Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told reporters that the better team won the Stanley Cup--the team better suited to play the way the referees called the games.
I think in that series--and you guys watched it--there were points where it may have reflected a different era in hockey, Gillis said. But it is what it is and we have to learn to compete. This is a process for us; we have to learn to be better. The better team at using absolutely everything won the series.
The implication is that Vancouver was a team built on finesse and current hockey styles, while the Boston Bruins were built for bruising the other team and playing an outdated form of the game.
We designed our team around the current rule book, around the current method of playing games, Gillis continued. We were the best team in the league this year. I'm not going to plan a team around competing against one specific team in this league. I'm not going to build the team around one set of circumstances. At some point, if you keep knocking on the door, you're going to break through and face a different set of circumstances.
Gillis' complaint is one that can't be objectively examined. More penalty minutes were assessed to Boston than to Vancouver in the Stanley Cup Finals. And, in the Canucks playoff series against San Jose, more penalties were assigned overall. But Gillis is saying that the Bruins played rougher and the referees called less in the Finals--a subjective assessment.
What is not subjective is the margin by which Boston outscored Vancouver: 23 goals to Vancouver's 8, and 21 to Vancouver's 4 goals in the last five games of the series. Can officiating skew a series that much?
Gillis' analysis also ignores the contribution of Boston goaltender Tim Thomas. Thomas had the most saves ever in a Stanley Cup Finals series at 238, the most saves in a playoff run with 798, and this capped a regular season with the highest save percentage in history, at .938. His save percentage in the finals was .967, and Thomas completely shut out the opposing team in the Bruins' win-or-go-home scenario of the Stanley Cup Finals' last two games. He was the first goalie to blank an opponent in a Stanley Cup Game 7 on the road.
Lax officiating is not what stopped those 238 shots on goal.