Monthly Archives: March 2010

Five things to ponder

Things to ponder on this rainy Monday:

1. The NHL’s newest playoff preview video. We’ve already been treated to “What if Bobby didn’t fly?” and now this:

If this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then I don’t know why you’re reading this blog right now.

2. How’s your NCAA bracket looking? If you’re me, it’s looking drastic and unfortunate. I’d picked Denver (who was ousted in round one) and Michigan (defeated by Miami-Ohio last night) to go to the championship. Guess I’m done. The Michigan/Miami game was the story of the night, last night, going to 2OT before Alden Hirschfeld beat Shawn Hunwick to win the game. Hunwick, to his credit, stopped over 30 shots; the 5’7 junior walk-on is the reason his team was even in the NCAA tourney in the first place. Major props, and here’s hoping he gets the starter spot next season. Go little Hunwick go!

3. Tonight’s Bruins game is ridiculously huge. Tim Thomas vs. Ryan Miller. A chance to make the Leaf’s microscopic playoff chances officially nil. The potential to move into a tie for 6th place with the Flyers, with a game in hand on that team. And, possibly most ridiculous of all, there’s a magic number of goals allowed that could move us into the #1 spot for Jennings contention. Remember the Jennings trophy? Remember who won it last year?

Tuukka may not have a wife for Timmy to thank this year, but how epic would this be? As far as I can tell, a rookie has never won the Jennings. Keep sieve-ing it up, Marty Brodeur, the B’s want a trophy to take home. We may have the worst offense, but we make up for it with the BEST DEFENSE IN THE LEAGUE.

4. Eric Gryba signed with the Senators today. Although he will probably play in Binghamton, this is incredibly good news for the holder of BU’s single-season penalty minutes record.

We'll miss you, Grybs.

It also means the dismantling of the 2008-2009 championship team is continuing on it’s merry way. Colin Wilson in Nashville, Matt Gilroy in New York, and Brandon Yip in Colorado have already seen significant ice time this year; Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Cohen, and Colby Cohen are Colorado-bound (or at least Lake Erie, Colorado’s affiliate, where Zach has already seen ice time since BU was ousted from the Hockey East semifinals). John McCarthy, Brian Strait, and Jason Lawrence are tearing it up in the minors, and Nick Bonino leapfrogged over the AHL straight to the pros, where he’s already logged a game for the Ducks since leaving BU this year.

Life moves on, though; names like Warsofsky and Saponari and Chiasson will replace the Cohen, Gilroy, and Wilson of late. Goalie Kieran Millan will remain for at least another year before shipping west to Colorado. And the new incoming class of freshmen will bring a wealth of new talent and names we’ve never even considered. It’s not the end of the world, but there’s no denying it’s sad to see a team like the 08-09 Terriers break apart.

5. Game 6 of Rouyn-Noranda and Val d’Or’s playoff series ended in a 5-1 Huskies win. Jordan Caron leads the QMJHL in scoring (awesome) and Max Sauve’s junior career is officially over. Will we see him in Providence, now that the baby Bruins’ playoff hopes are all but quashed? Only time will tell. In other P-Bruins news, in the first game since Ned Lukacevic was released from his PTO, new signee Devin Timberlake scored in his first game out of Brown University, and ex-BU product Kenny Roche scored as well, although the Peebs lost in OT. It’s almost certain now that Providence will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1998. How depressing.

Snapshots from Ristuccia: Sunday Funday

Steph (@mybruinsoface) and I hit up the Bruins’ short off-day practice today. The B’s worked on elevating their shots over a bumper in front of the goal for a while, then worked on screening the goalies; practice was about half an hour long. After stretching, some of the players worked on tip-ins and one-on-one battles in the corners.

As always, check out our Flickr page for a bunch more photos!

Trent Whitfield and Brad Marchand battling in the corner.

Sobotka and Krejci....sort of doing the same thing.

Woooooooo you scored a practice goal! Go Looch go!

Steve Begin is amused by this.

Stu is serious.

Snapshots from Ristuccia: Calgary invasion!

Not much to report from practice today, as the Calgary Flames showed up which meant all fans got booted from the premises about halfway through. Ference didn’t skate; Vladimir Sobotka looked good to go, and although Trent Whitfield practiced with the team today, he should be sent back to Providence tomorrow or Sunday at the latest if Sobotka passes his last evaluation before tomorrow’s game. The Bruins worked mainly on breakout drills.

Cap'n Trent! COME BACK TO PROVIDENCE

David Krejci picked an opportune time to take a nap.

Vladdie was back with a smile on his face!

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News from the Q

After a long wait (okay, not really, one week) we finally have some photos of our Bruins prospects!

In game four of the QMJHL playoff series between Val d’Or and Rouyn Noranda, Val d’Or tied the series at two games apiece. Sauve and Caron continued their brilliant play, with Sauve getting two goals and an assist and Caron logging one goal. That brings their totals for this series alone to four goals and three assists for Caron, three goals and two assists for Sauve. Not too shabby.

Maxime Sauve

And I will call it....the Caronface.

GREEN HAIR IS NEVER ~EVER~ A GOOD DECISION. Oh, Sauve.

Caron getting a little yappy? I'm ok with this.

You can check out more photos here. It seems like in every photo of Sauve playing, he’s in the crease, either running the goalie over or creating a mess of traffic like a tiny French Mark Recchi. Excitement is building to get this kid to Providence; of course an upset is always possible but Rouyn Noranda came in heavily favored to win this matchup, and the series could end as soon as Saturday. With Providence running the gamut of injuries and players lost to callups, Sauve could be making an impact as early as April 2nd against Worcester.

Random off-day junk

How soon is too soon to start getting fired up for Sochi 2014?

