Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bruins hurl Hoagie, regurgitate Monday's performance and then get sandwiched by Buffalo

Before I make myself too hungry trying to find the right words to describe last night's blowout, I will leave it at that. A 6-1 loss, followed by a 7-1 loss. I see a trend here. Thursday night's score: 8-1. I had attended 11 games thus far and Thursday was inevitably going to be my 13th game. Then, just like that, the B's lost my roommates and I. I think I would rather keep up with my homework.

Not long after my post on Monday, in which I hoped Jeff Hoggan would be awarded with some additional playing time, the Bruins management waived Hoagie. "The Energy Line dismantled" was the quote in the papers. And yet the Bruins have indicated that they are in the market for an aggressive, energy forward?

Now, word on the street is that Milan Jurcina may be sent packing. But unless Brad Stuart or some decent draft picks are thrown into that mix, I can't imagine Jurcina raking in too much in value.

Right now, I can only feel bad for fans of Boston sports. Everyone is going to suffer, even the bloggers.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gettin' some exposure...

Aside from the Bruins' current catastrophe, I received some good news late last week. My blog is apparently finding its way into at least a few search engines, as I receieved an email from Margaret DeJesus of the Boston University Daily Free Press She had questions, six of them, regarding the attendance at B's games:

1) How has interest in the Bruins been affected by the lockout?
2) Why did the Bruins start the $10 college nights for students? Is
this a good idea to draw more fans and fill up the garden?
3) How long have you been diehard Bruins fan and why?
4) Why should people come out and see the Bruins?
5)Why do you think hockey isn't as popular as other sports?
6) Do you think the Bruins face competition from college teams?
(Meaning, do they draw in more crowds or are they losing fans to
college games)

I willingly responded and on the 26th, her article titled Bruins attract students to fill Garden seats appeared in the paper. Not exactly mind blowing, but any exposure is exciting, and it's that exposure that keeps the blogger happy and with the go-get-it attitude to press on and write for yourself, while hoping others might give you a minute of their time.

Stinker of the year has left us loyals clueless and the end of Chapter 2 within sight

Heading into last night's game against NYC, there was one word to describe the feeling in the air, both in the locker-room, around the arena, outside at Halftime Pizza, Sullivan's Tap, and even all-the-way down Huntington Avenue, well into all the corners of the Northeastern campus.

Like every game day, I dressed ready. Long sleeve shirt with a spoked-B. Leather jacket. Helmet-shaped Bruins beanie. Bergeron T-jersey underneath it all. After class and a quick trip home, I rushed back down to campus for a visit with the GF at Starbucks, where I was convinced to purchase a package of Celtics free tickets and buy one, get one free tickets package, a value of nearly $400 for just $40. Losing 11 in a row (or more) and a 4-15 (or more?) record at home will force an organization to go that direction. But the most interesting thing the salesman had to say was how despite the Bruins' recent struggles, the team still carries with it much more fan loyalty. Beginning after last night's game, and as an immenent trade lingers, that loyalty may soon become a thing of the past.

As I waited for my roommate Jon at Starbucks, I receieved a call. Immediately, I knew he couldn't go - I could sense it in his voice. But, that loyalty, loyalty of a fan who got into the Bruins over the past two years likely through watching and inheriting my own immense loyalty, was all too clear after he told me the first thing that came to his mind after he got into a car accident was that he might be running a little late for the game. But we got there, that is to the bar, with plenty of time for a few pitchers before rushing, as usual, to our second row balcony seats.

The first goal was a bad break. Then Bergeron, my elect for THE Bruin who has underachieved this year, got it back. From there on out, other than the notation of Murray's 300th career assist and Bergeron's 200th career game, there were little if any highlights in the game. The Rangers weren't particularly impressive, and bad bounces don't add up to 6-1 losses.

The Bruin of the game, maybe of the last few games, was Jeff Hoggan, hands down in my opinion. I would actually be shocked if he didn't lead the team in scoring chances over the last two or three games. Let's look at the stats. Two shots last night in under eight minutes of ice time. He was one of the only Bruins to throw some hits, one slightly after the whistle on Jagr, that was welcomed and was one of several questionable penalty calls against the B's. He was also one of only four Bruins with an even +/- rating. His stats Saturday were identical - and he was again one of the only B's with an even rating. In my opinion, HE is the energy forward we seem to be looking for. More ice time would seem to be an appropriate reward for a team in need of the tempo he brings every shift.

Stuart, who I think is a must for the Bruins to hold on to, was -4 last night, certainly not helping his chances of remaining in Boston.

You wouldn't think if that the Bruins would lose by five goals if they kept Jagr off the scoresheet, but that is exactly what happened. The lethal line of Ortmeyer, Cullen and Prucha blasted the B's for nine points - the Sabres will put out a team tonight better rested and with twenty players all better than the Rangers O-C-P line.

We ended up taking the Loge tickets of some friends we saw for the third period and still, we could not watch the final five minutes of the game. It was embarassing. With all that build-up. The urgency. The trade rumors luming. The first home game coming off the break. The night before facing the league's best Sabres. There were too many reasons for the Bruins to play well last night, and what was worst was that they didn't lose a heartbreaker on a bad bounce. There were several bad bounces, and you know what that means. Good teams, playing good hockey, get good bounces. It's the shooter's roll in basketball. It's the banger's, the buster's bounces in hockey.

The players, organization, and everyone who continues to display that apparently well know loyalty, everyone who paid in money and time on their Monday night to come out for the opener of the second half stretch, was embarassed. As Dave Lewis described it after the game, it was "devastating." Devastating will describe just about everything very soon if something doesn't change, starting tonight. Attendenance, playoff hopes, team chemistry are all about to boil over.

As for tonight, I am hoping that Petr Tenkrat is put back into the lineup. For anyone. He has been one of our bright spots all year. Kessel needs to get more PT. A line for tonight - Tenkrat, Kessel, Bergeron. Or maybe even, Bergeron-Hoggan-Kessel. Or Boyes-Hoggan-Donovan. B and B need, our two supposed go-to centers need a fire lit under their asses.

I can only wonder what is stirring in that organization today. Chiarelli I'm certain is on the phone as we speak. Stuart might be surfing the web for apartments in Edmonton. If the Bruins don't take one from the Sabres over the next two days, someone is heading out.

As for the fans, there's still plenty of hockey to be played, but if this ship isn't righted now, this season will be concluded early as the end of Chapter 2, the second lost creation in a young series of the new generation Bruins.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Second half push starts tonight vs. Rangers

Tonight's pair of tickets is my last from the original $10 seat bundle I bought at the beginning of the year. And tonight, the Bruins' second half push toward the postseason officially begins as they return home for a BIG week of three straight contests at TD. Mr. Jagr and the Rangers will be in town, sporting a record nearly identical (two more games played, two more wins) than the B's, who take on Buffalo Thursday and the Islanders on Saturday. I would say the Black and Gold need at least four points out of these three games to continue to stay in the hunt, and perhaps more importantly, avoid the trade bug that will surely leave a sour look on many faces within the lockerroom and the rest of Boston. Tonight's game will also be aired on Versus. Pending any record attendence numbers, I'm sure we will find our way to the second row of the balcony once again, in this my eleventh game of the year.

Not to be overshadowed tonight is the Habs/Sens game which will open up with the raising of Ken Dryden's No. 29 to the rafters. Winning six Stanley Cups in just eight years with the Habs was an incredible accomplishment. To do all that, while pursuing a law degree and writing a book as good as "The Game," is a feat up there among anything the greatest athletes of any sport have done during their time in the spotlight.

