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Shea-ved Ice: Canucks Choke, Bruins Claim Cup

By: Casey Shea
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Well, I suppose congratulations are in order for the Boston Bruins.

After a hard-fought seven-game series, the Bruins claimed their first Stanley Cup title since 1972.

Game 7 seemed to just be a formality as the Bruins easily skated to a 4-0 win and caused massive rioting in downtown Vancouver last night. There’s more on that to come.

Tim Thomas had the Conn Smythe Trophy locked up after Game 5 in this series having only allowed five goals to that point. He allowed a total of seven in the entire series.

I’ll admit that I can’t stand his goaltending technique (if he even has one), but he gets the job done and stepped up when his team needed him the most.

There were a couple signs of the apocalypse for the Vancouver Canucks as this series went on.

The first came in Game 3, when Aaron Rome teed off on Nathan Horton. That late hit knocked Horton out for the series and resulted in a suspension for Rome, which held him out for the remainder as well.

After that hit, the Bruins woke up and exploded for eight goals in the game to send a resounding message: they would not go down without a fight.

Game 4 wasn’t much better for Vancouver as Roberto Luongo got chased from the pipes and watched from the bench as the Bruins evened the series at 2-2.

Vancouver fans had to feel like the sky was falling. How could their mighty Canucks have gotten so soundly beaten in two straight games? The Stanley Cup was all but assured after winning the first two games on home ice.

Then came Game 5.

Probably the best game of the series, Luongo rebounded after allowing 12 goals in the previous two tilts in Boston to pitch a shutout. The Canucks were heading back to Boston and the Stanley Cup would be in the building waiting to be claimed.

But a funny thing happened right after the game that would change the focus of the series and ultimately, swing the balance of power in Boston’s favor.

Luongo opened his mouth.

Admittedly, the lone goal scored in Game 5 was a bit of a fluke. Ask Marc-Andre Fleury how he feels about the endboards in Detroit.

A shot from the point goes wide, bounces off the endboards and right out to Maxim Lapierre, who puts it behind Thomas. In this case, Thomas’ aggressive style cost him, as it did in overtime in Game 2.

However, Luongo decided it was time to fall in line with the rest of his teammates and stir a pot that was already boiling over.

“It’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint. It’s an easy save for me, but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he does, that’s going to happen. He might make some saves that I won’t, but in a case like that, we want to take advantage of a bounce like that and make sure we’re in good position to bury those,” Luongo said.

Later, he went on to claim that Thomas didn’t say anything nice about him in the series.

“I have been pumping his tires ever since the series started,” Luongo said. “I haven’t heard one nice thing he had to say about me. That’s the way it is.”

Really Luongo?

If there’s one thing you don’t do in the playoffs, it’s give the other team bulletin board material when their backs are against the wall.

Statistically, Vancouver had been dominated by Boston in the series up to this point. They should have felt an extreme sense of luck that they found themselves going back to Boston to begin with, let alone with a chance to win the Cup.

As for Luongo, he never should have opened his mouth. He had no leg to stand on to begin with and he’s looking for compliments from Thomas?

What was Thomas supposed to compliment him on anyway? The tan on his neck from the red goal light going off 12 times in Boston? How about all the Bruins fans Luongo made happy by not being able to stop a beach ball in Games 3 and 4?

Sure, not all the goals he allowed were his fault, but many of them could have been stopped.

Meanwhile, his counterpart stays the course and allows one goal over that same span. Luongo was right to pump Thomas’ tires. He probably should have thrown in an oil change and tire rotation too.

Flash forward to Game 6.

Vancouver comes out of the gate flying and has a couple glorious scoring chances in the opening minutes.

However, the chefs in the back were already dressing the platter of crow that Luongo would be feasting on.

Brad Marchand streaks down the right side and rips a wrist shot over Luongo on the short side. While it was a nice shot, it probably would have been an easy save for Thomas or any other goaltender in the world.

Seconds later, Milan Lucic receives a pass in the high slot and fires a wrist shot that squeaks through Luongo’s pads and crosses the goal line. 2-0 Boston, two bad goals against Luongo.

Had Luongo’s stick been on the ice, it’s an easy save, but Chris Osgood knows a thing or two about that too. (See Max Talbot’s first goal in Game 7 for video evidence)

Moments later, a slap shot from the point gets by Luongo and the TD Garden is in a frenzy. Luongo never saw this one, but he wouldn’t see another shot in the game either. He was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots. I’m no math whiz, but that’s not exactly good.

As much as I have an issue with some Boston fans, I give them credit for hounding Luongo for the remaining 50 minutes of play in the game. He deserved it.

After all the cheap shots and nasty play in the series, I was hoping someone would score on Luongo and then celebrate by pretending to pump up a bicycle tire.

Immediately after the loss, Daniel Sedin opens his mouth too and guarantees victory in Game 7.

Sorry Daniel, you are no Mark Messier and considering no one knew where you were for the duration of this series, you have no business guaranteeing anything.

There would be no signs of Daniel or twin brother Henrik in Game 7 either.

I was stunned to learn that LeBron James had morphed into two Swedish twins. Seriously, he should win an award for simultaneous disappearing acts in two sports. Houdini would be proud.

As if the Bruins needed any more incentive to walk into Vancouver and claim the Cup, Daniel goes and gives it to them.

Did you watch your goaltender in all three games in Boston Daniel? What part of his play suggested he was a rock in net?

The crowd was pumped up and I got chills watching the national anthems. The building hadn’t been that loud since Sidney Crosby beat Ryan Miller to capture the gold medal.

The fans were ready to go, the Bruins were ready to go and Ryan Kesler was ready to go. That’s about it.

I refuse to blame injuries for Vancouver blowing this series. Sure, they lost Dan Hamhuis is Game 1, Rome was suspended for the final four games and Mason Raymond suffered a broken vertebrae in Game 6. All three guys played a big role in getting Vancouver within one win of the Cup, but the team choked under the pressure.

The mighty Sedins had one good series in the playoffs.

Luongo practically single-handedly blew a 3-0 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round before imploding three times in Boston.

Losing the Stanley Cup won’t even be the worst part about this for Luongo. He’s going to have his ill-advised comments about Thomas follow him around forever.

The funniest thing to see all night was Thomas tell Luongo in the handshake line that he thinks he’s a great goaltender.

Mr. Luongo, not only did Thomas “pump your tires,” he slashed them and left you abandoned on a desert highway. The glint you see in the distance is the sunlight reflecting off the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup.

The Canucks have no one to blame but themselves for failing to win the Cup.

The only thing worse than Vancouver’s play over the final two games was the reaction by angry fans out in the streets.

I understand being upset that your team lost the Stanley Cup. I avoided everything hockey related for two months after the Pens lost to the Wings in 2008. However, I didn’t run out into the streets and start flipping cars or setting fires.

It was a complete disgrace to watch the video of thousands of people rioting over losing a hockey game. The sad part is that win or lose last night, the scene probably would have been the same.

True hockey fans feel an attachment to their team and live and die along with them. There may not be truer hockey fans in the world than those in Canada, which is why last night’s scene was even more deplorable.

In the end, did flipping cars, smashing windows and setting fires reverse the outcome of Game 7?

It was a disturbing end to a fantastic Stanley Cup Final that will probably go down as one of the most entertaining in history. The on-ice product was fantastic and the off-ice media circus made headlines on off-days.

I’m already receiving messages on Facebook, Twitter and my phone from Boston fans back home in New England.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go change my phone number.

Thus begins the offseason…is it October yet?

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaseySheaPens.

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