Archive for March, 2011

Misguided Be Leafs

March 31, 2011

I’m not sure if this is a joke or not but it seems some of the floundering faithful in Toronto are not yet ready to give up on the farcical notion that the Leafs doomed late season playoff push is over and that, to be honest, it was all a fanboy pipe dream to begin with.

Of course, this is a fan base that nicknames a player Optimus Reim so I shouldn’t be surprised that fantasy is a key element in their daily lives. And you better not hope that James Reimer is a Transformer, Leafs fans, because next season he might morph right back into a Hyundai mini-sedan. Y’know. The kind guys drive in the AHL.

Transformers are crap, anyway. Even the most obscure Shogun Warrior could kick all their asses.

Seriously, is the entire Toronto fan base made up of 9 year old boys, though? Because I’m not sure who else, other than people who take psych meds through an I.V. drip, would have ever thought this team had a chance anyway. Playoffs? Playoffs?!?

You kids would have needed to be wearing your Harry Potter outfits to the game and casting magical spells all over Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak all season for that to happen. I guess Dion Phaneuf was wearing the One Ring the first half of the season because he was invisible. I’m thinking he might have needed Green Lantern’s ring to actually keep enough goals out of the Leafs’ net to give them any true shot at that 8th playoff spot.

So wouldn’t it be nice if the Bruins could put the final nail in the coffin for all the little tikes tonight? Avenge that recent, aberrant loss in Toronto and send all the wee little boys scurrying for their action figures and Saturday morning cartoons all sobbing and frightened by the Big Bad Playoff Bound Bear. Who owns your 2011 first round pick (sorry, had to throw that in – wouldn’t be a Leafs post without it).

Go, Gaiking The Great! Go Go!

Advertisements

Who Said What?

March 30, 2011

So what two classless, mouth breathing fuck sticks on the Chicago Blackhawks felt the need to taunt Shawn Thornton as he skated by their bench with a fresh, J-shaped 40-stitch gash opened up on his head, bleeding profusely? See Thornton’s reaction below (as well as the ref’s) to get an idea of just how inflammatory it must have been to get a guy with a giant, new mouth on his forehead to stop on his way to getting serious medical attention and want to beat the crap out of you.

The cut was from an accidental hit from Fernando Pisani’s skate in a collision behind the Boston net. Peter Chiarelli, on 98.5 with Toucher and Rich this morning, refused to identify who or what was said but there is a chance that Thornton himself, scheduled to be on that same show tomorrow morning, might have more to say about the incident.

I want to know who it was and what was said. If there’s a couple of inbred, pig fuckers in the NHL (besides Matt Cooke, Sean Avery and Steve Ott) that astoundingly brain damaged I, for one, want them identified and legally barred from ever producing offspring.

You know what? Fuck you, Chicago. I hope the B’s win the Cup just so Shawn Thornton can bring it to those two guys’ hometowns on his day with it and shove it up their asses.

Bruins looked great, by the way, stomping the ‘Hawks 3-0 in a commanding win that earned Vezina frontrunner Tim Thomas his 9th shutout of the year.

UPDATE: Thornton was indeed on the radio this (Thursday) morning but still claimed to not know who it was “chirping” at him from the Chicago bench. He seemed surprised to hear that Chiarelli’s reaction indicated he did know and that it was two, not one, players. Thornton seemed to think it was one and said that if he found out who he would deal with it in his own way at some later date.

What was said was something akin to, or exactly like, “Get off the ice you fucking faggot.”

Nice. Real nice. Would have sounded great if it turned out he had lost an eye or had a fractured skull or something. Brilliant stuff from the Blackhawks there.

Thornton, by the way, was on 98.5 to promote Cuts For A Cause, a charity event that benefits the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medial Center, a pediatric cancer institution. People can bid to shave a Bruin’s head and hang out with the team at what has become one of the most enjoyable charity events the team has been involved with in recent years. Thornton took over the running of it when Aaron Ward left town

Seems like he’s already got his Cut for the Cause, though, eh?

