By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If it already feels as if it’s been a month since the Bruins last played, then you better somehow wrap your head around the fact that there’s still a week left before the team actually plays a real hockey game.
The 10-day layoff for the Bruins is not ideal for anyone. It’s not great for the players, who definitely don’t mind some rest at this time of year but also don’t want to go into hibernation. (Bear pun; get it?) It’s not great for the fans, who have spent every other day for a full month enjoying the best that playoff hockey has to offer. It’s not great for the league or its broadcast partners, which can’t be too excited to have a marquee team standing idle for so long.
Doesn’t seem like it’s too great for anyone.
Alas, as the sports folks say, it is what it is. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final won’t begin until May 27, and there’s nothing you can do to change that.
What you can do is try to stay busy in order to keep yourself entertained. And considering the layoff is 10 days, well hey, here’s 10 things you can do to help pass the time.
1. Watch This Video Of Patrice Bergeron Socking Josh Gorges Right In The Kisser
This little scuffle by the penalty benches answered once and for all, “What happens when the nicest fellow in the world gets into a fist fight on live TV?” The answer is that he feeds a series of lefts to the face of Josh Gorges, who like the rest of the world likely didn’t know that Bergeron was a left-handed pugilist.
It was of course a memorable bout, considering the combatants. Fighting is a rare activity for Bergeron, but he’s done it when feeling so compelled. He got whooped that one time by Evgeni Malkin, just after Sidney Crosby tried to do … something (?) with Tuukka Rask. He also lost a scrap with former teammate Blake Wheeler, who had a good 30 pounds and three inches on him. He also one time fought an actual giant in Tyler Myers.
For a guy who’s played 1,157 games in the NHL, Bergeron has hardly ever dropped the gloves. When he has, he hasn’t exactly looked like the second coming of Sonny Liston.
But that one time, against Josh Gorges? Woof! Socked him right in the kisser. Boom pow.
2. Watch Videos Of Tim Thomas Crushing People
Tim Thomas’ run as an elite NHL goalie was relatively short — it was, really, four full seasons — but boy was it a treat to watch. While his goaltending style might best be described as “unique,” there was an element of fun and joy that came with watching Thomas flop all over the ice to make some remarkable saves. Even some of the goals he allowed became fun, in their own little way.
He also did some crazy things that you almost never see in the modern game. The man was not afraid to get nasty.
Like the time he didn’t appreciate getting his stick chopped out of his hands by the guy who had bitten Patrice Bergeron’s finger earlier in the Stanley Cup Final, so he went ahead and just straight-up attacked Alex Burrows:
Or the time a few nights earlier when he went all prison rules on a Sedin:
Or this one:
I don’t remember the exact circumstances of that one, but it may have even made Ron Hextall blush.
Anyway. You almost always see goalies get run on plays like this next one, but Thomas wasn’t most goalies.
None of this has anything to do with anything right now. But thank goodness the internet keeps a record of these things.
3. Get Familiar With The Postseason Experience Of The Bruins Vs. Their Next Opponent
Postseason experience. It matters, they say. So, who’s got the most experience?
Zdeno Chara*†: 175 games
Patrice Bergeron*†: 129 games
David Krejci*†: 125 games
Brad Marchand*†: 101 games
Marcus Johansson: 87 games
Tuukka Rask*: 82 games
David Backes: 78 games
Charlie Coyle: 61 games
Torey Krug: 55 games
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Joe Thornton*: 178 games
Marc-Edouard Vlsaic*: 141 games
Joe Pavelski*: 134 games
Logan Couture*: 115 games
Brent Burns*: 93 games
Justin Braun*: 83 games
Erik Karlsson: 67 games
Tomas Hertl*: 62 games
Martin Jones*: 61 games
Brenden Dillon*: 61 games
ST. LOUIS BLUES
Alex Steen: 79 games
Alex Pietrangelo: 75 games
David Perron*: 75 games
Jaden Schwartz: 67 games
Pat Maroon: 65 games
Vladimir Tarasenko: 62 games
Carl Gunnarsson: 54 games
* played in Stanley Cup Final
† won Stanley Cup
If you’re big on experience, and you also dedicate a portion of your life toward rooting for the Boston Bruins, then you might want to see those Blues show up to Boston next week. At the same time, perhaps there is a qualitative element to this that can’t be captured in raw numbers. Who knows? I sure don’t. I’m just here to give you the numbers.
4. Study The NHL Rulebook
Prior to this postseason, did you know that if all four on-ice officials miss a puck hitting the protective netting, a goal can only be negated if the player who recovers said puck scores? One pass and you’re golden! Did you also know that clear hand passes to set up overtime goals cannot be reviewed? Did you know that an offsides during a line change that wasn’t called on the ice can be reviewed to overturn goals? Did you also know that nobody knows the rules with regard to goaltender interference? And did you know that there’s no such thing as a five-minute major penalty for an illegal check to the head?
If you answered yes or not to any of those questions, then you need to study up on the NHL rulebook. Even if you’ve watched the game your whole life, you probably don’t know half of it.
You can read it all here. Yes, this will be on the test.
5. Write A Screenplay About A Time Traveling Bobby Orr
There’s this movie coming out called “Yesterday,” and from what I can gather, it’s about a guy who lives in a reality where somehow The Beatles never existed, so he plays some Beatles songs and the people love it and he gets famous and whatnot. It looks … like a movie.
