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On the Road: Bruins @ Oilers

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
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.
10:07 p.m.

It is one happy bus to the airport. In a few minutes, Bear Force One will make the one and a half hour flight to BC and will be Vancouver all day Tuesday --  from morning skate to the postgame pressers.

Wideman scores....gotta run. B's win 1-0.

2:25 - Hooking on Edmonton. Bergy grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, he skates into the zone, dished to Sturm and Marco was hooked as he shot. Time out.

3:50 - Kessel with a sick move, goes to the net and forces Roloson to make the save.

4:59 - Edmonton wins the draw. We're four-on-four.

5:00 - Beginning of Overtime.
0:00 - B's get a point. Going to OT.

1:00 - Bruins skating into the Oilers zone...

3:16 - Hnidy with a bid, it flutters in high, but Roloson is there.

4:11 - I can hear Jack Edwards where I am: "Awwwwwww, Superman."

A diving glove save. Gorgeous.

4:24 - Wideman shot, deflects wide.

5:01 - Right leg save by Thomas.

6:00 - I made it down to the locker room...Still 0-0.

11:16 - Roloson is playing like Bill Ranford tonight. Another nice save.

12:09 - Timmy makes another nice one and holds on for a face-off.

14:47 - Nokie pulled down by Visnovsky. Bruins PP.

15:52 - Another save by Roloson, this time on Bergeron.

16:34 - Rollie robs Savvy with a beautiful glove stop.

17:14 - Timmy deflects a hot shot from the point into the stands. B's still lead on shots, 28-18.

18:38 - About three saves and a pile up in the Bruins crease. The B's are very lucky it is still 0-0.

19:59 - Edmonton controls the draw and forces it into the Boston end.

20:00 - Beginning of Third Period. My laptop for a goal...
0:00 - A final shot by Thornton goes wide of the net and the horn sounds. 0-0 after two.

1:29 - Hard work by the Lucic - Savard - Ryder troika puts the puck deep and a shot by Michael causes Rollie to hop on the puck and wait for a whistle.

4:39 - Hemsky goes down. Bergeron in the box for tripping.

5:36 - Third icing in a row for Boston.

5:54 - Boston icing. Shots are 23-14, B's.

7:49 - Not too much happened on the power play for Boston, but the B's forced it back into the Edmonton zone and Roloson held on for the draw.

9:51 - Krejci is pulled down. Visnovsky is in the box for Edmonton.

10:39 - Thornton, Yelle and Nokelainen just forced the puck into the Edmonton zone and Roloson hopped on it to force a face-off.

11:57 - Savard with a shot, short rebound off Roloson. Lucic follows up and ends up being subdued by three Oilers. Can't tell you exactly how long, but there was no stoppage in play for a very long time.

13:46 - Axelsson and Wheeler just put a ton of pressure on the Oilers.

18:01 - Teams are even strength. Oilers icing.

19:00 - Wides took a puck to the leg, but made it back to the bench on his own after stopping another chance by Edmonton.

19:32 - The Oilers dump it into the zone and set up.

20:00 - Start of the second session. Boston played well in the first, but has nothing to show for it. However, Boston starts the period shorthanded, four-to-three.
0:00 - Technical difficulties here on the comp. Nothing happened at the end of the period and the teams go to the break tied, 0-0.

20.1 - Penner in the sin bin for Edmonton. Four-on-four play.

1:22 - Ward is in the box. The Oilers will have a late PP.

2:10 - Tim lost his stick again, but this time Hnidy (I think) slid it to him, and seconds later Thomas stopped a bullet from above the circle to his right.

2:40 - Some back and forth action for the last couple of minutes, but no shots. Pretty sloppy play by both sides, actually.

4:45 - Nice hustle from Michael Ryder who worked the puck out of the zone and powered through a defender on his way to making Roloson stop his 1th shot.

6:59 - Tim makes his toughes save of the night. He stopped a point-blank shot and with ten guys crashing his net, pounced on the rebound.

8:57 - Wheels puts the 13th shot on Rollie. Boston has held sway for most of the period, but the score remains 0-0.

10:21 - Petteri Nokelainen had Roloson doing snow angels. However, when the puck was rescued by one of his defensemen, Edmonton ended up with a breakaway. Nothing to it, however, and the B's are ahead in shots, 11-3.

11:21 - Phil Kessel fires his 10th shot.

13:02 - In typical Thomas fashion, Tim dove agross the crease and landed in a pile, stuck out a leg and kicked away a shot, lost his stick, got his stick back and was ready for the next shot.

13:19 - Icing Bruins. The Oilers had a lot of pressure on Tim, who has two saves, thus far. Roloson has eight.

13:56 - Big save by Timmy.

16:19 - An Oiler in the box. Tom Gilbert gives Boston a PP.

18:12 - Kejci with a shot on Rollie the Goalie.

18:45 - Begeron follows up on a shot and forces Roloson to cover up.

20:00 - Beginning of the First Period. How about a quick start?

Switching to time on the clock. Believe it or not, they erected an oil derrick on the ice.

