Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shame on NESN

Call me old fashioned (or worse) if you must, but for me nothing sets up the anticipation for the drop of the puck more than the national anthem. The anthem establishes a connection between me on my couch and the arena filled with people. When the last note rings and the crowd roars I am pumped up and ready to go. To be honest, I also just plain enjoy the performances.

Last year NESN decided to drop the anthem for away games, substituting the commentary by Milbury from the studio instead. Rather than seeing the crowd and a performance we got, "What do the Bruins need to do to win tonight, Mike?" "Well, they need to play hard in the first period and get the lead quickly." B O R I N G.

Now it seems that NESN has stopped showing the anthems for the home games as well. I think this is shameless. They are bringing us an event and the anthem is part of it. The anthem gives us that connection between our distant locale and the arena, something that seems more and more lacking in NESN coverage. I know they pay people like Milbury a lot of money to talk but they get plenty of time to do so, including a pre-game show, for God's sake.

If you too want to see NESN broadcast the anthems please take a moment and send them a comment at sports@nesn.com.

Postscript Friday January 8: I am very pleased that the anthem appears to be back on NESN. I doubt this little blog had anything to do with it... perhaps enough people complained, or maybe NESN never intended to stop showing the anthem for rest of the season. Regardless, I am happy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Parade of Heroes

I was hoping that the early adversity would bring some good things to the Bruins and I think this has finally happened. With Savvy and Looch out Bergeron has escalated his game to an elite level. Through sheer will he has become a force to be reckoned with, making an impact on every shift. And with the injury to Thomas, Rask has been able to put enough games together to become confident in the net, bringing him another step closer to being a No. 1 goaltender.

So let's take stock, shall we? Last season Looch proved himself in the playoffs, elevating his game with timely hits and scoring opportunities until the very last moment. Thomas too proved himself an elite goaltender last season. Not just because he played consistently well enough to win the Vezina, but because of his strong play at critical times--something he has continued to do this season. Likewise Savvy has proven to be the rare player with passion, skill, and a magic touch with the puck.

So let's imagine for a moment: imagine if... Bergeron were to continue his hard play, his recklessness with a purpose, into the playoffs. Imagine if Chara were to not hold back, but to crush forwards every time they ventured into his zone (as we know he can). And imagine if he started to pick the corner of the net as well as putting the puck in the pads for a rebound and thus scored more goals (as we know he can). Imagine if the talented Dennis Wideman played every single shift with the same intense focus. Imagine if David Krejci were to play with the confidence he showed last season, which leads to nothing short of magic when the puck is on his stick. Imagine if Thornton and Begin played every shift with the intensity they brought early this season. If you imagine these things all happening at the same time, in every playoff game... it is not hard to imagine the Bruins being unstoppable; it is not hard to imagine a four game sweep to win the Cup.

For too long the B's have had a parade of heroes. Bergeron today. Thomas last week. Savvy the month before. In my opinion, the only thing holding them back from a Cup is to bring it all together at the same time; to become a team of heroes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Getting Ugly

It's getting pretty ugly out there in Bruins land. Whether it be fans railing against Timmy for not playing defense as well as goaltender in front of his net in OT, or coach Julien telling the media, "I don’t think I should have to answer the question they (the players) should answer," when asked why they came out flat against the Islanders.

As far as the team's play goes, I think the recent Pittsburgh game pretty much summed it up. From a Hockey fans perspective this was a fun game. The B's were in it almost to the finish. Almost. They even managed a game-winning goal with two minutes left, taking the lead for the first time only when it really counted. How cool was that? But a broken stick here, and a loss of concentration there, and somehow they still didn't come out of it with two points.

Hey--here's the thing: unlike many fans this is actually what I wished for at the start of the season. I wanted them to see adversity and to learn from it so they would be stronger come playoff time. But that doesn't make it any less ugly, and the looming prospect of a total team meltdown from which they cannot recover is frightening.

That said, I still believe these guys have what it takes, from the GM on down. Just hang in there B's fans!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bruins Cup is Half Full

It's actually pretty hilarious. The B's get off to a slow start to the 2009/2010 season and all of a sudden it's 2007 again. Ah, yes, the spring of 2007. The Bruins had no talent. According to many hockey pundits Chara had proven to be a waste of money. Savard was was a good setup man with nobody to set up and a lousy back checker to boot. Tim Thomas was a minor league journeyman goaltender who wasn't good enough technically to start in the NHL for a real team. Taken together, the team lacked the talent to score more than two goals per game. And so on. Of course, last season Chara won the Norris, Savard was in the top tier in points and developed a reputation for good back checking (+25), Thomas won the Vezina, and as a team they scored 270 goals and were second overall in the standings. Yet only a few months later I'm suddenly reading all the same things from 2007 again as if all of that was some sort of summer daydream.

Wow. Apparently Phil Kessel and Chuck Kobasew were the only reason the B's scored that many goals, and their superior defensive play made Timmy look way better than he really is. I say again, wow. Ok, so there is always some Boston "sports" fan who tunes in for the playoffs and two or three games each year who is going to comment on how the Bruins have no talent after a loss. And there is always the odd Habs fan in there too. But what really got me annoyed was this little video made after only seven games. I have no idea who Charlie Pierce is, but he's full of it. He claims that, "I watched them beat Detroit last year simply by outworking them and now they can work as hard as they can... they don't have any talent on this team." That doesn't even make consistent logical sense, much less reflect reality.

The Bruins have plenty of talent, even without Savard (injured), Kessel, and Kobasew. Their problem through game ten had been inconsistent effort. They failed to outwork other teams and failed to play physically. Last season, even with Savard and Lucic in the lineup, if the rest of the team failed to work hard and play physically they ended up losing. Hockey is after all the ultimate team sport. Compared to earlier on, I thought last night's game against New Jersey was a huge improvement. If they are going to lose a game, then that's the way to lose it. The team played hard all night long, won battle after battle along the boards, finished their checks, got up ice quickly, passed well, and made few mistakes. It's a shame they lost, but they could have just as easily come out the winner. Had the puck bounced the other way this nonsense I have been reading about how they don't have enough talent and how Thomas gave up soft goals would have likely been replaced by equally over-the-top praise. I also think the recent come from behind victories are good for the team. By the time the playoffs came along last year they had forgotten how to do that. Although they should not be digging these sorts of holes in the first place, learning to dig themselves out may come in very handy during the playoffs.

Now back to the Kobasew trade. It took a while, and I admit to being shocked by the move, but I finally got it. Not being privileged, I didn't realize how well Marchand had done in training camp. All I knew was that he was still playing with a spoked-P and I didn't give him much thought. But I see now that Chiarelli was sort of keeping Marchand in his back pocket. By moving Kobasew he was clearing space among the veterans to allow Marchand to come up. At the same time he was able to pick up Paille who at best has untapped potential, and at worst brings some grit to your third line. Far from pressing the panic button, this was a shrewd move on Chiarelli's part. I don't know how anyone could watch Marchand's play and claim he has no talent.

So am I worried about the Bruins? In a word: no.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pressing the Panic Button

I wasn't that surprised about the B's start this season. They play like a team that spent the summer reading their own press releases. They seem to have their sights on the playoffs, something that is clearly a bit premature in October. A great game here, a great period there, a solid shift from time to time. But not much in between. But as I said I sort of expected it. They'd either get their acts together or they wouldn't, and if they didn't it would likely be at the cost of the coach's job.

What I didn't expect is what happened on Sunday with the Kobasew trade. I mean, WTF? Kobasew is a solid 20 goal scorer who plays strong in the corners. We were, after all, led to conclude that the main reason that Kessel was let go was so that we could keep guys like Chuck on the roster. I was at the game in Phoenix on Saturday and it seemed to me that Kobasew was playing hard. Sure, his line with Bergeron and Rechhi is snake bit in the scoring department, but I figured they would work through it. I have now read something like five articles claiming that Chiarelli pulled the trigger on this trade to shake the B's up. Yet when somebody actually asked him about it he said that wasn't why he did it. In fact, he said that this was a trade that had been in the making for some time. So I say again, WTF? Chiarelli has replaced a proven 20-goal scorer in Kobasew with a big under acheving kid named Daniel Paille. This guy only managed 12 goals last season and he was basically given away for a song by Buffalo. Either Chiarelli is a genius, he knows something we don't, or he's completely lost it.

We're just seven games into the season. Going into the game tonight against the Preds I don't know who this team is anymore. Savy and Looch are injured--likely for a while. I miss PJ on the PK. Dennis Wideman is still out on defense. Bergeron works so hard in the corners, yet often gets double teamed off the puck because he gets no support (maybe that will change). Both goaltenders are playing "ok" when we need them to stand on their heads. Blake Wheeler is so slow that when he breaks into open ice with the puck he usually gets caught from behind before he can get a shot off. Krejci starts his nifty moves only to have the puck poke checked away. The PK is just plain pathetic and the PP is almost as bad. Worst of all--half the time nobody seems to remember how to check. Big and Bad my ass!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Good and the Bad of Losing 6 to 1

Losing to the Ducks 6-1 at home was just plain ugly. But as an early-season game I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I think it underscores the teams greatest weakness, yet I am also left with the hope that this loss will begin the process of building a better team.

The Bad: this was a textbook example of how to beat these Bruins. In this loss I see the same Achilles heel that Carolina used to eliminate the B's in the playoffs just a few months ago. The recipe for beating the Bruins is to hold on for the first period. Keep the B's from scoring more than one goal, two at the most. This will frustrate them because they come out hard in the first and are used to getting a good lead. A hot goaltender can be a real asset against them. Just bide your time and stave off the attack until the second period. The B's have a bad habit of coming out flat in the second, and staying that way if you find success against them. This tendency can be traced way back to the Dave Lewis days. If they have a big enough lead going into the second then it's hard to spot, but if they fall behind they will always fall flat. So take it to them in the second and get the lead. By the third period (if not sooner) the B's will be in panic mode. Just be opportunistic. Wait for the turnovers and odd-man rushes (they will come) and extend your lead.

The Good: I find myself almost welcoming this loss, and the ones like it that will surely follow. Because if the B's are to go far into the playoffs they will need to overcome their weakness; they will need to learn to play hard in the second period and learn how to come back from behind without giving the game away in the process.

This may be a long fall. But my fingers are crossed that it will only make them stronger.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Season Brings Change

Every season brings change. We say goodbye to old friends, find new ones, and face different expectations. So I hereby present my top four changes to the Boston Bruins to start the 2009-2010 season:

No. 4 -- we say goodbye to PJ Axellson. PJ was one of the last reminders of the Joe Thornton / Mike O'Connell era. Number 11 played 11 years for the Bruins, his only NHL team. In that time he impressed me, as well as many head coaches, with his defensive play and versatility. When team Sweden won the Gold in the Olympics it was PJ out on the ice as the clock ticked down with a lead. I had always hoped that he'd see a similar role one day in a Bruins cup win. I am a huge fan. He was the unsung hero and the guy who the more ignorant and fickle Bruins fans loved to pick on. You know the type--the ones who would trade away the entire team for Dany Heatly or whomever the hot goaltender is this year. Like that alone would make the B's Cup winners. PJ was a player for the thinking hockey fan to appreciate. He didn't score a lot of goals, but man could he make a difference in the outcome of a game. This was no more apparent than when he played on the No. 1 PK unit. He usually played the high position in the slot. How many times did he craftily tip a pass out of the zone last season alone? The B's are going to miss him on the PK, that's for sure. But in the current era there simply wasn't a place in the lineup for a shutdown defenseman, and his departure was inevitable. The good news is that other players, particularly Bergeron, have stepped up and can fill much of his role on the PK. So in the end, although I will miss him, I don't think his departure will have a big impact on the team.

No. 3 -- we say goodbye to Aaron Ward. Wardo was a grizzled leader who played hard, tough and smart. He brought the perspective of a veteran player who had won a cup or two. He was an example of winning by giving your all, and then some. But the aging Ward wasn't the most skilled Bruin on the blue line. Hopefully the lessons he had to teach the younger players will remain after his departure. And what a departure! The respect that Chiarelli showed by sending him back to Carolina to finish his career was astounding. That's what was missing in the O'Connell era. To be successful today players must want to play for your team and you must treat them with respect for that to happen.

No. 2 -- the apparent departure of Phil Kessel. I think Kessel has a bright future ahead of him. I have watched him grow from a timid kid who looked like he was scared he'd get hit to a fearless player who is strong on the puck. And I am convinced that he still has a long way to go. He will never be Cam Neely, but you can't win a cup with an entire team of Neely's. You need a good mix of talent. And Kessel is no Samsonov either; he's not a one trick pony with speed and single curl move. Should Kessel stay in Boston I believe he will become one of the top players in the league. But to stay the Bruins would have to give up at least two other players (like Sturm and Kobasew) to stay under the cap. That would likely be a greater loss than losing Kessel alone, particularly come playoff time. Unfortunately I suspect that Kessel will never become the great player he was destined to be with another team, where the expectations will be to simply score. And the Bruins will miss his speed! Kessel gave them a second way to enter the zone against teams that were able to shut them out. That is going to hurt them, and without Kessel I see fewer goals in the B's future. But that may not be a bad thing, come playoff time. The fast, high-flying goal scorers don't usually win you a Cup. In one of the great ironies of the game, it is the third and fourth line guys who usually make the difference in the end.

