Friday, May 29, 2009

Something to look forward to over the LONG wait till the start of the B's 09' - 10' Season & probable hosting next season's Winter Classic at Fenway

SportsBusiness Journal recognizes AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic as '09 sports event of the year

New York, N.Y. – The Amp Energy NHL Winter Classic was honored as the 2009 Sports Event of the Year by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. The award was presented live at a special ceremony held Thursday, May 28th at the New York Marriott Marquis in Manhattan.

The Amp Energy NHL Winter Classic was recognized as part of the Sports Business Awards program, presented by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, the two leading publications on the business of sports. The Sports Business Awards recognize excellence and outstanding achievement in the sports industry for 2008.

The Amp Energy NHL Winter Classic was chosen from five nominees for Sports Event of the Year including, in alphabetical order, Daytona 500, MLB All-Star Game, NBA All-Star Game and the U.S. Open (Golf). As reported by the Sports Business Journal, "In a bold move, the NHL stole the limelight away from college football on New Year's Day. A record crowd of more than 71,000 at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium witnessed the historic Winter Classic, which established a blueprint for the future. Earning a 2.6 overnight rating on NBC, the Classic posted the best overnight NHL regular-season rating in more than a decade.

As posted by the website

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

B's Ownership reflects on 2008-09 - Including news on next season's Winter Classic

Owner Jeremy Jacobs and principal Charlie Jacobs have concluded a conference call in which they looked back at the 2008-09 season and shared their insight on other team and league matters.

"After 82 games with the best record in the East and the second-best in the NHL, I think our expectations were a lot higher," Jeremy Jacobs said. "In the room afterward with the players, they knew they were better than that. They could have played better. They knew they were more talented and probably have to work harder and be more committed than they were. But I was extremely proud of the team, management, and coaching staff. I don't see anything that was wanting in that group. They know they've got something to build on for next year. They feel we've got an organization that can move forward and play a role in the finals of the National Hockey League. I believe and hope this was a growing experience for them. The expectations during the Stanley Cup are much higher than the normal season. I think they're up for doing it."

* Jeremy Jacobs said he expects the 2009-10 Winter Classic to be played at Fenway Park, although the league will not confirm it until July. "Everything I've seen acts like and smells like it's going to be in Boston," said Jacobs. "I don't know anybody else that's gone through the process like we've gone through. Traditionally, the league announces it in July. It's probably going to be the biggest Classic." Jacobs said the organization would only be able to accommodate season ticket holders for the outdoor game.

* Negotiations continue with Peter Chiarelli on extending the GM's contract. Chiarelli will be entering the fourth and final year of his deal. Charlie Jacobs said he anticipates an agreement taking place this summer. "I hoped we could have had it done at this point," Jacobs said. "We're still in talks at this point and time."
* Jeremy Jacobs said he doesn't anticipate a change in the $56.7 million salary cap in 2009-10. Jacobs said the franchise will continue to spend up to the cap.

* Charlie Jacobs said the organization has crossed the 13,000 season ticket seat threshold for 2009-2010.
This article was originally posted on & was created by B's beat writer by Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe Staff on May 27, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

You want questions! I've got questions!

As we enjoy this very important day of reflection and chance give thanks to all of our veterans. And while we gather with with our friends and family to mark the traditional beginning of Summer by firing up the BBQ. I think It's most important that we each try to take a few minutes to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country which is really what this day is all about. So with this in mind a sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU to all that have served and fought for what we all have as a nation...

Back on the subject of hockey, which really is a less serious note. I feel like I'm 99% of the way back from the abrupt end to the B's season a couple of Thursday nights ago but still have 1% which is nagging me a bit by the feeling of unfinished business by the Boys in Black & Gold.

Oh well. Despite this lingering 1% I'm now very much at ease with the bittersweet feelings that the team left us with and really have moved on from the B's 08'/09' campaign with a lot great memories and a lot of fun times that we had with friends both old & new either at Regina Pizza, The Fours or Durty Nellies for the pregame stops, within the (new) Barn itself during games with the wacko's of section 301 and at Sullivan's Tap for post game. But rather than reflect anymore it's time to really look towards the upcoming 09'/10' season which will all start in training camp in a short 17 weeks!

As for me, I begin this off season struck with questions, questions and even more questions as we embark on what's shaping up to be a very CRITICAL off season for the club. All of which starts I think with these initial questions which the club will to answer ASAP and include things like:

1) Given the major injuries to David Krejci & Phil Kessel, How does this change their RFA status league wide and the B's approach to resigning each to a new deal?

2) How the B's will review and possibly lock up their two other top priority restricted free agents this off season (Matt Hunwick & Byron Bitz) all while keeping a eye on their 10'/11' class of free agents which will include the likes of Blake Wheeler, Milan Lucic, Mark Stuart, and Marc Savard. Because as we all know what you give out this year to some will impact and in many ways will leveraged the year after. And what about Mark Recchi...? PJ Axe...? Stephane Yelle...? Chilly's got A LOT of WORK to do.

3) Understanding their current salary cap requirements and the fact that its still unknown(?) what the actual final hard cap is next season, I'm still hard pressed wondering what the B's back liner corp will look like this coming season?

I mean lets assume a strong return to full health and form of Norris hopeful Zdeno Chara and returning efforts from Aaron Ward (who will be in the final year of his current deal) Hunwick, Stuart, the steady but too often injured Andrew Ference & Dennis (please hit the net...) Wideman. The B's will still be left needing with a game day roster hole or two to fill back there as well as big need to add depth.

Steve Montador's (thankfully) has seen his last shift as a Bruin, as it seems like the gritty but still vey serviceable Shane Hnidy has as well. Which could mean that will we see a possible infusion of a Baby B's or two from the likes of Jeff Penner and/or Johnny Boychuk? This as well as a possible addition of a 1a level FA signing like former Bruin Nick Boynton (who made $2.9m last season) former Blue Jacket Christian Backman ($3.4M last season) or a couple of inexpensive "piece" guys like former NJ Devil Johnny Oduya, Islander Thomas Pock or even someone like the the Canes' soon to be 28 year old Dennis Seidenberg. I know, I know they really could use a "puck mover" type but Seidenberg stands at a decent size of 6' 1" & 210 lbs, played in 70 games for the Canes this past year and posted a solid statistical year of 5 goals, 25 assists for 30 pts. This and the fact that he only accounting for $1.2M in cap space the past two seasons.

4) Will this be a big "jump up"year for some of their more skilled Providence
based players onto their NHL level roster? This by adding in as mentioned a Jeff Penner or a Johnny Boychuk to their blue line corp as well as finally seeing Tuuka Rask as the B's full time back up Goalie? Will they and can they count on contributions from guys like Vladimir Sobotka? Brad Marchand? or Mikko Lehtonen? At this point who knows but there still seems to be a lot of young, raw talent down in Rhode Island...

5) Will we actually SEE ON SKATES in or at least near Boston the much discussed but seriously at this point "Howard Hughesesque' pair of Swede winger Carl Soderberg ( and/or Russian defensemen, Yuri Alexandrov (

I mean I guess its a good sign that we at LEAST have a picture of Soderberg right? but on the flip side does not having a photo of Alexandov mean that he's more Sid Finch than Sergei Gonchar with whom he's most been most compared to? Seriously though I hope these two either decide to step up and finally play in the States this season or that the B's just wheel them as the dance of death with these two is a bit old at this point and not helping the club in any way...

6) Given the B's cap challenges and probable infusion of young talent will they seriously consider trading a Marc Savard? a Patrice Bergeron? or a Michael Ryder to free up cap space and some roster room? And if they choose to wheel one of these veterans where would it be to? and for whom or what? Then how would all that trickle up or down within their roster...?

See, for every one question addressed there seems to be two or three more Black & Gold colored ones that spring up from that one, all of which should make this one of the most important off seasons for the team in it's storied history and will be one that will have long reaching impact on the club for years to come... In closing I'd like to send my personal thanks again to all the Men & Woman who have and continue to protect this great nation of ours. Have a safe Memorial Day & be careful around the front of the grill! - Go Broounze! -KingKrej46

Friday, May 22, 2009

Back to Reality

Nothing like 90 degree temperatures, and Memorial Day weekend to nudge me out of my post-Bruins season stupor. Every year once the B's are eliminated form yet another playoff round, I tend to go into a "blackout" period. I don't want to watch hockey, talk hockey or even think about hockey. Much less BRUINS hockey. It's just too.....painful I guess. And this year, even though I prepared myself all year (as only a long suffering sports fan can) for an earlier than hoped for end, this season's abrupt ending made things worse. After all the good will, good times and heightened expectations, the sudden shock that it was over was numbing. But hey, when Memorial Day comes around, you start to realize how petty something like hockey is. So while we remember our nation's fallen hero's, let's remember to thank the Bruins and each other for a fun winter.

