Captain Chara Checks In
Last night was fun.
It was nerve wracking, certainly, but fun, definitely.
And it took most of the day to recover, so sorry for the late blog.
The Boston Bruins brought their lunch pails and came to play on Saturday night when they defeated the Ottawa Senators 2-1.
Lost on nobody within shouting distance was new Captain Zdeno Chara
’s presence on the TD Banknorth Garden ice.
Chara didn’t just stand tall; at 6’9, 260, he always does that.
No, yesterday Big "Z" was HUGE playing against his former teammates and displayed all of the functions the Boston Bruins envisioned when Boston signed him in July.
The sight of him checking three Ottawa Senators in a row, sending all three flying as if they were inert tackling dummies, and then taking another one on in a shoving match that led to some punches, will certainly lead his Boston Bruins highlight reel someday.
And it certainly punctuated (!) the end of his days as an Ottawa Senator -- as if that were ever in doubt.
His physical play, the eventual game winning powerplay goal, and his overall on-ice presence will not soon be forgotten by those in attendance on October 28.
And another thing that won’t be forgotten, at least not by this scribe, will be the scene in the Bruins locker room Friday following the Montreal loss when Head Coach Dave Lewis insisted that his hockey team needed to be harder to play against.
"We have to show up right from the beginning and play through the entire game," said Lewis before the Ottawa game. "We have to have the mindset of playing hockey games to win them.
"As a player on the ice you can play with a certain presence. And I do not see enough of that presence yet. And that is what I want to see. I want us to be front and center in every area of the game…It’s an attitudinal thing for me. I want us to display a certain element of…’I’m here, I’m here for a reason and you’re going to have to beat me.’
"It doesn’t matter how big you are, you can carry that mindset…I think every person has it in them…I want to do everything in our power to display that attitude and then from that attitude get some results," he said.
"I want us to be aggressive," said Lewis who pantomimed an altercation. "You’re coming after me, well, I am coming after you."
It was obvious that his charges had taken their head coach’s words to heart early in the first period on Saturday.
One player took the coach’s instructions literally.
And I may be seeing things, but before the fight de-escalated into an on-ice wrestling match, I could have sworn that Boston heavyweight Wade Brookbank had a smile on his face as he took on one of the Senators.
The building itself was a little tense as the teams filed out of the locker room -- I know I was.
Perhaps the fans themselves were feeling the same pressure the Bruins players were feeling -- nobody likes losing and the last second goal by Montreal had marred what had otherwise been a very good effort by the Black & Gold.
And Thursday night, in the locker room, Our Boys were devastated.
But, as the teams took the ice last night, the ice was broken in the stands and on the Boston bench. Throughout the game, I enjoyed hearing an old school cowbell, seeing patrons cheering in their Bruins jersey’s and continued to be astonished by the loud cheering that emanates from the vocal fans seated in the balcony.
Last night was a baby step for sure, and the team HAS TO continue to garner points in the standings.
However, if they can also continue to play bigger than they are and draw that line in the ice, we could be in for quite a 7/8 of a season.
"It was a nice one for everybody," said Coach Lewis after the game. "I don’t know if we could have scripted it any better."
"The Boys protected their own turf. They did a tremendous job, to a man."
See you on Thursday.
"Let’s go Bruins. Let’s go Bruins."Other voices
"To be honest, I haven’t had a win in a long time, other than preseason. The team needed the win…I am obviously going to take confidence into the next game [I play], based on games like this. Throughout a year you have good games and you go into the next game just like you did the game before. So this is one game I can look back on and say ’Just approach this one the same way you did the Ottawa game’…just like everyone on the team I really felt the pressure before the game. It was a huge win. We could not afford to keep going in the direction we were going."Goalie, Tim Thomas, on the Ottawa win
"I didn’t have much time, which was a good thing (chuckles). I tried to go top shelf…It’s big because we have been struggling and to come back in the last period like that, it’s big for us. And I think we played hockey for 60 minutes for the first time tonight…obviously, when you don’t win, the confidence goes down a little bit. That is something you have to work on -- on the ice, and try to get it back…I hope we are on the right track now. One win doesn’t mean anything. We have to come back and win more than that…obviously if we work 60 minutes we will give ourselves a chance to win every night and that is the key thing."Forward, P.J. Axelsson, on his goal and the win
"Timmy Thomas was absolutely big when he had to be big. He made saves early on, he made saves late…tight games are good games to win…[as far as the decision to go with Thomas] it was intuition on the part of a couple of people and I knew that he had just come off a game and our schedule has been so light that I wanted to give him the same chance that Hannu had earlier on in the schedule…and he was game ready…he was big. Big. He was big. And that’s good to see. He was big."Head Coach, Dave Lewis, on Tim Thomas