Sunday, April 8, 2012

So...You've Decided to Root for Boston: Bruins 2012 Playoff Guide

(exactly as posted on Tumblr)

Part 1 contents:
  • Introduction
  • Why Love the Bruins?
  • The Bruins Basics
  • 2011 Cup Champs
  • The 2011-2012 Playoff Roster (including name pronunciation) 
  • Lots of links and fun facts
  • Coming soon...
Welcome to the 2011-2012 Boston Bruins guide to the playoffs. This is an elaboration on last year's guide, but hopefully more informative and less sloppy. Before I begin a very lengthy introduction, I'd just like to congratulate you on making the best possible choice in deciding to cheer for the Bruins. You are making good life decisions and should be proud.
I'm hardly an expert on the Bruins or hockey, but I am a lifelong fan of both the team and the game. Having spent the majority of my 25 years up until last season experiencing relentless heartbreak by a constantly awful or underachieving Bruins team, I normally have a pretty cynical outlook on the Bruins. But winning the Cup last year has made me slightly more positive, which I fear may leave me more open to mistaking their chances. The first rule is always to never underestimate the opponent. Lots of people were disappointed that the Bruins are going to end up playing Washington rather than Ottawa, because Ottawa is a "better" match-up, or "easier" series. That can never be known because the playoffs are unpredictable and a completely different breed of hockey than the regular season. Anything can happen. That's how the Bruins won last year!
You may be rooting for the Bruins to win this series, or to win the Cup, or just to win in general because you're fire and foremost a Bruins fan over any other team, or you have decided to root for them despite not being that familiarized with them for other reasons. Whether it be because you hate the Capitals, you just hate the Bruins slightly less than the Capitals, like the Bruins slightly more than the Capitals, are slightly less indifferent to the Bruins than the Capitals, or prefer the Bruins over other Eastern teams, all are fine reasons to jump on board. I'm sure I missed some other great reasons, but never mind that. Whatever your reasons are, we're just glad to have you on our side. Sometimes the team you decide to root for in a given series, conference, or season doesn't have any discernible reason. In the past, I have adopted playoff teams when mine has been eliminated or failed to qualify (which happened a lot, obviously) for reasons I didn't even know. I just felt like it. And slowly my love for them would build as my hatred for their opponent grew strong too. It may lack logic, but that's okay, because this is playoff hockey.
That's the second rule. Realize that your emotions ARE going to get the better of you and of everyone you interact with until we're all screaming over ridiculous things that make no sense. It's inevitable. Accept it and just try to be aware of yourself so you can attempt to be as rational possible (even if it is minimal at best). If you don't care about being rational, then that's fine too. I know anybody saying anything remotely good about the opoonent, or bad about the Bruins, will immediately make me angry even if it's a mild comment or fact. In order to avoid many arguments, I temporarily disconnect from people I know who will be rooting against the Bruins.
Important note: I won't use the term "bandwagon" because it obviously has very negative connotations, and in the playoffs, most people are bandwagon fans anyway so it's pointless to try to define it or judge people for it. The following words are also banned from this guide: fair-weather fan, puckbunny, pinkhat, goon, and classy. So get those out of your head and proceed forward with me. Also, don't be a jinx.
This guide will attempt to lay the basic foundation to understanding the current Bruins team heading into the playoffs, and be with you throughout the series with the Capitals. I'll look back on last year's playoff run, a quick history of the Bruins in general, a look back on this regular season, and an intense look at the playoffs.
I tend to use a lot of statistics, but I'll try to keep it simple. Just remember that (as I said before) playoff hockey is unpredictable, statistics mean nothing, the past means nothing, and absolutely crazy shit can and will happen. I will try to find a balance of keeping this guide basic for new hockey fans and new Bruins fans, as well as informative and interesting for knowledgeable fans. Your understanding of the Bruins, hockey, or anything else we discuss won't be judged. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask. Anonymous is enabled if you are shy. Here are some quick recommended places to look for info:
Okay, let's get started.
Why Love the Bruins?
If you're still on the fence, allow me to persuade you. Here are some random and valid reasons to love the Bruins:
  • Tim Thomas.
  • Patrice Bergeron.
  • I mean Patrice Bergeron-Cleary
  • Any player on the team, really...
  • Past & present.
  • Get the duck boats ready
  • They skated the Cup in the 1st home game of the season this year as part of the banner raisning ceremony because they had won the Cup in Vancouver
  • When they won the Eastern Conference, Chara had the whole team pose with the trophy
  • They had the 1972 Cup winning team members help them raise the 2011 banner
  • Cam Neely
  • Cam Neely in Dumb & Dumber
  • Cam Neely potentially in Dumb & Dumber 2
  • Cam Nelly AND THE BEAR
  • Remembering the OT goal by Marco Sturm to win the 2010 Winter Classic against Philly at Fenway Park
  • Bergeron literally defines the Selke trophy
  • Seriously. He is perfect.
  • The Merlot Line
  • and their blog
  • The trio of God (Tim Thomas), Jesus (Rich Peverley), and the holiest of Saints (Bergeron) on one team
  • Chara's 108.8 MPH slap shot
  • The Bruins gave Stanley Cup rings to everyone in the organization
  • Dennis Seidenberg's skates
  • Brad Marchand's nose
  • Brian Rolston RETURNS!!!
  • Tim Thomas falling down a lot
  • His celebratory rituals after every win
  • In their 2nd pro years, both Seguin (29) and Marchand (28) led the Bruins in goals
  • Chara's ceremony for his 1,000th game
  • While Rolston's on the bench like "yeah well I've played 1,250"
  • Krejci led the playoffs last year in scoring, and broke Jaromir Jagr's record for most points by a Czech in a playoff season
  • 6 players had 20 goals (Chris Kelly, Bergeron, Serguin, Marchand, David Krejci, Milan Lucic)
  • The Bear
  • Everything about The Bear
  • The introduction video of The Bear and the Gang
  • Bergeron on NHL 36 (CLICK HERE FOR FULL EP)
  • Shawn Thornton unable to do his bit with a serious face
  • Andrew Ference as a scientist and probably made that volcano himself
  • Claude Julien as "coach"
  • Tuukka Rask playing the saxophone
  • Dennis Seidenberg playing the accordion
  • And being German
  • Krejci's hilarious smile-to-serious-face looking straight at the camera
  • Then lurking in the background of Boychuk's scene
  • The same way he lurked in the background of one of Kaberle's interviews during his day with the Cup, tip-toeing in, taking the Cup, and walking away
  • The Jacket
  • The retirement of The Jacket with Mark Recchi
  • "Fuckin' right"
  • Doing it for Savvy
  • And Horton
  • The Bruins goal song
  • And goal horn
  • Love That Dirty Water
  • "WOO!"
  • Rene Rancourt, his face, fist pumping, and his clothes
  • McQuaid is one tough hombre
  • Tim Thomas commercials (the Peggy one, and the Saving It one)
  • Campbell cleaning the Cup like you would clean a car
  • David Krejci's nickname "The Matrix"
  • Krejci's dainty wrists
  • Krejci's hat trick in the Conference Finals, even though they lost
  • Krejci's hat trick this season where he scored the 3rd goal in overtime!
  • Seguin's 1st career hat trick scored against the Leafs in Toronto
  • Thank you Keesel
  • Seriously. Thank you. 
  • Marchand also getting his 1st career hat trick this year
  • McQuaid's mullet
  • Partying with the Cup in Foxwoods
  • Marchand's tattoo with misspelled words
  • Marchand and Seguin partying every night, without shirts
  • And how Thornton made fun of them for doing it
  • And cause Thornton is hilarious and always right
  • Thornton will also kick everyones ass/tied for the most fighting majors tihs past season (20) even though he never fights or plays dirty
  • "Who are you? Turn around." - Thornton to Rinaldo
  • Johnny rockets
  • Dennis Seidenberg goals from center ice
  • Or anywhere, for that matter
  • ChiaPet, and the fact that he is a genius...and an evil genius
  • Andrew Ference's career year in goals
  • And his fights
  • And definitely his love for the Earth
  • That has it's own Nat Geo series
  • Shawn Thornton's shorthanded penalty shot goal against Winnipeg that made him just the 6th Bruin in 20 years to score on a penalty shot.
  • Daniel Paille's frequent breakaways...and inability to score on them
  • Rich Peverley being fucking fast...but also usually unable to score on breakaways
  • Unless it's in the Stanley Cup Finals
  • Also, Peverley as Jesus, Raptor Jesus, a Pez Dispenser, or Perv. Take your pick.
  • Peverley eating pizza in the locker room after winning the Cup
  • The Bruins letting the entire media in the locker room to celebrate with them
  • The drunken Bruins plane celebrations on the flight home
  • Their playoff beards
  • Peverley's fist pumping
  • Krejci's down-on-one-knee goal celebrations
  • The fact that the Bruins officially call Benoit Pouliot "PouBear"
  • He doesn't always score, but when he does, they're beautiful
  • Undefeated in every game Chris Kelly scores
  • Undefeated all year when leading after 2 and when up by 2 goals at any time
  • Because I listen to Trans Siberian Orchestra and Christmas music all the time due to this awesomeness
  • That awesome photoshoot earlier this season in Men's Health
  • All of the History Will Be Made commercials
  • Bergeron's love for one button up shirt he wears basically every day
  • Ference carting the Cup around Boston in a baby carriage
  • Seguin's Dunkin Donuts affiliation and hilarious ads
  • Jordan Caron looks like a horse
  • An awesome horse of course
  • The Babineau family
  • TD Garden organist Ron Poster
  • Bruins Stanley Cup Champion monopoly game
  • The Full 60+ to History book
  • Any book about the Cup win
  • or any book about the Bruins
  • Because they're awesome.
That's all I got for now...there's so much more that can be added. I may add more later.
The Bruins Basics
For the brand new, here's a quick background: the Bruins are an Original 6 team and the 1st NHL team in the United States (established in 1924). They have won the Cup 6 times - 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, and 2011! Our arch nemesis is the evil Montreal Canadiens forever and always. The current owner, Jeremy Jacobs, has owned the team since 1975. He's kind of a douche. The Bruins President, Cam Neely, is an awesome human being and is one of 10 players to have their numbers retired (#8; others are: 2 Eddie Shore, 3 Lionel Hitchman, 4 Bobby Orr, 5 Dit Clapper, 7 Phil Esposito, 9 Johnny Bucyk, 15 Milt Scmidt, 24 Terry O'Reilly, #77 Ray Bourque). You can find Neely normally watching games in the skybox with the intensity and enthusiasm of a "normal" fan. Some fun facts about those guys (for more go here):
  • Schmidt has been with the Bruins as either a player, coach, manager, or executive for over 75 years. He is 94 years old and he is awesome.
  • Hitchman was the first player to have his number retired in pro hockey, ever (1934).
  • Bobby Orr facts shouldn't need to be stated, but in case you don't realize, he is the best defensemen and arguably the best player to ever play hockey. He scored the Cup-clinching goal in both 70 and 72 and was the Conn Smythe (MVP) winner both years.
    • Fun fact also: Orr works as a player agent and represents Nathan Horton.
  • Esposito holds most of the Bruins scoring records and ranks near the top for many overall NHL scoring records. We forgive him for pledging his allegience to Tampa Bay because the Bruins were assholes for trading him.
  • Bucyk, "The Chief", still works with the Bruins organization as a travel coordinator or some shit (I forget).
  • Ray Bourque played for the Bruins in 4 decades; 1979-2000. He is also awesome. We love the Avalanche for helping him win the Cup when the Bruins sucked too much to help him themselves.
The Bruins were unable to win a Cup for 39 years for many reasons. In the late 70s and throughout the 80s, they were defeated by juggernauts and dynasties like the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers (and the Penguins in th eearly 90s). Their previous Cup final apperance had been in 1990 when they lost to the Oilers. Till last year, they either sucked, or were good until playoffs came and they sucked.
The Bruins played in the Boston Garden till 1996 when they built the Fleet Center which was renamed 5 times over the years but is now just the "TD Garden". GM Peter Chiarelli is an evil genius, and one of his assistant GMs, Don Sweeny, played with the Bruins through the 90s as well, so I love him. Then of course, Claude Julien was hired as coach after the 2004-05 lockout, and the Bruins have made the playoffs every year since.
The Bruins main mascot is Blades, but "The Bear" as he is known is also a mascot and he is a great troll. He was so good at trolling Tampa last year, the Lightning fans got so mad they threatened the lives of Bruins PR staff till they took down the ads. But The Bear is so great, he has his own mini TV show now with Bruins play-by-play guy on NESN Jack Edwards, anthem singer since the 70s and professional fist-pumper Rene Rancourt, and Brad Marchand. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it here. (I wrote more about it here).
2011 Cup Champs
The Bruins won the Cup last year in an awesome fashion. If you didn't watch it, you should youtube every single clip possible. It was a great run. I made a youtube playlist of all of the clips from each game of the playoffs by @dafoomie. Anyway, here's a quick recap of last year's playoffs
  • 1st round/conference quarterfinals: beat the evil Canadiens in 7 Games
    • Lost the 1st 2 games of the series; never in history had the Bruins come back to win a playoff series after going down 2-0, but they did it
    • They became the only team in the NHL to ever win a 7-game playoff series without scoring a single power play goal.
    • Andrew Ference fought Benoit Pouliot...who is now a Bruin. Ference also scored a goal in Montreal and proceeded to celebrate by giving the finger to the Habs fans (he got a $2,500 fine for it).
    • 3 games went to OT: Michael Ryder (who left us for Dallas as a UFA last summer) scored the OT winner in one game, and Nathan Horton (who was in his 1st sesaon with the Bruins after being traded here from Florida the previous summer - and had never been in the playoffs before) scored the OT winner in DOUBLE OT in one game and then the OT winner AGAIN in Game 7.
  • 2nd round/conference semifinals: swept the obnoxious Flyers in 4 games
    • Obviously this was great because the year before, the Flyers historically came back from down 3-0 in the 2nd round series against the Bruins to win in 7 games.
  • 3rd round/conference finals: beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in 7 Games
    • Crazy close series. Game 7 was epic and many consider it to be one of the best hockey games ever played. 0 penalties were called, great saves were made on both ends, and the final score was 1-0
    • Nathan Horton had the GWG with only minutes left in the 3rd period. It was awesome. He became the first player in history to score 2 separate game 7 GWG in the same playoff year.
  • 4th round/finals: beat the Canucks, who bug me so much I can't think of a good way to mock them, in 7 games.
    • Canucks had won the Presidents Trophy and were chosen to be the Cup winners, especially against Boston, who they were expected to trample. They had basically already handed themselves the Cup. Tim Thomas was like..LOL no.
    • Bruins went down 2-0 in the series AGAIN, losing the 1st game 1-0 with under 20 seconds in the 3rd period and losing the 2nd game about 4 seconds into OT.
    • Canucks player Burrows had bit hockey saint Bergeron with obvious evidence in game 1 but received NO suspension (NHL claimed they couldn't prove it was on purpose). He then scored the GWG in game 2.
    • Bruins came back and won games 3 and 4 by blowouts of 4-0 and 8-1. Seriously.
    • Aaron Rome of the Canucks hit Horton in game 3 in a hit that was so late and dirty that it warranted 4 games suspension. Horton was done for the year, and still suffers post-concussion symptoms that have resulted in him missing the playoffs this year.
    • Mark Recchi became the oldest and most awesome player to ever score a goal in the Cup finals.
    • The Bruins scored more goals on the Canucks power play than the Canucks did.
    • Canucks won game 5 in another close game, but Bruins blew them out again in game 6.
    • Then they won Game 7 by a score of 4-0. Bergeron scored the 1st goal, had another (shorthanded) goal, and Marchand had 2 goals as well.
    • It was perfect.
I suggest reliving it. The book Full 60+ to History is magnificient and the official DVD is alright. The Bruins won the Cup as the ultimate team back-stopped by one of the best playoff runs of any goaltender to ever play in Tim Thomas, insane performances by captain Zdeno Chara and his defense partner Dennis Seidenberg, and evenly distributed offensive contribution paired with perfect fulfillment of individual roles. They were lucky by having minimal injury (only Horton and Savard were out).
As such an amazing and successful team, the Bruins lost 3 players, which arguably was not a big loss, or was a big loss given the players.
  • At age 43, Mark Recchi, PhD.  retired to wear silky white shirts, drink wine, practice medicine, polish his 3 Cup rings, and be awesome. He can still be found occasionally at Bruins games or on local radio stations doing hilarious "ads".
  • Michael Ryder, who was streaky and sometimes just awful in the regular season, was a clutch playoff performer, and when he became an Unrestricted Free Agent over the summer, he signed with Dallas (and scored over 30 goals!)
  • Tomas Kaberle became a UFA and went elsewhere because nobody cares about him

The 2011-2012 Bruins Roster
Here's a quick outline of the roster. The roster listed is ONLY players who are currently with the Bruins and eligible to play in the playoffs this year (thanks for the good times Marty Turco, and a bright future Torey Krug). Marc Savard is left off for obvious reasons.
  • 11 Gregory Campbell
  • 12 Brian Rolston
  • 17 Milan Lucic
  • 18 Nathan Horton (injured...almost 100% out for the remainder of sesaon with PCS)
  • 19 Tyler Seguin
  • 20 Daniel Paille
  • 22 Shawn Thornton
  • 23 Chris Kelly
  • 37 Saint Patrice Bergeron
  • 38 Jordan Caron
  • 46 David Krejci
  • 49 Raptor Jesus Rich Peverley
  • 67 Benoit Pouliot
  • 68 Brad Marchand
  • 6 Greg Zanon
  • 14 Joe Corvo
  • 21 Andrew Ference
  • 27 Mike Mottau
  • 33 Zdeno Chara
  • 44 Dennis Seidenberg
  • 54 Adam McQuaid ('s officially a laceration on his face/near his eye, but sounds more like concussion symptoms)
  • 55 Johnny Boychuk (injured...mild knee sprain that should have been a serious and complete ligament tear but somehow he is made of steel and will likely be ready for the playoffs)
  • 30 Tim Thomas. AKA God
  • 35 Anton Khudobin
  • 40 Tuukka Rask (injured...abdonmen/groin or something...might be back soon to back up Thomas.)
The forward lines are likely as follows (LW - C - RW)
Lucic - Krejci - Peverley (or Caron)
Marchand - Bergeron - Seguin
Pouliot - Kelly - Rolston
Paille/Caron - Campbell - Thornton
Some quick tidbits about the players
  • Seidenberg and Chara as a defensive pairing was a key to winning the Cup last year because of how awesome they are together
  • Many players has career years in scoring such as Chris Kelly, Benoit Pouliot, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci
  • Zanon, Mottau, and Rolston were acquired at the trade deadline; Zanon has fit in well. He blocks a lot of shots, and is a left-shooting defenseman which was something that the Bruins really needed
  • Rolston tallied more points in the 12 or so games he played after being traded to Boston than he did the entire season with the Islanders
  • Caron has had a breakout year in the latter half of the season, and he wiggled his way into the line-up which resulted in Paille being a healthy scratch for several games. He may or may not beat someone out for their job in the playoffs.
  • Marchand and Bergeron are an awesome and deadly penalty killing duo
  • Bergeron led the league in faceoff wins, taking and winning the most faceoffs and having the best faceoff win percentage overall. 
  • The Bruins had the top 5 best +/- players in the league this season (Bergeron +36; Seguin +34; Chara & Kelly +33; Marchand +31)
  • Seguin and Wayne Gretzky are the only 20-year-olds to finish the season +30! and Seguin also broke the record for youngest player to ever lead the team in scoring in a season
  • The Bruins have 1 player each from: Germany (Seidenberg), Finland (Rask), Czech Republic (Krejci), Slovakia (Chara), and Kazakhstan (Khudobin). 
  • The Bruins have 4 US players: Tim Thomas (Michigan), Brian Rolston (Michigan), Joe Corvo (Illinois), and Mike Mottau (Mass.); Thomas & Rolston played hockey together as children
  • The Bruins have 16 Canadian Players.
  • Of the 16 Canadians, 1 each are from Prince Edward Island (McQuaid), Nova Scotia (Marchand); 2 each are from Quebec (Bergeron, Caron), Alberta (Boychuk, Ference), and British Columbia (Lucic, Zanon).
  • 8 Players come from Ontario, and they're all forwards: Campbell (London), Horton (Welland), Kelly (Toronto), Paille (Welland), Peverley (Kingston), Pouliot (Alfred), Seguin (Brampton), Thornton (Oshawa)*
*note that these are the hometowns listed on the official roster page...some of them aren't exact. For example, I know Horton has said the town he is from and it isn't Welland.

Name pronunciation (request; these are also from official roster, with notes based on how I've heard the coach, GM, and other players say the names):
  • Lucic is "LOO-cheech". Some pronounce it Loo-chick.
  • Seguin is "SAY-gan". The only people who pronounce it otherwise are NBC broadcasters.
  • Marchand is generally said as Mar-SHAWned, but it also said Mar-Shand. He has said that it can be pronounced either way. 
  • Bergeron is "BUR-jer-on" (soft "g"; although his nickname, Bergy, uses a hard "g", like BUR-ge).
  • Khudobin is "who-DO-bin"; the K is silent and the emphasis is on the 2nd syllable (this is from Khudobin via Jack Edwards) 
  • Paille is "pie-YAY!" :)
  • Caron is "ka-RON" (French/French-Canadian), NOT "Karen".
  • Krejci is "KRAY-chee". Some pronounce it "cretch-ie", prounouncing the -ejc letters as "-etch" rather than "ay-ch". (For example, everyone on the team and in the organization says it with the "-etch" sound). KRAY-chee with the "ay-ch" is more fun though.
  • Mottau is "motto" (I think).
  • Chara is "CHA-ra". Some prounounce it "CHAIR-a". Like the Seguin thing, it seems to be regional (Canadians or NBC broadcasters say it differently than Americans). I think the "CHA-ra" is correct because he's said his own name many times before.
  • Pouliot is "poo-lee-awt", Benoit is "Ben-wah"
  • You should probably just go by this handy guide recorded by Mark Recchi
Coming Tomorrow
A more in-depth view and introduction of each player with more information, fun facts, stats, and more. Also, an overview of the teams season, and (probably the day after tomorrow) a preview of the Caps series.

No comments:

Post a Comment