That being said, how quickly was all of it forgiven in last year's playoffs? My mantra for...well, my entire life, has been "I hate the Bruins", but after a few wins in a losing series we're suddenly on good terms again. There are many, many people in Boston who didn't even bother hating them- they gave up, instead just waiting for them to be good again. Even they're coming back, though we're all tentative. When the team blew a 2-0 lead to lose to the Leafs on October 23, I assumed they had just been leading us on, and this was the inevitable let down. I defaulted to hating them again. Since then they've won 8 of 9 games, which...exceeded expectations? That's not the Bruins I know and hate.
You can argue that a lot of things brought about this change- good coaching, better trades, actually spending money on players- but all of those will go back to one major difference: these Bruins care. Just a few years ago, Tim Thomas was the only player on the team willing to do anything to win. This year, everything just clicked, sparked by Milan Lucic and his violently passionate play. The players are oozing with character, from Lucic down to the fourth line, to Andrew Ference on the blue line, and all the way back to Thomas. And that's the difference. Maybe it's due to more than just Milan, but all of the reasons that the Bruins lead the division go back to the fact that they look like a real team. They've not only made other teams look bad in terms of execution, but also in terms of heart, causing every announcer to comment on how "flat" their opponents look. Yes, they're on a hot streak right now, but it's hard to be cautious about falling for this team. It's the first time I've had the opportunity to do so, and I'm not holding back. Hopefully the city of Boston feels the same way, because if they get passionate about hockey again, it'll be nearly impossible for the Bruins to stop caring.
- Andrew Ference (officially my favorite Bruin) injured himself on a blocked shot and won't be traveling with the team on this upcoming trip. In his press conference, Claude Julien made it clear he's a few choked up cries of "Why?!" away from being as upset about this as I am. I have to say, Julien has really impressed me this year handling players, in that it's been exactly how I would. Rabidly praising Ference whenever possible? Rewarding Petteri "Angry Finn" Nokelainan for his effectiveness and work ethic? Finally limiting Aaron Ward's ice time? Yes sir.
- Andy Brickley and Jack Edwards (who I'm convinced is on some kind of uppers) were wondering what the whole thing with Milan and Mike Komisarek was about. I've been told that last year Komisarek made fun of Milan for having a hunchback. Can't be sure whether this started it or was just another chapter, but we can be sure that it was a big, big mistake on Komisarek's part, and also that Milan is well on his way to being a Boston legend. Maybe the best part of the video of the event is Phil Kessel laughing to himself at the end as Milan has his psychotic episode (or as Edwards called it, "boyish enthusiasm").
- Remember to vote Milan, Ference, and, of course, Tim Thomas into the All-Star Game.