|10.03.10 at 1:12 pm ET|
PRAGUE — After a wonderful three days in Belfast, the Big Bad Blog is now in Prague for the week (the Bruins came, too). The team flew out at noon Belfast time and arrive just a couple hours ago, picking up one hour in the time zone change. We’re now a quarter of a day ahead of you guys, so expect to wake up each morning with a heaping plate of news ready for you. Here are some pictures from the trip from Belfast to Prague, including some of the Czech media going batty for David Krejci (from Czech) and Zdeno Chara (Slovakia).
The Bruins will be playing three games while in the Czech Republic. They’ll have an exhibition game on Tuesday in Liberec before opening the regular season at 02 Arena with a pair of games against the Coyotes on Saturday and Sunday.
|10.02.10 at 10:10 pm ET|
BELFAST — The first leg of the overseas Bruins trip is unfortunately done with, as the Big Bad Blog departs Belfast but will continue to bring all the unfathomably good stuff from Prague over the next week.
There was a lot of stuff to blog in the three days that I’ve been here, so naturally some tidbits I came away with fell through the cracks. Here are a couple:
– Meet Wayne Hardman. He covers the Giants and loves the crap out of hockey. He’s a real die-hard for the sport over in Northern Ireland, something I was not sure existed. He’s so committed that he commutes two hours every day to do what he calls more of a “passion” than a job.
– Speaking of that name, an enforcer in Belfast is referred to as a “hard man.” Gross.
– People use expressions we’d be familiar with, such as “how are you?” and the other basics, but when it comes to the really informal, youthful way of asking someone how they are, throw “sup” out the window. Instead they say, “What’s the crack?” Gross.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
– “I guess like that?” – Seguin, after a reporter with a very heavy accent asked him how he’d been handling the Northern Irish accents. Seguin apologized several times for not understanding him (he wasn’t alone — the media scrum was just as confused), and when he finally realized what he was asking, it was the only logical answer.
– “I definitely wanted one, but oh well. Me wanting a goal and [not] getting one is pretty much my life story.” — Thornton when asked if he was content with not scoring a goal in front of his family (he had two assists).
|10.02.10 at 9:31 pm ET|
BELFAST — I never claimed to be good with a flip cam, but if Bruins fans want to see how they measure up to hockey fans over and Belfast, take a look at the scene before the Bruins’ game with the Giants. One shot that was edited out but will be in the extended version Blu-ray: Some guy had a Philadelphia Phantoms jersey.
|10.02.10 at 5:53 pm ET|
BELFAST — The Bruins went into Belfast, beat the best squad the Elite League could put together by a four-goal margin (5-1), and Boston fans have two more Tyler Seguin goals to ogle over. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that they didn’t beat the Giants select team as handily as the score might suggest, as the Belfast squad played them very tight through the first period and and half. Though the team reacted to falling behind, 1-0, in the second period by firing off three quick goals and adding two more in the third, they admittedly were given a run for their money on Saturday night.
So what went into the jittery play out of the gate? For starters, the Odyssey Arena crowd — which holds 7,100 people — may have given the TD Garden (17,565) a run for its money when it came to decibles before the game. When the Bruins — scratch that, “Legendary Boston Bruins” — were announced, the place went nuts, and the fans seemed to know their stuff. The biggest cheers went to Zdeno Chara and Mark Recchi, but all of the players were showered with support.
“It was really loud,” Milan Lucic, who scored the Bruins’ fourth goal, said after the game. “I got a little bit of goosebumps there at the start of the game. I’ll be honest, it was a little nerve-racking to start the game.”
And did that carry over once the puck was dropped?
“It kind of looked like we were nervous, too. It almost looked like we were trying to do too much and they were just playing simple and kind of just getting the puck out every chance they got,” he said. “Obviously, they gave us a little scare by scoring that first goal, but I think it was a good finish to that second period and we were able to play more consistent in the third period.”
At the end of the first period, it seemed almost comical that the Bruins could find themselves in such a tight game with an opponent of such a lesser league. The Giants, who got their lone goal in the second period from Jade Galbraith, actually had the two best scoring opportunities of the period.
“They did, for sure,” Tuukka Rask said of the Giants having solid opportunities on him. “Right in front, but you could tell that they didn’t have the patience that maybe the NHL guys would have to hold onto that puck and find the extra corner to put the puck in. They definitely had some chances, and they really deserved them too.”
