In the two hundred and sixty eight day gap between the last Bruins game and tonight, there was no doubt that expectations were high. Practically the entire Bruins line up was the same as last year. The Boston Bruins had not won a home opener since beating the Colorado Avalanche back in 2008. The fans (who were taking part in the 130th straight sell-out crowd)were wondering. Was the team ready? Were the players ready? Well folks, we here at Causeway Crowd were NOT disappointed.
The Rangers were coming in with Hendrik Lundqvist who had a 19-6-2 record against the Bruins.(Make that 19-7-2 now) The Rangers net minder was rocking a 1.53 goals against average with six shutouts. They acquired some new talent (mainly in the form of Rick Nash) to be even more of a physical presence on the ice. They were coming in as a serious force to be reckoned with, a team that is expected to see the Bruins at sometime in the playoffs.
The first period started out with some slightly sloppy hockey. It only took nineteen seconds for the first penalty to be called. (Hagelin-2min-Interference.) The Bruins, who had an anemic power play last year tried to erase that blemish early. Sadly, the Bruins could not connect on a power play opportunity this game. Something I’m sure Coach Claude Julien will be working on again in practices to rectify.
There were also some early scares. Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron took a puck to the chin early in the game. He was back on the ice in a few minutes. A few minutes later Johnny Boychuk took a tumble and came up limping. He was also back on the ice in a few minutes. This was a team working hard to prove that they were trying to make amends for the lockout.
The Bruins first got on the board when Milan Lucic got one past Lundqvist on a great rebound off a shot by David Krejci. The brand new dad got the first for the season to the delight of the crowd. Always an amazing feeling to here ‘Zombie Nation’ played on the ice.(Andrew Ference also recorded his first point with the assist.) The first two lines (Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton) (Brad Marchand-Tyler Seguin-Patrice Bergeron) were making a lot of great moves on the ice, it was Lundqvist’s incredible job in the crease that kept the game from becoming a blow-out.
The second period showed the crowd that the Merlot Men, the Bruins fourth line(named for the wine colored practice jerseys.) were just as capable of making things happen. At 8:20 in the second, Gregory Campbell fired a laser that deflected off Daniel Paille and got past Lundqvist. This put the Bruins up 2-0. About five minutes later, Rangers forward Brad Richards managed to get one past B’s goalie Tuukka Rask to bring the Rangers back within one. (12:50) The Bruins needed something to get themselves and the fans totally into the game.
Enter Shawn Thornton. Shawn Thornton is a man who led the league last year in fighting majors. (20) Thornton saw an opportunity to express himself when chirping with Mike Rupp went to its logical conclusion. With seconds, Rupp had sprung a leak, and the fans were berserk. Thornton got his five for fighting, and Rupp had to take a towel into the sin bin. We weren’t done yet though. Three seconds later, Gregory Campbell insisted that Ranger’s defenseman Stu Bickel ‘try some soup’. While that battle ended more in Bickel’s favor, the fans who got to witness this, (I personally had to settle for NESN.) they certainly got their money’s worth. Last year. the Rangers led the league with 65 fighting majors last year. The Bruins were second with 61.
The refs were calling this game profoundly tight this year. There had been some rules changes in between the seasons and the refs were not joking around. Five separate interference calls were made by the officials. Three of them were against Boston. While the Boston’s were once again weak on the power play(0 for 7), they more than made up for it on the penalty kill. At 3:53 in the third, Lucic got called for boarding, thirty seconds later, Chara got called for a hooking penalty. The Bruins spent ninety seconds fighting off a furious assault by the Rangers while down two players. When Chara was not in the box, he was amazing on the penalty kill. Several Rangers spent the night bouncing off ‘Mount Chara’. Chara’s ferocious slap shot was also in play, with the first of many sticks shattering in his hands. Milan Lucic received a ten minute penalty for unsportsman-like conduct and was ejected from the game as the last Bruins penalty of the night.
The show wasn’t over though. At 8:13, #55 Johnny Boychuk celebrated his twenty ninth birthday by launching a ‘Johnny Rocket’ past Lundqvist to make it a 3-1 game. (Happy Birthday Boychuk!) The Rangers did attempt a rally, but the tenacious work of the Bruins kept forcing Lundqvist back into the net. A long range snipe by Chris Bourque kept the Rangers honest. (On a side note, Chris and Raymond Bourque represent the fifth father-son combo in the history of the Bruins franchise.) In the end, our Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers 3-1.
The game was over, but the traditions continued. Some lucky fans got to win in the Bruins ‘shirts off our backs’ promotion. Chris Bourque, Dougie Hamilton (who should have probably been reminded to wear a shirt for this game), Lane MacDermid, and David Warsofsky got to take part in this ritual for the first time. The fans were happy, the Bruins were beastly, and it really is Tuukka time! (20 for 21 saves 1.00 GAA, .952 save percentage) Forty seven more games to go. So let’s go Bruins! Let’s rescue the Cup!