Tyler Seguin and the Biggest Stories of the 2010/2011 NHL Playoffs
As another amazing season in the National Hockey League concludes, most of us will be faced with the challenge of moving on and finding new pursuits for the next three-and-a-half months.
However, these last two months of pure excitement have left us with memories that will be with us throughout the summer.
This year's Stanley Cup Finals was truly one to remember. Here are the top 10 stories of the 2010/2011 NHL Playoffs.
10. Tyler Seguin Wins the Cup at 19
It is not particularly uncommon for players to win championships at a very young age, but given the circumstances of how Tyler Seguin found himself in a Bruins uniform and was able to be a part of all of this, it was certainly a defining moment to see him hoist the Stanley Cup.
Seguin, unlike most top five overall draft picks, found himself being drafted by a cup contender last June.Tyler did not go to a team who was counting on him as one of the key components to their rebuilding process, but rather found himself as a teenager who came along for a ride to a championship.
9. Home Ice Advantage at Its Finest
I have been following hockey for many years, and I will admit that this year's Stanley Cup Finals is the first time I have ever seen such a tremendous effect of home-ice advantage.
People argue that it is the time zone difference, the travel, the fans, and other various factors. Whatever it is, it created a Jekyll and Hyde effect for both teams for the first six games.
The Bruins outhit, outplayed, and outscored the Canucks (17-3) in Boston, but could not bring the same intensity to Vancouver, where they were outhit drastically and could only score two goals in three games in which they lost.
Game 7 was a different story, but the first six were significant displays of home ice advantage.
8. Roberto Luongo's Inconsistency
Speaking of Jekyll and Hyde, I have not seen a team with such unpredictable goaltending make it to the Stanley Cup Finals since....well, last year.
The difference, however, is that the Vancouver Canucks rode with a single goalie throughout the entire playoffs. Also unlike the Flyers, the Canucks looked to their goalie as someone who they thought they could rely on to bring them a championship, and someone who they would expect to carry them through tough times.
At times, he did just that. At other times, it looked like he forgot to bring his catcher. Roberto Luongo was blown out in several occasions in rounds one and four, many of them following games where he was lights out.
Unless Bobby Lou can get over this hump and maintain some consistency in the future seasons, Canucks fans will be on this roller coaster ride for the next decade.
7. Washington Capitals Getting Swept
This is not to take anything away from Tampa, as they were a great story themselves this postseason, but to see this Capitals team show resiliency and overcome many obstacles during the regular season only to tank in the playoffs against a division rival who they buried late in the season, their fate was definitely surprising to witness.
Washington looked like they were cup bound, especially after they were able to adopt a more defensive game in the later part of the regular season. One must wonder what the Great Eight needs to do to finally carry his team past the second round.
6. Philadelphia's Horrendous Goaltending
The goaltending situation has never been kind to the Philadelphia Flyers, but this year, it was probably solely the reason why Philadelphia did not make it deeper in the playoffs.
The Flyers engaged a three-headed goalie rotation throughout the duration of their postseason, and saw their starter being pulled in the majority of their games.
Goaltenders Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher were familiar with certain features of this scenario from their previous playoffs, while rookie netminder Sergei Brobovsky joined them but failed to improve the situation for Philly.
It is fair to argue that goaltending is the only missing piece of this Flyers team which many had predicted to be in the finals again. However, if they do move forward and finalize a deal with Ilya Bryzgalov, watch out for them next May.
5. Tim Thomas
In contrast to the previous slide, need I say more?
4. Brad Marchand's Incredible Playoff Success
Agitating skills and grittiness are obviously effective qualities during the playoffs, but who would have thought a twenty two year old would illustrate these traits to such perfection in his first ever playoffs!
Brad Marchand is technically a rookie this season, but plays like a 10-year playoff veteran. On top of his hard nosed style and his ability to completely throw the Sedin twins of their game, he can score as well.
Marchand recorded 19 points (11G 8A) in 25 games in these playoffs, and did not once hesitate to let the fact that he is a small rookie interfere with the way he plays his game. Physically, he dominated players who were much larger than him.
Offensively, he showed phenomenal talent and determination night in and night out. Now, that is a special player.
3. Two 3-0 Blown Leads
In the past, when a team was up 3-0 in a series, we were usually able to put it in the books...until these last two postseasons.
Last year, we witnessed a Philadelphia Flyers comeback to win the series against the Boston Bruins, after being down 3-0. This year, we didn't see a complete comeback, however, there were two cases in which the losing team was able to come back, tie the series at three a piece, and then lose in an extremely close Game 7.
The Vancouver Canucks were up 3-0 against the Chicago Blackhawks, and very quickly, the series shifted and Chicago found themselves playing in Game 7, but only to lose in a heartbreaker in overtime. Likewise, the Detroit Red Wings battled back against the San Jose Sharks and lost in a tight one goal Game 7.
If anything, this year's playoffs helped to solidify the understanding that it takes four wins to complete a series. As Lenny Kravitz would say, it ain't over till it's over.
2. Vancouver's Late Game Heroics
Although the Vancouver Canucks did not win the Stanley Cup, they made it one of the most dramatic runs that I have ever seen, and I mean that in a good way.
The Canucks won five overtime games, two of which were series-winners. During the late third round to early fourth round, they won three epic games in a row. Two included goals within the final twenty seconds of the third to either win the game or tie it and send it to overtime.
One included a winning goal within the first few seconds of overtime. It was definitely an emotional run for the Vancouver Canucks and their fans, but to be able to win many of their games and series in the fashion in which they did, it was indeed a journey to remember.
1. Boston Bruins Win Their First Stanley Cup in 39 Years
The stories with the happy endings are always the best. Congratulations to the Boston Bruins, the 2010/2011 Stanley Cup Champions!