Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lucic Has Turned Jack into the Mad Scientist

I'm quite sure this is the most ridiculous play by play in recent memory. Its certainly 8 notches above walking off on Patriot's Day, that's for sure.

Even Tommy Heinsohn (who is the color guy, remember) doesn't approach this level of homer-ism. Hell, even I don't approach it. And well, that's saying something. Oh, and look who's getting killed. It's Randy FUCKING Jones.


Transaction Tip

Sometimes, it's better to just give props to other bloggers in the blog-o-sphere.

The folks at The Bruins Report have very nicely summed up the Bruins signing of Quebec Junior League star Yannick Riendeau (Vincent Riendeau anyone? #37 on Detroit in NHL 94?). Check it out here.

Yannick Riendeau Signed to 3 year deal

Hockey Stocks - Winners and Losers

In the spirit of the times (EVERYBODY PANIC!) I thought I'd make a quick entry about some rising and falling play-off teams. As Jim Cramer would say ...


The Hartford Whalers: These guys are on a serious tear right now. They ripped off 6 in a row and even though certain bloggers said they'd be out of the play-off picture - here they are in the 5 seed, threatenting to take the four! Good heavens, man. They could even take the 3 if things played out for them. They even play the Devils in the last game of the season - so that might end up being a very important contest.


The New Jersey Devils: Man they looked like poop last night against the Rangers. Brodeur was doing a whole lot of complaining to the refs (all three goals were quite legit, even pretty), and their goon squad look like a bunch of amateurs after they tried to take runs at Sean Avery in the second, and again in the 3rd with only minutes remaining in the contest. The Devils have dropped 5 in a row, and if Philly and Carolina turn on the jets we could see a big shake-up in the 3, 4, and 5 spots.

Extra Fun from last night's game: When Sean Avery lets himself get tossed around like a rag doll because he refuses to fight, you know John Tortorella has him by the balls. He was looking at the bench like a German sheppard waiting for his owner to give him permission to rip the dude's face off.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Game Notes Haiku: Bruins Pick Up Two Big Points In Philly With a 4-3 Win

Thomas stands on head
Looch notches two more tallies
Huge win for the B's

A Little Love for the Alma Mater ...

This one is long overdue - I haven't given any love to my Terriers in this space. After a regular season in which they played out of their minds, the Boston University Terriers are on a charge for another NCAA title. With wins in the semi-finals against the hated BC Eagles (3 goals in 44 seconds in the 3rd period!) and then against UMass Lowell in the Hockey East Championship BU earned the number one seed in the tournament.

Lots of Terrier slurping going on by the pundits (Melrose, and that former coach of UNH whose face terrifies me) and apparently it wasn't for nothing because BU woke up yesterday and decided to put on an 8-3 hockey clinic for the Ohio State Buckeyes in Manchester, NH.

The game was flat out embarrassing for Ohio State. Led by Hobey Baker candidates Colin Wilson and Matt Gilroy, the Terriers scored often and seemingly at will. I actually had to leave when it was 6-1, thinking that BU would get off the gas pedal, but I was wrong. Freshmen goalie phenom Kieran Millan was strong as usual, making big time saves when the game was still, well, a game. He now continues to have only lost twice in his college career. Twice.

Ohio State was devastated, to be sure. But I think they'll live. I heard they have a football program that is sort of popular. BU moves on the play UNH at 5:30PM today - here's hoping they serve up a similar beat down to the Wildcats.

REASON #271 I HATE ESPN: The second round game, BU vs. UNH, is on ... ESPNU. Which I don't get with Comcast. Eat a dick, ESPN.

Game Notes Haiku: We Don't Need No Stinking Defense! B's Win 7-5

Manny still not great
B's find scoring touch, lose D
More Tim Thomas, please

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Game of the Night (and Preview)

In today's edition, we'll look at the Buffalo/Toronto tilt in which the Slugs, sporting the old blue sweaters, pulled away with a 5-3 victory to keep their playoff aspirations afloat.

