tclakin

Bruins Win 2-1 as Hearts Across Hub Explode

In Uncategorized on April 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Ohhh, my poor, ravaged heart. What a game.

I should’ve known it was going to be an interesting night when, right before the puck dropped, a quartet of Canadiens fans strode into Section 310 and plopped into the seats directly in front of ours.

This crew stood out like a pack of Wiccans in the first pew on Easter Sunday. One was strikingly tall and had a habit of never sitting down (a bad idea when in enemy territory). Another had a bowl haircut I haven’t seen since third grade. Can’t remember the third one. The last wore funny glasses. With their blood-red jerseys and frightened eyes, they looked like four ladybugs that had wandered into a beehive. On top of that, they were all speaking French! Needless to say, the loyal denizens of Section 310 were dubious.

“This is going to be the worst night of their lives,” said someone in our row. (It might’ve been me.)

But it’s a funny thing about rival fans: their presence – and the appropriate response to such – is frustratingly complex. When these four sat down, the veterans of Section 310 couldn’t decide whether to be pissed or pleased. On one hand, four Habs fans sitting in front of you at the Garden is highly offensive, on a nearly religious scale. But on the other, there is nothing quite as fun as spending two hours (and in Saturday’s case, four) whispering sweet nothings into pale Canadien ears. Truly, it warms the heart.

Unfortunately, early on in this game there wasn’t much to be said. The game was scoreless until 4:33 into the third, when Brad Marchand (and, according to Max Pacioretty’s Twitter feed, his unusually long nose) gave the Bruins their first lead of the game. It’s safe, I think, to say that the four Habs fans enjoyed his goal the least. The guy next to me – an older fellow who from the looks of things knew his way around a hockey arena – showered the tall one with peanut shells, while to their right a Bruins fan fired up a booming “USA” chant, which he delivered in a foghorn voice at close range. Finally, from below came creative profanity unuttered since the Nantucket whaling peak.

Nine minutes later, Jeff Halpern pulled the Canadiens even and we quieted down a bit. Just a bit. I’m not sure you can say the Habs fans below us were at this point enjoying themselves, per se, but they’d at least crossed back from the ninth circle of hell and for that were visibly relieved. Their crooked smiles didn’t last long, unfortunately: during a bathroom break near the end of the third, I saw all four getting escorted, rather forcibly, out the arena doors. Must’ve been something they said. It was probably for the best – I’m not sure they would’ve survived one overtime, let alone both.

As the two teams skated deeper and deeper into the extra period, the vibe in Section 310 approached Cardiac Level. Cardiac Level is reserved for those sporting events which are so exciting – and for which the outcome is both critically important and agonizingly unknown – that any shot of the puck, pass of the ball, or swing of the bat could result in a four-alarm heart attack. Watching Cardiac Level games is like scuba diving with a busted oxygen tank or leaving your wife with Tiger Woods. It’s excruciating. Later, if your team wins, it will seem like you had fun. You did not. And on this night, as the second overtime got underway, Section 310 displayed all the common symptoms of a Cardiac Level event: clenched fists; ravaged throats; squawked cheers; the use of irrational superstition; and ear-splitting, English-language-mangling, time-to-gather-up-the-kids-and-leave profanity.

The guy next to me seemed a specialist in all five. As the puck flew up and down the ice, so too did his arms. In one hand he gripped a black Bruins hat, which he employed throughout OT as a sort of wand, a conductor’s baton with which he presumably thought he orchestrate the puck’s movement. When the puck skittered down the ice, his hat went up. When the puck traveled back towards Carey Price and Section 310, his hat went down. During stoppages, the hat hung limply in his hand, for the moment its magic gone. But then the puck would drop and back up the hat would fly, flopping about like a hooked bass as the man’s face grew redder and redder. Near the end of the game, when Tim Thomas made his diving, sprawling, mind-bendingly impossible Save Of The Year, I thought this guy was going to throw that hat right onto the ice, if not leap down there himself. It’s a good thing Nathan Horton finally potted the winner, at 9:03 of the second overtime, because if the game had gone any longer I’m not sure this gentleman would’ve lived to see the end.

We didn’t stick around after Horton scored. I heard he gave his stick to a fan, but I can’t be sure. I was elbow-deep in Coors Lights by then. But as we piled out of the Garden, whooping and whipping our yellow Bruins towels, exhausted after a nearly four-hour Cardiac Contest of the highest intestine-twisting, sphincter-tightening, knuckle-whitening order, I realized something:

It doesn’t get any better than this.

See you Tuesday.

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