We know who's playing for the Stanley Cup. What do we know about them? Well, they're Original Six stock. They haven't played each other in the playoffs for decades on end. They hardly see one another during the regular season anymore. The last time the two teams met for what was clearly the Cup (back in the days when the Western Division was AHL material) Boston won 4-0 and held Bobby Hull without a shot on goal. But these are different teams.
How good are they?
The mystery team that started hot and slid into mediocrity during the short regular season, then fell asleep at the switch after building a 3-1 series lead on Toronto and didn't wake up until they trailed game seven by three goals with ten minutes to go has now won not only that game but eight out of the next nine. And that's against the New York Rangers, who bested the Bruins during the regular season and featured the goalie who couldn't be beaten, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the East going away and had the team that couldn't be beaten. Plus home ice.
It has cost the Rangers' coach his job. No one will be surprised if the same thing happens in Pittsburgh. What these two Queen of De Nile organizations, Pittsburgh in particular, can't seem to fathom is that they were clearly beaten by a better hockey T-E-A-M, just one season removed from its last Stanley Cup. All the talk is about how they beat themselves, how this star or that star didn't bail them out. That should be red flag #1 for why they lost.
Boston, meanwhile, has not only swept Pittsburgh out of the Cup race but held them to two (2) goals in four (4) games. It's thought an impossible accomplishment for anybody --- not, apparently, for these guys.
What a run so far. They overcame a 3-goal deficit with their backs to the wall in ten minutes. They poured goals past New York's brick wall. Their 4th-line center played a full minute of a successful penalty kill with a broken leg. Their rookie defenseman had his face split open and was right back in, looking like Frankenstein, making Orr-like rushes at the net. Patrice Bergeron's nose sports a scar that never goes away. They turned Crosby into a points no-show and did the same to Malkin. Just like they did to Bobby Hull when they shocked the hockey world 43 years ago by sweeping the Black Hawks out of the playoffs en route to the Cup.
Then there's Chicago. They had a bit of a slowdown toward the end of the regular season, but it was a slowdown from a record-setting pace. The President's Trophy winners won the West by a wide margin and have earned home ice. Their last cup is just one year older than Boston's, and despite a widely publicized team teardown after the season, they have rebuilt successfully around their core and are back again, strong as ever.
The Hawks' big test came against old rival Detroit, who pulled ahead 3-1 and looked to be the class of the conference. Somehow Chicago fought back. It was a brilliant effort, and propelled them into the conference finals like a slingshot. LA, the defending champ, was tested by the Sharks but came back to win. It should have given them a lift going into Chicago.
Instead they were caught in a buzz saw. Quick wasn't. Neither were his teammates, who seemed to have the best seats in the house. By the time they left for LA down 0-2, the moment seemed to have passed them by. A game 3 victory and a lead in game 4 seemed to ensure that they were back on track for the finals. But Chicago dominated the third period of that game, and in the fifth contest at Chicago, Quick melted down early. The Kings still came back to force overtime, but lost the slugging match between two exhausted teams in OT #2. The end result? A 4-1 ousting at the hands of the Black Hawks.
The Bruins will probably be underdogs again, and why not? Many thought the Rangers, despite their lower seed, would prevail. Everyone thought Pittsburgh would. To have a chance versus Chicago, the Bruins will again have to be at the top of their game. They weren't that way for two-and-five-sixths games straight against Toronto, when Claude Julien was reduced to conjuring Robert Louis Stevenson characters.
But chances are they will be. As the conference trophy was presented to them, the Bruins, led by Chara, stood around it for a team photo but nobody touched it. The crowd chanted 'we want the Cup!' It seems the Bruins want it too, and nothing less. And Chicago gives no indication that they want it less than that. Their tireless skating wore down every western foe.
It has been a quarterfinal series featuring the last four Cup winners. That doesn't happen often. Sweeps were not anticipated, but we got one and nearly got another.
So there's not much question about who belongs in the finals. Both teams got there. There are questions galore about who gets out with the Cup.
I just finished watching the Penguins being swept away by the Bruins - in many ways a remarkable result considering the Pens were heavy favorites going into the playoffs and really gave no hint of a collapse going into this series with Boston. Consider that the Penguins scored exact TWO goals in 4 games. Sydney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin combined for 0 goals & 0 assists. You could sense that as the game went on tonight that the Penguins had given it their best shot and had zilch to show for it that they were in trouble. The Bruins executed on their game plan to perfection. A tremendous team effort - the better team won.
Now we are looking at a Blackhawk - Bruin Stanley Cup Final...wow, that should be fun!
Other notes...for all the grief Pen fans (and xenophobic Canadians) like to heap on Ovechkin, he has never been shutout in a playoff series. I think qualifies as a Pyrrhic Victory for Caps fans....That was the first sweep of the Penguins in 35 years - that's a nice run. Where do the Penguins go from here? Seems like they went all in with trades to win the Cup this year...do they make major changes or ride the same horses?
In the NBA, San Antonio jumps out to an early lead
Tony Parker's amazing shot clock buzzer - beater sealed a victory over the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. As you should know, I am not a big NBA fan, but I thought this was one of the best played games I have ever watched. It had flow, it had tempo, the officials did not ruin it and in the end, you had drama. It was a great game and I was thoroughly entertained. It was even more entertaining to have the Spurs win. I find it hard to believe that the Spurs will be able to sustain this over a 7 game series, but I can hope that we get more games of that quality.
Notes: I was flipping between the hockey and basketball - there was a TV timeout in both games near the end. There was 8:30 left in the hockey and 3:33 left in the basketball. Any doubt about which ended first? It wasn't even close...I really think the powers that be need to find a way to move along the end of basketball games. This is true on all levels - the last 2 minutes of basketball game go on forever. They really need to eliminate the TV break of several minutes and reduce the timeout to 30 seconds. If a coach can't say what he needs to say in 30 seconds, he must not be much of a coach.
It is time for Tiger Fever Again...
The U.S. Open at Merion starts this coming week and we can expect to hear the drums beating for Tiger Woods again. After Tiger's disasterous performance at the Memorial, it will really be fascinating to see how he does in the most demanding golf tournament of them all. The U.S. Open isn't a golf tournament - it is a war of attrition. Brutal conditions and kitchen floor fast greens make for unusual scoring - and champions. I don't really have a feel for anyone special this year. It may be too tedious to watch if Tiger is not on the Leader board.
I did not really have too much to say about the PED situation in baseball...I'm glad they are trying to keep the cheaters out of the game. As the Big Hurt, Frank Thomas, said today, they do not belong in the Hall of Fame - ever. They can hang out with Joe Jackson and Pete Rose (both have better claims to the Hall than the 'Roid Boys).
Here's to drying out this weekend and enjoying some early summer sun. Me & Mrs. Sun celebrate 34 years of marriage on Sunday - she must be a saint!....everyone have a great weekend!
This week I’d like to start with a short tribute to David Deacon Jones 1938-2013.
Jones passed away at his home in So Cal on Monday night at the age of 74
Deacon was a 14th round pick in 1961 from Mississippi Valley State, he played for three teams over his 14 year career. The Rams from 1961-1971, San Diego ’72 & ’73 and the Redskins in 1974.
He made the pro bowl 8 times including seven consecutive from 1964-1970.
At a time when defensive stats were kept loosely if at all Deacon dominated from the defensive end position recording 100 solo tackles by the age of 27 in his 6th season.
Deacon is unofficially credited with 173.5 sacks, a term he coined.
In his 14 pro seasons he missed on five games
Deacon was a member of the famed Rams Fearsome Foursome along with greats Merlin Olsen, RoseyGrier and Lamar Lundy
Deacon was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1980 and was selected to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team.
He was loved and respected by all he knew and many former offensive linemen still remember that Deacon head slap as he rushed by them with power and ease.
Jones stayed in touch with his many friends and his last few years were spent as CEO of the Deacon Jones foundation which he began in 1997. He spent a lot of his time visiting the US armed forces serving all around the world.
Rest peacefully Deacon, you will be missed
Watching the coverage of the destruction in Oklahoma from the deadly tornadoes has been sobering. The Earth we live on can be a dangerous place and there really is no safe place. Living in New England my entire life has sheltered me from tornadoes and earth quakes, We get fast moving tropical storms and occasionally the are still hurricanes usually traveling quickly up the coast on the warm gulf stream. We are famous for our Nor’easters in the winter that dump 12”-48” of windblown snow that take down trees and power lines and flood the coastal sections with storm surges and high tides. We embrace and enjoy these weather related disruptions and run to the store for our signature survival kit consisting of:
Tornadoes scare the crap out of us, an F-1, 80 mph hit the Springfield MA area and parts of central MA a couple of years back and it received 3 weeks of daily breaking news coverage, even noted it’s anniversary the next year. Earthquakes also scare us, we hear about a tremor that was 3.4 in Southern Maine and we think, OH NO now what?
Around capecodgerville we are more concerned with Wright Whales beaching themselves, sharks off the outer Cape Cod beaches and whacky naturalists telling me Herron Gulls (seagulls) are endangered…look at any dumpster buddy…they are white rats with wings.
Our prayers go out to the people whose lives were disrupted and some changed forever
by these horrific storms. I’d probably move if I lived there but I’m sure some of you sunbelt gabbers would move out of New England after one typical winter.
The Bruins have made believers out of the Penguins,
The Heat were to hot for the Pacers
The Spurs should win the NBA title
Oldharry had a better round than Tiger on Saturday by a stroke…that damn windmill
did me in once again.
but after a tough round on the local 18
my super model wife treated me to...and
Thanks again for visiting and reading, your comments are always welcome
Ain't that the truth! Might be what the Chicago Blackhawks are saying to the LA Kings...The 'Hawks have taken a 2-0 lead on the Kings and will now head to LA to play games 3 and 4...Chicago's speed and skill has shown some weaknesses in the Kings game...And Goalie Johnathan Quick who has been so impressive through the playoffs, suddenly looks very human...I expect the Kings to take one game at home, but the way this series looks, I think it may be over in 5...That would be good for me since months ago I was saying Chicago would be in the Finals...
In the East, Boston went up 1-0 after shutting out the Penguins...Pittsburgh seem unsure of their goalies, and they got out of their own game, and tried to get physical with the Bruins...That's not a battle they're going to win...
And of course, where there is Penguins forward Matt Cooke, there is contraversy...Cooke who was a decent, player with some skill, at some point decided to be a shithead and make his career all about trying to injure people...Cooke started with knee shots...Then moved up to head shots...So when he called for this penalty Saturday, no one should have been surprised...
Yet, Penguins fans were unhappy...Odd...Later, the Bruins Brad Marchand made a similar hit on James Neal, and Boston fan didn't seem to get up in arms about the call...But it was the reaction from a Pittsburgh fan...A Pittsburgh citizen, that really caught people's attention on the internet...Meet Jordan Kuruc...
I have said some awful shit to people online...Hell, I've said awful shit to their face...But this douchebag didn't seem to get why people were so mad about this tweet...And then when he apologized, and deleted it, he expressed the reason he felt bad was because "a kid died" in the bombing...This douche just couldn't get why people turned and attacked him on Twitter...Then, come Sunday he began to enjoy the role...Saying how he "Always wanted to be a heel in the WWE."
Jordan Kuruc felt bad that "a kid died" in the Boston bombing...Imagine this Jordan...You're a little girl...Ha! he does look like a bitch...Anyways...You're there, the bomb goes off...Your brother dies...Your mother suffers severe head trauma...Oh, and you lose your leg...Just imagine that...That's just one little girl's story...Now can you get why people are pissed...You got your 15 minutes for being a total fucking asshole...
I'm a dickhead, and I wouldn't have said that about a hockey game...Especially defending a piece of shit like Cooke...I want to wish pain and suffering on Kuruc....You know, like some awful shit...Like him and everyone he loves, get AIDS....But screw it...I'll rise above...You're fucking asshole, and everyone knows it....Oh, and thanks for giving me another reason to hate you're asshole city!
In other Hockey news, The New York Rangers fired their coach, John Tortorella...His abrasive style wasn't going to last much longer, even if the Rangers did beat the Bruins...Torts had his guys, and they bought into his system, and style he wanted them to play...Those that didn't, were bounced...Yet, he still found ways to shit all over the guys he had...The only people that got more shit were the media...So, this is why you hear no one arguing against his firing...He's a good coach...But shitting all over grown men is going to get old quick...I'm surprised it took as long as did before the players had enough...
But I have another question...Why is GM, Glen Sather not on the hot-seat...He's been with the Rangers for 13 years...He's had 6 coaches...The best the team has done is getting to one conference final...Now there is talk that he is looking at two of his old boys to be the next coach...Wayne Gretzky, who's first stint as a head coach wasn't a very good one...And Mark Messier...Messier's only coaching experience is coaching his son's pee-wee team...Yes, the fans would love it...Sure, some players might get a thrill out of it...But I don't think it's a good move...This team needs a proven coach...Not a couple of old super stars who are missing the spotlight...
