Thursday, May 14, 2009

Carolina-Boston Game 7 analysis


The NHL's final four is set. Chicago and Detroit play for the Campbell Cup while Pittsburgh faces Carolina for the Prince of Wales Trophy.

Finally, of the three Game 7s, the last one provided the excitement and drama the other two didn't. Of course, the Pittsburgh-Washington game was one-sided from the start, and there was some tension in the Anaheim-Detroit game, but it did not have what Carolina-Boston did.


Boston goalie Tim Thomas was tested more often early in overtime, but Cam Ward needed to make a big save on David Krejci six minutes in. Thomas matched it with a save on Scott Walker with 9:54 left, then came up big again on a late chance by Walker.

Walker wouldn't be denied, however.

Thomas couldn't control a shot by Ray Whitney and Walker barreled in and whacked it out of midair past the Boston netminder with just over a minute remaining for a 3-2 win, sending Hurricanes fans into a frenzy and stunning the Boston faithful.

The victory seemed unlikely for Carolina given how it played in the third period.

The Hurricanes played a strong second period, limiting Boston's chances after grabbing a 2-1 lead. The Bruins picked up some power plays and couldn't get anything going on any of them, a credit to the Carolina penalty killers.

But in the third period, Carolina mustered very little attack while the Bruins, while not exactly relentless in their offense, did maintain constant pressure. Finally, Milan Lucic broke through with a sweet backhand-forehand play at the edge of the crease to tie the game at 2-2.

You could sense the desperation from the Bruins. They knew their season was on the line. They kept attacking after tying the game while the Hurricanes seemed content for much of the final 20 minutes to play for the overtime point. But, of course, there's no overtime point. Eventually Carolina put together a couple good shifts in the Boston end but never seriously tested Thomas.

Boston did catch a break when a point shot hit off the post, rolled along the goalline and was cleared by defenseman Aaron Ward.

Paul Maurice said the right things to his team during the third intermission, as Carolina controlled play in the extra frame. Finally it paid off in the waning moments.

Now, on the heels of Crosby-Ovechkin, we get Staal vs. Staal.

Congratulations to the Hurricanes and their fans.

No comments: