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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Official "eat your crow on Tim Thomas" post

Okay people, line up. I'll be the first to eat my crow. I said many times Tim Thomas is a decent starter, but not a championship one.

Thomas is now an all-star and should get some consideration for the Vezina.

I want anyone who was a Thomas hater to admit it.

Now if we can find a way to get rid of Fernandez...

Bruins win 3-1

Overall great game. Goals by Sturm and 2 by Metropolit, who along with Kobasew both notted their 100th NHL point.

Tim Thomas was a rock in net. He saved the Bruins in this game, making 37 saves, and about 4 or 5 robberies.

The Bruins played a fast pace, physical game. Milan Lucic played extremely well, and helped Metro on both his goals. Kessel, even though he did not score, also played very well.

The game changing moment was when Andrew Ference laid out Erat, and Nichol took exception. Ference pummled Nichol and the Bruins were on an energy high.

This was a great game to watch, and the Bruins took an important 2 points before facing Detroit and Ottawa.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Selanne signs with Anaheim; Flaw in CBA

Selanne just resigned with the Anaheim Ducks for 1 year and 600,000.

This is a huge flaw in the CBA which needs to be addressed. It is complete BS. Now, teams with older UFA's or high priced veterans can either wait and resign the player mid way through the season for cheap money, or they can "suspend" a player for half the season until he decides to come back. Between Selanne and Niedermayer, that is what happened.

What is going to forbid other UFA's from doing this? Or to teams with high priced defenders.

This is unfair to all the other NHL teams, and I am not saying this because if the Bruins had done it, I would understand why it is unfair.

My solution, a cutoff date. Period. On November 31st, if you are either suspended indefinately, or not signed, you may not play in the NHL. This makes if fair. Teams could just load up on cheap talent late in the season otherwise.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Been a long time since my last post. A lot going on in the past month so sorry for the lack of posts. Just wanted to get some thoughts on the Bruins of late.

  • Congrats to Marc Savard, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, and Milan Lucic for making the All-Star game and the Youngster AS team. Chara has been one of the best defenders in the East all seasons and Savard has shown he is an elite playmaker and is finally getting recognition. Lucic has been great and good to see him go to the youngsters game. Now to Thomas. Who would have though he would ever be an all-star? He has proved a lot of people wrong, including me, and it is odd to say, but the Bruins have an all-star goalie. When I see Alex Auld in net, I really realize how good TT is.
  • I disagree with Milbury's comments about Kessel and how he his flaws are fatal. First off, this is a guy who made awful trades with the Isles, trading Chara, Spezza, Jokinen, Luongo, and so on. The Pitino of the NHL. While Kessel hasn't been Ovechkinesque out of the gate, he is progressing well. Every time he has the puck he has the ability to score. His game has improved a lot since last season. As many people know, forwards usually take a few seasons to find their game.
  • 8-2 Montreal loss. Now, I think this is a case of a bad matchup. The Bruins just don't match up well with them. The Habs skate around the Bruins at ease, and beat the trap. The Bruins get down early against them and the Bruins offense isn't capable at coming back down 2 goals often.
  • The lack of offense is killing the Bruins. Missing guys like Murray and Bergeron doesn't help. The Bruins need to go out and acquire a sniper, a guy like Hossa. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Bruins make a run at thim this offseason and during the deadline.
  • Peter Schaefer has been a bum all season. He seems like a lazy player and he hasn't live up to my expectations. I wouldn't mind trading him to rid us of his 2.1 million cap hit.
  • Dennis Wideman has been great this season. I still wouldn't deal Boyes for him still, but Wideman has emerged as the 2nd best defender on the team and I think Claude has done a great job with him.

I'll try to get back to posting more regularly, as for the game vs. the Isles, this will be a very important game, since the difference between 6 and 8 is starting to separate a little.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thoughts From The Weekend and Other Rumblings

Quite the impressive weekend for the Bruins as they take all 4 possible points from the two games against the Rangers. The Bruins worked hard in both contests and clearly out hustled an overmatched Rangers squad. I can't believe I'm even saying an "overmatched" Rangers team when the Bruins have basically been fielding a JV squad for weeks now.

With the likes of Nokelainen, Pelletier, and Sobotka, the "Kid Line" has contributed tremendously to the recent success. It's promising to see the youth helping this team out, but what is even more impressive is the coaching this team is getting day in and day out. This past weekend on The New England Hockey Journal radio show, callers were rating Claude Juliens' performance thus far. As far as I'm concerned this guy deserves an A all the way. Julien has instilled a defense-first attitude and a system that clearly players have bought into. The difference is night and day between what we saw last year under the tutelage of Dave Lewis, with basically the same pieces to the puzzle. Even though the B's current record of 24-18-5 doesn't merit the "A," it's the production that Julien has worked out of these players to get to this point that does. In no way shape or form would this team be in the thick of the playoff race if Lewis was still the coach.

