The Boston Bruins are the Eastern Conference champions, defeating the Tampa Bay Lighting 1-0 in the third period.
With no score going into the final frame, this was a benefit to the Bruins as they are virtually lights out when tied or leading going down the final stretch as they were a combined least scored upon and most clutch scoring team in the league.
There had to be lots of nervous energy in both sides and you can tell that both teams were not giving too many chances.
Nathan Horton put the game away on a pass by David Krejci as the first line all entered the zone. Horton's stick was at the right place and at the right time as the puck was deflected just to the left of Roloson's left pad.
CBC's color commentator Bob Cole sounded disappointed.
There were no penalties called in the entire game, the first time since March 1953 when the Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings played penalty-free.
Captain Zdeno Chara showed class and respect for his team when Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly presented with the Prince of Whales Trophy. Instead of getting a picture of just himself and Mr. Daly with the trophy, he called upon his team to gather around the trophy for a snapshot.
And no...they didn't touch it.
Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson was the reason of the final score being so close as he kept his team in it by stopping an impressive 37 of 38 shots on goal. But Bruins goalie Tim Thomas only needed to stop all 24 shots that he faced. Also, the Bruins blocked 17 shots intended for the Boston net.
Roloson's defeat was his first loss in eight elimination games.
When the hands were shaken, all eyes were on Thomas and Lightning star Martin St Louis as they were teammates when they attended the University of Vermont.
Thomas reported that St Louis told him to "Go win the whole thing" in an emotional embrace for the long-time friends.
As nervous as everyone was with 7:33 left of the game, the Bruins needed to play some shutdown hockey and limit the mistakes and they didn't disappoint. The win set up the meeting with the President's Cup winner and Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, June 1.
This will be the first Stanley Cup Finals that the Bruins have faced since 1990.
Both teams and goalies were phenomenal. You could almost predict that it was going to take one mistake to decide the series. While it was a break down on the Lightning part and possibly a slip up on Steven Stamkos part to allow Horton to cruise in, the goal was a good one—unlike the knuckle puck that Antti Niemi lost track of to decide the Western Conference.
The Bruins, overall, outplayed Tampa Bay and with the home-ice advantage, Coach Claude Julien was able to get his team setup better.
Throughout the entire series, whoever controlled the faceoff, won the game. Boston won 57 percent of the faceoffs this night with Krejci leading the was with 82 percent (15-3) and Bergeron with 65 percent (15-8).
Roloson was the reason the game was just 1-0. If it weren't for his play, this game could have easily been a blowout as the Bruins had their chances to put it away early.
Thomas wasn't nearly as busy, but he stopped some crucial shots that could have sent this score the other way.
Both teams were solid defensively and refused to yield too much.
Unfortunately, someone had to lose. Both teams are deserving of a chance at the cup as both teams battled hard in the first round, swept the second and took it to another seven-game series against each other.
Both teams played their hearts out and when it mattered, they made their chances count when they are allowed to play their game.
Stamkos' shot in the face. Dang nearly took his nose off.
Bob Cole will now become a Canucks fan. The bright side of this is that once this series is over, he can't pick another team.
This series was what I thought it was going to be. I was thinking B's in six, but the setback was when the Lightning came back from the 3-0 deficit in Game Four.
The Bruins have surprised me somewhat to take it to their opponents and the critics and experts were saying all along that this was not going to bode well for the Bruins should they continue to have such an anemic power play (currently at 9.2%).
Thanks to the discipline that they showed and the league leading five on five defense that the Bruins have shown in the regular season and throughout the playoffs, this seems to be offsetting that handicap.
Special Shout Out
I wanted to say a special note that I dedicate this article to my brother, Lonny Ducey, a longtime Bruins fan who passed away after a tragic traffic accident on August 3, 2010.
We enjoyed the Boston Bruins for many years and I wish he was here to see this. Having lived in Calgary, Alberta, he would have taken the time off to fly to Vancouver, British Columbia to see if he could catch any games.
My thoughts and prayers are with him and I proudly wear his Boston Bruins ball cap when I watch the B's play.
Congratulations, 2010-2011 Boston Bruins on your Eastern Conference championship. We wish you all the best during the Stanley Cup Finals.
This is Cory Ducey saying, "Hit Hard, But Keep It Clean."
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