The Patriots have made two big moves the last 24 hours. One was expected, one was a surprise. Veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel was traded yesterday afternoon. And today, the Pats sent QB Matt Cassel to western Missouri. Apparently, they're part of the same deal, which helps explain Vrabel. No word yet on the compensation the Pats will get, but they've certainly cleared some cap space.
It isn't official, but multiple sources have reported that Fred Taylor is or will soon be a New England Patriot.
Taylor is 33 years old, which is way up there for an RB. He rushed for 556 yards on 143 carries last year (3.9 YPC), and only got into the end zone once. But in 2007, he ran for 1,202 yards on 223 attempts, or 5.4 yards per carry.
The Pats have struggled to find consistency in their running game. Even in '07, Maroney had great days, then others when he couldn't get past the line of scrimmage (See: Super Bowl). He's also struggled to stay on the field.
Sammy Morris rushed for 727 yards in '08, but he too is getting old. Kevin Faulk added 507 yards.
A combo of Maroney-Taylor-Morris-Faulk could be fun to watch. Reducing carries should keep Maroney fresh, and perhaps get the type of performance from him we saw when Corey Dillon was in the backfield.
At runningback, the Pats are as set as they're going to get.
The Bruins have scored 12 games in 2 games. In their last 4 periods of hockey, they've scored 9 times, and allowed 0 goals. That's domination. Plain and simple.
Tim Thomas recorded his 100th career win, and his career high 4th shutout of the season. He was undoubtedly the #1 Star of the game, stopping 35 shots, and getting an assist on Michael Ryder's power play goal.
Speaking of Michael Ryder, he has 3 goals and 2 assists since coming back from his face injury. Chuck Kobasew also had 2 goals last night. Matt Hunwick had a goal and an assist, and blocked 3 shots. Byron Bitz had his 3rd goal in 2 games, and has become a force on the ice. I'd like to see him get some extra time on the ice. He traffics the slot, and he's strong with the puck.
In the last 2 games, 19 Bruins have recorded points. Only Shane Hnidy has had ice time and hasn't been on the scoresheet. But he was +3 last night, and had a great game.
The Bruins are also fighting as a team. Even Marc Savard dropped the gloves, or at least he tried to. And Shawn Thornton took down 6' 5" 230 pound George Parros AND his mighty mustache.
The Bruins host the Capitals 1:00 PM Saturday afternoon in a potential preview of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Early this morning in LA, Gabe Pruitt was in his car, stopped at a green light, when an LAPD officer pulled him over. I don't know how you pull over a stopped car, but whatever. The officer determined he was drunk, and now he's in LA jail.
Pruitt's the backup point-guard, which just so happens to be the position that Stephon Marbury plays.
And according to the New York Times, Marbury's pretty sure he'll be signing with the Celtics on Friday.
Just like a loss to the Clippers is possible. Just like Stephon Marbury in green and white is possible.
The Celtics fell the Clippers 93-91 Wednesday night. Normally that might incite panic, concern, or even notice. But losing a 2 point game with Kevin Garnett playing 0 minutes doesn't bug me much, even though the Celtics easily could have, and probably should been victorious.
The big story is Stephon Marbury. It's looking more and more like he'll be a Celtic. And I for one think it will be a good move. At the same time, he should not be welcomed to Boston with a ticker-tape parade, or even with open arms. The first thing he gets when he walks into the Celtics' locker room is a list of Do's and Don'ts.
Marbury has the talent to be a role player on this team. He also has the ego to be a cancer. And the Celtics have 23 games to figure out which he'll be. If he helps, he can stay. If not, the Celtics can cut him loose. Sound like something another sports team in New England has done in the past. *cough* *cough* Corey Dillon, Rodney Harrison, Randy Moss *cough* *cough*
It really is amazing how much winning can help keep a locker room cool, and how much the whole "You need us more than we need you" attitude can help keep an individual from getting a big head.
Grapefruit League play started for the Red Sox with the annual contest against the BC Eagles, and the opener of the 2009 Mayor's Cup.
