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Well, from a Boston Bruins perspective, one can chose to look at Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals two ways:
1. A wasted opportunity. A game that easily could be had — given Tim Thomas and his heroic efforts. Thomas won’t be able to replicate that performance throughout the series. Lastly, and most importantly, Boston knew it could not afford to give away these types of games considering the disparity in talent between the two teams.
2. The Bruins provided empirical evidence that, yes, they can play with the Canucks. The game was, for the most part, evenly played entering the third period. Essentially the game was reminiscent of the Game 2 victory for Boston in the Philly during the quarterfinals, when the Flyers controlled the pace, before falling in overtime. In the same token, now we know the B’s aren’t up against the Edmonton Oilers of the late 80′s. A few bounces our way, and this is a winnable series.
I’m going with the latter. Look, Boston is playing with house money. 28 other teams are sitting at home, watching these two teams battle one another, wishing they could participate. Well, they had their chance. And the Bruins STILL have theirs. The Sedin twins were intimidated, Luongo really wasn’t tested, and Boston was entrenched in a battle that read: nil-nil for 59 minutes and 42 seconds. So, I’m not going to change the narrative because the upshot dictates negativity. That would be specious, and more importantly irresponsible.
(out of 10)
Tim Thomas - 9 - His counterpart, Roberto Luongo, faced more shots in Game 1. In fact, the shots were ostensibly at 26-20 going into the final frame; however, it was transparent Vancouver had more titillating opportunities. The third period saw the B’s net-minder face a flurry of scoring chances, and yet he nearly stole Game 1 for Boston.
Johnny Boychuk - 4 - Boychuk’s fatal pinch to retrieve the puck before entering Boston’s defensive zone with 18 seconds remaining in regulation will be remembered ignominiously in years to come. BUT Johnny B getting pick-pocketed by the adroit Ryan Kessler is hardly anything to be ashamed of. The 6 Boston blue-liners should be proud of this performance. The veracity of the predicament is ANYONE of the Bruins players could have made that fatal error, and Boychuk’s play souring in the late stages was indicative of the whole team.
Zdeno Chara - 6 - I wrote this in Game 6 of the Tampa Bay series, but it’s worth re-visiting, Big Z is the personification of the adjective ubiquitous. The guy is EVERYWHERE on the ice. Chara drew two penalties (one was a 4 minute major), was a nuisance up front on the power-play, and took to his overwhelming physicality to the Canucks. His play, with the puck in his own zone in particular, became rather dishelved as the game progressed which, again, leads me to believe this loss can be pinned on fatigue. Not just a miscalculation on Johnny Boychuk’s part.
Andrew Ference - 7 - Andrew Ference’s play, and the subsequent fawning of the NBC booth reminded me of James Posey in the Boston Celtics 2008 championship victory. I know, I know - it’s a fallacy to compare basketball and hockey – but Ference (like Posey) is a role player who stepped up big tonight. He played well on special teams (especially the penalty kill), and consistently made sound choices. HOWEVER, minutes before Boychuk’s error, Ference also gave away the puck in the neutral zone – giving Vancouver an scintillating opportunity. Thomas bailed his defenseman out, yet again.
Tomas Kaberle - 4 – The maligned Boston defenseman played a mediocre Game 1. His presence on the power play continues to be baffling, especially since it is discernible teams do not respect his shot at the top of the point. I pin that more on coach Claude Julien than Kaberle.
Adam McQuaid - 4 -The rookie’s game was fine. He was steady and the effort, as always, was palpable. Perhaps a bigger sign of encouragement was McQuaid not displaying any demur in his game. He, like Ference, had a costly giveaway from behind his own net that Thomas quickly swept under the rug.
Dennis Seidenberg - 6 -Aggressive, forceful, intelligent, and physical. Those are the four words I would use to describe Seidenberg’s Game 1 performance. Coming off a stellar Game 7 showing in the ECF, Seidenberg was the best of the Boston defensive contingent (even though, I rated Chara higher). He created juicy rebounds and doubt for the Vancouver side by consistently shooting, without hesitancy, into the menacing traffic in front of Roberto Luongo.
Nathan Horton - 5 – Horton’s play in Game 7 of the ECF, like Seidenberg, continued into the Stanley Cup finals. The Boston sniper put shots on target, and nearly put home a goal off a pretty Milan Lucic feed. He didn’t finish, but watching him play gave an observer confidence he will become a factor by the end of this series.
Michael Ryder - 6 – Ryder maintained his path to winning the JD Drew Memorial Award given to a player who is terrible during the season but surprises you with a strong post-season showing. It’s his destiny. This was Ryder’s strongest performance since the Flyer second round series. I liked his willingness in bringing the puck into the zone on Boston’s powerplay. This was a nice change of pace from Boston’s antecedent dump and chase system, which – more often than not – lost them possession. Ryder was able to knife through traffic and at the very least maintain possession for his team. I also liked his nifty third period wrist shot, and bellicose follow-up.
Milan Lucic - 6 – The Vancouver native did what Antoine Walker failed to do all those years playing in Chicago for the Celtics — keep composure and play well in front of family and friends. Looch was active early, but waivered as the contest progressed. He did well to knock down a pass in transition, and create a nice opportunity in front for Nathan Horton mid-way through the game.
Brad Marchand - 4 – The rookie winger coerced the action to no avail. I’m all for staving off defenders, showing mettle, and taking the opposition on – but I felt Marchand’s aggressive nature became detrimental towards the end of the game when the Canucks were often able to purloin the puck from his grasp.
Mark Recchi – 2 – I keep writing it, and it keeps happening. Recchi has lost his sea legs, and the game has passed him by — yet Claude Julien keeps trotting the sage out on the ice in pivotal situations. He failed to convert two backdoor opportunities with the 5-3 power-play advantage. Most notably was a play where Recchi fumbled a crisp pass across the crease from Krejci, that – if handled properly – would have led to a goal as Luongo was out of position.
Daniel Paille - 6 – The fourth line winger was effective on the penalty kill, and speedy through the neutral zone. It’s a high rating, but it is always a good sign when there is no noticeable drop-off in play while your fourth line is on the ice.
Rich Peverley - 6 -He can’t finish, but Peverley’s speed and persistance is an asset that should not be overlooked. He had shifts on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines throughout the game. Some may look at his short-handed hooking penalty on one of the Sedin twins as a mistake; however, I felt it was a crafty move. The referee was not in a great posistion to make the call, and the coup almost created a breakaway.
Tyler Seguin - N/A – Seguin’s 6 minutes of ice time did not warrant a rating.
Chris Kelly - 4 -Kelly was solid per usual. He could have done better to put away a spin-around pass from Tyler Seguin in front of the night to give his team an early lead, though.
David Krejci - 8 – Maybe it’s too high of a rating, but the 25 year-old Krejci continues to thrive this postseason. He’s a savant with the puck, seems to have a clairvoyant sense of how to put his team in good circumstances, and is Boston’s most dangerous offensive player.
Gregory Campell - 7 – Like Paille, Campell was solid on the PK. Additionally, he showed some offensive ability, dodging defenders through traffic and nearly putting in a fantastic goal mid-way through the game.
Patrice Bergeron - 5 -A solid performance for the assistant captain. Bergeron, behind Krejci, was the B’s top offensive player in Game 1. Certainly a good sign as the series progresses. He showed some fire as he played the Holyfield to Vancouver’s Alex Burrows Tyson, getting into a fight as the buzzer sounded ending the first period.