I’m not sure if I just wanted to torture myself or if this is part of the healing process, but I watched game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final again on the weekend. I have the game on my PVR, along with a few other notable games from last year’s playoff run (game 7 vs Chicago, game 5 vs San Jose, Game 1 and 2 versus Boston). I’ve watched parts of all the other games before, but this was the first time that I mustered up the courage to watch the most important game in franchise history.
So why did I inflict this pain upon myself? Well, it was because I felt like a lot of myths are starting to develop about the Canucks season last year. For one, people talk about last year as if it was a total failure. Obviously it wasn’t a total success, but it was pretty darn close. For another, people think that the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup Final because of the Bruins toughness. While toughness contributed to it, it’s probably a bit exaggerated.
So I watched game 7 again. I remembered the Canucks getting off to a good start in the game, but I had no idea just how good they were in the first period. Believe it or not, the Canucks were the better team. They carried most of the play, got most of the scoring chances and outshot the Bruins 8-5. Unfortunately the only stat that mattered in the first period was the goals stat, 1-0 for Boston. The goal was a good shot, just inside the post and kind of came out of nowhere. It fooled Luongo, but it was a good shot. It wasn’t a shot that resulted from a defensive breakdown or sustained pressure by the Bruins.
The second period wasn’t as good for the Canucks, but it was far from terrible. The Canucks played the Bruins fairly evenly, but couldn’t score on Thomas. Luongo let in a wrap around goal make the score 2-0. Luongo probably should have had it. But even after the game was 2-0, the game was not over. The Canucks continued to play decent, and earned the game’s first power play late in the second period. That’s where puck luck took over. A couple of bad bounces on passes at the blueline stalled their man advantage. Then, late in the power play the Bruins got a fortunate bounce off a stanchion and scored on breakaway. At that point, the game was 3-0 and the Canucks were buried. That’s when I turned the PVR off.
In the most important game in franchise history, the Canucks lost 4-0 (including the empty net goal) but they honestly didn’t play that bad. They outshot the Bruins in every period (37-21 overall), generated scoring chances and limited chances by the Bruins. Unfortunately Tim Thomas was super human and Roberto Luongo wasn’t. Also, the Canucks fourth line was completely useless, and sapped momentum every time they were on the ice. The Bruins fourth line conversely did just the opposite.
The reason I’m pointing all of this out is not to suggest that Boston was lucky to win the Stanley Cup, but it’s to make people realize that the Canucks did not lose game 7 because Boston was too tough and/or better in all facets of the game. The main reason that Boston won the game was because Vancouver wasn’t able to beat Tim Thomas.