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.
Imagine being the head coach of USC football, and traveling the country to recruit athletes. How do you mess that up?
You go to Ohio and tell some kid that it never gets colder than 50 degrees.
You go to Texas and tell some kid that USC is on national TV almost every week.
You go to Florida and tell some kid that USC goes to BCS Bowls, and Trojans go on to the NFL.
You go to northern California and tell some kid that USC is the 2nd biggest sports team in LA, behind only the Lakers.
You go to New Jersey and tell some kid that he'll have classmates like this:
With all this incentive to attend USC, why do the Trojans need to bend and break the rules?
USC's Joe McKnight, who rushed for 1,014 yards on 164 attempts, hasn't made the trip up to San Francisco with his team. He was spotted driving an expensive SUV, which he claims belongs to his girlfriend, but the lease is owned by an LA businessman. This is what's known as a "friend of the program."
I think every major program in the country has "anomalies" like this. It's next to impossible to completely police this kind of stuff. And this certainly doesn't seem to be sanctioned by USC itself. But still, it's so easy to recruit guys to go there, it's funny that they also need loaner SUVs too.
Tim Thomas has 8 wins this season. And 4 shutouts. That speaks to how good he's been, and how inconsistent the Bruins have been for him. Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov are the only other goalies in the NHL with 4 shutouts. Miller has 20 wins, Bryzgalov has 19. Tim Thomas has 8. Can you say statistical anomaly?
Timmy got some help in this one. Boychuck gets an assist on this shutout. Wideman returned and had a very good outing. And scoring 2 goals was the biggest help of all.
The Bruins didn't commit any stupid penalties and leave themselves shorthanded. It wasn't until 18:31 into the 3rd that the Bruins committed any penalty at all, and it was part of double-matching-minors. Yesterday, I stressed how much silly penalties can handicap an offense. I'm glad the Bruins were listening.
It was nice to see some variety between the Bruins' goals. Bergeron got his off a rebound, which came about due to a strong forecheck. Sturm got his on a breakaway, keyed by Chara and Savard.
Bergeron and Sturm, who combined for 15 goals last season, have already amassed 19 between them. Sturm's 10 lead the team, and Bergeron's 9 are 2nd best. I know the offense has struggled, and some might argue that Phil Kessel is sorely missed, but the scoring from these two guys have helped fill the offensive void left by Kessel.
It was a big road win against a key divisional opponent, and the Bruins are now 3-0 against Ottawa. 3 points from this 3 game trip is a decent result.
The Bruins engage the Southern Division for a few games, hosting Atlanta on Wednesday, then travelling to play the Panthers and Lightning, then back up to Boston to once again host Atlanta.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick