Caught the penultimate fake season tilt at the TD Banknorth Garden (by my lonesome, as I thought), here are some notes. Feedback would be great, because my plan is on doing this with every game I see in person this season. So if it’s boring and long-winded (ha! The Jumbotron doesn’t know the meaning of the word “long” when it comes to blog posts!) give me the heads up, and I’ll condense in the future.
- Got my pre-game meal – a beef burrito with the works – from Julie at Villa Mexico. If you go to the Garden at all and haven’t heard of Villa Mexico, it’s totally worth the visit. Tucked away inside the Grampy’s Gas Station on Cambridge St. in Beacon Hill, Julie makes burritos, tacos, and tamales by hand. They’re really tasty, and the only disadvantage, compared to established burrito joints like Anna’s, is that the burritos take 5-10 minutes because they’re grilled, not steamed. So good. BEST SALSA IN THE WORLD.
- Walked into the Pro Shop in the hopes of purchasing a David Krejci jersey to wear this year. I’ve normally stayed away from buying player jerseys because I’d feel like a tool wearing the jersey of a player who no longer plays for the Bruins (not that I think you’re a tool, Mister-Wears-A-Kyle McLaren-Jersey-Guy, but…okay, you’re kind of a tool), so I’ve stayed away from guys like Patrice Bergeron and, of course, Phil Kessel. I was willing to make the Krejci commitment, only to find that they don’t have Krejci jerseys for sale, only through special order. Oh well, guess I’ll get a Blake Wheeler jersey next year, and stick to my away whites for the rest of this season. Lord knows I’m never going to wear my Whalers sweater to the Garden again.
- Rob Simpson was autographing copies of his book in the Pro Shop. And when I say autographing, I mean that literally. His handler, or whoever, wrote the inscription and then slid the book over to Rob to sign. Really? You’re Rob F’ing Simpson, not John Buccigross Updike. I like(d) Rob Simpson, though. I thought he was kind of goofy, and Rubber Biscuit was always worth watching if nothing else was on. I’m being honest when I say I’ll miss him during NESN telecasts this year. Good luck with future endeavours, Rob. You know, because you’re totally reading this.
- P.J. Axelsson wore the ‘A’ in today’s game. I’m going to take that as a sign that he’s going to stick around for at least the first few months of the season. Good. While he’s not exactly irreplacable, he’s someone whose benefit to the team far outweighs the detriment of his cap hit. While we’re on the subject, Peter Schaefer didn’t play today, probably still resting his groin/hip. It’s not my place to say that a decent, honest man deserves to lose his salary or be sent to work in a place like Providence, but if the Bruins need to cut salary and make the team better at the same time, how can Peter Schaefer NOT be the top candidate to go? Hey, Papa Chiarelli, you fucked up. It’s okay, you’re allowed to make mistakes every once in a while. Pobody’s nerfect. Please admit it, and let’s move on.
- I had to do a double-take when I saw that Blake Wheeler was only on the ice for 12:08, it definitely seemed like a lot more than that. I’ve gone on the record (not on the blog, I just noticed, but in various comment forums) as saying that Wheeler, for lack of experience, among other things, needs to start the season in Providence. Having seen him play, I say keep him in Boston. Holy fuck, is that guy big. And he can move, and protect the puck…just like EVERYBODY’S been saying! I had to see it with my own eyes, I guess. He took a dumb penalty today, but whatever. He just looks NHL-ready, and nobody was really saying that about Milan Lucic at the start of last season. I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m excited.
- Aaron Ward landed on his ankle funny in the 1st period and had to be helped off the ice. He returned later and finished second in ice time to Chara, but I thought it was way more serious when he was writhing on the ice. Today’s game had Ward and Chara paired, with Alberts and Wideman, followed by Hunwick and Hnidy. We’ll see what happens when Ference and Stuart are healthy, and back in the mix, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the defense go unchanged this season from last. Hunwick’s got some serious wheels, but he’s too small, and he looked to be a little too aggressive going into the Islander’s zone. More than once, I saw a forward (Bergeron, specifically, in the 3rd, but there were other instances) taking up Hunwick’s position on the backcheck, while Hunwick rushed to recover, behind the play. I want to say that’s what led to Jon Sim’s tie-breaking goal, but I can’t be certain Hunwick was on the ice for that.
