Monday, March 28, 2011

Postgame Recap: March 10 - Boyes will be Boyes

After a disheartening loss to the Penguins with Matt Cooke in the lineup, it was onto a midweek tilt against fellow Northeast Division mates, the Buffalo Sabres.

The Sabres were playing great hockey in the second half, jockeying for a the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Let's see how it played out:

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #68, home game #33
  • Boston Bruins (32-26-10, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Buffalo Sabres (32-26-8, 3rd in Atlantic Div.)
  • Sixth and final meeting of the season between these two teams with the Sabres taking 3 out of 5 thus far.
John Blue Plate Special

With the playoffs rapidly approaching, it was becoming readily apparent that we should be getting ourselves primed for the postseason.  That meant an end to dabbling around with unnecessary appetizers, trying out new items and and outright ban on all things featuring buffalo chicken.

Coming off losses to the Penguins and the Habs, it was time to go with what got us here: The Larry Bird with bacon, sauce on the side, onion rings well done.

The Couture Corner

There must be a good number of Buffalo ex-pats taking advantage of the excellent collegiate offerings in the greater Boston area, how else to explain why there are always a decent amount of Sabres sweaters in the crowds on midweek games?  Either that, or Jeremy Jacobs brought the family and friends into town.

Unlike the last home game against the Sabres, when I was completely let down, the away fans broke out the top shelf stuff on this night.  Let's take a look:

Early 90s Alexander Mogilny home

One of the first Russian superstars in the NHL, Mogilny made his bones plying his trade in Buffalo before heading way out west with the Canucks.  An absolutely gifted goal scorer, he won a Stanley Cup later as a member of the Devils.

Early 80s Lindy Ruff home

It's very rare to see someone wear a sweater of a guy that's a coach in the league, nevermind one who coaches that same team for which he played.  But for fans of the Sabres, Lindy Ruff does the trick.  Not a standout player, Ruff played ten seasons for the Sabres.  He became coach of the Sabres in 1997 and is currently the longest tenured coach in the league.

Mid 00s Stu Barnes Third

I'm assuming this was a Stu Barnes sweater.  I couldn't get a good look at the shoulder numbers from my vantage point.  But looking at the captain's "C" and the era when this sweater was worn, it only makes sense.

I could care less about Stu Barnes.  What draws me to this photo was the third sweater design.

I hated the Sabres red and black era.  I thought it was stupid for a team with as iconic a look as the Sabres to take such a diametric change in their color scheme.  Blue and gold was their thing and they gave it up as part of the stupid and shortsighted late 90s design aesthetic that took the NHL by storm, all in the name of marketing.

I did not like either the home or road sweaters with the newfangled buffalo head logo. But when they introduced the third sweater for the 2000 season, I immediately took a liking to it.  

The traditional sleeve and hem striping along with an updated version of the classic crossed sabres logo are the design elements that did it for me.  As much as the color scheme turned me off, this was as good as it was going to get.

Late 80s Pat LaFontaine away

One of the greatest Americans to ever play the game, Lafontaine joined the Sabres after a run with the Stanley Cup winning juggernaut that was the New York Islanders of the early 80s.  One of the greatest Sabres ever, he brought out the best in Mogilny to create an absolutle nightmare for opposing gaolies.  He spent his final season with the Rangers before being forced to retire due to concussion issues.  But in doing so, he became the first player to play for all three New York based teams.

The Row 11 Rundown

Pretty much the usual crew in the house for this one. Then again, I'm writing this so far after the fact, my memory could quite possibly escape me.

Doosh of the Day

If you think it's a good idea to show up to a Bruins game against the Sabres wearing a sweater that isn't representative of either team, it's usually a bad idea.  When that sweater is that of another team that is universally hated by the fanbase, even worse.  When it's that of a player whom the fanbase dislikes greatly, well you're certainly not going to win any friends.

And when you antagonize the locals when the Sabres score, you've pretty much sealed your doom.

So you, guy in the Penguins Sidney Crosby 2011 Winter Classic sweater, congrats:  You're the Doosh of the Day.

The Clothes Line

Oh, we've got a good one for you:

2004 Felix Potvin Alternate
I've going nearly the entire season without mentioning these sweaters.  But first, a bit about Felix.

