Savard Shelved For Season

From ESPN Boston:  Today the Boston Bruins and Marc Savard announced that the 33 year-old center will be put on long term injured reserve (LTIR) which will leave him out for the remainder of the season and any playoff games the Bruins would play.  The announcement came today during a press conference with teammates Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and Mark Recchi present.

“I think when that hit happened against Colorado, I said to [athletic trainer Don DelNegro], ‘Why? Why again?'” Savard recalled. “So it’s tough. I guess things happen in hockey. It’s a fast game and it’s something that I’ll just have to get over.”

The decision made was an expected one and has created some interesting talk over the past week or so.  What should the Bruins due with the newly opened cap space now that Savard is officially out for the season.  I’m in the mindset that there is a couple things they need to do.  If you go with common thought, you’d think the Bruins now have $4 Million to spend now.  However, after reading Matt Kalman’s article it has made things a little more difficult on the mind.  If you click on the article you’ll discover that they can’t spend all of that cap space because of performance bonuses of other players on the team (Tyler Seguin, Steven Kampfer, and Recchi).

So, I’m going to throw out a hypothetical question here….

Bruins Stifled In LA- Savard Out Indefinitely

I just wanted to make a couple quick points in regards to the Bruins and Marc Savard. I’ll start with the Bruins game last night in Los Angeles.  This team has struggled with the Kings lately and I don’t know what it is.  Even when the Bruins are playing well they can’t figure out the Kings.  The Bruins even stopped by LA last night with the Kings on a cold streak and couldn’t solve UMass’s own Jon Quick, losing 2-0.  The weird thing was, the Bruins didn’t play horrible, just not well enough to win (obviously).  Tim Thomas stood on his head once again but Quick and the Kings were slightly better snuffing any strong chances the Bruins could develop.  The Bruins have now lost their last five games to Los Angeles.  If I had time to look it up I would, but I am curious, do the Bruins hold a current drought longer than five games to any other teams?  I’d be willing to bet next week’s paycheck on “no” here.

Onto Savard.  Savard was again diagnosed with a concussion on a hard (but clean) hit from former Bruin Matt Hunwick the other night in Colorado.  I don’t know what’s more puzzling, Savard going down again or Hunwick actually throwing a hard hit.  I digress.  The Marc Savard concussion raises many eyebrows.  I believe he should be put on LTIR and be done for the rest of the season.  Every time I see him on the ice I think of Eric Lindros, a career cut short via the concussion.  It literally brings up so much anger toward Matt Cooke for laying the original dirty hit on Savard and taking out the Bruins biggest potential point producer over the past few years and for years to come.  Marc Savard was an assist machine until that hit and now Matt Cooke is still flying around night after night playing dirty and aggravating the league…I hope he gets his some day, I really do.

Bruins Take On Crosby-less Penguins Tonight

The Boston Bruins head to Pittsburgh tonight to take on a Sidney Crosby-less Penguins.  Boston really lucks out here because over the last month or so he has been the best player in the league, uncontested.  The Bruins are coming off of a very disappointing loss in which they held a 2-0 lead late in the third period, blew it, and lost in overtime.  So what should we expect to see from the Black & Gold tonight?

1. Tuukka Rask.  Tuukka has another opportunity to shine while starter Tim Thomas gets so much deserved and much needed rest.  Rask has not had a lot of opportunities to show that he’s ready to be a full time NHL goaltender because of the stellar play of Thomas thus far.  Rask has seen mostly garbage time or cupcake teams during the year so any chance he gets to play means something.  Tim Thomas needs Tuukka Rask to be at the level he was last year so that Thomas can be healthy and rested when it comes time for that playoff run.  Keep an eye on Tuukka tonight as the Bruins take on one of the elite teams in the league.

2. Slumpers.  Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, Blake Wheeler, Michael Ryder.  None of these guys have had stellar performances of late.  Savard still needs to find his game and Chara just needs to bring a high intensity game on a nightly basis.  However, Ryder and Wheeler need to play like they are fighting for a spot on this team like they were early on in the season.  The sense of urgency with a few players has certainly dissipated.

3. Matt Cooke.  This one goes for Savard too.  Keep an eye on how much he tries to get in Savard’s head and see how much Cooke tries to mess with the entire team to take them off of their game.  That’s what Cook brings to the table so the Bruins need to ignore his antics and not get rattled.

4. Claude Julien.  It’s no secret that certain fans are calling for the head coaches…well, head.  It will be interesting to see how he adapts to in-game scenarios.  Benching Savard was a good step to show that players need to be responsible for their actions.  More of this needs to happen so that everyone takes each shift seriously.

We’ll see how the team performs against one of the best teams in the NHL tonight on Versus at 7:30pm EST.  Expect a low scoring affair under 5 total goals…

Mumbles: Blizzard Edition

After shoveling for nearly two and a half hours, I feel the need to rant.  It is usually ideal therapy for me so I figured there is nothing better than to sit down at my computer and just let it have it.

* First and foremost, all you people out there who love snow and are the outdoorsy type were either dropped on your heads as children or should make an appointment to get your head examined, pronto.

*Yesterday, the Patriots took care of business by dismantling the Bills giving them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  While this is an obvious advantage for the Pats, let us not lose sight of the fact that the Pats just last season were blown out on Foxboro turf by the Ravens 33-14 in the first round of the playoffs.  The Patriots could play host to any number of teams as the AFC playoff picture hasn’t quite come into focus yet.  To be honest there isn’t a clear cut team that I am “comfortable” with the Pats facing after their first round bye as each team poses it’s own set of problems.

*Going into this season I was hoping the Patriots would use the Raiders pick to scoop up Alabama’s Mark Ingram.  Now with one week to go in the regular season, that is no longer the case.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been incredible for the Pats this year.  He has carried the ball 209 times this year for 928 yards and 12 touchdowns, without a fumble.  In fact during his 3 years in the league spanning 309 carries he is yet to fumble.  (Lord, I hope I don’t jinx the man).  He has also been great in the back field in picking up blitzes to protect Brady.  He along with Danny Woodhead have been a very pleasant surprise this season.  What’s even better is they are both young and can share backfield duties for years to come.  Their success has enabled the Patriots to concentrate on other areas come draft time.

*I am really hoping that the Celtics aren’t about to partake in their annual swoon after Christmas.  Last season the Celtics were 23-5 going into Christmas day, eerily similar to this season.  Last season they played the Lakers and lost, much like they did with the Magic this season.  Last season, after Christmas the Celtics played less than .500 ball and got a 5 seed in the playoffs.  I am hoping the Celtics can maintain the dominance they have showed this season because I feel home court advantage will be important to them come April as evidenced by their 13-1 home record, best in the NBA.

*Many fans are wondering if the Celtics will make their usual trade deadline move as they have the past 3 years (PJ Brown, Mikki Moore, Nate Robinson).  Such a move will be unnecessary as they will actually be getting healthy around that time.  Expect Kendrick Perkins, Delonte West, Jermaine O’ Neal and Rajon Rondo to all be fully healthy come mid- February.  I have long said this is the deepest team I can remember in the NBA.  For that very reason I think they are the best team in the NBA.

*There has been a lot of discussion as to what the Boston Red Sox batting order will be come 2011.  Some writers (Gordon Edes) actually think that Dustin Pedroia will bat 5th or 6th.  Now what bothers me is that he is a so called expert and gets paid to offer his opinion on such matters.  But how can one man who has his amount of access to the club even think this?  Why would anyone bat the league leader in runs scored when healthy (2008-118 runs 2009-115 runs) deep in the lineup and not have him set the table for the big boppers?  His logic escapes me and if anyone can help me understand what he is thinking it will be greatly appreciated.

