Sunday, January 30, 2011

Postgame Recap: January 20 - Sabre Price is Right

Ah, the midweek matchup against Buffalo.  An equal mix of die-hards and social-lites, with a healthy dose of away support supplied by the local collegiate ranks.

Let's see how it played out:

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #46, home game #23
  • Boston Bruins (26-13-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Buffalo Sabres (20-20-5, 3rd in Northeast Div.)
  • Fifth meeting of the season between these teams with the teams splitting the series thus far with each team winning at home and on the road.
John Blue Plate Special

Got out of work late and was futher delayed by accidents on both the Pike and the Tip O'Neill tunnel.

Stiil, I made it to the Four's just in time to grab a quick bite.  I wasn't starving and I knew I didn't want a greasy app like the potato skins or the boneless wings.  So I went with something I had never tried before: the chicken quesadilla.

And wouldn't you know it, it was fantastic. Chicken, cheese, jalapenos, onions and bacon in a warm flour tortilla.  It completely hit the spot.

The Couture Corner

This was a huge letdown.  Buffalo has some great sweaters to choose from.  The bar is set a early 90's Pat LaFontaine or Dominek Hasek and goes up from there.  Bonus points for any member of the French Connection.  Even a Tom Draper or even a Darren Puppa would be a great sighting.

You what I got instead? A late 90's Stu Barnes. And I didn't even take a picture of it.  Frankly, those sweaters sucked.  Take a classic color scheme (royal blue and gold) and a simple, underrated but fitting logo and then throw it out the window in favor of completely different colors and overly stylized logo that severs any and all connection to the team's history. Weak.

And even when the Sabres management tried to fix it, the screwed up even worse.  They got the colors right, somewhat, returning to the blue/gold/white palette but adding some very unnescessary silver along the way.  But they screwed the pooch with the logo revamp. Yep, this was the introduction of the much maligned (and deservedly so) Buffaslug. They took the previous logo and made it worse than anything you could imagine. And it deserved the all the criticism it got.  The Buffalo fans hated it.

Fortunately, the Buffalo management finally came to their senses and introduced a modifed version of the original logo for the 2010/11 season along with new uniforms that harken back to the orginials.
I did, however, get a picture of this:

1998 Vladimir Ruzicka Czech Republic Olympic sweater
 I'm not sure of the context here. But it was so random, I'll allow it.

The Row 12 Rundown

Can't say that there was anyone of note that was missing for this one.
Doosh of the Day

I'm going to give this one to the Buffalo fans in row 9 in front of us who kept jumping up during play.  Look, even though the building is called the Garden and it's in Boston, it is not The Boston Garden.  This building has air conditioning, 18,565 seats and numerous other numerous amenities.  What is does not have is seats obstructed by structural columns.  In fact, nothing obstructs balcony seats.  So there is no reason to stand up to see the game.

Let me correct that, there are obstructions - stupid ditzes who stand up during play block our view.

So, we salute you - human obstructions, ytou are the Dooshes of the Day.

The Clothes Line

The Sabres are celebrating their 40th anniversary, having been founded in 1970.  Well, the Bruins won the cup in 1970, so I went with my 1970 Bobby Orr sweater.

The Lobel Prize

It just so happens that the game vs. the Sabres on December 7 was one of the games I neglected to blog.  The Bruins won that game 3-2 in overtime on Mark Recchi's video replay winner at 2:11 in the extra frame.

Had I blogged that game, you would have known that the Sabres feature one former Bruin: defenseman Steve Monatdor.

Montador was acquired at the trade deadline for Petteri Nokelainen.  A d-man by trade, he also spent time skating as a wing on the fouth line.  He played in the 2009 playoffs, stepping in for the injured Matt Hunwick, as the Bruins made it to game 7 in the Conference semifinals, losing to Carolina on that gut wrenching OT goal. He signed with the Sabres as a free agent in 2010.

In the first game on 12/7, Montador skated 18:07 and had 9 minutes in penalties (minors for roughing and high sticking, major for fighting).  In this game he skated 17:01 and had one shot on goal.

No harm done.

The Home End

The Bruins came into this game riding a hot streak, with wins in 5 of their last 6, including back to back wins against Carolina.  The offnse, which was red-hot, faltered, as the Bruins lost 4-2, firing 40 shots at Ryan Miller.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Postgame Recap: January 15 - Like Father, Like Son

When the 2010-11 schedule first came out, one of the first things I did was check to see when the first Saurday matinee games were.  The reason being, I wanted to know when I could take my son to his first game of the year.

This was not going to be his first Bruins game however.  That special experience happened last season on Halloween when the Bruins shutout the Oilers 2-0. He followed up that game with a tilt against the Flames on March 27 where the Bruins shutout Calgary 5-0.  So basically, my son has never seen the Bruins give up a goal.  At least against Canadian teams.  At least against Canadian teams from Alberta.

Not only do I get to spend some QT with my son, but he genuinely is interested in the play on the ice.  I took him down to section 20 by the glass for warmups and he loved watching the players skate around.

So, with the Penguins in town for the traditional January 1:00 pm start, I felt that this was an opportune time to bring Dana to see his first game of the year.  Not only that, but there was some nice symmetry to this.  My first ever Bruins game was also against Pittsburgh.  That was on March 9, 1985 as the Bruins lost to the Pens 6-5 in overtime at the old Garden.

Let's see how it played out:

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #42, home game #21
  • Boston Bruins (24-12-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (27-14-4, 2nd in Atlantic Div.)
  • Third meeting of the season between these teams with the Bruins winning the first two, both on the road (7-4 on 11-10 and 4-2 on 1/10)
John Blue Plate Special

Having Dana with me meant that it was probably not the best idea to do the traditional 2 hour pregame at the Fours.  However, my wife had a baby shower downtown at the same time as the game, so it made perfect sense for all of us to drive in together and park at the Government Center Garage.  That was $25 well spent.  We got into town around 11:45 and headed over to the Fours so I could let the staff see Dana (as they hear/ask about him all the time).  We stopped by to see Mike downstairs and headed up to meet Heather and Robin.  It wasn't too crowded, and Dana wanted to be with Jen, so I ordered a quick drink for us.  I had a Captain and diet, Jen had a water and Dana had a big glass of milk.  Of course, I managed to come the one day that they had the buffalo chicken rangoons on the menu and I wasn't going to have a meal there.

Inside, Dana was treated to a hot dog and one of Heather's famous black & gold cookies. I had a bite of his hot dog.  Didn't matter, Dana was happy.

The Couture Corner

Here's the problem with Pittsburgh - they are one of the "hot" teams right now.  The NHL is riding the Sidney Crosby wave as long as it can.  Throw in young stars like Evgeny Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury and how can you not blame them for trying to capitalize on their Q-factor.  But as with anything that's "in", fans tend to flock to it.  And that means a lot of front runners.  And that in turn means loads and loads of Crosby and Malkin sweaters - home, away, 2008 Winter Classic and 2011 Winter Classic.  But not much else.

Well, there was the guy in the late 90s Martin Straka road jersey (no pic, unfortunately) and the guy in the 1992 Mario Lemieux road jersey (same).

And this guy:

1992-2002 Mario Lemieux home

I always liked the style of these.  The shoulders were unique (until the Panthers came along) and the streamlined chest logo was a nice upgrade from the Skating Penguin one.
And the guy wearing this sweater was actually very nice.

So I'll allow it:

The Row 12 Rundown

As mentioned earlier, this was Dana's season debut.  We also had Robin for the last of game of jer 3 game homestand.  But there were a bunch of absences including Tim & Maureen and the Hoyts.  Some people have to work on Saturday afternoons and it is ski season, afterall.

But we did get a special cameo by our friend Tina, who brought a foam Bruins puck for Dana. Thanks Tiner!

Doosh of the Day

This one's easy.  It's not just proper eitiquette, but common sense:  If a row has, say, 24 seats and you're sitting in seat 16, you don't go back to your seat by walking by the people in seats 1-15.  It's not cool.  Even worse is if, say, one of the people is holding a toddler and can't really get out of the way all that easily.

So, to the lady who did this midway through the second period, during play, no less - congrats.  You're the Doosh of the Day.

The Clothes Line

Saturday mantinees usually mean the Bruins break out their alternate sweaters. So I decided to wear mine as well. And Dana wore his Milan Lucic home jersey.  Sadly, this may have been the last time he gets to wear that as it's rapidly becoming tight on him.
The Lobel Prize

The Penguins don't have any former Bruins on their roster.  So no harm, no foul here.

The Home End

After a bunch of exciting games and offensive explosions (4-2, 6-0 and 7-5), the Bruins were due for a letdown game.  Even though Sidney Crosby was out with a concussion, the Penguins managed to get 3 pucks by Tuuka Rask.  Despite landing 46 shots on Fleury, the Bruins could only score twice (in a 13 second span).  And with that, Dana's pefect record is no more.  But for a 2 year old, he did great.  Not only did he make it through the entire game, but he was even up for hitting the Four's afterward, even if it was just to wait for mom.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Postgame Recap: January 13 - A Stake in Philly

Boston. Philadelphia.

The Big Bad Bruins versus the Broad Street Bullies.

Chowdah vs. Cheesesteaks.

And a host of other played out memes...

But I digress.  It was Bruins vs. Flyers on home ice.  This has been a rivalry reborn, so there was some extra juice in the TD Garden on this night.  Let's see how it played out:

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #41, home game #20
  • Boston Bruins (23-12-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (27-10-5, 1st in Atlantic Div.)
  • Third meeting of the season between these teams having split the first two, each team winning on the road (3-0 in Philly on 12/1and 2-1 (OT) in Boston on 12/11)
John Blue Plate Special

Got out of work late to begin with and was making decent time on the Pike until I came upon an accident just before Newton Corner.  Then traffic on Cambridge Street was a complete mess, with cars standing still through 2 light cycles at times.  I did manage to grab a meter right in front of the station, though.

Based on the game result from the previous night, Heather and I went with the same order again: potato skins followed by a Larry Bird in a wrap with bacon (BBQ sauce on the side) and a side of onion rings.

However, our meal arrived in a roll with sauce on it.  Given the time and the fact that we were starving, along with the fact that we didn't mind the error, we went with it.  And the rings were really well done, best of the season thus far.

The Couture Corner

I hate Philly.  I also don't like the Flyers' current uniform sets.  I think they are a bit contrived.  The basic design isn't bad, per se, but the fact that they chose to use the contrasting block nameplates (which were originally a short lived solution to adding names) along with the 1972-77 template and a shade of orange that is slightly off from the original doesn't work for me.  Or maybe it's the fact that this what similar to what the Flyers wore when they beat the Bruins for the 1974 Stanley Cup.

But the Flyers do have some semblance of a history and some notable players.  So it was fait accompli that there might be a few interesting sweaters in the crowd.

Let's take a look:

Mid 80s Ron Hextall

Hextall was a pretty good goalie back in the day.  He won the Conn Smythe trophy with the Flyers despite losing to the Oilers in the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals.  He also was the first goalie to score a goal in both the regular season and the playoffs.

The call?


Mid 70s Dave Schultz

The NHL has seen it's share of goons, but few rival the resume of Dave Schultz. His 472 penalty minutes in the 1974-5 season are still a record to this day.  This guy was a pugilist, earning the nickname "The Hammer".

It's good.  (I'm not going to argue)

Mid 70s Bobby Clarke

No one is more synonymous with the Flyers franchise than Robert Earle Clarke.

No opponent may be more loathed than Robert Earle Clarke.

That said, I'll allow this one.  It was done right (even if it has that stupid contrasting nameplate).

The Row 12 Rundown

Pretty much the same crew as the Ottawa game for this one.  No major additions or subtractions of note.

Doosh of the Day

With the Flyers in town, the conventional wisdom would say that a flyers fan of some sort would be a prime candidate for Doosh of the Day.

However, I'm defying the CW here and giving the award to the cabbie in Cambridge who a) would not pull up to the car in front of him, causing me to be stuck in the middle of the intersection of Cambridge Street and 2nd Avenue and b) pulled up so close to my car when I parked that I could not open the door until the light changed minutes later.

The Clothes Line

With the Flyers in town, fans tend to break out their Winter Classic sweaters, myself included.

But there really weren't any unique sweaters that stood out.  I did see the Ruzsicka guy and the Andy Brickley guy.  But they are somewhat regulars and I'll be featuring them at some point later in the season.

The Lobel Prize

The Flyers had one Bruins alum on their roster, defenseman Sean O'Donnell.

OD was signed by the Bruins as a free agent for the 2001-2 season.  He spent three years with the B's before signing with the Coyotes in 2004.  He was a solid stay-at-home defenseman who provided some veteran leadership while he was here.

In this game he recorded a goal (his 1st of the season) and finished a -1 in 16:14 of ice time.

The Home End

This was a wild game.  Two teams that dislike each other. One is leading the Eastern Conference and is an offensive force.  The other is leading their division and have a solid defense and stellar goaltending.

The Bruins trailed 1-0 and tied it up late in the 1st on a 5 on 3 PPG. They then took a 2-1 lead seconds in to the middle stanza before coughing up the lead on 2 Philly goals.  They came out like gangbusters in the third, reclaiming the lead in under 2 minutes, only to cough it up again.  Trailing 5-4, they got goals by Brad Marchand to tie it up and Steve Kampfer to take the lead at 6-5, before Greg Campbell iced it with an ENG.

At the end of the night, the Bruins got 2 hard-fought points and stood but 4 points behind the flyers for the Conference lead.

Postgame Recap: January 11 - Naught-awa

A little late, but better late than never...
Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #41, home game #20
  • Boston Bruins (22-12-7) vs. Ottawa Senators (16-20-6)
  • Third meeting of the season between these teams having split the first two, each team winning on the road (4-0 in Ottawa on 10/30 and 0-2 in Boston on 11/13)
John Blue Plate Special

I left work a bit late and made into town in decent time.  Because of the impending snowstorm, the City of Cambridge had declared a snow emergency starting at 10:00 pm that night.  As such, I didn't want to risk getting a ticket parking in my regular on-street spot, so I sucked it up and paid $5.50 to park in the T lot at Lechmere.

Headed into the Four's where Heather had already set up shop at the bar downstairs.  Thanks to the magic of call-ahead ordering, our order was ready just as I arrived.  Heather was starving and insisted on ordering an appetizer. so we went with the potato skins,  And when I say skin, I mean potato halves deep fried and covered in cheddar cheese and bacon bits.  Delicious.  After that, we split a Larry Bird in a wrap with bacon and onion rings.

The Couture Corner

Ottawa sucks.

Or at least, their fans do.

For the first time all year, there were absolutely no fans wearing interesting sweaters of the oppsoing team.  Nothing. Nada. Bupkus. Not even a decent Daniel Alfredsson or even an original early 90's sweater.
Weak sauce, man. Weak sauce.

Don't even have to think about calling the offices in Toronto for this one:

Not good.  Not even close.

The Row 12 Rundown

Most of the usual crew was here for this one.  And filling seat 11 was the hat-tastic Robin, the first of three straight games for her in the seat of honor.

Doosh of the Day

Anytime you have three home games scheduled for the same week, a good number of season ticket holders will look at going to two out of the three games.  Which means they'll get rid of their tickets for one of them.  Sometimes they'll re-sell them; other times they'll give them away as Christmas presents. In any case, it means that there is an atypical crowd, one that is filled with people making their only trip to the Garden for the season.  And sadly, this also means that there are a lot of hockey neophytes and social gatherers.  And it makes for a poor crowd.

When you have to choose a game to miss among the Senators, Flyers or Penguins, the choice is clear.  If you're a diehard fan, you're not going to miss a revenge match against the best team in the eastern conference (Philly) or a game on a Saturday (albeit a matinee) against a contending team featuring two superstars (Pittsburgh). So you're going to get rid of the Ottawa tickets.

And the end result is that you have fans doing the wave at the Garden.

Now, I know the game was a blowout (in a good way), but by no means does that make it ok to start the wave.

