Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The 3-1 score doesn't really capture how fully the Bruins dominated this game. They outshot the Lightning 39-25. They very easily could have won 5-0 or 6-0.

Zdeno Chara had a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight). Blake Wheeler notched his 20th goal, as did Chuck Kobasew. The Bruins now have six 20 goal scorers. Last year, there were only two Bruins with 20+ goals.

The Bruins didn't play down to their competition. They maintained their intensity for 60 minutes, making few mistakes, and giving maximum effort at all times. Lucic, Chara, Ward, Bitz, Bergeron, and even Savard played a remarkably physical, yet controlled game.

The Bruins seem to be hitting their playoff stride.

They now have 108 points, their most since 1993. The Capitals are 9 points behind, and New Jersey trails by 10. With 2 more wins, the Bruins clinch the #1 seed in the East.

The all-but-eliminated Ottawa Senators come to town Thursday night. The B's are 4-0 against Ottawa.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Monday, March 30, 2009


It's as if the players in the hockey tournament wanted to make up for the lack of upsets in the basketball tournament. 1 seeds Michigan and Notre Dame beaten in the opening rounds. Bemdiji State (that's in northern Minnesota) crushes Notre Dame 5-1, then vanquishes perennial powerhouse Cornell. Miami (Ohio), another 4 seed, beats Denver and winds up in the last 4. Overtimes, comebacks, late goals, upsets, and a Frozen Four with only one 1 seed in the mix.

Some highlights:

Cornell's late game winning goal against Northeastern:

UNH's late game dramatics to beat North Dakota:

BU survived New Hampshire and seem to be Fortune's favorite in this tournament. They're the only 1 seed left, and they play Vermont a week from Thursday night (the hockey tournament always takes a week off, they know the basketball tourney is the main event this upcoming weekend). In a battle of 4 seeds, Bemidji State takes on Miami (Ohio). BU's path to their 5th national title, but Vermont beat them 2 of 3 this season.

The Frozen Four is not this weekend, but the next, and is being played in Washington, DC. Why is it in DC, where the closest college hockey team is Princeton? Who knows.

Prediction: BU rolls over Vermont, then Miami (Ohio) for title #5.


Photo Credits:
Associated Press

Sunday, March 29, 2009


The excessive booing done by Philadelphia's fans is often attributed to their "toughness" or their "passion." Rarely do announcers state the truth, that Philly fans are whiners, and the boo is their temper tantrum. After all, isn't "boo" the first half of "boo-hoo?"

The Bruins haven't won 3 in a row since February 5th. And although their win in Toronto was ugly (5 wretched goals let in by a very rusty Manny Fernandez), and last night's victory in Philly was closer than it shouldv'e been (48 shots on net by the opponent, that's more than too much), wins are wins are wins. And the Bruins have been doing what it takes to earn these wins.

Sunday night, a bad call put the Bruins at the short end of a 5 on 3 power play for 1:52. About a week ago, this misfortune would breed mistakes, which would ultimately cause defeat. But last night, the B's stood their ground, killed the penalty (thanks in large part to a spry Tim Thomas) and kept the advantage in the game.

The Flyers probably should have gotten a few more calls. Then again, when your style of play is to cheap shot players from behind, hit after the whistle, and rack up the most penalty minutes possible; you sometimes don't get on the officials' good side.

The B's still have some defensive miscues to correct. It's often too easy for opponents to enter their zone with the puck. The patented Bruins' layered defense is designed to prevent this, and force opponents to dump and chase. Instead, they're simply carrying the puck in. That's got to stop. Thomas can't make 45 saves a night every game.

But offensively the Bruins have found themselves, or so it seems. 15 goals in 3 games. Lucic has found his scoring touch again, he put the puck in twice. Krejci added 3 assists to his total. And Recchi has 7 goals in 11 games.

The Bruins come home and host the Lightning Tuesday night.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Tom Mihalek

Friday, March 27, 2009



0-2 in The Hub this year.

Worst loss by a #2 seed in the regional semis... ever.

And how ridiculous was that Duke player stealing the ball with 1 second left? What a bunch of tools.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


There are two teams that have me worried. And the Orlando Magic are not one of them. The Celtics may have lost tonight, but an 84-82 defeat with only 17 minutes and 4 points from Kevin Garnett is nothing to be ashamed of. The Magic may have secured the inside track to the East's 2nd seed, but judging by the crowd noise tonight, Orlando will seem more like home for the C's.

Even without KG, the Celtics probably should have taken this one. They turned the ball over 18 times, and their strategy down the stretch seemed to be to draw fouls instead of make shots. Orlando seemingly tried to give this game to the C's, attempting stupid 3 pointers. Dwight Howard had 0 4th quarter points.

But a possible playoff match with Orlando doesn't seem that bad. When healthy, the Celtics are a better team. Not only that, they have playoff success, and the confidence that brings.

C's play the Hawks in Atlanta Friday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack


Curt Schilling announced his retirement the other day. As if we didn't know that was going to happen. The only thing that surprised me was that it needed announcing.

Curt has 20 MLB seasons under his belt, 3 World Series rings, an immaculate postseason record, 216 wins, 3,116 strikeouts, and a 3.46 ERA in a hitter's era. So does he get a plaque in Cooperstown?

Here are the arguments for and against induction, followed by my conclusion.

The Argument for Induction:
Curt is one of, if not the best postseason pitchers ever. In 19 stars, he's 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA. In 133.1 IP, he's struck out 120, walked 25, and has a WHIP of 0.968. He was the 1993 NLCS MVP, the 2001 World Series co-MVP, and we all remember The Bloody Sock (the namesake of this blog). In World Series play, he's 4-1, with a 2.06 ERA.

He was a 6 time All-Star, and started the game twice. His 3.46 career ERA came in a highly offensive and steroid influenced era. The League ERA during his career was nearly a run higher (4.41).

He's 15th all-time in strikeouts, and 13th all-time in K/9IP. He's got 83 complete games and 20 shutouts. He has the 2nd best strikeout to walk ratio of all-time at 4.38.

He had three 20+ win seasons (2001, 2002, 2004). He had eight seasons of 15+ wins. He finished 2nd in Cy Young voting 3 times.

He changed the history of franchises. When he came to Arizona, they won their first World Series in his first full season. When he came to Boston, the Red Sox won their first title in nearly 9 decades, largely thanks to his 21-6 record in the regular season, and his 3-1 record in October.

The Argument Against Induction:
Curt's a phenominal postseason performer, but do 19 games make a Hall of Famer? Two full seasons of dominance weren't good enough to get Roger Maris into Cooperstown. Bret Saberhagen also had two utterly dominant seasons, and he's not in. There's no denying Schilling's place among the best postseason players in the game, but is 19 games worth a ticket to the Hall?

