Archive for March, 2010

Colborne on Board

March 31, 2010

joe colborne boston bruins

The Bruins, as expected, have signed their 2008 first round pick (16th overall), University of Denver center Joe Colborne, to a three year deal and assigned him to Providence. Colborne is a big feller at 6-5, 210 pounds which would give the B’s, should he develop, the sort of Eric Lindros kind of size at the pivot slot that they haven’t seen since Joe Thornton was traded out of town for the Keebler Elves.

Unfortunately, some scouting analysis would beg the same question often asked about big centermen, whether or not they are willing to use their size to get dirty and slam their way to the net to score goals. The last thing Bruins fans would ever want to see is another talented big guy who doesn’t seem to play with enough passion or scrap.

Colborne’s scoring totals at Denver, where you can see notable improvement from his first year to this last one.

    2008-09: 40 games, 10 goals, 21 assists, 24 pims
    2009-10: 39 games, 22 goals, 19 assists, 30 pims

Certainly the Bruins need some scoring help right now and the over excitable crowd will want to see Colborne in Boston sooner rather than later but something tells me we might want to temper our enthusiasm and not peg the kid as the next Espo just yet.

Just in case he turns out to be the next Joel Prpic.

_

As it turns out, the B’s had a rather busy day signing draft picks besides Colborne. Also signed:

  • Jordan Caron, first rounder from 2009 (25th overall), a 6-2, 202 lb center currently playing for Rouyn-Noranda in the QMJHL.
  • Michael Hutchinson, 6-3, 185 lbs, a goaltender taken in the third round in 2008 (77th overall), playing for the London Knights of the OHL.
  • Steven Kampfer, a 5-11 197 lb defenseman drafted by Anaheim in the fourth round in 2007 (93rd overall) and acquired by the B’s at this year’s trade deadline for a conditional fourth round pick this year.
  • Where’s Tuukka?

    March 29, 2010

    tuukka rask bruins goalie

    The Globe reports that Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice this morning, usually a guaranteed indicator of who will be starting the evening game.

    It begs the question, if Tuukka Rask is healthy, that is. What exactly is Claude Julien doing with his starting goaltending situation at this, the most critical juncture of the season?

    This is no time to be experimenting or attempting to foster competition amongst his netminders, if that’s the case this evening. Granted, Thomas was excellent in the B’s 5-0 shutout of Calgary at home on Saturday but one game does not a season make. It had become clear to absolutely everyone before that that Tuukka Rask had taken over the number one job in Boston and was providing the stability in net the team desperately needed down the stretch with a playoff berth very much in question.

    Rask’s numbers, by the way, leave his position as the team’s current and future starter very much not in question. His GAA of 2.11 lead the entire NHL and his saves percentage of .927 is just a couple thousandths behind Ryan Miller for the league lead in that category, as well.

    So why aren’t the two facing each other tonight?

    Is it just that the Bruins are playing two games in two nights, heading to New Jersey after the Sabres game, and Julien feels like he’s going to have to use them both, so why not go with Thomas tonight and hope to ride a little hot streak? I feel like it’s too much of a gamble right now, to be honest. I mean, if that was the thinking, then Tuukka should have started against Calagry, right? Why would you want your back-up goalie stating two games in a row?

    The bottom line is it’s no time to be wishy washy about your Number One, with so few games left and the team hanging onto the final playoff spot in the East with ragged claws. Julien is leaving himself wide open for criticism should the move backfire on him and Thomas, as has been the pattern in this inconsistent season he’s having, falter tonight and play a less than stellar game.

    This should be a match-up of the league’s two best goalies at the Garden this evening and, with all due respect to Tim Thomas, it’s not. He may be the reigning Vezina winner but the simple fact is that he is no longer the best goalie on his team. Period. To most hockey devotees in Boston, it’s clear that Tuukka Time has arrived and whatever post-season hopes the Bruins have rest squarely on his Finnish shoulders.

    Whether or not Claude Julien agrees with that seems somewhat in question at the moment.

    And that’s not a good thing, folks.