But that got me thinking: You ever watch Bobby Orr highlights and think to yourself, “Man, everybody else on the ice STINKS”? I know I have. I mean. What the heck is everybody else doing out there?
The guy looks like a grown man playing against the freshman squad on a Tuesday morning.
Orrrrrrrr he looks like someone from the modern era who traveled back in time to dominate the sport for a solid decade before bowing out gracefully due to a knee injury. He didn’t feel like dominating for another 10 years, you know.
So go ahead and write the screenplay. It would probably be a very terrible film, but it’d be an excuse to watch a bunch of Bobby Orr highlights and laugh at all of the professional hockey players looking like bums out there. Classic.
6. Remember How Good Marc Savard Was
In a cruel twist of fate and/or bad timing, Marc Savard’s NHL career didn’t quite fully extend into the era where anything and everything ends up on YouTube. Sadly, very few of Savard’s 231 NHL assists have been preserved for public consumption, outside of fan tribute videos made using some questionable technology.
Fortunately, though, this one does exist on YouTube. And it kind of captures everything about the magic that emanated from Savard’s stick on a regular basis:
That is a video game assist, people. A backhand, no-look saucer pass to the tape of a teammate streaking to the slot. Made with ease. So slick. The Johan had no idea what had happened.
Marc Savard was so good. Somebody needs to digitize that for record-keeping.
7. Watch The Tuukka Rask Milk Crate Video
This was without question a top 10 moment in Rhode Island sports history.
8. Learn How To Skate, You Bum
It’s very possible that you’ve watched hockey your whole life but have never properly laced up your own pair of skates and played yourself a little old game of ice hockey. Well, what are you waiting for?
A long break from playoff action gives you plenty of time to hit the local rink, maybe grab one of those milk crates that Tuukka chucked onto the ice, and figure out how to skate. It’ll help you develop a kinship with your favorite athletes, and it’ll also allow to burn a few calories to make up for all that playoff couch sitting in your recent past and in your near future.
9. Admire Some Old Photos Of Zdeno Chara
Perhaps you’ve heard once or twice by now that Zdeno Chara is 42 years old? Yup, we’re not joking. Forty-two. Can you believe it?
It’s a storyline that’s well worn at this point, but is nevertheless quite incredible. Prior to missing Game 4 of the conference finals with an undisclosed injury, Chara was second on the Bruins in average time on ice, skating over 22 hard minutes per night for the Bruins on this postseason run on the top paring with Charlie McAvoy. The commitment that Chara has to playing this game at an advanced age is evident, and if anyone is benefiting from the three-month break before the Stanley Cup Final, it’s probably Chara.
And in the spirit of celebrating Big Z’s big age, here are some old pictures of Chara that can be found floating around the Getty archive.
Here’s Zdeno Chara skating near Tim “The Toolman” Taylor in 1998:
Here’s Chara wearing maybe the worst visor in hockey history:
Here’s Chara during his first season with the Senators. Ottawa apparently didn’t know how to find a jersey in his size so they just took a giant flag off the pole and stitched it up a little bit:
What kind of wind resistance did that thing have?
Here’s Chara with an awkward goal celebration after scoring for Slovakia against Switzerland in the 2004 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship:
This next one isn’t a photo. It’s a video. It shows — in extremely grainy detail — Chara bloodying Hal Gil very badly in 2003.
Here’s Chara celebrating with Mike Fisher and Daniel Alfredsson (shoutout to Yan Stastny in the background) in uniforms that either true retro beauties or absolutely horrific, dated, ugly sweaters. Can’t decide.
They might be hideous. They might be lovely. I need more time to decide.
Here’s Zdeno wearing an A on his sweater for his first game with the Bruins, a preseason affair against the Canadiens.
Chara would replace that A with a C before the regular season began, and the rest is history that continues to be made.
10. Soak It In
By now, you’ve surely seen some graphic and or thumped your chest while bragging to your loser friends from other loser cities about how much better Boston is at everything, but especially sports. As a wise coach once said, IT’S NOT WORTH WINNING IF YOU CAN’T WIN BIG!
But, all obnoxiousness aside, you’ve got to really sit down to contemplate how absurd/special/incredible/rare/whatever this run has been and continues to be for Boston sports.
When the puck drops on Monday night, it will be the 18th time that a Boston sports team will compete for one of the four major championships since 2001. The Patriots lead the way with nine Super Bowl appearances, followed by the Red Sox at four, the Bruins at three, and the Celtics at two. Those teams have combined for 12 titles (and counting, potentially) during the run.
That’s 18 championship appearances for the four Boston sports teams from 2001-19. In the 18-year stretch that preceded it, Boston sports weren’t living quite so large. The Patriots made two Super Bowls (losing them both), the Red Sox made one World Series (and lost), and the Bruins made two Stanley Cup Finals (going 1-8 over those two series). The Celtics were the city’s only champions, winning two of their four Finals trips from 1984-87, as they took a 21-year break between Finals appearances after that last loss to the Lakers in ’87.
So for 18 years, Boston saw nine championship appearances and two champions. In the most recent 18 years, you’ve got 18 championship appearances, and either 12 or 13 championships won.
It’s difficult to properly conceptualize, considering it’s still going on. But as the temperatures tickle 80 degrees and you gear up for some June hockey, it’s worth smelling the roses during this week-long intermission.