Friday, March 30, 2007

Bruins fans, there's plenty of good hockey out there. That is, outside of the Bruins organization.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that hockey fans are currently witnessing a historic year in the NHL. I don't know where to begin. But regardless of any pain and suffering Bostonians have had to endure this year and for many years previous, it is important for these same fans to look around the league, around Boston and to other corners of the world where hockey continues to be played.

I decided to go the Bruins game last night not to watch the Bruins but to watch Crosby and co. go at it again. It was a perfect chance to get some reasonably priced tickets to see The Kid play. The Penguins moved ahead of the Devils last night and now have 100 points. That is astonishing to say the least. This is a team that placed second to last in the league just one year ago. They turned 58 points last season into 100+ this season. The Pens already have 45 wins. That's 23 more than in 2005-06. This team actually has a chance at a President's Trophy. It boggles my mind how a team undergoes this kind of transformation over one season. Yet the answer is obvious.

Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Stall have proven their worth. They will go on to have extremely successful careers in the NHL. Jordan may even be better than his brother Eric. Evgeni could be the most prolific scorer over the next 15 to 20 years. Still, the Penguins success begins and ends with Sidney Crosby. It's amazing that a 19 year old is already one of the top leaders in the league. Granted, I wasn't around to see much of Wayne Greztky's statistical stacked seasons. But if the Penguins, say, make it to the Eastern Conference finals or the Stanley Cup, I believe this Gretzky vs. Crosby debate will be mute.

Not a bad look for the new NHL. Photo from GQ Magazine, issue Nov. 06

My argument is that Crosby is dominating the league during an era when it is not nearly as easy to reign supreme. This highlight real featuring "the great ones should be expanded and celebrated. Crosby's goal, I believe against the Canadiens, when he wove through the entire team and danced his way toward the goal with the utmost grace was for the Canadiens, a beautiful disaster.

There's plenty of other great stories in the NHL this year. Stories that you won't see nearly as often in other sports. In Tampa Bay, Vincent Lecavalier, another player who has been compared to Gretzky since entering the league, has finally blossomed into the player we were hoping he'd be. He's scoring at will and has certainly shown maturity that he lacked in past years. Also in Tampa, St. Louis and Dan Boyle, former college stars, continue to shine and set a precedent in the league that smaller players can thrive. That's no revelation of course. The league would be minus a lot of highlights from guys like Datsyuk, St. Louis, Boyle, Savard.

It really doesn't make sense that a guy who was in the running for a Hobby Baker award some years back went undrafted. Boyle is a great example of the kind of player that thrives in the NHL today, and although the league is not perfect, fans need to appreciate the strides that have been made to help these great, undersized players shine.

But best of all in the hockey and sports world, maybe even better than Sidney Crosby, is the Buffalo Sabres success as a team and an organization. The Sabres were recently named the No. 1 team among all teams in the big four.

"Buffalo ranks No. 1 among all Big Four pro franchises in giving fans the most back for the emotion, money and time they invest in their teams," wrote Peter Keating in the above article.

It seems that it's almost been less time that I recall the Sabres nearly going bankrupt than I remember writing about how the Bruins mathematically will reach the playoffs this season. As written in the article, the Sabres' owner John Rigas was found gulity of accounting fraud in 2003. Rigas' departure signaled a new era in Buffalo, as billionaire Tom Golisano purchased the team amd arena for 92 million dollars. What followed was a reverse trend of what was happening around the rest of the league. Ticket prices were lowered, drastically, and now cost 25% below the league average. That's not the only area the Sabres have thrived over the past few years.

I'm not going to analyze the entire article because it's here for everybody to see. However, based the following rankings, Buffalo was the top sports team among the big four sports while the Bruins ranked...117th of 122.