Sure, by the time the playoffs rolled around, we all expected "big things" from the Bruins. I'm not sure exactly what those big things were, since it varied from fan to fan. Some claimed they would be happy with just one series win. Others claimed they need to at least make the Conference Finals. While some claimed it was Cup or bust. To be honest, I'm still not sure where I stand. Deep down, I thought they at least had a shot at making the Cup finals, but figured Pittsburgh would be a hell of a challenge. Beatable for sure, but far from a cake walk. While losing in the Cup Finals would have hurt, getting that close and missing out on it is never easy, I could easily have lived with it. But losing to the Hurricanes, a team I am still convinced aren't as good as Boston, stings. The B's simply didn't show up in time to avoid defeat. When they played their game, they were fine. Injuries aside, when Boston played the way they can, they outclassed Carolina. How and why they showed up seemingly unprepared and uninspired for game 7, at HOME, it still mind boggling to me. But it is what it is I guess. Props to the 'Canes for giving a great effort every night. But I still can't help feeling like they were handed the series by the Bruins, and the NHL schedule makers who had the B's sitting idle for so long after round one. But the long layoff can't be used as an excuse. It may have hurt them early on, but certainly played no role in games 3-7.

In the next week or so, I'll start preparing my draft and free agency "wish lists" and all that. I sure don't envy Peter Chiarelli. He and his staff have some major, game changing decisions to make as July first approaches. How does he sign his own UFA and RFA's? Who, if anyone, does he look for on the free agent market? Does he deal Kessel (or someone else) at the draft? Does he move up in the draft? Go with D, forward or "the best player available" when it's his turn to roll the dice on some kid?

And while Chilly looks for the next big thing in Boston, lets not forget that long time Bruin PJ Axelsson has "probably" played his last game as a Bruin, possibly his last in the NHL. For all the abuse he gets at times, PJ has been a valuable asset and loyal guy in his time in Boston. Often miscast as a top line wing, he never once complained. He was equally happy riding shotgun on the top line as the fourth. Killing penalties, or on the power play. He also was extremely involved in area charities throughout his tenure here. A class act all the way around, who's departure shouldn't be treated lightly. Remember, if you bitched because he was often your first line left wing, it wasn't his choice. PJ is what he is, but he was always ready and willing to do anything that was asked of him for the good of the team. PJ, if this is in fact your awan song in a B's uniform, I just want to say thank you. Thanks for being the consumate pro through good times and bad. Your veteran, intelligent presence will be missed.

As disappointed as I am at the finish, I can't deny the joy I got from "the ride" all season. I had the chance to watch some incredible personal and team performances. There were great goals, slick passing plays, huge hits and amazing saves galore. The Garden and it's fans rocked like it hasn't in years. And I had a chance to meet some great people along the way, folks I'm going to miss seeing until we do it all again this fall. Bruins fans have always been a different breed of sports fan in this town, and I hope that never changes. Simply put, Bruins fans are the most loyal, involved and passionate sports fans in the city of Boston. Period. End of discussion. So this holiday weekend, I'm raising a glass to all of you die-hards out there. As much as I tire of saying it, "there is always next year". See you there.

Go B's, Go B's fans, and God Bless America and it's fallen-Kynch

Kessel has Surgery - Expected to out 4-6 months

B's winger Phil Kessel underwent successful surgery on his left shoulder at Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum. Dr. Peter Asnis and Dr. J.P. Warner performed the procedure. Recovery and rehab will take 4-6 months, and Kessel is not expected to be ready for the start of the 2009-10 season.
Kessel was injured against Columbus March 10 when he was checked into the boards by defenseman Jan Hejda.
In 70 regular-season games, Kessel scored a team-best 36 goals and added 24 assists for 60 points, a career high. Kessel scored six goals and had five assists in 11 playoff games. Kessel was the first Bruin to undergo offseason surgery. David Krejci is scheduled to have an operation on his right hip June 4.

Andrew Ference is expected to have groin surgery next month.
Kessel, a restricted free agent, is due a significant raise to his $850,000 entry-level base salary. General manager Peter Chiarelli said Kessel's surgery should not affect contract negotiations. However, if the Bruins consider trading Kessel, rival GMs may try to float lowball offers because of the procedure.
As reported by Fluto Shinzawa on on May 22nd, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

B's Sights Shift Toward 2009-10

BOSTON, MA -- Following an incredible regular season where they amassed 53 wins and secured home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, Bruins coaches, fans and players all expected a long post-season run by the young team.

“It’s without a doubt, a very disappointing finish for our team,” said Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “As much as everyone, including our fans, had higher expectations for us, so did we.”

Those unmet expectations were very visible Monday as solemn players and coaches collected their things from the B’s locker room in the Garden and spoke to the press during the last media availability of the 2008-09 season. The consensus being that despite steady improvement over the past two years, players know they cannot be happy with the way the campaign ended. “We can’t be satisfied losing in the second round, just because we did better than last year and with the season we had and the team we had, it’s really disappointing,” said Bruins forward PJ Axelsson.“It’s only been a couple of days but obviously we’ve had a lot of success this year and that alone is a big step,” said goalie Tim Thomas.
“I am not trying to sugarcoat it because we all wanted more. “But you can’t just write this whole year off as a loss -- that would be a mistake,” he said. B’s captain Zdeno Chara thinks the team did a good job of improving from recent years past.“Well, we improved,” said Chara. “We tried to set goals and I think this year we did a pretty good job of reaching and accomplishing those goals.” Even though Chara was satisfied with reaching goals, next season is just a few months away and the B’s have a chance to push through and move forward.“Next year is another step,” said the defenseman, “and we just need to keep moving forward to get better and better. This year we established ourselves in the league and now we just have to take the next step.”Easier said than done.

It was also revealed Monday that Phil Kessel, David Krejci and Mark Recchi all played through injuries during the Carolina series and both Kessel and Krejci will need surgery.“[Krejci and Kessel] are obviously questionable to start the season, based on their surgeries and prognosis,” said Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. “Phil played with two tears in his shoulder, and David played for a good part of the year with an impingement on his hip joint.”If that occurs, and depending on how free agency negotiations pan out, Boston may again look south to Providence to fill their ranks.

“There are players down there that certainly have a good shot of making the team, so I guess, consequently, there’ll be players that we don’t sign because we have to give these guys a shot,” said Chiarelli. “There’s been…at least three or four, that have justified long looks based on what I’ve seen, and they’re having a good playoff run, and we’ll see them in games three and four coming up here in Providence.”

Beyond the youth in Providence, the youth in Boston all gained valuable experience during 2008-09. Julien was also quick to point out the age of his team, saying that each series is a completely new learning experience for his young players.

Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien, right, talks with reporters while seated with general manager Peter Chiarelli during a news conference Monday, May 18, 2009, in Boston. The Bruins were eliminated in overtime of Game 7 by the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL hockey Eastern Conference semifinals. “We have learned something from this,” said Julien. “I think if we can move forward and get better, it’ll only make us a better team down the road”. Moreover, this season saw a resurgence of the hockey culture in Boston. As such, the Bruins experienced their highest television ratings ever and packed the Garden with more than 16,000 fans each night. And while the pain of Thursday night’s loss may still be fresh in the hearts and minds of the Bruins and their fans, there is reason to believe that the best is yet to come.“I think we have had some big steps with the fans,” said Thomas.

“With the success we’ve had this year there is a lot of buzz about hockey and hopefully next year we can come back and give them something worth watching again.”That said, defenseman Mark Stuart spoke for most of the locker room (and most of New England) when he talked about getting ready for next season sooner rather than later.“I usually get antsy as soon as I get home,” said Stuart.

Dyan LeBourdais contributed to this report and was taken from;

Monday, May 18, 2009

B's NewBlast! - Surgery for The Krej, Kess & Ference. Chucky & others also limp into the post season

Turns out a number of Bruins were playing with significant injuries during their second-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
David Krejci and Phil Kessel, two of the Bruins' best young forwards, are slated to undergo surgery this offseason.

Defenseman Andrew Ference will undergo groin surgery next month, and forward Chuck Kobasew confirmed he played against the Canes with two broken ribs.

Krejci, 23, will have hip surgery next month. He is not expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
Kessel, 21, will have shoulder surgery on Thursday to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum. Kessel is also not expected to be ready for camp.
In his first full NHL season, Krejci played all 82 games and finished second on the Bruins in scoring with 73 points (22 goals, 51 assists). He led the NHL in plus/minus with a plus-37 rating. In the postseason, he had two goals and six assists in 11 games, finishing at plus-6.
Kessel led the Bruins with 36 goals during the regular season, and his 60 points ranked third on the team. He played in 70 games, missing time in January with mononucleosis.
In the playoffs, Kessel, who is slated to become a restricted free agent July 1, had six goals and five assists in 11 games, finishing with a plus-7 rating.
Both Krejci and Kessel will be restricted free agents on July 1.
Ference suffered a groin tear against the Rangers on April 4. Ference then absorbed more groin damage in Game 3 of the second round when he was belted by Scott Walker. Ference also suffered a pelvis injury on the hit.
Kobasew broke two ribs in Game 1 of the Carolina series when he was cross-checked from behind. Kobasew said the pain improved as the series went on, but that it was still uncomfortable to play.
As posted by Chad Finn, Boston Globe Staff on May 18, 2009 at 11:46 AM

P-Bruins upcoming schedule for Calder Eastern Finals

P-Bruins split over the weekend with Hershey in Calder Eastern Finals

Bears dominate in Game Two, tie playoff series with P-Bruins

HERSHEY, Pa. –– The rope-a-dope helped Muhammad Ali beat George Foreman, but all it got the Providence Bruins on Sunday was a bloody nose.

The Hershey Bears outplayed, outshot and, in the end, outscored the Bruins and earned a 2-1 victory before 7,460 fans at the Giant Center, tying the Eastern Conference finals at 1. The series now moves to Providence for Games 3, 4 and 5.
In a game that was as one-sided as a one-goal game can be, the Bruins simply absorbed too many punches, and threw too few in return. With Tuukka Rask again playing superbly in goal, the Bruins might have been able to overcome their defensive shortcomings, except for the fact that they mustered hardly any offensive chances themselves.
Though the Bears had a 21-10 advantage in shots in the second period and a wide edge in territorial play, the game was scoreless heading into the third. Things started falling apart for Providence when defenseman Adam McQuaid was hauled down behind the Bruins net and Hershey’s Oscar Osala grabbed the puck and passed back to Patrick McNeill at the point. McNeill’s slapshot was deflected past Rask by Andrew Joudrey, who was standing in the slot, at 3:21.

Sixty-six seconds later, Providence’s Levi Nelson was assessed a questionable charging penalty by referee Terry Koharski, and the hole the Bruins were digging for themselves got even deeper. On the power play, AHL MVP and leading scorer Alexandre Giroux tried to set up Graham Mink at the top of the crease, but the puck appeared to deflect in off Rask to make it 2-0 at 6:01. Giroux was credited with the goal. Chris Bourque, who has been Hershey’s best player in both games, also received an assist.

The Bears continued to carry the play, and when Providence’s Vladimir Sobotka was whistled for high-sticking at 15:34, the Bruins looked like they were finished. Providence killed the penalty, though, and then went on the power play for the first time in 56 minutes when Darren Reid was given a elbowing penalty at 18:58 for a hit on P-Bruins’ defenseman Jeff Penner. With Rask on the bench for a sixth attacker, Brad Marchand cut the deficit to one on a 15-foot wrist shot from the slot with 36 seconds left. Penner and Sobotka assisted.
The Bruins spent the final half-minute in the Hershey end and managed a couple of chances. Hershey goalie Michal Neuvirth had an easy time with a Sobotka wrist shot, and Brad Marchand fired the puck over the net with five seconds left. It was too little, too late.
NOTES: Hershey started slowly again, not registering a shot in the first 15 minutes. ... The Bears had a 7-2 advantage in power plays and a 39-26 edge in shots. . . .Providence’s Wacey Rabbit, who was injured early in Saturday’s game, did not dress. The team did not disclose the nature of his injury. Mikko Lehtonen, a healthy scratch on Saturday, took Rabbit’s place.

Portions of this story were taken from the Providence Journal &

Friday, May 15, 2009

So now what do we do...?

Morning everyone & Welcome to "The Day After"... This really sucks huh... Well I just posted last nights B's Playoff Game #7 recap (see below) and I'd assume we'll see Kynch's full game & series post mortem at some point later today or maybe tomorrow(?) after he's had some time to pull his thoughts together a bit and regroup after last nights O.T. CRUSHER.

Beyond that plan on seeing a few posts trickle out in the coming weeks around the overall season itself, including both the regular season and playoffs, Our 1st Annual "Kynchies" Awards, some fun "Top 10" lists from this past year as well as looks ahead as the Bruins head into the NHL Entry Draft in June & the start of Free Agency in July, all of which will set up what we all can agree will be another BIG and very active off season for the Black & Gold.

Right now though it's back to the Guinness pints and eventually bed to hope this last series was just a simple one time hiccup for a growing team and was a "bad dream" ending to what really was a very good & really fun season. That aside though tomorrow the B's will begin to take their next steps towards the 09'/10' "Quest for the Cup", which despite all this hurt I for one can't wait to start along side them & for training camp begin again!

Until then let's get behind the Baby B's as they make a final run at the AHL Calder Cup ( & contine to wear those B's hats & T's proudly! As always "Let's Go Broounze!" -KingKrej46
*Photo credit - Boston Globe Staff / Barry Chin

B's Playoff Game Recap! - Game #7 vs The Canes

B's seemingly magical season comes to an end in OT vs the 6th seeded Hurricanes at the Garden

BOSTON (AP) -Scott Walker delivered the final knockout punch to the Boston Bruins.
His overtime goal sent the Carolina Hurricanes into the Eastern Conference finals and eliminated the top-seeded team in the process.
Four days after decking Aaron Ward with his right fist, Walker flipped his first NHL playoff goal over Tim Thomas 18:46 into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 win in Game 7 Thursday night and foil the Bruins hopes to recover from a 3-1 series deficit.
"I just went to the net and whacked one in," Walker said after his 25th career NHL playoff game. "Didn't take much skill." The Hurricanes will open the East finals on Monday at Pittsburgh against the Penguins. Thomas stopped Ray Whitney's shot with his upper body, and the puck dropped in front of him. Walker, with Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman beside him, shot just as the goalie reached out with his stick, too late to stop Walker from putting the puck over Thomas' left shoulder.
The red light went on and Thomas sped from the net toward his bench while the Hurricanes celebrated. "I saw the guy coming down the lane, laying up for the shot," said Thomas, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. "I saw the shot. I made the save and left the rebound up in the air."
Carolina, which beat New Jersey in the first round, will now take on the fourth-seeded Penguins, who beat the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of that series on Wednesday.

"Just because we won these series doesn't mean we are going to change our approach against Pittsburgh," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "If we try to trade goals with them, it will be a short series."Boston was trying to accomplish what no other Bruins club has done - win a series it trailed 3-1. They won 4-0 in Game 5 which was marred by Walker's late-game punch. Then they won 4-2 in Carolina on Tuesday night, giving them a chance to advance in front of their home fans.

Instead, they are 0-21 in those series, with only two going seven games. The other came last year in the first round against the Montreal Canadiens.
Walker's goal "sucks the life out of you," said
Milan Lucic, who tied the game 2-2 at 6:19 of the third period. "We worked hard to get back in the series and don't get rewarded."
The Bruins were upset that the NHL rescinded an automatic suspension for Walker, who was fined $2,500. Ward and Carolina's Matt Cullen faced each other during a stoppage in play and Walker skated over and knocked Ward to the ice.

"We knew it would be a tough night for Scotty coming back to this building," Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward said. "He's such a valuable player to this hockey team, and it's nice to see he was rewarded."

The Bruins didn't find the loss tougher to take because Walker netted the winner.
"It doesn't matter who scored," forward
Shawn Thornton said. "The season's over."
Byron Bitz gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 7:42 of the first period, and Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour tied it six minutes later. Sergei Samsonov put the Hurricanes ahead 2-1 at 7:45 of the second period.

Carolina finished the regular season on a roll and captured the No. 6 seed in the East. The Hurricanes upset New Jersey in the first round by winning the last two games, including scoring the tying and winning goals in the final 80 seconds of Game 7.

"I think it will be a little bit harder to fly under the radar now," Maurice said.
Ward, the MVP of the 2006 playoffs when the Hurricanes hoisted the Stanley Cup, has won all six of his playoff series - the last four going seven games.
With the top-seeded Bruins eliminated, the three highest seeded teams in the East and two of the top three in the West are out of the playoffs. Only Detroit, seeded second in the West, moved on with a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night. The Red Wings will play Chicago for a spot in the Stanley Cup finals.

"We had higher expectations than this," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We dug ourselves a hole. Had we played better in the beginning of the series (the Bruins) might have had different results."

Bitz, a rookie forward, gave Boston the first lead with his first playoff goal. Michael Ryder's shot from the left point hit the back wall and rebounded to the right of Ward. Bitz swopped in and scored into the empty side of the net to Ward's left. Brind'Amour tied it exactly two minutes after a penalty to Boston's P.J. Axelsson, who was about to leave the box when the goal was scored. Dennis Seidenberg took a shot from 45 feet directly in front of Thomas, and Brind'Amour deflected it in.

Samsonov, who spent nearly his first eight full seasons with Boston, scored from Thomas' right by redirecting a pass across the slot from Joni Pitkanen.
Lucic tied it when he skated behind the defense and into an open spot at the edge of the crease.
Phil Kessel had the puck behind the net, skated out and passed to Lucic, who lifted it over the goalie.
Notes: Carolina D Anton Babchuk was a healthy scratch after playing the first six games of the series. ... Bitz's first NHL game was against Carolina on Jan. 10. He had an assist. ... Boston's Stephane Yelle played in his 12th Game 7, most among active players. Patrick Roy and Scott Stevens hold the NHL record with 13.
*Portions of this article were taken from the AP &;
*Photo credit- Boston Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin

Thursday, May 14, 2009


So it all comes down to this. Eight months, 93 games and countless highs and lows, all comes down to winning one more game. Funny how expectations change, isn't it? In October, most of the so-called "experts" somehow had the Bruins as either the 8 seed in the East, or not in the playoffs at all. People that were paying attention knew that was laughable. But none of dared to dream they'd be the number one seed. As a young team, we all just wanted them to win ONE playoff round. The fact that it was against the hated Habs would make it all the better. Of course, as soon as they won that round, the expectation became "well, they HAVE to beat Carolina". And rightfully so. A team and a fan base that expects less than the team's full potential will never succeed.

Which leads us to tonight's decisive game 7. The better team never wants to be pushed to a game 7, where anything can happen, even on home ice (just ask Mr. Ovechkin and friends). But at the end of the day, as long as the better team plays up to it's ability, they'll win. And while Carolina may put some early pressure on Thomas, I expect Boston to be ready to go. Claude Julien has done a masterful Job of preparing the boys, and getting them to focus on one game at a time. Well, now there are no other games for them to potentially be distracted by. Focus shouldn't be an issue.
The one thing that could cause issue's for the Bruins is exactly what Chara warned of yesterday; people trying to do too much. Hopefully Big Z takes his own words to heart, because the only time he struggles is when he tries to do everyone else's job. If he, and his mates, take care of their own business and trust in the system, they'll be fine. By no stretch of the imagination is this going to be a cake walk. The Hurricanes will show up ready to take it to the Bruins from the opening face off. As badly as their confidence may be shaken from the last two games, they do still have a game 7 road win under their belt against New jersey to fall back on. The Penguins dismantling of the Capitals in DC last night is further comfort for the 'Canes. Yes, the home team IS beatable in game 7's.

All things being equal, it simply comes down to will to win,talent and execution. Carolina showed a strong will to win, a never-say-die attitude in round one. But that killer instinct has been trumped the last two games by Boston's superior talent and execution of their game plan. Not to sound like a broken record here, but the game plan has to stay the same. Get the puck out of your defensive zone quickly and cleanly. Chip pucks deep where Ward or the 'Canes defensemen can't handle them cleanly and forecheck hard. Be patient with the puck. And above all, crash the net! Once again, every single Boston goal in game 6 was a direct result of getting to the front of the net. Tip-ins, screens....all good things happen when you go to the net hard.

As the day goes on, I can't help but wonder who will emerge as the "star" of the game. While it will take a full team effort to win, there has to be someone who makes the big play. Be it the game winning goal, huge save or momentum setting big hit. Will it be the usual suspects, like Savard (assuming he is as healthy as Julien insists, which remains to be seen), Recchi, Kessel, Chara or even Lucic? Or, will this be one of those games where the "stars" essentially cancel each other out, and it's left to the role players to make the big splash? It's not beyond the realm of possibility that a guy like Axe, Yelle, Bitz or a Mark Stuart pop in a key goal. Personally, I hope it doesn't come down to one key play, preferring a blow-out Bruins win (my heart can only take so much). But if it does come down to late game heroics, I'd love to see a guy like Axe get it. It would be sort of like Wakefield being rewarded after giving up the Aaron Bleeping Boone HR to the Yanks (although Axe has dome nothing he has to "redeem" himself for of course). Just a nice reward for a long time good soldier in a Bruins uniform.

I'd love to sit and say "this is how it's going to go", but that isn't possible in any game 7. As Aaron Ward said on WEEI radio this morning, game 7's have a tendency to get out of hand. So as much as I'd expect this to be a very close game, you never know. Maybe Boston gets an early one, and cruises away with a fairly easy win. Lets hope so. One thing I do feel sure of is this; Milan Lucic will show up in a big way. He's only a kid, but he has been the emotional leader of this team for over a year now. Look for him to throw a thunderous hit or two on his first shift. The crowd, and more importantly, his team responds very well when he's involved early and often. And as he showed with his fantastic assist the other night, his offensive skills are peaking at the right time as well.
The two other guys I expect to bring their "A GAME" tonight are Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas. Chara has really grown into the leadership role this year, and specifically the last few games. As much as the B's rally around Looch's big hits, the respond the same way when Chara is involved. As long as Z just plays his game, at his surly, nasty best, he'll be a dominant factor in the outcome.
For his part, Thomas is looking rock solid in net. And you just know that little chip on his shoulder is telling him people still doubt he's a "big game" goalie. He's used slights like that his whole life for motivation. I think he brings his best competitive spirit to the Boston net tonight and has, as Fred Cusick used to say, a "dandy" of a game.

If I was to be concerned about anyone, it would be either Kessel or Krecji. But Kessel has shown lately that he isn't afraid of the big stage. His speed is such a key, he just has to use it and use it wisely. I think he'll be good tonight. He may not score, but he'll be "a going concern" all night (thanks again Fred!).
Krecji, for me, is a tougher read. He's shown flashes of absolute brilliance. But he's also shown flashes of.....I don't want to say intimidation, but occasionally he looks like he's trying to do too much. The addition of Bitz to his line seems to have helped him relax a little though. Bitz making space and controlling the puck helps Krecji find plays that most guys could never dream of. So even krech doesn't really worry me tonight.

I hate this part of every blog, because's complete guess work, and I've been right....well, not that often. So, in order to save some dignity I'm going to pass on a final score prediction today. But I will say that Lucic, Ryder and at least one other Bruins scores. So let's say.....Recchi. B's get the win, in a tough, competitive game. But it's by more than one goal.
(no need to do a rough stuff preview, because while it will be a "rough" game, there won't be anything crazy. Even if the game is a run away for the B's. Walker and that nonsense can wait).

Go B's-Kynch

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

B's Playoff Game Recap! - Game #6: Special Guest Blogger!

Today Kynch's Korner is pleased to have a post by a friend of ours. A long time fan who has lived and died with the B's as much as we all have over the years (Ok... mostly died but...) The only surprising thing about his post is he didn't find a way to work in an Adam Oates story somehow. Regardless, I present Frank-En-Steen! -

"What can I say, that was one of the most stressful Bruins games I
have ever watched. Stressful because I have expected so much from
this team this year. In the day of Salary Caps and looming free agents,
the window of opportunity doesn't stay open as long as it used to.

Where to begin with this game, let's start with Patrice Bergeron. This had to be his best game of the season, no question about it. His ability
to protect the puck and dish the puck led to the 1st and 4th goals. Not
to mention his defensive game and penalty killing.
From there Mark Recchi, who not only at age 41 has been finishing
every check, but once again gets the scoring going with his uncanny
ability to be in the right place at the right time.

And how about Byron Bitz ??!! He doesn't get any points on the score
card on Montedor's goal but we all know that puck is just another
shot on net is he does not only go to the front of the net to screen
Ward, but draws a Hurricane defenseman with him to make the shot
destined for twine. His work along the wall in the offensive zone,
determination to drive to the net and his all around grit makes it
virtually impossible to pull him from this line up now and
Claude Julien knows it. what a find this kid has been this year
and I have a feeling he will be around for a while. Next season
when he gets to camp we'll get him a better hockey number!

Next I need to move over to Looch. At 20 years old the tantalizing
potential is just "oozing" out of him more with every game. We are
really starting to witness some of the offensive skill he has in those
swollen knuckles of his. The play he made along the blue, the courage to dangle out there, to then swoop in and the vision on the pass to
Savard was a work of art. Just high light reel stuff. I heard a local
radio DJ this morning argue that Looch will end up a better player than
Ovechkin or Crosby, I laughed because obviously that radio personality
is jacked and pumped and got a little carried away which is ok with me.
In reality I see a Wendell Clark type of player "coming into his own
and I would gladly take that.

