After not making it to any playoff games last year, I'm going to any and all of them this season. It's weird when you miss a playoff series. I've gone to every one since the Bruins made it in 1997-1998. Then last year, I decided making money was more important than spending it. (Sometimes I wish I had that same mindset this year.)
I am anxious for Game 1 tonight. I'm excited, nervous, psyched and many more emotions for the game. I missed only one game during the regular season. That's 40 games, the most I've gone to in any season before. When I was sick at the beginning of the year, I didn't let it stop me from attending games, even if I did miss a first period on a Saturday afternoon. I made a commitment to this team.
I do wish the Bruins had a different opponent other than the Canadiens. Battling them in 2002, 2004, 2008 and again this season gets redundant, especially when the only other opponent since 2002 were the Devils. But if there's three things certain in life, it's death, taxes and the Canadiens/Bruins rivalry.
The Bruins are entering this year's playoffs with a better regular season record against the Canadiens than last season. The Bruins went 5-0-1 against the Canadiens during the regular season, winning all three games at home. It was the first time the Bruins have taken a season series from Montreal since they went 3-0-1-2 in 2003-04. Last season, the Bruins only won games against the Canadiens in the playoffs.
Many Bruins will be playing their first NHL playoff games in this series, including Blake Wheeler, Matt Hunwick, and Byron Bitz. Defenseman Andrew Ference looks like the only player out for tonight's game other than winger Marco Sturm.
Other Playoff Facts
- The Bruins have three players who scored their first career playoff goals in overtime - Steve Montador with Calgary on May 9, 2004 at San Jose; Patrice Bergeron with Boston on April 24, 2004 vs. Montreal; and Marc Savard with Boston on April 13, 2008 vs. Montreal.
-The Bruins have four current players with eight Stanley Cup rings between them - Aaron Ward (3 - 1997, 1998 with Detroit; 2006 with Carolina); Stephane Yelle (2 - 1996, 2001 with Colorado); Mark Recchi (2 - 1991 with Pittsburgh; 2006 with Carolina); and Shawn Thornton (2007 with Anaheim).
- The Bruins and Canadiens are meeting for the 32nd time in post-season play, the most series of any two NHL opponents ... Toronto vs. Detroit is the second-most popular matchup, as the Leafs and Wings have met on 23 occasions.
- The Canadiens have won 24 of the previous series ... The teams split the first four meetings, Montreal won the next 18, the Bruins then took five of the next six and the Canadiens have won the last three meetings between these clubs including Boston's last three playoff appearances in 2002, 2004 and 2008.
- The 159 playoff games played by the Bruins and Canadiens heading into this post-season are also the most between opponents in NHL playoff history (Detroit vs. Toronto, 117 games).
The Bruins have generated talk in Boston again. Last night, I met a guy who openly admitted he was a bandwagon fan. I corrected two older gentlemen in their Tim Thomas/Sean Avery story that I overheard, giving them more details than they asked for. I heard another trio of guys talking about how Patrice Bergeron should win the Bill Masterton trophy. It's almost surreal because I have never heard this much talk about the Bruins not initiated by myself or somebody that I know. But the Bruins are the best team in Boston at the moment and they deserve all the recognition they get, even if it's from someone who can't name more than three players on the team.
The one thing I'm not looking forward to is hearing about the poor treatment of any visiting Canadiens fans during the series. Bruins fans need to represent their team well. The incidents last year were ugly, disgusting and completely uncalled for. I don't want some knuckleheads giving the rest of Bruins fans a bad name.
The referees for tonight's game might have their whistles a little busier than usual if the last regular season home game was any indication of how the series might be. The referees are Kevin Pollock and Dennis LaRue.
Rene Rancourt will be singing the national anthems, and honestly, would you want anybody else to kick off this series?
I've seen some predictions out there and while it makes me excited that people are serious about the Bruins, anything can happen in the playoffs.
If you're going to tonight's game and looking for some drinks, good food and knowledgeable Bruins fans before or after the game, the Sports Grille (next to Hurricane O'Reilly's and before Boston Beer Works) on Canal Street is a safe bet. There might be some promotions happening tonight too. So if you stop by, be sure to tell them Wicked Bruins Fan sent you.
Lastly, I'll leave saying two things. Go Bruins! And Bruins in 6.
(Blog note: Since I won't be around to monitor the website during the game, comments are going under moderation. They will be approved when I get back to a computer.)