Boston just shutout Vancouver 8-0 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Wait, there's a game update: Vancouver ruins Thomas' shutout after a terrible non-call by the game officials.
First off, this was a great game to watch. Boston won 8-1 and, despite eight horrendous breakdowns by Vancouver—four coming in the second period and four coming within 6:28 of each other in the last half of the game's final frame—a lot of points in the game featured fairly even play. Tim Thomas was the difference. Early on in the scoring, Vancouver had a good number of chances to cut Boston's lead.
Thomas came up huge every time.
With a lot of critics questioning Thomas' playing style, this win has got to feel great for him. Timmy shut down chance after chance by the Vancouver Canucks. It was great that he got help on the other end from the offense—a lot of help—but Thomas really stood as the team's backbone tonight and kept the momentum in his team's favor every single time Vancouver had a chance to shift a little bit of momentum their way.
That said, Thomas' effort deserved a shutout. While his team was setup in the offensive zone, Jannik Hansen laid a vicious slash on David Krejci's hindquarters where pants don't have too much padding. Krejci went down hard and stayed down, obviously in considerable pain, which left a large area of the ice suddenly open for Hansen to get open for a nice pass from Raffi Torres, who then banged home the puck.
The officials really missed a big one here. The play should've stopped immediately and Hansen sent to the sin bin.
Fortunately, Thomas didn't seem to care as much about the shutout as he did about his team winning. The smile on his face when the final buzzer went off said it all. Timmy Thomas, spotlights shining on him, grinned ear-to-ear, tapped both goal posts with his paddle, and skated out to a big team hug.
A lot of class. The makings of an All-Star, Stanley Cup-caliber goalie. That kind of selflessness—as well as the hard work and body-sacrificing saves he has made every single game these Stanley Cup playoffs—is crucial to a team competing for the Cup.
Despite the fact that Thomas did not get the shutout really doesn't make a difference in the big picture, I do still have a bone to pick with the officiating.
The penalties were 14-10 with the Canucks receiving more time on the man advantage despite Vancouver playing a very questionable game physically. The officials missed the call on Hansen, they missed a few fairly obvious goalie interferences and roughing incidences on Thomas, blatant hooks by Vancouver off the faceoff, crosschecks that were beyond dirty along the boards, and a handful of others.
On top of that, a few of the calls on Boston were questionable at best. The slashing call on Lucic in the third period was bad. The game misconduct on Shawn Thornton was terrible—especially considering that Kesler started the whole scrum in front of the net—and to tag him with a roughing major when he threw nothing except words is just awful.
I hate to yell about conspiracy theories—I really do. But a lot of the officiating in this series has seen Vancouver as the beneficiary when their play has been the more questionable play. Now, I love a good, hard-hitting game, and I understand the value of finishing hits and wearing down the opposition's defense. However, there is an enormous difference between hitting for the sake of following a coach's game plan, wearing down the other team's d-men and intimidating them, and then hitting for the sake of hitting or hurting.
Thankfully, the call on Rome was correct and appropriate; he probably won't see any more ice—except from watching from the press box—the rest of this postseason. But, as I said, the calls are going heavily in favor of Vancouver after a postseason that has been surprisingly and pleasantly filled with games in which the officials have been content to let the boys play.
Given, this series looks like it may be getting very nasty, very quick, but a lot of questionable calls have been made on the B's and a lot of fairly ridiculous non-calls have gone in favor of the 'Nucks.
And to think all this nastiness started with Alex Burrows chomping on some fingers. Although, Burrows—and Lapierre for his pathetic attempt at a laugh—may never live down the reputation he has brought on himself during this Cup run.
All this conspiracy theory aside, let's all raise an ice cold beer to what has been a great series so far and what will surely be a thrilling next two to four games.