Tag Archives: tim thomas

The Bruins Own The City Of Champions

The Bruins win completes a great ten year run for the city of Boston.

It started in 2002 with the Patriots upset of St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl, then in 2004 the Red Sox ended 86 years of torture by winning the World Series, the Celtics followed in 2008 with their record 17th NBA Championship and finally last night after 40 years the Boston Bruins finished off one hell of a decade with a Stanley Cup.

 

Boston is truly the city of champions, as a New Yorker that’s a painful thing to say.

 

Funny thing about it is this; more so than the C’s, Pats, or Sox titles this Bruins championship is truly a work of wonders. The Bruins 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks was the culmination of a rebuilding process that was years in the making and was done without the glamour guys that make the Pats, Sox and C’s so regarded in sports.

 

Their most popular player and Conn Smythe winner was a goalie that bounced around the hockey world from places like Birmingham, Alabama to Helsinki, Finland before making his debut in the NHL at age 31 6 years ago.

 

Their captain is a 6’9” behemoth whose coaches told him that because of his height he’d be better suited to play basketball.

 

Their number one scorer is a rookie who was the biggest pest in the Stanley Cup Finals since Esa Tikkanen.

 

But it goes deeper than just the players; there were the ownership issues that drove Boston fans away from this once proud franchise. For ten plus years the Bruins became a punching bag for critics because of Jeremy Jacobs cheap ways that cost Boston its fan base and its respect.

 

Zdeno Chara's signing 5 years ago was a big step in the Bruins rebuilding process.

The Bruins were hardly a player in the Eastern Conference in the last 15 years, missing the playoffs 5 times and only making it out of the first round of the playoffs 4 times. They traded away perennial all-star and the face of the franchise Joe Thornton, they ran through coaches, they had no direction.

 

The turnaround started with Peter Chiarelli who did an amazing job in drafting and trusting the future of his team in his young players like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Milan Lucic. His boldest move was keeping journeyman goaltender Tim Thomas over younger and more talented net minders like Hannu Toivonen and Andrew Raycroft. Thomas though seemingly too old and too aggressive in net became the new face of the franchise as he helped guide the Bruins back to the playoffs four years ago and helped turn the Bruins into a player for the Stanley Cup.

 

Slowly Bruins fans came back and the hockey hotbed was ablaze once again as the Bruins were winning division titles and last year were one win away from making their first East Conference final in 18 years.

 

We all know the rest of that story.

 

The B’s could’ve folded and let the bitterness of last season’s historic collapse carry over into this season but it didn’t.  Thomas, Zdeno Chara (who both should win the Vezina and Norris trophies for outstanding goaltender and defenseman this year) and company guided the Bruins to another division title and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

 

Yet once again this team found itself against the wall down 2-0 to bitter rival Montréal heading to French-Canadian territory with history past and present not on their side. The Bruins fought back to beat the Habs thanks to their physical play and Thomas’s brilliance in net and the series win catapulted them to a mini run in the playoffs that featured a vengeful sweep of the Flyers where the Bruins looked as dominant as Bobby Orr led teams and a tough seven game series win over up and coming Tampa Bay.

 

Even with their impressive postseason run the Bruins were heavy underdogs to Vancouver who looked like a team on a mission after beating nemesis Chicago in the first round of the playoffs and then breezing through the next two rounds. Vancouver’s skill and speed led to an early 2-0 advantage in the series heading back to Boston with the B’s wondering if their bruising style of play could lead to a victory in the series.  Not only did their style of play lead to victories, it wasn’t even close.

 

Even before winger Nathan Horton went down thanks to a cheap shot from defenseman Aaron Rome the Bruins were beating up Vancouver in all areas on the ice. Brad Marchand became a wrecking ball, Shawn Thornton laid out Canucks with ease, Andy McQuaid and the other tough guys made each and every Canuck pay by delivering blow after blow on the ice and on the scoreboard. The Bruins became the unstoppable offensive force on the ice because their defense led to so many scoring chances.

 

They turned Roberto Luongo psyche to dog food and even though they lost game 5 in Vancouver they went back to Boston like it was nothing and forced a game 7. Their heart, determination and force got them through the Stanley Cup Finals and it also won it for them.

 

The Bruins had lost the previous three games in Vancouver by a total score of 5-2; they had wasted three dazzling performances by Thomas in net and were not about to do it again last night.

 

He might not be as big as Tom Brady, David Ortiz or Kevin Garnett, but Tim Thomas is just popular in the northeast.

With Thomas standing on his head Marchand and Bergeron lit the lamp twice each and Chara and the defense gave Vancouver nothing to work with. It was another slaughter.

 

Once the final horn sounded the journey was complete. Helmets and sticks littered the ice, Horton returned from his concussion to celebrate with his mates, Thomas took home the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP and Chara lifted the 35 pound silver chalice over his huge body to celebrate the Bruins triumph.

 

It was a wonderful sight for guys like Chara and Thomas who probably never would’ve had the chance to be here if not for their determination. Thanks to them and the other 20 plus misfits on that bench the Bruins wiped away 40 hard luck years from “too many men on the ice,” to the Oates, Bourque ad Neely years were they came so close but never succeeded, to the doldrums of the last 15 years.

 

This was sweeter than the Pats, Sox or Celtics victories because this was a real comeback story for a once proud franchise that can now properly hold its place in the city of champions.

 

The Bruins are now the big dogs in Boston right where they should be.


Game 7 Messages For The Bruins And Canucks

It ends tonight.

To Patrice Bergeron, win your faceoffs and keep the playoffs number one penalty kill on track.

To Zdeno Chara, use that big body to clear the front of the net so Tim Thomas can see thins clearly.

To Sami Salo, knock a few wings on their tail and keep the puck from going in too deep.

To Alex Burrows, agitate, aggravate, accelerate and get some Bruins fuming.

To Milan Lucic, we call you a mini Cam Neely; tonight you can prove it by taking over the game with your physicality and scoring a few goals.

To Brad Marchand, you have a napoleon complex; we know this, stay in third gear all game long and don’t let up.

To Ryan Kesler, get physical, cause some ruckus and be a leader.

To Daniel Sedin, score a goal, please, you’re overdue.

To Tyler Seguin, you’re not a rookie anymore, play like it.

To Andy McQuaid, be Chara’s right hand man get dirty and stop the Canucks from doing what they do.

To Henrik Sedin, thanks for waking up in game 6 and scoring a goal finally. The Canucks need more than that out of you tonight. If you are one of the top 5 players in the league then tonight is the perfect stage to show just why that is. Take over with your precise passing, set up Kesler and your brother and the other Canucks with chances to score goals. Show us why you were last season’s MVP.

Dont change a thing tonight TImmy.

To Kevin Bieksa, you’re the number one defenseman on your team; your unit has been up and down throughout this series. Make sure it doesn’t happen tonight.

To Cory Schneider, be ready just in case.

To Tomas Kaberle, the Bruins brought you here so you can boost the power play from the point and provide an offensive spark from the defense. You need to do that tonight.

To Dennis Seidenberg, keep harassing, keep hitting, keep the puck in front of you and keep the Sedins from getting behind you.

To Alain Vineault, remember when Montreal fired for your lack of success and didn’t think you were the type of coach to lead a team to the finals? Prove them wrong forever tonight.

To Claude Julien, remember how Lou Lamarillo fired you before the playoffs in 2006 and it probably cost you and the Devils a Cup? Remember that tonight when you make your decisions and think about winning the cup and flashing a finger at the trigger happy GM in New Jersey.

To Roberto Luongo, shut up and play. You trashed Tim Thomas then you got trashed. You’re the man at home but away from Rogers Arena you’re a joke. That doesn’t matter tonight however. This is your domain, you r house, defend it. Play like you’re playing in the goal medal game again. Stand on your head, let your game do your talking for you and when, if, you get down don’t get that lost look in your eyes and run to the bench. Man up and lead your team to victory. You used to be the captain of this team, those leadership skills would come in handy right now.

To Tim Thomas… just keep doing it how you’ve been doing it. That’s all.

Tonight is game 7; there are no more games this season once the last horn sounds. Leave everything on the ice, go hard and catch your breath when it’s over.

The cup is within your grasp, play like you want it.


Snakebitten In Vancouver

Maxim Lapierre nets the only goal in another heartbreaking loss for Boston in Vancouver.

You may understand the goal that won game 1, cool, Ryan Kesler made a great play to stay on side and a great pass that Tim Thomas had no shot on.

 

You sort of understand the goal that won game 2; Thomas was overly aggressive in handling the puck and Alex Burrows outmuscled Zdeno Chara for a wrap-around to win it in overtime. It was the good type of aggression by Burrows beating the bad type of aggression from Thomas. Fine whatever.

 

Yet after Maxim Lapierre netted the game winner that bounced off of Thomas when it looked like he got there in time, and it was the only tally in another classic 1-0 Vancouver victory, you have to wonder if maybe or not the Bruins are snake-bitten.

 

Consider this if you will; in games 1,2 & 5 the Bruins could’ve won them as easily as they lost. They out played Vancouver in game 1 had a 2-1 lead in the third period of game 2 and outshot the Canucks 31-24 in game 5. Yet lost all three games on goals that you could call either fluky or great effort.

 

In all three games Thomas has been as stellar as he was in the games in Boston. He made 3 or 4 saves that made you shake your head like he always does, yet unlike in Boston he’s been the victim of three pretty lame goals that were each the deciding tally in the game. Last night’s winner he was able to stop with his right arm before his momentum carried the puck into the night and set off frenzy at Rogers Arena. It’s hardly the way that Thomas should’ve envisioned losing a game on such a cheap goal.

 

However, its not like Bruins didn’t have their own share of chances. David Krejci had a shot at point blank range that Roberto Luongo was able to stop in the first period, as did Chris Kelly, Brad Marchand and other Bruins throughout the night. Luongo was simply amazing though. He shook of the harsh, yet deserved, criticism from the media after his two stinkers in Boston and played lights out in game 5. Luongo stood on his head and kept the Canucks in the contest when the Bruins were finding excellent scoring chances in front of him. He was back to being to being the one time best goalie in hockey and the guy that led team Canada to the gold medal last year.

The Bruins once again couldn't get a thing past Luongo.

 

We should also praise the Canucks as a team for finally taking it to the Bruins last night. For the last two games we watched Boston basically rape and pillage Vancouver without any retaliation, last night Burrows, Alex Edler and Chris Higgins were leading the charge in their physical assault of the Bruins as Vancouver outhit Boston 47-27. This time they were the aggressors and they put Boston in a bind with their physicality.

 

Which begs this question… What did happen to Boston last night?

 

Sure they could’ve won the game and they had their chances, but this didn’t look like the same Boston team that wreaked havoc in games 3 & 4. They were missing that next gear so to speak. At times in Boston the Bruins seemed like they had invented the 10th and 11th gear as they just kept taking it to Vancouver. Last night they looked stuck in the 3rd gear. They didn’t have the same spring in their step and it showed in the performances from Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand who went from agitators to innocent bystanders.

 

Maybe it was the home ice advantage that boosted the B’s spirits. If that’s the case then maybe we should expect more of what we saw in games 3 & 4 on Monday night for game 6 as Boston looks to stave off elimination.

 

If they do win will they have what it takes to come back to Vancouver and close out the Canucks? We know that the home crowd can take a team to different heights in the playoffs but for Boston a possible game 7 would mean finding another gear without assistance and as of right now they seem to be a home crowd only kind of team.

 

That crowd will play a big part with the Bruins going back to Boston on the brink of losing the Stanley Cup. But if we see more of the same that we have in Boston, doesn’t mean the same for a possible game 7 in Vancouver?

 

If it does then look for another brilliant Tim Thomas performance to go to waste and another sad way for the Bruins to come up empty handed.


