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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bruins Raise Banner, Drop Season Opener 2-1

In a night filled with pageantry and emotion, the Bruins let their foot off the gas late in the first period, allowing two quick goals en route to a 2-1 loss on Opening Night to the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden.

New Flyers netminder Ilya Bryzgalov made 22 saves and got the win thanks to two goals in 47 seconds for the new look Flyers (1-0). Both Flyers goals came in the last minute of the first period, when the Bruins became a bit lackadaisical on defense.

The Bruins began the game with a jolt of energy, earning several scoring chances and dictating the pace of the action. They got on the board early in the first as Brad Marchand scored on a beautiful backhand during the Bruins first power play.

He was set up by a beautiful feed through the entire neutral zone by Tyler Seguin, who I thought had a hell of a game. Although the Bruins (0-1) would have several other scoring chances, especially on the power play (1 of 5), that is all that the B's would get. New defenseman Joe Corvo had the other assist on Marchmont's tally (interesting note: he had the last goal in Game 7 at Vancouver and the first goal of this season).

The Flyers got on the board when Claude Giroux took a pass from the returning Jaromir Jagr and then proceeded to undress Zdeno Chara before beating Tim Thomas (27 saves) on a nifty breakaway move.

Just 47 seconds later, new Flyer Jakub Voracek corralled a loose puck, pirouetted to his right and lifted a wrister past Thomas to give the Broad Street Bullies a 2-1 lead with what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

The Bruins had a few legit scoring chances after that including a botched 2-on-1 that saw Chris Kelly unable to capitalize on another crisp dish from Seguin in the first, and an open net opportunity for Nathan Horton that was quelled by Kimmo Timmonen's stick.

Overall it was an entertaining game but the Bruins left a lot on the table, especially on the man advantage. Unlike last year however, the Bruins' man advantage actually looked pretty good. They did a great job moving the puck and getting a lot of chances from different areas on the ice. However, they could not capitalize on their opportunities throughout the night.

Boston gets back to work on Saturday night as they host another team they beat in last season's playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning (who they defeated in an epic seven-game Eastern Conference Final).

Game Notes

* The raising of the banner was one of those sports moments that I will never forget. The ceremony itself started with a montage of the Bruins' magical playoff run on the jumbotron, accompanied by a cylindrical canvas that was placed over the center ice circle, displaying images from the season while the video played. After the montage was complete, the canvas dropped, revealing the championship banner. Really well done.

* The Bruins got a chance to show the home crowd the Cup on the ice afterwards, as each member briefly raised the cup for the people in attendance. As someone who hates seeing a team win a championship at the visitors arena/field, I thought this was a cool moment for the team as well as the fans. They also inserted "the sheriff" Shane Hnidy into the celebration along with former alternate captain Mark Recchi, both of whom were in uniform.

* After a few words from Jeremy Jacobs (yes fans still booed him), Cam Neely, Peter Chiarelli and Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference took the mic and presented Recchi with the revered Bruins ' Starter jacket. Great stuff.

* When it came time to raise the Banner, the B's were joined by former Bruins like Pie Mackenzie, Bobby Orr, Derek Sanderson, Kenny Hodge, Johnny Bucky and the 93-year-old Milt Schmidt. They alluded to it on the Versus broadcast, but you really never see a passing of the torch like that anymore. Just a perfect ending to the ceremony.

* I thought Corvo looked really good in his first game with the B's. He skated with the first PP unit, alongside Chara and really did some nice things. Rather than posting up at the blueline, he carried the puck towards the high slot and even set up on the halfwall, looking for passing lanes down low while simultaneously looking towards Chara for the big bomb.

* Seguin looked good too and will certainly get more time on the PP unit if he keeps playing like he did tonight. His feed to Marchand in the first was beautiful and hopefully it will only be a matter of time before he's skating on the second line. He also set up Chris Kelly in the first and brought a more physical presence to his game tonight. Good to see.

* After the game, I started to watch the Vancouver-Pittsburgh game on Versus and what I saw was hilarious. Just like the Bruins had the Stanley Cup at center ice, the Canucks had some hardware as well. Only it was their individual awards that they won last year, just days after being humiliated by the Bruins. Good to know that their heads are still in the right place.

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