|Connelly’s Top Ten: The End for Tom Brady and the Patriots?||Celtics Officially Sign Turner, Finalize Training Camp Roster||Connelly’s Top Ten: Adios Red Sox; Patriots Visit Loud Arrowhead Stadium||Why Watch the Red Sox? This is the End!|
After a 4-0 win in Game 4, the Bruins are just two wins away from their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. Here are a few more thoughts about what we saw in Game 4 and Game 3 here in Boston.
Tim Thomas proved to the hockey world once again that he is one bad man. He earned his third shutout of the 2011 playoffs and has given up only five goals in his last five games. The shutout was the first for a Bruins goaltender in the Stanley Cup Finals since another number 30, Gerry Cheevers did it back in 1972, the last time the Bruins won it all.
The aggressive and unorthodox style of Tim Thomas hasn’t always been pretty and he was often criticized that he wasn’t a “playoff goalie.” Well, like fine wine Thomas has proven that things only get better with age, because at 37 years old, he’s quieting all of his critics.
Thomas has now prevented 78 of the last 79 shots from crossing the goal line. If Thomas can continue this Herculean type of effort for at most three more games, he’ll be able to validate his professional career with not only a Stanley Cup but likely both the Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophies as well. Not too bad to put in the trophy case with his silver medal from the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Rich Peverley was forced with the burden of trying to fill the skates of Bruins star forward Nathan Horton Wednesday night. He didn’t just fill in, he sparked the scoring and used his speed and skill to add to the scoring potential of the Bruins’ first line. Peverley had only two goals in the playoffs prior to last night’s game, but after doubling that number in Game 4, his performance shows the depth of the Boston Bruins’ roster. Credit Peter Charelli for that one.
Heading into the series, it was expected that the advantage on special teams would lean heavily in favor of the Canucks. There was good reason for one to think that way, but in Games 3 and 4 the B’s have been solid thanks to effort, hustle and tons of heart. In Game 3, four of Boston’s eight goals came on special teams. Two came by way of the power play and two found the net when the B’s were shorthanded.
While playing the team that had the best powerplay in the NHL in the regular season, the Bruins have kept them off the board for the most part when they’ve been a man down. The Canucks have scored only one goal on the power play in the series.
Back in the 1970s “The Big Bad Bruins,” were one of the top dogs, or in this case top bears in the NHL and they didn’t just beat you they beat you. Now, Nathan Horton squirting a fan with a water bottle back in the Conference Finals may not be Mike Milbury beating spectators with their own shoes, and Shawn Thornton may not be Terry O’Reilly, but if opponents cross someone in black and gold, they’re well aware that they will have to answer to the B’s present day enforcer. Andrew Ference has flipped an “unintentional” bird to Montreal fans and the Captain Zdeno Chara is a giant man with a commanding presence, who lays out any mere forward to get in his way.
The “Big Bad Bruins” are back and have been imposing their will on the Canucks. The no nonsense Bruins have shown that they don’t care about regular season records and playoff seedings. When they step on the ice they want to be the bigger and badder team.
That attitude goes up and down the roster from the miniature forward, Brad Marchand, who is always instigating and ready for a fight to Timmy Thomas, the toughest goalie in the leauge. Yes, that’s right, even Tim Thomas has been physical as protects his net. In Game 3, Thomas threw a beautiful body check on Henrik Sedin and left him flat on his back. In Game 4, he did one better when he took a hack at the leg of public enemy number one, Alex Burrows. After the slash Burrows went at Thomas, who stood his ground and again was left standing over a sleeping Canuck.
Thomas said this of his battle with Burrows in Game 4:
“I thought I’d give him a little love tap,” Thomas said. “Let them know that I know what you’re doing, but I’m not going to let you do it forever. That’s all that was. A typical battle.”
With a never-die attitude and the spirit to battle for a fallen friend, the Bruins may be more motivated than ever to make sure nothing gets in the way of their quest for the cup.
In what is now a best-of-three series, the Bruins need just two more wins to bring Boston its sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Follow Brian Moller on Twitter: @Brian_Moller