It’s Time For Vancouver To Man Up

For Vancouver, that has got to stop...

Vancouver… WHAT IN THE BLOODY HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?!?! THIS IS HOCKEY!!!!!

This isn’t basketball with its insistence on not allowing physicality of any type to occur, this isn’t soccer where you can flop around like a fish after taking a hit, this isn’t even football where you can’t breathe on the quarterback too much or you’ll get a flag.

Hockey has made it clear that it likes the physicality of its sport. It won’t get rid of fighting, coaches still defend players for hits to the head, if you want to rough someone up fine, go ahead.

However, for some reason you all have no want to get physical, in games 3 & 4 in Boston the Bruins punked you simple and plain. Zdeno Chara pushed your guys around, Brad Marchand was a wrecking ball stirring the pot and daring you to get in his face, Tim Thomas knocked down your best offensive player Henrik Sedin and knocked down your number one agitator Alex Burrows, and he’s the goaltender… THE GOALTENDER!!!

The last two games were absolutely disgraceful. Once Aaron Rome knocked out Nathan Horton it was as if you became as conservative as Sarah Palin. Game 3 was a total sleepwalk of an effort where Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi waved fingers in your face daring you to bite them (I don’t care how Claude Julien felt about that, that was one of the best moments in the NHL and NBA playoffs. Period.). The Bruins poured all of their hate from the first two games into game 3 and pushed you all over the ice.

...For Roberto Luongo so does that.

Cool. Fine. Whatever. It was only one game, come back, man up and take it to the Bruins in game 4 is what the mentality should’ve been. Instead the mockery grew Wednesday night.

Boston continued their assault on the Canucks and especially Roberto Luongo (we’ll get to him in a moment). When Marchand started pinballing Canucks all over the ice and Rich Peverly kept skating freely into their defensive zone I began thinking, “what I wouldn’t give for Scott Stevens to lay one of these guys out right now.”

Stevens or any old school defenseman would’ve laid Peverly or any other Bruin out just to get his guys going. Vancouver doesn’t have any one like that because the makeup of their team doesn’t call for it. It has been curse than gift in this series. Every time I watch the Sedin Twins get pushed around and skate away I get mad. Christianity teaches you to turn the other cheek… but this is hockey. You’re allowed to smack a guy around. As much as I respect the Sedin Twins they are way too soft for their own good, especially captain Henrik.

I question his skills as a captain because he sees what’s going on and hasn’t led his troops in a way of combating it. Jonny Toews would’ve chewed his boys out in the locker room and got them going, Mike Richards might’ve tried to take Looch’s head off, Alex Ovechkin would tried to hit anything that got in his way, even Nicklas Lidstrom who isn’t violent by nature would’ve gotten the Wings ears and told them to man up.

Why hasn’t Henrik been more vocal and told his teammates to step it up? Where’s his passion and fire? Both Sedins have had a horrible series and need a fire to light them up right now, but to me it looks like Henrik just isn’t interested in doing it.

Speaking of horrible series, oh Roberto Luongo…

As bad as the Sedins have looked there is not one person that would worry me more than Luongo. After the Chicago series where he suffered a few hiccups it looked like he had gotten himself back to his gold medal play especially in games 1 & 2 in this series where and Thomas were going toe-to-toe.

But man, the last two games were scary. In a four period stretch Luongo allowed 12 goals in 59 shots… that 20% of the shots he faced that went into the net. In lacrosse that’s fine, in hockey that gets you shot.

More than the need for Vancouver to get physical, Luongo has to snap out of it. He can’t have that deer in the headlights look that he’s had in the last two games.  If Luongo can’t stay in net and match the brilliance of Tim Thomas on the other end then it won’t matter how many more hits they have in the series, they’ll lose.

Tonight’s game 5 is the most important game in Vancouver’s history. If they play like games 3 & 4 then Boston will return home with a chance to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.

The Sedins need to score, Luongo needs to stop shots, and most importantly the Vancouver Canucks have to stop getting bullied. Their hits have to be harder, they have to get in the B’s faces and get nasty. Game 5 hinges on whether or not the Canucks can stand up to the Beantown Bullies and go punch for punch. Either stand up to them or give them your milk money and run away Vancouver.

IT’S HOCKEY FOR CHRIST’S SAKE… COME OUT SWINGING!!!


The Bruins Fight Back

The Boston Bruins brought the pain last night.

The crowd was rocking, the players came out fired up, the aggression was on full display as the Boston Bruins came out in game 3 looking like a team hell bent on coming back in this series against The Vancouver Canucks…

 

Then Nathan Horton was knocked out of the game and the playoffs with a concussion thanks to a dirty hit by Aaron Rome… that’s when the Bruins went more than mad, they went ballistic.

 

The Bruins didn’t just beat The Canucks last night 8-1, they didn’t just bruise their ego, they beat Vancouver so badly and so viciously that Vancouver might doubt themselves for the rest of this series as to whether they can win it or not (and yes I know that Vancouver is up 2-1, but after what I saw last night that doesn’t matter.).

 

The Bruins dominated every single aspect of this game. They were ultra-aggressive, they got whatever shot they wanted and they got most of them off clean, they treated Vancouver as if they were rag dolls and The Canucks put up no fight.

 

About every two seconds there seemed to be another Canuck landing hard on the ice after getting nailed by Milan Lucic, Mark Recchi or Shawn Thornton, every time I looked up Alex Burrows was getting nailed by Zdeno Chara or having fingers stuck in his face by Lucic or Recchi (quite possibly the funniest taunt I have ever seen in response to Burrows infamous biting incident in game 1), there was an endless wave of Bruins heading straight for Roberto Luongo and neither he nor his defense could do a thing about it.

 

It was as swift of a beat down that I’ve seen in sports all year as Boston took it to Vancouver and never let up once.

 

It was especially telling on The Canuck power play… if you could call it that last night. Daniel Paille and Brad Marchand’s sick shorthanded goals came courtesy of a penalty kill that wasn’t concerned with clearing the puck and keeping Tim Thomas comfortable, it was more concerned with scoring and keeping Vancouver on its toes and boy did it.

 

Brad Marchand's Shorthanded goal was highlight reel material.

Speaking of Tim Thomas… how was that performance?

 

Thomas was an absolute monster in net. As badly as Vancouver was beaten they did have chances to get 3 or 4 goals past Thomas and they were robbed every single time.

 

It was the best Stanley Cup performance by a goalie since Cam Ward in 2005 for the Carolina Hurricanes. Thomas was a sliding wall that stuffed any and everything that came his way. There were about 5 saves that he made where I thought Mike Emrick was going to lose his voice because he screaming so loud they were that amazing. Thomas has had some gaffs in net this postseason that made some in Boston question if he could be consistent enough to carry this team through to a Stanley Cup Final. After three games he’s allowed only 5 goals and because of him the Bruins could easily be up 3-0 instead of down 2-1 in this series.

 

Which brings us to the Vancouver Canucks.

 

How would you feel as a Canuck fan right now?

 

You just got destroyed on the road without a fight, Luongo looked like he wanted no part of Boston after the shorthanded tally by Marchand to put them up by 3, Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin have been non-existent and Henrik Sedin hasn’t registered a shot all series… not one.

 

Yet here you are up 2-1 with a day off to lick your wounds.

 

I believe that Boston is in their heads right now and it’s going to affect Vancouver for the rest of this series. We all know Boston’s backs were against the wall and Vancouver had to be on its heels, but to come out and get bullied like that for three periods is embarrassing.

 

The Bruins are letting Alex Burrows live down his biting incident.

Burrows especially had no lift in his game. Burrows is known for his aggressive nature and ever since he bit Patrice Bergeron in game 1 you haven’t seen it. It’s almost as if Burrows and company are scared to retaliate. When Lucic and Recchi were throwing their fingers in the faces of the Canucks and daring them to bite them you just felt that Vancouver wasn’t going to take that for much longer, but they did. It got so bad that Thomas laid a check into Daniel Sedin in the third period when he was heading for the net.

 

If Vancouver wants to hold on to their lead and win their first Stanley Cup they have to man up. The physicality has to come back into their game. Some may see this game as an aberration, but anyone knows that when you sense a fear or tepidness from an opponent then you will get exposed and they will take advantage of you. Vancouver cannot let that happen. They have to get back to playing their style of hockey and land a few punches of their own.

 

What seemed like the biggest blow of the night came when Horton lay motionless on the ice thanks to a late hit by Rome. When the stretcher came out and the crowd sat silent after being as rowdy as ever in the first three minutes the Bruins could’ve packed it in.

 

Instead they channeled their desperation and their fallen teammate and laid into Vancouver with a flurry that has them back in the series and with momentum guiding them into game 4.

 

If they bring half of the intensity from game 3 then Vancouver might as well start heading back to British Columbia for game 5 now.


The Canucks And Bruins Bring It For Game 1

Raffi Torres celebrates after netting the winner for Vancouver in an incredible game 1.

Now that’s the way to start a Championship series. If you wondered just how much the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins wanted the Stanley Cup then last night’s super competitive game 1 provided one hell of an answer.

 

Both teams and cities are absolutely starving for a cup. Last night’s classic was a match of physicality, defense and a showcase of goaltending as Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo turned in legendary performances.

 

At every turn Thomas and Luongo stonewalled every attempt from Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Mark Recchi, Nathan Horton, Ryan Kesler and any other player that was knocking on opportunities door and were turned away. It’s not really like they had a choice to deal with so many chances early on however. In the first two periods there were 12 power plays and two five on threes, which had each goaltender on their toes from the get go.

 

They can thank some over aggression for that.

 

For all of the clean hitting and great play along the boards there was a lot of extra-curricular activities and Alex Burrows and Patrice Bergeron were knee deep in it at the end of the first period and it carried over into the second as well. Those penalties as well as some others including poor high stick minors against Daniel Sedin and Chris Kelly put both goaltenders at a disadvantage early. Fortunately for each side Thomas and Luongo were on top of their game and their defensive lines helped out to keep the game scoreless.

 

Once the game carried into the period it turned into a free-flowing match of skill and the rough stuff faded away as game took control of itself. The third period was filled with uninterrupted action, scoring chances and great saves. You couldn’t look away from the tube or you’d feel like you were going to miss something important even though the score was still 0-0. You were proven right when Thomas stopped Jannik Hansen’s breakaway and kept the puck over the goal line as he was sliding into the net and his momentum almost carried the puck in.

 

(Side note: with five minutes to go I was hoping for overtime. This was on of those playoff games that you didn’t want to see end before it should’ve. This was worthy of another 20 or 40 minutes and it would’ve added to how absolutely amazing the game was and how it kept you on the edge of your seat for all two and a half hours that it was on the air.)

Tim Thomas was excellent in net frustrating Daniel Sedin and the Canucks all night.

 

With less than 30 seconds left after a missed opportunity by David Krejci the Vancouver defense cleared the puck all the way to the opposing blue line when Kesler made a great play to dodge Zdeno Chara, play the puck off of the boards, stay on side (or not depending on you view) throw it across to Hansen who then found a streaking Raffi Torres who tipped the puck past Thomas for the only goal of the game.

 

It was heartbreaking for Boston, but Thomas had no chance to stop it. It was just a great play by Kesler and it caught the Boston defense by surprise.

 

1-0 Vancouver, both the game and the series.

How should Boston feel after game 1? Their power play looked great, the penalty kill was phenomenal and they kept the two hottest lines on the planet scoreless… and still lost.

 

There are no such things as moral victories but Claude Julien has something to build on. The Bruins out played the Canucks by far and should’ve won the game if anyone could’ve gotten the puck by Luongo. If this is the way that the series is going to go then Boston should be able to win it provided if there offense can get some added pressure around the net and rattle the Vancouver defense.

