Those who live in Boston are likely familiar with Matthews Arena, a.k.a Boston Arena, now a part of Northeastern University. It is home to the Northeastern Huskies men's and women's hockey teams, as well as the school's basketball team.
84 years ago, December 1st, 1924, the Boston Bruins in their black and gold, skated on to the arena's ice to play three periods against the Montreal Maroons.
Hockey had come to America for the first time.
The two expansion teams played a good 60 minutes of hockey, with the Bruins ultimately winning hockey's debut match in the U.S. 2-1.
The remainder of the season, however, did not favor the expansion Bruins. Boston finished with a lowly 6-24 record, dead last in the division.
A lot has changed in 84 years though.
The Boston Bruins are coming off of a superb November that has made them perhaps the biggest threat in the Eastern Conference and early Stanley Cup contenders. They wrapped up November with a win over the defending Cup champions, the Detroit Red Wings, to end the month with an 11-1-1 record, five more wins than the '24 Bruins managed to earn all season.
That has put the Bruins in a first place tie in the East, alongside another original six team, the New York Rangers.
Boston finds itself in this position because the team is firing on all cylinders, particularly it's powerplay unit, ranked third in the league. Say what you will, capitalizing on your chances is what wins hockey games.
Boston's defense is hitting hard and clearing the zone. Offensively, Phil Kessel has cracked the league's top 10 scorers, netting 13 so far this season. Boston's goaltenders, Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez, have also been stellar. When you're a coach in the NHL, having two top goalies is a problem you want to have.
There are several months of hockey left to play, however, and fate is a fickle mistress. Tempting her serves only to undermine the cause, and captain Zdeno Chara has done just that.
Following the win over Detroit, Chara proclaimed the Bruins can beat anybody in the league. While that may be true, temperance is the better part of desire, and humility prevents the instigators from leveling your best. It's a new league, but sometimes old habits die hard.
Regardless, for now, the Bruins are charging like a raging grizzly, whereas 84 years ago, the best the Bruins could muster was Yogi Bear. It was an inauspicious start for hockey in America but in 2008, the sport is alive and well in several American markets and, this season, Boston is leading the way.
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