Monday, January 30, 2012

Can the Patriots Get Revenge?

In a word: no.

I've heard this game called "Revenge Bowl." And even before last weekend's Conference Championship games, I knew several Pats fans who were craving a Patriots/Giants matchup because they wanted "payback," or "revenge."

But win or lose, the Patriots can't get revenge. The team can't, the coaches can't, and the fans can't.

Even if the Patriots win, we'll never forget what could have been but wasn't in 2007. I'm sure the team and players have moved on from what happened, that's their job. They've been able to focus on playing the next game, not reliving Super Bowl XLII. But we as fans are still living February 3, 2008 over and over again.

There have been comparisons to the Red Sox in 2003 and 2004. Since the Sox won the World Series in 2004, and went through the same Yankees that defeated them in '03, we no longer feel excruciating pain when Grady Little is mentioned. We don't cringe when we think about Giambi's solo homeruns, Mussina's relief effort, or Posada's double. We don't really think of those plays at all. The memory has been mostly erased, and replaced with the euphoria of winning in 2004 and fond recollections of moments like Roberts' stolen base and Damon's grand-slam.

Would a Super Bowl win cause the same acceptance, the same selective amnesia? Would we forget Asante Samuel's near interception? Or David Tyree's miraculous catch? How about Ellis Hobbs getting burnt like toast by Plaxico Burress? If the Patriots win on Sunday, would we forget these plays?


The difference between the 2003/2004 Red Sox, and the 2007/2011 Patriots is simple. The Red Sox hadn't gone 162-0 in the regular season. Their goal was a World Series title. Which they accomplished the next year, thus achieving redemption.

The Patriots were going after a perfect 19-0 season in '07, which would have been the biggest and most impressive achievement for a sports team in American history. This year, the stakes are not as high. A Super Bowl title is still an amazing accomplishment, and not to be diminished in any way. But Don Shula won't lose any sleep over it.

There is no opportunity for revenge here, not for the players (only 7 Patriots return from that '07 team anyway), or the coaches, or the fans. The Patriots cannot achieve what they came so painfully close to achieving in the 2007 season.

By the same token, what the Giants did cannot be taken away from them, for their players, their coaches, their fans. They won Super Bowl XLII, and nothing that happens in Indianapolis can change that. It's in the past and there is no chance of redemption, revenge, or forgetting it happened altogether.

The haunting memories of Super Bowl XLII will remain in Patriot fans' memories forever. No matter the outcome of this Super Bowl, they cannot be erased. But, they can be joined by new memories, positive memories. There'll be no revenge. If the Patriots win, though, the memories of pain from 2007 will be joined with fresh, happy memories. And these new memories will temper the old ones. Like dipping spicy wings in bleu cheese.

So if you're a Patriots fan, don't watch the game on Sunday thinking about "revenge" for 2007. Because even if the Pats win, you'll be disappointed. Just hope they win so you can think about a great 2011 season.

Team Chara 12, Team Alfredsson 9

When Zdeno Chara retires as a player, maybe he should consider being a GM. His top 6 forwards in this game were Corey Perry, Jarome Iginla, Evgeni Malkin, Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, and Pavel Datsyuk. That's pretty impressive, even for an All-Star team.

There was also a line that featured Tyler Seguin alongside Phil Kessel. They both had an assist on Team Chara's 12th goal, scored by Maple Leaf Joffrey Lupul.

The star of the show was Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson, who scored twice in a losing effort.

The show was slightly stolen by the Trencin Express. That's what I'm calling the combination of Hossa, Gaborik, and Chara. All three of whom are from Trencin, Slovakia. Gaborik won the MVP with 3 goals and an assist. And Chara was +7. Chara also won the hardest shot contest, once again breaking his own record with a 108.8 mph blast.

The All-Star Game is usually a torturous snuff film for goalies, but Tim Thomas held his own. He's now 4-0 in All-Star Games, getting the 'W' in all 4 he's played in. He allowed 3 goals on 21 shots, which doesn't sound great, but his 18 saves were the most among all six goalies. His .857 save percentage was also the highest. Only he and Carey Price broke the .800 barrier. And some of his saves were simply brilliant. You could tell he wanted to show off his talent as much as the forwards.

As unpolished and even awkward as he seems when answering questions from the press, he is comfortable to the utmost when between the pipes.

Bruins host the Senators Tuesday night.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo