Lucic Re-Signed

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bruins fans have had a lot to smile about in the past few seasons. Making playoffs one year, to sweeping Montreal the next year, and overall having productive seasons has made Boston a hockey town again.

The reason for all of this success is because of the team they have in the locker room right now. The Bruins have youth, skill, determination, and edge.

One player that has all four of those is forward Milan Lucic. At only 21 years of age, Lucic has been phenomenal. He's not afraid to drop the gloves, play physical, and he also puts the puck in the back of the net often. His type of play is bringing back the old style of Boston Bruins hockey.

Lucic was signed to a three-year contract extension. Salary negotiations have not been disclosed to the public.

Last season, he set career highs in every category. He tallied 17 goals, 25 assists, totaling 42 points. His plus/minus was a +17, and for a young player that's impressive.

With his size and edgy play, he will help bring this team to a whole new level.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Monday, September 21, 2009

Summer is a short season, but to hockey fans, it’s the longest. As the summer is winding down, hockey is starting up.

The Boston Bruins look to pick up where they left off. By that, I don’t mean from game seven, overtime loss to Carolina. I mean the energy and determination the team brought all last season. The core of the team is still here, even though some players have been lost due to free agency and tight cap space.

Long time Bruins, P.J. Axelsson, will not be playing in a B’s uniform this upcoming season. He will be in his home country, Sweden. Although Axelsson probably had a few years left in him, Bruins personnel decided it was time to let him go. He was a great penalty killer and a player with experience. On and off the ice, he brought so much to the Bruins.

Two players were traded to the new found rival in Carolina; Aaron Ward and Stephane Yelle. Ward, a defenseman, will be missed for his edgy play, experience, and ability to block pucks by sacrificing his body. Yelle, a veteran center, was successful on the Bruins fourth line and first penalty killing unit. While Yelle was a good fit for this team, the Bruins can deal without.

Most Bruins fans echo the same thought when it comes to the goodbyes to goaltender, Manny Fernandez, and defenseman Steve Montador. Both players have potential to be great, but just didn’t fit into Coach Claude Julien’s system.

With defenseman Shane Hnidy going to Minnesota and Ward going to Carolina, the Bruins signed Andy Wozniewski. Also new to the team is defenseman Derek Morris and former Canadien bad guy, Steve Begin who were acquired during the offseason. Morris will most likely fill in Ward’s spot and Begin will see fourth line action.

The main trade that would possibly have a chance at messing up the chemistry and offense the 2008-2009 Bruins team had would be Phil Kessel to Toronto. (I’m too mad to talk about it, though. All I can say is, he looks bad in blue!)

The most important players that the Black and Gold need are still here. Vezina Trophy winner, Tim Thomas, was re-signed at the end of last season for another four years. With him at his best and Tuukka Rask as his back up, the Bruins should have things covered pretty well in between the pipes.

Marc Savard, one of the most accurate passers in the NHL, will most likely stay on the first line along with Milan Lucic. Lucic, who hits anything and everything in his path, works well with Savard because he creates space.

Coming back from an injury plagued season is fast and skilled goal scorer, Marco Sturm. He’s a potential 40 goal scorer who can bring plenty of offense for this team.

Last season, there were two unstoppable lines that clicked all season. The second line, consisting of Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Michael Ryder, was the force behind most of the Bruins offense. Krejci and Wheeler both had hat tricks and all three had career highs in many categories.

The other line was the third line which included Chuck Kobasew, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi. This line wasn’t together all season, seeing as how Recchi has only been a Bruins since March when he was acquired at the trade deadline. However, they clicked right away and were their best during the playoffs.

All six of these players are also coming back this season. The old and the new Bruins kick off the season at home this year. In 10 days, the Washington Capitals come to town for the first game of the season. Welcome back hockey.

Good Day for Trades

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The first day of free agency is almost over, but the trades aren't. There were many trades today, as I expected, but most of them surprised me. I want to go over the ones I find beneficial to the teams, the ones that are random, and then the ones I laughed at.


Chicago signed a great player and lost a great player in the same day. The Hawks inked Hossa to a 12 year deal, good move but too long of a contract for my liking. Hossa is a game changing player who will help bring this team to a whole new level. (Also from Detroit, Chicago got left wing Tomas Kopecky.) At the same time, they lost goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin to Edmonton. Khabibulin played in 42 games last season and in past seasons has played as many as 72 games. This is good for the Oilers though, because just today their goalie got signed, by the Islanders.

The New York Islanders for once, made a very smart decision. They already have a great goalie in Rick DiPietro. That is, when he's actually healthy. The Isles signed Dwayne Roloson, who played in 63 games this season. He has plenty of experience in the NHL at the age of 39 and have played for four different NHL teams.

Another great pick up was Scott Clemmensen by Florida. Again, this is another situation where a team got a great player but also lost one. Florida lost net minder Craig Anderson to Colorado. Anderson had a great season for the Panters in 2008-2009, recording three shutouts in 31 games played. Both great goalies got snatched up by these two teams.

Marian Gaborik was reported to have gone to the Rangers which would be a great player for them to get after losing Scotty Gomez to the Habs. Gaborik is a 30-40 goal scorer which is exactly what the Rangers need. In the Gomez trade, New York acquired Chris Higgins, another player that makes a difference. Last season he was brought down by constant injury, but in past seasons he has had 6+ 20 goal seasons. If healthy this year, he could probably produce 30 goals for the Rangers. As for the Canadiens getting Gomez, it's a great deal for Bob Gainey. With the Habs having 10 free agents, they're obviously going to have a lot of new faces. Gomez has had one 30 goal season, but the other season when he hasn't, he's made up for it with points. He will help the Habs get back on track for their 101st season.

The Capitals signed a player that I feel will fit in perfectly with their team and system. Mike Knuble is now a Cap! It's good for both of them. Knuble is a hard working player who I've seen first hand score those clutch goals.


Bruins General Mangers, Peter Chiarelli was quiet basically all day. As a Bruins fan myself, I was wondering what was up. I'm already mad because I have a feeling Kessel won't be a Bruin next year so when I heard they had signed former Canadien, Steve Begin, I was dumbfounded. My first thought: Whaaaat?! This is so random. Yes, he's got grit and is a physical player but why do the B's need him? They don't. The team has their chemistry, speed, scoring, defense, and goaltending all intact and I feel as though Begin coming to Boston isn't needed. Let's hope he proves me wrong, and makes up to Marc Savard by fighting anyone who comes within five feet of him.

Who watched last year's playoffs? I don't think the Rangers did even though they were in it. Do they not remember what Donny Brashear did to their very own, Blair Betts? Well now Brashear is a Ranger and typing that it felt really weird. Random.

Good luck Buffalo and fans. You guys are the lucky ones to win Steve Montador! Since I'm a Bruins fan, I am relieved to see him go and glad someone was dumb enough to take him. Maybe he'll fit into their system but he definitely didn't work with the B's. I felt safer when he got a penalty even though it up the Bruins short handed, because from the box at least he couldn't turn over the puck. Still a random trade I didn't see coming.


Whatever Montreal's GM, Bob Gainey, is on...I want some! Who voluntarily signs Hal Gill? Do you want to lose games? Right there is your ticket OUT of the playoffs. I'll give him credit of having size and strength, but he doesn't use it so there's no point. This trade made me smile just a little because Habs' fails are funny.

Also putting a smile on my face was the fact that Milan Lucic's punching bag, Mike Komisarek, is now on the Toronto Maple Leafs. That sucks for him, seeing as how Toronto doesn't seem to be playoff bound anytime soon. At least Komi is still on a team I hate, therefore making it easier to hate him.

I'm sure more trades are coming, but for now these are the ones that made headlines in my mind. The Habs seemed to have acquired the most amount of players, but this is probably due to the fact they have the most free agents. Thanks again for the laughs Bob.

It's A Wild Situation In Minnesota

Monday, June 29, 2009

A lot of teams like to focus on signing a natural goal scorer come July 1st, but no one is in more need than the Minnesota Wild. The Wild's team is made of a solid defensive core, which is great for a team and their goalie. But if you can't score goals, you have no chance of winning hockey games. The only real 30-40 goal scorer they have is right winger Marian Gaborik, who hits the free agent market come the first of July.

The biggest name on this Wild roster is Gaborik who, due to injury, only played in 17 games this past season. In those 17 games though, he scored 13 goals which simply proves right there he knows how to find the back of the net. Can you only imagine how much damage he would have done if healthy? Along with his 13 goals he put up 10 assists to total 23 points which averages out to at least one point a game. Now he has a contract of $7.5 million at the age of 27. To me, that's a lot of money but Gaborik's probably worth it if he can stay healthy. He's never played all 82 games in a season, coming close in 2002-2003 playing in 81. According to, Minnesota, Vancouver, Edmonton, Los Angeles and Dallas are interested in him. My personal opinion: if Minnesota wants to make playoffs next year, they either keep Gaborik or sign a player like Heatley or Hossa.

Other forwards that will be free agents are centers Krystofer Kolanos ($500,000), Bryan Lundbohm ($500,000), and left winger Stephane Veilleux ($862,500). Veilleux is the same age as Gaborik and scored just as many points, only difference is he participated in all but one of the Wild's games this season. He is still a reliable forward though. As for the other two, if Minnesota is serious about getting another goal scorer, these two players could be traded as a package deal. Kolanos played in 21 games for the Wild and Lundbohm spent most of his season with the affiliate team, Houston Aeros.

On the defensive side of things, they have four free agents, one of them being the stay at home defenseman, Martin Skoula. For a blue-liner, he didn't have many penalty minutes as he had only 10, which is a plus. He put up 16 points through 81 games last season. So should Minnesota re-sign him? I believe they should, simply because for the 10 years he has been in the NHL, he's always been reliable.

Other free agent defensemen the Wild have is Marc-Andre Bergeron ($1.69 million), Kurtis Foster ($1.025 million), and Tomas Mojzis ($500,000). Bergeron is more of the offensive type of defenseman. During the 2008-2009 season, he scored 14 goals in 72 games to make a total of 32 points. In the past, he has had one 20 goal season, two 17 goal seasons, and one 15 goal season. This is a player the Wild really shouldn't let go of. The Wild have enough cap space to sign Bergeron and Foster if they wanted to.

About the goaltending situation, they already signed Niklas Backstrom, one of the candidates for the Vezina Trophy this past Awards Ceremony. They inked him to a four year, $24 million deal. Backstrom went 37-24-8 this past season.

On the night of the draft, the Wild acquired Kyle Brodziak, a center from the Edmonton Oilers. He's not one to put up big numbers on the score board, but he's one to stay healthy, be physical but stay out of the box, and keep his +/- at a reasonable number. I guess you could say he is one of those players who make up for the offense by doing the little things.

During the off season, the main focus of this team should be on scoring. Of course it could never hurt to add talent and depth to your defense as well, but if they don't, they should be fine.

Sens' Off Season Situations

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Ottawa Senators were once a team to be reckoned with. They were a playoff contending team for years, including making it to the Stanley Cup Finals, eventually losing to the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. This past season, however, everything fell apart for the Sens. They didn't make the playoffs, they stayed at the bottom of the standings, and their line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and Daniel Alfredsson just wasn't the same.

Now Heatley wants out. This is something Ottawa really can't control. Yes, he is one of their best players, but Canada's capital city doesn't suit him anymore. Heatley has a list of teams he would go too (might I add one of them being my Boston Bruins =D ) and Ottawa was hoping to get a trade done before the NHL draft this Friday. On his list of teams includes the Bruins, as I mentioned, the Kings, Rangers, Sharks, Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Canucks. For a player like Heatley, Sens fans better hope they get some good players out of a trade with him.

The Sens also have two unrestricted free agents in forwards Mike Comrie and Chris Neil. Comrie, acquired before the trade deadline, put up three goals and four assists in 22 games played with Ottawa. Neil, on the other hand, has spent his whole career with Ottawa. He has played in 511 career games, posting 61 career goals. If Ottawa was to only resign one, my personal opinion is Comrie is the better guy to go with. Only problem is, he has a $4 million contract to pay, while Neil's is only $1.2 million. Although when it comes to signing players, it's sometimes better to go with the player with more quality.

Thirty-two year old defenseman, Filip Kuba, will become a free agent as well. This past season he produced 40 points, three of which were goals. He also ended the season a +4, with 28 penalty minutes which isn't bad for a blue liner. His contract is worth $3 million.

Ottawa has a few small contracts that will be free agents as of July 1st, such as Brad Isbister ($650,000), Greg Mauldin ($500,000), Drew Fata ($550,000), Luke Richardson ($500,000), and Brian Elliott ($758,000).

As far as the draft goes, Ottawa should look for a goaltender that they can use as a back up to Alex Auld. Auld, if he doesn't get traded, should make for a solid starting goalie. Goaltending was a slight problem during the 2008-2009 season, so a goalie should be top priority for General Manager, Bryan Murray.

The Wanna B's Woes

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hockey season has sadly been over for eleven long, dreadful days, but there are still plenty of things to cover during the offseason. There will be time to cover the draft as well as free agency, so I'm going to start my summer off with the Providence Bruins.

The Baby Bruins roster is always changing. Whether players get sent back to juniors, get called up to Boston, get traded, and on an every night basis: alternate every other game because there are so many of them. Whatever the case, I never know who I'm going to get to see play that night. Heading into next season, however, there are some names I definitely want to see back on the roster and some that I don't think will be back.

Starting with the guys from the point, there are a total of eight defenseman on the P-Bruins roster right now. Alain Goulet signed to Amateur Tryout in April, after joining fellow Bruins the past two years at the Rookie Development Camp. This name is not one I've seen brought up in talk with Providence; therefore I am not sure he will be returning next year. Most likely, he will be released from his contract. David Kolomatis and Matt Stephenson are two other defensemen that were added to the roster late in the season. Both players who alternated different games, and are ones I would place on the "unsure to return" list.

Names known in Providence and by Bruins fans are Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Jeff Penner, and Andrew Bodnarchuk. Boychuk definitely proved why he deserves to be wearing a Bruins jersey. This past season he was the leading scorer of the team with 66 points and 20 goals. As a defenseman, these are impressive stats. McQuaid, on the other hand, is more of a reliable defenseman. He doesn't always show up on the score sheet, but he makes up for it on the back end by always throwing his body around and passing the puck up to his forwards. Penner's style is one of the most unique I've seen. He's used on the power play, he's one to stay healthy all season, ended up a team hight +22, plays physical, and can rush the puck up the ice. To me, he's a very skilled defenseman, and it actually blows my mind he hasn't gotten called up by Boston yet. Bodnarchuck has some experience with the team, having played for them the past 2 seasons. Again, he's another one that doesn't contribute as much offense as some, but still plays a big part for this club.

As for forwards, there are fifteen of them total, while a hockey roster only allows 12 on the bench. This is where the alternating came in also. There are too many centers and wingers to sit here and write something about each of them, so I will simply mention a few. First, there's Vladimir Sobotka who knows Route 95 very well. For those of you outside Boston, that is the highway taken to get from Providence to Boston, which Sobotka seems to be doing more often than not. He's always getting called up and sent back down. I love when he plays in Boston because his style of play at a young age amazes me. Be sure to see him on the roster for Providence next year. Other notables that I think will be on the 2009-2010 roster are Brad Marchand, Wacey Rabbit, Matt Marquadt, Marty St. Pierre, and Jordan Knackstedt.

Out of the four goalies currently on the roster, I strongly believe (and hope) that Tuukka Rask will be playing for Boston next year. Rask played all sixteen of Providence's playoff games and 57 of the regular season. His first call up from Boston last season was versus the New York Rangers where he posted his first NHL career shutout. Adam Courchaine, Kevin Regan, and Kevin Natsiuk will have some competition during Development Camp to see who gets the top spot.

*I will post updates from the week of July 6th- July 12th from Ristuccia, on the Providence Bruins and draft picks*

Do You Want Me to Thank Your Wife, Manny?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Well the awards show is over...THANK GOD, and if you don't know what my title means then you definitely missed the only funny thing that happened. I am happy all three of the Bruins won their awards, respectively, but the show was a mess. (good article on that, read here: )

Alright, so I'm going to start with the Calder Trophy, also known as "Rookie of the Year". The nominees up for this one all had amazing seasons, but I knew who I wanted to win and I knew who was GOING to win. Steve Mason, hands down, had this award. He is probably 90% of the reason Columbus earned themselves a playoff berth. I'm glad for him.

Now on to the Lester B. Pearson Award, which is given to the player most outstanding in regular season. I wanted Evgeni Malkin to win this because I feel as though he works so hard, and sometimes goes unnoticed just because of how amazing Alex Ovechkin is. I love Ovechkin, but everybody already knows how great he can be. So as you can tell from what I just said, Ovie did end up winning this award. Yay for Ovie.

I'm skipping out of order from when they were given out simply to get all the Pavel Datsyuk ones out of the way. I'm a big fan of Datsyuk, his play, and skills but think one of the awards he won could have also gone to another nominee. That award being the Frank J. Selke Award given to an outstanding defensive forward. The other two nominees were Ryan Kesler and Mike Richards, both who deserved this as well. The other award Datsyuk won was the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, which he's won several times before. This one I think he deserved more than the other nominees in Marty St. Louis and Zach Parise. Jeez, Datsyuk wins all these awards yet; his English still isn't that great? Oh well, next award.

Time for the MVP. I probably should have saved that for last, but I'm doing the Bruins hat trick last seeing as how it was my favorite part of the night. OK so the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) went to whom else but Ovie once again! This is another one Malkin could have won, but he has the Stanley Cup so I guess that's all that matters.

Masterton Trophy is one of my favorite trophies because it's awarded to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." Players who win this always deserve it and last nights winner was Steve Sullivan from the Nashville Predators. I was really hoping he'd win and not Richard Zednik. I know Zednik went through a tramatic time when he was cut with a blade of a skate, but I've always had a random grudge against this player since his days in Montreal. Enough about him though, it's time for the boys of Boston.

I was very proud to have my Bruins take home four awards. The Jennings Trophy I already knew they had won, since it's given to the pair of goalies who allow the least amount of goals in regular season, so that's not what the best part about it was. It was the humor of Tim Thomas, which Bruins fans usually only understand. Last night he was thanking the organization, coaches, team, and his family which is basically the same people Manny Fernandez would need to thank. So casually he turned to Fernandez and said "Do you want me to thank your wife, Manny?" There you have my title of this post!

Thomas also was awarded the Vezina Trophy for outstanding goaltender. His speech for this was what I thought was the best of the night; hopefully I'm not being too biased there. I can't explain how excited I was for him. He deserved this award. Zdeno Chara finally won the James Norris Memorial Trophy awarded to the most outstanding defenseman. He was nominated last year, but favorite Nick Lidstrom had won it again. Not this year, it was Chara's turn. Last, is the Jack Adams Award. It’s an award for the most outstanding coach. Bruins bench boss, Claude Julien, won for turning this Bruins team in the right direction. This made my night complete, and it was a hat trick for the Boston Bruins.

(see video of Tim Thomas & Manny Fernandez here: )

And the Nominees Are...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The NHL Awards Ceremony is only a day away and hopefully this year some awards will be brought home to Boston.The 2008-2009 Bruins roster was successful, hard working, and overall determined. Those three qualities definitely deserve some recognition from the NHL and the writers who vote for the winners. There are three Bruins up for awards, including Coach Claude Julien, goaltender Tim Thomas, and six-foot-nine defenseman Zdeno Chara, Chara being up for two.

Starting with Chara, what else can you say about this man besides he's a big impact? Well, he's up for the Norris Trophy once again which is given to the best defenseman. Chara is more than deserving. He is a hard hitter, who's strong on the puck, with that touch of being an offensive threat. On the power play, goalies must prepare themselves for his one-timer from the blueline. A four time All Star, he defended his Hardest Shot title for the third straight year at the All-Star SuperSkills competition, breaking the Skills all-time record with a mind blowing 105.4 mph. Since being with the Bruins, he's done nothing but improve. In his first season in 2006, he recorded 11 goals earning 43 points. This past season he recorded 19 goals with a total of 50 points. He also ended the season being a reasonable +/- of 23. Chara is up against defending Norris Trophy winner Nick Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings, and Capitals' Mike Green.

The other award Chara is a finalist for is the Mark Messier Leadership Award, where he is up against the face of the NHL in Sidney Crosby from the Pittsburgh Penguins, and also Flames' forward Jarome Iginla. The Messier Award is an award that recognizes an individual as a superior leader within their sport, and as a contributing member of society. It honors a player who leads by a positive example in their on ice performance as well as their motivation to teammates and the community. All three finalists easily deserve this. Chara supports the Right to Play Program which works with volunteers to use sport and play to enhance child development in areas of disadvantage. During the 2009 All-Star Game, Chara set up a competition with fellow hockey players participating in the Hardest Shot. Each player donated $1,000 and their teams matched it with the league adding on an extra $6,000 making the total come to $18,000. The winner of the event got to donate the money to a charity of their choice, Chara of course, being the winner. As captain of the Bruins, he is also a great example for teammates and young guys. His work ethic is one to envy, and I think this award was made for him.

When I found out that the goalie I watch play every game was up for the Vezina Trophy, I was probably almost excited as Tim, himself. The Vezina Trophy is handed “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position.” Bruins net minder, Tim Thomas, is phenomenal with his acrobatic saves and the intensity he brings every night. Thomas is a two time All-Star and has recorded two win in his appearances. Since the 2002-2003 season, Bruins fans knew there was something about Thomas' style of goaltending that was unlike the usual. Over the years he has become the starting goaltending for the B's and this past season; he earned himself a career high in wins with 36. Both Thomas and back up goalie, Manny Fernandez, were rewarded the William Jennings Trophy for allowing the least amount of goals scored in the league. Thomas has a good shot of winning and he is up against Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom and Columbus rookie Steve Mason.

Finally onto the brilliant bench boss of the black and gold, Claude Julien. Without him, I believe the Bruins would still be the 13th placed team they were before he arrived. He turned this team in the right direction with his effective system. Julien turned many of his players into an all-around player by making each play defensivley first and then offensively. He has also given all of his young players in the system the chance to prove a spot on the team and bring this team to a new level. Julien, hands down should win the Jack Adams Award which is annually awarded to the coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success. He is up against San Jose's Todd McLellan and St. Louis' Andy Murray.

In my opinion I think the most deserving of these three would be Zdeno Chara for the Mark Messier Leadership Award, even though it is really hard to pick just one because all three of these Bruins deserve to win their awards respectively. From 7:30-9:00, the NHL Awards Show will be held in Las Vegas on Versus. It'll be a successful night in my opinion, if at least one Bruins can take home a prize.

A Look Back at This Years Playoffs

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yes, I watched the Stanley Cup Finals. In fact, I watched just about every Stanley Cup playoff game in 2009. Although this is true, today is really the first day I got a chance to sit down and think back to all the good and bad this year's playoffs brought, including my second favorite team hoisting the Cup.

First Round: My personal favorite moment was the sweeping of the rivaled Montreal Canadiens by the team I call my own, Boston Bruins. It's been a long time coming for something as bittersweet as this to happen, and after the Bruins almost pulled an upset in last year's playoffs, this was just about the best thing that could have happened. Also grabbing some headlines was the brilliant work of a hot-tempered coach. During game five versus the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella acted as a hypocrite for his actions just after benching Sean Avery for the same reason. Washington fans sitting behind the bench insulted him and his team also pouring a beer on him, which caused him to snap. Tortorella, being an NHL coach and all, should definitely know better to keep his composure, but hey, it made for great TV. He then turned around to spray the fans with bottles of water, and throwing it into the crowd hitting a woman. Professional, right?

One last thing to remember of round one, is the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New Jersey Devils. Just this season goaltender Marty Brodeur broke the all-time record of wins and is known to be one of the best goalies ever. Well in a hard fought seven game series, he was outplayed by Carolina's net minder, Cam Ward. Twice Brodeur let up last second goals that decided the game, one being in a series deciding game seven. Carolina scored two goals in the remaining 1:20 of the game, to move onto round three. First goal came from Jussi Jokinen to tie it, and then with 31.7 seconds to go, Eric Staal put the game away.

Second Round: NHL fans know that when Sidney Crosby is in the picture, all media attention goes straight to him and his Penguins. Now add super star Alex Ovechkin to all that. It's a battle of the best. This second round series consisted of the league's top talent when the Caps faced off against the Pens. They sure didn't disappoint. In game two of the series, both Crosby and Ovechkin scored hat tricks, with Ovechkin's team winning that game. Other notables would be the Scott Walker-Aaron Ward situation. In game five, the Bruins had a 4-0 lead with only minutes remaining. Walker sucker punched Ward and he received a match penalty which means an automatic suspension. The suspension was waved off and this irked Bruins fans. Let's just say that if Walker got his two game suspension as he deserved, the Bruins probably would have made the third round...just saying.

Third Round: The Carolina-Pittsburgh series was fun to watch for me, being the Bruins and Penguins fan that I am. It was fun as a Bruins fan to simply see the Hurricanes get swept, and to see Gonchar lay out bad-guy Scott Walker. Even better than this though, was the back-handed goal scored by Evgeni Malkin. He was a one man team in this play. After the puck was dropped, Malkin got the puck through the legs of an opponent and to the corner where he was the first player to reach it. From there he skated around the net, and flipped the puck passed Cam Ward. (see goal here: Malkin got a hat trick this game.

Finally, onto the Stanley Cup Finals. What a great series it was. Detroit fans must have thought it was all over once their team went up two games to none. That wasn't the case however, because on home ice, the Pens tied the series and secured themselves a game five and six. Pittsburgh was blown out in game five, losing 5-0 but went on to win 2-1 at home in game six. At this point in the series, the team at home hadn't lost in their building. This all changed in a thrilling game seven, where the Pittsburgh Penguins earned themselves their third Stanley Cup in their franchise. My favorite moment personally, was seeing Malkin win the Conn Smythe trophy, because it was well deserved. I also enjoyed seeing the youngest captain in history raise the cup. I am sad that the season is over, but it's one I will always remember.

Krejci Signed, Others Waiting

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Bruins have a lot of work to do this off season. Atop of the list is signing key components to this Bruins team, including Phil Kessel, Matt Hunwick, and Byron Bitz. Already signing David Krejci to a three year deal worth $11 million, they have to decide who is going and who is staying in order to keep their top free agents.

Krejci was phenomenal throughout the entire 2008-2009 season, establishing career highs in different aspects of his game. He played in all 82 games this season, although he suffered through injury for the better part of it. Krejci also had a new career high in goals, assists, and points as well going 22-51-73. Most Boston fans figured this top young forward would be first priority to sign. So does this signing leave room for other top young forward, Phil Kessel? I'm sure Peter Chiarelli would love to keep Phil the Thrill in Boston, but Krejci and Kessel were both outstanding through regular season and playoffs that it might just cost too much.

One advantage the personnel in the Hub of Hockey have is the injuries to both of these player and the surgeries they had. Chiarelli & Co already signed Krejci, for a reasonable amount and now it's on to Kessel. It's an advantage that Kessel had to have surgery simply because he won't be ready for the start of the season which might scare off buyers and lower his cost for the Bruins to be able to afford him.

There are some minor changes that would have to be made to this roster in order to keep Kessel and also defenseman Matt Hunwick and forward Byron Bitz. One decision needing to be made is to trade net minder, Manny Fernandez. He may have started the season off on a good note, but his nagging injury and inability to play consistently has caused him and his goaltending not wanted in Boston. Whether he retires or the B's trade him, they need to get rid of his $4.75 million contract and bring up Tuukka Rask from Providence whose price is about $850,000. Also, free agents like long-time Bruin, P.J. Axelsson, and Shane Hnidy probably won't be back next year if the Bruins are serious about signing their young players.

On the need to go list is also defenseman, Steve Montador, who did nothing to wow Bruins fans when he was acquired at the trade deadline. However, Mark Recchi who was also aquired at the trade dead line was the complete opposite. Whether or not the Bruins will re-sign him is still up in the air. With a small amount of $1.25 million, it's possible he could be suited up in a Black and Gold uniform come next October.

The roster for the 2009-2010 campaign may be completely different if the Bruins can't figure out a way to re-sign the three very important free agents in Kessel, Hunwick, and Bitz. Hopefully they don't let them all wait until July 1st, because they just might be gone. Either way it's an exciting time of year and I can't wait to see the outcome.

Game Three: Series Shifts to Pittsburgh

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It was a weird sight in Mellon Arena Tuesday night. The Detroit Red Wings actually looked like they were chasing after pucks and not making picture perfect plays. Oh wait, that was only the first five minutes. Well both teams did battle and the "White Out Crowd" at the Igloo was loud and ready to criticize Marian Hossa.

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. First period: Mostly back and forth play and the score is tied at two. Pittsburgh tallied first with a goal from Max Talbot. Detroit struck back to tie with a goal from Henrik Zetterberg. The Pens then found themselves down by one when Johan Franzen put it behind Fleury on the power play. It did eventually get tied up when my personal favorite Penguin, Kris Letang, scored on a Pens power play to even the score.

Second Period: Was scoreless, but not boring. There were some big hits and some good scoring chances. No goals however, so the score is still tied at two.

Third Period: Pittsburgh broke the tie about half way through the third period with a Sergei Gonchar power play goal, the Penguins second power play goal of the night. After that goal was scored, players started scrambling on both sides. Detroit because they needed to make a a comeback and Pittsburgh because they needed to hold onto their lead. Pittsburgh won that battle and the empty netter went to Max Talbot for his second of the night.

Pittsburgh went on to win 4-2 on home ice. It was a beautiful sight for Penguins fans as their team cut the series lead in half. Game five will be necessary.

Best Player of the Game: Kris Letang.

Game Two: Detroit Dominates Again

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back to back games didn't seem to tire the Detroit Red Wings. It seems as if nothing can stop them once the puck hits the ice at the start of a game. The Pittsburgh Penguins did, however, keep up most of the game. Although the game started off kind of sloppy and neither team seemed to be able to get the puck into the opponent's zone cleanly, it did pick up.

The game picked up a bit, and Detroit got some good scoring chances. Young gun, Darren Helm, did what he did best by making fools of the Penguins defenseman, and opening up space for himself. He didn't score, but did get the shot off. Detroit spent most of the first half of the opening period in the Penguins end, and shots were 6-1 in their favor. The Red Wings kept the pressure and controlled the neutral zone very well. When the Pens did finally get the puck out of their zone, Ruslan Fedotenko, who had the lone goal for his team in game one, had a good chance but was denied by Chris Osgood. The Penguins got the first power play of the night and about 40 seconds in, Evgeni Malkin put it behind Osgood after many attempts. This put the Pens up 1-0, their first lead of the series.

The second period started off with a lot of energy. Pittsburgh seemed to be a lot better along the boards and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury looked more confident. As energetic as the period was, with the Pens forcing an icing, they had some tired legs out there. Off the draw, Jonathan Ericsson took a shot from the point to tie the game up at one, assists going to Jiri Hudler and Darren Helm.

All the momentum was with Detroit and to add to that, Evgeni Malkin took the Penguins first penalty of the night. No goals were scored on the power play; however, Valtteri Filppula scored 14 seconds after it ended with a pretty goal to put Detroit up 2-1. After that goal, the game was really fast paced and non stop play. Shots by Detroit kept coming all the way until the very last second of the period.

In the beginning minutes of the third period, Sidney Crosby, who had been quiet most of the game, had a really good scoring chance out in front Osgood. He even had a second chance, but the puck bounced off the post and went under the pads of Osgood who held for a whistle. A little over two and a half minutes in, Justin Abdelkader scored his second NHL playoff goal and second of this series. This put the Red Wings up 3-1, gave Detroit all the confidence, and made the Pittsburgh bench a little tense.

Fans started chanting "Ozzy" for their goaltender at about six minute mark, as he made saves to keep the score 3-1 Detroit. He was a key component because the last five minutes was all Penguins as they tried to come back from the two goal deficit they put themselves in. The Jordan Staal line was the hardest working for the Pens and that consisted of himself, Tyler Kennedy, and Matt Cooke. The hard work didn't end up paying off as the Pens went on to lose this one 3-1.

Best Player of the Game: Jordan Staal.

Game One Goes to Detroit

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The anticipated series between the Detroit Redwings and the Pittsburgh Penguins has begun and game one is in the books. Detroit took this game 3-1, and it seemed as though only a few players on the Penguins decided to show up to the game.

The first period was pretty calm for a Stanley Cup Final game and it was for the most part evenly played by both clubs. There were good chances early but defenseman Brad Stuart started off the scoring by putting the Red Wings up 1-0. About five minutes later, the score was tied when Ruslan Fedotenko found the rebound from an Evgeni Malkin shot at the point to put it in the back of the net. The score at the end of twenty minutes was 1-1 with shots at 11-7 in Detroit's favor.

The Penguins got back to back powerplays in the first ten minutes of the second period, but capitalizing on chances in neither. Although there were no goals, they created some beautiful scoring chances and the game had picked up a bit. The crowd erupted when goaltender Chris Osgood saved a breakaway opportunity for Malkin, keeping the score tied at one. With about seven minutes remaining, the Pens seemed to apply more pressure than they had the whole game, but quickly the momentum shifted to the Red Wings side. The last four to five minutes was all Detroit, and they were rewarded for their hard work with a goal, with less than a minute left to play in the period. Johan Franzen put them up 2-1 with his eleventh of the playoffs. Besides a few, typical scrums, this game hasn't been nearly as physical as I thought it would be.

