Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven

Boston Bruins win their first Stanley Cup since 1972 with 4-0 Game 7 win over Vancouver

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All series long the team that scored first went on to win the game. All series long the home team came out on top. When Patrice Bergeron scored in the first period to give Boston a 1-0 lead, something had to give and Tim Thomas would make sure that the team that scored first would go on to win the game and their first Stanley Cup in 39 years pitching a 37-save shutout in a 4-0 Bruins win in Game 7.

Thomas’ incredible game would seal the deal as he was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the most valuable player in the playoffs ending what may turn out to be one of the most incredible seasons by a goaltender in recent history. With Thomas as a finalist, and likely winner, of the Vezina Trophy he’s likely going for the hat trick in hardware now that the season is over.

What helped seal the deal for Thomas and for Boston was the play of Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Both players scored two goals a piece and Marchand finished the night with three points. Marchand’s ability to irritate the Canucks with his chirping and Sedin-face-punching antics and ability to score game-crippiling goals on Roberto Luongo all series long proved to be a killer all wrapped up into one game tonight. Marchand finishes the playoffs with 11 goals, the most by a rookie since Jeremy Roenick scored 11 in 1990. It would be Marchand’s empty net goal with just under three minutes that would definitively seal the deal.

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The Bruins were able to pick up where they left off in Game 6 in Boston by scoring first on Roberto Luongo (17 saves) and continuing to keep the pressure on Vancouver all game long, settling in and playing “Bruins hockey” the rest of the way. Getting the big goals from Bergeron and Marchand, Bergeron’s second marker coming late in the second period shorthanded, all but closed the game out. The Canucks were stifled throughout the game and ultimately closed things out in frustrated fashion. They may have outshot the Bruins in the game, but Thomas was only truly tested sparsely throughout the game.

Ultimately, the Canucks went out the same way the did in their three games on the road in Boston. They were outplayed, outhit, outhustled, and ultimately outscored in Game 7. The dominating physical and defensive team that played in Games 1,2, and 5 at home wasn’t out there tonight and the Bruins played the perfect road game to make it work.

The Roberto Luongo who played so cool and so dominating at home throughout this series wasn’t there tonight on a night where he had to perfect to inspire the team. The Canucks scoring just eight goals through seven games doesn’t speak well of the team in general and Luongo’s shortcomings only magnified that.

Of course, there’s a lot to be said how the Bruins played in this series. They were always tough, they were unwavering, and they never relented. The fact that Boston was the only team to win a road game in this series is a good enough reason for them to be Stanley Cup champions for the first time since 1972.

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Dan Patrick, Keith Jones, and Mike Milbury wrap things up after Game 7, one that Dan Patrick says the Bruins were a team of destiny.

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Hitchcock believes Blues’ Allen is ‘locked up mentally’

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes the third period save against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Things were already rough for the St. Louis Blues and their goalies (particularly still-pretty-newly crowned No. 1 Jake Allen) heading into Thursday, but the Washington Capitals really highlighted those issues in a 7-3 thrashing.

Blues fans and management must be wondering, then: what’s wrong with their goalies, especially with Allen? Head coach Ken Hitchcock seems resigned to allowing him to fight through it, if nothing else.

“There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, according to Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”

Alex Pietrangelo did the typical deflecting thing, nothing that this is a “team” and that there are “no individuals.”

Still, Hitchcock’s longer press conference makes you wonder how much trust there is in Allen and Carter Hutton.

From Hitch’s perspective, it sure sounds like he believes that the Blues are over-correcting to try to limit “goals, shots.” By trying to do too much, they might be putting themselves in bad positions. And that might stem from a lack of confidence in the guys in net, or in the team’s work in their own zone overall.

Let’s be honest. As much as we can play chicken-or-the-egg as far as a defense’s impact on a goalie, it’s tough to explain away save percentages under .900 in the modern NHL. At some point, your team needs more stops.

With the races for the lower spots in the Western Conference’s playoff picture seemingly tightening up, the Blues don’t have a ton of time to figure this out.

Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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If you’re reaction to the headline “Something is off about the St. Louis Blues” was “Yeah, their goaltending,” then Thursday only emboldened that opinion.

It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.

Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:

Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49

Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.

Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.

Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.

Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.

Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.

Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19:  Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers faces a shot in the warm-up prior to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.

The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”

Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.

Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.

The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 8: Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators stands at the bench during a break in a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Canadian Tire Centre on January 8, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.

Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.

The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.

Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.

Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.

This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.

More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.