Friday, January 01, 2010


Bergeron to Sturm for the win. Those words will live on in Bruins' fans minds for years, as they witnessed their team's triumph in a truly classic Winter Classic on 01-01-10.

I've got to say that uncharacteristically, the NHL operates this event superbly. The pomp and circumstance of the pregame wasn't boring, and it wasn't overtly commercial like the NFL's pregame ceremonies tend to be. It was cozy, but not corny. Bobby Orr and Bobby Clarke as honorary captains, James Taylor singing the Star Spangled Banner, a quiet but impressive B-2 flyover. It was simply whimsical to behold.

Then the post-game was just as enjoyable, a good way to cool down from the thrill of celebrating Sturm's game-winner. Kudos to the NHL for choosing to announce the US Olympic team, and introducing it in such an interesting way. Of course, the icing on the cake was Tim Thomas being introduced for the first time as an Olympian.

Now to the game...

The Bruins irritated the hell out of me for 80% of the contest. The lone Flyers goal beat Thomas because Thomas was beating Hartnell. Hartnell, who is now one of my least favorite players in the NHL, had just crashed in late on Thomas. Sometimes, refs miss these things, other times they just don't care.

I hate the enforcement of rules in the NHL. Refs are strictly literal when it comes to things like free hands and sticks parallel to the ice. But when it comes to the shenaniganry implemented by punks like Hartnell, refs usually let it go.

So the refs didn't police Hartnell, but neither did the Bruins. Both Hunwick and Morris were present in the crease with Hartnell, yet it was Thomas who had to clear him out. What the hell were Hunwick and Morris doing? Their best Hal Gill impression.

I'd been critical of Julien for scratching Hunwick earlier in the season, but now I understand. He is not a good defensive defenseman. And Morris also has his lapses.

For 80% of the game, the Bruins were punked on the boards. "Board Battles Won-Lost" should be a stat kept by the scorekeepers. I'd estimate that Philly won 65% or more of the board battles.

The Bruins shouldn't go out and get a pure goal-scorer of the Phil Kessel ilk. They need some scrappers on the boards. Lucic's return will help alleviate the problem, but I still think the team can get a guy who will win those battles and help out the more "skilled" players. Think Chuck Kobasew.

The Bruins came out hard early, then eased up a bit. Maybe the whole thrill of the event gave them some adrenaline, then it wore off as the game became a game.

But the last 6 minutes of the 3rd was the most exhilarating hockey I've seen from this team all season. They fought and won along the boards. The Flyers had chances to make it 2-0, but the Bruins desperate, flammable, and furious play shut them down. And finally, Morris did something useful, Krejci made a simple pass, and Recchi put it in.

Then there's Marco Sturm. How valuable has he been. I'll never stop reminding my readers that when questions like "Where will Phil Kessel's goals come from now?" were asked, I matter-of-factly answered "Marco Sturm." The German Olympian leads the team with 14 goals.

I was thrilled to see Tim Thomas get this win. He had an excellent game. His only goal allowed was because his defensemen refused to clear out the crease in front of him. He was otherwise stellar, and deserves both the win, and all future Olympic glory.

Back to relative normalcy as the Bruins visit the Rangers on Monday. And I think I speak for a lot of Bruins and hockey fans out there when I say, I cannot wait for this event to return to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I'm going to start saving right now.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo
Getty Images