BNG (Bang for the Buck): Revenues directly from fans divided by wins in the past three years

FRL (Fan Relations): Ease of access to players, coaches & management

OWN (Ownership): Honesty; loyalty to players and city

AFF (Affordability): Price of tickets, parking and concessions

STD (Stadium Experience): Friendliness of environment; quality of game-day promotions

PLA (Players): Effort on the field; likability off it

CCH (Coach/Manager): Strong on-field leadership

TTR (Title Track): Titles already won or expected -- soon

The B's didn't crack 103rd in any category and were the fifth most expensive team to follow. Great news for a city that has probably the most poor college students of any city in the country. It's a wonder how we attended around 15 games this year. It will be no wonder when I apply for another loan in the near future. Among NHL teams, only the Blackhawks were ranked worse than Boston. The other teams at the bottom: Flordia, the Kings, Leafs and Flyers. Not exactly an elite class. The Rangers were next, making three of the original six teams among the worst for hockey fans to lend their trust, loyalty and passion.

I do believe these teams will recover the glory that once carried among the best of fan bases. And looking at the big picture, these teams don't really matter that much right now anyways. Sidney in Pittsburgh, Tom in Buffalo and Dan in Tampa have our league headed in the right direction for years to come and for that reason, hockey fans, even those in Boston, should step back and enjoy the world's greatest sport.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A night at Northeastern with Cam Neely

As we walked through the doors of Ell Hall, I caught site of a familiar face of a large figure just behind me.

"Do you know where Blackman Hall is," he said. "It's right up here. Are you Cam?" I said.

Obviously, it was Cam. I just didn't know what to say at the time. Professional athletes have always intimidated me and a player of Neely's stature was no different.

I shook his hand, introduced myself, and walked inside Blackman Auditorium, as I listened to his explain that he didn't have a ticket to those working the doors.

His presentation was fun and very casual. It was $3/ticket for students and $5 for everyone else. He spoke of his playing days, with some behind the scenes comedic stories and finished with a short explanation of his charity work involving cancer.

After, he opened up the floor for questions. Unforunately, the floor included many dim-witted sorority girls and frat house bozos. There were a lot of real fans in the crowd and from them came some good questions.

What was your favorite place to play? Montreal, by far.
Did you enjoy a hat trick of a victorious fight more? Probably the fight. Players hate to lose a fight.
What was it like to be traded from Vancouver to Boston?
Who do you like most in the league now?
Why do the Bruins suck and where should they start corrections?

Cam was very down to earth and was able to shed a lot of light on both his career and the game today. A few girls felt it necessary to ask questions about rule changes and leadership in the locker room - these questions were not posed with any inteligence.

I was disappointed that there was no meet and greet afterwards but nonetheless, it was a worthwhile experience.

Later last night, our NESHL team won once again against a mediocre opponent, at best. I mean, I played back on D for two periods and I don't think we gave up a goal during that time. Playoffs start next Sunday, so the going should get tougher.

I'm not going to go further into the playoff scenarios of the NHL right now but as we all know, spots are still up for grabs in the East and these final couple weeks should be very entertaining.

One other thing I wanted to mention today was regarding the film "The Rocket," which as I have heard tells the story of Rocket Richard. I had read about this film a while back and based on the few reviews on, this movie is on par with the other great hockey films. I'll be sure to check it out over the next week or so and write a full review.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hope all but lost in Boston, but there's plenty more in the playoffs

A second straight shutout, albeit not nearly as bad as Saturday's disaster, likely put an end to any hope of a postseason birth for Boston. At the very least, I hope Tim Thomas has secured the starting position in goal for next season. He was once again left out to dry and take away some great saves and some even better luck, and the Canadiens win that game by three or four goals. The Bruins also have Tukka Rask and Toivonen, both of whom have plenty of potential. So, I don't want to hear anything about goaltending this off-season. It's the offense and defense, but more specifically, the lack of leadership and thus the lack of consistency.

Regardless of how the Bruins end the season, and it's not looking good, this postseason has about as much potential as I can remember.

In the East, Buffalo will likely retain the top spot and face perhaps the defending Cup champs, the Smyth and Dipierto led Islanders or the Leafs. All would present an interesting series, certainly no gimmes due to the Sabres recent rash of injuries. Jersey could end up playing one of their crosstown rivals in the Isles or Rangers. Division rivals Atlanta and Tampa Bay are currently locked up, and the offensive firepower that these two teams would display would be unmatched in any other series. But perhaps the most interesting current pairing is playoff failure Ottawa and a much-improved Pittsburgh. With Crosby, Malkin, Stall and co. flourishing and having brought the Pens from worst to, well almost first, the Sens may once again find themselves on the short end of what was a pretty darn good season. My prediction: Sidney Crosby proves he's already a better leader than Daniel Alfredson, who is shipped out following the Sens first round exit.

In the West, we are currently looking at a Nashville/Calgary first round series. These teams are only separated by 14 points and as far as playoff experience and overall leadership, the Flames have to be the favorite. But Nashville plays a fast brand of hockey, one that might be too quick for any of the bottom seeds. The same can be said about Anaheim and Dallas. The Stars are very accustomed to making the playoffs, and Mike Modano and co. are among the league's best leaders. That being said, Teemu Selanne is scoring at will and has a big and fast Ducks team ready for a Stanley Cup run. Not to mention, Pronger and Scotty N., a three-time Cup champ, on the blueline. The Ducks are my clearcut favorite to take it home this year.

A Vancouver/San Jose matchup would be a battle between a great overall team in San Jose against a Roberto Luongo led Canucks team. Luongo would have to be great to win this series, but I think that's pretty much expected at this point? Joe Thornton needs to lead, not just assist, if the Sharks are to finally make it to the Western Conference finals. And the current No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup, the Wings would meet the Wild in a matchup that would surely come down to the wire. The Wings surprised everyone this year with yet another 100+ point season and of course have that much valued playoff experience. Minnesota has been there recently too, and Marian Gaborik is healthy and playing well, but this would be a tough series to win as Detroit has home-ice advantage (26-4-5) at home.

I'm dissapointed about how things are shaping up in Beantown, but that's life. It's nice to have my team, but it's better we have a good postseason to look forward to. I never want to have another 2004-05. We have our hockey and that's what really matters.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bruins survive; keep good vibe at the Garden with final four Hockey East teams ready for championship

This watercolor, titled "A Scene on the Ice" by Hendrick Avercamp will hopefully be hung above my mantle some day. If I can't swing that with the wife, I'll settle for a prime spot in the "sports room."

The Bruins poor play and a few gin and tonics had me counting sheep through the first two periods last night. But in the third and into overtime and the shootout, the Bruins woke up, keeping both their playoff hopes and I alive for at least the time being. What was a rough night could have been a lot worse had the Bruins lost that game and a hope for the postseason.

We can thank Phil "The Closer" Kessel, as he has now been officially deemed by the Globe in today's B's coverage. Also important was that the Bruins kept a good vibe in the air at the Garden with the hockey east championships beginning tonight and wrapping up tomorrow. I'll be looking on from up top with the media on what should be an interesting three games.

Tickets are available online at that link but at this point, you are better off just getting them at the Garden. Also, students of any of the Hockey East schools can get $7 off any ticket, which makes possible a $10 ticket (originally $17 for the upper balcony area). Not a bad deal, especially for tonight, because that $10 is admission for both the 5 p.m. UMass Amherst vs. UNH matchup and the 8 p.m. BC/BU rivalry.

For more coverage on these games, check out the article The Hub of Hockey Hosts Hockey East. Many former Hockey East stars now current Bruins comment on the games and the likely scenarios that may play out this weekend. It's amazing how many of these guys came from Hockey East teams. Right of the bat, I know Chuck Kobasew and defensemen Andrew Alberts and Bobby Allen were former Eagles and Mark Mowers was a Wildcat. No Amherst guys though...Thomas Pock of the Rangers is the one guy in the league that I know came out of UMass.

Northeastern was shelled in two lopsided games against BC in the first round but three Huskies earned hockey east honors, it was announced today. Morris was selected as a fan favorite and more importantly, freshmen Brad Thiessen and Chad Costello were named to the All-Rookie team.