 

For Vancouver you have to say that they got lucky in this one. Their offense had chances early on in the first two minutes and could’ve put Boston to sleep early on but they couldn’t capitalize. The Sedin Twins have to have a better game two and their offense needs to match their defensive intensity throughout the rest of the series if the Canucks want to raise the Stanley Cup.

 

One thing that I hope doesn’t change is the stellar goaltending of game 1. Thomas and Luongo looked like MVP’s after the first 60 minutes of the series and were certainly game 1’s number 1 stars. I don’t care how many goals aren’t scored in this series, as long as they play like this then it wont matter because each game will be entertaining as hell.

 

We have to wait until Saturday night for game 2 to commence. It’s a weird two-day layoff that should give each team time to heal after a rough first game, and the Bruins time to stew over the late goal, and Burrows biting incident.

 

If game 1 is a preview of how this series will play out then there’s no question that we have a classic on our hands. One city that hasn’t raised the cup in 40 years and another that hasn’t raised it at all. Both teams playing like it and not giving an inch. You don’t want to miss any of this.


A Poem For The Bruins Misery

The Bruins are in deep trouble after Montreal took two in Boston.

To Whom It May Concern, the Bruins of Boston

Your run at Lord you are certainly costing

Losing two at home to a familiar foe

That has owned you since the Richard Brothers long long ago

Down 2-0 heading back to Montreal

How can we not expect you to do anything but fall?

You have scored 1 goal and given up five

If not for Tim Thomas you would barely be alive

Carey Price has turned away all attempts good and bad

And Milan Lucic performance has been very sad

The crowd favorite who had a breakthrough year

Has made little noise and has his own fans in tears

I hate to bring this up but lest we forget

You’ve lost six straight playoff games I’m sure you’d like to forget

That devastating meltdown last year against the Flyers

That you seemed to let go and let build a fire

But dogs lets face it those losses still fester

And this team right now is one big mess sir

Chara is injured the crowd wants Julien fired

Is this the East’s three seed that was chasing the cup it desired

Is this the rugged bunch that knocked opponents around?

Where’s Shawn Thornton’s toughness to energize the crowd?

Where’s Nathan Horton’s offense and Bergeron and Krejci?

Is this really a weak team that lack’s a tough psychy?

You’re down 2-0 headed to the Bell Centre

Where a hellacious crowd awaits ready to end ya

If the Bruins want to come back in this series Milan Lucic has to step up.

They’ve seen Lafleur kill you and Roy and Koivu

Fact is that Montreal likes to annoy you

They’ve been better for so long and yeah they know it

Their na-na-na hey-hey’s definitely show it

P.K. is baling and so is Cammalleri

And Hal Gill and Gionta are making life scary

If you lose tomorrow you’d better mail it in

Because unlike the Flyers there’s no chance you’ll win

7 straight losses 3 to your rival

It’s enough to make Don Cherry act suicidal

My advice is man up you play in Boston

Where the Red Sox and Pats and C’s win often

Channel Bobby Orr and Terry Reilly

Offense step up and defense play wisely

Timmy stand on your head you’re this team’s only hope

If you play like you did Saturday then there’s no hope

2 in the first 2 minutes 20 seconds

Do that again and you’ll see an early exit

Chara get healthy, Ryder step up

Lucic get your head right and turn your game up

They call you the next Neely and if this is true

Then tomorrow you’ll turn Carey Price into stew

Do all of these things and you’ll see another day

If not then you’ll have wasted these last 6 months away

Another offseason to sit back and wonder

How another weaker team put you six feet under

So as you await a must win game 3

Put away last year’s Flyers misery

If you don’t then by Thursday you’ll hear an old Montreal cry

Na-na-na-na hey-hey-hey goodbye!!!!!


The Truth About Hockey Fights

Nothing like a good old-fashioned hockey fight.

If you have a problem with fighting in the NHL, get over it.

Fighting is a part of the league like dunking is in basketball, like homeruns are in baseball. It’s a necessary evil that can used for motivational advantages, intimidation and all out fun and intrigue.

Hockey is the only sport in the world where the players police themselves. There are secret rules and codes in other sports about retribution, revenge and get back. In Hockey it’s out in the open. Got a problem with a player’s over excessive behavior? Send a goon out. Your team lacks energy? Throw your fists up. Someone going after your best player repeatedly and you’ve had enough? Pop him in the mouth.

In the NBA you get suspensions for pushing a guy too hard for coming down the lane over and over again, same in major league baseball when a batter starts raking and a pitcher gives him some sweet chin music. The NHL says you got a problem you deal with it. Unless you go Todd Bertuzzi on someone then you sit for a few games.

It’s been well-known since the inception of the sun dial that fighting and hockey go hand in hand. However, now in the year 2011 fighting in hockey is now looked down upon and thought of to be stupid.

On Pardon the Interruption this past week, hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon debated the recent brawl between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. Wilbon stated that the league should be ashamed of themselves for allowing brawls like that to continue and that the league should get rid of it for good. Former Habs Goalie Ken Dryden has been trying to get fighting removed from the game for years because he feels that the game is better without it. After the regular season in 2009 NHL GM’s got together to discuss the possible elimination of hockey from the sport.

Thank god they voted against it.

Hockey fights aren't brainless, there are a multitude of reasons for dropping the gloves.

As much as I love Dryden and Wilbon and Kornheiser they should all be beheaded for even thinking about banishing fighting from the sport. I understand that hockey has a new fan base and that American sports have been wussified to no end (hi, Roger Goodell and David Stern) but come on, enough is enough.

You can’t hit QB’s anymore, you can’t bruise a guy for getting into the lane and you can’t brush back batters for standing on the plate, at least give us the satisfaction of grown men defending their keep on the ice.

Hockey more than other sports prides itself on toughness. You see guys like Duncan Keith pulling out his teeth to stay on the ice and contribute in the playoffs last year and Steve Yzerman years ago playing on a torn ACL to lead the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup. Hockey players love being tough guys. It’s like they were born to give up their bodies for torture and pain just for fun.

Plus we as fans idolize it. We cheer when guys drop the gloves and pummel each other in the name of honor and team, we never forget guys that give their bodies every shift and every minute just to make a single play. Primary example are my New York Rangers. There are no Crosby’s, Ovechkin’s, Lidstrom’s or any other noteworthy superstars on this team, instead it’s a hit, grind and hustle team that is among the leaders in hits, shorthanded goals and penalty killing.

It’s the most enjoyable team we’ve had in years and even though we don’t score a lot I wouldn’t trade Brandon Prust, Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal for anything.

Ask most hockey fans, sure we love the stars of our team, but the faves are the Kris Drapers’, Andy McQuaids’ and George Parros’ of the world. The tough guys and the grind guys who really make wins possible.

Find me a Rangers fan that doesn't like Brandon Prust... I dare you.

Fighting and hard play are part of the game. However, there is a difference in how you let that aggression play out on the ice and toughness turns into an all-out mess.

Look at the two brawls last week between the Habs & B’s and Isles & Pens. Both were the talk of the league and sports highlight shows last week but had different meanings in terms of the way that the code of fighting should be played out.

The Habs & Bruins are long time Original Six rivals. They’ve had heated battles going back to the 60’s and 70’s that have left a mark on the history of the game. In the Bruins 8-6 win last Wednesday a series of brawls broke out that were more than entertaining. Tough guys like Travis Moen, Scott Thornton and others threw down a few times letting their emotions run over into a fury of fists on the ice. Even goalies Carey Price and Tim Thomas appeared to scrap for a little bit even though both weren’t trying to throw punches at each other.

As crazy as it seemed with both penalty boxes flooded with players and both benches bare by game’s end, it was a good brawl in the context of the game.

Everybody that threw down did it with respect. No sucker punches or cheap shots, just guys looking at each other and dropping the gloves for a few minutes then taking their seats in the sin bin. Wilbon said the league should be ashamed, I say hell no. it was old-time hockey with no dirtiness. Two teams who are fighting for their division that won’t back down from each other and letting each other know that they’re not going anywhere.

Then you have the mess that was the Pens & Isles brawl. The back-story to this is that the last two games were super physical matchups with the last one having Maxim Talbot handing out rough hits and Brent Johnson sending Rick DiPietro to the injured reserve with one punch.

Enforcer challenging a goalie... that's a no-no in the code.

(Side note: how badly has DiPi’s career gone? He was once the future of the franchise, now he’s a verb for getting knocked the **** out. Even Tim Thomas said the no one wanted to get “DiPIetroed” between him and Price. In case you were wondering Isles fans, yes he’s still got that 12 year, 62 million dollar contract under his belt. You may now send Garth Snow hate mail.)

With that in mind the Isles took the physicality to the Pens but took it too far. Matt Martin’s cheap shot on Talbot brought back memories of Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore. Trevor Gillies elbowed Eric Tangradi then as he crumbled to the ice Gillies tried to fight him then taunted him as he left the ice. Enforcer Michael Haley challenged goalie Brent Johnson while skating towards the penalty box… it was a ton of dirty hockey. The Isles were so hell-bent on revenge that they went to no end to make sure it happened. The result was a brawl that was really something the league should’ve been ashamed of.

Thankfully the long arm of Colin Campbell acted and acted fast suspending Martin, Gillies and Eric Godard who left the bench to protect Johnson, and fined both teams. Unfortunately the actions of the league didn’t sit well with Penguins owner Mario Lemieux who said that he was embarrassed by the league’s actions and that he might not want to be a part of the league if this is how they deal with incidents like these.

Lemieux was wrong. The league acted accordingly on all counts. The Isles were in the wrong and were punished harshly for their actions. If Lemieux had problems with dirty play and too much fighting then he should look in his own backyard first.

The Penguins lead the league in fighting majors and penalty minutes and they harbor Matt

Mario Lemieux chastises the league for allowing dirty plays to continue... yet employs this guy.

Cooke who has a reputation for being overly dirty. Cooke has given players concussions and put more players in danger with his overly-aggressive play including the blindside hit of the Blue Jackets Fedor Tyutin that got him suspended for four games. For Lemieux to criticize the league for not handling matters in the right way is silly and he needs to get his facts straight before speaking up again.

The league knows what it’s doing. They know what fights are good and bad for the game and try to eliminate what’s wrong while keeping the essence of the game intact. There were no suspensions from the Habs-B’s brawl because none were necessary. The Pens-Isles games was a different story. There are such things as good and bad fights in the NHL and the league knows this and regulates them with great efficiency.

Like em or not hockey fights are here to stay. It’s an integral part of the game that shouldn’t be taken away because of brawls that happen once in a blue moon or because people that watch from afar don’t like them. It’s hockey, its physical and it’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the last bit of raw physicality American sports has left, the last place where tough guys are allowed to be tough. Let’s not ruin a good thing while we got it.


A Banged-Up NHL Midseason Review

Injuries are ravaging the NHL as teams are playing without their best players.

We’re in the NHL’s second half; you know what that means… a New York Rangers second half slide… I mean the NHL Midseason awards.

 

Look I shouldn’t be shocked that the Rangers are having another January swoon. The Rangers are like Tom Coughlin’s stepchild but only worse. They do this every season, start fast, struggle in November, get hot in December and then go on a two-month bender of not scoring goals, losing one goal games and cause Henrik Lundquist to wonder about the benefits of committing Hara Kiri.

 

I should be used to it by now, but I’m a New Yorker, I’m crazy. I want the Rangers to play consistent hockey and I’ve wanted it for years. However, you see the beginning to this piece. The difference in this year’s team is that I can see the drought coming but not from inconsistency. This time it’s injuries. Right now the Rangers are missing 6 starting forwards including leading goal scorer Brandon Dubinsky. Due to the injuries the slide began last week as the Rangers lost three out of four games and dropped to seventh in the Eastern Conference.