Scratching Our Heads

March 29, 2011

michael ryder bust

A recently familiar note will appear next to Michael Ryder’s name in the box score for tonight’s game at TD Garden versus the Chicago Blackhawks.

Healthy scratch.

It would seem that Claude Julien and the Bruins have been listening to Mike Milbury of late and that the once seemingly infinite number of chances Ryder has had to prove himself worthy of a spot at forward in the line-up for the team has finally found a limit. Milbury, in a recent NESN broadcast, flew into a mini-rant about the floundering winger and labelled him a “bust” and suggested the team cut bait on the winger at last. Not really a revelation to anyone, of course, except to those whom Ryder’s teasing one-game-in-ten flashes of effort and offensive skill gave hope that he might find a way to finally become a more productive player on the team.

Not the case, however.

The infuriating winger will likely be benched once again tonight in favor of Daniel Paille, himself a healthy scratch for much of the season unless injuries or the youthful indiscretions of Tyler Seguin forced Julien to play him. That, in itself, speaks volumes. A winger being paid $4 Million dollars to score goals sitting on the sidelines in favor of a truly marginal, defensive minded player whom the Buffalo Sabres decided was a “bust” last season. Welcome to true ignominy, Michael. Welcome to total irrelevance.

No one’s wasting any time feeling bad for him, however. He’s had ample opportunity to show he was worth his paycheck. Chance after endless chance to at least show the effort and the desire to compete that we get glances of from time to time. The skill that once potted him 30 goals in the NHL. He’ll probably see some ice at some point before the season ends but it will only be to rest others in preparation for the upcoming playoffs in which, hopefully, he will remain in the press box. Put it this way; If the Bruins are dressing him it will be a sign things have gone horribly wrong.

Even with a bit of garbage time to close things out, however, his totals for 2010-11 will hover somewhere close to the underwhelmning 17 goals, 21 assists and a minus -5 he’s sitting on now (pun intended). Many of those points came in short bursts of surprising productivity which would, just as quickly, dry up and blow away. Pathetic numbers, really, when you consider how much ice time Claude Julien would give him at times earlier in the year, including a good deal of power play time. Pathetic for anyone considered an offensive player in any professional league.

So it certainly appears the curtain will close now (his contract is up after this season) on the Michael Ryder era in Boston without anyone, fans or players or management, understanding the mystery of why the guy could never pull it together. Why there were so many no-shows. Perhaps they knew the truth up in Montreal when they let him go prior to him signing with the Bruins. That he was a bust and always would be.

Hey, even a blind nut finds a squirrel once in a while, right?

Hardware Hopeful

March 29, 2011

tim thomas vezina 2011

Now that the regular season is actually nearing the end, (rather than one week old when some people started handing out trophies) talk and predictions of post-season awards seems to be the Soup Du Jour on a lot of news sites and blogs today. Far be it from me to ignore a passing bandwagon.

From a Bruins perspective, the news centers around Tim Thomas, the current leader in GAA and Saves Percentage amongst NHL goaltenders, and his hopes for a second Vezina Trophy. Jesse Connolly at the Black and Gold Blog makes a great case as to why Thomas should win it. I agree completely. Aside from a brief dip in numbers due, likely, to fatigue, The Tank has lead the race from wire to wire and is most deserving.

The best line on the subject, however, comes from Down Goes Brown is an article entitled Handicapping The NHL Awards Race. On Timmy’s Vezina chances:

Tim Thomas – Has a fantastic goals against average thanks to not actually facing a shot on net ever since Zdeno Chara started standing at the blue line during pregame warm ups, pointing to the stanchion and cracking his knuckles.

DGB may be locked into some repetetive fare of late but you have to admit that one is spit your coffee on the keyboard level funny.