I can understand doing it at Fenway, even if the majority of fans there no longer know when to start it or know that it is supposed to start in Section 34 by the camera well and then wind clockwise around the park.

But it has no place at the Garden. Ever.

That's something on par with what Montreal fans would do.

Think about that Bruins fans.  Is that something you really want to emulate?

So the Doosh of the Day goes to anyone who decided it was a good idea to do the wave, to stand up at intermittent times during play with no regard what was going on down on the ice.

The Clothes Line

Like I said, thing game had an atypical crowd.  And the Bruins left much to be desired, including their apparel.

There was nothing of any interest.  Sure, there were plenty of Neelys, Orrs and Bourques.  But no Kvartalnovs, no Janneys, no Wesleys.

FWIW, I broke out my Ray Bourque one for this game.  It had been a while since I wore it.

The Lobel Prize

The Senators had one Bruins alum on their roster, defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

Gonchar was a late season addition in the 2003-4 season, joining the Bruins at the trade dealine in a trade with the Capitals.  At the time, the move was huge as the Bruins had finally bolstered their roster for a playoff push by spending money on an all-star caliber player after years of failing to do so.

He went 4-5-9 in 12 regular season games for the Bruins, finishing with 58 points on the season to lead all defenseman in scoring.  He then went 1-4-5 in the playoffs as the Bruins lost a heartbreaking seven game series to the hated Montreal Canadiens.

Then the lockout happened.

It was widely assumed that coming out of the lockout, the Bruins were prepared to take advantage of the new economics of the NHL salary system to bolster their roster which was set up to be a contender for the foreseeable future.

And it blew up in their faces.

Contracts that were in place were rolled back 24%.  That alone would have helped the Bruis maintain their roster.  But they knew they'd have to fight other teams for Gonchar and he ended up signing a 5 year, $25 million contract with the Penguins.  And as we all know, he won a cup with the Pens in 2009.

In the offseason, he signed with the Sens when his contract expired.

In this game, he registered a -2, landing 4 shots on net while logging 23:43 of ice time.

So we got that going for us. Which was nice.

The Home End

Coming off an epic comback victory on the road in Pittsburgh, I had every reason to believe that this was going to be a classic letdown game.  An emotional win and tired legs against an underestimated, weaker opponent in the Sens.

Boy was I wrong.

I forgot Ottawa sucks.

Their goaltending is suspect and they were missing notorius Bruins killer Alex Kovalev as well as Jason Spezza for their lineup.

The Bruins rolled 6-0, with Patrice Bergeron picking up his first career hat-trick.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Game Recap: January 6 - Minnesota Flats

Ok, first an apology.

The month of December was not kind to me nor was it conducive to writing blog posts.  There were a bunch of games that I was not able to attend and for the majority of the ones that I did go to, I failed to write entries for them.

Granted, the lackadaisical play of the team definitely tempered on my enthusiasm to relive those games, but it was my mission when I started this endeavor to blog every game I was in attendance for.

So, I promise to offer a catch-up post for those games at some point and I resolve to get back on track in the new year.

So without further adieu, here's the first entry of 2011.

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #38, home game #19
  • Boston Bruins (21-11-6) vs. Minnesota Wild (19-15-5)
  • Only meeting of the season between these teams
John Blue Plate Special

Heather had banged out of this game earlier in the day due to illness. Pete was supposed to go, but chances of him getting to the Four's before the game were exceedingly slim.  So, knowing that I was going to be dining/drinking solo, I decided to take it easy getting into the city.

Looks like I picked the wrong night to quit speeding.

I can't remember anther time on a Thursday night where traffic moved so quickly and efficiently on the Pike and into the city.  Made it from my office to Marlborough to Lechmere in about 45 minutes.

Got to the Four's and waited for a seat at the bar.  Chatted up with Tim and Maureen during my brief wait.  Went with a Flutie in a wrap with fries.  It wasn't a buffalo chicken sandwich served on waffles, but it was delicious nonetheless.

The Couture Corner

Minnesota is unique in the league when it comes to sweater design.  They are the one team with different styles for each of their sweaters (home, away and alternate).  Personally, I'm a fan of their red home set and their green alternates, despite being new, have an old timey feel that works for a team from a hockey hotbed like Minnesota.

Unfortunately, this being a road game for the Wild, they were dressed in their white sweaters which feature a highly stylized number font and a very tall and narrow name font that is extremely indecipherable, especially from up in the balcony.  Well, that and the fact that is it by far the weakest look of the three.

Seeing that this was a western conference opponent with an extremely low national profile, I didn't expect to see many visitors' sweaters.  I saw a Cal Clutterbuck away on the way into the Garden.  And then there was this guy:

Let's take a look:

Niklas Backstrom Alternate

Ah, the Finnish goalie with the Swedish name.

Anyway, I really like this design - clean block style font rendered in an off-white/cream against a dark green body with a pretty cool chest logo on the front.

But, when we are talking Minnesota hockey I would be quite remiss to not consider the Wild's precursors, the North Stars.  And sure enough, they had a representative:

Late 80's Neal Broten

No player epitomizes Minnesota hockey more than Neal Broten.  Born in Roseau, MN and played for Herb Brooks at the University of Minnesota.  He played for Brooks again as a member of the 1980 US men's ice hockey team.  In fact, he is the only player to win an NCAA title, an Olympics gold medal and the Stanley Cup.

As for the North Stars uniforms, they were beautiful.  Originally a mix of kelly green, gold and white, they added black in the mid 80's which produced a bold and vibrant color combination that really stood out in the NHL. And they had a great logo that was simple, yet stylish.

The call on these? Easy.


The Row 12 Rundown

No Heather.  No Pete. No Patty.

But we did get the Hoyts as well as Kathi, Charla and the kids.  And D.J. was in contention for "fan of the game".  Alas, he didn't win.  If it's any consolation, the Unos' Express pizza sucks anyway.

Doosh of the Day

And we have our first female winner (or loser) of the season!

I'm no fashionita, Tim Gunn or even Paul Lukas, but I do have a praticality and a sensible eye.

If your low-cut jeans are a size smaller than what you should wear so that your butt hangs out of them when you sit down, perhaps you should consider something a bit more modest (or friends that tell you that you look bad in them).  This was like looking at two hams.  And maybe you shouldn't wear a thong that rides up your lower back, too.  I mean, it's called underwear for a reason, right?  The jeans are supposed to go over them.

And it wasn't just me that was in need of a decent eye-scrubbing.  This girl was sitting right in front of Kathi, Charla and the kids.  I mean, people three rows behind us were making less than flattering comments about her.

Eventually, she got tossed by security.  She was wasted, but I'd like to think that it was the fashion police that nabbed her.

The Clothes Line

Late 80's/early 90's Don Sweeney
To this day, Donny Sweeney remains one of my all time favorite Bruins.  He wasn't tall. He wasn't overly quick.  But he was smart (he went to Hahvid, dood guy) and made the most of his ability.  In doing so, he played over 1000 games for the Bruins over 15 seasons before concluding his career with a year in Dallas.

One of my biggest regrets was that he didn't finish in a B's sweater.  It was in that final season that Bruins retired Cam Neely's number, but Donny was in Dallas.  Consequently, he had recorded a video presentation to Cam that was played at the ceremony.  But I really wished he could have been there in person.

Don eventually took a position in the Bruins' front office, first working with Peter Chiarelli as Director of Player Development and now working as Assistant General Manager.

The Lobel Prize

Minnesota has but one fromer B on their roster, former BC Eagle Chuck Kobasew.

I liked Kobasew.  He could score, played hard and seemed like a likeable guy.  The Bruins got him from Calgary with Andrew Ference when they shipped Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau to the Flames. They ended up trading him to the Wild for a couple of players and a 2011 second round draft pick.  Personally, I wish they kept him.

In any case, he had 2 shots on net in 16:58 of ice time, finishing a -1 for the night.  No damage done here.

The Home End

This one was doomed from the start.  The Wild came into this game 8-1-1 all time vs. the Bruins, with a perfect 5-0 record at the Garden.  Throw in the fact that Jose Theodore was in net for Minnesota and he was 6-0-1 in his last 8 starts aginst the B's and I knew it was fait accompli.