Friday, October 30, 2009

Next! The Hated Oilers of my childhood

Who here remembers 1990? I do. That was the all time most memorable season of Bruins hockey in my lifetime. I remember individual games from that year like people their kid's Christenings. Not to mention the fact that the whole season was burned into my brain over and over again by the immortal "Reach for the Stars" video, narrated by the one and only Michael J Fox (yes, i mention this at least three times a season). That season was ended by a sweep in the cup finals at the hands of the then Gretzky-less Edmonton Oilers and highlighted by one of the most heartbreaking finishes to a game in Boston sports history. Petr Klima's triple OT winner will forever stain my brain like a lemon party.

So, let's get past last night's loss to a team that's 6-0 on the road this year (gulp) and move on to tomorrow's Halloween tilt with a team that i hate as much as my cohort hates the Devils (we've been over that recently).

The Oilers come in to town on the heels of a 6-5 SO win over the Red Wings last night, at home, in which they led 5-1 in the second period. Let's just note - this team can be scored on. Also fun is the inclusion of Zach Stortini (pictured, right, in a rendering from NHL '10) who is single-handedly helping them average over 14 PIM per outing. I hope Shawn-O takes a few knuckles to his face tomorrow.

The more i think about it, the more i love the way we played last night. Guys like Sobotka and Bitz really played good hockey consistently throughout the night. Sometimes the puck just doesn't go in for you.

Finally, a special treat, courtesy of my brother, is the below Jack-O-Lantern (in honor of Jack Edwards, of course).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

In Game: Bruins/Devils

I feel like giving some end-of-period, in game thoughts tonight, so you are the beneficiary of those.

After a period of play the Devils hold a 1-0 lead which, frankly, doesnt at all represent the way play went in that first 20 minutes. Outside of the last 60 seconds, it really felt like the Bruins took a lot of aggressive and smart play to the Devils, keeping the puck in the NJ end for most of the game so far. Unfortunately, a bad decision by Shawn Thornton who was covering for a step up by Andrew Ference led to a three on one and a goal for the Devils.

What was really encouraging was our fore check and puck control in the offensive zone both even strength and on the PP. The Devils play a collapsing form of defense and this places the oweness on the offense to have awareness of open areas and quickly move the puck there to capitalize on excess space left by collapsing defenders. If you can also join this with a physical puck control style, you're in good shape to counter the Devils style of play. Overall, we did a great job of this, but none of the bounces went our way.

Props to Byron Bitz who looked like a dervish out there. It's too bad he got stuck with a minus one as the fourth line gave up the goal, because he played as well as anyone on the ice, particularly on a couple of shifts with his own possession displays down low (tiring out the Devils defenders).

One last thought on the first: Our PP may be turning a corner. Granted, when you're 2 for 27 in an 8 game stretch, calling a turnaround in that trend is the same thing as predicting that a pitcher will throw a strike on a 3-0 count (it's bound to happen eventually). Now that you're past that, let's see if the B's carry over the differences that they seemed to apply in their first man-advantage tonight to the next. For weeks they've been stuck in a rut, not willing to move away from the wing to D pass on the high point and playing a far-too-predictable drawn up play with no movement away from the puck. Tonight, they moved away from the puck, and were willing to drop passes down low opening up the high slot alot more. Let's hope this is a sign that practice is helping (otherwise, i'm gonna start blaming the coaching staff).

End of Second Period: Tied at 1 a piece.

You can see I'm running a diary of "Devils Suck" photos tonight. It really soothes the soul. Another very good period of hockey. A bit more even, but ironically, the Bruins get a goal back following another decent powerplay with Bergeron scoring his fourth of the year. Thomas is looking very good tonight, and necessarily so, of course. It goes without saying that they need him to be on top of his game for the next 4-6 weeks until Savvy and Looch return.

The B's outshot the Devils 13-10 that period and its 25-23 overall now. For a game between these two teams, that is a helluva good dip, er, i mean a helluva lot of offense. Speaking of offense, the three Bruin forwards on the ice for the goal were Ryder, Bergeron and Sturm. I'm sure i'm not alone in saying i really like that line and would think that we could benefit from seeing them together alot more in even strength situations.

