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Bear Essentials: Game Day versus Buffalo

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Is there a future Gammons here?

This morning Prof. Chuck Fountain came in with seven aspiring journalists (undergraduates from a class I took with Chuck at Northeastern's School of Journalism, way back in the day) and I was supposed to introduce them to the "glamorous" world of sports writing.

As Chuck knows, and as I have found out, there is not a heck of lot that is glamorous about any journalistic endeavor. Writing (broadcasting, blogging, transmitting, photographing) is hard work. Gratifying, but hard nonetheless.

And while I certainly play on the fringe of journalism (my paycheck comes directly from my subject) I am hoping that my intrepid young scribes/broadcasters had the chance to feel -- just for a moment -- the real difference between writers & broadcasters (me, and the Boston press corps, NESN, etc.) and the majority of the hockey loving public.

Many of those fans out there certainly know more about the game than us, but there is one difference that makes it possible to do our jobs.

That difference is called "Access."

Yes, seeing the game from the press box is fun, but you could buy a ticket in the promenade (a.k.a. public press box seating). Eating the third floor pressroom's breakfast and dinner is LOTS of fun -- but the food is not much different from the goodies available elsewhere in the building.

But being in the building, when it is just you (the reporter), maybe a player working on a stick and the equipment guys running around is just the stuff that most people dream of -- or at least I did back when I was selling tickets for a living at Northeastern, Harvard and here at the Garden.

It is really difficult to describe how beautiful our arena, or any arena really, can be when it is totally quiet. The closest anyone got was in Almost Famous where Kate Hudson is "skating" on the sawdust following a concert, the roar of the fans in her head.

The Bruins PR interns speak to the class.
For me, the buzz of the fans is echoed in the buzz that is heard inside any hockey rink, caused, I assume, buy the machines of the ice making plant working to create the sheet.

To me, just getting to talk to the players, one on one, and really asking them about a play and not just hearing a meager sound bite gives you an appreciation of just how good these guys are that their jobs.

And without that access, they would just be numbers on a page, and I wouldn't be able to portray the idiosyncrasies that make them who they are.  I love knowing about Tim Thomas' kids, Matt Lashoff's CD and Andrew Ference's environmental concerns. There is not a day that goes by that Savvy does not make me laugh

Those things are what make people real, and more important than their stats. And let's face it, when you cover hockey, you meet some great people.

Which is why I was so very upset when Patrice and Ward-o received blows to the head. Access, as well as my being employed by the team, affords me the possibility of getting to know these guys pretty well. And knowing these guys that well makes it hurt that much worse when they are injured.

But I digress…

Today, I walked in with B's legend John Bucyk. Happily, I chatted with Chief as we walked up the stairs to the B's locker room. The access to those stairs has taught me so much, because of the conversations I have had with the athletes and managers I have encountered.

This morning was no different. Enlightened as to another aspect of the game (the subject of which is unimportant), Chief and I headed up the stairs onto the rink level and saw the bull gang preparing the building. There was nobody on the ice and nothing to fill the seats except the anticipation of a hockey game played in the best league in the world.

I can't wait for 7 p.m.

Jack Edwards teaching.
PS> When asked what was the biggest difference between myself and my friends at the Globe and Herald, I said, quoting Cameron Crowe (who was quoting Lester Bangs), that those guys from the papers are necessarily "honest and unmerciful. I am honest and merciful."

PPS> Thanks to Prof. Fountain and the crew for coming in! And a thanks especially to Jack Edwards for speaking to the kids in what was certainly the highlight of their day. Also thanks to the Bruins PR department and my spectacular interns Pete and Helen.

Matt(s) tonight…
While we're at it, it's pretty cool to see Matt Lashoff and Matt Hunwick again -- although the circumstances stink. Get better guys.

Here are some quotes from the gentlemen as they prepare for their season debuts (and in the case of Hunwick, his first NHL contest).

Defenseman Matt Lashoff
Lashoff as a junior with the Kitchener Rangers.
On who is defensive partner will be…
I’m not sure who I’m going to be paired with, but its good to see a lot of the guys who are familiar.  Obviously they need some help from Providence but also its good to see some guys who were on the Bruins last year.

On advice for Hunwick playing first NHL game…
Well I think you just have to have fun with it. Your first game only comes once.  I would tell him to just play his game and have a good time.

On his first NHL game…
It was against Montreal. It couldn’t get much better than that.  I had a good time but I was nervous.  I was more nervous leading up to the game but once I stepped onto the ice I kind of calmed down.  I think that’s what’s going to happen, all the hoopla goes away once you get on the ice.  You have to just play your game.  I was lucky enough to just get thrown right into the fire.  I played quite a bit my first game so it went pretty well.

On his strategy for tonight’s game…
Yeah I think I have to play my game.  I got caught certain times last year and in training camp trying to do things I normally wouldn’t do.  I was playing outside my game. I talked to the coach down in Providence, they told me to stay within myself and not play too different. Play cautious, but not overly cautious.  I going to try to help in any way that I can.

Defenseman Matt Hunwick
Hunwick with Team USA
On being nervous for NHL debut…
A little bit, last night I was thinking about it before I went to bed.  I woke up this morning feeling good, feeling confident.  I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself.  I’m just going to go out there and play.  Hopefully the game goes well for me.

On personal strategy for tonight’s game…
I think that if I change my game I am going to be putting more pressure on myself.  Like I said I’m going to go out there and do what I normally do. Be conscious of what’s going on.  If I go out there and have fun I will do fine.

On first NHL game…
I think playing those five preseason games really helped me out.  Being around the guys so much it doesn’t feel like a new experience, I think I have been here for a while.  Hopefully this transition tonight is smooth.  I am just going to play my game, my style; I’ll just have to adjust to some of the systems here.

4:07 p.m.
Ok, we are ratcheting up. Here is a transcript of Coach's press scrum this morning:

Head Coach Claude Julien
Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas celebrates the Bruins win against the Philadelphia Flyers with Petr Tenkrat (17) and Bobby Allen (38) at the end of their NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 19, 2007, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/H. Rumph, Jr.)
On the status of the injured players…
Bobby Allen’s not ready to go; Andrew Ference obviously isn’t ready to go; and neither is Aaron Ward so we’ve had to make those call-ups and go from there.  To me, we miss those players, but I don’t think we’re in a position where we have to panic because I really liked our depth in that position in training camp and the two guys that we’ve called up right now are certainly capable of playing here and they’ll have a chance to show that tonight. 

On the components of scoring goals and which components are lacking right now…
Well again, lacking, it’s probably the finish.  And we’re not the only team going through this if you check around the league.  It’s been a tighter checking league and what we’ve noticed is that five on five for the most part, we’ve been comparable to the teams that we’ve played except for maybe an exception here or there.  The game in Ottawa was certainly one of those, but other than that our special teams is maybe the difference right now in not creating as many scoring chances and we all know that’s been an issue of ours.  But, certainly we’d like to be able to finish a little better.  I think a lot of it is confidence because I really feel we have the guys that are capable of finishing and have shown they have in the past.  So if we can get that part of our game going, that would be a big plus.  Our team is not playing bad; our team competes every night; our team’s in every game.  But, that little difference that we’re talking about will certainly help us get over that hump. 

On the familiarity factor of the players called up with the team…
Oh yeah (it will help).  I mean those guys are familiar with what we’ve done and Flash (Providence Head Coach, Scott Gordon) in Providence is playing pretty well the same way we are; we’re on the same page and that’s why I said that we’re pretty comfortable with our group down there.  He’s always done a good job and those guys come into familiar territory in a way that it’s not a big change in the way that they play down there.  So these guys are capable; they’ve been with us throughout basically the whole training camp; they were the last cuts and they come in here feeling comfortable about doing the job.

John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
On keeping things upbeat and positive…
I don’t know that anybody should be overly negative about our hockey club right now except for the fact that we haven’t been able to score as many goals as we’d like to.  Our special teams have to get better; I think our guys doing that job are aware of it as well.  So just getting better in a couple of areas.  Hopefully, being able to finish better; hopefully, our power play and our penalty kill give us the kind of outing that we’d like for them to give us.  And if we do that I think we’re going to be a pretty good hockey club.  But, let’s not ruin the good things that we’ve done.  As I mentioned, except for that Montreal game, which was a 6-1 loss in Montreal, we’ve been in every game; we’ve been capable of winning every one of those games and I don’t know how many teams in the league can say that after fifteen games except for one that it could have gone any way. 

On keeping Tim Thomas from feeling down…
Well, I think he’s no different than the rest of the team.  Again, it’s building on the positive.  I think Timmy just has to look at this year and what the guys in front of him have done.  They’ve certainly limited scoring chances because we know after games how many we give; he’s been playing extremely well; he’s got to continue to do that.  I think the issue is not Tim Thomas’ play; the issue is at the other end, being able to score that one more goal than we’re allowing.  So Timmy just has to stay on course here and keep doing what he’s been doing because he certainly hasn’t been an issue.  And if anything, he’s been great for us and has allowed us to compete and stay in those games.

6:32 p.m.
Hey everyone. The boys just hit the ice.

Here are the lines as I figure them to be:

Chara-Wideman (sg) Thomas
Stuart-Alberts (bg) Rask
Hunwick-Lashoff GoBruin

Sorry for the delay. JB

6:56 p.m.

Boston -  Sturm-Kessel-Kobasew, Alberts, Wideman, Thomas
Buffalo - MacArthur-Hecht-Pominville, Campbell, Spacek, Miller

Heading over to the Running Recap...see you on the flip side.
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