Meanwhile, TSN has an excellent article on rookie impact and you realize what a great year it’s been for freshmen in the NHL and just how tight a race the Calder might be this season. Three worthy goaltenders, Corey Crawford, Sergei Bobrovsky and James Reimer, and three potential 30-goal scorers, Michael Grabner, Logan Couture and Jeff Skinner (if he can pot a couple more) amongst eligible rookies is quite the bumber crop.

Hart Trophy talk seems to center around the usual candidates at the top of the scoring stats column, and another Sedin twin. I tend to dislike the notion of just handing the award to the gent with the most points. I prefer the classic definition of the award being an MVP award, most valuable to your team’s success. A player on a winning, playoff-bound team without whom the club would not be anywhere near as good. A player they could not live without. In the case of the Canucks, not only are there other players who have contributed mightily like Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler, but one them is an exact duplicate of Daniel Sedin.

To me, the one player who exemplifies that definition most clearly is the man we started this post talking about: Tim Thomas. Without him the Boston Bruins might be barely hanging on to an eighth place playoff spot if any. Anyone who has watched the team game in and game out will understand my thinking on this. Thomas has literally, at times, saved the Bruins’ season. In fact, the same might be said for Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers, to a slightly lesser extent.

So, there you go. Call me a homer but Tim Thomas for the Vezina and the Hart.

For your consideration.

Playoff Power

March 28, 2011

To be honest, the news last night following the Bruins’ 2-1 victory over the Flyers in Philadelphia wasn’t that the team had clinched a playoff spot for the fourth straight year. Really, that hasn’t been an issue in doubt for many months here. It was pretty well expected and, regardless of where they end up in terms of position, the real story this season would have been if they didn’t make it to the post-season.

No, the real headline following the game was that the team scored not just one but TWO power play goals. In the same game.

Can anyone remember the last time that happened? I’ll tell you. January 18th on the road against Carolina.

28 games ago.

So, yeah, it was good to see. I know, I know. It’s baby steps but at least they’re steps in the right direction. The team will go nowhere in the playoffs without a successful power play so, needless to say, it’s now or never to get the thing into shape. Last night was at least a small, positive indication that the one issue that has plagued the team the most all season long might be able to become functional when the team needs it most.

The forwards are moving a bit more, Tomas Kaberle and Zdeno Chara look more active at the points and things might just start clicking if the stars can align themselves here. They seem to have the right pieces to the puzzle. Let’s just hope the puzzle assembler is up to the task.

That means you, Julien. Make it work.

Statement Game

March 25, 2011

habs suck

With all the anticipation, hype and hyperbole leading up to last night’s epic season finale between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins at TD Garden, there was the nagging thought in a lot of folks’ minds that the actual game could never live up to it. The pregame buzz was electric, there were players making incendiary comments in the media from both sides. Journalists and talk show hosts were warring with each other on the airwaves and in print. The monsterous (and absurd) shadow of what happened between Zdeno Chara and Max Pacioretty was looming over everything. How could a regular season game in March ever live up to that sort of billing?

Well, in the minds of the Bruins and their fans, it did and then some.

In the minds of the Montreal Canadiens and their fans, limping meekly back north of the border with their wee little tails between their legs, it was just flat out embarrassing. Let’s be honest. The Habs were boarding the team plane halfway through the thrid period. Standing around with not an ounce of compete left in them, allowing the Bruins to make plays and score at will. The shame had sunk in deeply at that point and they did not handle it well.

That’s really the essense of it. You can’t help comparing the differences between the Bruins’ loss in Montreal when they actually came out and competed in the third period even when the game was out of reach and the Habs’ pathetic performance last night as it seemed like they were dreaming about their post-game manicures before eight minutes had gone by in the final period. Embarrassing.

Meanwhile, Bruins, their fans and the city of Boston had a lot to be proud of. How about the fact that we cheered the Canadian national anthem? Right from the start we showed how much classier we are than the hissy fit gang in Montreal. Then the players on the ice took the game into their hands and, without any of that horrible, bullying Boston goonery that makes the Habs have sweaty bad dreams, beat them so utterly and cleanly it was a revelation.

