Friday, March 28, 2014

Bruins Back to Winning With 3-0 Shutout Over Blackhawks

The Boston Bruins paid tribute to the City's two fallen Firefighters before and after the game. The B's wore BFD hats during pregame warm-ups, had a moment of silence, and the Boston Fire Department color guard presented the colors for the National Anthem. After the Bruins won 3-0, the BFD was named the First Star of the game.

The game itself was a return to strong, physical yet disciplined, 5-on-5 hockey. There were only 3 total power plays (2 for Chicago, 1 for the Bruins), compared with 12 in Monday's game against the Canadiens.

The Blackhawks might be the opposing team I have the most respect for. I like their style of play and they play that style well. This was a good team for the Bruins to meet after snapping their streak against Montreal. Talented enough for the B's to be focused and energized, and no distracting gimmicks or sideshows. Just good hockey.

And the Bruins played harder and played better. They scored by getting people in front of the net and getting inside position in front of the net. Basic fundamentals of the game. The 3 goals the B's scored weren't highlight reel goals, they were the type of goals you need to score in games against quality opponents.

Patrice Bergeron scored two of them. He has 9 in the month of March, to go along with 6 assists. It's almost a shame to see March end with how well he's been playing, among a number of other Bruins forwards.

That's 15 straight games with at least a point. That's also 50 wins on the season, tied with the Blues for most in the NHL. The Bruins have won 48 of their victories in regulation or OT (St. Louis has 42 ROWs).

The 50 wins is the most since the 2008-09 season (53 wins). It's only the 9th time in team history the Bruins have won 50+ games. The franchise record is 57 wins from the 1970-71 season. The Bruins have 9 games remaining to match that total, but it's a meaningless mark. That team lost in the opening round of the playoffs to Montreal. Regular season achievements are for the Canucks.

What does have meaning is that the Bruins are a win away (or a Lightning loss away) from clinching the division, which also clinches home-ice advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Bruins also have a 9 point edge over the Penguins for home ice throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The B's take on the Capitals in Washington Saturday afternoon at 12:30.

It's a good thing the Bruins aren't in a tight playoff race because they end their season with 7 of their last 9 on the road.

Photo Credit:
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Boston Loses Two Heroes

Wednesday afternoon, Lieutenant Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy of the Boston Fire Department died while fighting a 9 alarm blaze on Beacon Street in Boston's Back Bay. Ed Walsh was the father of three children, all under 10 years old. Michael Kennedy served with the US Marine Corps and was a combat veteran. Both worked out of the nearby firehouse on Boylston Street, Walsh with Engine 33 and Kennedy with Ladder 15.

It's likely that yesterday's high winds, sometimes gusting over 45 MPH in Boston, rapidly intensified the fire, and quickened its spread through the 4-story Brownstone near the Charles River. You can see the effects of the wind on the flames in this stunning piece of video.

This is a sports blog, and we obsess and even gush over quarterbacks and goaltenders and pitchers and point guards. However, these are the true heroes of our city, and in cities around the country and the world. The people that run toward the flames and the explosions and the gunshots and the car crashes. The people that put their life on the line for the lives of others. For strangers.

Think about it. If your house or your apartment or your office caught fire, a group of people who may never have met you will RUSH to get there, and risk life and limb to get you out. They'll bust their ass to save your home and to protect the other homes around yours.

That's pretty amazing. That's heroic.

Which makes the loss of two such heroes all the sadder.

To our fallen heroes, rest in peace. And thank you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson Stoned

Neil Degrasse Tyson hosts Cosmos on Fox. He also admires Sir Isaac Newton a great deal. And someone slowed down a video of him talking about Newton enough to make him sound like he was stoned out of his mind. And it's hilarious.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

PK Subban and Canadiens End Bruins Winning Streak and I Start a Being Pissed Off Streak

For the Boston Bruins, playing the Montreal Canadiens is like playing with a double-edged sword. The Bruins are considerably stronger and more physical than the Habs. That's an advantage sometimes, a disadvantage at others. "It's one of those teams you want to hit," Brad Marchand remarked after the game. And this thirst for hitting can sometimes cause some Bruins to lose their cool and commit stupid penalties.

Such stupidity is exacerbated by inconsistent officials, like the ones who called the game Monday night. How does Thomas Vanek play with a broken stick and not get penalized?

I won't blame the refs for this loss, though. They eventually called plenty of penalties on Montreal. The Bruins only capitalized on one power play. And they failed to convert many other 5-on-5 opportunities. Give credit to Peter Budaj for a great game. The Bruins also didn't seem to receive passes very well. The closer the B's got to Montreal's net, the more jittery they seemed.

The Bruins also played into Montreal's game. When Milan Lucic gets hip-checked at the start of the game, Zdeno Chara can't go over and take a penalty just to send a message. ESPECIALLY Chara, your most important penalty killer.

The Bruins are a better 5-on-5 team than Montreal. Therefore the B's should do what they can to keep it 5-on-5.

I hate PK Subban. He is more of a late 1990s WWF heel than a 2014 NHL defenseman. His manager is Mr. Fuji, or Jim Cornette. The Undertaker challenged him to a casket match and he chickened out.

Subban would be a great hockey player if he'd just play hockey. The problem is, he can't help being himself. It's natural for him to act the way he acts with the Canadiens. His comfort zone is how he's played in Montreal for years. I hate when Boston media pundits say "You'd love to have him on your team." I would, ONLY under the condition that he just played hockey. It's one thing to be pesky, it's another thing to be a flopper who only picks on guys smaller than he is. If he continued to be the turd that he's been in Montreal, I wouldn't want him polluting the game with his WWE antics while wearing my team's colors.

In case you can't tell, I get emotional about games against the Canadiens.

That's what rivalry is all about. I love it.

This game has generated some interesting goaltending questions for both teams. If the Bruins and Habs meet in the playoffs, does Carey Price start in net for Montreal?

And for the Bruins, Tuukka Rask's record against the Canadiens remains something to worry about. He seemed to play more aggressively in this game than he normally does, venturing out of the crease more often, and moving further out than usual.

Lost in all this is that the B's still earned a point, and are now 4 away from clinching the Atlantic. They host the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night, and if the B's win and the Tampa Bay Lightning lose to the Islanders, then the Bruins will claim the division title.

Photo Credit:
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Monday, March 24, 2014

Red Sox Give Crybaby David Ortiz $16 Million to Shut Up

I love David Ortiz as a player. However at times, many many times, he acts like a spoiled whiny cry baby. And once again that baby got his bottle. The Red Sox agreed to a one-year extension of his contract, which will pay the designated hitter $16 million in 2015 when he's 39 years old. The contract will extend to 2016 if he reaches a certain number of plate appearances (425 for an $11 million deal, 600 for $16 million).

There was no on-the-field, baseball reason for the Red Sox to sign him to this extension. This was to silence a crying baby. Which makes me happy. I just want Ortiz to shut up. Stop worrying about your contract, about the official scorer giving you RBIs, about every sportswriter who criticizes you. Just shut up and play baseball. This contract shuts him up. The baby is silent.

We don't yet know if Ortiz's bat will be worth $16 million in 2015. But his silence in 2014 is.

Photo Credit:
Jeff Miron/USA Today

Bruins Win 12 in a Row Thanks to Number 12, Jarome Iginla

In the middle of the biggest basketball weekend of the year, your Boston Bruins were the 5th story on SportsCenter Sunday morning. That's because they won their 12th straight Saturday night, coming from behind in the 3rd period to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2.

The streak is the longest in franchise history since the 1970-71 season when the B's won 13 in a row. The franchise record is 14 straight from the 1929-30 season. Also over the weekend, the Bruins clinched a playoff berth. That's 7 consecutive years of playoff hockey in Boston.

I came up with a theory to explain this winning streak. Maybe when the Bruins didn't do much at the NHL trade deadline, the team felt that management had confidence in them. Maybe this motivated the players. Maybe it lit a spark, sparked a fire, fired them up. Name your cliche.

That'd be a nice story, but I think this streak is a result of mathematics, not psychology.

K + I + L = 17

That's Krejci (3 goals) plus Iginla (11 goals) plus Lucic (3 goals) equals 17 goals. That's how many the top line have scored in the past 12 games. Iginla scored twice in the win over Phoenix.

I'm going to start calling this line The Killers, because their initials are KIL. Think it will catch on?

The story of the streak has been offense: the first line has scored 17 goals, Patrice Bergeron has scored 5, Carl Soderberg 4, Gregory Campbell 3, Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton each have 6 assists in the streak. The offense is coming from all 4 lines and from all the defensemen, including the newly acquired Andrej Meszaros, who has a goal and 3 assists in his 7 games with the Bruins.

And while the team's been scoring, they haven't allowed their opponents to come from behind. Mainly due to this next equation:

31/34 = 91.2%

The Bruins have killed 31 of 34 penalties during this stretch. Earlier this month the Bruins killed 5 penalties against Phoenix and won 2-1. The B's killed 4 against Florida on March 9th and won 5-2. They haven't allowed their opponents to get back into games with power play goals.

Hopefully the B's have finally figured out how to kill penalties without Dennis Seidenberg.

The Bruins hope to extend their streak with a win over Montreal tonight at the Garden.

The Bruins currently stand with 103 points, tied with the St. Louis Blues for the best record in the NHL. They're also 6 points ahead of Pittsburgh in the East and 17 ahead of Tampa Bay in the Atlantic. That's a 17 point lead with 11 games left. The Bruins are 6 points away from clinching the division and could claim that title as early as Thursday.

Photo Credit:
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Thursday, March 20, 2014

BC Basketball Needed a Change in Direction

A week ago, Boston College's basketball season ended when they lost 73-70 in overtime TO Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament. This week, head coach Steve Donahue's tenure at BC also ended. It was a much needed change, for both the team and for Donahue.

BC lost 24 games this season. 9 of those were by 4 points or fewer. The Eagles were 3-9 in those close games (one of those victories was over Florida Atlantic). They had the ability to keep up with good teams, even beat Syracuse on the road, but when games were determined in the last 2-4 minutes their performance level typically dropped. They didn't rise to the occasion, they did the opposite.

As a team they were too tightly strung. They played too much with their brains and not their bodies. They lacked aggression, thinking too much instead of acting. Basketball is a game of decisiveness, and they played with indecision.

In the recruiting department they resembled an Ivy League team more than ACC team. They had quality players like Olivier Hanlan, and a handful of decent role players, but no strong athletes who could carry a team either defensively or offensively. And guys like Hanlan played soft and weak, especially when games were on the line.