To me, there are two kinds of Hall of Famers. Compilers, and dominators. Compilers are consistent over long stretches of time. Every year, they get their 17 wins, or 25 homeruns; and over time, they have impressive numbers. The dominators have stretches of a few seasons in which they obliterate their competition. Think Sandy Koufax's 6 year stretch of unbelievable dominance. And of course, the all-time greats, the Babe Ruths, the Walter Johnsons - they're both compilers and dominators.

But Schilling is neither. His career totals are not overwhelmingly impressive. 216 wins is  very good, but not great. He's 80th in wins, tied with Charlie Hough, and 3 behind Kenny Rogers. Tommy Bond has more wins. David Wells has more wins. Frank Tanana and Jamie Moyer have more wins.

He is 15th in strikeouts all-time, but this is the Age of the K. 3,116 strikeouts are impressive, but when hitters get struck out 100 times a season without batting an eye, is it really that impressive? I'm not saying it's easy, but 3,000 Ks don't mean what they used to. There are 16 members of the 3,000 strikeout club. Before 1998, there were 10. So in 11 years, the club has grown by 60%.

One stat Schilling has compiled is home runs allowed. He's given up 347. That's 26th all-time.

Schilling wasn't a dominator, either. No Cy Young Awards reside in his trophy case. He never led his League in ERA, only led in WHIP twice, only led in strikeouts twice, only led in wins twice.

He finished 2nd in Cy Young voting three times. Two of those times, the winner received all the 1st place votes. In 2001, Schilling received two 1st place votes, compared to Randy Johnson's 30.

His early career is full of inconsistency. He was a journeyman, traded from Boston to Baltimore to Houston to Philadelphia. He was great in '92 and '93, then returned to his inconsistent ways before emerging as a #2 type pitcher in his last years with the Phillies.

Of his 20 seasons, only 10 didn't suck.

Schilling is a great pitcher, and his place in Phillie, Diamondback and Red Sox history/lore is secure. If there were a Hall of Fame just for postseason play, he'd be a first-ballotter. But he does not belong in the real Hall of Fame. He lacks big career numbers, and he lacks individual years of dominance. He was never the best pitcher in his League. And when he was 2nd best, it was a distant 2nd. He has three World Series rings, but always on teams with complimentary elite pitchers like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Josh Beckett.

Jack Morris has 254 wins and is not a Hall of Famer. Bert Blyleven, well everyone knows that story. Schilling will probably get in because of his postseason play, his high profile, and his World Series rings. And I won't protest or be outraged. I'll just quietly disagree, and engage in the argument when it is presented.


Possible super lame nickname for the Red Sox outfield:

The Triple J Ranch

For the first time this century, the Red Sox start a season without Manny Ramirez penciled in as left-fielder. It's still strange. But necessary. Manny's offseason demands hopefully demonstrated to even the most ardent Manny apologist (Bill Simmons), that he is a spoiled brat and a loose cannon.


Jason Bay's the left-fielder, and he's the most reliable of the three starters out there. He hit .293 in his time with the Sox last year, and had 101 RBI between the Sox and Pirates. He performed solidly in October, which had been a concern. He hit .341 in the playoffs with 9 RBI and 3 HR.

With his performance last year, it seems he's back to his usual form. An average hovering between .290 and .300, a very good OBP that approaches .400, and a tidy .550 slugging percentage.

I'm very interested to see where Bay ends up in the lineup. It could be 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, even leadoff. He's versatile enough to do an adequate job wherever he hits, and he seems to have the disposition of someone who'll do what he's asked without a problem.

Jacoby Ellsbury's overrated until proven otherwise. We all fell in love with him in September and October of 2007. But since then, he's been strictly mediocre. Yeah, yeah, he steals bases. Whoopty doo. But what good are stolen bases if you can't even get ON BASE?

Ellsbury's 0 for 14 in the ALCS was a major reason the Sox lost the series. Nobody else wants to say it, but it's the truth. His .280 average was nice, but batting average isn't as important as OBP. His was .336. That's only .023 higher than Varitek's. He also struck out twice as often as he walked. At the very least, Ellsbury and these subpar numbers were far from leadoff material.

Until he proves otherwise, I'm afraid he's a bottom of the lineup player.

Then there's the Great Enigma in right field. JD Drew. A man capable of this...

And this...

also has multiple yearly flings with the disabled list. He had a .408 OBP last year, but only played in 109 games. This year, he's already gotten cortisone injections for his back. It's strange. He's got some bizarre form of hypochondria. He always thinks his back is hurting him.

Nobody's going to call him Iron Man anytime soon. But he's still a solid ballplayer, and the Sox still desperately need his production, when he happens to make it in the lineup. He had 6 RBI in the postseason, not great, not bad. He had a .250 average in the LCS (bad), but had a .379 OBP (good). In two years with the Sox, he's had some big hits.

He'll hit around 20 HRs, maybe more. He'll flirt with .300 and end up in the .280 to .290 range. RBIs might be hard to come by, depending on where he ends up in the lineup. He may even be the leadoff hitter for a good part of the season.

Brad Wilkerson will be a backup outfielder when the season begins, but I don't see much of a place for him once Kotsay returns. Jeff Bailey can play the outfield and Wilkerson is a pretty light hitter.

Rocco Baldelli is one of the players Sox fans might be most anxious to see. The Woonsocket product was once one of the best up-and-coming players in the game. His ability to play every day has diminished, but he can fill-in for Drew or Ellsbury against lefthanders (he hit .292 vs. LHP last year).

A serious question with Baldelli is this. Drew is liable to miss a few weeks at a time. Ellsbury doesn't need much rest, but there's a good chance he hits .150 in his first 200 at-bats and needs to be replaced. Is Baldelli up to playing everyday for 2 or 3 weeks at a time?

Mark Kotsay and Jeff Bailey are also options. Kotsay is out until at least May. Bailey can latch on as an outfielder and can play first base, so I think he's likely to make the 25 man roster, especially with Kotsay out. With Wilkerson's offensive troubles, Baldelli's health problems, and Kotsay's injuries, Bailey might be JD Drew's #1 backup out there in right.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Julio Lugo had a disappointing 2008. Although at times he looked sharp. He had a good start to the season, then faded a bit, then got hurt.

Honestly, I'm not a Julio Lugo fan and I never really have been. At best, he's a .350 OBP, .400 SLG kind of guy. And he's rarely that good. Moreover, he's a defensive negative. He had a .945 fielding percentage. League average at short was .971. He made 16 errors in only 81 games.

He had a great Spring going before getting hurt. He was hitting .450, but I'm not looking too much into that. This is Lugo's last chance, at least in my mind, to prove he belongs on a team as good as the Red Sox.

Jed Lowrie is the primary backup at short. He's also having a good Spring. Unlike Lugo, he can field. He's not going to hit, at least he hasn't shown the potential to do so. He's basically a .260 hitter. But I think he can reach those Lugo numbers of .350 OBP and .400 SLG.

He's also a great fielder, especially compared to Lugo. He didn't make an error in 49 games at short last year. He can also fill-in at third and second if need be. I want to see Lowrie given a chance as a full-time player. He's not going to hit, but neither is Lugo. And at least Lowrie can field.


The Patriots' season will begin Monday September 14th at 7 PM. The opponent: Terrell Owens' Buffalo Bills. The venue: Gillette Stadium.

I, for one, cannot wait.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Technically, there are 5 New England teams. But Albany, NY is more New England than New Haven, CT; so screw Yale.

Boston University is the #1 overall seed.

Here are the regions and the pairings:

Northeast - Manchester, NH
#1 Boston University vs. Ohio State
North Dakota vs. New Hampshire

BU should roll over Ohio State. New Hampshire is essentially playing on home ice against a North Dakota team that's a long way from home. UNH actually beat BU back in October, but the Terriers have improved exponentially since then. BU goes to the Frozen Four from the Northeast.

Midwest - Grand Rapids, MI
#1 Notre Dame vs. Bemidji State
Northeastern vs. Cornell

Jordan Pearce - Notre Dame's goalie - is sick. I saw him back when they visited/dominated Boston College in November. He'll carry them very deep into this tournament.

Northeastern vs. Cornell is a tough matchup for both teams. Northeastern is cold, losing to UMass-Lowell, BC, and UMass-Amherst in the past few weeks. Cornell's Big Red are far from red hot, but Northeastern's struggled in big games this year. Then again, Cornell has been horrible away from Ithaca, so I give the edge to Northeastern.

Whoever wins Northeastern/Cornell, Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2" will get played to death, and Notre Dame will beat the winner.

East - Bridgeport, CT
#1 Michigan vs. Air Force
Yale vs. Vermont

Michigan gets the #1 seed, but they have to play in Yale's backyard. Big Blue will crush the boys in Air Force blue, and Yale will roll over a sputtering Vermont side. Yale's only lost three times at home and they won the very tough ECAC (regular season and tournament). Yale comes out of the East Region.

West - Minneapolis, MN
#1 Denver vs. Miami (OH)
Minnesota-Duluth vs. Princeton

Teams I know next to nothing about. Except this: Denver is good. Denver is really good. The Pioneers (that's Denver) move on to the Frozen Four.

Who wins it all?

Notre Dame, unfortunately.

Games start Friday afternoon.

Hockey East
Associated Press


One of the biggest question marks for the Red Sox this year is what will Mike Lowell give the team? He only played in 113 games last year, hit .274, with 73 RBI. This was one year removed from being 5th in MVP voting with .324-21-120.

He's only played a few Spring games, but he's looked solid and healthy in them. It will be interesting to see how well his hips absorb the daily wear and tear of playing third base and batting 5 times a night.

Jed Lowrie was supposed to be the backup for Lowell (after Youkilis, of course), but with Lugo needing surgery he might not be able to for a bit of time.

If Lowell is healthy and productive, even at the same level he was last year, the Sox have a solid anchor at the bottom of the lineup. If not, they have yet another hole, and the lineup starts looking very suspect.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


After a heartbreaking overtime loss to the lowly LA Kings, and with the Devils 9-2 in their last 11, this clash between the top two teams in the East was a potential turning point for both teams, particularly the struggling Bruins.

Finally, the Bruins had a little bit of luck on their side. But that luck was assisted by hard work and quality play. Their first goal, for instance, deflected off a New Jersey skate and past Brodeur. However, the B's were on a power play thanks to a sloppy New Jersey line change which came about thanks to a long, hard possession in the Devils' zone.

The Bruins seemed to find a chink in Brodeur's superhuman armor. His ankles. They peppered his ankles with shots, and he let a few in. Kobasew had a wraparound goal to make it 2-0, and Lucic attacked Brodeur's heels to make it 4-1.

The game was playoff caliber in terms of physicality, with the Bruins just slightly coming out on top. Zdeno Chara owned Zach Parise and tossed around all 230 pounds of Bobby Holik on more than one occasion.

This physical play affected the Devils. In the 2nd, they got two frustration penalties. Parise slashed at Chara, and Holik crossed the line with Stephane Yelle.

New Jersey's goal came after an unsuccesful Bruins power play. It was the only stretch that the B's looked a bit lazy, even slothful. But once the Devils made it a 3-1 game, the Bruins shifted it back into high gear. The 3rd period was their best 3rd period I've seen in over a month. They continued to pressure Brodeur, and they made nothing easy for the Devils.

Oh, and Timmy Thomas had a season high 41 saves. He was simply outstanding.

Marc Savard had a goal and an assist. Milan Lucic's goal snapped a 14 game goalless streak. He was also paired with Thornton and Yelle on a grueling 4th line that drained tons of energy from the Devils.

The Bruins have 5 days off. Yeah, they don't play until Saturday when they play the Leafs in Toronto.

With this win, the Bruins clinch the Northeast Division. Their first divisional title since 2004, and their 22nd all-time. Meanwhile, Montreal is on the verge of vanishing from the playoff picture.

Today's victory also gives the Bruins the edge in the season series with New Jersey. That might end up being important as head-to-head results are the 2nd tie-breaker for playoff seeding. At the moment, the Bruins have a 5 point lead over New Jersey, but the Devils have a game in hand.

Bruins @ Maple Leafs, Saturday night at 7.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer


The UMass-Lowell River Hawks did something only three other teams had been able to do: hold BU to 1 goal. But 1 goal was all the Terriers needed to capture their 7th Hockey East Championship.

UM-L had their chances. They were given 7 power plays, including a 5 on 3, but they couldn't beat Freshman netminder Kieran Millan, who was named the tournament's MVP. BU also had a bit of bad luck, hitting the post 4 times.

One confusing play came in the 2nd, about 9 bodies piled into the BU net after a rebound, and the puck was knocked in by a UMass-Lowell stick. The goal judge lit the lamp, but the on ice officials gave no indication. They went to instant replay and inexplicably called "no goal." I still can't figure out or find out why. The official reason given was that the whistle blew before the puck crossed the line. Which, from the replays, wasn't true.


Anyway, BU has essentially secured the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. Northeastern, UNH, and Vermont are also going to get in.

Hockey East
College Hockey News

Saturday, March 21, 2009


College hockey, the OTHER March Madness.

The UMass-Lowell River Hawks seemed dead in the water midway through the 2nd period last night. They were down 2-0, with the newly named Hockey East Player of the Year in Northeastern's net, and the #5 team in the nation bearing down on them. You could understand how a team might lose confidence in that situation.

But Ryan Blair picked up his teammates with 1:16 left in the period. The importance of late period goals cannot be overstated. UMass-Lowell spent their 15 minutes in the locker room with positive thoughts, and only a 1 goal deficit facing them. Northeastern, on the other hand, must have had a doubt or two.

In the 3rd, a bench minor for too many men gave the River Hawks a power play. They pulled their goalie, and Scott Campbell found the back of the net with 1:05 ticks on the 3rd period clock. 2-2, and UMass-Lowell had the momentum.

Three minutes into OT and Chris Auger tipped a shot past NU goalie Brad Thiessen, who summed up the stunningness of the moment by standing frozen in his half-butterfly for a good 3 minutes.

UM-Lowell now vies for their first ever Hockey East title against a team with 6 Hockey East Championships, and 4 national titles.

The BU Terriers and BC Eagles met for the 4th time this season and 246th time in history. It did not disappoint. Unlike BC's basketball team, their hockey team went down with a fight.

A duel between goaltenders for 2 periods saw BC up 1-0. It took BU 50 minutes to get onto the scoreboard. But once they did, it only took them 44 seconds to score all 3 of their goals. It was an offensive explosion that will send chills up the spines of college coaches nationwide as they prepare for the NCAA tournament.

The Eagles made it a game when Joe Whitney scored with little less than 6 minutes left. BC peppered the BU net with shots, but Hockey East Rookie of the Year Kieran Millan stood strong and the Terriers advanced to the title game.

I'm rooting for UMass-Lowell, but I don't see them having much of a chance. The River Hawks upset Northeastern, but they've been cold lately, losing to UMass and BC. BU is red hot. They've lost 2 games since January, and they've already beaten UM-L 3 times this year.

BU 5, UML 1

The 25th Hockey East Championship is tonight at 7 on NESN.

Source & Photo Credits:
Hockey East

Friday, March 20, 2009


With wins against teams like Duke, North Carolina, and Florida State; a 66-65 loss to Duke in the ACC tournament; and players like Tyrese Rice, Rakim Sanders, and Reggie Jackson; you can understand why I was optimistic about BC going into the tournament. Sure, Michigan State would be a tough challenge. But if you can beat UNC in Chapel Hill, you can certainly handle MSU in Minneapolis.

But USC was too much. The Trojans double-teamed Tyrese Rice and shut him down. Rice had 9 points, and only 2 in the 2nd half. BC never did much to challenge this double-team. They never tried anything to free Rice up, and Rice never did anything to take advantage of mismatches elsewhere on the floor.

Rice's performance pretty much summed up his senior season on Chestnut Hill. Game changing talent coupled with a fervent unwillingness to adjust for the benefit of the team. He's Vince Vaughn in Rudy.

Josh Southern made some stupid fouls early on and had to miss a pivotal chunk of the 2nd half, sitting on the bench with 4 fouls as the Trojans dominated the paint.

USC shot as good as they can shoot. Taj Gibson was 10 for 10 from the field with 24 points. As a team, they shot 52.9% from the field, and 44.4% for 3, and 73.7% from the line. This season, they shot 47.4% from the field, 32.9% from 3, and 66.6% from the line.

BC, on the other hand, shot 6 of 23 (26.1%) from 3.

But BC had a 34-30 lead at halftime. They were outscored 42-21 in the 2nd. It was a gradual pounding. And BC took it in stride, not changing, or adjusting a thing. They didn't even start to press until 1:30 was left and the game was already over.

Losing is losing, and it's going to happen. But this was just a sad, typical BC way to get eliminated. Get a generous seed, in a decent location, lead at halftime, then get destroyed.

At least the BC hockey team went down with a fight. The same can't be said for BC basketball, at least not in 2009.


Photo Credits:
Getty Images
AP Photo/Jim Mone


Garnett and Ray Allen returned to the lineup Friday night, and not surprisingly with their return, the Celtics won a tough road game against a quality opponent.

KG only played 15 minutes, but he added 10 points, and his usual energy, on and off the court. Allen played 40 and put up 19 points. Rondo had a double-double (16 points, 12 assists), Pierce only had 9 points, but collected 12 rebounds. Glen Davis contributed 7 points and 7 rebounds off the bench, and hit a huge 15 with 5 seconds left that sealed the victory.

It was nice seeing Kevin Garnett having heart attacks on the bench again.

The Celtics fly up to Memphis to play the atrocious Grizzlies Saturday night at 8.



Another bad team comes to the Garden, another bad team leaves with a win.

Another 2 goal lead for the Bruins. Another blown 2 goal lead.

Another 3rd period advantage. Another 3rd period meltdown.

The good news is, the Bruins reached 100 points for the first time since 2004. They're also only 2 points away from clinching a playoff spot, and only 3 from clinching the division. The bad news is that they look dead, find new ways to lose every night, and the Devils and Caps aren't slowing down.

The B's played 2 great periods of dominating hockey. Matt Hunwick scored in the first thanks to a beautiful drag and pass from Ryder to him in the slot. Rechhi made it 2-0 thanks to some aggressive Chuck Kobasew forechecking and a smart pass from Bergeron. Tim Thomas looked sharp in net, the defense was tight, and the B's kept pressuring the Kings.

LA's goals came off fortunate rebounds, but they shouldn't have even been in the game. The Bruins were 0 for 4 on the power play, and had 38 shots on net. They just couldn't seal the deal. And it was a breakaway off one of those missed opportunities that the Kings' tying goal came.

I'm not as worried as I probably should be. The Bruins have looked good 60 to 70% of the time, and their opponents have been fortunate or tough enough to exploit that 15 or 20 minutes of slightly above average hockey. There are 10 games left to get things back on track. The division is essentially ours.

This team has everything it needs to play deep into spring. The question is: will they use it?

Huge game Sunday afternoon. Devils @ Bruins, 3 PM


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer


The Red Sox have the reigning AL MVP at second base. Since the end of April 2007, he's hit .329 and been one of the best and most consistent producers on the team. We all know the awards. Rookie of the Year, MVP, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove. He's the perfect #2 hitter (if only we had a perfect leadoff hitter).

He did suffer an abdominal injury, but word from Fort Myers is that he'll only miss a few games. Thank God, because the backup situation is pretty grim. There's Nick Green and Ivan Ochoa. Green hit .233 for AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre last year and hasn't been in the Majors since '07 when he appeared in 6 games for the Mariners. Ochoa also lacks MLB experience, but at least he has some decent offensive numbers in AAA.

If Pedroia goes down for an extended period, the offense becomes more hole-filled than an Iraqi submarine.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


In my opinion, Kevin Youkilis was the best player on the Red Sox in 2008. .312 average, .390 OBP, .569 slugging, 115 RBI, 29 HR, Gold Glove quality defense at first, and 36 games of solid fill-in work at third. Youkilis just turned 30 a few days ago, and he's truly in his prime. He'll likely be the best offensive player on the team. Oh yeah, he was also 10 for 30 in the ALCS, with 6 RBI.

Sean Casey retired. The Sox acquired Brad Wilkerson, who's played some first base in his 8 year career, but doesn't have much of a bat. He's a career .247 hitter, coming off a .220 season.

