Farewell June 2013

Normally, I embrace the month of June.  In fact, it is my favorite month of the year.  Summer begins, warm weather, trips to the beach, hell my birthday is in June.  However; June 2013 was simply awful for a Boston sports fan.  I, myself, can’t wait until Monday morning when I can turn the calendar to July.

Since I started blogging (even dating back to the McKeon and the Mongoose days), as a Boston sports fan, I have primarily been able to write about successes, champions, and legendary athletes. Boston fans have seen two World Series’ trophies, four Lombardi trophies, 1 Stanley Cup, and 1 Larry O’Brien trophy.  We have also seen three out of the four teams we root for lose more than one championship game or series.  None of that pain or disappointment comes close to what Boston fans have endured over the month of June.  Where do I even begin?

Aaron Hernandez

The most notable detrimental event in June is Aaron Hernandez being charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd.  Sure as a Patriotsap_aaron_hernandez_mi_130728_16x9_992 fan this bothers me.  But as a human being it down right pisses me off.  I hold true to the belief set forth by Robert DeNiro’s character, Lorenzo, in A Bronx Tale. “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”  That is just what Hernandez is, wasted talent.  This kid was given everything out of the womb from a physical standpoint.  Bill Walton would refer to him as “the biggest winner of the genetic lottery known to man.”  Hernandez is 6’1, built out of granite, and has amazing agility.  He was given everything: A full scholarship to the University of Florida, drafted by the best organization in the NFL, to play with the best quarterback in the history of the NFL, and as of last August given a sizable contract.

In life, all Hernandez had to do was stay in shape.  Everything was given to him.  He never pulled an all nighter trying to finish a term paper in college.  He never had to sit in a cubicle hearing a boss drone on about TPS reports. Hell the guy probably never had to clean his house or even take out the garbage.  He was living the American Dream; being paid millions of dollars to play a game. And he blew it all.

I have to wonder when it will all hit Aaron.  He will no longer enjoy his mansion in North Attleboro.  He will no longer be able to eat at 5 star restaurants.  He will never hear the roar of 60,000 fans cheering as he catches a pass from Tom Brady.  It is all gone.

Boston Bruins

Back in the middle of May, the Boston Bruins pulled off an improbable comeback over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Down 4-1 with eight minutes left, the Bruins came from behind to shock the world and advance to the second round against the New York Rangers.  The Bruins skated past the Rangers in 5 games setting up a date with the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final.  Most experts believed the Bruins would have a hard time beating the Penguins because of their offensive juggernaut. The Bruins proved all the naysayers wrong, owning the Penguins in 4 games.

The Bruins advanced to play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final.  The Bruins looked to be a team of destiny.  The Andrew Shawmiracle comeback over the Leafs, the dismantling of the Rangers, and sweeping the Penguins.  Gregory Campbell helped kill off a penalty for 1 minute skating on a broken leg.  All the plots to the beautiful story line were in place.

The Bruins came to Boston down 3-2 for Game 6. Milan Lucic scored a goal late in the third period.  It looked as though the Bruins, the improbable Bruins, would force a Game 7 in Chicago.  The with 1:15 left in the game, Brian Bickell beat Tuukka Rask to tie the game.  17 seconds later, Dave Bolland beat Rask to put the Blackhawks ahead and bring the Cup back to Chicago.  I will not attempt to get fancy in describing my feelings as these events unfolded on June 24 (the night before my birthday).  The Bickell goal felt like a wild mule kicked me square in the genitals.  The Bolland goal felt like I lost those genitals 17 seconds later.

After the Bruins were able to shock the Maple Leafs, I was convinced they were going to win the Stanley Cup.  They destroyed the Rangers resulting in John Tortorella receiving a pink slip.  Their win over the Penguins cemented my belief the Cup was coming home to Boston.  Then I sat there on my couch on June 24, watching Andrew Shaw lift the Cup over his head on the TD Garden ice.

How can that be?

