Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Hockey is in trouble. Revenues down, moreso than the other sports. There are few star players despite the abundance of talent, and there's a Cold War on the horizon, with Russia's KHL. These are problems that take more drastic measures than simply introducing a salary cap, and getting rid of the redline. Here's my 5 Point Plan:

Players are bigger than they were when the size of a hockey rink was standardized. the 200' by 85' dimensions came from the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal, where the first indoor game was played in 1875. Eighteen seventyfuckingfive! Do you know how small people and players were back then? Have you ever sat in a cramped seat at Fenway? Imagine seats built for people 35 years smaller!!! Widening the ice to a European size would open up play, and allow the game to flow better, particularly in the easily choked neutral zone.

Why are there so few star players? Because we rarely get to see the same players more than two or three times a year. There are other benefits to contraction: the talent pool can be more concentrated, so remaining teams get better and deeper. Struggling teams like Phoenix, who bring down the average revenue of the League thus lowering the cap, can be eliminated. Hockey might work in Phoenix someday, but today isn't the day for experimenting. Smallmarket teams can also be eliminated, raising the salary cap ceiling. Candidates for contraction:

Phoenix Coyotes
LA Kings/Amnaheim Ducks (1 team in SoCal is enough)
Ottawa Senators
Buffalo Sabres
Nashville Predators
Florida Panthers
New York Islanders (2 NY area teams are enough)
Atlanta Thrashers

So a 22 or 24 team NHL, split into two conferences, or even split into 6 divisions of 4 teams, or 4 divisions of 6 teams. Weight the schedules heavily within the division so that rivalries are allowed to build. But this way, Bruins fans get to see the Red Wings more than once a season. And if we dump the East/West Conferences, and simply have 12-16 playoff teams from the entire league, there'll be more variety in playoff series. So teams like the Bruins might meet the Red Wings somewhere besides the Stanley Cup Finals.

The KHL will have to be reckoned with. So get ready for it now. For those who don't know, the KHL is Russia's SuperLeague, that also has teams in countries like Ukraine, Latvia, and Belarus. But by 2011 it wants to expand across Europe, absorbing the top teams from Germany, Czech Republic, Sweden, and Finland.

The NHL has to prevent the KHL from turning into a competitor instead of a minor league. The NHL should form its own minor league in Europe, and use it as a feeder for the NHL, and also a place for veterans to play. Either that, or someday merge with the KHL, and have the Stanley Cup awarded to the winner of a playoff series between European and North American champions.

Hockey is popular in major European markets, unlike baseball or football. This needs to be taken full advantage of, and not just by having a pair of games in London or Prague.

One drawback of a salary cap is that teams struggle to have "regular" players. Sure, the stars like Crosby or Ovechkin might remain with a team for most of their career. But the middleclass players turn into nomads with a cap. There needs to be exemptions and allowances for teams to hold onto homegrown players. Using the Bruins as an example, guys like Patrice Bergeron should be allowed to get paid without hitting the cap too hard. That way fans are much more familiar with their teams, and don't have to constantly learn how to pronounce new French Canadian and Russian names, as players come and go through a revolving door.

This is controversial. Because as NHL goalies have become larger, the goalmouth essentially gets smaller. But at the same time, NHL shooters have become more accurate. Any widening of the goal would have to be small, very small. And I don't think it's necessary to the health of the game, but it wouldn't hurt.


Okay, BC isn't a contender this year. They're NIT material at best. They might not even be in the Top 5 teams in New England (UConn and URI are both good, BC lost to Harvard and Maine). But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a nice upset win over Clemson!

Clemson was off. No doubt about it. But BC took advantage. The Eagles went to the line 35 times, compared to just 12 trips for Clemson. Clemson's much bigger, but the teams tied in rebounds with 27.

What does BC need to do to earn an NCAA bid? Quite a bit. This victory was Step #1. Unfortunately, steps 2 thru 11 involve winning every single game left on the schedule, including home games against Duke (February 6th) and UNC (20th). Not likely.

But I enjoyed it nonetheless.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I tried coming up with a play on words for the headline but my brain is mush today. Something with appeasement or pissed off, there are too many possibilities for me to focus properly.

Anyway, the Ravens have hired the former Patriot D-Coordinator to be their LB Coach. Pees was the LB Coach up here until being promoted to coordinator.

I'm not surprised. Did the Patriots defense seem coordinated to anyone? Pees seems like a guy that can help out veterans, specifically at linebacker (he'll have Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs down there), but struggled to coach younger players.

To be fair to Pees, he was handed the keys to a poorly constructed and unfurnished house. He had an inexperienced defensive backfield, a below average LB Corps, and the unit had just lost its biggest leaders (Bruschi, Harrison, Seymour).


Monday, January 25, 2010


Potential replacement for "Zombie Nation" if the Bruins ever score a goal again?


I never hesitated to pick a team to root for in the NFC title game. And that contest ended perfectly. An absolutely moronic INT by Brett Favre across his body, instead of running 7 yards to the sideline and securing a 49 yard field goal attempt to win the game. Vintage Favre.

But the Jets/Colts game was a tough one. I found myself rooting for turnovers by both teams. Turnovers, sacks, negative plays in general. I took a nap through most of the 4th quarter. Hatred makes me sleepy.

But I'm happy with the Colts winning. Happy might not be the right word. Relatively content?

Because at least I'm accustomed to Peyton and the Colts being praised. And at least they are a genuinely good team. It would've been entertaining to see them reap what they sewed by being eliminated by the team they let sneak into the playoffs.

But that enjoyment would be shortlived. It would soon be replace by my new least favorite word: "Refreshing."

Rex Ryan is refreshing. "He's the Anti-Belichick." Rec Ryan is a fat, lucky loudmouth that's pregnant with twins.

And now, my TV stand can relax, and no longer fear struggling to support Rex Ryan's obesity.



The name Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf won't ring many bells. That is until I refer to him as the Iraqi Information Minister, a.k.a. Baghdad Bob.

Whatever happened to that guy? I have suspicions he works at 4 Yawkey Way. How else do you explain things like the Red Sox' sudden interest in defensive play? How do you explain the differing medical views on Jason Bay's knees?

The Red Sox claim to be interested in defense, but they're really interested in defending their image. Folks, they're not trying to win a World Series in 2010. They're trying to win 85 to 93 games, remain "in the hunt" until September 15th or so, perhaps even have an outside shot of being swept out of an ALDS.

This is not a World Series contender, barring several dozen season-ending injuries to key players on opposing teams. Things like CC Sabathia succumbing to gigantism, or Mark Teixeira getting arrested for every unsolved murder committed in New York.

The Red Sox offseason maneuvering appears to be complete. Maybe a few more bit parts to be added here and there, but nothing significant. And this is what the rotation looks like:

Jon Lester
Josh Beckett
John Lackey
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Clay Buchholz

It's pretty good, and fairly deep. But there are glaring and exploitable weaknesses.

Lester sucks after 100 pitches thrown. That's not the end of the world, but against good teams with patient hitters, this will cause either early exits or blown leads.

Who is Josh Beckett? In 2007, he was Cy Young. In 2006 and 2008 he was Jeff Fassero. And last year he was Cy Fassero.

John Lackey is solid, a middle-rotation kind of guy.

Daisuke. What a crapfest that's been. Is he going to be healthy? Is his translator going to be healthy? Is he going to be honest with the team regarding his training regimen? The Sox can blame themselves here, they gave him every special treatment and amenity under the rising sun, and this guy just doesn't feel like a member of the team.

Clay Buchholz is talented, but again, fits in best as a middle of the rotation guy.

So the two supposed Aces, Lester and Beckett, each have flaws. Lester can't go too deep into games, and Beckett is more like an Ace in Blackjack, he's capable of giving you a lot or very little.

It's a good rotation, but would be exposed in a playoff series against any capable collection of hitters.

Then there's the lineup:

1. LF Ellsbury
2. 2B Pedroia
3. 1B Youkilis
4. C Martinez
5. RF Drew
6. DH Ortiz
7. 3B Beltre
8. CF Cameron
9. SS Scutaro

It starts off very nicely 1 thru 4. Then Drew, who can be penciled in to miss 40 games with snowflake injuries.

Then Ortiz, who enjoyed a season free of criticism despite being caught cheating, blatantly lying about said cheating, and only hitting .238. In fact, his mere 28 HRs were CELEBRATED by pinkhat Sox fans. He slugged .159 below his mark from 2007. And there's very little reason to believe he'll improve.

Adrian Beltre has a great glove. That's all the Red Sox Info Ministers have spouted. These are the same people who will go on and on about how vital OBP is. Beltre's was .304 last year. That's .009 below Jason fucking Varitek's.

The Sox will return to worshiping OBP when they discuss Cameron. His was .342, which is good when your Average is .250. Cameron also has a better glove than anyone else in history if you believe in baseball numerology, or if you look at his stats through a seer stone in a hat.

For some reason, the suddenly defensive minded Red Sox didn't sign Alex "Should've Won the Gold Glove" Gonzalez. They got Marco Scutaro. Who's actually not too shabby of an offensive player. But there's no power.

This lineup has no power. It's got guys who can get on base, play station-to-station, and eventually be stranded on 3rd.

It's not an altogether bad team. It's good actually. But just good. But still well short of actually contending for anything. And I don't mind too much. Bay's offensive output was as inconsistent as MRIs are of his knees. And who were the big free agents out there this season?

The Sox got one of them in John Lackey. There were some big names traded, like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. But they were traded for each other!

So while I mock the Red Sox for their blatant propaganda and outright fabrications. I essentially concur with their philosophy this offseason.

In 2011, the Sox will have a much wider range of options. They can retain Victor Martinez, move him to 1st, Youkilis to 3rd, and sign Joe Mauer. Carl Crawford will also be a free agent.

The money being spent on Lugo and Renteria will no longer be on the books. Lowell's contract will conclude, as will Ortiz's.

So endure the sub .525 (below 85 wins) season. Enjoy Adrian Beltre's defense, and use the bathroom when he's at bat. Enjoy quicker games thanks to the bottom of the Sox' lineup making for easy innings. And bottle in your rage, only to be released in the next offseason when Theo announces the 2011 campaign to be a tunnel.


The Bruins don't play again until Friday. And I for one am glad. My liver could use a break.

The Bruins have lost 5 in a row, 8 of their last 9, and have collected a mere 7 points in the month of January, with only 2 more games left to play. They've slipped to 9th place in the East, and could plummet as far as 13th by the time they take the ice against Buffalo on Friday.

This weekend, the Bruins lost a close one to Ottawa, and were then obliterated by the Hurricanes in Raleigh, 5-1.

Injuries can be blamed only so much. No Savard means no power play. No Begin or Bitz means much less muscle along the boards. But as I've said before, a lack of Savard cannot pardon a Blake Wheeler turnover, or a missed assignment by Dennis Wideman.

Does Michael Ryder know that he can work out in a weight room to get stronger? Maybe then he'll be able to win more than 5% of his battles and perhaps maintain possession of the puck in traffic. I'm so glad I don't have a #73 trampstamp on my lower back (long story).

Thank God for guys like Daniel Paille. Where would the team be without him?

The real question is: what to do?

Some have suggested picking up a "stud scorer." And that'd be nice, but at what cost? Trade your future to rent Ilya Kovalchuk for 1/3 of a season?

Kovalchuk would be nice, and certainly less frustrating then watching David Krejci flail at the puck like an alcoholic, or Michael Ryder aim his shots at the goalie's chest.

But the price would probably be too much for what would amount to help in only one category.

The Bruins scored 274 goals last year (3.34 per game, 2nd in the NHL). They've scored 126 this year (2.52 per game, 30th). The problem is too large to be solved by just one player. And if you got Kovalchuk, that's likely all you'd get at the deadline.

The Bruins need extended possessions, not just one-shot rushes. They need physical players that know how to win battles for the puck. Right now, too many possessions are ending with a Bruin being outmuscled at the halfwall or in the corners. The Bruins can't dumpandchase because there's a 70% likelihood (or so it seems) that they'd dump the puck in, then chase the opposing forwards back up the ice.

And maybe it's time for the Bruins to get a little dirty. The one thing the Bruins have working for them is their Penalty Kill, at 87.7%, it's 2nd in the NHL. Why not take advantage of that fact? Slash a few ankles, make roughing penalties really rough.

Perhaps the Bruins should acquire some antagonists, some punks. They really don't have any. Lucic is the closest thing to one, but he's too clean of a player for the goon's role. I'm talking a guy like Sean Avery here. A real prick that even Bruins fans don't like.

Get other teams flustered, get them as emotional and desperate as we are. Then make them pay.

Bruins @ Sabres Friday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I've never liked Glen Davis. Just because he's chubby, doesn't mean he's likable. I've never thought he's too good of a player. And more recently, he's been a total pest on this team.

Remember when he almost burst into tears courtside when KG was yelling at him? Then there was the fight he got into with his "friend" that kept him sidelined until Christmas. And now this.

A Detroit fan heckled Davis all night, calling him "fat boy." Davis responded with obscenity. "Suck my dick" to be exact.

What worries me is that Davis allows a fan to get into his head. 99.99999% of athletes don't directly respond to fans taunting. Most zone it out, others absorb it, and almost all of them deal with it, without it affecting any of their actions.

Doc Rivers said:
"It's common sense, when a fan is yelling and it's offending the people around him, then the guy will be removed. If a player points or coach points to security, there's a very good chance that person will be removed."

Well I work security at Gillette Stadium, and I've never removed any fan from the premises for saying "fatboy." It's an elementary school insult, which Davis couldn't handle.

And he is fat!!! He's tubby, chubby, rotund, round, jolly, plump, overweight.

I really hate Glen Davis. Doc says he needs to grow up. I think he simply needs to go.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Have you noticed the pattern that repeatedly unfolds when a big name player leaves the Sox?

#1: The Sox make a modest, but easily beatable attempt to retain him. Usually, it's a contract offer to a free agent that's about 85% of what they eventually get paid. And somehow, we as fans find out about it.

#2: The player rejects the offer, and goes somewhere else.

#3: A story comes out about how the Sox were turned off by the former player. Whether it's injury concerns, or problems in the clubhouse; somehow, we as fans find out about some malfunction that apparently tarnished the shine of the ex-Sox star.

It's how we find out about these things that attracts my attention. Fenway has more leaks in it than the Big Dig.

According to Peter Gammons, the Red Sox and Bay agreed to agree to a $60M, 4 year deal back in June of '09. That is until an MRI on Bay's knees caused concern for the Sox. The deal was reduced to 2 years, which Bay refused, and he eventually wound up with the Mets.

Now I'm not doubting Gammons, whose reputation is deservedly impeccable. I'm not criticizing the Sox for refusing to commit large sums of cash to a player with bad knees.

But this 1-2-3 routine of the Sox is quite noticeable. They are usually correct when they let players leave. Make a lowball offer, which leaks to the media. Then the player signs with the Mets or the Dodgers. Then we find out that player's deficiencies. Thanks once again to that diligent media.

Maybe we just have some amazing snoops at the Herald and the Globe and NESN and Channel 5 and the blogosphere. But how come we never find out about Bay's knees, or Nomar's malignant behavior until after the player's inked a new deal with a new team. How come that is the moment the hardboiled reporters stumble upon these stories?

The Red Sox are masters of media manipulation. And I'm not criticizing, I'm admiring. The Sox have been able to preemptively diffuse the once inevitable public backlashes that occur when favorite players leave town. It's an art, worthy of Machiavelli or Sun Tzu.

They leak these stories (which border on propaganda), and a media starving for scoops to pass on to the rabid fanbase thanks them for the snack. And you can't blame the media for being pawns in this game. What's the alternative? NOT discuss Jason Bay's questionable knees?

So Bay has bad knees, and that's why the Sox didn't sign him. When Mike Cameron bats .240, we can blame Bay's knees, and not the front office.

So in summary, I'm not denying or even questioning the truth behind Gammons' story. But just pay attention to how the Sox leak out stories to the press in order to appease the fanbase. That farce about putting on a "full court press" for Roy Halladay, comes to mind.

And while you're watching your favorite player this year, whether it's Beckett, Papelbon, Victor Martinez or Dustin Pedroia; when and if they do leave the Red Sox, you'll eventually be HAPPY to see them leave. And it's all because of the devious and ingenious schemesters on Yawkey Way.

Yahoo! Sports

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

self saBotage

The excuses are many, but still insufficient. Were games like this one uncommon, perhaps such excuses could be accepted as valid. But the Bruins have built themselves a new reputation this season. In last year's playoffs, the team's PR motto was: We Want It As Bad As You.

The slogan for the 09-10 season? We Play As Bad As You.

Injuries can forgive losses in close games, like we saw on the 1-1-1 Westcoast trip. And certainly players who have been hurt, like Bergeron and Krejci, can receive occasional hall passes for poor play.

But unhealthiness can't explain Blake Wheeler's inability to maintain posession of the puck. Blake's new nickname: Vonda Mahoney (the name of the "easy girl" in Family Matters that tried to repay Steve's tutoring with sexual favors. Only for Steve to convince her to be a prude) because he gives it up as easily as she did.

I'm convinced more and more that the Bruins acquired Satan to at least partially replace both Wheeler or Ryder.

Hopefully, losses like this one will ignite a fire under the asses. I've been kind of hoping for a bad streak of losses. The Bruins' bipolar, on-and-off efforts need to stop. The team has to hit bottom. And only then, coupled with the return of injured players, will give them a chance to achieve Springtime significance.

Bruins get the BJ's Thursday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Friday, January 15, 2010


The Patriots now have no offensive or defensive coordinator, as Dean Pees has stepped down. Pees is 60 years old, his contract will expire in a few weeks, and he may or may not take a job with another team.

So what now for the Patriots?

Well the two expected candidates are current LB coach Matt Patricia, and D-Line coach Pepper Johnson.

Patricia is 35, and took over at LB Coach for Pees in 2006. He's from Sherill, NY, which is the town next to Turning Stone Casino, where I used to play a lot of poker. That means nothing to you.

Johnson is 45, and has been the line coach since 2004. Before that, he was the ILB Coach, and the Assistant LB Coach. He's been with Belichick and the organization since 2000.

Based on Johnson's pedigree, he might be the favorite in this two horse race. He's got much more experience coaching on the defensive side of the ball. Patricia, before 2006, was an O-Line and Offensive Assistant Coach.

Boston Globe


I'm getting tired of hearing Mike Vrabel's name. Work your thoughts and imagine your standard middle-aged Boston fan spouting unwisdom about how much the Patriots miss Mike Vrabel, especially for his "Leeta-shipp" (leadership). It's something I've heard entirely too much of, so I need to vent.

Mike Vrabel didn't leave the Patriots before the '09 season. He left before the '08 season. Sure, a person wearing #50 took the field, missed tackles, and failed to get any pressure on any QB. That wasn't the Mike Vrabel that made the Pro Bowl in '07, and registered 12.5 sacks and forced 5 fumbles. It was a cheap imitation.

Mike Vrabel was going to cost the Patriots $3 to $4 million in cap space for the 2009 season. He wasn't going to provide $3 to $4 million worth of production. The Patriots were essentially at the cap for 2009, so keeping Vrabel would've cost them $3 to $4 million in cap space.

Vrabel made 53 tackles for Kansas City this season. He had 2 sacks.

Whoopty shit.

Vrabel's gone, he's essentially been gone for 2 seasons now. Get over it.


Some hockey fans in Boston have been suffering from amnesia lately. These people think it's "Tuukka Time." Incorrect. Nothing against Rask, but Tim Thomas is an elite goaltender. And he reaffirmed that last night, stopping 41 of 42 shots in regulation and OT. Then he stood on his head in the shootout, stopping everything, and extending it long enough for Chara to net the game winner.

Chara's shootout attempt was exactly what the Bruins' shootout efforts are missing. He just shot it, challenging Nabokov to make the save. No deking, no trickery, little deception; just a blast from the high slot.

I know it's only one game, and I've said this many times this season; but this is the kind of win that you can build a season on. The Bruins went into the Sharks' building, and beat the team with the best record in the NHL. And they did that without their top 3 centers (Krejci has an undisclosed injury).

And nothing against Trent Whitfield, but he shouldn't be wearing #42. The Bruins need to retire those digit.

Bruins @ Kings Saturday afternoon.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Tony Avelar

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I hate Tony Dungy. I hate the mystique around Tony Dungy as the "Nice guy." And what's even more laughable is the notion that he's a family man. Somehow, having a son commit suicide makes you a family man. Do you remember the media-led slobberfest over this guy when his son offed himself?

I don't know if Dungy's a good dad or not, only his kids know that. But to the media, it was as if his son's suicide PROVED that he was Father of the Century.

And now he's pissing me off again. He's bitching about NFL teams failing to follow the spirit of the Rooney Rule.

I'm going to try not to get too political here, cuz this is a sports site. But indulge me...

The Rooney Rule demands that an NFL team interview a minority candidate for an open head-coaching position before a new coach is named. In other words, an NFL team looking for a new coach MUST interview a minority candidate before selecting their coach. Even if they've already decided on one.

Dungy was a major proponent of the rule. I don't like the rule, I don't like affirmative action, but little harm comes from an interview, and I can even see how some good can come from it.

But Dungy's pissed. Quotes from the AP Story:

"Recent minority interviews for NFL coaching jobs in Washington and Seattle under the Rooney Rule have raised questions whether the spirit of the rule has been violated...

The Seahawks met with Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Saturday amid reports that Southern California coach Pete Carroll would be hired regardless of how impressive Frazier was.

'That is not what the Rooney Rule is supposed to be, (that) you make up your mind and then interview a candidate for it anyway just to satisfy the rule.'"

Dungy, what the fuck did you expect? The Seahawks wanted Carroll. And dumb as that is to give him another shot in the NFL, they weren't going to change their minds. The Rooney Rule sets up a token system of interviews if a team has already made up its mind.

The Seahawks wanted Carroll, and now Dungy is pissed that they're following his rule, but not following it to the letter.

And if it's unwise for teams to rush through the hiring process, then they'll get screwed for it in the end. If teams don't hire the best candidate for the job, they'll be punished for it on the field. Which the Seahawks will soon discover.

Fuck the Rooney Rule, and fuck that over glorified, egotistical, self-righteous Reverend Tony Dungy.


I consider myself a relatively serious Patriots fan. I've been to every home game the last 3 years (albeit in a working capacity, but I've still been there rain/shine). I fancy myself more knowledgeable and less emotional than most Pats fans, but even I had to look up who the Patriots' coordinators are.

Dean Pees is the defensive coordinator, and there is no offensive coordinator.

Charlie Weis was available to be a coordinator. The Chiefs grabbed him. There is no offensive coordinator in Foxborough, and the Patriots made not a single effort to seduce their Prodigal Coach back home. Apparently it was felt that nobody is better than Weis.

I remember the actual moment I began to miss Charlie Weis, and Josh McDaniels, too. It was Week 10 in Indy. Right before the Pats went for it on 4th & 2, they were confused, and took a timeout. That lack of a timeout prevented them from challenging what should have been a much closer spot of the ball.

But I remember watching NFL Films, and the DVD 21, and watching Weis on the Patriot sidelines, preparing his unit for any and all contingencies. "If we stop them here, we have X yards to go for a field goal. If they get a field goal, we'll probably have Y seconds to get a touchdown." That kind of thing.

Weis thought ahead. He was a chess master, thinking 8 minutes ahead in a game. If he wanted to go for it on 4th & 2, he would've made the decision when it was 2nd & 10.

There would've been no need for that timeout.

Maybe Weis and Crennel don't want to return to New England. Maybe they don't want to take that apparent step backward in their careers. That's understandable. But did the Patriots even call them or their agents. I certainly hope they did. Because those are two premier coordinators. Not only that, it's going to be some time before another team steals them away as head coaches.

The Patriots apparently chose a void over Charlie Weis. And I just don't get that. Especially after a season of bland plays and total offensive failure in key moments.


An inspired 2nd period effort was wasted by the Bruins last night in Anaheim. Down 1-0 after 1, Zdeno Chara led the Bruins' 3 goal charge in the middle frame, and they ended the period up 3-2. But then the 3rd saw your typical Bruins' silliness, and another 2 points were pickpocketed away.

Part of me is kind of glad that all the "Tuukka Time" people out there actually saw why Tim Thomas is still clearly the Bruins' #1. The goal Rask allowed in the 2nd was entirely his fault, as his greatest weakness was exploited: indecisiveness handling the puck. Rask was lost with the puck behind the net, turned the puck over, and was out of balance and out of position until Matt Beleskey put him out of his misery.

There was some good to take out of this one. Chara harnessed his rage from the end of the 1st into a goal in the 2nd, and some excellent play in all three zones. Sturm was excellent, scoring his 15th. Satan has proven to be a real nice pickup. And Hunwick made an intelligent offensive play to score his 6th of the season.

But there was also a great deal of negatives. Wideman got his 3rd delay of game penalty of the season for chipping the puck over the defensive zone glass. That's inexcusable.

Ryder feels the need to count to 3 before doing anything with the puck. He hesitated on a golden chance to tie it in the 3rd, eventually shooting and knocking the puck around the post.

David Krejci... nuf said.

Bruins have another tough one tonight in San Jose.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


BU beat BC 3-2 last Friday night on the ice at Fenway. And not only did BU win the game, they won the fashion show as well. Both teams debuted commemorative jerseys for the event. BC's were gold with maroon and green stripes (for the Green Monster), and a diamond logo on the back instead of a name.

Meanwhile, BU went with their traditional scarlet and white. But the "Boston" on the front of the jersey was in the Red Sox' font. And two red socks on skates adorned each shoulder.

One of the slickest jerseys I've ever seen. And BU isn't going to sell any of them. I don't really know why. Perhaps with the Red Sox' font and logos, there are some licensing issues. But it's a shame. As a hockey fan, a Red Sox fan, and a jersey connoisseur, I definitely feel like we're missing out.

Monday, January 11, 2010


The Bruins and Rangers have played each other pretty close. Lots of 1-0, and 2-1 games. And as frustrating as those losses can be, they're at least exciting to watch, and the Bruins typically register a good effort. Neither of those things were true Saturday afternoon.

