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.

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