In case you missed it…

And according to NBC, many folks are missing it… the Boston Bruins are 25-4-1 in their last 30 games.

Oh, sorry.  The defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins are 25-4-1 in their last 30 games.

Many folks in the sporting world may not be up to date on that information.  Why?  Because hockey is the retarded little brother of the sporting world.  At least that’s what we’re led to believe.  The NFL (who had a prolonged work stoppage in the off-season) is the #2 sport in the US… maybe #1-B depending on who you ask,  and appears on five networks, three of them national over the air, one national basic cable and one premium.  The NBA is the 3rd place winner in the US, however they’ve taken a hit due to their very publicly drawn-out labor-stoppage and show of penultimate greed in the negotiations.  They have also been promoted to most boring.  Parity in the NBA is a thing of the past as several teams now sport ‘Trios’ of super-friends and have deteriorated to the point where owners are fighting amognst themselves and the league.  Imagine a league composed of twenty or so Oakland A’s or Montreal Expos teams, a few Angels and Dodgers then four or five Yankees teams.  Yawn.  The NBA is shown on four networks, one National over the air (part-time), two national basic cable networks and one premium.  The NHL, up until the first of the year, was on every now and then.

Several years ago (after the NHL’s last work stoppage), ESPN (ABC) decided not to renew their broadcast rights and an upstart network known as Versus picked them up.  Versus, for all their hunting, fishing, alternative sport hype, did a good job of trying to showcase a game or so a week.  NBC then bought Versus and brought the NHL back to a major national network, on Saturday afternoon… joy.  However, if you tuned in, you usually saw Pittsburgh versus Washington… or the Penguins versus someone… or the Capitals versus someone.   To open the season, the Bruins appeared on both Versus and the NHL network several times and lost pretty much all of them.  “The Stanley Cup Hangover” was to blame.  Back to formula, Pittsburgh and Washington.  But, now that Versus has become the NBC Sports network, the NHL is in full glory.  NHL themed shows, up to four games a week and mention of life outside Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit or Philly (Of course, oce Sid the Kid retuns ad Ovie gets back to form, that will change).

Yay!

And in that time, the defending champs have gone ‘all-world’.  After a horrid start, the B’s have come together, both emotionally and on the ice, and played the game that took them to the dance.  No finesse.  No pass for the sake of passing.  Just hit whoever stands before you and shoot.  Get it towards the middle.  Score.  During a ten game winning streak, the Bruins outscored their opponents by like a factor of five.  But try to find NHL updates on ESPN or some other sports network.  You had a better chance of finding out what new and improved waste of time LeBron and Kobe had come up with during the lockout.  The reversal of fortune for the Colts gets far more coverage than the reversal of fortune for the Habs (Montreal being the NHL’s NY Yankees).

Zdeno Chara #33 and Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins discuss strategy before a faceoff in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Montreal Canadiens during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 26, 2011 in Montreal, Canada.Now, should you actually find an outlet other than the NHL network to give you some insight on the comings and goings of the Cup champs, you may find out some interesting tidbits.  This year’s version of the Bruins is a younger squad on pace to outperform last years squad.  Patrice Bergeron (26), Milan Lucic (23), Nathan Horton (26), Rich Peverley (29), David Krejci (25) and the wonderfully troublesome Brad Marchand (23) are all under thirty and developing well while Tyler Seguin, at just 19 years of age, will be heading to his first All-Star game.  Tim Thomas, the All-Star Vezina winning Conn-Smythe touting goaltender leads the team at 37 years old.  Zdeno Chara, one of the best conditioned athletes in the league (and tallest at 6foot 9) is 34 years old and looks like a Ray Bourque in waiting.  With a great mix of young talent (Tukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, Daniel Paille, Benoit Poulliot, Gregory Campbell) and solid veterans (Andrew Ference, Shawn Thornton, Joe Corvo) this version of the Boston Bruins appears set to be a legitimate contender to repeat for the Stanley Cup Championship in 2012 and a perennial contender for several years to come.

By mixing their youth with the veteran approach of the ‘Big Bad Bruins’, this team could help make up for the short-comings of those early 1970’s teams who had an abundance of on-ice talent to win at will but let their youth and exuberance dictate the carefree off-ice personalities which squandered their short window of opportunity.   Their rough and tumble yet very successful style of play is constantly in question.  Vancouver (the 2011 Western Conference Champions a.k.a Stanley Cup losers) accuses the B’s of playing stupid while penultimate rival Montreal respects the Bruins play as rough yet styled and respectable.  Sounds about right either way.

Stay tuned… if you’re watching.

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