You can blame the injuries all you want, and the Bruins have had their share and a half. But injuries don't excuse Dennis Wideman's inability to consistently handle the puck. They don't excuse Michael Ryder's stilted and deliberate shooting (in high traffic areas, he doesn't one-time the puck, he catches it, handles it, then tries to shoot. Of course, by that point, a quick reacting defenseman has poke-checked the puck away). They don't excuse David Krejci's puck ignorance in the crease. They don't excuse a defensive scheme that surrendered the neutral zone without a fight, and yielded the defensive zone almost as freely. Saturday afternoon, the Bruins' supposedly vaunted layered defense looked more like the French in WWII.

From now on Dennis Wideman's new name is Harvey Dent, because he's a Two Face. He flips a coin, and half the time he does something clever with the puck, the other half he does something wholly moronic.

David Krejci is a premature ejaculator.

Derek Morris is back to being Derek Useless.

And I'm starting to think that Michael Ryder is the reason the Bruins acquired Miroslav Satan.

How many Too Many Men violations have the Bruins made this season? 10? Isn't anything higher than 2 at this point far too many? If you want tangible evidence for a team not focused, look no farther than their obscene amount of Too Many Men penalties.

At the game, some people around my seats kept yelling for Rask. Talk about treating the headache by taking some Pepto-Bismol. The goaltending is not the problem on this team. Nowhere near the problem. Injuries and good players playing like bad players, that's the problem. These "Tuukka Time" people are the same guys who wanted the Pats to put in Michael Bishop.

Nothing against Rask. I'd venture to say that he and Thomas are close to equals. And I don't really mind who is in net. But mostly that's because when the defense forfeits the zone so easily, it doesn't much matter. You could have Vladislav Tretiak and Patrick Roy's lovechild in net, and you'd still give up bad goals.

The Bruins have a West Coast trip that might help them get their heads back in the game. But how many times have I had to write something like that this season? "Hopefully this gets them focused," "Maybe now they'll get their act together," "This trip is what they need to get back on track."

It's January.

Bruins @ Ducks Wednesday at 10 Eastern.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Mary Schwalm


"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more."

Just like the narrator in Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven," I and perhaps some of the Patriots, underestimated that little birdie pecking outside the window.

Perhaps one of the worst quarters of football in Patriots history. And blue-hats out there can attest that this is quite a powerful statement. But how much worse can you get than the 1st quarter of this game? Two interceptions, allowing an 83 yard run, and amassing only 20 yards of offense.

You know what, I hate sportsisms like the one I'm about to roll out, but the Patriots simply didn't want it. Whether it was overconfidence, or Baltimore's preparedness compared to the Pats', or total effort, or teamwork, whatever. I blame the coach, I blame the players.

All season long, there was no killer instinct on this team. When they got leads, they eased up on offense, played back on defense. They let the Colts slip away. And the Jets. And the Broncos. And the Texans. And the Dolphins. There was nothing stopping them from being a 14-2 or even 15-1 team except their own severe disinterest in victory.

It's pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. That a Bill Belichick team, led by Tom Brady, with Pro Bowlers on both sides of the ball, can not only lose a home playoff game, but to a team they'd played AND BEATEN earlier in the season.


The bright side is that there is still potential in Foxborough. And that's really what gets me so frustrated about this team, this season. This isn't a bad team. On paper. They didn't play above their heads this year. Instead, they played at their skill level and with no passion. This is a talented bunch of players, who didn't execute ON THE FIELD as they should have.

A Super Bowl Championship may have been a bit much to ask for. In 2006, and 2007, they may have choked, but they choked and fought at the same time. Those were close, well fought games they lost. Same goes for 2005 in Denver. And the 11-5 squad last year with the 9-7 team in '02, those teams played with balls.

It should be an interesting off-season in Foxborough.

"And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!"


Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Friday, January 08, 2010


These two teams met back in Week 4, in early October. It seems like a whole nother season back then.

The Pats won that game 27-21, thanks to some turnovers, and if you ask some of the Ravens, thanks to the officiating as well. But both teams had drives extended with roughing-the-passer penalties. Both defenses forced turnovers. Both offenses occasionally figured things out.

The Patriots defense was the star of the Week 4 victory. They made two big 4th down stands in the 4th quarter. The offense struggled in the Red Zone, and couldn't mount that big, game sealing drive at the end.

The game began with a microcosm of what was to come. The Pats kicked off, and Brandon McGowan forced a fumble on the return. An incomplete pass, a negative Maroney run, and a sack forced a field goal.

