Posts Tagged ‘New York Rangers’

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?


Shoot To Thrill

April 11, 2010

flyers rangers shoot out

Well, it finally happened, folks. The shoot-out decided an NHL playoff berth.

I know, I know. It has been ever since it was adopted as a method of deciding regular season games but, you must admit, until today it had always been a little more abstract. Today, as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the New York Rangers 2-1 in that fashion, it was illustrated for us in the most dramatic fashion possible.

Now, the debate will surely become even more fiery. Should this be the way someone’s NHL season should end?

For opponents, it’s probably the clearest example of why a specialty skill event normally reserved for All-Star games shouldn’t be used to decide real contests that count in the standings and effect a team’s post season fate.

For proponents, it might also be Exhibit A because it was as about as tense, edge-of-your-seat, exciting a finish to a regular season game as you’re likely to see.

For those of us who know where to find the NHL Network, that is.

Which ever way you fall, chances are you’ll be talking about it tonight and in the days to come as a serious discussion of the subject is in order.

If you’re in New York, doubly so.

Though, I suspect, your first question might be “How, in the name of fuck, did that thing end without Marian Gaborik getting a chance to shoot?”

I guess it’s because he is 2/18 all time in the shoot-out, but still. One of the leading goal scorers in the NHL? People in New York will be second guessing that, I’m sure.

Now that they have the entire off-season to do so.

Sunday Round Up

April 11, 2010
zach hamill boston bruins

Zach Hamill In His First NHL Game

Well, it’s the last day of the 2009-10 Regular Season and things have been nothing if not interesting up to this point so why should it not continue today? The Bruins are in Washington playing what should be a meaningless game and, instead, it’s been emotional and exciting. The B’s have called up former no. 1 draft pick and perennial prospect Zach Hamill and the youngster has picked up his first NHL point on an early goal by Michael Ryder. Ryder, now that the game is meaningless, has seemingly rediscovered his scoring touch, adding another before the end of the 1st.

Adding to the emotion, Tim Thomas, starting in net as Tuukka Rask rests up for the playoff run, takes out his frustrations from giving up a weak goal to Alexander Semin by pounding his blocker into the face of Jason Chimera when he showed a bit of disregard for the ‘tender when crashing the net. On top of that, the Caps are relentlessly feeding Ovechkin to try to get him the Richard and Ross trophies. Currently he stands tied with Steven Stamkos at 50 for the lead in goals and 3 points behind Henrik Sedin’s 112 for the overall scoring lead.

So, for a supposed meaningless tune up before the post-season, this one has been a bit of fun.

Elsewhere, all eyes are going to be on the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia this afternoon at 3 p.m. when the last playoff spot of the season will be decided in a fantastic, last minute, win-or-go-home contest between the Rangers and Flyers. A great way for the NHL to start it’s post-season, really, with a dramatic, juicy match up like this with everything on the line. So, do you think they’re showing it on NBC? No. How about Versus, where it could get a decent little audience? Nope. It’s goingto be on the NHL Network, where only the die-hards will be able to find and enjoy it. Another example of the NHL’s feeble abilities to market itself and grow it’s audience. Great opportunity missed again.

Other tidbits.

The Ottawa Senators will be without the services of Alexei Kovalev when they face the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. He’s going to need surgery on a torn ACL and will require 3-4 months to recover.

Two American greats appear to be ready to hang up the skates on their NHL careers as Keith Tkachuk, who announced his retirement during this past week, and Mike Modano, who had an emotional couple of games, first in the Dallas Stars final home game and then again in Minnesota in the season finale, where fans paid tribute to him with numerous standing ovations. Modano even skated afterwards in an old Northstars uniform, waving to the crowd, overcome with emotion.

mike modano northstars uniform

Mike Modano: Saying Goodbye?

The grass roots campaign to get Pat Burns elected to the NHL Hall of Fame while he is still around to appreciate it continues to gain steam with over 61,000 folks now on board. Burns, as we all know, is in gradually failing health due to numerous bouts with cancer and was recently released from the hospital after suffering from pneumonia and is resting at his home in Florida. Whether this feat can be accomplished while he remains with us, I have no idea, but I urge all of you reading this to join in.


Rangers Grab Two

April 10, 2010
daniel girardi vs scott hartnell

Daniel Girardi Musses Up Scott Hartnell's Hair in the Third

The New York Rangers refused to go quietly into that good night on Friday when the beat the Philadelphia Flyers at MSG, thus extending the drama at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture for another few days. It was an exciting game to watch with all the elements that make the NHL playoffs the most entertaining sports viewing on Earth. For my money, anyway.

What does it mean in the standings going into Saturday’s games? Take a look at where we stand.

    6th Place – Boston Bruins 80 games played, 87 points, 37 wins. Games remaining: Carolina at home today, Washington on the road tomorrow.

    7th place – Montreal Canadiens – 81 games played, 87 points, 39 wins. Game remaining: Toronto at home tonight.

    8th place – Philadelphia Flyers – 81 games played, 86 points, 40 wins. Game remaining: Rangers at home on Sunday.

    9th place – New York Rangers – 81 games played, 86 points, 38 wins. Game remaining: see above.

