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Archive for October, 2011

Bruins rally comes up short in 4-2 loss to Sharks

The Bruins had a hard time getting anything going all game, but they kept fighting. Boston was able to get the game tied at 2 early in the 3rd period, and seemingly had the momentum and the game in their hands. It was not meant to be in this game though, as the Bruins dropped their 5th game of the year 4-2 to the San Jose Sharks. Tyler Seguin continues his tear to start the season, now with 3 goal and 6 assists for 9 points in just 8 games on the season. Him and Lucic showed some real chemistry together, accounting for both of the Bruins goals, and nearly 2 more. I’m interested to see how those 2 play together as the season goes on, and what exactly Claude will do with these lines with the emergence of Seguin as top line centerman.

Bruins bring the fight, but their rally falls short in 3-2 loss against San Jose

1st Period

Boston made a turnover behind the net to start the game, and Joe Thornton had a point-blank shot just seconds into the game. Thomas made a spectacular diving save to keep. David Kreci then turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and Joe Thornton picked the puck up. He and Joe Pavelski had a 2-on-1 now into the Bruins zone. Thornton centered a pass for Pavelski in the high slot, and he buried the puck just under the crossbar for a goal. San Jose was up 1-0 just 1:12 into the game. On the ensuing shift, Desjardins hammered Gregory Campbell into the boards from behind, and would receive a boarding call at 2:08. So the Bruins had a great chance to get this game back even early. Boston’s powerplay was tremendous Thursday night, and were looking to build on that momentum. The powerplay started slow, but once they got control of the puck they were getting great chances to score. Marchand just missed a chance in the slot with the puck not settling for his shot. Tyler Seguin had a shot from the far circle deflected wide, and the rebound was shot too high by David Kreci in the near slot. The powerplay was over for Boston, but they appeared to have gained some momentum back. Tyler Seguin created more scoring chances for Boston, what else is new? Seguin cut his way through 2 Shark defenders, fired a snap-shot from the near slot, but he rang the crossbar and the puck stayed out. San Jose was taking the puck out of their own zone, when a puck passed up to Joe Thornton kicked off his skates. Chara ran over an unsuspecting Thornton, thinking he had the puck. Chara would be called for interference at 11:12, and the dangerous Sharks powerplay now had a chance to extend their lead. The Bruins penalty killers did a great job keeping the puck away from Thomas, and San Jose was not able to score. Boston broke out with a 2-on-1 up ice with Horton and Pouliot. Horton skated into the near slot, and snapped a shot off that Niemi blocked away. San Jose forced another turnover in the neutral zone, and forced the puck in on Thomas. He was able to cover up the puck, and the shoot McGinn came in and stood in his face. Chara came over and gave him a light push to try to get him away from his goaltender, and he refused to move. Chara then decided to use more force, and Milan Lucic also got involved as they shoved him away from their goaltender. McGinn didn’t like that, and gave a jab to the chest of Chara. The refs broke the scrum up quickly, but things were picking up late. Marchand laid a nice open ice hit to an off-balance Joe Thornton, knocking the big man to the ice. The intensity had picked up as the period came to a close, with the San Jose Sharks up 1-0.

2nd Period

Marchand got things started to open up the 2nd period. He had a great burst of speed through center ice, and he gained outside position into the near circle. His shot was stopped by Niemi, a juicy rebound came far side, but there was no one to bury the puck. The Sharks would be called for too-many-men-on-the-ice at 2:48, and it gave the Bruins an early powerplay to try to tie the game. Boston wasn’t able to muster a shot on goal this time, and the powerplay was over for Boston. San Jose brought a great forecheck back to Boston. Havlak was battling behind the net for the puck, and had all 5 Bruins back there with him. The puck was kicked out and Couture was found all alone in the center slot, and he buried the puck in the back of the net. Boston was now down 2-0 to San Jose at 8:54. It was at that point the Shawn Thornton decided to get Boston back into the game by mixing things up with Jim Vandermeer. Thornton got some real good shots in on Vandermeer’s face during a strong bout. Both players received 5 minutes for fighting at 10:23. Thornton was trying to give some life to this Bruins team, but the Sharks brought the pressure right back. Nothing was going to come easy for Bosotn in this game. Late in the period Campbell made a long pass to Daniel Paille as he and Bergeron skated behind the Sharks defense. It was a 2-on-1, with Paille near side. Paille passed across to Bergeron, who passed back to Paille but his tip-in went well wide on a wide open net. Chara then had a one-timer from the near point that was tipped in front and went off the roof of the net. The Bruins exited the 2nd period down 2-0 now.

3rd Period

The 3rd period started with great passing by the Seguin line. Lucic centered a pass for Kelly, who dropped a pass back for Seguin. Seguin wristed a shot high glove side, but Neiemi made the save. Bergeron dumped the puck behind the Sharks net, and this is where things got interesting. Niemi went behind the net to stop the puck, but his clearing attempt was blocked by Chris Kelly behind the net. Kelly sent the puck towards net, and it kicked off the left skate of Niemi. The puck skidded through the crease, and Lucic jammed the puck into the back of the net. Boston was on the board at 2:43, down 2-1 now. Milan Lucic came right back, forcing a turnover in the neutral zone. Seguin was able to tip the puck to him at the far circle. He centered a pass for Tyler Seguin in the slot, who buried it into the back of the net. Boston had tied the game just 39 seconds later at 3:12, and now had all the momentum on their side. Nathan Horton came back centering a pass for Brad Marchand, but his shot went wide. Pouliot then created a chance, sending the puck up ice for David Kreci. Kreci skated through center ice, and made a cross-ice pass for Rich Peverley. But he could not get a shot off against the back-checking defense. The Sharks came back with hard work along the side boards in the Boston zone. Vandermeer tapped the puck along to McGinn, who took a point shot from the far side. Thomas came out to attack the shot, blocking it down. The puck rebound back in front, and was picked up and roofed by Benn Ferriero. San Jose was back on top 3-2 at 8:48. Lucic and Seguin came right back up ice, with Lucic centering a pass for Seguin. His tip-in was deflected away from the net though. Boston then had a 3-on-1 up ice, with Lucic far side, Seguin high slot, and Kelly near side. Lucic held the puck into the far slot, tried making a cross-ice pass that was knocked down. Seguin came back to get the puck, and passed across ice to Chris Kelly. Antti Niemi was spread-eagle going right to left, and he somehow made a glove save on Kelly. Time was ticking away, and Boston finally had to empty their net. Joe Corvo took a point shot that was knocked down in front, and picked up by Pavelski. He sent the puck ahead to Patrick Marleau, who would add the empty netter at 19:55 as San Jose had beaten the Boston Bruins 4-2.

Post-Game Breakdown

Another tough early loss for the Bruins, who have stumbled to a 3-5-0 record to start the season. Boston played well in this game, but never really got things going. Niemi was good in net, but not great in this game. It felt like Boston just wasn’t able to finish on their scoring chances, while the Sharks did. Especially early in the game, the Bruins just did not have their skating legs and were making bad mistakes. Boston finally came to play in the 3rd period, already down 2 goals though. Great work by Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic to tie the game for the Bruins, but it would not be enough to overcome their turnover woes from earlier. The Bruins now have 4 days off, before they welcome the Montreal Canadians to town. Thursday night the Bruins host their rival Canadians, who the Bruins knocked out of the postseason in 7 games last season. Montreal is off to a horrid start as well at 1-4-2 for 4 points, worst in the Eastern Conference and 2nd worst in the NHL. Boston has gotten to a slow start, but I expect having the Montreal Canadians in the Garden will wake up the sleeping giant. I look for a very hard-fought, tough game in Boston Thursday night, but I see the Bruins coming away with a win.

