Tagged with "Boston Bruins"
Correcting the NHL Divisional Alignment
Category: NHL
Tags: BOSTON BRUINS BUFFALO SABRES CAROLINA HURRICANES CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS COLORADO AVALANCHE COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS DALLAS STARS DETROIT RED WINGS

I’ll start out with a disclaimer that I’m not exactly an avid hockey fan, although I do enjoy the playoffs and I start following more intently around April. It’s just not a sport I grew up around or have attended much.

I was inspired to write this just because I happened to grab a sports page yesterday and look at the standings. I just never saw the point of getting excited about a sport 6 months before it crowned a champion. I mostly write the most about college football, and you might have noticed I don’t have all that much to say about even that in July.

I talked about some different possibilities before the realignment in 2011.

In the first two of these possibilities, I was considering the current format of two divisions per conference. What I’m about to suggest is very similar to the second of those. The only difference is I was anticipating the Eastern and Western Conferences would have equal numbers of teams, and that is not what happened. I’m just going to assume the conferences will keep the same respective numbers of teams they have now. It’s not really fair to those seeking wild cards, but on the other hand, it’s good that teams are on a somewhat level playing field (playing surface?) as the other division in a given conference.

When I discussed realignment possibilities for the NFL, a lot of people didn’t like the idea of the Dallas Cowboys being anywhere but the NFC East, even though Washington, Philadelphia, and New York are of course nowhere near Dallas. I find it really strange that so many people are perfectly fine with moving the Detroit Red Wings to the Eastern Conference even though they were always in the West and have a much longer tradition than the Cowboys, who are about 50 years old as a franchise. Also, Detroit is in the middle of two logical groups of teams geographically, so the more traditional alignment does not completely fly in the face of any geographic logic.

So one thing I would do is move them back. This would be my Central Division (or Midwest could be another name):
Chicago
Colorado
Dallas
Detroit
Minnesota
St. Louis
Winnipeg

I’ll talk more about this below, but I think it’s good for Chicago to have another top franchise in their division. This isn’t the 1990s anymore, when Dallas and Colorado were among the top franchises. I understand Detroit would probably rather play more games in the Eastern Time Zone, but I’m not sure it’s necessary to play that many more games against other divisions within the conference as other divisions outside of the conference.

I think fans on the West Coast, for instance, are more excited to see teams like New York and Boston than Colorado and Dallas even though obviously Colorado and Dallas are a lot closer, so there really isn’t a good reason (other than reducing travel of course) to play non-divisional in-conference opponents more than non-conference opponents. I don’t think playing teams in the Central Time Zone is a big deal for Detroit (like it’s not a big deal for the Cowboys of the NFL to play against the Eastern Time Zone), but I am definitely sympathetic to the idea of avoiding a high number of games against the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones. So if the scheduling followed this logic, it shouldn’t bother Detroit as much not to be in the Eastern Conference.

So moving Detroit back to the West creates an opening in the Atlantic Division. What strikes me is that along with the likes of Buffalo and Montreal, we have two teams from Florida. Let’s move those out as well. So now we have three spots. What collection of three teams makes the most sense together? How about the Rangers, the Islanders, and the Devils? The New York area also shares a state with Buffalo, and I get the impression from other sports you can establish some good rivalries between New York and Boston-area teams.

What’s left is essentially a revival of the Southeast Division except it’s going to go a little farther North and West. Philadelphia is fairly close to DC, and Pittsburgh makes a lot of sense as an in-state rival. Columbus is not too far from Pennsylvania either. It’s also not all that far from Nashville, which would have a natural rivalry with Carolina (another team that had been in the Southeast Division).

I wouldn’t do anything to alter the Pacific Division as currently constituted, so here are the two divisions of the Eastern Conference under my proposal:

Northeast
Boston
Buffalo
Montreal
New York Is.
New York Ran.
New Jersey
Ottawa
Toronto
(I would also note that if a team were to move to Eastern Canada, you could then move New Jersey, so keep that in mind with the teams below as well. Also see the map below.)