Boston Celtics

I made a promise to myself I would not watch a single second of the NBA Final because I did not want to give David Stern his much desired television rating.  My problem, however, is my access to Twitter.  Tuesday, June 18, the Spurs were 5 seconds away from beating LeBron James and the Miami Heat for the NBA title.  My twitter feed blew up.  I could not resist temptation.  I had to tune in to see the sad faces of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh.  I even had my tweet all lined up.  Not 6, Not 5, Not 4, Not 3, Not 2!  1!  I tuned into the game just in time to see Chris Bosh tip a rebound out to Ray Allen, yes Ray Allen above all people, bury a three from the corner to send the game into overtime.  Why did it have to be Ray Allen?  Former member of The Big Three.  The guy who left town to take less money because he did not want to play in Boston in anymore.  The guy who abandoned Pierce and Garnett to go play with the Celtics’ biggest rival.  Why did it have to be Judas Shuttlesworth?

As we all know the Heat went on to beat the Spurs and win their second straight NBA title.

On the local front, the Celtics traded Doc Rivers to the Clippers for a 1st round draft pick.  I am yet to determine how I feel about NBA Finals Game 6: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celticsthis. The beef between Bill Simmons and Rivers further complicates things.  I have long been a fan of Doc Rivers.  I am on the fence about Simmons.  Some days I like him, most days I find him wildly annoying.  As it stands now, I find myself being annoyed with Doc Rivers.  He essentially asked out-of-town because he did not want to be apart of a rebuild.  Knowing he did not want to be apart of a rebuild, he had no problem signing a 5 year contract for $35 million last season.  Obviously KG and Pierce would not be around for those 5 years.  He obviously knew a rebuild was happening.  Instead of owning up to him quitting on the current Celtics, he has made many excuses as to what went down between he and Danny Ainge leading up to this trade.

There is a lot of Ray Allen in Doc Rivers.  The both feel the need to be liked by the fans.  They can’t handle the fact Boston fans may be upset with them.  Ultimately, I am glad the Celtics received compensation for Rivers.  But the bottom line is Rivers did quit on the Celtics and he is currently trying to protect his reputation with Celtics fans by saying it was not his idea to leave town.

After Rivers asked to be dealt to the Clippers, the writing was on the wall Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would be moved as well. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce Believe it or not, I have mixed emotions about this one.  Paul Pierce has been a Boston Celtic since I was 13 years old.  I can’t remember what the Celtics were like without him.  I remember when he slipped to the 10th pick in the 1998 draft.  I was ecstatic,  That ecstasy lived on for the last 15 years.  Anyone who knows me, knows I will argue Pierce is a top five player over the course of his career.  Seeing him don a Brooklyn Nets uniform will be difficult.  Seeing him be coached by Jason Kidd will blow my mind.  It is not hard to forget the Nets were Celtic rivals in the early 2000’s.  Right at the center of that rivalry? Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd.

Seeing Kevin Garnett go will be difficult as well.  I remember working as a camp counselor the summer of 2007 when Garnett was traded to the Celtics.  I walked around the camp with a radio, listening to WEEI, as the trade talks heated up.  Garnett brought an unparalleled intensity to Boston.  It was impossible not to get fired up along with him when you were at the Garden.  Credit Garnett for getting that building as loud as it got most nights.  Without Garnett, there is no Banner 17 hanging from the rafters.

#34 will hang from those same rafters one day.  I hope #5 does as well.  They were great Celtics.  Great isn’t even the word.  There are no words to describe Pierce and Garnett.  Their last move as Celtics?  Bringing home three first round picks to help rebuild the franchise.  It does not get any better than that.   Damn it, I hope they knock off the Heat next year.

June was an awful month in Boston. July 2013, I welcome you with open arms.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Advertisements

Bring on the Penguins

Has there been any series that has had more story lines or more hype than the upcoming Boston Bruins-Pittsburgh Penguins jagr-lemieuxseries? With the Bruins eliminating the New York Rangers and the Penguins doing the same to the Ottawa Senators, the matchup is set for the Eastern Conference Finals.  There are enough story lines in this series it can easily be confused with a WWE pay per view.  Since I am illiterate when it comes to the x’s and o’s of hockey, I am allowed to sit back and enjoy the drama filled series.  Here is a quick peek at what this series has to offer over the next two weeks.