I also feel obligated to mention our fearless goaltender as well.
Without Tim Thomas, last night and all season, none of this is possible.
Some of the saves he made last night and has made all season and
in this playoff run will be legendary ! He is the backbone of this
team and everyone knows it. He has been known forever as a "nice"
story and even up until the beginning of the 2007-2008 season still
had not earned that status of an absolute number 1 goalie in this league, as the Bruins went out and traded for Manny Fernandez.

After back to back All-Star appearances last season and this, all
the "Doubting Thomas'"(no pun intended) have come to believe and
his contract extension is evidence of that. He is no showing the
Bruins faithful that he is capable of stepping it up when the
"money is on the line" in late April and May.

I could go on and on about so many others last night that played a key in this game. The timely pinches by Wideman at the point, the physical play of "Chuckie" Kobeskew, David Krejci, Marc Savard, The Captain and Aaron Ward who with yesterday's quote when asked if he will take doctor's advice and wear a shield said, "I haven't worn one for 16 years and I'm not about to start now". THAT'S a hockey player.

Thanks for reading and thanks to Kynch's Korner for allowing me
to make a guest appearance on the site. Now, on to Game 7 which
is anything but in the bag. These Canes will be ready to go you
can bet on that and as we all know anything can happen in a Game 7.
Unlike last year's game 7 up in Montreal however having this one at home is a pretty good feeling for this die hard B's fan !" Rock on Bruins ! - Frank-en-Steen

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Game #6 - Bruins vs. Cowards

The above photo sequence sums up perfectly Scott Walkers Modus Operandi. Throw a punch at an unsuspecting opponent, then hide behind the nearest official when some willing combatant approaches to make you answer for your cheap shot. Walker, little punk that he is, was awfully "tough" when he threw a bomb at Ward, who CLEARLY was not looking to fight. Yet, when an enraged Milan Lucic came calling, suddenly Walker turned all pacifist on us. Well, I guess we can call Walker all sorts of things (and I have), but apparently "dumb" isn't one of them. Classic spot picker, cheap shot artist. The fact that the NHL didn't suspend him SHOULD be stunning news. But let's remember, we're talking about the NHL in general, and Colin Campbell in particular. Nothing that clown does should surprise anyone anymore. I'm convinced he either uses a Lucky 8 Ball or a dartboard to make his decisions. Because there is no way a rational, clear thinking "disciplinarian" could come to the conclusion the RESCINDING the suspension was in the best interest of the league. Campbell is on record as saying the NHL has to "clean up the game", and eliminate "head shots". Well, forgive me for being naive, but wasn't Walker's punch a two birds with one stone act? It was a "DIRTY" play directly at Ward's head (unless somehow Colin doesn't consider the face to be a part of the head....which may make sense, since his head is clearly up his arse). So once again, instead of the NHL taking a stand and showing that they're serious about eliminating cheap shots, they simply slap Walker on the wrist, fining him $2,500. Basically meal money for a guy on the books for $2.5M this season. Worse, it isn't like Walker is known as a choir boy who just made an error in judgement. He is well known as a borderline dirty player. In fact, he has been suspended in the past for HEAD BUTTING (after getting his butt handed to him by Mike Fisher of the Senators). In fact, in that head butt incident, he then threw a sucker punch at Fisher after the refs had them separated. I thought having a "history" was supposed to enter into the equation? Then again, this is Colin Campbell, the same guy that referred to Lucic as "that type of player" who shouldn't be on the ice late in a game when he suspended him for his cross-check to Lapierre. Really? Lucic plays on the first line. Walker is a fourth liner, on the ice with under three minutes left in a 4-0 loss. NONE of this entered the decision making process?

But you know what? I don't really care. Other than the principle of it, I could care less if Walker sits or not. He's a fourth liner, and if a player of his dubious skill set playing or not makes a difference between victory and defeat for the B's, they've got problems. Fact is, Walker playing tonight could just be the best medicine for the Bruins. I'm not expecting any overt retaliation to take place. As Shawn Thornton said, it won't be forgotten, but there are more important things to worry about than Scott Walker being paid back (or Jussi Jokinen for that matter). Walker will get his, you can bank on that. But for tonight, the retaliation will come in the form of legal, brutal body checks. And most of them won't be against Walker. But his teammates will have him, Jokinen and Conboy to thank for pissing off the Bruins. And for good measure, you can add the classless comments made by coach Maurice and GM Rutherford to the motivation stew as well. Maurice said the ramification of the Walker punch would be that Walker would have sore knuckles. Not sure what he was trying to accomplish with that comment, but I was STUNNED when I heard it. Absolutely incredible to me that he could make light of such a cheap shot. Then, his GM pretty much backed it up by fabricating some story about "most of the punches in the series have come from the Bruins, so it was a matter of time before one was thrown back". HUH? Whatever, I'd like to thank them all personally for giving the B's and their fans a reason to hate them. As we know, the Black & Gold always play better when they dislike their opponent (just ask Montreal, Dallas......). Oh, and the funniest, most ironic comment was reserved for Jokinen when he said Chara "dove" after he slashed him from behind. Really? The missing Kostitsyn sister actually just called out CHARA for DIVING? Now THAT is some funny stuff!

As far as the actual game on the ice is concerned, not the circus surrounding it, the game plan for the Bruins is pretty simple. Play exactly the way you did Sunday, but hopefully pot one earlier. We all know that the Hurricanes will come out flying to try to regain their speed game. Boston has to withstand that initial burst of energy, which generally lasts no more than ten minutes. If they get to the half way point of the first scoreless, they're probably in good shape. Scoring the first goal, while not a "must" would go a long way towards a B's win. Taking the Canes crowd out of it sooner rather than later would be great. They may be "raucous" and all that, but they get awfully quiet when things aren't going well. If Boston can get up by a couple goals, they can force Carolina to press even more than usual (they already play a high tempo, high risk style). If they do that, they could open themselves up counter-attack offense. I know the Canes are in the drivers seat, needing only to win one of two. But you can't tell me they don't want to avoid, at all costs, coming back to Boston. They beat the Devils in Newark in game 7, but I don't think they want to push their luck in that regard. Get a lead, and suddenly the pressure of the series falls squarely back in the Canes lap.

Early on Thomas will probably have to keep the B's in the game. With that early onslaught, Timmy will be called upon to make some big stops while his boys settle down in front of him. I have no doubt that he will answer the call and be brilliant. Even he seems to play better when some hate builds between the teams.

Offensively, after the night the Savard line had, I'd expect Maurice to do everything he can to get his best defenders out there every time Savvy-Looch-Kess hop the boards. Which should open things up for the Krecji line. Krech has looked brilliant lately, and Ryder has been SO close on a few chances lately....he is due. Bitz adds some size to the line, creating space for the slick Krecji. Bitz is also a terrific net-front presence for a sniper like Ryder to take advantage of.

Speaking of net-front presence, the B's need to remember how all of their goals were scored. They all were the result of driving the net, screening Ward and making him move side to side. It's a simple strategy that every team talks about employing. As long as the B's do it, they'll be able to score plenty. I'd love to see Lucic play a little closer to the net. He has a habit of drifting a little high in the slot, and towards the circle. If he stays at the top of the crease, he can't be moved. Of course if Chara plays the way he did Sunday and jumps into the play, Canes will have no chance. Then it's just a matter of making your shots.

Like I said earlier, I don't think you'll see an actual fight tonight. At least not one directed at Walker as a retaliation. It's possible something crops up, and maybe even Conboy tries his luck again (hey, third time is the charm!). But don't go looking for an old-school brawl filled game. Oh, it will be chippy. No doubt about that. Face-washing, cross-checks and little slashes will be the order of the day. But there is just too much at stake to go looking for justice at this point. As Thornton said, they have long memories. Walker's payback can wait until next year.
But make no mistake, this game will be plenty rough and physical. Boston has it's confidence back, and when they feel good about their game, they hit. They hit hard, and they hit often. Look for Lucic, Chara,Ward and Stuart to be the catalysts in that department, followed closely by Kobasew and Bergeron. For their part, the Canes will try to match the Bruins physicality. They didn't feel good about any part of their game, so expect them to try sparking themselves with some big hits (again, I think this is counter-productive for them, but hey...). Staal, Larose, Gleason, Cole and probably Walker will be their main hitters. Walker will hit for no other reason that to try and goad the B's into retaliating. They have to remain poised, just like they did against Montreal. The Boston Power Play has shown great signs of life. So they need to stay out of the box, and make Carolina spend as much time there as possible.

I think Boston is feeling good and has found their game. Does that always mean they'll win? No, it doesn't. But it sure does tonight. I'm looking for a 4-1 win for the good guys. Thomas makes some spectacular saves early, then enjoys a fairly quiet night the rest of the way. The B's get goals from Ryder, Recchi, Lucic and......WARD! (yes, that's my reach of the week lol).

