I am a little down this afternoon…But I am not down for the reasons most of you might expect.
You see, as a "member" of the team, as an employee of the Boston Bruins, I don’t necessarily have to hold myself apart from Our Boys in the same way as the other reporters in the dressing room.
When I leave the locker room, I always say, "Good luck" or "have a great game" to the guys.
We joke around -- or, I might say, the guys make fun of me.
I ask about family and children and plans and they ask me about my family and my plans.
I very proudly wear the Black-and-Gold (as evidenced by my awful picture above) to every practice and game. And I sit far away from the print and electronic media, with the Bruins media relation intern (Jill) and the Garden’s IT guy (Brian) -- and we cheer, very quietly, for this most likable of teams.
I am older than most of the guys, too, so in my head, I think I become a surrogate big sibling.
So I am down today because so many of my "teammates" are hurt.
Yah, the Bruins lost last night to Buffalo, 6-2, and yes, that stinks and yes, it would have been "much cooler" if they had been able to best Mr. Biron and company. But that loss really came at the hands of the very fickle hockey gods who have shone down on the Sabres to the tune of eight wins in a row. And, in case you haven’t heard, the Sabres are pretty darn good.
Remember, however, the hockey gods like parody and what goes up, must come down.
But, as usual, I digress.
Here is the bottom line: To see people like Mark Stuart, Andrew Alberts, Marco Sturm, Mark Mowers and Brad Stuart, all of whom are some of the most personable and likeable athletes I have ever met, in pain; you just never get used to that.
When Hannu Toivonen got hit in the throat in practice, or when Milan Jurcina was on the shelf with his injury, it just made me upset.
People like to say that it’s part of the game. Still, it never slides off my back and I am never able to just be a "professional" and shake it off, as if the team had lost a piece in a board game, or I was through with a game of go fish.
NEVER, and I have a lot of experience with this -- four Beanpot schools worth.
When I was working or attending classes at Boston U. and Northeastern, or when I was employed at Boston College and Harvard, each of the teams that I encountered had great people on the roster -- and when they go down with an injury, or, let’s face it, when they are in PAIN, it wears on your mind and sometimes it is hard to concentrate on the result of a given contest.
Even when you are supposed to be a "pro."
So as you watch the Pat’s take on their Buffalo bound nemesis, please take a second and send a little karma the Bruins way. Our guys were just beginning to gel this week, and they need a healthy roster to make that continue…Go Bruins!Tim Thomas: Juxtaposition
Before yesterday’s game, Tim Thomas
(above) and I had a chat about being the back-up goaltender on a given night. I asked him if there was a point that the healthy competition to make the start makes way to being ready to back-up the starter.
"By the time the game starts, you’ve already turned into a teammate," Thomas said of backing-up. "You’ve just got to support your teammates and help them get ready for the game as best as you can in the position you’re in.
"You know, when you first find out that you’re not playing, you might be a little disappointed and think about it for awhile. They usually tell you the day before…by the time the next day rolls around, you’ve already dealt with it and you’ve just got to go work hard in practice, to give everybody a good pre-game skate and show up and be supportive at the game.
Does Tim slip into coaching on the bench?
"I don’t act like a coach," he said of his seat on the bench. "I try to point out things that guys did well, give them compliments, you know…’Way to make that hit, it really broke up that play.’
"Just little comments to keep them doing what they have been doing. But as far as stepping over the line into coaching I don’t want to do that.
Tim does not have a problem letting the guys know about faults in the opposing goalies armor, however.
"If I can notice something [about the opposing goalie] that helps my team, any goalie in the world would do that."
Later that day, when Coach Lewis looked to spell Hannu, Tim-may was called into the game. The problem is, however, that there is no bullpen in hockey and Thomas was expected to be sharp right away.
Tim and I talked about it afterward.
"There’s no way when you sit on the bench for a few minutes that you can stop your legs from tightening up a bit," explained Thomas, post game. "That being said, you watch the game and you keep an eye on the ’feel’ so after the third goal… you’re blood starts pumping and your heart starts racing and then by the time I got put in, I was pretty warm."
And on Saturday, he gave the Bruins a little lift when he came in and immediately stopped several shots.
"I felt comfortable in there for going in cold," said Thomas, who said there were lessons to be had from the contest with Buffalo.
"On the positive side, you can take that we weren’t that far away from them. It wasn’t like they dominated us, I don’t believe.
"Another thing that you can take out of it is that there are certain things that we have to do to win. We’ve been taught about [those things] and we did them pretty well last game. We got off the game plan today and part of that is because we got behind early. We have to stick with our game plan and we have to play all together.
"We’re not the type of team that can afford very much leeway for mistakes," said Thomas. "There’s no excuses, but Buffalo is a good team. Having said that, we weren’t that far off, so it’s not totally discouraging."
What about the next game?
"[Montreal] is hard working and doesn’t have much room for mistakes. So [the Habs game will come down to] who can play their game the best."Other voices in the room
"It doesn’t help the cause, losing Stewie, a guy who plays 20-25 minutes a game…but we have defensemen who can make the plays, and forwards who can get open for them. We have to start doing that."Forward, Brad Boyes, on losing Brad Stuart
"Maybe not on the scoreboard, but on the ice, controlling the play, chances, shots, the other stats…we were with them the whole way, a team that is 8 and 0 right now, so that comes at you…it is positive, but we lost and that’s the bottom line."Boyes, on the positives and negatives from the Buffalo game
"The main goal is to win and when you don’t win it’s pretty disappointing. You play for your team and not yourself."Forward, Phil Kessel, on his modest celebration following his first NHL goal