Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thankfully the Bruins Are Back

If the NHL were still locked out, then how miserable would this February be? I'm not a big fan of NBA basketball, and don't get into college basketball until March. Without hockey, the next few weeks would totally suck.

The Bruins have won both their games. And in this abbreviated season it's vital for teams to win and accumulate points early. There are only 46 games left. After one long weekend over 4% of the regular season is already over.

The B's look relatively sharp. That's partially because many players went to Europe. But I think it's mostly because this team is not very different from the team that played last year. Players don't need to get used to playing with new teammates. Most of this team has been playing together for a few years.

Tuukka Rask looks smooth. I've never been much of a Rask fan, but he's playing bigger, he's not retreating into the net, he's staying balanced, and moving from side to side with ease. Almost as good as Tim Thomas in his prime.

The Power Play still looks slow and predictable. The coaching staff can scheme up whatever they like, but the Bruins do not have the personnel to make for a truly effective Power Play. Although a healthy Nathan Horton can help change that.

The Bruins are in New York on Wednesday to play the Rangers.

Photo Credit:
Associated Press

Patriots Drop AFC Championship

Before I get into the game, let's watch this...

Okay, there's no way any normally balanced human being cannot be smiling after watching that, so let's talk about the latest Patriot playoff disappointment.

Last week I wrote a post stating that if the Patriots play their best, I didn't see how Baltimore could win. Unfortunately, the Patriots did not play their best. Far from it. Dropped passes, poor clock management, and poor offensive execution in the Red Zone and on 3rd downs. And the Ravens, ravenously capitalized.

The Patriots offense is good enough to win games on its own. The Patriots defense is good enough to combine with the offense to win games. The Patriots defense is not good enough to win games on its own. The offense played poorly on Sunday and put the defense in the position to do what they could not. This defense can win a quarter, maybe even a half. But it cannot win an entire game.

The injury to Aqib Talib exposed how shallow the Patriots are at CB. How many NFL teams would have Kyle Arrington as a starting CB? How many would have Marquice Cole on the roster at all? Hopefully in the 2013 season, the Patriots will not be one of those teams.

When was the last time this team won a tough playoff game? Last year's AFC Championship was tough, but Billy Cundiff helped. The week before that they demolished Denver 45-10. The last difficult playoff game the Patriots won without the help of a choking kicker was the 2007 AFC Championship against San Diego. That seems like a lifetime ago.

This team has the talent to contend for Championships every year. Their execution, however, is inconsistent. Wes Welker had a great game, but dropped a huge pass on 3rd and 7. Brandon Lloyd could have made a few more catches. Tom Brady threw more than a few balls off the mark.

And give credit to Baltimore. They took advantage. They swatted Brady's passes, their offense adjusted in the second half, they deserved to win.

The biggest difference between the 2001 to 2004 Patriots and the 2007 to 2012 Patriots can be measured by a handful of big plays that were made in '01, '03, and '04; and weren't made in '07, '11, and now the 2012 season. It's as simple as that. The talent, the coaching, the intelligence is there. And it will be there next season.

I can't wait for training camp.

Photo Credit:
The Associated Press