Southeast
Carolina
Columbus
Florida
Nashville
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Tampa Bay
Washington

I’m putting this all on the map below. The Southeast Division is in Yellow, mostly corresponding to the current Metropolitan Division. The Northeast, which mostly corresponds to the current Atlantic Division, is in blue. The Central/Midwest is in green, and the Pacific is in red.

Each proposed division is a different color.  Uninhabited states/provinces are gray.  No state or province has teams of multiple divisions.

Each proposed division is a different color. Uninhabited states/provinces are gray. No state or province has teams of multiple divisions.

This is the map of the current divisions. New York State is sort of a teal color since it has teams in both the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions.

Map of the current divisions

Map of the current divisions

I looked up the Stanley Cup Finalists since the lockout season, and I think I’ve done a reasonable job with competitive balance even though that wasn’t my primary objective. The four divisions have all either had 4 or 5 finalists in that time. The only division clearly more successful than the rest by this measure is the Pacific, which has won three Stanley Cups in that time and also had two runners-up.

My proposed Northeast Division also has had 5 finalists, but it has the fewest Stanley Cup Champions. Boston won in 2011, but the last team in that group to win before that was New Jersey in 2003.

The Southeast had 2 champions (Carolina and Pittsburgh) and 2 runners-up (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) in that time and also won the last Stanley Cup (Tampa Bay) before the lockout season.

The Central/Midwest had three champions in that time (Chicago twice and Detroit) and one runner-up (Detroit).

I’m open to additional information I might be overlooking, but this seems a lot more sensible than having Florida teams in the same division as Canadian teams and having another division that goes from Nashville to Denver.

Slap shots and Hip Checks 5/16
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Johnny Manziel Aaron Hernandez LeDouche James Boston Bruins

 

Well the Bruins season came to an end Wednesday night…with a little help from some bullshit calls, some whining on the Habs part and of course their share of diving. Boston outshot, and for the most part outplayed Montreal when it came to time of possession but they just didn’t get the bounces or the calls. I guess we’ll have to wait to see how the offseason plays out…what moves will Boston make to return to the show next year is anyone’s guess…but I suspect they’ll be making a few adjustments. This one is still burning a little too much so I’m not going to sit here and rehash it all. I will say for the next round I’m on the Rangers bandwagon and hope they can deliver what Boston couldn’t while riding the momentum they got off of the death of Martin St. Louis mother last Sunday…so far it’s working, but the way Montreal is playing is a level better than Pittsburgh…that would have been an interesting matchup for the Conference Final…the two biggest flopping teams in the league head to head…they’d need to widen the Sin Bin for that series. Good luck to the Rangers…”win one for the Beeze”!

 

Aaron Hernandez was indicted today for the double murder he’s been investigated for since his arrest in the Odin Lloyd homicide. My feeling is today’s indictment will prove a lot easier to convict from what we know of the evidence in the two cases. In today’s indictment they have the car that had been stashed away in a Connecticut home belonging to Hernandez’s relative, the same make and model that witnesses say was the type seen leaving the scene and they have recovered the actual murder weapon, something they don’t have in the Lloyd case. Hernandez co-defendants or friends must have served that gun up on a silver platter for the prosecution for either a reduced sentence or immunity. We’ll see how it plays out but for Hernandez he better enjoy his trips to and from the courthouse, when these trials are over he’ll never see the light of day again! Dumb ass.

 

 

