Friday, January 30, 2009

Game Notes Haiku: No Vaccine for this disease, Bruins fall 4-3 in OT

Hep C strikes to tie
Soft goals aplenty, frustrate
Lick my sac NJ

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Back In Black

Look out folks...we just might be getting healthy.

Significantly strapped and sporting alot of baby (B) faces over the last month, the Bruins have benefited from a January that has seen 8 of the 11 games played at home. We've gone 7-3-1 over that stretch, despite missing all those guys previously lamented about in this space.

Well, now they're coming back. Kessel and Ryder return tonight from illness and Bergy, Ference and Lucic made their returns on Tuesday. The only interesting note on the injury front is Manny, though. Seeming to be our best trade chip going into the February deadline, his recent back woes are obviously cause for concern, but i digress.

Watch out league...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Game Night Haiku: Screw the Versus Commercial, Bruins Stop Ovechkin and Company 3-2 in OT

Welcome back Bergy
As the B's down the Caps
with OT thrillah

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Abortions for some ... All-Star Breaks for All!

If you enjoy hockey, I hope you watched last night's little suare at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. There were more than a few things to like about the Super-Skills competition and Young Stars game. To point out a few ...

  • Alex Ovechkin's Trick Shot competition winner: Two sticks, a Greg Norman style golf hat (with Canadian flag), and sunglasses that George Jung would be jealous of. If you still don't think he can market himself you fucking crazy - the crowd went wild and showed it by voting him the winner despite the fact that he scored on the rebound. The league needs this guy to be this funny/awesome all the time.
  • Tim Thomas cheats: Three guys left in the breakaway competition, and Marc Savard needs a goal against his teammate Timmy Thomas to stay alive. Thomas puts his catcher behind his back and through his legs as a joke and Savard scores. They exchange a high-five. Cheating = awesome. Savard went on to lose anyway.
  • Player commentary: Yea I know. I'm a Bruins fan and it was a Bruin doing to talking, but still. He was funny, insightful, and it made a somewhat slow-moving breakaway event pretty watchable.
  • Zdeno Chara shoots hard: Captain Ze-deeeeen-o breaks Al Iafrate's record for the hardest shot with a 105.4 mph bullet.
  • Marc Streit runs into on-ice advertising thingy: Self explanitory. Only would have been better if he totally ate it, but he recovered.

I'd link or embed some video to this stuff but the problem is that even though the NHL put together a (so far) great All-Star weekend - they don't know how to make video player on their website work.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dipietro Done for season: Snow confused

It's now official, Islander's "franchise" goaltender, Rick Dipietro, is done for the year needing to rest his ailing knee.
I bet GM Garth Snow (lot's of Hockey East connections here) feels reaaaally good about signing this guy to a 15 year deal a few summers ago. Since that deal, Dipietro has the 5th worst GAA of netminders who've played at least 130 games. Now you've got a 27 year old goalie, locked up till he's 40, who's had two knee surgeries in less than a year and who wasn't that good to begin with?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the New York Islanders.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Game Night Haiku: All Star bound with a win

Some lucky bounces
force OT in Toronto
A rare shootout win

Jack Edwards Bingo

Jack asked for it, so I had to go find it. Fee free to play along at home ...

I can't take credit for this one, it was posted in a Bruins Fan blog. Whoever you are, thank you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Games Notes Haiku: Inaugurate this, assholes

Welcome to D.C
Home of the inaugural
And 2-1 losses

Look, I'm not making excuses here ....

But for the love of a skinny Vince Vaughn, we need to get healthy. A quick look at the injury report lists the following:

  1. Andrew Ferrence: tibia
  2. Milan Lucic : complete fucking mystery ( said leg, then shoulder)
  3. Aaron Ward: charleyhorse
  4. Patrice Bergeron: concussion
  5. Phil Kessel: mononucleosis
  6. Marco Sturm: Knee
So we're playing without four of our top six forwards and two, maybe three, of our top four blue-liners. It is a goddamned miracle that we aren't on some killer losing streak right now.

And, wait for it ... according to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe, Wideman didn't practice on Saturday and is considered questionable for the game today at 12:30PM.

Although through this shitstorm we might be able to find a benefit. Last year we saw the Pens not only survive, but actually thrive, without Sid the Kid. It became Evgeni Malkin's coming out party as he was forced to stop being such a bitch and really bring his game up to his potential level. The result? The Pens went on to play for Le Cup and Malkin is now one of the games best.

