Saturday, October 24, 2009

B's NewsFlash! - B's announce new Mass Lottery game?!

Yeah these are great and all but is there any chance we can scratch off a 5 or 6 game win streak from any of these...?

Mass State Lottery and B's Team Up for Instant Ticket - Game will raise millions for taxpayers; award season tickets for a decade.

BOSTON, MA - The Massachusetts State Lottery and the Boston Bruins have teamed up to create an exciting new instant game that will raise millions for Bay State communities while entertaining and exciting fans with incredible prizes, including Season Tickets for a Decade.

Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill and Boston Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs announced the partnership at a 3 p.m. press conference today at the The Sports Museum. The Boston Bruins instant game is expected to sell more than $50 million in tickets and raise more than $9.6 million for Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns. "We believe the Boston Bruins game is the perfect icing on our instant-ticket cake," said Treasurer Cahill, chairman the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission. “Once again, a Boston sports franchise has stepped up to help raise revenue for police officers, fire fighters, teachers and other essential municipal services.”The Boston Bruins instant game features never-before available prizes for New England hockey fans such as 300 Suite Experiences and 90 Bench Experiences during home games.
The $2 game, which goes on sale tomorrow at 7,500 Lottery agents, also features authentic Bruins gear and collectibles."We are certainly pleased to be partnering with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on this instant ticket which is set to generate $9.6 million for Massachusetts's cities and towns," said Jeremy Jacobs, Boston Bruins owner, Chairman and CEO, Delaware North Companies and Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors. “I would like to personally thank Treasurer Cahill for his diligence and foresight in bringing this partnership to life."Lottery players will win more than $32 million in cash prizes over the life of the game, including 25 top prizes of $25,000. One lucky player will take home the incredible grand prize of Boston Bruins Season tickets for a decade.
“The unique prizes available in this game will create enormous excitement among our players and Bruins fans," Lottery Executive Director Mark Cavanagh said. "We’re confident the Boston Bruins game will quickly become a favorite among our customers."Since creating the sports-themed Lottery game market in 2006, the Massachusetts State Lottery has sold $838 million in sports-themed tickets and raised $115 million for Massachusetts cities and towns. The Lottery expects to surpass the $1 billion mark in sports-themed ticket sales later this fiscal year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Game day vs Nashville 10/21/09


So, heard any interesting Bruins news lately? Thank God they hand out programs before the games now, we'll need one tonight! No Lucic or Savard for the next four to six weeks. Kobasew is now deep in the woods of Minnesota. So that means the B's take the ice tonight with the likes of Paille, Sobotka, Marchand and Whitfield in the lineup. Oh joy! While I am looking forward to seeing what the kids can do, I was really hoping it wouldn't be under such dire circumstances.

So, with all this craziness going around, is it time to hit the panic button? Yes. And no. Obviously losing two key players like Savvy and Lucic is never a good thing. Any team that loses it's leading scorer is never better than when he's in the lineup. Ditto for losing your most fearsome physical presence. In the very short term, the B's may be able to overcome the loss of Savard easier than the loss of Lucic. Only reason I say that is because of the games the B's have coming up. Nashville tonight, and especially Philly tomorrow (In Philadelphia). Nashville frankly isn't a very good team. So their whole plan will be to attack attack attack. Play with an edge and try to outwork teams. No Looch on the ice limits Boston's ability to counter that. And Philly is one of the biggest, most physical teams in the league. They're off to a slow start, so they will look to bang their way out if it. Sobotka, Marchand and to a lesser extent are all game, but may not have the size to stand up to it.
The longer term cause for panic is clearly the loss of Savard. He's been the Bruins leading scorer the last three years, and was once again leading the pack. If he's out on the longer side of his estimated recovery, the B's could struggle mightily to score enough. We'll see what the new guys can chip in, but the bulk of that burden will fall on Krecji (who has yet to get untracked) and Bergeron.

But here is where I see a slight glimmer of hope among this doom and gloom. The Bruins biggest problem so far has been effort and lack of commitment. When slapped in the face by reality the way they have been (starting off with Chiarelli's trading of Kobasew, which was clearly meant as a wake up call), to losing two key forwards, sometimes teams rally around each other in that situation. At least in the short term, perhaps they can find within themselves that something extra. They may just be able to play above their heads a little, and hang in the race in the East long enough for the walking wounded to get healthy. Remember, finishing first overall isn't the goal. Just make the playoffs, and be healthy and playing well going into the tournament. Again, are the Bruins a better team than they were a few days ago? Hardly. But we're about to see what kind of character these guys have. If it's of a high enough quality, they may just be able to use this as a good thing. A rallying point that could turn their season around, as hard as that is to believe. And who knows? Maybe having a rested Lucic and Savard back in the line sometime in late November or December could pay off in the spring.

So there you have it, my best attempt at keeping the lid on the old panic button. Check back in a week or two, and I could have a totally different perspective.

What about tonight? Nashville comes in loser of their last five (one in OT) after winning their first two. Jason Arnott is out of the lineup,seriously limiting their offense....which has only scored a grand total of ten goals to begin with. In my mind, even with Boston in the condition it is, they should be able to play good enough D to scratch out a win tonight...possibly a lopsided win if the kids enthusiasm rubs off on the team as a whole.

Rough stuff preview:
Amazingly, the Preds have had only one fighting major this season, and it wasn't Jordin Tootoo. But with both teams desperately needing some positive mojo, I fully expect to see the gloves come off at least once. On the Nashville side, look for Tootoo to be the aggressor. He always is. Love him or hate him, you always get max effort from that guy. Sometimes he crosses the line, in which case someone will have to answer. He can not be allowed to run around and dictate pace to the Bruins. Settle him down early, and he WILL take a dumb retaliatory penalty at some point. Wade Belak is another guy that has been know to mix it up a bit. A veteran like him could see the opportunity of a hobbled Bruins team as just the right time to provide his mates a spark. And just for fun, maybe somebody will whack former Canadien Francis Boullion around just for old time's sake.
The question is, with Lucic out, and Thornton apparently ailing (missing the last two days of practice), who handles the rough stuff for the B's? Mark Stuart would be my guy to watch. Stuart is quietly establishing himself as a very solid veteran back there. I think he's one guy that will pick up the torch and move this thing forward. He's a young guy, but I see "quiet leader" in him, big time. He could be the one to dole out Tootoo's beating (if it's even possible to "win" against that guy.). and in the wishful thinking column, Chara had better make his presence felt out there. Doesn't have to be a fight....although I won't complain. But he HAS to start throwing people around and being the bully out there. Intimidation goes a long way in the NHL, and there is no more intimidating force in the league than a ticked off Chara.

I intentionally held off on posting my score prediction until the end today. As always, score predictions are always just what I "feel" at that moment. And while I've been typing, I've talked myself into a big B's win. I say, 5-1 Bruins. Sobotka, Chara, Bergeron, PAILLE and Wheeler all score for the good guys.
Step away from the panic button all,at least for a few days.
Go B's-Kynch

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kobasew Traded


Yesterday, obviously fed up with the lackluster play of his team, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli pulled the trigger on a trade. Sending sometimes fan favorite, sometimes whipping boy, Chuck Kobasew to Minnesota where he will join another favorite former Bruin, Shane Hnidy (I suspect a certain die hard Bruin fan I know may start keeping tabs on the Wild because of those two. Yes A.H., I'm looking at you). For whatever reason, many Bruins fans were "down" of Kobasew since he arrived in Boston. I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. He was always a very hard working guy. He was very physical, playing much larger than his diminutive frame would suggest. And he was a consistent 20 goal scorer. Not sure what people expected of him, but I will miss him.

All that being said, I think this may have been a good trade by Chiarelli. As much as I hate to see Chucky gone, the deal makes a lot of sense. In the short term, a move like this is sure to get the rest of the rosters attention. Chilly has sent a clear message that the effort hasn't been good enough, and he isn't going to sit back and hope they start playing better.
Also, this allows the B's to bring up a couple kids in Sobotka and Marchand (Lucic being placed on Long term IR frees up an additional spot for at least ten games). With that window of opportunity, these two can have a legitimate chance to prove they belong in the NHL and can fill the role Kobasew filled (and then some?), with a smaller cap hit. For all of the Sobotka apologists who feel that he was getting screwed by the B's, here is his chance. (Why everyone feels like he "deserved" to be on the roster out of camp the last couple years, is a whole other story which I won't get into now). Sobotka should finally get a chance to play with top six forwards, as opposed to the fourth line role for which he was ill suited.
Marchand will also get a chance to play on the third line, which could use his feistiness and occasional goal scoring pop.
If the Bruins players need any explanation for what management sees wrong with their play, all they have to do is look at the players they called up. Sobotka, Marchand and Lefevbre all are "nasty" to one degree or another. We all have memories of Sobotka throwing his (tiny) body around and being a thorn in Montreal's side during the playoffs two years ago. Marchand comes advertised as a classic "agitator". And Lefevbre is always looking for a dance partner out there and will throw his body around at will. If there is one common theme in what ails the Bruins, it's that they haven't been NEARLY as physical or "hard to play against" as they were last year. The word from the top is, THIS ENDS NOW. Or more changes will come, be sure of it.

But this move also is largely about the long term. Kobasew was due to make $2.3M this year and next. Freeing up that cap space can do a few different things for the B's. first, they can use some of those draft picks they're stock piling to pick up an impact player, either at the trade deadline (when you'd only be assuming a pro-rated portion of his cap hit), or sooner if the call ups don't pan out as planned. That is sort of the "near long-term" I guess. Longer term, Chiarelli has several key free agents to think about next year. Does he want to bring Savard back? I would think so. I also think Savvy wants to come back, and *may* take a slight discount to stay here. But the B's Cap situation isn't good, so clearing some space is vital. They also have Blake Wheeler among others to tie up. So, it's never too early to start planning.
The other rumor I've been hearing is, Chilly is clearing space to make a bigger splash. Did someone say Ilya Kovulchuk? While the thought of him reuniting with Savard is enough to make any goal starved B's fan salivate, I'm not sure it could happen. Kovulchuk makes $7.5 this year, and is a UFA as of July 1st. Only way I could see Chilly going after him is if he could get him signed long term. And frankly, I don't know that they can afford to do that. beyond that, word is he's content in Atlanta and may want to return there, as long as they keep playing well and going in the right direction. Adding even more wrenches in the Bruins gears (of they are after him), the Russian League (KHL) is supposedly ready to offer an enormous deal to the big winger should he not resign with the Thrashers.

The bottom line is, Chilly has sent a very loud, very clear message to his troops. he and Julien have a clear game plan for how the team needs to play. And if the current players aren't up to that committment, he'll find guys who are. We all know the B's window for doing big things in the post-season is closing rapidly. Chilly, I think, is showing the proper level of urgency. Let's just hope his troops get to that level ASAP.

I am on the record as saying I thought this team would struggle out of the gate this year. I also said I wasn't convinced they were any kind of lock to make the Cup Finals. Well, the losses of guys like Axelsson, Yelle, Ward and nidy are really starting to show up in my opinion. The Penalty Kill thus far has been an absolute joke. Axe and Yelle were both great penalty killers. And teh D has been "scrambly" all season. Lots of running around, seemingly totally disorganized. Ward and Hnidy were the poster boys for calm back there. The loss of Ward especially to me is a huge loss. He was not only steady on the back end, he was also a leader in the locker room. At this point, I wonder who, if anyone, is actually "leading" this team. Sooner or later a player or two has to step up and say enough is enough, then do something about it. I would hope that guy would be Chara, but he has been nearly invisible thus far. He isn't playing terribly, but he also isn't making much of an impact on the game. Again, not good enough.
Goaltending? Please....don't even get me started on the goalie play. While the team clearly has been playing poorly in front of them, neither has seized the moment and won them a game. Thomas in particular just looks "off". Don't get me wrong, I'm not baling anyone in particular, and I'm not giving up on him. I have faith that he'll be fine (although, as I said in the preseason, not back to Vezina form).

The Bruins have a lot of questions that need to be answered. Chiarelli just posed another one to his team. Do you REALLY want to be a great team?
Time for the boys to answer on the ice. I'm sick of hearing the lip service in every interview. Put up, and shut up.
Go B's-Kynch

Friday, October 16, 2009

Game day @ Dallas 10/16


The Bruins finally play their first road game of the season tonight in Dallas. Is this the perfect confluence of events for the struggling Black & Gold? I think we can all agree that perhaps getting out of town for a few days is a good thing for the team. They get to get away from the pressure and high expectations of the locals for a bit. The road sometimes has a way of simplifying team's games and curing some of the ills that plague them on home ice. I certainly think time away from the Garden could be a boon to their morale.
And let's not forget, it was just last November 1st that the '08-'09 B's were sort of limping along through a fairly ordinary season. Then Dallas, and the likes of Steve Ott (forever to remembered as "Brave Steve" thanks to a famous Jack Edwards rant) and Sean Avery came to town. That pair teamed up to sound the wake up bell that launched the Bruins on their impressive regular season run. But alas, Avery is now plying his trade in new York. Ott is out of the lineup with an oblique injury. Shane Hnidy, forever in Matt Niskanen's nightmares, is now lost in the wilderness of Minnesota. So where does that leave us? Who, if anyone, provides the spark to get the B's out of their early funk? Ah, I thought you'd never ask.....

Before I go on, I feel the need to explain (yet again) how big of a fan of this guy I have been for a LONG time. I started hoping and praying he would one day be a Bruin by the time he was 15 or 16 years old. Nobody wants to see this kid succeed more than me. But thus far this season I have been supremely disappointed. Yes folks, this is Milan Lucic I'm talking about.
The good news is, I still believe that Milan cares enough to do what it takes to right his ship, which will go a long way towards fixing much of what is wrong with the Bruins thus far. Lucic needs to play with emotion, effort and sheer force of will to be a productive NHL player. Thus far, he has shown none of that, barring one lopsided beat down of Jay Harrison of the Hurricanes (which just happens to be the only game in which the Bruins looked even slightly interested in playing hockey....coincidence?). The performance Lucic put on in the last game was simply embarrassing. He was invisible on the ice, except for glaringly failing to even provide a token back-check on Colorado's second goal. He has zero goals and three assists. Which honestly, I can live with at this point of the season. The stat that is unacceptable to me is shots. Playing on the top line with one of the best set-up men in the league in Marc Savard, Lucic has managed to land a whopping four shots on net. For comparison, fourth line winger Shawn Thornton has cranked off eleven shots on net. Thornton, by the way, plays roughly six fewer minutes per game than Lucic. And has Steve Begin as his Center, not Savard (even Begin has 8 shots, doubling Lucic's output. I know, I know...shots on goal don't tell the whole story. I get it. But sometimes it is in fact a very good indicator of one thing. Effort. Thornton and begin get shots because they WORK for them. They go to the net hard. They pay a price. Thus far Lucic, he of the 6'4, 220lb frame has been content to exist on the margins. Playing an outside, away from the net game ill suited to his skill set. Our big, bad "Loochamotive" as Kevin Paul Dupont likes to call him has so far existed strictly on the spur line, yet to find his way to the main track to the ultimate destination.

I'm sure his many protectors on the internet will respond by pointing out that he leads the team in hits. Fair enough. Through five games he does lead with 14 hits (Begin is second with 11). But lets be honest. How many of those do you remember? I don't expect him to run people through the glass every night. What I do expect though, are the type of hits that separate a defenseman from the puck (if not his wits) once in awhile. And while we're on the honesty kick here, keep in mind he's so far been the beneficiary of home cooking. Hits are such an arbitrary stat, that they are almost meaningless. Especially when you consider the home player nearly always gets the benefit of the doubt. Any body contact at all, is called a "hit" for the home team, and never mentioned for the visitor.

But, it isn't all doom and gloom on the Lucic front (I refuse to call him "Looch" until he starts playing like "Looch" again). As much as I disapproved of his antics at the final whistle Saturday, at least he showed SOME emotion. Maybe, just maybe, he's decided he's had enough of this kinder gentler version of himself. Maybe the luster of that shiny new multi-million dollar deal has worn off. I think it has, and I expect to see the old Lucic we all knew and loved return with a vengeance. If that happens, trust me, the rest of the team will respond in kind. He may still be a kid, but he is a natural leader. His actions invariably promote a response. If he's going hard, so does the team. If he takes the night off, well, the boys play along. Thornton can't be the only guy to constantly try motivating the team with big hit or a fight (after a few of those "let's get going" bouts, it comes off as fake, and loses it's rallying cry effectiveness).

So what do I expect of the weekend? First and foremost, Lucic is back. Beyond that, I think we'll see the rest of the team playing a much better brand of hockey. Julien has had a few days to get some solid teaching done, and he's shown in the past that he uses that time very well. He broke out the whip early on, but has since backed off a bit opting to teach, not punish. He is the master at mixing those two styles.

PREDICTIONS:
Boston wins tonight, 4-1. Although Dallas is fresh off a 6-0 stomping of Nashville, they aren't a dominant team. Lucic, Chara, Ryder and Begin score.

ROUGH STUFF PREVIEW:
With the agitator Ott on the shelf, there is no natural "enemy" for the Bruins to target. But Kris Barch (who last year had to try to clean up Ott's mess) is still around, and is the most likely candidate to drop the gloves. Look for he and Thornton to renew acquaintances as some point.
But as hard as I expect Lucic to go tonight, the thought of him picking up a fighting major isn't out of the question. But who could his partner be? In an absolute REACH, I'm calling for the big defenseman Mark Fistric to pick up his first fighting major in the NHL. At 6'3, 228lbs he has the size. Not sure it ends well for Mr. Fistric, but hey...if you have "FIST" in your name and your that big, eventually you HAVE to fight don't you?

So there you have it. Sorry for the Lucic rant. Trust me, it pains me to write it. And I know he isn't the whole story when it comes to the B's shaky start. But he just may be the whole story in turning things around....or at least a very good starting point.
Go B's-Kynch

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

B's NewsFlash! - Looch reup's with B's for 3 More Years!

As posted on boston.com at 4:55 pm via Chad Finn;

Milan Lucic, the Bruins' popular and bruising third-year forward, has agreed to a three-year extension with the club through the 2012-13 season, according to the team.
According to TSN, the deal is worth $12.25 million, giving Lucic a $4,083,333 annual cap hit. Lucic will still be a restricted free agent at the end of the contract.
"I'm not surprised," said one agent. "I thought it would be between $4 and $4.5. He brings intangibles far beyond his numbers."


Lucic and Chiarelli will hold a press conference to discuss the deal immediately following the team’s 10:30 a.m. practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington tomorrow.

The 21-year-old Lucic set career highs in all major statistical categories last season, scoring 17 goals and adding 25 assists for 42 points. An aggressive checker and an outstanding fighter, he also tallied 136 penalty minutes and finished with a +17 rating. Last Saturday, Lucic bloodied Carolina's Jay Harrison in a second-period bout. In the preseason, Lucic opened up Ottawa tough guy Chris Neil.

During the 2008-09 postseason, the 6-foot-3-inch, 228-pound winger had three goals and six assists and a team best +12 plus/minus rating in 10 games.
In his rookie year in 2007-08, Lucic registered 8-19=27 totals and 89 penalty minutes in 77 contests. Lucic earned the team’s “Seventh Player Award” for his efforts, an award voted on by the fans and given to the Bruin who performs above and beyond expectations. He alsocontributed two goals in seven postseason games.

Lucic has skated in both games during the 2009-10 season and has one assist and five penalty minutes.

He was originally drafted by the Bruins in the second round (50th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Friday, October 2, 2009

One more quick look back with Respect & Admiration to The King!


I'm leaving last night's Bruins preseason er' regular season opener for Kynch or Frank N to comment on. Because for me I'd rather take this chance on the KBBK to send my truly heartfelt thanks, congratulations and much respect to one of all time favorite athletes, the One & Only True King! #19, Burnaby Joe Sakic!

What a journey... From B.C., out to Swift Current and then on to Quebec City as the #15 pick in the 87' Draft, initially wearing #88 before becoming the "Captain" and donning his familiar Ol' #19. Finally sniff at the Playoffs in 93' with the Diques but before too long it was on to Denver to win the first of his two Stanley Cups in 96' while winning the Conn Smyth that season...World Championships, World Cups and Olympic Gold as a member of Team Canada in 02', oh yeah he was named that tourney's MVP too... 13 NHL All Star games & an MVP Award in 04'... A Hart, a Byng, a Pearson Award... 625 regular season goals... 1016 regular season assists... 84 Playoff goals... 8 of which were O.T. game winners, which is the most by one player in NHL Playoff history... I could and very much wanted this to go on and on and on but...
In the end the two things I'll remember most about "Quote less Joe" was that when the money was on the line and his team needed a lift "The King" always seemed to come through. For me though the single most thing that I think truly showed us who "Super Joe" as a person and man, was his totally unselfish and class act at the end of 91' Playoffs when upon his captaining the Av's to Cup win #2, he graciously accepted the trophy from commissioner Bettmen but rather than be the first player to lift the award over his head as is his right as the team captain, he rather chose to simply turn and hand Lord Stanley over to Raymond Jean to raise above his head first as a sign of respect for a true hockey legend and warrior who had waited way too long for the honor that night in Denver. Truly a classy move and a frozen moment in time that will never fade...

So with all that "thanks again" Joe for making the Diques' (some what) watchable in those long and challenging years. "Thanks" for those two great Cup wins you led the Av's to and for even all those tension filled, almost playoff chases....
Most of all though "thank you" Joe for rewarding my faith in you as "My Guy" out there all those seasons and for all the exhilaration and fun that I truly got in watching you play and which I'll never forget! Good luck and good health to you and your family in the future. Thank you & congratulations again...

"Love Live The King!" - KingJoe19

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Game Day vs Washington, 10/1


And so it begins. With a chill in the air, and optimism on the rise, the Bruins get back to work tonight at The Garden. And this year's opener is no cake-walk. Facing the explosive Capitals right out the gate can be a daunting task. Not sure I'd want to try handling a fresh, excited Ovechkin right away. But that is the task at hand. I think the boys are up to it.

The B's lineup:
Not an awful lot of changes from last year, which all in all is a good thing. The lines looks to shape up like this:

Lucic-Savard-Sturm
Wheeler-Krejci-Ryder
Recchi-Bergeron-Kobasew
Thornton-Begin-Bitz

I love the balance of all four lines. Any one of them can score, and the fourth line has the potential to cause havoc every shift.

The D pairs should be:
Chara-Morris
Ference-Wideman
Stuart-Hunwick

Yikes. I'm pretty sure I like the top pairing just fine......partly because, I'm pretty sure even I wouldn't look totally out of place playing with Big Z.
The second pairing scares daylights out of me. That has Keystone Cops written all over it. They'll be fine in the offensive end (unless Wideman decides to go on one of famous skates through the countryside and/or insist on using his big slap shot, which he has yet to hit the net with). But in their own zone, I don't like them at all together. Especially against a big, physical and highly skilled team like the Caps. This could get ugly for those two, quick.
I actually think I might prefer the third pairing over the Wideman/Ference duo. Stuart as established himself as a fairly reliable stay-at-home defender, while adding a bit of offense to his game as he's gone along. Hunwick, while he didn't have a great camp, has tremendous offensive upside and can skate with anyone. Defensively, he has some work to do, but isn't awful by any means. All in all, a more than serviceable #6 defenseman.

The Caps:
When looking at the Caps roster, it's pretty obvious where it all starts. Alex Ovechkin, love him or hate him, is the most dynamic player in the NHL today. His mix of speed, skill, size and fearlessness puts him on another level. We all know he has a booming shot, and soft hands. He also has a serious nasty streak, and goes out of his way to initiate contact. But he's not alone. Washington is loaded with, big, talented players. Newly acquired Mike Knuble (a long time favorite in these parts) should be a big boost to their net-front presence. The Caps, for all their size, have never been great at going to the net. The veteran Knuble will fill that void nicely (although they do it differently, Recchi will fill the same role for Boston). Add in talented youngsters like Backstrom and Semin, and you have lots of star power. Old friend Michael Nylander has lost a bot of his magic, but can still be a lethal play maker.
On D, former B's prospect Shaone Morrison and offensive specialist Mike Green anchor the Caps back end. One of my personal favorites, Milan Lucic may not play tonight, as I've heard rumors of him being scratched. Don't know why he wouldn't dress, but he's turned himself into a decent, stay at home defender. Perhaps the Caps want more speed on their back end to match up with Boston?


THE GAME PLAN:
For Boston it really is simple. Keep Ovechkin in check. Basically what that means is, don't let him dominate the game. He may score, he usually does, but if you hold him to one goal as opposed to a hat trick, you have a shot. Boston will have to match Washington's skill level, while at the same time winning the physical battles. As big as OV and his mates are, several of them (especially OV) tend to get very distracted by constant punishment. Lay it on early and often, and you get them out of their game.

ROUGH STUFF PREVIEW:
Washington's one true tough guy is John Erskine. A very big body (6'4, 220lbs), Erskine is an inconsistent fighter. One night he looks like a heavyweight contender. The next, some smallish "nobody" gives him all he can handle. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Thornton- Erskine throw down at some point, as both guys do a good job of protecting their star players. So, go after OV, expect Big John to come calling. Go after, say, Savard, expect Thornton to step in. But, Boston's biggest advantage is, they have a roster full of guys who will do that, and do it well. With Lucic riding shotgun with Savvy, it isn't easy to get away with anything on the B's top pivot. And guys like Stuart, Kobasew and Ference (among a slew of others) have all proven they'll gladly defend a teammate. Washington lost their hired gun, when Brashear defected to the Rangers. Of their 40 fights last year, Brash had 14of them. Next highest total was a mere 5 (Bradley & Erskine each had 5)
So, here's hoping we get off to a busy start with the fisticuffs!

Predictions:
I say Boston wins, 3-2. Thomas is called on to make some spectacular saves, and he delivers. Wheeler, Bergeron and Chara are your scorers.

Thornton and Erskine drop the gloves in a decent bout.
OV gets booed for carrying on after a brutal Chara hit.
Go B's-Kynch

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hibernation ends tomorrow!


Get your last bit of rest while you can folks, because hibernation ENDS in just over 24 hours. The long grind (condensed this year because of the Olympics) kicks off with a home, yes...a HOME opener for a change, against the Washington Ovechkin's. So, what does the year ahead hold for us? Truth is, nobody knows. Not the so-called "experts" that have penciled in the Bruins anywhere from Stanley Cup Champs, to a first round loser. And surely not the legion of Cup starved fans that see this as the latest in a string of "THE YEAR". Certainly, this is the most legitimate shot the Bruins have had at a Stanley Cup since they ran into the buzzsaw that was the Edmonton Oilers back in 1990.

What's my take? As always, I'd say the truth may lie somewhere in between the two extremes mentioned above. Although, I'd have to lean heavily towards the Stanley Cup champ side of the picks. Why? Glad you asked:
Why I am very optimistic about the B's this season (this could get long, bear with me).
1)Claude Julien- The reigning Jack Adams winner has gained my complete and total trust. I trust his systems. I trust his ability to motivate. And most importantly, I trust his ability to keep his players focused on the the task at hand, and not at "the big picture". As he said during media day, if you think about the big picture of winning a Cup, "it's too hard". Rather, as he said, he's planning on keeping his team "in their bubble". Let the rest of the media, fans and pathetic bloggers proclaim them the next big thing. CJ and his staff will insulate the team from that and make sure they focus on the day to day business of winning hockey games. Again, as he stated, making the playoffs is the first priority. Matching or exceeding last year's point total isn't the objective. Make the tourny, and anything can happen. I'd rather see them playing well going in as a 4th seed than playing poorly as the 1 seed.

2)A (finally) healthy Bergeron-Patrice Bergeron has looked amazing in pre-season. Not only does he have his weight back to normal, but he looks quicker this year than I remember him ever being. Mind and body both seem to be operating at a much quicker pace. Add that speed boost to his intelligent, physical game and you have all the makings of the best third line center in the NHL. Most teams, he'd be at least a #2 center. That shows the depth this team has....speaking of which,

3)Depth- While I'm not sold on the B's depth along the blue line, there is no mistaking their strength up front. Despite losing their leading goal scorer in Phil Kessel (you may have heard something about him being traded to Toronto?), the B's still return six twenty goal scorers from last year. Chara had 19, while Lucic chipped in with 17 of his own. It's certainly logical to expect Lucic to add to his goal total, to a minimum of 20, with 25+ not out of the question playing as Savard's left wing. If Marco Sturm manages to stay healthy (no small task for the hard luck winger), he could potentially replace a very large percentage of Kessel's goal producstion, riding in Kess's old spot as RW on the top line. Remember, it was this time last year when Cam Neely was asked who he thought could/should be the B's next 50 goal scorer. While he stopped short of saying Marco could pot 50, he did say he expected him to be around the 40G plateau. Now, the knee injury may have robbed him of a step or two, and affect his production. But if he's anywhere near healthy, he should easily be a 30G man with Savard feeding him the puck. Somebody say Savard?

4)Mark Savard- It's been well documented lately that Savvy will be highly motivated by his Team Canada snub. I agree completely. Here is a guy who has been among the leading scorers the last few years, but has also worked incredibly hard to become a dependable two-way player. Not even getting an invite to a camp where close to FIFTY players were offered the chance to play for their country has got to sting. As an additional source of motivation, he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1st. While he consistently stated he loves playing here, the fact is, he's playing for a contract. Be it in Boston, or elsewhere. Having a top flight player on a contract year is almost never a bad thing. Plus, I believe it when he talks about being hungry to win a Cup, and he knows this could be his last, best chance to win.

5)Goaltending- Tim Thomas is fresh off a Vezina winning season. As his reward, he was signed to a lucrative, multi-year deal. Now, his detractors (and amzingly, they are legion), will say there is no way he can duplicate his performace of a year ago. In fact, many will say that he wasn't even that good last year (all evidence to the contrary be damned). Those same nay-sayers, along with more than a few of his supporters, wonder how he'll respond to the first bit of job/financial security he's ever known. Me? I think he uses those slights and doubters to his advantage, just as he's always done. The book of his career has been a long one, and I'm sure he doesn't want it to end with one fairytale "fluke" season. I look for Tim-may to have another strong year between the pipes. Maybe not another Vezina level year, but one most goalies would kill for nonetheless.
last season, Thomas also won the Jennings Trophy along with Manny Fernandez for compiling the best team GAA in the NHL. With Manny now gone (and still looking for employment), the Tukka Rask era officially begins. While he'll be Thomas's backup, he should earn plenty of ice time as the season goes on. somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 starts isn't out of the question, especially considering how compacted the schedule is this year. Having a top notch backup goalie could be more important this year than it ever has. Hopefully Tukka is able to respond well to sporadic duty instead of being "the guy" like he's accustomed to.

6)The Kids Are Alright?- At some point in '09-'10, the B's will need to get help from some of their youth, as every successful team does. With the likes of Bitz, Sobotka, Hamill, Marchand, Boychuk and even Lefevbre (for those "rough & tumble games) or Lehtonen, they seem well positioned to survive short term injuries. I stand by my earlier statements that Bitz may just be a 20 goal scorer, despite his lackluster pre-season. Sobotka, while also having a slow start to camp, may yet emerge as the SOB we all knew and loved from two years ago. He'll be battling all year just to get in the lineup, but I expect him to make some sort of impact once he does.

7)Chara- That's Norris winning Chara, folks. While his ability as a leader has been questioned by some fans and media, it never seems to come from players. Everyone in "the room" and on the ice knows who the Captain is, and when he speaks, they listen. More importantly, when he DOES, they follow. Big Z has the skill, size and nastiness to change the flow of a game in an instant. Whether it's the booming slapper from the point, the sneaky back door tap in on the PP (how a 6'9 monster can "sneak" around out there still amazes me), a bone crunching hit or even the odd fight, Z always seems to find a way to impact the outcome for the B's. There may be no more feared player in the league than our lovable giant. And in the NHL, intimidation still works.

WHY I AM A BIT CONCERNED ABOUT THIS SEASON
1)Career years?- With so many players having spectacular season's last year, I can't help but wonder....is that as good as they get? Can we realistically expect Thomas to be that good again? (as mentioned above, I think he SHOULD at least be close, but who knows?). Is Chara capable of playing at a Norris winning level again? Does Mark Recchi really have a shot at potting 20 again, after turning 42 this february? Can Kobasew stay healthy enough to again top the 20 goal mark?
What about the kids? Even though it's hard to imagine youngsters having "career years" only one or two years into their careers, it isn't unprecedented (see: Hodge Jr, Ken). Is krejci really as good as he looked last year (ok, I believe yes). Can Blake Wheeler repeat his 20G plus season, and stay fresh for the whole year? Is it fair to just assume, as I have, that Lucic will score upwards of 20-25 goals, playing the style he does (and with his considerable lack of "hands"?).
The bottom line is, last season was an incredible ride, where everything just seemed to work. Is it faor to assume there will be such a smooth sailing ship this time around? in '08-'09 every time there was an injury, somebody filled in perfectly and they never missed a beat. That is an amazing accomplishment, and one that is very difficult to repeat. It will be interesting to see how these things pan out.

2)The Defense- The B's back line is anchored by one of the game's best in Zdeno Chara. After that frankly, it gets a little iffy for me. Chara's new partner, at least to start the season, will be newcomer Derek Morris. While I've made it clear that I was never a huge fan of his, I'm willing to take a wait and see approach. He's saying all the right things so far and seems to be reborn now that he has a solid coach, team and system in place. Now it's all up to him. He's 31 years old.....if he doesn't excel this season, can we safely stop using the word "potential" in every reference to him? Maybe he is just what he is, or has been his whole career. A nice above average defenseman, but no star. Playing with the Captain should maximize his "potential". Take the ball and run with it Derek.
Mark Stuart has quitly become a very very good player. His steady, hard rock style has endeared him to many hard core B's fans, but the casual observer tends to forget about him. With the losses of Ward and Hnidy, Stuart's thumping style will be ever more important.
The rest of the D, frankly, scares me to death. Hunwick has tons of potential, but mainly as an offensive specialist. He's adequate in his own end, but has a long way to go before being considered a solid two-way defenseman.
Wideman? The proverbial Box Of Chocolates....you just never know what you're gonna get with him. When he decides to take aquick half-slap or wrist shot from the point he is very good. But more often than not, he opts for the huge windup slapper....which is either blocked, or misses the net by 15 feet. In his own end, he looks like he's having a seizure half the time. Hopefully he's mauring into a more calm, steady defender. He has all the physical tools, he just has to get his mind in synch with his body.
Ference? Oh boy.....I'll start with the on-ice stuff. I really liked Ference when he was in Calgary. And now, I'm starting to think I'd really like him there again. If you read my comments about Wideman, well....Ference is pretty much a poor man's Wideman. Decent offensive player, woefully inept in his own end. He makes Wides look like Ray Bourque back there. While I do appreciate the fact that he plays a fairly physical game, he just doesnt have the body to withstand that style. (and he has a fair amount of bad luck, witness thebroken ankle last year).
So, I said I'd start with the on-ice stuff....which must mean there are some off-ice issues. I'm sure by now we've all heard about Ference's involvement in the firing of former NHLPA president Paul Kelly. I'll withold comment on that for now, but I will comment on how it affects the team. When veteran Mark Recchi comes out publicly and says Ference's actions, and subsequent comments about them, have caused tension in the B's locker room, you know there is a problem. The greatest asset the B's enjoyed in their run to the top of the Eastern Conference was chemistry. I firmly believe that hockey is the one sport where chemistry plays a huge role. If every man on that bench doesn't feel like the guy next to him is willing to "be there" for him, and support him in EVERYTHING, I think it does water down the on ice performance, if only a little. While I have faith in Julien's ability to keep his team focused, there are limits to what he can do, especially when it comes to a labor disagreement among his players. This has the potential to get nasty, and the B's can't afford any distraction. Chiarelli has to hope that some of the young defensemen develop quickly, so he can start working the phones on a deal for Andrew.

3)Kessel-Or, more precisely, what happens with the draft picks acqired in the Kessel deal? While conventional logic dictates that a draft pick doesn't help you "now", in this case the just might. Come trade deadline time, or before, Chilly could use those picks as a bargaining chip to pick up whatever missing piece they may identify. Assuming it's a deadline deal, the cap implications shouldn't be too bad, since they're only paying a prorated portion of that players salary.
On the flip side, and I don't think this would happen gieven Chiarelli's penchant for standing pat on deadline day, I don't want to see him make a move with those picks simply for the sake of doing "something". Over reacting and over paying for a rental, just because you have "extra" draft picks is an unwise move.

4)Injuries- it's the elephant in the room, and something nobody likes to consider.....namely because there isn't a damn thing you can do about it. But if major injuries strike the B's, how will they cope? Depending on who they lose, when and for how long, the answer varies. I think overall they have enough depth to survive short term injuries to all players, and short term for most. But if any of the "big names" (which I refuse to name here, as I knock on wood with crossed fingers) go down for any length of time, they're in trouble. Again, that is the case with every team, but is why it's very difficult to handicap favorites for the Cup. fate has a way of intervening at all the wrong times.

OK THEN, SO MAKE A PREDICTION YOU SAY?
Fine, here are my off the cuff predictions for this year's Boston Bruins.
Individual:
Tim Thomas has another stellar year, but does not win the Vezina, but does win his second consecutive Jennings (this time sharing with Rask, who plays a much larger role in winning it than Fernandez did)

Chara-Does not repeat as the Norris winner, losing to sentimental favorite Nick Lidstrom, after Lidstrom announces retirement. Z still has a monster year, thus getting screwed out of his award.

Phil who?-Boston doesn't finish in the top two in goals scored again (washington and Pittsburgh fill the net at a dizzying pace), but has even more 20 goal scorers than last year. All the returning players with 20 equal their production from last year, with the possible expception of Kobasew. Injuries slow his production. But Bergeron,Sturm, Lucic and Bitz all join the 20 goal club.


TEAM:
The B's finish first in the Northeast with 102 points.
They end up as the number 3 seed in the East (Pittsburgh and Philly are 1-2).

They play and defeat Pittsburgh in the Conference Finals.

In the Stanley Cup Finals, they square off against the darlings of the Western Conference, Chicago Blackhawks. In a thrilling Original Six Finals (which the NHL fails to capitalize on from a marketing perspective, yet again), Boston defeats the Wings in six games, on home ice. Your faithful blogger disappears to parts unknown for months long celebration, follow the trail of smashed Guinness glasses and shouts of "holy &*#%, I can't BELIEVE they actually WON A CUP" to find me. All while wishing Al Pedersen could have been a part of it all.

And all of that, in some form or another, starts in just over 24hrs. Rest up my friends, this is sure to be one hell of a ride.

Go B's-Kynch

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The NHL 2009/2010 Edition: "Can You Dig IT...?"

Well can you?!

With just one (long) short week to go until official drop of the puck on what for me will be Year #2 A.T.A. (After the Av's) I figured I get back into the swing of the KBBK thing again. With this in mind and sending prop's out to Cyrus from NYC" the upcoming start of 2009/2010 edition of the NHL Regular Season is looking more and more like one we CAN ALL DIG given the amount of "events" we have already slotted for this upcoming season.

So with that I give the newly anointed (by me by the way..) first ever, "KingKrej's Top 10!"
With this one belonging to the topic of:
"The Top 10 Things to Look Forward to this NHL Season"
1) October 1st, 2009 - This is it with four games dropping the puck including your Boston Bruins vs. the Washington Ovies at the Garden as well as the Colorado Av's playing host the San Jose (Nurse) Sharks with the main highlight being the raising of King Joe Sakic's #19 to the Pepsi Center rafters!
2) October 2nd, 2009 - See's the NHL's Great European Vacation 09' kicking off with games between Detroit Red Wings vs the St. Louis Blues in Stockholm & the Chicago Blackhawks vs the Florida Panthers in Helsinki. Yikes and these babies count...

3) November 9th, 2009- The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto welcomes four new members as Steve Yzerman, The Golden Brett (Hull), U.S. born and breed D-Man, Brian Leetch and Lou Lamoriello all enter the Mall er' Hall!
4) January 1st, 2010 - It's the Winter Classic, Boston style as the Broounze play host to the Philly Flyers in what I'm sure will be a warm and cozy Fenway Park (I already have the Sambuca flasked and waiting for this one)

5) February 15th to February 28th, 2010 - The NHL shuts down for two weeks as the World's best converge on Vancouver B.C. for the title of Olympic Champions!

6) March 1st, 2010 - NHL league play resumes but the real news should be:

7) March 3rd, 2010- Two days after the restart of things from the Olympic break comes everyone's favorite Holiday aka NHL Trade Deadline Day! With that much down time (two plus weeks) and the fact that all rosters will be frozen over that time, there's sure to be a FLURRY (no not Theo...) of activity and action... Love it!
8) April 11th, 2010 - The NHL's Regular Season wraps and then

9) April 13th, 2010 - The best tourney in ALL OF SPORTS, The NHL Playoffs begin as teams start their long climb and battle for 16 Wins and The Cup!

10) All Season long - Records could be (will be) a falling as some of the record's up for grabs include;
Devil's goalie Marty Brodeur needs on 3 shutouts to pass Terry Sawchuk's current record of 103.
When Wing's goalie Chris Osgood (seriously...) records 11th win of the year he'll become the 10th netminder in NHL HISTORY to reach 400 wins.
Similarly the Oilers (another team already Nik?) Nikolai Khabibulin only needs 1 more win for 300 in his career.
Another Nicki (Lidstrom) also of the Wings needs only 3 points to become the 7th Defensemen in NHL history to reach 1000 total.
If the seemingly "Ageless Duck" Teemu Selanne can pot 21 goals this season, he'll become the 18th NHLer and just the 3rd Euro born player (after Jari Kurri and Jaromir Jagr) to score 600 goals in a career.
Others that are close to marks include: Brendan Shanahan (12 more goals to tie Lucky Luc Robitaille for 10th All Time) By the way is it me or will it be somewhat crazy to think that when the Devils break out their original Red & Green colored throwback jersey's sometime this season that they really will be "throwbacks" for Shanahan as these will be the same looking uni's he started his career back in the 80's?!

I really could go on and on and on these nuggets but I'll spare you (for now) and wrap up my 1st ever KingKrej Top 10 list! See you all that the rinks & Let's Go Broounze! - KingKrej46

Friday, September 18, 2009

Breaking news-Kessell Traded



From bostonbruins.com:


Bruins receive two first round picks, one second round selection from Toronto

Friday, 09.18.2009 / 10:06 PM / News
Boston Bruins
BOSTON, MA – Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has acquired first round picks in 2010 and 2011 and a second round pick in 2010 from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Phil Kessel. All three picks will be Toronto’s natural selections in the respective round and draft year. Chiarelli will host a press conference on Saturday, September 19 at 11:00 a.m. in the Will McDonough Press Room at the TD Garden to discuss the transaction. Members of the media can enter the TD Garden as they would on a normal gameday through the Media/Back Security Entrance. Take the elevator to the third floor and proceed straight down the corridor until you reach the end. The Will McDonough Press Room will be on your left at the end of the corridor. Kessel has appeared in 222 regular season games in the NHL, all with the Bruins, and posted 66-60=126 totals. The 21-year-old was originally selected by the Bruins in the first round (5th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
So, the thrill is gone.... My take on this deal? Chiarelli had no choice. Kessel and his agent have already stated that they were done negotiating with Boston. They have also made it clear that Toronto was the desired destination. This pretty much forced Chilly's hand, and frankly, I'm surprised he got as good a deal for him as he did. While I am a big fan of Kessell's game, I just couldn't justify the reported demands for $5.5M per year, for a minimum of five years. Bluntly out, he just hadn't earned that yet. He's a young kid who has scored a grand total of 66 NHL goals. That isn't to say he isn't a terrific player, or to suggest that he won't continue to progress. But it's just frankly too much money, considering the Cap situation. And to complicate matters more, the Bruins have several important players reaching RFA status next season (including cult hero Milan Lucic). Committing that kind of dough to Kess now could seriously hamper Chilly's ability to ice a competitive team in years to come. Personally, I wish Phil no ill will. As much as he took criticism for being "soft", I've always said he showed toughness in other ways. Hell, he rebounded damn quick from cancer. he played through injuries in this years playoffs. I appreciate all the thrills he gave us in his regrettably short time in a B's uniform. But in the cold hard business that is pro sports, this is a good deal. With the likes of Wheeler progressing, Sturm back from injury, Bergeron finally 100% healthy and my projected emergence of a Byron Bitz, I think the B's will have more than enough players available to pick up the slack. Sure, you always miss a potential 40 goal scorer. They don't grow on trees. But this team has also showed that their depth is their greatest asset. Kessel, for all of his flash and dash was basically a one trick pony. He could score, but only in a very limited way. He wasn't going to crash the net like Sturm or Lucic. He wasn't going to camp out front for tips like Recchi. He was, and is, very very good at snapping off a hard wrister off the wing. But unless he gets the puck in open space, in stride...he is very limited. It will be interesting to see how he does in Toronto. Without a guy like Savard setting him up with "sweet Feeds" (thanks, Jack Edwards), I expect him to make less of a splash than some may think. Add the pressure of playing in Toronto, where he will be looked at as the savior of their offensive woes, and it could be a tough go for the kid. And lets be honest, he isn't exactly going to be playing with a lot of skilled guys. I mean...Jason Allison has a shot at making that team! Kess is too good to not score, but most will come in garbage time after his Leafs are long out of it I suspect. Draft picks in any sport are a roll of the dice, none more so than in hockey. But these picks, if nothing else, give Chiarelli and his staff a lot of flexibility. He can either keep them, and pray Toronto has a miserable season (a decent possibility), or he can use one or more of them as chips in a bigger trade down the road. Not sure who the leading draft prospects are now, but trust me, I'll be dialing into that as the season progresses. So bottom line is, hate to see you go Phil. You've been a great, entertaining player to watch (defensive lapses not withstanding). I wish you well, while at the same time hoping your new team goes 0-82 this year. The first overall pick next spring would be fantastic. Go B's-Kynch

State Of The Bruins event a success


Another year, another resounding success at the annual "State Of The Bruins" season ticket holder event. This year must have been easier for the Jacobs clan than years past. Nothing like a little success and a promising future to call off the dogs a little. As much as he isn't a great public speaker, he acquitted himself nicely last night. He was deferential when it came to player personnel questions, and gave polite "non-answers" to questions he couldn't get too deeply involved in.
Charlie Jacobs (as usual, noticeably annoyed and envious of the overwhelming fan reaction to Cam Neely) had very little to offer. He touched on the Winter Classic, and mentioned that there are several plans in the works for events to be staged around the main event. Possibly some youth hockey games, and with luck, an alumni event of some sort. These events would be in late December, leading up to and beyond Christmas sometime. As far as the alumni event, a different source told me that she personally heard from Dennis Leary that he *may* be reviving his celebrity all-star team to participate. Makes sense, as I'm sure he'd love to play at Fenway as much as anyone, and it would be a huge fund raising opportunity for his charity as well as the Bruins Foundation.
Chiarelli was his usual long-winded self (after the first question, I was worried there would be no time for any others). Although he flat out said, on a couple occasions, "I'm just not going to tell you that", you never got the impression he was evading. Certainly there are many things he can't, or won't discuss openly. Mainly, contract or trade negotiations. He was very professional in how he dealt with the lone Kessell question, calling him a great player and a great person. One can only wonder how Harry Sinden would have reacted to this setting. Perhaps he'd tell Kessell to learn to like Poutine?

Coach Julien (who got several resounding rounds of applause, which was great to see) spoke of the challenges that lay ahead. Mainly that they can talk playoffs all they want, but they have to get there first. Focusing on the job at hand, while living up to heightened expectations, will be the most difficult hurdle for him and his team. With that said, he expects the team to equal if not exceed last year's results. As he said, there is only one ultimate goal and they'll do everything they can to get there. He also spoke absolutely glowingly of Byron Bitz. He stressed that most people don't seem to realize how much skill this kid has. yes, he's a big body, but Julien stressed he is a very very skilled hockey player as well. Loved hearing that, as I've often said I see Bitz being a 20+ goal scorer in this league.

Neely, not surprisingly was the star attraction (although Looch was a very close second). He addressed the style of player the Bruins are looking for, and the things he thinks that makes Boston a desirable destination for Free Agents. He stressed that the kind of player Boston wants, is the kind of guy that WANTS to be a BRUIN. Someone that appreciates pulling that sweater every night and playing the way Boston fans "expect to see, want to see and deserve to see". He also detailed the design elements of the Winter Classic jersey, which he apparently had a very large hand in designing. More on that later.

As far as the players present, Bergeron, Lucic and Morris were all on the panel. First thing that jumps out at you is, Bergy's English has gotten REALLY good since he came here! But seriously, both he and Lucic seemed a bit uncomfortable at first, but warmed to the task quickly. Especially when the many children in attendance had a chance to ask their questions. You know, the hard hitting one like "what do you eat for breakfast on game days?" Let's just say, I wouldn't be surprised if Looch is soon to get an endorsement deal for"Honey Nut Cheerios".
Derek Morris made a very good first impression. He seemed very relaxed and poised. He seemed to get a good laugh out of the massive "Looooch" cheers that went up whenever Lucic was mentioned, or said a word. His line of the night came when a youngster asked which team, other than the Bruins, would the players like to play for. Lucic (wisely, if not predictably) said "no other team". Bergeron echoed the statement. So when they looked at Morris for his comment, he laughed and said flatly "well, I've already played for every other team". Well played. If he plays in his own zone as slickly as he played that, we'll be in great shape.

The finale to the evening was the unveiling of the Winter Classic jersey, as modeled by David Krecji in the photo above. The reveal started with a video presentation, using the B's Christmas themed video (if you've been to games in December, you'll recognize the black & white screen, with snow flakes falling around the Bear logo with the Trans Siberian Orchestra playing). The video was updated with snippets from the Press Conference from Fenway when they announced the game. All the while, artificial snow fell from the rafters. A smoke machine kicked on, and the strobe lights flashed. As the smoke slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) cleared, there was Krecji in full Winter Classic uniform. I'm telling you, the kid works a runway almost as well as he works a two on one. I wasn't sold on the designs I had seen leaked, but after getting a chance to see the full uni, up close, I really like it. Neely went through the details, pointing out why each element was included. It does a great job of incorporating design pieces from many years of Bruins history. The thought that went into it was quite impressive.
Oh, and apparently the Bruins new advertising tag line this season is "Big and bad are back". It beats "it's called Bruins" anyway...although, if they don't do well.....well, insert joke here.

Anyway, that's it for today. Regular season kicks off in 13 days. WOW, summer flew by! Hopefully, next summer will be even shorter. Playing into late June would sure help that.
Go B's-Kynch

Thursday, September 17, 2009

B's NewsBlast! New Winter Classic Uni's LEAKED!


Good scoop Boys! KBBK sends "Mad Props" to Jeff V. (who worked up the above rending) over at the Boston Sports Network blog(thebostonsportsnetwork@wordpress.com) & the the team over at ICETHETICS (http://www.icethetics.info/) for "breaking the ice" on this one, just prior to the B's official unveiling these new Winter Classic jersey's over at the Garden tonight. I'm loving them by the way & can't wait to see my #46 Krejci one worked up...! Thanks again men & Go Broounze! - Kingkrej46

Monday, September 14, 2009

B's NewsBlast! - Season opener doubtful for (King) Krejci

The latest from Fluto Shinzawa from the Boston Globe Staff as posted on boston.com;

Season opener doubtful for Krejci

David Krejci, who participated in part of the first session this morning, is progressing with his rehab, but believes that realistically, he won't be ready for the season opener on Oct. 1.

"Seventeen days? Two-and-a-half weeks? I don't know," said Krejci. "I'll say there might be a little chance. Not a big one, but a little one. Maybe 10 percent. I can't say there's zero percent, because I feel pretty good on the ice. I don't know how it's going to feel one week from now. I think I probably won't be ready, but there's a chance."

Krejci said he feels pain in his hip when he performs crossovers to the right. Krejci has been informed that such pain is normal.

B's NewsBlast! - Kess (finally) on the move?

*The latest according to Kevin Paul Dupont from the Globe & boston.com;

*Photo credit to the Golbe & Getty Images

Kiss Kessel goodbye?

Just hours before the Bruins skated yesterday at the Garden for their first bona fide training camp workout, the ever-active rumor mill in Toronto had the Maple Leafs tabling the best offer yet for Boston free agent Phil Kessel. To wit: for a pair of first-round picks and one second-round pick, Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli could be free at last from his summer ’09 migraine, and the 21-year-old Kessel could call southern Ontario home.

“Partially true,’’ said one source familiar with the talks between the teams, which have been going on for more than two weeks. “Toronto also wants a third-rounder along with Kessel.’’
Meanwhile, Kessel’s agent, Wade Arnott, attended the Leafs’ workout in Toronto. No, he did not have Kessel at his elbow, wearing a raincoat, skimmer, and sunglasses. But Arnott was spotted talking to GM Brian Burke’s top lieutenant, Dave Nonis, who now has the charge of handling the trade talks with Chiarelli.

For the moment, and possibly well on into November, Kessel holds the cards as a restricted free agent. If Chiarelli were to make a deal with, say, the Predators, Nashville GM David Poile would only give up assets if he is assured Kessel will sign in Tune Town. Likewise, the Leafs won’t flip picks and/or players Boston’s way unless Chiarelli already has inked Kessel to a sign-and-trade.
All signs point to Kessel preferring the Leafs over the Predators, which, if nothing else, proves he did learn something during his year at the University of Minnesota. Decent team, the Preds, but there is only one Toronto (unless Jim Balsillie succeeds in divvying up the hockey mecca).
The dynamic of the Kessel proceedings will shift as late November approaches because Kessel, per the collective bargaining agreement, cannot play in the NHL this season unless he has signed a deal by Dec. 1. But with Toronto so aggressively in the hunt, it’s doubtful it will play out that long. Clearly, Burke is trying to consummate a deal rather than extend Kessel an offer sheet, which had to be the context of the discussions between Chiarelli and Burke when they were spotted across from the Garden at The Four’s two weeks ago, according to a source inside the Canal St. eatery.

Asked yesterday if he cared to comment on the Kessel situation, Chiarelli said via email, “No, but thanks for asking.’’ Burke, reached via phone in Toronto last night, said, “The Maple Leafs cordially decline your request.’’ Everyone is just too polite for words, which makes your faithful scribe think the whole thing could get Bob Probert nasty in short order.
Chiarelli has what Burke wants, and Kessel’s agent already has informed the Bruins that he is done negotiating with the Spoked-B franchise. Both Kessel and Arnott have shot down that impasse, which was reported here first last week, but that’s only because they don’t want Kessel’s reputation in Boston to morph into what Dany Heatley’s became in Ottawa when he requested out over the summer (a wish that was granted Saturday when Heatley was dished to the Sharks).

When the summer began, Chiarelli said he would match any offer Kessel received. As the weeks went by, he amended that, saying he would match an offer “within reason.’’ Now, if he doesn’t cut a deal with Burke, who happens to be the GM in the city where Kessel wants to play, he is left vulnerable to the Leafs piling the cash high for the former first-round pick (No. 5, 2006), and the Bruins getting only a first-, second-, and third-rounder in return.

Long ago, the New York Rangers used an ugly offer sheet to try to hijack Joe Sakic away from Colorado. The overall deal was three years/$21 million, with $15 million up front as a signing bonus, followed by three years of salary at $2 million per. Toronto is the richest franchise in the Original 30, and easily could emulate the Sakic deal. For instance, if the Leafs were to pay Kessel $25 million over five years, they easily could afford to pay him $15 million up front and spread the salary out over five years. In less than 12 months, Kessel would pocket $17 million. That likely would not fit Chiarelli’s “within reason’’ standard. For now, unless there is some huge shift on both sides, Kessel is as good as gone. All that remains to be seen is what the Bruins get in return.

In the Boston front office, they’ve spent months warming to the idea that they can win without Kessel, and they are probably right, given that they have the Norris Trophy winner in Zdeno Chara and the Vezina Trophy winner in Tim Thomas. In the Boston cookbook, most of its tasty concoctions based on defensive ingredients, Kessel is viewed as that little sprig of parsley that makes the plate look better but really doesn’t factor into whether the meal is a true success.
Meanwhile, the Leafs are in rebuilding mode, with Burke eager, perhaps desperate, to infuse some legit scoring pop.

The Leafs’ offense is so thin they brought ex-Bruin Jason Allison to camp on an invite. Now 34, Allison hasn’t suited up for an NHL game since the spring of 2006. Get the idea why the Leafs are willing to pay a price for Kessel that Chiarelli & Co. deem absurd? A goal scorer by trade, with 66 on his career résumé, Kessel is poised for a pot of gold.

Friday, September 11, 2009

B's News Blast! What's up with Kess?

From Kevin Paul Dupont & the Boston Globe;

Sources: "Kessel doesn't plan to negotiate with Bruins"

Phil Kessel has made it clear that he doesn't intend to negotiate any longer with the Bruins, his Toronto-based agent in recent days informing the Boston front office that the right winger's priority instead is to sign a free-agent offer sheet with one of the league's 29 other teams.

All of which doesn't necessarily mean that Kessel's days in the Hub are numbered.

The Bruins, per CBA rules and guidelines, still reserve the right to match any offer sheet Kessel signs, and if they choose to match they are only prohibited from trading Kessel for the first year of his new deal.

''No comment,'' Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli responded via e-mail early this afternoon when asked about Kessel's latest stance on negotiations.

Kessel's agent, Wade Arnott, when contacted by the Globe earlier this week about his side's current negotiating stance, claimed the change in tactics wasn't true. But two sources familiar with the talks, which on Monday were proclaimed by Chiarelli to be at a ''philosophical impasse," confirmed the new passive-aggressive approach by the 21-year-old right winger.

This full article can be found thru Boston.com at-
http://www.boston.com/sports/hockey/bruins/extras/bruins_blog/2009/09/change_in_appro.html

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hibernation Is Over, We're Back!


Labor Day weekend in the States, there is a hint of Fall in the air, Captain's practices are underway....must be time to dust off the old blogger cap and get back into the swing of things. Yes folks, hockey season is pretty much upon us. Today I'm just going to do one of those annoying "random thoughts & observations"deals since I have so much to cover, and so little, um....ambition.

My season tickets are scheduled to arrive in about ten days. Honestly, is that not one of the great days on your sporting calendar? Nothing like opening that envelope, wondering what this years tickets will look like and finally getting your hands on those cherished possessions. I feel like a kid at Christmas. Except I paid for my own gift.....paid a LOT for my gift.

Speaking of paying a LOT.....what's with the Bruins blatantly gouging their fans this year? I understand, and greatly appreciate them holding the line on ticket prices for us Season Ticket Holders that renewed early. Trust me, paying last year's prices was a huge financial help for me. But why charge NEW STH's nearly 50% more than what existing STH's are paying? Example, a STH that renewed their $60 seat from last year, pays that same $60 this year. However, if you are a NEW STH, you'll be paying $87.50 for that same seat. $27.50 more than the guy next to you? Again, THANK YOU for rewarding your long time loyal fans. BUT I think a ten or fifteen dollar premium on top of our price would have been sufficient. They've gone fromw rewarding old STH's, to punishing new ones. I assume this is the culmination of the "Perfect Storm"; a good and hopefully improving team with expectations of making a strong Cup run. The Winter Classic coming to town (with guaranteed seats only for STH's, this is the main thrust behind the gouging, and the only reason IMO they're getting away with it)


Hopefully, there will be a downward correction next year.....then again, if they win the Cup, they can charge whatever they want and people will pay it. So I guess I hope to be paying more next year. Ugh.

Thrilled to see they extended Julien's contract today. He's only entering his third season in Boston, but already that feels like "stability" for a franchise that has had a revolving door on the coaches office in recent years. Claude has done a masterful job in his time here. Great to see the ownership step up and get him locked up prior to the start of the season.

On the other hand, not having the "Kessel situation" resolved yet is disconcerting. And I mean, extremely disconcerting. No matter which side of the "trade him/don't trade him" debate you're on, you have to be concerned that nothing has happened yet. Training camp opens this week, and I'd like to think they have some handle on their roster and salary cap situation as they enter camp. Personally, I'm of the mind set that they NEED Phil Kessel. Say what you will about him being "soft". But pure goal scorers like him don't grow on trees. And, since his playoff benching in '08, he has shown a penchant for scoring big goals in big games. The playoff atmosphere doesn't intimidate him. Would I like to see a touch more grit to his game? Sure. Maybe if he was as physical as a David Krejci, people would be satisfied. He doesn't need to run people over. The Bruins have plenty of those guys. What they don't have, beyond Kess, is a legit 40-50 goal threat with blazing, game-changing speed.


I've been swayed to an interesting and possibly controversial idea. If you really think about it, it would make a lot more sense for Boston to trade Marc Savard than Kessel. Savard is a brilliant play making center. And by no means do I "want" to lose him. His vision on the ice is second to none. I understand his value. But at the same time,he's considerably older than Kessel. He plays a position, where there is an obvious heir to his slot as #1 center (Krejci) and considerable depth (Bergeron as your #2 center isn't a bad thing). Plus, playmakers are generally easier to find than natural "finishers". Again, I love everything Savard brings to the table, I really do. And if I could think of another way to keep most of the team intact, AND sign Kessel long-term, I wouldn't even consider letting Savard go. But with the Cap situation being what it is, a deal for Savvy may be the best option (and, his value on the open market would be pretty high as well). Oh boy, I can see the flaming comments coming now.....

Is it just me, or is anyone else a little worried about the Bruins sudden lack of toughness on the blue line? Losing Hnidy, one of my favorites for his knack of picking the right time to hammer someone, hurts their toughness and depth. Losing Ward hurts considerably more. I understand he may be getting a little long in the tooth, but he is still a highly effective player. And brings a ton of physicality to a team. And a willingness and ability to block shots. Don't under estimate his role in the team's great goals against last year. Sure, Stuart and Chara are still around to provide most of the "thump" back there. And Ference (when healthy), will give as good as he gets most nights. But in general, a line up of Wideman, Ference, Morris, Hunwick/Boychuk isn't going to intimidate too many opposing forwards. I get the need for skilled guys back there to create offense, but I also know there is a need, especially in the playoffs, to be able to physically wear down the opposition. I just don't see that with the group they have. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I'm skeptical. Never been a huge Morris fan, but we'll see how it goes under the guidance and strict system of Julien. But honestly, Morris is 31 years old....and I keep hearing the word "potential" attached to his name. Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe this is as good as he's going to be? Never understood the infatuation with this guy.

I was however, pretty happy to see Mark Recchi coming back. A full year of his work ethic on display for all the B's youngsters could be invaluable. Not to mention, he showed last year that he still has plenty left in the tank and those great hands haven't left him yet.

So....all this brings me to my last, and possibly most controversial thought for the day. I don't know if it's just a case of trying to protect myself from yet another broken heart or what. But honestly, I don't think I'd pick the Bruins to make the Cup Finals this year, much less win it. I know, I know....they were the top team in the East last year. Which, truth be told, all seemed like a mirage to me all year. I knew they were good, but I always had a hard time believing they were THAT good. They got career years from a LOT of guys. Besides, they went from 8th to first in one year, right? Why is it crazy to think that some other team can't move up even a couple spots? Defending Cup Champs Pittsburgh could very well be improved this year. I fully expect Washington to be better (Knuble will be a big addition). Carolina showed what they are capable of. Philly should be decent.....the list goes on and on. Getting out of the Eastern Conference is going to be a death struggle. Now, I'm not saying the Bruins CAN'T win it all. But at the same time, I find all of this "we're winning the Cup this year" talk a bit premature. Last year they excelled as underdogs, flying under the radar. Let's see how they perform as the favorites. Trust me, nobody WANTS this team to win it all more than I do. But at the same time, I despise blind pom-pom waving optimism. See the team for what it is. And in my eyes, they're contenders for sure. A virtual lock to make the Finals? Um, no. I see the East as fairly wide open this year, with Boston, Pitt and Washington as the leading contenders (in no particular order). Lots can happen between now and the spring. Hopefully, it's all the good stuff that happens here in the Hub of Hockey.

So that's it for today folks. I've probably pissed a few people off for suggesting a Savard trade, and not predicting the Bruins will go 82-0 and waltz to a Cup win. Please don't take any of that for a lack of faith, hope and optimism. A little does of reality never hurt anyone. Go B's-Kynch


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

HOT & HUMID got you down? Nah cuz NHL Hockey's Coming to Fenway Park!

It's almost a month later but it's still fun to think about & AMAZING to look at;

NEW YORK (July 15, 2009) – The National Hockey League's annual outdoor game will return on New Year’s Day with the Boston Bruins hosting the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park in the 2010 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic.
The Eastern Conference rivals will face-off at 1 p.m., ET in the classic, which received the SportsBusiness Journal “Sports Event of the Year” award for its inaugural edition in 2008.“A unique event deserves a unique venue, and we are delighted the Bruins and Flyers will renew their rivalry with the ‘Green Monster’ providing the backdrop,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We welcome our fans, our teams, our sponsors and the great city of Boston to this annual celebration of our sport.”
Bridgestone brand will return as the title sponsor, showcasing its status as the Official Tire of the NHL® and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) to a broadening viewing audience. Last season’s 2009 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic attracted 5.6 million North American TV viewers and gathered more than 750,000 visitors on NHL.com. The 2009 event at Chicago’s Wrigley Field drew 41,818 to the historic ballpark, with demand for tickets exceeding 240,000.
The full story for this can be found via this link from bostonbruins.com: http://bruins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=449801

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Hardware Haul

Wow, as far as consolation prizes go, the Bruins couldn't have done much better. In an incredible and unlikely sweep, every Bruins nominated for an NHL award won. And honestly, I can't argue with any of them. All very well deserved, and I'm pleased to see the voters make the right call.

Norris- Zdeno Chara looked as surprised as anyone in the room when his name was called. The big man is always a modest guy but you really got the feeling he was humbled by the honor. His respect for Lidstrom is well documented, and I'm sure it means a lot to Z to win the award while the classy Swede is still playing.
People knock Chara very often (as I've been known to on occasion), but simply put, he is by far the premiere shut-down DEFENDER in the game today. He puts up reasonable offensive numbers, which gets him into the Norris discussion every year. But it's his suffocating defensive play that separated him from the rest of the nominees. Lidstrom, clearly, is an excellent defensive defenseman. But not quite as intimidating a presence as Chara.
Mike Green, while a potent offensive threat who did great things, shouldn't even be in the conversation. A one-dimensional defenseman, who frankly, is terrible in his own end, should never be up for the same award as Lidstrom or Chara. Once again, it may be time to start up the "they need a special award for offensive defensemen" debate. But I disagree. Voters just need to do what they did this year: select the premiere all-around defenseman.

The scary thing about Chara winning this award is, I get the feeling he's going to work extra hard now. His pride won't allow him to rest on his laurels. He'll be motivated now by proving he is worthy of the honor, and will do everything he can to retain it.


Jack Adams- Claude Julien is as good as it gets. A class act, intelligent, media-wise and damn near a mind reader, he has all the tools to milk the most from his roster. He came to Boston with a well-earned reputation of a defensive minded coach. While that is fair, it sells him far short. He looked at the Bruins roster last year and quickly realized they weren't going to win too many games playing a wide open style. So he implemented a defense-first system and forced everyone, from star to fourth liner to adhere to it.
Fast forward to this season, and we see some major, yet somehow subtle changes. The defensive theory was still strongly in place, yet he allowed a bit more creativity to creep in. He encouraged his defensemen to get more involved in the offense. What he did was essentially show trust in his players. They showed him they could play a sound defensive game, so he eased off the reigns a little, and let his horses run. And what do you know? Those horses ended up scoring the second most goals in the league (Detroit) and giving up fewer than anyone else. His ability to recognize that he had players willing and able to make the sacrifice on the defensive side, allowed the Bruins to break out for an unexpected offensive bonanza.
Beyond the X's and O's, Julien was his usual masterful self when it came to motivating players. Be it by a sly comment to the media (while never mentioning names or specifics), or by a benching, demotion or any number of tricks. He always seemed to strike the right note at the right time (sure, I wish he sat Wheeler sooner in the playoffs, but I guess I can't hate him for loyalty). And it wasn't all negative-reinforcement. Far from it. He had a knack of knowing when the guys either needed a day off, or if a "fun" practice was in order. He earned himself a lot of respect among his players the last few years.
Finally, he won the award he's been earning since he came to Boston.

Jennings- Not a lot you can say about this one, as there was no suspense. This goes to the goaltending tandem of the team with the lowest GAA. Since we knew going in who it was, it wasn't exactly compelling TV. But it was nice to see a couple of Bruins up there, picking up some hardware. I was also pleased for Manny Fernandez, who, through no fault of his own just hasn't had much to brag about as a Bruin. To his credit, through all the dark days as a Bruin, he was a class act. Never once did he complain about not playing enough. He never whined when he was close to returning, and went out of his way to say that he had no problem backing up Tim Thomas since he, and the team were going so well.

Vezina- Honestly, has there been a bigger feel-good story winner of any NHL award in recent memory? Tim Thomas, Joe Everyman, walks away with one of sports most prized individual awards. His is a tale of perseverance, struggle, determination and an iron will to prove he belongs. Never getting a whiff of the NHL until he was 30 years old, he's an inspiration to everyone who's ever been told "you can't" or "you aren't good enough". Deep down he knew he was, he just needed someone to give him the chance to prove it.
The amazing thing to me is, people still doubt him (especially north of the border, in particular in Quebec Province). All Thomas has done since coming to Boston (after clearing waivers, when all 29 other teams passed on him for a song) is stop the puck and give his team a chance to win every night. Last I checked, that was the job description. Stop pucks. Nowhere in the rule book does it say a goalie has to be 6' 3" of technical precision. There are many many goalies around the league who "look" much more like a Vezina winner. But Tim Thomas is the only one who IS the Vezina winner. I guess some people would rather their goalie looks great than plays great. Maybe it's me, but any time Timmy "flops" "dives" or "scrambles" around to make a stop, it's a thing of beauty. And for the record, Thomas did WAY less "flopping" this year than he ever has. But hey, jealous haters will never see that.

Through it all, Thomas has handled it the way he always does. With class, a sense of humor and humility. That didn't change when he was handed the trophy in Vegas. Instead, he had the line of the night when he said "I've been more worried about getting my name on a roster" ...than on the Vezina. He's never come out and said "I told you so", nor will he. But be sure, he feels it. And he'll continue to use that chip on his shoulder to his advantage. He knows the haters out there will scoff at his Vezina as some sort of fluke, or "gift". That's fine. They only fuel his desire to be the best he can be.

So while the Bruins fell FAR short of the ultimate prize, they at least garnered plenty of respect around the league. Now the hard part.......living up to the heightened expectations. Honestly, at this point I'm still not sure how I feel about their chances next year. But that's for a later post. For now, all good vibes and a sincere Congratulations go out to all the Bruins who walked away with hardware the other night.
Go B's- Kynch