The Sox extended their winning streak over BC, even though they were shut-out until the 5th inning of the 7 inning contest. David Ortiz was 0 for 2, Julio Lugo was 0 for 1 with a walk, JD Drew was 0 for 0 with a walk, Rocco Baldelli was 0 for 3, Clay Buchholz pitched a perfect 3rd inning, recording 1 strikeout.
Already, the 2009 season is better than 2008. Last year, Beckett was grabbing his back in pain after his first Spring Training start. This year, he threw 2 perfect innings, struck out 2, and the outing was totally pain free.
Across town at the Twins' facility, the rest of the Sox lost 5-2. Notable performances:
Jacoby Ellsbury: 0/3 Dustin Pedroia: 2/3, 2B Kevin Youkilis: 1/3, R Jason Bay: 0/3 Brad Wilkerson: 1/3, R, Error Jed Lowrie: 1/2, 3B, RBI Jeff Bailey: 2/2, RBI Josh Bard: 0/3
And now the pitchers...
Tim Wakefield: 2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 0 HR Justin Masterson: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K Manny Delcarmen: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K Javier Lopez: IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K Ramon Ramirez: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
Josh Bard also looked less than smooth catching Wakefield. But I don't think it's time to sound the Mirabelli Alarm and get a replacement. After all, Wakefield might not be in the rotation at all in a few months.
The last time the Bruins played the Panthers, they were shutout 2-0. Last night saw the opposite. After an ugly Florida trip, the Bruins came out firing on all cylinders, maybe even with some NO2 mixed in.
The Bruins dominated the last 30 minutes of this game. Byron Bitz (Cornell '07, GO BIG RED!) did something a Bruin hasn't done in a while: had a tip in goal. The score made it a 3-1 game. But unlike previous contests, the Bruins didn't ease up. Bitz scored again, early in the 3rd. This time off a juicy rebound (another recent rarity). Two minutes later, Aaron Ward slapped in a goal. Then Michael Ryder, just back from injury, scored on the power play. It was Ryder's 20th.
Of all the troubles the Bruins have had lately, their mental lapses, defensive miscues, and struggling to play with the lead have been the most frustrating. They've also had difficulty finishing, but at least they've been generating offensive opportunities. Last night, they made few mistakes. They kept their foot on the gas throughout the 3rd period.
The Bruins now have 90 points, a 9 point lead over Washington in the Conference, a 19 point lead over Montreal in the Division, and a game against the Ducks Thursday night.
Boston College was a bubble team until last night. In my opinion, they're in the NCAA tournament, regardless of what happens in their remaining games.
Sophomore Joe Trapani led the Eagles with 19 points and 7 rebounds. Tyrese Rice was held to 11, but all 11 seemed to come at big times. With 0:23 on the clock, Rice nailed a 3 pointer to give BC a 71-67 lead
The Eagles now sit in the top 6 of the ACC, and have 20 wins. In little over a week they play NC State, then host Georgia Tech.
The Bruins went on vacation in Florida, both off and on the ice. Two games in the Sunshine State, two defeats, zero points. And Washington's getting larger in the review mirror.
So what happened? Why did a trip through the Southleast Division, which the Bruins had owned, turn into a nightmare. What should have been a roadtrip like Sherman's March turned into the Peninsular Campaign. Hooray for obscure Civil War references.
Last night it was in Tampa Bay. The lowly Lightning, in their putrid uniforms, made a stand against the Bruins. A 3rd string goalie stopped 40 shots. And an injury riddled opponent lit the lamp 4 times.
The Bruins came out with fire and focus. Phil Kessel scored 98 seconds into the game, ending a long goalless drought. But the B's lost their edge. Lacidasical defense and downright horrible goaltending led to 2 quick Tampa Bay goals. The Bruins looked the better team for the rest of the game, but Tampa had the luck of deflections, and the B's didn't.
