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Bear Essentials On the Road: New Jersey

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Bear Essentials On the Road: Newark, New Jersey (Prudential Center)

Today, the Bruins take on foe number four this trip -- the New Jersey Devils. The building is absolutely enormous and well lit -- which makes it seem even bigger. And coming from the Nassau Coliseum, which is not very tall or wide, this rink is a sight to behold. As are the Devils, who have won seven straight. But here's the thing, no matter what the Devils have done recently, the two clubs are both tied with 30 points in the Eastern Conference. JB
Where are we going?
The Prudential Center
Welcome to New Jersey (Newark, specifically). The official state website of NJ gives the following explanation for the state's well known nickname:
Abraham Browning of Camden is given credit for giving New Jersey the nickname the Garden State. According to Alfred Heston's 1926 two-volume book Jersey Waggon Jaunts, Browning called New Jersey the Garden State while speaking at the Philadelphia Centennial exhibition on New Jersey Day (August 24, 1876).

Browning said that our Garden State is an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and New Yorkers from the other. The name stuck ever since.

However, Benjamin Franklin is credited with a similar comparison of New Jersey to a barrel tapped at both ends. Some have used that to discredit Browning with naming the Garden State.
In 1954, the state legislature passed a bill to have "The Garden State" added to license plates. Before signing the bill into law, Governor Robert Meyner investigated the origins of the nickname and found "no official recognition of the slogan Garden State as an identification of the state of New Jersey." He added, "I do not believe that the average citizen of New Jersey regards his state as more peculiarly identifiable with gardening for farming than any of its other industries or occupations." Governor Meyner vetoed the bill, but the legislature overrode the veto. The slogan was added to license plates soon after.

Where are we playing?
Buildings in downtown Newark are seen through windows in the new Prudential Center. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)
Prudential Center. explains:
Boasting a wide selection of high-end amenities, Prudential Center is much more than the new home of the Devils – it's also one of the premier destination spots in all of New Jersey...One of the unique features of this state-of-the-art arena is the 350-seat restaurant located at the south end of the building, overlooking the ice. With two seatings, one 90 minutes prior to game time, the other at the start of the game, fans have the opportunity to enjoy fine dining ranging from international flavors to local specialties before the Devils hit the ice...Two tiers of ledge seating behind the goal at Suite Level One ensure that, while dining, you'll see every minute of game action. For ledge seating, order the three-course meal. Or, savor a five-star quality buffet at one of the tables or booths in the restaurant while taking in the game on one of the 14 flat-screen televisions mounted along the dining room’s amber pillars. To further delight patrons’ palates, both ala carte and children’s menus are available upon request. 

More on "The Rock" in a bit.

Who are we playing?
The New Jersey Devils are the one of the few teams to consistently be at the top or near the top of the Eastern Conference for years on end. When they won Stanley Cup number three in 2003, both their general manager (Lou Lamoriello) and their goaltender (Martin Brodeur) cemented their legendary status. writes of 2003:
The Devils got to the playoffs thanks to yet another impressive season in net from Martin Brodeur, who won his first Vezina Trophy as well as the Jennings Trophy after playing in 73 of the 82 games and finishing 41-23-9 with a 2.02 goals-against average.

It was Brodeur’s fourth 40-win season. He led the league in wins and was second in games played.

Patrik Elias had a team-high 28 goals and 57 points. Jamie Langenbrunner and Scott Gomez each had 55 points, with Gomez registering a team-high 42 assists. Friesen had 23 goals, 28 assists and was a plus-23.

“Because of winning in 2000 and being there in 2001, everybody thought we had a shot because we had Marty Brodeur and a team that knows what it’s like to win close games,” Daneyko said. “Still, I don’t think people thought this version of the Devils had a chance to win it all. It was supposed to be someone else’s year. We quietly went into the playoffs.”

They would roar out of them with their third Stanley Cup.

When are we playing?
7:00 p.m. The B's regular start time. No problems there.

Who's playing for us?
From what I saw at warm ups, Brandon Bochenski is out. And it looked to be Timmy Thomas in goal. No sign of Aaron Ward, and Jeremy Reich was back after an unexpected trip home.

More on Reichie's trip in a few.

Is the game on?
Yes. NESN and WBZ will cover the game.
2:06 p.m
There was a very important addition to the Hub of Hockey yesterday.

"Everything is going well, the baby is awake and (my wife Marcie) is doing fine," said Bruins tough-guy Jeremy Reich, who hustled home to be back at Mass General in time for the arrival of his baby - a healthy baby girl of 6 pounds, 1 ounce. "It's been exciting.

"(But) it was my first one, so you really don't know what to expect.

"I took the six o'clock flight, got there at 7:30 and she had her at 10:51," he said.

Jeremy and Marcie have also decided on a name.

"Addisen Grace."

A name as beautiful as she is, Mr. and Mrs. Reich -- congratulations!

There is a bit of win one for the "Julien-er" today in the locker room.

As you know, despite an outstanding record, then Devils head coach Claude Julien was summarily dismissed on the eve of last season's playoffs.

"I think it's kind of understood," said Mark "Popeye" Stuart. And the muscular Boston defenseman with the strong jawline added, "Obviously, we know the position he was in last year and, as a player or a coach, and when you face a former team you always want to get a win out of it."

Marc Savard, agreed , but said it's not just about tonight.

"Everyone knows he had a great season here and then he got released," he said.  "But we'd like to go play hard for him, just like any other night, and get a win."

6:00 p.m.
Believe it or not, we got on the bus at 4:30 to get to the rink and we did not get here until after 5 p.m.

So sorry for the delay folks -- LOTS OF TRAFFIC -- especially in downtown Newark.

The players may have a special feeling about tonight's game, but B's head coach Claude Julien says that he does not. He just wants to get two points and head back to Boston to take on the Habs on Thursday night.

"It's the next stop on the trip," said Julien. "Obviously, when you've been here it is always going to be special.

"(And) it's a chance to see the new rink for the first time.

"But, the bottom line...I've been through this before (in Montreal) learn to turn the page and focus on the present," he said.

"There are always going to be some feelings there," said Coach about facing his former players. "There are a lot of guys, most of them in there, that I certainly respect.

"They were great warriors and they were good for our team last year.

"(The Devils are) a good organization, and I know people have a hard time understanding it, but I have a lot of respect for Lou."

6:04 p.m.
Now about The Rock. This place is just something else -- I can't believe how big the bowl seems from down below and up here in the press area. The press area is HUGE, too.

But I suppose the things that loom the largest are the three Stanley Cup Banners to my right.

6:07 p.m.
Here's how I see the lines tonight:
Stuart-Chara (sg) Thomas
Alberts-Wideman (bg) Rask
Hunwick-Allen Go BRUINS!

6:39 p.m.
The teams are still on the ice and will complete their warm ups in a couple of minutes. As expected it will be Tim Thomas vs. Martin Brodeur.

If there is nothing else to report I will see you next on the running recap. JB
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