I admit it, I was a Mike Milbury supporter from the moment I heard his named mentioned for the vacant bench boss position. However, I realize now that my desire to see Milbury coaching was just so I could relive the late 80's and early 90's memories that are LONG gone. It's a much different game today and Claude Julien was the perfect hire by Chiarelli.

As for another thought, to you folks who think it would be wise to trade Phil Kessel for Alex Tanguay or any other veteran that could possibly make some sort of contribution, you're all nuts. Kessel is still going to be something special in this league and I feels as though I would crucify Chiarelli if he traded him for veteran help. If anything, Kessel's performance over the past couple weeks with Murray and Axelsson out, makes me want to lock him up long term. He is finally starting to battle for pucks, forecheck on a consistent basis, and do the small things that one needs to do to be successful. In the meantime he is also slowly starting to reap those rewards in points by doing these things.

The youth movement is here folks and the future is bright for this team. Alongside Kessel, Milan Lucic, Chuck Kobasew, Tuukka Rask, et al, this team will be very competitive in the near future. Mix in the veteran leadership of Chara, Savard (quietly the best free agent signing over the past two years), and hopefully a healthy Patrice Bergeron, whenever he comes back, and there is reason to be excited. Now the Garden just needs the seats to be filled on game nights.

Don't get me wrong folks, this team is a middle-of-the-road squad that will not win the Stanley Cup this year. Getting to the playoffs is the first step and in the way are teams like Montreal this Tuesday. There is plenty of room for improvement here and it's clearly going to take the same blue collar approach for this team to make it to wherever they want to go.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pelletier Called Up To Walking Wounded

Pascal Pelletier was called up yesterday by the Bruins to fill in a forward spot that is left absent by the ailing Boston Walking Wounded.

Leading the AHL with 24 goals, it's suprising that it took this long for Pelletier to make his NHL debut. I'm interested to see how this guy works out given the production he's had in Providence. Going up against a hapless Toronto squad might help ease his transition a bit. Expect the Bruins to win this one folks as they've won each meeting thus far this season and have outscored the Leafs 11-5 in that span.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Trade Market Beginning To Shape Up

With the halfway point of the season come and gone, the Eastern and Western Conference playoff picture is beginning to take shape. With that said, rumors are starting to build regarding which teams are looking for help and those that are willing to sell. The trade deadline isn't until the end of Februrary, and there will certainly be more teams falling into their respective places within their conferences. However, lets take a "right now" look at the buyers/sellers and who is currently available.
  • Teams ready to sell:
Toronto Maple Leafs - This team has gone into shambles after a horrible West Coast swing. Rumors have been flying rampant all season regarding the trading of players (see more below) as well as shaking up the front office. Fully expect this team to make some moves by trading away talent for future help.

Buffalo Sabres - What a difference a year can make and the loss of two key free agents. Even though they are close to the 8th playoff spot, they are clearly a team who just doesn't have enough to get it done. Expect them to hold out hope but in the end sell some players at the deadline.

Los Angeles Kings - Overall, a young team mixed with a couple of veterans that just isn't talented enough to manage any success. Young, inexperienced goaltending has also hurt the squad. They are sellers now and will be at the deadline.

Tampa Bay Lightning - Without any help between the pipes, this team is lost. The big question that looms large is if any of the "Big Three" will get traded. Between Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, and Brad Richards, someone will probably go. It doesn't take a rocket scientists to think that the team would most likely keep Lecavalier as their untouchable.
  • Players On The Block

Mats Sundin - A quality veteran player that has been rumored to be traded for quite some time now. Sundin has proven for a long time now that he can put the puck in the net and is a solid #1 or #2 center. This guy is going to get traded, it's just a matter of where. Detroit has been mentioned as one suitor.

Rob Blake - Solid veteran blueliner with tons of experience, especially during playoff time. Blake's days as a #1 defenseman have passed, but would still provide any contender with plenty of experience and help.

Mathieu Schneider - Rumor has it the Bruins have not given up on their search for more defense, but is Schneider really the answer? At 38 years old and a large contract, he would command a significant portion of the B's cap space. Also, Chiarelli would have to give up a lot in return. Rumor has is Phil Kessel's name has been thrown out there (for God's sake, DO NOT trade this guy).

Marion Hossa - I don't expect this guy to be going anywhere as long as the Thrashers are in the thick of an 8th playoff spot bid. This guy is too talented for Atlanta to let him go.