If you told me in 1991, I would be writing about Mario Lemieux vs. Jaromir Jagr going up against each other in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, I would have laughed.  I would also remind you I was six years old and thought 2013 meant hover boards and teleportation. (I would have also been petrified you were talking to me). Lemieux and Jagr were teammates in Pittsburgh from 1990-1997 and again in 2000-2001.  Jagr is still playing at 43 years young while Lemieux is now a co-owner and chairman of the Penguins franchise.

The historical ties between the two franchises do not end there.  Bruins all-time great and franchise president Cam Neely had his playing career cut short by Penguins defenseman Ulf Samuelson in 1991 with a dirty check to the knee of Neely.  To this day, Neely is vocal about his lack of respect for Ulf Samuelson.  With it being a cheap hit that helped end Neely’s career, Bruins fans can look no further than Matt Cooke as a modern-day Samuelson.  Like Samuelson, Cooke is the cheap player who ended Marc Savard’s career.

Adding to this drama is the hypocrisy of Mario Lemieux.  As a player, Lemieux was a notorious cry baby, whining about being ulfneelygrabbed, pushed and hit.  As opposed to being a cry baby in a uniform, he now cries in a designer suit high above ice level.  Lemieux has made a lot of noise about the thugs of hockey taking out his players like Sidney Crosby and Evengi Malkin.  The problem is Lemieux employs and has captained the biggest thug in the game, Matt Cooke.  Give any Bruins fan 5 minutes of your time, bring up Mario Lemieux, and be ready for the verbal onslaught you will receive.

Now that the historical ties of the series have been brought up, let’s not forget perhaps the most intriguing story line this series has to offer.  Jarome Iginla utilized his no-trade clause after Bruins general manager, Peter Chiarelli believed a deal was in place with the Calgary Flames to acquire Iginla.  It was reported my numerous media outlets the Bruins had acquired Iginla prior to the trading deadline for Matt Bartkowski, Alexander Khoklachev, and a first round pick.  Iginla nixed that trade and asked to go to Pittsburgh.  When the news of this broke, Chiarelli famously said, “Well, they are a lock now, right?”  Keep in mind how valuable Bartkowski has been to the Bruins with the injuries to Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ferrence, and Wade Redden.

Make no mistake about it.  The Penguins are a machine.  The amount of talent on their roster is second to none. Crosby, Malkin, Dupuis, Letang, Iginla, Morrow, Sutter, Orpik, and Kunitz.  They are a high-flying power house.  It is easy to say the Bruins are outmanned heading into this series.  Any Bruins fan that is honest with themselves can’t possibly EXPECT the Bruins to win this series.

What do the Bruins have? Grit and balls.  This is what has made this Bruins team so likable.  Milan Lucic is back to his blue collarimages self, pasting the opposition to the boards when the opportunity presents itself.  Shawn Thornton won’t put up with an opposing player’s flatulence. Be on the lookout Mr. Cooke.  Brad Marchand is The Little Ball of Hate.  The rookie defenseman Torey Krug and Bartkowski have endeared themselves to Bruins nation.  David Krejci has ice water in his veins during the playoffs.

Pittsburgh can’t expect to coast by the Bruins.  The Bruins will put up a fight.  They are the definition of BostonStrong.  Boston loves facing powerhouse teams.  Ask the 2001 St. Louis Rams.  Ask the 2004 New York Yankees.  Ask the 2008 Los Angeles Lakers.  Hell ask the 2011 Vancouver Canucks.

BRING ON THE PENGUINS!