Potvin was signed prior to the 2003-4 season to serve as a backup to Andrew Raycroft.  After a stellar career eith the Maple Leafs, he bounced from the Islanders to the Canucks and Kings before playing one final year in Boston. He posted a 12-8-6 record with a 2.50 GAA in that season as the Bruins finished first inthe Northeast with what should have been a juggernaut of a team had the lockout not happened the next year.

As for the jerseys, these were far and away my least favorite Bruins sweaters ever.  When the Bruins announced that they would be ading an alternate jersey in 1996 (as part of the first big wave of mass-marketed alternates in the mid 90s), I had a bit of trepidation.  I was hoping for a gold sweater, something along the lines of the 1958-9 home sweaters.  Instead, we got this. What a letdown.  With the shoulder and hem striping intened to evoke bear fur, oversized wordmarks for shoulder patches and a chest logo that's as tame as it was lame (it was taken from a framed picture hanging in Harry Sinden's office) it was all out fail.  Even worse, in that first season it was worn, the Bruins wore thier white helmets with it.  Seeing Ray Bourque and Can Neely wear these was a travesty, though not as bad as Wayne Gretzky being forced to wear the infamous LA "Burger King" sweaters.

That said, these were so bad, I might just end up getting one off eBay someday.  Someday.

Personally, I went with my 1990 Cam Neely. I'm beginning to think this one might be bad luck.
The Lobel Prize

The Sabres had two players on their roster since the beginning of the season that donned the Black and Gold previously: defensemen Steve Montador and Shaone Morrisonn. Then, at the trade deadline, the Sabres made a deal for another former B: forward Brad Boyes.

Boyes, you'll remember, was acquired from the Sharks in 2004 for Jeff Jillson.  Then the lockout happened.  But once hockey resumed in 2005, Boyes had a breakout year, scoring 26 goals and dishing out 43 assists.  He slumped a bit in his sophomore season and was traded near the deadline to St. Louis for Dennis Wideman.  While Wideman showed some early promise, Boyes went on to be a 40 goal scorer (43 to be exact) the next season and followed that up with a 33 goal performance in 2008-9.  But his goal scoring slipped the last couple of years and he was sent to Buffalo.

So, how'd the alumni do?

Montador has an assist in 18:47 of ice time.  Morrisonn has 2 shots in 14:41 of ice time.

But the real damage was done by Boyes.  He finished with 4 shots in 15:54 of ice time and 2 points on an assist and the game winning goal 3:44 into overtime as the Sabres came from behind to take 2 points from the Bruins in a heartbreaking defeat.

Yep. What can't we get players like that? 

The Home End

This was the first game for the Bruins and Captain Zdeno Chara after L'Affaire Pacioretty two nights earlier in Montreal.  Most fans were concerened how the team would play and how the refs would call the game.  But it was the Sabres who controlled the game, seemingly taking advantage of an emotionally drained Bruins team, outskating them and outshooting them with a 45-29 shot adavantage. Ryan Milled was good, not great.  The Bruins were up 2-0 and 3-2, but the penalty killers yielded two goals, including the Sabres third goal to tie it up at 3-3 early in the 3rd period.
The Sabres were hot of late, making a run at the last playoff spot when they had been written off by the pundits only weeks earlier.  And there was no rest for the weary B's as they had to travel to Long Island to take on the plucky Islanders the next night.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Postgame Recap: March 5 - Super Mario Druthers

And so the streak is now at seven games and people are starting to think that this team might make some serious noise come the postseason.  And that's without any significant contribution (yet) from the upgraded power play that was supposed to put up over the hump.

But before we even begin to consider how far they will go in the playoffs, they have to deal with the matter at hand - a Saturday night tilt against the pesky Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that is owned by all time great/hypocrite Mario Lemieux and the one that employs the notorious Matt Cooke.

Let's see how it played out:

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #64, home game #32
  • Boston Bruins (38-19-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (37-21-8, 2nd in Atlantic Div.)
  • Fourth and final meeting of the season between these two teams with each team winning on the road thus far.
John Blue Plate Special

Being the last Saturday night home game of the regular season, I wanted to make sure that I got to the Fours somewhat on the early side. And given that there was a good chance that there were going to be a good number of Pittsburgh fans/apologists coming to the game, I was to make doubly sure I'd get to the bar early enough to grab a seat.

Fortunately, Heather was bringing Pete to the game and they figured they'd get to the bar around 4.  They thought about trying to get something downstairs, especially with the top line working behind the bar.  But it was already somewhat full, so they headed upstairs where Jen and Adam were working.  Not a bad deal at all.

Unfortunately, due to the rather delightful warm weather in the area, the local highways were worse for wear.  So much so that MassDOT had to shut down the carpool lane on 93 south to conduct emergency repairs.  Accordingly, I was stuck in a bunch of unexpected traffic.  But I managed to get to Sullivan and hop on a train right away, mitigating my tardiness. I met the Yungers at the bar and within minutes had a seat for myself right next to them.

Upon my arrival, I was offered a taste of the steak and cheese eggrolls which Heather and Pete had ordered.  Crisp wrapper, tangy cheese and juicy steak, it hit all the right notes.

HAving a bunch of time to kill, we decided to go with the buffalo chicken nachos, which have been rated as some of the best nachos in the city by Boston Magazine.  This is a lot of food for the money - piles of multi-colored chips topped with cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, tomatoes and the famed buffalo chicken, drizzled with hot sauce.  It's more than enough to feed three people.

But let it be noted - before ordering it, I asked Heather if ordering it was bad mojo.  We knew from our failed buffalo mac and cheese experiment that the Bruins went winless when we ordered it.  I wondered if it was the mac and cheese or the buffalo chicken.  She was of the mind that it was the mac and cheese. I went with it.  Now, I'm not so sure.

As for the main course, we went with the Larry Bird wrap with onion rings.  I now, a bit boring at this point, but we were on a seven game winning streak and we weren't going to switch things up just yet.

The Couture Corner

This being a saturday night and all, there was a good chance that a lot of Pens fans were going to show up for this one.  And the Pens have a good number of sweaters in their collection for fans to choose from.

So what did I find? Let's have a look:

1992-97 Away

I think this is a highly underrated sweater.  Sure, the diagonal lettering is a blatant rip-off of the Rangers, but it works.  It certainly didn't hurt that this was the sweater of choice for Snoop (well, NHL sweater of choice, he had an AHL favorite too) back in the the DogFather days in the mid 90's.

She gets props for the sweater, but loses some cred for not having it customized.  So much you could have done with this (Stevens, Mullen, Barrasso, etc.)

Some sort of knock-off Mario Lemieux

I can't figure out what this sweater is supposed to be.  The Penguins wore gold sweaters in only one season, 1983-4, the year before Mario entered the league.  And even then, the TV numbers were on the shoulders, not the sleeves and used a different font to boot.


1992-7 Mario Lemieux Away

Much better than the first photo, despite Mario Magnifique being a huge hypocrite.

199-27 Jaromir Jagr Home

One of only a few Jagrs I've seen at games this year.  But she loses points for not having a curly mullet. 

Wait, credit is restored.

And now for something completely different

Modern Replica Bobby Hull Chicago Blackhawks Home

I know it goes against my belief in that people should not put players names on a new shirt that that player never wore. But I'm a sucker for the Blackhawks sweaters.  And you just don't see all that many Bobby Hull ones around these parts.

The Row 11 Rundown

A saturday night during ski season means that the Hoyts were up in New Hampshire.  Chris was the lone Kasper representative.  And as mentioned earlier, Pete had seat 11 for this one.

Doosh of the Day

No explanation needed.

The Clothes Line

I thought I had run the gamut of Andy Moog sweaters thus far.  Oh boy, was I wrong.

As I made my way to my seat, I was greeted by this beauty:

1991 Andy Moog Wales Conference All Star, autographed, possibly game-used

I loved this style of all star sweater.  It was used from 1989 to 1991 and again in 1993.  In 1991 the All Star Game was held in Chicago at the old Chicago Stadium.  Moog was one of 5 Bruins to make the roster, along with Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, Dave Christian and Gary Galley.

I own this style sweater, but mine is blank.  It is rare to find one that is customized.  Even more rare is a pro model.  This is one of the best examples I had ever laid my eyes on.