One other though, Bob Sweeney just made Kathryn Tappen look retarded, twice. The first time, he hadn't even spoken yet. I'm pretty sure she took that granny outfit off for him before the game.

After Game Thoughts: That guy up there really sucks. Yikes. Can you imagine what his kids look like?

Just a tough loss. I thought we outplayed NJ all night. Sometimes that's not enough. We just missed a number of opportunities, none closer than Chara's deflection that rang off the cross bar with about 40 seconds to play. Forget about the fact that the Linesman just blew a call like he was trying hard to get into an amatuer porn. I won't even begin to say that we'd have scored, but it's a kick when you're down, nonetheless.

This is a team coming together though. Remember, coming out of October last year we were 5-3-3 and then went on a tear. I don't think they're about to do the same, but there's signs of hope.

Reasons I Hate The New Jersey Devils

We all have teams that we hate.

Some are universal: Red Wings, Yankees, anyone who employs Mike Ribiero. Some are more obscure: Canucks (seriously, that old-school sweater looks like what this kid is about to crawl into), Panthers (ridiculously stupid stadium growling noise - NHL & NFL), Hurricanes (the in-excusable discontinuance of the Brass Bonanza).

I hate the New Jersey Devils for a varierty of reasons. Some pretty obvious, some less so. Allow me to elaborate ...

1.) Ruining offensive hockey and creating the lock-out (maybe). Ask anyone to name reasons that hockey was no fun to watch for a good portion of the pre-lockout years and they will will say "not enough scoring". Some of that can be attributed to the clutch/grab stuff but more of it can be attributed to the pervasive neutral-zone trap. Who brought that into the limelight? The Devils. It's easy to do, doesn't require skilled players, and chokes the shit out the offense.

2.) I drafted Patrik Elias in my fantasy league in the fall of 2005. Immediately after making the pick I was informed that he contracted Hepatitis A while playing in Russia, thus making him a perfect waste of space for the majority of the season, and making me the target of many a joke. Thanks, Patrik.

3.) The team is named after this thing. Yes, people think it's real - and maybe it is. But more likely they're just idiots. For comparison's sake, the Bruins are named after a bear. An actual animal, and according to trusted national news agencies, the animal we really need to be worried about.
4.) My good friend, and scribe of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness, used to beat me a little more often that I beat him in NHL 00 back when we were in college. His weapon of choice? The Devils. Nothing can make a man more irate than having his best players injured after the whistle by an out of control Scott Stevens. He contends that this is allowed for within the rules of such a contest - we disagree to this day.

Enjoy the game, everyone. I'll have my Elias voodoo doll on hand, so when he goes down in the 2nd holding his groin for no apparent reason you only have me to thank.

GO B's!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

10 Games Deep: Report Card

Peter Chiarelli, I hope you get home before Mom does because you're going to need to take this report card out of the mailbox. You've been a bad monkey.

10 games in and, the final minute of last night's game not withstanding, the Bruins have a lot of work to do. In grading this year's team I'm trying not to take into account the high expectations that we all had (have) for the team. Let's try and take a step back and look at numbers instead of just acting off of shear emotion. Mmm-kay?


Forwards: So far we haven't seen a consistent effort from these forwards with respect to offensive zone pressure or the 2-man fore-check we all heard so much about. We've heard forwards tell Naoko in between periods about 'getting too cute', and needing to 'getting pucks to the net'. What that tells me is that these attackers seem to think they have the midas touch and that defenses will simply pull the parking cone defense, let them skate past (we haven't played against Hal Gill YET) and score the goal they apparently earned through virtue of a good record last year. Yes, you still have to TRY, guys. I know it's hard, we'll get through this together. Try cycling the puck once in a while, good things will happen.

We're averaging 2.8 goals per game and 29.1 shots per game, good for 17th and 21st in the league respectively. So, way to get those pucks to the net, fellas! The Bruins are winning 49.4% of their face-offs, also good for 17th in the league. A little bit less than average across the board. Very Meh.

Everyone needs to look at Steve Begin - he's one of our best guys thus far. Injuries happen, so I'm not being lenient just because of Savard and Looch. Suck it up.

Grade: C

Defensemen: So far these guys have likely been our best players - even with all the moving parts and new personnel. Derek Morris is looking like the guy that we thought he was and Chara has been the leader that we need him to be. Shit, he's tied for the points lead on the team (7 points) with a guy who has a broken foot.

The team as a whole is allowing 31.3 shots per game, good for 21st in the league. Not good. Blocked shots? Well, Morris is our best player there too - tied for 35 in the league with 18. No one else is even close (Ferrence is next at tied for 44th). His predecessor, Aaron Ward? Oh, he's tied for 11th with 24. I'm just saying, it's interesting, ok?

There have been breakdowns, but they haven't been completely terrible. I've seen a couple of bad pinches, but overall I think they've been better than the offensive counterparts. But not by much.

Grade: C+

Look we all like Timmy, but last night not withstanding - he's been suspect. GAA is 2.97 with a .902 save percentage. Tuuka, for all that we love to hype him, hasn't been lights out either, posting a 3.17 and .899. They both had some great saves (Tim last night, absolutely filthy stop against Alfredsson). But no one has been consistent yet, which is what they need to be. I heard Kluzac say last night that Tim would go 20 games without a stink-bomb last year and so far he's thrown up 2, maybe three.

Small sample size? Yes. But that's why we speculate, because what else would I be doing on a Sunday morning? Are they good now? Not really, will they play better - almost definitely.

Grade: C

Special Teams: Oh, they've been special all right. How special you might ask? Think 'Ralph Wiggum in English class' bad. How about killing power plays at 83% and scoring on them at nice even 15%. Those are both shitty. Very shitty. 24th and 27th in the league shitty.

And, oh by the way, they have 3 short-handed goals on their watch too. Where does that land in the old statistics pool? NUMBER-FUCKING-ONE!

Grade: F-

Overall Team Grade: C

I just re-read what I wrote and I've decided that we're pretty goddamned lucky to be 5-4-1. Given the injury situation,the poor to mediocre performances by the front and back lines, not to mention to complete disaster that has been the power-play - I'm feeling good. Not like George Jung in the 70s good, but good.

If there is something to be excited about it's that they have a lot of room for improvement and they seem to be coping alright without Lucic and Savard. No doubt they responded well to the adversity of the injury bug, but we hope that this doesn't start to fade as they move forward.

Marchand looks like a guy who can really skate and move the puck. No question, he is making all the rookie mistakes but this kid looks to be a regular contributor down the road.

Lastly, if anything could be a springboard for building some identity and momentum it was last night's game. As my co-conspirator already wrote this morning, they turned it around in about 1 minute thanks to timely goals and great goal tending.

OK, it's football time. I'm starting Michael Crabtree - that's how bad my receivers are. FML.

Recipe for win: 58.5 minutes of sloppy hockey + Tim Thomas

How did the Bruins manage to escape Scotia Bank Place with 2 points you ask? I am asking the same question this morning. Let's face it, we some some terrible individual performances last night and while i enjoy watching the home town 23 skate every day, I'm damn glad the next 5 days will be practices under coach Julien's supervision.

After fifty eight and a half minutes of terrible hockey, overall (Wheeler's goal was a brief bright spot), the Bruins looked like they were this guy:

Tim Thomas had singlehan- alright, Chara played very well -dedly kept Boston within two goals. All this after the third Ottawa goal went in off one of Thomas' teammates. Dennis Wideman and Derek Morris both played the game as though they were skating in mud or simply didn't want to be there (i was SCREAMING at Wideman to get motivated, i don't think he won a single one on one battle to the puck and YES i saw his helmet come off - he still sucked).

To make matters worse, our coaching staff apparently is more comfortable with a 6 on 5 than they are with a 5 on 4 (more on this in a second). Every Bruins power play was the same predictable pattern. 3 guys stand still down low, while Bergeron and Morris play catch and turn the puck over in a small space at the blue line. We really don't seem comfortable using motion to create space (something we're highly vulnerable of on the PK, so you think we'd have come to recognize it by now!). I can't say enough about how baffled I am that we had so good a PP last year and so bad a PP now. I may have to go research this and then eat a shotgun barrel.

So that brings us to the 6 on 5. Improbably, we spent the last 96 seconds of the game skating as though our lives depended on it and won every conceivable battle to the puck in that timeframe. Derek Morris (previously noted for NOT being a puck moving defenseman) suddenly assumed the form he was advertised to possess and before I knew what was happening, we were tied. NOTE: with 8 minutes to play, i turned my XBOX on. Something, and i don't know what, kept me from turning off the game though. Between this game and the Islanders game, if we're down 2 goals, i'm not changing the channel. They're reaching '04 Red Sox status in my head right now.
A solid overtime period and more heroics from Timmy (who had the save of the year in the second period - i'll post it later today) and a patient shootout goal from Bergy equaled the 2 points.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bruins Lose a Tough One, 4-3 SO Loss to Philly

"What, the FUCK, was that ABOUT?!"
-Lewis Black

I realize that this game earned us a point. I know this. I should be happy, after all the B's were on the road playing in the second of back-to-back games against a team that, at least for now, appears legit.

I am not happy, and too angry to write anything worth reading. Check back tomorrow for something more worth your time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Injury Update - Savard Out 4-6 weeks

Savard was placed on long term IR (means he has to miss 24 days or ten games, minimum) with a broken left foot. 4-6 weeks is the expected timetable for return. Great. We're officially snake-bitten this year with the injury bug.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trade News: Bruins Acquire Daniel Paille

This news just hit my text inbox. The B's have dealt a pair of draft picks (3rd in 2010 and conditional 4th in 2010) to Buffalo for 25 year old forward, Daniel Paille. Paille has 35 goals and 42 assists in 195 career NHL games, all with the Sabres. The 20th overall pick in 2002, Paielle did most of the above damage in the last two seasons and has only played in 2 games this year (i'm not yet sure why) but was a second liner in Buffalo and figures to take Kobasew's slot on the third line in Boston at first glance.

Interestingly enough, reports that this is the first trade EVER between the division rivals.

More to come...

Goon It Up Tuesdays

Welcome to a new segment dedicated to the day of the week on which the Bruins play the least hockey games (i think). Since we never seem to have anything to write about on Tuesdays, except the occasional night game, we're starting a segment dedicated to highlighting the Goons of the NHL.

Each Tuesday we'll provide highlight reel (usually courtesy of of one of the previous weekend's top bouts. Feel free to submit ideas in case you think you're better at tracking these down than us. Or just video tape yourselves helmet boxing drunk and send that in too. At the end of the first half and second half of the season, we'll vote on the best, if you're well behaved.

This weekend's submission is Rick Rypien (Canucks) and Zach Stortini (Oilers). Rypien clearly wins this one. Enjoy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and the newfound cap space

Goodbye Chuck, BC Sucks and you'll be playing golf somewhere else next summer.

The Bruins ended an eventful (and very up and down) weekend with a trade that may be telling of things to come. In what this writer deems an obvious cap clearing move, the B's sent Kobasew to Minnesota for the rights to two players and a draft pick. With Kobasew a $2.3 million cap hit this year, the B's just went from $700k to $3 million (ammortize that to about $2.4 for the remainder of the year) in space under the cap. Remember, we're still being hit by 3 guys we are paying, but not getting the benefit of their sucktitude (Murray, Schaeffer and Eaves). What's this all mean?

Multiple sources of rumor and conjecture are spelling out the future that we'd all LOVE to see happen: the Bruins are clearing the way for a run at Ilya Kovalchuk. Let's face it, his best goal scoring season was in 05-06 playing alongside Marc Savard, so there's virtually no reason to argue with a trade run at a guy who's 26 and already has 300 career goals.

