I remember watching the Patriots repeatedly pummel Peyton and the Colts in the early 2000’s on our way to a dynasty. I watched as Pedro tossed Zimmer to the ground at Fenway, and remember staying up late as we finally took a dump on The Curse of the Bambino, raising that trophy in 2004, and again in 2007. I was at the Garden for the Finals when the Celtics took the elevator from their comfy seat in the basement up to the penthouse and raised that 17th banner.
As far as the Bruins, the past couple years have been filled with an incredible amount of disappointment. They go through the regular season just like the one before it; veteran tough guys mixed in with some flashy young guns to produce a high seed in the playoffs. But, as any hockey fan knows, seeds in the NHL playoffs are like bikes with no wheels; they serve no purpose. Time and time again, I see my hometown Bruins come into the playoffs with a high seed and then get shut down by a team we considered inferior. This year’s opening round match-up between the Bruins and the Canadians seemed to be following that same trend, up until last night when the Bruins finally realized they had to put the biscuit in the basket in order to win the game. The series is currently 2-1, and I would bet my 2004 Chevy Trailblazer in need of an oil change and a serious detail, that this thing will go 7 games.
This series is about two teams having a genuine hatred for one another. I’m not talking about a “He hooked up with a girl I used to hook up with” kind of hate. It’s more of an “I’m going to take your face and put it through a glass window cause you stole my daughter like Liam Neelson in Taken” kind of hate. Hockey players are tough SOB’s. When they get their teeth knocked out, they throw them to the bench and play on. When they get a stick in the face, they apply some crazy glue and play on. To me the difference between hockey players and say basketball players, is that hockey players play the sport, while basketball players play the game.
This rivalry has been as hot as Brooklyn Decker for as many years as I can recall, but this year is different. The Bruins are desperately trying to catch that wave of momentum that ends with a shave and a nice chug of Bud from Lord Stanley’s cup. The Canadians, who find a way through the playoffs year after year like a mouse in a maze, are using Zdeno Chara’s end of the year hit on Max Pacioretty as their motivation of the series. It seems like the odds are against the B’s. Tim Thomas is suddenly human, those young guns aren’t scoring, the old veterans aren’t hitting anyone, and our best player can’t drink enough water to stay hydrated. But don’t count out the Bruins. As a lifelong New Englander, we bitch and we moan, but we never lose the faith.
It seems like every time a Boston sports team is in contention, reporters go with the old “this team carries the same heart and grit that the people of Boston carry everyday”. If this was true, we’d be celebrating on Duckboats around Charles River every couple of months. The NHL playoffs is about getting the job done. No politics, no all star treatment, and no ESPN special announcing what mouthpiece you decided to use for Game 1. Simply put, whoever puts the puck in the net more times than anyone else, wins. This kind of simplicity has been lost in sports over the years, but if you’re looking to go back in time, tune into Game 4 of the Bruins/Canadians series and you’ll see a one of a kind rivalry built on pure competition and determination. Amidst the thousands of belligerent Canadian assholes you will undoubtedly see when the camera moved around the arena, you will also see a playoff hockey game the way it should be played, and hopefully- a Bruins victory.