Another excruciatingly long summer is over. Actual hockey games are on the horizon. Because this is the 265th most widely read hockey blog on the internets, MYFO felt a deep obligation to our dozens of readers to prepare this series of previews telling you about every single team in the NHL. By “prepare” we mean, we found other people to write many of them for us. We were looking for people who (unlike us) might have an actual clue about these teams, but were also eager/willing/dumb/not self-respecting enough to work for free. Within those constraints, we think we did an admirable job. Today’s preview of the Boston Bruins is brought to you by Gabe and John of The Jumbotron.
Oh, yeah. The Jumbotron laughs in the face of Word Counts.
The Blades Protocols: A Systematic, Player-by-Player Guide of How To Defeat The Boston Bruins
Although the Boston Bruins are celebrated as an “Original Six” team, did you know that not many people are aware of the Boston Bruins existence? You, yourself may have thought that the Boston Bruins were simply a rumor, or that if they had existed, that they died out years ago (1971-72 to be exact). However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Bruins are indeed alive, and walk among us almost every day. Luckily, your friends at The Jumbotron have secured copies of the long-rumored “Blades Protocols”: A set of doomsday plans compiled by “beloved” Bruins mascot, Blades, scribbled on cocktail napkins and unsold ticket stubs, that detail the best way to defeat the current Bruins roster, including Coach Claude Julien and Blades himself, should they become too large a danger.
#33 D Zdeno Chara: The field leader of the squad, one would think that by following the teachings of Sun Tzu and cutting off the head, the rest of the team would atrophy and die. Not true. First of all, who can jump that high? Captain Chara missed five important games in the late stages of last season with a shoulder injury that still lingers to this day. Despite this absence, the Bruins still teleported their way into the playoffs, whereupon Chara returned and clogged the Montreal passing lanes for 7 games. Chara can be found nearly everywhere on the ice, and is nearly always on it. With his incredible size and incredible lack of speed, opposing forwards would be advised to skate past Chara, keeping the puck out of reach of the 25-foot redwood sapling that Chara uprooted himself and carved into the shape of a hockey stick. And, for the love of God, do not invite him to participate in a gentleman’s dance!
#21 D Andrew Ference: Even though Andrew Ference’s near-constant insistence on being caught out of position while chasing after pucks in the defensive zone might be all an opposing player needs, Ference’s largest weakness is actually his philanthropist’s heart. Ference likes to give back, despite not having much of anything to give in the first place. Whether it’s offsetting the carbon emissions of Tim Thomas’ veggie burrito farts or allowing Hockey Jesus to showcase his cross of Right, Ference enjoys helping others. However, it’s Ference’s excursions into Africa that have garnered him the most press. All that needs to be done to take Ference out of the game is to meet up with him and mug him for the price of a cup of coffee, every day. This is money that would have been sent to Ference’s sponsored child in Africa. Now, the child will be disappointed and disillusioned by the supposed benevolence of Ference, and grow to resent him for promising her new school supplies and food. This failure will eat at Ference’s soul continuously, until he takes a shotgun out into the woods of Alberta and fails to return.
#34 D Shane Hnidy: Unlike many Bruins, Shane Hnidy tends to spend time apart from most of his teammates. This is not by his own choice. Most of Hnidy’s free time is spent reminiscing about that golden year of 1995-96, when a young Shane Hnidy was 20 years old and playing his final year of junior hockey with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. “I had 53 points that year!” he is heard to shout, to nobody in particular while drinking cans of Surge he purchased on eBay. When Coach Claude Julien calls upon Hnidy to participate in drills during practice, Hnidy usually retorts with comments such as “O.J.’s innocent!” and “They call me Mister Boombastic.” Playing tracks from No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom and Live’s Throwing Copper as well as screening clips of Batman Forever and Braveheart will usually pull Hnidy’s emotions back to his golden era. He will be so wrapped up in the nostalgia of the greatest year of his life, 13 years ago, that he will be unable to defend, or even skate.
#41 D Andrew Alberts: Alberts is literally the definition of a stay-at-home defenseman, in the sense that he didn’t stray far from his old Chestnut Hill stomping grounds after graduating from Boston College and joining the Bruins. Scott Hartnell cut Alberts’ season short last year, after ramming his crotch into Alberts’ face, kindly giving him a concussion as a means of forgetting this embarrassment. This concussion probably killed a lot of brain cells, but no more than a typical Thursday night out at Mary Ann’s, at least, before the cops showed up and started busting everyone with fake ID’s. Alberts weakness is obviously the impossibly cute co-eds attending Boston College. Lead Alberts along with a trail of empty red Solo cups until he stops in front of a locked bathroom. Pretend to be drunk and crying, and Alberts will knock on the door and gently try to soothe your pain and coax you out of the bathroom, since he’ll assume you’ll be an easy lay for the night. Next, open the door, invite Alberts in, and give him herpes. Then spread the rumor that Alberts was the one who gave it to you. He will be so embarassed (and his sex life will be so destroyed) that he’ll leave town.
#44 D Aaron Ward: Whatever he hits, HE DESTROYS! Ward loves to clog passing lanes and block shots – maybe a little too enthusiastically. Just blast a shot over the boards and Ward will scale the glass and take a puck in the chest to save a little girl who has no idea who he is.
#6 D Dennis Wideman: More than likely, the executor of Wideman’s protocol will be none other than the U.S. Economy. See, within weeks after signing a lucrative contract extension that will pay him an average of US$3.88 million for four years, the Kitchener, Ontario native saw his new-found riches become largely worthless, replaced by gold, the Chinese Yuan, and copies of Ken Griffey Jr.’s 1989 Upper Deck rookie card. The worthless American dollar will cause Wideman to desperately move the puck like he moves his stock options – frantically and foolishly – investing his riches with a man named “Boots” seemed like such a good idea at the time. Damn you, Gordon Korman!
#45 D Mark Stuart: After jettisoning Brad Stuart and his inability to play for any team not winning the Stanley Cup, there was a serious lack of Stuart on the blue line. Enter Mark Stuart. By hook or by crook, M. Stuart played in all 82 regular season games and all seven playoff games. No one really noticed – for a while, half the team thought he was B. Stuart. Neutralization of M. Stuart is fairly simple, just attack directly with the puck and yell, “Brad, Brad, the puck is over there! Over there! By the bench!” the other Bruins players will see the “Stuart” on the back of his jersey and move to pick up what they think is Brad Stuart’s missed assignment, leaving Mark (who was in position the entire time) alone to defend the five-man rush.
#81 C/RW Phil Kessel: Once a highly-touted American prospect, Kessel, the former Erik Johnson of the 2006 Entry Draft, utilized his speed and skating ability to avoid all physical contact with opposing players last season, thus enabling the diminutive forward to play in all 82 games for the Bruins. Considered an offensive specialist, the most offensive thing Kessel did last season was keep his skills under wraps until the shootout, where he led the league with a Jussi Jokinen-esque 10 goals. This will remain, to date, the only time the words “Phil Kessel” “led the league” and “goals” will be used in the same sentence. To neutralize Kessel, simply invite him to check you, or cause him to exert effort in any non-shootout situation. ADDITIONAL WARNING: Crotch shots deal 50% less damage.
#12 RW Chuck Kobasew: When the Bruins obtained Chuck Kobasew from Calgary, Blades was quick to note that Kobasew consistently made highlight reels as the victim in various “Hits of the Week.” Therefore, using the 1987 film “Blood Diner” as a template, the only way to take Kobasew out was devised:
#11 LW Per-Johan Axelsson: Don’t be fooled, just because you can’t see P.J.’s golden locks during the game doesn’t mean he isn’t drawing all of his two-way play prowess from it. He has that helmet lined with enough product to put the trash in Eurotrash several times over. Simply knock that helmet off and he will be too busy fixing his ‘do in the glass to forecheck.
