Category Archives: Bruin History

Nathan Horton Montage and Reaction to Ovation: Game 6 in Boston

 

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The Boston Bruins: A Code of Integrity

For many of us, it is clear that our Boston Bruins embody integrity. Throughout the regular season, instead of hearing rumors about extracurricular drunken player excursions or domestic abuse charges, we are bombarded with charity events. Our Boston Bruins have a captain who has climbed Mount Kilimanjero; Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara are also involved in Right to Play, whose mission is to improve the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world “by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace.” (Source)

The Boston Bruins certainly make mistakes, like any group of mortals, and nothing is more indicative of this fact than the now infamous green finger event involving Andrew Ference. When he shows us his middle finger, however, we’re shocked exactly because such behavior is uncharacteristic our Boston Bruins. The last time we drafted a rat like Brad Marchand, for instance, it was two and a half decades ago. But even Marchy is loved because although he’s a regular disturber, he doesn’t stoop to Averian antics or resort to feminine antics involving his teeth.

Marc Savard was also involved in a biting incident, as we know, and although there was speculation as to whether Carcillo was tugging on Savard’s front teeth, no one thought this was acceptable behavior, if it did indeed take place. But let’s not shame the memory of one of the best centers ever to wear a Bruins jersey. Marc Savard, who stands 5’9″, was always the first to jump to the defense of his teammates and wasn’t afraid to stir it up. He was also not the kind of player to stoop to the level of cheap-shotting highly respected players with the moral character of someone like Patrice Bergeron. The same cannot be said of players like Alex Burrows, who had, admittedly, toned it down this past regular season.

Had the cowardly Burrows even transpired with some other player, like Brad Marchand or Milan Lucic, there would likely not have been much commotion regarding the incident. But the outrage wasn’t primarily about his non-suspension, even though Jarkko Ruutu was suspended 2 games for the exact same act. The outrage wasn’t over the scrum, either. It was over the fact that the well-respected Bergeron entered the scrum merely to push aside the instigating 3rd man in. There was no observable hostility of cheap-shotting on his part.

Scrums are part of the game, and sometimes, so are cheap shots. Yet you won’t find Lucic sucker-punching a player like Kevin Bieksa or conveniently falling over rival Carey Price with intent to injure–you can take that promise to the bank. With the aggression of the Boston Bruins comes a code of conduct centered on honor and respect.

Emotions can get the better of you in intense contexts. The Boston Bruins, despite their undeserved reputation, are rumored in some circles to be ‘dirty’. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a Boston Bruins fan, we are often taken aback by teams like the Philadephia Flyers and the Montreal Canadiens for this very reason–we forget that not everyone follows the same code.

The code of integrity in question was highlighted by Kevin Bieksa himself last month, when he argued that his team had crossed a line that put into jeopardy the integrity of the game of hockey itself:

“I know guys will do whatever it takes for a power play to win a game,” Bieksa said. “But sometimes they’re crossing that line of integrity. I think for the better of the game, for the good of the game we need people to stay on that line and not cross it, and not dive and exaggerate for calls.” (Source)

Our Boston Bruins are not merely playing for the Stanley Cup in this final round; they are playing for each other. This is what they do. Their last game with the Tampa Bay Lightning was one of the most intense and hard-hitting hockey games many of us had ever witnessed, and not one penalty call was made. To the admission of both coaches, this was not due to officiating leniency but to the fact that both teams respected the boundaries of physical play.

There is a place for hard-hitting hockey, and many of us want to keep it that way. There is also a place for fighting, and many of us very much want it to stay that way. There is no place, however, in a Stanley Cup final for hits aimed at the termination of budding careers or feminine antics of the kind that will be permanently recorded in the history books. If the Boston Bruins lose this series, they will do so with integrity. If they get their name on the Stanley Cup, it will be for their ability to play hockey.

Win or lose, as the world watches these two teams battle it out for the greatest prize of all, one great result that will come out of this Stanley Cup final is that the world will be able to judge for themselves the character of this Boston Bruins team. This is a we can be proud of. This is a team we’re already proud of.

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The Cult of Lucic

The Lucic Revival of Boston Bruins Hockey

The hearts of long-standing Boston Bruins fans have been broken throughout the present post season over the performance of former golden boy Milan Lucic. For those just tuning in, Milan Lucic brought life to the the Boston Bruins. It was only 2 years ago that Lucic arrived on the scene with his “board-rattling and glass-shattering hits and bare-knuckle beatdowns. The response elicited by that style of play shocked even Lucic.” (August 2009) Suddenly, “Boston was a hockey town again.” It’s only since Lucic’s arrival on the scene that Boston started to hear this phrase again after a drought that started after the departure of ‘Bam Neely’–the goal-scoring destroyer who originally inspired the term “power forward.”

