It's a good thing I don't write for a living, at least as far as a media member is concerned. Between the writer's block and my proclivity for procrastination, I could never, ever meet a deadline, even a self-imposed one.
And because I've been somewhat lazy lately, in conjunction with a full slate of Bruins home games, I am now facing a huge backlog of recaps. Rather than create separate entries for each game, it's probably best that I do one mega post, as I actually have a decent amount of photos I've collected along the way. Even better, I actually have a common thread amongst the games which only helps to give some flow to my writing.
You see, it is a rarity in today's NHL to have back to back home games featuring opponents from the Great White North. But with the relocation of the Thrashers to Winnipeg and their subsequent retention in the southeast division, the schedule was to include an additional two games against a Canadian franchise, thus increasing the chances of consecutive games against teams from America's Hat.
And thus, through the miraculous dealings of the NHL schedule makers, the Bruins were set to play not one, not two, not three, but four! games against Canadian franchises:
First up, the Calgary Flames on January 5th
The Bruins kicked off the new year with a 6-1 dismantling of the Devils and Hall of Fame goalie to be Martin Brodeur in New Jersey. They then returned to the Garden the following night for their first home game of 2012. Against an depleted lineup missing many regulars, the Bruins showed no signs of fatigue and gave the visitors from Alberta a beat down with Tuukka Rask pitching a shutout as the B's exploded for nine goals (two each from Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton), chasing Flames starting Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff midway through the second period.
Being one of the few Canadian representatives from the Western conference, Calgary appearances in Boston are somewhat rare, occurring every other year at best. And this was the first time I've seen them since I started this blog, thus providing me for a chance to scrutinize their uniforms.
Frankly, I'm not a big fan of their current look. They use one of the worst templates to come out of Reebok's evil design minds in the 2007 league-wide edge system redesign. The piping along the sides is extraneous and the striping up the sides is incongruous with the rest of the horizontal striping featured on the sleeves, hemline and socks. And don't get me started on the inclusion of the shoulder flag patches for Canada and the province of Alberta - completely nonsensical. The only thing these really have going for them is the color combination. I like the use of red as the base color for the home uniforms as opposed to the black they used to use for their black alternate/home sweater.
Personally, I liked their 1995-2000 set best. I like the italicized font as well as the addition of black accents which made the red and yellow pop. The hemline that was bisected by a diagonal stripe of the same design was a unique element that no other team used and it worked. Of course, I loved their original look with the white, red and yellow design they carried over from their time in Atlanta. Speaking of which, the Flames also have one of the best features in all of hockey - the assistant captains 'A's are actually miniature versions of the Atlanta Flames logos, perhaps the best homage to a teams' roots in all of the major sports leagues.
To be honest, I had very low expectations for seeing Flames sweaters at this game. It was a Thursday night and Calgary really has no ties to Boston, not a major college student component and no minor league affiliate located in New England. Yet I was quite surprised to see decent representation in the Garden. Here's a quick rundown of my highlights:
Current Miikka Kiprusoff home replica
Jay Bouwmeester current away replica
2011 Jarome Iginla Heritage Classic replica
Sure, go ahead and make the usual McDonald's remarks. Fact is, I like these because they were so different. Plus they were paired with white pants when the Flames took on the Habs in the 2011 Heritage Classic.
Current Jarome Iginla alternate (throwback) replica
When I see this design, it's hard not to think of Lanny McDonald and the 89 Cup winning team. I love this design and I'm so glad Calgary brought it back, if only as an alternate to their current monstrosities.
2007 Wayne Primeau away replica
My photographic skills aside (love the sepia tone, it was an accident), this was as obscure a Flames sweater as I found all night. I actually liked this design, save for the flaming horse logos on the shoulders.
2010 Jarome Iginla Team Canada away replica
2011 Mike Cammalleri home replica
Can we call this a throwback?
In actuality, this guy was fun to chat with and he took our jesting in stride. We need more fans, both home and away, with a sense of humor and self-deprication.
Now for some housecleaning:
There really haven't been any standout Bruins sweaters in the crowds this year. Entirely understandable as most fans seem to have taken a shine to the recent cast of characters donning the spoked B. But in these last few home games, there have been a few that came out of the woodwork that deserve special recognition:
1970 Johnny "Pie" McKenzie away replica
Special points to this guy because I just haven't seen many 1970s throwbacks other than the usual smattering of Orrs, Espositos, Cheevers and Bucyks. Plus, I've had the pleasure of meeting Pie a couple of times. He's a really nice guy.
Late 80's/Early 90's Reggie Lemelin home replica
I've seen a bunch of Andy Moog replicas at the Garden over the years, but there aren't a lot of the player who made up the other half of the best goaltending tandem I've seen play for the Bruins until this year's combo of Timmay and Tuukka.
Late 980's/Early 90's Bobby Carpenter away replica
This is one of my favorite sweaters ever.
To understand why, you need to know that both Bobby and I grew up in Peabody and went to high school at St. John's Prep in Danvers. Sure, he finished up in 1981 and I graduated 13 years later. At the time, he was the highest American ever picked in the NHL entry draft (#3 overall to Washington). I remember looking at old yearbooks in the Prep's campus ministry office once and happened across the 1981 edition. In the back of the book was a full page feature of the day the media came to campus to interview Bobby ahead of the draft. He was big news back then, even making the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing his Prep uniform and labeled "The Can't Miss Kid". As an impressionable youth, this was fascinating and awesome. When the Bruins traded Steve Kasper to the Kings to acquire Carpenter in 1989, I was elated. Harry Sinden had a propensity to stockpile local players, but for the most part they were never start players. Bobby had a couple of 25 goal seasons while wearing the black and gold, but he also missed most of the 90-91 season when he shattered his kneecap when he fell into the endboards in a game against the Habs. His Boston tenure ended when he signed back with the Caps prior to the 1993-4 season.
2010 Zdeno Chara Slovakia men's national team home replica
Sure, I see plenty of USA Tim Thomas sweaters at the Garden as well as the occasional Patrice Bergeron Canada one and there's a guy that has a Marco Sturm Germany sweater, but this was the first Chara or Slovakia one I've seen. Cool.
And finally, the piece de resistance:
1985-6 Claude Julien Quebec Nordiques away replica
This, dear friends, is the early leader for sweater of the year.
I ran into this guy on my way to the Fours before the Montreal game. It blew me away.
Our Claude (is an awesome Claude, btw), played but two seasons for the Nordiques, wearing number 34 for his one game appearance in 1984 before switching to number 12 when he played 13 games the following year.
But it is the combination of a relatively obscure NHL career with a beautiful defunct (ok, relocated) franchise sweater and the fact that the B's were playing Montreal (a team that the Francophile Julien used to coach) that made this so very epic.
That's it for now. Hopefully, I can get back on course with the upcoming tilt against the hated New York Rangers in a battle for Conference supremacy.