Not to sound Cliche... but that truly was a classic. The Bruins came out pretty well, up until Thornton got trounced. That seemed to set them back for the next 2 periods. They seemed to find their stride right after the Fenway fathful performed a rousing rendition of Sweet Caroline.
Now as much as Neil Diamond has an effect on people, I'm not suggesting that he was the reason for the outcome of this game. However, that definately got the crowd back into it. From that point until the first as scored, the Bruins fans seemed to wake up from the slumber that the Bruins put them in for the first two and a half periods. When the first goal was scored, Fenway truly exploded. Moment of pure joy. It also put a damper on the Philly faithful. Philly fans are obnoxious, as they had been all game. However, their expression changed drastically after the first goal was scored.
When the Flyers had about 6 chances in a second and a half in OT, but failed to score the putaway goal, it became clearly evident that this was the Bruins day. When Bergeron set up Sturm right in front and the puck found the back of the net, it was the most deafening sound these ears have ever heard.
This game was storybook to say the least. It is also something that could be a catalyst for a big second half of the season. Watching the team after the OT goal, they seemed like they came together that much more. This will be a big drawing point of energy for the rest of the season. Combine that with the playoff experience they now have, and they could definately be a surprise throughout the playoffs. The B's have seen the playoffs from the bottom and top of the standings, so they definately have more awareness of what to expect in the postseason. Their chances for the rest of the year are looking very well. Could be a great first half of 2010 for the B's.
Then, looking to the offseason, it's going to be a dicey one. Patrice Bergeron is a UFA after next season. Locking him up long term will be the number one priority in this upcoming offseason. Bergeron in my opinion is one of the best young players in the NHL. Yes, he is still a young player. He is only 24, younger than Johnny Boychuk. He is in his 7th Professional season, so he seems much older, but he is a great young veteran. Hands down choice for next Bruins captain. Look for him to get a 10 or so year deal worth similar money to Savard.
The Bruins will have 47.071 million dollars locked up next year. The salary cap barely raised this year, so lets just say that is raises a big this coming offseason, say to 58 million. That leaves the Bruins with about 11 million in cap room. Players coming off the payroll include Blake Wheeler, Dan Paille, Mark Recchi, Steve Begin, Vladimir Sabotka, Shawn Thornton, Derek Morris, Andrew Ference, Mark Stuart, Johnny Boychuk, Adam Mcquaid and Andy Wozniewski. A few of these guys are more than likely gone. I would say Morris and Ference are probably gone. I wouldn't be surprised to see Begin walk. 12 points in 40 games for almost a million, not so much. He has an A on his chest, and definately not for his on ice work, so he could possibly be brought back for his off ice intangibles, but I'm not completely convinced.
As for the other FA's, it is going to get dicey. Wheeler could command a bit of a price tag. I would say if we could sign him for 2-3 million, lock him up, if not, he might be walking. Paille has been a huge surprise for the B's. He won't command much of a price tag, so I see him in a Bruins jersey for a long time to come. I feel like when we look back in 10 years, he is the next PJ. I have a feeling this isn't Recchi's last season. He will probably be back next year. He is the Bruins third leading scorer this year, but he is still old, so he will probably be back for the same amount as he made last year. Thornton and Sabotka will also sign for about the same. Boychuk could probably be signed for a million and a half or so. Stuart for about 2. Let's assume these moves are made. Wheeler for 3 Million, Paille for 1.5, Recchi for 1, Sabotka and Thornton for 1, Boychuk for 1.5 and Stuart for 2. That leaves us with 58 million locked up, right under the salary cap, and the opening night roster as follows :
Mark Savard, Patrice Bergeron, Michael Ryder, David Krejci, Marco Sturm, Blake Wheeler, Danny Paille, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic, Zach Hamill, Vladamir Sabotka, Shawn Thornton, Byron Bitz, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Wideman, Mark Stuart, Matt Hunwick, Johnny Boychuk and probably another rookie defenseman, with Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask minding the net.
The Bruins will be fairly cash strapped, especially if they resign Wheeler. If they let Wheeler walk, they could make a run at Coburn, Corvo or Colaiacovo.
It is going to be a dicey offseason, it should be interesting to see what the Bruins do.