Friday, March 26, 2010
The NCAA Hockey Tournament commences tonight, and there's actually a number of games available on TV. Here they are. All times are Eastern, and this is likely for the Boston area only:
3:00pm - ESPNU - #1 Denver vs. #4 RIT
6:30pm - ESPNU - #2 Cornell vs. #3 UNH
9:00pm - ESPNU - #1 Wisconsin vs. #4 Vermont
11:30pm - ESPNU - #2 St. Cloud St. vs. Northern Michigan
The 9 and 11:30 games are actually tape delayed, like that matters.
1:30pm - CSN - #1 BC vs. #4 Alaska
4:00pm - ESPNU - #1 Miami vs. #4 Alabama-Huntsville
6:30pm - ESPNU - East Regional Final (Denver/RIT vs. Cornell/UNH)
9:00pm - ESPNU - West Regional Final (Wisconsin/UVM vs. SCSU/NMU)
11:30pm - ESPNU - #2 Bemidji St. vs. #3 Michigan
The BSU/Michigan is tape-delayed.
5:30pm - ESPNU - Northeast Regional Final (BC/Alaska vs.North Dakota/Yale)
8:00pm - ESPNU - Midwest Regional Final (Miami/UAH vs. BSU/Michigan)
The BC/Alaska game will be aired on ESPNU Sunday at 9:30am. The North Dakota/Yale game will be tape-delayed broadcast at 12 noon on ESPNU.
So if you have ESPNU and like hockey, this is an enjoyable weekend. The best 1st round games would be the Cornell/UNH and SCSU/Northern Michigan.
That's all I can really say. The Bruins and Ference agreed to a 3 year extension worth $6.75 million, or $2.25 million a year. Ference is constantly plagued by various injuries and hasn't played more than 60 games since the 05-06 season. He'll likely require off-season surgery for a groin injury that's sidelined him most recently.
When healthy, he's a respectable 4th or 5th defenseman, adding depth at the blue-line. But he's not an offensive threat. He's 5' 10" and 189 pounds, so even though he's physical, he's hardly dominating. And he's 31 years old.
So this deal perplexes me a bit. I think the Bruins could get someone with more reliable health for the same amount of money. Because even when he's healthy, he's far from great.
I wouldn't be surprised if this is a sign that the Bruins intend to shake up their defensemen in the off-season. Seidenberg is an unrestricted free agent, Stuart and Boychuk are restricted free agents (Stuart makes $1.3 million this season, Boychuk $500k, both will likely merit more money). They might try to trade Wideman (please, God), and don't be shocked if they move Chara ($7.5M cap number), or at least try to.
As I look at this more and more, I don't like it. You can get better AND healthier defensemen for this amount of money.
The Bruins win 2 road games against teams they're fighting against to get into the playoffs. Two very nice, very solid wins in a row. Then they come home against a team that's the 5th worst in the NHL. And they lose. Of course. It's getting so utterly typical of this Bruins squad.
I'll criticize the refs a bit. They missed an offside call that directly led to Tampa Bay's first goal. Then again, Mark Stuart has to play until the whistle in this situation, not just assume that the refs will get the offside. Stuart isn't Dominek Hasek.
Then there was the interference penalty on Wheeler in the 2nd. Wheeler's standing in the offensive zone, a few diagonal feet from the net. Steven Stamkos, from behind, skates into him, they both fall down. Whistle and Wheeler gets 2 minutes for interference. Stamkos scores on the ensuing penalty.
OK, so the refs helped the Lightning. But the Bruins didn't help themselves. Dennis Wideman had one of his worst games of the season, which is saying quite a bit. And his bonehead kneeing penalty to start the 3rd was a prime example of his lack of focus. He got beyond himself, trying to make an excellent play, and it cost his team a power play, and a crippling 5th goal.
You can say that the Bruins didn't get bounces, but hockey isn't pinball. Both Wheeler and Lucic had multiple golden opportunities to knock in rebounds, but both lack the requisite skill sets to consistently complete that task.
Sorry folks, but Milan Lucic is a 4th line player. He has heart, he has toughness, he has strength, but he has no skates and no hands whatsoever.
But he's better than Michael Ryder. Everyone in the NHL is.
If this team gets a 6th seed, it can play and beat the Sabres. But they get so complacent so easily. They think they've clinched just because they beat the Rangers and Thrashers. They didn't show any fire or desperation until 10 minutes were left, and they needed 3 goals to tie.
The Bruins better pick it up by Saturday, because Calgary is playing for a spot in the postseason too. Although they lost to the Islanders tonight.