Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins scratched and clawed their way to a 4-3 series win over the highly touted Vancouver Canucks. The Bruins destroyed the Canucks both mentally and physically in this series, leaving no doubt in any NHL fan's mind as to who was the better team.
I enjoyed every minute of Vancouver's slow and painful demise—so much so that I figured I would write a eulogy for the deceased:
The 2010-2011 Vancouver Canucks were a great team. In the regular season.
Powered by a superb top line, the Nucks led the entire NHL in goals scored. Their indomitable goalie, Roberto Luongo, helped them secure the league lead in goals against.
They probably assumed they would sweep Boston.
Vancouver came into the series with all the qualities of a championship team. It had the look, the swagger and the pedigree of a winner. "Hey, we have the best offensive players, the best power play, and our goalie is an Olympic gold medal winner. How could they beat us?"
Not so fast, Vancouver. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Did Vancouver have the remarkable Sedin twins? Yes, it did.
Unfortunately for the twins, they did not have the testicular fortitude to handle the Stanley Cup.
Read that again.
These are two of the most exceptional players in the NHL, and they couldn't "handle" the Stanley Cup?
Looks like a choke job to me.
How about that gold medal winner? What's his name? LeBrongo? Yes, him. After a masterful Game 1 in which he shut down the Bruins with 36 saves, Roberto Luongo slowly started to unravel.
He played well in Game 2, stopping just enough shots to get the 3-2 victory in overtime. Then the unraveling began to speed up.
You know when you have a thread in your clothes, and you pull it, and all of the sudden you've ripped your pants right down the middle? That's what the Bruins did to Luongo.
He went from indomitable to insufferable in a matter of eight goals. Eight goals. In one game. Repeat after me, "Whoever has the hot goalie wins in the NHL."
Let's go back to Game 1 for a moment. To "The Bite." I mean, seriously, Alex Burrows, are you human? Are you some sort of Canadian moose dressed up in hockey gear? Burrows must not have realized that the Charlie Bit My Finger video involved a couple of babies who were only two years old.
Maxim Lapierre must have liked what he saw. He joined the party by stuffing his finger into everyone's faces, coming off as a total jerk who deserves nobody's respect. After Game 1, Lapierre was looking like he was going to step up big time for Vancouver.
Nope. No dice. Lapierre was all talk. It's amazing how many of these players talk a big game, but when the lights go on and the game starts they just roll over.
Aaron "Bleeping" Rome.
Forget Aaron Boone, this guy nearly paralyzed the Bruins' most clutch goal scorer in Game 3. Shame on him. And to make it worse, his entire team defended him after the incident. In retrospect, Rome's hit is the jolt the Bruins needed to get going. Following the hit, Boston outscored the dirty Canucks 21-4.
Speaking of justice, let me bring you back to Luongo's remarks following a Game 5, 1-0 victory by the Canucks. Luongo was asked about the game-winning goal by Lapierre off Timmy Thomas and how hard it is for a goalie to save a puck that bounces off the backboards toward the front of the net. His response?
"It's not hard if you're playing in the paint, so, it's an easy save for me."
Easy save for me? Really? Didn't you just let up eight goals in one game and then get pulled after four goals in the next one? Nice move, smart-ass. I guess playing in the paint makes it easier to be a terrible goalie. So bad, in fact, that Vegas had odds on the chances of him being pulled at five to one!
And that's the thing about Luongo: Yes, he looks like a stuck-up, arrogant blockhead, but he plays the part too. It's so great when someone validates all the bad feelings you have toward them by saying something so asinine.
But they aren't all like him.
Manny Malhotra could be the main character in a Hollywood blockbuster. He sustained a career threatening eye injury on March 16 (side note about the video: Even the Canucks Youtube team can't do anything right—that is one of the worst, least-insightful videos I have ever seen of an injury), and many people thought he was done for the year. Miraculously, he was back for Game 2 of the finals.
Just an amazing story.
Too bad it didn't have a Hollywood ending. Despite Malhotra showing his teammates how to be a class-act and a true professional, none of them followed his lead.
Instead, they resorted to biting. They resorted to illegal hits to the head. They resorted to the behavior of a child.
All of that wouldn't have been so terrible, except for the fact that these players are supposed to be role models. They have fans who worship their every move—including the dumb ones.
After a tremendous year, a fan base that was treated to the best record in the NHL and an electrifying playoff run decided to act like the morons they root for.
The riots were awful. Just mindbogglingly stupid. There were 150 injured, including one in serious condition with a head injury. There were 15 cars burned. And apparently, taking a page out of Alex Burrows' playbook, there were police officers who claimed they were bitten.
People actually bit police officers! Vancouver, everybody!
Before I finish up, let us not forget the ultimate sign of cockiness. The "let's plan a parade before we even win the championship" move. The over-confidence and arrogance is simply pathetic—why don't you win a single championship before you start planning parades?
But, I digress. We are gathered here today to speak of the message you taught us, not to dissect the shattered legacy you left behind.
So now, as you lay buried by the Bruins under six feet of dirt, let us remember your enduring lesson: Playing with talent wins you awards, but playing with heart wins you championships.
Rest in agony.