Once the Bruins got things going — it all started with Seguin and Michael Ryder crashing the net to produce the rookie’s first of the game — there was no looking back. It was clear they were the better team, and even when the Giants outplayed them for stretches early, the clear difference in talent remained apparent. Even so, it seemed to take the Belfast goal being scored to act as the splash of water to the face that the Bruins needed.
“I try to just keep the game tight all the time, and I think the guys woke up after their first goal and realized that we can’t afford to lose this game, because the skill level should be on our side for us to win that game,” Rask said. “They got the first goal, got some energy, but then the skill level came up. We scored three goals in like a minute or so, but give credit to them. They really battled and they wanted to win that game.”
All in all, the Bruins made no lie about what they ended up going against, whether or not they were expecting it. Shawn Thornton, who had two helpers in the game, didn’t see why the Giants wouldn’t have played as well as they did.
“This isn’t taking anything away from them, but a lot of those guys have never had the chance to play in the NHL or get an NHL game, and this is probably as close as they’re going to get, so I knew they’d be giving it all they had,” Thornton said. “I’ve played with a number of those guys, I’ve played against them and I know they character of them. A few years ago I was in the same shoes as them, not thinking I’d ever get a game. When you get a chance to show what you have, you’re definitely going to show what you have.”
Nobody should be surprised with how hard the Giants came out playing on Saturday night. From Claude Julien to every player asked about it in the locker room, the Bruins have said time and time again that they were expecting the best game of the Elite League players’ lives. Even so, it sure was interesting to see it last as long as it did.
|10.02.10 at 4:13 pm ET|
BELFAST — The Bruins got some huge cheers from the Odyssey Arena Saturday night, but after the Belfast Giants took a 1-0 lead on them in the second period, the team made it clear they would end their Northern Ireland trip with more than just fanfare.
Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara, and Brad Marchand all scored over the space of a minute following the Giants’ goal, their lone tally off of Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask. Milan Lucic added one of his own in the third, with Seguin tacking on another on a penalty shot to give the Bruins a 5-1 lead that they would hold for the rest of the game.
The game featured no fights, though Shawn Thornton, who has received plenty of attention given his mother’s return to Belfast (her place of birth) did pick up two assists for the Bruins.
From Belfast the Bruins will travel to the Czech Republic, where they will play first three games. They’ll have an exhibition game in Liberec on Oct. 5 before opening the regular season with two games against the Coyotes in Prague on Oct. 9 and 10.
|10.02.10 at 3:49 pm ET|
BELFAST — Well, the Giants woke up a sleeping giant.
After the Belfast select team got on the board by Jade Galbraith capitalizing on a bad Bruins miscommunication in the offensive zone that led to a turnover, the Bruins broke their scoreless lull and exploded for three goals in less than a minute. The announcer here at Odyssey Arena literally couldn’t keep up with announcing one goal before another was scored.
First, the third line got a bit of a junk goal thanks to crazing Stephen Murphy’s net hard. As the result of the play — one fans here didn’t like given that the net was dislodged, but after the light went on — Tyler Seguin had notched the team’s first goal of the game and set up the Bruins for an impressive offensive spurt.
Goals from Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand, who is playing over Daniel Paille on the fourth line, made it the score 3-1, which is where it stands after two periods. Thornton picked up the assists on the Chara and Marchand goals, something the 20 family members he has at the game must be enjoying. More updates coming, internet problems permitting.
|10.02.10 at 2:59 pm ET|
BELFAST — Not that too much should be drawn from the Bruins’ exhibition with a squad made up of Elite League All-Stars and members of the Belfast Giants, but one probably wouldn’t have guessed the Bruins wouldn’t be able to pick up a goal in the first 20 minutes.
The reception from the fans here at the Odyssey Arena was quite remarkable. They seemed to lose their voices cheering each player as they were introduced, though they were able to reach back and get noticeably louder for Mark Recchi and almost deafening for Zdeno Chara.
Once the puck was dropped, the Bruins were in the offensive zone for the vast majority of the period, but were unable to get one by Stephen Murphy. The Scotland-born Murphy is in his first year with Belfast. The Giants actually had a couple of real scoring opportunities themselves, only to have them foiled by Tuukka Rask.
Thanks to twitter follower “batterupbruno” for reminding me of the following: I definitely picked up another cultural difference while mulling around during the intermission. They don’t have fans throw foam pucks on the ice or give away t-shirts over here. Instead, some lunatic with a giant gun disguised as an Italian sub wreaks havoc on innocent fans by shooting subs at them. They are of course wrapped, but the gun, which they call the “Subway Sub Cannon,” sounds more like a lawsuit than a fun time.
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