A few face-off thoughts
The Spokespeople are back in session; though, most likely, only the most incorrigibly feverish Bruins Buffs noticed. Which is moderately excusable given Thursday’s late night opener in Denver –a 5-4 win, by the way- was televised on the sparsely accessible Versus network and Saturday’s visit to Minnesota –a bumpy 4-3 falter- ran side-by-side with Game 2 of the ALCS.
Nevertheless, as of today, the occupational descendents of Barnum and Bailey will depart Beantown and in precisely another week, the always-delayed home opener will finally fall when the Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins drop in.
But, of course, the publicity will likely be delayed even longer than Opening Night, especially since Monday Night Football in Foxboro will coincide with the grudge match at the Garden. And there’s that half-and-half chance that the Red Sox will have renewed their passports to the World Series as late as the preceding night or as early as this Thursday.
Here we go again. The (cough) bias (cough) belittling the Bs is ready to strike and, once again, hamper their allotment on the New England fanfare pie chart.
This despite the evident notion that, compared to last season, there is genuine cause for optimism on the Boston ice. This despite the evident notion that, compared to last season, the Patriots can be nothing but normal, as in not pursuing any everlasting items of history. At this rate, legitimate Super Bowl contention is all but in doubt.
I’ll give the defending champion Sox and Celtics –who will kickstart their title defense two weeks from tomorrow- more of a break here. But to fire out my first slapshot of suggestions, you would honestly prefer to watch Matt Cassel’s vain attempt to equate the roundly braced caliber of Tom Brady than the Bruins’ one-can-only-guess endeavor to keep tilting the scale upward?
Record-wise, the Pats of last year finished an Olympic pole-vault ahead of the NFL’s other 31 teams and were at least at work on the final night of the season. Now they’ve lost their signature player for the length of the 2008 campaign.
Conversely, last year’s Bruins finished in the dead center of the 15-team Eastern Conference, thus laying claim to the final playoff spot. They proceeded to give the detestable Montreal Canadiens a royal fright before fizzling in Game 7. Now they have one of their fan favorites in Patrice Bergeron returning to action after an anguishing 11-month absence.
So, knowing that you can’t have Pats-Broncos and Bruins-Pens at once, ask yourself this: which game has the better chance to whet my appetite for improvement?
A few more thoughts to entertain while the Black and Gold settle into their seats in your sporting mind:
First, may this mark the very end of the constant references to the Bergeron-Randy Jones incident early last season. In the eleven months since, not a single update on Bergeron’s recovery status could be delivered without a tedious, wince-worthy reminder of why he was out.
Newsflash: the comeback is complete, save perhaps for his emotional return to a regular season home game. But by then, he and his associates will have already logged four regular season games. Chances are Bergeron will not be craving the type of moving reception Ray Bourque got the one time he rolled onto the Garden ice in Avalanche attire. He’ll be craving the more standard ovation the follows a goal by himself or one of his teammates.
And certainly don’t try to rekindle bitterness directed at the Flyers when, through the Jones hit on Bergeron and later Scott Hartnell’s concussive biff to Andrew Alberts, they appeared to be callously reviving their Broad Street Bully rep. You’re just going to invite a wave of Rush Limbaugh-like tirades from proud Flyer Fanatics, to which you will respond with equally needless vehemence.
Please. These teams don’t even converge until February 4. You can’t possibly hang on to a tub of simmering animosity stew that long.
If you do want to exercise your right to a rivalry, opportunity knocks this very Wednesday. Some rather serendipitous scheduling has the Bruins’ out of action between the Wild game and their first trip to Montreal’s Bell Centre since they were eliminated there last spring.
Meanwhile, the Sox have Games 3 and 4 today and tomorrow. Then, lo and behold, Wednesday is their off day before Game 5 on Thursday. Also note that there’s no Celtics pre-season slated for Wednesday either.
In other words, NESN’s coverage shall take no excused or unexcused absences. And couldn’t you use an energizing break from the ALCS when you can get one, especially since we have to resort to artificial cold this mild October?
And for longer term planning, there will be another 71 Bruins’ games after the World Series. In case the Sox are in the Fall Classic and Games 6 and 7 are needed, the Bs will be in the midst of a Western Canada road trip, but will be back home November 1.
Please stand by.
Al Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org