Boston Bruins: Something Special Is Bruin in Beantown

Derek HarmsworthSenior Writer IApril 20, 2008

Nobody gave them a shot.  Not a chance.  Many picked them to be swept away from the postseason without a whimper.

But here they are, nearly two weeks later, still alive, still kicking, and entertaining us while earning our respect along the way.

Sure, the Boston Bruins may have been the team to eliminate my Toronto Maple Leafs from playoff contention. Still, for some reason I find myself cheering them with all I have.

Is it because they are an Original Six team?  Well, I do like tradition, but it's not that.

Is it because they are sticking it to the Montreal Canadiens, a team that as a Leafs fan I loathe?  Perhaps that does have something to do with it.

But the real reason was stated on opening night by Don Cherry during the first intermission when he said simply:

"They're just a bunch of good guys."

A phrase so simple, but it describes them to a tee.  Maybe it's because they are of the simple variety.

They certainly aren't the most talented bunch around.  Just three players topped the 50-point plateau.  Only two scored more than 20 goals, and none hit the 30 mark this season.

They are a bunch of good guys who believe in themselves. They try like every shift is their last. That is something I will forever appreciate.

Tim Thomas could be the poster child for this team.  He kicked around the minors, as well as teams in Europe, before landing the gig with the Bruins, Thomas never gave up.

He never stopped believing, and despite the fact he wasn't the most talented, or fundamentally sound goalie, he never stopped trying.  It appears to have rubbed off on his teammates.  

Phil Kessel was a junior star, but he fell from a potential first overall pick to being chosen fifth by Boston.  That day, the Bruins said they got a steal.

Kessel floated through the last 10 games of the regular season, and he was benched for the first few of this series.  But once he was re-inserted into the lineup he returned with a vengeance.  With a purpose.  With a goal to work hard. To make the Canadiens earn every inch of ice, and to punish their defense with defying dekes.

After all, fighting back and persevering are Kessel's mantra.  He did, after all, spend some of last year on the shelf battling his toughest foe, cancer.

And how about Marco Sturm?  Was he worth giving Joe Thornton up for?  Probably not. After all, there is a reason that GM was fired shortly after making that trade.

But he is a serviceable player, one who employs the battle cry of the Bruins:  Never Give up, Never Surrender.

It has been evident all year, and shone through even brighter last night, when his team needed it the most.

He battled hard in the corners, winning puck battles with a Montreal defender on two consecutive occasions.

Then, he jumped over a sprawling defenseman, outwaited Carey Price and deposited the puck to give his team new life in what has been a wild season.

And so it is, a new life.  Anything goes.  All bets are off.  Game Seven.  And the Bruins have the momentum of the world behind them.

The Canadiens bear the weight of the world, trying to avoid a monumental collapse, very similar to the one they saw the Bruins made in 2004. That's when the Habs roared back from being down 3-1 to capture the series in 7.

Will history repeat, only wearing a different sweater?  We will only know after Game Seven if the Bruins have completed the valiant, hard working comeback they rightfully deserve.

When the Stanley Cup playoffs are finished, Boston will return to being on the enemy side of things for me.  They are a Northeast Division rival that the Maple Leafs will have to contend with all season.

But for now, I can say thank you to Boston.  Thank you for entertaining us.  Thank you for battling hard and showing us what it means to play in the NHL playoffs.  

And most of all, thank you, Boston Bruins, for being a good group of guys.