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On the Road: Denver, Colorado

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.
0:00 - Nice win. Boston holds on for the 5-4 victory. I gotta hit the locker room.

1.1 - Timmy smothers a late challenge by Colorado and then gets buried by bodies. He stretched his left pad to the brink and kept the puck out of the net.

33.4 - Thomas covers the puck. The altitude is not helping me catch my breath, here.

1:41 - Tripping on Bergeron.

2:36 -  David Krejci scores off a flubbed shot by Kobasew off a feed by Milan Lucic! 5-4, Boston.

A big break for the B's.

3:10 - Big stop by Thomas, I think on Tucker. Phew...

5:24 - The Avalanche have been controlling the play and if the Bruins want to get out of here with the win, they need to pick up the energy.

9:43 - A rebound off a Hejduk shot ended up in the slot, and on the stick of the Avs Jordan Leopold. He ties the game at 4-4.

13:53 - A pile up behind the Bruins net. Nothing comes of it. Just a lot of shoving.

14:24 - That is until Savard hops off the boards, gathers a puck in the corner to the left of Budaj and feeds to a waiting Ryder. Bruins lead, 4-3. Very, very pretty goal. Make sure catch the replay on SportsDesk.

14:40 - A very sloppy start for both teams in the third. Nobody can get anything going.

17:11 - Axelsson fires a shot from the blueline right into the 'A' on Budaj's chest. According to the scoreboard it is his 10th save. I think it is 12:15 a.m. at home.

19:59 - Boston controls the faceoff.

20:00 - Start of the Third Period.
0:00 - End of Second Period. Goalies switch sides.

24.2 - Some talking between Chara and LaPerriere. Nothing to that. But Wheeler is in the box for holding.

1:07 - Thomas with a save on Hejduk. Some shoving between Kobasew and Stastny.

1:46 - Tim Thomas with a save on a Smyth breakaway. That could have been the game.

2:46 - Colorado wins the faceoff.

2:47 - Continuing the second.
NESN's Jack Edwards had the glass change at 12:11.

Shawn Thornton leads the Bruins in hits with three. Patrice Bergeron has three of the B's 12 shots.

2:47 -  Second Intermission. A tipped shot by Ward smashes the glass behind the Colorado net and the refs have killed the period. We will restart the second when the teams come back from the break. The scoreboard says that Tim has 25 saves and Budaj has nine. Face offs won is even at 20.

3:29 - A couple of nice shifts by the Yelle line, and an outstanding couple of turns by Savard have created some oohs and ahhs but no goals.

9:17 - With Stastny in the box for hooking, the B's just pinballed a goal by Budaj. Savard was the last one to touch it, with Chara getting the assist. 3-3.

9:26 - Someone in the press box just said, "The Bruins can't get anything going." Maybe so, but with an Avalanche in the box, the chance is there for the next two minutes.

13:26 - Spoke too soon. With the Bruins unable to clear their zone, McLeod buried a rebound off a Joe Sakic shot. 3-2, Colorado.

14:14 - Without the energy from the crowd and with the novelty of opening night waning, the game haws really slowed down.

15:43 - Icing Avalanche. By the way, I should have mentioned this earlier: The Bruins formalized their C & A's. Chara (C) and Bergeron (A) are permanent. While Axelsson, Sturm and Ference will alternate the alternate every ten games.

16:46 - The Yelle line causes some havoc in the Avs end, with one big hit thrown by Lucic.

17:17 - I counted one B's shot on that PP.

19:26 - Avs Clark in the box for cross checking.

19:59 - Bergeron wins the faceoff.

20:00 - Start of the Second Period. The Bruins MUST be sharper this session or the Avs will pound them into submission.
0:00 - It's 2-2 after one. With goals from Kessel and Wheeler it could be Gophers 2, Avs 2.

The good news here his that Boston has not played at the top of their game as of yet and had ve controlled play for a significant amount of time.

But the Avs have some amazing firepower  and Timmy has had to make 18 saves while Budaj has two.

14.7 - Another face off in the Boston zone. This one after an icing.

50.0 - Face off in the Boston zone, late in the period.

2:16 - Another big save from Thomas who challenged Tucker past the top of his crease.

5:08 - Goal Avs. Tim Thomas sprawled trying to grab the puck. But Wolski got it to dribble through. 2-2. Darcy Tucker, late of the Leafs, got one of the assists for Col.

5:56 - Good show by the Boston PK. Tim has saves on Hejduk and Sakic, and Chara threw Smyth to the ground. Nice.

7:15 - Another penalty for Boston, this time I believe for delay of game. Not good. Five-on-three for Colorado.

7:19 - Bound to happen. Andrew Ference in the box. The Avalanche are being allowed to stay in the B's zone too long.

8:02 - Thomas just robbed Joe Sakic with a lunging right skate save.

9:09 - WHAT A PLAY. Blake Wheeler finishes a give and go that started with him, went to Kobasew back to Krejci and back to Wheeler. His first NHL goal is a beaut!

Nice job Wheels. 2-1, Boston.

9:58 - Hejduk took advantage of some confused play in front of the Bruins net and beat Timmy to tie the game, 1-1.

10:43 - Chara takes Jones hard into the boards and is called for a minor.

13:39 - Phil Kessel scores! Begeron drives the szone, shoots but gets tripped up. The puck rebounds to Kess, who fought for the rebound and shot it from just north of the hash marks to beat Budaj cleanly.

Kess told me yesterday that he was going to give me something to write about. And he certainly did with that shot.

13:53 - Ahhhh. The TV timeout.

15:18 - First shot of the year for Boston. Milan Lucic, to the right of Budaj, who made the save.

16:25 - Maybe not. Smyth just challenged Timmy at the top of his crease. Five saves for Thomas.

17:39 - Things have calmed down. Thank goodness.

18:58 - Two more saves by Thomas, right on the doorstep.

19:24 - Tim's got two saves already. As anticipated, Colorado came out flying.

19:59 - Avs control the puck.

20:00 - Start of the First Period. It was a long summer.

Let's switch to time on the clock...

8:06 p.m.

The opening montage is running for the Avs. Think Close Encounters of the Third Kind meets a rock concert and you have a pretty good idea.

Lot's of lights and music. The crowd is pumped.

8:02 p.m.
The opening ceremonies have started here.

7:53 p.m.
We are in a holding pattern here, waiting on the closing ceremonies in Detroit to end. Then we have the opening ceremonies here.

The starters for Boston are Thomas, Sturm, Chara, Bergeron, Ward, Kessel.

7:38 p.m.
Here are the lines...
Axelsson - Savard - Ryder
Sturm - Bergeron - Kessel
Wheeler - Krejci - Kobasew
Lucic - Yelle - Thornton
Chara - Ward
Ference - Wideman
Stuart - Hnidy

7:30 p.m.
The teams are on the ice. Budaj led Colorado out. Thomas led Boston.

7:23 p.m.
This morning, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara sat in his locker stall, smiling.

"Every season and every opening night is exciting," said Chara. "No matter if the game is at home or on the road, you're starting another season, and you're excited to get going.

"Preseason is preseason, but the regular season is the real stuff.

"You can see that the guys are very (ready) to get on the ice and start playing and be involved in the games. Like I said, tonight's the real thing and you can feel the anticipation in the room."

6:52 p.m.
Brian Leetch
I am pretty sure you won't see this on Versus, but the Avalanche are going to honor the 2008 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees with an on ice ceremony.

Former Boston Bruin Brian Leetch and his teammate from the New York Rangers, Mike Richter, will join Cammi Granato and Brett Hull on the ice prior to the opening face-off.

BTW: I have got to believe that Mike Richter's penalty shot save on Pavel Bure during the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals is the best stop I have ever seen.

All of the inductees are certainly worthy of the honor. Congratulations to them!

6:16 p.m.
Just got back from University of Denver (DU) where I watched Joe Colborne practice with the Pioneers. Joe is playing on the first line and looked as if he had gained some weight and (if this is possible) looked taller.

I am hoping to get a phone interview with him later this week, and I have a ton of pictures, too.

The Bruins are in the Pepsi Center getting ready for the game, and I will keep you updated until I get on the plane, later.

2:25 p.m.
Tim Thomas
It’s not a cliché. It’s the truth – Opening Night is a big deal.

“From a player’s perspective, you don’t really get the opportunity to sit back and look at it,” said Tim Thomas, who looks to be the starter tonight. “You have to prepare yourself to play the best that you can.

“But just knowing that another season is getting started is exciting. We’ve made it through another camp and you are going to be starting the season in the highest league in the world.

“It’s exciting.”

And to get a start on opening night is pretty special.

“I guess it’s kind of an honor,” said Thomas, who says that being an NHL netminder “never gets old.”

Yelle returns to Colorado
What about if it is your 13th opening night.

“It’s awesome,” said Stephane Yelle, whose career started in Denver. “It’s a fresh start for me and this is pretty much all I know. Hockey. So, to still be able to play is a great opportunity for me.”

For Yelle, the chance to pull on a Black & Gold jersey brings out the kid in him.

“It’s been really good,” said Stephane. “The city is awesome and the guys and the organization have been great, so I am looking forward to a great season.”

Yelle has had several great seasons, including two Stanley Cup Championships with Colorado.

“I came in from one year in Cornwall and the team moved here my first year,” said Yelle. “I was lucky enough to win the cup here in ’96, the first year of the (Avalanche).

“It was pretty special.

“And then in 2001 we had another special group of guys. It was an older team with Dave Reid and Ray Bourque and Patty Roy…we battled hard and won game seven here in this building, so the whole city was really pumped up.

