The Bruins season kicks off tonight at long last against the Big Old Mess Of Falling Rocks And Shit from Colorado. Note that, for those of you who wish to watch (come on, kids, there's no Sox game tonight and the NL is stupid), the game is being offered on Versus, not NESN... however, NESN has assembled some tasty classic games (including the orgasmically terrific Game 6 against Montreal last year) to whet your appetite as you eagerly await the puck dropping at the Pepsi Center.
The Avalanche are a badass team for many reasons, not the least of which are their carrying of Boston's beloved Ray Bourque to his Stanley Cup and the frequency with which Patrick Roy used to treat us all to that most elusive of hockey treats: the goalie fight.
Not that you haven't all been dutifully doing your NHL homework, but JUST IN CASE: the Avalanche finished second in the Northwest division last season and earned a playoffs berth; they beat the division-winning Wild in the first round but lost to the eventual champion Red Wings in the semifinals. The Av will seek to upset the Bruins under the leadership of Joe Sakic, who's been captain of this team for like a million years (just to put things in perspective, he made his debut for the Nordiques against the Whalers. Christ).
Of particular interest to me tonight is the presence on the ice of new Bruins acquisition and former right wing for the hated Habs Michael Ryder. When Ryder made his debut in the 2003-2004 season, he was one of those players that sent fear into the hearts of every goalie across the Eastern conference: not only was he playing for the juggernaut Canadiens, but he was a brilliant natural talent who scored 63 points in his first season and wound up finishing second in voting for the Calder Trophy. (Fun factoid: the player who beat him out, goaltender Andrew Raycroft, was actually on the Bruins at the time, and will be either on the bench or in the goal for Colorado tonight. SMALL FREAKING WORLD.) Anyhoo, following that auspicious start, Ryder returned after the lockout season to notch back-to-back 30-goal seasons for Montreal... then saw a precipitous decline in his play last season. He scored just 14 goals and wound up sitting out for more than half of the playoffs. So get this: the Habs refuse to pick up his contract, and he promptly signs with the Bruins... where he is reunited with Claude Julien, his junior hockey coach. Yes that's right.
Michael Ryder will absolutely score 70 points this season. You heard it here first. I'm missing the Bruins' home opener on the 20th (sigh... it's because I got tickets to the MNF game against Denver, and I CAN'T BE IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE DAMMIT), but you can absolutely bet that the first game I make it to will find me holding a sign that says "RYDER CUP" or "RYDER STRONG" or something asinine like that.
There, dammit. You want a reason to care? Our hated rivals cast off a gifted young player after one season of struggling and he's now on OUR bench and REUNITED WITH HIS FUCKING JUNIOR HOCKEY MENTOR in an effort to find new life and new hope. MY GOD IT'S ALL SO BEAUTIFUL.
Frivolous wager of the night: Because it's Versus, I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts (Sh!tShow, does your bookie accept donuts)? that despite all the other storylines on the ice tonight, we're still going to spend most of our time hearing about the Avalanche/Red Wings rivalry. Goddamn it. [crosses fingers] pleaseletandybrickleybedoingthecommentary pleaseletandybrickleybedoingthecommentary
Serious prediction of the night: YEEHAW 6-4 BRUINS WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!