 I’ve been reading that Johnny Manziel is under fire for his behavior post draft. His using his fingers to indicate PAY ME got some seething retorts from the fandom and media…the Browns replied publicly that Manziel best knock it off, get his head into the pro game and start thinking like a backup Quarterback. When I see that type of shit it does piss me off…this kid has all the chances in the world to make it in the NFL…but what’s he’s doing from a PR standpoint is heading him in the direction of LeDouche. Since Manziel is now “besties” with the self-anointed one he’s obviously been a quick study of how to get hated and do so in real short order. I posted on Facebook earlier in the week if Manziel is looking to become despised he only needs to keep hanging out with the likes of LeDouche James, as we all know James is most loved by – LeDouche James and good ole Johnny Football is well on his way to being the most despised of this years draft class. The old saying, even bad publicity is good publicity might be true in some cases, but when it comes to highly ranked draft picks and their behavior most of us get turned off pretty quick. Don’t show me your fingers looking for the bucks, lay off the shit eating grins and smart ass comments…you haven’t done shit as a pro yet, and whose to say you’ll be successful? Something James knew all too well when going around acting like he was the second coming of Christ… How long did it take him to act like his shit was ice cream? You get the picture. I can’t wait to see Manziel standing on the sidelines of the Factory of Sadness…. he will no doubt have a big puss on his face, he may even act a little Romoesque by wandering the sidelines aimlessly looking into the stands, looking up at birds…anything but paying attention to what’s happening on the field. It remains to be seen how things work out for him but in the meantime you’d think where he went in the draft would have been an somewhat humbling, but it wasn’t which makes me question his character even more.

 

 

Sunday Musings #145
Category: User Showcase
Tags: LosAngelesLakers BostonCollegeFootball Boston Bruins CollegeBasketball CollegeFootball NHL HighSchoolSports
 
 
While recovering from my Free Comic Book Day excursion...
 
NBA
 
L. A. Lakers - Mike D'Antoni resigned as the coach of the L.A. Lakers. It was reported that the resignation came after the Lakers refused to extend his contract beyond next season (the final year on his deal).
 
But let's face it, he was never going to win in L.A. There is a dearth of talent on the team no matter how you look at things and what talent there is gets older and older by the minute. Not too mention that the team really doesn't have the personnel to run the system D'Antoni prefers.
 
The hiring was a mismatch from Day 1 and that it has ended earlier than expected is probably the best thing for all parties involved.
 
The replacement rumor mill now has Steve Kerr as a candidate for the job. The selling point is that it would keep the lifelong West Coast guy in the part of the country he prefers. But that is off the court lifestyle considerations. The biggest question should be whether or not Kerr can coach this team and help bring it back (with Kobe advising and consenting, of course) to championship level.
 
COLLEGE SPORTS
 
Florida State Football/Baseball - The "Crab Leg Caper" starring Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston shows that the player has learned absolutely nothing from being involved in the sexual assault case that marred his football season.
 
I read that PR statement he released and damn near vomited because you know damn well he didn't write it. If he was able to craft such a polished speech, you would think he would be able to remember to pay for some seafood.
 
For all his talent, Winston is proving to be a serial offender. And while the crimes are vastly different, they are still crimes. Suspending him from the Florida State baseball team won't affect him all that much because we all know that he's not going to go pro in baseball.
 
Whether it be football coach Jimbo Fisher or someone else, they have got to wake Winston to the realities of life lived in the spotlight and stop passing things off as a slap on the wrist and a wink and a nod.
 
Sooner or later, he's going to do something the school can't cover up or write off as youthful mischief and then where will they all be?
 
Boston University Women's Basketball - Coach Kelly Greenberg has resigned after a panel convened to investigate charges of how she ran her team and caused four players to quit found that some of her actions were "incompatible with expectations and standards for University employees." Many of the complaints were unfounded but the panel said there was a compelling case for how the coach interacted with players etc.
 
The coach took issue with the findings and resigned saying:“I have determined that it is in the best interest of the University, the women’s basketball program, and myself for me to resign my position as head women’s basketball coach,” says Greenberg. “I do not agree with some of the findings of the review panel regarding my coaching style, which was intended to produce well-rounded athletes and a winning team. However, given all that has transpired, I do not believe that it will be possible for me to continue as an effective coach at Boston University.”
 
 
Boston College Football - The latest installment of TheMMQB.com's Rookie Journey series on ex-BC running back Andre Williams is here: http://mmqb.si.com/2014/04/29/nfl-draft-andre-williams-boston-college-rookie-journey-car-accident/
 
BOSTON BRUINS
 
The Bruins got their series with the Canadiens off to a wrong footed start when they lost 4-3 in double overtime. I wasn't watching the game, but they had live reports coming from the Garden during the 11pm newscast and the game ended during one of the liveshots. By all accounts, the Bruins had much more in the way of chances to win the game but just couldn't put the puck in the net.
 