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

 

Boston-New York Rivalry Rekindled

The Boston-New York rivalry get played up quite a bit in the NBA and especially in MLB circles, but on Thursday night, the Bruins and Rangers prepare for a big 2nd round series in the NHL. After a stunning comeback in Game 7 to get to this point, will the Bruins have enough left in the tank to take care of the Rangers?

Early Monday night, most fans of the Bruins thought the season was over. Trailing 4-1 in the third period, it looked as though the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to win their first playoff series this decade. However, the Bruins put together a masterful comeback and won in overtime. Now, they will play the role of the team with nothing to lose as they face the Rangers.

Technically speaking, the Bruins enter as the higher seed with home ice advantage during the series. The Rangers are also tired themselves, wrapping up a seven-game series against the Capitals. However, many feel that New York underachieved all season long. They entered the strike-shortened season as the Eastern Conference favorites, but they had to finish strong in the regular season just to get into the playoffs.

The key to this series for the Bruins will be the play of their non-first lines. Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton in particular have been fantastic, but they need help from other offensive players to truly make a deep playoff run. Their defense is a bit banged up, with Wade Redden and Andrew Ference in particular missing Game 7 against the Leafs. Without a strong defense, the Rangers can rack up goals in a hurry.

Tuukka Rask had just as good of a season and Henrik Lundqvist this year, but a look at the percentage played in any fantasy hockey league will show that most still trust the veteran in goal for the Rangers. In reality, this is about as good of a 2nd round matchup one could ask for. Both teams probably wouldn’t mind a short series, but this should go at least six or seven. The Bruins are more consistent, and they have home ice for a possible Game 7 if it comes to that. For that reason, they get the slight edge.

-Rachel Myers

NHL Rant vs. Reality #1 – “It’s Tuukka Time!”

bos_a_tim-thomas-27_mb_600

Rant: Bruins fans! Let’s face facts. We drove Tim Thomas out of Boston. We the Northeast Liberal elite, the Bruins fans of young and old and the NHL and its presidential appeasement disguised as some custom to remain relevant. Relevant where? Within a society and economy which Tim himself believes is leading itself into a canned food depression, where the only thing we will have left to depend on is hunting bear for warmth and meat, and learning the ways of the crossbow? We will have to face ourselves when Chicken Little is proven right, and the sky falls down upon us, and he is made president, and in a strange twist of fate, the survived, bunker ridden Tim Thomas goes to visit him at the White House with S. Truett Cathy from Chic-fil-a, and just as he’s about to shake his hand, he chops his head off, Cathy cooks him up and he eats him. Every night within our dreams we will watch Tim Thomas catching pieces of the Copernicus-like foul in his thick playoff beard, and that blood will be on our hands…or…

Tuukka_Rask_by_CaptainMazda

Reality: We can thank the man for our Stanley Cup and declare as a black and gold collective, “It’s Tuukka Time!”. There remains no risk with Rask. The Bruins will win the Eastern Conference uncontested with Tuukka in goal. Also, with a solid defense and multiple generations of young talent, there is no reason he can’t take home his first Vezina…

Lockout Over: Hockey Fans Everywhere Rejoice!

Image

“So you’re saying there’s a chance?” asked Lloyd Christmas.  That’s a special feeling Lloyd.  However, It’s far better than one in a million which is a surprise because a few weeks ago it looked to be impossible.

In the wee hours of the morning on January 6, 2013, Gary Bettman announced to hockey enthusiasts everywhere that the National Hockey League will lace up the skates and hit the ice.  In cities like Boston, Detroit, Montreal, Toronto, New York, and Chicago fans will be rushing to StubHub and arena box offices to get their hands on tickets, despite the grudge against the owners.  However, in markets like Phoenix, Columbus, Carolina, and Florida most people probably shad no idea there was even a lockout at all.

The season is rumored to be underway on January 15th or 19th sending the shortened season into an interesting schedule conflict.  In fact, the East and the West will not face each other until the Stanley Cup Finals.  The most likely scenario is that each team will play the majority of their regular season games within the division while playing some home-and-home match-ups to round out the regular season.  My league source predicted that the Stanley Cup Champion this year will most likely come out of the East due to the heavy travel that will be required in the Western Conference in such a consolidated amount of time.

What does this mean for the Boston Bruins?  They may very well benefit the most from this debacle.  They had the most players playing in Europe of any NHL team and the majority of their roster has played together the last couple seasons.  Fairly fresh legs, and everyone knows each other.  The major question mark is the goaltending.  With Tim Thomas taking a year off in his bomb shelter in Colorado many are asking if Tuukka Rask is ready to take over the crease full time.  I’m president of the Tuukka fan club so, I will always say yes and have been waiting for this moment since 2006. However, there are many in New England who will argue otherwise just because the whole team collapsed in front of Rask in the 2010 playoffs against Philadelphia blowing a 3-0 series lead.

Another question about the Bruins is 1st round draft pick, defenseman Doug Hamilton.  It’ll be interesting to see if the Bruins elect to keep him for the shortened season or send him back to Juniors after his 9 game trial to avoid using up a contract year for the promising youngster.

Here’s how the roster looks at the moment (line condos subject to change):

Forwards:

Lucic–Bergeron–Seguin

Marchand–Krejci–Horton

(Caron/Spooner/Knight/Bourque)–Kelly–Peverly

Paille–Campbell–Thornton

Defensemen:

Chara–Boychuck

Ference–Seidenberg

McQuaid–Johnson (Hamilton)

Goaltenders:

Rask

Khudobin

I, myself, will probably not attend a game in person this year unless i’m given a free ticket.  However, the players have my full support.  It’s Jacobs and the owners around the league that I despise.  If you do go the Garden this season please support the players, management, and arena employees.  When you see Jeremy Jacobs, Donald Fehr, or Gary Bettman be sure to curse and boo at them until their tail gets tucked between their legs.  They’re the one’s that messed things up for all of us.

DROP THE PUCK!!!

Mumbles Therapy

Today is only Wednesday and it has already been one of the longest weeks I’ve ever experienced.  The best therapy is for me to just rant about subject matter that I feel I know best: the world of sports.  Beware here comes a slew of unorganized thoughts better classified as Mumbles.

*Chris Paul will be traded before Christmas 2011.  New Orleans does not want to go through the “Melodrama” the Nuggets went through last year.  With all the leaks about the Celtics wanting Paul, it would be in their best interest to acquire the best point guard in the league by any means necessary.  The Celtics current point guard Rajon Rondo is very talented but is beyond emotionally fragile.  He broke down last year when his BFF Kendrick Perkins was traded.  He broke down when he was “dissed” by President Obama.  Now the Celtics are reportedly (by every media outlet) pursuing Paul.  If the Celtics fail at acquiring Paul, they will be in for a very long and very uncomfortable season with Rondo running the show.  Get Paul now, worry about his contract status later.

*The Miami Marlins (have to get use to saying that) have been the biggest players in baseball free agency thus far.  They landed Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle.  They are also in hot pursuit of Albert Pujols.  While this appears to be great news for South Florida, they have alienated their franchise player in Hanley Ramirez.  HanRam has reportedly asked for a trade because does not want to move to third base for Reyes.  If I am the Red Sox, I make a strong play at reacquiring the troubled shortstop.  He comes with baggage. There is no doubt about it.  But at the end of the day he is 27 years old coming off his worst season but entering his prime.  He is under contract until 2014 at a reasonable price (3 years $46 mil left).  He is a clear upgrade over Marco Scutaro or Jed Lowrie.  If I am Ben Cherrington, I offer Lowrie or Scutaro, Xander Bogaerts or Jose Iglesias, Ryan Kalish or Josh Reddick, and Matt Barnes or Anthony Ranuaudo.  Imagine this lineup:

Ellsbury, Crawford, Pedroia, Gonzalez, HRamirez, Youkilis, Ortiz, Saltalamacchia, Kalish/Reddick.

