From the Boston Sports Fan perspective, our Bruins tend to fly under the radar in community circles. Local residents say they run into some of the younger, single “B’s” in coffee shops and convenient stores around the city, blending in with the masses. Let’s face it – if 6’10” Kevin Garnett walks down Hanover Street looking for an Italian Bistro, you’re gonna notice him. If Tom Brady’s rolling down Boylston Street in an Audi you’ve only dreamt about (and didn’t realize actually existed), he’s gonna draw some attention. Even mild-mannered Jon Lester is shown on TV enough that if he walked into the same office elevator as you, you’re gonna say, “Hey Jon! Nice start last night!” But, Andrew Ference of the Bruins grabbing a couple scoops of ice cream on a hot day? Sorry – he’s gonna seem like a regular guy.
NHL players are less identifiable than their MLB, NFL, and NBA comtemporaries. Think about it – you watch an NHL game, even on a state-of-the-art HD LED, and all of the players wear helmets and faceguards, and are constantly moving. Kind of tough to get a good glipse of them. This is the exact opposite of those old days when fans could memorize every obsessive-compulsive iteration of Nomar Garciaparra’s at-bat “preparations”, from pulling the gloves to adjusting the helmet.
When an NHL team scores one precious goal, it is frequently the result of hard hitting and precision passing. Very rarely do you see a breakaway in which stars like Sydney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin steal the puck and go the distance for the unassisted score. And unlike baseball (in which teams are often propelled to victory by power-hitting sluggers with extra-base hits or flamethrowing starting pitchers amassing multiple strikeouts), so often does a hockey goal result from a deflection by a player, who didn’t even shoot the puck, in the right place at the right time. Such is life.
Our current version of the Bruins is on the verge of another run toward Lord Stanley’s Cup (which would be their 2nd in 3 years). Since I moved into my First Own House 4 years ago, several of Boston’s pro sports teams have performed on Championship Stages. The Celtics took Kobe and the Lakers to the 7-Game Limit in 2010 before falling short. In February 2012, the Patriots led the Giants in the second half of yet another Super Bowl before again succumbing to the New Yorkers. But, the only World Championship to be earned in the ErnHouse Era is the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup.
We all remember the tale: Seven heart-wrenching games against rival Montreal followed by redemption against the Philadelphia Flyers (the team that had rallied back from a 3-0 Series deficit and 3-0 Game 7 deficit to eliminate the Bruins in 2010). Then, Seven more chapters against a UMass-Lowell kid (goalie Dwayne Roloson) and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals. Finally, the 3-2 Cup Finals deficit to Vancouver, the Boston Beatdown of the Canucks in Game 6 at the Garden, and then the icing on the cake with the Game 7 clincher in British Columbia! The heroes: Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand.
It’s been a different story this time around, with new stars – Goalie Tuukka Rask, a more seasoned Tyler Seguin, a healthy Nathan Horton. And when Dennis Seidenberg went down to injury, the young prospects have stepped up – Dougie Hamilton and Torry Krug. The B’s are one step away from a Dream Matchup against Sydney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It would bring back flashbacks of the 1990 and 1991 Conference Finals against Pittsburgh – the battles between Ray Bourque/Cam Neely and Mario Lemieux/Kevin Stevens/Jaromir Jagr. Then, could we even speculate on a Stanley Cup Finals against the defending champion LA Kings – with the Big Ern’s BC Orientation buddy Rod Scuderi? Or even a matchup against former Bruin star Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks?
Perhaps the Big Ern’s getting ahead of himself. But, relax, it’s Memorial Day Weekend, and the Big Bad Bruins are deep into Lord Stanley’s Playoffs. Our HOMEtown TEAM!