Now I'm not saying that Bergeron, Sturm, or Kessel is Sidney Crosby (not even put together as some mutant 5 legged, six armed, hockey monstrosity named Sturgeronsel). But I am saying that when these players go down you really find out who the guys are that will shine given more responsibility and ice-time. Let's hope someone besides Krejci steps up to the plate because this is when we really need it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Seriously, if you don't dig this commercial then I'm not sure we can be friends. It's one of my favorites from the 2007/08 campaign. Those two dudes in front of the garden saying 'Bruins the Bruins, what' can't hold a candle to these kids.

Speaking of ads - was there a worse series than the 2006/07 ad campaign in which they hired Dennis Leary to talk about how tough they were? I don't know what they gave Leary to do those spots but holy shit were they terrible.

Is anyone else watching this Islanders game? It's boring. The B's are sleeping through this one.

Game Notes Haiku: B's take down the Habs 3-1

No Looch, No Kessel
All it took was a little
Captain Ze-den-o

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Game Notes Haiku: Shades of the Whale?

Another Goalie
Chased early; memories of
Pete Sidorkiewicz

In case you haven't heard, Marco Sturm is likely out for the rest of the year, due to knee surgery on (at least) his MCL. With Bergeron down for another 2-4 weeks, best case, you can expect to see more of guys like Byron Bitz beginning to backfill the 3rd and 4th lines.

There's some concern growing, and frankly i share it, that the B's need to add some energy/size depending on the opponent so as not to wear out the likes of Thornton, Lucic (who's now missed two straight games with a mysterious upper body injury) and Z. Fortunately, we've got guys like Jeremy Reich sitting down the road who can drop gloves, but i particularly liked the call ups of Karsums and Bitz this weekend. I saw them both live for the first time and was impressed with Bitz's awareness in playing the body and forechecking and also Karsums puckhandling - something certainly evidenced by his leading the baby B's in scoring this year.

Big matchup coming Tuesday with Montreal.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Halfway There

In my book, there's one word to sum up the Bruins season as we cross the halfway point: Balance.

The great teams in sport are always built on balance. In football, you have to excel in all three phases of the game to win consistently. The Colts, for example have had a great offense for years, but it wasn't until the defensive core of Freeney, Sanders and the like propped up a once meager defense that they won their Super Bowl and reached the high echelon of great teams. In Baseball, the Yankees have shown us for years that just paying for the best hitters doesn't get it done. You need pitching depth, you need defense, you need speed. Coming local, the 2008 Celtics were another perfect example. Take a hungry, veteran core, infused with young talent, all willing to work towards a balanced focus of defense, energy and sharing the load and you end up with 3 superstars all putting up near career lows. Did that equal failure? No, it resulted in a 17th Championship.
Can you win without balance? Sure. The 2000 Baltimore Ravens always remind me of that. But they weren't a great team. They were a good team. Balance leads to greatness because you can overcome the downtimes in different facets of your game.

And so we come to the 2008-09 Boston Bruins. Through 41 games, they're checking in at 30-7-4. I'll take it. Here's some splits. Home record: 15 wins, 3 losses, 1 OT loss. Road record: 15 wins, 4 losses, 3 OT losses. If you want a silver lining in that (isn't it one already?), its that we've played 3 more games on the road through the first half so we've got 22 home games remaining to 19 away.
On the scoreboard? 143 GF is good for second in the league and 93 goals against is an NHL best. We can score with the big boys of Philly and Detroit and we can grind it out with the likes of New Jersey and Vancouver. Even the special teams are amongst the tops in the league (powerplay is 3rd overall).
Why these results? Take a look around the roster...and be prepared to look down I-95 to Providence, because there's been significant contribution coming there too. Our goaltending reminds me of the Scotty Bowman coached Canadiens of the 1970's. Why have one great netminder when you can have two very good ones who spell one another and can be a rock on any given night? I'm much happier knowing our two guys are going to be rested and ready having each played no more than 50 games than having one great guy who has to stand in for 70. In his classic memoir, "The Game" Ken Dryden spoke at length about the strength the Canadiens garnered from having a duo of above average netminders constantly pushing one another in himself and Michel Larocque. Thomas and Fernandez do exactly that and therein lies the secret to their both landing atop most statistical columns for keepers so far.

