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The Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in shutout fashion Wednesday, winning game seven on the road by a final score of 4-0 to win the 2011 Stanley Cup.
The Bruins fans finally could rejoice, ending their 39 year championship drought and stopping the Canucks once again from grabbing their first ever Stanley Cup victory in the process.
The home teams dominated the series, winning every game on their own ice until game seven. In one of the most physical finals series ever, and the most penalized series in 25 years, Boston’s bruising style proved to be too much for Vancouver to handle.
No team in NHL history had ever won three game sevens in one playoff run, but that’s exactly what Boston did with their victory behind the legendary goaltending of Tim Thomas.
Thomas, who was a shoe in to win the Conn Smythe trophy no matter what the outcome of game seven may have been, shattered the record for saves in one postseason en route to leading the Bruins to victory. He became only the second American-born player to win the trophy behind Brian Leetch, who ironically also beat the Canucks in 1994 as a member of the New York Rangers.
Tim Thomas was indeed fantastic, but the Bruins played an overall masterful team game in order to dismantle Vancouver.
The referees did an incredible job in game seven by not being overly strict. They let the players decide the outcome no matter how physical the game got. Their officiating allowed the game to be incredibly entertaining to watch. Not many stoppages, not many penalties, just pure hustle and pure hockey.
Just as the game was getting up to speed in the first period Patrice Bergeron slipped one over Roberto Luongo’s shoulder to put the Bruins on the board, quieting the Vancouver bench.
The Canucks were almost able to knot the game at one halfway through the second period, but Zdeno Chara stepped his 6-foot-9, 255 lb. body in front of an open net to block the shot. Giving up your body was a necessary action with the cup on the line. These guys were giving it everything they could to win.
The Bruins struck again soon after when sensational rookie Brad Marchand scored his 10th goal of the playoffs on a wraparound shot after a flurry of rebounds kicked off of the pads of Luongo.
A penalty on Chara at the end of the second period gave Vancouver a power play and their best opportunity yet. Unfortunately they couldn’t catch a break once again. Patrice Bergeron caught a bouncing puck near the blue line and hustled to the net to net his second goal of the game, this time shorthanded.
The Canucks battled and showed heart right up until the final whistle, but the deficit was too large. Tim Thomas proved to be impossible to score on. Just before the clock hit zeros Brad Marchand added an empty net goal, his second, and it was official, the Bruins had won it all.
This game defined what every child dreams of. The moments that every young hockey player fantasizes about in their driveway. Every player surely left everything they had on the ice in Vancouver, but only one could win. Only the Bruins could lift Lord Stanley’s Cup over their heads and celebrate the way they always imagined doing throughout their careers. A dream come true.