In the series against the Red Wings, the Bruins lost the first game and then proceeded to lay the smack down on Detroit. Let's hope for that kind of result now as well, shall we?
 
Thankfully the Bruins finally woke up in the third period of Game 2. They scored 4 goals to wipe out a 3-1 deficit and tied the series.
 
In other NHL news, the Vancouver Canucks decided to eat the remaining four years on the contract of coach John Tortorella and fired him after the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time in years.
 
It makes you wonder why in the world they hired him in the first place. The guy is usually a short term game changer for your franchise but wears out his welcome fast. This time around, he wore out his welcome seemingly from day one. He seems to be an ass simply for the sake of being an ass. Bill Parcells could be an ass, but he knew how to couch things in such a way that it came off far more lightly than even the most benign childish temper tantrum put forth by Tortorella.
 
And in this day and age of coddled from birth athletes, they are less and less likely to put up with that kind of crap.
 
CLEVELAND BROWNS
 
STOP THE PRESSES! The Browns signed two quarterbacks on Thursday, and the team's fortunes are bound to turn around and they'll become a Super Bowl contender immediately.
 
What? Excuse me? They signed WHO? Oh my stars and garters...it must be pure hell to be a Browns fan. The Browns signed Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young as two more candidates to be the starting QB for the Browns next season.
 
This is not a joke...well the story isn't, the signings certainly are. You can't be even a GOOD team without at least a competent QB in the picture much less a team that hopes to capture a Lombardi trophy.
 
Thigpen and Young have washed out wherever they've been in the NFL and the only thing they are going to do for the Browns is launch even more creative rants from fans and ensure that the team will stink again next year if either one of them sees any kind of extended time on the field.
 
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
 
Wareham Girls Track - The Vikings ended up tied with Seekonk this week (68-68). Paige picked up wins in the 800 meters (2:44.3) and the mile (6:01.3) while Kali won the long jump with a leap of 13 feet 10 1/4 inches. The team is now 2-1-1 on the season.
 
ORR Girls Track - The Bulldogs beat Apponequet 107-28 to remain undefeated (4-0). Rachel won the 2 mile event with a time of 13:03.
 
Wareham Boys Track - I didn't know that my former player Cam was on the boys track team but I do now. The team lost to Seekonk 99-34 this week but Cam picked up wins in the 100 hurdles (17.3) and the triple jump (36 feet 6 inches).
 
Wareham Girls Softball - The Vikings dropped to 0-9 on the season after losing to Fairhaven 14-2 on Friday.
 
Upper Cape Girls Softball - In another game shortened by the mercy rule, the Lady Rams beat Bristol Aggie 19-6.
 
On Wednesday they were one of the few schools that didn't get rained out and that helped propel them to another mercy rule victory over Sturgis East. The 15-1 win came in large part to the 15 walks they earned off of Sturgis East.
 
Thursday's game against Norfolk Aggie ended Upper Cape's win streak as the Lady Rams lost 13-7.
 
They played their 4th game of the week on Friday and trounced Sturgis East once again. I don't have the score available to me but they won big.
 
They are now 10-2 on the season and 4-1 in conference play. They also have now qualified for the state tournament. It is the fifth year in a row they've done so.
 
MISCELLANEOUS SPORTS UPDATE
 
Last week I mentioned that my sister was taking part in a road race. She completed the 5K in about 29 minutes or so. No she didn't win, but she doesn't do these to win the race but to complete them. She's done a number of these races now and looks to keep doing more of them. She'll be doing another one here in the hometown on Father's Day.
 