The Lobel Prize

Evan after the trade deadline passed, the Penguins remain one of the few teams that do not have a former Bruin on their roster.

The Home End

And the seven game streak came to a halt.  But it wasn't from a lack of effort.  Down 2-1 late in the game, the Bruins pulled Tuukka Rask for an extra attacker and David Krejci slipped a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to tie it up at 2-2.  The game would head to overtime, the Bruins assured of at least one point, but Dustin Jeffrey scored his second goal of the game 1:52 into the extra session to give the Penguins the win.

Normally, an OT loss after tying it up late isn't too bad in the grand scheme of things, but this was a game against Pittsburgh, the same team that employs (and even promotes) a piece of crap player/enemy of the game in Matt Cooke and just traded for noted nemesis Alex Kovalev, now in his second tour of duty in the Steel City. Furthermore, Pittsburgh was playing without their top two players in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But the Bruins were without the services of Patrice Bergeron, who was home for a family matter. And the power play still has not clicked since the Tomas Kaberle acquisition, although the Bruins only had one power play advantage in this game.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Postgame Recap: March 3 - Ride the Lightning

Hey there.  Long time, no see.

It's been a while since the Bruins have played a home game, having gone on an epic six game road trip first on LongIsland (one word), then a jaunt to western Canada sandwiched around tilts in Ottawa.

And along the way they managed to pick up a few new players.  Shockingly, they were able to procure a long sought after player who fills a key need and has plenty of tread left on the tires while also upgrading two forward positions all while sheeding a bit of salary. Even better, they didn't wait until the last minute to make these upgades.

The result?  A six game winning streak, the acquisition and seemless integration of Mssrs. Kelly, Peverley and Kaberle into the fold and a team that looks like it has the ability to make a run in the playoffs.

Which all leads to last night.  First game back on home ice after 15 days away.

Let's see how it played out:

Just the facts, Jack (Edwards)

  • Regular Season game #63, home game #31
  • Boston Bruins (37-19-7, 1st in Northeast Div.) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (37-19-7, 1st in Southeast Div.)
  • Fourth and final meeting of the season between these two teams with the Bruins losing the first game but winning the last two, including an 8-1 shellacking at home on December 2nd.
John Blue Plate Special

A prompt 5:00 departure from work and a wide open Pike inside the Weston tolls led to a relatively quick arrival at the Fours, to the point that I got there before Heather did.  Downstairs was completely packed so I headed upstairs to grab a drink from the MacGregor father/son bartending duo.  In the meantime, Heather arrived on the scene and managed to grab a seat downstairs.  So I headed back down and within minutes I had managed to get a seat myself.

But when it came time to order, we were faced with a bit of a quandary: do we go with the buffalo chicken mac and cheese with all of its cheesy gooey goodness or do we go with the old standby - the Larry Bird wrap?

Despite being completely delectable, we were 0-2 in the buffalo chicken man and cheese era.  With the Bruins on a hot streak and playing an important game with playoff seeding on line line, we decided that this was not the most opportune time to continue the experiment and we went with the wrap.

The Couture Corner

In my December 2 recap, I discussed how the current Tampa Bay uniforms bring nothing to the table from an aesthetic standpoint.  Since then, the Lightning have announced plans to redo their look for the 2011-2 season.

Initially, the new owner planned on changing their sweaters to a simple two-tone blue and white look using the same exact Pantone colors as the Maple Leafs and nearly the same striping pattern as the Red Wings, all in the played out name of "creating a classic, timeless look".  They would be eliminating the black and silver completely from their color scheme.  Knowing that Wings great Steve Yzerman now runs the hockey operation in Tampa, this change had it's fingerprints all over it.

Except that a timeless, classic look doesn't work for the Lightning.  They are only 20 years old as a franchise.  They do not have a long and storied history, yet.  They do have their own history including a Stanley Cup in 2004 and they have a unique color scheme.  And they have some unique styling elements that they have employed since day one: the lightning bolts on their pants and their so called 'victory stripes' under their sleeves.