Defense. Well, it sure helps not having Hal Gill and Andrew Alberts moving along like a couple of fuckin Pinto's back there. The combination of speed, strong skating and strength/size is paramount for a good defensive corps. Detroit has mastered this (having Lidstrom helps) for years in the combination of plug ins on their backline. Chiarelli knew this from the Ottawa days of rotating guys like Chara, Richardson, Phillips, Meszaros, Redden, etc through. Look no further than a guy like Hunwick who can step up and support the offense, and suddenly the balance of your core forces the opposition to spread itself, worrying more about the potential for a D man to be an offensive threat and it immediately translates into less aggressive play from them, as long as those same D men can recover from step-ups, etc, which this group can. They pick their spots and the forwards know when its coming.

In fact, the forward play just as much of a part in this as the D. All year, Jack has been ranting about the "competition" Kessel and Savard have going to play two way hockey. It's no wonder that the top 4 guys in the league in plus minus are wearing the spoked B (3 of whom are forwards). This newfound balance in the game of key offensive weapons allows for flexibility. Julien knows he can spread the offensive talent around if these types of players aren't going to be defensive liabilities. What does that get you? Depth. Scoring depth to be precise. It's exactly why you see such production coming from the second (especially...they're the scariest second line in hockey outside of Pittsburgh and flying well under the radar nationally) and third lines this year. That depth is probably word 1A for the season so far. The Bruins have balanced their roster so well that despite key injuries to the likes of Ference, Bergy, Sturm and Ward...we're hardly missing a beat and suddenly we know why the club liked St Pierre so much (and Sobotka and Nokolainen, etc).

It's the quickest Bruins team to 30 wins since 1930. They've got 64 points. As the 8 seed last season, the B's netted 94 points. Currently? They're on pace for 128. Don't hold your breath for that. But if they split the difference, it will be 111 points...Only Detroit's 115

Balance. Bruins. They want it as bad as you. I suppose there's an ironic balance in that, too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's a Trap!

Holy Admiral Akbar, Batman!

Come on, you missed us. Admit it.

One fan did. He bitched and moaned and thought alot about Jamie Lynn. Well...we're back. The two week haitus was caused by a combination of snow, vacation, family time, moronic new england drivers (see below - caveman's ok, don't fret) and just the right amount of booze. Since the first three days back from break had us buried in paperwork and the Bruins were busy playing some of the most boring hockey i've seen all year, we held back. That is, UNTIL NOW!!!

First of all - Fuck you Jacques Lemaire. Your boring, mind numbing, slow, draining, annoying (read: effective as fuck) and overall shitty trap happy hockey team is officially the 1993-2003 Devil's version 2.0. The season ticket holders in Minnesota must love coming to watch this 1-0 bullshit. I mean, its not like the league ever lost its entire (almost) fan base, all tv contracts and had a crippling lockout in large part due to the over defensive beast that NHL hockey had become, right? Let's bring it back. Nick Backstrom? I give him total credit. I had the privilege of seeing him shut down Colorado at the Pepsi Center during the playoffs last year, and i can attest (along with the Bruins shooters) that he's for real. Solid performance. But wait a second, why are these guys only 20-16-3? Right, got it. The rest of their team sucks with one or two exceptions (see: Zydlicky and Gaborik, the later of which is out for the year). They looked overall below average in that game once they crossed the red line, but their defense is stellar (because they aren't sure how to leave their own end, so you gotta be good at something, right?) and they have Backstrom.
Frankly, I'm not suprised they're 10-1 against the east, because we just don't know how to deal with that crap anymore and NJ is not what it was. Fortunately for the rest of the hockey loving world, the trap is now largely confined to whatever location the Wild are playing in on a given night. It's just too bad i'm a sucker for the Neal Broten-led North Stars.

Reality seems to be setting in for a few nights, if you ask me (or if you don't). The B's are clearly feeling the injury bug. Matt Lashoff? Shouldn't be allowed to touch the ice. PJ Axlesson? Shouldn't be on the ice for FUCKING POWER PLAYS!!! Chuck Kobasew? Quickly becoming the leading liability on the team in our own end. Trust me, he's working reaaaaalllll fucking hard at this.
BUT. All is well. The, dare i say, lowly Sens are en-route and people i know will be at the game tomorrow. I'm one of those folks who believes firmly that if myself, or someone i know personally, attends a game, we have a 50% better chance of winning. Trust me. I went to 11 B's home games last year and one on the road. Their record in those games? 10-2 with 3 SO victories. Shit, my midichlorian count is off the charts from the look of it.

We're (I'm) going to forget that the Bruins played a dumpy game on Saturday against the Slugs and just move on...fuck the slugs.