How about Nathan Horton taking a nasty slash to the face. He didn’t hit the ice and wriggle about with a Mike Ribiero epileptic seizure, even though he was bleeding profusely from a cut above his eye. He got treatment and, on the ensuing power play, he was out there to score a goal. Now that’s revenge.

How about Gregory Campbell scoring a 5 on 3 short handed goal. How in-your-face is that? Was there a better Men Against Boys moment in the game? How about a team with a 7-0 lead laying out, blocking shots with mere minutes left trying to protect the shut-out for their goaltender, who was excellent in net? The Bruins did it all last night.

While the Canadiens, who had all the motivation in the world to show up and play, did nothing. It wasn’t just the score that was embarrassing. Here was a team who should have been ready to defend their fallen teammate against the Big Bully who rammed him into the stanchion. Here was their chance to show Max Pacioretty that they had his back and that Zdeno Chara would have to answer for his horrible crimes.

Nothing.

The Habs tried to throw a few hits on him but they just bounced off. No one challenged him. No one even gave him a dirty look from what I could see. Likely in fear that they would have to back it up. Just an amazing display of cowardice, really. They couldn’t even take him off his game. He had three assists.

Actually, I give full credit to Paul Mara, only part of the team for a few weeks, as the only guy to show up and show a little sack. Apparently he’s dropped the gloves a lot lately for the gutless Habs and we all know that’s not his game. He did it again last night but instead of inspiring his team I think he shamed them. Your late season rent-a-player non-fighter was the only guy to represent the logo on your jersey in this one, Montreal.

Feel shame.

In the end, the taunting sounds of the Ole-Ole song came cascading down from the stands to fall upon the beaten Canadiens like a shroud of disgrace. They had, to a man, quit. Failed to show up to the most important regular season game of the year for them. The Division now likely lost to their most hated rival thanks to a pathetic, gutless performance that embarrassed an entire Province.

The Bleu Blanc et Rouge showed their true colors once again.

Yellow.

The Ultimate Dive?

March 23, 2011

max pacioretty injury

It’s time some things were said out in the open.

Who better, then, than Former Montreal Canadien, current Bruin and future Hall-of-Famer Mark Recchi to get the ball rolling. Here’s a guy with unassailable integrity. A guy who has seen all the game has to offer. A guy with the perspective that 1600+ NHL games and seven different teams can give you. Leave it to a guy like that to cut through the bullshit and get to some truth.

A short time before 4 p.m. today he appeared on 98.5 the Sports Hub with Michael Felger, Tony Masserotti and Jermaine Wiggins, he was asked, as you might expect, about some of the furor that might surround tomorrow night’s must see game at TD Garden between the B’s and Habs as a result of the Zdeno Chara/Max Pacioretty incident.

The conversation turned to the miraculous, amazing, medically astounding recovery of Max Pacioretty who, mere weeks after suffering a reported “severe concussion” and fractured vertebra is making seemingly incredible (some might say unbelievable) progress and the reports he will be ready for the playoffs. Recchi was asked if it bothered him that its seems now that Montreal may have embellished the injury reports in order to try to get Zdeno Chara suspended.

His answer was an emphatic yes.

“I think they were trying to get Zdeno suspended and they embellished it. The concussion was really a non factor.”

The full interview will be posted here if you want to hear it. It’s an excellent, honest interview from an intelligent, experienced player with no time for bullshit. He tells it like it is and admits what many others, fans and players, have been thinking around the league since we first saw Pacioretty’s interview with Bob McKenzie mere hours after the incident when he sounded just fine. When he statred “tweeting” in a cheerful manner the next day. And was released from the hospital in short order.

Max Pacioretty was never that badly injured, folks.

And you all know it.