Saturday night in Miami it was a similar story. Another opposing goalie boosted their save percentage. Thomas Vokoun stopped all 41 shots he saw. The Bruins went 0 for 6 on the power play, had the better chances, but couldn't finish.
The offense isn't closing posessions with goals. And it's a team-wide problem. Phil Kessel finally scored again, so hopefully his production will increase. But Marc Savard, who made no mistakes from October to January, has suddenly become a turnover machine. His passes hit skates, not sticks. He makes low percentage passes near the blue-line, touching off rushes the other way.
The absence of Michael Ryder can't be understated. Ryder, Krejci, and Wheeler were a perfect unit on the ice. Now that line has become less of a factor. Or maybe it just seems that way with the Savard-Kessel-Lucic unit going through a monumental slump.
But there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. As stated above, Kessel ended his goalless streak. Chara and the other defenders are looking sharp. Milan Lucic is back to bending the boards. Shawn Thornton got in a fight, ending a team streak of 8 fightless games, the longest streak of the season. The team is coming home for 6 straight.
In the Celtics' 90-85 loss in Utah Thursday night hurt more than a typical loss. Kevin Garnett left in the 1st half with what turned out to be a strained muscle in his knee. He'll miss 2 to 3 weeks while the knee heals.
Trying to find a silver lining, this injury could also serve as a bit of a rest for Garnett. Then again, the other members of the Celtics are going to have to work even harder with him out.
If the Celtics win 13 of their remaining 26 games, they clinch the division, even if the 76ers win ALL of their remaining games. But the C's lead in the Eastern Conference is much much slimmer. Cleveland is 1/2 game behind, and is actually ahead in the loss column. Cleveland also possesses the head-to-head tie-breaker.
This injury might cost the Celtics home court advantage. But probably not much else.
On February 20th, 1992, the Simpsons episode Homer at the Bat first aired. It featured 9 Major League stars as ringers on Mister Burns' softball team. The lineup:
C Mike Scioscia 1B Don Mattingly 2B Steve Sax 3B Wade Boggs SS Ozzie Smith LF Jose Canseco CF Ken Griffey Jr. RF Daryl Strawberry P Roger Clemens
Looking at this lineup, there is 1 player still active in the Majors, 2 have moved on to coaching, 2 have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, 6 played for the Yankees, 2 are known cheaters, and 1 is a cokehead.
Mike Scioscia is one of the most respected managers in baseball, if a bit overrated. The Angels have him under contract until 2018. He won the first World Series in Angels history in 2002.
After his playing days, Mattingly was an instructor at Yankee spring training for 7 years. He was named hitting coach in 2003, then bench coach for the 2007 season. He was a frontrunner for the Yankees' opening after they disrespected Joe Torre, but Joe Girardi got the job. Smart move, New York. He's currently the hitting coach for Torre's Dodgers.
Steve Sax has been busy since leaving baseball in 1994. He was a part owner of a nightclub, he owns a martial arts studio, he's currently writing a book on athletes and finances, and he's a financial consultant working for RBC. He's also been an analyst on TV, and made a guest appearance on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He might be the only person who has been on Sabrina, The Simpsons, and Who's the Boss?
After the 1992 season, Boggs left the Red Sox for the Yankees. In 1996, he had a walk-off bases-loaded walk to win Game 4 of the World Series. The Yankees, of course, won the whole thing that year. Boggs finished his career with the Devil Rays, recording his 3,000th hit in 1999. He is the ONLY member of the 3,000 hit club to record #3,000 via the homerun. Odd since only 137 of his 3,010 (4.55%) career hits were homers.
Ozzie Smith was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002, with a career fielding percentage of .978. He opened a restaurant in St. Louis, as well as a youth sports academy. He once played The Wizard in an opera production of The Wizard of Oz. In '05, his son Nikko made the final 10 on American Idol.
Now we get into the bastard players. Jose Canseco defines the word shame. An admitted steroid user, he used his years of cheating as a springboard to rat out every other cheater for his own personal gain. He's a reality TV hobo, and amateur boxer/punching bag.