Detrot kept the pressure heading into the start of the third and what do you know, within 2:46 they have a two goal lead on the Pens. Justin Abdelkader scored his first NHL goal, with the assist going to Ville Leino, who scored his first NHL point. The blame shouldn't be put on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury himself though, because it was the whole team who kept breaking down defensively. After the Abdelkader goal, it was mostly back and forth action until about the ten minute mark when Pittsburgh kicked it up a notch, spending some time in the Red Wings zone.

Even though the Penguins are a highly offensive team, watching the game it seemed as if they were nervous. I knew if they couldn't get back within one goal before there was under five minutes left, that it was going to be tough. The signs just weren't going the Penguins way, as they got many scoring chances and just couldn't capitalize. Sure enough, Detroit won their eighth straight game one. Game two is Sunday night, same place and same time. Fleury stopped 27 of 30 shots while Osgood made 31 saves.

Best Player of the Game: Chris Osgood.

In Remembrance

Friday, May 29, 2009

Today marks the one year anniversary of Luc Bourdon's tragic death from a motor vehicle accident. Bourdon was bound to be a great defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks at the young age of 21. A little over a month after he celebrated his 21st birthday on February 16 last year, he was taken from the ones he loved including the hockey world.

Luc's mother, Suzanne Boucher, founded the Luc Bourdon Memorial Fund which serves to support children in need in the area of New Brunswick where Luc was from. Luc, himself, was a supporter of the minor hockey leagues in that area. In his first year in the NHL, he donated over $10,000 to the Minor Hockey Association. In memory of Luc, anyone can make donations to help support young athletes and scholarships in the town of Shippigan, New Brunswick. The Vancouver Canucks organization created and sold commemorative Luc Bourdon t-shirts at the Canucks Team Store during playoffs, and raised over $14,000 for the foundation.

Although he was taken way too soon, his best friend, Kris Letang, has some very fond memories with him. In Juniors, they both played on the Val d'Or Foreurs winning two gold medals together. Letang stated, "We were playing together. We were roommates together. We share, like, everything together." Bourdon still affects Letang today, as he is part of his pregame routine. Whenever Letang scores, he thinks of his good friend Luc and knows he is watching him.

Bourdon was not only a professional athlete, he had an artistic side to him as well. He could play guitar, sing, and even wrote some of his own songs. Bourdon recorded a song he had written for his girlfriend, Charlene Ward, and it was played at his funeral. Charlene also read a poem Luc had written for her. As Letang reminisced the memories of his good friend, he brought one up from when they were in Juniors. "One time, Steve Downie (now with the Tampa Bay Lightning) was playing guitar, and it was kind of annoying because he didn't know how to play," Letang said. "Luc was a great guitarist, and he was kind of ticked off because Steve was always playing in front of everybody in the lounge, so Luc took the guitar and ripped all the strings off."

The Luc Bourdon Memorial Fund is a great way to keep the spirit of Bourdon here with us and to do what he would be doing if he was still here. The smiles he could bring upon people is missed, as family, friends, teammates, and fans all still remember Luc Bourdon and how he was taken too soon.

A Possible Rematch?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It seems as if the hockey gods want a Stanley Cup Finals rematch of last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Detroit Redwings. Detroit seemed to dominate the Penguins during that series, although the Pens managed to steal two games. Pittsburgh deserved a lot of credit seeing as how they had gone from being at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, to the top. Detroit, on the other hand, is a given. They had won three Stanley Cups in the previous eleven years, and their roster hasn't really been drastically changed, therefor the experience only added to the talent of this club.

This being a new season, means new faces including some familiar ones playing on the opposing side. Goaltender Ty Conklin played on the 2007-2008 Penguins team, facing Detroit in the Finals. He now finds himself in a red jersey, with a possible chance to play newly, old teammates. This is the same situation for forward Marian Hossa. The Penguins aquired him at last year's trade deadline, and what a deal that was. Hossa was phenomenal through the playoff run, scoring 26 points, twelve of them being goals. Although Conklin wasn't in goal for the Finals, it still will be interesting if this is the matchup to see which team lifts Lord Stanley.

Many Penguins fans, including myself, would love to see the Pens win especially if it's against the Redwings just to spite Hossa. Even though Detroit seems unstoppable come playoffs, the benefit to the opposing team is the unexpected injuries to Norris Trophy candidate, Nick Lidstrom, and Hart Trophy finalist, Pavel Datsyuk. Possibly the team's two best players are questionable to play, which is a relief to the other team.

The goaltending matchup is a good one with Marc-Andre Fleury in for the Pens, and Chris Osgood for the Redwings. They matched up against eachother last year with Osgood going home with the glory. This is a brand new year, including a new bench boss for the Pens. Michel Therrien, the Head Coach that led the team to the Finals last year, was fired midway through the season and in came Dan Bylsma. Though Bylsma's way of coaching may be questionable to some, he turned this team around in a hurry going from tenth place to earning a spot in the post-season. With a new style of coaching, comes a new outlook so if the Pens do advance, their opponent better be ready.

The players that will grab all analysts and media coverage will be the obvious Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the Penguins, and Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg for the Redwings. To my surprise, Hossa hasn't piled up the points this post-season like he did last. As for Zetterberg, he's been a key component to this team with 18 points, but neither of these players numbers match up to those of Crosby and Malkin. Malkin, who currently rides a six multi-point games streak, has 28 points, twelve being goals. Malkin has been lighting up Hurricanes' goalie, Cam Ward, with a hatrick in Game Two and two goals in Game three. Crosby has a chance to break an NHL record of most goals scored in one playoff year. The record is 19 goals and Crosby is at a close 14.

If this shall be the matchup, it will be one exciting series. My guess would be seven games, with Pittsburgh winning. I know Detroit would probably be favored, but I think the Pens are just too offensively talented and too much to handle.

Baby Bruins Backs Against the Wall

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Providence Bruins seem to be imitating the Boston Bruins, as they have fallen into a 3-1 series deficit to the Hershey Bears. Game 4 was played Sunday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, where the Bruins fell to the Bears 3-2 in an overtime thriller. Their backs are against the wall as they look to keep their season alive Monday night in game 5, with the series still in Providence.

The scoring started off in the first period when defenseman Adam McQuaid rushed into the Bears’ zone dropping the puck to Mikko Lehtonen. Lehtonen then passed to Peter Schaefer at the faceoff circle and put the puck past goalie Michal Neuvirth. The Bruins went into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead, as defenseman Jeff Penner scored while rushing up on the play, assists going to Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka.

The Bears cut the lead in half at the 7:31 mark of the second period with a goal from Bryan Helmer. Going into the second intermission the baby B’s led 2-1. The Bruins looked good through the first forty minutes of the game, and Hershey started finding their legs in the second period. For most of the third period it was scoreless, until Keith Aucoin tied the game at two, with 6:48 left in regulation. As the Bears’ bench celebrated, The Dunk crowd fell silent. Hershey scored two unanswered goals to tie the game, and game 4 was headed to overtime.

In overtime both goaltenders looked sharp. Bruins goalie, Tuukka Rask, was the more active one and made more saves as Hershey applied more pressure than the Bruins. Most of the extra period was spent in the Bruins zone, which led to the game-winning goal. The agitator of the night, Graham Mink, tallied the winner to put his team up a 3-1 series lead. Rask stopped 40 of 43 shots for Providence, while Neuvirth made 25 saves for the Bears.

NHL Does it Again

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Colin Campbell proves himself a hypocrite yet again. In Thursday night’s 7-4 win for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina forward Ryan Bayda was assessed a match penalty for a crosscheck to Penguins defenseman, Kris Letang’s, head. Letang also received a game misconduct for his altercation with Tim Gleason. The match penalty in the NHL states “in addition to the match penalty, the player shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the Commissioner has ruled on the issue.” Campbell, the NHL Senior Vice President, doesn’t seem to understand this definition or the term “automatic.”

In round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins played the Montreal Canadiens. I am sure all Bruins fans remember the reason why Boston’s fan favorite, Milan Lucic, was suspended. Lucic received a match penalty towards the end of game two, for crosschecking Montreal forward Maxim Lapierre. The NHL felt as though Lucic was intentionally trying to injure Lapierre as he, just like Bayda, gave a crosscheck to the opposing player’s head. If this is the case, why wasn’t Bayda suspended then? The thing is, Campbell and his fellow NHL executives are inconsistent with their ruling.

Bayda was simply fined $2,500 for his actions which is like pocket money for professional athletes. If Campbell is going to keep washing out the automatic suspensions of match penalties, he should either change the definition of the match penalty or have the same reaction for all cases. He is making himself look bad by making it seem as if players who receive the match penalty only will get suspended when he feels like doing so.

Letang, who was interviewed after the incident, said that Bayda got him right in the mouth with that crosscheck. Even though Letang was frustrated he stated that, “I’m not the guy who gives the suspension. There are people hired for that and they have to make the decision.” Exactly, they have to make the decision, but it doesn’t mean it will be the right one.

The Hurricanes take on the Penguins tonight at 7:30 with the series shifting over to North Carolina. The Pens lead the series 2-0 and although some emotions might carry over into game three, both teams need to stick to their game plan. You never know though, if emotions run wild and more players take questionable action, they might just get let off the hook by the laid-back Colin Campbell.

Dmitry Ready For Draft Day

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summertime for hockey means free agency, NHL Awards, and the NHL Draft, my personal favorite being the draft. One player I have had my eye on is Dmitry Kulikov. Kulikov is a defenseman for the Drummondville Voltigeurs who is eligible for this year’s draft, and he could be on his way to winning the one thing all Junior players dream of, the Memorial Cup.

With drafting foreign players the language barrier can come into effect. Communication on the ice is not only important for team chemistry, but for making plays. At Kulikov’s young age, he already speaks English very well.

Considering this is his first year playing hockey in North America, Kulikov was extremely impressive. This eighteen year old Russian has put up numbers unexpected for a blue liner. Not only is Kulikov great defensively, but offensively he contributes more than a coach could ask for. During the 2008-2009 season, he averaged at least one point per game, ending the season with 62 points in 57 games. He has done the same so far throughout this year’s playoffs, putting up 20 points in only 19 games.

Kulikov is a key component for the Voltigeurs power play too. Both goals he has scored on this playoff run for the Memorial Cup have been on the power play. His hard, left handed shot is good for finding the tape of a teammate’s stick and more importantly, the back of the net. Earlier in May, Kulikov won three awards for his play this season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He won the Emile Bouchard Trophy which is awarded to the best defenseman, the Mike Bossy Award being the best pro prospect, and the RDS Cup for being rookie of the year.

In my opinion, he would be a good prospect for the Boston Bruins or Montreal Canadiens. For the Bruins, he would add to the shortage of left handed shooters they have and his hard hitting style of play would fit well with Boston. As for Montreal, he could tighten up their defensive unit. Either of these teams would most likely be the best fit for Kulikov.

Kulikov and his teammates are heading to the semifinals of the Mastercard Memorial Cup. The Voltigeurs have a good shot at winning with the hardworking team that they have. If Kulikov were to be drafted this summer, the team would be sure to miss his presence on the ice, but I’d say he’s definitely ready for a shot at the NHL.

Habs Have Their Hands Full

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There are only four teams remaining in this year’s race for Lord Stanley. This leaves the other twenty six off on their summer vacation, one team being the Montreal Canadiens, who have some off season work to do. The Habs have a total of ten unrestricted free agents this summer who they need to take care of whether it’s giving them a contract or shipping them out of Montreal.

These ten free agents aren’t just no names, most of them are the star players of the Canadiens. The list of free agents includes Captain Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev, Robert Lang, Alex Tanguay, Mike Komisarek, Francis Boullion, Tom Kostopoulos, Patrice Brisebois, and Mathieu Schneider.

Can the Canadiens really afford to lose Koivu and Kovalev, arguably the team’s best players? The 2008-2009 campaign wasn’t really one to remember for the centennial season, and if they want to improve their roster, letting go of those two definitely won’t help the cause.

All star defenseman and agitator Komisarek is another key component for Bob Gainey’s club. He’s an enforcer on the ice and logs about twenty-one minutes of ice time per game. Since there is a salary cap in the NHL, if the Canadiens want to keep defenseman Komisarek, then Brisebois and Boullion are players they might want to consider letting go.

Of the other players remaining, I’d say free up some cap space by letting another team grab Kostopoulos while the Canadiens re-sign left wing Tanguay. Tanguay fit in well on a line with Koivu and he scored 16 goals this season, which was fourth highest on the team.

If Gainey does decide to re-sign the big name contracts and let go of the others, the Canadiens organization might be able to sign a skilled goal scorer to help bring this team to a new level. Free agency starts July 1st, so Gainey has until then to take care of who they want to sign but if not, free agency is coming and it’ll hit this team hard.

Bruised and Battered Bruins

Monday, May 18, 2009

Two young stars for the Bruins are to undergo surgery. Forwards Phil Kessel and David Krejci will each be sidelined up to at least six months.

Kessel, 21, will have surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff that he injured back in March in Columbus. The shoulder surgery will sideline him for as long as six months.

Krejci, 23, will have right hip surgery that will keep him out for 4-6 months. Most likely he will not be ready for Bruins training camp and could possibly miss the beginning of next season.

On another note, other Bruins players have been said be injured. Veteran Mark Recchi had kidney stone surgery before game seven. Also, forward Chuck Kobasew was cross checked in game one against Carolina and he is said to have broken ribs. Defenseman Andrew Ference has a bruised hip and will need groin and hernia surgery.

Although the season ending was a heartbreak, maybe it’s a positive after all seeing as though the Bruins who aren’t injured would make a shorter list.

The Staals and the Kid

Sunday, May 17, 2009

When the name Sidney Crosby is brought up, you either love him or hate him. No matter what anyone says about him one thing is true, he stepped it up big time during this year’s playoff run with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins are about to match up against the Hurricanes for the Eastern Conference finals and not only will Crosby be fun to watch, but so will Staal². This series includes a pair of Staals, brothers Jordan and Eric. You can bet these games are going to get competitive.

For Pittsburgh, they’ve got top talent players like forwards Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Carolina on the other hand has forward Eric Staal and goaltender Cam Ward. Although Ward is an amazing goalie, don’t be surprised when there are a lot of high scoring games. Crosby has twelve goals this post-season, a league high and Malkin can take the team on his back when needed. Ward does make those timely saves needed to steal games, but we’ll just have to see how these games go.

As for the Staal’s, I don’t think they’ll be doing much talking outside of the rink. It’s going to be strictly hockey for these two and even a possible head to head battle. With Jordan’s great play, he’s been matched up against other team’s top lines, so he might be on the ice every time Eric is.

Marc-Andre Fleury will be in between the pipes for the Pens and his style of goaltending has been said to be similar to that of Tim Thomas. While I slightly disagree, I think the only reason Fleury would be compared to Thomas is because of the athleticism of their saves. Either way, Fleury is a good goaltender with some experience just like Ward.

Some other key players that might go under the radar are Tyler Kennedy and Chris Kunitz for the Penguins and Sergei Samsonov for the Canes. Kennedy is a hardworking center who is strong on the puck, where Kunitz is good for battling along the boards and placing himself in front of the net. Samsonov has scored some clutch goals this post-season but I still feel as though he’s not given enough credit.

The battle begins Monday night at Mellon Arena. Let’s go Pens!

See You in October

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another season has come to an end for the Boston Bruins, a very heartbreaking end. All Bruins fans can do now, is say thank you. Thank you for a great eight months of hockey including a longer playoff run than any Bruins team has done in the past few years.

Although Thursday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Hurricanes wasn’t the result any Bruins player or fan wanted, they should all be proud of the comeback of this series and their push to be the best all season long.

There are two ways to look at the conclusion of this season. One way, of course, is the negative. I’m sure that all the bandwagon fans are thinking this year was just another let down and that they never really thought the Bruins were going to win it all anyways. People like that obviously don’t realize the improvement this team has made over the past few seasons. The group of guys the Black and Gold have now brought hockey back into the city of Boston.

It took the Red Sox 86 years to win another championship, it took the Celtics 22 years, and the Patriots…well let’s just say going perfect all season doesn’t mean anything if you can’t win the big one. Boston is a great sports town and you can’t give up on your team just because they didn’t win this year. There’s always next year.

The diehards and the people that are with the team win or lose, look at it with the positives. There are so many positives to take out of this season. No critic or analyst expected the Bruins to finish atop the Eastern Conference. Nor did they expect them to come one point shy of winning the President’s Trophy. All this is above and beyond expectations. The 2008-2009 season was exciting to watch as we got to see the young players develop into more complete players, and watch Claude Julien & Co turn this team in the right direction.

Even though it’s sad that it had to come to an end, the Hub of Hockey should be looking forward to the NHL Awards. The B’s have Zdeno Chara up for the Norris Trophy, Tim Thomas up for the Vezina, and Coach Claude Julien up for the Jack Adams.

The motto all season long has been “We Want It”. The Bruins definitely still want it, and so do the fans. So long for now, and we’ll see what October shall bring.

Little Bitz at a Time

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What a story this year in the playoffs that young guns have written. The most impressive to me has been Boston Bruins right wing, Byron Bitz. Who says you need to play a certain amount of games to make a difference? With Bitz, it only took him one game to get used to playoff hockey in the NHL.

In the first round series versus the Montreal Canadiens, left winger Milan Lucic was suspended for one game, so in came Bitz as a replacement. With 13:02 of ice time, he recorded his first playoff point with an assist on line mate Shawn Thornton’s goal. He came out of that game as a +1 with two penalty minutes.

For the rest of that series, he was scratched as Lucic returned. When the second round series against the Carolina Hurricanes approached, he got another chance. Teammate Blake Wheeler hadn’t produced much during this post season run, so Coach Claude Julien decided to make him a healthy scratch meaning Bitz had better be ready.

Bitzy, as teammates call him, has played in games 4, 5 and 6. Although he hasn’t showed up on the scoreboard, he is doing all the little things right while also bringing his physical presence. In game six, the Bruins faced elimination yet again. They were already up 1-0 when Bitz placed himself in front of goalie Cam Ward to create a screen in front. Defenseman Steve Montador then took a shot and scored to put the Bruins up by two.

Being down in a series three games to one, the team needs to figure out what to change. The Bruins know they play their best hockey when they are physical, and Bitz fits right into that.

NHL "A Joke"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The NHL cannot expect to be taken seriously when time after time the league goes against their own rules, and does not enforce what they say they “believe” in. Commissioner Gary Bettman and the main video room in the NHL’s Toronto offices wanted to ban hits to the head. When it came down to it, did the league’s officials really bare down to stop them? It sure didn’t seem like it, because hits to the head went without suspensions which sure wouldn’t stop a player from doing it again.

The situation with Boston Bruins’ defenseman, Aaron Ward, is another example of how the league is going against their ruling. In Sunday night’s game five versus the Carolina Hurricanes, Ward was sucker punched in the face by Hurricane forward Scott Walker. Walker received a 10 minute game misconduct, 5 minute fighting major, and a 2 minute instigating penalty.

If a player receives an automatic game misconduct within the last few minutes of a game, it is carried into the next game, hense the term “automatic”. Was this the case for Scott Walker? No, the NHL dismissed the automatic suspension and simply fined him $2500. This decision is basically telling all fans, players, and teams that it is only an automatic suspension when Colin Campbell feels like it.

When interviewed about the situation, Ward had said, “It showed me, based on the decision, that I don’t matter to begin with, so to voice my opinion isn’t worth it.” This is the message being sent to a player who was punched, on a cheap shot. Hurricane President and General Manager Jim Rutherford, however, has a different opinion. “We are satisfied with the league’s ruling,” he stated.

The league supposedly has no tolerance for any violent action in the remaining minutes of a game when the score has already been settled. Walker got off pretty easy, seeing as though Ward could have been seriously injured.

The Bruins take on the Canes tonight at 7, and Aaron Ward just wants everyone to let this go and focus on the game. “It’s a joke, and we’ll just move on from there,” stated a very serious Ward after practice. So I guess all anyone can do is move on, and hope from here on out the league is just a little bit more careful with their decisions.

Against the Odds

When a team makes the playoffs it emphasizes that they are a good hockey team and can compete with the best. This sure is the case for the Anaheim Ducks. This club was an eighth place seed coming into this years playoffs. Upsets happen, but it’s rarer when an eighth place team surpasses the first. When they knocked out the San Jose Sharks, they took out the team with the best regular season record.

Knocking off the first seeded team in the first round of the playoffs, isn’t usually what anyone expects. The Ducks pulled off this upset in six games with their backup goaltender coming through with two shutouts and some timely saves. Jonas Hiller was put in between the pipes instead of the usual Jean-Sebastien Giguere and he stole some games for his team.

They have gotten major contributions from players like Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, and Scott Neidermayer in both the Sharks series, and their second round matchup with second placed Detroit Redwings. Both the Ducks and Redwings’ power plays and penalty kills have been pretty equal to each other. Anaheim’s power play is at 27% while Detroit’s is at about 29%. While Detroit is having the most successful power play, the Ducks are doing a good job killing them with a 79% penalty kill.

Now it’s almost the end of the second round, and the Ducks are facing a Detroit Redwings 3-2 series lead. They head to their home ice for game six at the Honda Center where they are 3-2 this post season. They upset the Sharks, so can they pull one on the defending Stanley Cup champs? We’ll just have to see.

No Trouble in the Hub

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Boston Bruins aren’t in trouble. Whoever thought they were going to sweep their way to the finals needs to think realistically.

This second round series versus the Carolina Hurricanes is going to be a hard fought one, and not easy. Although the Bruins came out and won game one after being off for nine days, they need to get back to being that dangerously offensive team they are known to be. Game three was close, so close it went into overtime. The black and gold had chances in the very beginning of the extra period, but couldn’t capitalize. Not being able to clean up in their zone, is what led to yet another clutch goal for Jussi Jokinen.

Other than the offense, the Bruins need to get back to playing their solid defensive game. It seems as if in games one and two, they couldn’t control pucks in their own zone and they were making sloppy plays. Once they got themselves into the attacking zone, the plays seemed to go well. They put pressure on Carolina goaltender Cam Ward but he just showed exactly why he won the Conn Smythe in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even though Ward is a great goalie and is stealing some games for the Canes, we cannot forget about the acrobatic saves Tim Thomas throws our way. He is a Vezina Finalist and has been outstanding for the Bruins all season long. The defensemen in front of him just need to step it up in game four and help out their man in between the pipes.

Coach Claude Julien, a Jack Adams finalist, is known for mixing up his lines and doing a pretty good job. For game four, I wouldn’t be too surprised if I see new line combinations to try to get some chemistry going offensively.

The rest of the series should be exciting. As long as the Bruins can steal the next one in Carolina, they should be back on track when they hit home ice on Sunday for game five.

To Be or Not To Be..A Hall of Famer

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mark Recchi has played for multiple teams in his lengthy career. He has had stints with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and has also played for teams like Montreal, Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and as of now the Boston Bruins. For every team who has acquired him, he’s made his presence known. So is a player like Recchi deserving of a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame? My answer, yes.

Recchi has already reached the one-thousand game plateau and is currently seventeen games shy of fifteen-hundred career games. Each season, the amount of goals he scores varies. He’s been a fifty goal scorer, a two time forty goal scorer, and has had eight 30+ goal seasons. At this point in his career he has even said himself, he scores goals from creating traffic in front of the net, which is exactly where the Bruins need him to be.

The Black and Gold received Recchi on March 4th, and he has played in eleven games with seven goals in a Bruins jersey. He has really been a great pick up for the team.

Besides the offense and powerplay presence Recchi brings, one of the most key things about him is his experince in the NHL and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins are a young based team and his experience and a veteran leadership can only add to the success of the Bruins heading into the post season.

Recchi has had a lot of success in his career, including the one thing every player dreams of, lifting Lord Stanley.

Anyone can say that a player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but with his name on two Stanley Cups, a seven time all star, and in most seasons a productive goal scorer, it’s a given that he deserves a spot.

Who to Trade?

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Boston Bruins are in first place in the Eastern Conference and have been for most of the 2008-2009 season. As of March 1st, the Bruins haven’t made a deal with any players from other teams or shipped anyone out of Boston , yet.

If it were to happen, who would it be? There has been a lot of talk about players like defenseman Chris Pronger and Tomas Kaberle, and forward Keith Tkachuk. The only problem with trying to add to this Bruins roster is who are they willing to part with? This season has been so successful alrealdy, would adding or subtracting from the team mess with the chemistry?

The Bruins are a pretty solid team this year. They have seven defenseman who each bring something different to the table. At the same time, injuries seem to occur more often than not to the Bruins. So if you bring in a defenseman like Kaberle or Pronger, who do you sit out? That’s the thing, you don’t.

The Bruins, if anything, need a left-handed forward who can score some goals, or even a righty who plays left wing. Guys like Kovalchuk, Gaborik, and St. Louis are a few players I wouldn’t mind seeing suit up in a Bruins uniform. For players like that you’d have to take in consideration of who you’d need to give up in order to get them. The Bruins have a supply of young players that they have not only drafted, but also playing for the Providence Bruins and in Boston now. The Bruins could offer a draft pick in 2009, defenseman Matt Lashoff, and forward Marty Karsums to get one of these power forwards.

Names like Phil Kessel and Vladimir Sobotka have been thrown out there as well. Two players like these, are two I would not want to see go. Kessel was on pace for a 30 to 35 goal season before being sidelined with mononucleosis, and hard-hitting forward Sobotka, could be a future top forward for the Bruins.

Now, while General Manager Peter Chiarelli has already said he isn’t trading Manny Fernandez just yet, I say why not trade him, free up some cap space, and call up promising goaltender Tuukka Rask from Providence. Rask has proven on multiple occasions he can handle himself well in between the pipes, and this would free up some money to bring in a player like Martin St. Louis.

Whatever the personnel in the hub of hockey decide to do, they have one day to do so, and it may or may not impact this team heading into playoffs.

Breaking in Bylsma

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tenth in the Eastern Conference.

New head coach.

Kris Letang benched.

A lot has changed for the Pittsburgh Penguins since their Stanley Cup Final run last season. General Manager, Ray Shero, felt as though the struggling Penguins weren’t getting the coaching they needed from Michel Therrien, although he was the one who led them to the Finals. Dan Bylsma, who was coaching the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, is now the new head coach.

Bylsma has been behind the bench for two games so far going 1-0-1 in that span. Not bad. Heading into Saturday’s match up against divisional rivals, Philadelphia Flyers, he had made a few changes. He wants to change the attitude and energy of his hockey club. Bylsma is looking for a more aggressive style of hockey to be played and he wants guys to show up every night to play. Now while I agree with this, I personally think he should get to know each player and their style of play, before making any drastic changes that affects the line-up. Yes, players should show up to play every night. Yes, the players do need to bring energy and have a good attitude going into each game, but is it possible for a coach to notice each individual on a twenty-man roster after only coaching two games? No. I can’t imagine his reasoning for benching the puck-moving, defenseman, Kris Letang.

Bylsma’s reasoning was quoted as, “I thought he didn’t play particularly well,” this meaning, the 3-2 shootout loss versus the New York Islanders. That would be a very good reason to bench somebody…if you were coaching the team throughout the season and had more knowledge of the players, their motivators and a better feel for what you were doing.

The Pens game against the Islanders was an okay performance from the team, and I could point out a handful of players who didn’t play “particularly well”. Take goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for example. He’s the one who let up both goals, didn’t handle all the rebounds well, and let up goals in the shootout which decided the game. Should Bylsma just bench him? No, because every goalie has a game where it’s not their best. How about twenty-one year old captain, Sidney Crosby? He’s the captain of this young Penguins team. He’s supposed to help motivate the guys and contribute on both ends of the ice himself. Why not take Crosby by the shoulders, shake him and tell him to wake up! The Pens as a whole team have been struggling, and the blame shouldn’t be put on the shoulders of one individual.

Letang is a young, energetic defenseman who can move the puck up the ice with speed. This season he has had two two-goal games, and has five goals total with nineteen points. Letang was finally finding his confidence this season. His defense partner at most times, Brooks Orpik, once said that Letang will always ask him after games if he played OK. I’d say Letang plays more than OK. He has the potential to be an All-Star defenseman in his young career, and he’s already been invited to the All-Star game twice, taking part in the Young Stars game.

I sure hope Bylsma is careful with the rest of the decisions he makes as coach, as he has already left a bad taste in my mouth.

Setoguchi is the Soul of the Sharks

Monday, February 9, 2009

The San Jose Sharks are hotter than ever partly due to right winger Devin Setoguchi’s efforts this season. He’s the type of player who always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. He’s not afraid to put some shots on net, and he even holds a tie for the franchise record with 10 shots on net in a single game.

In his junior hockey season, he made his impression. Setoguchi had three thirty goal seasons, and his desire to play, led to him being drafted in the first round by San Jose, eighth overall.

Setoguchi is definitely a key player for the San Jose Sharks future. As a rookie, he proved himself in his very first game. He scored two goals in a 4-2 Sharks win, one of his goals which turned out to be the game-winner.

So far in the 2008-2009 season, he has tallied twenty-two goals, two of them being game-winners and has a total of forty-six points. Most of Setoguchi’s goals come from the face-off dots or from being a screen in front of the net. Teammates can find him anywhere on the ice and he can usually find an opening to score. In his first season with the sharks, he played in forty-four games and scored only eleven goals, which shows he has definitely improved in his sophmore year.

Setoguchi has skill, size that he is learning to use, and a passion to work hard in all aspects of his game. For whichever team he plays for he adds his scoring touch. He’s a pretty good skater too, which adds to his ability to score goals. Playing on a line with guys like Patrick Marleau and Milan Michalek doesn’t hurt either.

Not only does he like to contribute offensively, he also tries to throw his body around when he can. In Saturday’s match up against the Blue Jackets, he totaled seven hits, and has eighty-two hits on the season so far. Now even though he gets physical, Setoguchi isn’t the type of player to take stupid penalties. Through the forty-nine games he’s played, he has only totaled 6 penalties, which isn’t bad for a player who logs in about seventeen minutes of ice time per game.

He was selected at this year’s All Star Game in Montreal to play in the Young Stars Game on the sophmore roster. In that game he scored one goal.

With some players in the NHL, it seems as if injury strikes some players consistently. Setoguchi doesn’t seem to be one of those guys, which is a big plus for the Sharks. He has missed one game this season, and that was only due to a death in the family. Setoguchi is a reliable player to have on your team.

At the same time, he was once known as an “inconsistent player”, as reported by a scout. What was meant by this is some games he simply just didn’t show up. Although that may have been true, when he did play, he played great. He has since seemed to transform into a more complete player who has learned to play every night, and to step up when needed.

New Jersey is Saved by Scott

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Save by Clemmensen, rebound….no score!

That’s pretty usual when dealing with New Jersey's goaltender Scott Clemmensen, the back-up for soon to be hall-of-famer, Marty Brodeur. Clemmensen has had his chance to shine this season due to an injured Brodeur.

Clemmensen started off the 2008-2009 season with the New Jersey affiliate team, Lowell Devils, and got the call up when Brodeur was put on injured reserve. Kevin Weekes was the back-up goalie at the time, but struggled in his first few games in net. Clemmensen has since taken over the number one goalie spot as he continues to lead them to victories on their current eight game winning streak.

Clemmensen tallied his twenty-second win of the season ,Friday night against the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins.

Eighth in the league for save percentage with .920%, and sixth in the league with 2.29 goals against average, one might wonder why he was just a back-up in the first place. When Brodeur returns from injury, the Devils will have two hot and solid goaltenders they can rely on.

Clemmensen has been with the Devils since the 2001-2002 season, besides last year, in which he spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Since joining the NHL, the most games he has ever seen in a season is thirteen. That’s all changed this year, as he has played in 33 going 22-9-1 in that span.

Formerly of the Boston College Eagles, Clemmensen has recently been voted Hockey East’s Unsung Hero in conjunction with the 25th anniversary celebration of the league. In his time with them, he holds the BC record for career victories, with 99.

Clemmensen’s style of goaltending doesn’t really have a label like “butterfly” or something fancy. His is simple; more of a calm approach and it’s effective. He doesn’t panic when there’s a screen of players or a bunch of guys out in front of him. Scott stays calm and handles every puck thrown at him. Rebounds don’t come too often, and when they do, most times the players are denied. He’s helped the New Jersey Devils stay at the top part of the Eastern Conference standings. He’s giving them a chance to win every night with their main goaltender out of the lineup.

New Jersey’s offense contributes a huge amount to many of their victories, but it’s the man in between the pipes that keeps the other team’s offense to a minimum.

He catches left, which is probably the best shot you’ve got at beating him. Gloveside is the way to go as I’ve found from watching, is his weakest spot. Although he has no shutouts recorded on the season yet, give him time because he’s just warming up. At 31 years old, he should have some years left in him to play, and let’s hope teams will realize his full potential. As the first half of the season has approached, I’d have to give Clemmensen an B+, and as he continues to play as well through the second, he should have no problem earning a solid A.
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