The 2013 NHL season is finally upon us. Although it took a 119-day lockout and serious negotiations towards the beginning of January, but we finally have our sport back.
At this point, there is no need to dwell on what was or what could have been. The focus is now geared towards this 48-game season that began Saturday night at the TD Garden.
The Boston Bruins would take on the New York Rangers in the first of two meetings within the first week of the season.
The Bruins are 28-16-11 all time in home season openers, a record that was surely put to the test in this game. As for the revamped Rangers, they are coming into this season with Stanley Cup expectations. Both teams have the talent to be playing hockey in June. However, the focus was on opening night.
The first period did not disappoint. The Bruins matched the Rangers hit for hit as they turned up the physical play throughout the first 20 minutes. There were some sloppy moments (going 0-for-3 on the power play), but not a bad opening period of hockey.
Milan Lucic recorded the only goal of the period when David Krejci blasted a shot off of Rangers' goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and the left-winger found the puck at his stick. This was a good start for Lucic, as he is coming off of back-to-back 25-goal seasons.
As the second period went on, it became evident that Bruins head coach Claude Julien was keeping things fresh with the lines. This may have to do with the lockout and the lack of practice time the team has had together, but we witnessed different line combinations during five-on-five play and on the power play. With those make-shift lines came some great defensive play. The Bruins collapsed the net on several occasions to prevent the Rangers from getting some clean looks at the net.
Daniel Paille put the B's up by two after he deflected a shot from Gregory Campbell past Lundqvist, which came as a result of an offensive turnover by New York. Brad Richards pulled the Rangers back within one by beating Tuukka Rask high corner for his first goal of the year.
Two fights in the second period set up a very interesting final 20 minutes. Both squads exchanged minor penalties for the first half of the period, although no goals were scored during that time. Minutes later, Johnny Boychuk added some cushion when he blasted home the third goal of the game for Boston.
In a game that featured two Bruins making their team debuts (Chris Bourque and Dougie Hamilton) and Rask stopping 20 out of 21 shots, the Black and Gold came out on top with a final score of 3-1.
The Bruins will be back on the ice Monday afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets.
This really feels great to be doing this again. It really is starting to set in. Hockey is back.
Gold Star: Johnny Boychuk (1 goal, plus-2, 3 shots on goal)...He was all over the ice in this game, but not in a bad way. Whether it was helping out in the offensive zone or stepping up on the penalty kill, the "Johnny Rocket" had himself a game.
Black Star: Tyler Seguin...It was hard to imagine that he would have the most rust considering that he had a pretty solid outing overseas during the lockout. It is a young season and he will get better. Saturday was not his night.