I found this game notable in particular because Buffalo was basically two different teams in this one. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead midway through the second only to allow Toronto to battle back to 4-3 at one point. This Toronto team has horrid goaltending, with a 74 year old Curtis Joseph having to be yanked nearly every night, but they are still fighting and we'll see that first hand this evening, when the B's stroll into the Air Canada Center. By the way, the 32 oz. Molsons you get there are fantastic. Buffalo has now strung together 2 wins after managing just 3 points in their previous 7 games and they face Montreal on the road tonight, trailing the Habs by 5 for the last playoff spot in the East.

Tonight's game to watch is the Devils hosting the Whalers in a battle of two very hot teams. After snagging an undeserved point in Chicago last night, the Devils can inch closer to that inevitable Atlantic Division crown and the Whale can push itself just a bit beyond the pack of 6th-10th teams with a victory of their own. Let's hope Brind'Amor decides to crush Parise inexplicably in this one, because i'm sick of looking at the Devils in the rearview.

Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, the B's are finally back in action after one of the more unusual scheduling glitches you'll ever see post February (a 6 day layoff due, in large part, to the NCAA regionals at the Garden). The Bruins needed this rest, forgetting about any potential momentum from the smackdown they showed the Devils last Sunday, and I look for them come out strong against the reeling, but still dangerous, Leafs. Watch Wideman tonight, though, as his groin injury from 07-08 is supposedly flaring again and his health is crucial to our success on even strength play, as evidenced by the +32 rating (not to mention his 23 PP points).

We'll try to post a GNH between tonight's game and the Flyers game tomorrow, but don't hold your breath!

Go B's!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Game of the Night (And Look Who i Found!)

In today's edition, we'll be looking at (surprise surprise) the Panthers 4-2 road win in Philly last night.

This game was actually very exciting, with the Panthers going up by 1 three separate times before netting the put-away goal. In fact, it had nearly everything from a Scott Hartnell goal to Scotty getting laid out (one of the most enjoyable hip checks i've seen all year) and from a beautiful point tip to Nick Boytnon actually creating offense (!).

The real story was Craig Anderson in the Panthers net. The Bruins know first-hand how good Anderson can be and with Vokoun in the doghouse after Wednesday's loss in Buffalo, Anderson basically kept the Panther's playoff hopes alive in a suprising outcome.

Games to watch this evening: Unfortunately no two playoff bound teams from the east are scheduled tonight, but here's two games that should be great and will impact the race somewhat:
1. New Jersey travels to Chicago - two very different teams on the rise
2. Buffalo travels to Toronto - Classic Adams division tilt, with the Slugs hoping to keep a pulse, while pulling Toronto's respirator plug for real (I can't believe I'm hearing talk of a team making the playoffs that has 8 games to play and is 10 points out).

Finally...my news.

I found Rob Simpson!!!!!!! This may not be news to anybody but me (in fact, i fully expect the Caveman to call me and bitch me out in about 23 minutes for not having caught this). However, i flipped on NHL network today and found EJ Hradek at the mic (in a Whalers track jacket i might add, AWESOME) talking to none other than your host, Rob Simpson.

Thank you NHL network, for continuing to make my day brighter.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Game of the Night

Alright, thanks to the wonders of NHL network (both online and via cable) i'm going to make a concerted effort to introduce a new segment for the stretch run of the regular season.

It's called: Game of the Night. Usually, this won't involve the Bruins. The idea being to get a look at Eastern Conference playoff contenders in games that preferably have implications on the standings right away.

Last night's winner: Sabres (10th seed, 78 points) hosting the Panthers (9th seed, 81 points).

The story: Down 3-1 in the third, the desperate Sabres score two even strength goals followed by a PPG in 2:07 (!) to go up 4-3 and add an empty netter for the win. In doing so, they pull to within 5 points of the crumbling Canadiens and their 8th seed while hurting the other team they need to hurdle. This is the type of loss that could kill the young Panthers, though the fact that they were on the road will likely lessen the blow. Game video highlights can be seen on the Game Center at NHL.com, here.

