Invisible Phil and Mediocre Ray
(Photo from Boston.com)
That picture reminds me of the final scene of Anchorman, the one we're treated to if we sit through the credits. "We are laughing and we are very good friends. Good buddies sharing a special moment. Laughing and enjoying our friendship, and someday we'll look back on this with much fondness."
And why shouldn't they be? Things are good in Bruins land. Especially good last night after taking down Mighty Ovechkin and the Capitals in overtime thanks to a David Krecji redirect on the power play. Positively delightful! More so, I'd venture, because the brother and I were in attendance. A Christmas present from his sister, you see. Last year I gave him Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, this year, Ovechkin. Who's a good sister?
However, the evening was made especially wondrous with the addition of the gentleman seated behind us. Right in front of the row of Pee Wee players. (It's not a Bruins game if you're more than three rows away from a Pee Wee team. Trust me on this one.) But the gentleman right in front of them was...let's call him Sports Fan Archetype B2. He is, to put it simply, the kind of guy I always end up sitting next to at sports bars. The guy who leans in a little too close, talks a bit too loudly and always needs to impress you with his knowledge, most of it erroneous. He's the kind of guy who never shuts up, annoys his friends with his constant chatter and laughs with his mouth open and full of half masticated chicken fingers. He's special is what he is. And he was seated right behind us.
I knew it was going to be an excellent time when he, half soused to begin the game, leaned across his friends and loudly asked, "But here's my question, okay? How good was Ray Bourque really?" I could feel Kevin tense immediately. There are certain things you don't say to a member of the Merrill family. One is "Even if you don't like the guy, you gotta respect Derek Jeter." Another is "Calm down, it's just a game." And finally, you never, ever, ever, under any circumstances question the greatness of Ray Bourque/Tom Brady/Cam Neely. It's just not done.
"I mean," the guy continued, "was he betta than Bobby Orr? I dunno. Don't think so. I mean, was he even betta than Chara? I'm not sure he was."
Kev, under his breath, "22 seasons, 18 All-Star games and 4 Norris Trophies is pretty fucking good. Chara doesn't have a Norris. Also, shut up, you're an idiot."
At this point, I was, of course, laughing and waiting for the fisticuffs to begin.
"I'm just not sold," the guy continued, "I don't think he was that good. I mean, what'd he eva do?"
Kev, gesturing to the rafters, "There's only ten retired numbers up there. Team's been around since 1923. I think he's PRETTY FUCKING GOOD."
At which point the Capitals scored a goal and we had more important things to focus on. Like making fun of Ovechkin's hair.
"You know," I said, bringing it back to Bourque-Gate, "He's up there somewhere," I gestured to the press boxes, "Maybe this gentlemen would like to take it up with him personally?"
"Neely's up there too," Kev added, "pacing and high-fiving people and wondering why current players are such wusses."
At which point we both took a moment to remember Cam Neely fondly. "Do you think," I asked, "that when they show old highlight films on the scoreboard between periods, Neely watches them from the press box and gets all fired up and says 'Fuck it. Get me some skates!'"
"Of course he does," Kev agreed.
The game proceeded apace with the Capitals and Bruins trading goals. Some fancy goaltending from Thomas also illustrated why he was an All-Star and the winning goalie in the All-Star game for the second year in a row. An impressive feat not erased by the fact that, upon taking the ice to begin the third period, he tripped over the dasher and took a header and went sprawling onto the ice. But pratfalls are always amusing.
The guy behind us, however, would not keep quiet. An hour and a half he went on about his fantasy baseball team last year, all the while trying to convince his reluctant friends to join a league with him this season.
"But here's the thing, okay?" he said, "A lot of good stuff has happened to me this year, right? I'm not gonna lie. But the best day? The best day was when I won my fantasy baseball league. That was fuckin' sweet."
"We must learn from this man," I said to Kev, "He clearly has much to teach us."
What we learned, among other things, was that this gentlemen had a powerful and somewhat embarrassing crush on Shane Victorino, that he believes that Ichiro and Ryan Braun play on the same team (Kev: "Not even a little bit."), and that Jason Varitek is an asshole for not moving to Japan. Also? Carl Crawford? Not faster than this guy. No way, no how. This guy could beat Crawford in the forty two out of three times. His friends, I suspect, were really beginning to regret asking him along.
The game, at this point, had gone to overtime. Which, as you know, is very exciting. Hockey being what it is and all.
"You know," the guy said, "Fucking Kessel's been all but invisible this game. What the fuck's he done?"
"He's not invisible," Kev said, "I can see him in his suit in the third row. Where he's sitting BECAUSE HE HAS MONO."
"Which, I believe," I said, "they made an announcement about before the game."
"So we are dealing with a rocket scientist here."
"Yes. Maybe Ichiro can take up some of Phil Kessel's slack?" Kev said, "Lazy asshole."
On the power play, Krecji found the net and the B's took it in overtime. Which is huge in the standings but is also exciting because, as Kev's girlfriend has declared definitively, "at least they know how to shoot this year. That was the problem last year. They didn't know how to shoot."
"So," I said to Kevin, "What did we learn tonight?"
"We learned that Ray Bourque wasn't really that good," he said.
"And that Phil Kessel is a lazy, loafing asshole."
"And that Ichiro and his teammate will save us all."
"Shane Victorino," I added, "A love story in three acts."
Aside from the lessons imparted on us from our friend in balcony 319, we also learned that the Bruins? The Bruins are for real. Granted, last night marked the return of Lucic (I share my inappropriate crush with at least half the middle-aged male fans in attendance if our matching Lucic number tees were to be believed), Andrew Ference and Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron, showing no ill effects from his concussion, was also the inspiration for the free posters they handed out before the game, "Lord of the Rink. The Return of Patrice Bergeron." I saved mine for Chrissy as a belated birthday present because she has a powerful crush on Bergeron and he looks extra-smoldery in the picture.
So yes, winning is fun. Winning in overtime is perhaps even more fun. And being first in the standings? Is perhaps the most fun of all. The Bruins are a fun ride this year, and a somewhat unexpected one. And I plan on enjoying it. With our without commentary from the peanut gallery.