A couple days ago, I asked you to vote for which regular season home Boston Bruins game — other than the 2010 Winter Classic — you were looking forward to the most. By an overwhelming amount, you picked the Nov. 5 date with Montreal, proving that old habits die hard.
To me, the Oct. 3 game against Carolina brings with it the most anticipation, and not just because of the anger that was stoked last spring with Scott Walker’s sucker-punch of Aaron Ward. That will definitely be the lead story in that contest, a plot that undoubtedly end with Bruins winger Shawn Thornton, who made some remarks about payback during the playoffs, taking on Walker (who will oblige because he, by all accounts, is a pretty honest player) much to the delight of the crowd. And then bygones will be bygones.
But there are plenty other reasons to look forward to the Hurricanes’ visit. Obviously the Bruins will want a little revenge on the team that knocked them out of last spring’s playoffs in a grueling seven-game series. And in addition to Walker, Eric Staal, Chad LaRose and Erik Cole all built up some level of “villain status” in the eyes of Bruins backers.
The ‘Canes have since added to their mix by signing former Montreal winger Tom Kostopoulos, who has had his share of run-ins with the Bruins in the past. And then the ‘Canes’ most recent addition is defenseman Andrew Alberts, the former Bruins backliner who has shown his fair share of glass-rocking hits over the years. Alberts spent last season with Philadelphia, so he’s probably learned a trick or two about playing outside the constraints of the rule and he’ll want to show up his old team in ‘Canes gear.
Despite your voting in my little poll, I know that Boston fans have developed some adaptability over the last couple years when it comes to their teams’ rivals. Once seen as a group fixated on New York teams (and Montreal for hockey), Boston baseball rooters have learned to hate Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Angels over the years, and NBA fans have built up a disgust for Orlando and Cleveland. So while the most potent venom from those wearing black and gold sweaters will still be reserved for the Habs, New York Rangers and Flyers, I think the ‘Canes might actually crack the top-five most hated list this season and it’ll make for an entertaining evening the first time Carolina comes calling. The more rivals the better, as far as I’m concerned.