#16 LW Marco Sturm: Marco Sturm, as you probably already know, hails from Dingolfing, Germany, home of Bavaria’s most active BMW plant. He is known as “The Fastest German On Ice,” mostly because Sturm’s vetter und enkelkinder refuse to outfit the 7 Series with snow tires. Sturm’s affinity for speed transfers to his off-ice activities as well, as Sturm is famous for driving his Dingolfing-made Z3 to and from the Garden. The course of action seems obvious: wait for him to leave his house on game day and pull up to him at a stoplight. Then, challenge Sturm to a street-race, one which he will be unable to refuse. Sturm will be so focused on the race, and being a fast German, that he will speed right past the TD Banknorth Garden, if he even manages to make it into the city at all. No Sturm in the building means no Sturm on the ice. While it may seem like you’re only robbing the Bruins of a 27-goal scorer, you’re actually robbing them of their leading goal scorer!
#17 LW Milan Lucic: The powerhouse of the group; his youth gives him remarkable healing abilities, particularly in the metacarpals, and his Eastern European heritage gives him a face not worth protecting. These, combined with the power to not feel physical pain has enabled Lucic to be regarded as the premiere layer-on-of-hands of the Bruins. Lucic found himself in the headlines this off-season when his childhood home was burgled. Obviously, having things burgled will stir intense emotions within Lucic, and since he is only immune to physical -not emotional- pain, allow Lucic to gain possession of the puck and then burgle it from him. Then, you may rest easy in your hospital bed, knowing that your actions have caused Lucic to be taken off the ice for the next five minutes.
#27 RW Glen Murray:
Protocol has been activated with due prejudice.\
#18 C Stephane Yelle: Data is incomplete, as Yelle has only recently joined the team. However, considering the fact that he is old and grizzled, there are ways one can tell if Old Yelle is ready to be defeated. It’s tough, you can’t hardly tell at first, not till they get to the point of slobbering and staggering around. When you see a critter in that fix, you know for sure. But you want to watch for others that ain’t that far along. Now, you take a bobcat or a fox. You know they’ll run if you give ‘em the chance. But when one don’t run, or maybe makes fight at you, why, you shoot him and shoot him quick. After he’s bitten you, it’s too late. And so, it will fall on the heavy shoulders of Blades to take Yelle into the locker room, rifle in hand, and…Papa? I can’t finish this one, Papa…I just can’t. I ain’t ready to be a man, Papa!
#60 C Vladimir Sobotka: P.J. Axelsson’s prodigal offspring; strong two-way play coupled with even stronger hair care, Sobotka is a dangerous package. Sobokta’s biggest fear in life is returning to the hellish nether region of Providence, Rhode Island, home of the Bruins AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. Sobotka is a worldly type, well-traveled for a man of only 21 years, and the thought of spending more than a day or two in a city where the cultural highlight is the world’s 4th-largest Dave and Buster’s sitting atop the mall’s parking garage, fills Sobotka with a flight response rivaled only by that of Reese Bobby. He will do anything and everything to never return. Unfortunately, this phobia of the letter “p” has overtaken his life. (For instance, he pronounces it “fauxbia.”) This has also affected Sobotka’s play while on the road in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Phoenix where he does very little forechecking, preferring to smash his stick against the glass, shouting “Never again! Never again!” as the play develops around him.
#22 LW Shawn Thorton: BENCH, BENCH, PUNCH, PUNCH, PUNCH, PUNCH, BENCH, PUNCH, BENCH, PUNCH, PENALTY, BENCH, PUNCH, PUNCH, PUNCH, PENALTY, BENCH. Such is the life of Shawn Thornton. After a full day of punching and leaving the Bruins shorthanded, Shawn “Say, it ain’t Joe” Thornton likes to relax with his one true love: his video blog. He mostly talks about punching people and spending time in the penalty box (when he’s not donating to charities that support punching). If you can dump the puck into the corners with the camera, the glamor-hound in Shawn will come out immediately as he pours his soul out to the camera; mostly with observations like “Y’know, it’s a tough game [sniffle] we just try to go out there, play our best, y’know [sniff], and if it happens, it happens, y’know, and if it doesn’t, that just means we gotta give more the next time, [sniffle] can’t give up, gotta keep winning those battles.”
#73 RW Michael Ryder: New player acquisitions give Blades the greatest difficulty in devising methods of defeat, as he has not had as many chances to sniff out their weaknesses. Luckily for Blades, Coach Claude Julien did all the work for him by telling The Boston Globe that Ryder needs to feel appreciated to be productive, as a way of explaining Ryder’s dismal 14 goal output last season under mean ol’ Guy Carbonneau and the Montreal Canadijerks. Julien would know; after all, he was Ryder’s coach in Juniors, where he affectionately referred to Ryder as “My Little Sheldon Kennedy.” When Ryder explained the source of his productivity to his new coach in Montreal, Carbonneau merely sneered in disgust and sent Ryder to the pressbox. The solution is simple: keep Claude Julien’s fingers away from Michael Ryder’s rear at all times. Soon, Ryder will crumble to pieces, his contract will be bought out, and the world will learn to smile anew.
#53 LW Jeremy Reich: Jeremy Reich found a hockey stick in a dumpster when he was 11. “RBK” quickly became his best friend. His parents pleaded with him for years, “Jeremy, put down that stick. Just because you live in Canada, can stand up on ice skates, and found a hockey stick, DOES NOT mean you are a hockey player.” Alas, young Jeremy refused to listen to his well-intentioned parents, and never relinquished his precious RBK. Jeremy and RBK can be seen around the Garden frequently making slap shot noises, recieving the silent cheering of imaginary crowds. The easiest way to neutralize Reich is to take away his beloved RBK, but beware, as he will aggressively attempt to retrieve his only friend.
#29 C Petteri Nokelainen: The Finnish grinder exploded onto the NHL scene in 2005 with a goal and an assist in 12 games for the New York Islanders. Then, his knee followed suit by exploding as well, and he missed the 2006-07 season. Islanders GM Garth Snow, no underestimater of the importance of knees, shipped Nokelainen up to Boston for AHL’er Ben Walters and a 2nd round pick. Although fully recovered, Nokelainen can’t help but constantly think about knees. When Coach Julien praises him, Nokelainen insists it be done in the form of “Wow, Noke, you sure are the bees knees!” or something similar. It is hard for Nokelainen to discern between the different plays, as he refers to all the plays as, “the ones where we use our knees?” Teammates first found it endearing, but over time it has become annoying, especially on the team plane, when Nokelainen sings, in his broken English, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” over and over again, but replaces all the body parts with knees.
#91 C Marc Savard: His baby-face is almost as smooth as his passing. Thought to be neutralized when taken away from scoring wingers Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa in Atlanta, Savard surprised everyone except his caddy by racking up 96 and 78 points in his two years under Blades’ watchful eye, setting up anyone and everyone wearing the Black and Gold uniform. Mike Bigelow, a South Attleboro, MA native attending a game this past February versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, managed to scramble over the boards in a drunken stupor, wearing his signed Ray Bourque jersey, clutching one of the souvenir sticks being handed out that night. Savard set him up with a tape-to-tape lead pass, and Bigelow tipped it past Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft, for the game-tying goal. Now, the solution to Savard’s demise has been found in the clumsy, unappreciated hands of Michael Ryder. Forced onto the first line as Savard’s wing due to the size of his contract, Ryder plans on spending the entire season missing passes from Savard or redirecting shots directly into opposing goalie’s chests.
#46 C David Krejci: Appropriately known as “Krazy Krejci” – he appears unstoppable coming into this season, only because opposing players are wary of catching whatever is eating away at Krejci’s frothing Czech brain. Kept in a musty attic and fed only fish heads for sustenance, Krejci’s true goal in playing hockey is the acquisition of real, honest-to-goodness food. The only way it seems to neutralize Krejci is to allow him access to the TD Banknorth Garden’s “Hungry for Hockey” section, where he will be pillaging everything Smartserv Concessions has to offer for the next 60 minutes, telling all season ticket-holders within earshot how the nacho platter compares to his daily fish heads, and explaining the nature of the vertical scar on the right side of his stomach and how it relates to his brother, “Hugo”.
#37 C Patrice Bergeron:
Aim for the head! The head!
#30 G Tim Thomas: When on the forecheck, with Tim Thomas in net, you may often see a third, heavily padded defenseman skating between the circles. Do not be alarmed, that is actually Thomas, in one of his trademark ill-advised “journeys” from the net. They don’t call him “Journeyman Tim Thomas” for nothing. When you have the puck in the slot, you will be confronted with a wide open net; Thomas will either be skating around, or on his back just outside the crease. Do not shoot the puck. Repeat: DO NOT SHOOT THE PUCK! If you do, Thomas will emerge from wherever the hell he was and knock the puck away, and you will be emotionally crippled and possibly benched. Wait until Thomas gets back into position and stands in front of the net. Shoot at will, you will score.
#35 G Manny Fernandez: Last year, Manny Fernandez’s transformation into a butterfly goalie entered its final stages. After a few games out from the Wild, Fernandez retreated into a cocoon that he spun himself from his own tears, fear diarrhea, and knee ligaments. This cocoon was stored in the musky corridors of Blades’ expansive cave system hidden underneath the TD Banknorth Garden. Blades nursed the cocoon for several months, occasionally watering it and offering high fives. Fernandez recently broke free of his cocoon, emerging as an honest-to-goodness butterfly goalie. And like a butterfly, he remains wispy (2 GA on 12 shots in 1st preseason game) and fragile (sat out next start with bruised thumbkin). The key to subduing Fernandez, as with any butterfly, is to simply bruise his wings. And by wings, we mean any part of his body.
Coach Claude Julien: The wiliest of all the Bruins, Coach Julien has, at any given time, over 22 younger men at his disposal, all of whom have shown themselves willing to lay their health on the line in defense of their coach and his dream. Julien is largely unflappable, utilizing his defensive trap system to lull fans and opposing players into a deep sleep and then attacking without notice. Vague reports have trickled in regarding ways to neutralize Julien, most related to New Jersey, for some reason. For some reason, Claude Julien breaks into cold sweats at the sight of this man, and he is said to be startled by haunting whispers of “Louuuuuuu…Louuuuuuu… Louuuuuu…” All of this remains unconfirmed.
Mascot – Blades: Even though this “beloved” mascot authored the Blades Protocols from deep within his cave underneath the TD Banknorth Garden, he made sure to leave the secrets to his own demise scribbled in a mysterious red syrup (melted Slushie) across the walls: “NO HIGH-FIVES AND NO SNATCH MAKE BLADES GO CRAZY.” The course of action seems obvious. Although, since he is a bear and spends the majority of his time around children and innocents, it may be best not to make Blades “go crazy.” Get to work, Ice Girls…
While these Protocols are guaranteed to be 100% effective and accurate, only five teams in the Eastern Conference will have the necessary skill and guile to execute them, allowing Boston to secure 6th place this year. This will mean a possibly favorable matchup against whoever loses the least in the Southeast Division in the first round of the playoffs. Don’t be surprised to see the Bruins crazy their way into the second round this year before becoming the Bust of Beantown once more. Meanwhile, the ever-present mascot, Blades, will still be trudging the hallways and cave systems of the TD Banknorth Garden, plotting his employer’s demise, hiding behind a hungry open-mouthed smile, offering high-fives and raising the roof, in his wicked attempts to have the collective screams of 6,000-8,000 people rattle the Bruins’ intense focus and determination.