However, i'm advising cautious optimism. While i do believe this has been in the making since the Bruins began stiff arming Phil Kessel, it's far from a foregone conclusion that Atlanta is even going to trade their captain. I know from a source inside the Atlanta organization that they are very high on their young talent and with Ilya only 26, they'd have to consider throwing the kitchen sink at him in contract negotiations. The bigger question is Ilya himself, i.e. will he WANT to resign.

Think about all of that. It's not simple because the Bruins will have to dump other $ before this becomes a reality, too. I'll be back with further breakdown of trade possibilities and some cranky writing about the inconsistency of the play our boys put forth on their short southwestern roadtrip this weekend (3-o win in Dallas and 4-1 loss in the desert that is hockey purgatory). Oh, and Lucic was placed on long-term injured reserve. Fuck.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Can This Kid Teach Forwards Something?

Special Thanks to MSTI for the tip...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No game till Friday?

Thank God. Those boys need some practice. After pounding Patron shots during the third period/OT comeback win on Saturday with the Caveman and then watching the Bruins sleep their way through a 4-3 loss to the Avs on Monday, I could use the practice too. That doesn't make any sense.

Look, the B's are flat - plain and simple. They seem to be in the same type of shape they were early last season where they only get up for one period a game. This doesn't bode well for a team that's already played 5 home games and zero on the road. I'm not ready to rant at all but suffice to say i hope Julien is beating the pulp out of the boys this week. Dallas and Phoenix suck and there's no reason we shouldn't take four points home this weekend, three at worst.

Check back Friday for more thoughts.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Game Day Thoughts

Let me ask you this. How sorry a state is the NHL in when not a single fucking bar in the Causeway Street area carries the Bruins opening night tilt against the Capitals and the best player in the league? Let's put it this way: there's a reason you're reading my blog right now. Ahem.

So there I am, last Thursday night, rushing to get downtown to meet my brother and a few friends at Greatest Bar for some boobs, beers and what turned out to be a hockey game I barely saw any of in the end. I get through traffic just in time to roll up to the bar at 7pm.

"Holy shit, this place is dead", i think as I order a pitcher for the table we've taken over right in front of the biggest tv on the first floor. Within a minute, our waitress comes over with the beer and my brother asks her if they plan to turn the channel to Versus.

"No", she replies in a coy manner.

I immediately berate my brother for not recognizing her sarcasm.

She repeats herself. I fall off my barstool at this point.

Are you fucking kidding? You're not? Why? Direct what? Direct TV doesn't carry Versus?

We proceed to leave a two dollar tip on a twenty five dollar tab, pound two coors lights each and storm down the street looking for a new bar. Ten bars, a ciggarette and a string of expletives unloaded on scalpers and hobos alike, and we're rounding the corner to Johnny' on the side mad as rattlesnakes.

Sure enough, no game. All we found at every bar in Causeway was a meaningless Red Sox game with Chris Woodward starting at Shortstop. Yea, Chris Woodward. That's who i want to see right now (jabs eyes out with parking cone). If i'd seen that Hummer, it would be a charred pile of metal right now.

Anyway, needless to say, my blogging this year started off the way my hockey viewing did. Slow and uncoordinated. But I'm back!

A few thoughts before getting to tonight's matchup (yes, the cavemen will be there).

First, John Buccigross can kiss the fatest part of my ass. I love the man. For my money, Bucci is not only the last bastion of hockey knowledge at ESPN, but he's a man cut from the same cloth as me (New England boy, builds a rink in his backyard, longs for the original 6 teams - a true aficionado of the game). However, in his season preview, he lambasted the Bruins Brass for the Kessel trade. Here's an excerpt.

"Instead of feeding off last season and building momentum, the Bruins hit a speed bump after strange negotiations with their best pure goal scorer, Phil Kessel. Kessel is a soon-to-be 22-year-old whose career arc looks to be peaking toward a 40- to 50-goal annual turnaround. How this didn't turn into an eight-year contract extension with about a $5.5 million cap number I will never understand."

Excuse me? 8 years? This isn't Rick Dipietro we're talking about (insert any Garth Snow jab here). What the hell is Buccigrass smoking? Can i have some?