It may be four years away, but nights like last night make a hockey fan wish it were coming sooner, especially for fans of team Finland. In 2014, Finland will be out at least one superstar in Teemu Selanne and probably Saku Koivu as well, but how about this – there are two young Finnish goaltenders right now who are absolutely pushing the upper limits of awesome in the NHL right now. One of them happens to be our very own Finnish Boy Wonder, Tuukka Rask, who posted a glorious shutout of the Thrashers last night, kicking them back down away from our 8th-place playoff spot. That shutout also meant he got to add a league-topping save percentage to his already league-topping GAA record!

nhl.com has given in to TUUKKA MANIA.

Far outpacing the rest of the league in goals allowed against, Tuukka is being touted as the most positionally sound goaltender Boston has seen in years, his style vastly different from Tim Thomas’ flaily floppy fish style. While Tim’s style is fairly effective, it’s also heart-attack-inducing at times. Tuukka’s style is much more calm; he never seems to exert more energy than he absolutely has to, and he is lightning-quick sliding from post-to-post. Although we have seen some rookie mistakes, he’s only giving himself room to grow.

Elsewhere in the league last night, Antti Niemi, Chicago’s version of the young Finnish prodigy, posted a shutout, and is right behind Tuukka (and beating American Hero Ryan Miller, by the way) in goals allowed against. Through 29 games played this season, SIX of Niemi’s games have been shutouts. Only five goalies have that many or more this season, and all of them have played close to or more than twice as many games as Niemi has.

RASK/NIEMI GOALIE TANDEM FOR SOCHI. Can I order my jerseys now, please?

FERENCE RE-UPS

Andrew Ference, glass groin extraordinare, has apparently just signed a contract with the Bruins for the next 3 years. The 31-year-old will make $2.25 million per year. Andy plays an interesting role on this team; he hasn’t played more than 60 games for each of the past two seasons, giving baby defensemen from Providence the opportunity to get their shot at the big club (see: Boychuk, McQuaid, Hunwick last year, etc). It’s not a great contract; personally, I would have preferred one or two years. Three is a bit crippling, unless somehow Ference comes out as a star next year, which is unlikely.

The Bruins now need to lock up Mark Stuart, Johnny Boychuk, and even Adam McQuaid, all RFAs at the end of this season. Then, and only then, should Bruins fans think about being satisfied with this signing.

Congrats on the new contract, Andy, we’re listening to this song all day in your honor! We know it’s your favorite…or…something.

YOUR DAILY PROSPECT UPDATE

In the ongoing dramatic saga that is the P-Bruins’ push for the last playoff spot, defenseman Jeff Penner and forward Trent Whitfield were recalled to the NHL club today. Can you imagine if the Bruins were like the Sharks or Oilers, and had to waste a day flying AHLers back and forth every time they needed a callup? Instead, the baby B’s can shuttle back and forth in about an hour. It’s very convenient.

The PBruins have games against Manchester and Portland this weekend – not easy games at all. Both teams are top seeds in the conference, and with as much as Whitfield has contributed offensively and Penner has been solid at the blueline, going into these games without the two of them is a bit nervewracking.

HOWEVER. There is hope on the horizon!

It’s become a well-spoken-about fact that Max Sauve, Jordan Caron, and Michael Hutchinson will probably head to Providence to contribute as soon as their playoff runs are over. Sauve is set to be the first one to head south; his Val d’Or Foreurs dropped a 1-0 decision to Caron’s Huskies last night, and the Huskies now only need two more wins to advance. Caron scored the only goal; his work in the postseason is getting exciting. He’ll definitely be a player to keep an eye on. Joe Colborne’s Denver Pioneers are headed to the NCAA postseason as well; although there have been rumors of him signing when his team’s run is done, it’s possible that the AHL regular season could be done by the time he’s eligible, and there has been no known communication between Chiarelli and Colborne at this time.

I went to find a picture of Big Joe playing at Denver, and found this instead. Joe, bleached hair is a fashion no-no. Don't bring that to Providence.

NCAA Hockey Bracket Challenge!

March Madness what? It’s all about the Frozen Four up in here. For those of us who don’t care about basketball, here’s a fun little alternative – a Division 1 college hockey bracket!

To enter, just download the bracket here and email it to teapartythrowdown@gmail.com. For each correctly predicted game, you get one point; the championship game is worth three points. As a bonus, correctly predict the score of the championship game!

Prizes are TBD; check this space for further details. BRACKETS ARE DUE BY MIDNIGHT ON THURSDAY, 3/25. NO EXCEPTIONS, and make sure your name and email address are included on your bracket.

Have fun (and GO MICHIGAN. Yes, I’m pulling for them to win it all. Don’t judge.)

Snapshots from Ristuccia: 100 from Wilmo

I am a ridiculous human being.

Part of the learning process of sports photography is learning how to weed out all but the best pictures. Unfortunately, I haven’t reached that skill-level plateau yet, so today I bring you…exactly 100 photos and a short practice report, courtesy of Steph‘s camera once again (give her a follow on twitter!)

Wideman and Stuart were the first two out on the ice, and actually interacted with the fans hanging out early; Wideman came over and had a conversation with one of them. The rest of the team came out and quickly transitioned from warmups into powerplay and basic scrimmage drills. It was a fairly simple practice, and the lines looked the same as usual. Everyone practiced.

The highlight of the day was the team’s attitude, not the skill-level of the drills done. Everyone was laughing; that key team unity we saw in Sunday’s Rangers game hasn’t dissipated. A number of guys stuck around after practice was “officially” over to work on shooting drills and just mess around.

(Images click to enlarge)

Wideman was first out!

As Haggs told us today, Sobotka has a pretty epic shiner right now.

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