My best friend is coming into town this weekend, and I’m taking her to see the Bruins play the Capitals on Saturday night at the Garden. Beth, like me, grew up going to the occasional Adirondack Red Wings game in Glens Falls, so she knows the game, but I wanted to make sure she knew the particular team for which she will be cheering come Saturday.
Beth’s Guide to Boston Bruins Hockey is the result. I present it here to help anyone else making the trip to see the team during the 2010-2011 season.
BETH’S GUIDE TO BOSTON BRUINS HOCKEY
I. The Players: Offense
- 11 – Gregory Campbell (LW): Soupy. New to us this season (from Florida). Scrappy player who plays on the Fourth (Merlot) Line. He’s known as the Good Campbell in Boston. His father, anti-Boston league disciplinarian Colin Campbell, is known as the Bad Campbell in Boston.
- 17 – Milan Lucic (LW): Looch. Leading scorer who plays on the First Line. Physical player whose clip of him slamming someone into the glass (which then breaks) is played approximately 700 times during a Bs game – and it’s awesome every time. People aren’t booing him – he’s the Kevin Youkilis of the Bruins.
- 18 – Nathan Horton (RW): Doesn’t have a nickname, but that didn’t stop him from getting off to an amazing start for the team. Is smiling about 78 percent of the time. New to us this season (from Florida). If he scores, you’ll see a girl hold up a sign that says “Horton hears a woo!” I would like to note that I tweeted that before she made the sign. Lesson learned: Always make a sign.
- 19 – Tyler Seguin (C/W): The Chosen One. You can tell when he’s on the ice because there’s a glow around his head and angels start singing. He’s also super wicked fast, dude.
- 20 – Daniel Paille (LW): Just call him Trade Bait – everyone else does. Good player, but hasn’t had much of a chance to fit into the mix this season. I don’t expect him to be here much longer.
- 22 – Shawn Thornton (LW): The single greatest offensive talent on the NHL ice today. The Human Highlight Reel. The Sniper. The Kevin Millar of the Bruins, and I mean that as a compliment. He’s the consummate Bruin and we love him for it.
- 26 – Blake Wheeler (RW): Wheels. A 6’5 guy with a nasty habit of playing like he’s only 5’10. Having a much better season than last year and is starting to hit his stride. That said, if the Bruins are ever called for offsides, assume that the guy standing alone on the ice with a confused look on his face is Blake Wheeler. Nine times out of ten, it is.
- 28 – Mark Recchi (LW): Rex. He’s 42 years old, which is about 97 in NHL years, but he’s still kicking the ass of kids half his age or younger. The elder statesman of the NHL and we’re lucky he’s on our side. He’s a wine guy and swears by two glasses of red wine every day. He’s holding onto a 1970 bottle of wine for when he wins his next Stanley Cup. I love this man.
- 37 – Patrice Bergeron (C): Bergy. Brilliant talent, one of the team leaders. Fast, great with the shot or dishing it off for an assist. When he has the puck, you feel good about it.
- 46 – David Krejci (C): One of the three most popular sweaters seen at the Garden any given night (along with Looch and Savard). Young, quick, working brilliantly with Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic on the First Line. He’s the reason Section 313 will one day get that “Czech Re-pub-lic” chant going.
- 63 – Brad Marchand (RW): New to us and a strong member of the Merlot Line. He’s the Dustin Pedroia of the Bruins – always pestering, always jumping in to get the puck. That’s why I call him Scrappy. No one else does – yet. Just you wait and see.
- 73 – Michael Ryder (RW): Rides. He might as well have been called Casper last season, because he was practically invisible. He’s having a decent season so far, working with Blake Wheeler to become the most unexpected offensive pairing of the season. But he’s a frequently mentioned trade possibility. He’s also our age, so I have a soft spot for him.
- 91 – Marc Savard (C): Savvy. Traditionally the Bruins’ top playmaker, Savvy was the one who was leveled with that horrible hit by Matt Cooke last season. He’s only just gotten back into the mix, but he’s getting his feet back beneath him. He’s more fond of passing than shooting. I’m waiting for the day he has a penalty shot and he dishes it off by accident. It’ll happen. He also tends to stick his tongue out as he’s playing. I just find it funny.