*The Boston Bruins benched Tyler Seguin last night during a 15 game unbeaten streak due to him missing a team breakfast in Winnipeg.  Now, I may be in the minority but I love that they benched the 19 year old leading scorer.  Nipping any antics that Seguin may be a part of in the bud is essential in his early development.  It’s clear to me that his benching has a lot more to it then missing his team breakfast.  His excuse will also go down as the worst excuse in sports history.  “My clock was set on Boston time and not Winnipeg time.” Tyler may need a geography/time zone lesson to go along with that benching.  What we all need to remember is that the kid is 19 and he hasn’t had a chance to experience the night life like we all did in college.  I cut him some slack but at the same time applaud the management and coaching decision to discipline him.

* I once hated Tim Tebow with a unparraleled passion.  I think that was because I was an ignorant Longhorns fan that would hear nothing other than Colt McCoy was the best there was.  (In my defense he is the all time winningest quarterback in NCAA history). But after the last two months, how do you not love Tebow? Yes, the whole God squad thing can deter someone but as an athlete? The guy has “it.” Whatever “it” may be Tebow has it.  He wins football games and is exciting to watch.  Yes, I am all aboard the Tebow wagon!

*Unfortunately I don’t have any thoughts on the Patriots.  To me they are the most vanilla franchise in Boston sports.  It may be a reflection of the coach.  They win ball games and move on to the next opponent.  Until the playoffs, there is nothing I can really say about them.

*I love Ed Cooley.  When Providence College first hired him, I was skeptical at best.  My hatred of Keno Davis and his thug culture may have angered me to the point I was blind.  But there truly was no better person to hire for this position then who they landed.  Cooley has demonstrated a willingness to play defense (unthinkable during Keno’s time) and also to discipline players when needed.  (Kadeem Batts is yet to play a game.  Expected back for the URI game 12-23).  I have gone to as many games as I’ve could and have appreciated the development of Bryce Cotton.  I like that Vincent Council is playing under control.  I like that Cooley has Coleman playing defense.  I understand that the Friars may get smoked once the Big East schedule starts.  But I expected that coming into the season.  But because of Cooley, I now know they will play hard for 40 minutes every night.

*I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

Ranking the Boston Champions

There is no doubt the last 10 years have been the greatest 10 years of any sports town in history for Boston.  No other city comes remotely close to having 7 championships in ten years.  So where do I rank those 7 championships? Let’s have a look.

7) 2004 Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers

Tom Brady was a stud in this one as he threw for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns leading the Patriots to a 32-29 win over the Panthers.  Adam Vinatieri was the hero again as he hit a 41 yard field goal to with 4 seconds left to put the Patriots ahead for good.

Memorable Moments: Vinatieri’s game winning field goal; Vrabel’s 2 sacks and touchdown reception; 37 total fourth quarter points

6) 2005 Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles

The Patriots winning this Super Bowl cemented the theory that the Patriots were the 2000’s dynasty in the NFL.  Tom Brady started to draw comparisons to Joe Montana.  And perhaps best of all the Patriots beat loud mouth Terrell Owens.  The Patriots also became the first team since the Denver Broncos to win back to back Super Bowls.

Memorable Moments: Branch’s 11 receptions; Rodney Harrison flapping his arms like an eagle after his second interception; Another Vrabel TD reception

5) 2007 Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies

The Rockies were the hottest team in baseball going into the World Series in 2007 after winning 15 of their last 16 just to make it into the playoffs.  They then swept the division series and league series and were forced to wait as the Red Sox finished their series with the Indians.  This 2007 team was a lot different from the 2004 team as it was a team that was led by Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.  Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury arrived on the scene as well while old friends David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Curt Schilling were still doing their thing.

