It was practically the kind of season opener Boston hockey fans dreamed about, and 13,909 jammed into the Garden to witness the reality Wednesday night.
With a great many other tardy ticket seekers turned away the lucky ones who got inside had a roaring time as the Bruins gave a superior demonstration in crushing the Detroit Red Wings, 6-2.
As an added dividend there was a brilliant debut by defenseman Bobby Orr, the 18-year-old super-boy who more than fulfilled the demanding assignment by living up to all of his extravagant notices.
Cheered almost every time he was on the ice, Orr stopped the show in the second period when he got an assist on a goal by Wayne Connelly.
John McKenzie scored two of the other Boston goals to go with contributions by Murray Oliver, Pit Martin and Ron Schock, and there was a generally tight-fisted performance in the net by Eddie Johnston.
These all added up to a solid victory, but the high point of the occasion for the house full of fans, and for the other Bruins for that matter, was the calm and really major league job turned in by Orr, placed on as tough a spot as any boy ever to break into the NHL.
Although he did not score a goal, the lad with the blond whiffle did everything else expected of the best at his position. Bobby demonstrated that the critics who doubted his defensive savvy were dead wrong. He played the position like a veteran; was very tough in dislodging opponents around the net; blocked shots; and made adept plays in moving the puck from his own end.
It was an individual triumph of a kind that bosses of the Boston team were hoping for, but this long-hailed rookie unquestionably exceeded all of their anticipation.
The goal on which Orr assisted was the second one, scored early in the second period and it really sent the boys on their way.
It developed from a fast-moving and efficient power play during a penalty to a Detroit rookie defenseman with the wonderfully appropriate name of Barton Crashley.
A real pivot man in this sequence was Oliver and he got the puck back to Orr at the right point. The kid sent in a low drive and Connelly was there to divert it by Roger Crozier.
There was a truly deafening tribute after this play which lasted for more than a full minute.
The earlier goal, at 9:36 in the first period, was on a high flip from about two yards by Oliver, who got the puck back from McKenzie busting around the net from right to left. McKenzie made a hard shot as he fell in the right face off circle to beat Crozier at 7:32 in that period after a pass back from Ed Westfall.
It went to 4-0 at 17:48 on Martin’s quick finish of a corner pass by young Ross Lonsberry.
Rookie Murray Hall’s bad hop deflection at 18:12 on a Leo Boivin drive from the point interrupted the Bruin drive, but not for long. At 19:00 Schock was at the right post to catch a pass from Ron Murphy.
In the final period, Andy Bathgate made another Detroit goal which was highly disputed by the Bruins who claimed that the veteran Red Wing was in the crease when he beat Johnston at 12:55. This was offset before the game’s end at 19:16 when McKenzie made his second goal, with assistance from Bucyk and Oliver.