Bruins

Picard: My Cup runneth over

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Picard: My Cup runneth over

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Follow @dannypicard
SOUTH BOSTON The first time I kissed the Stanley Cup was in 1994.

South Bostons own Brian Noonan won it with the New York Rangers, and brought it home for the rest of the neighborhood to enjoy.

Perhaps enjoy isnt the right word. If youve ever been in the same room as the Cup, then you know what Im talking about.

Ive been fortunate enough to be in the same room as the Stanley Cup twice now, after it made its way to L Street Tavern in my hometown of South Boston last Wednesday night.

It was the first time the damn thing graced the streets of Southie since 1994, thanks to the Bruins remarkable championship run.

There werent any players with it, though. The actual Bruins themselves didnt bring it to Southie during their multinight binge on the town. Instead, they took it to Charlestown, the North End, and Foxwoods.

Maybe Im missing a few stops along the way. But the point being, they never brought it to Southie, and unless some of my Dot-rat friends were sworn into complete secrecy, they never brought the Cup to Dorchester either.

As two hockey-crazed communities, both deserved a chance to see the Cup up close and in person.

Luckily for my community of South Boston, we had our night with it on Wednesday.

It capped a two-week Cup-hunt throughout the city, a two-week period in which the only Cup me and my friends could get a picture of, was with the life-sized inflatable Stanley Cup we purchased online during the Finals.

It showed up in the mail the morning of Game 7. It was immediately inflated, and put in a closet, only to be revealed to the rest of the party if the Bruins were hoisting the actual, 35 pound trophy at the end of the game.

The moment Brad Marchands empty netter made it 4-0, the inflatable Cup came out, and it went everywhere our crew went. Castle Island, M Street beach, L Street Tavern, Atlantic Beer Garden. If we were there, the inflatable Stanley Cup was with us.

Thats another reason why the Cup is so special. I mean, do they even make an inflatable Lombardi Trophy? And if they did, would you even want to be seen carrying it around down the beach or at a bar?

Sure, laugh about how childish an inflatable Stanley Cup may seem, especially for a bunch of Southie kids in their mid-to-late 20s to be taking it with them everywhere they go. But Im willing to guarantee that if you were around it, youd be the first to come over and ask to hoist it for a picture.

I can actually remember telling my mother that I felt like I, personally, won the Stanley Cup, with the way people were gravitating to the 2-pound balloon in local establishments.

It was all in good fun of course, but people in Southie wanted to spend a few moments with the actual Cup so badly, that they were willing to settle for our party toy.

In the weeks following the Bruins Game 7 win, my crew was tipped off and we were told to make our way to several local establishments in which the real Stanley Cup would possibly be showing up.

While coming from reliable sources, none of those tips ever led us to Lord Stanley. And I must admit, being part of these Cup hunts was sometimes difficult, because I am an active member of the Boston media.

When Im on the clock, I do my job. But Ill never lose my passion for the sport of hockey. That would be a sin.

I grew up in South Boston, a place where your skates are laced up and youre thrown onto the ice down the little rink with Arnies Army at the age of 6, learning to walk on water, whether you like it or not. Most continue to love it and play for years, like myself. Its a way of life in our neighborhood, our 11th commandment if you will.

You play every day in the winter, and spend summer mornings inside a rink for one reason: to eventually win a Stanley Cup. And when you realize that dream is dead, you hope for a friend or for your local team to carry out that dream for you.

So my passion for hockey isnt going anywhere. And therefore, neither is my passion for the Bruins, or even for the Stanley Cup.

The same goes for the entire community. And Im sure that passion is no different in other hockey-crazed towns throughout New England. But Im only in one place at one time. And when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, I was only in South Boston.

For two weeks that followed, the only Cup sighting in Southie was our inflatable one, until this past Wednesday night, when a tip from a source finally paid off, and Lord Stanley finally made its way through the back door at L Street Tavern, or as we locals call it, Striggies.

And as the Cup guy (isnt that what everyone calls him?) carried the shiny trophy to the back of the bar with his white gloves on, there wasnt one person whose eyes didnt light up.

Thats what the Stanley Cup does. It lights up a room like no other physical object in the history of the world.

For every minute spent with it, nothing else matters. Personal issues, everyday stress, its all blocked out. Its just you and the Cup. And its a feeling that simply cant be described to perfection.

The first time I saw the Stanley Cup in person, I was 11 years old. My mother came out front and told me and my friend Ryan Sweeney to get on our bikes and head to the old Abbey (a local Southie bar that is now closed), where our fathers were drinking out of the Cup, courtesy of Brian Noonan.

So off I went on my black spray-painted Huffy White Heat, my San Jose Sharks hat (I loved their unis), and a feeling of overwhelming excitement. It was the same feeling I had last Wednesday night, when someone inside L Street Tavern yelled, Its here!

The Cup had arrived back in Southie for the first time since 1994. And for the short period of time that we got to spend with it, nobody in the place had any other care in the world.