II. The Players: Defense
- 21 – Andrew Ference (D): Captain Planet, Firefly. This guy is having an amazing year, which is nice because he’s battled injury in the past. Tends to be paired with Zdeno Chara, which makes him look as if he’s about 4’11. Hasn’t scored a goal since dinosaurs roamed the planet, but we remain optimistic that it’ll happen. When it does, Laura might actually cease to be. But she’ll die happy. He also recycles, composts, and rides a bike whenever he can. He’d be the Bruin most at home in Vermont.
- 33 – Zdeno Chara (D): Z. He’s the captain of the team. At 6’9, he’s defying physics every single time he skates, but it’s awesome. He has the hardest slap shot in hockey, clocked somewhere around 104 mph. What I’m saying is that you don’t want to make him angry. Logs the most ice time of the team each game.
- 44 – Dennis Seidenberg (D): Most people call him Sides, but we call him Wardo in 313 because he took over the 44 sweater in Aaron Ward’s absence. One of the best shot blockers in the game, he’s a great denfenseman AND a guy who almost always seems to wind up with an assist when a Bruin scores. He also scored the funniest goal of the season thus far. We like him immensely.
- 45 – Mark Stuart (D): Stu, Stuey, Tango. A hockey player’s hockey player who plays hurt, dives in front of shots, wrecks the opposition, and still stops in his sensible SUV to sign autographs for people despite the fact that his signing hand is broken. But you know all this, Beth. I’m sorry you won’t be able to see him play this time around. Next time. In other words, my favorite Bruin.
- 47 – Steve Kampfer (D): Kampfer got the call up when Stu went down. I was psyched because I loved him during training camp. He’s more of a puck-moving defenseman, while Stu stays at home, but he’s already making a great contribution to the team after three games and he’s going to have a great career.
- 54 – Adam McQuaid (D): Killer McQuaid. Young, physical guy who tends to be paired with Stu when Stu’s not busy healing bones at a freakish pace.
- 55 – Johnny Boychuk (D): Boych. This guy’s just great. I could tell you about the way he’s a solid component of penalty kills and power plays, or the way he’s physical, or his strong slapshot. But instead know that he’s going to have a wonderful career as a Bruin and I look forward to following him. He’s also a female fan favorite. Let’s face it: Dude’s hot.
III. The Players – Goal
- 30 – Tim Thomas (G): UVM’s finest product, Tim Thomas is the Black and Gold Ninja. Had the most atypical journey leading to the NHL, won the award for best goalie in the league two seasons ago (the Vezina – pronounced “VEZ-na” – Trophy), had a tough time last season because of a hip injury, and now is back and playing like he’s a solid decade younger. Tim Thomas is the reason the Bs have as good a record as they have this year. He makes me proud to have grown up in Vermont.
- 40 – Tuukka Rask (G): Tuuuuuuuuuuukka. Hasn’t gotten as much play this season, thanks to Thomas’ resurgence, but he had an amazing rookie season last year. We love Tuukka. You should, too.
IV. The Coach
- Claude Julien: If the Bruins are playing well, Claude Julien is a genius. If they’re not, Claude Julien should be fired. That’s all you need to know, according to Boston sports fans and radio talk show hosts.
V. The Garden
- Rene Rancourt tends to the sing the National Anthem. I want him to sing the National Anthem at my wedding – and I’m only half joking. He shows up in a tux, belts out the tune, pumps his fist, takes four steps back, spins around, and walks off the ice. Rene is a Garden favorite and if he’s singing Saturday, you’ll see why.
- When the Bruins score, the announcement of the scorer and assists is followed with a “WOO!” Learn it, live it, love it. May you hear it many times on Saturday.
- There’s a guy who sits a section over (to our left) who starts screaming “Let’s Go Bruins.” We clap along and start to chant because, as you’ll hear, it sounds like his vocal cords might snap every single time. We do what we can to prevent that.
- There are Ice Girls. They show up in skimpy outfits and throw t-shirts wrapped like Chipotle burritos. You’re encouraged to judge them.
- You’ll be seeing the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin sucks, by which I mean that he’s known as one of the best players in all of hockey. Man, he sucks.
- Whether the Bruins are winning or losing, the Garden is one of the best places to be. The people who are there, especially the people around where we sit, know and love the game and the team. There’s a lot of heart at the Garden and that heart bleeds black and gold.