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Friday, October 22, 2010

Jump aboard the Black & Gold bandwagon while there is still room

If the Boston Bruins go on to do something special in the spring (namely end a 39 year drought for a Stanley Cup), I can proudly say that my buddy Rick and I were on the ground floor of some history.

One of my best friends from college and I were in Loge 7 last night for the Bruins' home opener against the Washington Capitals and it was a great time to be a Masshole as the B's (4-1-0) won convincingly 4-1 at the TD Garden.

It was Boston's fourth straight victory as Tim Thomas (38 saves, 4-0-0) was in between the pipes for the fourth game in a row and he looked like the Vezina trophy winner of two seasons ago, rather than the hobbled bum that was stapled to the bench last season behind Tuukka Rask.

Washington (4-3-0) has been one of the most high-octane offenses in the NHL the past few seasons but as their postseason chokes attest, that formula falls apart when the game changes in the playoffs (just ask the San Jose Sharks). It's all about goaltending, defense and timely scoring in that order when the results really count.

If I could bottle up any crowd in professional sports around here, no doubt it would be the Bruins. The prices get hiked up every season, the B's continue to epically fail in the playoffs and yet the residents of South Boston, Winthrop, Revere, etc. continue to eat it up. They love their predictable hard rock soundtracks and you can't accuse people that go to Bruins games of being frauds.

You go to Patriots games to drink in a parking lot, to Red Sox games to be seen (and scope out smokeshows in the summer temps.) and to Celtics games for the party atmosphere. There's nothing sexy about Bruins fans, quite the opposite when you see most of them up close, but it's all authentic blood, guts and cheap light beer (that they'll gladly spill on you after a goal). Kind of like they just stepped off the set as extras for The Town, I can't say enough about it.

Even in the home opener, we'll boo Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder for being underachieving (former) and overpaid (latter) bums but we'll still cheer Ryder for potting a sweet power-play goal in the first period last night from Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin. That came with 28 seconds left in the first period, a turning point heading into the locker room.

Rookie Jordan Caron, who is playing out of his mind, made it 2-0 at 2:22 into the second period. Bergeron found him with a pretty no-look feed from behind the net and he roofed it over Sergei Varlamov (30 saves). Matt Hunwick also assisted.

Besides Seguin and Caron, the other real notable Garden debut was for Nathan Horton. He continued his torrid start with a power-play goal at 12:16 in the second period. Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic assisted the ex-Florida Panther, who skated into a soft spot in the Caps' defensive zone and fired a slap shot that had just enough oomph to trickle into the net.

Thomas' shutout was erased in the third period as he cleared it right to Washington forward Jason Chimera but nobody really minded. Boston captain Zdeno Chara added his club's third power-play tally (after coming into the game with one as a team while Washington hadn't allowed one PP goal) with 16 seconds left in the game. Blake Wheeler and Johnny Boychuk assisted on Chara's thunderbolt that sent an already tipsy Garden crowd back to the surrounding bars after the game for more opening night merriment.

The Rangers come to the Garden on Saturday night.

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