Kessel has had one, count 'em, one good year. He has one, count 'em, one mother fucking move. By mid-December, every defenseman in the Eastern conference had figured out the "off wing, top of the circle toe-drag quick release" and was simply poke checking his shots high and wide. Let's see how he does in Toronto without a center the likes of Savard, or even Krejci, to feed his stick in the slot.

Oh wait, there's more.

"You just don't let players with this kind of skating and release go. And during his young career, he has shown he can take his game into the postseason."

Really? Like that time he was benched? BENCHED. Against the Canadiens? Look, i'm not living in a cave (sort of) and i understand that he got better after that experience, but you're not really bringing a huge body of work to the table here. Phil is not someone who makes others around him better. He's not someone who plays two way hockey. There's a reason that despite 36 goals and a spot on the top line, he only had a +23 last year. Compare that to Krejci's league leading +36? Now you tell me that Kessel's worth a full million a year and double the contract length more than Krejci? They're both under 24!!!

"These players sell tickets and jerseys. Oh, and win games. Red Wings fans have Datsyuk; Penguins fans have Malkin and Crosby; Caps fans have Ovechkin; the Hawks have Patrick Kane..."

That does it. Pull this truck over to the side of the pretentiousness turnpike. If your argument goes so far as to compare Kessel's meaning to the franchise and city to the likes of Ovechkin and Crosby, then you need to take a nap. Phil may have sold a few jerseys (more because he became a fan favorite by surviving cancer and winning some exciting shootouts - didn't he go 7 for his first 7 attempts at one point?), to me included, but he's not even the third best player on the Bruins.

Let's play a game. It's called: "List the best players on the Boston Bruins 09-10 roster"

1. Chara
2. Savard
3. Thomas
4. Krejci? Bergeron (if healthy)?

Did Kessel go here? Maybe. But does that warrant locking him up for 8 years with only one full season of history to go off of? Hell no. We don't know where the cap is headed and if Chiarelli's shown us anything, it's that he's loading up on two kinds of players:
- Guys that play two way hockey
- Guys that want to be here
Phil didn't fit either and what's worse, he had a skewed perception of his market value. Just because Toronto paid him something, doesn't mean he's worth that.

Am I dejected by this trade? Yes. Do i know it was the smart business move for the team long term? Yes. Can we make up for his "offense" and "lack of defense"? Abso-god-damn-lutely.

Now on to tonight. The Ducks are in town which means only one thing. Emilio Estevez photo moments! I think this is a tough matchup for the Ducks. They're no longer the defensive team they once were, especially without Pronger. For the record, I completely agree with Bucci in his assessment of the Ducks, ironically.

They rely on scoring now, and the Bruins have a perfectly structured defensive core to stop their not-so-small forwards. If the B's get out to an early start against whichever interchangeable keeper is in net tonight, The Ducks will be reeling. Plus, they're in the midst of one of those not so fun cross-country road trips; Meanwhile, the Bruins are at home and well rested.

Prediction: Bruins win, 4-2. Enjoy the game!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bruins Add New Ticket Package - Boobs Now Free!

If it was any secret that girls at hockey games are cooler than girls at just about any other professional sporting event, Barstool Sports has busted the story wide open (relatively NSFW).

If you were puzzled by cheering from the hometown crowd during the Bruins stink-fest of a home opener, perhaps these two ladies were responsible. Come to think of it, this sort of activity actually makes sense, given that the food that comes with the 'Hungry for Hockey' tickets is on par with a strip club buffet.

Anyway, well done, ladies. I'll be in Section 304 on Thursday.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Breaking News: Lucic Extended

The Bruins announced today that Milan Lucic, F, has signed a 3 year extension through the end of the 2012-13 season. Read the official release here.