No. 1 -- raised expectations. Some Bruins fans--particularly those riding the bandwagon late--forecast a cup win for the B's last season. But as last season opened most felt the B's would make it to the second round. Others suggested they would't even make the playoffs. This season the pressure is really on, for there is talk all across the hockey world of a cup run.

I caught a replay of game one against Carolina recently, and the reasons the B's lost that series all came flooding back. In my opinion, the Bruins lost to Carolina because they had become too accustomed to rolling over opponents with high scoring wins. The B's breezed to victories all season long, often running away with the score before the 3rd period, and they started the playoffs with five wins in a row. They were ripe to be thrown off their game by a strong defensive showing, and that's what happened in game 2. If not for a fluke they might have won game 7 in overtime, and I think they would have taken the Penguins. But it was not to be. In the end, the B's let that series get away from them by getting frustrated after game 1 and paid the price for it. They were learning on the job how to face a tough opponent, something they would have been better off knowing well before the playoffs began.

In my mind the perfect season for the B's would have more struggle to it, perhaps even finishing 3rd or 4th in the conference. Or maybe fighting their way up through the pack at the end. I'd like to see fewer goals and closer games. They have the goaltending. They have the coaching and system. They can play defense well, and move the puck up the ice. They can score. If it all comes together right, this really could be the year!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ward Traded, Chiarelli Tips his Hand

When the deal to trade Kessel blew up very publicly at the NHL draft, I was left scratching my head. With everyone talking about how Kessel might want $4 million or more, the word on the street was that Chiarelli needed to unload Kessel's salary primarily because he couldn't afford him. Yet Chiarelli attempted to trade Kessel for a defenseman who was under contract for about the same amount of money. That in itself left me scratching my head, let alone why the pundits didn't make much of it. But now that Ward has been traded we know what Chiarelli was thinking, and that means we know what he has been thinking all along.

It seems clear now that Chiarelli's plan has been to trade Kessel for an impact defenseman, dumping Ward's salary to cover the added cost. Now it's just a matter of the right deal for a defenseman coming along, whether it be next week or sometime during the season.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tim Thomas is an Elite Goaltender

I started this blog a couple of years ago basically for one reason: I kept reading ignorant comments from a bunch of juveniles on various forums and blogs who knew nothing about the Bruins and even less about Hockey. I wanted to provide a more grown up perspective. That's why I chose "The Old Bruins Fan" for the name. And at the time, most of the nonsense I was reading had to do with one person: Tim Thomas.

Here are some of the things that were written over the last few years:
"Tim Thomas is not a true No. 1 goaltender." (repeated often by many)
There's no way, shape, or form TT's as good as a Giguere. Not a chance in hell. Toskala, perhaps, since he's still not a proven entity. Fernandez is an upgrade, but to what level is in question.
No, I'm simply providing proven, factual stats to back up my argument that TT is not a #1 goaltender.
I believe Thomas's # 1 problem is He's overweight. I think the Goalie pair is strong now. Unfortunately Thomas as backup.

Can we please stop saying that Thomas is a #1 goalie, because he clearly is not.

"...who wants to pay $1M per for a guy who’s going to play 30 games behind an established #1?"
But he is a backup goalie. He IS NOT a cup caliber winning goaltender.

Hahahahaha; hahahahahaha !!!! Boston is the only place, on this planet, where Thomas is consider as a #1 goaltender.
And here are some of the things I said:
(2007) I *knew* he had it in him to be a No. 1 goaltender. There was no question in my mind. I saw it last year. You combine his impressive play with the Bs with his extraordinary play in Providence, Finland, and his minor league record in general, and there should be little surprise.
Mark my words, if the B's do get a goaltender and somehow keep Timmy in the process, Timmy will end up the No. 1.
I've seen many a goaltender come and go, and like I said he's just as good a Gigeure or Taskala or Fenandez for that matter. All he needs is a team that doesn't sell him out every night, and a night off once in a while.
I knew it from late in the 2005/2006 season. I knew it when some jerk taunted me relentlessly when I said Thomas was an elite goaltender in every way that mattered. I knew it when the childish dolts who post at a certain "Rumors" blog adopted the mantra, "Tim Thomas is not a true No. 1 goaltender." I knew it when I read a story by some nitwit who claimed that O'Connell signed Thomas out of revenge when he realized his days were numbered. I knew it when PC picked up Fernandez this summer and many fans assumed he'd be the No. 1. I knew it all along: Tim Thomas is the best thing to happen to the Bruins in a long time.
Even the sportscasters do it. How many times have we heard it said this past season that Thomas has improved his game? By people like Mike Milbury, who wasn't even around to see Thomas play regularly in is early years with the B's. Even Brick, who I admire, has been caught buying into this idea that somehow Thomas got over his tendency to "flop." But I don't agree. The thing is that Thomas never gives up on the puck until it's in the back of the net. It has always been more important to him to make the stop than to look good doing it. When the defense breaks down in front of him he will make that last effort--sometimes making himself look comical--to make the stop. This is the "flop." Why did the flop go away? Because his team started playing decent defense in front of him. This made it much less necessary. Timmy was asked by a reporter earlier this season if he thought he was playing better. His response was no. He thought he had been playing at this level for a long time. While it may save face for those who didn't recognize Thomas' skill earlier on, I believe this idea that he has improved his game in the last two years is way off the mark.

Vezina Winners for the last decade:

2000-01 Dominik Hasek
2001-02 Jose Theodore
2002-03 Martin Brodeur
2003-04 Martin Brodeur
2005-06 Miikka Kiprusoff
2006-07 Martin Brodeur
2007-08 Martin Brodeur


2008-09 Tim Thomas

'nuf said.

Friday, May 15, 2009

And So It Ends

The Bruins lost in the second round to the Canes last night in game 7 in overtime. I am sure there are Boston sports fans who are angry and upset. But not me.

You see, I got a lesson in playoff perspective last week. I missed the critical game four and the first thing I did upon returning home was to see how the B's had done. It was a 4-1 drubbing! And from the articles I read it sounded like the Bruins played terribly and were never even in it. I wasn't just disappointed, I was angry! How could they come this far only to turn in a half effort? I started a post with the title, "Sharks in Bears Clothing" but was too angry to finish it. I even considered closing this blog. All seemed lost, and in the worst way.