And before BC people use the old "Academic Standards" refrain, those standards might make it tough to win 24 games, they don't make it so you lose 24.

Steve Donahue is a good coach. He's just not the right coach. In hindsight, BC took a guy from a small pond (Cornell and the Ivy League) and transplanted him to a shark infested ocean. Donahue got his Cornell Big Red to the Sweet 16, which is impressive, but winning two NCAA games pales in comparison to playing 18 ACC games a season.

Donahue's Eagles could win big games every once and awhile, but struggled with consistency. They could be great for 40 minutes, but failed to be good for 400 minutes. This year they were 240th in the country in points per game, 269th in points allowed, 326th in rebounds, 154th in shooting percentage.

Hopefully Donahue finds a job that fits better. Let's also not forget that he inherited a BC team that was struggling. So he was tasked with turning a team around in one of the toughest leagues in the country.

Harvard's Tommy Amaker is reportedly the leading candidate for the opening at BC. I like Amaker, but I'm not sure it's smart to once again hire an Ivy League success story. Amaker has turned Harvard into a relative powerhouse in one of the worst leagues in the country. Big fish, small pond.

Then again, he's coached in power conferences before, in both the Big East (Seton Hall) and Big Ten (Michigan). He also played in the ACC at Duke.

Then again, he never brought Michigan to the NCAA tournament and was criticized for teams that underperformed in pressure situations. That kind of sounds like what BC's been experiencing under Donahue.

THEN AGAIN, Amaker helped rebuild a Michigan program that was recovering from a scandal. Under Amaker, Michigan had significant success in the NIT. As a program, BC is in recovery mode. They shouldn't be looking for someone who can bring them to the promised land, they need someone who will turn the program around and get things going in the right direction.

But if you're Amaker, do you want to coach at BC? If you do well and bring the program back to NCAA contention, but can't get any further than the opening rounds, they'll replace you. If you don't turn things around, they'll replace you.

It is a challenge. And Amaker seems to thrive on challenges. I'm writing this 10 minutes before his Harvard Crimson tip-off in the NCAA Tournament. If they do well, he might have better job offers than BC.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jarome Finneginla Leads Bruins to St. Patrick's Day Win

The Bruins won their 9th straight Monday night against the Minnesota Wild in convincing fashion. Jarome Iginla scored twice. Loui Eriksson scored as well, and Reilly Smith scored his 19th of the season. Zdeno Chara had two assists.

Iginla has scored 25 goals this season, and as I think about his potential contributions in the upcoming playoffs, I can't help but imagine how much he might have helped the Bruins last year. When the B's faced the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals, they had run out of healthy and performing forwards. Iginla might have been the difference, or at least helped the Bruins force the series to 7 games. At least he's part of the team now.

Tuukka Rask made a couple of big saves in this game, much to Mikko Koivu's chagrin. Rask stopped 33 of 34. As part of this 9 game winning streak he's won 6 times, only allowing 9 goals (1.5 per game) with a save percentage of .947 (161 saves on 170 shots).

But the big story of the streak has been the offense. The B's have scored 36 goals in the last 9 games. If you've forgotten your multiplication tables, that's 4 goals per game.

One reason for the offensive success is the IKEA line of Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg. The two Swedish Fish combined for a goal Monday night and have combined for 5 goals in this streak. Not bad for the third line.

The top line has been leading the way. The aforementioned Iginla has scored 8 goals in this streak, including 5 in the last 3 games. David Krejci and Milan Lucic have each scored 3.

So 14 goals from the top line + 5 goals from the Swedish connection + contributions from everyone else + Rask playing well in net = 9 straight wins.

The Bruins now stand with 97 points, first in the Eastern Conference (5 points ahead of Pittsburgh), tied for the second best record in the NHL. With 14 games remaining, the Bruins have a 16 point lead over Tampa Bay and Montreal in the divisional race. The B's are 13 points away from clinching the division and home ice in the first two rounds. They're 7 points away from clinching a playoff spot.

They now embark on a weird road trip, playing in New Jersey Tuesday night, then Colorado on Friday and Phoenix on Saturday. The Bruins end the season with 15 games in 23 days, so clinching stuff will give them a chance to rest key players (Iginla, Chara, Rask) for the playoffs.

Photo Credit:
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Monday, March 17, 2014

Brandon LaFell Is the Opposite of Danny Amendola

The Patriots signed Brandon LaFell, formerly of the Carolina Panthers, to a three year deal.

What I like about this signing is that LaFell's strengths are the same as Danny Amendola's weaknesses.

LaFell is big. He's 6' 2" and 208 pounds, which is 3 inches taller and 25 pounds larger than Amendola.

Lafell stays healthy. He's played in 14+ games every year he's been in the League. He's played 60 games in 4 years and started all 16 last year.

Danny Amendola is a player who comes with lots of "ifs." IF he can stay on the field, IF he can avoid injury. The only if with LaFell is "If he continues to be what he's been."

He's caught 36+ passes in all 4 of his seasons. He's caught for 600+ yards in each of his last 3 seasons. In the last 2 years he's averaged about 3 catchers per game for 43.5 yards.

His numbers are far from eye-popping. He's clearly not a game-changer at wide receiver. If this were baseball, I'd say he's like a #3 or #4 starter in the rotation. An innings eater. Or maybe a middle reliever. You don't win because of him but he does help you win.

And that's where he currently fits in on the Patriots roster. Let's just assume you can't rely on Amendola to stay healthy. The WR depth chart goes: Julian Edelman, LaFell, then Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. With LaFell in there, there's a less severe drop off from Edelman to Thompkins and Dobson. That means less pressure on those sophomore receivers, and someone besides Edelman that Brady can target.

He's an innings eater. He's a receptions eater.

I still think the Patriots could use more help at wide receiver, but the market is drying up. It's getting close to last call and the Patriots seem to be considering going home with psychopath Kenny Britt. I typically don't mind low-risk/high-reward signings like Britt would be, however I think adding uncertainty to an already very uncertain position might not be very sound. Not without finding another pass catcher with more reliability on and off the field. If you had a group of running backs with fumbling issues, would you address that issue by signing another one with butterfingers?

Then again, Britt is 6' 3." And he might be Building 19 cheap.*

*For those who don't know what Building 19 is, it used to be a really cheap store. Cheaper than Wal-Mart cheap

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bruins Overpower Canadiens

When the Montreal Canadiens traded for Thomas Vanek, it made me worry. The Habs have been a tough match-up for the Bruins for years, then they added someone who has specialized in scoring against the B's. However, last night Vanek was not a factor on offense at all. In fact, a defensive lapse of his allowed Zdeno Chara to score early in the 3rd period, which made it a 4-0 game and essentially cemented the Bruins' win.

Tuukka Rask was named the first star, and he deserved it. The Bruins didn't have a great 1st period, but Rask did. And Rask was also the best penalty killer. He was the biggest reason the B's killed all 3 Montreal power plays. He also made a huge pad save against a Max Pacioretty breakaway in the 1st. He kept the game 0-0 when the Bruins weren't playing their best.

This was also a good time to play Montreal. Carey Price is still out. And their power play is mired in a deep slump. The Habs entered this game 1 for their last 18 power plays.

The Bruins did their job. I mentioned Rask. He carried the Bruins through the 1st. Then Carl Soderberg scored early in the 2nd, almost as a response to how well Rask played in the 1st. Soderberg is the type of guy who could score a goal or two in a playoff series, and those goals will be the difference between winning and losing the whole series. He's not always changing the game, but he has the capacity to change it.

Milan Lucic scored his 20th goal of the season in this game. Like many of his goals, it was the end result of his entire line playing well. And that's not a criticism of him. It's a compliment. He makes his linemates better just like they make him better. This has been the most consistent regular season of his career. That's a credit to him and to his line.

The Bruins are playing great. That's six straight wins. They've gone past 90 points. They host the Phoenix Coyotes tonight. That's another team that's hot. The Coyotes have won 4 of their last 5. And they've been waiting in Boston to play the Bruins. This is a great test tonight.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson

Patriots Make Everyone Happy and Sign Darrelle Revis

The Patriots and cornerback Darrelle Revis have reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $12 million.

To anyone who said that the Patriots should have franchised Aqib Talib and paid him $11.8 million for one year, do you wish to recant and repent? I'll give you a few moments...





To anyone who completely freaked out yesterday and acted like they had PMS because Talib got signed by the Broncos, I'm going to give you a few moments to contemplate how foolish you were to get so overly emotional on March 12th...





Let's also not forget the so-called "experts" who confidently declared that Revis would demand top dollar, probably costing $16 million a season. And that once Revis saw what Talib got, Revis would want a similarly large and lengthy deal. What actually happened was that Revis took a pay-cut to play for the Patriots. And the deal lasts one season. Let's think about how smart these pundits, who spend 365 days a year trying to figure out the Patriots, actually were...




And now let's move on. Idiots.

I can't say I love the $12 million cap hit, however it's just for a year. And in terms of guaranteed money, the Patriots are paying less than half of what the Denver Broncos paid Talib. So the Pats get a better player, who is less injury prone, for less guaranteed money. They pay more per year, but both Revis and the Patriots have flexibility for 2015. Flexibility is everything.

I'm thrilled with this acquisition. They got Revis at less than what anyone expected. They've actually improved at a position despite losing their most important defensive player at the same position. How often does that happen? In any sport. Imagine a hockey team losing their starting goalie, or a baseball team their Ace pitcher, only to bring in someone else and improve at the position in less than 24 hours.

There's still more work to be done. The Patriots NEED wide receivers. Right now, their #1 WR under contract is Danny Amendola, and that's alarming. As much as I like signing Revis, by signing him it's now more difficult to sign the absolute best available receivers. So, foolish overly emotional Patriots fans, please remember this. Keep your expectations grounded when it comes to big name receivers.

Apart from receivers, the Pats also still need a second tight-end who can occasionally catch, a pass rusher or two, maybe another CB for depth.

Sun Tzu said in The Art of War that "Every battle is won before it's fought." Similarly, Super Bowls are won before they are played: in the off-season, in training camp, in practice. This acquisition helps the Patriots win the battles they'll find themselves fighting in the autumn and winter. At the same time, the off-season isn't over yet, and it's just one phase of the year.

I'm excited to see Revis in a Patriots uniform. But Super Bowls are played in February, not March. The 2014 NFL Year has only just begun. There are many more days left.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Broncos Overpay for Aqib Talib

It hurts losing one of your best players in free agency. It really hurts losing him to your toughest conference opponent. It's a sudden, shocking kind of hurt. Losing Talib is like having your hand smashed with a hammer. Hurts like hell but you'll heal. Bad contracts are like arthritis. Incessant, nagging pain that will last for years.

The Broncos signed Aqib Talib to a 6-year deal worth $57 million, $26 million of which is guaranteed.

That's $9.5 million a year for Talib. Which is too much.

That's a 6-year deal for Talib. Which is too long.

That's $26 million guaranteed to Talib. Which is too much.

It's just a bad deal any way you slice it.

I'm not happy to see him go, especially to Denver, but I wouldn't be happy making that deal. It's too much of an investment and a commitment, especially considering Talib's health issues and the potential for on-field and off-field issues.

And no, losing Talib doesn't mean the Patriots MUST sign or trade for Darrelle Revis. While they do need cornerbacks, you don't need an amazing CB to win. And having an amazing CB doesn't automatically make you a winner. The Patriots do need to improve the position. Even if Talib had stayed in Foxborough, I thought the Patriots needed more experience and depth at the position.

When the Pats have lost Talib to injury, their lack of depth has been exposed. Overpaying Talib doesn't help add depth.

The Patriots also need a better pass rush. They need to reduce the time their defensive backs have to cover opposing receivers. Spending too much on Talib would have meant having less to spend on this pass rush. Or wherever it is the Patriots spend the money they would have spent on Talib.

The Patriots also need receivers who can hold their own in battles against guys like Talib and other good DBs. The Pats need strong, physical receivers. Steve Smith comes to mind. What a diabolical pick-up that would be to put Steve Smith out there against Talib when the Patriots and Broncos play.

Overpaying Talib would have made it more difficult for the Patriots to improve elsewhere.

I am anticipating the pained whines and moans of Patriots fans this morning. "Couldn't the Patriots have made the leap from 8 million to 9.5? How much of a difference is 1.5?" "Another big name out the door." "When will this team spend on their free agents?" "I'm sick of it." "In Bill we trust."

I'm also anticipating the angry and emotional demands of the fanbase. "Get Revis. NOW!"

Yesterday's optimism as NFL free agency began and the sun shone down on New England, has been shattered by cruel reality. It's sunny and mild in Denver today. It's rainy and cold here. Let Denver enjoy this brief sunshine. This contract will burn them.

Photo Credit:
USA Today Sports

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Happy New Year, Patriots Fans!

For all intents and purposes, this is New Year's Day in the NFL. Actually, it's New Year's Eve until 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. And much like the real New Year's, people are full of high expectations and hope. This is especially true of New England Patriots fans. There are rumors that Darrelle Revis will be cut by Tampa Bay, making him a free agent. There's speculation about freeing up cap space by cutting Danny Amendola and/or Vince Wilfork. Steve Smith is being mentioned in trade rumors. There are a number of wide receivers who will soon be free agents. So many happy possibilities! We can forget about 2013 and move on to next year. Fresh starts! New beginnings! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind...

However, just like the real New Year, people enter with ludicrously high hopes, then are often disappointed by harsh reality. This is also how Patriots fans enter into each and every off-season. They fantasize about Larry Fitzgerald, and having both Aqib Talib and Darrelle Revis on the field at the same time. They imagine trading for Steve Smith and moving up in the draft to select Sammy Watkins. Why not even add Jimmy Graham too?

You would think after years of following the Patriots, fans would learn to limit expectations and try to be as grounded as possible. Instead, with each passing off-season of disappointment their dreams seem to only increase in grandeur and decrease in plausibility.

Darrelle Revis is the latest object of Pats fans' fantasies. When word got out that the Buccaneers were shopping him, Pats fans immediately wanted to trade for him. Now that it seems like Tampa Bay might let him go, and Pats fans immediately want to sign him.

And so do I. He's a great player. If cap space weren't a consideration and the Patriots didn't need help elsewhere, it would be a no-brainer.

It's funny how the people who demanded Aqib Talib be re-signed are the same people now demanding that Revis be acquired.

It's also funny that the most passionate pleas for signing Revis are coming from the same people who were screaming the loudest about the Patriots needs at wide receiver.

I'm sure these sudden, dramatic, and sometimes conflicting shifts in demands are because these people are thinking rationally and not because they're reacting emotionally.

Unlike these people, who seem to know what to do, I don't think I could figure out a 53-man roster, along with all the salary cap numbers, and all the bonuses, and the guaranteed money, and the roster bonuses, and the workout bonuses, and juggle the cap in 2014 while thinking about the cap in 2015, and keep some money for draft day selections I haven't even picked yet. But these people who a few months ago demanded Aqib Talib be re-signed, then demanded a big tall wide receiver, and are now demanding Darrelle Revis, these people seem to know how to juggle all those variables. I'm impressed.

The complexities of an NFL roster are too much for a person like me to figure out. Especially since I only just watch football. The people demanding Revis, I'll just take their word for it. They've got it figured out. After all, they make it seem so simple. And they reach their conclusions so quickly. That's evidence of their clear and concise thought.

End sarcasm.

I'm not arguing against signing Darrelle Revis. He's a great player and he would help this team tremendously. I am arguing against overly simplistic and emotionally based arguments. I'm arguing against Patriots fans who should know better than to hope for a Daniel Snyder style off-season of buying names.

As I'm writing this, there are stories that the Patriots are close to re-signing Aqib Talib. I'm fine with that. I also think the Patriots need to add a #2 cornerback with experience, so when/if the #1 guy (whether it's Talib or someone else) gets hurt, or they face a team with multiple weapons at receiver, the Pats don't get burned.

There's an argument out there that Talib is injury prone, so he shouldn't be re-signed, therefore Revis should be acquired. That's valid. It makes sense. At the same time, such vulnerability suggests another argument: don't put your eggs in one basket. Don't over-invest in one player. When you invest too much in one player or at one position, at the expense of depth and at the expense of strength at other positions, you create an over-reliance on one player, and weaknesses at other positions. And if your one keystone player goes down, then you're weak EVERYWHERE.

The Patriots, when they've depended on one lone cornerback as the key to their defense, have been exposed when that single player gets taken out of the game or doesn't play well.

I'll take Talib plus a solid #2 CB and/or a better pass rush over Darrell Revis. That might not be what the Patriots do, it might not be the right thing to do, but at least my arguments are based on rationality and reason, not just emotion and over-simplification.

When you base too much on emotion, and ignore logic, even when you're right it's by accident.

Happy New Year, Patriots fans. I hope the Pats have a productive off-season and address more than just one of their needs. I also hope fans don't get too pie-in-the-sky hopeful about all the big names out there. Teams win Super Bowls, not names.

Former Boston Bruin Rich Peverley Collapses on Bench in Dallas

On Monday night in Dallas, a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas Stars came to a sudden halt due to a frantic commotion on the Dallas bench. Coaches scrambled and yelled up into the crowd looking for a doctor. Players on both teams poured out of their benches and looked on in stunned silence as 31-year-old Stars forward Rich Peverley was on the ground, unconscious. It was a terrifying scene that seemed to be the beginning of a tragic incident.

Peverley had suffered a cardiac event. Thankfully, due to quick actions by everyone involved, Peverley's heart rate was brought back to normal. He was taken to the hospital and was conscious and aware of his surroundings. He even expressed a desire to return to the game.

That game was suspended due to the intense emotions of players from both teams.

In September Peverley underwent surgery to correct an irregular heartbeat.

Peverley won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011, playing a key role as a jack of all trades. A friend of mine once compared him to Troy Brown due to his willingness to do whatever the team needed him to do. Peverley is a veteran of 8 seasons, this was his first in Dallas. Former Bruins Tyler Seguin and Tim Thomas are his teammates with the Stars. Also, Nathan Horton plays for Columbus. Current Stars Kari Lehtonen and Vernon Fiddler also played with Peverley on other teams. Lehtonen in Atlanta and Fiddler for three seasons in Nashville.

Thankfully Peverley is as okay as you could hope for. It's always scary when the heart is involved. Medical staff responded quickly, chest compressions and defibrillation were necessary to get his heartbeat back in rhythm. He was also given oxygen. That's frightening stuff.

Hopefully this is something that he can have corrected.

Everyone in Boston is thinking about you, Pevs.

The Stars play the Blues in St. Louis tonight.

Photo Credit:
Fox Sports

Monday, March 10, 2014

Barry Bonds Returns to Baseball, Baseball Still Hypocritical

For some reason I get Comcast Sports Bay Area with my cable TV package. It's weird seeing promotions for Oakland A's spring training updates and Golden State Warriors coverage.

On Monday they broadcast a press conference involving Barry Bonds, who will be spending a few days with the San Francisco Giants in spring training as a guest hitting coach. This marks Bonds' return to the game after retirement, conviction, and failing to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

He was asked 45 questions (not counting multi-part questions and follow-ups). Only 10 of them had to do with PEDs or the Hall of Fame. Many were about his responsibilities as a guest hitting coach. There was also a number of suck-up questions phrased in ways to praise his greatness. "These kids are in awe of you..." one question began.

I don't want Bonds to be cross-examined wherever he goes. Nor do I think he should be issued a restraining order by the game of baseball and court ordered to remain 300 yards from any MLB facility. I do, however, think it's odd that the faces of PEDs in baseball are being invited back to the game. Mark McGwire, for example, as the hitting coach for the Dodgers.

The hypocrisy of the PED era remains alive and well. The game wants to appear clean and so it harshly and publicly punishes those who break the rules. Yet teams welcome back McGwire and Bonds. The Bay Area media treat Barry Bonds like a king, and they defend him like his knights. Meanwhile the high priests of the BBWAA judge him as a sinner, even though for years they praised him as he sinned.

The 30 Major League clubs have made a big deal to demonstrate their absolute intolerance of PEDs. They even went so far as to suspend Alex Rodriguez for a bizarre number of games. The 30 clubs don't want PEDs to be part of the game.

If you were to create a Mount Rushmore of PED usage in baseball, Barry Bonds' swollen cranium would be up there, along with McGwire's, and then Jose Canseco and A-Rod. Baseball wants PEDs out, yet PED users are welcome to return.

It's baseball saying one thing and doing another. It's baseball writers saying one thing and doing another.

At least McGwire admitted it. Kind of. Actually, let's not praise McGwire for his post-PED "honesty." When Bonds was asked on Monday if he should admit to his usage, he gave this answer worthy of a politician:

"I already went to court and that's where I'll leave it."

When asked about Biogenesis he responded:

"I don't want to get into that at all."

When asked about his intimidating persona, Bonds modestly admitted "I had teammates who said 'Barry, you're too nice.'"

The question I would have asked is "What will you say to a young player who tells you he's thinking about doing a little something extra, maybe outside of the rules, to help himself out, and wants to know your thoughts on that?" That's the question to ask. It falls within his role as a guest coach, he'll probably still give a meaningless answer, but it's not a direct, accusatory question about his PED use either. You can even add "As a veteran," or "As someone who played in the era."

I'm not mad at Bonds. I'm mad at the game for making a spectacle of punishing steroid and HGH users, and then welcoming the men who inspired that use back into the game as coaches.

More than that, I'm mad at the Bay Area media who have been Bonds apologists for years. They've given Bonds more free passes than NL pitchers did. There were only a handful of difficult questions for Bonds to answer. And when he was asked if he was jealous or upset about the Giants winning the World Series without him in 2010 and 2012, one of the gathered media pointed out that Bonds was at the games and cheering. The Bay Area press stood and defended Bonds like knights defend their king.

At the end of the press conference, the microphone caught reporters saying "Thanks, Barry." And "Good job."

And while one segment of baseball media defends Bonds at all costs, another has the unshakable stance that he should never enter The Hall of Fame except as a paying customer. Both groups are hypocrites. Both are fighting a battle over ethics, but doing so in unethical ways. The Bay Area Knights of Bonds dismiss and excuse any and all wrongdoing by their king. And the high priests of the BBWAA have banished him from Cooperstown because of his sins, even though those same priests praised him endlessly while he was sinning.

Baseball wants to seem clean, yet guys like McGwire and Bonds still carry their inflated skulls and massive biceps around baseball clubhouses. Even if they are clean as coaches, what's the message to young players? Take PEDs, hit 600+ homeruns, then get paid to coach. No Hall of Fame? No problem.

Then the writers are divided on how to be unethical and wrong in their coverage of the game. Some want to gloss over the truth or explain it away. Some with sin want to cast the first stone.

All are wrong. The 30 clubs punish violations too harshly, and also shouldn't welcome back famous cheaters with open arms while doing so. And the media shouldn't be so entrenched with their positions. Bonds can be a cheater and a Hall of Famer. He can be bad and be great.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo Endure Painful Separation

Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo were teammates for mere hours, but I don't think either will forget the experience. Thomas was traded to the Dallas Stars just before the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday. Thomas will backup Kari Lehtonen as the Stars push to make the playoffs. Dallas currently has the 8th best record in the West.

Thomas and Luongo were teammates for less than a day, although Luongo probably flew to southern Florida for the Panthers next game at home against Buffalo. Thomas was up in Boston playing in net for the Panthers, who lost 4-1 to the Bruins. I doubt the two were ever in the same room. However both goalies were able to make light of the situation, and poke fun at the other. Luongo's unverified Twitter account posted this on Tuesday:

Tim Thomas, after Tuesday night's Bruins-Panthers game, was asked about being teammates with Luongo...

"It looked like [Florida GM Dale Tallon] went kicking some tires and found one that needed to be pumped."

Thomas also seemed to think that his time with the Panthers might be nearing an end, as he continued to say "I don’t know how things are going to work out assuming I stay in Florida, it will be interesting."

Once Thomas was traded, Luongo's Twitter reacted with this:

So no reality TV show in Sunrise. There will not be a second dream team in South Beach. No Twitter vs. Facebook debates. All of this makes perfect hockey sense, but it is disappointing that there will be no Bobby and Timmy Show.

Canadiens Acquire Bruins Killer Thomas Vanek

While the Boston Bruins didn't do much at the deadline, acquiring Andrej "Meh"-szaros, up in Montreal the Habs traded for Thomas Vanek. Vanek, when he was a member of the Buffalo Sabres, absolutely killed the Bruins.

In Vanek's career against the Bruins he's played 53 games, scoring 30 goals with 31 assists. He's +21. 14 of those 30 goals came on the power play. Which Montreal needed to improve, and the Bruins have had difficulty defending since Dennis Seidenberg's injury.

Vanek has a 20.0% career shooting percentage against the Bruins. Which is ridiculous. He scores every 5 shots he takes against the B's.

Vanek also has decent numbers against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Lightning. With the new divisional formatting of the NHL playoffs, the Habs will likely have to go through these teams. If the season ended today, the Canadiens would play Tampa Bay, then face the winner of a Toronto/Boston series.

I mentioned Montreal's power play. Typically the Habs bring a frightening power play to the table, but this year it's been a disappointment. They're 13th in the NHL with a 19.7% scoring rate with a man advantage. They're tied for 8th with 41 power play goals.

Vanek hasn't been great on the power play since leaving Buffalo. However, a few seasons ago he routinely scored 10+ power play goals a season, including 20 in 2008-09. If he can find that form in Montreal, it might be time for Bruins fans to have a Vanek-panic attack.

The B's have lost both their games against Montreal this season, and will play the Habs next Wednesday up at the Bell Centre and again on March 24th in Boston.

Photo Credit:
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Bruins Make "Meh" Trade for Andrej Meszaros

The Bruins needed to add a defenseman. If they failed to do so, their chances of winning a Stanley Cup would have been quite small. They traded a 3rd round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Andrej Meszaros. It's a very "meh" trade.

Meszaros is 28-years-old, 6' 2" tall and weighs 223 pounds. He's played with Zdeno Chara as a member of the Ottawa Senators, who originally drafted him late in the 1st round of the '04 draft. He's played in 38 games this season with 5 goals, 12 assists and a +1. He has 46 games of playoff experience in Ottawa and Philly.

My main concern is penalty killing. Since losing Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins' penalty kill has statistically been one of the worst in the League.

Meszaros is averaging 0:51 of shorthanded ice time per game this season. Once again, meh.

I'm not thrilled about that. That's good that he plays on the penalty kill. And he improves the defense, adds depth, et cetera. He reportedly has played well with Zdeno Chara in the past. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is familiar with him, as he was part of Ottawa's front office when Meszaros was drafted. So maybe he'll improve as a member of the Bruins.

So the Bruins slightly improved their biggest weakness. Hopefully Meszaros does work well with Chara. Hopefully they click. Hopefully Chara can make Meszaros a better player.

All I know is the Bruins have a suspect penalty kill and special teams takes on added importance in the postseason. I don't think the penalty kill improved much, although it did improve somewhat. Time will tell.

Until we know, my reaction to this trade is just "meh."

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas To Be Teammates in Florida

Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas are now reportedly teammates. In the summer of 2013 I wrote a post imagining the hilarious, reality-TV style drama that would ensue if the Vancouver Canucks signed Thomas, making he and Luongo teammates. Now Luongo will be taking his whining and choking to South Beach.

Florida is where Luongo wanted to go. He used to play there, still has a house there, and who wouldn't want to spend the winter in Florida?

It also seems like the perfect place for him to avoid pressure. He's going from a hockey obsessed market to southern Florida, where they don't even know they have a team. He's going from a franchise that expects to be in contention for Stanley Cups, to a club that's happy just to qualify for the playoffs. The less pressure there is, the better Luongo plays.

Here was how his unofficial/unconfirmed/but-everyone-knows-it's-him Twitter account announced the news Tuesday afternoon:

The move makes sense for Vancouver. They're reportedly getting goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom in return. They'll shed themselves of most of Luongo's salary cap hit, and all of his drama.

Florida gets an experienced quality goalie. I love Tim Thomas but I think his career as a starter is coming to a close. Luongo is 5 years younger. In the games I've seen this year, Thomas has been sluggish, and easily rattled. Maybe in a backup role Thomas can maintain his quickness, and get less frustrated.

For Bruins fans this is great. Bobby Lu is now in the same division as the B's.

For the record, Luongo did apologize for his criticisms of Thomas after the 2011 Cup Finals. As long as Luongo sticks to Twitter and Thomas to Facebook, things should remain professional in the Florida Panthers locker room. And if two goalies clash, and there's no fans around to care about it, does it make a sound?

Monday, March 03, 2014

Bruins 6, Rangers 3, Oscars Style

Last night the 86th Academy Awards were held in LA. In New York, the 681st meeting between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers was also held. The Bruins won the game 6-3. There were many compelling performances. And since it was Oscar night, I thought it would be appropriate to do a game recap by awarding awards in the style of the Oscars.

Let's start off with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Jarome Iginla who scored Boston's first goal and added an assist. He's scored 18 goals this season, and is almost assured of a 20+ goal season, his 15th. He also has 46 points, on the verge of 50. This would be his 15th 50+ point season. Apart from the recent lockout shortened season, he hasn't fallen short of 50 points since 1997-98. That was also the last time he failed to score 20+ goals, apart from the lockout shortened season. Over 500 goals and over 1,100 points. Quite a career.

Best Supporting Actor goes to David Krejci. Krejci had 2 assists in the game. And on Iginla's goal it was his puck support and then his pass that set Iginla up for the score. Krejci is one of the best supporters in the League.

There is no Academy Award for best new actor, but Dougie Hamilton would have won its hockey equivalent Sunday night. He scored the Bruins' second goal by driving to the net while Iginla won a puck battle on the boards.

The award for Best Foreign Film should go to Carl Soderberg of Sweden. Soderberg roofed a shot that beat countryman Henrik Lundqvist in the 2nd period. Of all the non-American, non-Canadian players, he was the best. It certainly wasn't Lundqvist, who seemed a shell of himself. Nor was it Tuukka Rask, who let in some soft goals and some tired goals.

Best Makeup goes to Ryan McDonagh, who was bloodied late in the 2nd period.

Best Costume Design DID NOT go to the Bruins, as they were frequently undressed in the neutral zone. Too many turnovers, too many breakaway chances for the Rangers, and the Rangers capitalized on most of them.

There's no award for product placement, but Gregory Campbell's mmmm, mmmm good shorthanded goal in the 3rd would certainly garner a nomination if such a category did exist. Campbell's soup, baby.

About 16 minutes into the 3rd, Ryan McDonagh won the award for Best Actor when he collapased to the ice after a light jostling from Jarome Iginla. I didn't buy it. The refs didn't buy it. The Academy didn't but it.

Best Cinematography is an award given to the person who shoots the camera best. So it's essentially the Best Shooter Award. In this game, Gregory Campbell, with 2 goals on 3 shots, was the best shooter.

So there we have the Bruins/Rangers Academy Awards. The Bruins' next performance will be in Boston against the Panthers on Tuesday night.

Photo Credit:
Seth Wenig/Associated Press