Ever since a buddy of mine called me out after my first post, telling me I sounded too much like a fan, I have done my best to not let that creep into my writing. Yes, I realize the beauty of a forum such as this is it gives writers more of a chance to let the emotions of being a fan play out in our writing. I did not, however, want to be that guy. Regardless of what my reasons for taking up this gig were, I wanted my pieces to be a little more objective and a little more insightful.
Tonight, though, was all about being a Bruins fan. For me at least.
As the Boston Bruins geared up to play the Philadelphia Flyers, this wasn’t going to be a game for me to take a technical approach, to dissect or to look for the right angle to break it down, try as I might for the sake of my integrity. I could not get myself to that point. I have been waiting for this game for a long time and the story for me was going to be the nail biting and rollercoaster of emotions through those 60-minutes. There was no way of stopping the fan from coming out.
Emotionally, after the way last season ended and with a best friend who is not only a Flyers fan, but who usually gets the best of you, there was a lot on the line for me Wednesday night as the Bruins met the Flyers for the first time since the horrific collapse by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals last May. Unlike many Bruins fans, I did not take that embarrassing end too hard. Yes, what happened was historically bad, but I felt the Bruins put up a good fight against a far more talented Philadelphia team. Yet, that did not stop Game 7 from stirring up a nice grey cloud and plenty of pre-game drama heading into Wednesday night. From the time I woke up Wednesday morning and went to work until the time I sat down on that barstool to watch the game, all I could do was worry about what was going to happen. My mind was not going to let me be objective. I love getting wrapped up in games like this.
I wanted this win.
The Bruins had been slumping to a point where they looked so bad I could not come up with a single storyline after their last game, Sunday night’s 4-1 loss in Atlanta, while Philadelphia bolsters the second best record in the NHL and the league’s top scoring offense. Ever since Randy Jones dumped Patrice Bergeron into the board back in October of 2007, ending Bergeron’s season, the Flyers seems to have been a team that has had the Bruins number. The Flyers are everything you want in a hockey team: They’re tough, gritty, fast and slick on offense, and have a strong team defense. They can’t be intimidated. They are also everything the Boston Bruins want to be, whenever you hear Bruins brass and Bruins fans talk about getting back to the days of being the “Big, Bad Bruins.” It was Big Brother vs. Little Brother. Woody vs. Presto.
All I could sense was disaster…
I love it when I’m wrong.
Do not fool yourself, though, into thinking that this win was any kind of vengeance for last May. It wasn’t. Tonight was just about this one singular game. About my team standing up against a recent foe who has done nothing but push them around in a laughable manner.
For this game to be any kind of revenge, there needed to be a whole lot more on the line than two November points and the Bruins would have had to dominate and punish the Flyers. If I could get myself to step back and objectively look at the game, I would argue the Flyers outplayed the Bruins the first two periods and probably would have won handedly if not for an anemic Philadelphia power play (0-for-4 on the night, two for their last 37) and a Herculean effort by Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (41 acrobatic saves to record his league-leading fifth shutout of the season). Even still, the Bruins should get credit for actually showing up to play tonight and putting forth an effort of which to be proud. From about 13-minutes left in the third period until the final buzzer, it was the Bruins who manhandled the Flyers, playing lockdown defense and slamming the door in Philadelphia’s face. The Flyers weren’t even given a sniff at a chance to get back into the hockey game. An impressive end to the game for sure, but also one that left me with a lot of questions as the dust settled that the Bruins will need to answer over the course of the next month.
How can a team that looked so lifeless for about two weeks be so utterly dominant out of nowhere?
What is preventing the Bruins from being that team game in and game out?
If the Bruins are undefeated when scoring first, why do they not play a more aggressive style to start the game to ensure they get that lead?
How long can Thomas continue to stand on his head and carry this team?
Is Nathan Horton still a Bruin?
Those arguments, however, are for another night. The Bruins are set to play a lot of hockey in December, so there will be plenty of time to over analyze this team. Tonight is a night to savor and enjoy for the moment for the great game that it was, as long as you are not a Flyers fan. For one night, I say the heck with professionalism. The Bruins are 1-0 in the post-Matt Hunwick era and every Bruins fan should have a smile on their face.
For one night I had a helluva good time being a Bruins fan.
About the Author
Written by Matt Preston
I'm no Heminway or Haggerty, but keeping the dream alive, even if I'm pretty sure my Nana is my only follower. Self-deprecation is key, grammar is optional.