6:38 p.m.
Here are your Boston Bruins...
Lucic -  Savard - Kessel
Sturm - Bergeron - Ryder
Axelsson - Krejci - Wheeler
Thornton - Yelle - Nokelainen
Chara - Ward
Ference - Wideman
Stuart - Hnidy

Kobasew, Hunwick, Sobotka.

6:30 p.m.
The B's just hit the ice for warmups. They are wearing their road whites, while Edmonton left the room looking like the 1988 Oilers. They have their retro third jerseys on.

No sign on #99.

I have the finest seat for a hockey game I have ever had.

Rexall Place has a pressbox that is suspended from the ceiling and is nearly over the ice.


6:00 p.m.
Well, my friends, we are nearing game time and the nostalgia must wear off.

Tim Thomas will face former UMass-Lowell goaltender Dwayne Roloson in the Bruins first visit to Edmonton since the 2005-06 season.

3:09 p.m.
In his very fine book, Open Net, the late George Plimpton writes:

The First view of Edmonton, at least coming in from the airport is astonishing. One drives past miles of three and four-story frame buildings, a little higher and fancier as one goes, until finally the visitor assumes that there’ll be of the same, and that’s Edmonton. But then one goes over the rise of a hill and the modern skyscraper city rises out of the deep valley like a mirage.

George captures my experience, except that when we drove into the city it seems like the Bruins motorcade passed miles of strip malls. But you get the picture.

Nestled near North Edmonton, Johnny Bucyk’s old stomping ground, lay Rexall Place.

Now, from the outside, like most arenas, it doesn’t look like much (a round box in contrast to the rectangular box of the TD Banknorth Garden), but inside is the stuff that dreams are made of -- shiny blue seats, with lots of Banners and retired numbers, including the #99 of Wayne Gretzky.

If you are a child of the 70’s or 80’s (next to Jim Craig and Mike Eruzione) hockey was The Great One and the Edmonton Oilers.

The first Stanley Cup Finals I watched form beginning to end was the 1987 match up between the Oilers and Ron Hextall's Philadelphia Flyers. Prior to that, I had concentrated, mostly on Team USA, Ron Francis and the Whalers, the Springfield Indians, and, when TV 38 showed them, Ray Bourque and the Boston Bruins.

That series, and Gretzky, brought me into the world that is NHL hockey.

Today, frankly, it seems like a long way from the streets of Enfield, Connecticut, where I wore the colors of the Oilers (with red, white and blue gloves for Team USA) alongside my brother Andy in our hockey “battles” with the Stetson brothers, to the ice of the former Northlands Coliseum.

Is there anyone who has ever picked up a hockey stick who has not thought about Gretzky for a moment and wished that his magic would somehow be in the wood and fiberglass of that stick, too?

One time, my dad, a former Hartford policeman, brought home Wayne Gretzky posters for my brother and I. He had worked the Whalers vs. Oilers game the night before and when we woke up in the morning it was as if he had handed us two of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

But we are here and, thankfully, I am not the only “kid” in the Bruins party who is just a little bit in awe to be in Gretzky’s House.

Milan Lucic, who is a bit of a media darling out here (and everywhere, if we are still being honest) confessed to me when he left the ice that he was shocked that they could fit over 17,000 people in the tiny confines of Rexall Place.

“Going out there it looks cramped,” said Lucic. “You know, it’s going to be exciting to see, tonight, how the fans are.

“They are right on top of you here, so it’s going to be good to see.”

That said, Lucic was clear that he was not an Oilers fan growing up.

“No, I was never an Oiler fan, no,” he said. “I didn’t hate them, but I was not an Oiler fan.”

Chances are we’ll find out a little more about Milan when we talk to him in his hometown of Vancouver.

Tonight, however, we are going to enjoy our visit to hockey's equivalent to Field of Dreams.

11:29 a.m.
Where are we going?
The capital of Alberta, Edmonton is the second-largest city in Alberta and the second most populous provincial capital, says the Internet’s Wikipedia.

Located on the North Saskatchewan River, the city covers a larger square mileage than Chicago, Philadelphia Toronto and Montreal.

Edmonton is a staging point for oil projects in northern Alberta – hence many of the area team names – and diamond mining in the Northwest Territories. It is also home to North America’s largest mall, Canada’s largest historical park and numerous festivals, which give Edmonton the nickname “The Festival City.”

The weather in Edmonton can be a bit wild during the winter, although it is milder than other places in Canada. The climate is fairly dry, but the temperature can be as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-11 degrees Celsius) during the coldest months of the year.

Did you know?
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Edmonton came on January 19 and 21, 1886, when thermometers dipped to -59.9 degrees Fahrenheit (-49.4 degrees Celsius).

Where are we playing?
According to Wikipedia, Rexall Place opened on November 10, 1974 as the Northlands Coliseum.

In 1994, the name changed to the Edmonton Coliseum, and then to Skyreach Centre in 1998. It earned its current name when, during the 2003-2004 season, Rexall medicine company bought the arena’s naming rights.

The arena holds 16,839 for hockey games, after 1994 renovations added 67 luxury suites. Prior to the upgrade, the arena had been renovated twice, increasing seating capacity to 17,353 when the Oilers entered the NHL, and to 17,503 in 1984.