Ken Griffey Jr.'s numbers will probably be tainted by no fault of his own. There's no suspiscion around Griffey, but his 611 homeruns couldn't have come at a worse time. He's the only player on the team still active, recently signing a deal with the Mariners. And I don't feel bad for him. He's a millionaire, and has like 6 video games named after him.
DDDDDDaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyylllllllllll Strawberry. Alcohol. Cocaine. One of the biggest wastes of talent in the latter half of the 20th century. He had 280 career HRs before this episode first aired. He hit 55 after. I guess Mr. Burns pinch-hitting for him in the 9th really got to him. His memoirs are being published in April. The book cover should be a mirror, so you can do lines on it.
Roger Clemens. What a scummy cunt. Roger's career eventually stalled after the episode. He was 40-38 in his last 4 years in Boston. Then suddenly, somehow, as if by magic, as if some magical drug somehow found its way into his bloodstream, he was back to winning Cy Young Awards. He was 41-13 in two years for the Blue Jays, capturing two Cy Youngs. He had a bullshit 20-3 season in '01, receiving the best run support in recent memory, and now it turns out that season really was bullshit. He is the King of Douche.
So that's where the Springfield 9 are these days. Scioscia and Mattingly are part of the Mr. Burns coaching tree. Sax is advising athletes how to invest their money. Boggs and Smith are in Cooperstown. Griffey's in Seattle... again. Canseco's probably an understudy on some reality TV set. Strawberry's in a constant state of regret, at least he should be. And Clemens is in a self-dug hole, quickly filling with his own bullshit.
Coming off their first 4 game losing streak of the season, the Bruins seemed listless and despondent. They weren't scoring, not on the power play or even strengthed. They were turning the puck over in the neutral zone and even their defensive zone. They needed a spark.
They got it.
Tim Thomas, David Krejci, and Zdeno Chara all had fantastic games. Thomas allowed 1 shot by him, stopping the other 31 he saw. Krejci, a.k.a. The Matrix for the way he seems to bend time and space to his bidding, had a goal and assist. Chara had an assist, 3 takeaways, and 2 blocked shots.
Kessel's goal-less streak was extended, but he had three golden chances to end it. He just couldn't slip it past Cameron Ward. The goals will come. He's not forcing the issue, and he's doing everything else he needs to do. I see a bunch of Kessel goals coming very soon.
Patrice Bergeron was able to end his goal-less streak. He scored the empty-netter that made it 5-1. He hadn't scored since November 21st.
Hopefully the Hurricanes get the 8th seed and the Bruins face them in the playoffs. In four meetings, the Bruins have come out on top 4-2, 4-2, 5-1, and 5-1. That's 18-6 combined. This is also the first year that either the Bruins or the Hurricanes/Whalers have swept the other in their season series.
Bruins stay down South and play the Panthers Saturday night.
Boston College 80, #5 Duke 76. A classic contest that may have punched BC's entry ticket into the Big Dance. Or at the very least, put their destiny in their own hands.
This game was won in the 1st half. Duke dominated most of the first 20 minutes, leading by 11 with 5 minutes left in the 1st, and down by 13 with 2 and a half minutes left. Tyler Roche then Tyrese Rice each hit 3s, then Rice hit another field goal to make it a 5 point game going into halftime.
Duke had a chance to put BC away before the half, but they eased up a bit, and the Eagles clamped down on defense. BC gained some momentum, but more importantly, gave themselves a chance to keep it a close game.
The 2nd half saw some good defese, lots of turnovers, and some clutch shooting by BC. They didn't let Duke pull away, and eventually ground out a tie with 13:03 left, then a lead with 9:25 on the clock. Back and forth the two went, but BC made more clutch shots down the stretch, and played outstanding defense.
Reggie Jackson was huge, finishing with 15. Rice had 21, and all of them seemed to come in big moments. With 1:32 on the clock, down by 1, he hit a 3 pointer. That gave BC the lead they held until the final buzzer.
I was working on the floor at this game, and then had to help escort the Duke players off the court as the BC students charged. I had goosebumps, and it was hard to contain a smile.
BC has 4 games left, 2 of which are against good teams. They play in Miami Saturday afternoon, in a contest between two ACC bubble teams. FSU comes to Boston a week from Thursday. Tickets are on sale.
By the way, this was the first time BC has beaten Duke in 24 years.
The Bruins lost their second straight Friday night, squeezed 1-0 by the trap-happy Devils. The B's have lost two straight in regulation, and three in a row overall. If not for some brilliant goaltending by Tim Thomas against the Senators, it could have been 4 consecutive defeats.
So what gives?
One problem against opponents like New Jersey is the trap. The Bruins' offense is predicated on bringing the puck over the blue line, not dumping it into the corner and forechecking to regain possession. But against a team that clogs the middle of the ice as effectively as the Devils, you have to dump in the puck, try to get it back before they regroup, and punish them for standing up on their blue line.
I don't think Milan Lucic being on the 1st line with Savard and Kessel as the best way to utilize him. Lucic excels at this forechecking business, but Savard and Kessel are typically clever enough to bring the puck in, even against a tight defense. Lucic could be better used to help a less skilled line dump and chase. Just a thought.
In the end, you just have to give credit to New Jersey goalie Scott Clemmensen, who stopped all 31 shots he saw, earning his 2nd straight shutout. Also, the Bruins couldn't buy a good rebound.
The Bruins continue their road trip in the South, stopping at Nashville Saturday night, then Carolina, then Florida. Hopefully they'll be able to work out their small problems against this mid-level calibre opposition.
The Celtics have struggled in close games lately, but last night they turned that trend around. And going into the All-Star break, it was the perfect time to do so.
Paul Pierce's 31 points, and Rajon Rondo's triple-double (19 points, 14 assists, 15 rebounds) spearheaded the Celtics' efforts. The C's were down by 15 at one point in the 3rd, but they outplayed the Mavericks down the stretch. They made their last 9 free throws. Pierce was 5 for 7 in the 4th, with 19 points.
Had the Celtics lost last night, they would have been in a 2-3 slump going into the break with a sour taste in their mouths. Now they have something good to sit back and rest with.
What a joke Alex Rodriguez has become, and truly has always been. The one thing he had going for him was his numbers. Many believed that one day he'd surpass Ruth, then Aaron, then Bonds. And legitimately so. 100 years from now, people wouldn't remember how much of a choker he was in the playoffs, or all the drama he carried with him like a purse.
And now even that's out the window.
Just how funny is A-Rod's career?
Remember this from the 2004 ALCS?
Then there's his .279 career postseason average.
There was his muscle-bound stripper mistress, who, in retrospect, probably did roids along with Rodriguez, then beat the crap out of him.
Then he won a prize for being Madonna's 10,000th "customer," but got dumped by the 50 year old. That's right, she's 50. And he got dumped.
Then there was Joe Torre outing A-Rod as a figure of amusement in the Yankee clubhouse, nicknamed A-Fraud behind his back. Torre also discussed his obsession with teammate Derek Jeter.
And now he's been exposed as a cheater.
This video clip from 60 Minutes a few years ago is priceless...
Watch it again and notice how he half-nods while saying he's never done steroids or HGH.
This is all just too funny. But it's also sad. Because of cheaters like Rodriguez, Clemens, and Bonds; clean players from this generation will have their numbers overly scrutinized forever. Instead of being honored for succeeding in an environment swarming with cheats, they'll be lowered to their level. And that's the tragedy of all this.
Who is responsible for this tragedy? Selig and Major League Baseball share a piece of the blame cake. The owners knew what was happening, and didn't care until it became public. Looking back at the 1998 Home Run race, us fans were pretty naive to not notice that Sammy Sosa became Babe Ruth overnight, and Mark McGwire was an Irish version of the Incredible Hulk.
