The Bruins Begin 2010 in Prague; Disassociation Before Anticipation

The Boston Bruins open their 2010/11 season in Prague on Saturday afternoon, versus the Phoenix Coyotes. If all of Czechoslovakia had been covered blindly by Icelandic ash during what in my humble opinion is the greatest professional sports collapse of my generation, Prague would have still heard the cries, saw the tears and felt the heart-break. I do not feel as if a second pick overall, a proven right-wing, an all in chips bet on a prime year for their goaltender, an emancipation from the worst player in the NHL and a trip to Prague can wash away the tainted toothbrush taste in my subconscious, but it tapes the puzzle box closed, and slaps a price tag on it. They have yet, however, and will not do so for some time, to show me the pieces. Building something out of nothing using mere strategy was a philosophy even I felt would shake up the Bruins enough, to make Boston a hockey town yet again. I was naive to think heart could be brought to players by way of a coach, or a midseason highlight overtime victory on a stage paved over with Boston championship and pride. I was a fool to think that heart could be taught. Heart has to be earned, and if you were to ask me if I was disappointed in last year’s outcome, looking forward to this year, happy with the off-season moves, or any other variation of anticipation I would look at you and rudely quote Gene Hackman from The Replacements because he is much smarter than anyone who thinks that until the Cup is raised in Boston, it is still alright to address the Bruins with any such hope. “Heart. Miles and miles of heart.” I urge the Bruins to win back my respect. With that said, and for the sake of no longer ranting and for the sake of thinking outside of this hard, scorned exterior, I will address some of the aspects of what the Bruins are putting together, that I look forward to writing about, and watching succeed, this season.

Tyler Seguin was not my first choice, nor was it the Bruins’ nor was it the NHL’s, but his slip behind Taylor Hall in the draft did not prevent this former OHL phenom from making an impact in Boston. I expect a 2008/09 David Krejci “esque” season out of this rookie, who is already being compared to the great Joe Sakic for his effortless skating ability, smart puck handling, finishing and two-way play. With two healthy, emphasis on healthy, David Krejci’s, and Patrice Bergeron at the helm, Savard, dizzy Savard or no Savard, the Bruins will have, yet again, a strong central core.

Nathan Horton is what the Bruins have been missing for some time. He is a taller Vladimir Sobotka whose talents the Bruins up and down game between Providence didn’t dilute. He is strong, smart, and will get you 25 to 30 goals consistently for a team who said goodbye to Phil Kessel, (the leading goal scorer in the pre-season, which for all intents and purposes means nothing), and who were forced to call Sturm and Ryder their main goal scorers. Horton has been lining up opposite to Lucic which pushes an extremely strong, shot oriented, and young line to the crease, and with Krejci dishing it out, will score some serious early and late game deciding goals.

Wideman is gone. I do not believe that in the NHL there is a player worse than Dennis Wideman. Leading the Bruins in points last post season means nothing because that playoff ride was a Twilight Zone horror show, a topsy-turvy trapeze act, or an all but a moment ago hangover and Wideman was the fat chick I slept with. She looked like Kim Kardashian, screwed like Jenna Jameson, however in the morning she was a fat Dennis Wideman whose pink sheets very well gave my scabies. She, I mean he, was a disgrace to any defensive system, and he may not be the reason for the collapse, but he encompassed the “why”. Needless to say, expect a smarter, more physical defense, filled with a lot more offensive step ups. I expect Boychuck to absolutely shine this season. A Dion Phaneuf type player, he will become.

Tuuka Rask will have a great season. He is no Andrew Raycroft, however he is also no Tim Thomas. I would like to see Tim Thomas play, and I want Rask to improve and contend for the Vezina. He was great in Providence, and he is a now an NHL goaltender a Stanley Cup can be won around. He will not be a gating factor in any team collapse, and by Midseason, he will be the talk of the town that is the NHL. A Niklas Backstrom type, under the radar starting goaltender, 2010/11 second pick Eastern All-Star. Thomas’ glory days, though very short are numbered, and instead his years here will be praised, looked back upon, this season, giving him his underdog status we all know he thrives so well under. Thomas, if healthy, will be the second fist to a one two punch that I still believe to be the strongest core in the NHL.

I guess Claude Julien will have to remain the Bruins head coach for one more year. I really have to hand it to Chiarelli for avoiding my pleas to clean house. I expect no difference in tone or locker room words to the press. They will remain sharp, poised, extremely vague, and optimistic, which is in fact warranted. There are no sophomore slumps in the NHL, so surprisingly this season can be called a comeback season for the B’s, and should encompass the ups and downs of last year, with perhaps more gaols and wins, like the year before.

Call this post a slow exploration in the potential realization that there is a lot behind us as Bruins fans, and a lot to look ahead too, even if the road ahead looks surprisingly like last years road, only after a weekend Habit for Humanity romp through the forest with cartoon blue birds and giant trash forks. Do not be blinded Bruins fans, stay pessimistic, but watch every game. Cheer for the Bruins as they try to disassociate themselves from their own past, and as I, like so many other, try to disassociate myself from my own let down in B’s fandom…this weekend, in Prague.

Post Script: Patrice Bergeron should be wearing the “C”, not the “A”, and this is no knock to Chara, it is a testament to Bergeron’s leadership. Chara is not a leader, he is a tool, a hammer, a machine to be wielded by the captains, the centers and the coaches. Bergeron is a better carpenter. I expect him to continue to step it up.

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