To watch tonight: Florida (on the road again) in Philly (probably a season determining game for the Panthers)

Also in action: TB in MTL (Can TB push the Habs towards the cliff some more?)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

First Shots...Playoff Preview

The Caveman and I got together to write a joint playoff preview. We figure with just under three weeks to play, and jockeying for positioning still including 10 teams in the East (screw the West for now), it is time to look at who's for real, who's still finding themselves and who is, well, full of it.

If nothing else, this should get your brain churning cycles on whether or not we really can go deep this year.

Boston Bruins:

I’m not worried. There, I said it. To this writer, the Bruins look bored. Its taken me some time to figure it out, but I’ve landed on the conclusion that they are in “let’s get it over with” mode and they have been for 4 weeks. I think that the moment they hit the last two weeks of the season, a light will click on, just like last year, and they’ll become a force to be reckon with.

Numbers don’t lie. The Bruins are the best even strength team in hockey (+56 goal differential, as of 3/13) and that is a huge key to going places in the post-season. Plus, what’s really killed us lately? Dumb penalties followed by bad power play goals. This is a mental intensity issue – nothing more. Only thing to worry about is the lack of one guy who can just turn it on and dominate a game. We have to hope that we overcome that by being the best team.


New Jersey Devils:

I’d say there’s no hotter team in hockey, but the Penguins screwed that up recently. That said, they have the best goalie in the league, a strong defensive core and a talented and unsung group of relentless forwards.

The Devils are really beginning to look as though they’re the front runner for the “built-for-the-playoffs” team in the East this year. However, I could be completely wrong, because the Devils have the easiest schedule based on T-rating (thanks to Puck Prospectus’ Tom Awad for this) of any team in the league.


Washington Capitals:

Here’s why I’m not sold on Washington getting past the second round:

A. They play in the worst division in hockey and have the second easiest schedule of a playoff team

B. They have, at best, above average goaltending and defense

C. They’re losing to bad teams, at the wrong time.

Now you might think “well Boston is, too”, but in reality, they aren’t. And other than losing to Nashville, the B’s don’t qualify for any of these.


Philadelphia Flyers:

Philly looks like a legitimate cup contender right now. Even without a true #1 net minder (yes, Biron IS one, but he hasn’t been able to hold the job so we aren’t giving him that credit) the Flyers are terrifying and have the games’ best penalty kill. Their ability to hurt you when you think they’ve been weakened is paramount for momentum shifting and winning games in the playoffs is all about momentum (think, ruining home ice advantage). If Briere comes back and is 85-95%, watch out for them to run deep.


Pittsburgh Penguins:

Here’s what’s interesting about Pittsburgh. The numbers they put up for 3.5 months were so bad, that they still had the 28th ranked power play in the league heading into last weekend. Yet, they always seem to be scoring PP goals (just ask Tim Thomas) and they’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games (as of 3/16).

However, I firmly believe that Pittsburgh is flawed. Their depth got much better with Kunitz and Guerin, but both have weaknesses which will come out in April (Kunitz is NOT Marian Hossa and Guerin’s older than Mickey Rourke). Remember, just a while ago they were in the 11th seed. Do you think they’re peaking too early and primed to run out of gas in a 7 game series with Philly, IN Philly? Me, too.


New York Rangers:

The Rangers started the season off with 5 straight wins – seeming to light the world on fire with their spiffy new team. Well that was long ago, and they now are the model of inconsistency. I could go on and on, but really all you need to know is that they can’t finish. They don’t score any goals. In the play-offs you need timely goals and to capitalize on every opportunity you can. The Rangers don’t do that.


Montreal Canadiens:

Los Canadiens, my favorite franchise. They score a lot, they give up a lot. New coach comes in to town and they promptly … do the same thing they’ve been doing all along. Hey at least they fired their coach and replaced him with the GM. That never works. Ever. Bottom line - not much to fear, people. Montreal doesn’t have much bite this year and will go down faster than … the balance in my 401k in January. What? You sick bastard, I’m trying to heighten the rhetoric around here. Get with the program.


