Archive for November, 2009

Sean Avery: Certified Dink

November 30, 2009

I know. It’s a tired, old thing. It’s not even that much fun anymore, is it? I think we can all admit that it’s become a bit sad and boring at this point. Pathetic, if you will. Predictable. Pointless.

Kind of like a tweeny bopper vampire movie or something.

Anyway, here it is. The latest example of unmanliness from Sean Avery.

I know. Big Yawn. Why bother even talking about it?

Just because we must never forget what a miserable example Avery is of everything the NHL should not be. It should not be a place, is not I believe, where someone can play with that amount of agression and chippiness and never have to answer the bell like a man.

Of course, Sean Avery is not a man. Not in any sense of the word as it can be defined in the NHL or anywhere outside the streets of Montreal, anyway. We know that. It’s been proven beyond a doubt. And if we needed another example, well, there it is. Jumping a Russian non-fighter from behind and swinging away before the guy even knows you’re there. It is an act of weakness and cowardice which will lower the respect anyone might have for him even further down into subterranean depths.

Of course, he knows damn well, given an equal square off, Fedotenko would kick the ever living shit out of him. But we all know Avery doesn’t have the balls to do that. Obviously.

The NHL is a place where men are men, toughness is respected and people play by a Code of Honor. Guys know, from the first days they strap on skates and hit the ice. You play by the Code or you are nothing.

Sean Avery is nothing.

‘Nuff said.

MASH Update

November 28, 2009

So by now most of you are aware of the latest Milan Lucic injury. Out about a month with a high ankle sprain. It’s frustrating news for sure as it has become abundantly clear what an impact the bruising young forward has on the way the Bruins play. One game after the injury, for example, the B’s promptly lost at home to Jersey in their annual Black Friday matinee, 2-1 in the shootout, snapping what had been an impressive 4-game win streak.

As Kevin Paul Dupont points out in today’s notebook:

    “Boston’s hitting game has lost its spiritual leader with Lucic sidelined. Looch landed 262 slams last season, tying him for fifth overall with Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke.

    Thus far in 2009-’10, Steve Begin leads the hit brigade for Boston, his 51 hits slotting him in a tie for 54th overall in the league. Vladimir Sobotka, who piled on five hits Friday, is next with 49, putting him at 62nd overall in the league.

    Team captain Zdeno Chara’s hitting game is off this season. Last year, he landed 169 hits, which put him in a tie for 38th league wide. As of this morning, Big Z had but 44 hits, ranking him 73rd league-wide.”

Spiritual leader, indeed.

Another note at the bottom of that same column suggests that the only other injured Bruin, Tim Thomas, may return to action tonight against Ottawa. There was a recent report on TSN that Thomas’ mysterious injury may have been a broken right hand. The report references NESN.com, where I did find James Murphy in this article referencing Fluto Sinzawa in this article refering to a team source suggeting a right hand issue but there seems to be no actual reference to the break in question.

It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma, I guess.

Regardless, the Senators are in town tonight and the last meeting between the two produced a feisty three fight affair that the B’s won in improbable fashion scoring twice with the goalie pulled in the game’s last 1:28 for a dramatic, much needed win. All things point to another excellent game tonight.

Politely Declined

November 25, 2009

A brief note in Wednesday’s Globe explains that Cam Janssen asked Shawn Thornton to drop the gloves before the opening face-off of Monday’s game vs. The Blues in St. Louis and Thornton said no.

I am of two minds about this.

On the one hand, I consider Shawn to be one of the brighter tough guys in the league when it comes to picking his spots for a fight. I think it’s something that Claude Julien preaches as well; knowing when it will benefit your team and when it won’t. Consider the circumstances in this one: St. Louis came into the game struggling, looking for a spark at home and Janssen wants to provide it right off the top. Coach has given him the start and he’s lined up against his equivalent, Shawn Thornton. From his point of view, the perfect spot for a go.

Not so from a Bruins perspective, perhaps. The B’s come in having won three straight for the first time all season and have done it on the road. Thornton could argue that dropping the gloves at that point against such a formidable opponent would do nothing but benefit the Blues, playing right into Janssen’s strategy. Thus, he declines the offer.