MISCELLANEOUS SPORTS ARTICLES
 
While Donald Sterling is the biggest scumbag story of the week in terms of public notoriety, if you wondered whether or not there was a bigger scumbag out there, you should read this horrifying story about a California youth golf coach: http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/golf-coach-facing-child-molestation-charges-accused-trying-have-victims-killed?eref=sihp
 
After 32 years of writing for Sports Illustrated, Gary Smith has retired. You can check out a couple of appreciation pieces about the writer and his work below:
 
 
 
MISCELLANEOUS
 
Movies - The last completed role of actor Paul Walker, Brick Mansions, was released last week and my buddy Kayode reviewed what he saw as a complete disaster of a movie over on Pop-topia:  http://www.pop-topia.com/brick-mansions-collapses-weak-foundation/
 
 
TV- Monday night is the premiere of 24: Live Another Day and I'm looking forward to the show's return in a big way. You can check out an interview with Keifer Sutherland about the show here: http://www.tvguide.com/News/Kiefer-Sutherland-24-Live-Another-Day-1081126.aspx
 
Music - I got another CD review done this week. This one is for the metal band Sabaton and the review of Heroes can be read here: http://www.knac.com/article.asp?ArticleID=11477
 
 
You can listen to/see the lyric video for the song "Rise & Bite" below.
 
 
Late last year two Bad Company albums were reissued as a 2 on 1 CD special. I finally got my copy of it and can get rid of two cassette editions of the albums that don't really work anymore. The albums: Dangerous Age and Holy Water. They featured singer Brian Howe and I really enjoyed them when they came out, and I saw the band live in concert for the Dangerous Age tour.
 
It's too bad the other members of Bad Company and Howe had such a bad breakup that they don't even acknowledge his role in the band if they can avoid it.
 
 
 
I also picked up the new Helstar CD This Wicked Nest. I'm a big fan of the singer James Rivera and can't wait to get into this album.
 
 
The news of a new Judas Priest album called Redeemer of Souls coming out in mid-July was a nice way to start off this past week. You can check out the title track below.
 
 
The new Night Ranger CD High Road could be a promising one if the rest of the release is as good as the title track. You can see the official video for the song below.
 
Slap Shots and Hip Checks 5/2
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Boston Bruins NHL Playoffs Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby

 

Let's see, what  should I write about after such an uneventful week? That's hardly the case as we all know, but what you won't be reading here is a rant about Donald Sterling, our guys have all covered it and since I don't care about the bouncing orange ball let's get to the good stuff...where men are men and even play with a broken leg because they put TEAM above everything else, something you'll never say about the NBA and the prima donna's that play in it. All I will say is that in less than a week we've seen the story break, the world go ballistic and the NBA axing Sterling. Pretty unprecedented when you think about all this, a pro team owner removed, no trial, no evidence other than a tape recording of Sterling talking to his lover and not knowing it was being recorded. That's what I have a problem with, but since Sterling is a lawyer I'm sure he's not going away quietly, and we haven't come close to hearing the end of this story yet. 

The NHL playoffs are now in round two, there have been great games in every series. I kept asking Beeze when NY was going to finish off the Flyers, it took seven games but I knew the Flyers wouldn't beat Lundqvist in game seven in the Garden...and they didn't! The rangers now move on to play Sindy Crosby and the Pittsburgh Whiners. The Pens got by the Blue Jackets, but while doing so Marc Andre Fleury has hardly been the reliable backstop he's been in past seasons, giving up 18 goals in six games with 2 of them going to OT. Don't be surprised if the Rangers knock the Pens out, the big mismatch here is goaltending, Fleury is no Lundqvist. Also, Crosby and Malkin combined for 3 goals and 10 assists in that series, but what you're not really hearing much is that Crosby didn't have any goals, and the three Malkin got came off a hat trick. Crosby has certainly cooled off and gone into a scoring drought and this has been ongoing since he returned from Sochi. He was lighting the lamp before that, but the last 3 weeks of the season he wasn't playing up to snuff, he also went into a 5 game stretch not notching a goal. I expect the Rangers to give the Pens a real physical game, something they don't play unless you call diving and instigating being physical. 

The Minnesota Wild...wow, did they turn it on after the break and grab one of the last two spots in the West only to be a spoiler or what? I had Colorado in that series, but you still have to tip your hat to the job that Patrick Roy has done with this team and they're only going to get better...look for big things from the Avs next season. The Wild now take on the Blackhawks, this is the best of the two series in the West, Anaheim hasn't got a prayer against the Kings, and if you don't believe me just watch the rerun of that game seven against San Jose (or ask B.O.B.) and then get back to me if you think the Ducks can overtake LA. The Wild will give the Blackhawks a series, I believe they were 3-1-1 against Chicago this season...not too shabby against the defending champs eh? What would be just great is to see the Wild shutout the Blackhawks in Chi-Town if for no other reason than to just not hear that fuckin' song they play. I mute the TV every time they score when I'm watching...I can't stand that shit!

As I write this the Bruins and Canadiens are tied. no matter how this turns out I'm not worried. One thing I know about these two teams is they play each other with incredible intensity and elevate their games to a different level, and since it's the playoffs that level will be off the charts. I'm saying Boston in six, but I won't be surprised if it went seven either. Boston is pretty healthy all the way around and they're not over rested, which we tend to see hurt teams that are idle, and judging from the way this game is being played they haven't lost a beat. This will be the best the East has to offer, it's certainly one of the more anticipated games since it's a HUGE rivalry and there's a genuine andshared hatred for each other....doesn't get better than this, so if you're looking for a game that's going to give you everything...this is the series to watch. 

I saw a great blog on Facebook yesterday and I tagged some of you with it. It was written by a guy named Jim Parker, a Bruins fan and it's a 5 minute read on the "hatred" Boston and their fans have for the Canadiens and their fans. It's hilarious, but incredibly true...at least I think it is. Check it out! http://bruinsfansinc.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/why-i-hate-the-canadiens/

The Vancouver Canucks fired one year coach John Tortorella today. I saw this coming, and never imagined in a million years he'd even coach this franchise, but there he was, behind the bench coaching some of the biggest divers in hockey. Torts demands 100% from his players, he's no nonsense, no sense of humor, he requires his players to fall down to block shots constantly, something the Canucks just are not about at all. I'm sure Torts personality, arguments with media and coaches didn't make him a real prize in the city that burned itself down after they lost the Cup to Boston...but this season the Canucks went from a playoff team to sitting home and watching because they went in the wrong direction. I'm wondering, did the Sedin's or any of the other players get with the folks in the front office to get him ousted? I wouldn't be shocked by that revelation at all. Tortorella will get a job, no doubt about it. I'm just waiting for the stories to start coming out from what brought this sudden ousting on...one year and you expect miracles? It's not a coaching problem in Vancouver, it's a player problem. Any real fan of hockey has seen enough of this team to know it's long overdue to be broken up and rebuilt, starting with those two freaks of nature, the Sedins. Yeah, good luck with all that!

And lastly, I can't help but say this: DON'T PANIC RED SOX NATION!!! I must have read about twenty articles in the last week or so about the start the Sox have had. They're in 3rd place, 3 games out after 29 games and you're panicking? Or feel the need to stir the masses with this ridiculous garbage when the season isn't even barely a month old? Really? This is the best you've got? Look, there's 162 games to play, anything can happen in that amount of time and if come the beginning of September they're only 3 games out I'd like their chances to get into the post season. So for now people of Boston, steer that energy you're wasting away from Fenway and point it towards the Garden and Bell Centre and give the Bruins the support they deserve on this mission, I promise when hockey is over baseball will still be here, and you'll have a whole summer to hum and holler over the Sox and where they're at! Remember, it could be worse...this guy could still be around.

Enjoy the games, have a great weekend and please be sure to stop by next door and check out Hal's post, he always brings it!

Here We Go Again
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Boston Bruins Montreal Canadiens

 

Ah, some things just seem to come naturally. Spring (eventually). Taxes. Love. Boston vs. Montreal.

Boston has more than its share of classic rivalries. That happens when you've been around in pro sports for so long, but still it's unusual, especially for a city that isn't a media capital. Of course, it does help to have New York as your usual rival. The Red Sox and Yankees have a rivalry that's known worldwide, even by people who've never seen baseball. But through the 2000s the NFL's primo rivalry was between the Patriots and Colts. On hold though it may be, the Celtics/Lakers rivalry continues to draw attention, at least when both teams are in contention. It should --- between them the franchises have a virtual monopoly on NBA titles. But except for baseball, the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry is the oldest and most often played, and both hockey and its rivalries have an intensity unmatched by other sports.

