The Clincher

April 2, 2011 by

michael ryder penalty shot goal

Do I have to take back everything I’ve said about Michael Ryder now?

Maybe not. However. His penalty shot goal in the third period of today’s game against the Atlanta Thrashers at TD Garden gave the Bruins not only a 3-2 victory but sealed the Northeast Division title for his team. Not a bad afternoon’s work for the Newfoundland native who had, until Shawn Thornton took 40 stiches to the head, been looking like his stat lines for games would include more DNP’s than GWG’s.

All in all, it wasn’t the most exciting matinee the Garden crowd will see as the Thrashers, technically still alive for a playoff spot before the loss, didn’t show the sort of desperation one might expect from a team in that position. As if in response, the Bruins began the day looking a bit sleepy themselves. The two teams traded goals back and forth and were tied 2-2 in the third when Ryder got hauled down on a breakaway by Johnny Oduya. A penalty shot was justly awarded and Ryder skated in on Ondrej Pavelec and shot high glove, the same move he attempted in the shootout against Toronto the other night. Let’s face it, there is not much deke in Michael Ryder’s game. This time there was some snipe however as the shot was buried in the top corner and the crowd was celebrating. Seven and a half minutes later the game was in the books and so was the Division title.

The Bruins are fairly well locked into the 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference now and the remaining 4 games will be a matter of keeping guys tuned up and rested for what will hopefully be a meaningful post-season run. That and watching to see how the bottom of the Conference playoff spots will settle to see who they might play. It’s all up in the air. Just two points separate Buffalo, Montreal and the Rangers so there’s still time to shuffle the order there. And who know? The B’s might win out down the stretch and pass Washington for the second spot. Even Philly remains in reach.

The bottom line is that is doesn’t matter now. You’ll have home ice to start the playoffs and you’ll be facing a familiar foe. How it sorts out is almost irrelevant. The B’s seem to have their heads on straight in that they know it’s their own game they need to be focused on and, by all the evidence, they are doing just that.

Couple of other notes from the game:

  • Brad Marchand was the deserving recipient of the 2011 7th Player Award. It goes to the player who has exceeded all expectations during the season and is voted on by the fans. Given the rookie’s surprising goal scoring and his superior penalty killing abilities, as well as his role as a true pest, it’s no surprise he takes home the 42nd presentation of the award. Nice to hear the old TV38 theme song there for a moment. Ah, memories.
  • The Sheriff Shane Hnidy made his season debut in the game. Out all season with a shoulder injury, the B’s signed him about a month ago as an insurance policy on the blueline and, also, for his leadership ability in the room I think. His reputation as a character guy is well respected in these parts and whether he contributes on the ice in the playoffs or not, his presence will be nothing but positive to the team. Good to see one of the good guys feeling good.
  • B’s now stand at 99 points. If my math is correct they need just one more for a hundred point season.
  • What? Don’t flaunt my genius? Jealously is an ugly emotion, folks.

    TSN’s Tasteless April Fools Joke

    April 1, 2011 by

    This is just uncalled for.

    We all know that someone with a Severe Concussion and a Broken Neck cannot be skating in full equipment a mere three weeks after the extraordinarily violent incident that nearly took his life and had an entire Province calling the police to demand appropriate justice for attempted murder.

    Do you think we’re idiots, TSN? Do you think we’d fall for this?

    Wherever Max Pacioretty is, likely in some pastoral setting recuperating with a neckbrace and some coloring books, I hope he and his doctors are demanding a full public apology from those bastards at TSN.

    What’s next? You’re going to tell us the Toronto Maple Leafs are still alive for a playoff spot?

    For shame!

    Healthy Scratchawk

    April 1, 2011 by

    So the Blackhawks’ 6′-8″ 258 pound certified goon John Scott decided to chime in on the Shawn Thornton “chirping” incident during Tuesday’s game at TD Garden where Thornton took a 40 stitch cut to his forehead and was then taunted by one or more of the mongoloids sitting on the Chicago bench as he exited the rink bleeding like a stuck pig. Thornton has suggested that if he finds out who it was he would deal with it accordingly. Hearing this, Scott responded.

    From Chicagobreakingsports.com:

    “He said that? That’s fine. He can say what he wants. He’s going after some of our littlest guys on our team to start a fight. He’s trying to challenge (Fernando) Pisani to a fight. What’s that say about him?

    “He’s Mr. Tough Guy and he’s trying to challenge Pisani. If I’m in the lineup, he’s more than welcome to come chirp at me. I’ll kick the shit out of him.”

    Of course, a moment later Scott is also saying that he wouldn’t do that sort of thing, taunt an injured player from the bench as they sought medical attention, suggesting he understands just how classless and dumb some of his own teammates are. We’ve certainly seen from some of the post Cup win shows on the NHL Network following the Hawks in the off-season that teeny bopper Patrick Kane is a guy who might struggle through a junior high school quiz. And when I say struggle, I mean figuring out which end of the pencil to write with.

    Scott again, on taunting an injured guy:

    “I don’t know if I’d do that, Thornton is a stand-up guy.”

    Okay. So then maybe someone on your own team needs the shit kicked out of them, Mr. Scott? You’ll have to do it during practice though, likely, as you’re not seeing much game action lately. You were a healthy scratch on Tuesday (again – for like the 40th time this season) so maybe “chirping” about what happened during the actual game might be outside your limited realm of knowledge.

    I seriously doubt, by the way, that Thornton ever challenged Pisani. Trash talk has it’s time and place and I’m sure a lot of guys do it. The limits to it are based on one’s own sense of ethics, however. Where and when you decide to do it, in which situation, is something that can certainly define your character.

    Apparently there are some Hawks who have none.

    Misguided Be Leafs

    March 31, 2011 by

    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!

    Who Said What?

    March 30, 2011 by

    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 by

    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 by

    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 by

    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 by

    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 by

    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.