During last nights scrimmage with the their AHL affiliates it wasn't just the Boston Bruins who were shaking off the dust. Collectively we snapped and shook the slag from our jerseys.This dry run for Saturday was a ritual of mental preparation for what will be most definitely be a whirlwind thunder-fuck of a season. We have giggled giddily at pictures broadcast through Twitter, stared slack-jawed drooling at the 3 second clips of the boys running drills at Agganis Arena on the 5:00 news. For me, the lockout didn't end until last night.
And after what felt like a lifetime of being forced to watch The English Patient on a loop, Boston Bruins hockey was back.
Now, my thoughts of the scrimmage last night against the Providence Bruins:
The rust was fully visible in the first period and I think most Bruins fans could not have cared less. The first 20 were more of a re-introduction if anything. Hearing the Dave Gosher and Bob Beers calling a game again was just as welcome as seeing the Black and Gold back on the ice. And as Boston was clearly getting their legs back under them during the first, Providence clearly did not give a fuck. The PB's have been playing fairly decent hockey since October. Here, given the chance to not only play in the Garden for a "sold out" crowd but also attempt to fill open slots on Boston's lines, Providence was not about to lay down for their NHL teammates.
I was not surprised to see defenseman Dougie Hamilton playing for Boston. Management has had a 14-inch hard-on for the 2011 draft pick and for good reason. He looked very decent last night paired with Seidenberg. Should Adam McQuaid's recovery from off-season surgery affect his play, it would not be a shocker to see Hamilton getting ice time with either Seidenberg or Chara.
And speaking of Adam McQuaid, what the hell was that fight? My first thought was maybe McQuaid thought he had something to prove. He's coming off of an injury and was visibly struggling on the ice. My second thought was that of that scene in Pulp Fiction when Marsellus Wallace is talking to Butch about throwing a fight: "Fuck pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps. You fight through that shit." Darth Quaider probably wanted to show the boys he still had it despite being down a hunk of neck muscle. But Bobby Robbins most likely punched his way right out of the organization. I understand emotions run high on the ice but, come on boys, plenty of time for that coming up.
Chris Bourque was another highlight. The kid looks good. With Brain Rolston moving into the sunset of free agency and likely retirement and the under-performing and Jordan Caron out with an upper body injury, Bourque will man the left-wing on the ever-rotating turnstile that is the third line. Under the watchful eyes of Chris Kelly and Rich Peverly, I think Bourque could be developed into a major offensive weapon for the Bruins. It doesn't hurt to be a son of Boston royalty either.
The players who didn't play overseas during the lockout stuck out last night. Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic were the most noticeable. Marchand played about a half a step behind Bergeron and Seguin throughout. I'm less worried about Marshy than I am Lucic. Playing with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, I imagine the learning curve is steep. Lucic, on the other hand, worries me. Not a huge fan of Milan. He's a streaky player who all too often completely disappears for long stretches of time.I feel a bit foolish painting with such a broad brush after one scrimmage but there is one fact is pretty conspicuous: after a long off-season and a 3 month lockout if anyone could have benefited from playing overseas it's Lucic.
As most reading this know, Boston dropped the game 7 to 5 to Providence. To reiterate, Providence has been playing two to three games a week since October and has a respectable 19-14-0 record. This was the PB's chance to show their stuff to Boston management and players. This scrimmage was more for us, the fans, than it was for the players. Maybe a peace offering for a bullshit lockout. Maybe just a sign appreciation.
Nevertheless, hockey is back and I believe I speak for not just Bruins fans but hockey fans across North America in saying, fuck you, Jeremy Jacobs.