    _

    Update: Hate to say “I told ya so…”

    At 6:08 of the second period, with the Bruins down 3-1, Claude Julien came to grips with the realization that every idiot on the streets of Boston (and this idiot earlier in the day right here) told him about and tried to make him understand prior to tonight’s game. That starting Tim Thomas for the second straight game was ill-advised at best and borderline insane at worst.

    The overwhelming applause from the crowd when the switch was made might have been the first clue that everyone besides Julien had this one figured out long before the change became embarrassingly necessary. Nothing against Thomas, who we all like and who wasn’t at fault for all three goals, but it could not be more obvious who belongs in net for this team down the stretch and who should have started tonight against the Sabres.

    Early in the second period, Julien tried to correct his mistake.

    Desperate much, Claude?

    Good. Because this one’s on your head.

    The Matt Cooke Rule

    March 26, 2010

    So the NHLPA has gone ahead and approved the much talked about new rule outlawing “blindside hits to the head”. Colin Campbell is relieved because now he can start issuing suspensions to players who try kill other players on the ice. You hear that, evil-doers? No more getting off on a technichal loophole. You try and end someone’s career out there, well, you’re going to sit down a few games, that’s for sure.

    I’m sure this will be a great consolation to Marc Savard when he eventually finds out about it. As of now, he’s spending his days in a sound proofed, lightless isolation tank because any and all sensory input causes massive migraine headaches and uncontrolable vomiting. Whether it’s post-concussion syndrome or the thought that his playing career might be forever changed by a vicious cheap shot from a known, repeat offender who should have been dealt with long ago, it’s likely a certain amount of depression has set in. Imagine him slack-jawed, unshaven, black circles under his eyes on the edge of a bed struggling to put both feet on the floor and afraid to open the blinds to let any light in. Probably doesn’t even know if it’s night or day anymore.

    Feel better, Marc. The NHL now recognizes that it’s not okay to skate over and blast guys in the temple at 90 miles and hour.

    Seriously, folks, if Colin Campbell needed this rule to be able to properly police such blatant, reckless beahaviour in the game whose players it is his job to protect, than he is a man without the adequate intelligence and integrity for that position. Period.

    One interesting aspect of this story is that, apparently, the league office has sent out a DVD with clips to illustrate exactly what sort of hits this new rule will ban. I’d love to get a copy of that. I just need to know if the Cooke hit from March 7th in Pittsburgh is on it. If so, would that not be the ultimate in bitter, putrid irony?

    You’ll excuse me for my cynicism in this matter. My opinions are a bit coloured by the damage that has already been done by the NHL’s past disciplinary failures and making things right now is indeed a bittersweet pill to swallow. I can’t help thinking of a man who’s fortunes, and the potential success of his team, have been irrevocably altered and the perpetrator who wasn’t punished for it.

    It was another Socrates who said it.

    “Nothing is to be preferred before justice.”

    I’m sorry but, in this case, “Better late than never” just doesn’t cut it for me.

    Thrashers Might Not Suck

    March 22, 2010

    So, this time last year, who would have thought a Tuesday night game in Atlanta would be looming large as one of the most important match-ups of the Boston Bruins 2009-10 Playoff Push?

    Well, it sure as hell is and, based on recent play, it’s becoming apparent that the Thrashers are more of a going concern to oust the B’s from that 8th Playoff Spot than the Rangers, who looked a bit flat and beaten (sort of like the Balck and Gold did on Thursday) yesterday at the Garden. Winners of 4 straight, including a weekend sweep of the Flyers has them gaining momentum and pushing their way up the standings, just one point behind the Bruins for the last playoff berth in the East.

    All this after trading away their one and only superstar, Ilya Kovalchuk.

    Maybe it’s the Chris Chelios Effect. I don’t know. I imagine it’s pretty damn inspirational to watch a 64 year old man play defense in the NHL. Just as long as you don’t grab the glass with his dentures in it when you want a quick swig of water between periods.