- Marco Sturm looked like the most skilled player on the ice, giving 100% every shift and handling the puck like Dwayne Robertson. The dude did it all except get his shots on net. Much improved passing from him, I noticed.
- I was eager to get a look at Kyle Okposo on the Islanders, but I barely noticed him play. I even texted John during the second, saying that he wasn’t dressed. He was, and he played 18 minutes, but he didn’t do anything that caught my attention. Mike Comrie, on the other hand, could score 40 goals a year lined up with Marc Savard. Too bad that the two of them combined wouldn’t be able to ride most roller coasters. Also, I’d feel uncomfortable rooting for a guy who’s lapping up Good Charlotte’s sloppy seconds.
- Marc Savard needs to shoot more. A lot more. Several times, he had great looks at the net, and just passed, trying to set somebody else up. He would also turn the puck over in traffic instead of holding on for a moment to let the play develop.
- That guy who works for the balcony-level souvenir shop and wears the foam bear claws, beckoning children to enter using some weird form of tai chi, is still there. He’s that perfect mix of awesome and creepy, I’m glad he’s back for another season. Also, Crazy Dancing Joe didn’t make it to the game, but I think we have his heir apparent; that crazy-eyed shirtless five-year old needs to dance at every home game, or at least have that slo-mo clip of him played during TV timeouts this year. He definitely got the loudest cheers of the day.
- I’m still enamored with Vladimir Sobotka. He plays so hard, and I finally figured out why. He’s ineffective when he doesn’t give it his all. Case in point: he tried to check Bill Guerin behind the Islanders net in the 1st; Sobotka wasn’t going full speed, maybe 85%, and just bounced right off Guerin. He made sure to head right to the bench after that. By the way, don’t boo Billy Guerin, okay, TD Banknorth Garden? He was good while he was on the Bruins and shitty when he wasn’t. Be thankful for that.
- I’ve been saying it all summer, where it totally counted as slander and libel, but now I can say it for real: Michael Ryder is fucking useless. Why don’t we waive him? The Canucks offered him the same amount of money, I bet they’d snap him up off the wire.
- Bruins were outshot 12-4 in the first period, and 36-29 for the game. This against an Islanders team that was backstopped by Joey Mac(donald) and featured a top D pairing of Thomas Pock and Jack Hillen. Excluding Petteri Nokelianen, Peter Schaefer, and David Krejci, every starting Bruin was dressed. And they still only managed one goal; a Chara slapper on the power play. WTFuck?
Let me just close with this: I was (am) a fan of the Detroit Tigers baseball team since I was born. This means my formative years were spent watching the Tigers lose. I was going to add a modifier to the end of that last sentence, then realized I didn’t need to. From 1994-2006, the Tigers lost at least 83 games a year (that includes the strike shortened years). Maybe it was my youthful exuberance, but I always found the silver lining, whether it was a good player (Bobby Higginson! Rob Fick! Matt Anderson!) or whatever, I never really became disillusioned with the Tigers. That said, I can’t imagine the hell it must be to be one of the New York Islander faithful. The top two forwards were considered over the hill in 2002, the GM got the job because he got drunk with the owner at a party and said “This is what you should do…”, your goalie is slightly above mediocre and will be your goalie until Barack Obama can no longer legally be president, and you had some guy named Freddy Meyer wear an “A” in today’s game. Freddy Meyer? Even Freddy Meyer is looking up his page at Hockey-Reference right now to see who the fuck he is. This is the Islanders right? Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, etc.? Peas and rice, what the hell happened? And what’s gonna happen? Let’s check in with Yahoo! Sports’ Ross McKeon:
The Islanders will succeed if Doug Weight and Bill Guerin discover the fountain of youth and the youth discover the fountain of talent. The Isles will fail. Period.
Ouch. That ain’t blogger talk, that’s MSM, folks.
Okay, I’m closing in on 2000 words. Good night Austin, Texas, wherever you are!