*In regard to the Sox lineup, here is something that hasn’t really been brought up.  Why not bad Carl Crawford ahead of David Ortiz? If Crawford was to bat in the 5 hole and Ortiz 6, there would be no more Ortiz shift.  A walk to Crawford would soon turn into a triple if teams were to employ the dreaded shift.  With the shift out of play, Ortiz is looking at 15 to 20 more hits this season.  At the same time I see the flaw in having back to back lefties in the lineup,  but I think it is more valuable to get rid of that shift as many times as possible.

*Last week I wanted Claude Julien fired and was calling for Santa to give him a shake weight to occupy his time.  Don’t get me wrong I still want him canned.  But how cool was it to see Shawn Thornton drop the gloves 2 seconds into the game against the Thrashers last Thursday night? I was calling for some kind of spark that would show me the Bruins did have heart.  Thornton produced that and then found the twine twice in a 4-1 win over the second best goalie in the NHL, in Ondrej Pavelec.  Hopefully Bruins fans will look back to December 23 as the turning point in the season, that got the boys in black and gold going.

*Speaking of the Bruins, I appreciate Marc Savard’s effort in trying to drop the gloves toward the end of the Atlanta game.  But what the hell was he thinking?  This is a man who was knocked out for an extended amount of time last season after a cheap shot by Matt Cooke.  Then missed the first few months of this season with post concussion syndrome.  I never want to see one of my guys turtle but that was an exception.  I understand he didn’t want to be the only one on the ice not dropping his gloves, but he has to realize common sense.  Don’t put yourself at obvious risk of furthering your injury!

I can now be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNtcf.

An Early Look at the 2010-2011 Bruins

In an effort to broaden my horizons, I intend on paying attention to the Boston Bruins this season.  I have been a casual fan of the B’s for the last 3 three years. This season I hope to follow them a little more closely than I have in years past.  Now I must preface my new found motivation to “cover” the Bruins with this:  My experience in hockey is limited to going to support my high school and college teams, going to Providence Bruins games, working as the Chuck-a-Puck guy for the Manchester Monarchs, and watching playoff hockey.  Yes, I will provide no actual insight to the game because I do not understand hockey strategy.  I just know that the team that “lights the lamp” the most will win the game.  So here we go.

After the Bruins made history for all the wrong reasons in last year’s playoffs, GM Peter Chiarelli and Cam Neely were silent.  What happened in the quarterfinals against the Philadelphia Flyers is unspeakable and the Bruins will forever be associated with failure after losing 4 games in a row to a team that was using its backup goalies.  Now that the past is off my chest and I feel better after that rant, we can look forward to the future of this team.

The Bruins landed the number 2 pick in the draft after trading Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs for their 2010 pick.  With that pick the Bruins selected Tyler Seguin, an 18 year old prodigy out of Canada.  With that pick Bruins fans will have a short memory of the 2010 playoff debacle.  Seguin will be relied upon to contribute to the Bruins feeble offense.  Last year in the OHL Seguin tallied 106 points (48 goals, 58 assists).  Seguin has been labeled as a can’t miss prospect and he will be in select company being a number 2 pick.  Bobby Ryan, Drew Doughty, and Jordan Staal have been among the last few years number two picks.  In the preseason head coach Claude Julien has put Seguin on the same line with Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron.  Some have coined it the PPF line. Past, present, and future.  All indications out of Boston are that they have been very impressive.

Another big acquisition for the Bruins this off season was trading for Nathan Horton, the number 3 pick of the Florida Panthers in 2003.  Horton had 57 points last year (20 goals and 37 assists) on a weak line in Florida.  In 3 seasons in the NHL Horton has scored 27, 22, and 20 goals.  With him on the same line as a David Krejci, Marc Savard (if healthy), or Tyler Seguin it is entirely possible Horton can hit the back of the net 35 times or more.  The aforementioned players are very good at creating for others and Horton has never had the benefit of playing with someone of that caliber or possessing those abilities.  The offense was atrocious last year and that pressured goalies Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas to stand on their heads night in and night out.  Horton will alleviate that pressure.

Speaking of goalies, this season Tuukka Rask will be expected to shoulder the load with Thomas spelling him.  Many will fear a sophomore slump from Rask.  He did seem to tire in the playoffs last season.  Keeping Thomas will be important to the Bruins chances of staying competitive all season. Some people will be calling for Thomas to be traded.  Because of his hefty contract, Thomas is virtually untradeable therefore the Bruins should embrace him.  I look for them to start a new trend, much like what is going on in the NFL with running backs right now.  Let the Bruins goalie situation be a “2 headed monster.”  Let Rask and Thomas play in 40 games each.  If one gets outrageously hot, ride them for that streak.  Other than that balance the work load and stay healthy.  When it comes playoff time go with who has given you the most confidence during the season.

Other things to watch for during the upcoming season:

Marc Savard’s health.  A few outlets have reported he may be out for the season with post concussion syndrome.  I find this to be a rather bold report.  I personally would have like to see the Bruins deal him during the off season and keep Vlady Sobotka.  But that wasn’t the case.  If he is healthy, then the Bruins will have depth at center.  If he isn’t then the Bruins will have an uphill battle this season.

Zdeno Chara’s contract situation. Chara enters the last season of his contract.  Talks have started on an extension but they are yet to get serious.  Chara is a game changer.  He isn’t flashy.  He just gets the job done and he is the best at what he does.  The Bruins need to bring him back especially with a weak defense around him.  If he leaves town, it spells trouble for the future of the organization.

How will Dennis Seidenberg, Milan Lucic, and David Krejci look after coming back from injuries that hampered (Lucic) or even took them out completely (Seidenberg, Krejci) of the playoffs last season?

With this being my first foray into the hockey world any comments or feedback would be appreciated!

What Are You Doing at 7:00?

Keep that remote ready and prepare for one of the busiest Friday nights in Boston sports!  The Bruins are trying to sweep the Flyers in Philly tonight, the Red Sox begin a 3-game series vs the Yanks, and the Celtics take on the Cavs at home in a critical game 3 matchup.

When the Semifinal Round of the Stanley Cup Finals began, I was predicting the Bruins in 5.  The Flyers are trying to prove me wrong apparently, and with their last performance on home ice, they seem to be throwing in the towel.  I doubt that Philly will totally fold and they may get a gift if the Bruins decide to not show up and clinch it on home ice.  If I were Julien I would pray the latter not happen.

Playoff hockey requires such a heightened level of play and an intensity that drains a team.  A win tonight would allow the B’s to rest their players, rest in which they desperately need. 

With yet another forward out for the playoffs, a win here would no doubt help Marc Savard in getting his legs underneath him. David Krejci will certainly be missed, however this team has shown that it can pick up the slack when someone goes down, but why couldn’t it have been Wideman?  Granted Bouchere is no Ryan Miller, but the offense is executing much better in this series and Philly defense is, in my opinion, better than Buffalo’s, who hides behind its great shot blocker.  A loss tonight will in no way shape or form hurt Boston, but a win will be a tremendous advantage moving forward.

Will the real Josh Beckett please stand up? 

The Boston Red Sox have clawed their way back to .500.  They are going into a 3-game series vs the New York Yankees and are in position to make up some key games early in the season. 

Beckett will face off against Phil Hughes who has a sub 1.5 era this season.  As the “ace” of the staff, Beckett will need to put forth a solid effort and start this series on a good note.  The offense has been starting to come around and starting pitching needs to follow suit. 

Game one is, on paper, the best matchup from a starting pitching standpoint.  Sabathia squares off against Buckholtz, the most consistent starter to this point in the season, in game 2, and Burnett will face Jon Lester in game three.  If the Sox can keep the bats swinging in this series they have the opportunity to pick up a lot of games in the division. 

After this series they will host the Blue Jays, and will face the Yanks again in a 2-game series the following week. The Tampa Bay Rays series at the end of the month could be for first place and would give the Sox a chance to start the summer on a high note.

If I hear one more “elbow update” I might go mad! 

 Tonight’s game for the Celtics is a great opportunity to keep the momentum in this series.  The Celtics need to keep the pressure on the Cavs and they need to keep playing hard.  The key to the game 2 victory was rebounding.  The Celtics outrebounded the cavs 43-32.  The key to game three in my opinion is the truth!

Paul Pierce has not been performing at a high level in this series to put it lightly.  He needs to provide a little R&R to Rajon and Ray in game 3.  Paul is shooting 33% from the field and 27% from beyond the arch.  He has been careless with the ball and had some foul trouble last game.  His scoring and rebounding are down this series and a big time performance in game 3 could be just what tis team needs to take control of this series.

Look for Rasheed to get some more time in this game after his 7-8 shooting performance in game 2.  Sheed was able to pick up the slack last game, and if he can become a fraction of the player he was during Detroit’s playoff prowess, it would free up Ray Allen on the edge and provide more passing lanes so KG and Perk can go to work inside. 

I would really love to see the Celtics take after their coaches personality when he played for the Knicks.  If Lebron were playing in the 80’s against the Celtics or the Knicks, and especially the Pistons, you can bet he would be knocked down every time he came into the lane.  With the excessive whistles in Cleveland this was obviously not possible, but I would love to see James taste some parque’ tonight. 

My attention will most certainly be on the basketball game because the Bruins will eventually win this series and I will be able to watch the baseball game after the Celts’.  This is either going to be a great start to the weekend, or a bike ride with no seat.

Savard’s Return Energizes the Garden and Redefines Series

Marc Savard capped off, with a story book ending, the greatest 14 minutes of offense, I have ever seen a Bruin’s team lay on an opponent, in my 15 years as a fan. I attended Saturday afternoon’s playoff matchup, with a lack of positivity, that Savard would be returning, however on the screen hovering over the ice, as people poured in, and the sea of gold and black rose, within only minutes to spare before the puck drop, they show our returning star, jersey on his back, stick in hand, and the place erupts. This electricity grew, and grew, and peaked after the 4th goal, and what looked like a route with ten minutes to go in the 3rd, felt like an epic return and a solid victory and a series dominance established. The deflation of having to go into overtime, left the Garden silent, and was difficult to bare. Until, of course, the pucked dropped, and the level of intensity jumped again, and 15 shots in 14 minutes, capped by what can only be described as the most fantastic cliche ending, I have ever seen live, or have ever seen at all. I will never forget the experience, and if this season has to defined now by the “Matt Cooke Incident”, so be it. The icing on the cake, however, to a love hate fan reaction, to a team said to be defeated, yet rising from the ashes on the shoulders of their returning ace, number 91 redefined it not as Matt Cooke’s, but as his own.

Bruins beware and take note:

Play better defense!!!

All season I have been asking for a defensive restructuring, and though Wideman stepped it up, listening to my previous warning, he is still weak, and with McQuaid only blocking shots, Ferrence only skating fast, but to the wrong spots, and Hunwick playing sub-par, they will not survive on Big Z and Boychuk alone. Step it up.

Do not allow the Flyers to get near Rask and do not allow them to shoot while people ARE near Rask. It is very simple to see that the Flyers leave their offense to chance, aside from Briere, sometimes, as do the Bruins, all of the time, so push Hartnell, or Carcillo, or whoever is trying to get in there, on there ass, and block more shots. I do not want to see Rask get rattled again.

Tuukka…control your rebounds. The game was almost over with 20 seconds to go in regulation, because you are feeling the pressure a little bit. Get over it, play physical yourself, push guys out of your crease, and deflect pucks to the corners.

Ryder needs to play better, faster, stonger… He sucks right now. Period.

Sturm is gone. I am not sad, just dissapointed. I wish he had had a chance to redeem himself. Too bad.

Thornton’s coming back, I guess. I am pleased. I like Sobotka on the fourth line, however. Maybe we will see some restructuring. Maybe not though.

Probably not.

Game 2, Monday, May 3rd.

Stay psyched.