The Canadiens, management and fans, wanted punishment for Zdeno Chara so badly they dramatically exagerrated the injury reports to make it seem Pacioretty had a far more serious head injury than he actually had, hoping the league’s sensitive nature to such injuries would get Chara a lengthy suspension. Whether it was revenge or tactics, they lied. They flat out lied.

And that’s fucking sick, people. That’s as cowardly and gutless as it gets. That’s dirty fucking pool, my firends.

Because, let’s be honest, we all know now exactly what a “severe concussion” looks like. We’ve seen the haggard visage of guys like Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron when they finally (after more than 24 hours, mind you) met with the media. Gaunt, hollow-eyed shells of the person they once were. Plagued by debilitating headaches, spending days and weeks and months in darkened rooms dealing with depression. We’ve read Paul Kariya’s accounts of looking into a mirror and seeing a stranger and not being able to get off the edge of the bed.

We’ve seen how it took them all years to get back. Years. Kariya was never the same. Savard might never play again.

None of them were tweeting from their bed in the hospital, were they?

The Canadiens should be ashamed of themselves. An issue this serious, an injury too many have had to deal with, and they try to fake it? Indefensible. Even for a team who’s calling card has been the Art of the Dive. Even with a fan base that mealy mouthed and pathetic and cluelessly hysterical. It’s one thing to go pinwheeling to the ice hoping for a tripping penalty. This is a level far below that.

This time they’ve dived too far.

Testing 1,2,3

March 22, 2011

Tonight’s visit to the TD Garden by the New Jersey Devils marks the beginning of an important stretch for the Boston Bruins. Three games at home against three surging, hungry hockey teams with post-season aspirations that promise to give you extremely tough games. With the Bruins floundering a bit and looking “too comfortable”, and Claude Julien and others delivering the message that this is unacceptable, it looks like an excellent test for the team. A test of mettle, a test of sack.

As frustrating as it may be at this point of the season, 10 games from the start of the playoffs, the questions remain for the B’s: Who are you going to be, as a team? Which of you, as individuals, are going to elevate your play and emotion? Take things to that next level that Boston fans so desperately crave from their hockey team. They will be there in force for the next three nights, dressed in their black and gold, and their expectations will be high.

What will you show them?

The Devils, tonight, will be no easy start to the test. This is not the New Jersey team that started the season in a total quagmire. Jaques Lemaire has them playing his trademark tight defensive game and they have surged up the standings to within at least an outside chance at the post-season. Seven points out of eighth place might be a realistic long shot but don’t tell the Devils that. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 and ready to continue the hunt until the math says it’s done.

Sound familiar? Like, maybe, the Toronto Maple Leafs? Who pounded you 5-2 just as few nights back?

After that, of course, comes yet another potential Game-of-the-Season match-up with the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Now, the story lines behind this one are many and monsterous and I could (and will before the game) write a short novella on the topic but you all know what I’m talking about. It’s not just Chara/Pacioretty. It’s the fact that the Habs made you look silly in that last game up in Montreal. They skated circles around you and beat you so easily it looked like you weren’t even in the same league. It was the beginning of this poorly timed malaise and, surely, remains an embarrassing memory for the team.

Again. What are you going to do about it? You need to show us, as fans, and yourself as players that you can play with this team. That they are not the “bad match-up” that everyone is beginning to say they are. Because you might meet them in the first round of the playoffs and you can’t go into that series with everyone, including the Habs themselves, thinking they have your number.

The Rangers, meanwhile, in here on Saturday, remain near the bottom of the 8 Eastern playoff teams and are as badly in need of points as anyone. To their credit, they have won 4 straight at a critical time of the year, playing like the exact opposite of the Bruins. They also have an impressive 22 wins on the road. So, again, a hungry team in the playoff hunt looking for points and promising to give the Bruins a hell of a game, for sure.

We’ll know a lot more about the intestinal fortitude of the Bruins by Sunday morning (when they will be in Philadelphia preparing to face the Flyers, by the way). There is a lot of heat on the team and the ability of Claude Julien is being questioned a lot in the Boston media in recent days. The character of the team is being questioned. People want answers and these three games at home provide the perfect opportunity for answers.