The original capacity of the building was 15,200.

Rexall Place currently serves as home to the Oilers, the Edmonton Rush of the National Lacrosse League, and the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings. Numerous Canadian bands -- Nickelback and Our Lady Peace, for example – have filmed and recorded live CDs and DVDs in the arena.

Fun fact…
During the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Oilers faced the Detroit Red Wings during the first round. In response to the Red Wings tradition of throwing octopi onto the ice, Edmonton fans began throwing Grade A Alberta beef.

Who are we playing?
Perhaps best known as the original NHL home of Wayne Gretzky, the Edmonton Oilers have had a proud and prosperous history.

Wikipedia explains that the Oilers were founded on November 1, 1971, one of twelve original teams in the World Hockey Association or WHA. However, before the 1972 season, their first in the league, the team name was changed to the Alberta Oilers when another local team moved, but the team played all its games in Edmonton, so the name was switched back the following year.

For the 1979-80 season, the Oilers joined the NHL with three other WHA teams – the Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, and New England’s own Hartford Whalers.

Thanks to Gretzky, Yari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey and Mark Messier and a slew of other fantastic hockey players, the team began climbing the standings.

The years 1983-1990 are officially considered the team’s “Dynasty years.” The 1983-84 season saw the Oilers score NHL-record 446 goals, while earning 119 points in 57 wins – a franchise record. Between 1983 and 1990, the team won five Stanley Cups – two in series played against the Bruins (1988, 1990).

The Oilers hosted the Heritage Classic, the NHL’s first outdoor hockey game, on November 22, 2003. They lost, 4-3, to the Montreal Canadiens, but the game set an NHL attendance record. Over 55,000 fans watched the game, which was played at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.

Edmonton is one of five teams in the NHL without a mascot, and they are the northernmost team in any of the four major North American pro sports leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB).

When are we playing?
9 p.m. Eastern

Who’s playing for us?
Check back for lineup updates throughout the day.

Is the game on?
NESN will have the TV broadcast, but if you’re out and about, tune into WBZ Newsradio 1030 AM for the radio broadcast.

8:09 a.m. (in Edmonton)
John Bucyk
So, why do we have a picture of John "Chief" Bucyk, Hall of Famer, eating dinner on a table on the tarmac of the airport on the front page of

The answer is a little convoluted, so bear with me.

One of the great joys of traveling with the Bruins is getting to know Bruins alum, Johnny Bucyk, who, in his road services capacity, helps the players while they are on trips.  And yes, he is a legendary, Hall of Fame, Stanley Cup Winner (twice over) and it is cool to hang with all of that, but he is also a very funny man.

Case in point: Several weeks ago, on Bear Force One following the B’s preseason game in Washington, Chief dropped some food from the galley in his kitchen. Translated, that means he dropped some of his airplane food on his new shirt and pants.

As he lamented the act, he said to his neighbor in the seats, Bruins Director of Communication Matt Chmura that he was not going to eat on the plane again. Now, Chief, like many of us, is prone to bouts of hyperbole when angered and Chmura, knowing that Mr. Bucyk enjoys the meals on the plane, said, “You’re never going to do that. In fact, I bet you can’t make it until Christmas.”

Hyperbole was thrown aside. Johnny had been challenged. Matt had thrown down the gauntlet (or, in this case, the fork) and John picked it up.

So “The Bet” was on, much to the delight of everyone within shouting distance: Chief can’t eat on the plane (except gum) until after Christmas. If he does, he owes Chmura a steak dinner. And vice versa if Johnny makes it all the way to December 26th.

But here’s the funny thing about bets, they are often poorly worded and have major loopholes.

On the next plane trip, to Denver for the season opener, Bucyk, who knows that Chmura has people spying on him when Matt does not take the flight, did not eat ON the plane. John just grabbed whatever he could that was packaged (crackers, peanuts, granola bars and, believe it or not, a sandwich) and put them into his bag to eat when the team landed.

“He did not say anything about eating the plane food on the bus,” explained Chief with a big laugh. “He just said, ‘You can’t eat on the plane.’”

And so on…

Fast forward to the current trip: Sunday morning, when we arrived at the small airport that the B’s use for a base for their charters, Chief greeted everyone normally – then disappeared. A half hour later, when we looked out the windows of the jet, he was found sitting on the tarmac at a table, covered in a nice tablecloth and waiting patiently for the dinner plate to be delivered to his table prior to the planes departure.

Apparently Chief (or Chef, as he is sometimes called and is appropriate here) had asked Coach Julien if he would mind starting the trip with a little levity. And, looking at the five hour flight, he that he would want the nice turkey dinner that would be served mid trip, so the flight attendant walked down the ramp and presented John with his dinner – with Chmura and most of the passengers watching.

That would include VP Cam Neely who shouted, “Bish, you’re going to take pictures of that, right?”

So I did – quickly -- and that is why we have a picture of John Bucyk, Hall of Famer, eating dinner on a table on the tarmac of the airport. The gallery is here.

Angela Stefano contributed to today's On the Road.
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