I’m doing all right/getting good grades,
The future’s so bright/I gotta wear shades.
More than 25,000 people attended two Bruins/Islanders rookie games this week at TD Garden in Boston. On Wednesday night, I was one of them. Some impressions from a seat five rows behind the Bruins bench:
I’ve been missing hockey, but it hit home with even more force when I saw the first kid wearing the Spoked-B jersey pop onto the ice for pre-game warmups to the appropriate tune of U2′s “Vertigo.” Why does that sight, after so many years, both up and down, still bring a lump to my throat? I don’t know, but from the looks on the kids’ faces (most trying to appear businesslike, but many unable to keep from shooting wide-eyed peeks at the crowd filling the lower bowl of seats), a lot of them shared that feeling.
Tyler Seguin elicited a significant number of screams from teen-age girls. I’m sure his teammates let him hear about it.*
* Actual converstion overheard in bathroom post-game, between apparently clueless teen-age girl, and teen-age girl wearing Lucic T-shirt with “19″ inscribed on both cheeks:
In disbelieving voice: “Tyler Seguin?”
“Oh, is he cute?”
“Where’s he from?”
The game itself was what you’d expect from a couple of rookie squads — exciting plays, busted plays, end-to-end action, missed shots, awkwardness, brilliance, and, as the game went on, increased belligerence, including several fights, assorted scrums and a large amount of yapping.
All three of the Bruins’ latest first-round picks played well — Seguin (’10), Jordan Caron (’09) and Joe Colborne (’08) — but it was Caron who stole the show by completing a hat trick with 37 seconds left to secure a 5-2 win. (His first goal came off a lovely redirect in front of the net, the second on a Savard-like feed from Seguin on a PP). Hats flew, a perfect capper (haha!) to the night.
The lone sour note came about halfway through the third period when Colborne took a stick in the mouth from teammate Lane MacDermid, who lost control of it when he was elbowed by New York’s Justin Dibenedetto. Bleeding and staggering, Colborne was helped from the ice, but thankfully was fine the next day, albeit with more than 25 stitches in his upper lip. He reportedly wanted to play in the rematch Thursday night but sat out as a precaution.
I didn’t attend the second game but caught some glimpses of the live stream at the Bruins’ web site. Boston won again, 2-1, on two goals by Ryan Spooner (second round, ’10 draft), the last on a breakaway with 30 seconds left in overtime. Cue an even wilder celebration.
Yeah, it’s just a couple of rookie games. Yeah, that’s the closest to the NHL a majority of these kids will ever get. But as a Bruins fan (and as a hockey fan), I couldn’t help but get excited. Because a lot of these kids are the real deal, to say the least.
Russian defenseman Yury Alexandrov was solid, with good positioning and obvious stick skills. Wings Max Sauve and Jamie Arniel displayed amazing wheels. Goalies Adam Courchaine (first game) and Michael Hutchinson (second game) are going to make decisions about their landing spots this fall difficult.
And bottom line, after watching this game, I believe one of the Bruins’ most pressing (yet often overlooked) needs has been addressed: Depth.
Last year, with members of the big club dropping like flies, right through the playoffs, the lack of suitable replacements hobbled the Bruins. Of course, it’s a rare team that has such depth in its system — most can’t afford to stash studs in the minors. But this year, it appears the Bruins just might have the perfect storm of good young players in the AHL, just a one-hour drive south of Boston. Caron, Colborne, Sauve, MacDermid, Alexandrov, Steve Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski, are just a few of the players who’ll be eligible for the American Hockey League.
The future not only looks amazingly bright, it’ll be here faster than a lot of people think.