But then I actually watched the game. They didn't play particularly well in game 4, but they hadn't played nearly as badly as had been reported. And then of course they came back with a roar in games 5 and 6, forcing game 7, where they took it to overtime. So in the end am I disappointed? Yes. Am I upset and angry? No.

The Bruins played a nearly flawless game 7. They controlled the puck, made smart breakouts for the most part, and forechecked very well. Tim Thomas was sharp and made some truly game-saving stops. But in the end my hockey instincts were right on this one. Hockey is a game of ebb and flow, of momentum shifts. And the team that storms back to force a game 7 usually seems to lose. Overtime is the same way: teams take turns dominiating the play. In the end the game is usually decided by the bounce of a puck, and so it was decided last night. Timmy went into his cocoon to smother the puck on a routine shot and it appeared to clip his stick on the way in. The puck deflected upward spinning end over end, and he wasn't able to contain it. As it fell in front of him Walker (of all players) tapped it into the net out of mid air.

So who do we blame for this loss? Timmy? The D-man who let Walker in front of the net? I say, nobody. The Bruins played their best, but in todays NHL it's not like the 70's and 80's. No team can dominate to the point where they can expect to win it all, no matter how good they are. It takes talent, hard play, great coaching, and yes--luck, to win a cup. It was the Hockey Gods who decided this one, and I am good with that.

Anybody who is angry about the way the Bruins played should stop and think about what it must feel like to be a Sharks fan right now.

On a final note, there was one player who I thought really stepped up in game seven: Lucic. People say he's no Cam Neely, but... what a force he was in that game! His stickhandling, the way he crashed the net protecting the puck, and his defensive play was outstanding! At one point he took on the role of the defenseman in his own corner and looked completely at home. He was a force on every shift, a one-man team. In short, his play was truly impressive! We are so lucky to have him in a spoked B!

Monday, May 11, 2009


If somehow the Bruins win in Carolina and take the series in seven, and if somehow they go on to eventually win the cup, there are some moments that should be remembered along the way. I think one of those happened in game five last night when Looch put on a big hit in the first period. With that hit the crowd came alive, his linemates suddenly remembered how to play hard and sharp at the same time, and the rest of the lines followed their example. The result was a 4-0 win.

Not to take anything away from the awesome play of Chara and Savard, but when people talk about leaders and leadership it comes in all forms. Milan Lucic for playoff MVP!

Can the B's win this series? After more seasons than I can recall I have developed a sort of hockey instinct. This instinct told me that after their loss in game four the B's would take it to seven games only to lose, perhaps in OT. But logic says otherwise. If the Bruins can find a way to win in Carolina then logic says they will win at home because in the end they are the more talented team overall. That, and Claude has pulled exactly this scenario off before (as we recall all too painfully).

But who knows? This is definitely not your classic playoff series. Usually both teams battle game in and game out. But this series has been marked by one team dominating the other (and then they switch roles). It's really difficult to tell if one team is making the other look bad, of if one just didn't show up to play. It's a weird series. So who knows what will happen? I guess that's why they play the games.

I just hope the Bruins give it their best effort tomorrow night.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sneaky Canes

The Bruins lost to the Canes in game two of the series--their first loss of the playoffs.

I did some reading of the Carolina media prior to the game, taking note of what the press, coaches, and players were saying after their loss in game one. Some phrases kept appearing over and over. One in particular was that the Canes would need to play "mistake free hockey" in order to beat our B's. At the time it sounded sort of desperate, like they didn't really know how to beat the talented Bruins except to hope that they could play smarter. Now I see what they really meant, and I have a lot more respect. These Canes are a sneaky lot--they can play very good team defense and take advantage of the scoring opportunities that come their way.

I knew the B's were in trouble late in the first period. Although they carried the play for much of the period the Bruins were unable to score. Every time they got a scoring opportunity a Cane would be on their back or have their stick on theirs. In short, it was an impressive display of last line defense in front of the net. Hockey can sometimes be a game of frustration, and I felt the frustration level grow toward the end of the first. When a team gets frustrated sometimes they lose their jump and their edge. This is exactly what happened as the B's came out in the second and the Canes were ready to pounce.

In the third the Bruins once again carried the play, turning up the heat in the offensive zone. But they seemed unaccustomed to such intense play and several players made mistakes with the puck. It seemed they were thinking ahead to the next move and forgetting to take care of what they were doing at the moment. This, combined with the sound defense in front of the net and excellent goaltending led to their failure to score.

One thing for sure: the Bruins are going to need to work on their power play if they expect to win this series.

So now the playoffs start in earnest! The Canes are going to be a formidable opponent. Now we get to see what happens when they have to step it up. With all the talent the B's can bring to (ahem) bear, I still believe they have an excellent chance to win the series.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's the Canes

The B's will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round, starting Friday night. So how did the B's do against them in the regular season?

December 20 in Carolina: Bruins win 4-2. Fernandez in goal. Scores by Savard, Krejci, Thornton, and Yelle. Three stars: Thornton, Thomas, Brind'amour.

December 27 in Boston: Bruins win 4-2. Thomas in goal. Scores by Wheeler (2), Ryder and Kobasew. Three stars: Wheeler, Ryder, Babchuk.

January 10 in Boston: Bruins win 5-1. Thomas in goal. Scores by Krejci, Yelle, Stuart, Ryder (2). Three stars: Krejci, Ryder, Thomas.

February 17 in Carolina: Bruins win 5-1. Thomas in goal. Scores by Wheeler, Hnidy, Krejci, Kobasew, plus a shorty from Bergeron. Three stars; Krejci, Chara, Thomas.

It's never easy in the second round. But as long as the B's want it badly enough they certainly have the tools they need to win this series. My prediction: Bruins win in 5.

Sharks Tank

Longtime Bruins fans have a connection to the San Jose Sharks through the Thornton trade. At the time the experts around the league claimed the trade of Thornton for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart was an embarrassment for Boston. That and the race for the President's trophy this season between the B's and the Sharks has led me to keep one eye on the left coast during the playoffs. Some even believed it may come down to the Sharks vs. the Bruins in the cup final.

My view of the Sharks mirrors my view of Joe Thornton. They don't have what it takes to go deep in the playoffs. I watched Thornton play and he just floated around the zone waiting for the puck to come to him. You can't do that in the playoffs. You have to get in there along the boards and fight hard for the puck, and when you do get it you have to skate as hard and as fast as you can 100% of the time. I've said it here before: Thornton only has one speed. He has no "playoff gear" and neither do the Sharks as a team.

When I saw that San Jose had matched up against Anaheim in the first round my thought was that Anaheim was going to eliminate them. San Jose has a long history of disappointing results in the playoffs, and Anaheim has just the right hard-playing style to bring them down. But since I didn't see much of the western conference this season I must admit that this was probably 40% history and 60% wishful thinking. I had read that the Sharks had changed--that like the Bruins they had become a complete team. But when put to the test this proved to be an empty claim. And as for Anaheim, they are the first team I have watched this season that seemed familiar. They play very much like the Bruins, playing a hard complete team game. But one other thing I noticed was that they lacked the size and especially the talent of the B's. Their finish near the net just wasn't there. Time and again they would force a turnover or win the puck along the boards only to flub the pass or miss the shot.

So where does that leave our sleeping Bruins? Most observers around the league expect Boston to follow the Sharks lead, once they meet a real opponent. But those of us who have watched them all year know differently. They may not win the cup, but I'd be very surprised if the Bruins embarrass themselves in the playoffs. I have no doubt that they can beat any of the remaining teams in the eastern conference, and it does not matter who they match up against. The one worry I have is this: do they want it enough? Aside from the almost daily claims to the contrary, does this team feel they have already accomplished their goal for the season? We will find out... but only after this long excruciating wait is over.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looch Suspended

The NHL has announced that the B's Milan Lucic has been suspended for game three of the series against Montreal.

Many Bruins fans are up in arms, complaining of everything from inconsistency to a conspiracy by the NHL to help the Habs or lengthen the series. Many Habs fans are gloating, saying that this proves that Looch is the goon they have claimed him to be all along. My take? Both are off the mark.

The way I see it is this: both the NHL and the Players Association have been preaching that they want to crack down on blows to the head (partly as a result of Bergeron's concussion). It's like when a player gets his stick parallel to the ice and and hooks the blade around the midsection of the guy in front of him. It doesn't matter if he pulled hard enough to interfere with the progress of the player--it's going to be called every time. The NHL is looking to make a statement here, and what Looch did looked like a violent cross check to the face. Nevermind the fact that nobody was hurt, that he was only defending himself, that it has been the Habs all along who have acted like goons after the whistle not the Bruins, and that it was only his glove that made contact. It looked bad enough that they had to make the call.

In two or three games--when the Bruins are waiting for their next opponent--this will be forgotten.

In fact, I think this works in the Bruins favor. First it gets Byron Bitz into the game. He's got to be chomping at the bit to play and he knows this may be his only chance. I expect him to play like a monster out there. Second, it gives the B's something to get fired up about going into the likeliest game of the series for them to lose. And third, the league did send a message. Not just to Looch but to everyone. This hardly gives the Habs a free ride to continue being goons by raising elbows and bloodying players after the whistle. Rather, I think they may be looking over their shoulder at the referee.

Lastly, for anyone who hasn't followed the Briuns closely I want to say something about Lucic. I've watched all but a handful of his NHL games. Looch is no goon. He will dance when asked and usually win. He will hit hard along the boards. He does not set out to injure anyone. Rather, his hard hits are often beautifully timed to create a turnover or scoring opportunity. Unlike Laraque or some of the other journeyman goons, Looch can skate and score. No--he's not Cam Neely, at least not yet, but he is an impact player with considerable skill.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Little Lost Habs

A good game by the B's last night although they gave me a scare with their lackluster play throughout much of the 3rd period. I did not expect that. But when they finally turned it on, they really turned it on. Overall I was left with the impression that the Bruins could beat the Habs with two lines in the stands and Fernandez in goal.

I loved this quote from Savard after Chara scored the game winner: “Then the monster was waiting back there with his stick touching the roof, so I slid one back and it was a great shot by him.”

But as a hockey fan I was very unhappy with what Lapierre did at the end of this game. Attacking an opposing player after the whistle is forgivable when that player has tried to harm your goalie or taken a cheap shot. But to go after the other team's top goal scorer after he scores an empty netter with no goaltender involved and no contact on the play--that crosses the line. There still is such a thing as being a poor sport. In fact, its one of the reasons that I steer my kids toward hockey. Behind the facade of fighting and rough play hockey is a sport filled with real heroes and upstanding role models. Players still shake hands after a tough playoff series and so far nobody taunts the other team when they score a goal. I would hate to see that change.

To top it off, after the siren sounded Komisarek went after Hunwick and gouged him in the eye! What bothers me most about this isn't how Lapierre and his fellow Habs acted after it was clear they had lost, but that few fans/comentators seem to be speaking out against it. I keep hearing, "that's what you have to expect between the Bruins and the Habs." But if it's ok to attack someone after the game ends just because you lost, then why not in the parking lot later? Can they jump out of the bushes at the guys home too? Where does it end? I think the league needs to consider handing out fines if this happens again. Two tough guys who have been beating each other up all game is one thing, but to go after a goal scorer just because you lost is quite another! That's not being tough. It's acting like a spoiled four year old. Shame on the Canadiens.

Anyhow, in terms of the playoff series what this says to me is that the Habs have lost their way. They know that they are supposed to go out there and intimidate the B's but they don't seem to know how to go about doing it properly.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Expectations, etc.

Well here we are, the day we've all been waiting for. Game 1 against Montreal in the first round of the playoffs. I always think its a good idea to set realistic expectations before embarking on something so important, so here is my personal take on the B's chances this post season.

Do the Bruins have what it takes to win a Cup? The answer is a definite yes. Goaltending: check. Defense: check. Scoring: check. Coaching: check. Depth at every position: check (except perhaps in goal). Intangibles: check.

The intangibles include being up to the challenge when other teams try to get under their skin, the ability to play in a hard-checking playoff style, the ability and depth to adjust to injuries, and the ability to come back from a deficit.

I saw some hockey "expert" say that he didn't think a team that was in eighth place last year could win the cup the next. I know where he's coming from because that's exactly the sort of thing I say about teams I don't follow closely. But I am in a different position, having seen nearly every game the Bruins have played for the last three seasons. It's obvious to me that this team has all the tools--in spades--to win the Cup. And if they don't win it will be a lost opportunity.

That said, to my expectations. The road to the Cup is paved with adversity, some of which can bring down even the greatest teams. Goaltenders can get hot. Teams can get unlucky. Key players can become injured. On that last note, I doubt if Fernandez, even playing well, could get the B's to the final. And losing Chara would also have a possibly cup-losing impact.

So given all that, I expect the Bruins to win in the first round. Anything less will be a terrible disappointment. A loss in the second round would be disappointing as well, but not devastatingly so. After that, my expectations will be met.

If the B's win the conference final, I will be a very happy fan! If they lose, then so be it. And if the B's win the cup... well, after watching this team grow over the last three years that would be indescribably amazing!

Notes on the Caps vs. Rangers

Things that impressed me: the ferocity of the Caps attack, particularly in the 1st. Ovechkin, the one man team. The goaltending of Lundqvist.

But I thought both teams showed some weak spots. Neither showed particularly good defense. The Rangers PK did Ok, but did not play very well. The Caps PP seemed entirely about getting the puck to Ovechkin, who seemingly played every shift of the game as well. A good defensive team will shut that down. But most of all, if the Caps don't find better goaltending there is no way they can go very far.

Anybody who saw that game last night and wonders why Thomas got the big bucks, perhaps you need not wonder any longer. The Rangers did not win that game. Theodore lost it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Christmas Comes in April

I opened a web page this morning and my jaw dropped in disbelief. I will deny it to the last, but some who were present claim that this die-hard Tim Thomas fan even had a little tear in his eye.

According to the Boston Globe this morning, Tim Thomas has signed a new 3 year deal worth $5.2 million per year with the Bruins.

The one thing that has been bothering me as the Bruins get ready for what could be a long playoff run has been the prospect of Tim Thomas walking away as a free agent this summer. I believe that there is no better goaltender in the NHL and no more important player to his team. At $5.2 million he's a steal. My congratulations to Peter Chiarelli. So many years for the Bruins, so many goaltenders... but this one's the most special of them all.

And nobody deserves this payoff more than Tim Thomas!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'm Loving It!

I'm loving this! And they say Rask isn't competitive enough...

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I'm really getting sick of what I read in the papers these days. Recent headlines scream, "What's wrong with the Bruins?" Comments on articles and forums are full of hate for the team or various players on it. You'd think they were in last place!

Get real, people. The only thing broken is the fair weather "fans" lack of faith in the team.

Right now the only thing that truly matters is game 1 of the playoffs. The players know it, the coaches know it, management knows it, and most the fans who didn't tune in only last month know it. Yet it's only natural that everyone is nervous.

Let's say the team losses its confidence just before the playoffs. That's good reason to be nervous.

But how many times have we seen a high-flying team with a big point lead at the end of the season lose in the first round? If the B's were still flying high, I'd still be nervous, and I suspect many others would be as well.

So either way, it's only natural to be nervous. It's how we express this nervousness that matters. Do players tear each other down? Does management pressure the coach into desperate decisions? Do the fans attack the team they claim to love, like a bunch of spoiled rabid children?

I believe that as long as nobody is seriously injured--particularly Tim Thomas--it simply doesn't matter what happens in these last nine games. We are going to remain nervous. And nobody is going to remember them come summer, except maybe a few bitter "fans" who will act like the world came to an end when the B's lose in the conference final (or whenever).

The fact is that no matter what, everything will be reset in game 1 of the first round. Personally, I'm looking forward to it (and trying not to read the papers).

Monday, March 9, 2009

Much Ado About Little

It was an interesting weekend for the Bruins. Against the Blackhawks on Saturday the B's had a good strong effort. The Hawks are a very good team, although it seemed apparent why their reputation doesn't match their record. It seemed to me that the Hawks played like a young team often does; they showed a high talent level but a lack of consistent play. Look for these guys to be a force next year.

The game on Sunday was a weird one, in part because it was on NBC. It's always fun to watch those guys put their own spin on a game. They made the choice before hand to concentrate on Chara and Recci for the B's and Avery for the Rangers. The very idea of making Sean Avery the focus of their positive attention made my skin crawl. It is also funny to watch Milbury squirm in his NBC gig. He's clearly very uncomfortable. Given how he sometimes intimidates his NESN coworkers, making them uncomfortable at times with the sheer force of his personality, it was sort of fun to see him squirm. On the other hand I felt sorry for him. That kind of sums up my feelings about Milbury: it's a love-hate sort of thing. On the one hand I like and admire him, and on the other I think he's a big jerk. Mostly, I'm thankful I don't have to work with him! Been there, done that, with his sort of personality.

As for the game itself, the B's played very well and very likely would have won had it not been for their goaltending. Fernandez had a nightmare of a game. He failed to hold close enough to the post on one goal, and actually put the puck into the net with his own stick. Then he foolishly spun around in the crease when he lost the puck, kicking it into the net in the process. And for a finale he tried to kick a wide shot to the corner and missed. When the puck took a weird bounce and came out the other side of the goal to a Ranger he was completely out of position. That last goal in particular really hurt, coming late in the game when it was tied and the B's were dominating the Rangers in the offensive zone. In retrospect I'm sure the coach wishes he'd pulled Fernandez or even started Timmy two days in a row.

But I'm not about to write that Fernandez sucks or that Julien is an idiot. I'll leave that to the juvenile posters on the Bruins boards. All goaltenders have bad games, or I guess at least most of them. It's been so long since Timmy had one of these games I can't even remember when it was. But he's the exception. I once saw Patrick Roy shoot the puck into his own net and then play like he was completely disinterested afterward. Patrick Roy obviously did not suck, but he sure could have a bad game.

Likewise I'm not going to second guess the coach's decision to leave Fernandez in. Had the B's won that game, and they almost did, it would have helped Fernandez regain his confidence. Leaving him in was a gamble, and when you gamble, sometimes you lose. Maybe Fernandez will battle back. Maybe they will bring up Rask. Either way, I think it imperative not to play Timmy too much going into the playoffs. He does have a tendency to burn out late in the season if played too often. Once the playoffs start it will be too late to rest him.

All-in-all it was an entertaining weekend, and the B's look fine to me. No worries. Fifteen games to go.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Lets Get on with the Playoffs Already!

I wrote a blog by the title So This is It Then in early February. For the two of you who read it, my words may have seemed oddly timed. It was about how it felt to be a fan of a team that did nothing but win. I wrote that blog then to capture the feeling, because I knew that it wasn't likely to last much longer. By February 5th the B's were already falling back to earth.

I'm not sure I like it, this business of streaking to the top of the NHL. Once you reach the top expectations are heightened, yet there is nowhere to go but down. The winning gets just a little boring, and the losing stings more than it used to.

