Tim Thomas deserved better.
As last night’s Stanley Cup Game 1 unfolded his Boston Bruins continued to fail to give him any kind of net-minding cushion with their anemic power play, which in the Eastern Conference Playoffs only managed five goals on sixty-one opportunities. Nothing changed last night. Zip.
Then…as the game started to wind down the ice started to tilt downhill in his harm’s way as the Vancouver Canucks collectively realized home ice advantage could turn on one skate blade, one erratic bounce, one momentary error in judgement.
Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler did the dirty work along the boards…Jannik Hansen collected his findings at the blue line…and Raffi Torres deposited the finished product behind a helpless Thomas with 18.5 seconds remaining. Vancouver up 1-0…and 1-0.
Between Thomas and his counterpart Roberto Luongo, they had fended off six power plays each and sixty-nine shots combined before Torres’ game-winner. Yet, it certainly seemed to me TT was dodging way more potentially fatal bullets than Luongo, especially in the third period. Thomas played a magnificent game and Bruins fans everywhere should be proud they have him between the pipes.
A lot is being made of all the whistles. They were required equipment last evening. This Stanley Cup opener was as chippy and nasty as any in recent memory. Whether it was nerves or genuine dislike going in, it is dislike now. This series should continue to be great competitive theatre. This game featured fierce checking, flying victims and fists in faces at most stoppages in play.
You’ll hear much about the Canucks’ Alex Burrows biting the finger of Bruin Patrice Bergeron during a scrum at the end of the opener’s opening period. Since the bitten finger was part of an angry hand trying to shove someone else’s head…well, we’ll let the NHL decide what becomes of Burrows. But don’t less the media who relentlessly makes fun of hockey make Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals all about a finger. That same media – who adores basketball this time of year with their blinders on – has a real finger to be made fun of.
Of the forty players who took the ice last evening, only five had played in a Stanley Cup Finals contest. They all have at least one game’s experience now…and what a classic game it was.
From the moment the Vancouver crowd loudly applauded our National Anthem…and loudly sang their own…by themselves at one point…you had a feeling this would be something very special. It did not disappoint. Classic.
Game 2 Saturday evening. Save the date.