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Thirty-nine years ago on the ice at Madison Square Garden, legendary Bruins Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and Johnny Bucyk hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup for the fifth time and the last time in franchise history. Since that night in New York, the Bruins have only played for the cup three times, never winning more than two games in the series.
Now, there’s this year. In their fourth trip to the finals since 1972, the B’s will play a Game 7 in the championship series for the first time in franchise history after a thrilling 5-1 victory in Game 6. Now, the Bruins are so painstakingly close to skating around another opposing venue with the holy grail of hockey proudly held high.
Just calling this series between the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks interesting would be doing it a huge disservice. There has been more drama and storylines in this series than there are in any daytime soap opera. There’s been a “phantom” bite, fingerbaiting, players leaving arenas in stretchers, a suspension, and some goalie on goalie crime.
Games for one reason or another have played out entirely different depending upon location. The Bruins have outscored Vancouver 17-3 in three offensive blowouts at the Garden, but once the series shifts to Rogers Arena, the Canucks have the advantage, outscoring Boston 5-2 in three defensive contests.
The most amazing of all storylines is the remarkable 2011 playoff run for goaltender Tim Thomas that has been typified by an outstanding performance through six games in the finals. Thomas has only allowed eight pucks into his net through the first six games of the Stanley Cup. Compare that to his counterpart Roberto Luongo, who must be defending a wider net or something. Seventeen times the rubber has reached the rope at the back of the net with Luongo defending. He’s been pulled twice while Thomas hasn’t been pulled at all through the entire playoffs.
Thomas’ performance is indicative of his desire and thirst for the Cup. That same thirst is shared by all of Boston. The Bruins are the only regional team in the four major sports that hasn’t captured a championship this decade of dominance.
Bruins fans have suffered through pain and anguish the last few seasons thanks to a few tough Game 7 losses and a monumental series collapse just last season.
Boston’s broken hearts could be mended Wednesday if the Black and Gold find a way to fix their offensive struggles on the road this series and beat the shaky head case, Roberto Luongo. The Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy favorite is in your net Bruins, just a couple of goals could do the trick.
The Bruins have shown that they are capable of an issuing a vicious offensive attack on Vancouver. We know they can bury the puck and beat Luongo. We’ve witnessed them play with intensity and simply out-muscle and out-will the Canucks for victories. Now is the time to do it away from home.
The physicality and intensity that we’ve seen in that building down on Causeway Street has been lacking in Vancouver. Whether it’s the comfort of being at home or the enthusiasm and electricity that comes from the Bruins faithful that takes them to that next level, they need to find it and take it with them up north to Canada.
Just remember Burrows biting Patrice Bergeron. Remember Aaron Rome knocking out your star winger Nathan Horton with a late hit. Remember Luongo insulting your outstanding netminder Tim Thomas. Get mad Bruins. Get nasty. Get mean. Bring back the Big Bad Bruins for one more game and use everything you have left in those tanks to fight, battle and claw your way to a victory. This is the time. Do those things and history will be made. Faith will be rewarded.
My Prediction: Bruins win 3-1 and win the sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history
Thirty-nine years ago it was Orr, Espo, Bucyk, Derek Sanderson and Gerry Cheevers on Thursday May 11, 1972. Next it it could be Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Tim Thomas on Wednesday June 15, 2011.
Follow Brian Moller on Twitter: @Brian_Moller