Fairly easy to see how it all shakes out. The Bruins can take care of business today by gaining just a single point from their afternoon game against the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden. With a win and a Montreal loss they could secure 6th place in the division. Should that happen the Flyers-Rangers game tomorrow will decide that last spot in a glorious one and done scenario where the winner of the contest moves on and the loser goes home, with a slim, outside chance that Montreal could get bounced if both teams take home points.

The scenario gets a bit more muddled if the B’s lose today. Then the game at Washington becomes gigantic and we get into tie-breakers and what not. For today, it falls upon the B’s to get it done on their own, in their own building. After that, we can revisit all potential scenarios.

Face-off in 20 minutes.

Damn, isn’t this fun?


Homing In

April 9, 2010

For just the 17th time this season the Boston Bruins won a game on home ice and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Last night’s 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden not only brought the team’s home record up to the barely respectable .500 mark, but it vaulted them into the 7th playoff spot in the East, a point ahead of Philly in the 8th and tied with 6th place Montreal, on whom they still have one game in hand.

Not a bad position, really, all things considered.

The really intersting part of all this is the Rangers-Flyers home and home series that starts tonight which will decide the final playoff spot in the East. The Rangers will need to win both games to edge Philly out but a longshot scenario could still prevent the Bruins from getting in if everything fell a certain way. The B’s would have to lose both their remaining games outright, which is still a possibility with Carolina (tomorrow’s opponent, at home) playing well and enjoying the spoiler role and Washington (Sunday, on the road) being so dominant in their own building. If that were to happen and the Rangers grabbed 3 of the 4 available points from the Flyers, the B’s would be out.

It’s a longshot but not at all impossible. The Bruins, of course, could make it all irrelevant with a single point in their remaining two games. The Rangers could settle the whole thing tonight at MSG if they don’t come out with points. Then there’s the matter of positioning, where the Bruins could actually leap over the Habs into 6th if they play well or end up as cannon fodder for the Caps if they end up in that 8th slot.

One way or the other, a very interesting weekend of hockey begins tonight with that first New York-Philly game. Essentially, for those two teams, the 2010 Playoffs start tonight and for hockey fans, it’s a little early post-season appetizer to devour as we get ready for the real feasting to begin next week.

Game on!


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.


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.


7th Heaven

April 26, 2009

Not so fast New York Rangers.

I may have been a bit premature in my anticipation of another Original Six matchup happening at the Garden in Boston next week. Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals would not go quietly into that good night as they beat the Rangers handily at MSG today, 5-3, to force the first Game Seven of this, the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It will take place Tuseday night at the Verizon Center in DC.

Tonight in Raleigh, N.C. the Hurricanes will try to do the same as the Devils try to close them out and advance. Tomorrow, it’s the Sharks and Flames’ turn to play the survival game.

How many Game 7’s will we see remains to be seen but, if I had to bet, I wouldn’t put much faith in Joe Thornton’s San Jose team, considering their meek showing so far against Anaheim. With the Ducks playing on their home turf and possessing more proven playoff talent, I can see the team in teal biting the big one. The Flames may not have much hope, either, going into Chicago with the Blackhawks having all the momentum and looking like a team on a mission. Flip a coin on that New Jersey – Carolina game.

Whatever happens, the 2009 Playoffs have already been a world of fun.

And the first round isn’t even done yet.

UPDATE: The Hurricanes and Devils are the next to join Club Seven as Cam Ward and the ‘Canes turned the tables on future shutout king Marty Brodeur and company in a 4-0 blanking of New Jersey at the RBC Center.

So that’s a Two-For Tuesday we’ve got to look forward to.


Donald Brashear: Goon

April 26, 2009

The term Goon is an ugly one. A lot of folks, especially us here at HGW, who adore and enjoy tough hockey abhor the term. It suggests a stupid, one dimensional cartoon character of an athelete who is not so much a Hockey Player as he is a WWF wannabe.

Most tough guys in the NHL are not like that; they play by a code, they respect other players, they fill what I believe is an essential role on a team that consists of strong team leadership, protection for skilled players, grinding, hitting and emotional inspiration when necessary. Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins is a great example. He’s smart, agressive, has enough skill to anchor a very valuable fourth line that can contribute to a successful playoff team and knows when to fight and when not to. Nothing about the term “goon” apllies to him whatsoever. He plays the game right.

Then there’s Donald Brashear.

Who is nothing but Goon.

Witness his ridiculous cheap shot (video) on Blair Betts in today’s Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Rangers and Capitals. A premeditated blow to the head intended to injure and incapacitate a player. The kind of hit that and jeopordize a man’s career through the horrors of post-concussion syndrome and the like.

Five minute major and match penalty? Nope. Incident to be reviewed by the league and possible suspension? Let’s hope so.

This is the kind of action that brings a bad name to tough hockey players everywhere. This is the sort of crap that has the league looking at putting further restrictions on fighting next season and, when you see it, how can a guy argue? It’s nothing to do with the rugged, in your face style of hockey that we adore here.

It’s Goonism, pure and simple.

I hate having to say that. I hate having to use that word but in this case, no other term will suffice. Donald Brashear, the man whose fighting style has nicknamed him “Huggy Bear”, is an embarrassment to his sport, his team and, specifically, the role he is supposed to play on the ice with that team.

Get rid of him.

He won’t be missed.