After five games in the 2011 final, both Vancouver and Boston had settled into two different patterns of play. In games one and two, played in Vancouver, the two teams participated in close-knit games, with Vancouver winning both contests by scores of 1-0 and 3-2 (O/T). When the final shifted to Beantown, the second pattern had developed. The games were no longer close on the scoreboard. The Bruins completely dominated, winning games three (8-1) and four (4-0). So what did we expect in game five on Friday in Van City - would the pattern hold? True to form, the Canucks edged Boston 1-0. After allowing 12 goals in two games on the road, Roberto Luongo and his teammates shut the barn door.
As these two thoroughbreds entered play last night in game six, a handicapper's charts and crystal ball painted a picture. The story, depicted on canvass, showed Boston, skating on home ice, once again following the pattern. The Bruins would have no difficulty in extending the final to a seventh and deciding game. Right?
Well, on Monday evening, the picture came to life. The Bruins scored early and often, coasting to a 5-2 win. In this contest, Luongo was chased from the Vancouver goal, after allowing 3 goals on 8 shots. As game seven approaches, the pattern set in previous games can be tossed out the window. There is a new question to be answered - Who wants it more, Boston or Vancouver?
Being an Original Six franchise, with a rich history, Boston has this one advantage over the forty year-old Canucks. The Bruins first National Hockey League season came in 1924-25. Since their inaugural campaign, Boston has produced some of the leagues greatest assets. They range from the Eddie Shore era to present day. Some would argue the best player ever to play the game was a Boston Bruin - Bobby Orr. Boston management called on their wealth of history prior to game four. Orr, waving a number 18 flag, in honour of Nathan Horton, whipped the Garden crowd into a frenzy. It was a marvellous sight to watch.
An interesting piece on Forbes.com concerning Jim Balsillie. According to Forbes, Balsillie has been told by the NHL he will be considered for a franchise in the future. In the meantime, he must remain a good citizen and cause no problems For Bettman & Company. The NHL's VP, Bill Daly, has dismissed Forbes contention. With the Toronto Maple Leafs apparently in play, I wonder where or if Balsillie fits into the picture? In the past, Balsillie had one focus - bringing a franchise to southern Ontario. Are the Leafs his point of entry - as a partner or majority owner? Or, are NHL owners salivating over possible expansion fees for a second club in the GTA/southern Ontario? There seems to be more questions than answers at this stage of the game.
Staying with the Maple Leafs, one further question has been addressed, while another remains up-in-the-air. The club has signed netminder James Reimer to a 3 year, $1.8 million per/season contract. The question which remains outstanding - will they vigorously pursue free agent Brad Richards?
As predicted in this space, the Philadelphia Flyers have chosen not to ignore their dire goaltending situation. In a deal with Phoenix, the Flyers obtained Ilya Bryzgalov, who will be a free agent come July 1.
Congratulations to the Binghampton Senators (Ottawa), who were crowned American League champions last week (June 7). They defeated the Huston Aeros four games to two in the Calder Cup final.
On the topic of AHL news, comes word of a franchise relocation. As expected, the Manitoba Moose are on the move. With an NHL club now in Winnipeg, it was necessary to find a new home for the Moose. This off-season, they will roam across Canada and settle in St. John's, Newfoundland.
The Winnipeg No-Names have signed a new general manager to replace Rick Dudley. Now sitting in the GM's chair is former Chicago assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. One thing is certain concerning Cheveldayoff - he will not have many day's off in his new capacity.
In the category of "You say tomato, I say tamato." The championship series in the NBA is referred to as "the finals", while in the NHL it is "the final".