By Danny Picardand Joe Haggerty
BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Throughout the playoffs, there was much talk about the Bruins power play and the struggles that went with it. On Friday morning, coach Claude Julien acknowledged that they had to get more shots on net, and even got specific when asked about Tomas Kaberle.
Julien said it was important for Kaberle to shoot more on the man advantage, especially with the way the Bruins were utilizing Zdeno Chara, posting his extra-large frame in front of the net.
But none of that mattered on Friday night, because there wasnt a single penalty call against either team in the Bruins 1-0 Game 7 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
What I liked about the refereeing tonight, is that they let the two teams decide the outcome, said Julien after the win. I think both teams were very disciplined tonight, and even though we could question certain non-calls it didnt really matter . . . It was about staying focused and doing the right thing here.
I thought, for what this game meant, I thought the referees handled themselves extremely well. And Im not saying that because we won, Im saying that even as it was 0-0, I liked the way they were handling it.
It marks the first ever penalty-free playoff game for both Boston and Tampa Bay. And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first penalty-free playoff game in the NHL since penalty information has been recorded as a statistic. It was confirmed, however, that Game 7 was the first penalty-free playoff game in the last 20 years.
Considering just how good Tampa Bays power play has been, it wasnt a good time for them to be denied a single opportunity on the man advantage in what turned out to be a one-goal game.
The power play has been a strength of ours, definitely, said Lightning coach Guy Boucher. You know you are hoping you get one, but come the third period I didn't expect to get a power play.Two teams who are very disciplined, I think we respected each other's strengths, and . . . I cant think of any moment I felt there should have been a power play on either side. Thats credit to both teams' discipline and attention to details.
Needless to say, it worked out for the Bruins.
Tim Thomas earned his third career playoff shutout on Friday night, and his second of this postseason. His last came in Game 3 of this series.
I mean Timmy has been great for us all along and again, the way he played was great, said Patrice Bergeron after the win. I thought we did a great job in front of him tonight, to be honest with you. I thought everyone played well. We all chipped in and we all got some great blocked shots. But also, we didnt give them too much in the slot, which probably made it easier for Tank and he deserves that.
Thomas made 24 saves on the night, but it was the guy on the other end that had a more difficult game. Lighting goaltender Dwayne Roloson was phenomenal on Friday, making 37 saves and keeping his team in the game against a pressuring Bruins offense.
A lot of those times when the goalie stands on his head like that, the other team comes down and scores, so its my job to stay ready so that didnt happen, said Thomas. But having said that, we did a great job defensively and didnt give up as good of scoring chances as we did in the games earlier this series.
David Krejci recorded his seventh assist of the postseason, and because that assist led to a Nathan Horton goal, he's tied with Horton for most playoff points on the Bruins with 17.
Krejci now has three goals and two assists in his last three games, and has five points on game-winning goals in the postseason.
The latest game-winner developed because of Krejci's hesitation deep in the offensive zone. But before Krejci could even make that play, defenseman Andrew Ference's eyes lit up, and made a perfect neutral-zone pass to Krejci, who then took it into the Tampa Bay zone.
"I was waiting for that all series," said Ference. "All series, we talked about that. I talked about that play with assistant coach Doug Houda, I think in Game 1. And Johnny Boychuk and I, weve been in that situation, I dont know, fifty, sixty times this series, where we bring up the puck into their forecheck that they have. Yeah I mean, Game 1 we drew that play up. I said, 'Boys, look for this play, look for this play, its gonna work, its gonna work.' And finally, you know. We tried it a couple times and tonight was the first time it really just worked perfect, the timing and everything. Krech came through at a perfect timing. Obviously the finish was sick, but weve been waiting for that neutral-zone play for seven games."
Ference was also credited with an assist on the goal. It marks his fifth assist, and seventh point of the postseason. Mark Recchi had an excellent regular season and a very good first round of the playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens, but the 43-year-old struggled a bit against the Tampa Bay Lightning in conference finals. Recchi is without a power-play point in 18 postseason games this yearr, and sounded like a guy that might be thinking about calling it a career this season now that hes back in the Stanley Cup Finals again.It will obviously be up to the future Hall of Famer when he decides to retire, but either way Recchi wants the focus on the team attempting to a win a title.Recchi did have one of his best games in the series Friday night with three shots on net in 12-plus minutes on the ice, and had a flurry of shot attempts in the second period starting with a strong Patrice Bergeron forecheck.Well, well see, said Recchi when asked about retirement. Obviously well see, but Im getting up there. This is all about the Boston Bruins right now and what the guys have done.Its been a fun year for me to really be . . . this is what I came back for. Im proud to say Ive played with these guys and they have really sucked it up throughout the year and stayed focused. So its great. Julien seemed to finally drop the guard a bit and let people in on what hes felt all along about Bouchers vaunted 1-3-1 trap. There was plenty of talk leading into the series about how the Bruins would deal with it, and Bostons past Jack Adams Award winner didnt see what all the fanfare was about.Its one of those things where they call it a 1-3-1, said Julien. I would rather call it the left-wing lock. Thats what Scotty Bowman called it, and hes the one that started that.We did what we were supposed to do on the winning goal. We were patient with the puck. It wasnt always about rimming the puck in, and our guys chose a really good time here to make that pass and walk in."
The coaching matchup of Julien and Vancouver's Alain Vigneault will be the first time in NHL history that two Francophone coaches have faced off against each other in the Stanley Cup Finals. Boychuk was on the ice for all five Tampa Bay goals in the Game 6 loss, so there was certainly some incentive to up his game against the Bolts in Game 7. Boychuk did just that with a plus-1 effort in 18:35 of ice time and several hits along with a couple of shots on net, and was responsible for collaring Teddy Purcell several times through the night.There was little doubt Boychuk would work hard and rebound from the effort, and thats exactly what did when it mattered in Game 7.Thats what we needed from our guys tonight, said Julien. He was a guy that was criticized for being on the ice for all five goals the game before. But hes certainly one of the guys that works hard, and comes to play hard every single night.I wasnt going to say anything negative about my players or about my hockey club. In return you see the kind of effort that guy ended up giving us tonight. May 27 was the latest date that the Bruins had ever played a game in their franchise history a nod to just how long it has been since the Bs went this deep into the playoffs. This means the Bs will be playing hockey in June for the first time in the history of the franchise. Derek Sanderson received the call as the Honorary Captain for the Bruins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and helped get the giant B's flag passed around the lower bowl of the Garden. It helped jump start what was the liveliest Bruins crowd yet in the their run to the Cup Fianls.
Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.