Bruins

Bruins arrive home with the Cup

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Bruins arrive home with the Cup

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
BOSTON -- The yellow charter buses blared their arrival to the TD Garden parking lot. The lead driver laid on the horn, grinning like a Cheshire cat as he steered Boston's most precious passenger to a safe stop.

The Stanley Cup, returned to the Hub after 39 years.

Bruins fans were already waiting. Whether in suits or sundresses, hundreds gathered to welcome their winning warriors home and catch a glimpse of hockey's sacred mug.

Captain Zdeno Chara held the trophy in his arms. The hulking blueliner carried the Cup off the bus, stepping off behind Shawn Thornton and raising it high above his head. A smile spread over Chara's face and he bit down on his bottom lip as though trying to hold back his heart from jumping out of his throat. The cheering throng surged as he walked around the bus unprompted to show them, to share it, let them touch it, so they could be certain it wasn't all a dream.

"He's bigger in person!" one fan marveled. "And so is the Cup."

Rookie Tyler Seguin stumbled out into the crowd, black pinstripe blazer over his white Stanley Cup championship t-shirt. He wore the matching hat backwards, slightly off kilter and unintentionally so. Seguin looked exhausted, drunk on champagne and joy.

"How does this sound: Tyler Seguin, Stanley Cup champion?" a reporter asked.

He rubbed his eyes with one hand as a slow smile spread across his face. "It feels amazing."

Tuukka Rask wandered over and he and Seguin slung arms across each other's shoulders. Seguin put a hand affectionately to Rask's head, where Nathan Horton's helmet sat (also askew), unclasped.

"I can't describe it," Seguin said. "It was a dream come true." His voice was softened by sleeplessness.

Shawn Thornton, trademark aviators on, was more brisk in his answers. When asked what he would do during his day with the Cup, he didn't hesitate. "Who knows? Haven't thought about it." And he was gone.

Three Bruins piled into a Boston police car for a ride home. As the squad vehicle slowly rolled through the crowd, the trio raised their hands in celebration through the backseat bars. The crowd returned the salute. They were tired, too, but equally unconcerned.

"I couldn't sleep last night," one man said from within his foam bear head. "I tried for half-an-hour, then figured I'd better just be here."

Others claimed to have not slept for two days. Adrenaline raised their arms in the air in wild wave. A well-worn sign, "WE WANT THE CUP" scrawled across the top, had gotten some happy editing. Gone was the wanting, struck through with a fat black line; in its stead was simple satisfaction: "WE GOT THE CUP."

The man in the bear head gushed over the generosity of Andrew Ference. The defenseman had pulled his car as close to the mob as he could, if only to share the happiness beaming from his face. It was a small gesture that had huge significance.

"We had our own personal reasons for wanting to win the Cup," Ference said. "But we wanted to win it for the city, to finish off the quad; the other teams have done their job."

Bruins president Cam Neely also addressed his new membership into Title Town.

"It is our turn and it is sweet. It is so sweet," he said. "I know the passion that our fans have and I know how excited they are."

"Absolutely, baby!" the fans roared back.

Neely's statement to the fans was marvelous. He skated for Boston during a Cup-less decade in the '80s and '90s. Neely's Bruins won three division championships, two Eastern Conference crowns and one Presidents Trophy. He knew how badly their stomachs ached with hunger because he had felt it himself. When Neely spoke on Thursday, the diplomatic and professional walls were toppled and naked pride was revealed.

"Cam, I named my son after you, Boss," a faceless fan yelled. "I really did."

Neely raises his fist in reply, then stuck up his thumb.

"You guys waited a long time for this and the fans certainly deserve this," he said. "We got the best fans in the league. The support that you guys showed our players . . . it was a privilege to play in front of the fans. We're thrilled to bring this back to Boston and have this rolling rally Saturday morning, 11 o'clock. It's going to be quite an experience for everybody.

"I just want to thank our fan base for all the support for all these years. It's really hard to say how you feel right now, but it's incredible. All I can tell you is I'm very happy."

Neely's smile was effervescent. He scanned the crowd, soaked it in. Then he pumped his fist another time.

Ference was also at a loss. He said the reaction was delayed, that the discipline of executing a successful Stanley Cup title run didn't allow for instant emotional release.

"Part of the reason we were successful is because we blocked out our emotions very well, so it takes a while to sink in," Ference said. "I didn't want to believe it until there was about 10 seconds left on the clock and then I started crying. I just couldn't believe it. "

"When we actually got to hold the Cup . . . it's surreal. You block your emotions out for so long it's hard to come back to reality. It started to sink in. Once we passed it around on the plane and got it in the locker room and partied with our families, drank from it . . . "

Ference looked up to the news helicopters hovering vigilantly overhead like dragonflies on a lake at dusk.

