Picard: My Cup runneth over

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Picard: My Cup runneth over

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Follow @dannypicard
SOUTH BOSTON The first time I kissed the Stanley Cup was in 1994.

South Bostons own Brian Noonan won it with the New York Rangers, and brought it home for the rest of the neighborhood to enjoy.

Perhaps enjoy isnt the right word. If youve ever been in the same room as the Cup, then you know what Im talking about.

Ive been fortunate enough to be in the same room as the Stanley Cup twice now, after it made its way to L Street Tavern in my hometown of South Boston last Wednesday night.

It was the first time the damn thing graced the streets of Southie since 1994, thanks to the Bruins remarkable championship run.

There werent any players with it, though. The actual Bruins themselves didnt bring it to Southie during their multinight binge on the town. Instead, they took it to Charlestown, the North End, and Foxwoods.

Maybe Im missing a few stops along the way. But the point being, they never brought it to Southie, and unless some of my Dot-rat friends were sworn into complete secrecy, they never brought the Cup to Dorchester either.

As two hockey-crazed communities, both deserved a chance to see the Cup up close and in person.

Luckily for my community of South Boston, we had our night with it on Wednesday.

It capped a two-week Cup-hunt throughout the city, a two-week period in which the only Cup me and my friends could get a picture of, was with the life-sized inflatable Stanley Cup we purchased online during the Finals.

It showed up in the mail the morning of Game 7. It was immediately inflated, and put in a closet, only to be revealed to the rest of the party if the Bruins were hoisting the actual, 35 pound trophy at the end of the game.

The moment Brad Marchands empty netter made it 4-0, the inflatable Cup came out, and it went everywhere our crew went. Castle Island, M Street beach, L Street Tavern, Atlantic Beer Garden. If we were there, the inflatable Stanley Cup was with us.

Thats another reason why the Cup is so special. I mean, do they even make an inflatable Lombardi Trophy? And if they did, would you even want to be seen carrying it around down the beach or at a bar?

Sure, laugh about how childish an inflatable Stanley Cup may seem, especially for a bunch of Southie kids in their mid-to-late 20s to be taking it with them everywhere they go. But Im willing to guarantee that if you were around it, youd be the first to come over and ask to hoist it for a picture.

I can actually remember telling my mother that I felt like I, personally, won the Stanley Cup, with the way people were gravitating to the 2-pound balloon in local establishments.

It was all in good fun of course, but people in Southie wanted to spend a few moments with the actual Cup so badly, that they were willing to settle for our party toy.

In the weeks following the Bruins Game 7 win, my crew was tipped off and we were told to make our way to several local establishments in which the real Stanley Cup would possibly be showing up.

While coming from reliable sources, none of those tips ever led us to Lord Stanley. And I must admit, being part of these Cup hunts was sometimes difficult, because I am an active member of the Boston media.

When Im on the clock, I do my job. But Ill never lose my passion for the sport of hockey. That would be a sin.

I grew up in South Boston, a place where your skates are laced up and youre thrown onto the ice down the little rink with Arnies Army at the age of 6, learning to walk on water, whether you like it or not. Most continue to love it and play for years, like myself. Its a way of life in our neighborhood, our 11th commandment if you will.

You play every day in the winter, and spend summer mornings inside a rink for one reason: to eventually win a Stanley Cup. And when you realize that dream is dead, you hope for a friend or for your local team to carry out that dream for you.

So my passion for hockey isnt going anywhere. And therefore, neither is my passion for the Bruins, or even for the Stanley Cup.

The same goes for the entire community. And Im sure that passion is no different in other hockey-crazed towns throughout New England. But Im only in one place at one time. And when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, I was only in South Boston.

For two weeks that followed, the only Cup sighting in Southie was our inflatable one, until this past Wednesday night, when a tip from a source finally paid off, and Lord Stanley finally made its way through the back door at L Street Tavern, or as we locals call it, Striggies.

And as the Cup guy (isnt that what everyone calls him?) carried the shiny trophy to the back of the bar with his white gloves on, there wasnt one person whose eyes didnt light up.

Thats what the Stanley Cup does. It lights up a room like no other physical object in the history of the world.

For every minute spent with it, nothing else matters. Personal issues, everyday stress, its all blocked out. Its just you and the Cup. And its a feeling that simply cant be described to perfection.

The first time I saw the Stanley Cup in person, I was 11 years old. My mother came out front and told me and my friend Ryan Sweeney to get on our bikes and head to the old Abbey (a local Southie bar that is now closed), where our fathers were drinking out of the Cup, courtesy of Brian Noonan.

So off I went on my black spray-painted Huffy White Heat, my San Jose Sharks hat (I loved their unis), and a feeling of overwhelming excitement. It was the same feeling I had last Wednesday night, when someone inside L Street Tavern yelled, Its here!

The Cup had arrived back in Southie for the first time since 1994. And for the short period of time that we got to spend with it, nobody in the place had any other care in the world.

And while the multiple pictures I took with the Cup are priceless, it was even more fulfilling to witness the rest of the neighborhood experience what I had already experienced as an 11-year-old kid who didnt yet know just how to appreciate someone elses bliss.

As I looked around L Street Tavern, I realized that this Stanley Cup meant so much more to this city than I had ever imagined. It was the missing piece in many peoples lives. It was more than just a flashy trophy you could drink out of.

It was a sign of hope.

The same sign of hope that younger Southie kids showed when they wouldnt even touch our inflatable Cup, thinking that it would jinx their chances of winning the real thing one day.

The same sign of hope that Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli showed when he signed a 35-year-old goaltender to a 4-year, 20 million deal, thinking that hed one day lead the Bs to the promised land.

The same sign of hope that Nathan Horton showed when he brought melted TD Garden ice with him to Vancouver in a water bottle, and dumped it in front of his bench before Game 7, thinking that it would cure Bostons road woes.

The same sign of hope that me and my friends showed by hanging around our local bar until 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night, thinking that the Stanley Cup would eventually show up, when there were no guarantees it would.

As it turns out, the Cup showed up, and hope was fulfilled.

So I kissed it again.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Cassidy quells goaltender controversy: 'Tuukka's our No. 1 goalie'

Cassidy quells goaltender controversy: 'Tuukka's our No. 1 goalie'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While the sequence of events over the past couple of days could understandably lead one to wonder who will start between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night vs. Nashville, interim coach Bruce Cassidy tried to quell any hint of a goalie controversy.

The vote of confidence was certainly needed after Anton Khudobin’s fifth consecutive win halted the B's four-game losing streak with a huge 2-1 victory over the Islanders on Saturday night in the wake of Rask’s absence while tending to a short-term lower body issue.  

“[Rask] had a good practice today. I spoke with him. We’ll see how he wakes up tomorrow and we’ll make our decision. He’s our No. 1 goalie, so there’s no way we can skirt our way around that issue. He’s our No. 1 and his health is very important. When he’s physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we’ll make that decision,” said Cassidy. “He’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey this year...and he’s not a 240-pound goaltender that can handle all of the games, all of the workload every year. We know that. I’m not going to put limitations on him, but we probably overused him at the start of the year. At this time of year, it gets tougher and tougher with any player that’s been overplayed.

“That’s why we have two goaltender, and [Anton Khudobin] has really stepped up in that last stretch and done what’s asked of him. He’s fixed that area of our game. It’s nice to have a guy that’s your No. 2 that can win you hockey games and play well. It’s a great problem to have, to be honest with you. But Tuukka is our No. 1. But Tuukka is our No. 1. He’s our guy.”

Rask declared himself fit to play after going through a full Monday practice with no issues, but said he’s still waiting to hear the final word on whether he’ll play on Tuesday night vs. the Predators. The Bruins franchise goalie also said he isn’t worried about any recurrence of the lower body injury that “popped up” in the Tampa Bay loss Thursday night, which really doesn’t bring any clarity to the entire situation.

“It was a good day back on the ice. I feel good. We’ll see what the decision is [for the Nashville game], but I feel good today,” said Rask, who is 8-8 with a .892 save percentage and a 2.91 goals-against average since the All-Star break, compared to Khudobin’s 2-0-0 with a .920 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average. “You need to put the best lineup out as possible, and I wasn’t in any shape to play. So, there are no easy decisions this time of year, but I’ve played a lot of hockey and injuries happen. We talked to the training staff and managers and came to a decision that [Khudobin] was going to play the game, and that’s it.

“It’s obviously tough from a personal standpoint, but it’s never about one guy or two guys. It’s a team game and I feel confident that we’re going to get the job done as long as we play the way we did. It was great to see.”

Clearly, it looks like Rask is going to play vs. Nashville and that’s the safe, easy decision when it comes to a No. 1 goalie getting paid $7 million a season and perhaps it all works out with a fired up Finnish netminder after sitting out Saturday night. But nobody is going to be faulted if they wonder what’s going to wrong with Rask ahead of the next gigantic game Boston will have to play with the Stanley Cup playoffs on the line. 

Krejci leaves practice early with 'upper body issue'

Krejci leaves practice early with 'upper body issue'

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins returned to work on Monday after a big win over the weekend, but were one man down by the end of practice at Warrior Ice Arena. David Krejci exited the ice early on Monday and coach Bruce Cassidy said that the playmaking center is battling a bit of an upper body issue.

That was the reason for his abbreviated practice appearance ahead of the game Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

“He’s got a bit of an upper body issue, he’s got a little discomfort,” said Cassidy of Krejci, who has one point and a minus-4 rating over his past four games. “He got treated and I believe he’ll be fine tomorrow. I don’t think it’s anything major, but I can’t speculate [on it]. But that’s the issue.”

There was no play that sticks out from the Saturday night win over the Islanders were Krejci might have hurt himself, but the team’s hope is obviously that it’s something the 30-year-old can keep playing through.

With Krejci having left the ice, Ryan Spooner bumped up to the second line with the following line combos and D-pairings finishing out an hour-long practice:

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Backes

Stafford-Spooner-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Nash-Hayes

Beleskey-Moore-Acciari

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

C. Miller-K. Miller

 
Rask