Obviously, we love every damn bit of this.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Heroes of Fort Wilderness - B's mess up Canes, 7-2

Remember that part of the Patriot when Mel Gibson and his two pre-adolescent sons save Heath Ledger from 20 redcoats and a hangman's noose? At the end of that scene, Gibson (Benjamin Martin) takes a Cherokee Tomahawk to a redcoat who he'd already wounded, and finishes him off to the tune of 17 or 18 hacks and more blood than a Mike Myers movie. Later in the story we come to discover that this was a resurgence of brutality from his youth whereby he led a platoon of men to take revenge on French/Indian troops at Fort Wilderness after they'd abused a group of English Settlers and left them for dead at another camp. Brutal, but loyal and protective to no end.

Last night, the Bruins began a road towards redemption. Brickley summed it up best in the third, after the 6th Bruin of the night (Matt Hunwick) had dropped a tally in the goal column, when he said "Balance and Depth". That Bruins team reminded us why we fell down a stairwell in love with them last year and introduced some new faces (Hello, Steve Begin: I'll come back to you later) in the process of doing so with a 7-2 scalping of the sorry Carolina Hurricanes; They're basically Tropical Depressions at this point.

My favorite moments weren't the goals, though man were they pretty at times (Savard's feed to Sturm was much more difficult than the casual observer will realize, as was Sturm finishing it off). No, my favorite and i believe the most telling sign that this team is going to be as good as we hope this year came in the second period when old "friend" Andrew "the ankle bender" Alberts took a bit of a high attempted check at Marco Sturm of a faceoff. This was just moments after Lucic had won a game of uncle against Jay Harrison (Harrison was literally begging for mercy at the end, watch below). After Sturm got ran, Marc Savard jumped on Alberts like Quagmire on a panty-less Asian flight attendant. Savard's defensive manuever led to a full on 5 v 5 scrum with the hated Tom Kostopoulos trying to take on Chara's shinpads for a time.

This kind of shellacking is exactly what makes the Bruins good. They're physical, they're smart and they are hard to play against. Most importantly, they don't back down. Savard saw a teammate recently recovered from a season lost to both a head and knee injury get pseudo run (i only denote this because Alberts basically missed, but the intent was there) by a former teammate he knew to be a goon - He didn't hesitate for a moment. Savvy was in on Alberts like he'd talked about his sister. That kind of camaraderie and fight is what makes them big and bad. It's what makes them the Bruins. By the time we were done in this one, it felt as though the Bruins were committing a massacre the likes of which we'd not seen since the days of Benjamin Martin. These guys had stolen our dream last year. They'd punctured our proverbial balloon and then they'd come into our building and tried to run us. Not a chance. Beat 'em on the scoreboard, beat 'em in the fight and beat 'em in their hearts.

The fact that seven different people scored in this one? Well, let's just say it won't be a one man massacre this year. All 23 of these guys want to be that hero of Fort Wilderness, together. Just for good measure, let's all enjoy Shawn Thornton reminding Mr. Alberts why you don't fuck with a man with a Positron Pack on his back.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Fellow Nerds and I Will Retire to the Nerdery With Our Calculators

It was a rough morning around my house.

Last night started at the Sox game and ended at a law student kegger in Allston, MA. There were a lot of things that took place in between but lets just say drinking was a focal point.

For whatever reason, this hangover got me thinking about statistics. Maybe it was the Beer-aide served out of a plastic bag lined cardboard box, maybe it was how I angry I got about the guy with dual-popped polo collars (Duke colors, too - this was no accident), I don't know.

In any case I went over to Puck Prospectus and started checking out some of their predictions for the year. They just came out with the season previews for all 30 teams - including, of course, your Bruins.

Take a look at the defense:
2009-2010 VUKOTA Projections

Name Age GP G A Pts GVT

Dennis Wideman 26 77.0 10.9 34.4 45.2 12.7
Zdeno Chara 32 73.8 12.2 33.8 46.1 12.6
Matt Hunwick 24 57.2 6.3 19.9 26.2 7.2
Derek Morris 31 64.7 4.5 15.5 20.0 4.8
Mark Stuart 25 66.6 3.4 10.6 14.0 3.9
Andrew Ference 30 51.4 2.5 12.9 15.5 3.2
Johnny Boychuk 25 27.9 1.6 5.3 6.9 1.4

I've altered the table slightly to fit in this space, but the last stat on the right is Goals Versus Threshold (explained here). It's similar to VORP in baseball and attempts to put a number on how much better any given player is than a replacement.