Hartford Whalers:

Look, they have a play-off spot for the time being but this guy doesn’t think that they’ll stay there. Much like the Bruins, these guys have been in a little bit of a malaise recently. And by recently I mean most of the season. The goalie situation is suspect, they don’t have any legit scorers, and the defensively they have 2 warm bodies and a bunch of recently re-animated corpses. Think Weekend at Bernies with hockey sticks. The bright spot is that the golf in Carolina is awesome and they should have no trouble making tee times.


Buffalo Sabres:

Sabres management sent a pretty clear message to fans at the trading deadline: “We have no idea how manage a hockey team – but goddamn if we won’t spend a lot of money trying to convince you otherwise. Tim Connolly? He’s the answer? I never thought I’d say this, but poor Ryan Miller. He watches guys like Briere, Dumont, and Drury walk and he’s left trying to make things happen. He must feel like the only guy on a Star Trek away team without a red shirt on. If you don’t get that joke I’m sorry. It’s funny. Promise.


Florida Panthers:

The Panthers held on to Jay Boumeester at the deadline even in the face of many rumors that he was going the Bruins for Kessel. Somehow I think the Panthers have a fighting chance if they can grab a spot. I liken them to a Bruins team we saw a year ago. They have young talent and if they can jump into the play-offs I feel like they can at least give the #1 or #2 a decent couple of games.

Finland ANGRY!!!

UPDATE: Tuuka will not be fined (at least by his team) for the antics displayed herein.
On another note, we'll be taking suggestions for alternative titles to this video. The Caveman has suggested the following: "Sir, excuse me, but i respectfully disagree with your adjudication"

Feel free to submit more.

Oh my fuckin god...Tuuka Rask done lost his mind.

You know, Hextall had a temper like this, and he turned out okay i guess. I'm appalled and joyed at the same time, but more than anything, i'm thinking of Izzy Alcantara right now.
Is there any chance he doesn't get like, a 5 game suspension for this?


Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Patty's Day in Boston (Kinda)

Taking a page out of Boston Blue Line's playbook and I took a few days off. Power to the people, Tom.

Yesterday was St. Patty's Day (observed) in a lot of places, Boston being one of them. Turns out there are a couple of Irish people here - I hadn't notcied, but it's true. And most of them look like this:

Although, some of them look like this:

I assure you, none of them looked like this:

But the coolest thing I've seen in a long time happened on 93 North coming back into the city. Please try to keep in mind that this was on a highway. A major one. This is a brand of awesome that is rarely duplicated.

More hockey blogging tonight, I just had to get that off my chest. Give me a break - I watched the Penguins game with a bunch of people from Pittsburgh. I'll be better tomorrow. Maybe.

GNH (3 Gamer): Same Old Story, Same old Song and Dance

Oh, if only this had been the case yesterday...

B's Beat two bad teams
Then head on road and lose to
Likely playoff foe

Sorry for the recent hiatus, as the Caveman and I are busy working on a Eastern Conference playoff preview, to be out later this week. We'll do one now as the last 10-12 games are ready to be played, and then another in early April when the seedings are firmed up.

Also, a heady congratulations to Mr. Friday Night. You know what you did. Stand Proud.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Game Notes Haiku: He's got all the guns now, Sir

Mason blanks the B's
Must have stole our microfilm
and our Humvees, too

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Canadiens' fans have seen this movie before

The last time Bob Gainey (can do no wrong apparently) fired a coach in the middle of a winning season - it was our own Claude Julien.

James Murphy over at NHL.com points out exactly this today, as Julien was axed by Gainey (who took over) in 2005. The result? A first round exit from the playoff that they were already in line to make.

Julien told reporters "It's never fun to hear that one of your colleagues has been let go,...When it comes to that, we're very supportive of each other." Obviously this is despite the "behind the bench" antics we saw over the last 21 months of hockey between Montreal and Boston, including some very heated screaming matches from bench to bench during last season's playoffs. Maybe Claude will buy Guy an appletini to make him feel better!

Seriously though. Of course Julien is sympathetic. Forgetting about the simple concept that coaches have respect for one another, especially those who've worked for the same GM, it's worth noting that Julien also got fired during a winning season AGAIN in New Jersey. I'd like to personally thank the Devils for that moronic move. I guess it doesn't matter who coaches them - as long as it's not Jacques Lemaire, who, as i've noted repeatedly in this space, ruined hockey for 10 years - but we're very glad to have the big bald man behind our bench.

The real issue here worth noting is Gainey's behaviour and the cohesion of our blue blanc et rouge rivals. They bring in Larocque and then tell him he's not wanted because the coach doesn't like tough guys? Only they follow that up by bringing a total Goon up to fight Chara for one shift? There's a littany of examples like this, including the firing of a guy with a WINNING RECORD, that really just says to me - a passionate observer - that they aren't together as an organization, much less a team.

My point? This is not new to Canadiens fans and as much as this writer likes to see them cry, this is just sad. The league is at its best when the marquee franchises are well run, and i am simply not convinced that this is the case anymore in Quebec. Let's hope they right the ship for a few more weeks, because i was really looking forward to watching them lose in the playoffs!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Carolina Hurricanes Fans Are Funnier Than I Thought

The New York Rangers are in to see the Whalers tonight and the game happens to be on Versus. I just was flipping around and caught this fun sign in back of the Rangers penalty bench. Conveniently, Sean Avery had just taken a penalty that negated a delayed call that was going to put his team on the power play. I give you Hurricanes fans, in space, creating.

The Frogs Get Slightly Less French, Fire Guy Carbonneau

News came in today that Guy Carbonneau is out as head coach of your beloved Montreal Canadiens. With a career coaching record of 124-83-23, he wasn't all that bad but not all that good either.

As a player he was a solid 2 way guy, winning three Selke's in the 90s. A pretty popular dude with the the Stars and the Frenchies. His number was actually not worn the year after he retired from the league in 2000 as result of a petition from the Stars fans. Ain't that special!

Don't worry, I sent him a card to make sure he knows that we're all thinking of him ...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Manny Fernandez Makes Me Want to Club Baby Seals

There really isn't much to say about the game this afternoon at MSG versus the Rangers. The Bruins had a decent effort, really got better as the game went on, but one guy didn't come to play: Manny Fernandez.

Great third period from the road warriors but giving up not one, two, but three soft goals is just unreal. The B's carried the play in the third scoring two to tie it at 3, and you could smell another goal coming as the 10 minute mark approached.

Then it happened.

A hard shot from the blue line goes wide of the net on the near post and entices Manny to slide right to try and play it. He misses the puck, pirouettes towards the goal mouth as the puck comes off the dasher behind the net and right to a streaking Nicolas Zherdev who pots the game-winner.

Maybe he doesn't see enough game time to stay sharp, or maybe his back is hampering his play - but all I know from watching the game today is that he isn't going to get it done with performances like that in the play-offs.

Tough call for Julien after the game - what do you say to the guy? You need him to get better, but at the same time you can't coddle him. He played like shit, plain and simple.

Might be Tuukka time, kids.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What I learned from seeing Claude Julien drinking with his friends last night

I ran into (read: saw, was too drunk to talk to) Claude Julien last night at Boston's Liberty Hotel. For those of you who don't know what this place is all about, allow me to paint a picture for you. The Liberty is a converted prison in the West End that re-opened about 2 years ago. It is the second swankiest hotel in the city and the bars inside are frequented by over-dressed women of all ages and mid-life crisis aged men with striped shirts unbuttoned down to their mid-chest.

In other words, you will never find a more wretched hive of Hermes and Armani.

And there is our fearless leader, plunked down in the middle of it all in a black leather jacket and sort of Cosby-esque sweater with a couple of friends. Needless to say, he didn't fit in. Now I'm not sure that I wasn't the only person in the place to recognize Claude, but I'm thinking there was a chance that I was only one of a few.

Allow me to get to the point - what I saw last night captures the problem with the Bruins right now: they are pretending to be something they aren't.

Why did they succeed for so long? The did the basics right and didn't worry about getting too cute. Consistent scrappy and opportunistic hockey is what got the Bruins to such a loft perch atop the Eastern Conference. Thankfully they did mount such a large lead or else the team would be looking up at the Devils or the Capitals.

Right now we've got a team that isn't rolling 4 lines deep, isn't going hard to the net, and is letting someone else take care of the dirty work. What drove the Bruins at the beginning of the year was a fear of failure and a fierce competetive fire that comes from a team that feels like it has something to prove. Fear is a great motivator, kind of like when I'm cruising Deadspin at work and I hear the boss coming around the cube. I've never Alt-Tab'd so fast in my life.

The Bruins have lost the fear, lost the edge, and are in danger of losing in the first round of the play-offs if the can't recapture it.

Next time I see Claude at a bar I hope it is on the other side of Charles Street Station at the best dive in the city, the Beacon Hill Pub. A place where the PBR flows like the salmon of capistrano and you can only pay in cash. It isn't pretty, it isn't classy, and you might have to throw down with some douche from BC every now and again ... but it's honest about what it is.

Maybe Claude should just play this before today's game:


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Suit Up for the Stretch Run

A much weaker Phoenix Coyotes team (read: sans Olli Jokinen and their top tough guy, Carcillo) is rolling into town to face the new Boston Bruins tonight. With the deadline passed and a couple new faces to an otherwise unaltered big league roster, the Bruins are beginning the stretch run.

I have spent the last 36 hours lamenting the fact that the only guy on the ice Tuesday who looked worth his salt was Bergy. Ironically, he's the only guy who was really missing from the first 2/3 of the season's success. So here we are, with 18 games to play and an 18 point lead in the division over the Russian mafia run Habs (thanks Sergei and Andrei!) and a 6 point lead (and shrinking) over NJ. We haven't had a win over a good team in weeks and we're just in a rut if you ask this reporter's opinion.

Time to snap the fuck out of it. Put on the foil, stop bitching to the refs, just go out and play some Boston Bruins-style hockey. Beat the shit out of 'em.


Speaking of which, let's take a moment to welcome the newcomers with some highlights!

First, we'll examine Mark Recchi. A veteran of over 20 years, Recchi sports a great resume with 500+ goals, 1400+ points and plenty of PIM. In this first video, you'll get a great vintage look at Recchi showing some toughness against Chris Chelios back in 1996. Be sure to take note of the cheap shit pulled by Damphousse at the tail end.

Now for the other facet of his game, the offense. In the following clip, you'll catch a hat trick that the Reck (i just coined that, fuck you) posted for the Pens back in '06.

Obviously, he can be a help on the power play when paired with people who know how to move the puck.
Now we'll move back to the blue line and check out the newest member of the defensive coprs, Steve Montador. Monty is a gritty guy who will throw his body around and doesn't back down from a challenge. Fortunately, we don't lose points in the standings for bad performances in fights. Each of these two videos show Monty dropping the gloves. In one, he holds his own for a while against Brad May, who could really throw down. In the other, he gets outright killed by none other than the P Bruins Jeremy Reich (enjoy the Jack fight call).

Like I said, good thing we don't get penalized for having a fighter get his fuckin ass handed to him. That said, i like the type of player he clearly is. His bigger body of work is important though, and i think this next clip is the kind of thing a good scout would've noticed. This is an Anaheim power play, wherein Montador storms down from the far slot and levels Andrew Alberts (BC SUCKS) to clear the way for a veritable 3 on 1 in front that leads to a goal.

We'll learn alot more over the next 19 games, but I can understand why these moves were made. Much like the GM himself said, i'm glad they were depth moves that did not cost us anything from the core roster. This is exactly what should allow a good team to get better!