My feelings about game 7 are a little bit tempered by the rioting that went on in Vancouver. I will put up a separate post about that later. For now, my thoughts are with my friends in Vancouver, like @ryanclassic, @alixiswright, and @alanah1. I feel bad that they can’t celebrate a Cup win, and that they have to endure the aftermath on the streets.
I tweeted that June 1st. Hey, they don’t call it blind faith for nothing. And that’s all I really had, faith. It wasn’t knowledge, it wasn’t expertise, it was faith in the face of the evidence against, and defiance. I knew the Canucks could win it, but I never believed the Bruins would lose it.
I’ve told this story before, but I’ll do it again, because it fits. I was in Boston a little over a year ago, during the Olympics and regular season, and the talk of Bruins fans kept to leaning toward how the Bs had made a huge mistake signing Tim Thomas for as long as they had. The consensus seemed to be that he was washed up, and the contract was a huge burden. I told those fans to wait. I told them you didn’t go from being a Vezina winner to washed up in one year. Something was wrong, and it was obvious. Thomas had hip surgery in the offseason, and came back. A career year, and no real end in sight.
I was a sort of bandwagon fan for the Bruins throughout the playoffs. I’d been looking for an Eastern Conference team for a long time, and kept coming back to the Bruins. I tried to make it the Capitals, but that never really fit. I spent eight months in Boston during the lockout, and learned to love that city (I really like Vancouver, but for all it’s beauty, it loves to take all my money). Since the Avalanche never had a remote shot at the playoffs (when you hear fans bragging about having the second overall draft pick…), I was free to pick and choose who I wanted to win each round. I have my own biases (as does every fan of the game), so there were a few teams that would never make it into my favorites, most notably Detroit and Vancouver. My choices round-by-round were:
In the end, the thing I really wanted to see was Tim Thomas raise the Cup. If there was a guy in the playoffs who deserved it most, it was Thomas. While Roberto Luongo won a game or two for his team, he also was the reason they lost at times. Thomas never lost a game for his team. You could argue the wrap around goal scored on him eleven seconds into overtime in game two was his fault, as he was way out of position, but there were several things that went wrong on that play. And in their losses, Thomas deserved more than he got from his teammates. He got it in games six and seven.
Thomas was the clear Conn Smythe winner even before game seven. I remember being at game seven in 2003 as the New Jersey Devils beat the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to win the Stanley Cup – which was where I learned to dislike the Devils – and watching losing goalie JS Giguere collect the Conn Smythe. You could see how sad he was as he took his shinny trophy back to the room where his teammates sat in defeat. It’s a great honor, but nothing like the trophy your entire team worked so hard for. It affected Giguere and his game the next season. He was a goalie that has always brought his emotions to the game, both positive and negative. I didn’t want to see the same thing happen to Thomas. Thomas always seems like calm and collected guy, until you piss him off. I have been a huge fan of Thomas for a while, and want to see his continued success. And even though it will never happen, he sure would look good in an Avalanche jersey.
– Roberto Luongo is going to get blamed and called a choker. He will, again, be called overrated. Luongo was a great goalie through most of the playoffs. He has a few bad games every so often, but he always springs back. That he got scored on three times in the final game doesn’t make him a choker, it makes him human. He has his faults, not the least of which is hubris, but he is still a good goalie. If it weren’t for him, the Canucks would never have gotten as far as they did. He won them games, and he lost them games. But he won them a lot more than he lost.
– I took in the game last night at SoBo 151, Denver’s Czech hockey bar, and had a blast. Wearing my Bruins colored Johnstown Cheifs jersey brought a few fans over to talk hockey and hang out. Brian Engblom was there, fans of both teams were represented, and the mood was generally jovial. The Canucks fan next to me was tense for most of the game, but wound up chatting more as the game wore down. When the Canucks raised their sticks to the fans, the crowd, including the Bruins fans, applauded the team. I shook a few hands and offered condolences to the Canucks fans in attendance. The only indication of any animosity was the bottom line on the NBC broadcast, saying that rioting had started in Vancouver. It’s what hockey should be like.
– Good for Coach Vigneault pulling Luongo near the end down by three goals. Even if it looked like the game was over, he didn’t give up. You have to give him credit for that.
– The handshake that happened on the ice was great, and is a wonderful tradition in hockey. But the handshake on social media sites like twitter was just a good. Fans that had been thrust together on opposite sides of the game were patting each other on the backs, congratulating and sympathizing, burying hatchets, and generally getting along for the first time in two weeks.
– The Canucks oscillated between looking beaten and being on the verge of taking over the game. There were several times the Bruins let them back into the game, and they made some good plays along the way. What took the Canucks back out of the game, over and over? I really don’t know.
At the end of the season, it’s almost like there should be poetry. Maybe I’ll try a crack at that tomorrow. For the moment, wow, what a season. October can’t come soon enough.
I am still collecting my thoughts on the rioting. I’ll probably post about it later.
The Stanley Cup Dead Blog Challenge rolls on for some of us, while others have completed the first part that they committed to. To those who made it to June 15th, congratulations. You should be proud of your work, and hopefully will continue to write, if not post, daily. You have a good block of work that you can build on, and keeping with it is the best thing you can do for your writing and your blog. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
Me, and several others, are continuing on until at least July 1st.