He smiled. "It's sinking in."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Julien thankful for B's video tribute, 'happy he can move on'

Julien thankful for B's video tribute, 'happy he can move on'

BOSTON – It was the final piece of closure for former Bruins coach Claude Julien when he made his return to TD Garden for the first time as the bench boss for the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night. Julien stood on the visiting bench, watched a first period video tribute of appreciation for his 10 years guiding the Bruins and then received the warm, thankful ovation from the B’s fans that still very much appreciate his efforts that resulted in a 2011 Stanley Cup title. 

Unfortunately for him and the Canadiens he also presided over a lifeless, limp effort from his Montreal club in a 4-1 loss to the Bruins where his team simply couldn’t derive any emotion or juice from his return to Boston. Julien said in both French and English that that his Habs simply “laid an egg” on the road, and that was disappointing for him given that Montreal already has its back against the wall for a possible playoff spot. 

Instead Julien’s biggest bright spot in the game turned out to be the video tribute from the Bruins midway through the first period, for which he was greatly appreciative. 

“It’s always something that you kind of dread a little bit because it’s a little emotional, and at the same time [you’re] trying to keep your emotions intact there so you can coach a game and stuff like that. But, you know, I appreciate what they did for me,” said Julien following his second loss to the Bruins in five days. “As I said, I’ve got nothing but good things to say about this organization that gave me the opportunity to spend 10 years here. At the same time I’m kind of happy it’s over so we can move on now, but that doesn’t mean you forget what’s happened here. It’s always going to be with you. But now I’m in another chapter of my coaching career, and I’ve got to think about that.”

Julien’s counterpart, Bruce Cassidy, called the video tribute a “classy move” by the Bruins organization after the game had been settled, and there’s no doubting it was the right move for a coach that won over 400 games during his 10 years leading the Bruins. It was also the final chapter in his Bruins book as Julien now has completely moved on to his new gig guiding the Canadiens where it seems like his work is most definitely cut out for him. 

Spooner's strong play continues as B's dominate Habs

Spooner's strong play continues as B's dominate Habs

GOLD STAR: It had to feel good for Ryan Spooner. The speedy forward played a great game, finished with the game-winning goal in Claude Julien’s return to Boston and had both four shots on net and four registered hits in 16:07 of ice time. His goal was a level of grit and buy-in that he didn’t always have when Julien was the coach, but it’s one that he’s found more and more since Bruce Cassidy took over behind the B’s bench. Spooner drove the puck straight toward the net, and attempted to throw a pass backdoor to Matt Grzelcyk. But instead the puck bounced off Jonathan Drouin’s skate and ended up in the back of the net to make it a 2-1 game in the second period. For a player that long struggled under the watchful eye of Julien, Spooner’s night continued a stretch of very strong play since coming back from injury. 

BLACK EYE: Jonathan Drouin was supposed to be a game-changing center for the Canadiens after being moved from Tampa Bay, but he hasn’t even been close to that, or actually being a center, for the Habs this year. Drouin really didn’t bring much of anything on Wednesday night with a couple of shots on net, a giveaway and a 1-for-9 on the draw in his 17:04 of ice time. He was like so many of the other players on the Montreal roster that didn’t show up with their best in a rivalry game between the Bruins and the Habs. Even worse than that they didn’t show up in a game they desperately needed to win if they wanted to stay relevant in the playoff race. With the minus game again on Wednesday, Drouin is also now a minus-20 on the season in what’s been a truly disappointing year. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins bounced back strongly after giving up a goal on the first shift of the game, and really took things over after the fortunate bounce for Jakub Jerabek got the Habs on the board early. The Bruins outshot the Canadiens by a 25-13 margin in the first two periods, dominated play and posted a goal in each of the first two periods to get the B’s on the board. From that point on it was smooth sailing and Boston only needed to collect a couple of insurance goals in the third period to truly seal Montreal’s fate. What was surprising was that the Habs showed little fight or pride while slowly sinking into the mud during the game, and never ever provided any real challenge to the Bruins in a game that was still separated by just a single goal until later in the third period. 

HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci had one of his better games for the Bruins with a goal, two points and a plus-2 rating in 15:58 of ice time. It was an empty net goal that rounded out the scoring in the third period, and he finished with four shot attempts, a takeaway and 16-of-20 face-off wins in 15:58 of ice time. In general the Bruins frontline centers absolutely and thoroughly dominated Montreal’s poor excuse for players down the middle of their lineup, and Krejci was a big part of that in helping set up Spooner’s game-winner as well. Krejci was also a player that had his differences of opinion with Julien when he was coaching the Bruins, so the big game for him on Wednesday night also must have felt pretty cathartic when it was all said and done.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of games for Tuukka Rask’s current point streak where he’s put together a 13-0-2 record that dates back to his four game benching in the middle of November. He finished with a solid night’s work of 21 saves in the win over the Habs.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We laid an egg.” –Claude Julien said that phrase in both French and English to discuss a truly pathetic performance for his Canadiens team in what should have been an intense Bruins/Habs rivalry game on national television. 

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