VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Although Brad Marchand appears headed for a long NHL career, he'll always have trouble topping what he did as a rookie while driving the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup.
Marchand had two goals and an assist in the Bruins' 4-0 victory over Vancouver in Game 7 on Wednesday night, ending his first NHL playoff campaign in sparkling fashion.
Marchand had 11 goals and eight assists in the postseason. He scored five goals in the finals, finding the net in each of the Bruins' four victories over Vancouver.
Marchand set a record for playoff goals by a Boston rookie, and tied Jeremy Roenick for the second-most in NHL history. They're three shy of Dino Ciccarelli, who scored 14 goals for the Minnesota North Stars in 1981.
"It's so surreal," Marchand said. "Just to be part of this and have your dreams come true, it's unbelievable."
He set up Patrice Bergeron for the first goal late in the first period before adding a goal from behind the net with 7:47 left in the second. He scored his 11th of the playoffs into an empty net, ensuring the Bruins' first title in 39 years.
Although Marchand also lived up to his reputation as a prime agitator during the series, he did all of his talking on the scoresheet in Game 7. Perhaps he was all punched out: He threw seven uncontested gloves to the face of Daniel Sedin at the end of Game 6 -- after opening the scoring with a goal over Roberto Luongo's shoulder, of course.
"I just wanted to step up and help any way I could," Marchand said. "Everyone had a role to play and played it to a T, and I was able to get a couple of goals, and it was nice to do."
Marchand credited retiring teammate Mark Recchi for mentoring him this season. Marchand and the 43-year-old Recchi played on the same line, and Recchi got the secondary assist on Marchand's first goal.
"The amount he's pushed me and helped me grow as a player, I wouldn't be here right now if not for him," Marchand said. "Everything I learned from him, on and off the ice, is unbelievable. It's such an honor to be a part of this with him."
Boston forward Patrice Bergeron is the 25th person to reach an elite level of hockey success.
And did he ever join the Triple Gold Club in style.
Bergeron scored two goals, including the game-winner and a short-handed tally, in the Bruins' 4-0 victory to earn his first Stanley Cup championship.
Bergeron already had gold medals from the Olympics and the world championships. A Stanley Cup ring is the third qualification for the mythical Triple Gold Club.
"It's a great feeling that we've accomplished this as a team," Bergeron said. "The future looks bright with all the guys that we have, but to be honest with you, I'm [just] worrying about the celebration right now."
Chicago's Jonathan Toews joined the club last year with the Blackhawks' triumph, a few months before Eric Staal became the 23rd member with Canada's win at the Vancouver Olympics. There are eight Canadians in the club, including Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, along with nine Swedes, including Nicklas Lidstrom, two Czechs, including Jaromir Jagr, and six Russians, including Igor Larionov.
Bergeron wasn't particularly productive in the finals until Game 7. Although his second line played solid defense against the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows, Bergeron hadn't scored a goal in the first six games, managing just three assists.
While Marchand did most of the second line's scoring, Bergeron also leaned on Recchi to learn how to handle the tension that's approached only by the gold medal match a year ago.
"I talked to Recchi last night, and I was feeling nervous, and I asked him to give me some advice," Bergeron said. "He told me to relax and go out there and play the game, and to do it for him. Obviously it could be his last game, and I've learned so much from him on and off the ice."
Injured Canucks forward Mason Raymond made it back from Boston in time to cheer on his Vancouver teammates in Game 7.
Raymond appeared on the overhead scoreboard during a break in the first period Wednesday night. Wearing a large corset to support the broken bone in his back, he waved his hands and incited the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation.
Raymond was driven awkwardly into the boards by Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk just 20 seconds into the Canucks' 5-2 loss in Game 6. He spent the past two nights in a Boston hospital, but returned to the West Coast in time for the conclusion to Vancouver's season.
Raymond didn't score in the finals, but played solid defense on the Canucks' second line. Jeff Tambellini replaced him for Game 7.
"We obviously wish Mason was in the lineup right now," Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "But I've said from the beginning, we don't need extra motivation. The Stanley Cup is enough motivation for us, so we're not looking for any extras to help us get to that peak motivation. We're in the Stanley Cup finals. We would like to win it for him, and for everyone in this dressing room."
EA Sports, which makes the popular NHL 2011 video game, used computers simulations to pick the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup before the playoffs started.
That might not sound like a big deal, especially since the game is produced at their nearby Burnaby campus. But the EA Sports simulators not only called Chicago winning last season, but picked 13 of this season's first 14 playoff series correctly.
The only series that the simulation got wrong was picking Detroit to beat San Jose in seven games of the second round. The Sharks won the series in Game 7.
EA Sports also called the home team winning all seven games of the Stanley Cup finals, a trend that held up going into Game 7 in Vancouver.
Of course, the video game did predict Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who was pulled from the last two games in Boston, would win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP.
- The Bruins' victory leaves the New England Patriots as the title-spoiled Boston area's least recent champion. The Bruins, Celtics (2008) and Red Sox (2007) have all won titles since the last of New England's three Super Bowl victories (the 2004 season).
- Ticket brokers were getting up to $8,600 per seat at Rogers Arena before Game 7 with demand that's outstripping the Vancouver Olympics and the last Super Bowl in Texas. The average ticket price with online ticket broker StubHub was $2,749, the highest for any sporting event in its history, including Super Bowls.
- Boston F Milan Lucic, who grew up in East Vancouver and won a Memorial Cup with the local junior team, said his mother, Snezana, would attend Game 7. She skipped Game 5 out of fear she had jinxed the Bruins during their first two losses in Vancouver. "It's a big thing for them, too," Lucic said about his parents.
- Vancouver G Roberto Luongo could be the first goalie in the Triple Gold Club, reserved for players who have won gold medals at both the Olympics and world championships to go with a Stanley Cup championship. Bruins F Patrice Bergeron would be just the 25th player in the club.