The day the wheels came off was Monday, Monday April 21st to be exact.
Memories of a winless season against their most hated rivals were erased by Marco Strum with 2:37 left in the third.
Strum capped a four goal third period explosion by a team that so many said couldn’t score. It was the second time in two games that the B’s had dropped a five spot on “Wonder Kid” Carey Price.
Then came April 21st, a night when the up-start Bruins simply could do nothing right. A 5-0 beating left The Hub feeling very cold after so much renewed excitement had been generated by the black and gold.
After an off-season that saw them spurned by Marian Hossa, as he claimed he went to Detroit for a chance to win a Stanley cup, fans weren’t sure what to make of the Bruins lineup.
To be fair, we’d seen glimpses of brilliance out of some of the young talent, but nothing to predict an offensive explosion. Chara and Savard were the only two known commodities.
Timmy Thomas had a cult following, but even after an All-Star selection nobody seemed sure of what to make of the awkward styled journeyman from Flint Michigan. Michael Ryder was well…a half priced alternative to the Hossa we wanted.
But the off-season move that to me has so far made the biggest impact is the signing of a kid from the University of Minnesota. All of a sudden with Lucic, Savard, Kessel, and Wheeler, Krecji, Ryder, we had two of the more dynamic lines in the NHL.
Suddenly your checking line was Kobasew, Bergeron, and Axelsson. You were looking at a Bruins team that could score from top to bottom without Marco Sturm (whose 27 goals a year ago was Gretzky-like considering the stretches of offensive ineptness in the 2007-2008 season).
The Wheeler signing allowed the Bruins to put a physical presence on both their first and second lines. It also gave developing playmaker, David Krecji, someone to play with. As the year has gone on, you’ve seen a Janney and Neely-like chemistry starting to develop between these two.
Then you take a former 30-goal scorer in Ryder and take the pressure of playing on the first line, and he looks rejuvenated out from under the expectations. Quite simply, without Wheeler, you are clearly looking at a less dynamic and smaller player on the wing of that second line, and a less dangerous Bruins squad from top to bottom.
You don’t always have to add a Hossa or a Gaborik to improve your team's scoring; sometimes it’s as simple as adding a Golden Gopher or two to stimulate the offense. All of a sudden the wheels were back on, and the bandwagon was rolling.