Bruins strike first, take 1-0 lead through tight first period

Going into Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, history seemed to be on the Vancouver Canucks’ side. The vast majority of home teams have won Game 7’s in the final round and they’ve been a much better team in Rogers Arena than in Boston during this series.

After one period of play, the numbers are leaning every so slightly toward the Boston Bruins instead. They scored the first (and only) goal of the first period, which some might look at as a prerequisite to victory since the team who scored the first goal won every game of this series. Of course, the home team also won every game of the Stanley Cup finals so far, so one trend will be erased by the time the silver chalice is raised in the air.

Boston 1, Vancouver 0 (end of first period)

The Bruins’ depth forwards were creating some of their team’s best chances (Shawn Thorton, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell put a shot on goal apiece), but it was a usual suspect who set up Boston’s goal. The Canucks’ top line won the faceoff but Brad Marchand managed to get the puck, create some space and then send a nice pass into the pile. Patrice Bergeron then sent a shot that Roberto Luongo had no chance of seeing into the net to make it 1-0. As I said in the chat, Marchand has been just effective in his pest-scorer role for Boston as Alex Burrows has been for the Canucks (if not more).

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While the Canucks tested Tim Thomas plenty of times, the all-world goalie was up to the task by making all eight saves. Vancouver remains very much in this game right now, but they probably don’t feel great about spotting Thomas a 1-0 lead, especially considering the fact that the Claude Julien is just as eager to go into “trap mode” as Alain Vigneault can be.

In case you’re wondering about the officiating angle, neither team drew a penalty in the first period. It didn’t seem like anything egregious went by the officials’ whistles, but we’ll wait and see if there are any controversial calls as this tight game goes along.

The Canucks have traditionally been stronger as the games go along, but aside from an early meltdown in Game 6, the Bruins also did their greatest damage to Luongo in second periods. We’ll keep you updated as this game continues on NBC.

Join the PHT Game 7 Live Chat here.

Here’s what deal between women’s team, USA hockey is reportedly worth

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It’s great news that the U.S. women’s national team and USA Hockey came together on a deal for the upcoming world championships.

Still, all we really know is that the contract lasts four years, as the two sides decided to keep the dollar figures between each other.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell laid out a lot of the possible numbers on his Twitter feed, giving us an idea of what reportedly sealed the deal.

First things first, Campbell reports that the deal is worth $3.7-$4 million overall.

That’s quite the impressive number on face value, but what does it mean for players over a four-year contract?

Campbell reports that earnings will range between $850K and $950K, depending upon how they perform in the tournament:

They’ll also receive the same travel and other miscellaneous amenities as the men’s team, but what about years that are more about training than competition?

Interesting stuff. Definitely check out Campbell’s feed for additional details.

This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)

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For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.

Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.

Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.

Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.

Milestones: Matthews, Nylander break Leafs rookie records; Chara hits 600

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Auston Matthews likely ranks as the top reason that many Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to get the same feelings they had in better times, so it only makes sense that he broke a beloved Buds’ record on Tuesday.

With his 35th goal of a potential Calder season – but a brilliant debut either way – Matthews passed Wendel Clark for the Maple Leafs’ rookie record for goals in a season.

That goal was also meaningful for William Nylander, as he extended his point streak to 12 games with an assist. This team, fueled by young players, just keeps shattering first-year marks:

Switching gears, let’s go from new to (relatively) old: Zdeno Chara collected the 600th point of his outstanding career with an assist:

Yes, it’s true that most people think of his imposing size and all-world defensive instincts in praising Chara, but he’s been a respectable point producer, too.

U.S. women end boycott, will represent USA Hockey at worlds

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The U.S. women’s national team voted in favor of accepting USA Hockey’s deal, so they’ll participate in the world championship tournament. USA Hockey recently made the news official with this press release.

The press release confirmed a report that the contract will last four years, while financial terms were kept confidential. (Team members had been seeking a living wage to represent USA Hockey.)

“Our sport is the big winner today,” Team captain Meghan Duggan said. “We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”

The U.S. women’s national team is scheduled to face Canada on Friday.

Here’s a screen cap of the press release for your convenience: