Thursday, December 31, 2009


Now before everyone starts with the whole Thomas vs. Rask debate, let me remind you that although Rask's numbers have been outstanding (10-3-2 record, 1.85 GAA, .935 SV%), and he certainly deserves a hefty chunk of playing time (maybe as high as 1/3 of the workload), Tim Thomas has been far from awful. Thomas is the Vezina winner, not Rask.

It's still December, and it isn't time to be messing with about the only aspect of the team that's been satisfactory. Thomas has been a bit off. Perhaps partly due to injury, partly due to inconsistent playing time (doubtful, considering his personal history as an off-and-on goalie), and partly due to the NHL having a book on him.

Next time Thomas plays, just watch where the rebounds go. Goalies in the NHL are so amazingly good, that they are not only able to stop shots, but also to position themselves to direct rebounds to relatively safe areas (the corners). Thomas' rebounds have been big, and right up into the slot. That's dangerous.

When the weather's warmer and it's almost the playoffs, then it'll be time for the decision on Rask vs. Thomas. It's ridiculous to rotate goalies in the post-season. So for now, I'm sure Julien will rotate them. And that's exactly what he should do.

Flyers vs. Bruins in Fenway tomorrow, in case you hadn't heard. NBC, 1 pm.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Here are my picks for all 5 bowl games on Saturday.

12:00PM - ESPN2
International Bowl - Toronto, ONT
South Florida Bulls vs. Northern Illinois Huskies
No-brainer here. Despite NIU's awesomely devious and creepy mascot, I have to go with the USF Bulls. Both teams are 7-5, but 7-5 in the Big East is slightly more impressive than 7-5 in the MAC.

2:00PM - ESPN Bowl - Birmingham, AL
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. UConn Huskies
UConn's 7-5 record doesn't really tell you the whole story. Their 5 losses were by a combined total of 15 points. They never lost a game by more than 4 points. South Carolina is tough, thrashing Clemson at the end of the season. But they did lose 4 of their last 6, and really disappointed. I think UConn wins one for the Big East.

2:00PM - Fox
Cotton Bowl - Arlington, TX
#19 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Ole Miss Rebels
OSU was knocked out of the BCS by their rival OU. Ole Miss is making their 2nd straight Cotton Bowl appearance, which is a pretty good result for a program now officially on the rise. The Cowboys lost to Houston, Texas, and Oklahoma. They're not great, but they'll represent the Big XII well and win the Cotton Bowl.

5:30PM - ESPN
Liberty Bowl - Memphis, TN
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. East Carolina Pirates
ECU beat Houston in the C-USA title game, thus preventing the Liberty Bowl from being very interesting. I think Arkansas runs away with this one in a romp.

9:00PM - ESPN
Alamo Bowl - San Antonio, TX
Michigan State Spartans vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Disappointment Bowl. MSU was supposed to contend for the top spot in the BigTen, or at least be a factor. Texas Tech lost to Texas A&M. But MSU can't win games. I'll take the Red Raiders here. The game is only 350 miles from their campus, a stone's throw in Texas.

More previews on Monday. Happy New Year!


Here are the New Year's Day Bowls. There's some really good ones to enjoy while nursing your New Year's Eve hangover.

11:00AM - ESPN
Outback Bowl - Tampa, FL
Northwestern Wildcats vs. Auburn Tigers
Northwestern? Really? Good for them, I guess. They're actually pretty good, going 8-4, 5-3 in the BigTen, and they were the ones who finally beat Iowa. Auburn started hot, but lost 5 of their last 7. But they did give Alabama a good fight, they will have many more fans supporting them in Orlando, and it's hard to pick against an SEC team. I'm predicting an Auburn victory.

1:00PM - CBS
Gator Bowl - Jacksonville, FL
#16 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Florida State Seminoles
This will be a fun game to watch. I think WVU is a bit overrated here. Also, Tallahassee is a mere 3 hour drive from Jacksonville. FSU is without a doubt the best 6-6 team in the country, and they'll pull out the upset here.

1:00PM - ABC
Capital One Bowl - Orlando, FL
#13 Penn State Nittany Lions vs. #12 LSU Tigers
Without a doubt, the best non-BCS Bowl out there. PSU couldn't win the big games this year, which has been a pattern for them recently. They'll win 9+ games, but are incapable of topping a quality team. LSU is a quality team. And LSU will win this for the SEC.

4:30PM - ABC
Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA
#8 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #7 Oregon Ducks
Another great match-up, that will turn into another disappointment for the BigTen. Oregon lost to Boise State on their blue field, and lost at Stanford. They also beat Utah. Ohio State is very good, but still just shy of the level they need to be at. They lost to Purdue. Apart from their wins against Penn State and Iowa, there's not much they can boast about. I say Oregon wins their first Rose Bowl since 1917.

8:30PM - Fox
Sugar Bowl - New Orleans, LA
#5 Florida Gators vs. #3 Cincinnati Bearcats
The BCS's master plan develops here, as an undefeated team (Cincy) is assured to go down. There's no way Florida doesn't demolish the Bearcats. I'm picking Florida and rooting for Cincinnati. Maybe if the Bearcats win, Tim Tebow will hang himself.


Time to pick the New Year's Eve Bowls, and there are some tantalizing ones on the menu. All these games are on Thursday 12/31.

12:00PM - ESPN
Armed Forces Bowl - Fort Worth, TX
Houston Cougars vs. Air Force Falcons
Good C-USA/MWC match-up here. Houston has the shorter trip, but there are plenty of Air Force people in Texas who will come out in support of AFA. Houston's put up 29+ in every single game, including a win over Texas Tech. They also beat #19 Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Still, they lost to ECU. Air Force is a solid mid-pack Mountain West team, but Houston's too much for them.

2:00PM - CBS
Brut Sun Bowl - El Paso, TX
Oklahoma Sooners vs. #21 Stanford Cardinal
I think everyone outside of Pasadena and Berkeley have been Stanford fans this season. The Cardinal is one of only 2 teams that beat Pac-10 Champ Oregon. Oklahoma will have more fans with the game in West Texas, and I think this will be an exciting contest. But I'm going with OU to win.

3:30PM - ESPN
Texas Bowl - Houston, TX
Navy Midshipmen vs. Missouri Tigers
The Tigers are part of a dreadful Big XII North that was nothing short of a joke. I think Navy sails away with this one.

6:00PM - NFL Network
Insight Bowl - Tempe, AZ
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Iowa State Cyclones
Both teams boast 6-6 records, so the game should at least be a close one. ISU feasted on North Dakota State, Army, and Kent State to get their 6 wins. Minnesota had South Dakota State and Syracuse. ISU sucks on toast, Minnesota is just kind of bad. Minnesota wins.

7:30PM - ESPN
Chick-fil-A Bowl - Atlanta, GA
#11 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Complete mismatch. Then again, the ACC has struggled against the SEC this season. But Va-Tech never plays at the same level as the ACC. I think this game is a blowout in favor of the Hokies.


Tom Brady will backup Rivers and Manning at QB. Logan Mankins will start at guard. Wes Welker is a backup WR. And Vince Wilfork will start at tackle.

No Patriots were snubbed. And frankly, who cares. Being named to the Pro Bowl team is more of an honor than actually playing in it.

This will be Brady's 5th Pro Bowl. Logan Mankins' 2nd. Only Vince Wilfork's 2nd. And Wes Welker's 2nd.

The Vikings boast 8 players named, the Eagles 7 the Colts 6, the Cowboys 6, New Orleans 5, Baltimore 5, San Diego 5. Arizona, Houston, and Denver also have 4.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The Mets have signed Jason Bay to a 4 year, $66 million deal. And I'm left to scratch my head. The Red Sox, who spent $51.1 million for the right to talk to Daisuke Matsuzaka, and who allocated $70M over 5 years for JD Drew, apparently couldn't match this 4 year, $66 million deal.

Now, $16.5 million per year isn't peanuts. Especially for a guy as inconsistent as Bay. But I'll say this much; the Red Sox better find a way to spend the $66 million they've saved by not signing Bay, either this off-season or the next. Because 36 HR, 119 RBI guys don't grow on trees.

A look at the Red Sox lineup as of now:
1. CF Ellsbury
2. 2B Pedroia
3. 1B Youkilis
4. C Martinez
5. RF Drew
6. DH Ortiz
7. 3B Lowell
8. LF Cameron
9. SS Scutaro

Once a pitcher gets out of the 1st, the 2nd and 3rd could literally be no-sweat innings.



Dear Diary,
I feel just awful. We lost to that mean fatty Rex Ryan and the Jets. It wasn't my fault! Coach Jimmy made me not play. We were up 15-10 when Coach Jimmy took me out. He told me he wanted me to stay healthy so I couldn't stay in the game.

I like Coach Jimmy, and I don't want any owies to happen before the playoffs, but I wanted to play! Don't tell anyone, diary, but on Sunday, I wished that sour puss Bill Belichick was my coach. He'd never give up on a 15-10 game. But he'd probably yell at me too, and Coach Jimmy never does that. And I doubt Bill Belichick would ever take us out for pizza and orange drink after.

The whole time I was on the sidelines, I was just so angry and frustrated. I kept hoping Coach Jimmy would say "Peyton, you're back in, buddy!" Last night I had a dream that he did just that. But on Sunday, he never did. I even kept my helmet on, hoping he'd put me back in. But he didn't. :-(

That night, I was so upset. Me, Reggie, and Dallas had a good cry in the locker room. But something was missing. This was the first time I've lost and didn't have Coach Tony with me. And that hurt. So when the bus dropped me off at my house, I snuggled into my big comfy racecar bed, and dialed Coach Tony's number.

It was nice talking to him again. He read my a story from his book: Quiet Strength

My favorite quotes from the book were:

"Things will go wrong at times. You can't always control circumstances. However, you can always control your attitude, approach, and response."


"My purpose in life is simply to glorify God. We have to be careful that we don't let the pursuit of our life's goals, no matter how important they seem, cause us to lose sight of our purpose."

After he read me his whole book, I asked him to read me Where the Wild Things Are. It was a bit scary, but I fell asleep and didn't have any bad dreams!!!

Until next time, diary! I love you!


It'd be easy to blame luck and the refs for this loss. But I'm gonna take the high road. This game was lost BY THE BRUINS in the 2nd period. Tampa Bay's late goal, which turned out to be the game-winner, did come on a power play. A power play which came from a bad call (Sobotka called for boarding because Lecavalier lost his balance). But that bad call came from good play by the Lightning, keeping the puck in the offensive zone.

Tim Thomas was stellar. But we're back to the pattern of his excellent outings turning into losses.

Marco Sturm's goal was, in a word, nifty. And the Bruins as a whole calmed themselves in the 3rd period. But it's sad how usual it is for the B's to fall behind by 2 goals, and then calm themselves to play solid hockey.

The Bruins host the Thrashers Wednesday night.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

Monday, December 28, 2009


Believe it or not, the Panthers are decent. They're floating around that 8th spot in the Conference. Beating them on the road is a nice little snack.

Tim Thomas was outstanding. He allowed a weird goal that came off a bad-angle shot and found the .01% of the post side that Thomas didn't have covered. It was a shot meant to create a juicy rebound, but sometimes guys get lucky.

After that, he was like Dominek Hasek out there. I've seen much better outings by him, this year and last, especially in terms of positioning. But his athleticism atoned for those shortcomings in anticipation.

Ryder tipped in the Bruins' first goal, his 10th of the year. Sturm's game-winner was his team-leading 11th. Sturm's speed coupled with Savard's vision and touch will make for a deadly combination once the two spend enough time together to figure everything out.

Bruins @ Lightning tonight at 7:30.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Rick Silva


A lot of people gave BC a chance in this game. And that chance would be if USC decided not to show up and give 100%, BC would win. In fact, I'd say that most people out there felt like USC at 80% would be quite sufficient to bury the Eagles.

Well, USC did show up. And Boston College still lost. But it was hardly the shellacking that was anticipated by some people (including myself) out there.

In fact, in many ways, BC cost themselves the game. Shinskie's interception, Montel Harris fumbling the ball on the USC 6 yard line. And of course the missed extra-point. BC struggled with the wet conditions much more than USC. And in the 1st quarter, BC was clearly nervous and jumpy, especially Shinskie.

The Mountain West officiating crew also did their part. These guys were probably expecting a match-up like BC/Arizona, not BC/USC. They weren't blatantly biased, except when it came to instant replay. What was clearly an incomplete pass (receiver out of bounds) was ruled a completion, then upheld. Instead of 2nd & 10 on the BC 44, the Trojans were given 1st & goal on the BC 6. They then scored a touchdown.

In the 3rd, with USC up only 17-13, BC punted. The ball bounced off a Trojan, who was engaged with BC's Luke Kuechly. Kuechly then pounced on the ball. The officials reviewed the play, then decided that the USC player had been blocked into the ball. Even though the USC player was blocking Keuchly forward, and literally stepped into the bounce of the ball. BC would have had possession on USC's 30 yard line.

Officiating aside, BC lost this game on their own. I like David Shinskie, but he's not the long-term solution at QB. He's steady. And against the likes of Maryland and NC State, he's more than adequate. But BC has a desire to move beyond the middle of the ACC. BC wants to do more than get to Emerald Bowls. David Shinskie simply isn't the QB to get them there. At least not now.

BC usually gets good QBs (Matt Ryan, Brian St. Pierre, the Hasselbecks), so I'm sure a solution at the position will eventually be found.

But I can't wait for BC's 2010 campaign. The QB situation will at least no longer be a massive question mark as it was in the summer of '09. Montel Harris (1,457 yards, 14 TDs) will be back for his junior season. Luke Kuechly (142 tackles, 81 solo tackles, 2nd in country in both categories) will be back for his sophomore season. And All-American Mark Herzlich will also return.

Did anyone else think how ridiculous USC's post-game exuberance was? I mean, they won a 3rd-tier bowl game in their home state against a team that has academic standards. Good job! Maybe next year you'll be able to beat Washington!


Photo Credits:
AP Photo


Here we have the Bowls just before the really big bowls. The appetizer bowls, so to speak.

Monday 12/28 - 5:00PM - ESPN2
Independence Bowl - Shreveport, LA
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Georgia Bulldogs
In another year, this matchup would induce salivation. Now it's two struggling programs trying desperately to regain their glory. But Georgia is in better shape than A&M. Don't expect the Aggies to muster the same kind of effort that kept them close with Texas. Georgia will roll through them. But I also include a picture of this Texas A&M girl because she's hot and I never get a chance to pick A&M cuz they suck.

Tuesday 12/29 - 4:30PM - ESPN
EagleBank Bowl - Washington, DC
UCLA Bruins vs. Temple Owls
Normally this would be a no-brainer, but Temple was 9-3. UCLA was 6-6 and only got in because Army couldn't hang on to a lead against Duke. UCLA was 8th in the Pac-10. But Temple did lose to I-AA Villanova. They rolled through the MAC, but couldn't beat Ohio to clinch a spot in the MAC title game. I'm not impressed. I'm picking UCLA.

Tuesday 12/29 - 8:00PM - ESPN
Champs Sports Bowl - Orlando, FL
#15 Miami Hurricanes vs. #25 Wisconsin Badgers
Not a bad matchup here, should be fun to watch. Miami is very close to being back to their elite form, but they're not quite there. Wisconsin has been up and down all year, in and out of the Top 25. Miami has the talent, relative homefield advantage, and they'll win.

Wednesday 12/30 - 4:30PM - ESPN
Humanitarian Bowl - Boise, ID
Bowling Green Falcons vs. Idaho Vandals
Essentially a home game for Idaho. But I bet even they are pissed they have to spend New Year's Eve Eve in Idaho. I'm tempted to give Idaho the edge. But I know nothing about Bowling Green, so I'll pick them instead.

Wednesday 12/30 - 8:00PM - ESPN
Holiday Bowl
#20 Arizona Wildcats vs. #22 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska was close to a BCS berth, but instead they wind up in San Diego. Things could be worse. Arizona quietly put together a nice 8-4 season and deserve their #20 ranking. But I think Nebraska's defense makes a big point in the Holiday Bowl, and the Huskers triumph.

Tons of previews coming Wednesday.


Did it feel like 2007 yesterday at Gillette Stadium? Wes Welker catching 13 passes, Randy Moss hauling in 3 scores. The defense taking advantage of a one dimensional opposing offense. It was a nice bit of '07 that was replayed in Foxborough yesterday afternoon.

I'm not going to go nuts over a win against the strictly mediocre Jaguars. But the Patriots looked 100 times better Sunday than they did in Buffalo. Drives were finished (so long as Maroney wasn't the closer), and points were scored. This makes the defense's job much easier.

The Patriots clinched the AFC East title. It doesn't seem like a big deal anymore, as this is the 7th time in 9 years that the Pats have won the division. Ho hum, right? Well, the Patriots had 5 total divisional titles BEFORE 2001. And 7 since. This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius.

Wes Welker's 13 receptions helped extend his franchise record to 122 receptions. He won't break Marvin Harrison's single-season record of 145, but 122 catches in only 13 games played is nothing short of inhuman.

Randy Moss supporters can rally this week, and point to another brilliant performance. But to me, his outstanding work only proves that he occasionally quits on his team. With the Patriots, at least, he's able to reapply himself. And that's excellent. But his great games only help demonstrate his major flaws.

The Pats are currently the #3 seed in the AFC, and would host the 8-7 Ravens in the Wild Card round. But Baltimore is tied with a total of five (5) teams at 8-7. It's a traffic-jam for the Wild Card spot.

Patriots @ Houston (one of those 8-7 teams) next week.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo


Without Paul Pierce, and on the road (at Christmas), the Boston Celtics took on and defeated the Orlando Magic 86-77.

Rajon Rondo nearly had a triple-double, with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. Tony Allen filled in more than adequately for Pierce, contributing 16. Ray Allen had 18. Garnett had 10, Rasheed 11 off the bench.

The Celtics' defense held Orlando to 77. The 2nd quarter was sheer dominance, as the C's won the period by a 20-8 margin. The Magic average 101.2 points per game. Not surprisingly, the Celtics have the best team defense in the NBA, allowing an average of 92.0 per game.

They're now 1-1 against Orlando, 1-0 against Cleveland, and have the best record in the Eastern Conference by 1 game.

More good news, KG isn't expected to miss any time after taking a nasty tumble in the 4th.

Celtics @ Golden State late night tonight.

Boston Globe

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Thursday, December 24, 2009


It's happened so many times the last two years. The Bruins go up by 3 goals, and THEN my worrying starts. Why? Because this might be one of the worst 3-goal-lead teams in hockey history.

A 6-4 win, and you expect some back and forth. But the Bruins never trailed in this game, and led the game for 40:16 straight. Then you look at a guy like Patrice Bergeron, who had a goal and 2 assists, yet was -1.

Atlanta has some offensive talent, but when you go up 3-0 in 68 seconds in the mid-1st, the game should be a laugher. There's no such thing as prevent hockey, but you can play a high percentage, low risk game. Or you can choose to be more aggressive. A 3 goal cushion gives you this allowance.

The Bruins get 3 goal leads then seem to want to run out the clock. That is impossible in hockey. It takes 1 second to score. Everyone who saw D3: The Mighty Ducks knows that all too well.

It was nice to see the Bruins turn things back on, and re-extend their lead from 3-2 to 5-2. But it only allowed them to once again make things too close.

Wins are nice, and they're what the Bruins need to get to the next level, but they also need to mature and play a full 60 minutes of hockey, even if they go up 3 goals.

Bruins @ Panthers Sunday evening (5pm). Florida right now is tied for 8th in the Eastern Conference.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Picks and previews for this weekend's bowl games.

Saturday 12/26 - 1:00PM - ESPN
Little Caesars Bowl - Detroit, MI
Marshall Thundering Herd vs. Ohio Bobcats
Marshall was 4-4 in the C-USA. That doesn't bode well for them here. U-Ohio is about 100 miles closer to Detroit than Marshall is, so not much edge there. But I'll give the MAC runners-up credit enough to beat a poor C-USA side. Ohio wins here.

Saturday 12/26 - 4:30PM - ESPN
Meineke Car Care Bowl - Charlotte, NC
#17 Pitt Panthers vs. UNC Tar Heels
The ACC needs to prove something in their bowl games. They can start right here. Pittsburgh was extremely close to a BCS bid, but I think they'll react more despondently, rather than playing hard with something to prove. UNC wins what is essentially a home game.

Saturday 12/26 - 8:00PM - ESPN
Emerald Bowl - San Francisco, CA
BC Eagles vs. #24 USC Trojans
Excited yet? I am. And I know BC will lose. USC is extremely talented, just poorly coached and inexperienced. BC struggled on the road, and this will essentially be a USC home game. I remember going to Monterey, California a year ago, a mere 120 miles from San Fran, and there are USC fans, bumper stickers, flags, banners, shirts, jerseys everywhere. BC will lose, but it's nice to be seen.

Sunday 12/27 - 8:30PM - ESPN
Music City Bowl - Nashville, TN
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Clemson Tigers
It's a relatively short 3 and a half hour drive from Lexington to Nashville, so this is close to a home game for UK. They've been here before, and will be here again. Their best win was against Auburn, but they also lost to the likes of Mississippi State. Clemson has CJ Spiller, who was screwed out of a Heisman nomination. Clemson will avenge their loss to the SEC's Gamecocks and take care of the Wildcats.

More previews on Monday. Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


This blog rarely salutes the players on teams west of I-91, and particularly avoids honoring anyone that plays for teams in the Tri-State Area. But Martin Brodeur is good enough to surpass all that sectionalism.

He stopped all 35 shots in Pittsburgh last night, propelling the Devils to a 4-0 victory. It was 104th career shutout, which puts him on top of the all-time leaderboard, passing Terry Sawchuck.

I've been fortunate enough to see Brodeur play a few times, most recently in November. It's fun watching him play. He positions himself so well for the upcoming play, he makes most saves look easy. But he also makes the twisting contortionist stops.

Then there's his ability to handle the puck. He has 33 career assists, and 1 goal.

Everytime I talk about Brodeur, I feel like I have to list his major accomplishments. so here they are:

Most all-time wins (580)
Most shutouts (104)
8th best GAA all-time, best active (2.20)
3rd most saves all-time, most active (23,748)
9 time All-Star
93-94 Calder Trophy (rookie of the year)
4 time Jennings Trophy winner (lowest GAA)
4 time Vezina Trophy winner (best goalie)
3 time Stanley Cup winner
2002 Olympic Gold Medal (5 games, 4-0-1 record, 1.80 GAA)


The Yankees have completed their trade for Javier Vazquez today. Vazquez was 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA for the Braves last year. After struggling with the Yankees in '04, Vazquez has won 62 games in 5 seasons elsewhere.

It's not earth-shattering news, but it does give the Yankees rotation something it lacked: depth. Vazquez fits nicely as a #4 starter for them, which they literally did not have last year.

Red Sox Nation is about to panic. After New York won it all, we as fans were desperate to close the void with the Yankees. But that talent gap has merely widened.

The Sox have added John Lackey, giving their own rotation depth, but they missed out on Halladay, and left-field is still a looming question mark. The Sox made a sideways kind of deal (not an upgrade or downgrade), replacing Alex Gonzalez with Marco Scutaro at short-stop. The Sox line-up, as of now, looks like this:

1. CF Ellsbury
2. 2B Pedroia
3. C Martinez (who hits better as a 1B)
4. 1B Youkilis
5. DH Ortiz (hit .238 last year)
6. 3B Lowell (coming off surgery)
7. RF Drew (we all know the on-and-off love affair he has with the DL)
8. SS Scutaro
9. LF Mike Cameron

Not exactly murderer's row. Parts of it are more like Send in the Clowns.

Meanwhile, the World Champion Yankees have added Granderson and Vazquez.

This is what Theo meant by a "Bridge Season." It's going to be a long, cold off-season, Sox fans.