By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Friday is the first day of the rest of the Bruins lives, a day when they have to realize that one of the greatestparties in their lives isover.
The Bs hosted one final, grand Stanley Cup shindig on Thursday night when they raised the 2010-11Cup championship banner with coaches, players, ownership, former Bruins Mark Recchi and Shane Hnidy, and distinguished alumni like beautifulBobby Orr and the agelessMilt Schmidt.
It was more than a half-hour of festivities that included each Bs player triumphantlyraising the Cup over their heads on the TD Garden ice, and Recchi getting presented with the Starter Bruins jacket that had passed from player to player as a symbolic "performer of the game" award last year.
Tim Thomas said it was an otherworldly experience that would take multiple lifetimes to forget, but, really, who would want to? Thomas certainly doesn't.
That was a special moment. It was another one to add to the memory bank that youll remember forever, said Thomas. While it was happening I was picturing myself coming back and visiting for a game 30 years from now and looking and that banner and saying, 'We helped raised that banner.'
It was a great piece of closure for a magical 25-game postseason run that ended with an exhilarating celebration on the Rogers Arena ice in Vancouver, and allowed the Bruins to finally bathe in celebration in their own building. Another golden banner was hoisted into the TD Garden ceiling, and the crowd basked in the joy of a celebration held with just the the right amounts of nostalgia, energy and chest-thumpingemotion.
It was great, it was outstanding and it was well done, said coach Claude Julien. I was doing my best to keep my mind on doing my job, and the game. It was emotional, to say the least.
When you see the highlights and when you see your players going around the ice with the Cup, I felt proud for them. Emotionally, it was tough for me I kind of walked away for a while and came back and, you know, it just goes to show you the emotions that go into those kinds of things. Even seeing Mark Recchi and Hnidy when they were here you know, guys that really played big parts in different ways in helping us succeed. To see them with the group, to know it was their last opportunity to be with the team . . . those kinds of things kind of hit home.The players -- both old and young -- knew this final Garden party would be it for their Cup fulfillment, and so they let their emotions run wild one last time despite the knowledge that a regular season game awaited them.It was special. The whole package that we got to do all summer in this city was quite an experience, said Ference. To be on the ice with 1972 Bruins team that everybody knows quite a bit and to be in their company and put a banner up beside them was a very special thing. We were all very honored by the ceremony."
But then the Bruins went out and executeda pancakeflat performance in a 2-1 loss to the Flyers that demonstrated its equally important they nowmove onto the remaining 81 games, which wont include commemorative banner patches on their jerseys. Thursday was the best kind of closure, but that's exactly what it will amount when looking back on this current season of Bruins hockey.
Most guys were prepared for it and knew they had to switch modes really quickly, and I think they did," said Ference. "We just got frustrated when we didnt capitalize on some of our chances.
With a fun allusion to partying late into the night and draining the champagne bottle, the Bs coach said in no uncertain terms that its time to move on. And when Julien says the party is truly over, then its time to turn out the lights and say good night.
"When people are partying and you stay out until 4 a.m. for couple of days, you get tired of it, right? said Julien.
The champagne bottle is empty and its time to go home. We had great time with the Cup. Weve had great experiences, but we need to turn the page.
Its time for Milan Lucic to once again become the locomotive physical presence even when his offense isnt coming quite as easily, and for so many members of the Bs to sharpen up on their defensive gap control. It's time for Zdeno Chara to put a hurting on Claude Giroux when he dances through the offensive en route to beating Tim Thomas without much of a challenge.
It's time for David Krejci, Lucic and Nathan Horton to show more offensive punch than they showed in the first two periods when they went without a single shot on net, which didn't win any party favors from Julien afterward. It's time for Joe Corvo to show the promise he flashed during the training camp.
It's time for the lapses --the aforementioned Giroux was able to dance much too freely into the offensive zone while turning aroundthe entire Bruins' defensefor the Flyers first goal, and an unforgivable breakdown in concentration allowed Philly to add on a Jakob Voracek goal seconds later -- to stop.
It was a banner night figuratively and literally, but it didnt have a happy ending in the short term with a loss to the rival Flyers in a one-goal game Thursday night. Now the team must summon the resolve and grit that was so prevalent in 2010-11 to truly get the new season under way.
The Bruins need to turn the page, close the book or use whatever literary metaphor they want to prove that last year is now officiallyover.