Just to give an idea how long it’s been: Richard Nixon was on his way to a second term in office, mutton chops were very much in style, and Roberta Flack’s "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" topped the billboard charts.
1972 seems like a lifetime ago for a lot of fans of the Boston Bruins, but last night in Vancouver the Bruins updated their resume, winning their first Stanley Cup in 39 years with a resounding 4-0 shutout of the Vancouver Canucks, and taking the Stanley Cup finals four games to three.
In doing so, the Bruins set records internally and beyond: they became the first Bruins team ever to come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a playoff series – and they did it twice – in the first round against Montreal and again in the Finals against Vancouver. They also became the first team in the history of the National Hockey League to win three game 7’s in the playoffs – against the Canadiens in Round 1, the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 3, and in the Finals against the Canucks.
It was a remarkable run for a team that had to erase bad memories from just a season before when they blew a three-games-to-none lead to lose in the second round to the Philadelphia Flyers, but this year they swept the Flyers, and ultimately, goaltender Tim Thomas, who played his college hockey at the University of Vermont, is the main reason the Bruins will have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup this year.
Thomas was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the Most Valuable Player in the 2011 playoffs, and that award was never in doubt. Many believed Thomas would have won the honor even if the Bruins had lost in the Finals. He was just that good. He set a playoff record for most saves, with 798. He had four shutouts and a goal against average of 1.98 and a save percentage of .940.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t even get a starting job in the NHL until he was 31 years old. Thomas got four goals in support last night, but he only needed one – scored by Patrice Bergeron in the first period. Bergeron added a shorthanded goal later, and Brad Marchand scored the other two to lead Boston to victory.
The Boston Bruins win the franchise’s sixth Stanley Cup, and first since 1972.
The Bruins’ huge win overshadows an amazing pitching performance by Josh Beckett, who fired a one-hitter for the Boston Red Sox last night. Kevin Youkilis hit a three-run homer, and the Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0.
The New York Yankees routed the Texas Rangers for the second straight game, 12-4, and in the National League the New York Mets shut out the Atlanta Braves, 4-0.