And that's going to be the key to Sunday's game: the Patriots offense vs. the Ravens defense, in the Red Zone.

The Ravens' defensive reputation is more impressive than their defense actually was this season. Don't get me wrong, they have a tough defense, it's just nowhere near as ferocious as it once was. But they are adept at pressuring Brady. In Week 4, the pressure forced a fumble which was recovered by Baltimore in the Pats' end zone. And although Brady's mindset in the pocket has calmed down since Week 4, his body's been banged up.

Welker is an excellent outlet for Brady when teams pressure him. And he's not there. Brady completed 21 passes in Week 4, 6 of them went to Welker, 8 went to running backs, 2 went to Watson. So look for lots of RB routes.

The Patriots couldn't muster a ground attack in Week 4. They tried. Oh how they did try. 30 attempts, for only 85 yards, or 2.8 per carry. Yet two of their TDs came on the ground. In the Red Zone, look for play action passing and screens from the Patriots.

The Pats defense should hold Baltimore to around 20 points. I'd put 24 as the ceiling. In Week 4, the defense essentially allowed 14 points, as Baltimore's remaining 7 points came via fumble recovery. And preventing those turnovers will be another key element to the Patriots gameplan.

Ball control is paramount for the Patriots, moreso than usual. I don't want to see Laurence Maroney even dress for this game. But the margin for error against this Ravens team will be atypically tight.

I think the Patriots defense can stop Flacco and the Ravens. Sure, they'll get more than 120 on the ground, but that's fine. So long as they're generally kept out of the end zone. But there will be a few drives that they make the Pats' D look foolish.

The Pats' offense in the Red Zone will determine victory or defeat. Sub-40 field goals are a bad thing. Anytime Gostkowski has to kick a 37 yard field goal, it isn't 3 points on the board, it's 4 points off.

I think the Pats force some turnovers, and take advantage of good field position. They've never lost a playoff game in Gillette Stadium, and I doubt temperatures in the 20's will be much of an advantage to Baltimore.

Patriots 24, Ravens 17

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Andrew Ference will be out with a groin injury, and should miss about 6 weeks. That means he'll be out until the Olympic break in mid-February.

The Bruins are already without the services of Mark Stuart. But now the blue-line will be strained even more. And what worries me is that Zdeno Chara will be forced to remain on the ice for about half a game (he logged 30:35 of ice time in Tuesday's win). Then he'll play in the Olympics, and come playoff time, he'll be running on fumes.

The relatively good news on the injury front is that Bergeron could be back in 2 weeks. He skated yesterday, albeit with a splint on his right thumb. He'll be reevaluated in 10 days time.

Boston Globe


We come to the end of the season, the National Title Game.

Thursday 1/7 - 8:00PM - ABC
BCS National Championship Game - Pasadena, CA
#2 Texas Longhorns vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide
The last time the title was decided at the Rose Bowl, it was a #2 Texas team that won it all over an undefeated team that boasted the Heisman Winner. Will history repeat itself?

Alabama has a running game and a stout defense. Texas has Colt McCoy and is solid all around. This should be a tight, field-position kind of football game. And both teams have excelled at extracting wins out of these kinds of close contests.

Alabama beat #11 Virginia Tech to start the season, they beat #12 LSU, and they crushed #5 Florida. They've been in big games against tough opponents, and they've found ways to win. Mark Ingram amassed 150 yards against Va-Tech, 144 against LSU, and 113 against Florida. He's a big-stage back.

Texas' schedule was much easier. They beat #19 Oklahoma State, and #22 Nebraska. But neither of those games were in Austin. Nobody in the Big XII came close to matching Texas. And if it weren't for their preseason ranking of 2, there would've been more controversy about their selection into this game.

But why were they ranked 2nd back in August? It was because they returned most of their team from the year before, a team that went 12-1. This is a talented bunch, and more importantly, a focused group of players. Mack Brown has these guys in-line and all striving for the same thing.

Then there's the X-factor: the venue. The 93,000 fans that fill the Rose Bowl will probably be an even split of burnt orange and crimson & cream. But this is familiar territory for Texas. The Longhorns are the only team besides USC to win the Rose Bowl since 2003. They've won there twice. And while no current Texas players were there, plenty of coaches and other personnel were, and this familiarity can help breed a sense of comfort, and even confidence.

I think Alabama struggles to score on Texas' defense. I think the Longhorns take a slim lead, Bama makes a few mistakes, and the Longhorns pull away. The Tide will make a comeback bid, make things close, but run out of time.

Texas 27, Alabama 24