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Hurricanes Cause a Storm in Boston, Drowning Boston 4-1 as the Bruins Receive 82 Penalty Minutes

The Bruins dropped their 2nd game against the Carolina Hurricanes this season, losing 4-1. Boston had a tough time getting to Cam Ward again Tuesday night, and their frustration led to an outburst by the Bruins. Boston tried starting some trouble with the Hurricanes, and they would not punch back. Boston ended up taking 82 penalty minutes, and having 5 Bruins tossed from the game including coach Claude Julien. It was a very close game to start, with the Hurricanes having a 2-1 lead midway through the 3rd period. A couple of penalties later, and Boston was stuck killing off over 3 minutes of 5-on-3, and then they were down 3 goals and the game was virtually over. David Kreci was out for his 3rd straight game with a core injury, allowing Tyler Seguin to center the 1st line yet again. Adam McQuaid was also out, and he was again replaced by Matt Bartowski.

Bruins bring the hate Tuesday night, but the Hurricanes bring the goals in a 4-1 loss for the B's.

1st Period

The Bruins came out flying to start the game, but Cam Ward was spectacular right from the get go. First Ward stuffed Rich Peverley on a chance in the crease, then he stopped a tip-in by Seguin from the near slot off a nice feed by Brad Marchand. The Bruins missed on their opportunities, and the Hurricanes brought the pressure right back. The Bruins defense was all over the place, not able to clear the puck in front of Rask. Anthony Stewart picked up the puck in the far slot, and roofed it into the back of the net. Carolina had an early lead, up 1-0 at 2:47. As usual the 1st line for Boston picked the pressure back up for the Bruins. Horton made a nice pass out of the defensive zone up to Milan Lucic. Lucic had the entire far side all to himself, with 3 Hurricanes clogging up the center. Lucic fired a shot towards goal, but he hit the apron of the net. Boychuck then found Nathan Horton in the near slot, but Ward again made the save. Daniel Pialle was up next, with a terrific shot from the far circle. Cam Ward though was standing on his head early, and kicked the puck away with his left pad. The Hurricanes dumped the puck back into the Bruins defensive zone, Brett Sutter got under and flipped Joe Corvo into the corner boards. A very scary hit, as Corvo laid on the ice for a minute. Corvo was able to get up and skate off under his own power, but would go back to the locker room. The Bruins would go on the powerplay, as Sutter was called for interference at 10:00. The Bruins powerplay was again futile, but the Bruins would come alive right after the penalty ended. Zdeno Chara made a nice pass up ice to Jordan Caron, who had wide open ice to work with. His shot rang the post near side though. Late in the period the Bruins would get a great chance from Rich Peverley in the high slot, but his shot went wide. Bergeron picked the puck up behind the net and tried a wraparound, but Ward held the near post. The 1st line of Boston came back with a 3-on-2 through center ice. Seguin took a slap-shot from the high slot that Ward stopped. Then Lucic and Horton tried jamming the rebound in, but Ward covered the puck up. The Bruins went into the 1st intermission down 1-0.

2nd Period

Joe Corvo was back on the ice to start the 2nd period, so he appears to not have been hurt too critically. The 2nd period started with a Hurricane getting knocked down by a Chara slap shot. Not the best place to be when your on the ice against the Bruins. Brandon Sutter created a turnover in the offensive zone, and came charging up the ice with a 2-on-1 for the Hurricanes, but he rang the post far side. Brad Marchand came into the offensive zone with speed off a Peverley pass, but had his shot stopped by Ward. Marchand would then attack the puck carrier Ruutu, flying into him and leaving his feet to bump him against the boards. Marchand would be called for charging at 3:55, and the Hurricanes had a chance on the powerplay to extend their lead. Carolina would muster just 1 shot on Tukkaa Rask, as the Bruins killed off Marchand’s penalty. As the Bruins brought the puck into the offensive zone, Skinner smacked Andrew Ference in the face with his stick. Skinner would be called for high-sticking at 6:32, and the Bruins now had a chance to get on the board on the powerplay. Nothing going for the Bruins powerplay, and they did not even get a shot on net. That’s 21 straight unsuccessful powerplays now for the Bruins. Boston would turn the puck over again in the offensive zone, with Rutuu taking the puck away at the near boards and passing to center ice to Joni Pitkanen. Pitkanen skated in with tremendous speed, and just fired a slap-shot from the far circle that beat Rask glove side. Carolina was up 2-0 now at 10:19. Seguin made a terrific feed to Horton, but his tip-in was blocked down. Boston picked the puck back up, and Chara took a shot from the point with Horton screening in front, but Ward made the save. There was a huge pileup at the net, centered around Horton pushing and shoving with Harrison. His teammates came to back him up, and Captain Zdeno Chara came in a smacked Harrison. The 2 squared off and Chara manhandled him, picking him up when he fell to the ice just to throw him some uppercuts. Chara even reached around the ref to get in some shots after he intervened. Cam Ward then skated over and bumped Chara, and those 2 started jawing. Lucic came over to help his Captain out by taking on 2 Hurricanes at once, and Tukkaa Rask skated all the way down to confront Ward. When all was said and done,  Chara and Harrison received 5 minutes for fighting. Chara would also receive a 2 minute instigator penalty, and a 10 minute game misconduct. Horton received a roughing minor, and Milan Lucic would serve 2 minutes for Tukkaa Rask for an unsportsmanlike conduct for leaving the crease. So it was a 5-on-3 for 2 full minutes for the Hurricanes at 14:19. The Hurricanes could not even get a shot off as Boston had killed of the 5-on-3. But 7 seconds after the penalty ended, Dennis Seidenberg would be called for interference at 16:26. Andrew Ference was battling in the far corner with Ruutu, and Ference had his stick chopped out of his hands. Ruutu would be called for slashing at 18:01, so we had 25 seconds of 4-on-4 before the Bruins would get a powerplay to work with. The Bruins powerplay was getting shots on net, but not getting any good looks at Cam Ward. Joe Crovo created a great chance in the far circle, just stick handling to create some space. He wristed a shot over Cam Ward, but rang the post far side. The period would end with the Hurricanes up 2-0, and Boston would have 2 seconds of powerplay to start the 3rd.

3rd Period

The Bruins were lacking energy to open up the 3rd period. Marchand and Corvo both had good chances to shoot on net, but fanned on their shots. The Hurricanes were content to just pass the puck around, and in turn they started skating circles around the Bruins. Boston did not have their legs under them, and they could not posses the puck as the period went on. Lucic checked Gleason behind the Carolina net, and Gleason didn’t like that. He started shoving with Lucic, and then Allen came over and put Lucic in a headlock from his blind side. Lucic was furious, broke free dropped his glove and grabbed Allen, but Allen did not want to go. Then Chris Kelly and Sutter started going at it at center ice. Kelly had Sutter’s jersey over his head as the 2 fought. Sutter fought trough it, but Kelly landed a knockout right to the head of Sutter. The penalties shook out with Lucic, Allen, and Gleason getting roughing minors, and Sutter and Kelly with 5 minutes for fighting at 10:30. The Bruins had a powerplay to work with now. Corvo was creating more chances for the Bruins, when he made a cross ice pass to Peverley at the near point. Peverley roofed the puck with Marchand screening in front, and the Bruins were finally on the board with a powerplay goal nonetheless. The Bruins were now down 2-1 at 10:59. The Bruins brought the puck back into the offensive, when Horton checked Gleason behind the net. Gleason didn’t like that one either, and bumped Horton from behind. Horton turned around, shoved back, and then dropped his gloves. You could read his lips as he said let’s go. Gleason didn’t want to oblige, so Horton just tossed Gleason to the ice, and tried picking him back up to give him some shots, but the referee would not let him. Horton would receive a double minor for roughing served by Shawn Thornton, as Horton also received a 10 minute game misconduct at 11:30. Just seconds later, a terrible call by the officials would give Carolina a 5-on-3 advantage. Chara would receive a high-sticking minor at 11:48, but what happened is he just shoved Jeff Skinner to the ice and his stick followed through, but never touched Skinner. Brad Marchand would grab Skinner, and give him a straight jab as Chara pleaded his case to the officials. So Marchand would receive a game misconduct at 11:49. It was a 5-on-3 for Carolina now for 2 full minutes. As play went resumed, Carolina sent the puck behind the Boston net. Dennis Seidenberg gave a hard check to Jeff Skinner from behind, and would receive a boarding minor at 12:10. The Boston fans didn’t like this, combined with some booze, and you have fans throwing things onto the ice.  The 5-on-3 would be extended for the remainder of the Horton double minor now. Eric Stall scored on the powerplay at 13:26 to stretch the lead back to 2 goals, now 3-1. Tuomo Ruutu then scored another powerplay goal at 14:58, and it was 4-1 Carolina. The Boston penalty kill would finally end. The Bruins went from being down by 1 goal, to having 2 players tossed and an extended 5-on-3 for the Hurricanes, who in turn extended their lead to 3 goals. Milian Lucic would receive at game misconduct at 16:16, when he skated up to Gleason. The 2 started jawing, and Lucic gave him a shove. The refs felt that was enough to toss him. Claude Julien was a bit to vocal on the bench about Lucic getting tossed, and would get himself a game misconduct served by Shawn Thornton. The game would come to a close with the Bruins losing 4-1, but the story of the night was about how many penalty minutes the Bruins accumulated compared to Carolina.

Post-Game Breakdown

A very close and entertaining game in Boston, until the 11:30 mark of the 3rd period. After that, all hell broke loose. It was insane at the TD Garden. The Bruins were able to score a powerplay goal, so I can’t rant about how terrible the powerplay is. Although, they did go 21 straight powerplay without a goal before Rich Peverley scored in the 3rd. In what was now a 1 goal game, Horton tried mixing it up with Gleason and Gleason showed what a wuss he is. You can call it smart for goading Horton into the penalty, but when you are a hockey player and you refuse to a fight, unless you’re the best player on your team, then you’re nothing but a wimp. The Bruins penalty kill was smothering the Hurricanes powerplay. It took a 5-on-3 for the Hurricanes to finally score on the powerplay. They looked almost as bad as the Bruins did with the man advantage. Once the Hurricanes broke through, you could just feel the whole building collapse. That Eric Stall goal was so deflating, almost as much as being assessed all those penalties. Now while the Bruins did deserve their penalties, all those game misconducts were ridiculous. There is no excuse for the referees to toss 5 Bruins including the head coach, and not 1 Hurricane. I hope that the league takes a look at what the refs did in this game, and straightens out what is to be expected from the officiating when things start getting out of hand like this. As for the game, I think Cam Ward might be in the Bruins heads.

Cam Ward was spectacular from the very 1st puck drop. In his 2 games again the Bruins, Ward has allowed just 3 goals on 62 shots for a .952 save percentage. Boston’s offense has struggled mightily finding the back of the net early in this season. It seems that the Bruins are missing most of their shots on net, which is terrible for the type of game the Bruins want to play. The Bruins are a team built on strength, and they score goals by getting to the dirty areas and putting in rebounds off the net. But if they’re not even getting pucks on net, then there’s no rebounds to shoot at, and that limits the way the Bruins can score goals. The Bruins need to fix their shooting problems quick, because they are about to go on a stretch of games that they can not afford to lose. They open up on Thursday night at the Garden against Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs are not a good team. They have started hot, but this happened last year as well and the Leafs finished as one of the worst teams in the league. I don’t see them making a turn around in 1 year. This is a game the Bruins have to win, they have to. If Boston drops this game, they will be 2-5 with a home game against the San Jose Sharks and a home-and-home with Montreal. Sweeping those 3 games would be the only possible outcome to get the team back to .500 in this early season. I think the Bruins should win Thursday night, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they lose based on the way this season has started.

Former Sox Pitcher Curt Schilling Adds Fuel to the Fire

Anyone who read my last post knows exactly how I feel about the Red Sox ownership and their recent turmoil. Monday afternoon, former Red Sox great Curt Schilling decided that there wasn’t enough fuel in this fire, so he added more. Curt Schilling appeared on 98.5 the Sports Hub, and the now infamous Felger & Massarotti afternoon segment when he said, “…he’s [John Henry] full of ****.” Strong words to say the least from the former Sox, but not uncharted waters for Schilling. Almost a week ago now on October 12, Schilling, while on national TV on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, said, “These [owners] are some bad people.” That is a very big accusation to make, not just about the organization, but about the character of the owners. Schilling is saying that the 3 owners, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, and John Henry, are not good human beings; that there is something morally wrong with them. Could this just be the ramblings of a bitter man, after arguing with the Sox when he hurt his shoulder in 2008 after signing a 1 year $8 million contract? Perhaps. Yet again, Schilling would know exactly how the Red Sox organization operates after spending 4 years there and winning 2 World Series. This brings us to Monday afternoon.

Schilling was a special guest on the Felger & Massarotti show Monday afternoon, and he was asked to provide some insight into the team. “It’s a ton of mudslinging and finger-pointing, and at the end of the day the 2 guys most responsible for bringing 2 world championships here and turning this organization around are gone.” Schilling said. When asked what he thinks about John Henry saying that ownership was not involved in the recent release of private information about Terry Francona and the Sox clubhouse Schilling said, “I think he’s full of ****… and I think he’s disingenuous at best. I think there’s been a lot of that, and I think when Terry comes out and says, very candidly, in the press conference… I didn’t feel like the ownership of this team had my back. That is such a much more powerful statement then the words being used. And then to have someone follow that up with… I was confused by that when he said that… That’s not true. You know this is a group of people who would love everybody to believe that they just sit back and watch baseball ops run the team, it’s not true, they’ve been involved, they’re always involved. When asked if Schilling had even been involved with anything like this Schilling said, “Oh absolutely. Absolutely, I got to see it… I’m not speculating. I got to see it, and experience it and watch it happen.” Schilling added one last jab at ownership when asked about what the perception of the Red Sox organization is he said, “When things like this information, Tito’s marriage stuff, and the medical stuff, and the pills and stuff; when that stuff starts coming from a ‘source’ in the organization, that’s people with an agenda, and people with power in an organization because those things don’t come out, they can’t come out from people other than that. The amount of people that can know enough about that information to make it to be a source is very, very small.”

While Schilling was putting the blame on ownership for the leaking of information, he still maintained that close friend Terry Francona and some of his former teammates were very much responsible for the collapse. When asked if Francona was totally blameless for the collapse Schilling said, “No, absolutely not! … He’s one of the few guys to have the wherewithal, the integrity, to stand up and say this is my fault I couldn’t reach the players… ” Schilling then explored what is the root of all this sludge, an idea that I personally explored in a post right after the collapse, which is the players quitting on this team.

Schilling said he was caught off guard by some of the comments Jon Lester had made earlier in the day, with Lester acknowledging that Francona had lost a voice in the clubhouse. “You’ve got a bunch of grown man admitting that they no longer felt like they listen to the guy in charge, and I don’t understand that.” Schilling said. “… you have a player basically telling you exactly what happened… which means, again I go back to the fact that these players quit. They quit on each other, they quit on the manager, they quit on the organization, they quit on the fans. I think that much is clear.” he added. The comments he’s referring to can be found in the article below.

http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/2011/10/jon_lester_spea.html

Schilling has always been known for speaking his mind, and he leveled into ownership and the players during his interview. We all know that Francona lost the clubhouse, and personally I think that we all can accept that fact. From everything that’s come out, it is clear that it was not Francona’s fault for the collapse. It was not ownerships fault for the collapse either, it is all on the players. Yes ownership is completely at fault for leaking information to the public. The information that has come out these past few days should confirm that. But there comes a point when what’s going on in the clubhouse doesn’t matter to you or me. I am very concerned about what’s going on in that clubhouse, and I will continue to voice myself on that. The releasing of information is ridiculous, and the owners deserve to be called out on that. But the players are where the root of all this sludge comes from. That’s where there needs to be a change. If these players decided that they didn’t need to listen to their manager, and they could go and eat fried chicken and have a couple of beers (there’s no way it was just 1 Jon Lester, sorry, but that’s a lie for PR), then something has to be done to re-emphasize that these players are adults making millions of dollars a year to play a game. Jon Lester basically said that these players need a babysitter, that they can’t be trusted to do their jobs. That is just pathetic, when you think about a grown man acting like he is 10 years old. These players want to be able to do whatever they want, as long as that means they don’t have to go to work or be held accountable for their mistakes. They had that chance with Francona, as he would defend his players and their performance on the field ever day he was the manager of the Red Sox. Now that Francona’s gone, you are seeing exactly what the Red Sox didn’t want us to see. The players and the front office did not expect to have this type of information come out, and without Francona to defend his players you are seeing upper management throwing their once great manager under the bus to protect their players. The time for action is now. The owners of this team should stop protecting their players, and start holding those players accountable for their shameful performance on the field. If the owners had simply done this from the beginning, then you wouldn’t have seen the information about Francona come out. Red Sox nation does not care nor want to know about all of these goings ons in the clubhouse or with Francona, we just want to see results. If this information was not released, and the Red Sox were to get rid of Francona for reasons I’ve stated earlier, and then Lackey, Beckett, and Varitek to try to clear up this clique, and the Sox went out and won a World Series, no one would have a bad thing to say about the Sox. The PR games need to stop at Fenway if they want to see a playoff game at Fenway.

Red Sox turmoil heats up after John Henry tries to clear the air

The Boston Red Sox are not having a good offseason. The Red Sox have fired their manager, Terry Francona, there are rumors that Theo Epstein is going to the Chicago Cubs for money and/or prospects, there has been a series of reports about a clique (including Josh Beckett, John Lester, and John Lackey) drinking beer, playing video games, and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse while the Sox were playing, and the latest splurge of demeaning information came on October 12, when Bob Hohler published a story in the Boston Globe absolutely smearing Terry Francona and the players. The article can be found below:

http://articles.boston.com/2011-10-12/sports/30271654_1_jon-lester-josh-beckett-terry-francona

In this article, Hohler explores why Terry Francona may have lost the clubhouse. Hohler says, “Team sources said Francona, who has acknowledged losing influence with some former team leaders, appeared distracted during the season by issues related to his troubled marriage and to his health.”

Think about that for a second. Terry Francona may not have been able to manage the Red Sox because he was dealing with a bad marriage and health problems. Does this seem like the sort of thing you should know? If Terry Francona is having marital problems, I leave that to him and the walls in his house. If it affected his managerial skills, then it’s the Red Sox job to let him go so that both parties can take care of their separate situations. But I do not want to or need to know that he is having that problem, and it is outrages that this information got out! Furthermore, if Francona is addicted to painkillers why should that be disclosed. Hohler says, “Team sources also expressed concern that Francona’s performance may have been affected by his use of pain medication, which he also vehemently denied. Francona said he has taken pain medicine for many years, particularly after multiple knee surgeries. He said he used painkillers after knee surgery last October and used them during the season to relieve the discomfort of doctors draining blood from his knee at least five times.”

I do not care about Francona’s possible drug addiction, except for the fact that I wish him the best of luck in overcoming any possible demons. If he does have a problem, again, that’s his business and the Red Sox were right to get rid of him. As if that wasn’t enough, the Red Sox source adds insult to injury by saying, “While Francona coped with his marital and health issues, he also worried privately about the safety of his son, Nick, and son-in-law, Michael Rice, both of whom are Marine officers serving in Afghanistan.” Yea, maybe Francona couldn’t win a couple of games because he’s busy thinking about he’s son and son-in-law dying over in Afghanistan! Let’s look at the big picture here, it’s time to forget about baseball when human lives are at stake.

The players don’t get off easy either. As I stated earlier, Hohler discusses the player clique of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey. He also shows how lost the clubhouse was even when they were winning. The Red Sox were leading the division in late August, but that appears to just be an illusion of togetherness. The team was just as dysfunctional and distant from each other, management, and upper management at that time.

Hohler explores saying, “As Hurricane Irene barreled toward Boston in late August, management proposed moving up the Sunday finale of a weekend series against Oakland so the teams could play a day-night doubleheader either Friday, Aug. 26, or Saturday, Aug. 27. The reasoning seemed sound: the teams would avoid a Sunday rain out and the dilemma of finding a mutual makeup date for teams separated by 2,700 miles. But numerous Sox players angrily protested. They returned early that Friday from Texas after a demanding stretch in which they had played 14 of 17 games on the road, with additional stops in Minneapolis, Seattle, and Kansas City. The players accused management of caring more about making money than winning, which marked the first time the team’s top executives sensed serious trouble brewing in the clubhouse.”

While it might be true that ownership cares more about making money than they do their players, the players come off as cry babies about a simple doubleheader. News flash, you get paid to play a sport! It’s not like these guys have to go into consecutive brain surgeries, they just have to go out and have fun playing baseball. By the way, the Red Sox swept that doubleheader. They were so tired that they went out and won both games. Regardless of how bad the players or Terry Francona might look in this article, I still have one question.

Why is this information being leaked? That can not be answered without first figuring out who leaked the information. “Red Sox sources” is all that is given during the article. So someone or someones within the Red Sox organization leaked personal information about their former manager, their players, and the overall clubhouse environment. To figure out who within the organization may have done this, you must read into the article a little bit more. Think again for a moment; Terry Francona, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and the entire clubhouse are brought to the guillotine and slaughtered by this article. Who’s remaining in the Red Sox organization?

Upper management.

There in lies the secret to the source of all this Red Sox information, and it makes perfect sense. The Red Sox’s front office was receiving heat for not resigning Terry Francona, especially when Francona came out and said he didn’t feel ownership had his back during the year. So the people in upper management, consisting of GM Theo Epstein, Chairmen Tom Werner, President and CEO Larry Lucchino, and Principle Owner John Henry, decided to let the public know that Francona shouldn’t have been brought back because of all these problems he has. They then showed the players as being selfish, arrogant, whiny, spoiled brats, just to get the point across for how hard they had to try to get these players to actually work together as a team. Upper management wanted you to feel bad for all the problems they faced when trying to construct a winning team. And you know what, they’re right! I totally agree with what they did, and I feel very bad for what they had to go through. Dealing with all these prima donna players is ridiculous, and having a manager that is clearly distracted didn’t help. But to then go out, and reveal that information to a reporter so that he can tell the world so that you come off as the good guy, is pathetic. The hero does the right thing even when no one is looking. It shouldn’t matter to those guys in the front office what people think of them, as long as they win. If the Red Sox went on to win the World Series next year, and none of this information was leaked out, then everyone would be talking about what a great job ownership did handling Tito and the collapse. They would be revered for completely changing the atmosphere in the clubhouse, and everyone in Boston, including me, would love what they have done for this city. They decided that wasn’t good enough, so they went and released all this sensitive information to the people. If you’re not convinced it was upper management leaking the information, then consider this. Who would even know of such personal information in the Red Sox organization? Even John Henry admitted, “Not that many I would think.”

John Henry apparently heard Mike Felger of 98.5 the Sports Hub ranting about how ownership was smearing Tito, and he took an exception to it. In a spur of the moment interview, John Henry decided to join the Sports Hub’s Felger & Massarotti October 14, to put all of these rumors to rest. I’ve heard this interview, and I can personally say he wasn’t very convincing. Henry was all over the place, and at some points couldn’t even give a coherent response. According to Henry, Red Sox sources leaked the information, not Tom, Larry, or himself. If that is true, that it was just some ant worker who leaked the information, then what kind of state is the front office in? Not only can John Henry not control his baseball team, but now he can’t even control his own employees that work right under him! John states this, but then says, “When it comes to who’s giving person info from the Red Sox, you can’t really go on a witch hunt and start accusing people,”.

So Henry wants us to believe that someone in the Red Sox organization leaked information not named Larry, Tom, or John, and then he wants us to believe that he can’t go out and find the person responsible because it’s not nice to go witch hunting. He owns the team, he can do whatever he wants! He could just get rid of his whole staff if he wanted to and hire any number of unemployed and capable people just to show that revealing information like this is unacceptable! If you still chose to believe that Henry and ownership did not release the information, then consider this. Why didn’t this information come out sooner? If someone wanted to give out sensitive information such as this, why would they wait until a 2 weeks after the season ended and not 2 days? You gain nothing by waiting, so why not just let it all out when they lose the final game of the year to miss the postseason for a 2nd straight year?

Then the last bit of information that seals the deal, is this. Henry said that he and his companies could not possibly be the ones responsible for leaking the information, because the writer of the article, Bob Hohler, has already said that it was a Red Sox source and not the owners. Henry says this in the first 3:30 of his interview on 98.5, which can be heard below.

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/10/14/felger-mazz-john-henry-invades-felger-and-massarotti/

Monday morning though, the morning show on 98.5 the Sports Hub of Toucher & Rich revisited this idea. It culminated in an email from Toucher & Rich to Hohler, asking if he had indeed stated that the owners of the Red Sox were not his leads. Hohler emailed back saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, that he has not made any statements since the article was published, and he will leave it a that. That’s it. This one statement via email throws everything that John Henry has been arguing into question. So this leaves 2 possible answers. Either Henry is being fed misinformation, or he’s a liar. I’m gonna go on record saying it was most likely the latter. If Henry’s very first statement during his interview is that Hohler had already stated that the front office was not his lead, and this statement is false, then how much else did Henry say that is not true? Based on everything I have seen, there is virtually no case that the Red Sox’s front office, ownership in-particular, is not responsible for the leaking of personal information about their ex-manager, players, and clubhouse. Through all of this, I agree with ownerships decision to get rid of Terry Francona, and I will most likely agree with any changes they make to the roster. But dragging their players, their ex-manager, into all this sludge, is in the words of John Henry, ” It’s reprehensible.”

Bruins win in Shootout 3-2

The Bruins edged out a win in Chicago against the Blackhawks, winning in a shootout 3-2. Tyler Seguin continues to show the brilliance that made him the #2 overall pick last year, as he now leads the team with 5 points on the season. Tim Thomas was great again for the Bruins, and is showing no signs of a setback like he experienced in 2009-2010. That was a year removed from winning the Vezina trophy, and leading the Bruins to the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins were again without David Kreci, as well as Adam McQuaid, who was out with a head injury suffered in Carolina. McQuaid was replaced by Matt Bartowski. Bartowski was actually traded to the Bruins along with Dennis Seidenberg from the Florida Panthers in 2009-2010. In his first season in the AHL, Bartowski had 23 points in 69 games and was -18 on the year. Not very impressive stats, and I don’t look for him to be a long-term replacement for McQuaid. Expect Steven Kampfer to play for McQuaid if he’s out for significant time, as soon as Kampfer is off the Injured Reserved though. The Bruins are off until Tuesday night, and they have a much-needed win as they head home to face the Carolina Hurricanes.

Tim Thomas leads the Bruins to a Shootout win in Chicago, 3-2

1st Period

The Bruins came out hot, with Tyler Seguin creating chances again on the 1st line. He made a cross ice pass to a wide open Lucic in the near circle. Lucic had Crawford lunging from post-to-post, but missed his shot high. The 1st line for Chicago brought the pressure right back though, forcing the Bruins back on their heels. Patrick Kane worked a give-and-go with Stalberg, and got behind the Bruins defense. He entered the slot, deked to the backhand, but Thomas made a spectacular glove save. Off a face-off in the offensive zone, Gregory Campbell and Jamal Mayers decided to go at it right after the puck was dropped. It was nothing spectacular, but Campbell was hoping to create a spark for this Bruins team. Both players received 5 minute majors for fighting at 7:48. Johnny Boychuk started a breakout for the Bruins. He sent the puck up ice to Lucic, who found Seguin skating through the center slot. Seguin veered off to the far circle to draw the defenders attention, and centered a pass for an open Nathan Horton right on the doorstep. Patrick Sharp just tipped the puck, and did not allow a proper tip for Nathan Horton as the puck skipped wide. Chicago brought the puck back into the Bruins zone. Johnny Boychuk went down to the near corner to get a loose puck, and would be tripped up by Stalberg. The Bruins had a powerplay at 9:17 to try to take the lead now. Boston was able to get 3 shots on goal, with great chances coming from Patrice Bergeron. But again no goal to speak of from the Bruins powerplay. They had good puck movement, and looked better to start then they had all night against Carolina. The Blackhawks would come back with another chance by Patrick Kane. A long pass through center ice set Kane up 1-on-1 with Joe Corvo. He had outside position on Corvo, stopped and spun around to get himself all alone in the center slot and launched a backhand. Tim Thomas showed his quickness, getting himself right in front of Kane as his shot went into Thomas’s gut. The Bruins were attempting to come up ice, but the Blackhawks did a good job of clogging up the neutral zone. Ference tried making a pass across ice, but it was tipped and picked off by Bryan Bickell. Bickel now had a breakaway, and beat Thomas. Chicago had a 1-0 lead 16:21 into the 1st period. Another great chance for the Blackhawks just seconds later with a 2-on-1. A cross-ice pass had Kane set up with an open net on the near side. But Tim Thomas made a ridiculous left-to-right pad save. The period would end with the Bruins down 1-0

2nd Period

The 2nd period started with a Boston penalty. Nathan Horton was called for goaltender interference 24 seconds into the period. Brent Seabrook took a bad angle shot that missed the net, and took a funny bounce off the sideboards. Rich Peverley picked the puck up, and the Bruins had a 2-on-1 up ice. Peverley held the puck into the far circle, drew the defender, passed across ice to Chris Kelly who buried it in the back of the net. Boston had tied the game on a shorthanded goal at 1:33. The powerplay ended for the Blackhawks with the game now tied at 1, but the Blackhawks kept the pressure on the Bruins. Great puck movement by the Blackhawks had the Boston defense reeling. Kane found himself all alone in the far circle, and beat Thomas 5-hole. Just as quickly as Boston had tied the game, the Blackhawks had taken the lead back 2-1 at 2:51. Chris Kelly created another chance for Boston. He took a shot from the near boards, beat Crawford low to the blocker side, but the puck hit the post and stayed out. Patrick Sharp came into the Bruins zone with speed, and ripped a one-timer to the glove of Tim Thomas. Thomas just got his glove there in time, as the puck deflected up and over the goal. Chris Kelly was trying to create more opportunities for the Bruins when he went into the near corner in the attacking zone. He was leveled from behind though by Michael Frolik, and he remained on the ice for a moment but was able to skate back to the bench under his own power. The Bruins would have a powerplay to work with now, as Frolik was called for boarding at 14:29. A very important powerplay now for the Bruins, as they had a chance to tie the game and get their powerplay out of this funk. In the closing seconds of the powerplay, Peverley found Bergeron across ice in the near slot with a wide open net to shoot at. But Brent Seabrook hit the ice to block the shot, and the Bruins powerplay was over without a goal. The Bruins kept the pressure on with the 1st line getting plenty of shots towards goal. The 2nd period would come to a close though, with the Blackhawks up 2-1.

3rd Period

The 3rd period started with another penalty for the Bruins, as Patrice Bergeron nailed Frolik from behind into the curved glass at the Blackhawks bench. Bergeron would receive a boarding call 9 seconds into the period. Kane was again creating trouble, making a cross ice pass to Patrick Sharp for a one-timer from the near slot. Tim Thomas made a terrific save though to keep Chicago off the board. Boston created chances again on the penalty kill, with Marchand, Ference, and Paille getting a 3-on-2 up ice. Marchand held far side, passed across ice to Paille, but his shot was blocked into the crowd by Crawford. The Blackhawks powerplay was ineffective, as the game stayed at 2-1. Boston had a great chance to get on the board, with Bergeron setting up Tyler Seguin from behind the net to the slot. Seguin made a nice backhand shot, but Crawford made the save, and was able to cover up even with Lucic jamming in front. The Bruins kept the pressure on, with Johnny Boychuk all the way down to the near corner and behind the net to get the puck. Boychuk found Horton in the near slot, and he buried the puck in the back of the net. Horton had his 1st goal of the year, and it tied the game 2-2 at 7:56. The Bruins had new life, and this offense started to get pressure on the Chicago defense. Benoit Puliout and Brent Seabrook went down to the near corner in the offensive zone. The puck rode up the sideboards, and Puliout turned around to get it, but his stick inadvertently whacked Seabrook in the back of his helmet. The Bruins would have a crucial penalty to kill of now, as Puliout was in the box for high-sticking at 16:25. The Bruins did a good job clearing the puck, and did not allow any shots on goal when Patrick Sharp would be called for holding the stick at 17:33. They skated 4-on-4 for 52 seconds before the Bruins would have a powerplay to work with. Andrew Ference lost his stick right as the 4-on-4 started, and the Blackhawks offense took advantage. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Towes created gerat scoring chanced, but the Blackhawks could not get shots on Thomas. Puliout would come out of the box, and it was a shortened powerplay for the Bruins. Seidenberg would beat Crawford cleanly over the glove side, but he rang the post. The powerplay would come to an end, as would the period. The Bruins were headed to overtime tied at 2 in Chicago.

OT

Seguin created a chance for Horton in overtime, centering a pass from the near corner. Horton had to fight through the Chicago defense, shielding the puck, but could not get a shot on net. Milan Lucic forced a turnover on the near boards in Bruins defensive zone. He passed the puck ahead for Rich Peverely, who had a clean breakaway now. Peverley had the entire rink to himself, as he skated through center ice. He came into the slot, deked to the backhand, got Crawford down spread-eagle, but his shot went wide. With under a minute left, Brent Seabrook took a slap-shot from the far slot that deflected off of Thomas and through the crease. Chicago would get one last point shot by Seabrook, but it would not go. Still tied after OT, this game would be decided in a shootout.

Shootout

Jonathan Towes was 1st up for the Blackhawks. He deked to the forehand, got Thomas down on his belly, but the spread-eagle by Thomas allowed him to make a right pad save. Tyler Seguin led off for the Bruins. He came in with a burst of speed, and whipped a shot right by Crawford 5-hole. Boston was up 1-0 in the Shootout. Patrick Kane came up next, skating methodically in. He just fired a shot 5-hole, but Thomas stopped him, and then stopped the rebound attempt with his left pad (even though you’re only allowed 1 shot in a shootout). Patrice Bergeron was up 2nd for the Bruins. He skated in with speed, deked, but lost the puck off his stick and never made a shot. It was all up to Patrick Sharp now, with the Bruins up 1-0 in the Shootout. Sharp skated in, fired a shot from the high slot, and Tim Thomas made the left pad save. Thomas was perfect in the Shootout, and the Bruins had an important 2 points to end their mini losing streak.

Post-Game Breakdown

A good win for the Bruins, after suffering 2 tough losses to Colorado and Carolina. Boston’s offense had been struggling, but was able to come up with key goals when they needed them. The Bruins never led in this game, but they kept working hard all night. Nathan Horton grabbed his 1st goal of the year to tie things in the 3rd period, and hopefully that can get him going offensively. Seguin continues to impress early in this season. He has a goal and 4 assists after this game, and is now leading the team with 5 points. The Bruins haven’t lost a step with Seguin replacing Kreci on the 1st line. Lucic and Horton have been given plenty of chances to score, but just have not finished. Horton finally did, but Lucic is having a very hard time finding the back of the net. He’s a guy the Bruins need to get going if they want to win these close games. Johnny Boychuk had a tremendous performance in this game as well, both offensively and defensively. In 5 games against the Blackhawks, Boychuk has 2 goals and 2 assists, and is +5. Very impressive stats in limited action against 1 team. Boychuk is helping to solidify the Bruins defense, by pairing up with Chara. This allows Claude Julien to separate his 2 best defenders in Chara and Seidenberg, thus providing a stiff defense no matter what line he rolls out. The Bruins won’t play again until Tuesday night, when they host the Carolina Hurricanes. I see the Bruins winning this rematch from a few nights ago, and after that it’s 4 straight games of rivalry. The Bruins will play the Maple Leafs, Sharks, and then a home-and-home with the Canadians in the upcoming week and a half. Boston has to win at least 2 of those games to stay afloat early in this season.

Bruins drop 2nd straight, losing 3-2 in Carolina

Boston has lost their 2nd straight game now, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 Wednesday night. This after being shut out Tuesday afternoon to the Colorado Avalanche. The offense is off to a slow start. Tim Thomas has been stellar, and Tukkaa Rask was phenomenal in his game Tuesday, but the goal scorers have been missing. With David Kreci out with a lower body injury he suffered during practice on Tuesday, Tyler Seguin was given the chance to center the Bruins top line. A huge opportunity for the 19-year-old to prove just what talent he has, and did he ever. Seguin centered the top line beautifully, creating chances all night for Lucic and Horton. Marchand showed the grit that made him an icon in the Boston area last year again in this game, scoring a late goal to pull the Bruins to within 1 in the 3rd. While the goal ended up not affecting the final outcome, it’s the type of determination we need to see more of from the rest of the goal scorers on this club going forward.

picture courtesy http://scores.espn.go.com/nhl/photos?gameId=400046950&photoId=1615809

Cam Ward stonewalls Milan Lucic and the Bruins, as Boston loses 3-2 Wednesday night

1st Period

The game started with a huge chance for the Hurricanes, when a bouncing puck found its way right in front of Tim Thomas. Tlusty picked the puck up, Thomas came out to challenge him, and made a spectacular blocker save. The 1st line of Boston came back with great chances of their own. Seguin, Lucic, and Horton were all jamming at the front of the net off a Johnny Boychuk point shot. Milan Lucic just missed a chance in the crease at a wide open net, hitting the side of the net. The Bruins would go on the powerplay right after. The Hurricanes sent the puck down the ice and made a change, but would be called for too-many-men on the ice at 4:23. Boston had an early chance to get on the board, and to get their powerplay working. The Bruins offense was working hard in front of the net, getting shots on net and rebound chances. They could not find the back of the net though. As soon as the powerplay ended for Boston, they would get another with which to work with. Jeff Skinner snapped the stick of Gregory Campbell, and was called for slashing at 6:54. Seguin came flying into the offensive zone, but had a shot blocked down. Besides that, it was more of the same for the Bruins powerplay, with the opposing PK getting better chances on net. They were back to 5-on-5 hockey as we approached midway in this 1st period. The 1st line for Boston again had great chances on Cam Ward. Seguin had a shot turned away, and then Ward stonewalled Milan Lucic with an open chance in the slot. The rebound came out for Carolina, and they now had numbers up ice. Johnny Boychuk leveled Eric Stall at center ice to free the puck up. Both men hit the ice in the big collision. Jeff Skinner just missed a chance to get his team on the board, hitting the crossbar near side. Thomas made another spectacular save off the rush, but was left out of position for the rebound attempt. Chara at the far side blocked the wide open net shot by Jokinave with his stick. Skinner came skating through center ice, and was hooked down by Chris Kelly. Carolina had a chance now with the delayed penalty. Skinner tried jamming the puck in the near side, Where McQuaid tangled with him and the 2 fell to the ice. After the whistle, there was a pileup centered around Skinner and McQuaid. Skinner gave some weak jabs to McQuaid on the ice, and when McQuaid got up he shoved Skinner into the boards like he was a child. The Canes had a late powerplay now, which has been terrific to start the year. Skinner came in with speed through the far circle, made a terrific feed to Stall at the near slot who had a wide open net to shoot at, but the puck did not sit for him. The 1st period would end tied at 0, and the Bruins had 48 seconds left on the penalty kill to open up the 2nd.

2nd Period

The Canes came out with a powerplay to work with, and made it count. A shot from the near circle by Pitkanen, and with Stall jamming in front made it by Tim Thomas. Thomas got a piece of it, but never had a good look at the shot. And of course, Tomas Kaberle (who was not resigned in the offseason by the Bruins) had an assist on the powerplay goal. Thomas came back with back-to-back terrific saves on Teluchnian. Another penalty came against the Hurricanes, Tulusty being called for high-sticking at 3:18. Just another atrocious powerplay by the Bruins though, with 2 shots on net. The Bruins 4th line came back with a strong shift to try to get some momentum going. Joe Corvo just missed a chance in the slot when a centering pass by Campbell was blocked away. Yet again, the Bruins would have a powerplay to work with as the Hurricanes were called for too-many-men at 8:23. Seguin gave a nice feed to Bergeron at the near post, but Ward held strong on the post. Bergeron then had another chance from the center slot, but Ward made the save. A juicy rebound came out for Seguin and Bergeron, but the puck was cleared to end the powerplay. The Bruins would go right back on the powerplay at 11:05, when Chad LaRose was called for hooking. Seguin created his own chance, but Ward made a terrific blocker save near post. Rich Peverly passed down low to Bergeron at the near side, and he passed to a streaking Johnny Boychuk at the far slot. The puck was knocked away, and Boychuk never had a chance to make a shot. The follow through by Johnny Boychuk drove him into the goal, and he would receive a goaltender interference minor at 12:58. 7 seconds of 4-on-4, and then it was a powerplay for the Hurricanes. Jeff Skiner fought through all 4 Bruin penalty killers to get the puck out to Tomas Kaberle all alone in the high slot. His one-timer was stopped by Tim Thomas though, and the game stayed at 1-0. The powerplay came to a close with great play by the Bruins penalty killers. The Bruins came back with 2 great chances on Cam Ward. Lucic knocked the puck away from a couple of Hurricanes at center ice, and he took a shot on net. A pad stop by Ward allowed for a juicy rebound attempt by Nathan Horton, but again Ward made a great save. The period would come to a close, with Carolina up 1-0.

3rd Period

The 1st line for Boston came out firing, with a great chance by Milan Lucic in the slot. He skated right in front of Cam Ward, but ha his stick bumped by Gleason prevent the shot. Terrific forechecking by the Carolina Hurricanes gave them another chance to score. Anthony Stewart brought the from behind the net to the near circle, and just laid a shot on Tim Thomas that squirted right by his right skate. Carolina was up 2-0 now, 3:42 into the 3rd period. Tyler Seguin brought it upon himself to get the Bruins back into this game. Seguin came flying up through the near circle off a touch pass by Horton from center ice. Seguin created space, and made a ridiculous shot to beat Cam Ward high glove side. Suddenly it was 2-1 Carolina at 4:07. The Bruins offense came alive, with great chances by Marchand and Peverley to try to tie the game. But a tripping call against Rich Peverley at 6:08 would kill that momentum. Thomas was the best penalty killer for the Bruins, with the Hurricanes skating circles around the Boston defense. Thomas was finally able to cover the puck up just as the penalty ended. McQuaid would awkwardly hit the boards late in the penalty, and would be sent down to the locker room after the whistle. Seguin was back on the ice, and almost created another chance for the Bruins. He came with a full head of steam through center ice, but had the puck knocked away in the slot. The Bruins had a hop in their step, feeling the sense of urgency to score. The Hurricanes brought the puck back into the Bruins zone, again with tremendous forechecking. Jordan Caron had a chance to clear the puck, but just whiffed on the attempt. That allowed for a chance in the slot by Tlusty, and he buried it in the back of the net. It was 3-1 Carolina at 13:32, seemingly ending this game. The Bruins did not give up though, with a great scoring chance coming from Benoit Puliot, but he missed the net wide. Joe Corvo picked the puck up and passed to Patrice Bergeron along the side boards. Bergeron found Brad Marchand in the near circle, and he buried a one-timer in the back of the net, and it was 3-2 now Carolina at 16:35. The Bruins brought the pressure back offensively, and Carolina iced the puck. Canes head coach Paul Maurice used his timeout to give his guys an extra breather. The face-off was won back by Campbell. Boychuk drew 2 defenders, passed to Seidenberg who got a quick point shot off that was saved by the right pad of Ward. The Bruins emptied their net now with just over a minute left to play. Milan Lucic took a shot from the far circle, but another pad save by Ward kept Boston off the board. Carolina would clear the puck, and Patrice Bergeron knocked down Eric Stall to receive a tripping call at 19:57 that would effectively end the game. Boston had dropped their 2nd straight, losing to Carolina 3-2 and is just 1-3 to start the season.

Post-Game Breakdown

A tough loss for the Bruins, who now drop to 1-3 on the year. The defense has played well, the goaltending has been there, but the goal scorers have been missing. Seguin showed off what a wicked shot he has, when he beat Cam Ward high glove side early in the 3rd period. He has the kind of shot that just can’t be stopped, and I look for him to have a big year here in 2011-2012. To his line mates Lucic and Horton, they were just pathetic tonight. Lucic especially, could not bury his opportunities. Lucic had a wide open shot early in the 1st, and hit the side of the net. He has got to start burying those opportunities if he’s going to be the 30 goal scorer he was a year ago. The powerplay again for Boston just looks pathetic. It’s beyond ridiculous now, going 0-5 against Carolina, and is now a measly 1-18 on the young season. They did a better job getting shots on goal in this game, but the fact remains they can not score. The Hurricane penalty killers were aggressive, and did not allow many opportunities for the Bruins to score. Any chances were turned away by Ward. It’s too early to tell what the problem is at this point, but hopefully coach Julien is able to figure it out before it becomes a problem. Boston now has 2 days off before they face off with the preceding cup winners, the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago. A tough matchup, as this is a young team with plenty of skill. I just can’t see the Bruins dropping to 1-4 to start this season, so I look for the Bruins and their goal scorers to bounce back and pick up a win Saturday night.

Bruins down the Lightning 4-1 to get their 1st win of the year

The Bruins got in the win column this season, beating their Eastern Conference Finals opponent from a year ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The game wasn’t all that close, with the Bruins dominating the entire game. One bad play by the Bruins allowed the Lightning right back into the game with the Martin St. Louis breakaway goal. Besides that play, the Bruins out-shot, out-chanced, and out-played the Lightning in every way. It was a great game from the Bruins. 2nd year pros Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin have looked great in these 1st 2 games thus far. Marchand has a goal and 2 assists, and Seguin has 3 assists and is +2. These young players are making a huge impact for this team, and I look for them to continue this production throughout the year. Boston is in good shape, if they can have this type of output on a consistent basis from the team.

picture courtesy bruins.nhl.com

Bruins celebrate their 2nd goal of the night, on their way to a 4-1 win vs. the Lightning

1st Period

The game started with some physical play by both teams. The Bruins would get the advantage early, when Matt Gilroy was called for holding at 4:21. The Bruins powerplay looked dismal as usual. They couldn’t set anything up, and were back to 5-on-5 hockey. Right as the powerplay ended, Shawn Thornton set up behind the Tampa net, and found Benoit Puloit in the slot. Puliot wheeled around and got a backhand shot on net, but right into the gut of Mathieu Garon. Peverley took a bad angle shot from the far side of the net, and got the puck on goal. There was a pileup at the far side, and Marhand started mixing it up with 2 Lightning. The facewashing resulted in offsetting roughing minors for Marchand and Steve Downie at 9:13. So they skated 4-on-4 for 2 minutes. The Bruins had a huge scare, as the puck was taken from the far slot, and shot intentionally wide by St. Louis. Malone had the puck with a wide open net at the near slot now. Tim Thomas dove to get back to the other side, and the puck hit the heel of his paddle. The puck sat just inches away from the goal line in the crease, but was cleared out by Kreci. The Bruins would be facing a penalty though, when Johnny Boychuk was called for slashing at 10:28. So it was 4-on-3 for 45 seconds, before the Lightning would get a 5-on-4 powerplay. Lecavialer made a cross ice pass to Stamkos, who had his one-timer stopped by Thomas. Just 1 more shot for the Lightning on the powerplay, as the Bruins had killed the penalty off. The Bruins would go on the powerplay shortly after, as Seguin was clearly tripped up by Connolly at 13:40. Boston had good puck control throughout the powerplay, but again could not get a goal. Just 1 shot on that powerplay, which tells the story. Too much passing by the Bruins man advantage, not enough shooting. Then the Lightning would go back on the powerplay. Milan Lucic was called for slashing at 16:31. As the penalty came to an end, Steve Downie decided to get into the crease, and started shoving Chara. Chara didn’t like it, so he took a swipe back. Downie then turned to the refs, as if pleading for a penalty. No call from the refs, and the Bruins would kill off another penalty. With just over 30 seconds remaining, Chris Kelly and Benoit Puloit created another chance in the slot, but a great right pad save by Garon kept Boston off the board. So they would go into the 2nd period scoreless.

2nd Period

The period started with a great chance by the 1st line for Boston, with Kreci going through center ice and Horton to the far side. Kreci’s pass to Horton though would not stay put, and it bounced off to the corner. But the Bruins would come right back with pressure from the 2nd line. Marchand again was creating chances, taking the puck through the offensive zone. He would go behind the net and around to the near circle, wheel, and fire a snap shot. The puck just hit the post though, and rebounded to the opposite side where Rich Peverley was waiting in the crease. Peverley did not miss, as he put the puck in the back of the net. Boston took the 1-0 lead 2:04 into the period. Boston would give it right back, as Malone poked the puck away from Nathan Horton as he entered the offensive zone. The puck was picked up by Lecaviler, who passed ahead to Martin St. Louis who had a breakaway now. St. Louis made a quick head fake, and beat Tin Thomas blocker side. Very quickly, this game was tied at 1 at 3:20. Boston would come back with a 2-on-1 with Peverley and Marchancd. Peverley had the pack far side, and centered a pass for Marchand. Marchand had a semi-breakaway now, but his shot went just wide. With Tampa now on its heels, Tyler Seguin created a chance, skating through the center slot, and passing back to McQuaid at the far point. McQuaid took a point shot, that apparently was tipped in front by Daniel Pialle and went into the back of the net. Boston was back on top, 2-1 at 4:58. Gregory Campbell then just missed a chance to extend the lead, as he fanned on a backhand attempt near post, and then shot a forehander over the net. The Bruins brought the puck back into the offensive zone, and Lucic made a nice move to step by Eric Brewer who stuck his leg out to knock Lucic down. Brewer would be called for tripping at 10:24. On the powerplay, Dominc Moore took the puck from the sideboards, and skated down the ice. Behind the play though, Tyler Seguin would be called for holding at 10:59. So they skated 4-on-4 for 1:25. The teams would be kept off the board, and the Lightning had 36 seconds of powerplay now. The Bruins penalty killers did a good job of keeping the puck out of their own zone. As the penalty ended, Adam McQuaid was coming up ice when he had the puck hit a linesman and Boston was ruled offsides. Dominac Moore and Brad Marchand tangled after the whistle, and both player would receive offsetting minors for roughing at 13:21. So they skated 4-on-4 for 2 minutes. The Bruins would get the man advantage again shortly after though, as Brett Connolly was called for hooking on Andrew Ference at 13:40. So Boston had their 4th powerplay with which to work with. The Bruins again could not score on the powerplay, and this is already getting ridiculous. Very solid defense by the Bruins as the period went on, and it contributed to their offensive control of the puck. But a late turnover by Boston gave Tampa a 3-on-2 up ice. Stamkos took the puck at the center slot, skated forward, and passed near side to Lecavialer. Thomas dove across to make a stop, but Lecaviler made a cross ice pass instead. Johnny Boychuk made the smart play, and just took out. Boychuk would be called for tripping at 19:52. The period would come to a close, with Boston up 2-1 and having to kill off 1:52 of the Boychuk penalty.

3rd Period

The 3rd period started with a huge chance for the Bruins, with Marchand intercepting a pass at the point by Malone. Marchand had a breakaway now, deked, and just missed a backhand shot high. Tampa came back with a great chance setting up a triangle in the slot. Teddy Purcell received a cross ice pass at the near side, and had a wide open net to shoot at. But Tim Thomas showed off his athleticism, stretching all the way over to make a tremendous blocker save. The Lightning were kept off the board on the powerplay, and the Bruins offense came back down the ice. Seguin sent the puck ahead to Lucic, who came down through to the far side protecting the puck. Lucic took a bad angle shot that was stopped by Garon. The rebound came right to an open Kreci in the high slot, and he wristed one up and into the back of the net. Kreci had his 1st goal of the year after leading the postseason, and it gave the Bruins the ever important 2 goal lead. 3-1 now for Boston at 3:07 in the 3rd period.Tampa came back with a one-time opportunity from Pyatt to Hall, but Thomas made the save. The Bruins started taking control of this game, with the defense forcing turnovers and the offense controlling the puck in the attacking zone. Great puck movement by the offense, wheeling the puck around in the offensive zone. Campbell was fighting along the boards, and was able to get the puck out to the point. Seidenberg made a cross ice pass to Joe Corvo, who took a shot on net. The puck was stopped by the pads of Garon, and Shawn Thornton picked the puck up right in the slot. His backhand was sent into Garons left pad though, and Boston was kept off the board this time. Patrice Bergeron intercepted a pass back at the Boston goal-line. He brought the puck up ice, and into the offensive zone. Bergeron wheeled around in the slot, passed across ice to Marchand. The puck kicked off a skate, was picked up by Peverley, and he buried it in the back of the net. Peverley had his 2nd goal of the night, and it put Boston up 4-1 at 8:43. Tampa Bays woes would continue, as they were then called for having too many men on the ice at 10:19. The Bruins had their 5th powerplay of the night, and were looking to put this game out of reach just midway through the 3rd period. A very good-looking powerplay from Boston, getting some good looks at net. But again, no goal to speak of. They went back to 5-on-5 hockey, but not for long. Dominc Moore tried mixing it up with Nathan Horton at center ice, and both players would receive off setting minors for slashing and cross-checking respectively at 15:32. So they skated 4-on-4 for 2 minutes. The Bruins had a couple breakout opportunities, but were not trying too hard to get more offense going. They were back to 5-on-5, when Tyler Seguin would be called for tripping on Steve Downie at 17:37. This penalty kill played shutdown defense, not allowing Tampa to get good opportunities. The powerplay would end with under a minute left to go in the game. The Bruins had numbers up ice, with Seguin coming out of the box for a 3-on-2. Seguin had the puck dropped off for him in the near slot, but just fanned on a snap shot. Tampa sent the puck back down they ice, but it wouldn’t matter. Boston had their 1st win of the year, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1.

Post-Game Breakdown

The Bruins looked great in this game, dominating the whole way save for the breakaway goal by St. Louis. Offensively, defensively, Boston controlled this game. The play by Seguin and Marchand has been tremendous thus far, and both looked exceptional in this game. The defense was shut down all night, especially the penalty kill. They kept the very dangerous Lightning powerplay off the board, going 0-5 on the night. The Bruins didn’t fair any better though, going 0-5 on the powerplay as well. The Bruins are 1-10 on the powerplay to start the season, which is not a good sign. The Bruins have the weapons to have a decent powerplay, but for some reason have not been able to put the pieces together. We’ll have to see how things progress throughout the season, but it is something the Bruins will need to fix somehow. The Bruins next game is Monday afternoon against the Colorado Avalanche, where they should easily handle the Avalanche at the TD Garden.