Thursday, March 29, 2012

Talented Hair, Lies about Clinching, RIP Rolston's Scoring Streak

Congrats to Horton & family on their new baby boy.
Earlier tonight, Emma inquired about the Bruins record in the games immediately after Cuts for a Cause. Since I like to pretend I'm useful, I looked it up. Aaron Ward administered the first Cuts for a Cause in 2008 and did so again in 2009, but since he was traded, Shawn Thornton took over and has run the event each of the past 3 years. The Bruins record in the next game after the event takes place each year? 2-1-2.
  • 2008: 3-2 Overtime loss to New Jersey (this is the only game listed here that was away, not home)
  • 2009: 2-1 Win over Ottawa
  • 2010: 1-0 Loss to Florida
  • 2011: 3-1 Win over Ottawa
  • 2012: 3-2 Shootout loss to Washington

What does this mean? Well, aside from the obvious answer which is nothing, it also may mean that the Bruins have a great deal of power channeled from the hair on their head. So, to sum up: it all means nothing, but most stats are meaningless and fun nonetheless.

Speaking of which, Bruins are now 8-3 in shootouts this season. They were previously beat by Buffalo and Detroit. In overtime, the Bruins are 2-1. For some reason, they can't score in overtime. In the 14 games that have required overtime, 11 of them have had to be decided in shootouts. Tyler Seguin has had 4 clinching goals in shootouts, while David Krejci has had 2 (as well as one of the OT winners). Patrice Bergeron and Benoit Pouliot also had the shootout-winners previously. The Bruins were abysmal in shootouts last year and have been unbelievably successful in shootouts this year. Their shootout success this year made me think they were bound to lose a shootout sometime soon.

Tonight was a very obnoxious game to watch. As Coach Julien said:
I just saw our team being a half a step behind. (@NHLBruins)
In a post-game NESN interview, he also elaborated that the schedule since Christmas has involved so many games and so much travel that they have had a hard time managing their rest, which is why some nights they just do not come out with their skating game while other nights they bring it. Tonight they just didn't bring it, which is incredibly frustrating, but it's a great sign that despite this poor play that resulted in a nightmarish past 3 months, they still got 1 point out of it! Dennis Seidenberg out with injury and Joe Corvo in was a recipe for disaster to break the mini win streak the Bruins had going. For the record, a traffic cone in a Bruins jersey would be better on defense than Corvo.

Andrew Ference scoring always makes me happy, and Krejci finally made an appearance with that amazing deflection on Chara's shot for the 1st Bruins goal. Loved it. Disappointed in shootout loss of course (why was Peverley 4th shooter? Bad decision IMO), but Hendricks, Semin, and Laich all made great moves. Especially Hendricks. The fact that the Bruins played poorly tonight and gave up 2 goals in the 3rd to go down 2-0 but came back to tie it 2-2 in the final 3 minutes takes away the sting of the shootout loss. As I said on twitter, the Bruins only know how to win in the playoffs by coming back from down 0-2, so they must be in playoff mode!

On another topic, we were all mislead all day by the media that if the Bruins got 1 point tonight, they would clinch a playoff spot. The Bruins thus got 1 point tonight, and suddenly, we are told they did NOT clinch a playoff spot. It confused/angered me, so here is the reason why we have not mathematically clinched yet:

  • Bruins currently have 94 points with 5 games left and 37 ROW (the tiebreaker)
  • Capitals currently have 86 points with 4 games left and 36 ROW
  • If the Bruins lose all of their remaining 5 games, they remain at 94 points and 37 ROW
  • If the Capitals win all of their remaining games (with at least one win coming in regulation), they get 8 points, which would tie them with the Bruins at 94 points.
  • Boston currently holds the tiebreaker lead in ROW, but that would change if they lose every game for the rest of the season and the Capitals win them all, as they would gain more ROWs, thus winning the tiebreaker.
Math is stupid. But just to quell my nerves, they need to take the Islanders very seriously on Saturday and come out with a win. Anything less than that will make me angry, even though the Bruins will make the playoffs despite not mathematically clinching quite yet. I have tickets to Home Game 1 of the playoffs, so I expect them to deliver for me.

One final note is about Adam McQuaid and the hit Chimera laid out on him in the 1st period. Chimera got a 5 minute major for charging and a game misconduct, which was the right call. Although McQuaid knew the hit was coming, and turned unexpectedly at the last second to put himself in a vulnerable position, Chimera undoubtedly charged McQuaid in a reckless and vicious manner. He took at least 14 strides from center ice, gaining speed and headed straight to McQuaid to make body contact, not making any indication to attempt to play the puck for even a moment.

I do not think he will be suspended, although I think the play warrants punishment if the league wants to send the message that players need to change this dangerous behavior. But, the league has failed to send that message all year with their weak suspensions or lack of punishment, so I don't think they will do any different now. Body contact is meant to separate the player from the puck, but to quote Bobby Orr (I think - I read this quote somewhere recently and I don't remember what it said exactly), players make body contact with the intention "to separate the player's head from their body". That was the case in the Chimera hit.

There was no need for him to target McQuaid from center ice with McQuaid behind the goal line, and no need for him to take 14 strides with the sole intention of hitting McQuaid as hard as he possibly could. He made no attempt to let up, and yes, McQuaid did move at the last moment, which is why Chimera probably won't get supplemental discipline, but it was a vicious charge nonetheless. If he had not gone in full-speed the way he did, McQuaid's pivot at the last moment would not have resulted in such serious and devastating contact. This had no useful hockey play in mind whatsoever. I hope to god McQuaid is okay, and it seems now that he was only kept out of the rest of the game as a precautionary measure so hopefully he is indeed okay, and that is all that matters. Although perhaps this never would have happened if Shanahan hadn't clearly sent a message to the league that it is okay to dangerously hit Bruins players with no punishment. He sent that message with earlier non-suspensions several times this season and it sends such a dangerous message. But we all think Shanahan sucks at his job, not just in relation to one team. But I digress...more looks at stats later!

According to The Instigators on NESN right now, the Shanaban numbers currently are:

  • 42 total suspensions (9 during preseason)
  • 134 total regular season games missed due to being suspended
  • 33 fines (1 coach - Tortorella for his comments about the refs after the Winter Classic)
  • $110,000 paid in fines for players that were fined and not suspended
Bottom line: punishments aren't strict enough, consistency is as bad as it was with Campbell, and Shanaban could have a bigger positive impact if he did give harsher punishments. As Mark Mowers just pointed out on The Instigators, the 2nd half of the season - and especially recently - there have been a few really really bad hits (mainly the Keith hit on Sedin). I firmly believe that if Shanahan was stricter overall on everybody, things like that may never have happened at all. 

I'd like to take a moment of silence to mourn the death of Brian Rolston's awesome point streak that came to an end tonight. May he start another one again against the Islanders on Saturday - he certainly has the motivation to do so against the team that gave him up!

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