    Of course, prior to the five game run that has them a point out of the playoffs, the Thrashers had lost five in a row and were sitting in 13th spot. So maybe this post shouldn’t be about how surprisingly decent Atlanta is but about how truly weak the teams are at the bottom end of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Teams essentially lining up to be pre-dinner appetizers for the Washingtons and Pittsburghs of the world as they begin their Post Season Feasting.

    In any case, it makes tomorrow night’s game a bit more interesting than the usual Boston vs. Atlanta affair, you must admit. And “a bit more interesting” is about all we can hope for around here right now.

    21st Century Schizoid Men

    March 21, 2010

    Boston Bruins New York Rangers Scrum

    So today against the New York Rangers at home it seems the Bruins have decided to show up and play the type of game they were supposed to on Thursday against the Penguins. A ton of hitting, in your face play, a lot of emotion and fight on display. I don’t understand the rollercoaster highs and lows this team gives us in terms of effort on the ice, I really don’t.

    Of course, in response to this wonderfully scrappy play, the refs step in and start calling everything that moves and the entire first period becomes an erratic game of special teams play.

    Deep sigh.

    Still, hopes remain that we’ll see more of the feisty stuff in the second and third and that someone will get a chance to clean Sean Avery’s clock like you read about.

    _

    Highly entertaining, chippy game continues here with the Bruins showing some strong play. Excellent penalty killing and tight overall defense are carrying them in this one.

    Aside from all the great pushing and shoving and yapping, we’ve seen a penalty shot by Daniel Paille late in the period that he failed to convert. Shortyly afterward, however, Miro Satan buried an open side shot on a great pass from Andrew Ference for a 1-0 lead.

    Who is this Bruins team and where have they been all season?

    _

    Nice win for the Bruins over the Rangers when they needed it most. 2-1 the final, the game winner an improbable backhander from Dennis Wideman in the third. The schizophrenic season continues.

    Guess we’ll see who shows up in Atlanta in another match up of Eastern Conference Playoff Bubble Teams as the Thrashers are now closer to the 8th spot than New York, a team who looks to be fading a bit after this one.

    Onward ho.

    Cam Neely Gets It, Of Course

    March 20, 2010
    Cam Neely Fight

    It's exactly this sort of snarl that's missing from the 2010 Bruins.

    Not a big surprise that Bruins Vice President and legendary power forward Cam Neely is less than impressed by his teams characterless performance against Matt Cooke and his Penguins at the Garden last Thurday, criticizing the team’s “lack of leadership and character”.

    “It’s been very, very disappointing just to see the way our team has performed with that lack of emotion, if you will. It’s something we try to instill here. I’ve said this for years, I said this when I played, I said this after I played, people expect their athletes to compete and show that they care and if they don’t win they’re OK with that as long as they compete, show that they care and work hard. I’ve heard it too many times this year and I don’t blame our fans for complaining they don’t see that compete or passion that they want to see.”

    A telling indictment, indeed.

    Though it’s been ages in the making, nobody really needs to read my Neely Heroes of HGW page to understand the way Cam played on the ice, the fierceness and emotion that went into every shift and drove him to become what Harry Sinden aptly once described as the “hockey player that other hockey players wanted to be”. Never any quit in him, never any back down. Wore his heart on his sleeve and the Spoked B on his chest with a rugged passion that was awe-inspiring. It’s why folks adore him here and rightly so.

    Yet another mystery as to why this team plays in such an opposite fashion these days.

    Interesting idea coming out of the Stanley Cup of Chowder blog. A Gold Out of the Garden on Sunday against the Rangers. I absolutely love the idea as a message to the team of how miserable the fans feel but a quick temperature measurement on HFBoards tells me it will never happen. To many sheeple still marching along to the Black and Gold drum beat. I think I understand.

    I mean, where else are they going to sport their custom team jerseys without looking completely retarded.

    At least at the Garden on Sunday, they’ll only look partially retarded.

    Savage Disappointment

    March 19, 2010

    The team got booed off the ice and they deserved to be. It was that bad. The let down that Bruins fans felt last night was almost a physical thing. You could feel your whole body start to slump downward as the game wore on and you realized that, for all intents and purposes, the Bruins weren’t even going to show up for that one.

    Only a contest that could be considered the Biggest Game of the Year.

