Look around the office. Take note of all the Bruins fans. You know who they are. Of course you do. They're easy to pick out. We're not going to tell you how right here, lest we fall into gross and easy ó and generally accurate ó cultural stereotypes, but look around. I mean, you just know, right?
Now, watch. Iím going to make some heads explode.
Just, boom! Like in Scanners.
Here we go.
Last Saturday night, the Bruins played the most signifying regular-season hockey game theyíve played in this town since half-past olí Dutch Reagan. The way you can measure the fervor of any individual event is to measure the radius of its presence around the arena. So, it meant a great deal that there were men walking along lower Storrow Drive, a quarter-mile from the rink, as we say, with small cardboard signs that read, ďNeed tickets.Ē It also meant a great deal that Sullivanís Tap, that last great monument to old-school North Station, was packed to its narrow gunwales an hour before the game began. It also meant a great deal to see all that black-and-gold moving in a great current down Causeway Street. Now, given whatís gone on with the hockey team since the end of the Craig Janney era, itís not surprising that, for quite a few of the fans, their gear hasnít yet caught up with their enthusiasm. But a lot of them did the best they could, grabbing whatever was black and gold out of the laundry pile and tossing it on, hoping nobody would notice. I saw at least three high-school jerseys with the Bruin color scheme, and two black T-shirts bearing the logo of Sun Records in Memphis. Elvis lives! And heís skating on the third line.
And then I saw the little girl.
And this is where you might want to discreetly lower a dropcloth over your workspace, lest your keyboard get jammed with cerebellum shrapnel.
She was wearing a regulation Bruins jersey. The spoked-B model. The design was impeccable.
And it was pink.
OK, as the cleaning crew starts moving around, mopping up the stray corpus callosum that found its way into the out box, letís all understand that the Pinkification of Sports has become very important to the various manly men who follow sports for a living. This is most obvious in the case of the people who wear the pink caps to Red Sox games, and are treated often as though theyíve wandered into the papal digs dressed like Hannah Montana. There also has been something of a run on pink Tom Brady jerseys, which has caused the football cognoscenti to mumble darkly into their cigars. No matter. It is now obvious that, the pinker your sport, the better your team is performing. So now there are pink Bruins jerseys.
You know what that means?
It means you might just have the best team in the NHL here, thatís what it means.
Make no mistake. The defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings came to town on Saturday night, a team thatís won as many Stanley Cups since 1997 as the Bruins have won since before World War II. Detroit got off to a careering start, outshooting the Bruins, 6-0, over the first three minutes of the game as Boston looked very much as if it was surprised that the big kids had shown up to play. Then, midway through a Detroit power play, Zdeno Chara absolutely leveled one of the Red Wings in the left corner, and from that point on, the defending champions simply werenít good enough. The 4-1 final was every inch a perfect measure of how much better the Bruins were. If the Patriots had put this kind of whoop-ass on the Steelers in the weekendís other biggest game, a lot of our local sporty punditocracy would be on the moon by now.
Of course, the average Bruins fan may not want to hear this, and Milan Lucic is already wicked populah for his haymakahs, but this is a remarkably skilled two-way hockey team. The team and its fans have a problematic history with thugs and hooligans. In the get-the-crowd-charged-up video that precedes every game, the Bruins show the famous 1979 episode in which the team went into the stands in Madison Square Garden. (NESN correspondent Mike Milbury can be seeing belaboring one guy with his own shoe.) Say what you will, I donít think the Indiana Pacers are using the video of their brawl at the Palace as a marketing tool. Of course, the devotion for those Don Cherry teams always has been one of the more mystifying local phenomena since, at the biggest moment of his coaching life, good olí Grapes proved unable to count to six. And this team is nothing like that team. This team is tough, but it can skate, and this team can shoot. The Bruinsí second goal, which Phil Kessel snapped past Detroit goalie Ty Conklin off a cycle play at the left point, was pretty enough to make any highlight film from the Oilers of the 1980s or the Canadiens of a decade earlier. And the crowd afterward was pure 1960s, joyful and noisy and wandering around North Station, not wanting to go home, and you could hear the bandwagon, and it sounded an awful lot like the rattle of an old elevated train.
OT columnist Charles P. Pierce is a Boston Globe Magazine staff writer.