Unyielding Bruins roar back
Head to Vancouver for final showdown
So now it’s one game for the Stanley Cup; one game to define a season, a franchise, and — some would say — the very honor of the sport.
The Bruins demolished the curiously inept Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden again last night, 5-2, to force a seventh game in this home-sweet-home Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s a great feeling,’’ said 43-year-old Bruins forward Mark Recchi. “It comes down to one game. This is what we dream of, going back to playing street hockey. We’re going to lay it on the line like they are. No pressure, just go out and play. We’re going to have a blast doing it.’’
The Bruins outscored the Canucks by a whopping 14 goals in the three games at the Garden, but have lost three one-goal games in British Columbia. The spoked-B’s are set for the first Stanley Cup Final Game 7 in the franchise’s 87-year history and need to heed lessons learned by . . . of all people . . . the 1960 New York Yankees.
The ’60 Yanks beat the Pirates in three World Series games by scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0, but lost four close ones and dropped the Series in a one-run seventh game. New York’s aggregate scoring margin (55-27) didn’t help, just as the Bruins are not aided by their 19-8 goal advantage in this 3-3 series draw.
“We’ve got to be hungrier than we have been the last three times in Vancouver,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien.
It looked as if the Canucks flat-out quit last night as the Bruins rumbled to four easy goals in the first 10 minutes. Vancouver’s crybaby goalie Roberto Luongo (“how come nobody says good things about me?’’) was gone after three goals in a three-minute span and might as well have been replaced by LeBron James. Content to try to win it at home, the Canucks rolled over like dogs. If these guys get to win the Cup after this, Lord Stanley might take his name off the sprawling park that beautifies downtown Vancouver. The Canucks should be embarrassed, but thus far in the series have demonstrated they are incapable of conventional sporting response.
Meanwhile, the Bruins are giving birth to a new generation of New England Hockey Krishnas. They have fans believing that they are going to win the Cup for the first time in 39 years. When the Bruins won the chalice in the spring of 1972, pesky forward Johnny “Pie’’ McKenzie and Mayor Kevin White poured beer over each other’s heads in City Hall Plaza. If the Bruins win tomorrow night, it’ll be goalie Tim Thomas and Mayor Tom Menino hoisting the Cup and the Pabst Blue Ribbon Friday in downtown Boston.
The Bruins this spring have won two Game 7s and the planets seemed to be aligned for a third. It might interest you to know that there was a full lunar eclipse when the Red Sox won the World Series in St. Louis in 2004. It just so happens that we’ll have the same rare alignment of the sun, earth, moon (and Cup) when the Bruins play in Vancouver tomorrow night (although the eclipse won’t be visible in North America).
Unfortunately, the Bruins are finished in the gray Garden, where they won 10 of their last 11 playoff games.
Milt Schmidt was the honorary captain of the 2010-11 home finale. Nice. It would be easy to dismiss the 93-year-old Hall of Famer because too many of today’s fans don’t know who he is, but the Bruins made a good call, honoring a man with four Stanley Cup rings. Over seven decades, Schmidt has served the team as player, captain, coach, general manager (he made the Esposito trade) and ambassador of all things hockey.
Rene Rancourt left nothing in the dressing room, punctuating “The Star-Spangled Banner’’ with a rarely seen triple fist pump.
Henrik Sedin’s first two minutes typified his first five games of the series. The high-scoring Swedish forward fanned on a shot when he had an open net and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct as he oversold a hit by Zdeno Chara (matching minor).
Then came the deluge: four goals in 4:14, a Stanley Cup Final record.
At 5:31 of the first, it was rookie Brad Marchand flipping a wrist shot past Luongo. Thirty-five seconds later, Milan Lucic made it 2-0. Next up was fallen warrior Nathan Horton on the big board, waving to the masses from just inside the Zamboni entrance. Emboldened by this scene, Andrew Ference blasted a power-play slap shot past Luongo at 8:35.
At this juncture, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault mercifully pulled his goalie. Luongo’s Garden Stanley Cup Final line was set at three games, 15 goals allowed, and two calls to the bullpen. Let’s not forget that this is the man who said that he would have stopped the shot that beat Tim Thomas in Game 5, and whined that he’d been “pumping [Thomas’s] tires ever since the series started’’ with no reciprocal praise.
It was a pathetic remark. It was tantamount to Tom Brady saying, “I’m always saying nice things about Peyton Manning. How come he never says anything nice about me?’’ Imagine.
In fairness, Luongo has blanked the Bruins twice at Rogers Arena and did win an Olympic gold medal for Canada 16 months ago. His performance, on and off the ice, the last couple of days has been pitiful, but the rules stipulate that he still can win the Stanley Cup with another shutout tomorrow.
Vigneault seemed to think home ice is all his fellows need.
“It doesn’t matter,’’ said the coach. “We’re going back home. We worked all year to get home ice, and our fans are going to be excited.’’
Thomas and Recchi sat at the podium after midnight, answering questions about all their years in hockey. Recchi toasted the fans of Boston. Thomas talked about his 18-year journey to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Bruins goalie would appear to be a lock for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff Most Valuable Player. A guy who didn’t become a full-time NHL starter until he was 31, Thomas is the embodiment of the lunchpail Bruins. He also happens to be the only American on the active roster.
Oh, Boston. Tim Thomas stands on guard for thee.
If you’re setting up a street hockey goal in your driveway today, remember that there’s still time to hitchhike to Vancouver and pay a couple of grand for a ticket. If the Bruins win, it’ll be worth it. Over the moon, you might say.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.