Monday, March 30, 2009

Let the countdown begin...

Three in a row.

If you're a fan of the Tampa Bay Lightning fan, this would be something to get excited about. Not so much if you're a fan of the Black and Gold. These guys were reeling off ridiculous streaks at the start of the year. Streaks that made true fans pinch themselves...and then pinch themselves again. Is this REALLY the Bruins? Could they truly be this good???

Boston has been mired in a funk for the last month or so that has seen them remain atop of their division and the conference ONLY because they played such insane hockey in the beginning of the year.

Three in a row. They beat the goalie with the most wins in the history of the game 4-1. One was ugly (thank you, Manny). Last night's game against the Goddamn Flyers (as I'm beginning to think of them) was a great, great game. There was a stretch in the 2nd period where I just couldn't believe the tempo, the effort, and the skill shown by both teams.
Three wins in a row does not make or break a team's habits, good or bad. The Bruins relaxed a bit and thanks to Timmy Thomas, got out of there with a win. The Goddamn Flyers were pushing hard, but Timmy was there with a quick save every single time.

Their scorers are shooting again. The defense is hitting again. Timmy is making crazy saves that make my back groan in pain. Recchi is showing that even at 42, he's a consumate pro that skates and skates and skates. If some of the younger guys (I'm looking at you, Lucic and Kessel) put in the effort that he has every night of his career, they would already be on top of their games instead of the slower pace they seem to be following. Don't get me wrong; Looch and Ol' One Nut have had good seasons, but we all know they can do more.

Boston seems to be shaking the webs loose just in time for the real season to begin. Playoff hockey changes teams. It makes mere mortals gods and makes management question the intestinal fortitude of the so-called superstars.

Case in point: last year when the Bruins snuck in and faced off against the Canadiens, the boys played like Julien had their children hidden in a dungeon somewhere. They played like psychos and pushed it to seven games. The Habs obviously thought that the Bruins were going to roll over, show them their bellies, and pee on themselves. This was not the case.

Now that the playoffs are near, they need to concentrate on playing the hockey that got them to this point. Hard, fast, motivated hockey. Julien expects each player to leave it on the ice after every single shift, regardless of their average time on ice. He has shown that he will reward the players that do this and outright challenge the ones that aren't.

I can't stop thinking that if the Bruins meet the Goddamn Flyers in the playoffs, it will be murderous, brutal hockey. Does anyone remember when the Flyers played the Panthers years ago? The Panthers came in as this fringe team that was expected to go 0 and 4. The battles between Jovanovski and Lindros had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Imagine seven games with Mike Richards (would have made a great Bruin) and the Tree-Hugging Ference battling it out? Imagine Hartnell versus Chara/Stuart/Lucic/everyone else in a Bruins jersey??? These thoughts are getting me excited.

As I've written in the past, an NHL season is a long affair with many ups and downs. The Bruins were almost entirely up this year. They are emerging from really their only down. Just in time.

Just in time to go in and make all sorts of noise. Just in time to show the league that they're not a flash in the pan, just a group of players that have played well together this year. Just in time for Savvy to shake, once and for all, the reputation of a player that will do just enough to get by. Just in time for Chara to show everyone that Lidstrom is no longer the best d-man in the league. Just in time for Timmy to show everyone that he can do this.

The time is now. And holy shit, I can't wait.

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