Saturday, September 26, 2009

Storytime with Amanda Meyer: Psyched for the Bruins

Maybe it’s all that French-Canadian blood I have, or maybe I just enjoy watching hot guys on skates throwing punches. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I can say with certainty that I am one hundred percent head-over-heels in love with the Boston Bruins.

Today is the final day of preseason hockey for the Bs, and going into their match-up with the Columbus Blue Jackets, they are 4-1-1. For those of you who are unfamiliar with hockey, that’s four wins, one loss in regulation, and a loss in an overtime shootout. Some notable changes to this season’s lineup are the addition of goalies Tuukka Rask and Dany Sabourin and the loss of right wing Phil Kessel. These are the more significant roster changes for the 2009-10 season and therefore worth discussing.

With last season's backup goalie Manny Fernandez not on the roster and Tim Thomas looking sloppy in practice, these 35 year olds who together won the William M. Jennings trophy last season were bound to be replaced. The solution? Tuukka Rask of Finland at the ripe age of 22, drafted in 2005 by the Toronto Maple Leafs who has been playing for the Providence Bruins since 2007. Rask has won both preseason games he has played in and is looking really sharp on the ice.

Rask’s partner in crime is Dany Sabourin of Québec, a seasoned 29-year-old who signed with the team as a free agent over the summer. He got a win in Toronto but received a loss during the shootout in Columbus this past week. The team’s loss in regulation was against the Montreal Canadiens for Thomas though he made up for it by winning in overtime against them in their second match-up.

This brings me to some heartbreaking news, the loss of Phil Kessel to the Leafs. Signed to the team in 2006, Kessel was the fifth overall pick in the draft for the rookie maximum salary of $850,000 a year for three years. Just a few months later, Kessel was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which was treated quickly, and less than a month later he was playing down in Providence. Four days later he was back in Boston, missing only 11 regular season games.

Impressed? It gets better!

He was clutch in shootouts, winning game after game for the team in overtime. He scored the first goal of last season, got his first two NHL hat tricks, and managed to get the highest record number of NHL regular season goals (36). So you can see why I was sad to lose this wonderful asset to the team, and did I mention that he’s also gorgeous? Because he is.

But of course, pesky salary caps were making it nearly impossible for him to actually stay here in Boston, so every one should tune in on December 5 to see his first game against the Bs. (Better yet, buy tickets, it’s in Boston!) As a side note, the Bruins took Toronto’s first and second round draft picks for next season and their first round pick for the following season.

So, hopefully this catches everyone up to speed for the season. Some other minor notes to make for those of you who didn’t previously love hockey:

- Milan Lučić has shown that he hasn’t lost his edge... or his temper, getting a 10 minute ejection in a preseason game and already racking up penalty minutes for fighting. Useless fact: I used to have a huge crush on him until I found out he is six months younger than me. I can’t go for younger men.

- Team Captain Zdeno Chára hasn’t seen much play time yet, but what he has shown is that he has a great chance of winning his fourth consecutive “hardest shot” contest during this year’s all star break.

- New addition Steve Begin and veteran Dennis Wideman are showing excellent shooting skills and even better skating skills, which is good considering Wideman got sloppy in last year’s playoffs.

- Alternate captains Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm have had a strong presence in the preseason and their efforts of assisting the newbies and bringing the team together off-ice have really come through on-ice as well.

So there it is: the 2009-2010 Bruins in 752 words. I hope everyone is now just as excited for the regular season to begin when the Bruins open at home against the Washington Capitals on October 1. The game is at 7 p.m. and will air on Versus.

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