There are now 17 games left in the season. What are the Bruins playing for? Pride? Even if they lose every remaining game they will still likely make the playoffs. The number of series you need to win for a cup is the same either way. If I'm a player I'm wondering if pride is worth an injury that might give me a top row seat for the playoffs. And now other teams are fighting for a playoff birth, some coming to top form to get there. That makes winning all the more difficult.

Confidence was a primary reason the B's played so well earlier this year. Losing your way to the post season can only erode it. If I'm the coach I'm wondering if these guys are going to play well enough to win in the first round.

It's kind of ugly, isn't it? No matter what happens in the next 17 games, the season will start again in the playoffs. The B's may lose their sting. More likely they will find it again. Either way, the next 17 games are not likely to be pivotal. My prediction is that they will go 6-7-4 for a total of 109 points to finish second in the east.

Then we can get on with it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trade Day is Over

Once again Peter Chiarelli has shown why he's the guy paid the big bucks (rather than fans and bloggers). The trades he made today improve the team for the playoff run without giving away too much in return. Both acquisitions are rentals which will give him options come summer, and the new players should fit into the room. Always true to his word, that's exactly what he told everyone he was setting out to accomplish. I personally think it's rather humorous that many fans will go with the wildest rumors rather than just take the GM at his word.

Anyhow, here is the big picture on the roster moves (rather than the usual who was traded for whom):

1. The B's swap Lashoff for Steve Montadore at defense. Montador is a solid defenseman who has played every game this year. At least in theory he will be a great fit in the room because he's a Right to Play guy. Both Chara and Ference are big in Right to Play and there will be a natural solidarity due to the fight to get the organization unbanned from the Olympics. Montador travelled to Africa with Ference last summer. He also made it to the cup final with teammates Ference, Kobasew and Yelle. His contract expires in the summer.

Lashoff is a defensemen who has great potential, but he was failing to truly thrive in the Bruins system.

2. The B's swap Karsums and Nokelainen for Mark Recchi at forward. Recchi is that left-shooting forward with experience the B's said they wanted. He will likely replace PJ on the power play, which will likely improve it and definitely make a lot of knuckleheads happy. As for experience and familiarity, Recchi won a cup in Carolina with Aaron Ward.

Karsums and Nokelainen are both promising forwards but both of them had yet to permanently make it into the NHL. There is a chance that one or both will thrive in time and make some wish they hadn't been traded away for a rental, but that isn't a given.

As far as I'm concerned, I really like these moves. Our team improves yet stays intact, and there is every reason to hope that the new blood will inspire the team to get out of it's current doldrums.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Hate This Time of Year

I really do. I just hate it. I should stop reading anything for at least a week prior to the trade deadline for the sake of my blood pressure. The trade deadline brings out all the idiots who never laced up a pair of skates and think they know more about hockey than the coaches and GMs who are paid to do it for a living. It brings out the quick fix people who would trade away the heart and sole of a team for a "name" player. It brings out the juvenile sports fans who watch three games per season and can't talk about hockey except in baseball metaphors. It brings out all the fickle fans who only tune in for the playoffs, but shoot their mouths off like they have been following the team closely all year.

I can't wait for it all to be over. Let's get on with the hockey.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bruins Get Slap in the Face From Headline Writers

I saw at least two articles about the game against the Caps with a headline about the B's being slapped in the face. Clever, yes, but accurate? No. In fact these two teams are very well matched. If they do meet in the playoffs it will be a series to remember. I'd give an edge to the Bruins 5 on 5 throughout a long series because they have greater depth. But it seems an edge also goes to the Caps for their OT play; they get it done.

With regard to the fluke 70-foot slapper that ended the game--I finally understand that old phrase, "the exception that proves the rule." That never made logical sense to me, but now I get it. It's the one mishap that puts history into perspective. That goal was unexpected and surprising because Timmy almost never lets in soft goals of any kind. Rather than start the "Thomas sucks" chants, as I am sure a few idiots are doing, it reminds us just how well he plays night in and night out; it's the exception that proves the rule.

But I fear that if the Bruins keep starting Thomas in every game we are going to see more of this. A big part of goaltending is mental, and for Thomas it may be even more so because of the intensity he plays with. Whether it be Fernandez, who has looked less than stellar lately, or Rask, Timmy needs to be rested before the playoffs.

I noticed that the B's web site has a poll running. The question is, "If the B's were to make a trade before the deadline, which position should they focus on?" The choices are forward, center, defense, and "they don't need to address anything." Notice what's missing? They left goaltending off the list entirely because there would be no point to it. Long time Bruins fans can appreciate how comforting that is. They say that teams are built from the goal out, and nobody is questioning the foundation of these Bruins today. The way I see it the Bruins have a shot at winning the cup this year, but it's only a shot. I've been around for a while and this story usually plays out with a loss in the final or conference final. The Cup comes the following year when they are truly hungry for it, assuming the team hasn't been dismantled in the off season. That is why I feel that the number 1 job Chiarelli has is to sign Tim Thomas, who will be a free agent in the summer.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bruins Have Ducks in a Row

Another great effort with very sharp play. If the Ducks were an Eastern Conference team they might have known better than to try to intimidate the B's in their own building. The last team to try that was the Stars back fall and they regretted it too.

I wonder what's up with Savard? He missed the 3rd period with an "upper body" injury and is likely to miss the next game as well. He was a target all night and ended his game being thrown down to the ice in a brawl with Niedermayer. But I noticed his play was off right from the start. In the 1st period he uncharacteristically seemed to have trouble finding the puck in front of the net, missed several passes, and in general had difficultly handling the puck. Something was clearly bothering him even then.

And I agree with jimbuff that Looch needs to stop when the other player is down. I am proud of the fact that my Bruins play a clean game and I'd hate to see Looch get a bad reputation. It seemed pretty clear to me what happened last night--for once he got a bit of his own medicine, taking a hard punch to the jaw early in the fight. It appeared to make him so angry that he just unloaded on the guy. Not pretty.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bitz and Pieces

Last night the Bruins and Panthers didn't look like the same two teams that played last week. The B's were in their all black and the Panthers were in their old familiar road whites--a uniform that strikes fear into the hearts of no one. But more importantly, after a freaky role reversal last time, the two teams got back to being who they really are.

We haven't seen the Bruin team was saw last night in a very long time. They were completely dominating in all three zones, and had that crazy killer instinct where after every goal they only wanted more. How were the Bruins better than in their recent efforts? In every single possible way.

If you asked me to pick the best three Bruins or tell you which player had a poor night, I'd be at a loss because this really was a total team effort. From the goal out: spectacular and timely goaltending, hard hitting nasty defense, good quick decisions on the breakout, tape to tape passing, a jump in the offensive zone, domination on the forecheck, and "finish."

