, a movie that I hope to review in the coming weeks. I won't ruin the plot for any of you who have never seen the show, which is probably a large number as this show is a hidden gem, or for those who are watching the fifth and final series currently being aired on NBC. However, I won't be ruining any surprises by saying that the first few seasons of this series revolve around the Dillon Panthers high school football team in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas and their coach Eric Taylor and his family.

Coach Eric Taylor
This series is incredibly well written and produced. The acting is generally flawless. Every episode will leave you on the edge of your seat and you will develop feelings for the realistic characters. The football scenes in this show are probably the best I have ever seen in a sports related show but as I mentioned before this series does not only deal with football. 'It addresses many issues facing contemporary Middle America, including school funding, racism, drugs, abortion, and lack of economic opportunities' to quote a well written Wikipedia page. I have never understood why this series has not become a huge hit but don't let that discourage you from watching Friday Night Lights. There is a box set is a box set containing season 1-4 available on Amazon(I have included a link to that below) which would require you to pick up season 5 separately as there is no box set containing all five seasons. I have also included a YouTube clip of the opening moments of episode 1 to give you a sample of what to expect.

RATING - 10/10