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.
Thanks to our brother B.O.B. for filling in for me last Thursday, fine job.
With the passing of my good friend Orville, who had little family in the US, my wife and I found ourselves not only mourning his loss but also organizing the memorial services, cleaning out his home and working on the settlement of his estate etc.
Easter at the Harry’s was a great family time, morning services with my Mom and my brides parents over along with two of my sons. Great dinner, great Hockey game (B’s 4-1), we had a bonfire in the fire pit after dark with several of my son’s friends…loads of fun.
The 118th Boston Marathon was won by San Diego resident 38 year old MebKeflezighi in a time of 2:08.38, 2 more Americans finished 7 & 8.
The last American to win Boston was Michigan’s Greg Meyers in 1983 in a time of 2:09
The Worlds fastest Marathon running was at Boston in 2011 when Kenyon Geffery Mutai scorched the 26 mile 385 yards in a time of 2:03.02…that’s a bunch of 4.42 minute miles right there.
The Woman’s winner was Rita Jeptoo of Kenya winning her second consecutive Boston and setting a new record of 2:18.57. Rita was the 2013 and 2010 Boston winner as well.
So as Lloyd Christmas said “so you’re saying there is a chance.”
The other 10’s of thousands of participants all started with the optimism of Lloyd Christmas and the idea that everyone in the room has potential…
You have potential…you have…oh boy
Patriots Day baseball at Fenway has become a great tradition. Playing morning baseball in April in the nations 3rd windiest city can be cold but Monday it was about 55 at game start and into the 60’s by the time it was over.
The Baltimore O’s took a 6 run lead in the third off Clay Buchholz but the Red Sox battled back but lost 7-6 when the 8th and 9th inning rallies fell short.
That seems to be the disposition of this years model, Not hitting and looking a lot more like we thought they would have looked last year. I’m not jumping off the bandwagon as I have a permanent seat, I’m just seeing that my Boston colored glasses may have over rated this squad just a bit.
With the unlovable Yankees in town for the return of Jacoby Ellsbury the real flaws of this hometown team really started to show. If they don’t get a stud start they can get down early, this team that led the AL in runs scored last season can’t seem to produce any stat except men left on base.
Bruins and Detroit have had a good start to the series with Detroit shutting down Boston 1-0 in game one and Boston beating Detroit 4-1 on Easter afternoon.
In game 3 Boston stepped it up a notch and Tuukka Rask shut out Detroit 3-0
Rask has given up just 2 goals in 180 minutes. Boston is up two games to one
In game two 6’2” 198 lbs Brendan Smith dropped his gloves and wanted to go at it with 6’9” ZdenoChara…the man was delusional and after Z chuckled at the the notion he said to Smith “come on…lets go if you think you want…” Lucky for Smith the refs skated him to safety. Chara may be tall enough to play B-Ball but he doesn’t fight like a basketball player
Old Harry’s MLB power rankings top 10 as of Tuesday 4/22
Tom Brady’s wife Giselle was just a little unhappy with Forbes magazine after she was audited by the IRS following a report by Forbes saying she had an income in 2012 of $45 million. She reported an income of slightly over $40 million and the ever watchful IRS wanted to know why she didn’t report the full amount. Mrs. Tom said Forbes was wrong and the nearly $ 21,000,000 she paid in federal taxes was correct…ridiculous but correct.
The NFL Draft is rapidly approaching and what’s going to happen in one of the most speculated event in sports.
The NFL moving the draft back into May has added three weeks of mock drafts and more time for the risers and fallers to rise and fall.
Houston with the first pick may take Clowney or a QB or maybe not.
The fact that teams with solid and star QB’s are inviting and showing interest in the drafts multiple QB’s is either a speculation that they will still be around late in the first round or…maybe a ploy to get the needy teams to go for that QB early rather than in the second round which would drop some of the top defenders and WR/ TE’s to the middle or end of the first round for the haves to have.
Pat’s HC BB has had three QB’s in town and speculation is that BB, who by the way doesn’t need a QB this year, may be doing the dirty deed for the rest.
How can QB needy Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, Minnesota and Buffalo risk having that possible franchise signal caller being scooped up at the end of the first round and playing for a year or two behind the likes of Manning, Brady, Brees, Wilson or Rodgers?
The answer is; they can’t risk it.
OH is predicting a run on QB’s early and many good players drifting down right into the hands of the rich.
Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Zach Mettenburger and AJ McCarron may all go in the first…if not, prepare yourself for another season of
Matt Schaub, Matt Cassell, Brian Hoyer, Chad Henne, Blaine Gabbert, Jason Campbell,
EJ Manuel, Christian Ponder, Terrelle Pryor (now Russell Wilsons overpaid backup) and maybe even Jeff George
That’s all I have this week, thanks for reading and commenting. Don’t forget to check out my Boston buddy Lanz from the other side of OUR CITY
While still recovering from a spring cold that managed to kick my ass all over the place this week...
The long nightmarish, though sort of expected, season has come to a conclusion.
The Celtics dropped their final two games of the season to finish at 25-57 for the year.
They lost to the Sixers 113-108. Kelly Olynyk established a new career high with 28 points and had 9 rebounds as well. Jeff Green scored 27 points and Avery Bradley added 23 points. Rajon Rondo scored just 8 points, but had 11 boards and 14 assists.
The season finale on Wednesday night saw the Wizards win 118-102. It was Olynyk again leading the way offensively with 24 points and 7 boards. Green scored 20 points and Bradley had 18. Brandon Bass scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Chris Johnson hit double figures with 10 points. Rondo sat out the last game and Phil Pressey scored 9 points and dished out 10 assists in his place.
It is hard not to be disappointed in a 25-57 season. There is no way to sugar coat such a bad record. And while a lot of people will be disappointed that the Celtics are likely not going to get one of those top 3 draft picks, given the level to which the expected names to fill those three slots were exposed in the college basketball tournament, they may not really be missing out on much.
The Celtics have a good coach who actually coaches. Brad Stevens did the best possible job he could given the situation. And it isn't like he doesn't have talent on the team. The Celtics have a ton of guys that are decent players and seemingly pretty good people off the court. They are missing that one dominant player to tie everyone together.
I'm not sure how they will go about finding that type of player or even who that player might be, but if they can tie the team together through that type of upgrade, the puzzle pieces they have in place right now just might be enough to turn things around faster than expected.
Kelly Olynyk has shown that he can be a force on the court. Jeff Green may never be the #1 scoring option he shows flashes of being able to do, but being able to put up 20 plus points on any given night is a nice second or third option to have.
The point guard situation is nicely outfitted with Rondo as the started and Phil Pressey showing he can be a capable backup and spot starter as needed.
Avery Bradley has developed into a capable two guard as an offensive player (his defensive capabilities having already been established), Brandon Bass is a solid post player and I love the hustle shown by Chris Johnson.
Of course, I know that some of the players are likely to hit the road in the offseason and I'm by no means suggesting that my thoughts on the players are going to be correct. But I liked the team on the court this year despite their struggles. Why? Because they played their asses off. It was not good enough to win a lot of games, but seeing the effort night in and night out during a "lost" season gives you a little bit of hope.
In other NBA news, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman will not be returning to the job next season. While his record over three seasons was not good, the reason for the departure is tied more to the health situation with his wife than anything else. He was profiled in a SI.com piece that I read this week written by Joan Niesen and it delves into how great a coach he is on a variety of levels. You can read the piece here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nba/news/20140415/rick-adelman-minnesota-timberwolves-kevin-love/index.html
ORR Girls Track - The Bulldogs track team keeps destroying their competition when it comes to track and field. They beat Bourne 122-13 this past week and my former player Rachel won the 800 meters event in 2:36.
Wareham Girls Track - My former player Paige had a huge week this past week. She finished 3rd in the 800 meters (2:31.4) during the Freshman/Sophomore meet which qualified her for States in that event.
When the Vikings faced GNB Voc-Tech later in the week, they ran away from their competition 94-36 to improve their record to 2-1. Paige was a big part of that as well. She won the 2 mile event in 12:16. She qualified for states in the event and broke the 37 year old school record (12:31). She was also part of the winning 4x400 relay team that finished with a states
qualifying time of 4:32.2.
Wareham Girls Softball - The varsity team dropped to 0-7 on the season after an 11-6 loss to Seekonk and a 6-5 loss to Bourne. Breanna had 2 hits in the Seekonk game. Raelyn got tagged with both losses on the mound.
Upper Cape Girls Softball - Improving upon their no-hitter earlier in the season, the Lady Rams beat South Shore 18-0 in a five inning PERFECT GAME! They are now 6-1 on the season.
I don't write a lot about the Bruins, I know. But with the playoffs starting I thought I'd make note that the Bruins finished as the best team in the NHL. This finish brings them the President's Cup and makes me wonder...so what?
Okay, now I'm not opposed to them being the best team in the league heading into the Quest for the Cup, but the press over them beating the Sabres and sealing the President's Cup was completely ridiculous.
Personally, as long as a team qualifies for the playoffs, do you really care where they end up? Any team can win from whatever seed they start out as. Winning the President's Cup doesn't mean you will win the Stanley Cup. And being the best regular season team means nothing if you aren't the best team after the playoffs are over.
And while it is only the first game of the series, the Bruins losing 1-0 to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night does not exactly inspire confidence.
Heading into the game, I was listening to the sports guy on the radio station I have on in the car. He was voicing the opinion I've heard from others that the Bruins facing the Red Wings is not a typical one vs. 8 seed kind of matchup.
Boston College - The Eagles finally got some good news when Olivier Hanlan, the men's basketball team's best player announced he would be returning to school for his junior year. There had been talk of him entering the NBA draft.
He met with new coach Jim Christian and made the decision to come back to school. For me, I think he made the right decision. He's the team's best player but I don't see him making a big impact on the NBA level just yet. I know if you stay and become a four year player in college, you are seen as having something wrong with you in this day and age. But I think that is pure poppycock. Some players might just benefit from a full college experience and have matured enough that you don't have to worry about a team babysitting him in the NBA.
By the way, Twitter helped rake NCAA president Mark Emmert over the coals this week. It seems he was a guest on the Mike & Mike radio show when they took questions via Twitter with the #AskEmmert hashtag.
TV - The network shows are heading into their season finales with the CBS comedies Mom (already renewed) and The Crazy Ones (fate yet unknown) ending this past week.
BBC America started the second season of their critical and cult hit Orphan Black last night.
Still nothing could top last Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones which featured the most well deserved and well earned death in cinematic history.
Movies - You can check out the final trailer for the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie below.
I saw the movie Frozen last week and found it to be pretty enjoyable. Even funnier was the Honest Trailer for the movie.
Books - I finished reading the Rob Thomas / Jennifer Graham mystery novel Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line before I got sick this week. It is set right after the events of the Veronica Mars movie and with the series/movie creator Rob Thomas involved with the writing, the book did have the right feel to it. The only flaw I saw in the book was the continued insanity of the fully grown adult title character to use a gun, or learn basic self defense tactics.
Music - Did anyone take part in Record Store Day yesterday? I usually try to go to the event which celebrates independent record shops with exclusive vinyl releases from artists both big and small. You can check out what was offered to fans yesterday via http://www.recordstoreday.com
I didn't pick up any of the vinyl releases, but I got three new CDs with the help of the special Buy 2 Get 1 sale at the Newbury Comics location closest to me.
I picked up the debut solo album from former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon called Shine. I grabbed a disc from last year called All Hell Breaks Loose from the band Black Star Riders (the remaining guys from Thin Lizzy). And finally, Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers had a solo album out last year called The Royal Sessions. It celebrates the songs and musicians of Memphis.
I also picked up (via online purchase) the 2013 self-titled debut from the rock trio The Winery Dogs. I had heard three songs when the album was originally released but hadn't yet gotten around to purchasing the CD. Now I have and hopefully there will be a review coming soon.
On October 11, 1979, the Minnesota North Stars opened the season playing the Hartford Whalers. The Whalers had been in existence since 1972 when the somewhat disingenuously named "World Hockey Association" or WHA began operations, and when the WHA and NHL merged, “the Whale” became one of the 4 teams that joined the NHL, along with the Oilers, Nordiques, and Jets.
The NHL treated the merger as an “expansion,” but for an organization “welcoming” new partners, the 4 new NHL franchises were basically stripped of their players and placed at the end of the draft order due largely to the acrimony between the two leagues – and the result was predictable – the Oilers were the only team that ever became successful (due in large part to one particular once-in-a-lifetime player), the rest were relegated to mediocrity. The rest of the three eventually relocated to greener pastures: The Whalers to Raleigh to become the Hurricanes, the Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche, and the Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes. It was only upon relocation that the Whalers and Nordiques achieved any real level of success. Arguably, the league's hubris here started a downward spiral to their canceled season - who wants to pay to see subpar competition?
And so it was 18 years after the inauspicious start in Minnesota (a 4-1 loss) that on April 13, 1997 they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning – perhaps apropos given the NHL’s expansion efforts into areas not typically considered “hockey friendly.” Also apropos, the day before Ottawa defeated Buffalo – far more typical hockey outposts – which eliminated Hartford from the possibility of the playoffs. April 13, 1997 would be the Whalers final game in Hartford.
They’ve been gone from Hartford now for almost as long as they were in the NHL. 17 years ago yesterday, they pulled up stakes and left Connecticut for good.
Connecticut has not been without sports – see the 2014 NCAA Basketball Champion University of Connecticut: the New England Patriots flirted with moving to Hartford until it turned out the property they were looking at was in fact a toxic wasteland and since 2003 the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun has played at Mohegan Sun Resort Casino, but let’s face it ALMOST being an NFL city isn’t the same as being one; being the home of a WBNA team – basically a vehicle for the Indian Casino to draw crowds – isn’t exactly the same as being home to an NBA team.
Here’s the thing though: there are probably more Whalers fans now than there ever were when they were playing. When they would play the Bruins, it was basically a home game for the Bostonians. From 1988, attendance was on a steady decline – it only began to increase when talks of the team moving began. In contrast, The B’s were consistently drawing a healthy crowd. It took three years for the Hurricanes to average what the Whale had been averaging, but they’ve been a healthy draw since. The Whalers now have about 456 fans on facebook.
There was a great write up in the Boston Sunday Globe yesterday on the “Fanniversary” of the last game, and while nostalgia sells the fact is there is one really good reason there is no longer a Hartford Whalers team. No one went to the games. Hartford is really no closer to getting another team than they were back in 1997. The merch sells – back in 2010, it was the best selling merchandise in the NHL and is consistently in the top 5 – but if you want to catch an NHL game in new England, you’re going to the TD Garden in the shadow of the Zakim Bridge in Boston. That’s where you’ll see the 2014 President’s trophy winner Bruins as they make their months long playoff run to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
So, everyone loves a good story - even if that story isn't exactly non-fiction. The Whale is dead; Long Live the Whale.
Been a while since the last time we have chatted. since then I have finished my Winter Term at Rasmussen pulling all A's. The weird part of the grades, as they were so similar percentage wise, that it actually scared me a bit. As you all know Wednesday was Sully's birthday (53), didn't think for whatever reason he was this old. But anyway it's only a fitting present, if I give him a little tribute to his favorite player Zdeno Chara. Enjoy Sully, from my family to you have a great year, and I hope that you had a great day!
It's a little large, but after all if it wasn't for you we wouldn't have this site to blog on.
Kind of figured you like this one Sully, so I picked it as another one of your gifts....
Here's the last one, would have added some Patriot highlights if they had won. But now on to other things that I want to talk about. I wouldn't go make any plans on the Red Sox repeating as WS Champs in 2014, here are my predictions for the upcoming baseball season.......
American League East Champs - Tampa Bay Rays (sorry Red Sox nation, not this year)
American League Central Champs - Detroit Tigers (even though the Royals, Indians are starting to become worthy contenders)
American League West Champs - Nobody will guess this one, the Seattle Mariners, thought I would be different than AFD
American League Wild Card - Kansas City and those Swinging A's
American League Champs - you guessed it I'm a homer, the Detroit Tigers
Now on to the National League......
National League East - Sorry Atlanta fans, but I am going with the Nationals to win the East.
National League Central - Sorry Cub's fans you are going to have to wait at least another year, I am leaning towards the Pittsburgh Pirates...
National League West - Sorry B.O.B. and you Dodger fans, but if life is right, Kirk Gibson's Arizona Diamondbacks will win the West.
National League Wildcard - Braves and Cardinals (The George Steinbrenner theory Magic, you can't buy championships, you have to earn them)
National League Champs - Washington Nationals (will this be their year?).
World Series - yes I am a homer again, the championship finally returns to Detroit after 2 years of near misses and failures, the Tigers win the World Series in 7 games, and the struggling city regains some stature.....Why because there is no Jim Leyland this year to screw it up, like he did the last two years......
Now that I am finished with that bit of tomfoolery, I would also like to mention that I still have 3 of my final 4 in tact on ESPN. How many of you can say that? Wouldn't it be something if the Dayton Flyers continued their dramatic March Madness run, and took down another pair of giants this weekend? Even though I like Michigan and Michigan St's chances of meeting for a fourth time this year, I am not going to bet my life savings on it occurring. The Dayton Flyers and Stanford Cardinal is what March Madness is all about, knocking down the "Giants," and doing the unexpected............Oh yeah, before I leave I have one more gift for Sully.........
Here's a little news flash Scott, Max ain't getting the money from the Tigers, Miggy Got it! Guess you kind of out thought yourself this time, when you thought by waiting until the end of the year was a better move. The Tigers gave Miggy a 10-year contract extension today, worth $292 million which will make him a Tiger until 2023. What a way to pay him back for everything he has accomplished in a Tiger uniform, since his acquisition from the Marlins....Great Move Mr. I., Scotty you should have taken the $24 million a year and done this...
Until the next time, please feel free to leave your comments, and have a great week!