This is just a short list of what is currently out there as possible moves for the Bruins to make. Obviously this will get much larger once the deadline gets closer and teams look to write off their season and look to the future. The Bruins will certainly make more moves to improve this club. In my opinion, they still need the scoring forward, however, they must not sacrifice Phil Kessel for this. He is going to be a contributor to this team and his move to the 1st line shows this. It looks like Kessel is finally starting to understand that being a productive player means playing both ways. To give up on him now would be a huge mistake on Chiarelli's part.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bruins-Flyers Preview

Chuck Kobasew and P.J. Axelsson did not practice yesterday, for undisclosed reasons. It is unsure if either are available for the game. Could a trade be in the works?? Maybe but probably not. Vladimir Sobotka has been recalled from Providence and may play if one of them are not available. Also, Matt Lashoff was returned to Providence.

The Flyers are 22-15-4 on the season and have the second ranked powerplay in the league. If the Bruins take stupid penalties early, and the Bruins need to rely on their 26th ranked penalty kill unit frequently, then they will certainly lose this game. The Bruins have been struggling lately and are only 3-6-1 in their last ten games, falling to seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins must stay out of the box and shut down all-star Mike Richards if they want to win this game. Star left wing Simon Gagne, who missed 26 games this season and is arguably the best player on this team, has recently returned from an injury making this team even more dangerous. Should be interesting to see how the Bruins respond from two disappointing loses in a row.

Scrum at Practice

During drills today, Zdeno Chara high-sticked forward Jeremy Reich, sparking a slight altercation. The two had a slight fist fight and had to be separated by teammates. "It's all good,'' Chara said. "We're friends. It was just a tough practice; sometimes things like that happen." Reich did not comment on the altercation.

Not sure what to think of this. It says something when someone takes a run at the "Captain". A highstick is very common in the NHL, which means it was either intentional or Chara does not have the respect of his fellow teammates. Not the best time for something like this to be taking place.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Where are the Bruins at?

I'm split. Could they make a playoff run? Or will they end up in the bottom 10? I don't know.

After a 6 game winless streak, the Bruins put back to back wins. They are still at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff standings, but they are separated by less than 6 points in most teams.

Now, if the Bruins were healthy, with Ward, Murray and Bergeron, I would feel very confident. But these injuries have killed them. It is not an excuse, Ryan Smyth of Colorado is out 8 weeks, Gagne from Philly has missed most of the season, Toews is out in Chicago.

Now, people who say the Bruins record is the same from last season, it is, BUT, they are definately playing better hockey. Instead of hoping we don't give up goals, I hope we score some goals.

The defense is not an issue, Once Ward comes back in a few weeks, everything will be fine. Wideman has been a huge surprise, and Chara's play has improved from last season. Mark Stuart and Matt Lashoff have made big strides. Ference and Alberts worry me, but I see them turning it around. Hnidy is a good role player who makes good decisions. Acquiring a guy like JM Liles or Adam Foote would be nice as well.

The offense is the main issue. There is a lack of skill overall. Kobasew, Sturm, and guys like that are good players, but they are a dime a dozen in the NHL. Sturm has 30 goal skill, but can't see to find the net without Bergeron. The old days of the power forward like Guerin and even Murray are gone. Murray is a sniper, but he isn't blessed with great skill. The new NHL is more of a skill sport, with guys like Kovalchuk, Hossa, Oveckin, Crosby, Malking, Heatley. Guys who can skate by 2-3 players and score. Kessel is the only player on the Bruins who can do that. Every time he gets the puck, he could score. Now he doesn't have great numbers, but he is progressing very well. Murray has been a disappointment. Until this team gets a winger who can score, they won't go anywhere. Savard is one of the top centers in the game, but there is no one to score. Schaefer has been a bum, the 4th cannot score with Reich and Thornton. The 3rd line rarely scores. Every good team has a scorer. Ottawa has Heatley, Atlanta has Hossa and Kovalchuk, San Jose has Cheechoo (before he lost it), Pittsburgh has Malkin and Crosby, Washington has Ovechkin (that's all they have), and so on. So based on my rant, I would fully expect the Bruins to go all out for Marian Hossa. The team needs a scoring skill winger.

I was watching Peter Chiarelli on NESN, and he said league wide talent is down. I took a second to think and I realized he was right. Right now, the NHL is in a weird spot. All the old players from the late 90s who were amazing are now fizzling out, and now it is a lot of young guys coming up, but very few are great players, and it will be 3-4 more years before there is a new crop of great players.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Bruins acquire Shane Hnidy and 6th rounder

The Bruins have acquired D Shane Hnidy and a 6th round pick from the Anaheim Ducks for Brandon Bochenski.

More to come...
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