But hey, here's a thought; LET'S BLAME THE PLAYERS WHO ACTUALLY DID IT!!!
Nobody put a gun to A-Fraud's head and made him juice up. Nobody threatened Barry Bonds to down some HGH. And these guys were hardly scrapping minor leaguers. These were established MLB stars, multi-millionaires, who's greed for glory exceeded their respect for the game.
The BC Eagles hosted #11 Clemson Tuesday night, and faced #7 Wake Forest Sunday afternoon. Both games saw competitive first halves. Both games saw a more talented opponent pull away. But both games, to me, demonstrated that BC belongs in the NCAA tournament.
Last night, the Eagles held a 39-35 lead over the Tigers at halftime. The night ended with Clemson on the good side of an 87-77 score, but the game was much tighter than that, and would have been even closer if not for some generous calls that went Clemson's way.
BC's remaining schedule looks like this:
2/15 vs. #6 Duke 2/21 @ Miami 2/24 vs. #24 Florida State 3/4 @ NC State 3/7 vs. Georgia Tech
They should roll over NC State and Georgia Tech, giving them at least 20 wins on the year. Beating Duke would be miraculous, and would give BC reservations to the Dance, but let's be realistic. If they beat either Miami or FSU, then finish the season with victories over NC State and Georgia Tech, it seems as though BC will make the NCAA tournament.
If they don't beat either Miami or FSU; or don't beat BOTH NCSU and GT, then the Eagles will have to impress in the ACC Tournament.
This is how competitive the ACC is this year. BC is in 7th with a 6-5 conference record. Yet they're only 2 games out of 1st. ESPN.com's Bracketology forecasts 8 ACC teams selected for the NCAAs. That might be on the high side. But what's vital for BC is to separate themselves from teams like Miami, Maryland, and Virginia Tech.
#1 Boston University faces #3 Northeastern. BU has the most Beanpots (28), Northeastern has the fewest (4). Northeastern hasn't won the title since 1988. They beat the Terriers that year. But they've lost 4 straight title games since then. They lost all 4 to BU.
These teams faced each other in November, with BU winning convincingly, 3-0. But since then, Northeastern has turned it on. NU goalie Brad Thiessen made 45 saves against BC in the opening round, and is arguably the best netminder in Hockey East.
But this is BU's tournament. BU has beaten a laundry list of good teams already this year. North Dakota, Michigan State, Denver, Northeastern, UNH, BC. I think they have more depth than the Huskies, and they'll be more poised in the big game.
I try to avoid using the L word for sports as much as possible. To me, bad luck isn't hitting a post, or hitting a flyball 400 feet and into an outfielder's glove. Typically, plays that are deemed by many to be lucky are the end results of good play leading up to a fortunate happening.
But Saturday afternoon, the Flyers were lucky. They were lucky that the referees called a tight game on the Bruins and a loose game on them. They were lucky that as the most penalized team in the NHL, they received a mere 6 penalty minutes. Meanwhile, the Bruins were shorthanded 6 times.
The Flyers are pussies. It's as simple as that. They wait for an opponent's back to turn, then they get all rowdy. Face-to-face, man-to-man, they're cowards. And now, they're also divers.
Philly's first goal came during a 5 on 3. Both penalties on the Bruins were correct and indisputable. But Mark Stuart's tripping should have been a coincidental minor with Braydon Coburn (the Flyer he tripped) for diving. Coburn pirouetted like Sasha Cohen, embellishing the call. And by the rules, that's a dive, even if the player was actually tripped or hooked.
Philly's 3rd and tying goal also came on a BS power play. Chuck Kobasew was called for a ticky-tack interference penalty, and once again, the Flyers demonstrated their acting abilities. Claude Giroux convinced the refs Kobasew had molested him. Once again, instead of coincidental minors, the Bruins were shorthanded, and they let up a goal.
The Flyers also got away with numerous small infractions, the likes of which were being called on the Bruins. In a battle for the puck on the boards, Bergeron got punched in the kidneys. Matt Hunwick got hit 40 feet from the play and there was no interference call. Philly only got penalized when it was blatant.