    Only the game the entire Hockey World was watching.

    Only a chance to not to not only redeem a fallen teammate and recover some manly pride but to perhaps reenergize your season by showing some much needed team unity and scrap and battle, things that have been missing from the team all season.

    Mike Milbury said it best, and this is a bit of a paraphrase.

    “There have been a lot of questions about this team’s character lately and I think tonight they have been answered. In the negative.”

    It’s a crushing blow to the hearts of Bruins Nation, folks who bleed the Black and Gold and, in a hockey rich culture like New England, really pour their souls into this team. You have to understand, love for hockey and for the Bruins runs deep in this town. People invest a lot of emotion in it, they really do.

    Always to be disappointed.

    The 1970 Boston Bruins were on the ice last night as a reminder of what a winning team could be like, what it might feel like to be a champion. I’m a little too young to have enjoyed those Stanley Cups in ’70 and ’72. In my Bruins watching lifetime I have always known disappointment. Some glorious runs, mind you, and some great players but in the end, always the let down.

    Last night was no different.

    Sure, there were the Obligatory Fights. Shawn Thornton goes right after Matt Cooke and, shockingly, Cooke accepts and they go for a quick little scrap, Thornton gets in a good right or two. The crowd goes wild and we’re thinking, okay here we go. The energy is here, the Bruins are jacked up and now they take this game to the Pens like their hair is on fire.

    Yeah, right.

    Quickly as it had started the whole affair became lifeless. The hitting, other than a few individuals like Milan Lucic and Vladimir Sobotka, was extremely weak. The lack of shots on goal was astonishing. The lack of making the Pens pay a price was inexcusable. We needed to see the hardest hitting game of the year for the Bruins and it just wasn’t there. How could that be? I’m not sure Sydney Crosby took a real hit all night. Not that I’m like Jack Edwards and want to see “nine teeth out his face” but maybe a bump or two against the boards?

    Where were the scrums in front of the net, always a sign that a team is into it emotionally. There were none. Were was the anger and the face washing. After Cooke served his five minutes he skated the rest of the night virtually untouched. How could that be? It reeks of a team without any character whatsoever. A team with no spirit, no balls. Last night was the night to stand up and be counted and they laid down like dogs.

    Unacceptable.

    Unbelievable.

    I watched their faces as they left the ice after that humiliating defeat on so many levels and I only saw a few faces that even seemed phased by it. Chara, Thornton, Tim Thomas. So many others seemed as flat and lifeless as their performance on the ice. Dennis Wideman. Michael Ryder. Blake Wheeler. Steve Begin. Begin was supposed to bring some scrap to this team, some real grinder credentials and some toughness. He got rammed into the net by a Pitt defender last night and never made a peep. Weak. So weak.

    And Michael Ryder. Michael Fucking Ryder. The one Bruin we know saw Cooke’s original hit on Savard, his teammate and linemate, in real time and who did nothing in retaliation, was lined up against Cooke on faceoffs on numerous occaisions last night and, as far as I could see, never said a word to the bastard. Might as well have been and empty number 73 sweater on the ice last night for all you got from Michael Fucking Ryder.

    There’s more blame to go around for this game and this season, folks. Claude Julien. Peter Chiarelli. I’ll get into it more as time goes on but today I’m just pissed off and it feels like my spirit has been crushed.

    There have been many days in the past when I found myself doubting my commitment to this team, feeling like a sucker for investing so much emotion and time into a team that, inevitably, lets me down again and again and again.

    This is one of those days.

    Storm Comin’

    March 18, 2010

    dark knight returns

    “It’s a mean one and it’s headed straight for Gotham. Like the Wrath of God it’s headed for Gotham…”

    There’s a storm coming to Boston tonight. It’s a big one. A Nor’Easter, as we call them in these parts. And it’s gonna rain down hard on the heads of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Seriously, folks, this whole week around here has been like the first chapter of Dark Knight Returns.

    You remember. There was a heat wave, crime was out of control, there were no heroes to stop it. Law enforcement was useless and ineffective stopping the criminals. Many in the local government were corrupt. The pressure in Gotham just kept building and building. The tension and chaos reaching unbearable levels as helpless victims prayed for a savior amidst the oppressive heat and rampaging injustice.

    Then, one night, when all seemed hopeless, the skies opened up. The storm hit with an astonishing fury, the rain pouring down, the thunder and lightning tearing the very heavens apart with their rage. All of a sudden, evil-doers started going missing into the darkness. The crashing of glass, a fast moving figure dressed mostly in black with fists like hammers.

    The Batman had come back and there was hell to pay.

    Well, folks, Frank Miller isn’t the only one who can dream up such compelling stories of vigilante justice. The whole city of Boston, or at least it’s hardcore hockey fans, have been dreaming of putting a certain Joker in his place since a couple Sundays ago and they’re hoping like hell the man in the dark cape administering the beat down tonight has a Spoked B on his chest instead of a Bat.

    Will it be quite that dramatic? I don’t know for sure. There are rumblings that Colin Campbell will address both teams prior to the game which I think would be absurd. In fact, if I was Claude Julien, I’d lock the fucking door so the useless moron couldn’t get in. If I was a player on the team it would make me even more ornery.

    Chances are something will go down. The pressure on the team has become enormous. From the fans, the media, from their own management. Marc Savard rests alone in a lightless room somewhere with an uncertain future and the disturbing notion that he has been let down by his teammates. An answer to the questions we all have been asking must be forthcoming tonight. It must.

    So.

    We know who the Joker is.

    matt cooke pittsburgh penguins

    We know who the useless law enforcement is.

    colin campbell gary bettman

    The question is.

    Who wants to be Batman?

    milan lucic shawn thornton

    Let’s drop the damn puck and find out.

    Krazy in the KHL

    March 17, 2010

    New levels of insane in the KHL where a enraged, drunken fan grabs a stick off the bench of the visiting team and hits back-up goalie Vitaly Kolesnik in the head during a playoff game between Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg (home team) and Salavat Yulaev Ufa (visitors).

    All I can say is that it’s a damn good thing for the fan that there wasn’t a player named Mikhail Milburov on the Salavat Yulaev Ufa bench or being hauled off to the gulag would have been the least of his worries.

    Kolesnik suffered a concussion as a result of the incident.

    Colin Campbell, reached for comment at a local Paint Huffers Anonymous meeting, called the play a “legal hit”.

    Road Worriers

    March 16, 2010

    Lost amidst all the hoopla that surrounds the Bruins this week is the simple fact that they are grinding out an extremely difficult seven game road trip, which comes to a close tonight in Carolina, while trying desperately to hang on to that 8th Place spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Last night they fell to the Devils in Jersey 3-2 to put their record on the trip at 2-3-1. They remain just one point ahead of the 9th place New York Rangers.

    A win tonight against the ‘Canes would go a long way toward maintaining a sense of hope the team needs so badly while missing their best offensive weapon, Marc Savard, during the most critical time of the season. It would bring them home with a .500 record for the journey and be a positive boost to morale going into what could become Ice Armageddon on Thursday against the Pens.

    It’s not that they’ve played badly on the trip but last night’s game was a good indication to me that they just don’t have what they need to measure up against the best of the East right now. They seemed totally outclassed in the first period as the Devils ran right over them and built a 3-0 lead with seeming ease. They fought back and showed some scrap with Mark Stuart and Shawn Thornton both dropping the gloves, against Rod Pelley and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond respectively, but I’m not sure I ever thought the outcome was in doubt.

    Another thing evident in the loss is that Tuukka Rask has got to be the number one goalie for this team now. Tim Thomas struggled yet again, giving up the three in the first and replaced by Rask for the start of the second, and, with points at a premium and the home stretch upon us, there’s no more time to waste letting two goalies compete for the starting job. If Tuukka is healthy and ready to go then the job has to be his. He’s the steadier of the two and the team seems to play better in front of him almost as if they absorb some of the confidence he gives off. He was always going to be the B’s goalie of the future and the future, it seems, is now.

    Look for him in net tonight in Raleigh.