Recall that in 2009,
Lucic, along with popular tough guy Shawn Thornton and imposing captain Zdeno Chara, struck a chord with fans longing for the days of the Big, Bad Bruins and Don Cherry’s “Lunchpail Gang.” (August 2009)

Coach Claude Julien took a chance on Milan Lucic, who couldn’t even manage to get on a roster that would allow him to be seen by scouts. This was perhaps the most impressive decision Julien ever made. Despite Lucic’s sluggish skating ability and seemingly clumsy style, Julien hunted him down, decided he would teach the kid to skate and capitalized on his physical presence. Boy did this pay off for the Bruins in the following 2 playoff seasons, in which Lucic became the talk of the town and the most hated player amongst oopponents–hands down. No one on the team cared whether Looch ever scored a goal. His mere presence was enough to create the kind of momentum that would bring the Bruins a 4-0 sweep in the playoffs against their long-time rivals, the favored Habs, and a 6-game win against Ryan Miller in 2010. They finished second that year in the goals against category, second only to Vancouver, and finished first the year before. To say that Lucic played a big role in this area would be a wild understatement. Getting past the bulldozer, big Z by his side, was a feat every team dreaded. These were the Big Bad Bruins.

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Disaster

For those of us who experienced the transition of this team through the cult of Lucic, the golden boy’s current performance is not just disappointing, it is a disaster. In the last playoff season, Lucic averaged one minute of PP time on ice per game and had 2 PP goals in 13 games. He also administered 46 hits and did wonders for the momentum of the game. The same goes for the previous playoff year in which he played 10 games. He didn’t score in his 42 seconds of PP time per game that year but had a total of ZERO giveaways and administered 37 hits. The momentum he added to the game is not something you’re going to read off his numbers, however, and this constitutes the biggest hit of all to this team.

This playoff season, Lucic has accumulated 16 giveaways in 15 games and only 6 takeaways. Number of hits: 36. He had more hits in 10 games in 2009, but more importantly, the nature of those hits are far from awe-inspiring and they don’t belong in the same category. He’s a shadow of himself on many levels.

Yet we cannot lay blame upon the man himself as though he refuses to be better. There is no doubt that he wants to be better.

The present puzzle isn’t going to be solved by reminiscing and rewarding Lucic with PP minutes for his performance in previous years. His time on ice must be reduced. He is almost single-handedly neutralizing the first line.

If he cannot be moved to another line on pain of disrupting the team, then he must at the very least be removed from the PP. He isn’t earning it. There is no conceivable justification for having him on the ice 5 on 4.

Milan Lucic was not the sole reason why the Bruins gave up a 3-goal lead in Game 4 against Tampa, but consider this. He is a very significant factor in the first line equation, he is currently dulling the PP and he assisted Tampa’s winning goal. Had the Bruins scored one PP goal in Game 4, they might have won that game despite their other blunders. Similarly, had the first line produced just one 5-on-5 goal, The Bruins might very well have won that game.

This is not the time to accuse Milan Lucic of bringing down the team, but it might just be the time to point the finger at Claude Julien for his first line and PP choices. Let him off the hook for not calling a time-out in the 2nd period and focus on the real issues (in any case, Tampa didn’t score again after the 3rd goal in the second period, so a time-out at the time would likely not have prevented further damage). Let Julien off the hook for choosing to play his defensive system that led to a breakthrough in finding a way across Montreal’s trap, and in neutralizing Stamkos, St. Louis and Lecavalier in a Game 3 shut-out.

Do not let Julien off the hook, however, for his PP and offensive line choices in the present playoff round, which has caused even atheists to turn to prayer after witnessing the tragedy that was Game 4. Do not let Julien off the hook for seeing to it that the only Bruins forward with more PP time logged is David Krejci. This is inexcusable and there is no jusitification for Lucic’s presence on the PP. That feeling of dread we experience when a Bruins PP is forthcoming, for some of us, has turned into a dread of seeing the number 17.

Make no mistake. We love our golden boy. We still belong to the cult of Lucic because we know just how big and bad he can be. But we’re facing a rival cult right now, and that’s the cult of Boucher, whose team is happy to sacrifice it all–even in the face of a 105.9mph slapshot. And let’s be honest: Many of you didn’t think the Bruins could make it this far. But they have, and it’s no longer enough to have knocked off the 2 greatest rivals in recent history. It’s time to show Boucher and his disciples what this team can do.

We all want Lucic back but removing him from the front lines isn’t treason. The focus must be on winning and yesteryear won’t matter Wednesday as our Bruins play the most difficult game of the post-season to date.

The New Boston Bruins: Mirroring History

As this organization progresses, it begins to look more and more like the team that took so much pride in wearing the jersey. The Boston Bruins we’ve seen this season are alive. They come back. They do not relent. Needless to say, this is reminiscent of the Big Bad Bruins that personified greatness.

Nate the Great Horton OT Goal, Handshakes & Celebrations, Game 7

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