Archive for October, 2009

Hat Trick or Treat

October 31, 2009

Bruins Pumpkin

I’ve decided on my costume for tonight.

I’m going to be a fat, drunk, white guy.

I know, I know. It’s a stretch.

But I’ll pull it off somehow.

Devils’ Night

October 30, 2009

Disappointing loss at the Garden last night for the Black and Gold. The thing was, they seemed to play a hell of a game, lots of energy, forechecking, hitting, producing some decent scoring chances. They were pretty well stoned by the Devils’ back-up goalie Yann Danis, however, who got the start over Martin Brodeur. The whole game was fast, tightly checked, like a Cliff Notes version of a hockey game. It’s rare a game finishes in under 2.5 hours and this one did with time to spare.

My biggest complaint, though, isn’t the fact that Dainius Zubrus scored with 1:26 left in the game to grab an annoying 2-1 victory. That sort of thing is going to happen. My main gripe isn’t even the fact that B’s defensemen can’t seem to stop themselves from winding up and blasting pucks into opponents skates constantly, which, I admit, can be pretty damn frustrating to watch.

No, the key problem for me with this game was there were no fights. C’mon guys, you’re at home, playing an East Coast rival, a team loaded with potential pugilists and there isn’t a single scrap to try and spark things, to give the crowd a little somthing for their buck? You had pesky David Clarkson, who at one point got into it with Tim Thomas while Shawn Thornton was on the ice and naught went down. You had Andrew Peters, granted a sad, whiny excuse for an enforcer, trying to pick on undersized d-man Andrew Ference and no one put in a claim on that ticket. You had Bryce Salvador and Mark Fraser, a 200+ PIM guy in the minors, and not a hand raised toward either.

Now, I’m not trying to sound like a grunting Neanderthal here. I know that it was a well played game in many aspects, a game that wouldn’t look out of place in a Playoff match-up many months from now but this ain’t the playoff, friends. This is a Thursday night in October, two days before Halloween and the Devils are in town. The workin’ folk that showed up for this one deserved a little Treat, especially if they weren’t going to see a Trick.

Just sayin’.

The Rocky Dennis Award

October 29, 2009

3,920 donkeys can’t be wrong, can they?

That’s how many voters chose Roberto Luongo in TSN’s Best NHL Goalie Mask poll. You don’t suppose there’s any fanboy homerism involved there, do you? Any poll stuffing?

Take a look and you tell me.

Roberto Luongo Mask
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

Can you say “boring“. You should be able to after you stop yawning. Maybe it’s the vast stretches of off white that have me scratching my head. Maybe it’s the miserable old logo that looks like an illustration of cell division or something. Maybe it’s the prancing cartoon character on the side that makes me want to sing “I’m a Lumberjack and I’m okay…”, I don’t know. It just doesn’t do a lot for me.

I’m sorry, Vancouver because I generally have nothing against you guys and, considering you gave us Cam Neely and Milan Lucic and have, by all accounts, have a beautiful city up there, I don’t want to kill your buzz. That said

The next three top vote getters were, in order, Mike Smith, Mikka Kiprusoff and Carey Price. Um, yeah. Three out of the top four were the No. 1’s for Canadian teams? I see how it is, my friends and neighbors. I see how it works.

Perhaps if we put our blind man-boy loyalties aside for a few minutes we can enjoy some of the more interesting and creative masks some of the league’s netminders have been sporting lately. Taketh a gander.

Vesa Toskala Mask
Vesa Toskala, Toronto Maple Leafs

Toskala’s mask isn’t a new idea but it is extremely well done. Spooky, mean, three dimensional. Sam Raimi might appreciate this because it reminds one of both Venom and elements of Evil Dead. This one would eat Luongo’s for an appetizer.

Ray Emery Mask
Ray Emery, Philadelphia Flyers

Now this gentleman has style, folks. I guess Emery has always had a thing for putting boxers on his mask and his move to Philly allows him to honor a couple of greats, one real, one fictional. That’s Smokin’ Joe Frazier pictured above and if you flip it around you get to see none other than Rocky Balboa. What better for the Broadstreet Bullies than a tip of the cap to a couple of fellow brawlers.

Cam Ward Mask
Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes

Cam Ward’s is another that puts not only great artwork on display but great spirit. It features Blackbeard the Pitrate, a sharp looking looking corsair flying a Canadian flag, the Stanley Cup and the name of his deceased grandfather. All very stylishly done. You know if I’m complimenting a ‘Cane about anything, it’s a special occasion, right?

Of course, most modern masks are pretty flashy and spectacular. They are the product of long hours of hard work by the best artists in that field. The NHL, after all is big business and Goalie Masks are it’s version of Bling, I suppose.

That said.

Not one of them. Not one.

Compares to this.

Gerry Cheevers Mask
Gerry Cheevers, Boston Bruins

‘Nuff said.

Bearing Down

October 26, 2009

It’s been a tumultuous week for the Bruins. The rollercoaster was at full speed for a bit there. One minute fans are being hit with the unpleasant news that major elements of team leadership and offense are going to be out for long stretches with serious injuries, the seeming next we’re being treated to improbable victories and inspired hockey from what looks like a patchwork lineup.

Give the team credit, though. Since Savard and Lucic were put on IR and all the trades and call ups went down they have pulled themselves together and started playing some of their best hockey of the season, working hard, working together, figuring it all out. They have gotten 5 out of 6 points in the last three, the topper being a fantastic come from behind victory up in Ottawa where they scored 2 goals with the goalie pulled in the final 90 seconds of the game and then won it in the shoot-out.

Hey, there were even three fights in the game. Life is good.

Julien has figured out how to mesh the various new components in his line-up quite well here. Brad Marchand, speedy, hard working, feisty, has fit in quite well and provided a spark. Daniel Paille is also fast and seems re-energized by his escape from Buffalo. Both spending time on the PK and skating welle on separate lines. David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron have both stepped up their game to fill in for the loss of Savard.

It doesn’t hurt that Tim Thomas has been on fire, either. The Tank is rounding into shape, whatever that means for a guy built like a particularly sturdy mailbox. Never mind how he looks or his style, though, because the man can bring it and when he’s hot we all know there might not be a better goaltender in the entire league. Lord knows Vezina voters didn’t think so last season and it looks like the quest for number two is finally under way.

They just seem more like a team now. On the same page and other relevant cliches. It bodes well that we might, ay some point, see the team that finished first overall in the East last season and comes into this year with similarly high expectations. If only the schedule makers (isn’t the schedule supposed to be compressed for the Olympics?) hadn’t given the team so many of these prolonged gaps between games. Currently they will not play until Thursday, another four day layoff, this one coming at a time the team and it’s fans would like nothing more than to stay in regular action.

One hopes will not kill any of the momentum gained this past weekend.

Onward!

Like Flies

October 21, 2009

They are dropping.

Word today that Marc Savard has been place on Long Term Injured Reserve with a broken foot and will miss 4-6 weeks. Apparently Savard has been attempting to play with the injury for a time. Word also that Shawn Thornton was missing tonight’s game vs. Nashville with the ever popular “undisclosed injury”.

With so many injuries cascading down the mountain like an avalanche right now and the recent trades and call ups, it seems like the will be fielding an entirely new team on the ice at the Garden. Certainly, the lines wil be a jumble as Julien tries desperately to patch together a functioning NHL team from the myriad of new faces dotted about his locker room.

A brief rundown:

Center Trent Whitfield has now been recalled from Providence to fill aspot down the middle with Savard missing and David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron needing to move up in the depth chart. He’ll wear no. 42 and we can only hope he is indeed the answer to some Black and Gold questions.

Daniel Paille is in from Buffalo (wearing no. 20) and will make his Bruins debut. Surprised by the trade, he is apparently eager to make an impression with his new team and one hopes to see much needed energy and spirit from the recent acquisition.

Brad Marchand, impressive in training camp and consistently scoring goals for the P-Bruins, will skate the wing, likely in an offensive role with a team now desperate for any sort of scoring presence as he makes his NHL debut. Marchand wears no. 63.

Vladimir Sobotka, up at intervals last season, will make his 2009-10 debut with the team. A sometimes frustrating player, the Bruins could really use the sort of offensive pop he’s shown in the AHL to translate to the NHL a.s.a.p.

All in all it should be a wild, interesting game with a lot of interest. How will all the new faces fit in? What are fans to do with all these high expectations now? How far do they need to be lowered? Where will the Bruins find their level until the injured start to make it back into the line-up.

Start the mixing and matching and let’s see what we get.

Ch-Ch-Changes

October 20, 2009

With Milan Lucic being put on long term injured reserve with a broken index finger on his right hand and his team mired in a sluggish 3-4 start to the season, Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has decided to be proactive in an effort to solve the problem.

It started on Sunday. Lucic went on IR (out 4-6 weeks) and the dominoes started falling. First off, scrappy (but underperforming) winger Chuck Kobasew was shipped to the Minnesota Wild for two players and a draft pick. The players are both forwards, Craig Weller, a 6-4 220 lb. journeyman right wing with 4 career NHL goals, and Alexander Fallstrom, a Swedish born fourth round pick of the Wild’s currently in his freshman year at Harvard. The pick is a second rounder in 2011.


Good Luck Chuck

Not a bad haul but, then again, Chuck had had a fairly decent season last year scoring 21 goals and helping anchor a gritty, in your face third line unit with Patrice Bergeron. With only one point on the young season and a need to clear cap space, Kobasew (making $2.33 mil) became a necessary sacrifice in the chess game Chiarelli was about to play with his roster but there’s a good chance some of his grit and scoring will be missed.