Fair enough. You have to respect that approach. Certainly, I think visiting teams do exactly the same when in Boston knowing damn well that the B’s are a team that can really feed off of emotion, especially at home where the crowd loves nothing more than a good fracas on the ice. In fact, there’s a rich tradition of it. I bet if you ask Thornton, he could tell you about any number of times that opponents have declined his own requests the way he did Janssen’s.

Of course, the other way I look at it is that it’s a fight I would love to see. Thornton is as experienced and tough a fighter as you will find at his size, 6-2 217, and matches up well with Janssen, 6-0 210, in terms of class. Janssen has had some classic fights this season and earned a coveted spot on our Fight Page a number of times.

Chances are it would have been a beauty.

Chances are.

But we won’t know, at least not this season. That was the one and only time the two teams will meet in 2009-10. Unless one of them gets traded or they meet in the Stanley Cup Finals, it shall not take place.

Good strategy or opportunity lost? You tell me.

Day At The Dunk

November 24, 2009

Providence Bruins Score The Winner Against Manchester

You can see in the above picture one of the main reasons it was such a great game, such a great experience, to be at last Sunday in Providence at the Dunkin Donuts Center for the 4:05 pm meeting between the Providence Bruins and the Manchester Monarchs. The P-Bruins pulled off an astonishingly exciting comeback victory, down three goals at one point and looking completely exhausted from playing the third game in three days, as they scored the game winner with 47.2 seconds left in the game. The improbable, inspiring comeback was all the more delectable as it came against the division leading Monarchs who, early on in the contest, seemed like they were in complete control of the game and would dominate with ease.

Not so fast.

Credit to the snarliness of recently returned forward Brad Marchand who, seemingly spurred on by anger at taking an early high stick in the game and a nasty war of words with Monarchs defenseman Andrew Campbell, was a windmill of energy in the third. Throwing some nasty hits, driving to the net, buzzing in the corners. He had three assists in the game, two coming on the last two goals of the comeback as he directly set up Kirk MacDonald and Andrew Bodnarchuck for the fourth and fifth goals respectively, sealing the victory.

Guess the kid learned a little something in the month or so he spent up in Boston, eh? Work like that, it won’t be long before he’s back.

All in all it was an excellent day. Three little ladies experienced their very first hockey game ever and were key elements themselves in the victory, one could assume. When all the rest of the crowd was doubtful there were three who never stopped cheering at the top of their lungs, “Go Big B’s Go! Use your teamwork!” The non-stop dancing alone was enough to inspire the team, I would imagine. Twice they appeared on the Jumbotron on Fan Cam and I can only imagine the team looking up and saying to themselves, “You know what, boys? If those three little kids won’t quit, then neither will we. Let’s win it for them!

Certainly, that what I told them.

Once again, it affirms what a great take minor league sports can be. Inexpensive, family friendly, entertaining in so many ways. The food at the Dunk is decent enough,though I would recommend you avoid the Johnny Rockets Milkshake stand at all costs. I pride myself as a connoisseur of milkshakes and the one I paid $5.50 for down there was thin, watery and tasteless. Very disappointing indeed.

Of course, the greatest milk shake/frappe spot in Boston has now closed it’s doors, that being Herrell’s in Harvard Square. Thick, creamy, with a vanilla flavor (I only do vanilla) that was the sugary equivalent of crystal meth when you consume it. Delicious beyond my paltry word skills to describe.

As you can see, I’m still in mourning.

Anyway, more photos from the game here.

Providence Bound

November 21, 2009

Seven tickets in hand, tomorrow we’ll head down 95 to The Dunk for an afternoon match-up between the Providence Bruins and Manchester Monarchs. Turns out, happily, that I won’t be the only strapping young lad making that journey this weekend.

Brad Marchand and Trent Whitfield, after he clears waivers, have both been sent down to the P-Bruins as Milan Lucic and Marc Savard become healthy and available to the big club. Both of them, Marchand in his first NHL action, and Whitfield a more seasoned veteran, played fairly well in the roles given them in Boston. Marchand, however, certainly showed some growing pains, notably as he learns how to best harness his chippy style and not take bad penalties.

More than that, however, I find out that the P-Bruins have signed old friend Dan LaCouture to a PTO. He is, of course, a fairly well known name in the area having spent time in both Providence and Boston. A native of Hyannis, MA, he also spent his college career in beantown playing for Boston University. Known for a scrappy, high energy style, he’ll certainly provide some veteran leadership to the team as well, now 32 years old and a soldier in 13 professional seasons stretching from Hamilton of the AHL to Barys Astana in Kazakhstan of the KHL.

This is all good news for fans of the AHL’s Rhode Island representatives. They will need all the help they can get having a scheduled three games in three nights at The Dunk, Friday’s 5-2 victory over the Springfield Falcons, tonight’s match-up against the Worcester Sharks and then the finale against Manchester that we’ll see tomorrow.

All of this goes towards my vow to see more minor league hockey this season. I really have no excuse when you consider how centrally located I am to so many AHL team’s with an easy driving radius. Northward I can reach Portland and Manchester, in Maine and New Hampshire respectively, without a lengthy trip and Lowell before I get to the border of either. Westward Worcester is less than an hour and, if I’m feeling like travelling, Springfield which is at least two depending on how much you want to dare the Staties. Southward there is, of course, Providence but Hartford is also within reach. Cheap tickets and refreshments, good quality hockey. The only real cost is gas, the only real impediment available time.

I have no excuse, truly.

Look for a full report on the game sometime tomorrow night.

The Anti-Regulation Crew

November 21, 2009

Byron Bitz and Milan Lucic Celebrate

Seriously. Winning games in regulation is boring. It’s fascist. It deprives the audience of that little bit of extra time and thrills that they deserve. In tough economic times, everyone wants to make that buck go a little bit further and an extra five minutes plus of hockey every night can do just that.

For two games in a row, on consecutive nights for that matter, the Bruins had to go to overtime to seek that precious second point and for two straight games (on the road, mind you) they did it. Both nights, in the shoot-out Thursday in Atlanta and last night’s overtime win in Buffalo, the man at the forefront was Patrice Bergeron. He scored the winner in Buffalo and had a ridiculously gorgeous shoot-out goal against the Thrashers.

Winning face-offs, playing against other team’s top lines, grinding in all zones, Bergeron has been one of the team’s few consistently reliable contributors all season. Though his face off percentage has him 9th overall in the league, his number of draws won has him 3rd, behind only Sidney Crosby and Paul Stastny. He also leads the team in goals and points with 7-7-14 totals.

In both games the newly returned Milan Lucic, finding chemistry with the ever energetic Byon Bitz, has also been a key factor. Hitting like the Looch we all know and love and, last night, scoring the Bruins first goal on a sweet set up from Bitz. In both games Tukka Rask has been solid filling in for Tim Thomas (still nursing a minor injury that the team deems to sensitive to disclose…). In both games Blake Wheeler, normally embarrassingly mild mannered, has shown some snarl and been a major factor. Even Michael Ryder seems to be waking up.

All good signs considering the imminent return of Marc Savard. Maybe I’m fooling myself and this is just another trip up the rollercoaster and the plummet is just around the corner again but I feel like we’re about to see the complete team and the complete effort that we expected to see when the season began. I feel like good things are imminent and an excellent 4 game road trip is as good a way as any to start it off.

Maybe it’s just the Fan-Boy in me, I don’t know.

Looch In The Mix

November 19, 2009

Milan Lucic Happy To Be Back

One in, one out in Atlanta.

The good news is Milan Lucic, out since Mid-October with a broken finger on his right hand, will be in the line-up tonight against the Thrashers. There’s no indication of how much he might play (word is he’ll skate with Steve Begin and Byron Bitz) but the team desperately needs whatever boost his presence will bring. Don’t look for him to test that finger with the gloves off anytime soon, however. The question is, will opponents use that knowledge against him? We’ll see.

Now the bad news.

Tim Thomas is out because of an undisclosed, minor injury. We’ll hope to hear more about it at some point but look for Tukka Rask in net for the second game in a row and see if Thomas’ issue is anything to be concerned about afterwards.

Meanwhile, word is that the team and Marc Savard have a new deal in the works that could extend the center’s contract in Boston for another seven years.

This surprises the hell out of me, I have to admit. If the reports are true, the deal would take Savard pretty close to the age of 40 and cement him as the offensive cornerstone of the team for as long a stretch as anyone since Rick Middleton. I had honestly wondered if the team and he might part company after his current deal was completed, leaving the no. 1 pivot spot to David Krejci and him to seek his fortunes elsewhere in free agency.

Apparently both he and the B’s think otherwise. It would offer some incredible stability to the team’s offense and leadership, now and for the forseeable future and would allow Savard to flourish even more in the veteran role he has so effectively adopted in Boston. It could be a brilliant move. It could also be a disaster.

