The Boston Bruins soared into the week with an 8-1 record since Jan. 1 and prepared to face the Carolina Hurricanes on the night the team retired Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 as the man who broke the NHL’s color barrier in 1958.
The pregame ceremony was the best part of the night, as the goodwill of his number getting raised to the TD Garden rafters when the visiting Hurricanes shellacked the B’s and starting goaltender Tuukka Rask for five goals on 12 shots in the opening period, going on to paste them by a 7-1 final score.
Although the Bruins bounced back two nights later with a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals, it was bittersweet, as Brad Marchand and Anton Blidh were knocked from the game by big hits from Garnet Hathaway (Mass. ) and Tom Wilson. Based on early reports, it appeared as if Marchand would be out of the lineup for quite some time.
As Saturday’s mid-afternoon matinee against the Winnipeg Jets to complete the three-game homestand loomed, much of the local coverage focused on what the team would do without its top left wing and potential NHL MVP for what could be an extended layoff. The short-term plan was to put Jake DeBrusk up with Patrice Bergeron and Craig Smith, so imagine the surprise as Boston took the ice and No. 63 was with his teammates. Marchand’s seemingly miraculous recovery after not being able to raise his arms over his shoulders two nights earlier spoke volumes about the veteran’s dedication and what he truly means to this franchise.