With the Bruins' dispatching of the Wings on Saturday, they become the second team to get some downtime prior to round 2 of the playoffs. The first to sit was Montreal. And it just so happens that with the NHL's 'divisionalized' playoff format (and common sense taking a bath), the 1 and 4 seeds will face each other in the second round.

It's not really fair to either team. Each draws a higher seed than it should have earned with its regular-season performance. But it's one of those snafus that turns out looking good, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

The two teams have met, at least according to Wikipedia, 889 times total --- more than any other two NHL franchises (though Detroit and Chicago have an edge in regular season, which will evaporate in a few seasons with Detroit's eastward migration). Montreal, of course, holds the all-time edge. This year, though, Boston will be favored by virtue of their President's Cup winning regular season.

Over most of NHL history, Montreal had first shot at local French players, which made them almost impossible to beat (some revisionists insist that's not exactly true, but the old pros who were there uniformly confirm that it's true, as always thought). Was that fair? Probably not. Still, Boston was every bit their equal for the decade leading up to WWII, and likely would have surpassed them, if temporarily, were it not for said conflict which decimated their ranks just as they had peaked into the dominant NHL team with Mr. Zero Frankie Brimsek (a rare American) and the Kraut Line of Milt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart, childhood friends from Kitchener, who would grudgingly take on the name Kitchener Kids due to the aforenamed conflict. All-time Bruin great Dit Clapper was on those teams too, and for a while Eddie Shore, the original dominant defenseman.

But in the '50s Montreal, with Toe Blake at the helm both as an aging player and then as coach, took control. That didn't cool down the rivalry. In 1955 Hal Lacoe, ex-Canadien and Bruin defenseman, high-sticked old pal Maurice Richard. Soon the 'Richard Riot' followed, with Richard attacking Lacoe with his stick and clubbing him until the stick broke. Then he slugged the linesman who tried to pull him away (twice), knocking him unconscious. After the game the Boston Police showed up to take him in, as even in those days his actions were considered criminal, but the Montreal players blocked the locker room long enough for the Bruins to convince the authorities that the league would handle discipline, and instead of jail Richard ended up in the hospital.

Toe Blake's monsters' most serious competition came from Detroit and its Production Line (don't you love these names?) featuring Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Alex DelVecchio. But they were up against a slew of HOF talent in Montreal led by Richard. Tom Johnson, a defenseman for Les Canadiens and later a Bruins management force, was quoted as saying that each year Montreal had two goals, the first being to win the Vezina for Plante, the second being to win the Cup, and more often than not they did both. Still, Detroit held its own, and star Gordie Howe would flatten the Rocket several times when they squared off. Richard begrudged him nothing, and told interviewers upon his retirement that he did a lot of things well but "that guy in Detroit" did everything well.

Fans will recall recent meetings between the cornerstone franchises in Boston and Montreal. Older fans will recall an aging Habs team taking out a not quite ready Bruin team in 1969, and then in 1971 underdog Montreal, with a rookie goalie from Cornell named Ken Dryden (college players were rare in the NHL then), stoning the best Bruins team of the Orr/Esposito era and bouncing the prohibitive favorites from the playoffs in the first round.

The curse would continue through the '70s as Don Cherry assembled the remnants of that team plus some fine additions into his Lunch Pail squad. Their closest call came when they were within a minute or so of taking Montreal out of the semifinals and were called for too many men on the ice. Montreal tied the game and won in overtime. I was watching at the local bar with a ton of hockey players. The mood wasn't good.

More recent years have taken a more even turn for Boston, but this year Montreal has been one of the Bruins' few thorns in the side. They have that to draw on. Boston, meanwhile, was projected to have huge problems with Detroit's speed and precision, and didn't. They have that. As if either team needs something extra.

On paper it shouldn't be that close. But you never know what will happen, especially in Montreal. Will they call the cops on Chara again? Will the Habs, never known in the past for taking dives but now reviled for it, draw bogus calls in droves from an obliging league? Will they suddenly just skate like world-beaters? You never know in this series.

What you do know is that it'll be absolute, positive, all-out, must-watch hockey.

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