I am sure B's fans everywhere had big smiles after this one. It was like starting the season over again. After seeing them struggle we bear witness to the full rebirth of this amazing, absolutely dominating, team. It was sweet and worth the wait.

The fans who think this team needs more talent need to stop and think. I keep reading pure lunacy, like trading Axe for a rental, or giving up their young talent for one. The B's don't need more talent. Hockey is a team sport. Doesn't anybody remember the 1980 Olympics? Or at least seen the movie? Teamwork and hard work trump talent. If you add, say, an Eric Cole, you add talent, but risk screwing up the team chemistry. Chiarelli has shown a flair for making that little trade with solid positive results and I'm hoping he pulls it off again this time. Just look at his signing over the summer: people, myself included, were worried that Ryder, his struggling replacement for Muzz, would struggle for the B's too. But instead he thrived. Just like Julien said he would.

While it is tempting to think in the short term for a cup run, I think Chiarelli should instead look to the long term. Trade Fernandez while he still has some value. Trade him for some future: a draft pick or prospect. The Bruins aren't going to win a cup with Fernandez in goal. He's just not consistent enough. If Timmy goes down with an injury the only thing that would get them there would be an amazing rookie run by Rask. On the other hand, we need Timmy rested. I'm worried he's going to burn out again. I'd bring Rask up and let him play every other game until the end of the season. It would be good for both of them.

Now for the actual Bitz and Pieces:
  • Hearing the crowd chanting "We want Bitz" at the end of the game was great! And the big roar when he skated out. How fun was that?
  • Seeing the hard working but snake bit Bergeron take that puck to the net... I swear my heart actually stopped. And when he scored! How fun was that?
  • Ryder played like a starving dog with a piece of meat dangling in front of him! One has to wonder if Ryder wasn't the spark that made this team explode again. Is Ryder, next to Thomas and Chara, one of the essential ingredients to this team?
  • Axe's big hit and all around physical play. How can you tell the difference between someone who understands hockey and someone who doesn't? Just ask them what they think of Axe. If they say he wouldn't be missed... they don't get it.
  • Kobasew and Looch played like cruise missiles looking for something to explode on. And the best part was that their hits weren't just statements, they often resulted in a turn over or scoring opportunity. Now that's hockey!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Prior to last night's game against the Canes I was thinking that what the B's really needed was one of those 7-2 blowouts to rebuild their confidence. It turned out that 5-1 was good enough.

It was Shane Hnidy who made it happen. Ever since that puck went off Thornton's skate into the goal, the puck hadn't been bouncing the B's way. You could see their confidence sag, particularly against New Jersey. New Jersey won that 1-goal game on a fluke that went under Thomas. The Bruins couldn't buy a goal, even a fluke. It seemed the Hockey Gods were aligned against them.

After his goal last night Hnidy said he was just putting the puck near the net and it just happened to go in. After that, the Bruins skated harder and made better decisions more quickly. You could see the room to skate opening up as their confidence swelled. Throughout the last few games the most obvious difference was that there seemed to be less room. The breakout was stalled because a defender would be all over the forward when a pass arrived. The other teams were pressing hard in all three zones. But after Hnidy scored that began to change. As the B's had more room to skate you could see their confidence swell with each shift. And in turn they had even more room. With six minutes to go in the 3rd the Bruins were ahead 2-1. Six minutes later thay had added four goals.

Take a rest boys--you earned it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Devil of a Game

This was a great game. It had a playoff feel to it with both teams playing at their best. New Jersey played the best team defense I have seen in ages. The Bruins rolled all four lines with hustle all night long. Those 7-2 Bruins wins earlier in the season were fun--don't get me wrong--but last night, now that was Hockey!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

THE Game

Well, I missed it. Yeah, I missed the biggest game of the season. Didn't even hear it on the radio. Thanks to Dish Networks' little flap over Versus that put it on the most expensive tier (with nothing else I want). Thanks to a hellish day at work that made me forget to put my backup plan to record the internet radio broadcast in motion. Thanks to a snowstorm that kept me from getting home in time to listen in person.

From what I've been reading the B's forgot who they were in the 3rd period. I wish I could say I was surprised, but this team hasn't had to dig deep in a long time. Not since they played the Wings last fall. It's easy to forget how to do it.

But you know, even before the game I was thinking that a loss wouldn't be such a bad thing. Sure it stings now, but you can bet it stings in the locker room even more... and that's the stuff that builds a cup team.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

So This is It Then

This is it, this is what we Bruins fans have waited for all these years. It's really quite amazing, and different, to be a Bruins fan this season. On TV I watched yet another team head for the locker room in dejection and disappointment. I wonder if the Flyers will go into a long slide now, as other devastated Bruins opponents have. But mostly I wonder if they even realize that they didn't come close to seeing the best that the Bruins had to bring... because they simply weren't good enough to bring it out in them.

Ah, but there's the rub. I know that some fans will want to hit me over the head with my beloved copy of "Black and Gold" for saying it, but this is getting boring. We've recently seen that you have to remove at least one full line of forwards from this team to make it a fair contest. Otherwise they just breeze past most opponents like they aren't even in the same league. There's no drama.

In a weird way I miss the previous three seasons. The Bruins struggled. They were always the underdog. Some idiot fans even wanted Timmy replaced because they couldn't tell a great goaltender from an armadillo... unless the team was winning. That was drama. When the Bruins won against a good team it was due to sheer grit, heart and determination. Every game was a battle... drama.

Now I tell my 10-year old that the Bruins won "again" and he looks at me as if to say, "So?" I watch other teams play each other and I'm struck by how poorly they seem to play. "Why didn't he just pass it to the other D man behind the net?", I ask the TV. Or, "Why do they have so much trouble on the breakout?" I mean, it's not like it's all that hard. I've seen the Bruins do it, again and again and in pretty much exactly the same way, something like 500 times. Other teams don't seem to be playing the same game. How weird is that? It's like playing NHL '06 after you long ago figured out how to score at will. Every game and every goal is the same.

Now some people will think that this can't last. The Bruins may fall like Ottawa before them, and I'll regret not enjoying it more. But that's just the point: we learned last year that this team has huge reserves of heart that it can draw on when facing adversity. This team has enormous character, but they seldom need it anymore. I cannot imagine much that can stop them from cruising into the playoffs, and past the first round.

Only after that will the drama finally begin.

Other than February 10th of course. Damn, I need to find someone who gets Versus!