-As for my weekend...It was pretty uneventful...Friday I was suppose to meet some old friends out for drinks...Sadly, I fell asleep with Molls while I was trying to get her down...
Saturday we had a baseball practice...The team is coming along well...Then we relaxed at home...Pizza, hockey, and a jam session...
Little Beeze finding the Groove...
Molls was a heck of a band leader...
That's it for now...Oh, and say hello to our NEWEST member...
This had to be the longest short-week ever here at the Tavern, Harry set up a lemonade stand out front - he got some business, but mostly he was waxing nostaglic about the old ballyard. Because Harry was otherwise occupied, Sun Tzu decided that it would be okay to take up Harry’s traditional stool at the bar...and spent the rest of the evening apologizing for that and some other offenses. While that made for a long week, It was definitely a long week for Julie “I choose not to coach you gus” Hermann, Mike Adams and Ricky Stenhouse...and anyone waiting for the Penguins/Bruins series to start. Of course the worst part of the Pens/B’s tilt is that puck dropped at 8:30 - in the middle of my class reunion.
It’s the first reunion I’ve ever been to - my class from the get-go was known as the epitome of the Gen X slacker - and I chose a doozy of a reunion to attend: I think there were 9 of us. Of course, because of Facebook, I already know who got fat and bald, and who is in a dead end job and all of that, so the mystery is kind of taken out of it. There we are, 9 middle aged, out of shape dudes hanging around, looking at our phones to find out what time it was so we could go somewhere else and watch the game.
As if that wasn’t enough to depress me about getting old, on Sunday, the #1 Mini-Mo graduated high school. From the time she started school, I’ve been preparing myself emotionally for this day...or trying to. 13 years of emotional preparation, alas, was not enough. Seeing her name written out in the program, Hearing her name, seeing her walk across the stage to collect her diploma. Nope, just not enough preparation for that.
As that young woman goes off to college, my attention turns to Rutgers. As far as Julie Hermann’s long week goes - you would have to think that given what the school has gone through and why they were looking for an AD in the first place, they’d have taken every precaution to make sure their appointee was squeaky clean. Now, in Hermann’s defense, what is being discussed happened 15+ years ago. We’re talking about letters describing a pretty intense emotional experience, and maybe I’m just reading the situation wrong, but what’s described sounds more like an intense coach - not a troubled meglomaniac. One wonders if Coach Hermann’s failing as a coach was not emotionally preparing these players for competition. Then the firing of an assistant for under performing or as sex discrimination (depending on who’s telling the story). The real issue there seems to me to be an inappropriately close personal relationship between a supervisor and her direct report: she compromised her ability to defend herself against an allegation. That’s what Rutgers should be looking at. She’s been successful in her role at Louisville, but given where the State University of New Jersey has been they should have made a more considered decision - maybe that would still have been Hermann, but at least they would’ve been prepared. That’s the real issue here - they didn’t know what they didn’t know and they weren’t sensitive to their own history.
Mike Adams, a second year player with the Steelers, was stabbed this week in a robbery attempt. That would make for a long week, but it could make for a long summer - now is the time players should be conditioning themselves, working out, generally preparing. Hard to do that when you’re convalescing from stab wounds...and a second year player drafted in the 5th round is going to be on the bubble by definition. That’s got to be weighing heavily on the young man’s mind...
Of course there’s the joke about Ricky Stenhouse Jr “banging” Danica Patrick...and wrecking her car. Just not exactly the way he would prefer. I don’t much follow auto racing, that’s the province of Qwazier, but I just can’t resist the drama of a relationship in the workplace. I have to imagine the wreck in lap 318 of 400 would’ve made for a lot of non-conversation and high-drama with the boss. Relationships are hard things to navigate anyway, now add a media spot light on an autowreck and you’ve got yourself some real drama.. Now that I think about it, that would be an outstanding plot for a murder mystery - picture the scene where a couple had a fight just before the big race, jockey for position, and one causes the other to fatally crash the car.
Life has these funny times when the stars align and you’re left to face an issue from several sides. That was this weekend. All kinds of emo here at the Tavern - most of it good. And how, really, could it be anything but good when you have a the YGS community coming over for a Fred Light and spending time with you?