Thursday, October 26, 2006

No longer the rivalry Dryden speaks of; Eye on Donruss Preferred; Bruins or Northeastern men's soccer?

I've shot up to page 176 of Ken Dryden's "The Game," and I can say already with confidence that it is one of my favorite books of all-time. Definately, along with Bidini's book on hockey in unlikely places, it is the best hockey book out there. Despite being a die-hard fan, I had little knowledge of what it was like to grow up in Canada, learn to play hockey back then and spend about a decade backstopping the legendary Canadiens teams to six Stanley Cups. Dryden paints a picture of every arena and city he travels to, every player he encounters, every obstacle he stumbles upon. You learn how NHL players started, how they fell apart, how they succumbed to guilty pleasures, how the life of a hockey player isn't always what it is cracked up to be. I have learned what Really made Bobby Orr so special and so different than any other great defenseman. Or why Scotty Bowman never had an NHL career. I found out what made Pete Mahovlich so special to those Canadiens teams, and it wasn't his superstardom. The Canadiens didn't really need any one player's talent; they needed things more abstract, things that you could never buy and never teach.

I will eventually offer a full review, but for now, I just want to say that I would relish a Canadiens vs. Bruins original 6 rivalry like it was 30 some odd years ago. Dryden describes the Stanley Cup-winning Bruins of 1970:

It was a team of great personal chemistry, free-spirited in the worst of times, now as champions rousing and carousing like a pier-six brawl ready to happen. Hard living, hard laughing, a team both on and off the ice, they seemed the image of what every team should be. And on and off the ice, the wind finally at their backs, in the glow of good feeling that had taken over the city and their fans, they built an enormous roll of momentum."

Tonight we have:
* Matt Lashof and probably another no-namer called up from Providence
* Sergei Samsonov, once the B's most exciting first-liner and now of MTL's fourth line, returning to Boston
* The B's and Habs both trying to recover from beatings suffered at the hands of the mighty Sabres

* Cristobal HugeGay with a 50% chance of ruining my night
* Cristobal HugeGay with a 50% chance of sending the Bruins into a tie with the Flyers for the league's worst start
* A viewing dilemma: Do I watch the B's or the William & Mary at Old Dominion men's soccer game, which has playoff for Northeastern's men's soccer team, which can clinch a postseason birth tomorrow night at home? I don't know whether to root for the team I've covered for three months, or hope for a loss so I can attend my first adult league hockey game on Sunday night and my halloween party on Tuesday night.

At this point, I might as well root for the Sabres and see how far they go without a loss. So far this year, there seems to be a real discrepancy in talent. There's like four teams with zero or one loss and four with two wins or less (Bruins). I saw a Sabres fan sporting a jersey (not the new one) of the NHL's elite outside Matthews arena today.

My boss is out today and traveling with the hockey team to Michigan two hockey games this weekend. I couldn't believe they have four first round draft picks, including Jack Johnson on the team. McCauley, me ex-teammate, playing against Johnson? What happened to my career? Now, as I have experienced during free skate hours at work the last couple days, I need 15 minutes to recoup after a few sprints.


1997-98 Donruss Preferred.

This is a fancy looking set, one a few put out by Donruss that year, including the donruss limited exposure series which I continue to build. The Preferred issue also packed some high-quality rookie cards of a few superstars just reaching their peak now. In the silver verson, Olli Jokinen and Marian Hossa. The gold version has Vaclav Prospal. Prospal is rarer, but Jokinen ($30) and Hossa ($50) have great potential to grow this year. The Thrashers look for real and Hossa looks just as good as Kovalchuk. Jokinen leads an up-and-coming Panthers team. I expect both to at least double in value over the course of this season. In Hossa's case, maybe quadruple if the Thrashers make a postseason run.

I HAVE: one BGS 9.5 Jokinen, one BGS 8.5 Jokinen, one ungraded Hossa, and one BGS 8.5 Hossa.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I was just reaching my 15th row balcony seat when...

Brad Boyes beat Kiprusoff just 18 seconds into the Bruins' 3-2 victory in the home opener on Thursday night. The fans went wild, the guys in front of me gave us high fives and Boyes helped to usher in a new era at "The Garden." Apparently it was the fastest goal scored in a home opener since 1998, when Geoff Sanderson did it in 11 seconds in 1998.

Murray made it 2-0 before long, and other than a somewhat lackluster second period, the B's played a pretty good game. I witnessed someone, that someone being Stephane Yelle, being carried off on a stretcher. I bought beer ($6 a pop) for the first time at a game (other than playing Hey Mr. last year at a B's/Sens game). We snuck in flasks of liquor. And we went home happy.

I nearly forget we had Kessel, Chara and Savard until I heard their names or saw them do something siginificant. I was asking myself, who is No. 71 at center? There has definately been a changing of the guarde. The scoreboard was fantastic, and I am really feeling the whole Hub of Hockey thing the B's have going on. It's much bette than "It's called Bruins..."

Every time Hoggan stepped onto the ice, we yelled "Hoggie!" or just "Hoggan!" He was promoted to the checking line because of Sturm's injury and looked great, taking a team-high six shots.

I have some pictures to upload but I am waiting Sully to send them over.

