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).
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.