I'M SORRY I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER ALL THE AWESOME.
Yes, ladies and gents, the Boston Bruins won their very first game of the season last night, topping the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in a wild offensive battle that featured such spectacular moments as Shawn Thornton freight-training a Colorado attacker hard enough to take his helmet off and a Zdeno Chara slap shot actually shattering the plexi-glass at the Pepsi Center late in the 2nd period.
And oh, my, did the kids show up to play last night. Blake Wheeler, trailing the play, scores his first goal of the season in the 1st period off a backwards dump from David Krejci to put the Bruins up 2-1:
The Av would tie it a few minutes later, then take the lead at 3-2 in the 2nd off a lightning-fast rebound from Joe Sakic... only to have that lead erased by a blazing Zdeno Chara slap shot tipped in by Marc Savard. In the third, guess who's in to give the B's the 4-3 lead:
And yes, that would be Ryder's 100th career NHL goal. Colorado wasn't done yet, though, as Jordan Leopold would tie it once more with just under 10 minutes to go. It was David Krejci who managed to slide the puck behind Peter Budaj for what would eventually be the game-winning goal with 2:36 left... the Avalanche earned a 1-man advantage when Patrice Bergeron was sent off for tripping but, as they did for the majority of last season, failed to capitalize on the power play. Bruins win!
The real highlight of the night was Tim Thomas' spectacular play in goal: he totaled 35 (!) saves on the night. He'll be competing with a newly rehabbed Manny Fernandez for time in the net this season, but, as Andy Brickley (YAY I GOT MY WISH!) pointed out, competition for playing time frequently brings out the best in players. A tad less spectacular was the ratio of Colorado offense to Bruins offense. The Avalanche out-shot the Bruins by nearly a 2:1 ratio, including 20 shots in the first period alone. Claude Julien's game is definitely a more conservative one -- he encourages his players not to throw the puck away on shots they don't have -- but it was still worrisome to see Bruins players getting stripped of the puck repeatedly and failing to play offense down low even as Colorado returned to shoot again and again. You could sense Thomas' frustration with the way he was getting bombarded at a couple of points throughout the night. I think it's clear that this offense needs time to gel around the return of Bergeron and the addition of Ryder, both of whom will be primary threats on offense as the season progresses. Still, last night was a great win, and I'm 100% positive that the Bruins will go 82-0 this year. Welcome back, Bruins Hockey. I missed you.