The mid-2000s represented something of a revival for the Boston Bruins. Following the trade of Ray Bourque, two seasons removed from the playoffs and the mind-boggling decision to let Bill Guerin walk away for nothing, the team had settled into a groove and were establishing an identity.
Joe Thornton was installed as captain, and he centered two hard-working wings — Glen Murray and Mike Knuble. Murray was a sniper on the big side, using his size to get in position, find the net and fire them home, averaging 35 goals over a four-season stretch when offense in the NHL cratered. And on the left, Knuble was an unglamorous, yet highly efficient grinder who cleaned up all the garbage around the crease. He went into corners, crashed the net and plowed his way to 30 goals in 2002-03 and 21 more in 2003-04. The three of them were dubbed the “700 Pound Line,” and they sparked a real excitement with a fanbase desperate for something exciting.
Crashing that party, meanwhile, was P.J. Axelsson. Axelsson never topped 36 points in a season, didn’t fight often (though that did happen), hardly spent any time in the penalty box for a top-6 forward. And for a time, there were a number of fans who didn’t think he belonged anywhere near the top 6. Certainly, they weren’t pleased whenever Knuble was swapped out of Thornton’s top line for Axelsson. 
But he was essential to that group’s success. Throughout his 11 years with the Bruins, it could be argued that there was no smarter player than Axelsson on the roster. That hockey sense and willingness to make the right play bailed them out of more danger than he’d get credit for on the stat sheet, or from those in the balcony. Continue reading
I was trying to think earlier: when was the last time I knew for sure that I would be home, all day, every day?
Throw out any year beyond college, since I’ve been thankfully employed for that time. That’s five days a week, minimum, where I know I have to leave the house. College, too, included classes for nine months, and by then I had friends and a part-time job, so even the summers were spoken for.
The friend aspect was lesser in high school, and even middle school, but there were still some days during the summers then — maybe a Friday or Saturday here and there — where I’d have plans and get to leave the house. This basically takes me to sixth grade and earlier, during the summer, sans friends, where I knew I’d be indoors, left to my own devices for entertainment.
I’m not 10 anymore, but I am home. I’m going to be home for some time, and there’s not much else to do. So forgive me if I revert to some pre-teen tendencies, like playing with hockey cards. Continue reading
Posted in Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, Hockey, Hockey cards, Quarantine Cards
Tagged Andy Moog, Bobby Carpenter, Boston Bruins, Cam Neely, Loui Eriksson, Patrice Bergeron, Ray Bourque, Rich Peverley, Sergei Zholtok, Zdeno Chara
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
I have a framed picture of Patrice Bergeron in my kitchen. I’ve had it up wherever I’ve lived since at least 2008, when it was given to me as a kind of joke present. It features Bergeron during his rookie season, in those horrid yellow pooh-stained jerseys the Boston Bruins insisted on wearing for more than a decade, and there’s a thought bubble over his head with an indelicate joke I’ll spare you for now — it’s funny within the context of my apartment but probably less so on the internet. Anyway.
That’s one of a few reminders of Bergeron I keep nearby. There’s a growing collection of hockey cards in the binder I maintain of all things Bruins, and pulled from that is his rookie card, currently sitting on my desk alongside cards of Bobby Orr and Roberto Clemente. And maybe most importantly, there’s a hockey card I keep in the console of my car’s dashboard that I’ll typically toss into my bag whenever I travel. It’s bleached out from the sun, and its plastic protective case is getting pretty scratched and dulled. But it carries on.
★ ★ ★
Tonight, when Boston steps onto the ice at the Garden and the lights blare and finally the linesman drops the puck at center ice to officially begin the 53rd game of the 2018-19 schedule, there’s a decent chance it’ll be Bergeron taking that drop. And if that’s the case, there’s an even better chance he’ll win that draw and the puck will fly back to Zdeno Chara or Charlie McAvoy to trigger a rush up the ice. Notably, it’ll be his 1,000th game, and how he got here is just as impressive as all the things he’s accomplished in that time. 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