In a game that was over 1:14 after it started, Thursday night at the Garden the Bruins put together a full 60 minute dismantling of the Calgary Flames. 12 players recorded points, including 3 point games from Horton, Seguin, Bergeron, Krejci, and Pouliot. Two goal nights from both Bergeron and Horton helped pace the Bruins largest offensive night in 13 years. Add to that Tuukka Rask's 3rd shutout of the season, which improved his running tally of 1 goal over the last 275 minutes between the pipes, and you have another thorough domination by the Black and Gold. The score and shots on goal differential (42-25 in favor of the Bruins) were not even entirely indicative of how one sided this game was. As Andy Brickley called it, "Men against boys". The Bruins dominated long stretches of the game and had offensive zone possessions which frequently lasted minutes due to the non-stop fore check and crisp cycle game. The Bruins ability to grind and their killer instinct were both on display Thursday night. The Bruins got on top early and never looked back or took their foot off the pedal. Late in the game, the boys were still blocking shots, getting sticks in passing lanes, and being responsible in all three zones. In short, the fundamentals never stopped and we watched Bruins hockey in its purest form. Scoring from all four lines, energy, effort, and consistency. With the score 8-0 midway through the 3rd period, it would have been very easy for the Bruins to start looking forward to Saturday's rematch with the Vancouver Canucks. Instead, they continued their dominance and looked very much like they were now playing to keep Calgary off the board. A tripping penalty on Gregory Campbell put the PK on the ice, and their hard work once again yielded an opportunity with Danielle Paille netting his 7th of the year. This trait is something we did not see in prior years. The Boston Bruins relaxed when they got up, and that usually led to some interesting finishes, including some very frustrating losses. This team knows they have a target on their backs, and they are playing with a chip on their shoulder and a swagger that is a true pleasure to watch. This is not a team that is just getting the bounces or riding a hot goaltender. This team appears to be poised for another run. A team that plays their system and plays it well. Their team depth, offensive prowess, defensive mentality and ferocious work ethic (and attitude) can carry this team once again to the pinnacle of hockey.
Saturday, January 7th. It's the day all Bruins fans have had circled on their calendars for months. The return of the Vancouver Canucks. Sure, it is only another two points at stake and the winner will not be hoisting anything on Saturday afternoon. However, the pure hate that grew in that 7 game series, players and fans alike, has not been forgotten. I will not pretend to know the players mindset right now, maybe it is just another game for them. I doubt it, given the character, integrity, and attitude of this franchise, but maybe. So I will stick to what I know best, the mindset of the rabid fan. The mindset of the people that flooded the garden last June, sat on the couch, or took over the local sports bar. The person who watched as Raffi bleeping Torres stole game one. Watched Alex Burrows and "The Bite". Then, 11 seconds into overtime, he is the hero of game 2. Got excited for it to shift back to Boston for game 3, and then watched in silence as Nathan Horton lay on the ice. Sick to my stomach and unbelievably furious, I could not believe the turn of events for my Bruins. Then something clicked with the start of the second period. Inspiration was found. Confidence was gained. Someone poked the bear and the rest is history. Tim Thomas clearing out his own crease. The Sedin punching bag. The flat tires. Lord Stanley being returned home. It is all history now. But for those of us that truly love this sport, we will never forget where we were, what we did, what we felt on the night Big Z and the boys got to lift the cup. You know what else we will never forget? The unthinkable level of despise for the Vancouver Canucks that was reached by all of us. So, to some, the matinee on Saturday may be just the 38th game in a long season for a measly two points against a Western Conference team we usually see once a year. But to the masses in the city of Boston, in New England, and to true Bruins fans everywhere, this is about more. It is about putting another exclamation point on last spring. It's about showing the hangover is really over. And it is about telling a Western Conference powerhouse that if you want Lord Stanley, you are going to have to come through Boston to get it. That, my friends, will prove to be no easy task. Saturday the puck drops at 1:00. Let's go Black and Gold!
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