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On The Bruins, and Game-Breakers

 

New Hockey Primetime: What factors into motivation aside from winning and cash? (Haven’t even finished it yet, let alone submitted. Gimme a hot sec, will ya? :) )

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I had a little twitter conversation with the esteemed “Haggs” (Joe Haggerty) today, the gent who covers the Bruins (and Boston sports in general) so well.  He is also kind of a fan of the Bruins, and I support that – you always get better quality work from people who care.

Well hey there, you're an affectionate lil' feller aren't ya?

He expressed the idea that the East is wide open for the Bruins to take.  He’s almost right, save for Philly.  The other top teams are plenty scary, but they all have some minor deficiencies.  I just think Philly’s team might be good enough to overcome the inexperienced goaltending.

Still, it brought me to the Bruins roster, and I gave it a good once over, in hopes of finding a hole to reply to Haggs with after he picked apart the other top contenders (Philly: “goaltending.” Tampa: “lack of playoff experience after Vinny/St.Louis.” Washington: “picking up Boston’s castoffs – Wideman, Sturm – doesn’t wow me.” Pittsburgh: “No Crosby/Malkin.”)

It was damn hard to dig up any weakness - that roster is insanely deep.  I scanned down it from the top to find the first laugher of a player, and there wasn’t one.  My eyes stopped on Adam McQuaid (Darth Quaider, apparently), which is stupid, because it turns out he’s like, first in the NHL in +/- at +27.  Hardly a “laugher,” I just hadn’t noticed him before.

Anyway, the only thing I have is this: They don’t really have a game-breaker.  And my regular readers knowwwww how I loves me some game-breakers.  Never been a fan of “scoring by committee” …which is still about ten notches behind “goaltending by committee” on the Ideas That Won’t Work list.

The reason I think a team needs at least a game-breaker or  two to win is fairly understandable: in close games, defense tightens up, they’re on high alert, and they’re trying their hardest.  There’s more clutching and grabbing, and it gets more difficult for a middle of the road scorer to beat someone one-on-one and break the game open.  Ain’t nobody sleeping.  Oftentimes, these close games just drag out until overtime or a “bad goal.”

Thing is, that you have to score bad goals to win close games is another old-school misconception.  It happens occassionally, but look – when Patrick Kane juked Kimmo Timonen to score the Stanley Cup game winning goal in overtime, that wasn’t a bad goal.  The shot itself should’ve been stopped, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a player on Boston’s roster could have got themselves in a position to score that “bad goal” - he got the puck flat-footed on the half-wall.  He made about 55 shoulder shimmies before getting the shot off.  Big time players come through in big time moments.

Last years Cup champs: Toews and Kane.

The year before: Crosby and Malkin.

The year before: Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

Okay, that line kinda look tough to play against. Jesus.

Before that: Getzlaf and Perry.

It’s just the way the NHL playoffs go (I stopped short of Carolina who really only had Eric Staal, but the one before that is right back to Tampa with Lecavalier and St. Louis).

Now, that’s not to say the Bruins can’t or won’t win the Cup.  I’ve picked them to go to the Finals since the season began.  I really like their team.  I was just trying to find a weakness.

I’m not sure Bergeron….Lucic? is going to cut it.  Krejci?  Their team’s strength is that I could play the Bergeron and ??? game for almost the entire length of their roster (the weakness might be that I’m pretty sure Bergeron doesn’t even qualify for the type of guy I mean).  But still…Horton? Peverly?  It’s a deep team, with a nice touch of grit.  Kaberle was just the addition they needed too.

I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’: if there’s anything I feel that could catch up to them it’s their ability to score goals……I say about the team who’s 5th in the NHL in goals-per-game, after a 6-0-0 road trip, the first since the Bobby Orr era. 

(Remember, the argument isn’t that the Bruins can’t score – it’s wondering if they have a guy who can do it consistently in the big moments of playoff games, AKA a game-breaker. Think back to the year the Pens won –  Crosby single-handedly won the Conference Finals, then Malkin the Finals.)

Anyway, that’s the best I could do at poking a hole in the theory that the Bruins are going to mow over the rest of the East.  You on board with that, or is there another reason we won’t see them in the Stanley Cup Final?

{Note: please refrain from just typing the name of your favourite team without evidence or argument.}

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Happy humpday.  The wifancee is trying out Zumba today.  Thoughts?

A Photoblog. Phlog. Blackhawks @ Coyotes, February 12th

 

Okay friends, it’s time to run some of the pics I took from sitting on the glass at the Chicago/Phoenix game (tomorrow I’ll run the Washington/Phoenix ones if I get the pics downloaded in time), sorry I’m a little late on this.  Complete with my own snide comments, as you’ve all come to expect.

Chicago Blackhawks @ Phoenix Coyotes

I have never, ever seen someone as OCD about their sticks in warmups as Duncan Keith. He'd use each stick for mere minutes before switching, testing each one, staring at them, evaluating them, trying to decide which one to use. It was bizarre, and frankly, dumb. He used like three of them in the game anyway.