Mark Kotsay is another option, but won't be available until at least May. He hit .276 with the Braves and Sox last year. He'll be a welcome addition to the bench when he returns. And his wife will be a welcome addition as well.

The Sox have given Chris Carter a lot of playing time this Spring. He leads the team in ABs. He played in 9 games last year and the Sox seem to be grooming him to be a backup first baseman, either in Boston, or Pawtucket. He hit .300 down there last year, along with 24 HRs. He's 26 years old, and if this is Mike Lowell's last year with the team, Carter might be at first in 2010 with Youkilis shifting to 3rd.

30 year old Jeff Bailey is another guy who could be the #2 first baseman. He's having an outstanding Spring, he's got solid time in The Show already (50 ABs in 27 games last year with a .280 average), and he can play the outfield as well. This versatility makes him a good candidate for the bench, especially before Kotsay returns.

Lars Anderson is a 21 year old prospect shooting up through the organization. He hit .316 in AA Portland last year, along with .317 in A+ Lancaster. He doesn't have much more than double power, but he's got good plate discipline and some day will be a nice addition to a lineup. Either that or trade-bait, but the Sox seem pretty high on him. I doubt he'll get much time in Boston (if any) this year before September call-ups.

The Sox have an MVP caliber first baseman, backed up by some solid young talent. Which is good, because that MVP caliber first baseman might have to spend a good deal of time at third base.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


And you wonder why managers and teams HATE the World Baseball Classic. Team USA has lost their best player for the remainder of the tournament, as Kevin Youkilis returned to Fort Myers for an MRI. Apparently, he has tendinitis in his left Achilles.

Here's what grinds my gears. He told US manager Davey Johnson THREE DAYS AGO that his ankle was sore. And this is the big problem with having the WBC in March. Davey Johnson needs Youkilis for a few weeks. The Red Sox need him for a few months. The Sox have to trust an outside group of managers, coaches, and trainers to care for their players. This alien group does not have the Red Sox' best interests in mind.

Fuck Davey Johnson, and fuck having the WBC during Spring Training.

Boston Herald


Once again, Josh Bard is leaving the Red Sox. George Kottaras has been named the backup catcher. And the worst position on the Red Sox has gotten even less productive.

Kottaras has power. He hit 22 homers in AAA Pawtucket last year. But he also struck out 110 times in 395 at-bats and only hit .243. He has 5 career Major League at-bats.

Perhaps this is prelude to a trade for another catcher. Perhaps not.

Bard had been hitting .429 in Grapefruit League play. Kottaras is hitting .286. Varitek is steaming along at a .160 clip.

Hopefully this move is not because Bard is struggling with the knuckleball. Sacrificing offense to help one mediocre over-the-hill pitcher would be a shame.

Extra Bases


What a sad way to start the season preview. Jason Varitek has given us years of service, helped win two World Series, caught 4 no-hitters, et cetera, et cetera. But after the shit he pulled, or rather tried to pull in the offseason; he warrants no more mercy, and no more excuse-making.

Jason Varitek is an offensive black hole, and he's been one for about 1,500 plate appearances. 37 year old catchers almost never improve at the plate, even if their numbers have nowhere to go but up.

Varitek hit .220 last year, with an appalling.313 OBP and a weak .359 slugging percentage. He struck out 122 times, only walked 52 times, and was an abysmal .201 against right handed pitching.

Varitek's numbers were actually inflated thanks to teams like Baltimore (9 of his 43 RBI or more than 1/5, came off the O's. He also hit 5 of his 13 HRs off them), and Kansas City (Tek hit .429 agianst the Royals).

And how bad can a man do in the postseason? He was 4 for 34 in October, or .118. He hit .050 in the ALCS.

What's my point? There is nothing, absolutely nothing to suggest that the Red Sox will get any significant production from their starting catcher. He can't catch up to the fastball anymore, he struggles against mediocre pitching, and he's slow. Hopefully I'm wrong and he hits .260 with 20 homeruns. But I just don't see it.

So who's backing Varitek up? Ithaca, New York's Josh Bard, formerly of the Padres, formerly of the Red Sox.

Bard was a solid acquisition for the Sox. He was injured for most of 2008, but when healthy, he's got a little pop in his bat. In '07, he hit .285 with the Padres, with a nice .364 OBP.

George Kottaras is the 3rd option. But he only has 5 career MLB at-bats, and has been a .240 hitter in 3+ years in AAA.

Another possibility is Dusty Brown, who hit .290 in AAA Pawtucket last year. Expect to see Brown pass Kottaras on the depth chart. If Bard struggles, or Varitek is a complete waste, Brown will be in Boston by late summer.

It will be interesting to see how Bard does catching the knuckleball. It will also be interesting to see just how often Tim Wakefield actually starts. Also, don't be surprised if Bard catches non-Wakefield games. For instance, day games after night games. This would give Varitek a rest, and perhaps help the Captain's production. At this point, nothing could hurt Varitek's offense.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers wants to be a Patriot. Or, at the very least, no longer wants to be a Panther. The Cowboys were another team mentioned as a desirable destination for Peppers', according to the AP.

Peppers doesn't want to be a Panther, and doesn't want to play in a 4-3 defense. He wants to be an OLB in a 3-4.

The Panthers have denied alleged talks with New England about Peppers. Vic Carucci of the NFL Network reported that Peppers had been targeted by the Pats. Fellow NFL Network reporter Adam Shefter insists "That trade is not gonna happen. ... Julius Peppers will not be a New England Patriot next season."

The thing with Peppers is that the Panthers aren't going to let him go cheaply. The Pats have reportedly tried to use their newly acquired 34th overall draft pick to get Peppers. This probably wouldn't be enough for Carolina.

Peppers had 14.5 sacks last year, and would certainly make the Patriots pass rush a fearsome one. I've got a feeling this deal will happen, just not for awhile.

Associated Press
Reiss's Pieces

Monday, March 16, 2009


The basketball tournaments weren't the only ones with upsets this weekend. 5th seeded UMass-Lowell went up to Burlington and swept Vermont, possibly knocking the Catamounts out of NCAA tournament contention. 6th seeded Boston College, who got swept by UNH a few weeks ago, took 2 games from them in Durham, advancing to the semis. The two top seeds struggled big time. Regular season champs BU needed 3 games to knock out Maine. Northeastern also needed 3 games, and then overtime in game 3 to knock out 7th seeded UMass.

So now it's UMass-Lowell vs. Northeastern, then Boston College vs. Boston University. Northeastern swept UMass-Lowell in 3 games this season. BU also won their season series against BC, winning 2 games and tying the 3rd. But BC seems to have found themselves, albeit a bit late. BC's 5-0-1 in their last 6 games, with 3 of those wins against nationally ranked teams.

The semis are at the Garden Friday night, with the Hockey East Final Saturday. Remember, Northeastern and BU are probably already in the NCAA tournament. And the winner of the HE tourney gets an automatic bid. So BC or UMass-Lowell can find themselves in the national tournament with only 2 more wins.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I was expecting Boston College to get an 8 or 9 seed, so this is a nice little surprise. BC will travel to Minneapolis for the opening round, and will face 10th seeded Southern Cal. BC is in the Midwest Region (Indianapolis), and if they can beat USC, will play either Michigan State or Robert Morris.

USC was 21-12, and surprisingly won the Pac-10 tournament. They were 5th in their Conference, so this is a solid 1st round selection for BC. They should beat this team. Michigan State is tough, but BC is fortunate not to have to face a 1 seed in the 2nd round.

The only other "New England" school to get into the tourney was UConn. The Huskies got a 1 seed, despite losing their opening game in the Big East Tournament. UConn gets to start off in Philadelphia, but they're part of the West region, so they'll have to go to Arizona to make the Final Four.

The TD BankNorth Garden will host the East Regionals. Pittsburgh is the #1 seed in the East bracket, and Duke is the #2. Here are the 14 other schools who might invade The Hub:

#3 Villanova
#4 Xavier
#5 Florida State
#7 Texas
#8 Oklahoma State
#9 Tennessee
#10 Minnesota
#11 Virginia Commonwealth
#12 Wisconsin
#13 Portland State
#14 American
#15 Binghamton
#16 East Tennessee

Boston College was one of 7 ACC teams to get in. The Big East and Big Ten were the other Conferences with 7 teams in. Here are the other teams to get in:

#1 North Carolina
#2 Duke
#4 Wake Forest
#5 Florida State
#7 Boston College
#7 Clemson
#10 Maryland

The tournament starts Thursday, and BC plays Friday.


After compiling 2 wins in a row (for the first time since February 26th), the Bruins headed into Pittsburgh, had a 3-2 lead going into the final period, and were outscored 4-1. It only took the Penguins 61 seconds of sloppy Bruins' hockey to turn a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 deficit.

Apparently, 60 minutes of hockey is too much for the Bruins. To be fair, they had 5 penalties to kill. The refs called much too tight of a game, against both teams. Lots of nit-picky hooking, holding, and interference calls.

Since February 7th, the Bruins are 2-6-2 (6 points) against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended right now. That's abysmal. In the 10 games against playoff teams before that, the Bruins were 8-1-1 (17 points). 10 games against playoff teams before THAT? 8-1-1.

Before February 7th, the Bruins were 18-3-4 against playoff teams. That's 40 points, or 1.6 points per game. In the last 10 games, it's been 0.6 points per game. Horrible. Dreadful. Shitty. Tragic.

The Bruins will win the Northeast division, but securing the 1 seed or the 2 seed is looking less and less likely. There are 12 games left, folks. 6 at home, 6 on the road. 4 against playoff teams, 8 against non-playoff teams.

The big games to gauge whether or not the Bruins are out of this extended funk:
3/22 vs. New Jersey
3/29 @ Philly
4/9 vs. Montreal

How the Bruins perform in these games will tell us if they're destined for a first round exit, or if they can go deep into the playoffs.

The B's have a few days off to sit in the corner and think about what they've done. They host the hapless Kings Thursday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Friday, March 13, 2009


The Bruins exploded to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of this one, then in the remaining 50, it was a 3-2 Senators game. 2-2 until Kessel's empty-netter sealed the win.

Finally, the Bruins got a bit of good fortune when Aaron Ward came out of the penalty box at precisely the right moment, scoring on a breakaway thanks to Zdeno Chara's stop in front of an open net, and a perfect pass from Patrice Bergeron. PJ Axelsson also scored after being released from the box.

The Senators have three threats on offense. That's pretty much it. Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, and Daniel Alfredsson. As an opponent, if you shut down these three, Ottawa's offense is essentially contained. The Bruins didn't do this. 2 minutes after going up 3-0, Blake Wheeler got lazy in front of his own net, giving Spezza enough space to make it 3-1, keeping Ottawa in the game.

The 2nd period saw no scoring, but plenty of Bruins' possessions that ended in the neutral zone thanks to poor puck protection. Savard had some breakaways, but couldn't finish. It's kind of sad that Aaron Ward has a better finish than Marc Savard lately. More laziness in the defensive zone followed. If the Senators were a better team, they would have came out of the 2nd with a lead. The B's were fortunate to be up 3-1 after 2.

Early in the 3rd, Kessel showed the finishing touches he demonstrated in October and November, and he was sprung by a vintage Savard pass. The 4-1 lead seemed concrete... for 2 minutes, when Schubert took advantage of lackluster defensive play, then Spezza scored thanks to a failed assignment. The Bruins had to sweat out a 1 goal lead, with Kessel hitting an empty net.

The Bruins showed both of their natures last night. They showed their explosiveness, their toughness (Kessel and Ference were particularly hard-nosed), their defensive excellence. Then they showed their laziness, their lack of coordination, slow and confused line changes. They haven't played a full 60 for a few weeks now.

Although there were some bright spots. Kessel looked sharp in all three zones, and was especially fierce on the defensive end. Andrew Ference had a great game, despite the -3 on his stat sheet. PJ Axelsson finally had a good game offensively. It's been awhile. Montador was very good with the puck all night, making some nice moves in his own zone to kickstart the neutral zone offense. Krejci had some more misses and mistimed passes, but played a good physical game.

Here's the heavyweight fight between Milan Lucic and Chris Niel:

The Bruins host the worst team in the NHL Saturday as the Islanders come to town.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Thursday, March 12, 2009


The OTHER March Madness. #1 Boston University won the Hockey East regular season crown, #4 Northeastern fell 1 point shy, losing to Boston College the last day of the season. Those two teams are essentially guaranteed an NCAA berth, but #7 Vermont and #9 New Hampshire need strong showings, and perhaps to win the Tournament, in order to continue their season.

Heres the bracket:

The first round is best of 3, so BU and Northeastern shouldn't have much trouble advancing. UNH swept BC a few weeks ago, but you never know with the Eagles when it comes to hockey. Last year, they were 4th in Hockey East, won the Hockey East Tournament, then rolled through the NCAAs. UMass-Lowell is also a surprisingly solid team, but Vermont is a hard place for visiting teams to spend a weekend.

Prediction: BU beats Northeastern in the finals in a repeat of the Beanpot.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


It's that time of year again. The appetizer to March Madness' main course: Conference Tournaments...

Boston College fell short of securing a 1st round bye in the ACC tourney, although they do have a cupcake first round opponent in Virginia. Here are the games and my guaranteed to be wrong predictions...

#8 Virginia Tech vs. #9 Miami
Both these teams have something to prove to the Selection Committee. Virginia Tech beat Miami in OT during the regular season, but the Hokies have been ice cold since then, losing 6 of their last 7, and 8 of 11. Give this one to the Hurricanes.

#5 Clemson vs. #12 Georgia Tech
Clemson is ranked 18th in the country, and should demolish the Yellow Jackets, who were a dismal 2-14 in the ACC.

#7 Maryland vs. #10 NC State
Maryland was an NCAA bubble team until losing 4 of their last 6, but one of those 2 that they won was against NC State. The Terps might be playing with the illusion that they have a shot at the Dance, the Wolfpack would have to be blind to think that. Maryland wins this one.

#9 Miami vs. #1 North Carolina
UNC is the best team in the country. It's a fact. They'll be challenged by the national powerhouses in the NCAAs, but the ACC tournament is theirs to lose. They'll destroy Miami, who they beat twice in the regular season.

#5 Clemson vs. #4 Florida State
FSU has been a Jekyl & Hyde team this year. They beat Clemson twice, yet lost to Boston College and Northwestern. Despite sweeping the season series, I think the Seminoles lose to Clemson in a close game. But here's a picture of FSU alum Jenn Sterger anyway:

#7 Maryland vs. #2 Wake Forest
I'm feeling an upset here. Wake Forest is ranked 9th in the country, and they beat Maryland in their sole meeting. But that was a 65-63 contest. And if NC State, Georgia Tech, and Miami can upset the Demon Deacons, why not Maryland?

#6 Boston College vs. #3 Duke
BC can blame themselves for the 6 seed and a date with Duke instead of Florida State or a bye. Two losses to Miami, and a recent loss to NC State pushed the Eagles down to 6th in the ACC. Duke fell to BC in February, but this is March, the game is in Atlanta, and this is Duke. Blue Devils pull away after a closely fought game.

#5 Clemson vs. #1 North Carolina
The Tar Heels ripped Clemson apart 94-70 in January. The same sad story will be told in March.

#3 Duke vs. #7 Maryland
Maryland's miraculous run comes to an end here. Duke beat the Terps 85-44, then 78-67. That's a combined margin of victory of 52. Maryland will be lucky to score that many in this game.

#1 North Carolina vs. #3 Duke
UNC beats Duke... again. Because Duke sucks and blows, defying the laws of physics.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Really? REALLY?!? Another fucking loss?!?

Give credit to Steve Mason and Columbus. Mason recorded his 9th shutout of the season, which leads the NHL. Pretty good for a 20 year old. And even though the refs fucked up all night (only 2 minute penalty when Mark Stuart's nose was bleeding, no diving penalty for Kristian Huselius' embellishment of Chara's hook, no call when Thomas was accidentally hit behind the net, no interference call when Kessel was bowled into the boards before he even touched the puck), Columbus played a good, tight hockey game.

But wasn't it typical Bruin luck? Thomas gets run into, his helmet pops off, hits the ice, and breaks. He has to either use Manny Fernandez's helmet, or Manny Fernandez has to come into the game. The Blue Jackets get a power play score from an awkward angle, a shot Thomas typically stops. A shot that he perhaps stops if he has his own mask.

At the same time, the Bruins score 0 goals, which is the best way to avoid winning.

The Bruins can watch this game, among with several others, and find many examples of how they messed up. Early in the 2nd, Kessel had a clean breakaway, just him and the goalie, and he didn't even get the shot on net. Seconds later, he Savard, and Lucic bungled a 3 on 2 opportunity.

David Krejci and Marc Savard have both turned into turnover machines, not the high percentage playmakers they were in the first 50 games of the season. Phil Kessel can't finish anymore. PJ Axelsson flat out sucks. Why was Axelsson on the ice longer than Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler? With 2:04 left, why was Axelsson on the ice AT ALL?

I keep waiting for this team to emerge from this funk. And if it doesn't happen on Thursday when the 26-29-10 Senators come to Boston...

it may never happen.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete


The Patriots allowed the 2nd most passing TDs in the NFL last year, and the 2nd most 40+ yard pass plays. This off-season, there's been a concerted effort to improve the pass defending elements of the defensive alignment.

Last week they acquired veteran Shawn Springs, and today they signed Leigh Bodden formerly of the Detroit Lions.

Neither of these guys are shutdown corners, neither of these guys are big playmakers, but neither of these guys are Deltha O'Neal. Springs is a 13 year old veteran, and Bodden has 7 years in the League. They don't make big mistakes. They don't blow coverage schemes. They'll help the younger CBs, like Terrence Wheatley, develop into solid CBs.

But once again this year, the quality of the pass-defense will be determined by the consistency of the pass rush. Pass rushing isn't just about sacks, it's about forcing hurried throws, and not allowing the QB to go through his progressions. The front 7 will determine how many passing TDs and 40+ yard passes the defense allows, more so than the DBs.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Don Cherry calling Sean Avery what he is.


What once was a terrific tandem of tenders has turned into a Jekyl and Hyde in between the Bruins' pipes. When Tim Thomas is in net, the Bruins are practically guaranteed an excellent fundamental goaltender, one who makes next to no mistakes, and is capable of amazing athletic saves. When Fernandez is in, the Bruins are guaranteed a pointless night unless they score 5 or 6 goals.

The Bruins lost to the Rangers, in yet another unfortunate display of hockey. To be fair to Fernandez, it wasn't entirely his fault. Just mostly his fault. Byron Bitz was primarily responsible for the first of 4 Ranger goals. He found himself out of position after a faceoff in the defensive zone, allowing Nik Antropov space. Enough space to score a goal.

But Fernandez was responsible for New York goals #2 and 3. The Rangers took advantage of a dreadfully bad hooking call on Marc Savard. They also took advantage of Fernandez's inability to cover the inside of his post. That's Goaltending 101 stuff.

And the 3rd goal was pure blooper reel material. Fernandez gets the puck caught up in his skates, doesn't know it, twirls in the crease, the centrifugal force of the twirl spins the puck into the net.

The Bruins came back, which was nice to see. They seemed to be playing with some confidence and purpose, something that's been lacking as of late. But a big bounce of the endboards served as a perfect set-up pass for Nikolai Zherdev.

It's too bad. Had the Bruins left New York with a point, they could start rebuilding what was their biggest strength: their poised confidence. Instead, for most of them, it might seem like another wasted effort.

Oh, and what the fuck was with the NBC announcers talking about Sean Avery every 5 minutes? The guy's a 2nd or 3rd line forward AT BEST, and he's a cunt. When the word "cunt" was invented, the guy who came up with it had people like Sean Avery in mind.

The Bruins host the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday, another decent team fighting i na tight playoff battle. The B's still have an 8 point lead on New Jersey, but the Devils have 2 extra games in hand.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Stephen Chernin

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


The Bruins traded Petteri Nokelainen to the Ducks for defenseman Steve Montador. Montador is 6' 0", 210 lbs, has 4 goals, 16 assists and a +14 rating. Not surprisingly, he has a lot of penalty minutes, 125 already. He's a hard-nosed player that can move the puck. He reinforces the 2nd or 3rd defensive pairings, and he seems like a good guy to have on your team. I like this video clip of him sticking up and dropping the gloves for a teammate.

The B's also traded Martin Karsums and Matt Lashoff to Tampa Bay for veteran winger Mark Recchi. The 41 year old's been in the League for 19 years. He's got 13 goals and 32 assists. More importantly, he's got 1,472 regular season games under his belt, and 140 playoff games. He's been there, done that. He won the Cup with Pittsburgh in '91, and again with Carolina in '06.

With Lucic out for an unknown period with an unknown injury, Recchi adds some needed depth. Honestly, I don't see him making much of a difference on the ice, barring an injury. But the Bruins do lack playoff experience, and he has plenty of that.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009


The first period of this game got me excited. It was like watching playoff hockey. Really tight checking, solid defense, excellent goaltending, few mistakes. The Bruins ended the first frame up 1-0 after a nifty Patrice Bergeron power play goal. Then they took the rest of the night off. Simultaneously, the Flyers found a higher gear, and embarrassed the Bruins on home ice.

The Bruins can't exactly cruise into the playoffs here, at least not without major risk. New Jersey is only 8 points behind, red hot, and has a game in hand. There's 18 games left, and Jersey is only 3 wins behind the Bruins' pace.

There's another problem. The Bruins haven't fared well against the other top teams in the East: Washington, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. In the 9 games against these opponents, the Bruins are 2-4-3, or have 8 points out of 18 possible. And in their last 4 against these teams, the B's are 0-2-2. That's no good.

We've seen them explode for 5 or 6 goals. Against Washington, they had a phenomenal effort. In the 1st period Tuesday night, they were physical, fast, and fun to watch. Then Marc Savard, of all people, turns the puck over on his defensive blue-line, and finishes the night with 3 giveaways.

So here's the question: Are they fizzling, or are they cruising? A fizzle means they're out of fuel and will eventually crash. But you can accelerate from a cruise.

In their 18 remaining games, they have 2 against those top 4 Eastern teams, and 8 against current playoff teams. Even if they continue to cruise, they can secure the #1 seed in the East.

I'm looking at the schedule and April 9th jumps out at me. The Bruins host the Canadiens. If the Bruins are on cruise control, that game should wake them up. If they've fizzled, it will be blatantly clear that night.

By the way, this was the save of the season...

It may have even wound up to be the biggest play of the night, as it kept the then listing Flyers from falling behind 2-0.

Bruins host the lowly Coyotes Thursday night.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Elsa/Getty Images

Monday, March 02, 2009


Mike Vrabel, and Matt Cassel for the 34th pick in the draft. Mike Vrabel and Matt Cassel for the 34th pick in the draft?

A brief timeline of this trade:

Friday afternoon:
I hear Vrabel's traded to Kansas City. Surprising, not shocking. He's 33 years old, and I've always found his pass rushing to be inconsistent, poorly disguised, and easily foiled by even the averagest of lines.

Patriots trade Cassel to Chiefs. Not at all surprising. Entirely expected. Brady's knees must be healthy.

Later Saturday:
Released that Cassel and Vrabel are part of the same deal. I assumed that throwing in Vrabel was to justify whatever exorbitant price the Chiefs paid for him. Friend of mine tells me it was just a 2nd round pick. I call him a liar.

Sunday morning:
Yeah, just a 2nd round pick for Cassel and Vrabel. Huh?

Let's assess this objectively. I know Mike Vrabel was a popular player. #50 was one of the most seen jerseys at Gillette this year. And he's caught TD passes. BUT, he's 33 years old. He had 4 sacks, and only 40 solo tackles last year. He's neutral against the run, rarely gets into the backfield on the backside of plays, can't disguise his pass rush, and he's 33 years old.

Matt Cassel had a great season, and he's emerged as an NFL calibre quarterback. But he was going to be a free agent. The Patriots weren't in a great situation to trade him because everyone in the NFL knew the Pats weren't going to keep both he and Brady.

But at the same time, there were multiple teams interested in Cassel, which should have (and did) drive his worth to a higher price. And shame on the Patriots for not exploiting this value to its maximum value.

I didn't want a first round pick for Cassel. Early first rounders are too expensive in terms of salary. I wanted multiple picks. I wanted a good 2nd rounder, and maybe a 3rd or a 4th along with it. At least a couple of 6th rounders thrown in as token compensation.

It's hard to believe that Scott Pioli being with the Chiefs had nothing to do with this. It seems like a twisted form of compensation for all his years of service with the Pats. A kind of severance package.

The Pats could have had a 1st and 3rd round pick for Cassel, but didn't explore this thoroughly. Or so it seems. Some suggest Belichick turned down better offers. I find that notion laughable. He'd sell his soul for 5 yards of field position. I just think maybe the Pats didn't explore their possible options fully.

Then again, maybe the Pats have a specific player targeted with this 34th overall pick. Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel points out that teams may have been hesitant to acquire Cassel, as it would require a large contract extension. And remember, the teams that would want Cassel are poor teams, with many problems, and they need all the cap space they can get for multiple players.

Whatever the reasoning is, the Pats have failed to win the Super Bowl the last 4 years. This year will see more scrutiny, and even criticism if things don't go well.

In Foxborough, failure is not an option in 2009.


Photo Credit:
Associated Press

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Does Jose Theodore play with his eyes open? That's my question. I know a few years ago with Montreal he was outstanding, but now he just seems to be the luckiest goaltender in the history of the game. Maybe it's because I'm used to seeing Tim Thomas' textbook form, so when Theodore wanders 8 feet out of the crease, and goes to the butterfly in the slot, Jose simply looks retarded.

The Capitals have won 3 of 4 against the Bruins this year. And I'm barely worried about facing them in the playoffs. Firstly, I think it will be miraculous if Jose Theodore brings them as far as an Eastern Conference Final. Secondly, their biggest enemy against the Bruins will be the law of averages catching up with them.

The Devils and Martin Brodeur are the biggest threat out there, folks.

One of the video headlines on ESPN.com reads "Caps send Bruins a message in overtime win." I wonder what the hell this message could be? "We're luckier than you?" "Without your most physical forward, we barely beat you." "Dennis Wideman had our biggest goal." "If the refs call bizarre hooking penalties every 10 minutes, we'll have the edge."

I'm not trying to detract from Washington. They're a great team, and Ovechkin's the best player in the world. I just think that the season series could have easily been 3-1 Bruins if not for one or two bounces.

But it is what it is. And Washington is a mere 8 points behind the Bruins, and both teams have 19 games to go. The Caps have the 2nd tie-breaker by winning the head-to-head series 7 points to 3, and the 1st tie-breaker is total wins.

Bruins host the Flyers Tuesday night.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Lisa Poole