So when the preliminary designs were released a good number of Tampa Bay fans were less than impressed.  They didn't like the lack of black and silver.  They didn't like the lack of the lightning bolts on the pants.  They didn't like the lack of the victory stripes.  And a lot of them didn't like the revised primary (chest) and secondary (shoulder) logos.  The primary one has been compared to the Flash Gordon logo ad nausem by now and the secondary one is just another in a long line of pedestrian team logos featured in a circle with text circumscribed around it, much like Columbus, Florida, Minnesota, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.  This is a trend that needs to end.  And soon.

After a flashy public presentation, the Tampa Bay ownership listened to fan feedback.  And in a twist, they listened to what the fans had to say.  The fans clearly wanted the bolts on the pants and the addition of black back into the color scheme.  The problem is, it still doesn't look great.  The bolts are a nice addition (and should never have been left out in the first place), but the solution to adding black to the sweaters was to add a outline on the numbers only.  Without black on the sweater elsewhere, it looks incongruous. One of the theories that I've read as to why this is so is because the team went ahead and started producing sweaters with the original design and it was too late to change them, so they did what they could by modifying the numbers.  It's good that they tried to make them better, but the process seems a bit flawed and the final product is still lacking.

That said, I still was unable to find a Tampa sweater of any significance in the stands at the game.

But there was this beauty:

1994-5 Peter Forsberg Quebec Nordiques away

Foppa may have recently hung up the skates permanently, but this replica of his rookie year sweater is one of my guilty pleasures when it comes to hockey attire.  I love the look of the Nordiques - unique colors, the Fleur de Lis, the fact that they were from Quebec, but were not the Canadiens.

The Row 11 Rundown

Most of the usual suspects were in the house for this one - the Barrys, the Hoyts, the row 15 crew.  Charla and Kathi were there, but they were sans kids. Ladies night out, I guess.

Doosh of the Day

Amazingly, there was an extremely low level of doosh-i-ness at the game.  No people getting up during while the puck was in play, no belligerent drunks, no people taking flash photo after flash photo of themselves over an over again.

So I was actually a bit hard pressed to find a person worthy of DotD.  Then I heard the kid sitting in front of me who was wearing a Nordiques t shirt answer the trivia question about a Norris trophy winner with "Wayne Gretzky".  You're not a Nordiques fan, you're just a friggin wannabe hipster.  Fail.

The Clothes Line

On our way into the Garden via the west entrance I was blown away by what I saw.  Walking out in the opposite direction was a guy wearing a Dave Reid sweater.  Black with the number 17 on it.  Whoa.

This was a sweater from Reid's second stint with the Bruins (he wore #34 and #36 in his first go around with the Bruins from 1984 to 1988).  But I've never, ever seen a Dave Reid sweater in the 1977-95 version.  Sadly, I wasn't able to get a good photo at all.  Big time bummer.

Was Dave Reid a star? Far from it.  But he was a defensive stalwart and a solid all around player when he was here.  He didn't specialize in any particular aspect, which is why I think this sweater is one of my favorites that I have seen this season.  No one else has one, so it's original.  And I wish I had it.

As for what I wore, I went with the 1996 Ray Bourque.  After all, he did set the Bruins career scoring record against Tampa Bay.

The Lobel Prize

Nate Thompson remains the lone former Bruin on the Tampa Bay roster.  In 10:10 of ice time, he registered one shot with no points or penalty minutes.  He was barely noticeable.

The Home End

A game at home after a long road trip is usually a recipe for disaster.  A six game winning streak was on the line against a team with the same exact record fighting for second place in the conference standings.

Truth be told, we were expecting some sort of letdown.  But this couldn't have been anything but.  A tight, well fought game with plenty of hitting as well as flowing play.  Tampa Bay decided to play backup goalie Mike Smith over Dwayne Roloson.  The same Mike Smith who was pulled in the third period of the December game after giving up 5 goals in two periods.  But he came to play.  And Tim Thomas was stellar as well.  The result? A hard fought 2-1 victory, much like a great pitchers duel in baseball.  And the winning streak reached seven.

But even better was the fact that I walked out of the game with a huge smile on my face.  Not only because the Bruins won, but because it was a great crowd.  A full house with a playoff like atmosphere where fans were in their seats from the first drop of the puck right up to the final whistle.  And everyone was focused on the play on the ice.  No drunk idiots, no one getting up at the wrong time, just hockey. I can honestly say that it was my favorite game to be at of the season.