BostonBruins.com - Three friends, hockey players and loyal Bruins fans enjoyed Tuesday night's 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was a carefree night, with family and friends.
Armando LaRouco had a chance to see his kids' smiles after the big win, and to see them light up again when Patrice Bergeron visited with them, signed autographs and took photos following the game.
The night will be in their memories for a while.
And the truth that was very near and dear was that he may not have been there to enjoy those moments.
In late October, off-duty Scituate Firefighter-Paramedics Geoffrey Downing and Chris Collins were playing a pick-up hockey game in Pembroke, Mass. with LaRouco, when he collapsed and suffered a heart attack on the ice. Downing and Collins sprang into action.
"It's unbelievable, you know, to think that the lights went out literally and figuratively, and just to be here with these guys who have brought me back," said LaRouco, proudly clad in Bruins hooded sweatshirt with the Spoked-B on the front.
"To be able to be here with my family and see them grow up, it's a gift that I can never repay to these two guys."
BOSTON - After picking up their fourth straight win on Tuesday night - 4-3 over the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden - the Bruins are finding a groove.
"I think it’s always been there. I think what’s happened is that, you know, we haven’t seen a lot of life in the first half [of the season] or just never had the same lineup," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "It just seemed like it was hard to get things going."
"You look back and you see who wasn’t there and the impact those guys have on your hockey club. But, you know, it’s starting to come around and sometimes you need a little bit of time for that."
Though the Bruins didn't have the best start to the game, and fell down 1-0 off a tally from Steven Stamkos following a defensive breakdown, they overcame that deficit and then a 2-1 deficit to continue their four-game win streak and eight-game point streak.
"Our players are feeling it right now, and when you feel it, you’ve got more energy," said Julien.
The Bruins had pace to their game, and weren't afraid to stick up for themselves and each other. Adam McQuaid nearly dropped the gloves with J.T. Brown, and though Brown wasn't a taker in the first period, he mixed it up with David Krejci in the third, when the B's had a 4-2 lead.
BostonBruins.com - How quickly circumstances can change.
About one week ago, the Bruins were hitting the ice for practice following a shootout loss to Carolina, one of three straight losses in overtime or a shootout.
They felt their game was coming around, but still, they weren't getting the desired results. There was plenty of talk about evaluation, "unacceptable" play and a beyond disappointing first half of the season in the ensuing days.
Fast forward a week, and the Black and Gold are on a three-game win streak, having strung together victories over Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Apart from the 3-2 overtime win against the Penguins, the Bruins' wins over the Devils (3-0) and Flyers (3-1) were in more commanding fashion.
And just like that, a frustrated group that was struggling to find its confidence has now shifted to a group that stays on the ice for extra 20-30 minutes after the team stretch that usually wraps up practice, smiling and hooting and hollering with their teammates.
The always low key Patrice Bergeron even let loose during Monday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. When Dennis Seidenberg threw a point shot towards the net right off a faceoff, Bergeron moved into place and deflected a perfect tip past Tuukka Rask before the netminder could even see it coming. No. 37 immediately reacted (along with the group), jokingly putting his stick back in its holster.
WILMINGTON, Mass. - The Bruins were back on the ice for practice at Ristuccia Arena on Monday morning, following their 3-1 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday.
With three straight wins over Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Philly, the Black and Gold are gradually building back their confidence.
They're also providing Head Coach Claude Julien with more stability throughout the lineup, and the ability to keep the current lines intact, even if they're not the usual trios the B's, fans and media are used to seeing.
David Krejci continued to center Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak during practice. Patrice Bergeron was between Milan Lucic and Daniel Paille, while Reilly Smith and Loui Eriksson flanked Carl Soderberg. Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Craig Cunningham and Jordan Caron rounded out the other line.
"Well, they've stayed together so far, because you know, we're getting the results right now," Julien said following Monday's skate. "So when the time comes, if I need to make some changes, I will, but right now, we're getting results out of those lines."
BOSTON - On Sunday, the Bruins gathered at TD Garden for the first-ever Bruins Game Show Live, in which they interacted with Premium Club season ticket holders and participated in interactive game show contests.
After three games in four days - and three straight wins - the Bruins had Sunday off from practice, but made time to spend time with thousands of fans.
"I think that's the main thing about a day like today is interacting with the fans on a personal note, more laid back type of note," smiled Milan Lucic. "Usually we're on the ice and they're in the stands and they interact to how we play but today is a good laid back atmosphere and we're going to have some fun doing it."
The private event kicked off with an hour-long VIP photo session for the fans with the entire team.
"They're the ones who cheer us on in the good times and the bad times, and they're super supportive, that's what we need," said Gregory Campbell. "So to actually meet them face to face is we're appreciative, as are they."
"It's a cool feeling to be able to talk to them and enjoy that so we're pretty happy to be here," said Dougie Hamilton.
"It's awesome. There's obviously a ton of fans here and we're pretty lucky to have the support we have here in Boston. I think it's a positive time and a lot of fun and a lot of smiles so we're having fun and we'll hopefully have some fun later, too."
"We'll come together as a team and hopefully have some fun and see what happens later on."
"It was something new, you know?" Pastrnak smiled, thinking back on the moment. "Some new feeling is what I got after the goal. Yeah, it was nice, I can't describe it."
Pastrnak had just backhanded in a rebound off Krug's shot on the power play to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead over the Flyers on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.
It marked his first career goal in the NHL, in his seventh game.
Pastrnak would later add goal No. 2, off a give-and-go with centerman David Krejci, to give the Bruins more insurance en route to their 3-1 win.
"Means a lot you know, first NHL goals," Pastrnak said after the win. "And it's even better when we won and we got two points."
The Bruins picked up a third straight win for the first time since Nov. 15-21. It is just the third time this season that they have won at least three in a row.
BOSTON - With a 3-0 shutout of New Jersey on Thursday night at TD Garden, the Bruins picked up two straight wins for the first time since Dec. 21 and 23.
They were coming off a 3-2 overtime win in Pittsburgh the night before. They had entered the night with a 1-5-1 record in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
Head Coach Claude Julien needed to see his team "play closer to what we're capable of."
The Black and Gold had shown spurts of strong play against the Penguins, but struggled significantly at times.
Luckily, the Bruins showed their confident side on Thursday night, dictating nearly the entire 60 minutes, outshooting the Devils 43-14 and earning Niklas Svedberg the 3-0 shutout.
"We seemed like a real focused and energized team," said Julien, whose squad outshot New Jersey 18-3 in the first period for their largest "shots for" disparity of the season in single period.
"I think the biggest thing we did was we executed the way we were asked to execute and I thought coming in late last night [from Pittsburgh], the first period it was so important to get our legs under us."
"But what impressed me the most was how hard the guys worked to get back and the layers were there, so we didn’t give them much room or too many opportunities. So that was the kind of game we like to see our team play."
BOSTON - The Bruins host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at TD Garden in their second game of a back-to-back set.
It marks the second of three meetings on the season for the Eastern Conference opponents. The Bruins took the first game 4-2 back on Nov. 10.
Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.
The Black and Gold are coming off a 3-2 overtime win against the Penguins on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. It snapped a three-game losing streak, with all three of those losses having come in overtime or the shootout.
Boston has picked up at least a point in five games straight, and in seven of their past eight. It hasn't necessarily felt like that for the Bruins, though.
The victory in OT, thanks to Patrice Bergeron's winner, gave them much-needed relief.
"It wasn't perfect by all means, but definitely a good effort and we found a way to get the big win," Bergeron said on Wednesday night following the game.
PITTSBURGH - There was at least one phrase repeated by every Bruin in the visiting team locker room on Wednesday night at the CONSOL Energy Center.
But it didn't necessarily matter the the Black and Gold didn't put forth a perfect game, because they flew back to Boston with a 3-2 overtime win over the Penguins.
The much-needed win was a relief, even if it took a few extra minutes for that relief to kick in.
Most Bruins began to celebrate, and some even headed down the tunnel to the locker room, but not so fast.
After video review, it was inconclusive whether the puck hit Despres' glove or Bergeron's stick. Both were determined to be at or below the height of the crossbar. The call on the ice was a good goal, and it stood. Good goal Boston. Game over.
It was the break the Bruins needed.
"I thought it was inconclusive and they had a good goal on the ice, so usually that's what happens," Bergeron said postgame. "Hard to turn back, so I was pretty confident that I was below the crossbar."
PITTSBURGH - There's been a shift in attitude taking place in the Bruins' locker room this week.
A disappointing season has seen frustration snowball from game to game, and even practice to practice. That frustration breeds negativity within and around the team. Their shootout loss in Carolina on Sunday added further frustration to the mix.
On Tuesday, newly named CEO Charlie Jacobs made forthcoming statements regarding the current state of the team, 40 games into the season and out of a playoff spot.
"For us to be a team that’s out of the playoffs is absolutely unacceptable," Jacobs said. "Everybody in the executive offices is fully aware how I feel and they feel the same way, which brings us to this evaluation process and it’s fluid right now. I can’t say at any moment we have a final decision other than to say that it’s been an utter disappointment and a failure, complete failure."
The words weren't taken lightly by the team. They know their current level of play is unacceptable.
But continuing down the path of disappointment and anger isn't going to lead them in the right direction.