“It’s great memories.”

Kobasew glad to put some memories behind him…
Chuck Kobasew
“Just to get started again will be nice,” said veteran forward Chuck Kobasew. “The summer gets long, so it’s nice to get the real stuff going.

Chuck, who was unable to play in the playoffs last spring due to injury, is just glad to be back in a Bruins uniform, healthy, and ready for a new season.

“It’s tough to watch (during the playoffs) and it’s fun to be back,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve played and I am looking forward to it.”

Kobasew was quite philosophical about his being able to play hockey for a living.

“It’s an honor and to be fortunate to be doing something you love as a job, you can’t beat it,” said Chuck. “There’s just a select few of us, and the numbers are small.

“We are very privileged to be here and fortunate to be here.”

12:50 p.m.
What we know...
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien draws out a drill for his players during practice. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Manny Fernandez, Andrew Alberts and Petteri Nokelainen skated today abd nobody else took the ice.

That indicated that Tim Thomas will be the starter in net for Boston, tonight.

When asked if we could expect to see Manny in Minnesota, Coach Julien said, "They both deserve to get some starts. They got better as training camp went along and they will both play.

"Probably Manny (will go on Saturday), but I am not going to say that (definitively) because there are a lot of things that can come into play.

"But by the end of it, it's not going to be about controversy, its going to be going with the goaltender that has the hot hand."

10:50 a.m. (Denver time)
Game Notes: Printable Version
 View or download a printable version of this release. (PDF)
Just a little update: Bruins Vice President Cam Neely will be on WEEI's "The Big Show" today at 3:10 pm (Boston time) to preview tonight's season opener.

In addition, Andrew Ference (WFNX - Tuesday mornings at 7:20 am), Marc Savard (WZLX - Wednesday mornings at 8:20 am) and Aaron Ward (WBCN - Wednesday afternoons at 4:00 pm) have all started their regular weekly call-ins.

Stay tuned for updates from Colorado.

Morning Update...

Good morning from Denver!

The Bruins have a 10:15 a.m. (Denver time) bus to the Pepsi Center for morning skate.

Anticipation is high, and despite the departures of some of their teammates, the Bruins are very excited about starting the season.

"Opening night is alway fun," said Chuck Kobasew after yesterday's practice. "Playing in Colorado, it's a great building with loud fans, so that is going to be exciting.

"Just to get started again will be nice."
Where are we going?
The Denver Skyline (Photo by Cyprien, via Wikipedia) says: The perfect blend of outdoor adventure and urban sophistication. That’s the duality locals love about the Mile High City. With snowcapped peaks providing a spectacular backdrop, Denver is as refined as it is laid-back. It’s a place where aerospace engineers rub elbows with rock climbers at local brewpubs, at art festivals, or while strolling their favorite pedestrian mall. And with 300 days of sunshine per year, it’s easy to see why people fall in love with Denver the first time they visit.

Who are we playing?
So sayeth the Wikipedia: The Colorado Avalanche are a professional ice hockey team based in Denver, Colorado, United States. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Avalanche have won the Stanley Cup twice, in 1996 and 2001.

The franchise was founded in Quebec and were the Quebec Nordiques until moving to Colorado in 1995. The Avalanche have won eight division titles and went to the playoffs in each of their first 10 seasons in Denver, with the streak ending in 2007.[1] The Avalanche are the only team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup their first season after a re-location.

From their first season in Denver in 1995, until the end of the 1998–99 season, the Avalanche played their home games at McNichols Sports Arena. Since then, they have played at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have a notable rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings, partly due to having met each other five times in seven years in the Western Conference playoffs between 1996 and 2002.

Where are we playing?
Pepsi Center (Photo courtesy
From Privately owned and operated, groundbreaking for Pepsi Center took place on November 20, 1997. Since opening October 1, 1999 with a sold-out performance by Celine Dion, Pepsi Center has hosted a wide variety of events including hockey and basketball games, musical acts, ice extravaganzas and circuses.

Designed by HOK Sports Facilities Group of Kansas City, Pepsi Center occupies a 4.6-acre footprint in Denver's central Platte Valley. With more than 675,000 square feet of building space, the five-level facility is a premier sports and entertainment destination. Home of the NBA's Denver Nuggets, NHL's Colorado Avalanche, AFL's Colorado Crush and NLL’s Colorado Mammoth, Pepsi Center seats 19,099 for basketball games and 18,007 for hockey, arena football and lacrosse games. Depending on stage configuration, Pepsi Center seats between 500 and 20,000 for concerts and other events. Pepsi Center features 95 luxury suites located on two levels and 1,900 ADT club seats...Additional features of Pepsi Center include a cutting-edge sound and lighting system, a 60,000 lb. center-hung scoreboard featuring an eight-sided matrix/game-in-progress board and a four-sided Sony LED JumboTron.
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