The Bruins Have a Hard Road Ahead
When it comes to the NHL, the Bruins are on everyone’s ‘hot sheet’ at the moment. Battling for over an hour on Saturday, the Bruins finally won an extremely hard-earned victory over the seemingly unbeatable Nashville Predators. But the Bruins are certainly not complaining. In fact, they’ve talked to reporters and told them, as well as their fans, that these hard-edged battles that seem like they‘re going into the proverbial war zone, will actually help them as they move ahead into a schedule that gets even tougher with each and every game they’ll have to play.
And tough is a understatement when it comes to tomorrow. Tuesday, the Bruins will host the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers at TD Garden. And all they’re hoping and praying for is the fact that the ‘high’ they are on from their victory over the Predators will bring them to a win against what many assume, is the unbeatable team now in the NHL. Heck, even when the Rangers do lose a game, it’s as if the world simply doesn’t see it.
On January 21st, 2012, the Bruins actually lost in overtime to the glorious Rangers, and now they want their revenge. After the Rangers game is history, the Bruins will then begin a hugely exhausting six-game road trip that will span over eleven days and bring them to places they don’t want to see.
Now, yes, the Rangers are still on the top of the list when it comes to fan happiness, but the Boston Bruins are no ‘slouch’ when it comes to making their fans happy. This team, based in Massachusetts, are very popular members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference. Dating all the way back to 1924, the team is the league’s third-oldest, as well as being THE oldest in the United States. An Original Six Franchise, with the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, their upcoming nemeses, the Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins have a long and happy history.
Six Stanley Cup championships to their names – the fourth most all-time, and second most of ANY American NHL team behind the Red Wings, the Bruins home arenas (the Boston Garden beginning in 1928 to the TD Garden since 1995) have been places of victory and celebration. Being the reigning Stanley Cup champions, defeating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, the Bruins are holding their heads high and trying to make the impossible ‘two in a row’ for their Boston fans.
The Nashville Predators were certainly unhappy after they gave it their absolute all on Saturday. Their 4-3 shootout loss had Nashville defenseman, Ryan Suter, coming out quite loud and angry as he criticized his own club’s performance: “We came out slow in the second period. We were playing like a minor hockey team,’’ the alternate captain practically yelled into the microphone. “The second half of the second period, we started to play a little better. We were fortunate, very fortunate, to get even one point today.’’
That so-called minor league team, however, was very, very close to making the Bruins end up in the losing column. The real ‘hard hit’ came when Milan Lucic scored a goal late in regulation – a miracle to some, including Bruins coach, Claude Julien. “It was a 1-1 hockey game. It’s like, ‘This is what you’re going to be facing from here on in.’ We can’t expect to have blowouts like we did earlier in the season. They’re going to be tight games, and we need to learn to win those types of games. We have to be able to stay focused, positive, and find ways to win those.’’
After the head-to-head with the Rangers, on Wednesday the Bruins will visit Montreal to start their six-game road trip – the longest of their season. And if the Bruins are going to win, these will not be easy. In fact, the next seven games may make the Predators look like a tiptoe through the icy tulips.
Now when it comes to the ultimate trade deadline the Bruins have less than two weeks to make any decisions they feel necessary After Saturday’s game they may just want to stand as they are, especially seeing as that the demand for NHL players is far higher than the supply at the moment. Prices are skyrocketing in NHL salaries just as much as they are for America’s fuel tanks. Even before the start of the Predators game, there were only four teams who were ten or more points out of a playoff spot: Carolina, Anaheim, Edmonton, and Columbus. And, coincidentally, these clubs and many others are still sitting on the fence trying to figure out whether they will become buyers or sellers.
But fans really do have to remember that this is anyone’s season coming up. Although the Boston Bruins refocused their thoughts and effort with a couple of extremely hard practices, they did have to come off one humiliating loss. Without Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron’s shootout goals that lifted the Bruins to a 4-3 comeback win over the Nashville Predators, another loss could just as easily have occurred.
Boston forced overtime when Milan Lucic scored a power-play goal with 67 seconds left in regulation after goalie Tim Thomas was pulled for an extra skater, and the Bruins walked away with this victory because of a shootout against Pekka Rinne, who had a solid game. Fisher’s goal had given Nashville a 3-2 lead with 3:32 left in regulation, but Lucic tied it by scoring off a rebound when he slipped a backhander just past the diving Rinne. Fisher came charging down the left wing, circled the net, and lost the puck briefly before slipping it under Thomas.
The Predators, out-shot 41-22, went long stretches without getting the puck out of their zone, but the 6-0 loss at Buffalo – the Bruins worst defeat since being beaten by Toronto 8-2 in March 2008 – did prove that anything and everything is about to happen.