More on that if the deal, rumoured to be completed by Thanksgiving, comes to pass. I need time to ruminate.

Game Update: I have never seen an arena so empty as the Philips Arena is tonight. Entire sections are empty. There is practically no one sitting in the loge section other than directly behind the benches.

Game Update Update: Apparently 4000 people decided to be fashionably late or got the start time wrong because the lower section is now nearly filled up as the second period starts. Q’est que le fuck, Atlanta?

Big Z Meet Big Papi

November 17, 2009

Zdeno Chara Meets Big Papi David Ortiz

The ongoing hype surrounding the highly anticipated Winter Classic at Fenway Park this upcoming New Year’s Day got a nice boost last night when Big Papi David Ortiz dropped by the Garden to provide a ceremonial face-off before the Bruins tilt with the visting New York Islanders.

If only the Red Sox slugger could skate. Maybe park that wide body in front of the net and jam in a rebound or something. Who knows? It might have helped the team stave off a sound 4-1 beating at the hands of the young Isle crew. A couple goals by Matt Moulson and a nice game from budding star John Tavares sealed the B’s fate and game them their second straight loss.

The previous was Saturday’s wild shoot-out with the Penguins in Pittsburgh where the team gave up Bill Guerin’s tying goal with naught but 0.4 seconds left on the clock and were summarily flattened by the wave of momentum in overtime as the Pens stole what was, for them, a dramatic, emotional 6-1 overtime win.

For the Bruins, the inconsistency and head scratching continues. They find their scoring touch one night and the defense disappears. The next game, the offense vanishes again and lackluster play around their own net provides an easy victory for a visiting team.

It should be harder for the visitors to win in Boston. It really should. 6-5-1 at the Garden is just not going to cut it.

But that’s where they stand. 20 games into the season their record is a starkly mediocre 8-8-4. Second in the Northeast Division but 10th in the Eastern Conference, outside the playoff boundary and looking upward at teams like Atlanta (who they play on Thursday), Tampa Bay and the aforementioned Islanders.

Needless to say, not good enough. Injuries or no injuries, this team should be better than that.

Time to figure it out, methinks.

While there still is time.

The Byers Files

November 15, 2009

One from the Vault.

Fond memories, of course. Lyndon Byers was always a lot of fun, on and off the ice. Still is, as many of you in and around Boston know all too well.

It begs the question, too. Why do modern brawers not use the uppercut as a weapon anymore? It was so effective for Byers. First one to give me an active fighter in the NHL who successful employs the uppercut and you get some completely worthless HGW junk mailed directly to your house or prison cell.

F-tang, F-tang!

Streaking

November 12, 2009

Okay, so it’s only two games in a row.

But when it’s the first time all season you’ve accomplished that feat, it’s something worth noting. The fact is the Bruins are playing quite well right now, at least in some very key areas, and their win/loss record in that past few weeks might not be the best indicator of how their game is progressing. Their well documented scoring woes have had them losing some extremely close, defensive games in which they have played very well as a team.

It seems that they are buying into Claude Julien’s defensive system in a big way right now, with the whole unit on the same page and the results are starting to come. They’ve become extremely proficient at penalty killing, having smothered 28 of the last 29 opponent’s power plays which, given the importance of special teams play in the modern NHL, bodes well for future success.

The scoring will return, I fully expect that. Marc Savard and Milan Lucic will return from injury. David Krejci will get healthy and begin to warm up and, in turn, benefit from not seeing the first checking unit on opposing teams with Savard back. Marco Sturm and Michael Ryder (hope hope hope) will remember where the net is and how to put that little black rubber biscuit into it.

So speaketh Kenstrodamus.

Fight Watch: The Florida Panthers are in town tonight and prospects are not good. Only five fighting majors recorded all season and no real heavyweight in sight. They have recently reclaimed 6-5 250 lb. (and former Providence Bruin) Steve MacIntyre from the Oilers but it appears he is ticketed for Rochester to get into playing shape, having logged only 6:18 minutes of ice time this season.

Otherwise, most involved recently has been the immortal Kenndal McArdle (no. 71 in your program) with two bouts, his opponents being Matt Bradley and Shean Donovan.

Both voted at hockeyfights.com as draws.

Yeah.