Category Archives: Boston Bruins

Rick Nash and a return to something old

Yesterday afternoon, I went flipping through the channels in that first bit of post-Olympics viewing and landed on the Red Sox and Orioles in Spring Training. I know that happened because my primary memory of this was in seeing the Orioles’ hats with a full-bodied cartoon bird swinging a bat, which was cool. That cartoon bird is hard to mess up, and with the mostly leisurely and whimsical nature of Spring Training, that kind of graphic works nicely on a hat.

The other thing I remember is that the Red Sox apparently have three different guys wearing no. 18 in camp, which pretty much sums up where the two guys not named Mitch Moreland stand on the odds table to make the team.

But that’s about it. The game was on, but I was mostly waiting for the Boston Bruins’ pregame to start, since they’d swung a trade for the New York Rangers’ Rick Nash earlier that morning. It cost them two draft picks, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey’s exiled contract and a college prospect, but they got it done and added a big, rough-and-tumble goal scorer to David Krejci’s line. It’s not the Ryan McDonagh trade I wanted them to swing with New York, but it’s pretty good. Continue reading


Ignoring baseball because it’s the Cup

This is Tuukka Rask. He does not play baseball.

This is Tuukka Rask. He does not play baseball.

Last night, the Red Sox were down to their final strike when Will Middlebrooks, batting against Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney, laced a change-up into the outfield for a bases-clearing double. The Sox went up 4-3, Junichi Tazawa picked up the win in relief, and if I’m imagining the scenario correctly, most of the crowd went home happy, since this took place in Tampa and no one there seems to care about the Rays one way or the other.

Apparently, it was a hell of an at-bat for Middlebrooks, who is rebounding from a minor slump and on his way back towards the torrid pace he carried through April, when the Red Sox were busy surprising a jaded fan base and sitting in first place. The mighty Jon Couture actually has a great breakdown of Middlebrooks’ at-bat here, complete with his growing patience and his success reading the pitcher and the situation.

They’re a game back of the Yankees this afternoon for the top spot of the American League East, and they’re playing some fun games, even when they lose. But don’t ask me about details, because I’ve missed all of them lately. Simply, it’s because the Bruins are in the playoffs, and it is functionally impossible for me to concentrate or devote any sort of emotional focus on the Red Sox when this is the case. Continue reading

Summer, baseball and your Bay State options

There's no shortage of baseball in the Bay State. (Graphic by Nick Tavares)

Summer and I don’t get along. I get cranky in heat and humidity, I don’t like having to sit in air conditioning, I can’t standing being in a hot room without air conditioning, I don’t like bugs and too much time in the sun makes me dizzy.

But I live for summer, and that’s almost entirely because of baseball. Most of my favorite memories in the summer involve either some form of the national game or screaming my brains out at a concert. But Pearl Jam isn’t on tour this summer. So baseball will have to do. Luckily, living in Massachusetts, I’m never too far from a game.

The desire to catch a game, though, had been lower than any summer in recent memory. Continue reading

A little cross-blog promotion

Look out, Brick. Im coming for you.

Quickly, I wanted to announce that I’ll be writing for, part of the Rant Sports network, as their Bruins writer, naturally. I’ll be posting pretty regularly, with lines, injury updates, game wrap-ups, and whatever else feels appropriate or natural.

Also, unlike some other unnamed blog networks (Bleacher Report), the folks at Rant Sports seem to run spell check before posting their stuff, and they seem like a good, informative lot. So after you check me out, give their other blogs a spin, too.

Really, this is all part of my upwards climb on the media ladder. Andy Brickley, I have my eye on your seat at NESN.

Thoughts on the Bruins as theoretical champions

This is one of two times I really believed the Bruins could be champs.

As I write this, the Boston Bruins are nursing a 1-0 lead in Calgary, two games into a new phase of their 2010-11 push before the playoffs. Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverly have been added, Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler, a prospect (Joe Colborne from Providence) and draft picks have been sent away. For better or worse, this team is going to make a run for the Stanley Cup.

Can they? I suppose. But I haven’t completely bought in.

I’ve been very quiet in this space lately. Because of time and just a desire to watch the games and see what happens, I haven’t been much for analyzing actions and players lately. Like when I first stopped being a sports writer, I wanted to just be a fan, cheering at the TV and complaining over beer.

But these trades, specifically the 2011 first-round pick and Colborne for Kaberle, signal that the Bruins are making a run for a championship. At the very least, they’re creating the appearance of a Stanley Cup push. This warrants documentation of some kind, if only to preserve my increasingly spastic thoughts on sports, hockey and fandom.

When the Kaberle deal was made, my first emotion was excitement. Rarely have the Bruins been successful in addressing a need at the deadline. This is not a move with the future in mind, necessarily, though Kaberle could be signed long-term in the offseason. This was a move made in the now. This team is going for it.

But can they, actually? It’s hard for me to really put my faith in it. Twice in my life as a fan, I have been able to completely, without reservation, convince myself that this team could bring the Cup back home to Boston. Obviously, I’ve been wrong twice.

The first time was in 1994. Boston had traded Joe Juneau to Washington for Al Iafrate, solidifying a defensive corps that already included Ray Bourque, Glen Wesley and Don Sweeney at their peaks, with David Shaw, Paul Stanton and Glen Featherstone rotating in the 5-6 pair. The belief came into effect after Boston dispatched the Montreal Canadiens, then the defending champs, in a seven-game series. This was huge. They then went into New Jersey and won the first two games of the series on the road.

I distinctly remember bouncing between seats on the bus with excitement after they went up 2-0 on the Devils. This was it! They were going to be champs! I had a Cam Neely t-shirt that I was wearing as fast as my mom could wash it at that point, anticipating a deep run through the playoffs.

The Bruins lost the next four games, victims of rookie Martin Brodeur’s magic in the net for New Jersey. Iafrate spent the next two years injured and never played for Boston again.

The next time was ten years later, the 2004 push. Again, the Bruins made a deal for a top-flight defenseman — Sergei Gonchar from Washington, and along came his teammate Michael Nylander, a quick, creative center from Sweden. Andrew Raycroft was in the midst of what would be a Calder-winning season in his rookie campaign in net. The Bruins ended the season on a roll, too, taking out teams and playing with a confidence I hadn’t seen since, well, the early 90s.

But with three games to go, captain and franchise cornerstone Joe Thornton suffered an “upper body” injury that later turned out to be broken ribs. Thornton tried to play through the pain, but probably should’ve sat for the first round. Boston lost to Montreal in seven games after jumping up to a 3-1 lead.

Next came the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season, and when hockey came back, the Bruins had been gutted — Nylander, Gonchar, Brian Rolston and Mike Knuble were all gone, Raycroft was a shell of his rookie self, and Thornton would be traded by November.

So, seven years later, the Bruins have assembled a team that can easily be ranked as one of the top eight in the league. The best, though? It’s still hard for me to see. This season, I think Philadelphia, Detroit and Vancouver, at least, are better. The defense, fronted by Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and Kaberle is as solid as it’s been in 20 years. David Krecji and Patrice Bergeron will keep making plays on the top two lines. Tim Thomas will probably keep playing like a beast. And I’m still not convinced.

Am I a jaded fan burned by 20 years of missed opportunities, or cold realist? I can’t decide.

Whether or not they do it, I’ll watch. I’ll always watch — the Bruins are my team, through and through. Of course, I hope they pull it off. But changing a defeatest mindset is easier said than done.