See.

Turco made Bri go "whoa, that guy's old."

I got a lotta heat about the green hoody on twitter, but $20 at Target? Can't beat that. BTW, seats were so good we walked through player entrace high-fiving fans to get back to them. Whatta blast.

I look startled.

These two have an interesting dynamic.... Toews seemed really down, and as I tweeted, he came to the bench saying "eff me" more times than a porn star throughout the game.

And because we sat here.....

We got this picture!

Interesting things of note, at least in my opinion:

*The assistant coach was taking notes on Phoenix, not his own team (it was whichever assistant that runs the forwards – Mike Kitchen?).  I wonder if they have one guy watch their opponent and the other tends to the Blackhawks?

*Phoenix was apparently playing a 1-2-2 in the neutral zone, and was utilizing the reverse after winning d-zone face-offs (DZFO).

* The Vrbata note is from right after he scored - He seems to note that it was 8′s fault (Nick Leddy), who apparently effed up a hinge/pinch decision.

* He’d like to see more body contact, which I presume is out of obligation to the Laws of Coaching, which means you have to request more body contact from your team.

* Ummm apparently he wasn’t impressed with Pyatt’s goal off the wing, double underlining the word (WEAK).  I’m pretty sure after seeing the replay Corey Crawford was screened and it was tipped.

The rest is pretty generic.

Hawks tie it up at two with three minutes left...

Had to walk by this, Turco's helmet every time we walked to the bar/washroom between periods.

Crawford looked wiped before the shootout. He also looked like Marty Turco's son.

When you know you're not shooting, shootouts are a blast. Game is over, entertainment time.

Someone's nervous watching.....

This:

Bryz owned Kane on two straight breakaways, one in OT, one in shootout. And just like that, the Hawks were....

LICKED. /kitty-rolled

Thoughts From Coyotes/Canucks….And Of Course, The Cats

 

New Puck Daddy: An Interview with Open champion and Atlanta Thrashers season-ticket holder Stewart Cink.  He’s a great guy, so I didn’t ask him about ruining the greatest sports story of the decade in stealing the major from 60 year old Tom Watson. (I kid, Cink played amazing, clutch putt on 18)

I’ve got a fairly interesting “instructional” type post tomorrow on a way more guys are scoring these days, be sure to stop by and check it out.

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So for whatever reason – whatever annoying reason, that is – YouTube periodically won’t let me upload videos I take on my phone.  Other times, it takes ten seconds and it’s a snap.  Twice I’ve had wicked cat videos that they’ve denied: one, Tyson “greeting” his new bro with vicious hisses, and two, just now, he basically put Jiggs in a headlock to clean him.  I’ll try again later.

Instead, I only got this, the nice video.  They really are bestest buds.

 …..okay, now it won’t embed.  Eff it, go look at it here: Tyson cleaning Jiggs

It’s cute, but it’s not reality.  They usually play rough.  It’s usually a flurry of white rabbity fur around Tyson’s head, who takes it for about 30 seconds before begrudgingly kicking the snot out of the little warrior.  It’s usually something more….like….this:

Ugh....

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So I went to the Canucks / Coyotes contest here in Phoenix yesterday, my thoughts:

*To say the crowd was 50% pro-Canucks might be an understatement.  If there weren’t more of them, they were louder.  They chanted Luuuuu, sang the anthem loud and proud, and even the damn green men showed up in full effect.

Hodgson rocked the birdcage last night, not the best look for him.

*Oliver Ekman-Larsson is going to be a top-10 defenseman in the NHL someday.  The kid is what, 19?  It says he’s 6’2″ (looked taller), and as I tweeted ever-so-homoerotically, he skates like a dream and handles the puck even better.  Goodness.

*Bissonnette skates better than he did when I played against him in Wilkes-Barre, by leaps and bounds.  I’d even go as far as to say he’s a good skater at the NHL level.  In general, he’s actually not a bad player, I had let his self-deprecation get to my head.

*The Sedins pass the puck really, really well.  Constantly fit it into areas that were no bigger than a stick blade.

*Kesler is a monster of a dude.  He’ll be an absolute menace to play against in playoffs.

*Also as I tweeted, Cody Hodgson skates a little wide.  It’s not the worst thing in the world, but he doesn’t bring his skates all the way back under his body, which makes for a shorter, less efficient stride.  Mason Raymond?  He comes wayyy across his own center-line.

*I’d have pulled Bryz after the Hodgson goal.  Brutal in a 2-0 game to let a puck go in not all that hard and halfway up the net.  I think he expected a better shot and was bringing his glove up for a quick one, but it was a change-up.  Still, gotta yank him there.

*Yandle is as good as I remembered, good, hard, smart outlet passes all night.

*The Coyotes looked poor, but only because the best team in the NHL looked really good.  Phoenix just isn’t quite on that level, as disciplined as they tend to play.

Anyone else go last night?  What’d you think?

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