Tune in later for post game results and commentary.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Briere's goal and four helpers enough for MVP

And there you have it. The West came away with a 12-9 win, but the East's Daniel Briere, who finished with a goal and four assists, took the MVP award. I was thinking Rick Nash, if not Marto Turco for his playful commentary as he played net. All in all, it was an exciting All-Star game and hopefully one that was enjoyable for the fans who decided to tune in, despite all the negative attention the game receieved on ESPN. I had no problem with the game being aired on a Wednesday night - a nice middle of the week break with little chance of conflicts overlapping. Now onto the second half of the season, where the Bruins begin an uphill climb from just outside the playoff picture. It should be interesting here in Beantown.

East down three heading into third, 9-6

The NHL time on ice leader Zdeno Chara, who also won the slapshot contest and can speak an incredible five languages as well, scored in the second, but it was the West ringing up six goals to take a 9-6 lead into the third period. Look for Crosby and Alex to boost the East in the third, making this a one goal game toward the end. looks like Yanic Perreault...who?...might be our player of the game. Certainly would make for a forgetable All-Star game. He's a great faceoff man, but so is Rob Rassey, and you don't see him starting for Northeastern right now. Yanic Perreault and no Marc Savard?

Let's home for a good finish to this one.

First Intermission - 55th NHL All-Star Game

Six goals and a tie score at 3-3 through one period so far after a night of 17 goals, including a hat trick by our own healthy Phil Kessel, in the Young Stars game. Brendan Shanahan opted that the players finish their checks prior to the game but it seems most guys are doing anything but that. I definately support the no-hit rule for All-Star games, but I think players should skate hard, finish their checks, ride off opponents, etc.

Coming into the game, the Eastern Conference boasted 14 of the NHL's 15 top goal scorers. Only Selanne, who scored the West's highlight goal of the first in which he was described by a commentator as having "nerves of steel," is among those top 15 goal scorers. Likewise, the top eight point getters are from the East. And the also from the East, the leader in goals against average, wins and shutouts and second in save percentage, the league's top keeper, Martin Brodeur, who is coming in for the second period. Add all those stats up and the East should win, right?

But the West has much more experience, so we'll have to see which is worth more over the next two periods.

Who needs football anyways? The Bruins are THE team in Boston right now.

Well first of all I apologize for the two week plus layoff of updates, but I can lay blame to the Patriots playoff run/post loss depresion and the beginning of school (the beginning of Conversational Spanish and Arabic). Classes have been tough in the early going. That being said, I've seen my fair share of good and great hockey over the past two plus weeks.

Let's start with our Bruins. Thursday night, the best night to see a game, really has proved to be the best time to catch the B's as of late. On Jan. 11th against the Islanders, the B's let one slip away, allowing a late goal and then falling in the shootout. The following week, the B's hung with the Sabres and squeaked one out in the shootout in one of the most exciting games of the season. There was end to end action, including a jaw-dropping save each from all-star keeper Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas. Miller's save on Mara was particularly good - certainly one of his two or three best of the season.

The rematch against the Sabres two days later didn't go as well, but Phil Kessel scored twice, silencing any doubts that cancer or immaturity would slow his development. A nearly full crowd was in attendence for the Pens game the following night. My friends and I were lucky enough to score four $20 tickets and catch the game. It was a game of momentum gained and lost, as both teams failed to hold onto leads and ultimately, it was Phil who provided the thrill down the stretch. He snuck one underneath Fluery in the fourt round of the shootout, sending a lot of B's fans out of North Station in jubilation.

So, the Bruins are only 3-7 so far in the new year, but the Pats are history and the Celtics are boasting a 4-15 record at HOME. That's right. The Sixers, with seven home wins, are the second worst team at home. If that is not reason enough to opt for an overtime thrilling B's game over a Celtics stinker, I don't know what is.

Meanwhile over at Matthews Arena, the Huntington Hounds have continued to gain ground in the Hockey East standings. Every weekend, I try to stress to my friends how great the games always are at Matthews. In January at Matthews, Nu has posted an overtime win against Boston College, a tie and a loss against Vermont and a 2-1 overtime victory against UMass Lowell at Matthews in January. That's three OT games out of four. And these games are free.

Without a home game until Feb. 2 against Merrimack, my roommmate and I are considering a trip up to Orono and Bangor in Maine this weekend to see the Huskies take on the BlackBears on Saturday night.

All-Stars in the Hobby:

Look no further than the top 10 or 20 scoring leaders for the best deals in the hobby right now. Marc Savard's 94-95 SP rookie can still be had at a fraction of Samsonov's RC single from that same year. Savard has come into Boston and replaced Thornton - he has five more goals, three less assists, in two less games than Jumbo Joe. For two million less dollars. Elsewhere, Heatley has led the Senators back to the upper echelon of the league and although his better rookies are already pretty expensive, they have plenty of room for growth.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Huskies gettin' hot; What Harry Agganis and I have in common

It looks like Mr. McEachern delivered the goods for Northeastern this Christmas - that santa outfit he sported was for real. The Huskies came out of winter hiberation with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against Boston College on Friday night and then followed up with a 0-0 tie at BU on Saturday night.

The win against B.C. was definately a surprise. Early on, the Eagles were outplayed and watched the Huskies cycle the puck time and time again, but B.C. was sound in the defensive zone and NU was unable to penetrate the slot area. Schneider was able to easly steer aside the early shots coming from the outside and as the Huskies continued to exert energy up and down the ice. It took the Eagles over five minutes to even get a shot on goal, but as is often the case, it was a high quality scoring chance allowed by NU. Rooney's wicked wrister found the top left corner. In the second, Strathman brought NU within one on a great shot and decision. Too often than not, players just circle and circle looking for the perfect play when the best move is to put the puck on net.

I thought the Huskies outplayed B.C. the rest of the way for the most part and in overtime, they topped their earlier dramatics against B.C. with the game-winning goal, this time from Chisholm from the point.

Saturday night at the BU game, I helped out the ESPN 890 crew with stats - so I got a great seat inside their little room, helping out with stats, next to the room where Mike Morris silently watched, with the exception of a few minor signs of frusteration. I guess not much more can be expected of the man that called his game-tying, last second goal against B.C. earlier this season as "good."

Agganis arena was phenominal. I was most impressed with the beautiful scoreboard with awesome highlights and replays.

The name of the rink itself stems from the former BU standout Harry Agganis, who died of a "massive pulmonary embolism" as a 26-year-old. Agganis, whose parents immigrated from the village of Loggonike in Sparta, Greece, was an All-American quarterback and eventually a star for the Red Sox after he turned down a lucrative NFL offer from the Cleveland Browns. "The Golden Greek," as he came to be called due to his heritage, shares just that with me, certainly not athletic ability. Although my mother says I'm only 12.5% Greek (my grandmother, who loved me so but died when I was six months old, was Greek).

As for the BU/NU game, I thought both teams played well enough to win, although the Huskies seemed more fortunate to come away with a point. McCauley had the best chance of the game for NU - a cross crease pass that landed on his blade. Somehow, the puck went wide or over the net. BU saved its best for last, literally during the final 30 seconds of overtime. "Ooohhhhsss" and "Ahhhhssss" rang out continously until the final buzzer as the Terriers put one and then another and another close range shot on Thiessen. It seems only McEachern's Christmas magic justifies that kind of luck. As for Thiessen, he went on to be named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week.

And as for the Bruins, well, let's take a look at them an hour before game time tomorrow. For now, us sports fans have a pretty good Ohio State/Florida game to focus on.

Oh and an update on my Hawks of the NESHL adult league. After a rare and large family get together for dinner, I managed to make it to our 10 p.m. game in Walpole. We won 7-1 and my line played pretty well together down the stretch. I also scored - and have still gone only one game without a goal. It's funny the little things that bring satisfaction more and more as you get older.

Definately, that kind of appreciation of the little things in life is something that noticably grows as you become an adult.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

O-o heading to 3rd

Game time

Friday, January 05, 2007

Nu wins on 3 str8! Over bc 3-2 ot