And what better than checking out this morning and seeing a Bruins win and a charismatic interview with my one and only all-time favorite athlete, the Finnish Flash Teemu Selanne. If not the B's year, it has to be Teemu's year to taste Stanley.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

First Game of the Year. First Home Opener Ever.

I was unable to get the cheap seats on ticketmaster when the Bruins tickets first went on sale, but it wasn't too hard scoring today. I emailed everyone listed on Criags List selling tix and sent out my own want ad. I came away with three nosebleeders: Section 326, Row 15, Seats 14, 15, 16. I'm excited. My roommate, who has probably never been to a NHL game, bought a Bruins T and blank-backed jersey. It's also my first game as a 21-year-old. I'm hoping for the best.

Home Opener

I've never been to a home opener, and I have no obligations tonight, so I am frantically trying to score some B's tix for my friends and I on Craigslist.

I was wrong on my prediction last night...the Penguins went down in regulation. But Malkin did break the glass on a third-period one-timer.

Tonight: Bruins 4, Flames 2

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

10/18/06 - Malkin's Day

I'm not declaring he is the next Mario Lemieux. After all, Malkin didn't score on his first NHL shift. It took him until 18:38 of the second period, at which point he had logged 9:58 of ice time during 12 shifts. Not a bad goalie to score your first goal on either. But more impressive than his jab at a frozen Brodeur was his play in the first period, particularly when he dished a pass to the point, curled to the net, spun around a defender and tipped the shot from the point toward the net. I actually thought it got net, but on second look it definately hit the post. It would have been a more memorable inagural goal, but nonetheless, the next great player has his first goal, the only Penguins' goal, in just under two periods of play.

In this day and age of $6000 Ovechkin and $5000 Crosby rookie cards actually selling, I don't see myself landing a Malkin anytime soon. At least not one of much appeal.

Other notes: Havlat continues torrid pace with seventh goal already tonight. Mets still alive, ahead 1-0. Prediction for end of Pens/Devils game: tied in the shootout with Malkin left to go, he makes Brodeur look foolish and the fans go wild.

Celebrity Bartending

Well, it's been over two weeks since I have updated. I can attribute that to three things: lazyness, depression and work. I'm not actually too lazy to get on here, and by depressed I am only referring to the B's 1-3-1 start. The Bad, Bad Bruins and the Broad Street Pussies are the only two teams with just three points. They are also two of a handful of teams to have suffered flat out heinous defeats, notably the B's 8-3 meltdown at Florida to open up the season and the Flyers brutal 9-1 showing in Buffalo last night.

Buffalo at least will probably win the Cup this year. I give them best all-around and best goaltending as of now...and have almost completed a trade in which I will acquire a Titanium Ryan Miller RC. I see this trade paying off big time as the playoffs role around in May. If he wins the Cup, I expect this $125 RC will be unattainable for under $200.

While watching the Sabres skate circles around Esche and the Flyers last night, I was also throwing down a sample platter and a few Blueberry Wachusett beers at the Celebrity Bartending event at The Sports Grille across from TDBNC. Sully and I walked in without being asked to pay the $10 cover charge, then scored a free Miller Lite foam beer-holder (coozie?) for drinking one Miller draft, a free Miller Lite T-shirt, a WAAF car freshener some other junk, but most importantly autographs from the Bruins best four players: Andrew Alberts, Wayne Primeau, Yan Stastny, Mark Stuart. That is according Dave Lewis' current mixup of the lines. The fourth line, as cited in today's globe article has been the B's best line thus far.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Malkin Madness

I received my October edition Beckett in the mail the other day. Featued player: Evgeni Malkin. What a stud this kid is...

In the featured article highlighting this year's rookie crop and those that will undoubtably lead the collecting industry was Malkin, and in a close second mention, Boston's Phil Kessel. I am interested to see what kind of value Kessel's rookies bring in comparison to Malkin's. I would have to think Malkin's would stand at least at twice Kessel's, but we'll see.

This kid just doesn't look like one of the world's great hockey players.

I couldn't move Malkin up in my fantasy hockey pre-draft rankings because of his preseason injury, although that will probably come back to haunt me.

I guess looks can be deceiving.

I can't wait to see what Pittsburgh's top line does this year - and who will be that lucky bastard to float on the other wing alongside S&E.

Hoggan appears he will make the squeeze...

It looks like Jeff Hoggan will make the team. He had a goal earlier in the preseason and recently was applauded for his high-energy physical play, particularly in his five minutes of ice time in the last preseason game against the Rangers, when he drew a penalty. And Fluto thinks he's in too.

Three more days until opening night. I have to help cover a field hockey game from 2-4 and then a women's soccer game from 6-8...and then I have to do my writeup for men's soccer as soon as I get home...I'm really getting overly excited about opening night.

And the $10 tickets for the four games I bought have all come in. So far I am seeing the Sabres (Nov. 2), Lightning (Nov. 29), Panthers (Dec. 16) and Rangers (Feb or March?) from the 14th and 15th rows of the balcony. Still, at about $15 after fees per ticket, I don't feel bad. Plus, there's a great offer going on right now. After you buy tickets to a game, Entertainment Rewards offers you $25 off your next purchase if you sign up for their free 30 day trail. It's not a catch, until you don't cancel as soon as the 30 days are up. So basically, I'm going to two Bruins games for free.