By Biz Jacobs, Contributor.
Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins open the 2011 season against the Philadelphia Flyers, and they'll raise their first Stanley Cup banner since 1972 before the game at TD Garden.
Event: Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers.
Date/Time: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 7 p.m. EDT.
Location: TD Garden (Capacity: 17,565), Boston, Massachusetts.
Broadcast Info: Thursday's game between the Bruins and Flyers will be broadcast live on VERSUS. The game can also be heard on the 98.5 the Sports Hub Radio Network, with Dave Goucher providing play-by-play, and Bob Beers providing analysis.
Season Series: This will be the first of four games between these two teams, and it comes at the best time--the first game of the 2011-2012 season for both clubs.
Storyline: After a successful preseason, the Bruins will look to make their first game as reigning Stanley Cup Champions a step in the right direction for the rest of the season--and with the amount of players the Bruins have returning, it has the potential to be a very large step. The Black and Gold are completely healthy, with Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask and Milan Lucic all recovering over the summer, and the rest of them eager to turn the page and enter into a new chapter--or perhaps a sequel.
One of the biggest storylines going into the season was the worry of a Stanley Cup hangover for the party-hard Bruins. It has been a long time since any team has won the Cup two consecutive years. Partially because the salary cap has made it so teams are more balanced and capable of obtaining talent, but also the hard rigors of an entire playoff run paired with a short offseason filled with celebrations and shenanigans generally doesn't match a 4-month rested, hungry team.
However, the Bruins are determined to shake any notion of a Hangover, and do so against of their biggest contenders--the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers will play the Bruins for the first time since the Eastern Conference Semi-finals, where they fell in four straight games to the eventual champions. Now, with a new goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov between the pipes as well as seasonedJaromir Jagr and new captain Chris Pronger, the Flyers are seeking vengeance and look like they have the firepower to do some damage.
Players To Watch: For Boston, keep an eye on Tim Thomas in net. Due to the astounding numbers he put up last year in the regular season and in the playoffs, all eyes are on him coming into this game. Though there are many that say he can't outperform his last year's heroics (which would be tough to do), Thomas himself said it would be a challenge, but one he's up for.
The Flyers are going to have to put the puck in the back of the net if they hope to come out with a win. Trying to do that in the first game of the season is tough, but trying to do that first game of the season against last year's Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy winner is even tougher. That being said, James van Riemsdyk will once again be in the scopes of the Bruins, as he was one of the only players last year to have some effectiveness against Thomas. van Riemsdyk signed a 6-year deal in the offseason with the Flyers, so look for his productivity on the ice to soar.
Prediction: It's going to be close, and no doubt the gloves will drop at some point, but in the end, the Bruins are the Stanley Cup champions, and I can't see them losing the first game at home. Final Score: Bruins 4, Flyers 2.