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!


  1. Great post lil bro!

    I couldn't agree with you anymore on all these points. It would be a short conversation at the bar since there would be no B's game on.

    Buccigross is my favorite too since the days of NHL2night and the last person on ESPN to even mention hockey without them airing any of it.

    My peace on Kessel is there are two schools of thought have weighed in heavily. One side that buys into the new regime with a distinct goal of making this Bruins team like the ones of old but in the new NHL. The other as the "Never would I do this..." group. You NEVER give up scoring a la Espo to the Rangers and you NEVER give up young talent. I'm with the former and I am drinking the kool-aid. Hell, its tasted so good from the other teams in this town, why would it be poison? The main reason behind my argument is that for every one player any team lets walk and then goes on big, there are a dozen that do nothing. Joe Juneau? Mariuz Czerkawski? Ferris Bueller?

    David Backes scored 31 goals last year. He isn't worth 5 mil. Kessel will be good, but is there greatness in him? Benjamin Franklin doesn't think so.

    Big Bro

  2. Excellent assessment of the Kessel situation. This is a franchise built on selfless guys who loved to play the game. Lucic is a guy like that and that's why they resigned him.

    And I had to sit in my car to listen to the first B's game on the not-EEI station. That's why I bought tickets to games 2 and 3.

  3. you forgot the part where we ran into two girls wearing 'Versus' T-shirts and handing out cards to petition DirecTV to make a deal.

    Then the following exchange:

    'So, do you know where the game is on then?'
    'Awesome! Where? It's already halfway through the first period!'
    'Um, I forget. I don't really work for Versus.'