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Boston Bruins Advance to the Stanley Cup Finals

Posted on May 28, 2011 by Jonathan Fucile

Boston's machine like effort earned them a trip to the Finals.

Heading into Friday night’s Game Seven against the Tampa Bay Lighting, the Boston Bruins were continually reminded of all the missed opportunities in their series. They blew a 3-0 lead in Game Four that would have given them a 3-1 series lead. Their penalty kill faltered and they wasted a David Krejci hat trick in Game Six.

There was talk that Tim Thomas was getting too tired, that the Bruins defense just did not have what it takes to keep up with the Lighting and that the Bruins had the inability to play a full sixty minute. On Friday night, with both their season and a Stanley Cup Finals berth on the line, this Bruins team showed again that when it matters most, when everything is on the line, they show up to play.

Tim Thomas showed his laser like focus, Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara led a defense that always seemed to be in the right place at the right time and each offensive line launched endless waves of attacks until they finally beat Roloson, a beautiful play from Boston’s top line, that ended with Nathan Horton potting the game winning goal.

From the second the puck dropped the Bruins played like a team that was not going to lose. The crowd fed off of their confidence and roared virtually the entire game. With every blocked shot, with every big hit, with every close call the crowd felt how much this Bruins team wanted it. Any question of this team’s heart and desire to make it to the Finals was easily erased from even the most illogical doubters.

“When I walked into the room before the third period, I really didn’t have much to say because I could hear what they were talking about and they were bang-on,” said head coach Claude Julien. “It was clear, it was direct, it was what you wanted to hear from your players.”

The final game in this fantastic series could not have played out any better from a drama standpoint. The teams exchanged chances, Boston getting the better and more frequent chances, and imposed their will on the Lightning. The Lightning did what they have done best the entire series, nearly capitalizing on Boston’s rare defensive miscues in this contest and firing well placed shots through heavy traffic or using their speed to create chances Boston was not quite expecting.

On this night, however, Tim Thomas and the Bruins refused to fall for any of Tampa Bay’s tricks. Thomas watched Dwayne Roloson continually rob his teammates and he knew not a single mistake could be allowed this game. On the rare occasion his stellar defense let him down on this night Thomas was there to answer the call, flashing his unorthodox but highly effective style and completely shutting out the Lightning en route to Boston’s first Stanley Cup Finals since 1990.

“We stayed resilient all playoffs and we believed in ourselves all along. But at the same time, that being said, there’s one more round to go and the biggest one coming up. So, we’ve got to enjoy this right now but at the same time, we’ve got to go right back at it and go for those four wins, and it‟s going to be tough,” said Patrice Bergeron.

The referees obviously understood what was going on between the two well disciplined teams and decided to just put their whistles away and let the two teams play. There were occasional trips, perhaps a cross check or two that went uncalled but as the game wore on and the score remained dead locked at zero, the men in stripes apparently decided a game of this magnitude should not be settled by a powerplay but rather settled by the will and determination of the two teams.

As the third period sped along and the score still tied at zero, the atmosphere at the TD Garden began to grow tense. The fans and players alike began to realize that the first goal would likely be the only goal. Both teams bent but neither would break. There was simply too much on the line.

Just under thirteen minutes into the final period, the Bruins struck with that all important first goal. Andrew Ference, who had several key defensive stops throughout the game, fed David Krejci who saw Nathan Horton approach the Tampa Bay crease. Krejci’s pass found Horton’s stick as Horton tapped the puck past Roloson and the Bruins were on the board.

“Yeah, he’s been obviously great in playoffs. He’s got a few game-winners, but he’s just doing what’s natural for him, using his size and strength and going to the net and creating room for other players. Obviously we are very happy for him. It’s his first playoffs experience and he’s doing extremely well,” said Zdeno Chara.

Throughout the playoffs this Bruins team had a tendency to sit back and nurse a late lead and play simply not to lose, a strategy that often resulted in several fantastic scoring chances for the opposition. On this night the Bruins were relentless. After they scored, the defense continued to swarm Tampa Bay skaters, barely allowing them through the neutral zone. Boston had the swagger of a team that did not for one moment believe they were going to lose this game. As the Lightning pressed late the Bruins countered their every move and soon found themselves celebrating and more importantly moving on.

The one moment that defined this team tonight and showed why they have more than a fighting chance against Vancouver was not Tim Thomas’ shutout, it was not the incredible defensive effort and it was not the incredible persistence the offense showed when Dwayne Roloson made save after save. The defining moment came when Zdeno Chara went to pose with the Prince of Whales Trophy and instead of going by himself, he called the entire team over and waited until everyone was in position.

“Something we talked about, I thought it would be great to have all the guys with it. It’s a team thing. It’s something I decided to do and everybody liked it,” Chara said.

This incarnation of the Bruins wins and loses as a team, lives and dies as a team. They are not individuals but rather a collection of players dedicated to each other. When the stakes where at their highest, they came together and gave one of their best efforts of the season. There is no individual glory for this team, rather a roster that acts as one, a roster hungry to claim the trophy that really matters. These are your Boston Bruins and, as a team, they are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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