Monday, April 21, 2008

Salute to the Boston Bruins

Alas, their valiant effort ended tonight in Montréal.

There are many things to take away from this amazing first round playoff series. In the end, it's not surprising the Canadiens won the series. What is extremely surprising, and promising, is that the Bruins were able to force the series to a game 7.

After the disappointing showing the Bruins had in the 2006-07 season, no one expected much from this team. They didn't really do much in the offseason to improve their chances going forward. They didn't have much salary cap room to do much. There were no big free agent signings, as with the previous off-season (Marc Savard - C, Zdeno Chara - D).

They did get rid of head coach Dave Lewis and hired Claude Julien. Personally, I liked Dave Lewis - as a person. He was an entertaining personality; he just never gained the respect? trust? something of the team last season. Apparently, coaching matters because Julien was able to do so much more with just about the same roster.

With that said, I think the young players that were here this season - which were not here last season - had a huge impact.

The new fan favorite, myself included, is 19 year old left wing Milan Lucic (#17). The kid is a beast. People are (prematurely, in my mind) referring to him as Neely-like. I think that's alot to expect. However, he is tough as nails with a nose for the puck. General Manager Peter Chiarelli was wise to hold on to him through the trade deadline. He's the type of player that Bruins fans love to watch and I hope he sticks around for many seasons to come.

Another player who had a huge impact this season was center David Krejci (#46). He turns 22 in a week. When Marc Savard went down late in the season with a back injury (courtesy of Les Habitants de Montréal), Krejci stepped up huge and went on a nice scoring run to keep the playoff hopes of the Bruins alive. I like this kid and, once again, I'm glad Chiarelli had the patience not to move him at the deadline just to make a move.

I'll round out the top three young impact players with center Vladimir Sobotka (#60). He'll be 21 in July. He's not afraid to get dirty, go deep into the corners, and - even at only 5' 10", 183 lbs - loves to hit. Keep it up Vladi.

Noting the last two players mentioned, they were here out of necessity after an unbelievably cheap hit by the Philadelphia Flyers's Randy Jones on center Patrice Bergeron (#37) early in the season. The October 27 boarding (which Jones only received a 3-game suspension for) nearly broke Bergeron's neck and left him with a severe concussion that left him sidelined for the remainder of the season. I'm looking forward to Bergeron's return next season. And the first Bruins-Flyers game.


Another thing I've taken to heart from this series is the renewed rivalry with the Canadiens. Since the mid-90s it hasn't been much of a rivalry with the Bruins not really having the team to compete with them. The Bruins lost all 8 games with the Habs this season (and the first 2 in this playoff series). To bring this series to a game 7 was an enormous accomplishment. The Bruins barely made the playoffs as the eigth, and final, seed. The Canadiens were the best team in the Eastern Conference. Believe me when I say - the Canadiens's fans weren't looking forward to a game 7.

Outside of that, watching this series has renewed my personal (sports) hatred of the Bleu, Blance, et Rouge... Their fans are smug and fair-weather, in my opinion. Watching them stream out of the Bell Centre during game 5 as the Bruins were handing it to them was a delight. I'm looking forward to the next round just to see who will take them out of Cup Contention. My second favorite team is the team that does just that.


Finally, I was glad to see that the Bruins managed to garner some interest from the local sports fan community in these parts.

I'm so tired of the over-saturation of everything Red Sox. I'm a Sox fan but things are getting a bit ridiculous. It's almost the same with the Patriots. And with the Celtics beginning their run to their next NBA championship, the Bruins have been a forgotten team - and hockey a forgotten sport.

It's too bad. Hockey is a phenomenal game to watch. Playoff hockey is that, ten-fold. The Bruins need to keep the pace of improvement and build on what they've accomplished this season.

It may be a generational thing, with this not being a generation of hockey fans, but I believe if the Bruins can get through a few rounds of the playoffs in the next season or two that may change. I'm hopeful, anyway. Yes, I know I'm biased - but I'll take an NHL playoff game over anything in terms of edge-of-your-seat excitement.


There are probably hundreds, thousands, more words I could devote to this but this will suffice for now. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the Sox defense of their World Series title, the Celts' run for the NBA title, and the (ahem) NFL draft? No, sorry, I can't condone being excited for that... In addition, I also hope that you save a small bit of hope, excitement, of your heart - for the toughest guys on the Boston sports scene.

Let's Go Bruins!


Oh! One more comment. One other thing that separates the NHL Playoffs from the other major sports. The handshake. The post-series handshake, when the teams line up on the ice, skate past, and shake the hand of each, individual player on the opposing team.

There were a number of big one-on-one battles within this series. I was particularly surprised by the effectiveness defenseman Aaron Ward (#44) showed in taking Alexei Kovalev out of the mix.

The battle of the series, however, was Milan Lucic with Mike Komisarek. These guys beat on each other for seven, long, tough games. It's one of the great sub-plots of an NHL Playoff series. In any case, through the magical brilliance of the DVR and the electronic wizardry of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 Digital Camera, I was able to capture the precise moment these two players met up in the queue.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Home Fries

Jeez - reading back on that last post, makes it feel like a year. Apparently, it was about a month... somewheres in that vicinity, anyway.

It's about a month later and everything looks lined up. A couple stubborn hurdles to pass over but nothing (positive thoughts) insurmountable. Down the home stretch I go.

You hear a lot about how stressful the process of buying a house is. Some people take it and multiply it - so it's more stressful than it needs to be. Some people underestimate it and assume it'll be easy. Word to the wise - "They're all different. And each will drive you crazy."

That's what I can say I've learned to this point. Nothing makes sense. Everything is done backwards... It's mayhem! The Real Estate market is - fucked up - !

Seriously. It's well messed up.

Too much weird shit has happened within the last month that there's no way to doco it all here. They're stories worth telling, though. So. I guess. Beware?

One other thing before signing off - I just saw something on the news that led me to believe that Patrice Bergeron would be ready for the first round of the playoffs. This is a huge development, as he's been out since late October with a severe concussion.

I wonder if it's an organization pushing a player too hard for their own gain. Think about it. Bergeron's a Quebec native. The series opens Thursday with two games in Montreal (game 2 Saturday). That's a boost the Bruins could use - having gone 0-8 against the Habs in the regular season, without Bergie.

We'll see. It's probably a lot of over-thought and over-analyzation but it stands to mention : Let's see how much Patrice Bergeron produces in the playoffs; and let's see how much punishment he takes.

Don't get me wrong - I'd have nothing more than the Bs upsetting the Habs in round one... but, realistically, I don't see it happening. Montreal is too fast and skilled to lose to the Bruins in a seven game series.

I have to go with the Canadiens in five games. Gods be pleased, I'm wrong.

Let's Go Bruins!