So Wide-Man projects to be just as valuable as Chara in 2009, at least according to this metric. We'll certainly see how the whole thing shakes out. He's got the talent and if he can stay consistent and healthy then I don't see why he can't build on last year's success.

Like all projections, it's just that, an educated guess. Perhaps the nerds won't win. Perhaps I won't drink Beer-aide out of a garbage bag lined box. It's really all up in the air at this point.

Check out the season preview and projection article on the Bruins, lot's of great stuff in there, as usual. In any case, we've got a big revenge game against the Canes tonight. Remember Scott Walker?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Game Notes Haiku: We'll Start on the Road Again Next Year , Thank You

Season starts tonight
Ovechkin got the memo
No one told the B's

Opening Night - Jitters, Thoughts, Kid's Names

I've decided to spare you all the 200 page novel of a season preview I've been dreaming about writing. Thank me later. This is my version of a cut to the chase, season opening post. Man, I'm more jittery and nervous than a paparazzi taking photo's of a Brady/Bundchen dinner party.

The Bruins kick off the 2009-10 season tonight against the hated, but very talented, Washington Capitals and the most entertaining player in hockey, Ovie. A few questions have been running through B's fans head's these last few weeks, so let me give you some answers while you stir about your office trying to look busy until pregame. Just try not to think about the fact that you named your newborn son Kessel.

How do we assess the team and its moves...?

1. Kessel Trade - look, this was inevitable. You need to look no further than the descrepancy between Krecji's contract and Kessel's deal in Toronto to understand the overwhelming fact in this case: Peter Chiarelli knows what he's doing. I'm starting to develop a Scott Pioli/Bill Belichek type trust for his business decision making (don't get me started on Derek Morris though, he's the Joey Galloway of the Bruins until proven otherwise). Straight up, i'm dissappointed that i'll have to re-thread my Kessel jersey, but the guy had to go and they got a very good return considering the economic condition of the league.

2. The Goal Scoring - the Bruins didn't do much to bolster their front line scoring potential. I know what you're thinking, "Bonesaw, come on, maybe Steve Begin will be this year's Michael Ryder". If that's your thought process, go ahead and take that last step off the Tobin and rid us all of your bullshit. Fact is, the Bruins didn't need to bolster this. There, i said it. Between the return of Sturm (the team's leading goal scorer in 07-08) and the eventual re-emergence of Bergeron we'll be well on the way to making up for that production lost in the Kessel trade. I haven't even mentioned the growth of guys like Wheeler (totally fell off in the second half after hitting the rookie wall around game 50 last year) and Krejci. Plus, we don't need to score as much. Why?

3. Defense/Goaltending - Funny you should ask. Few teams can win both the Jennings and Vezina trophies in a season and actually have BETTER goaltending the following season. But, the Bruins will have exactly that. Now, i'm not guaranteeing both trophies show up again, but Rask is the real deal. I watched him shutout the Rangers 1-0 last year while turning back 41 shots and he is hands down a better keeper than Fernandez. Consider that along with the fact that he's in a contract year and knows that the starting job for 2011 and beyond is his to lose (Timmy has one year left and will be 36 next season), Rask will prove himself and will make Timmy better at the same time.
As for defense, we lost a slow old man in Aaron Ward and replaced him with a slow middle aged guy, in Derek Morris. Otherwise, we get better with age because the combination of Wideman, Hunwick and Stuart all project to improve on solid seasons last year.

I think that's enough food for though for one day. We're all gonna have to wait and see how things like Sturm/Lucic/Savard and the D-pairings play out, but rest assured, this team is going to continue to step in the right direction. We don't need 116 point season to get better this year. We need to solidify the experience they've acquired in the last two post-seasons, win the Northeast handily and be healthy come playoff time. Game 1 of 82, at a minimum is tonight. Let's drop the fucking puck already.