There’s so much nuance to hockey that it can sometimes take a while watching a player before any inherent greatness becomes obvious. Watch Pavel Datsyuk or Jonathan Toews for the first time, for example, and their overall prowess might not stand out if they’re not putting the puck in the back of the net.
That was not the case for Jarome Iginla. Watch any game, and his virtuosity seemed to jump off the ice immediately.
I covered Iginla’s first game in Boston as a member of the Bruins. My memory — that he had a somewhat shaky first shift, followed by a dominating second swing through the ice — was confirmed by a column I wrote that night. He lined up on the right wing alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic, and from that shift on, he was a powerhouse. He didn’t score a goal, but it was impossible to ignore his impact on the game.
He would score 30 goals as a 36-year-old, tying Patrice Bergeron for the team lead, and was a rock on that top line. He more than filled the gap vacated by Nathan Horton and was a tremendous cog on a team that won the President’s Trophy. And with this week’s news that he’s earned induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in his first year of eligibility, it seems like a good time to look back on that single season in black and gold. Continue reading
Last season, when congregating in large groups to watch a sporting event felt in no way like a special privilege beyond “this is definitely nicer than watching TV at home for the eight thousandth time,” I caught the Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes. The latter of the two teams were apparently celebrating Halloween a few months early and decided to dress up as the Hartford Whalers circa 1991-92.
Fans of the Whalers and that iconic green sweater were understandably excited. It’d been more than 20 years since Peter Karmanos announced he was bailing on New England — before he’d even found a new city for the team — and eventually took the former WHA club to Raleigh, N.C., by way of Greensboro.
Numbers previously retired by the team — including Johnny McKenzie’s no. 19 and Rick Ley’s no. 2 — were put back in circulation. The colors were changed to red, black and white. And until Karmanos sold the team in 2018, any mention of the Whalers would be relegated to the fans — its hardcores who flooded the Hartford mall, and hockey fans in general who never could stand the fact that a team with such a loyal following, who could have had a better history if anyone had ever managed them correctly, was torn away from its home base.
Seeing Carolina wear that sweater after all this time, then, was a little strange. It was supposed to be celebratory, but felt a little like a taunting reminder. Less strange but still nagging to me was the choice in color. I know the green has the numbers and its supporters, but I always preferred the navy blue look, sported by Sean Burke here, from their final seasons in the 1990s. Continue reading
There is hardly the space to shower the correct praise upon all the Bruins who deserve it.
For example: Tuukka Rask is playing at a god-level, to a point that the “what took so long” crowd has conveniently overlooked that he’s been an excellent goaltender in this league for a decade now. Patrice Bergeron is as solid and skilled a player as one could hope to be. Brad Marchand is a professional jerk in all the best ways. David Pastrnak is a kid at heart who also happens to be a total sniper. David Backes is chasing a dream. Zdeno Chara is defying time and age and remains absolutely terrifying.
And those are the primary storylines as the Bruins line up against the St. Louis Blues in an effort to get their name on the Stanley Cup for the seventh time. Missing in there is David Krejci, quietly leading his line, playing in every scenario and generally being the silent stalwart he’s been since earning his place in 2007.
For a group that cherishes its history and loves to fete its longtime players, Krejci doesn’t get the attention he likely deserves. But through this most recent playoff run, he’s done nothing to damage his place in history. Continue reading
The Bruins had a nice thing going recently. They’d won five in a row and they were just about back to full health (with just Charlie McAvoy out, and he’s reported to be on his way back soon). Solidifying one of the three automatic spots in an increasingly challenging Atlantic Division seems more likely now than it did a few weeks ago. Just about everything’s going well here.
Naturally, all this made the Capitals’ arrival in Boston perfectly timed.
For the 14th consecutive game, the Capitals had their way with the Boston. There are a number of reasons and explanations for all 14 of these losses, I suppose — timing, injuries, roster turnover, etc. — but it’s hard not to feel particularly victimized by goalie Braden Holtby and the indominable Alex Ovechkin. Continue reading
Welcome to the first days of the dead of winter. Work schedules have resumed, unabated by holiday cheer and all the festive goodies that come with it. Snow is starting to appear and the days are getting colder and colder as they ramp up towards the real stuff we’re likely due in February.
So when I come home, it’s nice to change into something comfortable, sit by my desk and have something pleasant to focus on, possibly in the background or possibly with rapt attention. A hockey game is great for this, of course. There’s the swishing of skates and pucks against the ice, the roars and groans of a crowd when appropriate, goal horns and whistles to signal your more significant moments, on and on.
But it’s more than just the sound. It helps to have a team to root for, and the Bruins have been that team for most of my life, with the added benefit of actually becoming a good team for most of my adult life. There’s Jack Edwards screaming about some improbable save or grave injustice, there’s Patrice Bergeron winning another faceoff, there’s Zdeno Chara clearing pucks and bodies away from Tuukka Rask. The constants are comforting, and the competitiveness just feeds into that compelling nature.
Another competitive constant has to be Torey Krug. He’s a frantic ball of energy on the blue line, and he’s prone to the occasional ridiculous play.