|Milan Lucic: Fans think ‘this is the biggest game in 40 years’||10.06.11 at 9:51 am ET|
Milan Lucic is a hockey player of the people.
He has met plenty of ecstatic Bruins fans this summer and he has listened to them.
What’s been the overriding theme from them about opening night against the Flyers tonight?
I’ve heard from a lot of fans, just walking around the street and getting some feedback from them. They’re all saying this might be the biggest game in 40 years and people haven’t looked forward to a game more than this.
After getting their diamond-studded rings on Tuesday night as their personal reward for giving Boston its sixth Stanley Cup title on June 15 in Vancouver, the Bruins tonight will share their joy with 17,565 of their closest friends inside TD Garden as the 2011 Stanley Cup banner is raised to the rafters at TD Garden, their first in 39 years.
“Obviously, I’ve thought about it and it’s something you think about, that first game and getting to see that banner go up and just take it all in and enjoy the stuff that happening before the game,” Lucic said. “It’s great that people are so appreciative of what we accomplished last year and looking forward to what we can accomplish this year.”
Every player knows what’s next: The challenge of putting the emotions of the banner-raising behind them for 2 1/2 good hours and trying to beat one of the teams they dispatched on their way to the Cup.
They start the 2011-12 season with the new-look Philadelphia Flyers, who will be in their dressing room while the banner is raised, hearing the roars of the crowd in the same building their season ended in last May. That’ll be followed up on Saturday night with the next team they beat, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a good test, getting two great teams right off the bat, and obviously, they’re teams we beat last year in the playoffs and that’s something that always sticks with you,” Lucic said.
It certainly did for the Bruins last November, when they beat the Flyers, 3-0, in Philadelphia and they had to listen to all the jokes about actually holding on to a three-goal lead, five months after letting it get away in Game 7 of the 2010 Eastern semifinals.
Said Lucic, “I remember the team that knocks you out, you always want to get back to them and beat them in that first game when you play them first in the season. It’ll be a good test playing two elite teams early in the season and there’s probably no better way to get the season off than that.”
|Hangover? It’s only a movie to the Bruins as they’re ready to defend title||10.04.11 at 5:59 pm ET|
As the players spoke one after another at media day Tuesday, they all sounded like they knew it was coming. How are the Bruins going to deal with wearing the crown in 2011?
Some teams have handled it very well, like the 2009 Red Wings, who made it back to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals the next year before losing to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on home ice. Some others have had a lot more difficulty. The 2010 Cup champs – the Blackhawks – had to back in to the playoffs last year on the last day when the Stars lost to Minnesota.
The Blackhawks seemed doomed in the first round before battling back from 3-0 down, only to lose in OT in Game 7 to Vancouver. Those close to the team publicly expressed a fatigue in the first two months of the season as the Blackhawks tried to get their legs back under them.
So, how are the Bruins prepared to handle success starting Thursday night against the Flyers?
“I don’t know about all that hangover stuff or whatever, I just know we are ready for the season to begin,” chirped Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton, who won his first Cup with the Ducks in 2007. “I literally don’t know. This is my second one. All I know, when you get that first one, all you want to do is win another one. You win two, all you want is to do is win three.
“Listen, there’ll be times in the this season where we’ll be down and I’m sure you guys [media] will jump all over the fact because it’s something to write about. There’s ups and downs throughout a whole season and as long as we keep it even keel and continue to have a steady climb, getting ready for wherever we’re going to go, I think that’s the most important thing. That’s what we were so good at last year, not letting the highs get too high and the lows get too low.”
|Bruins ready for banner night Thursday||at 11:20 am ET|
With their banner raising ceremony on opening night just two days away, the Bruins held a full practice on Tuesday morning at TD Garden.
The full squad, except for defenseman Adam McQuaid, was in attendance as the team prepares for the Flyers on Thursday, one of the teams the Bruins beat in their stunning Stanley Cup title run in the playoffs last spring. McQuaid missed the practice with an illness.
Tuesday also marks media day for the Bruins, followed by the arrival of their Stanley Cup rings later in the day by armored vehicle.
|Stanley Cup toes the rubber at Fenway with help from the Bruins||06.19.11 at 6:00 pm ET|
Chara and Thomas were on the lead duck boat of four that were in the processional that began by entering through the center field wall about 15 minutes before first pitch.
Chara was holding up the Stanley Cup for nearly the entire time during the procession around Fenway.
After making one round around Fenway, the players departed in the center field triangle and made their way to the infield with the Stanley Cup, in addition to the Eastern Conference trophy and the Conn Smythe trophy, earned by Thomas as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoff run.