Go B's-Kynch

Monday, May 11, 2009

B's Playoff Game Recap! - Game #5 vs The Whale er' Canes

Bruins lay a Beantown Beatdown on Canes to Force a Game 6!

BOSTON (AP) -This was Tim Thomas' turn to take control of the Eastern Conference semifinals. After watching Carolina goalie Cam Ward dominate three straight games and push Boston to the brink of elimination, Thomas stopped 19 shots for his first NHL playoff shutout and helped the Bruins keep their season going with a 4-0 victory over the Hurricanes in Game 5 on Sunday night.
"Timmy deserved the kind of night he had tonight," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He's been peppered with a lot of shots in the games before that. Maybe his teammates felt they owed it to him, to give him an easier night. They did a great job in front of him."

Phil Kessel scored twice, Milan Lucic had a goal and an assist, and Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard each had a pair of assists for Boston, which was on the verge of an early summer after losing three in a row. Chara also gave Boston a big emotional lift when he came back from a second-period slashing by Jussi Jokinen.
"It was the only option we had, being down 3-1 and at home in front of our fans," Chara said. "But we are in the same situation and are fighting for another day."
Ward made 36 saves for the Hurricanes, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-2. Game 6 is at Carolina on Tuesday.
"We get to go back home in front of our fans and hopefully get the job done in six," said Eric Staal, who had four goals in the previous three games but just three shots and a minus-3 in Game 5. "We need to regroup and forget it."

Thomas had a career-high five shutouts in the regular season, when he led the NHL with a 2.10 goals-against average and became a Vezina Trophy finalist. But it had been Ward who dominated the series, allowing three goals as the Hurricanes responded to a Game 1 loss with three straight victories.

Chara took a stick to the left shin from Jokinen in the final minute of the second period. After laying on the ice for a few minutes, he skated off on his own but didn't return for the start of the third. "My heart skipped a beat when he was down because I know he doesn't fake things - ever," Thomas said.

When Chara came onto the bench shortly after the faceoff, the crowd began chanting "Cha-ra!" And when he slipped over the dasher boards with 19:12 to play, the fans stood. "We all have to make sacrifices. It's nothing unusual," Chara said.
An Original Six team that has not won the Stanley Cup since Bobby Orr skated around the ice with it in 1972, the Bruins entered the playoffs with the best record in the East and swept Montreal in the first round. But they have struggled against Carolina, a team they beat in all four regular-season meetings, losing three times by a combined score of 10-3 to fall to the brink of elimination. Boston needs to win the next two to stay alive in a tournament that has already claimed the San Jose Sharks, the No. 1 overall seed.
"They did a good job coming back and being ready to play, as we expected," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "And we're going to have the same challenge."
The Bruins came out with a more physical lineup, subbing Shawn Thornton for rookie Blake Wheeler, and immediately took charge. Carolina didn't have a shot in the first 11:04, and the Hurricanes were outshot 40-19 overall.
Milan Lucic helped set up the first goal with a crunching check on Dennis Seidenberg late in the first period. When Seidenberg responded, he drew a slashing penalty. Just 7 seconds into the power play, Mark Recchi redirected Chara's shot past Ward to break a scoreless tie.
Kessel scored twice in the second period, both times assisted by Savard, to give Boston a 3-0 lead. Lucic made it 4-0 in the third.
Notes: Four of the five games have been decided by at least three goals. ... Boston has never won a playoff series in which it trailed 3-1. The only time the Bruins forced a seventh game was against Montreal in the first round last season. ... Boston has never lost a playoff series to the Hartford/Carolina franchise. ... The Bruins gave out yellow towels for fans to wave, but several were thrown at Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen in the penalty box in the third period. ... Julien said Aaron Ward might have a broken orbital bone after being punched by Scott Walker near the end of the game. Walker was given a misconduct, a fighting major and an instigator penalty. Portions of this article were taken from the AP and

Saturday, May 9, 2009

B's Playoff Game Recap! - Game #4 at The Canes

B's season on the BRINK as they lose Game #4 at Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -Eric Staal scored two goals to break the club career playoff scoring record, and the Carolina Hurricanes pushed the top-seeded Boston Bruins to the brink of elimination, pulling away late for a 4-1 victory Friday night.
The Hurricanes lead the Eastern Conference semifinal series 3-1. Game 5 is Sunday night in Boston.

Jussi Jokinen scored the go-ahead goal at 2:52 of the third and assisted on the two goals that followed, and Sergei Samsonov added a goal for the Hurricanes.
Marc Savard scored for the Bruins, who have lost three straight since sweeping Montreal in the first round and winning the opener against Carolina. Jokinen delivered another late goal for Carolina - and this time, he left enough time to generate a couple of goals for his teammates, too.
The Finn capped a third-period burst that started when Anton Babchuk unloaded a slap shot from the left point. Rod Brind'Amour took a whack at it near the left post, and Jokinen swept it past
Tim Thomas and into an open net to make it 2-1.

The Hurricanes have become used to go-ahead goals from Jokinen, who won Game 3 with an overtime tap-in two nights earlier. In the series before that, he won Game 4 against New Jersey with an off-the-skate score with 0.2 seconds remaining, then scored to start Carolina's two-goals-in-80-seconds rally that beat the Devils in Game 7.

He then set up Samsonov for a backhander that made it a two-goal game with 5:29 left, and had one of the assists on Staal's second goal 70 seconds later.
Jokinen weaved through several defenders and beat Thomas with a snap shot for his 40th career point in the playoffs, breaking the mark of 39 set by current associate head coach Ron Francis. Cam Ward made 17 saves in improving his career playoff record to 22-12.
Thomas finished with 27 saves for the Bruins, who were out to prove they still had plenty of fight left in them after losing their previous two.
David Krejci seemed to personify that, pancaking Jokinen in front of Thomas just 3 1/2 minutes in.
That collision drew a roughing minor that ultimately backfired on the Bruins. Moments after Ward stuffed P.J. Axelsson on a breakaway, Staal snapped a shot on net - Carolina's first of the night - from the right circle, and it trickled past Thomas.
Not much else went Boston's way early, with the Bruins sending nearly as many shots off the post (two) as on Ward (four). Phil Kessel and Zdeno Chara each rang the right post in the opening 9 1/2 minutes. Savard scored their only goal early with a wrist shot early in the second period.

Notes: Bruins RW Michael Ryder, who assisted on Savard's goal, had a point for the first time since Game 1. He had nine points in Boston's 5-0 start to the playoffs. ... Boston dressed D Shane Hnidy for the first time in the series. He replaced D Andrew Ference (lower body injury). ... D Tim Conboy was active for the first time in the series for Carolina, which dressed seven defensemen and scratched LW Ryan Bayda (flu) Portions of this article were taken from the AP and

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who are these guys?

"Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
'Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)"

Watching the Bruins so far this series, I can't seem to get that great Who song out of my head. Because surely this Bruins team I've watched over the past week or so looks nothing like the team I've been watching since October.

So tell me Bruins, who the f@*k are you!? Are you the poised, confident team that dominated the regular season and cruised past the Canadiens in round one? Or, are you the team I've seen the last couple nights? You know, the one that for some reason can't make a good decision to save it's life. The one that treats every puck like it's a radioactive super-ball. The one that is getting out-worked at every turn.

Personally, I think the last two games are more fluke than anything else. Sure, the B's have lost two straight. But all they have to do is win Friday and they take back home ice advantage. That is why finishing first was so important, right? Home-ice? Well, trailing by one game is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. Especially not when you're the better team. Give Carolina their due, but they are still not the better team. What they are, and this can be very dangerous, is a confident underdog. Seems like nobody told them they aren't supposed to go very far. Any time an underdog plays with that kind of care-free attitude, they can cause problems for the favorites. But, that can change fairly quickly as well. All it takes is for the favorite to remember all the things that got them where they are. So, what does that mean for Boston?

All the B's have to do Friday night is, play Bruins hockey. Which as we all know, is a simple, grind it out style with flashes of speed and skill thrown in. For whatever reason, the B's have let Carolina dictate the pace of play. For as much speed as Boston has, they're still much better when they play a little slower. I'm not suggesting they need to sit back and trap or anything like that. Rather, they need to just relax a little. Wait for plays to develop. Hang onto the puck instead of looking to get rid of it instantly. In case this sounds familiar, it's pretty much what I wrote before game 2. But nothing has changed. They don't need to do anything special. Stick to the original game plan, and as they say, everything else will take care of itself.