But all the blame can't be leveled at the officials, or the Fruit Flies. The Bruins defense collapsed due to miscommunication on Glen Metropolit's goal. That score really gave Philly hope. They had been down 3-1, had pulled their goalie, and were on the road. The importance of that goal cannot be underestimated.
The Bruins had a power play to end regulation, and for 36 seconds into OT. They did next to nothing with it. They passed to the Flyers more than each other, and if not for a stunning glove save by Fernandez, Philly would have won with a shorthanded goal.
Mental lapses, miscommunication, and low percentage passes are all inexcusable. As much as the officials sucked, the Bruins can look in the mirror to see why they lost this game.
But it's hardly the end of the world. They got a point, have cushion enough to not be perfect at all times, and were quite clearly the superior team.
Byron Bitz (Cornell '07) also got his first NHL goal.
Massive game Tuesday night. Joe Thornton and the Western Conference leading Sharks come to town. And I'll be working the BC/Clemson game so I won't be able to see it live. But neither will most of you. Remember, the game is on Versus.
Way to go NHL. Way to get those fans back by putting huge games like this one on a channel hardly anyone gets, or if they do get it, they don't know what number it is.
The Bruins won 4-3 in a shootout, the Celtics lost 110-109 in OT
The B's got some overdue production from their power play unit, scoring 2 goals in 5 chances with the man advantage. Chara also added his 12th with a rare (for him) even-strengthed goal.
An indicative stat in this game was that only two Bruins finished with positive ratings. Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder were both +1, while every other Bruin was even or -1.
It's not healthy to give up 2 goal leads. The Bruins can claim fatigue or complacency, but to give up a 2 goal lead to the Senators, the weakest offensive team in the NHL, is absolutely inexcusable. The Bruins made mental mistakes and unforced errors which directly led to Ottawa's scoring. They nearly didn't get 2 points or even 1 point because of it.
Thankfully, the B's are good enough to overcome their occasional lapses against weak teams. They host the Flyers Saturday afternoon.
Now on to the Celtics.
You know why basketball struggles to be one of my favorite sports? Because moments like KG's 6th foul. Derrick Fisher blatantly runs into Garnett, KG puts a hand on him, whistle blows, KG's out of the game. An obvious embellishment by Fisher and the last 270 seconds change.
And there's no retaliation for this kind of womanly, foul-seeking play. And it's so prevalent in the NBA and NCAA. It just makes basketball less desirable to watch, at least for me.
Anyway, what was Glen Davis doing with the ball and 0:17 left in overtime? I know Doc Rivers has faith in him, and he's a perfectly capable player, but with 17 seconds, a 1 point lead, and guys like Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo on the floor, I don't want Glen Davis taking 19 foot shots with 9 seconds on the shot clock.
Whatever. Lakers win a regular season game. Whoopty shit. SportsCenter will be all over Kobe like a Colorado District Attorney, but if these teams meet again, and the refs don't suck, we all know what has happened, and what will happen.
Celtics get to vent their frustrations Friday night in New York against the Knicks.
Philadelphia was missing Mike Richards, and several other key players. The Bruins, on the other hand, were healthy and firing on all cylinders. Philadelphia didn't have much of a chance. Nevertheless, it was a close game. But as the Bruins have done all year, they wore their opponent down, then destroyed them in the 3rd.
Michael Ryder and David Krejci were the heroes in the 3rd. Ryder's puck possession and Krejci's passing made the difference in the period, capitalizing on an already strung out Philly defense.
When the Bruins signed Ryder, I was far from thrilled. I saw it as a consolation prize to the Marian Hossa sweepstakes, and not a very good one at that. How fun it is to be wrong sometimes. He scored his 19th goal of the year, and was +3 on the night, both excellent examples of how he contributes in all aspects of the game.
One thing to "worry" about is the recent lack of power play production. The Bruins haven't scored a power play goal in 4 straight games now. Then again, that was after a stretch of 6 PP goals in 18 chances.
The Bruins fly up to Canada's capital to face the lowly Senators Thursday night.
The Philadelphia 76ers made a big mistake last night. With a 2 point lead and the clock ticking down, they left Ray Allen open at the three point line. Ray sinked the shot to give the Celtics a 100-99 win, their 12th straight victory.
Allen had 12 points in the 4th quarter. His final three pointer came thanks to Pierce's fake toward the net. Pierce had 29 points. Rajon Rondo added 20 points and 8 assists. The Celtics won without KG, who sat out with the flu.
The Celtics' magic number to clinch the Atlantic Division is now 17. But their lead in the Eastern Conference is much more tenuous. They're 1.5 games up on Cleveland, but both teams are tied in the loss column with 9 defeats.
Huge game Thursday night as Kobe Bryant and the Rapers, I mean Lakers come to town.
Early in the afternoon, Boston University was promoted to the #1 ranking in the country, then they almost lost to 5-11-4 Harvard. The Crimson took a 2-0 lead. Nick Bonino spearheaded BU's rally with 2 goals in the 2nd period. The Terriers took a 3-2 lead midway through the 3rd, but Harvard equalized with a power play score.
With 1:46 left, BU's Jason Lawrence scored a power play goal to give BU the lead. Harvard pulled their goalie and threatened to tie it up again. The Crimson nearly scored a buzzer beating goal, but the puck crossed the goal-line about a second after the clock hit 0.
The #3 Northeastern Huskies followed the drama with perhaps their most convincing win of the season, a 6-1 drubbing of #12 Boston College. These teams played a close contest earlier in the year, and the 1st period looked like it would be more of the same. NU had a slim 2-1 lead, and a 9-8 advantage in shots.
The 2nd period saw a complete meltdown by the BC Eagles, specifically goalie John Muse. His misadventures in playing the puck away from the net resulted in two Northeastern goals. BC lost its composure, allowing 3 goals in the period. The game was essentially over. But BC continued to pepper Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen. Thiessen finished with 45 saves of 46 shots.
So now BU faces Northeastern in a potential preview of a Hockey East Tournament final, and maybe even an NCAA final.
Last year, the Bruins lost 10 straight to Montreal. After yesterday's 3-1 victory, they're 4-0-1 against the Canadiens, clinching the season series with 9 points out of a possible 10.
The Canadiens were wearing hideous throwback jerseys that looked more like standard prison issue than hockey sweaters. But I'll give Carey Price props for sporting dingy looking old school brown pads.
The Canadiens also honored their history of cheap shots, dives, and soccer-style hockey with their play on the ice. Thankfully, their power play is an impotent unit. The Bruins killed a 4:30 stretch of penalties in the 2nd, including extensive 5 on 3 play. Saku Koivu's embellishment helped earn one of those 5 on 3s.
It's amazing how often Tom Kostopoulos was allowed to hack at Tim Thomas's glove as he covered the puck. It's amazing that Ryan O'Byrne elbowed Chuck Kobasew in the head with 4.9 seconds left in the 3rd, and he'll only get the minor penalty for it.
There's nothing to like or respect about the Twatreal Canadiens.
But there's a great deal to love about the Bruins. Shawn Thornton started the game with a fight and wound up with the winning goal. Guys like Byron Bitz and Stephan Yelle contributed with an assist each. Zdeno Chara was +2. He's +4 against Montreal this season. Savard's empty netter was his 20th of the season. He had 15 last year.
The Bruins travel to Philadelphia Wednesday night. The Flyers are the only Eastern Conference team the Bruins haven't beaten. They're also the only Eastern Conference team the Bruins haven't played.
The Bruins have an 18 point lead over Montreal in the Northeast Division. The Bruins are the first NHL team reach the 80 point mark. And the icing on the cake, Guy Carbanneau benched Alexei Kovalev early in the 3rd period for not being a team player. God I hate Kovalev.