And while the multiple pictures I took with the Cup are priceless, it was even more fulfilling to witness the rest of the neighborhood experience what I had already experienced as an 11-year-old kid who didnt yet know just how to appreciate someone elses bliss.

As I looked around L Street Tavern, I realized that this Stanley Cup meant so much more to this city than I had ever imagined. It was the missing piece in many peoples lives. It was more than just a flashy trophy you could drink out of.

It was a sign of hope.

The same sign of hope that younger Southie kids showed when they wouldnt even touch our inflatable Cup, thinking that it would jinx their chances of winning the real thing one day.

The same sign of hope that Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli showed when he signed a 35-year-old goaltender to a 4-year, 20 million deal, thinking that hed one day lead the Bs to the promised land.

The same sign of hope that Nathan Horton showed when he brought melted TD Garden ice with him to Vancouver in a water bottle, and dumped it in front of his bench before Game 7, thinking that it would cure Bostons road woes.

The same sign of hope that me and my friends showed by hanging around our local bar until 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night, thinking that the Stanley Cup would eventually show up, when there were no guarantees it would.

As it turns out, the Cup showed up, and hope was fulfilled.

So I kissed it again.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

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Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee flavor at Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not Cookie Dough, but what is after all?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer James O’Brien has the details on Radko Gudas getting ejected for an ugly, reckless and dangerous slash to Mathieu Perreault’s head last night. Gudas should be facing a long suspension for a play that has no place in the NHL. It’s time for Flyers fans to stop making excuses for a player who’s no better than a cheap-shot artist and hatchet man. He has to face the music for consistently trying to hurt his fellow players.  

*Frank Seravalli has some of the details for a historic GM meeting in Montreal where NHL hockey was born in the first place.

*You always need to link to a service dog being part of the pregame face-off ceremonies. That’s like a rule here at the morning skate?

*Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a seven-year contract extension, according to reports from the Athletic.

*It’s been quite an eventful year for Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and some of it has been to the extreme both good and bad just a month into his first year as bench boss.

*For something completely different: Chris Mannix is all-in on the Celtics being the front-runners in the Eastern Conference after their big win over the Golden State Warriors.

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

These are desperate times for the Bruins even after pulling out a solid, blue-collar 2-1 win over a sputtering Los Angeles Kings team on Thursday night.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak and gave the Bruins just their second road win of the season in eight tries. It was also the fourth win of the season for backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is a sterling 4-0-2 and has given them everything they could possibly hope for out of the backup spot. The Bruins have a grand total of 18 points on the season and Khudobin miraculously has more than half of those (10 to be exact).

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It’s clearly a far cry from last season for Khudobin, of course, when it took until February for the goalie’s season to get in gear.

But Thursday night’s 27-save effort from Khudobin was also a stunning contrast to what Tuukka Rask has been able to produce this season. Khudobin has a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average. Rask has a dreadful .897 save percentage while giving them average play between the pipes at best.  

Khudobin is tied for seventh in the NHL with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in save percentage and Rask is chilling in the NHL goalie statistical basement with retreads Steve Mason and James Reimer.

Quite simply, Khudobin has been way better than Rask and the Bruins have, for whatever reason, played better hockey in front of their backup goalie. Some of it might also be about Khudobin’s more adaptable game behind a Boston defense that can make things unpredictable for their goaltender, but Rask is being paid $7 million a season to be better and figure it out. It would be amazing if this trend continued for the entire season and it would certainly merit more examination from management as to why the rest of the Bruins and Rask can’t seem to combine for an effective, winning product on the ice.

For now, the Bruins need to simply win by whatever means necessary and that amounts to riding Khudobin’s hot streak for as long as it lasts. It should begin with the backup goalie getting a second consecutive start against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and seeing where it goes from there. Perhaps the extra rest gets Rask additional time to get his game together, or serves as the kind of motivation to get the Finnish netminder into a mode where he can steal games for an undermanned, out-gunned team that needs that right now.

“We’re going to look at it,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked postgame by reporters in L.A. about his goalie for Saturday night. “He played very well against San Jose last time. They’re a heavy team. He seems to do well in these kinds of games with a lot of traffic around the net. But we’ll look at that decision [Friday].”

Khudobin has stopped 57 of 61 shots in his two games in November, so perhaps that level of hot goaltending could also allow the Bruins to survive a month that otherwise might absolutely bury their playoff hopes. Maybe Khudobin finally loses on Saturday night and the goaltending conversation, not controversy, ends as quickly as his point streak. For now, riding the hot goalie is the right call for a team that needs something good to hang onto.

The Bruins are in desperation mode until they get a number of their injured players back. There certainly might not be more of a desperate option than setting their beleaguered sights on a goalie they sent to the minors as recently as last season. But it’s a new season, Khudobin has been excellent and he’s earned a chance to carry this team for a little bit until they can get things back in order.

Calling Khudobin’s number is the right call right now for the Bruins and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be that difficult a choice given what we’ve seen so far this season. 

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