It’s over. It didn’t get the media attention the NBA lockout or, by any means, that of the NFL lockout, but the NHL lockout is finally over. Hate who you want, blame who you want, but it’s over and it’s time to drop the puck.
I, and other hockey fans, can now stop pretending we really enjoy watching the NBA. NHL hockey is back in Boston and the dreary winter months of January and February just got a little brighter, but what can we expect from the Black and Gold and the rest of the NHL this shortened season? Opening night at the TD Garden will tell us a lot.
The Bruins will open their season when they host Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers on January 19th. Every year the Rangers come in as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, but always have their share of playoff woes. Last year the Rangers, after losing the President’s Cup on the last day of the season, barely got by the 8th-seeded Ottawa Senators and then, thanks to a few penalties, defeated the Washington Capitals. However, the Rangers dropped the Eastern Conference Finals to the out-of-left-field New Jersey Devils.
The Devils would go on to lose to the fan favorite Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals and the rest is history.
I celebrated the return of the NHL by watching the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins DVD. Watching the Bruins defeat the Vancouver Canucks brought back great memories of going to the beach in the afternoon and then watching hockey at night, but I soon realized something at the end of the DVD—this Bruins team would not be the same.
After the championship season and the 2012 season, people now respect the Bruins as a legitimate contender now and no longer have the under dog, “this team hasn’t won the Cup in longtime” vibe. The fate of the 2013 Bruins will lie on the shoulders of three players.
Firstly and most importantly, can Tuukka Rask carry the Bruins and hold down the fort in net? Secondly, can Tyler Seguin further his maturity, became an elite player, and lead the Bruins in points the way he did last year? Lastly, will Nathan Horton be able to return from his concussions or is his career doomed in the way former Bruin Marc Savard’s was?
I have a feeling this is going to be an NHL season to remember