Next move, the recall of three forwards from Providence. Vladimir Sobotka, Brad Marchand and Guillame Lefevbre were all called up to the big club adding depth options for Claude Julien and, perhaps, helping light a fire on some of the other underperforming forwards who could see some fresh faces ready and eager to step into an empty slot.

But Chiarelli wasn’t done yet. Today, yet another move as the B’s pick up Daniel Paille from the Buffalo Sabres for a couple of mid-level draft picks. Paille is 25 years old and was the Sabres 1st round pick in 2002 (20th overall) and has scored 35 career goals in his four plus years in the Buffalo organization. At 6 foot 197 lbs. he’s solid and plays the body well but is unlikely to drop the gloves at any point.


Welcome To Boston Daniel

It seems the B’s are replacing Kobasew’s slot on the third line with Paille and, while certainly losing a bit of talent, are gaining a million dollars in salary cap room (Paille makes $1.3 million). This allows the team to carry an extra forward or two to help with depth, etc.

A lot to take in, I know, and it remains to be seen how it will play out. I’m not even sure what the line-up will look like tomorrow night when the B’s face Nashville at the Garden. There is likely to be at least 2 forwards making their Boston debut then and, hopefully, it will bring a renewed energy to the team and the atmosphere in the building.

Can’t wait to find out.

Boychuck vs. Bissonnette

October 18, 2009

From Saturday night’s loss to the Coyotes.

Boychuck’s first in the regular season for the B’s.

Broken Finger

October 17, 2009

Milan Lucic is out of Saturday’s tilt vs. the ‘Yotes in Phoenix with a broken finger on his right hand

His punching hand, damnit.

The team has called up Guillame Lefevbre, a guy who isn’t shy about mixing things up. Good for the youngster but mild concern for Lucic’s injury. How will it affect him going forward, how much time will he miss?

The good news is team trainers league wide won’t need to keep as large a ready stock of stitches handy when their teams face the B’s for a bit.

Mini-Spinny

October 16, 2009

This one is worth a few looks.

The kid’s name is Oliver Wahlstrom and he’s from Maine. Oh, and he’s nine years old. It was done during the shooting of Mini One-on-One, a traditional youth hockey competition filmed at the Garden and aired during Bruins intermissions.

I like the reaction from the goalie. Just sort of looks at the puck, looks at him like, “Are you kidding me?”. Hey, at least he didn’t put his stick on the ice and stand over it like it was on fire.

Early Snapshots: Eastside

October 14, 2009

I know it’s really only about two weeks into the new season but there’s enough interesting stuff going on to discuss, I think. Top of the list being…

The Toronto Maple Leafss. An 0-5-1 start, a burgeoning goalie controversy and lots and lots of fights seem to be the defining elements of the beginning of Brian Burke’s 2009-10 campaign. He’s made lots of moves, including trading two year’s worth of 1st round picks and more for Phil Kessel (out until at least Nov. 1 as he recovers from shoulder surgery). Meanwhile, poor defense an/or goaltending has them looking like a brown skidmark on the way out of the gate in the Northeast. At least it’s been entertaining, if not for the fights then the hockey media circus that helps build the pressure-filled atmosphere that surrounds Leaf’s Hockey already making things uncomfortable for Burke and Co. Can you say “unreasonable expectations”? Not in Toronto you can’t, I guess. Keep losing, though, boys. That 2010 1st rounder is looking like a juicy, 20 lb. salmon to a certain group of south of the border bears right now.

The Philadelphia Flyers. I admit to being somewhat fascinated by this team. They’ve started off fairly well this season and I just see them as a potentially great but flawed team. They’ve got great offense anchored by Carter and Richards, great team toughness led by two of the most willing scrappers in the league in Riley Cote and Dan Carcillo. Now they bolster their defense with Pronger and things are looking good. The question mark remains in goal where they bring on Ray Emery, recent of Mytishchi Atlant of the KHL, as the hopeful No. 1. Huh? Is this not the big leagues, my brothers? I want to like this team but I need to see some elite level goaltending before I call them contenders. Team to watch, though, for sure.

New York Rangers. I don’t know how they’re doing it but they’ve started out with a decent early season record of 6-1. I don’t expect it to last, though. They’re just too laden down with absurd contracts to have a decent supporting cast on this team. They have two $8 Million dollar players in Chris Drury and Wade Redden. Good players, character players, but not superstars. Gaborik makes $7.5 and will need to carry the offensive load, if he can stay healthy. Michal Roszival makes $6 Million?!? Even hated scumbag Sean Avery is making $4 Mil. That’s a lot of salary tied up in upper middle class talent. That leaves a lot of genuine borderliners making up the supporting cast. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong, who knows.

Elsewhere. Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh, Washington is Washington and the Islanders still suck. So does Montreal, but this is not exactly news, is it?

Onward ho!