Memorable Moments: Pedroia’s home run off Francis; Sox come back from 3-1 deficit against Indians in ALCS; Papelbon’s Irish Jig

4) 2008 Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers

While I am more of a Celtics fan than I am a Bruins fan, this championship has to fall just below the Bruins.  The Celtics were able to stack their team by trading their roster away to acquire Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.  Quite frankly, if the Celtics hadn’t of won the championship in 2008 I would have been incredibly disappointed.  But it was pretty sweet to embarrass the Lakers on their home court.  I was also very happy to see Paul Pierce win a title after all the years he put in with the Celtics.

There may not have been a more deserving athlete in Boston than Paul Pierce when he was finally able to raise that trophy high above his head.  Pierce had been in Boston his whole career and never publicly spoke out about how bad the team was or publicly complained.  Sure, he was mad when they stunk, but Pierce stayed quiet and he was rewarded when Danny Ainge got him a true supporting cast for the first time in his career.

Memorable Moments: Pierce in a wheelchair; Mike Breen:”And the Celtics are embarrassing the Lakers”; Ray Allen crossing over Vujacic

3) 2011 Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks

The Stanley Cup hadn’t been in Boston since 1972.  The Bruins were able to win in overtime of Game 7 against their archrival, the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round, sweep a Flyer team that came back from a 3-0 lead the year prior, and beat the Lightning in Game 7 on their home ice, before capturing the Stanley Cup in Game 7 in Vancouver.  They did it without their best player, Nathan Horton who was knocked into next week by Aaron Rome in Game 3.  They won it with perhaps the most dominating playoff performance ever by a goalie in 37 years young Tim Thomas.

During these playoffs, Zdeno Chara missed time with a dehydration illness, Nathan Horton missed time with his concussion, and they were down in the Montreal and Vancouver series but showed how resilient they were after a season of fans questioning the team’s heart.  These Bruins most certainly had heart.

Memorable Moments: Tim Thomas’ overall performance; Horton’s concussion; Recchi’s last game; Thornton the enforcer; Bergeron getting bit by Burrows

2) 2002 Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams

No one expected the Patriots to stay within 15 points of the Rams in 2002.  Hell, the argument could be made the Patriots weren’t even suppose to be there after Brady fumbl- I mean tucked the football in against the Raiders in the AFC Championship.But Bill Belichick pulled off his best coaching performance in his first Super Bowl win as he was able to slow down “The Greatest Show on Turf.”  The Patriots were able to completely neutralize Marshall Faulk and from there, rookie Tom Brady was able to manage the clock and not turn over the football enabling Adam Vinatieri to kick a game winning 48 yard field goal.  While Brady was named MVP, (16-27 for 145 yards) I will forever argue JR Redmond, Jermaine Wiggins, or the Patriot Defense was far more deserving of the honor than Brady.

The coolest part of this Super Bowl was Bill Belichick having his whole team introduced instead of individual introductions.  This set forth the value of unity amongst a team and started the trend that continues today of teams being introduced rather than individual players.

Memorable Moments: Vinatieri’s field goal; Patriots’ entrance; Madden suggesting Patriots run out clock; The final drive; Wiggins; Redmond; Troy Brown

1) 2004  Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals

It took 86 years for the Red Sox to win the World Series.  They suffered the dreaded Curse of the Bambino.  A stretch that saw Bucky bleepin’ Dent hit a lazy fly ball that landed in the netting of the Green Monster to win the division for the Yankees, they saw a routine ground ball trickle through the legs of Bill Buckner off the bat of Mookie Wilson to push the 1986 World Series to a seventh game, and they saw Aaron Boone hit a walk off home run in 2003 that sent the Yankees to the World Series.  The Red Sox didn’t only not win, they put their fan base through through the most painful of losses.

2004 was especially memorable because they were able to do what no other team in baseball had done before: Come back from a 3 games to 0 deficit to win the ALCS against, yes, the New York Yankees.

Memorable Moments: Roberts steals second; Schilling’s bloody sock; “Don’t let us win this one”; (Fully recognize all the memories are from the Yankee series but can you say you have any memories from the actual World Series?)

***A previous version of this post had Tim Thomas listed as 36 years young.  Thanks to a faithful reader for pointing out that he is 37 years young.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF