Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals is uncharted territory for these editions of the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. It’s actually the first time the Bruins franchise has ever been in a Game 7 in the championship round while the Canucks hope to be more successful than the 1994 edition was against the New York Rangers.
That being said, both teams have already experienced Game 7 matches in earlier rounds of the 2011 playoffs, so it’s not like they’ll feel totally out of place on Wednesday night. Let’s take a look at how each team played in their Game 7 contests.
April 26, 2011 – Canucks beat Blackhawks 2-1 (OT)
Goal scorers: Jonathan Toews scored for Chicago; Alex Burrows scored both of Vancouver’s tallies.
Roberto Luongo’s performance: 31 out of 32 saves made.
Summary: Luongo came into this Game 7 with about as much pressure as a goalie could endure in a first round series. He responded brilliantly, making huge stop after huge stop although Toews beat him on what could have been a heart-breaking shorthanded goal in the waning moments of regulation. Burrows scored the early goal and then nearly became the goat by taking a penalty in overtime. He redeemed himself by scoring the game-winning goal by exploiting a Chris Campoli turnover.
April 27, 2011 – Boston beats Montreal 4-3 (OT)
Goal scorers: Yannick Weber, Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban for Montreal; Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Chris Kelly and Nathan Horton for Boston.
Tim Thomas’ performance: Thomas stopped 34 out of 37 shots against the Habs.
Summary: The Bruins’ special teams flopped almost comically in this game, allowing two Montreal power play goals and a disturbing shorthanded tally by Plekanec. Boston made their bones through most of this year’s playoffs by playing great in 5-on-5 situations and this Game 7 was no exception. They stormed off to an early 2-0 lead before stumbling a bit, but didn’t allow stomach punching moments to derail their hard work. Thomas made 31 out of 31 saves and Boston out-scored Montreal 4-0 in even strength situations, including Horton’s bombastic overtime game-winner.
May 27, 2011 – Bruins beat Lightning 1-0
Goal scorer: Nathan Horton for Boston
Tim Thomas’ performance: Thomas made 24 out of 24 saves for a shutout.
Summary: As phenomenal as Dwayne Roloson was (making 37 out of 38 saves), the Bruins finally played the suffocating defensive style that they rarely maintained against Tampa Bay for most of the series. Thomas earned his shutout while Horton scored the game’s only goal on a tip-in after being exonerated of water bottle-throwing charges (although he did face a $2,500 slap on the wrist fine for the infraction).
As you can see, both goalies have had a great Game 7 performance already in these playoffs. There’s evidence that Luongo can bounce back from embarrassing moments but there is also proof that Thomas can close out an opponent even amid in-game setbacks. Each team won those games at home, though, so the Bruins will have to break that trend by winning Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals on the road (and become one of the few in NHL history to do so in the process).