One man's diary from a Game 7 that turned out to be the end of a 39-year drought and the completion of the greatest seven-year run by any city in North American sports history ...
8:00 p.m. (EST): To be safe, I just threw all the numbers out the window.
8:02: Just showed the Stanley Cup being carried into Rogers Arena. Best trophy in sports, with the exception of the WNBA's, which eerily depicts a 36-year-old dad trying to bribe his daughter to go miniature golfing instead of attending a Seattle Storm game.
8:04: The post-ESPN era for Dan Patrick almost exactly parallels the post-Nirvana career of Dave Grohl. Nice solid work, a totally acceptable Act II, but nothing that endures. By the way, Brett Haber's post-ESPN career almost exactly parallels the post-Nirvana career of Kurt Cobain.
8:06: First terrible NBC fall show promo. Will Arnett (great on Arrested Development) has had enough chances. He's the Mike Dunleavy of sitcoms.
8:08: "The Best of Patrice Bergeron Pre-Game Interviews" isn't going to crack the top 10 on Amazon anytime soon.
8:11: Nathan Horton poured Boston water on the ice before the game. Swell gesture, but I hope he realizes that means Menino is going to bust him on smuggling charges when he gets back.
8:14: Canucks take the ice, led by Luongo. "Will we see the home Luongo or road Luongo?" asks Doc Emrick in his best Doc Emrick voice as the dad from Family Ties waits for the role of his lifetime.
8:16: Mark me down as a fan of the guy who does "O Canada" -- he looks remarkably like a mix of Zach Galifianakis and the assistant manager of every Papa Gino's I have ever been in.
8:20: And here we go. Won't edit this: Call it 3-1, Bruins.
8:22: Also this: If that is the final score you have to call the 2010-11 season of Tim Thomas one of the 10 best of any athlete in Boston sports history.
8:23: I'm not going to knock Doc Emrick (totally in control in what is easily the toughest sport to call play-by-play for. Plus he has the nickname I’ve always wanted. I really do think with a break here and there I could have be a Doc) but we are three minutes in and we've already got a "loser goes home" and an "Andrew McQuaid."
8:24: Thomas with a stop on Daniel Sedin. Luongo made a save on Krejci, but he looks Jeff Conaway in Celebrity Rehab Reunion Special-level shaky. I think he might fall asleep in the net in the next five minutes.
8:26: "Wide With The Shot!!!!" would have to be one of the five phrases if NBC ever released a Doc Emrick doll, along with "SAAAVVVVE!!" and "Keep your f-----g mouth shut, Pierre."
8:28: Six minutes in and both teams are physical. Same refs as Tampa, but I'm pretty sure we will see a couple of penalties called in this Game 7.
8:32: Just showed Mason Raymond wearing brace -- crowd goes appropriately nuts. I know he's a Vancouver sports legend, but I'm not sure why they went with Bryant Reeves instead of Raymond as honorary captain.
8:34: Halfway through the first period and one Bruin -- Shawn Thornton -- is playing like this is the most important game of his life.
8:37: Matt Cooke and Aaron Rome should be locked in a cage 50 feet above center ice.
8:40: With each shift I become more convinced that Dennis Seidenberg is a better player than Zdeno Chara.
8:42: Alain Vigneault and Pierre McGuire have more than a little sexual chemistry. I smell an off-season romantic comedy.
8:43: Goal! Patrice Bergeron on a one-timer after a great effort and pass from Marchand. Luongo never saw the shot. And yes, Tim Thomas would have made that save.
8:45: If you fed Luongo the entire 2002 Balco laboratory he wouldn't be able to carry the jock of Tim Thomas.
8:48: I still think Pierre McGuire should have borrowed Marv Albert's Game 7 toupee.
8:50: Two minutes left in the first period. Vancouver has played better, but the Thomas/Luongo edge is going to be the difference. If I had any faith in Luongo stepping up I'd be concerned that the Canucks have been as physical as any period in the series.
8:52: Tyler Seguin Alert! He's banging away with Tanner Glass in front of Vancouver net. I have learned over the last month that A) The Hangover II is the single worst motion picture ever released (more laughs in the Bobby Fischer/Jeremy Schaap interview) and B) "Tyler Seguin" is Bruin for "Kendrick Perkins."
8:55: First period in the books. The Bruins are 40 minutes away from getting a chance to be condescending and smug to an inconsolable Alex Burrows.
8:58: Watching this Geico ad I'm stuck by a thought: Would it be crazy to give the Caveman a sitcom? Is there any way that misses?
9:14: Second period underway. Let's just say that Mike Milbury probably wants the Bruins to win.
9:16: Marchand hits the post -- Luongo never saw it. Marchand is having a tremendous game, he's done more than both Sedin Twins combined.
9:20: Just five shots so far for Bruins in a game where Luongo is begging for opportunities to choke.
9:22: Thomas with a glove-save on Kesler. I will now pump his tires.
9:25: Every time I see either one of the Sedin Twins I now think of the face Sasha VujaÄÂÂÂÃÂiÄÂÂÂÃÂ made after Ray Allen blew by him in the final minute of Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
9:26: OK, this would be a tough loss for Vancouver fans. But they should be comforted with the knowledge that at least 25 crappy studio movies will be shot in the city over the next year in an attempt to save a couple of bucks. Vancouver: Where Artistic Integrity Goes To Die.
9:29: Chara bails out Thomas (who was way out of the net) with a save on Burrows. Could be the play of the game so far.
9:30: We are now more than halfway through the game and Doc just said the words "Thomas Kaberle" for the first time. Think he'll sign that contract extension on a duck boat?
9:33: Claude Julien with Pierre McGuire. Didn't have much to say about game, but was quick to note that "The Green Lantern looks like $180 million worth of s--t."
(That was done with some snark, but just a little.)
9:37: Luongo's fault on that one (break for shock). Can Tim Thomas possibly blow a 2-0 lead?
9:38: Recchi with a breakaway and nearly cashes in, which would have caused every beat writer to check if they were wearing rubber underwear.
(The beat writers love love love Recchi. I get it, but it can be a little nauseating. Let's just say that the fanboy element has been a little strong on the Twitter scene from the fellas the past month or so.)
9:40: First penalty (interference on Chara). Feels like a must-score spot from the Canucks here.
9:42: Phil Mickelson just passed every competitor of the first week of The Biggest Loser on the "Biggest Breasts Seen on NBC in 2011" chart.
9:45: Uh, the Bruins are going to win the Stanley Cup. Bergeron splits a pair of defenders and jams the puck past Luongo. It's now 3-0 and time for Menino to start coming up with ways to black out the parade.
9:48: Luongo is putting up an all-time pathetic Game 7 performance.
9:50: And we are done with the second period. There are 20 minutes left in the 2010-11 NHL season.
10:10: Start of the third period and we know this: There is no way a Claude Julien chokes away a 3-0 lead in a Game 7.
10:12: Luongo is only locked up through the 2021-22 season. Tyler Seguin will be 30 years old when the contract is done (Recchi will be 56).
10:16: Just over 15 minutes left and the Canucks haven't had a sniff so far in the third. It's hard to believe that fans (and some media) were calling for Julien's head and for Tuuka Rask to start Game 3 after the Bruins lost Games 1 and 2 to the Canadiens. That feels like 10 sports lifetimes ago.
10:18: Some serious weak sauce by Jannik Hansen on Ference (after a Chara high-stick on Hansen gets a no call). This Canucks team strikes me as one that might go the Andrew Bynum route now that the game is nearly determined.
10:22: Thomas with a save on Daniel Sedin. They should just give him the Conn Smythe now so it doesn't get in the way of the Cup presentation. Not possible for a goaltender to have a better season, and let's not forget that we are talking about a guy who started the year as a hugely overpaid backup in Prague.
10:25: NBC has now beefed up security around the booth to prevent a possible Jack Edwards attack.
10:28: If I may reach back to the 1980's for another reference, Burrows at this point is Matt Dillon after he had his nose broken at the end of My Bodyguard.
10:33: Seven minutes left and the Canucks have flat-out quit. What you are watching is the tougher team imposing its will against a team all too happy to roll over -- very similar to Celtics-Lakers Game 6 in 2008.
10:36: Wonder what's going through Marc Savard's mind as he watches this -- must be a massive range of emotion.
10:38: So here it is: No city has ever won all four major titles in a seven-year span, and no city has ever had four active coaches that won a title with their team. Boston: It ain't Cleveland.
10:40: I'll make my empty-net goal prediction: Milan Lucic.
10:40: Or Marchand. Yeah, Marchand. 4-0 and it's officially celebration time.
10:41: Admit it, you didn't expect a Kent Tekulve reference from Doc tonight. If Pierre McGuire breaks out Luis Aponte we've crossed over into that special place.
10:42: Bruins fans -- and I don't mean the Pink Hats -- deserve this. No better fans in this town, both in knowledge and loyalty.
10:45: Stanley Cup champions.
10:46: Good job by the Vancouver fans, a hell of a lot classier than the players. (This is the only line I was tempted to edit after the fact.)
10:47: Handshake time. Thomas does have a pump in his left hand.
10:48: All the Claude Julien jokes are forever gone. No more real bashing allowed -- he can take the hits that Doc or Francona occasionally get, but anyone who calls for his job is a loon. Sure, the Sedin Twins didn't play in the series, but to do this without Savard and Horton is the kind of stuff that would receive endless praise if it were done by a coach with a bigger reputation.
10:49: Thomas with McGuire: "I wanted him [Luongo] to know that I think he's a great goalie." Ah, the ability to take the high road.
10:51: There should be a law passed demanding that Gary Bettman is booed every time he walks in a room. Always entertaining.
10:52: This is a new level of booing for Bettman from the fans in Vancouver. It's almost as if he was the GM who signed Luongo to the contract.
10:54: "Bettman sucks! Bettman sucks!"
10:55: The Cup goes to Chara and the handoffs (and riots in downtown Vancouver) begin.