Thursday, June 30, 2011


The 2000s have undoubtedly been the best decade in Boston sports history, maybe even the best decade for sports in any city. But do you remember the 1990s? That was, without any question, the worst decade for Boston sports. It was the only decade in the 20th century that a Boston team didn't claim a title. That span saw a football team nearly move to St. Louis, a Red Sox team dominated by their archrivals, and the two winter sports clubs becoming jokes.

The biggest moments for a Boston sports fan in the 90's look pretty lame now: Raymond Bourque hoisting the Cup in the red, white, and blue of the Avalanche. The Red Sox winning one playoff series against the Indians. A Super Bowl appearance dominated by a kick returner. Of all four teams, the Bruins had the best decade. That alone speaks volumes.

I'm only 26, but I did survive the 90's as a Boston fan. We haven't known only success here. We suffered too. And that just makes basking in this glorious time so much more enjoyable. And to fans from other cities (Philadelphia, I'm looking in your direction) who envy our success and think we're spoiled, all I can say is that we went through some tough times before this run, so we're going to enjoy it, bitches.

Let's just compare the 1990s to the 2000s team-by-team, and in four important categories: championships, championship appearances, playoff appearances, and playoff rounds won.

1990s 2000s
Red Sox 0 2
Patriots 0 3
Celtics 0 1
Bruins 0 1
TOTAL: 0 7

1990s 2000s
Red Sox 0 2
Patriots 1 4
Celtics 0 2
Bruins 1 1
TOTAL: 2 9

1990s 2000s
Red Sox 4 6
Patriots 4 8
Celtics 5 8
Bruins 9 7
TOTAL: 22 29

1990s 2000s
Red Sox 1 8
Patriots 3 14
Celtics 2 12
Bruins 9 6
TOTAL: 15 40

Apart from the 7-0 disparity in titles, the most striking difference is the 40 playoff rounds won in the 2000s, compared to the 15 in the 90's. Boston teams did contend for playoff spots in the 90's, as demonstrated by their 22 appearances. But they didn't have enough to capture that postseason magic. Pedro didn't have Schilling, Pierce didn't have KG or Ray Allen. The Bruins didn't have Timmy Thomas.

Just compare the names from the 90's sports scene to the names from today. Pete Carroll vs. Bill Belichick. Rick Pitino vs. Doc Rivers. Mark Portugal vs. Jon Lester. Troy O'Leary vs. Manny Ramirez. Drew Bledsoe vs. Tom Brady.

And then there's the owners and GMs. Kraft takes over the Patriots, hires Pioli, three rings. The Yawkey trust sells the Sox, Epstein gets hired, curse over. Wyc Grousbeck and associates buy the Celtics and bring banners back to the Garden. Jeremy Jacobs still owns the Bruins, but they started spending just before the lockout. Then they hired Chiarelli in 2006.

So people who hate us obnoxious, arrogant, "entitled" Boston fans can go fuck themselves. We put up with Desmond Howard, with the Yankees winning 4 World Series in 5 years, with the choking Bruins, and what we all thought was the end of the Celtics' dynasty. We had to listen to Pete Carroll talk about "having fun" and Rick Pitino rant about the "negativity in this town." We had to endure Jimy Williams' nonsensical lineups. We had to watch an endless parade of mediocre athletes don our teams' uniforms then disappear into obscurity: Jose Offerman, Dino Radja, Jim Carey, Sedrick Shaw, I could go on forever.

We've earned the right to be happy, and to rub it in your faces.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


The Montreal Police plan to interview Zdeno Chara regarding his hit of Max Pacioretty on March 8th. This will be part of their ongoing investigation into the incident. This interview has been delayed due to Chara's involvement in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, along with other "witnesses."

The involvement of police in this incident is one of the silliest sports stories of the year. While the circumstances around Pacioretty's injuries were unique, other big hits in the game weren't investigated by law enforcement officials. And there's a longstanding precedent in the sporting world, that what happens between the lines (or on the field, or within the boards) is governed differently. Fighting in hockey, for instance, doesn't result in arrests for disorderly conduct or assault.

It's a joke. And Canada is getting a reputation for whining and sour grapes. I love how passionate they are for the game, I was happy to see Winnipeg get a team, but look at the temper tantrum that Vancouver threw (again) after losing Game 7. And the uproar in Montreal after this hit. This Canadian crybabyism is preposterous.

I seriously doubt that Chara will be punished in any way. But just the fact that Montreal cops are spending their time looking into this is a massive joke.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Interleague play time. Which means pitchers hitting. Maybe it's because I've grown up in an AL town, but I really can't stand watching pitchers hit. I like watching Major League Baseball to see the best ballplayers do what they do best. I want to see the best hitters hit, and the best pitchers pitch. I don't want to see hitters pitching so why would I want to see pitchers hit?

I don't get why the NL doesn't catch up to the AL and implement a DH. I don't get people who defend pitchers hitting. Sure DHs can be fat, lethargic, and even unathletic. But is watching them hit a single less entertaining than watching a pitcher whiff on an 88 MPH fastball?

What's the appeal of pitchers hitting? Strategy? If I wanted to see strategy, I'd watch a Risk tournament.

And what's wrong with adding more offense? Is the biggest part of All-Star weekend the Bunt Derby or the Home Run Derby?

And what about investing millions of dollars in a pitcher, then risking their arms at the plate and their legs on the basepaths.

Pitchers hitting is antiquated and boring. Other sports have special sets of rules for special positions. In hockey, for instance, if a goalie commits a penalty, he DOESN'T go to the penalty box. Someone goes in his place.

It's just stupid to have two sets of rules for two halves of baseball. It's stupid to have guys who are paid to pitch, train to pitch, and spend their entire lives pitching to have to stand up at the plate and bad .115.


The Bruins begin their defense of the Stanley Cup (God that felt good to write) on October 6th at home. They'll get to raise the banner (another orgasmic phrase to type out) as they host the Philadelphia Flyers. On October 8th, they'll play a rematch of the Eastern Conference Championship against the Lightning, also at home.

The big date that stands out is January 7th, when the Canucks come to town. The Bruins will not travel to Vancouver.

Canadien games:
Thursday 10/27 in Boston
Saturday 10/29 in Montreal
Monday 11/21 in Montreal
Monday 12/19 in Boston
Thursday 1/12 in Boston
Wednesday 2/15 in Montreal

The Detroit Red Wings come to town on November 25th in the Black Friday matinee.

The Bruins will host the Flyers on St. Patrick's Day (Saturday March 17) in what will probably be the drunkest game of the year, despite the 1:00pm start time.

The Bruins make their first trip to Winnipeg on Tuesday December 6th.

Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs will come to town on October 20th, December 3rd, and March 19th.

The regular season will end Saturday April 7th when the B's host the Sabres.


The joyful exuberance doesn't have to stop, but as the hockey games have stopped, we can look forward to next season. And there's quite a bit to look forward to. The core group of guys will return. In other words, Tim Thomas will return. Will he duplicate his awe-inspiring performance from this past season? That might be tough. There's no reason to think that he won't be close to it, though, and I'd bet on him having at least one more top quality year left.

Chara, Seidenberg, Ference, Boychuk, and Mcquaid all return. Thankfully. And Tomas Kaberle is an unrestricted free agent. Thankfully. I doubt the Bruins will make any efforts to keep him here. The defense is the strongest part of this team, apart from Thomas. The Bruins don't need to improve much here. The whole idea of a "puck-moving defenseman" has always bugged me. Offense comes from forwards, defensemen can contribute to that, but it shouldn't cost them defensively. I like defensive defensemen that can also play the puck.

I wouldn't mind Kampfer being the #6 defenseman, but I imagine the Bruins will bring in a more experienced hand. And it probably won't be a big name, or a "puck mover."

In the forwards department, the Bruins will likely say goodbye to Michael Ryder. Although he sporadically provided memorable playoff moments, his lack of consistency has been the one consistent part of his career. Mark Recchi is also gone, going out with ring #3.

The top line of Krejci-Lucic-Horton should remain intact. The word from Horton's camp is that he's not experiencing any post-concussion symptoms. So let's be optimistic and assume that this line returns.

Marchand and Bergeron are on the 2nd line and will need a winger. Peverley is the ultimate utility guy and can slot in there. But I'd rather have Peverley on a grinding 3rd line with guys like Chris Kelly.

The Bruins have some cap room available. They have $52.2 million committed to players, and the cap will be $64.3. So that's $11.1 million they'll be able to commit to filling the few roster holes they have. There might be more, depending on what happens with Savard.

I'd like to see them acquire Erik Cole, who is a free agent. Every time the B's play the Hurricanes, Cole impresses me. He's a hard player, he can score (26 goals last year, 184 in his career), and he plays the power play. He's solid. He'll turn 33 in November. He's not a game changer by himself, but I think if he's on a line with Marchand and Bergeron, all three of them become very good players.

The 4th line of Paille, Campbell, and Thornton is a sturdy group, with Paille and Campbell providing invaluable PK minutes. And we all know what Thornton can bring.

I'd like to see Seguin start the year in the AHL, getting plenty of ice time to learn the NHL style of play. I also wouldn't mind him being on the 3rd line with Peverley and Kelly.

Brooks Laich might be the best free agent that the Bruins look at. He can play wing, and he can turn that power play around. I personally think Cole, at a lower price, is a better value.

As we saw in the playoffs, the game isn't played on paper. For the Bruins to repeat, they need the same quality defense and goaltending. They could use a more potent offense, so long as it doesn't lose it's physicality. Scorers get cold. Forecheckers don't.

The whole idea of needing a 40 goal scorer to win is a bit flimsy. Let's look at the 40 goal scorers from last year:

Corey Perry
Steven Stamkos
Jarome Iginla
Daniel Sedin
Ryan Kesler

Iginla's team didn't even make the playoffs. Perry's was out after Round 1. Stamkos made the East finals, we know about Sedin and Kesler. That's a wide range of team results from these 5 guys. Having elite scoring threats is nice, but they can get cold, they can get shut down. Relying on offensive production isn't enough. The Bruins need to improve by adding grinders who can also score.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Not surprisingly, Timmy Thomas won his second Vezina Trophy, becoming only the 5th goalie to claim the honor more than once since they started awarding it in 1982. Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, Dominek Hasek, and Martin Brodeur are the other multiple winners. Not bad company to be among. What's kind of a sad surprise is that Thomas was the top selection on only 17 of 30 ballots, meaning 13 people felt like someone had a better season than him. I'm guessing many of those votes went to Luongo. And that's really too bad.

Zdeno Chara didn't win the Norris for best defenseman. That went to perennial winner Nicklas Lidstrom for the 7th time. It's hard to argue against Lidstrom, especially since he's nearing the end of an illustrious career. I personally think Chara's ability to shutdown the top line of an opponent while simultaneously leading the NHL in +/- warrants the award, but maybe next year. And ultimately, Lidstrom has defined that position for this generation of players. It's tough to argue against him being awarded anything.

Chara did take home the Mark Messier Award for Leadership. And that's appropriate. I think Chara proved in the playoffs that he's become a leader. Last year, he struggled to perform in the postseason. This year, he rallied his team, most notable after Horton went down, and led with his words and his deeds.

What pleased me most was that Daniel Sedin didn't win the Hart Trophy for MVP. Corey Perry of the Ducks won that. While I would've given it to Thomas, I'd rather see Perry win it than any other skater. Perry was THE guy on the Ducks, and led them to the playoffs. Sedin was one of many pieces to Vancouver's regular season dominance. It's tough to give an MVP to a guy who literally has a duplicate on his team.

Other awards:

Art Ross (regular season scoring leader): Daniel Sedin - Vancouver

Selke (Outstanding defensive forward): Ryan Kesler - Vancouver

Jack Adams (Coach of the year): Dan Bylsma - Pittsburgh

Jennings (Fewest goals allowed): Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider - Vancouver

Ted Lindsay (MVP voted by players): Daniel Sedin - Vancouver

King Clancy (Leadership and humanitarian contributions): Doug Weight - NY Islanders

Lady Byng (Skillful and gentlemanly play): Martin St. Louis - Tampa Bay

So it's nice to see that Vancouver gets some trophies anyway. Although I wonder if they'll destroy half their downtown area because Sedin didn't take home the Hart.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Two nights ago, Tim Thomas added two impressive pieces of hardware to an already diverse collection of trophies and awards. And while the Conn Smythe, the Stanley Cup, and his inevitable second Vezina are the feature pieces of his trophy case, the rest of what's in there tells the story of his career.

He's got some college hockey honors. He was two time All-ECAC and two time All NCAA East All-American. He also has some less traditional, and more difficult to spell awards under his belt.

In 1998, he won the Urpo Ylönen trophy, given to the best goalie in Finland's SM-liiga. He's the only American who has one of those bad boys. His team also won the very large Kanada-malja ("Canada Cup"), Finland's championship trophy.

In 2005 he won the Kultainen kypärä ("Golden Helmet") in Finland, awarded to the best player as voted by his fellow players. He won another 'best player' award that year: the Lasse Oksanen trophy.

The variety of awards he has in that trophy case don't just testify to his quality as a player. They're not just achievements. They're milestones on a career that took one of the most unique paths from obscurity to greatness. Nobody in the world has an Urpo Ylönen, a Vezina, and a Conn Smythe.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


It didn't truly feel real until I saw Tim Thomas holding the Conn Smythe trophy. I've seen Thomas before, many times. I've seen the Conn Smythe as well. But when I saw that man and that thing together in the same frame, that's when it fully hit me what had happened.

The Bruins are Champions. Not Adams Division Champs, not Conference Champs. They didn't win the Presiden't Trophy, they won the Stanley fucking Cup. For the first time since 1972. For only their 6th time in history (remember, for a few decades there were only 6 teams in the League). The redheaded stepchildren of Boston sports are now the center of the Hub.

It started and ended with Thomas. His Finals numbers were unreal. A 1.15 GAA, and a .967 SV%, with two shutouts. All this against the best offense in the NHL. Thomas' season will go down as one of the best in the history of his position. The kid from Michigan whose career bounced around from Vermont to Houston to Finland to Hamilton to Sweden to Detroit to Providence and finally to Boston. What a great story, what a great player.

Then the defense. How monstrous were Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in the postseason? Chara was a +16 in the playoffs and a +5 in this series. That's against the best players in the League. Against the Sedins, against Stamkos and St. Louis. He was +16!

Every forward contributed at some point. Horton's big game-winners. Ryder had a few huge games. Seguin's breakaways. Marchand's introduction to the NHL as a grinder and a scorer. Bergeron, Recchi, everyone had at least one big, vital performance in one game. And guys like Marchand and Peverley seemed to repeatedly come through in the clutch. 11 playoff goals for Marchand.

The same goes for defensemen like Boychuk, Ference, and McQuaid. Kaberle's biggest contribution was probably holding the Cup while his teammates drank from it. But who cares?

This is just a surreal feeling. This wasn't supposed to happen, right? Even when every other team in Boston was winning, the B's were lousy. They were the butts of jokes. They were the ones who couldn't get it done. And now they're part of the club, part of the best decade for any city in the history of sports.

On June 16, 2001, the Red Sox were on their way to another 2nd place season behind the Yankees. The Patriots had just used the 6th overall pick to draft Richard Seymour, and were hoping to recover from a 5-11 season under 2nd year head coach Bill Belichick. The Celtics were reeling from a 36-46 season that saw the departure of Rick Pitino. Boston sports were in a dark period.

Now look at where we are on June 16, 2011. We're preparing for another parade. Our Police Department has more experience in controlling Championship rioting than any other in the country. The longest active title drought belongs to the Patriots, who haven't won since all the way back in 2004. What a time to be from Boston.

Thank you, Bruins.

Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I wonder if Roberto Luongo will have any more critiques for Tim Thomas. I have my doubts. The cocksure goaltender didn't even last a period, and I have to say that each goal he allowed was pretty unforgivable for a goalie. You won't hear Thomas say that, because he respects the camaraderie that goalies share. But I don't have such scruples. Luongo sucked, the Bruins took advantage, and now the series is tied 3-3.

Tim Thomas deserves the Conn Smythe right now. Who else could win it?

But that being said, Roberto Luongo has had the biggest impact on this series. When he performs adequately, the Canucks win. When he doesn't, they lose. He's controlled this duel from Game 1, much more than Thomas has, even though Thomas has by far been the better goalie.

I guess what I'm saying is that even if Luongo does well, the Bruins need to find a way to win. They need to get production from the Power Play, they need to take care of the puck. They're going to need to win a close game on the road to bring the Cup where it belongs to Boston. The hockey gods are not pleased with the diving of the Sedins, or the shenanigans of Burrows, or how pillow soft Lapierre is, or the dastardly hit by Rome. The hockey gods want the Cup in Boston. The Bruins need to appease the hockey gods, and win it.

Game 7 Wednesday night and I can't wait.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Monday, June 13, 2011


The Bruins have allowed 6 goals in 5 games, they're getting stellar goaltending from Tim Thomas, outstanding defensive play, an unbelievable penalty kill, and they're down 3-2 in this series. Why? The defensive designs of Claude Julien are being executed well by Chara, Seidenberg, Ference and McQuaid. Boychuk's also improved compared to last series. And of course, there's Thomas. These guys are doing exactly what they need to do to put this team in a position to win.

But the offense is missing. The Power Play sucks, only looking good in that 8-1 drubbing that saw the Bruins dominant no matter what the manpower situation was. Kaberle doesn't deserve PP time, let alone the 4:08 he got in Game 5. He has no shooting ability. His passes only compound one of the Bruins' biggest problems on the PP: they pass the puck too much instead of moving bodies.

I'd rather see Boychuk out there (0:00 PP time in Game 5), as he actually has a decent shot that other teams need to respect. He moves his feet, he's physical.

And I'd like to see Bergeron and Recchi playing in the high-slot, almost in between the two defensemen (or even replacing them, especially replacing a pinching Chara). These guys can shoot from up there, they can drive to the net, they can force the Canucks to either defend high or low. Peverley would also be a good guy to have up there. He might be the best net-driver on the team.

And why no Seguin? He's the most offensive-minded player, the most naturally talented shooter on the team, he can pass, he can skate, he's always moving with or without the puck. 0:12 of Power Play time in Game 5. Why? Why doesn't Julien get interrogated for that?

The Bruins had three Power Plays in the 1st period. Those were golden opportunities to get ahead, to instill some doubt in Luongo, and maybe most importantly: to make Vancouver think twice about physical play. The Canucks matched then surpassed the Bruins in physicality Friday night. They out-hit the Bruins 47-27. And in the 1st period, they were a bit too eager to play physical. Torres tripping Campbell, Sedin punching Boychuk in the back, Alberts going after Thornton. These were all stupid penalties, and had the Bruins made them pay for them on the scoreboard, some Canucks might have eased off the physical play for the rest of the game.

But they didn't. They continued the intensity and were the better team. The Bruins hurt their own offense with giveaways. Every time Krejci tries to toy with the puck by the blue-line, I get nervous. He really needs to learn the geography of the ice. You can do that fancy crap deep in the zone, but not by the blue-line. Location, location, location.

Ryder went from having one of his strongest games in Game 4, to one of his weakest. That's been a theme for him in this series, in the postseason, in the regular season, in his career.

Kaberle doesn't deserve to dress. Dress Hnidy, or Kampfer, and play them in an emergency. He's awful. He's a negative influence on all aspects of the game. He was born to be a Maple Leaf.

This was a great opportunity to win the series. Had the Bruins won out there, I have no doubt that they'd win the Cup. Now, the task in front of them is pretty tough. They had Luongo on the ropes, but allowed him to build confidence in that 1st period, and now the overrated, greasy, Quebecois prima donna is feeling cocky. Here's what he said about the goal Thomas allowed:

"It's an easy save for me, but if you're wandering out and aggressive like he does, that's going to happen. He might make some saves that I won't, but in a case like that, we want to take advantage of a bounce like that and make sure we're in a good position to bury those."

Wow. A goalie criticizing another goalie. Goalies are in a unique brotherhood, they're all comrades out there, even on different teams. You remember that farcical "fight" between Thomas and Price? Thomas and Rask, despite being in direct competition with each other, are buddies. But Luongo's arrogance goes beyond the Fraternal Order of Goaltenders.

And who is he to criticize Thomas' style? Thomas has stopped 102 of the last 104 shots he's faced. The goal was perhaps a result of Thomas' aggressiveness, but the 165 shots he's stopped in this series weren't goals because of his aggressiveness. Luongo has stopped 141 of 155.

Luongo tried to qualify his remarks the next day:

"I said he might make some saves that I don't. I was just saying, on that particular play, I would have played it different. That's the difference between me and him. I have been pumping his tires ever since the series started. I haven't heard one nice thing he had to say about me. That's the way it is."

So has Roberto been spending his off-days scouring the media for Tim Thomas saying nice things about him? Thomas' response to this sums up how much more character, quiet confidence, and sheer dignity the Bruins goalie has compared to his counterpart:

"I guess I didn't realize it was my job to pump his tires. I guess I have to apologize for that. I still think I'm the goaltender on the union side and I stick with all the other goalies. In being one and knowing what it takes to perform at this level and with this amount of pressure, I understand to a certain extent what every other goaltender is going through. I guess that's that."

There's just so much not to like about the Canucks. I didn't hate them before this series, but I guess that's because I didn't know them. Burrows' biting, then his trying to draw a call by stepping on Lucic's stick. The Aaron Rome hit on Horton. The Sedin twins falling down with ease. Maxim Lapierre's taunting. Pretty much everything Lapierre did in Game 5. His dive was vintage Canadien. Once a Hab, always a Hab.

It's gone beyond wanting to see the Bruins win. An extra incentive would be to rob these Canucks of glory. Game 6 tonight in Boston.

Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Friday, June 10, 2011


USC got stripped of a title, Ohio State's Jim Tressel quit, these are just the latest stories of minor corruption in big time college football.

What pisses me off is that the conferences don't get punished. The Pac-10 got $17 million for USC's appearance in the Orange Bowl that year. Why don't they have to surrender that money? If the National Title was ill-gotten, wasn't the bid to the title game?

You might ask me why I'd want to punish U-Washington for something that happened at USC. But why does some teammate of Reggie Bush get punished for what Bush did? For how many of Bush's teammates was that achievement the pinnacle of their life? Bush gets his NFL salary, his NFL endorsements, but now his former teammates have "vacated" their title. What the hell does Bush care about Wikipedia listing USC's title as vacated?

Punish the conferences for violations like this. Then the conferences will actually try to police their own schools. And the Pac-10 benefited from Bush's presence just as much as USC did. Why should the NCAA have to watch all 120 programs? How come we never hear about the BigTen uncovering some scandal within their own conference? Because they're not looking. Why would they look?

All the power in college football is held by the conferences. The conferences concocted the BCS, not the NCAA. The conferences get all the money and decide where it goes. They get rewarded for their teams' successes, so why not also hold them responsible for their violations?


Timothy James Thomas Jr. And Roberto Luongo. Even the way their names sound suggests a difference in background, a difference in character. These two goalies have taken very different paths to be in the Stanley Cup Finals, with different results. And I think their different backgrounds can help explain why one is doing so well, and the other isn't.

Thomas was born in Davison, Michigan. Luongo in Montreal, Quebec. Davison is a suburb of Flint. Montreal is Montreal.

Luongo was a highly touted goalie as a youth, drafted 2nd overall into Quebec Juniors by the Val-d'Or Foreurs as a 16 year old. He won the Mike Bossey Award which is given to the best pro prospect in the QMJHL. When he was 18, the Islanders drafted him 4th overall amid comparisons to Ken Dryden. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Olli Jokinen were the players taken before him. At the time, Luongo was the highest drafted goalie in NHL history.

Thomas, like most American players, played for his school. As a high school freshman, he started off as a forward and defenseman, before eventually replacing the senior goalie who had told his coach "This kid's better than me." Thomas was respected in Michigan high school hockey, partially due to a 62 save, 6OT 3-2 playoff win. But the publicity, attention, and glory was nothing like the aura surrounding Luongo. Thomas was awarded a hockey scholarship at Vermont, becoming the first member of his family to attend college, and earning a chance to avoid working (or trying to work) in the collapsing auto industry in Flint.

Vermont was a mediocre program when Thomas arrived. They finished 7th in the ECAC the year before he got there. Hardly the center of the college hockey universe.

Luongo remained in Juniors, setting records, not being able to come to terms with the Islanders on a contract, winning two QMJHL Championships. He also started for Canada in the 1999 World Junior Championship, going 4-2-1 with a 1.93 GAA, and helping Canada win Gold.

Thomas started as a freshman for the Vermont Catamounts. He was good enough to impress the Quebec Nordiques, who drafted him 217th overall. Thomas improved each season at Vermont and so did the Catamounts. Having a teammate like Martin St. Louis helped. Thomas led the Catamounts to the NCAA tournament as a junior, and took them to their first Frozen Four as a senior. He was All-ECAC twice, and an NCAA East All American twice. After he graduated, he entered the pro ranks.

Luongo started his pro career in Lowell, MA, playing for the Lock Monsters, the Islanders' AHL affiliate. He was almost instantly called up to the Islanders, making his NHL debut as a 20 year old, beating the Bruins in a 2-1 game. He quickly surpassed Felix Potvin as the starting goalie, and the Islanders soon traded Potvin to the Canucks.

Thomas' path to the NHL was much less direct. His first year in the professional ranks started in the ECHL, playing 6 games for the Birmingham Bulls. Then he played 1 game for the Houston Aeros of the now defunct IHL. Then 18 games for HIFK Helsinki of the SM-liiga. So from Vermont to Alabama to Texas to Finland, all in one year.

Thomas helped HIFK win the Finnish Championship (the Kanada-malja trophy), then signed with the Edmonton Oilers in the off-season, once again attempting a traditional route to the NHL by playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. It didn't go too well so Thomas was once again transferred to HIFK.

In the 1999-2000 season, Thomas finally got to play for just one team in a season: the Detroit Vipers of the IHL. His 3.56 GAA and .892 SV% didn't impress. The 26 year old Thomas started the next year in Europe, with AIK, in Stockholm, Sweden. And it was seeming like his career was going to be spent as a journeyman. AIK was his 6th team, in the 5th different league, in the 4th different country, in 4 years since he graduated Vermont.

Islanders' head coach Mike Milbury didn't like Luongo. After his rookie season, the Islanders drafted Rick DiPietro 1st overall, and haven't looked back since. They traded Luongo to the Florida Panthers. Playing half of Florida's games, Luongo set a franchise record with 5 shutouts. His 2.44 GAA and .920 SV% were more than respectable for a 22 year old.

As the Panthers struggled, Luongo improved. He was nominated for a Vezina in 2004, leading the NHL in save percentage and recording 7 shutouts. A year after the lockout, Luongo was a soon-to-be free agent. He'd proven himself as one of the better goalies in the league, winning 35 games in his final year with the subpar Panthers. There were rumors that apart from a significant amount of money (which he deserved) he demanded that the Panthers retain goalie Jamie McLennan as the backup, and hire a new goalie coach.

With his contract looming, the Panthers traded Luongo to Vancouver, in exchange for Todd Bertuzzi, Alex Auld, and Bryan Allen.

The Bruins decided to sign Tim Thomas as a free agent, but also allowed him to remain in Europe. He joined the Finnish team Kärpät. A year later, he found himself in Providence of the AHL. Even though he still had John Grahame, Andrew Raycroft, and Steve Shields ahead of him on the Bruins' depth chart, Thomas made his NHL debut on October 19, 2002. He was 28 years old. 8 years older than when Luongo made his debut.

Luongo was welcomed to Vancouver as a conquering hero. A hockey-mad city finally had a legitimate goalie. The Canucks' own GM had once described the team as a "goalie graveyard." Luongo didn't let them down. In his first season as a Canuck, he tallied 47 wins, a 2.29 GAA, and a .921 SV%. He was nominated for the Vezina and Hart trophies, but lost out to Martin Brodeur and Sidney Crosby, respectively.

Thomas, like most players, spent the lockout playing in Europe. But this was familiar territory for the American goalie. He joined Jokerit in Finland, registering a 1.58 GAA in 54 games with a .946 SV%. He won awards for the best player in the league.

In 2005, it seemed as though Thomas was going to settle down as a European hockey player. He signed a deal with Jokerit, that included an NHL option. He was now a European player with the potential to transfer to North America, not the other way around.

The day before the Finnish season began, the Bruins signed Thomas. He was sent to Providence, but eventually found his way to Boston when Andrew Raycroft and Hannu Toivonen both got hurt. He played 38 games, and after the Bruins traded Raycroft to Toronto, they needed Thomas as a back-up and signed him to a 3 year deal.

While Luongo was having regular season success in Vancouver, the Canucks were struggling to get to that next level. They were consistently surpassing 100 points, yet were annually getting knocked out of the playoffs in the Conference Semis. Luongo was getting most of the blame.

He was great in the '07 playoffs, but allowed a series-ending OT goal when he literally looked at a ref for a penalty instead of watching the puck. In the '09 playoffs, he allowed 7 goals in a series-deciding Game 6 loss to Chicago. The Canucks then signed him to a 12 year, $64 million contract.

Tim Thomas finally became a true NHL goalie when the Bruins signed him to a 3 year deal. Although there always seemed to be someone in his way, preventing him from starting. Hannu Toivonen had the job in 2006, and Thomas wound up starting anyway. In 2007, the B's signed Manny Fernandez, and Thomas was once again relegated to the backup role. Fernandez got hurt, Thomas stepped up, and even made the All-Star Game. In 2008, Thomas was the clear-cut, 1A starter, with Fernandez in a 1B role. Thomas won the Vezina. In 2009, Thomas was again the starter, but he was sluggish on the ice. 22 year old Tuukka Rask won the starting job, along with the affections of countless Boston fans, spawning phrases such as "Tuukka Time."

Luongo replaced Martin Brodeur as Team Canada's goalie in the middle of the 2010 Olympics. He won four straight elimination games, and the Canadians won their first Gold since 2002. But he struggled in the NHL playoffs, posting a 3.22 GAA and .895 SV%. He also stepped down as the Canucks' Captain, yielding the position to Henrik Sedin.

Before the 2010-11 season, the Bruins tried trading Thomas. But teams found his long-term contract to be a bit too hefty to swallow. The Bruins kept Thomas, starting the season with Rask in net. Rask's 1.97 GAA the year before had earned him the spot. And once again, Thomas entered a year as a backup.

But Rask lost 7 of his first 8 starts. Thomas won his first 7 straight. By December, he was the starter, Rask was the back-up. By January, Thomas was an All-Star. By March, he was a Vezina nominee. By June, he was a Conn Smythe contender.

Luongo's career also seemed to be rejuvenated. A new goalie coach in Vancouver produced a more conservative approach from Luongo. He set a career low with a 2.11 GAA, and his 2nd best SV% ever at .928. He struggled in the opening round of the playoffs, but wound up a Game 7 hero against Chicago.

These goalies have now met in the Finals, and after 4 games, one has allowed 5 goals against the best offensive team in the NHL, the other has surrendered 14. That's more goals than Luongo allowed in the previous two series. Tim Thomas has been the Bruins' answer, while nothing but question marks surround Luongo.

When Tim Thomas struggles, he summons an excellent game the next time out. He thrives in adversity. You can see it when he willingly enters the fray in front of the net. But Luongo often finds himself in quicksand. He makes his struggles worse. He presses, he pushes. He tries too hard to win the game on his own. We saw him push too hard in Game 4, abandoning the conservative approach that made him a Vezina nominee. And nobody in Vancouver knows exactly what version of Luongo will play in Game 5, if he plays in Game 5.

And maybe the reason Thomas handles adversity, handles tough losses like Games 1 and 2, is because he's accustomed to the struggle. He's battled and earned every second of ice time he's ever played, from a high school freshman to Finland to Sweden to the Bruins. Luongo, on the other hand, has always been the star. Since he was a 16 year old drafted into the QMJHL, since he was selected by the Islanders, then eventually traded to Vancouver. He started as the top dog at every level of play. He didn't have to climb the mountain, he was born at the top. He's been able to rely on just his talent, and perhaps that's why his character has never fully developed.

Maybe I'm psychoanalyzing too much here, but these two goalies are completely different types of people. And that matters, especially in such a unique position as goaltending, it's not just about strength, speed, vision, or flexibility. The so-called intangibles have a huge impact on how well a goalie performs. And in that category, Tim Thomas is much more qualified. And it's because he's had to build character to get to where he's gotten.

ECAC Hockey


If you stayed up late, really late, you saw the Sox beat the Yankees. Many people might have endured the 3+ hour rain delay, and watched Sabathia cruise through the Sox lineup. It wasn't until the 7th that the Sox got to Sabathia. He was working a 2-hitter going into that frame, and he left on the hook for the loss.

Ortiz was once again the centerpiece of the offense. He had a pair of hits in that 7th inning, including a 2 run double.

If I were a Yankee fan, I'd be pretty pissed. Not only have the Yankees failed to beat the Red Sox on the field, they're not pitching inside. Sabathia had the stones to hit Ortiz. But Ortiz got the last laugh. Ortiz has played 161 games against the Yankees and had NEVER been hit by a pitch.

I wish the Sox could play the Yankees every game.

A three game set in Toronto begins tonight. Clay Buchholz faces Jo-Jo Reyes.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Thursday, June 09, 2011


The Red Sox beat the Yankees. Again. It's becoming a repetitive theme. And the reason for that is pitching. While Tim Wakefield was solid last night, AJ Burnett was his hapless self.

The Yankees have an offense similar to the Sox, but the Yankees' starting pitchers are a joke, apart from Sabathia. Even Colon, who's managed a solid record, struggles against the Sox. It's so sad that I'm actually starting to feel a little bad for the Yankees.

Starting to feel bad, not actually feeling bad.

Ortiz, Crawford, and Drew homered last night. Wakefield wasn't stunning, but he did better than Burnett. It should be a nice pitching duel tonight as Beckett goes against Sabathia.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo


The series is 2-2. It's hard to believe that things are even, because things seem so lopsided at the moment. The Bruins outscored the Canucks 12-1 in the last two games. And the play on the ice has hardly seemed to favor the team from British Columbia.

The Bruins have taken the initiative. And they've been aided by their world class goalie, who has yet to be chased from a playoff game. Unlike Luongo, who is revisiting the taste of being a backup from the Chicago series of the Canucks' playoff run. That series saw Luongo not even have the character to sit on the bench as his teammates battled the Blackhawks. He watched in the dressing room, on TV, until Schneider got hurt.

We've seen Luongo's vulnerabilities exposed in this series. We've yet to even see if Thomas has any weaknesses. He stopped 38 shots in Game 4, after stopping 40 in Game 3. He's simply superhuman. I think he deserves the Conn Smythe right now, regardless of how this series plays out. No individual has affected the outcome of the Stanley Cup playoffs more than Thomas.

Then there's Rich Peverley. A friend of mine quite accurately compared him to Troy Brown. And he has the same qualities. He can literally play in any role that is asked of him. He has the skills to be on the 1st line, the smarts to be on the 2nd, the grittiness to be on the 3rd and 4th, he can be on the PP on the PK, and he makes all these groupings better. You can insert him anywhere, and be better for it. He not only fits, he makes his teammates better.

And both Ryder and Marchand were overdue for goals, with as good as they've been playing. With Horton out, these two guys are the scorers who need to step up. And they did just that in Game 4. Ryder put himself in position to score several times before beating Luongo. And Marchand's looked excellent the last few games.

The series is 2-2, but the Bruins have the momentum, they have an answer between the pipes, not a question mark, and they have guys like Rich Peverley who can do just about anything.

Also, great job by the refs for keeping a lid on Game 4, without going nuts with the penalties. They called the blatant trips and high-sticks, and let the players play. Well done by them.

Game 5 Friday night in Vancouver.

Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Aaron Rome was suspended for 4 games for his hit on Nathan Horton in Game 3. The suspension effectively ends the Stanley Cup Finals for him. Horton, it was announced, will also be out for the remainder of the series with a severe concussion.

The NHL wants to get serious about hits like this one, which is why they devised Rule 48. They wanted to eliminate the grey areas that in the past muddled the debate between what was dirty and what was clean. But as grey matter injuries mount, grey areas needed to be clarified. Hence Rule 48:

"A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted."

Rome targeted Horton's head. Not only that, he used his elbow, not his shoulder. Not only that, the hit was very late, even by playoff standards of interference.

Some might argue that Horton should have made himself aware of Rome's presence. But the fact that Rome was so far from him, and that the puck was gone for so long, Horton probably assumed Rome wouldn't interfere with him. Perhaps not the wisest of assumptions, because you never know what'll happen on the ice, but this is hardly a blame-the-victim scenario.

And while the suspension satisfies me, there's no justice, no revenge possible. Horton is out. No disciplinary action can change that. He'd scored 8 goals with 9 assists in the postseason. He got the game-winning goal in two Game 7s. And he's gone. And who knows what the long term affects on his career will be.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo


Maybe it was Burrows' biting incident, maybe it was the late hit on Horton, maybe it was something else. Whatever it was, the Bruins brought a fire to Game 3. That fire produced 8 goals, it dominated the game, and it was one of the most convincing performances the Bruins have mounted in these playoffs.

This game was decided in the 2nd period. The B's scored a PP goal, and a shorthanded goal, along with a pair of even-strength goals, and the game was all but over. They kept pouring it on in the 3rd, and maybe they got into Luongo's head just a bit. He can be kind of a flake.

Seven different goal scorers for the Bruins. And they sent a message. Not only on the scoreboard, but in the scrum. All of the Canucks' joking over Burrows' biting incident came back and, well, bit them.

And the Bruins did it cleanly. Shawn Thornton got a 10 minute misconduct for who knows what, but the rest of the Bruins played within the rules. Maybe Lucic leveled a post-whistle punch on Burrows. But that was well overdue. The dirtiest hit of the game was issued by Aaron Rome on Nathan Horton.

The Versus people blaming Horton pissed me off. Rome was so far away from him that Horton probably assumed that he was safe from any hit. The puck was gone. It's a shame. We'll see what the NHL decides to do with Rome. Unlike Burrows' shenanigans, this has resulted in a series-changing injury. But who knows what the NHL will say.

And how about Tim Thomas? 40 Saves last night. So many big stops that prevent Vancouver from mounting any sort of comeback.

Game 4 Wednesday night in Boston.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Monday, June 06, 2011


It's still annoying. I'll start my post with how I'll conclude my first set of thoughts. Alexandre Burrows was a major factor in all three Vancouver goals. After his bizarre biting incident in Game 1, he didn't deserve to be on the ice in Game 2. At the same time, he is a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and this series is between the Canucks and the Bruins. He and his team won Game 2 fair and square, even if I think his team should have been deprived of his services. But it's still annoying.

It's also aggravating to see guys like Maxim Lapierre getting cute by sticking their fingers in Bergeron's face. It's all a joke for the Canucks. And why not laugh? They're up 2-0.

And they deserve to be. As pissed as I am about Burrows' 3 point night, did the Bruins play their best game? Did they take care of the puck? Were they aggressive at the right times and careful at the right times? Nope.

Giveaways. Turnovers. Failing to get the puck deep into the zone. It's the same fundamental struggles that have been plaguing this team all year long. The Bruins are keeping themselves in these games, then pushing themselves out with these bush league mistakes.

Even when a giveaway doesn't lead to a goal, it's still extra time chasing the puck, it's still extra work for the defensemen. The Bruins rely on their defensemen not only to keep guys like the Sedins from scoring, but they're also a huge part of the offense. And if Chara and Seidenberg are gassed because David Krejci or Gregory Campbell makes a dumb pass in the neutral zone, you can't expect the big men to pinch from the point and contribute on offense.

But the defensemen are hardly innocent bystanders. They didn't take care of the puck either. In Game 1, an intercepted Boychuk pass led to Vancouver's late game-winner. In Game 2, Ference failed to clear the puck out of the zone, and Vancouver scored a Power Play goal. Then Chara was unable to find the puck, and Vancouver tied things up in the 3rd. And Burrows' OT goal came thanks to a Ference pass that went astray in the neutral zone.

The goal itself saw Thomas and Chara screw up. Thomas was too aggressive, Chara wasn't aggressive enough. Thomas should probably stay at home a bit more often, especially when there's traffic. It's a good way to get lost. All game, he was getting into hogpiles 5 feet from the crease and was bailed out by his teammates.

Chara had a mediocre game in general. He struggled to make plays to get the puck out of the zone. Most of the Bruins struggled with that.

The Bruins aren't going to be able to push around the Canucks, like they pushed around the Habs and Lightning. The Bruins aren't going to be able to abuse Luongo like they abused Philly's goalies. They MUST execute these fundamental plays. Get the puck out of the zone with a purpose, don't just clear it. Get the puck in deep either by carrying it or dumping it. Make Vancouver earn possession, and don't just surrender the neutral zone to them.

Johnny Boychuk is looking more like Mark Stuart every game. He's playing a hard physical game, and screwing up on the fundamentals. The Bruins need him at his best as a defenseman, not just a hitter.

Michael Ryder had his strongest game since the outset of the Tampa series. If that continues, the Bruins' PP gets better, the 3rd line becomes a factor.

It's not a coincidence that when Chara moved back to the point on the Power Play (and Seguin was on the ice), the Bruins scored. Chara is infinitely useful on the point. His slapshot, his passing, his ability to sneak up to the dots, his wingspan preventing opponents from clearing, et cetera.

Lucic showed up in Game 2. He was physical, he was skating, he was strong. His rebound goal was the type of stuff he's done all year to reach 30 regular season goals. But guys like Horton, Bergeron, and Marchand need to score. Not only that, they need to shoot. These three scored the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th most goals for the Bruins this year. They combined for 3 shots on goal in Game 2.

Meanwhile, Krejci, Seidenberg, and Boychuk combined for 11 shots. These guys were 8th, 13th, and 17th in goals scored this year.

Horton had his worst game of the playoffs. His success against Montreal, Philly, and Tampa Bay helped carry the Bruins this far. They need him now more than ever. He registered 1 forgettable shot, and that was on a play that he should have passed to an open Lucic, who would've had half the net to shoot at.

These Bruins are so close. But with a 2-0 deficit, they need to take 4 of 5 from the best team in the NHL. They need to play as close to perfect as humanly possible. They need to execute the fundamentals, then take it from there. If they play their absolute best then lose, well that's life sometimes. But how they've lost Games 1 and 2 is inexcusable and embarrassing.

Game 3 tonight in Boston on Versus.

Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Friday, June 03, 2011


The NHL decided not to suspend Alexandre Burrows for biting Patrice Bergeron's finger. The NHL explained, stating that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Burrows intentionally bit Bergeron.

I have to shake my head because how does one unintentionally bite another person? I've had people stick their hand in my face, right at my mouth, and my first instinct isn't to chomp down. Quite the opposite. I rarely want someone else's finger in my mouth and never want to bite it. Biting is a voluntary, intentional act.

Burrows has a reputation for dirty play. And even though it is the Finals, this incident was simply too bizarre to go unpunished. This wasn't a gray area hit, or some pushing and shoving that possibly went over the line. There's little room for subjectivity here. The guy used his teeth. Dogs get put to sleep for biting humans. Burrows gets to play in Game 2.

I'm tempted to start a Montreal-type campaign to call up Vancouver's Animal Control (or whatever they call it up there) and report a wild animal that's been biting people's fingers. But then I'd feel bad for the Animal Control people inundated by phone calls just because Burrows got away with biting. Then again, they'd probably be Canucks fans who think that Luongo is better than Thomas and who like hearing the Star Spangled Banner sung in under 60 seconds.

Game 2 tomorrow night. It should be interesting to see how Burrows behaves, and how the Bruins react to any mischief.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Thursday, June 02, 2011


As heart wrenching as last night's loss was, I'm actually fairly optimistic. The Bruins went toe to toe with their opponent, and barely lost. The one goal they allowed was barely onside. Defensively, you can't expect much better from the Bruins.

The offense, on the other hand...

Let's start with the power play. I'm not a big fan of Chara playing in the crease. Even when a puck comes his way, the simple physics of his large stick make it difficult for him to get to it. A forward who's accustomed to playing down low, who has a shorter, quicker stick, would be better suited for that role.

Plus, Chara wins the hardest shot competition every year. Why are we waisting that rocket slapshot? He scored 14 goals this year, 8 on the PP, and all of those came from the point or when he'd rotate down from the point. Not from inside the crease.

Another problem is Kaberle. He's simply not contributing to the Power Play. His passes are bland. He's not a shooter. And when he does get clever, it's too clever, and often results in a turnover.

In the 1st period, the Bruins' Power Play was able to get shots on Luongo. But all the shots came from Kaberle, Seidenberg, and Krejci. These guys are not scorers. 23 total goals scored by this trio. A shot on goal is never a bad play, but these guys simply aren't going to score. Yet all of them are on the ice at the same time, and they're the only ones getting shots on net.

And when you put Chara in the crease, that's 3 defensemen on the ice, one of them never scores (Kaberle) plus a forward who only scores when he's set up by other forwards (Krejci), it's not an equation that will result in many goals.

The Bruins beat the Lightning by grinding for 60 minutes, and waiting for Tampa Bay to make a mistake. The Canucks aren't going to make mistakes. The B's are going to have to make their own luck against them.

But I'm optimistic. The Bruins have recovered well from tough losses in this postseason. Thomas gets an extra day off to recuperate from his stellar performance. The NHL gets an extra day to decide if Alexandre Burrows is a zombie or a vampire.

I think it takes a lot to be suspended in the Stanley Cup Finals, but grabbing hold of an opponents arm, jamming their finger in your mouth, then chomping down warrants at least a 1 game suspension. It's just too weird.

And I wasn't crying over Dan Hamhuis not being able to return to the game. His hit on Lucic was within the rules, but a hipcheck to the knee area is kind of sketchy. I was glad to see Krejci stick up for his teammate.

I'm also sick of the Roberto Luongo talk. He hasn't gotten the respect that other goalies get because of an inconsistent playoff record, because he whines if he doesn't get to start 70+ games, because he's a prima donna and a baby. He's a Quebecois goalie that plays for a team north of the border, he gets plenty of respect already.

Game 2 Saturday night. I like our chances.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


It's June. The weather is beautiful. And there's a Bruins game on tonight. What a great way to start the summer.

The Canucks are the best team - on paper and on the ice - that the Bruins will face this postseason. They have fast forwards like Tampa, but their forwards are also strong. They have stalwart defensemen like Montreal. They have a Vezina nominee in net.

It's nice to see two traditional hockey markets in the Finals again. Last year saw Chicago vs. Philadelphia, which was a refreshing break from the streak of southern and Californian teams that just don't seem to belong in the sport. And in case you were wondering, Vancouver is as hockey-obsessed as Montreal and Toronto, as this video of the Vancouver skyline reacting to their OT win over San Jose demonstrates:

Frankly, I think Roberto Luongo is a bit overrated. He's Canadian born, plays on a Canadian team, and that's a formula for the hockey media to give him more praise and credit than he's due. But he's still very good. He does tend to get overly aggressive at times. And unlike Tim Thomas, he's sometimes not able to recover and make the save. He's also susceptible to being rattled.

I lost all respect for Luongo's character in the opening round of the playoffs. He was pulled twice, and in Game 6 the Canucks started backup Cory Schneider. Luongo didn't even sit on the bench with his teammates. He watched the game on TV from the locker room. Thanks to a Schneider injury, he found his way back between the pipes.

The strength of the Canucks is their top two lines. The Sedin twins will likely win back-to-back Hart (MVP) Trophies. Only five players scored 40+ goals this season, and two of them play for Vancouver: Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler. The Canucks can get offense from beyond their top 2 lines, but these units have to be the focus of the Bruins defensemen. Not only do Chara and Seidenberg have to continue their epic level of play, Boychuk and Ference need to be almost as good. Boychuk was hit-or-miss against the Lightning. He's capable of so much better.

The Canucks' defensemen also contribute to the offense. Kevin Bieksa's 5 playoff goals are 4th on the team. Christian Ehrhoff is also a weapon, and should be healthy enough to start Game 1 tonight. Their defensemen also play some pretty solid defense. The grinding battles between forechecking Bruins' forwards and the Vancouver d-men will be very fun to watch, and will determine who wins these games.

The numbers are all on Vancouver's side. #1 in goals scored, #1 in goals allowed, #1 power play, #3 penalty kill. So what do the Bruins have?

Tim Thomas. He's the key. If he plays at his best, the Bruins have a good chance to win this series. He can keep them in every game.

Also, neither team has much Stanley Cup Finals experience. So as talented as Vancouver is, they're just as likely to succumb to nerves as the Bruins are.

For the Bruins to win, they need guys like Thomas, Chara, Seidenberg, Bergeron, Horton, and Krejci to continue playing at the level they've been playing at. They need contributions from Seguin, Paille, Peverley, and McQuaid. They need Michael Ryder to step up for more than two games per series. Mark Recchi also needs to show up and make an imprint on the game. Tomas Kaberle needs to be benched.

The power play MUST be productive. I'm not a huge fan of Chara playing in the crease, because it takes away his fearsome slapshot, and also his ability to sneak in to the faceoff dots from the backdoor. I don't mind if he rotates to the crease once and awhile, but don't like him starting there.

Horton should be the distributor on the halfwall, not Krejci. Although Krejci is a better passer, the threat of Horton shooting is much more imminent. Opposing penalty killers must respect that shot, which will open up space for the forwards down low.

I like the idea of rotating a forward into the very high slot, essentially at the blue-line. This is a good place to put Bergeron or Peverley. Vancouver will either have to stretch themselves to defend against it, or leave the points ample space to shoot.

The key to a successful power play is to make the opposing team work their asses off. Don't make it easy with perimeter passes. Don't make it easy with giveaways, forced passes, or low quality entries. Move bodies, not just the puck. These are simple concepts.

I think the Bruins will win this. I think Luongo will have a flustered game at some point. I think Thomas will steal a game. Bruins in 6.