Friday, February 11, 2011

Postgame Recap: February 9 - Bleu, Blanc et Bruised!

Ah, a Wednesday night in Boston.

The local team is home as they host their bitter rivals.  A team that has featured some of the all-time greats and has quite a few championships to their name.

Celtics-Lakers, you say?

Normally, that would make sense.  But no, it was Bruins - Canadiens in a rare hump day matchup.

I'm not used to this.  The Bruins usually have the Garden on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays while their hardwood brethren lay claim to the building the rest of the week.

But this scheduling quirk does have some redeeming value.  It makes the start of four straight games against Original 6 teams, including a home and home against the Red Wings and a grudge match against the Maple Leafs.

Lets see how it played out:

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #52, home game #26
  • Boston Bruins (30-16-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Montreal Canadiens (30-19-5, 2nd in Northeast Div.)
  • Fourth meeting of the season between these two teams with the Habs taking the first three thus far
John Blue Plate Special

I had a dentist appointment in the morning which meant I was going to get into work late.  Therefore, I figured I might have to stick around the office a little bit longer than normal and leave late for the game.  Fortunately, my workload was less than demanding and I got out around 5:00.  Fought a bit of traffic in Newton Corner approaching exit 17 on the Pike, but got to the Fours around 6:15 when all was said and done.

Managed to snag a seat downstairs right away as I waited for Heather to arrive.  Once she got there, the guy sitting next to me offered up his seat so we could both sit down to eat dinner.  Props to that guy.

As for what we ordered, well, we felt that we've got a good thing going with the Larry Bird in a wrap with bacon, bbq sauce on the side and well done onion rings.  So no reason to change.  Plus, it's just damn yummy.

The Couture Corner

I hate the Canadiens sweaters.  Not because of their style, but simply because of what they represent.  For years, the Habs simply dominated the Bruins, especially in the playoffs.  They won numerous Stanley Cups, often at the expense of the B's.

Even in high school (St. John's Prep), one of our biggest rivals was Catholic Memorial, an absolute juggernaut of a program that has sent many payers on to the NHL.  And of course, their sweaters are patterned off of the Montreal ones:


That said, the design of the Habs sweaters is timeless, befitting of an original 6 team.  I mean, their basic look has carried on virtually unchanged since their inception in 1917.  They've made modest tweaks here and there (mostly with the white sweaters), but have remained true to the original look.

Despite it being a Wednesday night, Habs fans were sure to be out in full force at this game.  And to their credit, they usually show up decked out in their team colors, often in the form of Habs sweaters.

And sure enough, they didn't disappoint.  Let's see some examples:

Mid-80's Guy Lafleur away

Scored the tying goal in the Too Many Men on the Ice game in 1979.

Eff him.

Maurice Richard replica away

Eff him.

The Rocket retired long before the Montreal sweaters had nameplates on them.  This sweater is a mockery.

Eff him too.

Late 70's Ken Dryden home

Backstopped the Habs in 1979. Then he retired.

Eff him.

And he went to Cornell.  I got rejected from Cornell.

So eff him again.

Frank Mahovlich replica away

Again, he never wore this sweater.  And though he was a Hab later on on his career, I always associate him with being a Maple Leaf.

Eff him.

Mid 90's Joe Sakic Quebec Nordiques away

Now we're talking!

If there ever was a team that hated the Habs as much as the Bruins, it was the other team from La Belle Province - the Quebec Nordiques.  And their sweaters were an exercise in beautiful simplicity: Red, white and blue rendered in a unique pallette; the Fleur de Lis from the Quebec flag; the simple hem stripe.

And Joe Sakic was a great player too. A quiet leader who became captain of the Nordiques in the 1990-1 season, it wasn't until the franchise moved to Colorado in 1995 that he lead them to the first of 2 Stanley Cups.  Even better, that Cup win in 1995-6 came with legendary Canadien goalie Patrick Roy in net for them, after he had a falling out with Hab management earlier that season.

Oh yeah, it's good!

And while we're talking about the Nordiques, let me give a shout out to these guys:

A bunch of old Nordiques fans have been showing up at various NHL arenas all season long to show their support for a new/relocated franchise in Quebec City.  They brought 20 busloads of fans to an Islanders game earlier this year.

And you know what? I want it to happen.

I didn't like it when Gary Bettman's NHL saw the Nordiques and Jets move from their strong Canadian fanbases to western outposts in Colorado and Phoenix.  Granted, Colorado has turned out pretty well, building a very solid fanbase of their own and the team enjoying a good amount of success.  But the Phoenix thing is a mess.  Small fanbase, little success and an arena outside of Phoenix.

And the two scorned Canadian cities have made it known that they want franchises.  Winnepeg has an arena ready to go and Quebec City just approved a funding plan for a replacement of Le Colisee Pepsi.

I'm one of those fans who would much rather see a couple of additional teams in Canada than to see franchises in Phoenix, Columbus, Sunrise and Nashville.  Here's hoping this comes to fruition.

The Row 12 Rundown

With the Habs in town, there was no way the usual crew was missing this one.  And we had Pete grace us with his presence in seat 11.

We did have a number of Habs fans who got their hands on a bunch of seats together in row 10.  But you know what?  They were fine, despite a good number of Bruins "fans" who chose to antagonize them for no good reason other than they dared spend their hard earned money to support their team on the road.

Doosh of the Day

This one's easy.  I'm giving it to whomever runs the Garden videoboard.

I'm sick and tired of going to games against Montreal and the director insists on having the stadium cameras focus of fans who are holding up American flags or wearing USA hockey sweaters.

In general, focusing cameras on fans only encourages people to stand up, act stupid and frustrate people who just want to watch the game.  Focusing on people waving flags and whatnot only perpetuates the misguided patriotism and borderline jingoism that idiotic fans tend to associate with a matchup against a Canadian team.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. 'Canadians' does not equate "Canadiens" and vice versa.

And to those who make the argument that the "USA" chants and flag waving are in response to Canadian fans who come to the Garden and refuse to stand up for and/or boo the Star Spangled Banner, spare me.  I've been to well over a hundred games against Canadian teams since I've had season tickets and not once have I seen a Canadian fan boo the anthem or refuse to stand up for it.  But I have seen plenty of Americans who don't take off their hats, talk throughout or act disrespectfully during the anthem.  And never mind the anthem singers (other than the great Rene Rancourt) who butcher the song because they think they are auditioning for American Idol. Want a cause celebre?  Take issue with those fans instead.

The Clothes Line

Plenty of Bobby Orr and NHL 75th anniversary throwbacks in the house for this one, as one might expect.

But the one Bruins sweater that stood out to me was this one:

Late 80's/Early 90's Craig Janney away

The Bruins' first pick in the 1986 entry draft, Janney was one of those guys who came from New England (Hartford), played collegiately in New England (Boston College) and played for the the Bruins. A skilled passer, he was one of those classic "pass, don't shoot" centers who spent his formative years dishing the puck to Cam Neely.

In one of Harry Sinden's greatest moves, he was traded along with defenseman Stephane Quintal to the St. Louis Blues for fellow center Adam Oates in  the 1991-2 season.  Playing alongside Brett Hull, he registered a career high 106 points in the following season.  He spent 3.5 seasons in St. Louis before he was traded away to San Jose.  He bounced around with Winnepeg/Phoenix and Tampa Bay before calling it a career with the Islanders in 1999.

As for my attire, I went with the 1991-2 Cam Neely throwback.  Gotta bring the 'A' game for these matchups.

The Lobel Prize

Hal Gill.  12:56 TOI, 0 shots, 0 points, 0 penalty minutes, -3 rating.


The Home End

Just when you thought the Dallas game was going to take the cake for most entertaining game of the year, this game comes along.

And it was completely unexpected.

Much like the Spanish Inquisition, no one thought that this would turn out to be both a high scoring affair and a battle royale (is that a Royal Battle in Montreal?).

The Bruins came out strong, building a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by Marchand and Seidenberg a mere 22 seconds apart.  It had the fans thinking of a blowout, but the 2 goal lead rule was still in effect.

Sure enough, the Habs halved the load just 25 seconds into the second period courtesy of another BC product, Captain Brian Gionta.  With Nathan Horton off for hooking, Montreal tied it up on a PK Subban goal at 8:30.  The teams would trade goals to tie the game at 3-3 when Ryder and Lucic scored back to back goals to give the Bruins another 2 goal lead.

Then all hell broke loose:

The end result? 182 penalty minutes, 6 fights (including a goalie fight) and 4 players with game misconducts.

Oh, and the Bruins won 8-6.

Hockeywise, it was ugly, with the Bruins penalty kill allowing 4 power play goals and Tim Thomas clearly not on top of his game.  But at the end of the day, the Bruins took 2 points to cement their lead over Montreal in the Northeast division and showed  again that when they physically impose their will on an opponent they can do some serious damage on both the scoresheet and penalty summary.


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