Friday, April 18, 2014

Boston Bruins not looking past Red Wings, nor their slimy traditions

Hey, look at that big, fat target on the backs of those Boston Bruins' sweaters...

With it being human nature to want to topple the King, it comes as no surprise that the Bruins are expecting their opponents in these Stanley Cup Playoffs to throw everything they have - plus the kitchen sink - at the reigning President's Trophy winner.

Well, maybe not the kitchen sink, but perhaps a freshly slain octopus from Detroit Red Wings fans when the their first round series with the Bruins switches venues to HockeyTown next week - but for now, the worst thing that could happen is a rouge hot dog hitting the ice... happened to Tyler Seguin last season in a game against New Jersey, the offending frank tossed onto the ice just as Seguin approached the goal as the first shooter in a shootout, his goal against Devils' netminder Johan Hedberg disallowed due to fan interference - and while the tossing of expensive TD Garden foot longs will never become a mainstay at any sporting event, the tossing of cephlapods on the ice in Detroit is steeped in tradition, and is actually recognized as such by the league.

Not just a random phenomena, the tradition was started in 1952 by two brothers that owned Detroit's famed Eastern Market who tossed an octopus on the ice at the antiquated "Old Red Barn", Olympia Stadium, the eight tentacles symbolizing how many wins it took to win the Stanley Cup back in the day, when it took just two seven-game series - eight wins - to capture the Cup.

Of course, the team went on to sweep both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens to win the title, ensuring that the random act of the Cusimano brothers became a superstition and a tradition - and the Red Wings organization adopted the image of a purple octopus named "Al" as their mascot.

Two of the beasts now hang from the rafters at Joe Louis Arena during the playoffs, symbolic of the 16 wins that it takes to win the Stanley Cup in the modern NHL

Sushi vs. pressed and formed reanimated pork, beef and chicken spare-parts-on-a-bun aside, The Bruins seem to be pressing their anxiety buttons when faced with the prospect of dealing with a Red Wings team that presents an issue down the middle of the ice with their speed and puck handling abilities, particularly given that the Bruins have struggled in the opening rounds of the post-season for three consecutive years.

"We've got to be prepared to bring our best, because you talk about the last three years, you know the other team hasn't taken us lightly at all and they've given us their best," Bruins' forward Milan Lucic said on Thursday. "we kind of got ourselves into holes and got into a Game 7 overtime situation the last three years. So hopefully our mindset is where it needs to be in order for us to bring our best."
Lucic (center) and teammates are preparing to "Bring our best"...

Lucic also suggested that perhaps the Bruins have been overlooking opponents, though coach Claude Julien dismisses the thought...

...though he does feel that the pressure that the team has faced from the beginning of the season being defending Eastern Conference Champions has helped his players remain focused amid the aforementioned huge target on their backs.

"You know, I think there was pressure even to start this season, just making the Stanley Cup Finals out of the East two of the last three years." Julien pondered openly. "Obviously I think a lot of the pressure was on us throughout the whole season. And it seems like obviously this year we were able to deal with that pressure real well."

"But going into these playoffs, I don't feel any extra added pressure." Julien added, "And you know you don't want to put too much added pressure on yourself. You just want to remain focused and do what you need to do in order to help your team win."

Like...taking the first two games of the series in Boston, a series which begins on Friday evening and continues with a Sunday afternoon matinee before the series shifts to HockeyTown for games three and four next week...

...and if the Bruins can send the dangerous Red Wings back to Detroit down by those two games, no number of octopi thrown on the ice are going to help them against the rugged and heavy clamp-down defense and the relentless forecheck in the attacking zone that the Bruins employ for a full sixty minutes per game - and, as a result enter this post-season as the team to beat if you want to win the Cup.

The Red Wings get their shot starting on Friday night.

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