Well, I’ll confess to a bit of embarrassment. I really thought Thomas looked vulnerable after the Tampa series, but he got his shit together and earned that Conn Smythe Trophy. Then again, one could also reasonably say that Vancouver laid an egg as much as Thomas et al. shut them down. Injuries were a factor, to be sure: Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler, at least, were playing on one leg, while Dan Hamhuis, Mikael Samuelsson, and in Game 7, Mason Raymond, were all badly hurt enough to miss the Finals. But injuries are always a factor, for both teams: Marc Savard (remember him?) and Nathan Horton were both MIA with concussions for all and most of the Finals, respectively. In the end, part of the blame obviously has to go to Luongo, who sieved it up in the three Boston games, and was okay but not good enough last night when he needed to be at his best. But on the other hand, he was brilliant in Games 1, 2, and 5; he had no goal support throughout the series. He needed to allow 0 or fewer goals in five of the seven games to win, and in Game 6, both Canucks goals came in garbage time, well after Luongo had finished for the evening. Luongo wasn’t good enough, but neither were the players in front of him. This is a team loss, and any insinuation that this automatically makes Luongo not a Big Game Goalie, and that this was a career-defining moment, defining him as a Loser, is all absurd. He’s played in big games before and won, he’s bounced back from shit games before with brilliant performances, and this loss only defines his career if he never makes it back.
But enough about the losers; credit must be given to the champions where it’s due. Thomas, as noted, was brilliant, giving up just eight goals in seven games, which must be some kind of record, made the most saves in Stanley Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals history, finished with a stats line of 1.98/.940, and pitched four shutouts, two of them in the Finals (the two SO stats, funny enough, mirror those of Luongo). Chara and Seidenberg did their job in shutting down the Sedins’ cycle game. Methuselah Recchi went out in style, with seven points in the Final series. Brad Marchand came out of nowhere to be a Luongo-wrecking machine, scoring five goals in the Bruins’ four victories and setting a team rookie record with 11 post-season goals. David Krejci led the NHL in playoff goals (12) and points (23). They overcame 2-0 playoff series deficits for the first two times in their 86-season history in Montreal and Vancouver, winning both series in seven games. After putting forth one of the biggest choke jobs in the history of professional sport last year, the Bruins bounced back and proved themselves worthy contenders. Congratulations to the better team.
As for our little contest here, well, as I noted before, Hoop won again, with Gerard placing second, Matt (the only one to nail the Final series) third, and me fourth. Congratulations etc., I hate you all, see you next year.