In bigger knews, 6'4 220 pounds of bigger news, former Husky blueliner Jon Awe is making his finally prescence felt in both the ECHL and AHL this year, possibly a sign of things to come in the NHL some day soon. Just a few years ago, he was manning the point for the Huskies. That is very occassionally when he was granted playing time. Despite his gifted stature, he played like a little man with a little heart. He could barely through a check, nevermind skate backwards.

Now, I'm not the only one surprised by his numbers this season at the ECHL and AHL levels. He has 21 goals and 28 assists for 49 points in as many games for the Gwinnett Gladiators. And that is on defense don't forget. Also, in five games with the Chicago Wolves, he has posted a goal and three assists and a plus-5 rating. Although he failed to make it out of the Atlanta Thrashers training keep this season, those kind of numbers will earn him a spot on some NHL squad come next year.

And to close out today's post with a useful tool in hockey knowledge, I just skimmed through Wikipedia's listing on ice hockey and even for a long-time hockey fan and player like myself, there was plenty to learn in here.

For example, I learned that hockey may have originated in the Beni-Hasen tombs in Egypt, where 4000-year-old drawings show a game that looks like field hockey. I saw for the first time this beautiful picture which I would like to have framed above my future mantle of "A Scene on the Ice" by Hendrick Avercamp. I found out that the biggest crowd ever at a hockey game was 74,554 people at what is remembered as "The Cold War," on October 6, 2001, a game at Michigan State's Spartan Stadium which featured rivals Michigan State and University of Michigan. Apparently, the ice sheet used for the game cost half a million dollars. And lastly, I read up on what I know as "puck sluts" but what are also known as puck bunnies or simply, pucks. And although there's probably a few famous bunnies on each major college hockey campus, one lucky lady named "Emily Freaking Stone, who now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has the distinction of being famous for her behavior with the men of the CHL. I'd be curious to know what other information I could google about Emily Freaking Stone.

It will have to be another day because I've run out of time. Only two hours til the puck drops on UMass and UNH at the Garden.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mario again super, keeping the Pens in Pitt

It seemed aeemed almost inevitable that the Penguins would be forced to leave Pittsburgh and relocate in some desolate city. Not that Kansas City or any number of other southern cities are desolate; they are from desolate, in fact. But as much as I'd love to see a hockey team back in Winnipeg, I wanted even more for the Pens to stay put.

Pittsburgh governor and co. finally agreed with Mario and co-owner Ron Burkle on a new multi-purpose $290 million arena that will allow us to watch Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the other young Pens finish their careers, hopefully, in Pittsburgh.

Minnesota should have never left town. We can say the same about Quebec, Winnipeg and maybe even Hartford (despite the Canes' Cup). We've already lost enough history in the tearing down of all original arenas. The least the league ought to do is work to save our historic franchises. Everyone wanted Pittsburgh to work out and in the end, the deal was done.

We can once again thank Mario Lemieux, the man who combined size with super-human skill and made it look easier than anyone had ever before. The man I saw in Boston overshadow Jaromir Jagr, arguably the best player spanning my childhood.

Now some day, I'll be able to add Pittsburgh to my list of hockey cities to visit, a trip not far off that will not be without another historic team.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

After 16 years, Selanne still scoring but with eyes on a Cup

He's been doing it since the 1992-93 season and now as we approach the 2006-07 playoff season, Teemu "The Finnish Flash" Selanne is still scoring at a remarkable pace. But one thing is different this year. He is the leader of the Anaheim Ducks, one of the league's elite teams this season. Selanne has never reached the Stanley Cup Finals but the Ducks recent play signals a possible long playoff run.

Teemu currently tops the league in power-play goals, is second in game-winning goals and fourth in OT goals. Two very telling statistics. With 41 goals thus far, third best in the league, he can make a run at the 50 for the fourth time in his career. I can only hope that the player I have watched and admired since I first put on skates accomplishes the ultimate goal this season.

These old jerseys bring back fond memories of that record-setting rookie season and a team that never should have left Winnipeg.

The Bruins are not in action tonight but have plenty of hockey to watch on T.V. Ottawa is at the Rangers, Florida at Carolina, Tampa Bay at Toronto and the Islanders are at Montreal. Let's sit back and root for the away team.

Back home in Boston over at UMass Boston's Clark Athletic Center, a power outage caused the zamboni to fall through the ice, creating a large hole and ultimately canceling our 10:30 make-up game last night. I didn't see the hole but one man inside the rink did not sound optimistic about the accident. Unfortunately, I had driven all the way there and was ready to play a late game for once, but obviously, it wasn't meant to be.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Consistency key now with 13 to go

4-1 loss against the league's worst. Less than 24 hours, one flight and a short night of rest later, a convincing 6-3 win against one of the league's best? How, in the last five games, does this team win in Detroit and Jersey and then lose two at home and in Philadelphia? Huh?

It doesn't make any sense. Then again, this team is known for playing remarkably bad against similar competition and often quite well against those in another, much higher class. That was fine for the last 69 games, but for the next 13, losing two in two weeks to Flyers will not be O.K. It might not even be O.K. right now, but yesterday's win in Detroit COULD be the start of something better, perhaps a sretch of consistent games.

Yesterday's win had plenty of subplots. Lewis' return to Detroit, Tim Thomas' first game back in his hometown state in front of his family and friends...there's a few more but regardless of the what many papers reported today, the only thing that mattered to anyone on that team was the win. A loss would have left the Bruins too far in the back seat with no chance of picking up enough speed in time.

Now they have rounded a corner and with 13 games remaining, the playoff picture at the bottom of the east looks like this:

(9) Carolina (34-28-8, 76 pts)
Trailing 8th seed (NY Rangers) by 0 points
Games remaining:12 (7 Home, 5 Away)
vs. +.500: 10 vs. East: 11

(10) Toronto (33-27-9, 75 pts)
Trailing 8th seed (NY Rangers) by 1 points
Games remaining:13 (7 Home, 6 Away)
vs. +.500: 11 vs. East: 13

(11) Montreal (34-30-6, 74 pts)
Trailing 8th seed (NY Rangers) by 2 points
Games remaining:12 (7 Home, 5 Away)
vs. +.500: 11 vs. East: 12

(12) Boston (33-31-5, 71 pts)
Trailing 8th seed (NY Rangers) by 5 points
Games remaining:13 (6 Home, 7 Away)
vs. +.500: 12 vs. East: 13

(13) Florida (29-27-13, 71 pts)
Trailing 8th seed (NY Rangers) by 5 points
Games remaining:13 (7 Home, 6 Away)
vs. +.500: 10 vs. East: 13

The Rangers could still fall out - at 76 points and with a few question marks, a Ranger berth is still up in the air. Across the Island however, there is momentum and a shot at actually pushing toward that cup. The Islanders boast a hot team, a new and proven playoff leader and young and confident goalie.

As for the Bruins, the next five games will be evidence enough. The home game in Washington is a must, after that at Rangers, at Montreal, and the back home again for Montreal and the Rangers. The playoffs have already begun.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Not so wild a break; 3-2 through two in Detroit

Not a pretty week for hockey fans in Boston. I reasoned that because there was so much hockey to see this week that my decision to stick around for spring break would be justified. Well, it turned out to be quite the mess, at times a beautiful disaster.

I picked up 2 tickets for Friday's Northeastern/BC playoff game and three for Saturday's at $20 a piece. Ends up everyone was either out of town or had other plans Tuesday. After a miserable process that involved contacting pretty much everyone on my petite list of hockey followers and rarely seen friends, I ended up getting rid of the pair for $20 - not a bad loss, considering my friend Joe scored a pair of executive box tickets to the Bruins/Wild game at work.

To sum up that game in brief, the Wild looked a much faster, superior team. We did make a run at it toward the end but came up short. Outside of the final few minutes of the game, the highlight was the giant fight in the stands that was taking place as the Bruins scored their lone goal. Most of the guys in our private box (which by the included a giant flat screen TV, fridge stocked with beer including cans of Corona?, large couch and bar table area and two rows of private seating just above the green premium seats, didn't even notice our goal because the fight was going on as the goal was scored. What I did see included at least three or four security guards or police officers and close to a dozen fans, three or four who were throwing haymakers left and right at each other and at the guards.

Friday night my roommates and I did make it over to BC but only for the first 25 or 30 minutes of the game. After jumping out to a 1-0 lead, the Huskies gave up seven consecutive strikes. We only waited around for five of those. A 3-0 loss and a 7-1 beating, not exactly the kind of play expected by the team that had previously soundly beated BU at home.

Yesterday the Bruins were pounded in Philly and I know that as much as I don't want to comment on that game, any readers would be even less enthused to listen to that sort of rant.

To their credit, the Bruins have not thrown in the towel just yet. As far as I was concerned, Philly thrusted a dagger into the spoked-B yesterday. I also expected Detroit to twist that dagger. But after giving up their early lead, the Bruins have bounced back and actually looked like they belonged out their with a Western Conference powerhouse in the second period. Marco Sturm has been a pleasant surprise. After a miserable first half or 2/3 of the season, he has bounced back with a nice stretch of goal-scoring that if nothing else has helped to keep the Bs alive and more importantly reflected well on the recent moves of GM Chiarelli. I wasn't sure he was the lone piece of the Thornton trade worth keeping. At this point, despite the fact that Brad Stuart looked pretty good in the Flames/Lightning game last night, Sturm is finally becoming a consistent producer with top notch speed that he was thought to be when he came to town.

I'm not counting my chickens yet; the Bruins still have that ever elusive good third period ahead of them. If the previous 67 or 68 games have been any indication, Detroit will take over in the third and win convincingly at home. I know I've been saying this for a while, but right now it's pretty obvious. Lose this third period and that's all she wrote.

After the game and some whiffle ball down the road, I'll be heading down to Matthews Arena for my first men's league game at NU with my parents and friends looking on, just like old times.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Mathematically, the Bruins WILL sneak in; And why Boston is my only spring break destination

That's right folks. Mathematically, that is, if the Bruins and the other teams contending for those final two playoff spots in the East continue on the same winning percentage as in the last 15 games, the Isles will remain at No. 7 and the Bruins will end up with that eighth seed and a likely first round exit at the hands of the mighty Sabres. As cited by Kevin Paul Dupont in today's Globe article "Bruins getting pushy," Boston has gone 10-4-1 (.700) over the last 15 while the Isles are 11-2-3. The Leafs are next at 7-5-3, while the Canes and Rangers are both at .500 over that stretch (7-7-1 and 6-6-3 respectively) and the Havs have been hapless at 5-10-0.

I don't know if I agree with Dupont in that the February/March Bruins have been the Bruins we had hoped for since the beginning of October. We have seen Brad Boyes and Belmont native Paul Mara leave town for players who are questionably limited in their potential. Both Mara and Stuart are good puck moving defensemen and yet, we went out and picked up Wideman, a puck moving defenseman. I'm not sure about the logic in these moves, but the play over the last two games has caught my attention.

And tonight, we will see another piece that came over in those recent trades. Chuck Kobasew, a former Boston College standout, will join Phil Kessel and Brandon Bochenski on the fourth line, a line that I think could be the Bruins best. Of course, I am making the trip down to the Garden for this one to see if these Bruins are as pushy as Dupont has found them to be.

Also this week, I am attending my first Celtics game of the season tomorrow as the C's face Yao, McGrady and the Rockets, but back to hockey. Speaking of Kobasew and B.C., the Eagles will kick off their best of three season with our own Huskies Thursday night. Those tickets as well as entrance to Friday and the possible tie-breaker on Saturday can be found at
tickets on Northeastern's athletics web site. Unforunately, I will have to miss the Wild in town on Thursday because that three game series just has too much potential to be a classic. NU played well down the stretch and is definately capable of knocking off the No. 2 Eagles.

So this is spring break week after all. And yes I was a little dissapointed about my failed plans for Vegas and Toronto, but would I really want to be anywhere else on this day, which according to feels like -10 degrees? Boston is a hockey town right now for at least another two or three weeks and there's no where, absolutly no where I'd rather be.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Devil of a Time

A performance like Thursday could have spelled the end of the 2006-07 season for the Bruins. No joke, I wanted to leave the building during the first period. I felt like I was watching a practice, even after the Bruins took an early 2-0 lead.

And it turned out that I was right. The Bruins certainly were not prepared to play a game - a must win game. The Flyers took it to them in every way possible. Shots came in at Thomas from every angle possible.

And just when it seemed Thomas and the Bruins might escape to a shootout where anything can happen, Scottie Upshall beat Thomas with one of those body one way, stick drag the other way goals. It's a move that usually works but it is up to the shooter to execute well. Sure enough, Upshall did just that and sent a very small and quiet crowd home with no hopes of a playoff run.

Last night those hopes were reimagined as the Bruins, can you imagine, showed up to play a hockey game. I'm sure the sellout crowd helped but this team needs to be ready every night. Apparently, the east end of the Garden was filled by Canadiens fans chanting "Go Habs Go." No surprise there. As we left the Boston Sports Grille, there must have been a group of 10 people come in with Canadien/Canada jerseys.

As for the Sports Grille, that place has to be the best around to watch a game. Located at 132 Canal Street, the Grille must have over 100 screens in the house including one miniature version for each table, very helpful for someone like myself with poor vision.

Tonight, the Bruins face the Devils in a matchup they have no faired well in lately, with the exception of the most recent game when Scott Clemenson started in place of Brodeur. Cam Janssen will be out of the lineup of course after his questionable hit on the Leafs' Tomas Kaberle on Friday. Not that Janssen would be the difference maker in this one especially considering the Bruins usually don't fight anyways.

While the Devils are contending for the top record in the East and in the NHL, this game looms larger for the Bruins, who could move to within four points of Carolina if the Canes don't reverse a current 1-0 first period defecit to the Thrashers.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Wideman, Ward join Boston; Smyth starts anew in NY; Hockey in London for '07

There have been a lot of recent developments in and around the league lately. Jumping ahead to next season (no, I'm not giving up on my team just yet), the Ducks and Kings will play a home-and-home series at the O2 Arena in London. And for those fans thrilled at the news, tickets will be available shortly and in a "of things to come matchup" the two teams are squaring off tonight at 10:30. The London Premiere game is not the first such event - the NHL has held opening games in Tokyo and Japan and also a preseason contest in London. And as I just learned, London is the most appropriate for foreign destinations. Lord Stanley donated a trophy boasting his name in 1892 to Preston, 182 miles outside London.

I don't know if I'll be able to make my way to London but I like the appeal of this game. Globalization is key for any bigtime sport.

Back to the present, the Islanders paid postage with insurance on their prized package, scheduled to arrive on the Long Island ice tonight. A shocked Smyth all but seals the deal on the Islanders playoff fate this season, and maybe the Bruins' fate as well. Considering the Islanders in the mix, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Montreal are the three teams in that still have the potential to fall out, while Carolina, Toronto, the Rangers and Bruins (sorry Panthers) are looking from the outside in.

Based on the recent acquisitions and the current trends, I would swap Montreal out and add Carolina - otherwise, any movement would come as a surprise. Carolina and Atlanta both aren't playing their best hockey right now, but both teams added veteran leaders who can score and play tough. The Islanders certainly did the same and got much uglier at the same time. Toronto and the Rangers made maybe a minor move each (the Bruins too) and will have a tough time moving up.

Unless Chiarelli is smarter than me, but I have all the doubts in the world that it's not possible for a Bruins GM.

A lot of interesting stories will be played out tonight, setting the tone for the final 15-19 games of another exciting season.

Pictured: 2005-06 Dennis Wideman Black Diamond Triple Diamond Rookie Gems
I can only hope Wideman brings a 3-star game to town. Tonight we'll get a glimpse.