Like I said, it’s an important stretch.

The question is, do the Bruins know that?

Cooke Gets The Book

March 21, 2011

matt cooke ryan mcdonough

Thrown at him, that is.

10 games plus the first round of the playoffs. If the Pens upper management has any balls (or conscience) whatsoever they will designate him for assignment as soon as the suspension is served. If they are out of the playoffs after the first round then an off-season buyout is in order. What team would ever sign him after this? I can’t imagine anyone wanting the PR nightmare. Cooke makes Sean Avery look like Fred Rogers on skates right now. He makes Steve Ott look like a Victorian dandy.

The NHL has done it’s part and now it’s up to the Penguins to do theirs.

Mario Lemieux. Ronald Burkle. Ray Shero. Dan Bylsma.

The onus is on those four guys, now. Put up or shut up. Do what’s right or live in infamy as some of the biggest hypocrites the NHL, or any other sport, has ever seen.

You want violence out of the sport? You want to stop head shots?

Make sure we never see Cooke don an NHL uniform again.

‘Nuff said.

National Hypocrisy League

March 21, 2011

Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy had an interesting thought this morning when discussing Matt Cooke’s flagrant elbow to the head of the Rangers’ Ryan McDonough and the NHL’s potential reaction to it in this new climate of ultra-sensitivity to head shots.

Pittsburgh has 10 games left, and he should be done for the season. At least. If the League really wants to send a message (not to him, since he clearly doesn’t either “get it” or care, but to cheapshot pukes like him) he’ll sit for multiple playoff games as well.

But let’s say if he gets to play again this year by the NHL’s standards, since we all know how iffy that whole situation always is. In that case, Mario Lemieux, the guy who wants to make teams accountable for the repeat offenders they employ and who wants to get plays that are “unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport” out of this garage league, should do it for them.

It makes sense, right? If Mario Lemieux has the fierce integrity and extreme distaste for this sort of thing that he has professed in the past, he’ll suspend Cooke from the team himself. He’ll bar him from the team for the rest of the season and buy out his contract in the off-season. Kick him off the team completely because this is exactly the sort of player that is ruining the sport Mario loves.

Right?

Of course, he’s also going to have his hands full dealing with the horde of protesters from Montreal marching around the Consol Energy Center with their signs of condemnation for Cooke and support for McDonough. I’m sure the extradition papers for his arrest in Quebec have been filed (McDonough is Canadian after all) and the press release from Air Canada are all in the works today, too.

Right?

Of course, we all know better. Welcome to The National Hypocrite League. Mario Lemieux may be one of the greatest players the NHL has ever seen but he is also one of the League’s most prolific whiners. Let us revisit his recent comments after the brawl filled game between the Penguins and Islanders.

“Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it always should be. But what happened Friday night on Long Island wasn’t hockey. It was a travesty. It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that.

“The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed.

“We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players. We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action.

“If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to re-think whether I want to be a part of it.”

I ask you. Could not every fucking word of the above describe Matt Cooke and the incidents in which he has been involved? From Artem Anisimov to Marc Savard to Ryan McDonough and every stop in-between? So where is Mario’s statement today? Where is the outrage?

The silence is deafening.

To be fair, there are at least a few rumblings coming out of Montreal, the Universe’s current Nexus of Hockey Injury Indignation, where Mario remains a living Demi-God in the minds of many. Jack Todd (note: not Jaques Toddaire) in the Gazette echoes the sentiments of many in calling for Lemieux to take action on the “NHL’s dirtiest player”. However, as of this morning, the United Nations Emergency Hotline has not reported a flood of calls from Habs fans calling for action on Cooke. Maybe they’re busy sending flowers to Max Pacioretty.

As a public service to the NHL and anyone needing a refresher on Matt Cooke’s history I refer you to the internet’s finest catalogue of his illustrious actions over the years.

More on this as it develops.