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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our cup runneth over

The Bruins finally played in Vancouver like they did in Boston and bring home the Stanley Cup for the first time since I was in high school.
The Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks tonight at Rogers Arena, 4-0, becoming the Stanley Cup champions for the first time since the big, bad glory days of Orr and Espo in 1972. The victory ends a 39-year title drought and gives the Bruins a place on the pedestal (or the at least the duck boats) alongside the Celtics (2007), Patriots (2001, '03, '04) and Red Sox (2004, '07) as champions during this unprecendented era of all-around professional sports success in the city.

The victory was the Bruins' first here during the series in three tries here in Vancouver, which had won Games 1, 2, and 5 here despite scoring a total of just five goals on their home ice and eight overall in the series. The Bruins won all three games at the Garden by a 17-3 advantage, but winning in Vancouver was a tall challenge.

Of course, these Bruins, on determined path since blowing a three-game lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Philadelphia Flyers last postseason, have been up for every tall challenge they have faced during this playoff run, beating the rival Montreal Canadiens in seven games in the first round, avenging the previous loss to the Flyers with a sweep, then taking down the talented Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games to reach the Cup Finals against the gifted Canucks.

Tonight's challenge was also one they proved up to almost immediately, with Bergeron flipping a one-timer past beleagured Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo at the 14:37 mark of the first period to give the Bruins the crucial first goal.

The play was set up by the relentless rookie Marchand, who boosted the Bruins lead to 2-0 in the second period with a wraparound goal after beating Luongo to the far post at 12:13 of the second period.

Bergeron got his second of the night a little more than five minutes later on a shorthanded break in in which the puck trickled past Luongo as Bergeron and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff crashed into the net. Marchand iced the cake with an empty-netter at 17:16 of the third period.

The winning effort was typical of these Bruins, with so many players contributing to the clinching victory. Tireless defenseman Dennis Seidenberg had two assists. The fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton was stellar defensively. Mark Recchi, the classy 43-year-old future Hall of Famer, had an assist in the final game of an NHL career than began in November 1988. Andrew Ference . . . David Krejci . . . Milan Lucic . . . Johnny Boychuk . . . and on it goes.

But it will be the 37-year-old Thomas who is remembered the most for what happened tonight. The Conn Smythe award winner as the MVP of the postseason, the affable goalie allowed the Canucks -- the highest scoring team in the NHL this season -- just eight goals in the seven games while setting a record for saves by one goalie in a single postseason. Until this postseason, Gerry Cheevers was the most beloved goalie in franchise history.

Tonight, he has company. And so do the rest of his teammates on those cherished 1970 and '72 champions.

The 2010-11 Boston Bruins have made some history of their own.

Can't wait to see the duck boats again.

Let's go to the videotape.

By the way, most of the video search results were about riots in Vancouver. Calm down folks. It's still only a game (and I'm as big a fan as anyone).

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