Well, at least the East final between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes concluded without any controversy.
There was no missed delay of game for flipping the puck out of play. There was no missed gloved-puck to a teammate for the game-winner in overtime, as was the case in Game 3 in the West final between the fortunate San Jose Sharks and unfortunate St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.
Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league didn’t need to issue any apologies and/or explanations for its numerous mistakes in the other conference final.
Oh wait, there wasn’t any communication from Bettman’s office, was there? No there wasn’t.
Instead, the East final finished without any controversy. In a series finale, in which, ironically, there were five hand-passes detected and called, the Bruins skated off with a 4-0 victory and a four-game sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C. on Thursday.
After a goal-less opening 20 minutes, the Bruins turned the game over to their efficient power play in the second period.
With the Hurricanes pressing to start the middle 20 minutes, the Bruins escaped and then David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron scored with the man-advantage.
That was enough.
Midnight had struck for the Cinderella-like Hurricanes.
Rookie head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s side had nothing left. It’s too bad. They were part of the early story of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs after upsetting the defending-champion Washington Capitals and then sweeping the New York Islanders.
The Hurricanes were no match for the Bruins, who now have reeled off seven playoff victories in a row. Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, who checked in with his seventh career playoff shutout, was a rung or two better than Carolina’s goaltending tandem of Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney.
The Hurricanes were undisciplined and failed to match the Bruins on special teams. Seven of Boston’s 15 goals in the series came on the power play to bring its total to 17 in 17 games.
The Hurricanes only mustered one man-advantage marker.
If there was a chance that Carolina could have saved itself from the embarrassment of being swept in the East final, that opportunity arrived when Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was scratched with an undisclosed injury. Chara, however, did dress in his equipment for the handshake line and the Bruins photo with the Prince of Wales Trophy, their third in eight years.
The Boston players, by the way, did not touch the trophy. Veteran John Moore replaced Chara. The former is no slouch.
The Chicago-area defenceman has been inspired this season to play his best after following the courage of his former minor hockey coach, Ed Olczyk, battle cancer.
The Bruins didn’t miss Chara nor fourth-liner Chris Wagner, out with an arm injury. Now the pair and their teammates have almost two weeks to rest and recover because — for now — the opening date of the Stanley Cup final is not slated until Monday, May 27.
You almost expected the Hurricanes to pull out a victory in Game 4. After all, Justin Williams is their captain. He’s been such a decorated playoff performer with three Stanley Cup rings and 40 goals and 101 points in 155 career post-season games.
He’s had an uncharacteristic series, succumbing to Boston super-pest Brad Marchand’s mocking in Game 2 and then taking three minor penalties in Game 3.
WATCH| Marchand mocks Williams:
“You get to the end of the toothpaste [tube], you can always squeeze a little bit more out of it,” Williams said, in an attempt to rally his club in between Games 3 and 4.
“I like when Roddy [Brind’Amour] said that. We’re going to try to squeeze as much as we can out of our toothpaste here. We’ve got plenty left in it.”
There was nothing left for the organization that reportedly roused another 3,100 new season-ticket subscribers because of the playoff fever that struck the Raleigh area.
But the Bruins’ perfection line of Bergeron, Pastrnak and Marchand were ready to close the deal. Each member of Boston’s big line scored, with Marchand adding his second of the game into the empty net.
There was nothing the Hurricanes could do to answer, especially with the absence of any controversial missed calls.