The most glaring stat that just jumps off the page at you from game 3 is shots on goal. The Bruins had a measly 19 shots after three periods? Simply not enough, by a long stretch. A big part of their game plan is to drive to the net and get shots through traffic. At times they had better net-front presence, but had a miserable time getting shots through. This is partly because of Carolina pressuring the points aggressively or blocking shots. But it's also largely because Boston simply didn't attempt enough shots. Again, I don't mean they should simply throw anything and everything they can towards goal (although, that certainly has it's merits as well), but they HAVE to make a concerted effort to get more pucks on Cam Ward.

Beyond the obvious need to shoot more, the B's have to keep ramping up their physical play. They were better at it in game 3, but they can definitely do better. And I fully expect that they will. I look for two guys to really assert themselves physically in game 4. Milan Lucic for one, will come loaded for bear Friday. He's a smart kid, and a proud kid. You know he sees that his team needs more emotion. And trust me, if your team is looking for someone to spark some emotion, you can do a lot worse than Looch.

The other Bruin I expect to rebound with a much better all-around effort, especially physically, is Chara. Big Z had a rough game all around in game 3. He was soft on clearing attempts, he absorbed nearly as punishment as he doled out and was just generally "off" all night. Not a chance that Z lets that type of performance slide. Expect a very very big game from the big man.

Since I'm talking about who I expect to play a big role Friday night, I need to give credit to the guys that I think had very solid games Wednesday. For starters, Michael Ryder was very strong all night. Yes, he took a minor penalty, but he was strong on the puck in all three zones, and was working as hard as anyone on the ice. If he continues that, the "hockey gods" Coach Julien mentioned are sure to reward him with a goal or two.
Chuck Kobasew also seemed to be a "going concern" for most of the night as well. Chucky, while not the pure scorer type, is more than due to bang home a couple. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. His crash the net style is exactly what this team needs more of, and he'll be rewarded soon.

All of the above considered, the elephant in the room is the B's power play. Or, what is allegedly the B's power play. I don't recognize it, but they say that's what it is, so I'll believe them. So far, it has been a non-factor. In fact, it may be worse than a non-factor. It's actually become a rallying point for the Canes. Any time you kill a penalty, it gives your team a boost. Well, the B's are making it look way too easy for the Canes. The PP has actually cost the Bruins momentum. That has to change. If they can't make the power play a weapon, they have no chance to win the series. And here again, I think they'll get it rolling.

So I guess the bottom line for me is, Carolina isn't as much beating Boston, as Boston is beating themselves. Poor decisions in all three zones. Poor clearing attempts. Too few attempted shots. Not physical enough. A futile power play. What do all of those things have in common? They're self-inflicted, and easily correctable. Julien gave the boys the day off today. No practice, optional skate or video session. Just a day for them to get away from the rink and clear their heads. At first blush, my reaction was that may not be a great thing. I mean, do we really want them sitting around dwelling on the loss? But then after thinking about it some more, I agree with the coach's decision. Not to be a blind follower, but I do believe in Claude. He's had teams in worse situations than this (lets not discuss his last playoff rally, ok?) and come out on top. He knows his team better than anyone, and I'm sure he didn't arrive at this decision lightly. He has faith that his players are professional enough to figure out what needs to be done. And of course, an extra day to rest their legs can't hurt either.

But, if Julien really wants to impress me, he will tweak his lineup a bit. As good of a rookie season as he has had, Blake Wheeler just has to come out of the lineup. He has literally contributed nothing offensively (zero points in 7 playoff games). And he provides nothing in the physical department. His supposed value was on the penalty kill, mainly as a short-handed scoring threat. I'm sorry, but that is way too narrow a job description to be useful on a playoff roster. Byron Bitz's style of play would absolutely be a huge boost right now. He plays a simple game. He plays strong along the boards, and just chips pucks in and out. Oh, and he also isn't afraid to get his nose dirty in the corners or in front of the net. He's a big guy that actually PLAYS big (unlike Wheeler). Bitz on the forecheck is fun to watch. He makes things happen out there, and the B's desperately need some of that positive energy. Wheels may find his way back in the lineup, and very well may be a contributor down the road. But for the foreseeable future, it HAS to be Bitz.
The other change is dependant on Andrew Ference's health. If Ference is ready to go, they need to sit Montador and insert Hnidy. Monty, other than that abysmal clearing attempt that led to Staal's goal, hasn't been "awful". But he hasn't been very good either. Too many times he fails to get the puck out, or keep it in at his offensive blue line. His defensive zone coverage has been suspect at best. It's long past time to call the Sheriff. Hnidy, at least will give them a more physical presence (Monty is missing more hits than he's making at this point). And Sheriff Shane isn't nearly as likely to go running around to find hits, thus putting himself out of position. He knows exactly what he is and how he has to play to be effective. The way the B's are playing, the more cool heads they have in the lineup the better.

So, deep breaths everyone. Losing two straight has taken over the story, when the story should be simply that this is a 2-1 series. Looked at in that light, it doesn't sound nearly as scary does it? With a win Friday night, the B's are right back where they started. All square, but then it will be a best of three series. Does anyone NOT think the Bruins can win two of three, with two of those on home ice? Exactly.

Since I have a boat load of "real life" stuff on my plate Friday, I'll attempt another quick prediction now. I predicted a B's 4-2 (or 5-2, depending...) win in game 3. For some reason, I like that number again. Your goal scorers for this on will be Ryder (he's earned it), Kobasew (he's DUE), Lucic (he's been getting playing well, and will look to up the intensity even more, which helps his whole game) and Chara. Z will be firing pucks all night, but his goal will be on a back-door play on the power play. Yes, I said power play goal. In fact, the B's get at least two on the man advantage. Go B's-Kynch

B's Playoff Game Recap! - Game #3 at The Canes!

B's lose Game #3 in OT now faced with a BIG Game #4 on Friday in Carolina!

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -A playoff game was tied and time was ticking away. For the Carolina Hurricanes, that meant it was Jussi Jokinen's time to shine.
Jokinen scored at 2:48 of overtime to lift the Hurricanes past the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Sergei Samsonov scored a goal and assisted on Jokinen's winner for the Hurricanes, who took a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 set for Friday night in Raleigh.

"Obviously it feels great, with the things I've been through this year," said Jokinen, waived by the Tampa Bay Lightning before being traded to Carolina in February. "I found my confidence again here. It's been a great ride."
Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic both scored their first goals of the playoffs for Boston. The top-seeded team in the East has lost two straight and is trailing a playoff series for the first time this year after sweeping Montreal in the first round.
"We had some chances, but there's such a thing as hockey gods, and sometimes they'll give the breaks to the team that deserves it," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Unfortunately, we didn't really deserve this game, the way we played."

Jokinen certainly wouldn't let them have it. The hero of Game 4 of the first round, who scored off his skate with 0.2 seconds left to beat the New Jersey Devils, delivered another clutch goal. Samsonov set up the winner by moving into the low circle and firing a backhander off Tim Thomas' pads. Jokinen was positioned perfectly to tap the rebound into an open net for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

"The last month, the last two months, I've been getting my confidence pretty high, and I'm just believing in myself," Jokinen said. "When you have your confidence high, you feel you can do some good things on the ice." He also scored the tying goal in Game 7 against the Devils with 1:20 left in the third period before Eric Staal netted the winner with 31.7 seconds remaining.
"I think there's a belief that's built in, that you have a tendency to keep the faith a little bit longer," coach Paul Maurice said. "The fact of the matter is, the teams that don't are already gone. That's how it works. The teams that believe the longest just keep playing."

Thomas made 38 saves for the Bruins. Carolina's Cam Ward stopped 21 shots.
Recchi - a key member of the Hurricanes' Stanley Cup championship team in 2006 - tied it with just under 11 minutes left in regulation when he scored on a deflection, redirecting
Chuck Kobasew's shot from the wing past Ward to make it 2-all. Thomas kept it tied by withstanding an onslaught by the Hurricanes, who had a 38-19 shots advantage before overtime.
Two straight shots - from Staal and Samsonov, 69 seconds apart in the second - gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead.
Staal started the scoring burst when he stole the puck from Steve Montador near the end line and whipped it by Thomas with 3:11 left in the second for his team-leading seventh goal. Samsonov - one of several high-profile Hurricanes with none - ended that dry spell just over a minute later, snapping in a pretty feed from Scott Walker.
"We were on the attack. We were skating well," Staal said. "We were hustling to pucks and getting shots through from the point. If it didn't hit the net, we were getting to the loose pucks in the corners. That's a key to our team. That's what makes us good."
It also reignited a cowbell-clanging crowd of Caniacs, who were still buzzing after Carolina's 3-0 win Sunday in Boston that shifted home-ice advantage to Tobacco Road. Lucic did his best to silence them for a while, scoring his first goal of the playoffs about 8 1/2 minutes in.
"We have to make sure we're doing the right things," Recchi said. "Right now they're a team that seems to want it a little bit more than us. For whatever reason, it's desperate times now. We don't want to go down 3-1. We're going to have to play the best game of the year on Friday."
Notes: Carolina improved to 2-1 in overtime in the playoffs. ... Boston fell to 3-1 in the postseason when scoring first. ... Carolina D Frantisek Kaberle was a healthy scratch, while the Bruins scratched D Shane Hnidy and RW Byron Bitz.
Portions of this article were provided by the AP &

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

NOW the Playoffs Begin!

After cruising through the first five games of the 2009 post-season, the Bruins finally ran into the inevitable bump in the road. Carolina handed Boston their first playoff loss of the season, in convincing fashion. So now we get to see how the Bruins will react to adversity for the first time. My money is on them rebounding with a much better performance in game 3.

But the question is, will an improved performance be enough to topple the Canes in front of their home crowd? The answer isn't as cut and dried as you'd think. While Boston is clearly the better team, with a depth of talent that the Hurricanes can't come close to matching, things are never that black and white in the playoffs. Better teams don't always win. And Carolina *may* have the one key component needed for any team to pull of an upset. A hot goalie. Now Cam Ward didn't exactly steal the game on his own the other night. But then again, at no point did he ever look like he was about to let one in. He looked cool, calm and collected between the pipes all night. I'm not convinced that he's on the verge of stealing this series, but I'm wise enough to know that he certainly is capable of doing just that. Fortunately for the B's, Tim Thomas is just as capable of stealing a series if it comes down to a goal-tending duel.

So, with Thomas and Ward possibly canceling each other out, where does the advantage lie? As I stated, Boston is the better team. They can roll four lines, while Carolina is essentially a one line team, especially now that they've added Cole to the Staal line. Sure, Cullen got one the other night and is a decent player. Larose probably should have been credited with a goal himself, but he isn't much of a threat. And honestly...does anyone really worry that Samsonov is going to take over a game? He's still up to his old stick handle-through-the-team-then-lose-control-without-getting-a-shot-off routine.
As much as the Versus guys (who I think are doing a pretty good job) stress how important secondary scoring is for the Canes, I still believe that Eric Staal and his line-mates will have to have a series for the ages for them to win. It's a simple case of the best players HAVING to be the best players for their team.

Now, contrast that with Boston's lineup. When people say Boston's best players have to be their best players....who exactly do they mean? They could be talking about Savard and his line (Kessel and the LW du jour, usually Lucic). Of course, they very well could mean the Bruins "second line", with Krecji centering Ryder and Wheeler. Then again, it's a very good possibility that they mean the so-called "third line" of Patrice Bergeron between Chuck Kobasew and the ageless Mark Recchi. And the sad part is, none of those lines was Boston's best on Sunday. That honor fell to the veteran lunch-pail crew of Shawn Thornton, Stephane Yelle and PJ Axelsson. Somewhere, deep inside, that has to have the Hurricanes a bit concerned. Sure, they won game 2 and looked decent doing it. But I think if they're being honest, they'd tell you that the B's played nowhere near as well as they can. That has to be scary, because honestly, Boston's fourth line was effective all night against whoever they played against. Can you imagine how effective Boston's "skilled" lines could be if they get their acts together?

Much has been made of the fact that Carolina has the last line change for the next two games. Obviously, that helps coach Maurice keep Staal away from Chara a bit. But I don't think that will make as big of a difference as many have claimed. All year, home or away, Big Z has been tasked with shutting down the opposition's best forwards. And all season, he's done just that. But the thing is, it's a team game. The rest of the Bruins aren't dumb. If they see a match up they don't want, they dump the puck quickly and make the quick change. If a smart, safe dump play isn't available, they don't risk it. And at that point, to a man, they pick up the challenge of playing Z's shut-down role. That strategy and mindset have worked all year against the likes of Ovechkin, Crosby and Malkin. I just can't see Eric Staal having some sort of field day just because he gets last change. Never under estimate the pride factor. Every Bruin player, particularly the defensemen know how important stopping Staal is. Don't be surprised if you see Mark Stuart or anyone else step up and handle the challenge. You simply don't finish first in the East and give up so few goals just by having ONE top flight defender.

On the other side, Boston presents match-up problems all over the ice. IF the B's find their game again, Carolina simply doesn't have enough quality players to keep them all off the board. And I fully expect the B's to regain their form in game 3. They've done it all year, no reason to expect them to go into a funk now. The guy I'd keep my eye on for the B's is Recchi. He's been eerily quiet so far this post-season. I can't imagine that will continue much longer. With the Bruins looking to simplify their game tomorrow, Recchi could be the biggest beneficiary. His style is simple. Get it deep, cycle and camp in front of the net looking for tip-ins. The B's will be looking to throw as much rubber as possible at Ward, all while getting in his face as much as they can. That recipe works perfectly for a guy with Recchi's skill set. He will have at least one goal Wednesday, if he doesn't I'll be stunned.

But beyond the "just throw pucks at the net" game plan, the B's will be looking to actually make plays TOWARD the net. As they've all admitted, the first two games, they've gotten away from their style for some reason. When the B's are clicking, they're a puck possession team. Dump, chase, get it back then cycle. When they use their size speed and skill on the cycle, they force opposing defenders out of position. All year they've been great at identifying that defensive breakdown and attacking it immediately. games one and two, they seemed to want to get rid of the puck too soon, before they forced that breakdown. It's a fine line I suppose. Fans, myself included, get antsy when they see them passing it around "too much". But we should get equally antsy when nobody seems to want to handle the puck. Again, they're at their absolute best when they're controlling the puck and moving it around. It can't just be the puck moving, they have to move their feet as well, and that has been lacking so far.

Nowhere is the lack of movement more noticeable than on the power play. the Bruins had a dominant power play for most of the year, because they constantly moved the puck, and themselves. They do a great job of moving in and out, side to side....anything to change angles and cause over reactions by the PK team. If they don't get back to that, it could be the single biggest cause of them failing to move on (and I don't see that happening).

For all of that, my single biggest gripe with how they played Sunday night is this; they just weren't NEARLY physical enough. I'm not sure why that is, but it's clear they have to start asserting themselves physically. It could be partly because of the long layoff. They hadn't hit anyone in over a week, and maybe it was tough to get ramped back up again. Mostly, in my opinion, it's because they're playing the Carolina Hurricanes, not the Montreal Canadiens. With the Habs, there is no problem getting up for the game. You know what you're going to get and it gets the blood boiling. But Carolina? They aren't a fighting team. They aren't a very physical team. In fact, they're a pretty small team. One that, on paper, Boston should be dominating physically. But right now there is just not enough "hate" in the Bruins game. If the Canes are smart, they won't do ANYTHING to wake up the beast. Honestly, instead of trying to wear down the B's with body contact (which is pretty much every teams strategy against any opponent, and has been forever), they'd be better off playing as gentlemanly a game as possible. Why risk waking up a Boston team that can out muscle them all over the ice? The good news, if you're a B's fan is, I think losing on home ice may just have been what snaps the B's out of their two game funk.

Some may say that Boston losing for the first time could cause them to "panic" and fall apart. I couldn't disagree more. Remember, many of these players are the same guys that came storming back against the Habs last year, winning in as hostile an environment as you'll find. That experience could prove invaluable as the B's move forward. Beyond that, Boston has great veteran leadership. Aaron Ward has three Cups (including one in 2006 with Carolina), Recchi has a couple. Yelle has won Cups, as has Thornton. Axelsson has played in more playoff games than some of his teammates have played in the regular season. Chara has had some deep runs in his own right. All of those calming influences in the Bruins room can only help settle down any of the younger guys that may be feeling some pressure. Sure, Carolina has all those Cup winners still around from '06, and that helps. But again, I'll take a vastly more talented roster with a fair amount of experience over the over matched team with a lot of experience. When all is said and done, it's still a talent driven game/league.

So wrapping all of that blabbering up, what are my predictions for game 3 you say? Glad you asked.....(even though I usually like to do these on game day)

PREDICTIONS: Bruins win this one 4-2 (possible empty-netter).....hell, they might just even get 5 past Ward (and if they do, it's game set match on the series). So screw it, as much as I think it will be 4-2 with an empty netter, I'll be bold and say it ends up 5-2. Recchi pots a pair. And, just as I said Reccchi would benefit from a straight ahead style, so will Kobasew. He gets one himself. And, as long as we're scoring "ugly", Lucic snags one of his own. The fifth goal is a prettier one.....scored by.....hmmm....ok, how about Kessel? yep, Kess rips one over the glove.
Don't expect much in the way of rough stuff between these two, although I suppose it's possible Larose or someone stirs the pot a LITTLE to try to spark his team. No fights, but the face washes could be more frequent. But Boston far out-hits the Canes and carries play for most of the night. Go B's-Kynch