On Thursday evening, in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,565, the Boston Bruins dropped their home opener, at the TD Garden, to the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1.
The Opening Ceremonies:
The night began with a celebration, unlike any other. The Bruins and their staff really put together a fantastic presentation for the loyal and devoted fans of the Black & Gold. From reliving the Cup-Raising activities that took place following Game 7 in Vancouver, to bringing in legends like Bobby Orr, and Milt Schmidt to assist in the raising of the brand new 2011 Championship banner. As an extra special bonus for the fans, the Bruins brought back the now-retired Mark Recchi & Shane Hnidy, to take part in the on-ice celebration will all of their former teammates.
“To be on the ice with them and be in Boston with the crowd–their reaction to us winning the Stanley Cup has been absolutely amazing what this city has, how much they’ve embraced it and enjoyed it. It’s a special time, and I was glad I was able to share it with Boston fans and be a part of it on the ice, too.” –Mark Recchi
The ceremony did draw on a bit longer than planned, ending with the 2011 banner being put into place at around 7:30 PM. No matter how long the ceremony ended up taking, the fact of the matter, is that it was an all-around fantastic celebration of a team and a city that had long awaited a night like this. The Bruins’ event coordinators should be very proud of the event they put on this evening. After the game, members of the Bruins shared their thoughts on the ceremony:
“That was really nice. Obviously it was emotional and all very exciting for us and all the fans and the whole city. I thought that they did a pretty good job to put up the nice presentation so it was very special.” — Zdeno Chara
“That was a special moment. It was another one to add to the memory bank that you’ll remember forever. While it was happening I was picturing myself coming back and visiting for a game thirty years from now and looking at that banner and saying “we helped raise that banner”. ” — Tim Thomas
However, adjusting from a moment as emotionally intense as the Banner-raising ceremony, can be very difficult.The B’s were able to get off to a great start, coming out with tremendous amounts of speed & energy. The B’s fired off 5 shots in the first two and a half minutes, with only 2 of them making it on net. The Bruins dominated play for the better part of the first period, but were only able to cash in once, when Brad Marchand beat Flyers’ goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov on the backhand, off of a beautiful stretch pass from Tyler Seguin. Former Carolina D-man Joe Corvo picked up a secondary assist on the goal by Marchand, his first point as a member of the Bruins.
However, the story of the night for the Bruins was missed opportunities. The B’s missed countless opportunities to extend their lead, throughout the first period. Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron, among others, missed the net wide,on open shots from between the circles. Also, Tyler Seguin rang the right post from the outside of the slot, midway through the first.
When asked about tonight’s game being a story of missed opportunities, Bruins’ Center Patrice Bergeron had this to say:
“It was. We’ll get up more traffic. He was a good goalie but we’ve seen him last year in the first two games in Prague. We knew he was a good goalie. We got to find a way to bury those chances.”
It wasn’t until 19:10 of the first period, when the Flyers capitalized on their first great scoring chance of the game, when Claude Giroux turned B’s captain Zdeno Chara inside-out at the Boston blue line, before proceeding to beat Tim Thomas, on a beautiful deke to the forehand. It was a mere 0:48 seconds later that Jakub Voracek would put the Flyers ahead for good. With only 2 ticks left on the clock, in the 1st period, the Czech-born winger put home the rebound of an Andej Meszaros wrist-shot, and gave Philly the lead, 2-1.
As the second period went on, it became evident that the two goals that the Flyers scored in the final minute of the first, really deflated the Bruins’ tires.
“I think it was the two goals at the end of the period there, that kind of put a damper on things. We had a pretty good first, and then you know, they get a couple quick goals at the end, it kind of takes the life out of your sails so that stuff happens but you have to learn how to regroup and bounce back from that.” — Brad Marchand
The B’s only managed 6 shots on goal during the 2nd period, and after 40 minutes of play, were being out-shot 25-12. Early in the first, it looked as though Philadelphia’s game plan was to simply withstand the initial surge of emotion from the Bruins, but in the 2nd, the Flyers utilized a much more aggressive style of play. After a period of rather listless action, the B’s entered the final frame, still down 2-1.
Throughout the 3rd period, the Bruins had some flurries of offensive activity, even out-shooting Philly by an 11-4 margin, during the final 20 minutes. However, some key saves from Ilya Bryzgalov and a timely shot block from veteran d-man Kimmo Timonen, were enough to shut down the Bruins, and capture the win for the Flyers.
Seguin Shows Glimpses Of Brilliance:
In the debut of his 2nd NHL season, Tyler Seguin showed signs of a very bright future. Tonight, the Brampton, Ontario native posted 3 shots on goal (and another rang the post) and 1 assist, in over 17 minutes of ice time. He was also 4th on the team in Power-Play TOI, with 4:31. The outlet pass that Seguin made to spring Brad Marchand on a breakaway for Boston’s only goal of the nice, was a thing of beauty. Seguin’s vision & puck skills make him a great player, but when you combine that with his explosive speed, and a willingness to battle, and you have the potential for an elite play-maker, in this league.
” I know what I want to continue improving on and that was really my core and my compete level. Keeping that hunger at a consistent basis.” — Tyler Seguin
If tonight was any indication of things to come for #19, expect a big year, for the former 2nd overall draft choice.
Goals – BOS (1) PHI (2)
Power-Play — BOS (1-5) PHI (1-4)
Penalty-Kill — BOS (3-4) PHI (4-5)
Shots — BOS (23) PHI (29)
Note– Tonight’s game marks the 72nd consecutive regular season sellout at the TD Garden.
With all of the ceremonies & festivities that went along with winning the Stanley Cup now in the rear-view mirror, the Bruins will now look to re-focus themselves on the 2011-12 season.
“Yeah, we won the Stanley Cup, but that doesn’t mean it’s just going to happen now. We know that stuff, but we have a night like tonight– hopefully you learn from it, and get back on track quick. We need to get in the win column.” – Tim Thomas
The B’s will look to get back on track and get into that win column, when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at the TD Garden on Saturday evening, in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Final.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.