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The Stanley Cup finals may be over, but we're not done reliving some of our favorite moments from the 2011 NHL playoffs:
Burnside: After Washington coach Bruce Boudreau suggested the fans at Madison Square Garden weren't all that loud, the MSG faithful began a spontaneous chant of "Can you hear us" as the Rangers took a 3-0 lead against the Caps. Boudreau, however, had the last laugh. The Caps staged a miraculous comeback, capped by Jason Chimera's overtime winner that gave Washington a 4-3 victory. The Caps went on to win the series 4-1.
LeBrun: I remember sitting there in the Staples Center press box wondering what the heck was wrong with the Sharks after they fell behind 4-0 and were looking at a 2-1 series deficit. Then, a comeback for the ages. The Sharks scored five times in the second period before Devin Setoguchi won it in overtime for San Jose. After the game, Setoguchi told us that earlier in the day, he had seen the NHL commercial featuring Daryl Evans and the "Miracle on Manchester" from 1982, when the Kings erased a 5-0 deficit against Edmonton. You can't make that stuff up.
|The Sharks avoided a total meltdown in the West semifinals thanks to the heroics of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton.|
LeBrun: I won't soon forget covering this series, especially the last two games when Detroit and San Jose played Stanley Cup finals-worthy hockey. Two heavyweights going the distance. The Wings' victory in Game 6 with the Joe Louis crowd going crazy is a memory for life, Detroit coming back from down 3-0 in the series to force Game 7. But the Sharks, with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau leading the way at HP Pavilion, avoided a total meltdown with a thrilling Game 7 victory. I remember leaving the rink that night wondering, "Was this the last time we saw Nicklas Lidstrom play?"
Burnside: The final game of a topsy-turvy, back-and-forth series lived up to its billing with both teams playing at breakneck speed. This was a classic from the opening faceoff, when the teams went 3:45 racing up and down the ice before the first whistle, through David Krejci's deft cross-ice pass in the third period to Mr. Clutch, Nathan Horton, for the game's only goal. Both netminders, Tim Thomas and Dwayne Roloson, were spectacular.
LeBrun: At the opening faceoff of the series, Sharks captain Joe Thornton could be seen jostling aggressively with Canucks center Ryan Kesler before the two finally took the draw. We didn't find out until the next day, but it turns out Thornton had challenged Kesler to a fight. The Canucks star declined. Got to love it.
Burnside/LeBrun: Early in the game, Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome leveled Horton with a monster shoulder-to-the-head blow. Horton, who had passed the puck about 2 seconds earlier, never saw Rome coming and was carried off the ice on a stretcher with his playoff season done. Rome's was, too, as NHL executive Mike Murphy announced the day before Game 4 that Rome would be suspended for the four remaining games of the finals. It was the longest suspension in the final series in Stanley Cup history.
Burnside: As many as 500 fans gathered on Mother's Day afternoon at the Nashville Predators' charter terminal to welcome home their team after it had staved off elimination in Game 5 in Vancouver. The Preds would go on to lose Game 6 by a 2-1 count, but the outpouring of emotion at the airport reinforced what anyone who attended any of the Preds' home games this spring knew instinctively: There is a special bond between this team and the community. This spring marked the first time the Predators advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs.
|Guy Boucher led the Lightning to the Eastern Conference finals in his first season as coach.|
Burnside: Whether he was going all bug-eyed at a referee's call or predicting the return of Boston's Patrice Bergeron to the Bruins' lineup (a moment that earned him the press box nickname of Dr. Boucher) or insisting that the Washington Capitals were absolutely unbeatable even as the Lightning were in the process of sweeping the East's best regular-season team, Guy Boucher was a treat. The rookie head coach exudes passion for the game, and his patience with the media (always a good thing, no?) was boundless. More coaches like Boucher and you don't have to worry about selling this game, regardless of where the players lace up their skates. Oh yeah, he did a pretty good job behind the bench, too, taking the Lightning to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals.
Burnside/LeBrun: In what would be the first of many weird, wacky and sometimes head-shaking moments in the Cup finals, Alex Burrows was seen biting the finger of Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. No suspension was issued, but it did set the stage for some comical finger-wagging from both teams in the coming games.
LeBrun: The Canucks won the game on Kevin Bieksa's bizarre OT goal, but what I'll always remember is Joe Thornton playing with a separated shoulder that needed medical magic to hold it together for that game. I was informed of his injury two days before but sworn to secrecy by the source. Thornton played a terrific game in the crushing loss as the Sharks once again failed to reach the Cup finals. Maybe next year, Joe.