Friday, October 31, 2008

BOO! Scary stuff, eh kids?




Well, I promised you a SCARY Halloween. And I don't think I've seen anything scarier than that two headed monster above. What could be worse than Steve Kasper or Dave Lewis behind the B's bench? BOTH OF THEM!
I feel dirty for even having these two on the site.

60 X 2 + 40 = 4

Sixty minutes. coach Julien has been preaching it since he arrived on Boston. Sixty minutes of sustained effort. Sixty minutes of sticking to the system. Sixty minutes of being a "Bruin". For the first two games of the trip the B's did just that. Two complete sixty minute efforts earned them a much needed four points. last night in Calgary, they came out storming and played a very solid first period. And entered the second with a 1-0 lead to show for it. Then the wheels fell off. Calgary dominated Boston for the entire twenty minutes. A steady stream of B's to the penalty box didn't help matters. More concerning were all the turnovers in their defensive end, and the utter failure to clear pucks when they had the chance. This whole puck clearing thing has me dumbfounded, because it seems like it's been going on for year. How many times can you have full control of a puck, then not get enough steam on it to get it past your own blue line? That is probably the single biggest issue with their dreadful (to borrow a word from the great Fred Cusick) penalty killing. They've been in position to make plays, but for whatever reason rarely seem to be able to finish them. Fortunately, Boston regrouped between periods and came out with a much better effort in the third and made a game of it. So, another coaching opportunity if nothing else. Play sixty minutes-you have a damn good chance to win. Play anything less than that-you probably will fail.

Bottom line on the trip is they took four very big point of a possible six. It would have been great to pull off a sweep, obviously. I really think that would have done wonders for the team confidence. But they still have to feel good about their play, especially defensively (three goals against in three games isn't bad!). I know Chiarelli mentioned he was concerned about the goal scoring. Which is understandable, since his charges only scored four of their own. But, in my opinion, they were just unlucky for the most part. Unlucky in that they ran into Dwayne Rolloson, who played absolutely out of his mind for Edmonton. Then they had to face a couple guys named Luongo and Kiprusoff. Granted, one goal per night isn't a recipe for success, but it's nice to know that they CAN win games like that. Well, at least with Tim Thomas between the pipes. I was THRILLED to see Julien ride the hot hand and go with Timmy three straight games. The first time he's deviated from the every other game rotation this year. My guess is, Manny Freaking Fernandez gets the nod against Dallas tomorrow at the Shawmut/Fleet/TD Banknorth Garden. But, maybe Claude has some left over Halloween treats for us and goes with Thomas again.
(speaking of Halloween, I have a very scary picture I'll share later. I've been debating posting it....it's just too hideous for public consumption. So be warned. I'll post it this afternoon. You've been warned.) Go B's-Kynch

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

TIM-MAY!!!!















NOW can we quit the Timmy Thomas bashing? You haters know who you are. You're the ones that whine that Thomas doesn't look "controlled" enough. You're the ones that disregard any athletic save he makes by saying "It's because he was out of position to begin with". Whatever. The man is paid to stop pucks. On back to back nights he stopped everything thrown his way. And it couldn't have happened at a better time, as his mates only managed a single goal in each game. Seriously.....what more does he have to do? Was anyone really hoping Julien would start Fernandez against Vancouver? Or against anyone? Julien has made it clear he's at the point where he wants one goalie to take the reins and be "the man". Well, Timmy has a death grip on those suckers now, and I don't know that Manny is the man to take them away. LOVED the decision to play Thomas on back to back nights. That is completely in line with the coach's methodology for the rest of the team. Play well, play more. Play not so well, enjoy the pine. Manny hasn't been "horrible" on most nights, but he's been average at best too many times. If you have greatness on your roster, you don't alternate it with mediocre.

Aside from Thomas, there were other stand out performances in the last couple nights (yeah, been busy and sick so I missed an Edmonton wrap-up & Vancouver preview). Phil Kessel continues to be a joy to watch. Kid is FLYING on every shift. And better yet, he's actually competing for the puck. Never expected him to run people through the boards, but to see him dip his shoulder in and go for pucks is a thing of beauty. Krec is also looking very very good still. As Brickley has been pointing out, the kid just seems to have a great head for the game. He sees the ice very well, and he doesn't have any panic in his game. He's also pretty tough. He's not afraid to take a hit to make a play, which is huge. In Edmonton, I thought Axe had one of his best games in recent memory. He seemed to be everywhere all night and looked ten years younger the way he was skating (must have been that beautiful sheet of ice Jack Edwards wouldn't shut up about).
All in all, an amazing four points gained by the good guys. A win in Calgary is just icing on the cake at this point. But hey, I'm greedy. let's make it a western Canada sweep! Too bad Kobasew is still out, he and Ference making their returns would be a good story.
Go B's- Kynch

Monday, October 27, 2008

Game Day @ Edmonton 10/27


BIG game on tap out in Edmonton tonight. B's need to garner some momentum off their come-from-behind win against Atlanta Saturday. I'll be especially curious to see how Looch responds after his first NHL Hat Trick. I'm hoping he doesn't come out thinking "I'm a goal scorer now". Yes, he CAN score. BUT, he has to do it in the "dirty areas". And he also MUST continue to bang bodies out there. In fact, he really still needs to pick up that aspect of his game. Credit where it's due, he has gotten more physically involved of late (ask Mike Van Ryn, who said it felt like he was "hit by an elephant" when Looch put him through the galls Thursday). All the boys better be prepared for a VERY physical game tonight. The Oilers already have 9 fighting majors as a team, in only 7 games. Zack Stortini leads the way with three. While Stortini is a "good" fighter, and a big kid at 6'4" 215lbs, he is far from their toughest customer (he did put up an impressive 23 fighting majors last year though. Wow). That goes to former Pro-B enforcer Steve Macintyre. Big Mac (6'6" 250lbs) has found a home in Oil country, and is making the most of his chance to play in the NHL. Mac will dish out huge hits every chance he gets. He's also very good at timing his bigger hits and fights. If Boston starts to gain control of the game, be extra cautious if Stevie Mac is out there. The hammer is coming. So, Thornton and Lucic both could have their hands full. As much as we all want Milan on the ice, he just may HAVE to answer to Stortini, while hopefully Thornton will get Macintyre (if anyone has to, it's Thornton.). Both of those match-ups could prove to be very entertaining (even though Stortini does do a bit of hugging/tackling in his bouts...and he's also not bashful about throwing shots once he gets his opponent down. Makes me glad he's a Western Conference player).

Beyond the rough stuff, Boston desperately needs points. The schedule makers didn't do them any favors with this trip, but it is what it is. And it's important. The Oil has to be feeling the same way, as both teams currently sit in 8th in the respective conferences. Boston, again, SHOULD have the advantage, as Edmonton is having all kinds of trouble scoring. Shawn Horcoff leads the team with 3 goals. Hey, looch had that in the last game alone! Bottom line, stick to the game plan and match Edmonton's physicality and they should be fine. (and by Edmoton's physicality, I really mean the two aforementioned tough guys).

Predictions- Boston wins 4-2. Goals by Ryder, Chara, Sturm and Krejci. Lucic & Stortini go at it, as do Thornton and Macintyre.
Go B's-Kynch

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Milan Thrashes Atlanta


So THAT'S how you play around the net! Lucic must have gotten some one on one coaching on the fine art of net-front positioning. Because he was much better at it last night, and was rewarded with a hat trick. Funny how that works, huh? Stand out front, screen the goalie and throw everything you can on the net and you score goals. For a tough, complicated game.....it really can be pretty simple. Four of Boston goals came as a result of just going to the net hard. Yelle got the ball rolling by tipping a turn around slapper from Thornton. Simple play, goal. Krejci's goal a was the prettiest of the five, blasting a short range slapper from the slot. The beauty of it was not only that he nailed his spot, top corner, but that he was patient enough to let Kessel clear the shooting lane before pulling the trigger. But again, there was all kinds of traffic out front. Simple.

All in all a good effort all around, except of course in the horrible first period. The B's can not keep throwing periods away like that and expect keep winning. Last night they got lucky. It isn't a winning formula to hope you can outscore the opposition for two periods and not showing up for one. Speaking of not good enough.....yes, he made some big saves. But Manny Fernandez continues to scare the hell out of me. At least one softie AGAIN last night. Worst decision of the night award has to go to Wideman, who for some unfathomable reason, threw the puck around the boards behind his own net....when he had an easy out and three Thrashers in his own end. This bad idea inevitably led to a Chara turn-over and an Atlanta (soft?) goal to Schneider.

But hey, the bottom line is they won a game they really needed. And the offense put up another five spot. Lucic seemed more like his old self last night, but with more touch around the net (ok, full disclosure time: I still think he lacks all kinds of polish and hands. His first goal was nice, in that he beat Hedberg to the post. So, good location. But it makes me wonder, when the puck never leaves the ice. I prefer seeing a guy BURY that chance, by getting it upstairs a little. His second goal was a perfect tip, nothing to question there. But, his third was, well.....ugly. He tried forcing a pass to Kessel...which he had no prayer of making, then was lucky enough that his little backhand swat found it's way through a defender and the goalie. I know you gotta be lucky too, but that was kind of an "ugly" hat trick. I'll take those any night, but I'm just saying.....let's not get all wrapped up in "Milan is a goal scorer" now.)

Now if they can head out west and take two out of three at least, I'll be thrilled. Hell, I don't even care if they need OT to do it against a Western conference team.
Go B's-Kynch

Friday, October 24, 2008

Soft Game Costs B's

Disappointing effort (or lack thereof) from the Bruins last night. They played softer than that plush doll pictured here. Give Toronto credit, they did enough to win. But this was a game that was there for the taking. All the Bruins had to do was WORK for it. But from the drop of the puck, they showed no interest in getting dirty to earn the two points. The Leafs looked completely over matched defensively. Bruin forwards were able to find all kinds of room in the Leaf end, often slipping behind them on the fly.Sadly, they were unable, or unwilling, to continue to apply pressure to a shaky D. You just knew if the B's didn't start doing SOMETHING, the Leafs would find their way back into a game they had no business being in. I'm saving my WTF Milan!? rant for later, after I watch the game tape again. But Looch was guilty of an awful lot of standing around (again) last night. The hit on Van Ryn not withstanding, Lucic hasn't been much of a physical presence. And honestly, the hit looked a lot harder that it was. Speaking of hits....hit of the night (season?) was Wideman on Stajan. Perfectly clean, and a hammer shot. So when did it become standard practice that every time a player gets hit hard, and clean, a teammate feels like they HAVE to "respond" by fighting (or trying to) the guy that made the hit? Hey, you won't find a bigger fan of fighting and sticking up for your teammates. But this IS a contact league, and players shouldn't feel a need to "get" whoever makes a good hit. Just hit them back later. That being said, I'm sure Leaf fans were happy to see the rookie, Schenn, go after Wideman. I'm also sure Schenn soiled himself when he ended up with Chara. Funny how things settle down when Z is in the middle of it.

On the bright side of things (this should be quick), Bergeron got his first goal. That's a big monkey off his back, and finishes off his "firsts" list. First game back, first home game, first point, first goal.....now he can just play hockey. Beyond Bergy, Krecji may have been the only other player that stood out, in a positive way. The kid is still making plays, he just needs someone to finish off some of his good feeds.

Bottom line is, Saturday's tilt against Atlanta becomes an early season "must win". Another West coast trip looms next week, and the B's simply can't afford to give away more points. Blame tired legs, blame the schedule maker, blame the HORRIBLE officiating....make all the excuses you want, but Boston simply has to be better. Good teams win when they should. Great teams win when they're not at their best. So far, Boston should have no delusions of being either of those teams. They're average at best. And average doesn't play deep into the spring.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Maple Laughs hit the Hub.....

..... be careful!
game one of the Toronto Leaf fan invasion of Boston. Say what you will about the Leafs, but their fans travel well. Every rink on the east coast tends to be over run by guys like our poster boy here...oh, and some "normal" guys & gals find their way as well.
Toronto is in what is openly being called a rebuilding year. However, their record is stunningly close to the B's to this point. Toronto enters tonight with 5 points on a 12-3 record. Boston, who fully expects a playoff appearance and more, has 7 points on a 2-1-3 record. I guess the good news is, if it goes to a shoot out, SOMEBODY is going to change their teams luck in that area. This will be a much different Leaf team than we're used to seeing. While Sundin basks in the early winter glow back home, his former mates are trying to create their own identity. You know, one that includes winning. With Sundin out of the mix, the Leafs have some scoring issues, averaging 1.83 Goals Per game to date. Boston counters with an attack that is much improved from last year, averaging 3.0 goals per. Toronto has allowed an even 3 goals against, while Boston is only slightly better there, at 2.67 GAA. What do all those stats mean? Not a damn thing. While I firmly believe Boston is by far the more talented team, Toronto always seems to find a way to make it tough on them. As far as indidual performers, Nik Antropov leads the way for the visitors with 3G 2A. Kessel & Savard lead the Black & Gold with 6G 1A and 5G 4A respectively. If Boston can sustain the kind of pressure they had against Buffalo in the first period for a full 60 minutes, they could skate away with an easy win. Toronto has a TON of issue's on the Blue Line (although promising rookie Luke Schenn has been a nice surprise for them.....albeit a -3 at the moment). I can see Boston easily potting 5 or 6 goals tonight against that D. And let's be honest, the two headed monster of Vesa Toskala and Curtis Joseph doesn't instill much fear in anyone (except Leaf fans of course).


ROUGH STUFF
Long gone are the Tie Domi days where you knew a physical game was on tap. And with noted irritant (and RAT BASTARD) Darcy Tucker gone, Toronto doesn't really have much of a physical swagger to them anymore. Sure, they brought in Jamal Mayers, but he's hardly a heavyweight and not anyone to be overly concerned about. Mayers will play a fairly physical game, but again, not a guy I'm worried about if he does decide to drop the gloves. He's the proud owner of TO's only two fighting majors on the season, and I doubt he's in a hurry to make it number three. But hey, if he wants to, he's got a few willing and able partners in Thornton, Lucic or anyone else that usually gets involved.

PREDICTIONS
Bottom line is, Boston has the edge everywhere. Offense up front, defense, physicality, maybe even in net, assuming Thomas gets the start. Then again, if Fernandez start opposite Cujo, it could be a wash. I see Boston winning this one 6-2. Yeah, I know....that's a lot of goals. Whatever. I like it.
No fights, but it could be a chippy "spirited affair", especially if Boston gets the big lead.
Go B's-Kynch

Wednesday, October 22, 2008



yeah yeah yeah.....so I'm sitting here at 11:45 the night after the B's-Sabres game and just getting to the recap. Hey, if I'm done by midnight, I'm legal, so shut up.
Anyway, not much to say about last night. The boys came out FLYING, but couldn't sustain it on tired legs, especially facing the well-rested Sabres. since I'm up against the clock, here's my good news/bad news quick hit.
The Good:
Phil Kessel- WOW. What a shot that was. Six goals, six games. Gee, anyone else think that little "message" from Claude last season has been received loud & clear? Kid is playing with a TON of confidence. GREAT to see. Keep it up Phil!
Krejci- Kid continues to look great. Got ROBBED late by Miller, but he did everything he could. Roofed it top corner. Just gotta tip your cap to Miller and move on.
Lucic- Played with a bit more purpose last night. Far from dominant, but more involved.
Julien- hey, he took Ryder off the shoot out roster and inserted krejci. That's enough for me (even if he has Lucic on the first line).
Thornton-GREAT job by Thornton declining Peters' request to fight, while Boston had a 1-0 lead. Hmmm....I bet if you read the post below this one, you'll see someone suggested that exact scenario may just play out. I'm just saying.
The Bad-Losing a 2 goal first period lead. I know, tired legs yada yada.....but you still have to find a way to hold that lead.
Shoot out- Really? The B's are 0 for 3 already on the skills contest? I hate deciding games with a shoot out. But I REALLY hate it, when Boston can't seem to win one no matter what they do. (side note....did Manny Fernandez look AWFUL in the SO, even on the stops he made? Scary.) If the B's expect to get back in the playoffs, especially in a better slot than 8th, they can not afford to keep giving away points to division opponents.

That's it for tonight, with time to spare.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quick & dirty preview, @ buffalo 10/21


Short and sweet preview for tonight's tilt in Buffalo. And for the record, I can not stand the Sabres,l their fans or the city. Loserville personified.
Buffalo is 4-0-1 in five games this season. The Sabres have balanced decent goal scoring (19 goals for) withe exceptional defense/goalie play (only 8 goals allowed through 5 games). Starter Ryan Miller has allowed just 4 goals in the three games he's started. While offensively, LW Thomas Vanek is off to a 7G 2A start. As usual, the key for Boston will be special teams. Buffalo's PP is clipping along at a healthy 24.2% (although it is nearly 10 points better on the road than at home). Despite the defections in recent years, the Sabres still play a pretty up tempo game based on skating, speed and power play chances. Boston has to be the more physical team, while staying out of the box.
ROUGH STUFF When it comes to the rough stuff, the Sabres still boast one of the legit heavy weights in the game today, in Andrew Peters. Peters is a typical 4th line hired gun. He plays under six minutes per game, and has limited (to be kind) hockey skills. But he's a big body, at 6'4" 247lbs, that enjoys the fight game. Perhaps because of Peters' presence, a few smaller Sabres also feel like "tough guys" out there. 6'1" 200LB Patrick kaleta is tied with Peters for the team lead in fighting majors, with two (he also got wailed on by Paul Mara in retaliation for a cheap shot he threw on Mara last season. Kaleta didn't receive a fighting major in that one though). Adam Mair, at 6'1" 208lbs also isn't afraid to drop the gloves. Ex-Canadien, Craig Rivet is now a Sabre as well. And while he's not known as a brawler, he does have one to his credit this season......as well as a double game misconduct for his BRUTAL, cowardly third man in penalty. He jumped an unsuspecting Islander (Nate Thompson, former Bruin) who was squared of with Mair. VERY cheap play. None of these "fighters" are mush of a threat, outside of Peters. Only person that "should" fight Peters if it comes down to it is Thornton, because that's his job. But he's also a much more valuable player overall than peters. So no trade with Peters is a good one for Boston. My suggestion, let him run around and take penalties in his limited ice time. The two points tonight are far more important than anything else


PREDICTIONS:

Boston wins 3-2, on goals by Sturm, Bergeron and Chara.

No fights, as hard as Peters tries to stir the pot.

Home opener recap.....and a rant


Game one of the home schedule is in the books. And Boston got a single point via a shootout loss. In general, not a bad performance. The B's held the high powered Pens to one goal and had plenty of chances of their own. Phil Kessel was flying and competing well again, picking up another goal. Bergeron had several great chances, so that was good to see. Great. All that "good news", and they were still unable to secure a win. Which leads me to my rant. And let me preface this by saying I'm in no way in a panic or anything. And I think Claude Julien is a great coach. AND, I've been the biggest Lucic supporter you've ever met.......been tracking this kid since he was an unknown 16 year old. That being said, WHAT THE F was THAT last night? Boston finally gets to play in front of the home crowd. A full house, with high expectations. And they come out with what I would call a tentative attitude. I understand you don't want to go running around against a team like Pitt, but COME ON! I expected a much more physical game. ESPECIALLY from Lucic, and, for the first time ever, I was completely disappointed in Milan's game last night. He was taken to task in the Boston Herald yesterday, in an article in which he even admitted he may have come into camp this year a little coccky, comfortable or whatever. He said he knew he had to get back to the style of play that earned him a roster spot last year (and made him a local icon). Instead, he comes out and is largely uninvolved the whole night. When he should have been in front of the net, he was hanging to the side of it, or worse, drifting to beyond the hash marks. Not at all playing like the biggest,baddest guy on the ice. Instead, he looked disinterested in going to the "danger area's" on the ice. I thought for sure that he'd be a wrecking ball last night, and I couldn't have been more wrong. All in all, a pathetic game for Looch (and you have no idea how much it pains me to write that). As hard as that is, I'm convinced that if he shows up with that same "perimiter game" mentality tonight, he needs to watch the next game from the press box. Because although Neely said they're reminding Milan how he needs to play, the kid is clearly not getting that message. Sit him, and make him watch his highlights from last year. He needs a wake up call before these bad habits become impossible to correct.
Bergeron had tons of great chances, which I was thrilled to see. Now, he has to start burying them. There is a real danger that he'll fall into the Marco Sturm rut of getting lots of bids, but not bearing down and burying them. I love the guy, and appreciate everything else he brings to the table, but top six forwards simply HAVE to score when they get the chance. I'm not too worried about Patrice though, I'd rather see him missing on chances, than not get any.
The biggest What The @#$! moment for me was Julien's shoot out line up. AGAIN, he sends out Kessel, Ryder & Savard. Are you kidding me!? Kessel, absolutely....although I like him as the #2 or 3 shooter instead of first (fist is "ok" if you choose to shoot first, because that puts some pressure on the opposition). Savard, I'm not sold on as a shoot out performer. Great passer, with a real good shot. But I've never thought of him as a great one on one, break away type player. And RYDER?? Are you serious? I have no explanation for what Julien could possibly be thinking on throwing him over the boards every time. I believe, Ryder is now 1-11 in SO's. Ryder is a shoot first, shoot second and shot third type player. His quick release serves him well in a game situation. But is nearly useless in a shootout. Is Julien trying to get hom going by giving him shoot out chances? If so, I think he's doing more harm than good. Way to shatter confidence instead of build it (especially throwing him out there last, in MONTREAL of all places). I just don't get it. Why would you not have Bergeron, Kessel and maybe, say ....Krejci? All skill guys, with good stick handling ability and one on one moves. Or how about a kid like Wheeler? Good skills, and nobody has a "book" on him yet. Hell, I'd rather see Sobotka get a shot than Ryder (I honestly think Sobotka would be great at them). What about Sturm? Unreal. More mystifying was Julien's comment after the game, and I quote: “Unfortunately, it was the same ol’, same ol’ in these shootouts. We came out on the short end of it.”
really? You'resurprised you got the same result, by going with the same shooter that is no good at it? isn't the definition of insanity "to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result"? Unless and until Claude mixes it up, we can expect more of the "same ole same ole". And that frankly, isn't good enough.
These one point "moral victories" in October, come back to haunt you in April. Remember these games when the B's are fighting for a playoff spot late in the year.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Home Opener Preview

Finally, our boys will skate on home ice in front of what is sure to be a raucous crowd at the TD Banknorth Garden. Story lines galore in this one. Start with the biggest...the return of Patrice Bergeron. This will be the first chance adoring fans will get to show Patrice how much they missed him, and how happy they are that he is feeling well again. Add in the fact that it's their first home game since the incredible Game 6 (by far, hands down, no doubt...best sporting event I've ever attended), and the "buzz" will be tangible. Of course, having two of the brightest stars in the game today, Crosby & Malkin, in the house doesn't hurt either. As if that wasn't enough, the boo-birds/hecklers will have a chance to mock Hal Gill. Does it get any better? Well, hopefully, yes....it does get better. And what could be better than all that goodness? A WIN against last years Eastern Conference Cup representative.

So, how does Boston beat the Penguins? Simple. As in, keep it simple. Play as a team, like they have been so far. Stick to the defensive system and not give Crosby, Malkin and company time and space through center ice. The Pens are scuffling a bit, as they get settled in with their new lineup, after all the off season UFA defections (Malone, Hossa, Roberts et al). Boston may not have the "name" players that casual fans recognize, but they do have enough speed and skill to skate with anyone. I see the B's winning in what should be a great game.

ROUGH STUFF?
When you think Penguins, you probably don't think "rough stuff".....especially with Georges Laraque now in Montreal. But, the flightless birds went out and signed heavy weight Eric Goddard to fill BGL's shoes. And he's doing it very well. He's got two bouts under his belt, including a brutal slug-fest with Riley Cote of the Flyers. Goddard is big , strong and throws a ton of punches. He also LOVES to load up for the knock-out hay maker. If he and Thornton drop the gloves, it will be beyond entertaining....and the Garden will be, as Jack Edwards would say, "VIBRATING"! Beyond Goddard, the new kid on the block, Paul Bissonette, has been willing to take on all comers. The 6'3", 210 pounder has acquitted himself very well in the fight game this year (including a TKO of Matt Bradley). He's even earned the moniker "BizNasty" in the Steel City. Could be a good match up for Lucic, if Milan gets caught up in the hoopla and decides he needs a fight to balance out that goal the other night. Even no-skill-Gill has a fight this year. In typical Gill style, he looked lost during it, and lost to a much smaller David Clarkson (the same David Clarkson that Looch TUNED UP last year). And lets not forget, Sidney Crosby's first and only NHL bout came at the Garden last year, when he threw down with Andrew Ference. Sid the kid acquitted himself pretty well in that one.....not that we'll be seeing a rematch of course. But hey, if Ference could get number 87 off the ice for five minutes, that would be a huge plus.

PREDICTIONS
I'm going back to my 5-3 Boston call I had for the Ottawa game. B's can score on these guys (I can not wait to watch Gill trying to keep up with the Boston forwards.), and Tim-may will keep them in check. Bergeron scores to highlight the comeback, and Ryder endears himself to the home crowd with a goal as well.Sturm pops one in, as does Kessel. Chara blast one in to represent the blue liners on the score sheet.

Thornton and Goddard have an epic battle. It's almost pre-ordained that those two will have a go. I just can't see it NOT happening. I think Looch goes with "BizNasty", and biz busts his face.

Regardless of how accurate (or more likely, inaccurate) any of the above is, the one sure thing is, the Boys Are Back In Town! And it's goona be a blast.
Go B's-Kynch

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Guys Win

Quick hit on the B's impressive road win in Ottawa, while I keep an eye on the Red Sox in Tampa.

First and foremost, how 'bout Phil Kessel? Two more for Kess tonight, giving him four in four games. Jack Edwards nailed it (I know, I was surprised too) when he said it's basically a tale of two careers for Kessel. The pre-benching in last year's playoffs, and the post-benching Kess. Very pleased to see Phil "compete" for loose pucks etc this year. He doesn't have to run guys through the boards, but as long as he's willing to get his nose dirty and use his body along with that incredible speed of his, he's a threat. NOW will all the "Trade Kessel" blow hards shut their yaps for awhile?
Of course, those of us that have been bashing Manny Fernandez still have some ammo. That first goal tonight was a beer league special. No way an NHL goalie should let that one in. The second one, he was screened a bit, but even that one wasn't a great goal. Fortunately, his mates played very well in front of him, so he was not called on too often to make the "big" save. He seemed to settle down a little as the game wore on, but I never got the feeling that we could count on him to make that game saving stop. Luckily, Lucic scored a late one to take the pressure off. Terrific job by Ryder on the play (who looked good all night), and an even better follow Looch. Good to see Milan BURY the chance (as I mentioned he wasn't doing so far). He slammed home a no-doubter just under the cross bar for the 4-2 lead. The other bruins that really stood out tonight were Sobotka and Savard. SOB was finishing checks all night and creating chances with his physical, heady style. He also did a great job in his own end. Savard, well, he was simply Mark Savard tonight. He's still shooting which is a good sign, but an even better sign is that he's still got the soft hands and great vision that make him such a lethal offensive player. The move and the pass he made to Kessel from the corner was a thing of beauty. But maybe even more impressive, was seeing him crashing the net and causing problems for Gerber on Kess's second goal. If guys like him and Kessel are willing to consistently go to the net like that, the offense will be much more efficient than last year......although, it would be hard to be much less efficient than last year.
All in all a great road win for the road weary B's.
Let the countdown begin for the home opener. The Garden will be rocking

Go B's! - Kynch

Game preview, @ Ottawa 10/18

Boston finally gets to end their road season opening road trip tonight in Ottawa. And for a change, it is not the opposition's home opener. While the Sens were beating Phoenix 6-3 on home ice last night, the B's were sitting in their Ottawa hotel room. So that is one advantage going into the game. However, the Sens did get their Captain, Daniel Alfredsson back for last night's win, giving the Sens a potent top line. Boston will need to lock this line down. If they do, they should skate away with the win, as the Black & Gold has the better line-up, top to bottom.

As far as the line-ups go, Ottawa will go with the same as last night, which means Martin Gerber in net. Old friend Alex Auld will serve as his back-up.
For Boston, the goaltender will be......Manny Fernandez. I "guess" I understand the logic, but he just doesn't deserve the start over Timmy Thomas at this point. Thomas has done nothing but give the B's a chance to win every night. Manny hasn't shown that ability to this point in his Boston tenure. If Manny lets in one more soft goal tonight, Julien will have some explaining to do. It may be time for Chilly to bite the bullet and send him down, giving Rask the shot he deserves to play in the NHL.
Up front, Julien is juggling lines a little. Axe is back with Savard & Ryder. But Lucic will join Bergeron and Kessell on the second line. Sturm drops to the third line with Krejci and Wheeler (this could be a terrific combo). Fourth line again will feature Sobotka, Yelle and Thornton. These lines do provide decent balance up front, as much as I'm still not convinced Axe is a #1 winger. And, Lucic, as much as I love the kid, HAS to start burying chances if he's going to stay as the #2 LW.


ROUGH STUFF PREVIEW
Ottawa, amazingly, has yet to have a fighting major through four games this season. Boston only has one in their three games to this point. Wouldn't surprise me at all to see the boys get after it a bit tonight. Chris Neil is always game, and usually does something worthy of taking a beating for. Look for Thornton to renew acquaintances with Neil early. Same goes for ultra aggravating little rat, Jarko Ruutu. Ruutu has to rank right up there with Sean Avery and Darcy Tucker as the player you'd most like to punch in the eye. Ruutu hits late, from behind and often. Usually against the otehr teams top players (think of his hit on Jagr n the Olympics). Rarely will he back it up, but he will go if pressed. He went with Lucic last year, and I think this is where Looch drops the gloves for the first time this year. Sometimes you can just take so much, and I don't see Milan turning the other cheek for much longer. Cody Bass, a villain last year for his hit on Mark Stuart (and subsequent beat down by Thornton) is not supposed to be in the line up tonight. And long time heavyweight, Brian McGrattan, is now patrolling the beat for the Phoenix Coyotes. The net-net is, if Ottawa decides to instigate the chippy play that always seems to be a part of any Boston-Ottawa game, the B's are more than well equipped to handle it. B's have the edge in physicality, and skill up and down the lineup. Now if only Fernandez doesn't give it away.

PREDICTION:
B's keep up the torrid scoring pace, and put up a five spot on Gerber. Manny does everything he can to keep the Sens in it, but prevails for a 5-3 Boston win.
Luci & Ruutu go once. And Thornton and Neil go at least once, possibly twice if the first isn't a good one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

B's Habs Post Mortum

So game one of the season series between the B's & Habs is in the books. And Montreal came away with the two points, as usual. But, Boston salvaged a point by rallying from three down to force overtime, and ultimately a shoot-out. Price stopped all three Boston shooters (Kessell shot wide as the puck bounced on him), Bergeron & Ryder shot low and into Price. Alex Tanguay beat Thomas with a pretty wrist shot for the only score of the "skills competition" portion of the game.

So, what did we learn last night? Were there any other positives, other than the 1 point earned? I would say absolutely we learned some things, and the B's can feel good about the one point. Probably better than Montreal does about the two they walked away with. First, Boston showed that they can indeed skate with the speedy Canadiens this year. At no point, five on five, did I ever get the impression that Montreal was vastly superior in skill. That hasn't been the case in recent years. We also learned (confirmed?) that the B's are not a team that lets adversity bother them. Down three, on the road....in Montreal of all places, they easily could have found themselves getting blown out (if this was two seasons ago, the Dave Lewis B's would have been run out of the building). As if we needed confirmation, Tim Thomas made anothe loud and clear statement that he is this team's number one goalie. He made several big stops at big times to give his mates a chance to come back. But, we also were reminded that the Black & Gold simply can not make defensive zone mistakes. It seems like every time they blow a coverage, it ends up in their net.

How about the rough stuff you ask? Well, I think Thornton did his job very well last night. Not only in the fight with Laraque, but in the timing of it. Thornton went looking for it right away, as he said, so he wouldn't be thinking about it all night. He also mentioned how he's been reading how much
"bigger" the Habs would play with BGL in the lineup. Well, when your Lord & Savior gets challenged right off the bat, and at best finishes in a draw, how comforting can that be? Thornton showed no fear of Big Georges, and that was a reflection of his team's overall attitude. Do what you want. Play any style you want. We're right here in front of you, and we're not going anywhere. To be fair, Montreal was fairly physical themselves, and other than Komisarek, nobody seemed to be overtly running away from a challenge. Then again, Komi was the only one that was outright challenged, and of course he refused to answer the bell.....again. He should take a page out of Thornton's book, and just get it over with soon. Oherwise, he'll spend the season looking over his shoulder for Lucic. Which, come to think of it, may not be so bad after all.

All in all, I'm not terribly upset with the game. They got a road point against a division rival. That is never a bad thing, and the way they came from behind to get it makes it even more sweet. Knowing they can still get in Carey Price's (Andrew Raycroft reduex?) head is even better. I fully expect this to be a tight series all year, with the home team winning most of the time. Can't wait until Novermber 13th. Go B's-Kynch

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Game day! @ Montreal,10/15

Well, well, well......Game one of six regular season tilts against the hated Habs is tonight in Montreal. For the third straight game, Boston will be the visiting team for the oppositions home opener. And tonight's will be an even more elaborate affair as the Canadiens kick off their 100th anniversary season festivities. The atmosphere, always electric for a Bruins-Habs game, will be off the charts tonight. I'm sure the B's players, coaches and staff are well aware of it, and will be as prepared as possible to deal with it. Time will tell if they are or not, but I doubt anything other than the players on the ice (and of course, the officials) will decide the outcome. If Boston tightens up on D, and buries the chances they're sure to get, they'll come out on top....ending Montreal's 11 game regular season winning streak against the Black & Gold.

GAME PREVIEW
For Montreal, Christopher Higgins and Francis Boullion are out with injury. Good news, because Higgins for some reason always seems to score big goals against Boston.

Boston will be without Chuck Kobasew for three weeks with a fractured ankle. Otherwise, they enter the game healthy.

I'd expect to see Vladimir Sobotka in the lineup tonight after his recall from Providence. Presumably that means Nokelainen will be the healthy scratch up front. Other than that, I would expect to see the same line-up (Montreal is not a good first game match-up for Matt Hunwick, the other B's call up after the Alberts deal) Boston's biggest priority tonight is to stay out of the penalty box. Montreal makes their living with the man advantage. You simply can't afford to give them cheap power plays. With the rowdy crowd, the refs will be in a very giving mood tonight......as they usually are in Montreal. So discipline will be a key. The Habs will do everything they can to bait bruins players into retaliation type infractions. They can't get sucked into those, even if they draw the Hab player with them. Four on four against Montreal is as good as being short handed. Five on five, I feel Boston is the better team. Special teams can't be allowed to decided the winner.
Beyond discipline in the penalty sense, the B's have to show improved discipline on the defensive side. As a team, they were very loose in defensive zone coverage in the first two game. They were better in game two, but need to be better still against the speedy Canadiens. Limit the clear chances on Thomas and let him make the saves he's supposed to, and Boston walks out with a well earned two points.

In what should come as no surprise (since I said so Monday!), Big Georges Laraque will be making his Canadiens debut tonight. BGL has been out with a sore groin, but has miraculously healed enough to play tonight against Boston. What a coincidence! Steve Begin will sit tonight to make room for three minute Georges (about all the ice time he'll see). As I've said all along, I love that montreal has to waste a roster spot for a guy that won't play regular minutes. BGL can, at times, be a decent player. His big body makes it next to impossible to get the puck from him once he sets up along the boards. Problem is, he's content to just sit there with it. He's not able to actually make a play with it, but hey, it's a good clock killing technique anyway. Personally, I'll take a guy like Shawn Thornton any day. He can actually play the game, and does a great job as the team enforcer. Not the big heavyweight of a Laraque, but much more well rounded. Thornton has been a huge assett for this team the last couple seasons. BGL's value is yet to be proven, but I doubt he'll have near the impact Thornton does. I guess all this BGL, Thornton talk leads me directly to the.....

ROUGH STUFF PREVIEW
The most obvious candidate from Montreal to be involved in the nastiness is Laraque. And I'm sure, in his first game wearing his hometown colors, he'll want to make an impression. Question is, who does he "target"? Will it be a reaction to something that happens on the ice? Or will he go in with a plan? That's hard to say, and I'm sure if something develops during the game, he'll have to react to that. But based on his off-season comments about not really wanting to fight true heavy-weights, and how Chara could be the toughest guy in the league, I wouldn't be surprised to see him try to take on Lucic. As big a fan as I am of Looch, this is an AWFUL idea. No way should Milan be fighting a guy like this. As far as Chara taking on BGL, that's a waste, and a win for Montreal. Any time they can get Chara off the ice, they have an advantage. So that leaves our boy Thornton to tangle with three minute Georges. My money says Shawn handles himself well against the much bigger man. He'll take a few, but he'll give Georges all he can handle as well. Should be an interesting match up, and one I'm kind of looking forward to.....as I'm sure Thornton is. I had the opportunity to speak with Lucic a bit this summer, and mentioned the Laraque signing. Far from being worried about it, he seemed to be looking forward to it. When I told him my first thought was "Boy, Thornton's job just got tougher", Milan just laughed and said Thornton was looking forward to it and that he LOVES that stuff. Lets hope it stays a Thornton-Laraque match up, and Lucic stays out of that one. Now, the bout every Boston fan would LOVE to see, is a Lucic-Komisarek tilt. Of course, in his typical rat fashion, "Komi" will take swipes, hack, and talk trash all night. Then run behind a ref and not drop the gloves. This has all the makings of a Neely-Ulfie feud (minus the injury's we hope). Lucic, I'm sure, wants to settle things. If Komi were smart (and I'd never accuse him of that), he'd drop the gloves tonight and get it over with. Otherwise, he'll spend the season looking over his shoulder for Looch. Sometimes you just have to "man up" and accept responsibility for your actions.
Beyond the usual suspects in the rough stuff game, a Boston Montreal game always seems to spark fisticuffs from guys you wouldn't expect it from. last year, Mark Stuart laid a beating on one of the Kostitsyn sisters (which one doesn't matter to me). This year, who knows? if Nokelainen is in the lineup, I'd pencil him in as my dark horse candidate. But, I'm willing to bet he sits tonight, and Sobotka plays.

PREDICTIONS....
Boston wins, 4-2. Ryder, Kessell, Sobotka & Chara are the goal scorers. There are a minimum of two fights (which will be the first two for Boston this season). Thornton goes with BGL in one, and Lucic goes with Montreal's "other tough guy", Maxim Lapierre. I still expect a surprise fight though.....no guess as to who it is (unless Nokie plays), but look for a Bruin you wouldn't expect to drop the gloves tonight. Go B's-Kynch

Monday, October 13, 2008

B's Newsflash: Alberts Traded to Flyers

Andrew Alberts was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for 22 year old Serbian winger, Ned Lukacevic and a conditional 4th rd pick (pick becomes a 3rd rounder if Alberts resigns with Philly,he is a UFA after this season).

The move is basically a salary dump for Boston, as they get to clear the defenseman's $1.25M in salary off their cap. Presumably, Mat Hunwick will be called up to replace Alberts as the "extra" D-man. Alberts should see some ice time in Philly as the Flyers are down two blue liners because of injury to Randy Jones (yes, THAT Randy Jones) and Ryan Parent.

Bruins vs Habs Game #1

Can you feel it? Can you sense the impending clash of these two long time blood rivals? Nah, me neither. With game day still a couple days away, and it only being the first of six regular season games between these two, the excitement level isn't cranked up yet. Of course, as puck drop draws closer, I'm sure I'll be in full Hab hating mode That really never goes away of course....sometimes it just needs to be rekindled by the sight of a flopping, diving, Academy Award winning acting job by one of those little rats to set me off. But maybe I'm less excited about this game than usual, because of how Boston has played defensively in the first two games. Game one, as we know, was a train wreck in the Boston zone. game two was better, but they struggled big time against fast break chances especially. Montreal is built on transition, fast break offense (and diving to draw cheap Power Play chances). Unless the B's get their act together defensively, Thomas will have to repeat his first period performance against Colorado. Fortunately, with a couple days off to prepare, I think Coach Julien will have his boys ready to play.

All technical points aside, I fully expect Wednesday night's tilt to be the first game where we see true EMOTION from the B's lineup. They seemed content to play a 'friendly" game against the Av's and Wild. no chance of that happening against the Canadiens. If Boston plays a controlled, physical style, they will handle Montreal this year. Last year Boston let their emotions get the best of them, and handed away too many power plays. Montreal, five on five, doesn't match up so well against the Black & Gold. They have a clear advantage with the extra man, or even four on four, so staying out of the box is the priority. The fact that they get SO many PP chances and matching penalties off of obvious dives is a topic for another day, but trust me, I'll cover it!

As far as the rough stuff goes, much was made of the Georges Laraue signing. Habs fans were all excited that they finally have a "legit heavyweight". And Big Georges Laraque (BGL) is certainly that. But from the outset I, among many others, questioned how or if he'd fit in with tha Habs GO GO style of play. Well, if the first couple games are any indication, he doesn't. He hasn't dressed yet. Something tells me that will change Wednesday. Ooooohhhhh.....scary! Whatever. If Montreal wants to alter their line-up to match Boston's physicality (which they achieve with their STANDARD line-up), I'm more than fine with that. Adding BGL means they have to sit someone else, who they obviously feel is a betetr player than BGL. The Hab forward with the lowest average Time On Ice (TOI) is Steve Begin, at just a tick over 11 minutes. Raise your hand if you expect BGL to play 11 minutes or more? Anyone....anyone....Bueller?? Much better chance that he spends more time in the box than on the ice. In his prime, I was a big fan of BGL. But that was a few years ago, before the rules changes etc. And obviously, he was a younger guy, more willing to "go". Now, he seems more content to rest on his reputation, and sees himself more as a deterrent than an actual fighter. If I'm a Canadiens fan, I have to be just a touch concerned if I saw this quote by BGL, to the Edmonton Journal: "The goal when you fight the big heavyweight guys is to draw. It's all about showing up. That's like a win. Just don't get killed," said Laraque. Are you kidding me! So this protector and savior of little punks like Komisarek and the Kostitsyn sisters is just trying to not lose? Unreal. How much of a deterrent is that? As if that isn't disheartening enough for Les habs, how does this sound, from the same article: "If Charas's job was to fight, he could be the toughest guy in the league, because he's so strong. But, he plays 30-35 minutes a game, he shouldn't be fighting," said Laraque. "If a heavyweight fights him, it takes Chara out of the game for five or 10 minutes. That's a bonus for every team.". Wow. So basically, if you look at both of those quotes, BGL is basically saying he wants no part of throwing punches with Big Z. BGL is right about the poor trade off though, so no sense in Chara getting involved in any unnecesary bouts (with anyone). But, if and when the time is right, Z can feel a little better about it, knowing BGL will basically be looking to wrestle or duck and cover. Comments like that from Laraque expose him as nothing more than a bully, looking to beat up on the smaller guys, but not wanting anything to do with anyone his own size. How very brave of you. On second thought, maybe he'll fit in in Montreal better than we thought.

More on the cowards, erm, Canadiens later. Go B's-Kynch

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Manny being Manny....

.....well, in the words of punk rockers Social Distortion, "I was wrong..."
The Manny we saw tonight was the Manny we've seen since he's been in Boston. I thought for sure we'd see a guy, not as good as he was in Minny, but not as bad as he's been here. "I was wro-ong, self destruction got me again, I was wrooong..." He's healthy now, so we have to assume (pray) that's it's just rust. Because the alternative, that he's just lost his game somewhere between here and St. Paul is too depressing to consider. The Bruins played a much better defensive game against the Wild than in their opener against the Av's. But this time came away with a one goal loss, instead of a one goal win. The obvious difference in this is, Timmy Thomas started Thursday, and played well enough to keep his mates in it. Tonight, Manny Fernandez started, and gave up at least two (possibly three, depending how tough of a grader you are. I call it two), soft goals. You just can not do that in the NHL. On the road. Against a pretty good team.

Other than the Manny debacle, the boys looked decent. Although, I'm not sure where the physical game has disappeared to? Not nearly enough banging, but other wise a good effort. Everyone seems to buying in to the "go to the net with the puck" mantra. Lots of chances because of just that.
And I can't decide if I'm more pleased to see Savard shooting the puck (2G in the game, 3 on the year) or to see Kessell score again (2G in 2GP). Savard shooting the puck opens up the rest of his linemates for some of his patented soft passes. And Kessell is shooting the puck like we all knew he could. Tremendously quick release on that kid.

A guy not to be over looked tonight for the Black & Gold is Stephan Yelle. He was a shot blocking machine on the PK, and is a great steadying influence.

And for all the grief he gets, Andrew Ference had another solid game on the blue line. Nothing spectacular, but that's a good thing, because the only spectacular plays he makes are bad ones. Aron Ward also settled down nicely tonight, and was more the steady vet that we expect.

In the mixed bag department, Wheeler had another good offensive night in his return to the State Of Hockey. But he was victimized on the Wild's 4th goal, not picking up Belanger going to the net. Rookie mistake by a rookie. I can live with that, as longas he learns from it, which I believe he will.
As much as I love Lucic (as a player, settle down), he had an "uneven" game again. Got himself a few decent chances, but eitehr couldn't handle the puck cleanly, or took WAY too long to get a shot off.

Anyway, it's nearly 1AM, and I'm watching the Sox.....sounds like a good time to wrap up the blog. Catch ya later.
Go B's-Kynch

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Game & Rough stuff preview, 10/11 @ Wild


Quick hit preview for tonight's tilt at the Excel Energy Center. Story lines abound on the B's side for this one. The most obvious one being the return of Manny Fernandez, facing his old team for the first time since his uncle traded him (wonder how Christmas dinner was last year at the Fernandez household?). Manny is expected to get the start tonight, and we're all waiting to see if he'll be Manny being Manny of his glory days in Minny, or the Manny being Manny of his brief Boston tenure. My guess is somewhere in between. I don't expect a dazzling performance, but I doubt he'll be terrible either (if only because the D will most certainly be better tonight than in Colorado). The other "major" home-comings tonight are of course former Minnesota collegians Phil Kessell & Blake Wheeler. Look for both to have repeats of game one, as they play in front of friends and family.

The challenge for the bruins tonight is finding a way to throw a blanket over Marion Gaborik. His speed and skill, frankly, are too much for the Boston D. This will be a team effort to keep him under control. Look for Bruins forwards to hound him in the Wild end and through the neutral zone. They can't afford to let him get cranked up through center ice and hit the Boston zone at full speed. that's a mismatch against just about every defender in the NHL. But, Julien's system should allow Boston to limit the damage Gaborik does.

ROUGH STUFF.....
when it comes to the rough stuff, Minnesota can compete with anyone. Led by the huge Derek Boogard (6'7", 270lbs), the Wild can throw 'em with the best. Boogard is one of those guys, that I honestly have no desire to see a Bruin tangle with. Lucic is over matched against a brawler like Boogard. Thornton is willing, and would probably hold his own. But Boogard poses an injury threat every time he drops the gloves. He hits hard, and throws an awful lot of punches for a big man. He also switches hands effectively, and uses body shots well to open opponents up for lethal upper cuts. Unless it's unavoidable, I'd prefer to leave Mr. Boogard alone, thank you very much. In case you need to know anything more about how much Boogard enjoys the fight game, he and his brother Aaron (also a big time tough guy) host a "hockey fight camp" for kids aged 12-18 in their hometown in Saskatchewan. I don't think that's part of the Alex Kovalev hockey skills DVD set, is it?
One fairly surprising scrapper they had during camp this year was Marc-Andre Bergeron. The 5'10'', 190lb Bergeron had three fights during pre-season play. I guess having Big Derek Boogard around makes everyone a little braver. Bergeron won't be taking on Thornton or Lucic, but again is a candidate to match up with a Ference or Hnidy.

Assuming the B's get off to a better start tonight (although they have to sit through another round of Home Opener ceremonies), they should be fine tonight. Maybe I'm getting wrapped up in the five goal outburst Thursday, but I say Boston wins tonight, 4-2. Patrice Bergeron gets his first as well. Go B's-Kynch

Friday, October 10, 2008

B's Newsflash: Injury News - Kobasew


.....according to Fluto Shinzowa of the Boston Globe, Chuck Kobasew has a possible fractured right ankle. He's sitting out practice and is wearing a walking cast/boot on that foot.

I really hope this isn't an omen of things to come. Chuck just has no luck, missing the post season last year after getting hit by a Chara shot. Hope it's minor and he misses a minimal amount of time.

Chiarelli tells Fluto that they're considering dressing Nokelainen tomorrow, or possibly even having Alberts play the wing for one game (as he has in the past) - Kynch

Bruins announce "Get Psyched for Opening Night Fanfest" & plans to "Paint Boston Black & Gold"

From today's "CyBear Club" eNewsletter comes word of the Bruin's plans to: "Get Psyched for Opening Night FanFest" on Monday October 20th from 4:30 - 6:30 PM in the West Garden Lot!

"Kick off the season the right way, join us for Fan Fest prior to our Home Opener on Monday, October 20. Fan Fest will be held in the West Garden Lot from 4:30-6:30pm. Boston Bruins Alumni will be in attendance, as well as the Bruins Ice Girls and Blades. Get here early and enjoy live music, interactive games and giveaways, the first 1,000 fans will walk away with a limited edition Bruins T-shirt"

Also of note was the announcement of the B's plans to have their fans "Paint Boston Black and Gold" starting October 14 thru to the 19th! The details on this as provided by the Bruins on this are: "Give the Bruins a proper homecoming and paint the streets of Boston Black and Gold. Our Bruins street team will be on the prowl October 14-19, looking for fans wearing their Bruins gear. If you're seen, you'll get tickets on the spot to an upcoming game. The season kickoff happens only once a year, make sure you're ready"

For more details and to sign up for the CyBear Club (it's free by the way so why wouldn't ya?) just go to the B's Fan Zone section of their website at: http://www.myprefs.com/?@cybear&p2p=Signup & sign up today!

After action report (early morning edition)

A win is a win is a win. And it's a good thing the only points on the line tonight (this morning?) were the 2 points in the standings. Because style points were hard to come by. Definitely a good news-bad news game, so I'll get the bad over with first. Defense? Ever heard of it? Yeah, the Bruins didn't either. Their team defense in their own end was awful. It got a little better as the night went on, but 40 shots against isn't going to get it done. It's only one game, so I'm far from pushing any panic buttons. But I was surprised at how poorly they played in their end. Ward and Hnidy especially seemed to struggle, but the were far from alone. And it wasn't just the D. Savard can take a good chucnk of as well. As a center in the NHL, you just have to be better than he was for long stretches tonight (on D). Timmy Thomas had an up & down night, but hard to fault him too much. He was under seige right from the opening face off.

But enough will the negativity. It's opening night, the good guys won, and it's after 1Am already. Time to think happy thoughts (for a change?). And all the good thoughts come from up front. Five goals to start the year, is a beautiful thing. Seeing Patrice involved is even better. Bergeron looked like his old self, albeit maybe a touch rusty. Blake Wheeler potted his first, in what could be a fantastic season for the kid. He needs to get a little more involved physically, but the kid just oozes skill out there. Granted, he looked totally lost when the pushing & shoving broke out, but he'll figure it out! Krecji getting off on the right foot is a HUGE plus as well. That line may have been Boston's best all night. Kobasew has picked up his hitting right where he left off, let's hope his scoring continues like last year as well. And that giant "WHOOSH" sound you heard with about 5 minutes left was the collective sigh of relief among B's fans, as Ryder got on the score sheet for the first time as a Bruin (100th career goal).

That's it for now, short & sweet. I'll be back later to babble on about the details of the game.....and I'll do my best Jack Edwards impression and complain about the Pepsi Center "Bull Gang". No way 2:47 of the 2nd gets played in the 3rd if that happened in Boston.
G'night puckheads. - Kynch

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rough stuff forecast


Finally, it's GAME DAY! And one thing I always anticipate, try to predict, is the potential for fights or other "rough stuff". I base my guesses on history between the teams (was there an "incident" in the previous game?), the players (do two guys always seem to go after each other, even if it was in the minors?) and lastly, on how the teams have been playing lately (have they been getting pushed around lately? Did they dress a "tougher" lineup than normal, did a coach call them out on "heart" etc?).
Obviously, being the first game of the year and against a Western Conference opponent, there isn't much history here. Last season, Milan Lucic got off to a fast start, by dropping the gloves with Brad Winchester of the Stars, in the Bruins first game. No rookies on the roster this year for Boston that will be looking to establish themselves in that manner though. And as I look at the Av's expected line-up, I don't see a lot of "goon" type guys. Most likely brawler on the Av's would be Ian Lappierre. He led the team in fighting majors last year, with 20. That's an impressive number of fights. But that's about all that's impressive about it. He isn't one to square off with the heavy weights. Or even light heavy's of the NHL (this is a guy that basically fought Marion Gaborik to a DRAW. 'nuf said). So my guess on him would be, IF he drops the gloves, I doubt he'll be seeking out Thornton (one of those light heavy's). Probably not even Lucic, unless he was living in a cave last year and Looches reputation didn't make it to him. More likely match-up would be with a guy like Ference. A guy that will go if need be, but doesn't go looking for it. Also a guy that isn't going to hurt anyone (and remember, Ference fought Sidney Crosby last year.....and didn't fare that well).
Colorado doesn't appear to be dressing the "Sheriff", Scott Parker tonight. He's the one true, big brawler they have.

Things get a LOT more interesting on the cheapness, dirty "what an A-hole this guy is" front. I know, when you read that line, you either think of Ulf, Kasperitus or Darcy Tucker. Since the first two dirt bags are retired, that can only mean Darcy *ucker. We can't get away from this RAT! It would not surprise me in the least to see him in mid-season form, taking liberties with our young players. Don't be shocked if he welcomes Wheeler to the NHL with a cheap shot, then turns tail and runs as usual. Sad to say, but I'd be keeping a close eye on Darcy when Bergeron is on the ice. I could see him "testing" Patrice, to see if he has any hesitation in his game. If that happens, he won't have anywhere to hide, as the entire Bruins bench will be on him.

There are of course a few other minor nuisances to keep an eye on, but "lappy" and *ucker are the two to key on tonight.
Predictions? OK, I'll go with *ucker picking up at least 2 minutes for slashing. I honestly don't expect a bout, but I can hope, right? So, I'll stand by the Lappy-Ference call.

I know of at least one unnamed blogger (ahem, king krej, ahem)who will probably be pulling for a Bruins win, ideally 4-3, with Sakic getting the hat trick. GO B's! - Kynch

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Final roster thoughts

Well, cut down day has come and gone. So now we know who we've got to start the season (barring anything crazy, like a last minute trade...which keeps being a hot rumor). This was to be a "no surprises" post, but that changed in a hurry. Once I saw that Sobotka has been assigned to Providence. I really was caught off guard by that one. As surprising as it would have been if it happened yesterday, I am STUNNED by it happening today. Why basically tell him he made the team, then ship him down the next day? Only reason I can see is, perhaps there are other moves coming? Possibly a 2 for 1 trade (or more), so Chiarelli may have had to clear a spot to accommodate that deal? Interesting for sure. Sobotka is a classic example of a guy getting caught in a numbers crunch. Kid had an amazing playoff last year, and quickly became a fan favorite. And it's hard not to root for an undersized kid that plays such a physical style. His skill level is also impressive. Apparently the knock against him is, he's a natural center. And the B's have a lot of them. His downfall is that he isn't as good (supposedly) playing the wing, especially the left side, where he'd probably have to go to make the team. Also, not having to clear waivers was the last straw in his bid to stay. Hate to see him go down, but I guess playing a big role in Providence is better than watching from the press box in Boston. He'll be back fairly soon, I'm sure.

Anyway, as far as the rest of the moves, nothing shocking there. Good guy Jeremy Reich will be missed, but he was redundant with Thorton around. Reich will be keeping an eye out for the kids on the Pro-B's, so that's a good thing as well. Keep working hard Reicher, you'll probably be back in Boston eventually yourself. I was beyond happy to see Schaefer get waived. By all accounts he's a good guy, so you hate wish ill will on him. But lets be honest. He was an unmitigated disaster in a Bruins uniform. A career role player, he came here and was supposed to be a top line wing? Poor experiment which didn't last long. Even when shuffled down to his natural third or fourth line slot....he did nothing. Stepped it up in the playoffs, but too little too late. Even more discouraging was his play in camp this year. In the face of a pack of hungry rookies, he never put up a fight for his job. He was given every opportunity, but just didn't seem interested in seizing it. Julien again had him riding with Savard and Ryder in the last Pre-season game. Schaefer's response? A stunning ZERO shots, ZERO hits and ZERO take-aways. Not a guy that screams "competitor". Full props to Chilly for admitting the mistake and eating his contract to send him down. Under the former regime(s), that never would have happened. If you made that much money, you automatically made the big club. Good to see the B's brass do everything they can to put the best players out there, regardless of contracts. And yes, the much maligned Jeremy Jacobs has to be given kudos on this as well. At some point, he had to approve of paying a minor leaguer over $2M this year (and probably half of that after they buy him out next year).

Sending Nate Thompson down didn't surprise me, since I've honestly never been all that enamoured with his game. But the brass seemed to really like him, and he did wear the C in Providence last year. Only surprising thing about it was, pretty much everyone knew the Islanders would claim him off waivers. So, would it have been wise to try & trade him there, even for a pick? Not sure what the thought process was there. I assume everyone knew he wasn't making the big club, so they'd try to claim him off waivers instead of giving up a pick. Takes two to tango as they say, and if Chilly couldn't find a partner, we can't blame him.

So for today, this is our line-up. As I've mentioned, I'm impressed with their depth this year, at least up front. The defense can be scary. Ference & Alberts are both prone to the big give-away in their own end. Hnidy isn't exactly fleet of foot, but has a good veteran presence and plays with an edge. Stuart is a very steady guy back there, and another really physical kid. Opponents won't be feeling real good about hanging around in the corner with him on the ice. He played every game last year, and got better as the season went on. I can't see why he can't continue to progress. Kid has a nice future ahead of him. Ward is bound to miss some time with injury. He plays a physical game, and blocks a ton of shots. Tough to keep that aging body healthy with that recipe.Wideman.....oh, Wideman...Which Dennis Wideman will show up this year? Hopefully it's the one that started coming around mid-season last year. He simplified his game, and limited those "river boat gambler" plays that got him in so much trouble earlier on. With luck, he plays up to the expectations the hefty raise he earned warrants. If not, he'll hear it early and often from the boo-birds at the Garden. Chara is a given. freed from the "no fighting" order imposed on him by Dave Lewis (I throw up in my mouth a little every time I type that name), Chara has once again become an intimidating force behind the blue line. As much as I wince watching him trying to play pucks in his skates, or keeping it in at the offensive line, he is a dominant presence back there. The one guy a thin group of D can absolutely not afford to lose.

So all in all, I really like the make-up of this team. Terrific mix of veterans and youngsters. If they can all get on the same page, they can do big things this year (at least as compared to recent years....I'm not predicting a Cup just yet). Montreal will NOT enjoy the same regular season success they did last year, I will say that.

Puck drops on the season in just over 24 hours. Will it be a season to remember, or another heart breaker? We'll find out soon enough. DROP THE PUCK! - Kynch

Monday, October 6, 2008

Why all the haters?

Here's something that has been baffling me for a long time. Now, it's aggravating me. Why all the "hating" on Tim Thomas? If you talk to enough Bruins fans, you're sure to find more than a few that completely disrespect Timmy. Online, it's even worse. I'm constantly amazed at how many B's fans are STILL looking for Thomas to be dethroned as the #1. Worse, Most of the talk centers around Manny Fernandez. Excuse me, but...are you @!#$% kidding me!? Thomas has been this team's MVP for three years now. He was an ALL-Star last year. He finished the season with a .921 save %, he got a "bad" team to the playoffs. That .921 save% ranked him 4th in the NHL, and he played more games (57) than all but JS Giguere (58) among those in the top 4. Dan Ellis, at .924 led the league, but played in only 44 games. Ty Conklin was 2nd at .923, but he only played in 33 games. Marc-Andre Fleury tied Thomas in save %, but only appeared in 35 games. Conklin & Fleury played for the Penguins....a team that dominates in puck possesion. So generally speaking, they face fewer quality shots than a team like Boston. Same with Giggy, and to a lesser extent, same deal in Nashville (although the Preds had a young group of D, so Ellis was called upon to carry them for stretches.
All stats aside, the one thing the Timmy haters keep coming back to is: style. They don't think he "looks" like a #1 NHL goalie. Funny, when Hasek was winning Vezina's, nobody really complained that he was flopping all over the place. When he did it, Thomas critics will say, it was because he was relying on his incredible instincts and athletecism. If Thomas does it, they'll counter, it clearly means he was out of position and was just lucky to make the stop. I don't get it. Funny thing is, these are BRUINS fans, not some blind Canadien fan that thinks everyone NOT in the CH is an abomination. Manny backers talk about how he just looks so in control out there. He has better technique (and they all talk like Bob Essensa should be looking over his shoulder, as clearly they're more qualified to tell you who is "better"). I don't claim to know the ins & outs of being an NHL goalie. Couldn't even begin to break it down in any kind of detail. But I also know how to judge a good goalie. It's a very complicated formula, so I need you all to bear with me here for a minute. OK, here it is...... does he keep the damn puck out of his net? I don't care if he comes out in a monkey outfit juggling 3 pucks while riding a uni-cycle. If he keeps the puck out of his net, I'm happy. Why do so many people care what Thomas "looks like" out there? He GETS THE JOB DONE. And he does it back-stopping a team that has tons of trouble scoring goals. So he plays under pressure all the time, knowing if he gives up 3, he probably won't get the win. The other thing about Timmy is, his teammates LOVE the guy. No way to quantify it, but his teammates just seem to feed off of his "battling" style of play. And they play that same way in front of him. His OBVIOUS effort out there is contagious. Hard to slack off when you see your goalie busting his arse to keep you in it.
But enough about hating Thomas. Why the love-fest for Fernandez? I don't "hate" the guy, but why do people want to see him take over as the number 1? Based on what? Certainly can't be based on the tiny sample size we have of him in Boston. That would be crazy. In those limited appearances, he's looked awful. Oh, but he was hurt last year you say. Exactly. He was hurt the year before that too (don't get me started on giving a big money deal to damaged goods). Fernandez came into camp eager to get as much ice time as possible, to shake off the rust. Then promptly injures his thumb in warm-ups. Not a big deal, but is it a sign that this is just one of those unfortunate "injury prone" guys? I think so. So fine, we won't look at his time in Boston as our barometer. Time was, he was a quality NHL goalie playing in Minnesota. Wait, where was that again? Minny? As in, the biggest defensive minded, trapping team the league has ever seen? OK, so lets look at his time there. His closest comparable season to Thomas last year would be the '05-'06 season. He played 58 games and had a .919 save%. Pretty close to Timmy's numbers LAST YEAR. Now, call me crazy, but I believe it would be "easier" to put up save% numbers on a full blown, experienced trapping team. Thomas did the same basically (slightly better, but why quibble?) behind a team that had yet another new coach/system, tons of young players and a defense that most B's fans spent the year throwing remotes through their TV over. And Thomas comes into the year healthy, and convinced of it. Manny may or may not be 100% physically ready. But there has to be some doubt in his mind.
I'm sorry, but given the stats, the intangibles, the health and the over all play of both players, I'm going with Thomas all day long, until he proves to me he can't do it. Thomas makes about a quarter of what Fernandez does, and it has to piss him off to know that, and to know that he's out-played him yet again in camp, but nobody has named him the starter yet. If Manny didn't have that huge contract, there wouldn't even be a debate. He'd be gone. traded, waived, demoted....whatever. But when you carry a $4.85 M cap hit, you get the benefit of the doubt. Sadly, it comes at the detriment of Thomas, and Tukka Rask (who also would make more than Thomas by the way). The bottom line for me is, I don't want to see either of these guys fail. I want to see every player wearing the Spoked B to have incredible seasons. That only helps us get to where we want to be. So hey, maybe a few months from now I'll be proven wrong, and Manny will be a Vezina candidate. I'd love to see it. I just won't be holding my breath if that's ok with you.
Go B's - Kynch

Sunday, October 5, 2008

...And the waiting begins


They say training camps are the toughest part of a players season. After all, you're doing more skating than you do in any practices during the year (unless of course you piss of the coach so bad with a lack of effort that he breaks out the "bag skate" tactic and you don't see a puck all day). You play a series of "meaningless" games, in unusual places. You're never really in any kind of routine. Just a seemingly endless cycle of practice, travel and playing scrimmages. So on the surface, you'd think everyone in Black & Gold would be thrilled to have the day off Monday, after winning their final pre-season game Sunday (4-3 in a SO). But how do you feel if you're Blake Wheeler, Jeremy Reich, Vladimir Sobotka, Matt Hunwick, Petteri Nokelainen, Peter Schaeffer, Nate Thompson.....or a host of other "bubble players"? My guess is you'd be pretty damn anxious, nervous, frustrated and stressed. At this point, after all their hard work, they're suddenly helpless. There is nothing more any of them can do to prove they belong on the NHL roster on opening night. Some, Wheeler especially, have done everything you could ask of them and more. Yet even after proving they can play at the NHL level, they are far from assured a spot in Boston. Such is life in the salary cap era. Sometimes playing like a multi-million dollar player isn't enough, if you also happen to have a contract to match. Wheeler, in all likelyhood would never earn his $2.85M this year because of how heavily weighted it is with bonuses. But this year, the full POTENTIAL value of the contract counts againt the cap. Wheels was quoted as saying if he could go back in time, he'd reduce his cap hit by half. I wish he could.
Complicating matters more, is the fact that some players have to clear waivers before going to Providence while others don't. Just another reason that a more deserving player may end up being demoted, at least for the short term. Julien is adamant that the best possible team will be on the ice opening night, regardless of contract status etc. Noble plan, but I don't know that it is possible, barring a trade before they have to submit their 23 man roster (also a complicated mess, as any players who must clear waivers have to be submitted by Tuesday. All others have to be submitted to the league office by 3PM EST on Wednesday). So the bubble players have all day Monday to sit idly and await their fate. Not something pro athletes like, I'm sure.
With all of these factors to consider, I don't envy Chiarelli and his staff. Granted, it's a good problem to have, to a point. It shows a lot of depth, which is great. It also shows that there may be a few over inflated contracts that Chilly would probably like to have off his books (yes Schaeffer & Fernandez, I'm looking at you!). Schaeffer is the easier of the two to get off the books. He can be sent down, and if he's claimed off waivers, great. He's off your books for good. If he doesn't get claimed, he's still off the cap (although yo're still paying him) and you allow a youngster to make the team. Manny is a tougher deal all together. He makes a ton of money, and hasn't been able to stay healthy for a couple years now. Barring something drastic, we'll be seeing Fernandez as Tim Thomas' backup as we head to the regular season. This hurts big time as far as cap hit, and almost as much in talent. Tukka Rask has proven he's ready to make the step up. He was Boston's best goalie in camp, but will open in Providence.
I was going to post my hoped for roster for Thursday night, but honestly.....it's giving me an ice cream headache trying to decipher who deserves to stay, who can't stay because of cap hits.... good luck Chilly. Sleepless nights ahead for you. Go B's - Kynch