Here are 5 thoughts in the aftermath of the Boston Bruins reign as Stanley Cup Champions coming to a close last night in overtime against the Washington Capitals:
1. Good bye Tim Thomas and Thanks for the memories- The two-time Vezina Trophy and 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy winner was arguably the main cog in the Bruins run to the Cup last season, but seemed to wear down as this season went along (as did most of his teammates). The goalie was not at his outstanding best in the playoff series against the Capitals as evidenced by some soft goals, including Alex Ovechkin’s go-ahead goal in Game 6 off the faceoff.
There should be no hard feelings from Bruins fans or from Thomas himself, but it is time for Boston to look to the future and to promote Tukka Rask to the number-one spot. Also, there is plenty of value in trading Thomas and he could provide key pieces to help the Bruins make the playoffs in 2012-13. It’s been a great run from the porn-stache, but winning organizations know when to move forward.
2. Has the love affair with Milan Lucic ended- Lucic is one of those players that everyone tells you is great, but when you actually watch him, you’re left completely underwhelmed. After the fifth backhanded, no-look pass straight to the stick of a Capitals player ended a Bruins attack, there was notable frustration from fans at the Garden and on Twitter (we’ll get to THOSE fans on Twitter later). It was an unforced error by Lucic that set up the first Capitals goal and, while it was clearly a bad bounce, the nonchalance that Lucic seems to play with doesn’t match his ability to positively affect the outcome.
I know Bruins fans love to wear his shirt and love when he runs over goalies or puts Flyers into the boards well after the play, but these aren’t positive contributions and he is stalling the progress of his linemates. He has the tools but has been a disappointment in the playoffs.
3. Have we seen the emergence of Tyler Seguin- While two goals in seven games doesn’t seem like a great output for a forward with Seguin’s skills, the diving, scrappy goal he scored in the second period to tie the game showed a desire and willingness to sacrifice that had been missing from his game. Seguin played very well in the final three games and was very unlucky to not have more goals in the series. The combination of fortuitous defending and the great play of Capitals’ goalie Braden Holtby kept his numbers down. Still, Seguin showed more fighting spirit and (although I don’t have stats to back this up) hit more players in the series than he had all season.
The best part about Seguin’s play in the series was that this should have been his freshman year in college. The future looks bright.
4. Great Cup defense- While it won’t go down in the history books as the greatest season for the franchise, the Bruins showed great determination to battle the fatigue of two extra months of playoff hockey that allowed them to win the Cup. A slow start was followed by a dominating stretch where the Bruins led the league in goals scored and fewest goals allowed. Eventually, injuries and plain tiredness would slow them down, but the Stanley Cup hangover probably gives the team a pass. The Capitals played strong and smart and rode a hot goaltender into the second round and the disappointment of losing Game 7 shouldn’t take away from how well this team played over the course of the season.
5. THOSE fans- I use the term fan loosely. The morons that took to Twitter in the drunken hours following Game 7 and decided to racially abuse Capitals forward Joel Ward have embarrassed not just themselves (if that was possible) but the entire city of Boston and state of Massachusetts (probably all of New England).
Barry Bonds made a comment in 2004 about black players not wanting to come to a racist city like Boston. A city dealing with the racial history of the Yawkey years and still stigmatized by the 1974 Busing Crisis and its aftermath, Boston seemed to have moved on from its history. The Pedro Martinez/Manny Ramirez years at Fenway and the Big Three era had given all of Boston a warm, fuzzy feeling about their newfound color blindness. Obviously nothing has changed.
Maybe Barry was right after all.
The biggest problem is that Twitter (and the internet in general) allows a modicum of anonymity and distance for these morons to spout whatever racist crap comes to mind. It is easy to be abusive when Joel Ward isn’t standing in front of you ready to knock you unconscious. In England, they prosecute those that racially abuse soccer players (or other fan groups) on Twitter. It might be time for the US to start looking into cracking down as well.
Last night the Bruins went out like winners, giving it their all on the ice. Bruins fans showed that they are nothing but losers.