Thursday, February 17, 2011

Postgame Recap: February 15 - Kess of Death

And on Tuesday night he came to town along with his Toronto Maple Leafs to take on my beloved Bruins who were coming off back to back losses to the Red Wings as part of a home and home series.

Lets see how it played out:

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #57, home game #28
  • Boston Bruins (31-18-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (23-27-6, 4th in Northeast Div.)
  • Fourth meeting of the season between these two teams with the Bruins winning 5 out of a possible 6 points thus far (2 wins, 1 shootout loss)

John Blue Plate Special

It being a Tuesday, I had planned on busting out of work at 5:00 with the hope that the Pike traffic wouldn't be too bad, being early in the work week. And everything was going to plan.

Until 10:00 am, that is.

Around that time, one of the principals asked me if I could cover a traffic count for one of my co-workers who was out sick that day. Normally a traffic count takes place from 4:00 to 6:00 in the afternoon.  I've done them all over the state - north shore, south shore, west of Worcester, so I was a bit worried that they would be sending me somewhere fra outside of Boston thus precluding me from making it to the game on time.

Fortunately, this count was in Woburn.  I mioght have to skip out on the pregame, but I was pretty much assured that I could make it to the game no problem.  I texted Heather to give her a heads-up that I probably wouldn't make it to the Fours, but I'd let her know as I made my way into town.

The traffic count went fine, the heavy traffic actually helping to pass the time.  As soon as 6:00 rolled around, I was on the road, taking the back routes through Woburn and Winchester out to route 93 and ultimately Sullivan Square.  At this point, it was 6:25.  Bonus.

I texted Heather that I was on the train and I'd be there in 10 minutes.

10 minutes later, I was at the Fours, a drink waiting for me.  And a plate of buffalo chicken mac & cheese as well.

Did I mention that I have great friends?

Sadly, despite the culinary rapture that is the buffalo mac & cheese, it's becoming apparent that it might be bad luck.  I'm not writing it off just yet (it's just too damn good), but we might have to go back to what was working before.

The Couture Corner

The first time Toronto rolled into town this season, I was ecstatic over what sweaters I might find in the stands. On my subsequent birthday trip to the Great White North, I was pretty much in sweater heaven. But for this game, my hopes were a bit tempered.

Maybe it was the Tuesday night scheduling.  Perhaps it was because we were on the third straight original six matchup and I was getting burned out.  In any case, I wasn't feeling it that night.  And that's how it kind of played out:

Circa 2006 Mats Sundin home

Whatever good was done by wearing this sweater of one of the all-time great Leafs, it was completely shot to hell by the fact that she decided to tuck it in!


Haven't we all seen this PSA by now?

Oh hells no.  No Good.

Circa 2006 Tie Domi Away

I've said it before, but Tie Domi was one of those players that you absolutely hated when he played for the other team, but you would probably love if he played for yours.

Add in the fact that this was one of my favorite looks for the Leafs, especially that this was their final look before Reebok messed up the NHL in 2007-8.

Me likey.

The Row 12 Rundown

Robyn had the honors in seat 11 and we were graced with the presence of not only Chris and Lauren, but Cassie was there as well.  Charla, Kathi and the kids passed on this one.

As for our friends in row 13, Bill and Carol were MIA.  Well, until Heather and I ran into them during the first intermission.  They were selling 50/50 raffle tickets to benefit the Waterville Valley Adaptive Snow Sports Program.  They ended up joining us for the 3rd period.

Doosh of the Day

I could go in a bunch of directions here:  The chick with the tucked in Sundin sweater. The drunk (presumably underage) girls and their drunk-ass mother who had seats in row 10 but migrated to Charla's seats.  The drunk asses who showed up at 7:34 of the second period to claim those seats.

All worthy (unworthy?) candidates.  But I'm going to give it to the Garden usher who didn't show up until midway through the second period.  All during the first period and half of the second period we had people entering while the puck was in play, despite signs asking people to wait for a stoppage.  So when the aforementioned group showed up to claim their rightful seats from the drunk squatters, the usher finally showed up. However, he failed horribly to rectify the problem in a timely fashion, the delay leading to a number of people standing up in the row and aisles, blocking the view for anyone seated behind them.

Frustrated by this, I called him out on his ineptitude. As did a few others in row 13 behind me.

His solution was to get security to come up to our section, presumably to seek me out and possibly have me tossed.  Cassie ended up intercepting him, much to my good fortune.

In any case, it should never have escalated to that point and Garden security only has themselves to blame.

The Clothes Line

Sadly, there wasn't much to choose from.  I know my friend Scott was there in his Vladimir Ruzicka Bruins sweater, but I wasn't able to meet up with him due to the security snafu.

The only sweater that I was able to get a picture of that was of any interest was this:

2009 Byron Bitz Alternate

Yeah, I know, nothing special.  Neither was Bitzy.  A smart guy (he played at Cornell), he was a 4th line grinder when he was here before he was traded to the Panthers in the Dennis Seidenberg trade.

As for my attire, I went with the 1991-2 Cam Neely throwback.  Original Six game.

The Lobel Prize

So here comes Phil Kessel riding a 14 game goal draught.  Phil Kessel - who hadn't scored against the Bruins during play (I'm excluding his shootout goal) since he was traded to the Leafs.  Phil Kessel - the guy who was getting blasted in the Toronto press for his lack of grit and work ethic.

So what happens?  He scores twice.  Fires four shots on net in 18:37 of ice time.  He did finish a -2 on the night.  But that was small consolation given the final score.

I hate him.

As for the other former Bruin on the Leafs' roster, Colton Orr was out with a concussion.

The Home End

This just plain sucked.  The Bruins were swept by the Wings over the weekend and Montreal was catching up in the standings.  Plus the media was all over a potential trade between the Bruins and Leafs that had the home team possibly landing Tomas Kaberle while he was in town.

Kessel had everything going against him - the media hates him, he can't score, his determination is being questioned, etc.  And all he does is score twice.  Mikhail Grabovski netted a pair himself, including the game winner at 18:59 in the third and James Reimer turned in a decent effort in goal.  Meanwhile, the Bruins looked tired and disengaged.  Tim Thomas might be in need of a bit of a break at this point.

Up next is a tilt on the Island on Thursday.  Here's hoping the losing streak ends.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Postgame Recap: February 11 - Detroit Breakdown, Motor City Shakedown

Boston.  Detroit.

The Hub of Hockey.  Hockeytown.

Joe Louis. Irish Mickey Ward.

Ok, that last one is a bit of a stretch.  But we are talking two of the Original Six.  Cities with blue collar work ethos and a shared love of the J. Geils Band.

And so we find a matchup between these two historic franchises, the front end of a home and home series to boot.  With the Red Wings in the Western Conference, annual regular season games are few and far between.  The last time these two met, it was November 3, 2009 in Detroit, with the Bruins getting shut out 2-0.  And the last time these two faced off in Boston, nearly a year earlier, the B's beat the Wings 4-1.

So, coming off an emotional, highly charged victory over their hated rivals, the Canadiens, two days prior, we have the boys of Bobby Orr meeting up with the gang of Gordie Howe, the second of four straight Original Six opponents.

Lets see how it played out:

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #55, home game #27
  • Boston Bruins (31-16-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Detroit Red Wings (32-16-6, 1st in Central Div.)
  • First meeting of the season between these two teams
John Blue Plate Special

This was a Friday night home game, an absolute rarity.  Knowing from having a partial season ticket package for the Red Sox that includes a number of Friday night games, the commute into town on the Pike could be hit or miss.  I could be in town in 45 minutes or an hour and a half.

So as soon as the clock hit 5:00, I busted out of work and made a beeline for the city.  Traffic on the Pike was moving right along.  Sweet.

There was a bit of a slowdown near Newton Corner, which was to be expected, but for the most part it was smooth sailing.  Right up to the Allston tolls.  Then gridlock.

I haven't seen traffic that slammed along that part of the highway without there being an accident somewhere along the way.  An absolute crawl.  I decide to get off at the Pru and cut through the Back Bay and over into Cambridge to get to Lechmere.  Apparently, everyone else did too because I didn't get to Lechmere until 6:20.  Thankfully, Heather was already at the Fours with our friends Mike and Sarah and they had already claimed some seats downstairs.

Thanks to a text from Heather earlier in the afternoon, she let me know that the Fours had made a few lineup changes on the menu.  Steak and cheese spring rolls were now on there permanently.  As was this:

Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

The latest offering from the Fours in the Buffalo Chicken medium, it was simply fantastic.  Penne pasta mixed with a blend of cheeses, including blue, cheddar and parmesean, and topped with diced chicken and hot sauce it was a flavorful twist on a comfort food classic.

A definite winner.

The Couture Corner

With the Wings in the Western Conference, we don't get to see their sweaters all that often.  But when we do, we are reminded of the timeless simplicity of them.  Red and white with minimalist striping on the hem and sleeves.  But the one feature of the Wings' sweaters that I really find interesting is their vertically arched-nameplates.  Though they were only introduced in the 1982-3 season, its a great addition to an already wonderful design.

I do have one issue with the Wings, sweaters, though.  When Reebok bastardized sweater design starting in 2007, the placement of the winged-wheel crest on the Detroit sweater in conjunction with the location of the seam stitching necessitated the relocation of the captaincy and assistant captaincy letters from the left side to the right side.  It looks weird and is the only blemish that I can find with the design.

One would figure that there would be a large number of Red Wings fans in the house for this one for a number of reasons: the frontrunner factor, the original six matchup, a friday night and the relative scarcity of games between these two teams.

Sure enough, there were a lot of wings fans there.  Most of them were wearing Steve Yzerman shirts, however, which was to be expected.  Stevie Y was Red Wings hockey for almost two decades, so I have no problem with them whatsoever.