 

With the Rangers struggling to score goals, losing our number one guy isn’t exactly the best news in the world right now.

 

If think its bad for us how do you think the Penguins are feeling? Sidney Crosby took a head shots from David Steckel in the Winter Classic and then from Victor Hedman several days later and has been out since. Before his injury the Pens were the best team in hockey and Crosby was Megan Fox in a thong hot since then they’ve been 3-3 and fell from 1st to fifth in the Eastern Conference.

 

Same for the Detroit Red Wings; name a Wing and he’s banged up, Tomas Holmstrom, Dan Cleary, Chris Osgood, Jimmy Howard (yes, both goalies) and Pavel Datsyuk all missed their recent loss to the aforementioned Pens and 3 of their last four.

 

The Colorado Avalanche lost leading scorer at the time Chris Stewart 18 games ago and slipped, The Blackhawks lost Jonathan Toews for three weeks and have had a devil of a time staying in the playoff race, The struggling Kings just lost Wayne Simmonds and have been banged up all year, Montreal… IT AINT SAFE PLAYIN HOCKEY I TELLS YA!!!

 

Fact is if you can stay healthy then you’re hard to beat. Philadelphia, Vancouver and Tampa Bay are all examples that if you stay healthy you stay on top. Right now it’s a toss up between the Canucks and the Flyers for the title of best team in the league. I got a front row look of each team last week as each of them faced the Rangers and I really like the Flyers.

 

Granted there are goaltending issues (It’s Philly there’s always goaltending issues) but the team they have is loaded with guys all playing their best hockey. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux and company are leading a balanced attack that could get better when Chris Pronger returns. They’re proving that last season’s cup run was no joke and that getting back there and winning is all that’s on their mind.

 

I do not doubt the Canucks at all though, not with Daniel and Henrik Sedin playing at a high level and Ryan Kesler scoring goals like crazy. The Sedins are in the top five in scoring and Kesler is number five in the leagues with 25 goals. What does worry me about them is Roberto Luongo tends to give up a few softies in goal. Luongo was the reason that the Canucks lost their Western Semifinals series versus the Blackhawks last year in one of his worst stretches ever.  So to say everyone is a little worried about him possibly sliding back into that form is like saying the Trail Blazers are a little worried bout their entire lineup being injured (Sorry Marcus Camby).

Why is Vancouver number one in the league right now? Ask these guys.

Then there’s Tampa freaking Bay in third place in East (thank you Washington slump in late December.). They couldn’t stop a goal from going in until they acquired 41 year-old Dwayne Roloson, and outside of Ryan Malone, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos they have gotten NOTHING from anyone. However, the guys have all been healthy outside of Vinny Lecavalier (not that it matters because he’s been dead weight.), and Simon Gagne (which doesn’t matter because no one expected him to play more than 50 games anyway.) and they have played consistent hockey and have played within their skill set. No one is being asked to go out of his way to do things that they can’t do and it’s worked.

 

Stamkos has returned to form after a quick start and slow stretch in December and has returned to the MVP that I thought was all but guaranteed in November. If the Lightning are going to be active in the trade market then he should be getting some help to move him closer to the Hart trophy and the Lightning to the playoffs.

 

Speaking of awards at the mid-way point who has the upper hand in the most of the major honors in the league? Well…

 

Hart Trophy- Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Now you know I love Stamkos, and I have been watching the Sedin twins, but none of them had a 25 game point scoring streak and had 49 points during the streak. Without Crosby the Pens are a totally different team and it shows. If they want to win it all they need Sid the Kid at 100% and nothing less.

 

My Bad: Stamkos, both Sedins and St. Louis

 

Norris Trophy- Dustin Byfuglien, Atlanta Thrashers

Ok, so Lidstrom might win the thing, but how about the job big buff has done in going back to his natural position in Atlanta? He’s got 41 points, which is second amongst defensemen, and he’s brought the Thrashers alive with his toughness and energy. I actually want to watch a Thrashers game now just because of him (well him and Evander Kane, just saying.).

 

My Bad: Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara and Kris Letang

 

Vezina Trophy- Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins

So much for Tuukka Rask taking his job. That’s not happening with Thomas leading the league in GAA and save percentage and is fourth in wins. Because of him the B’s are sitting pretty in second place in the East.

 

My Bad: Henrik Lundquist, Jonas Hiller and Carey Price

Tim Thomas is zeroing in on his second Vezina with the Bruins.

Calder Trophy- Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes

So right at the end of October the Hurricanes come to the Garden and from what I remember from last year I’m thinking this is an easy win. Then comes this Jeff Skinner kid with a three-point game that totally kills us and leaves me stunned. I’m thinking that was a fluke… yeah, um, no.

 

He leads all rookies in points, second in goals to San Jose’s Logan Couture and looks like a great number two to Eric Staal. I guess I was looking at a sign of things to come.

 

(Side note: I really like this year’s class of rookie forwards. There’s Skinner, Derek Stepan, Couture, Taylor Hall and Brian Bickell and they all look good. For years the young defensemen have bean all of the rage in the league and maybe starting with this class the scorers might catch up with them soon.)

 

My Bad: Stepan, Couture and Hall.

 

Jack Adams Trophy- Guy Boucher

Yeah Peter Laviolette has the Flyers in first, Mike Babcock has the Red Wings playing great, but did you think the Lightning would be in the top 3 in the NHL ahead of the Pens, Caps and Habs this year? Yep, exactly.

 

My Bad: Babcock, Laviolette, and Marc Crawford

 

Presidents Trophy- Philadelphia Flyers

Scary good. They’re clicking on all cylinders with Pronger coming back soon. This may change if the Pens get Crosby back but for right now no one has an inside track on these guys.

 

However, that’s the story of this season so far. Injuries are killing lots of teams right now from my Rangers to the Habs, Pens and Blackhawks. As the races tighten up and the season winds down hopefully guys like Toews, Crosby and Datsyuk get back and return to form quick so these games continue to have great meaning. Well, except for the Rangers. I already know what they’re going to do so I’ll just sit back and not worry about it and watch them battle for the 8th seed. I mean I’m used to it by now anyway.