The pre-game ceremony was capped off by all members of the Bruins throwing simultaneous first pitches to the Red Sox players, who stood in a line from dugout to dugout behind home plate.
|Shawn Thornton: The Cup is no ‘rec league trophy’||06.18.11 at 3:40 pm ET|
That’s exactly what Thornton and his buddies did with Lord Stanley on Friday – a day before the biggest “Rolling Rally” in Boston history – as they just hung out in his Boston home and had a few beverages and soaked it all in.
“Just kept looking at it,” Thornton said. “Nothing was forced, it was just relaxing, pretty cool.
“The best part is I had it at my house [Friday] for about an hour, hour and a half, just me and the guy who lives downstairs, my neighbor and a couple of friends, just chillin’ out, having a couple of drinks. Being able to settle down, it was good.”
Thornton – who won the Cup in 2007 with the Ducks – had the Cup out at a couple of establishments as well in Boston. Safe to say, there was a little more attention paid to it in Beantown than Disneyland.
“When we had the Cup out the other day at Tia’s and Stella’s and a couple of other places, compared to Anaheim, we had it on the beach on Newport and there was like 20 people looking at it,” Thornton said. “Pretty much looked at it as a rec league trophy. Nobody knew any different. Having helicopters over Tia’s is probably a little bit different, yes.”
Thornton – who admitted to be “blurry” after the last two days of celebrating – wore Mardi Gras-type beads to Saturday’s rally, joining several other Bruins doing the same on the duck boats.
“They gave them to me,” he said. “I’m not throwing them unless you deserve them. That’s all I’m going to say.”
|Cam Neely: ‘It’s a very sweet day for us’||at 2:21 pm ET|
The city of Boston has celebrated world championship teams before with a “rolling rally” like it did on Saturday but never did so many fans turn out. When the city rolled out the duck boats for a three-mile rally route from TD Garden to Copley Square, fans as deep as 20 rows lined the streets to celebrate the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
“Mayhem, but all good,” Bruins President Cam Neely said in describing the day. “These fans have waited a long, long time for this. They deserve this. Today is their day to really celebrate it, which is really great.”
Boston Police estimated the crowd at over 1,000,000 and city officials said that it eclipsed the 2004 “Rain Rally” on Oct. 30, 2004 when the city and region celebrated the first World Series title in 86 years. Neely’s Bruins became the seventh Boston team to be celebrated and honored with a duck boat rally, joining the 2001, ’03 and ’04 Patriots, the ’04 and ’07 Red Sox and the ’08 Celtics.
“Just how mentally draining it’s been. You live and breathe for every game, especially when you have four elmination games. I’m proud of the guys for what they did.”
“It’s nice that people feel that way. I came here when I was 21 and grew up here and have a huge passion for the Bruins and the players who played before me and the players I played with and the organization in general. And our fan base took me in and showed their passion for the team and the players. So, to finally win it for them has been an incredible experience.”
“It’s really sweet for everyone that’s put some time and effort in. The people in the back office, work extremely hard, don’t get the recognition. Obviously, all the players, coaches, GMs, it’s going to be a very sweet day for us.”
Neely said he and the organization have yet to come down completely from their epic 4-0 win over Vancouver in British Columbia last Wednesday in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“It’s been fantastic, just the excitement the whole city has,” he said. “It’s kind of sunk in but hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s been an incredible experience so far. I was driving in [Friday] and all I kept thinking is, ‘We’re Stanley Cup champs.’ You drive in, you think it’s a normal day but you’re Stanley Cup champs. It keeps running through your head. It’s starting to sink in but it hasn’t fully sunk in.”
|Brad Marchand is a rat’s rat||06.14.11 at 7:50 am ET|
If the Canucks were hoping that Brad Marchand would wilt as a rookie under the pressure of his first playoff experience, they obviously did not judge or scout him nearly close enough.
And there’s no reason to think Marchand is about to crumble under the pressure of the first Stanley Cup finals Game 7 in Bruins history.
“We have to make sure that we have a good start. And they just seem to get so much momentum and energy off their crowd and we just have to find a way to counter that and come out strong,” said Marchand sounding every bit the veteran of 24 playoff games.
When he scored in the Game 3 blowout of the Canucks, he referred to the fact that he is considered the modern-day “rat” of the Bruins, a nickname lovingly bestowed on Ken Linseman for being the bur in the side of every opponent. It’s a nickname that he continues to wear with pride as he proved again to the Canucks on Monday.
“I was there, it was a good shot but I have to make that save,” Luongo said. “He put it where he wanted but I have to make a save there.”
“We weren’t too worried about that in here,” Marchand said of Luongo’s talk after Game 5. “He can say what he wants to say. We were just trying to focus on playing this game so we got a couple early, and you know, obviously they switched the goaltenders up. Obviously he’s bounced back every game and I expect the same thing back in Vancouver.” Read the rest of this entry »
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