(Photo Credit: NESN)
The Bruins Are Coming.
That’s what a building-size banner hung outside of Fenway Park loudly and proudly displayed in all its Black-N-Gold glory. Sure, many Boston fans noticing it were on hand to give a hand to the record-setting season the B’s crosstown cohorts just celebrated. But one group of gussied up guys in the broadcast booth understood its significance, even as those wearing Red Sox and pinstripes pounded a ball instead of a puck.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) September 30, 2018
At the center of that conversation (a conversation that could’ve centered on, well, centers): Mr. Andy Brickley himself! “Brick” was the special guest commentator alongside “Eck & Obie” for the final regular season MLB game on NESN ahead of Wednesday’s first regular season NHL game of the season — a game featuring your Boston Bruins taking on the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals that I’ve had marked on my calendar for quite some time (as have you, no doubt). And there was no doubt about Brick’s excitement for not only Opening Night, but also for the upcoming 2018-19 B’s campaign.
(Photo Credit: NESN)
“I’m bullish [about this year’s team]. I really am,” Brick said off the top of the interview. “If you asked me a year ago, what was the key to the Bruins having some kind of success … my answer: it all depends on the kids. Be impactful players.” And that’s exactly what he hopes to see right out of the gate for the B’s this Fall. From the speed and skill to the enthusiasm and veteran support the team already has, the 2018-19 Bruins squad will have to manage three essential mindsets, according to Brick, in order to first match their achievements from last year, and then surpass them.
“How much are they going to grow… and can they handle that?”
(Photo Credit: Boston Herald)
When you check just about every box in terms of “hockey sense” or “hockey IQ” — and that’s what a lot of B’s players in Brick’s opinion did last year — then it becomes vital to not let any of that slip moving forward. Add to it the eye-catching fact that last season’s lineup won 50 games and had 112 points (one of the best records/totals in the league), then what you have surrounding this current team are EXPECTATIONS from fans, players, coaches and management alike that could be difficult to deal with. Time, health, attitude, and success are good indicators to pay attention to in order to see how this continued development process plays out.
“Bruce’s impact on this team is [profound]… he has that trust you need.”
(Photo Credit: Boston Globe)
Trust IS everything in the modern, speed-centric, offense-often NHL game, especially from a coach to his players. And without knocking a previous B’s bench boss, Brick described just how good “Butch” Cassidy is at COACHING when it comes to handling, motivating, encouraging and supporting his “Sundance Kids,” especially the guys he helped develop at the AHL level. “He brought that philosophy with him … he understands that you are going to make mistakes and [then] not try to make the same ones,” he said. All of this, in turn, is invaluable to a young player’s ability to learn on the fly. Ideally, just as fast as he can skate. (OK, that last point wasn’t Brick’s that was mine. But it still fits!) And with the B’s boasting a deep prospect pool that could potentially feature lineup looks from likes of Ryan Donato (all but guaranteed for Opening Night), Trent Frederic, Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik, JFK, Urho Vaakanainen, Anton Blidh and Jordan Szwarz (to name but a few) before we’ve even hit the New Year, then you can understand just how big of a difference-maker Cassidy could be yet again.
“[The] backup had to play more games, big games, in October & November.”
(Photo Credit: Boston Globe)
That’s not necessarily the recipe for success to start a season, although as Brick reminded us, the B’s weathered the Tuukka Rask topsy-turvy play early on with some solid GOALTENDING from backup Anton Khudobin. However, this season, “they feel like they’ve upgraded” in net with Jaroslav Halak, he mentioned, and that The Boston Brick Wall can bring his experience as a No. 1 netminder, a playoff-tested goalie, a spirited teammate and competitor, all to the fold. This can only make the team better, make Tuukka better (hopefully) and overall give the organization a better chance at developing their solid slate of Providence puck-stoppers without rushing them into NHL action (as the B’s unfortunately did with both Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre in previous seasons).
— Mark Connolly (@sr_connolly) September 30, 2018
The history lessons Bruins fans are all interested in now, however, have nothing to do with the above and everything to do with Expectations, Coaching and Goaltending as Brick so eloquently surmised. “You know what exhibition means … absolutely nothing when you get down to Wednesday night,” he adamantly hammered home. And believe me, Bruins fans have been waiting for this night a la Phil Collins all Spring, Summer and (the start of) Fall long. So, move over Game of Thrones because in Boston we don’t care about winter…
…The Bruins Are Coming!