Friday, May 27, 2011

The B's Are Heading to the Finals

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The Lightning and Bruins played a wonderful hockey game tonight. They needed to, since it was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The B's found just enough offense, with Nathan Horton scoring the game-winner a midway through the third period.

Holy cow. That's the way it should be. Now I know my buddy Harold was dying, but for the hockey fan, it was pure bliss. Tremendous.

Kudos to Boston for not reacting like it was amateur hour. They were loud, excited, and controlled. The exact opposite of Vancouver, whom they will oppose in the Stanley Cup Finals.

As for the last seven-game set of this 2010-2011 season, it was exactly what a fan could and should ask for. Boston - an Original Six team, which is NOT truly the first six teams in the history of the NHL, but the period before expansion in 1967.  The B's have existed since 1924, and haven't danced with Lord Stanley since 1972.  They'll take on Vancouver - they've existed since 1970 and took the Rangers to Game 7 of the 1994 Finals before falling to the great Messier, Leetch, and Richter (I'm convinced the Blueshirts made a deal with the Devil).  Vancouver has been largely known for a bizarre uniform combo until recently, when Roberto Luongo and the Sedin twins made them into a favorite to contend for Lord Stanley's chalice.

The bottom line is, either way, we've got a team that hasn't won in almost 40 years versus a team that has never won in just over 40 years.  I think that is very cool.

Tonight's Game 7 was just brilliant, with Dwayne Roloson and Tim Thomas putting on a clinic between their respective pipes.  The winner by Horton was off of textbook passing, and Roloson stood no chance.  No fault to him, his defense, or anyone else.  In the end, Thomas proved that it is he who is the true royalty of the sport, a fact that has been discussed for some time around these parts.  Roloson, for his part, stopped 37 shots.  He, and the rest of the Lightning, should feel no shame in coming up just short.

Steven Stamkos also deserves enormous respect.  The guy who had been thisclose to being a Ranger took a puck off the nose and I never expected him to return.  Yet he did return.  Hard to dispute that kind of determination.

Yet this is all about Boston.  Hard to believe but I am firmly behind them.  OK, OK, I loathe their baseball team (but respect them furiously) and have a strong dislike for their so-called football team (after all, they're the NEW ENGLAND Patriots), and I don't really love their basketball team.  But I like the B's.  I like the organization and the players.

Their bandwagon is officially loading up now.

I root for the Finals to be as good as tonight was.  Game 1 is Wednesday night in Vancouver.  We all get a few nights to catch our breath.

A quick PS - I saw the news that Gary Carter likely has a malignant brain tumor.  It comes as no shock that I loathe the Mets with every ounce of my soul, and often thought of Carter as being a whiny crybaby (get over Mike Scott in 1986).  That being said, I wish him and his family all the strength in the world as he wages this fight.  He was a wonderful player, a Montreal Expo, a Hall of Famer, and a member of baseball's brotherhood.  The rest of it is just for debate, part of why we love sports. 

A life is a life.  Be strong, Kid.

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