 


The Bruins Make History… The Worst Kind

Boston and New York again have something in common.

So Boston… how does it feel? You know, to be so sure things are going your way only to see them crash down in a flaming heap? It ruined a sure fire ratings, and historical hockey dream of a matchup, the Bruins vs. the Canadiens. A matchup I was waiting for and hoping for just to feel the hate between two rivals and to see if it was anything like the much over played Yankees-Red Sox matchups. But that’s over.

Losing happens, just not like this. Besides the Yankees only the Red Wings and Penguins had lost a 3-0 series lead in the history of 7 game series in three of the four major sports, they have one new member in their hall of shame. The Bruins collapse was weird, not just that they lost, but because of everything within the series that lead to it. At the end of Friday night’s game 7 I stood and could only utter this, um, wow, that was depressing. So depressing that it brought back memories of 2004 when it happened to the Yankees. The Boston Bruins 3-0 series collapse however, is worse than the Yankees because there were so many eerie things that led to the collapse.

First off, the David Krejci injury at the end of game three when the B’s went up three games to none. For an offensively challenged team like the Bruins, Krejci was undoubtedly their best forward in the playoffs up until he went down scoring 8 points and logging close to 22 minutes a game in the series. Up until game four with Krecji in the lineup the Bruins dominated the action and beat up the Flyers. Once Krejci went down, the tables turned. The B’s gave up nine goals in the next two games and well… you saw what happened in game 7 (more on that later).

Secondly, Tuukka Rask, you know, the guy who took Tim Thomas’s job with an amazing regular season where he finished up with a 1.98 Goals against average, was terrible in net in the final four games. He went from allowing seven goals in the first three games to fifteen in the final four. The first goal the Flyers scored last night by James Vanriemsdike was horrendous. His shot was deflected by Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman, yet Rask somehow allowed it to trickle under his right pad and into the net. In comparison with Flyers net minder Michael Leighton, Rask looked like the guy that had been thrown into the fire and couldn’t handle the pressure.

Tuukka Rask's great playoff run came to a stunning hault.

Leighton on the other hand was and has been outstanding in net. Since replacing the injured Brian Boucher, Leighton has allowed only four goals in two and a half games, three in last night’s first period and nothing more. At some point I wondered why Claude Julien didn’t go back to Tim Thomas. Thomas has been in these situations before, including last year’s game seven loss to Carolina. He could’ve been a better option than Rask who was undoubtedly shaky.

Third was funny enough, the Celtics epic win in that same arena the previous night. The C’s set up what was bound to be an epic two night period by ousting the Cleveland Cavaliers the previous night with spirited performances and a rowdy crowd. It seemed like the perfect ending to both series. The teams from Boston, who, no one expected much out of at the beginning of the playoffs, now would be two teams in the Eastern Conference Finals in rivalry matchups. It certainly seemed that way as the B’s followed up the C’s win last night with a spirited first period. Milan Lucic came out of hiding with two goals and the Bruins were ahead 3-0. Then the air came out of the Bruins and everything began to crumble.

The Vanriemsdyk goal was the beginning of the end as the Bruins play gradually slowed and slowed while the Flyers, especially Daniel Briere and Mike Richards, flew around the ice creating havoc and swinging the momentum towards the Philly side at the end of the second period.

The third period saw the Bruins regain that intensity as they found scoring opportunities from veterans Mark Recchi and Marc Savard. The B’s controlled the action throughout most of the period and if not for some unlucky bounces (or lucky if you’re a Philly fan) they would be gearing up for a Finals matchup with their rivals the Montreal Canadiens. Then well…

Thing number four, the too many men on the ice penalty at 11:10 into the third period. If you’re a longtime Bruins fan the words “too many men on the ice” are painful to listen to. For those that don’t know what I’m referring to, in the 1979 Eastern Conference Finals the B’s and Habs played a classic overtime game that ended with a Guy Lafleur power play goal thanks to a too many men on the ice penalty by the Bruins. The Habs went on to win the Stanley Cup and the Bruins haven’t been the same since. Last night, history repeated itself.

With only 18 seconds remaining on the power play Simon Gagne, who hasn’t been the same goal scoring threat that he was at the beginning of the decade thanks to a rash of Eric Lindros-like concussions, found a wide open top corner of the net and beat a sprawling Rask. 4-3 Flyers. Somewhere Don Cherry probably did a combination of throw a chair, then chug a bottle of Crown Royal, then had a heart attack.

You knew the end result was coming; I just stopped watching and began taunting a Twins fan after A-rod hit a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to give the Yankees a win last night (I mean it is May, so A-rod is clutch for these things). As the clock wound down and the Bruins tried their hardest to get a tying goal, they fell short. Flyers win the game and the series 4-3, down 3-0 in both instances. You can’t make this stuff up. As the Flyers swarmed Leighton, the Bruins and their fans were stunned. Yellow, “Go Bruins!” towels littered the ice. Wiseman and other players couldn’t lift their heads for the postgame handshake. As the fans stood in shock a smattering of Flyers fans cheered and ran to their entry way screaming for Gagne and other players. The scene was the epitome of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

The good part, if any, of the Yankees game seven loss was that they got killed. The drama was over by the third inning and the rest was just a slow alcohol induced death. For Bruins fans this was worse. They watched a team lose two 3-0 leads and lose thanks to a throwback penalty from yesteryear that haunted them up until this game. You tell me what’s worse.

The good news for the Bruins is that they have a top 2 pick in the draft thanks to dealing Phil Kessel to Toronto, yeah the Bruins get Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin while the Leafs 25 goals and underachievement. Brian Burke is probably beating himself with a stick right now. The bad news… well you’re seeing it. The playoff run hid a lot of questionable in this team such as age, lack of offense and consistent play from the wings (ahem, Lucic). It was a great run, but it was bound to end. However, I don’t think anyone could’ve seen it play out like this.