But I did find the overall variety lacking.  One would figure with all the history and great players the Wings have had that there would be more players represented: Sid Abel, Alex Delvecchio, Sergei Fedorov, Domiek Hasek, Ted Lindsay.  I did see a couple of Brendan Shanahan ones, a Gordie Howe away (with no name onback), a Terry Sawchuk modern replica and the illustrious 1991-2 Steve Yzerman throwback (no pics of any of these, unfortunately).  Here's what I was able to capture:

Late 90's Kris Draper home

Now in his 17th season with the Red Wings, Draper is one of those guys who never a superstar, but is loved by his team's fans for his intangibles and his longevity.

2008 Chris Chelios Away

At the age of 37 most players, if they are in the NHL, are in the late stages of their careers and well past their prime. At age 37, Chelios left his hometown Blackhawks and joined their original 6 division rival.  And even more amazing, he played nearly 10 seasons with them before finally retiring after a very short stint with the Atlanta Thrashers.

But it was his original team that he broke into the league with that fostered my hatred of him.  The 40th pick of the 1981 entry draft, Chelios was selected by the Montreal Canadiens and played his first seven years with the Habs. That, and the rumors that he was one of the ringleaders behind the trashing of a hotel room at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

Circa 2000 Igor Larionov home

A Hall of Famer, Larionov was one of the first Russian players to breakdown the eastern European barriers in the NHL, joining the Canucks in 1989 at the age of 29. Eventually, he was traded to the Wings by the Sharks and joined 4 other Russians on the team during their Stanley Cup heydays in the late 90's. Never a prolific scorer, he was a proficient passer and a solid overall player.

2009 Kris Draper Winter Classic

I already mentioned Draper, but I saw this sweater on the way out after the game and I would be remiss if I didn't note just how good these sweaters look.  A modernized version of the original 1926-7 Detroit uniforms (when they were called the Detroit Cougars), these remain true to the originals, save for the Red Wings shoulder patches and requisite nameplates.

Oh yeah, it's good!

The Row 12 Rundown

This was a big game, so none of the regulars wanted to miss it.  Being Robyn's birthday, she managed to trade with Pete for the honor of joining us in seat 11 (Pete met up with us for the postgame at the Fours). But Charla, Kathi and the kids passed up on this one.

Doosh of the Day

Despite it being a Friday night, where people usually have the propensity to live it up a bit as it's the weekend, the crowd was fine, with a minimum jerk factor.  Usually with big games, the ones like this where fans circle them on the calendar as soon as the schedule is released, people are there because they want to see the game first and foremost.  True fans tend to get these tickets, not the pink hats, poseurs and socialites.

But someone has to be the Doosh of the Day, so I'm going to give it to this guy:

Kobe Bryant shirt guy

Look, this is a hockey game, so basketball jerseys are not appropriate to begin with.  But to wear the shirt of your locals team's biggest rival and on the day after that rival defeated the home team?  Blasphemy, I say.

Bet you he has a Jeter jersey at home, too.


The Clothes Line

Lots of good sweaters in the stands for this one, but I'm going to give props to this guy:

1991-2 Andy Moog NHL 75th Anniversary Throwback

Yeah, I know.  I gave props to an Andy Moog sweater back on November 11, but this one ups the ante.

As you probably are aware, this is one of, if not my favorite style of Bruins sweaters ever.  I have a Neely one, you can by replica CCM Ray Bourque ones and I've seen a few Adam Oates ones.  But the Moog ones, though somewhat available on eBay, are still somewhat rare.

And now for some bonus coverage:

Tyler Seguin Plymouth Whalers away

I don't see a lot of Ontario Hockey League sweaters at the Garden, so when I saw this one, it caught my eye right away.

For those who don't know, the Whalers were Seguin's old  OHL he was playing for when the Bruins drafted him with the second pick of the 2010 entry draft.  Also, the Whalers are owned by Peter Karmanos, the very same guy that moved the Hartford Whalers to Carolina.

As for my attire, I went with the 1991-2 Cam Neely throwback.  Gotta bring the 'A' game for these matchups.

The Lobel Prize

The Red Wings feature 3 Bruins on their roster: Brad Stuart, Patrick Eaves and Joey MacDonald.  But that comes with an asterisk.  I'll get to that in a minute.

Stuart was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the Joe Thornton trade.  A halfway decent defenseman, it was apparent that he longed to play on the west coast and that he probably wouldn't sign a contract extension with the Bruins.  So after 103 games, he was traded along with Wayne Primeau to Calgary for Chuck Kobasew and Andrew Ference.

Eaves was acquired from the Hurricanes when the Bruins traded Aaron Ward back to Carolina in July 2009.  However, his contract was immediately bought out and he never played a minute for the Bruins.

MacDonald was claimed on waivers from the Red Wings in the middle of the 2006-7 season after Hannu Toivonen went down with an ankle injury.  He was one of five goalies used by the Bruins that season.  He appeared in 7 games, going 2-2-1 with a 2.68 GAA. He then joined the Islanders as a free agent in 2007-8.

So, how did they do?

Stuart did not play as he was on injured reserve due to a broken jaw he suffered earlier in the season.  MacDonald did not play, serving as a backup to Jimmy Howard.  And Eaves skated 10:20, but had no shots on net, no points and was a 0 for the game.

Despite the overall score, no harm done here.

The Home End

After the display of emotion and the offensive outburst against the Canadiens two days earlier, it was understandable that this could be a letdown game. But the hope was that with a Friday night start and playing against one of the best teams in the league, the Bruins would be able to avoid that.

It didn't quite work out that way.  Tuuka Rask got the start in net and promptly gave up two goals to the Wings on their first two shots , the first one coming only 1:10 into the game.  The Bruins halved the lead late in the first period on a David Krejci power play goal, but Detroit extended their lead 1:09 into the second period.  They added another two goals, only 24 seconds apart later on in the period, the second of which was a Todd Bertuzzi shot that bounced off of Tuuka's mask, hit his pad and trickled into the net.

Tim Thomas started in goal at the start of the thrid period, but by them the damage was done.  Detroit would add a sixth goal while on a 5-on-3 man advantage, finishing off the scoring.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Postgame Recap: February 9 - Bleu, Blanc et Bruised!

Ah, a Wednesday night in Boston.

The local team is home as they host their bitter rivals.  A team that has featured some of the all-time greats and has quite a few championships to their name.

Celtics-Lakers, you say?

Normally, that would make sense.  But no, it was Bruins - Canadiens in a rare hump day matchup.

I'm not used to this.  The Bruins usually have the Garden on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays while their hardwood brethren lay claim to the building the rest of the week.

But this scheduling quirk does have some redeeming value.  It makes the start of four straight games against Original 6 teams, including a home and home against the Red Wings and a grudge match against the Maple Leafs.

Lets see how it played out:

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #52, home game #26
  • Boston Bruins (30-16-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Montreal Canadiens (30-19-5, 2nd in Northeast Div.)
  • Fourth meeting of the season between these two teams with the Habs taking the first three thus far
John Blue Plate Special

I had a dentist appointment in the morning which meant I was going to get into work late.  Therefore, I figured I might have to stick around the office a little bit longer than normal and leave late for the game.  Fortunately, my workload was less than demanding and I got out around 5:00.  Fought a bit of traffic in Newton Corner approaching exit 17 on the Pike, but got to the Fours around 6:15 when all was said and done.

Managed to snag a seat downstairs right away as I waited for Heather to arrive.  Once she got there, the guy sitting next to me offered up his seat so we could both sit down to eat dinner.  Props to that guy.

As for what we ordered, well, we felt that we've got a good thing going with the Larry Bird in a wrap with bacon, bbq sauce on the side and well done onion rings.  So no reason to change.  Plus, it's just damn yummy.

The Couture Corner

I hate the Canadiens sweaters.  Not because of their style, but simply because of what they represent.  For years, the Habs simply dominated the Bruins, especially in the playoffs.  They won numerous Stanley Cups, often at the expense of the B's.

Even in high school (St. John's Prep), one of our biggest rivals was Catholic Memorial, an absolute juggernaut of a program that has sent many payers on to the NHL.  And of course, their sweaters are patterned off of the Montreal ones:


That said, the design of the Habs sweaters is timeless, befitting of an original 6 team.  I mean, their basic look has carried on virtually unchanged since their inception in 1917.  They've made modest tweaks here and there (mostly with the white sweaters), but have remained true to the original look.

Despite it being a Wednesday night, Habs fans were sure to be out in full force at this game.  And to their credit, they usually show up decked out in their team colors, often in the form of Habs sweaters.

And sure enough, they didn't disappoint.  Let's see some examples:

Mid-80's Guy Lafleur away

Scored the tying goal in the Too Many Men on the Ice game in 1979.

Eff him.

Maurice Richard replica away

Eff him.

The Rocket retired long before the Montreal sweaters had nameplates on them.  This sweater is a mockery.

Eff him too.

Late 70's Ken Dryden home

Backstopped the Habs in 1979. Then he retired.

Eff him.

And he went to Cornell.  I got rejected from Cornell.

So eff him again.

Frank Mahovlich replica away

Again, he never wore this sweater.  And though he was a Hab later on on his career, I always associate him with being a Maple Leaf.

Eff him.

Mid 90's Joe Sakic Quebec Nordiques away

Now we're talking!

If there ever was a team that hated the Habs as much as the Bruins, it was the other team from La Belle Province - the Quebec Nordiques.  And their sweaters were an exercise in beautiful simplicity: Red, white and blue rendered in a unique pallette; the Fleur de Lis from the Quebec flag; the simple hem stripe.

And Joe Sakic was a great player too. A quiet leader who became captain of the Nordiques in the 1990-1 season, it wasn't until the franchise moved to Colorado in 1995 that he lead them to the first of 2 Stanley Cups.  Even better, that Cup win in 1995-6 came with legendary Canadien goalie Patrick Roy in net for them, after he had a falling out with Hab management earlier that season.

Oh yeah, it's good!

And while we're talking about the Nordiques, let me give a shout out to these guys:

A bunch of old Nordiques fans have been showing up at various NHL arenas all season long to show their support for a new/relocated franchise in Quebec City.  They brought 20 busloads of fans to an Islanders game earlier this year.

And you know what? I want it to happen.

I didn't like it when Gary Bettman's NHL saw the Nordiques and Jets move from their strong Canadian fanbases to western outposts in Colorado and Phoenix.  Granted, Colorado has turned out pretty well, building a very solid fanbase of their own and the team enjoying a good amount of success.  But the Phoenix thing is a mess.  Small fanbase, little success and an arena outside of Phoenix.

And the two scorned Canadian cities have made it known that they want franchises.  Winnepeg has an arena ready to go and Quebec City just approved a funding plan for a replacement of Le Colisee Pepsi.

I'm one of those fans who would much rather see a couple of additional teams in Canada than to see franchises in Phoenix, Columbus, Sunrise and Nashville.  Here's hoping this comes to fruition.

The Row 12 Rundown

With the Habs in town, there was no way the usual crew was missing this one.  And we had Pete grace us with his presence in seat 11.

We did have a number of Habs fans who got their hands on a bunch of seats together in row 10.  But you know what?  They were fine, despite a good number of Bruins "fans" who chose to antagonize them for no good reason other than they dared spend their hard earned money to support their team on the road.

Doosh of the Day

This one's easy.  I'm giving it to whomever runs the Garden videoboard.

I'm sick and tired of going to games against Montreal and the director insists on having the stadium cameras focus of fans who are holding up American flags or wearing USA hockey sweaters.

In general, focusing cameras on fans only encourages people to stand up, act stupid and frustrate people who just want to watch the game.  Focusing on people waving flags and whatnot only perpetuates the misguided patriotism and borderline jingoism that idiotic fans tend to associate with a matchup against a Canadian team.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. 'Canadians' does not equate "Canadiens" and vice versa.

And to those who make the argument that the "USA" chants and flag waving are in response to Canadian fans who come to the Garden and refuse to stand up for and/or boo the Star Spangled Banner, spare me.  I've been to well over a hundred games against Canadian teams since I've had season tickets and not once have I seen a Canadian fan boo the anthem or refuse to stand up for it.  But I have seen plenty of Americans who don't take off their hats, talk throughout or act disrespectfully during the anthem.  And never mind the anthem singers (other than the great Rene Rancourt) who butcher the song because they think they are auditioning for American Idol. Want a cause celebre?  Take issue with those fans instead.

The Clothes Line

Plenty of Bobby Orr and NHL 75th anniversary throwbacks in the house for this one, as one might expect.

But the one Bruins sweater that stood out to me was this one:

Late 80's/Early 90's Craig Janney away

The Bruins' first pick in the 1986 entry draft, Janney was one of those guys who came from New England (Hartford), played collegiately in New England (Boston College) and played for the the Bruins. A skilled passer, he was one of those classic "pass, don't shoot" centers who spent his formative years dishing the puck to Cam Neely.

In one of Harry Sinden's greatest moves, he was traded along with defenseman Stephane Quintal to the St. Louis Blues for fellow center Adam Oates in  the 1991-2 season.  Playing alongside Brett Hull, he registered a career high 106 points in the following season.  He spent 3.5 seasons in St. Louis before he was traded away to San Jose.  He bounced around with Winnepeg/Phoenix and Tampa Bay before calling it a career with the Islanders in 1999.

As for my attire, I went with the 1991-2 Cam Neely throwback.  Gotta bring the 'A' game for these matchups.

The Lobel Prize

Hal Gill.  12:56 TOI, 0 shots, 0 points, 0 penalty minutes, -3 rating.


The Home End

Just when you thought the Dallas game was going to take the cake for most entertaining game of the year, this game comes along.

And it was completely unexpected.

Much like the Spanish Inquisition, no one thought that this would turn out to be both a high scoring affair and a battle royale (is that a Royal Battle in Montreal?).

The Bruins came out strong, building a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by Marchand and Seidenberg a mere 22 seconds apart.  It had the fans thinking of a blowout, but the 2 goal lead rule was still in effect.

Sure enough, the Habs halved the load just 25 seconds into the second period courtesy of another BC product, Captain Brian Gionta.  With Nathan Horton off for hooking, Montreal tied it up on a PK Subban goal at 8:30.  The teams would trade goals to tie the game at 3-3 when Ryder and Lucic scored back to back goals to give the Bruins another 2 goal lead.

Then all hell broke loose:

The end result? 182 penalty minutes, 6 fights (including a goalie fight) and 4 players with game misconducts.

Oh, and the Bruins won 8-6.

Hockeywise, it was ugly, with the Bruins penalty kill allowing 4 power play goals and Tim Thomas clearly not on top of his game.  But at the end of the day, the Bruins took 2 points to cement their lead over Montreal in the Northeast division and showed  again that when they physically impose their will on an opponent they can do some serious damage on both the scoresheet and penalty summary.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Postgame Recap: February 5 - Not So Juicy Couture

After all the excitement the other night, this game was sure be a letdown of sorts.  Sure, the game action was bound to lack some degree of the pugilistic aggressiveness that the Bruins displayed against the Stars. But, given the fact that San Jose's minor league affiliate is based in Worcester, there were bound to be a number of Sharks fans in the house and that means a lot of teal.  A metric boatload of it.  Or so I thought.  Would my expectations be met?

And given the Bruins historic failure rate when it comes to Saturday afternoon matinees, my hopes weren't exactly what you'd call great for a decent on-ice performance either.

Let's see how it played out

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #52, home game #26
  • Boston Bruins (30-15-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. San Jose Sharks (27-19-6, 2nd in Pacific Div.)
  • Only meeting of the season between these two teams

John Blue Plate Special

Any time the Bruins have a huge win, I get all superstitious and debate whether or not I should order the same meal at the next game. But when that meal consists of 2 hot dogs and a beer inside the Garden, all woefully overpriced to begin with, it's a non-starter, especially when I am afforded the opportunity to get to the Four's really early.

One of the few benefits of the Saturday matinee games is that I get to drive into the city without traffic, as I am coming into town from my home and not work.  More often than not, I'll park at Sullivan Square and take the orange line into North Station.  Occasionally, I'll plan on staying in town for a bit after the game and park at the Government Center Garage instead, figuring the convenience more than makes up for the additional cost.

So I got to the Four's around 11:00 and headed upstairs to grab a couple of seats at the bar.

In the past, the bar carried Fox Soccer Channel as part of their TV package, so on Saturday mornings I would come in and watch whatever EPL match was on.  But at some point last year, the bar management decided to get rid of the channel.  So now the only soccer I get is whatever match ESPN decides to show and my conversations with Kenny (Liverpool supporter) and Ian (Arsenal supporter). Boo, I say.

Heather arrived so thereafter and we were both starving, so we went with the tried and true Larry Bird in a wrap with bacon, bbq sauce on the side, and onion rings.  Delicious.

The Couture Corner

When the Sharks entered the league back in 1991, they unleashed a chromatic fury upon professional sports known as the teal craze. It was so different from any other color scheme that teams were wearing.  And their logo ushered in a new wave of cartoonish designs that featured aggressive characters set against a geometric shaped background, much like the Penguins, Canucks and Thrashers as well a host of minor league teams.

Teal was the ultimate 90's color - new, bold, different.  But it certainly doesn't stand the test of time. Other 90's expansion teams that used the color have either reduced it down to an accent color it (Florida Marlins),  emphasized other colors (Jacksonville Jaguars) or eliminated it outright (Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies).  But the Shark has soldiered on with it, tweaking their sweater designs along the way, modifying the crest, and bringing in orange as an accent color.  And you know what, they kind of pull it off.  They've embraced it .  It's almost synonymous with them.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of their current look.  I certainly like the template they are using (shared with team such as the Bruins and Devils), but I think it's actually a bit too conservative a design for a team like San Jose.  And the block font they use for their nameplates is a too narrow to read from far distances.  But, hey they could be worse, right?

As I said earlier, with the Sharks having their minor league affiliate based in Worcester, there were bound to be a good number of Sharks fans in attendance, much like when the Kings are in town.  And I fully expected to see most of them decked out in newer sweaters. But I figured there would be some original style sweaters as well.  Sure enough, I found one:

1995-8 Owen Nolan Away

Nolan was one of San Jose's first star players, having joined them in 1995 via a trade with the just-relocated Colorado Avalanche for Sandis Ozolinsh.  He was 5 time all star and captained the Sharks from 1998 to 2003.

The call?


And now for some bonus coverage:

Late 80's Dino Ciccarelli Minnesota North Stars away

I have no ide why this guy wore this sweater to the game.  The Bruins played the Stars the game before this one. Ciccarelli is a new inductee to the Hall of Fame. In any case, this sweater is awesome.  And that's despite the fact that I hated Dino as a player.

One more (this one's for you, George!):

1980 Ken Morrow USA home sweater

Again, I don't know why this guy wore this sweater to this particular game.  Morrow was on the Miracle on Ice team and played his entire career for the Islanders.

But what I lime about this one is that it is different from all the other 1980 sweaters that I usually see.  And for the most part, that means Mike Eruzione ones.  And I love Mike Eruzione.  He's another quality North Shore Individual (from Winthrop).  You might see a Jim Craig one, but this is the first Morrow one I've seen.

The Row 12 Rundown

A rarity for a Saturday afternoon game, we were graced with the presence of Tim and Maureen Barry.  And Robyn had the honors for seat 11, even though she sat in 7 because Keith was downstairs and there was a SJ fan in seat 10.

Doosh of the Day

We got inside early and had a few minutes to kill, so Heather insisted that we check out the fanzone shop behind section 19.

That's when I noticed that there was a sizeable amount of Hartford Whalers apparel for sale.  Yep, the Hartford Whalers.


I know the Whalers are long gone.  I know a good number of the Whalers fans switched allegiances to the Bruins in their absence.  I know the franchise started out as the New England Whalers.

But you know what else? They are a different team.  Not only were they a division rival back in the day, but their successers down in Carolina have been a playoff opponent a few times now, including the heartbreaking 7 game defeat in 2009.

What the hell is this stuff taking up precious real estate in the Garden?  Yes, Howard Baldwin has tried to evoke the spirit of the team by re-branding the Hartford Wolfpack as the Connecticut Whale (replete with the blue & green color scheme) and I know CCM has acquired rights from the city of Hartford to reproduce replica Whalers sweaters, but come on. This is Boston, not Hartford.  Let them sell Whalers gear, not us.

So I'm giving Doosh of the Day to whoever at Deleware North decided it was good idea to carry these items for sale at the Garden.

The Clothes Line

Far too many times I see fans wearing sweaters of legendary players.  Problem is that a bunch of them are wearing sweaters that those players never wore: Cam Neely on the current sweater, Bobby Orr on the Winter Classic one even Ray Bourque on the 1970s style ones.

So it was refreshing to see this guy do it up right:

1970 Gerry Cheevers home (by Mitchell & Ness)

To only know Cheesie by his famous mask would be to do him a major disservice.  He was the backstop behind the last 2 Bruins Stanley Cups.  In 1972, he set a record by going undefeated in 33 straight games.

He had two tours of duty with the Bruins, separated by a stint in the WHA with the Cleveland Crusaders. After his retirement, he coached the Bruins for a few years and later served as a TV analyst and a pro scout.  He was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.

The Lobel Prize

Unless you've lived under a rock for the last 6 years, you know that Joe Thornton plays for San Jose.

You probably know the significant details: 1st overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins, 100 point scorer in 2002-3, team captain. But he was also stuck with a less-than-flattering label: underacheiver.

The prevailing wthought was that for a player of his size and skill, he should be planted out in front of the net, banging bodies and clearing space while putting pucks into the net.  Unlike Cam Neely who was a wing player and a scorer, Joe was a center who could dish as well as score.  But Jumbo Joe had a propensity to camp out behind the net, content to feather passes to a cutting Glen Murray or Mike Knuble and avoiding the physical demands of playing out in the slot.  It worked, to a degree.  Murray put up career numbers and Knuble reingnighted himself playing alongside Thornton.  But fans were always left wondering "what-if".  What if Joe got out front more?  What if he played the body more? What if he shot more? What if he was more vocal on the ice?

I'm of the camp that says that Joe was unfairly saddled with the captaincy of the Bruins.  He was named captain in 2002 at the age of 23.  At that time, the Bruins had a couple of veteran players on the roster who were probably better suited for the role: Don Sweeney, Brian Rolston, even Sean O'Donnell. I think that the role added an additional burden on him and because he wasn't all that extroverted, fans assigned far too much of the blame for their playoff woes on him.  He did play with a broken rib in that fateful 2004 series against Montreal that severly hindered him and I think had he been healthy, the outcome might have been different.

Alas, he was traded to the Sharks in 2005 for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart. Not one of those 3 are with the Bruins today.

As far as this game was concerned, here was his stat line:

18:02 TOI, 2 penalty minutes, zero shots.

Yep, meet the new Joe, same as the old Joe.

The Home End

Everything the game against the Stars was, this game wasn't.

Boring doesn't even begin to describe this one.

43 shots on net. Total. 0-4 on the PP for the Bruins.

As usual, the Bruins looked like they stayed up too late the night before and forgot they had an early afternoon game.  Zdeno Chara looked positively somnabulant.

Save for a Logan Couture PP goal (his rookie leading 23rd of the season) and a Devin Setoguchi ENG, San Jose was just as bad.

I more than happy to forget this one and move on to the next game - a matchup with the rival Canadiens at home.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Postgame Recap: February 3 - Majors, Minors, Misconducts, Oh My!

November 11, 2008.

Boston Bruins 5, Dallas Stars 1.

A Saturday night. A packed house.

It was the game that galvanized that Bruins team and defined that season.

6 fighting majors, 7 misconducts and 144 total penalty minutes.  But it was more than just the fact that the Bruins fought.  They stuck up for one another and imposed their will on their opponent, establishing a sense of purpose and an esprit de corps.  Cheap shot artists such as Sean Avery and Steve Ott were forced to answer for their acts of cowardice.  Tim Thomas, en route to the Vezina, backstopped the Bruins making 35 saves and Marco Sturm netted 2 goals to lead the offense.

It was the most exciting game of the year.  To this day, it remains one of the most remembered and most discussed games in recent memory.

And so, this past Thursday night found the Bruins facing off against the Dallas franchise at home for the first time since that fateful night (they did meet in Dallas on October 16, 2009 with the Bruins shutting out the Stars 3-0).

Let's see how it played out.

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #51, home game #25
  • Boston Bruins (29-15-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Dallas Stars (30-16-5, 1st in Pacific Div.)
  • Only meeting of the season between these two teams
John Blue Plate Special

I got out of work a few minutes late, but traffic wasn't that bad getting into the city.  Because of the latest snow storm, on street parking in Cambridge was at a premium.  And frankly, with the roads so narrow, I really didn't want to chance my mirrors getting clipped, so I stashed my car in the T lot at Lechmere.

After waiting 10 minutes for an inbound train (which wasn't all that bad, considering the lengthy delays and cancellations that were plaguing the system for the past week or so), I got into North Station around 6:35.  I called Heather to gauge her ETA and popped into the Fours to see how bad the crowd was.  She was running late, so I was on my own.  At this point I was faced in a quandary: grab a bite at the bar and risk missing the start of the game, or head into the Garden and grab some food inside.  After a brief consultation with my partner in crime, we decided that it would probably be best to skip the Fours and concentrate our efforts on getting there early on Saturday for the pregame before the matinee tilt against San Jose.

Long story short, I grabbed a couple of hot dogs (at least they were Nathan's Famous) and a Dos Equis and headed up to 307.  The dogs were decent, but they can't hold a candle to the cuisine across the street.

The Couture Corner

Up until Reebok inflicted it's Edge System plague on the NHL, the Stars had one of the best sets of sweaters in the league. A take on the 1994-7 All Star jerseys, Dallas introduced the star template as a third sweater during the 1997-8 season, even successfully petitioning the NHL to allow them to wear it through the Stanley Cup playoffs that year.  They were unique and very fitting for a team named the Stars.  Easily one of my all time favorites. Near perfection.

So what did Reebok do to the Stars? Sterilized them, of course.

Dallas has a great logo, but the ad wizards decided it would be better to relegate it and utilize a generic city name emblazoned across the chest NBA-style, replete with with front numbers.  Look, this look works for a college team like Boston University, but it looks amateurish in the NHL.  The one sweater that does feature the official crest has those insipid TV numbers on the upper right front of the jersey to ruin the look.  The green that was prominently featured in the past has been reduced to an nothing more than an accent color.  And the alternate uniform is white, just like the normal road one. Good grief.

But there is hope. Rumors persist that Dallas will introduce a new look next year, possibly bringing back a green sweater.  Let us all hope that this is indeed the c

With that said, it was time to see what was in the offering in the crowd.  It was looking pretty bleak at first - a customized original Dallas sweater with some guys own last name ('Aguiar') on it didn't make the cut. Nor did a blank Minnesota North Stars one (I already covered that one).

Eventually I saw this girl:

Late 90's-Early 00's Mike Modano

When you think of the Dallas Stars, one player comes to mind - Mike Modano.  When the North Stars moved south from Minneapolis to Dallas in 1993, Modano, then in his fourth full season, came along for the ride.  He was the first overall pick in the 1988 NHL entry draft, led the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup championship and is the all time leader in goals, points, assists and games played not just for the Stars franchise, but for all American born players as well.

The call?


 The Row 12 Rundown

307 was back in order for this one. Everyone was present and accounted for, including John Barry, who had seat 11 for the night.

Doosh of the Day

Not to sound like a broken record, but I'm going to give Doosh of the Day status to the large, unkempt doofus in row 9 who seriously stood up and/or left his seat repeatedly throughout the game, particularly during the run of play.

I seriously have no idea why this guy was there.  It certainly wasn't to see the game.  Fortunately, none of his shenanigans prevented us from missing the good stuff at the beginning of the game.  Oh wait, that's because he wasn't in his seat yet.

The Clothes Line

I saw a lady down in section 8 wearing a John Carter away sweater, but I couldn't get a decent picture of it.  Damn, because that was a great (and rare) catch.

Fortunately, I did see this guy during the first intermission:

1970 Bobby Orr All Star

To be honest, this isn't a great sweater.  It's a knockoff that isn't a true reproduction of the original.  The shoulder striping is wrong.  These pop up on eBay every once in a while.  I certainly commend the effort and the intention is good, but the execution leaves something to be desired.

The Lobel Prize

As this game was approaching, there was a distinct possibility that we could have a matchup between two goalies that are forever linked in Bruins history: Tuuka Rask and Andrew Raycroft.

Raycroft was drafted by the Bruins in the 1998 NHL entry draft and made a few appearances with the big club starting in the 2001-2 season. But he stormed on the scene big time in 2003-4 as he backstopped the Bruins, finishing with a 29-18-9 record en route to capturing the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year.

After playing in Finland during the lockout season in 2004-5, his play slipped considerably the following year and he was dished off to the Maple Leafs in exchange for a hotshot Finnish goalie prospect named Tuuka Rask.  Raycroft had a decent first season with the Leafs, but his play slipped yet again (notice a trend here?) and he was eventually waived.  Since then, he's been a backup with the Avalanche, Canucks and now the Stars.

So how did he do?  You be the judge:

Yep. 2 goals in 1:20 and he got pulled for Kari Lehtonen.  That works for me.

The Home End
Simply put, this may have been the greatest start to a game I've ever witnessed in person.

4 seconds in and we already had 3 fights:

Gregory Campbell vs. Steve Ott
Shawn Thornton vs. Krys Barch
Andrew McQuaid vs. Brian Sutherby

120 seconds in and we had a 2-0 lead on scores by Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron.

60 minutes later we had a final score of 6-3 and 91 minutes in penalties including 8 fighting majors, 2 misconducts and a game misconduct.  The line of Bergeron, Marchand and Recchi combined for 3 goals and 6 assists.

But it was the fact that the Bruins came out strong from literally the first second and imposed their will on the Stars with their physicality and pressure.  They skated hard and finished their checks (although Daniel Paille probably shouldn't have in retrospect) and let it be known that when they play with focus and determination, they can hang with anyone in the NHL.