Saturday, March 31, 2012

Recchi, Rolston, Repeat?

Ok I have a crazy thought below, but first I think we learned 3 important lessons today:
  1. David Krejci's streakiness is streaky but clutch.
  2. Don't break up Marchand - Bergeron - Seguin. Ever.
  3. Chris Kelly is the key to winning all the things. 
But here's my main reason for posting. I have had an elaborate thought to express. It's quite long, so here are some words to sum it up and draw you in: Ray Bourque. Mark Recchi. Brian Rolston. Stanley Cup. More words like this!

So You're Rooting for the Bruins...Playoff Guide! (with The Bear & The Jacket)

This time last year, I created a 6-part guide on my Tumblr called So, your favorite team didn’t make the playoffs this year and you’ve selected the Boston Bruins as your adopted team: The Complete Guide. Since it was fun to make, and it clearly played a pivotal role in the Bruins winning the Cup, I am going to do it again this season to ensure I do all that I can individually to help the Bruins win the Cup again. Don't be fooled, I am still superstitious as hell, so I am knocking on wood as I write this. But it's really fun to look at what I wrote last year, knowing they would go on to win the Cup, and how different things are this year. I will be writing this years version and posting it sometime before the playoffs start! Maybe even before the season ends. We'll see.

Right now I am very inspired to get a start on it, actually. I do some reminiscing below, including The Bear ads and the magnificent of Mark Recchi and THE JACKET.

Bruins Shouldn't Rest Till Home Ice is Clinched

Bruins @ Islanders, 1
The Buffalo Sabres loss last night allowed the Bruins to clinch a playoff spot, but they have yet to clinch the division. Home ice advantage is always a priority in the playoffs, and remaining in the 1st spot in the division will be important for the Bruins psyche going into the playoffs. Just because they have clinched, they should not slack off. Let's hope they continue to play hard to carry good momentum into the postseason. Today will be their 4th and final game with the Islanders this season. The Bruins have won 2 out of 3 so far. Those 2 wins both came during the Bruins hot streak in November, and Nathan Horton played a major role in both wins. Earlier this month, the Bruins fought back to tie the game at 2 only to give up the game-winning goal to John Tavares late in the 3rd period. This was during their cold streak, though, so I expect not to see the same kind of mistakes today. Nabokov absolutely stole the game last time around, but the Bruins were also experiencing a crisis of scoring over that period of time. In the same situations today, out of the previous funk, one would hope that the Bruins would not let Nabokov run away with the game like that.

In other news, McQuaid won't play, but Seidenberg will be back. Unfortunately, Joe Corvo will probably play again today despite being awful at everything.


Tonight I ordered the movie Goon on-demand (bless on-demand for letting you rent movies the day they come out in theatres). Although it apparently was JUST released this past week to the US, I hadn't heard about the movie through any sort of advertising. I had only heard about it from many fellow hockey fans who talked about it. Since many of them spoke very highly of it, I wanted to see it for myself. I honestly am not a fan of the name Goon to begin with, because it already gives the wrong impression although I suppose it is appropriate for the film - just not for the reasons that are normally associated with the word "goon" to non-hockey or casual-hockey fans.

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

Considering Karlsson for the Norris

Ottawa is a surprise team this year with their success rate, and Erik Karlsson is a surprise player because of the numbers he has put up in his 3rd season in the NHL and how big of an impact he has had in the success of the Senators. Currently, the Senators are 2nd in the Northeast Division and 7th in the Eastern Conference with 88 points through 77 games (39-28-10) and have a +9 goal differential on the season. It's a huge improvement over last season, where they missed the playoffs by a long shot. Karlsson, too, has improved immensely over last season. But Norris isn't for most improved player, or highest scoring defenseman.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Bear, The Gang, and the Good Ol' Bruins Are Back

It's fitting that Thornton's goal broke a 38-game goalless streak and Seidenberg's goal broke a 28-something-game goalless streak on a night that the Bruins proved they had finally broken a collective losing streak that sucked the life out of them from January through the early weeks of March.

I was extremely uncertain coming into tonight's game about what to expect from the Bruins. I hoped, obviously, that they would continue to improve and play great hockey that they are capable of. They seem to be on that road, with each passing game in the past week or two another step in the direction of playing in playoff mode. Tonight certainly seemed to have a playoff-like intensity to it, at least in the 3rd period. I had forgotten what it was like to see them play so well, and be successful. I don't want to jump the gun and say they're gonna keep it up and steamroll into the playoffs, but they are showing that they are on the right track.

Which is why I was hesitant to expect a win tonight. Tampa was so devastating the past two games they played against the Bruins, and the Bruins in general have been awful against the Southeast Division. But the 4-game season series ends at 2-2, with the home team winning every game. Playing well at home was something important they needed to re-establish before the end of the season; they had proven that they could play well on the road during the California road trip. But their shot totals had been down, and they still had some kinks in their game. Tonight, it's great to see they continue to iron out those kinks in their game.

This game was a huge relief, and Love That Dirty Water playing over the Garden sound system after the game ended almost gave me déjà vu from last years playoffs wins at home. You can't blame me since this was against the Lightning, like in the Conference Finals: things like Roloson in net playing great hockey and the recent resurgence of The Bear, who we hadn't seen since Tampa fans got unreasonably offended and outraged over the Bruins brilliant marketing scheme from last year's playoffs; after Tampa fans bombarded the Bruins marketing staff with personal threats, The Bear was no more.

He made his triumphant return yesterday in another genius marketing bit, The Bear and the Gang, and you can't help but think the Bruins debuted this on purpose at this perfect time. To put a cherry on top of how trolly and brilliant this is, check out the banner hanging on the wall in the background of the basement set of the show:

That is unmistakably the same poster. Genius. Anyway, let's look more at tonight's game!

Since it is so insanely fun to bask in wins like this, I'm going to talk about why this game was great, and why they are finally turning it around.

Hockey Cards

I have a large collection of hockey cards that I have posted about before. Here are some pictures of random selections. I don't plan on doing anything with them. I figured I'd share them with people who might want them. Anyway, the sample is below.

Called Ugly, Shanahan Cries

The following is a chapter called "The Grate Combeback" (pp.183-187) from the book In the Bin: Reckless and Rude Stories from the Penalty Boxes of the NHL by NHL Official Lloyd Freeberg (Triumph Books, Chicago, 1998). It's a particularly hilarious story of Shanahan, made more hilarious by his position in the league now.

With the second selection in the 1987 entry draft, New Jersey had a tough decision to make. Buffalo had already chosen high-scoring Pierre Turgeon from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Still available to the Devils was an even higher scorer in Joe Sakic, who was filling the net for the Swift Current Broncos. Having finished the season out of the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, NJ desperately needed the soft hands of a natural scorer, and Sakic's 130 points proved he had those.

Monday, March 26, 2012

6 Favorite Pictures Series: 2011 Playoffs, Round 3

Here is the 3rd and last part of my "6 favorite pictures" from the 2011 Playoffs (Round 1, Round 2). I never got around to doing the Finals against the Canucks, sadly. The "6 favorites" I chose here are, like the others, pretty random.

Game 1 

6 Favorite Pictures Series: 2011 Playoffs, Round 2

My previous post of "6 favorite pictures" from the Montreal series of course is followed up by the Philadelphia series. Here are 6 pictures of choice mashed up in Photoshop from each of the 4 games:

Game 1

6 Favorite Pictures Series: 2011 Playoffs, Round 1

Along with making graphics about my favorite American players and favorite overall players, I made a bunch of "6 favorite pictures", because for some reason on tumblr at the time, it was all the rage. These are kind of haphazardly picked, but I think they're fun nonetheless.
Game 1

25 Favorite Players

I thought I would post more things along the lines of this post. Keep in mind again, this was over a year ago, and I just wanted to have photoshop fun.

25 Favorite American NHLers

This is something I did on tumblr when I had photoshop, before the trial expired. This is the list I made (keep in mind this was about a year ago, I perhaps would change a few players) (oh I also didn't include the obvious like Tim Thomas or anybody I had already named in my 25 favorites):

Bruins Numbers vs League Numbers

Here are some more charts I made the other day...

Power Play Percentages

Bruins in the Last 5, Part 2

Take a look at some more in-depth look at the past 5 game statistics. This is building on this post.

Bruins Individual Player Stats: Patrice Bergeorn

Bruins Individual Player Stats - Patrice Bergeorn - Career

Bruins in the Last 5

All my previous speculations about how, when, and why the Bruins would turn things around seem to be unfolding with each passing game. After the 3-2 win over Anaheim on March 25th, I began comparing the statistics of the past 5 Bruins games, in which they have gone 4-1-0.
  • @ Anaheim, 3-2 Win
  • @ LA, 4-2 Win
  • @ SJS, 2-1 Loss
  • vs Toronto, 8-0 Win
  • vs Philly, 3-2 SO Win
View the graph below.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shooting % Chart

Building on thoughts from this previous post, I present you with this...silly ass graphic. Using info from ESPN, this illustrates (the best I could - others have done a better job making charts and accurately displaying these statistics) how the Bruins absurdly high shooting percentage for a few months (representative of scoring lots of goals and getting lots of wins, obviously) plummeted down and is just now starting to even out and stay on part with the league average. As I have posted about before, mostly referencing other people who have pointed this out, ultimately all teams and players with really high or low shooting percentages and other statistics like that (which I will be making more charts from next...I am attempting to figure out this PDO thing I talked about earlier), cannot realistically sustain numbers so far above or below the league average. Take from this what you will, but I see it as a good sign. 

On the Bruins Turning Things Around

I hope they have. I like to convince myself of things, but it's too soon to know, so we have to sit patiently and wait for when they play again. Suddenly 2 days seems like a long time. So I will spend some of  it trying to reassure the belief that the Bruins are heading into the final stretch o the regular sesaon and into the playoffs playing better and better hockey. Here is some 'evidence' to help.

Things were bad for a while, and remained that way longer than it should have, due to reasons like Gregory Campbell explains below:
When things are going bad, you can start to squeeze your stick. That’s a term in hockey when you’re frustrated or scoring is hard to come by, you’re uptight and you’re not allowing things to happen. Rather, you’re trying to force plays and force things to happen. I guess it’s just another word for being tense and uptight. When things are going well it just seems like there’s flow in your game and things just kind of work out. Squeezing your stick is something that might be relevant to our team now, but it certainly isn’t the solution. (Source)
After last night's win, Tim Thomas said:
I feel like something's turned...It's a good feeling. Even before the game tonight I felt that way. I could just feel it in the locker room. (Source)
If Tim Thomas says so, I have a lot of confidence about the truth of the statement, especially because weakness in defense and lack of confidence in goaltending was also a main contributing and maintaining factor of the losing streaks and awful play.

In the same article, Thomas is quoted as saying:
When you're feeling good and feeling confident, you're glad to be in that position...That's part of the reason I picked goaltending in the first place. It's an important position in the outcome of the game. That can be a blessing and a curse, depending on how things are going.
The above article also goes on to quote Shawn Thornton:
[Thomas is] human, right?..Everyone has ups and downs. It's on us to be better around him when he's having an off night. The problem was we were collectively having off nights together.
As usual, Shawn Thornton eloquently and accurately describes a complex problem in simple terms: "we were all collectively having off nights together".

Considering my belief of the Bruins as the ultimate team, it makes sense that they play well together as a team and awful together as a team. They're just that dedicated to and reliant on one another!

The following post will have some data to show another reason I think things are going to start looking up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bruins Goal Scoring by Game

I did not note which goal totals resulted in wins or losses, just straight up charted the number of goals the Bruins scored in each game. If they won in a shootout, for example 3-2 in a shootout, they are only credited with 2 goals, which is how the NHL tracks it as well I believe.

I am not very skilled at making graphics, and I could not get the actual dots to mark each game score, which is kind of annoying, but I think this still shows some interesting trends.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Return of the Rolston

Words cannot describe how happy this makes me. TWO OF MY FAVORITES, HAPPY!
The Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 8-0 on Monday night, sweeping the season series with Toronto with 6 wins, and outscoring the Leafs 36-10 and shutting them out twice. Tim Thomas earned the shutout; while he only had to make a few saves, he made some great ones. The Bruins had a strong defensive game all night, however, and appear to be learning how to walk again after months of stumbling.

I have a lot of feels and thoughts.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Breaking Down the Bruins Breakdown

What seems like years have passed since the Bruins were a winning team. In that time, I - like most other fans, I'm sure - have evaluated every possible explanation for this nightmare. How did it go from being so perfect, to being almost irreparable?

Do the answers lie in the numbers on the stat sheets? The video replays? The players themselves? Or is it something we can't see - something wrong inside the locker room? A problem that can be traced back in time? Or something even deeper? Or maybe something far simpler and more obvious? If the answer is a little bit of everything, doesn't it seem more impossible to overcome? Searching for answers doesn't yield solutions. We can only sit and helplessly wait for the results.

When rendered helpless, I like to pretend I can put myself to good use. This is my feeble attempt to make sense of the situation and shed some light, as dim as it may be. I go into uncharted territories, personally, by exploring advanced statistics and the many different types, uses, and even practices in the NHL.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Review of Literature Found in my Basement" Volume 1: "Hockey Now!", Part 2 & 3: Rearguards & Blueline Attack

Part 1 here

Rearguards: Today's crop of "stay at home" defensive specialists are big, mobile, and mean.

Blueline Attack!: Leading the rush and pushing the powerplay to new - and dangerous - expertise, today's offensive defensemen take the style of Bobby Orr and add speed.

Try to guess them first!

Review of Literature found in my Basement Volume 2: Slap Shots

Kevin Nelson. Slap Shots: Hockey's Greatest Insults. 
(1995, New York, NY: Fireside).

This is just a collection of interesting quotes on a variety of topics from a variety of sources. I picked my favorites below. I included about 1% of a book full of great quotes that highlight both sides of various debates and arguments and perspectives in hockey. Lots of the quotes I chose, especially in the latter chapters, agree with my own opinions, but keep in mind that the book has handfuls of quotes that accurately represent both sides, without the author taking a real stance on an issue. He just presents the information, and the information in most cases being the quotes. A lot of times it just does a great job of highlighting the lack of truth in any given situation, whether it be the Summit Series or who is the best hockey player of all-time or if the game is played the right way, and so on. I'd love to read an updated version. God knows there's been millions of quotes in the past 10+ years that are gold.

More Trivia Fun

This is from Don Weekes' All-Star Hockey Challenge (Greystone Books, 2000).

Firsts: part 1

  • Jean Beliveau was the first hockey player on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
  • Phil Esposito was the first NHLer to score 100 points.
  • Gordie Howe was the first player to win the Hart Trophy 5 times.
  • Jaromir Jagr was the first European player to lead the NHL in scoring.
  • Jean Ratelle was the first player to score 100 points for 2 teams.
  • Mike Gartner was the first NHLer to get 30 goals in 15 straight seasons.
  • Kevin Stevens was the first player to get 100 points and 200 PIM in the same season.
  • Borje Salming was the first European-trained player to play in 1,000 NHL games
  • Craig Simpson was the first player to score 50 goals, split between 2 different teams in one season.
  • Mike Bossy was the first rookie to score 50 goals in one season.

Select Lists from List Trivia book

"The Three Stars and Other Selections" by Jefferson Davis and Andrew Podnieks (ECW Press, 2000)

Five Players Born on February 29

  1. Henri Richard, 1936
  2. Kari Eloranta, 1956
  3. Dan Daoust, 1960
  4. Jim Dobson, 1960
  5. Lyndon byers, 1964
Ten Records Wayne Gretzky Never Broke
  1. Most Points in One Game - Darryl Sittler, 10
  2. Most Seasons - Gordie Howe, 26
  3. Most games - Gordie Howe, 1,767
  4. Most Goals in One Game - Joe Malone, 7
  5. Most Assists in One Period - Dale Hawerchuk, 5
  6. Most Points in One Period - Bryan Trottier, 6
  7. Most Regular Season OT Goals, Career - Steve Thomas, 11
  8. Most 30+ Goal Seasons - Mike Gartner, 17
  9. Longest Consecutive Goal-Scoring Streak - Harry Broadbent, 16
  10. Any Time Record (i.e. fastest goal from start of game, period, etc.) 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fighting in hockey term paper

I did a term paper this past term for my English Comp II class in which it had to be an argumentative paper, and I chose fighting in hockey. Some friends expressed interest in reading it, so here is the copy I passed in.

I wanted to fix it up quite a bit before sharing it because it was basically passed in last minute and I'm not very proud of it. I did a lot more research and hard work on it than the final draft here would lead you to believe, but I simply ran out of time and had to pass it in about 5 mins before the drop box closed for the semester. I'm not sure when I will actually get around to the revisions, so I am sharing what I sent to my teacher.

To my surprise, I got a 97%, which was just enough to catapult me into passing the class. When I went into this assignment, I was not actually anti-fighting, but I wanted to write about hockey and it seemed easier to take the anti-fighting stance for the sake of argument. I learned a lot of fascinating information and most of it, I did not even get the opportunity to discuss here. I definitely plan on returning to this sometime soon and rewriting it so that I am properly proud of it and that it reflects all the hard work that I put into it. For now though, here is the original copy.

Note: a big part of this grade was properly APA formatting the paper, so I assume I did that correctly given the high grade that I got. It really cock-blocked me from concentrating on other parts of the paper though.

Embedded below.

Game Review: Bruins 3, Sabres 1 (March 8)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bruins Sign Veteran Goaltender Marty Turco as Tuukka Rask is out 4-6 Weeks; Turco subsequently spelled name Tuurcco

What a whirlwind of a day for the Bruins! Fans waiting for several hours after they were promised a statement on the extent of Tuukka Rask's injury sustained against the Islanders on Saturday. Seemingly moments later, the Bruins announced the signing of former Dallas Star and Chicago Blackhawk and current wanderer Marty Turco. Chiarelli seemingly wasted no time in searching for a new back-up for Tim Thomas, a difficult situation to resolve when the trade deadline is long gone and the team's minor league goaltenders are not quite ready for or trusted with the responsibility of giving the team a chance to win while still allowing Tim Thomas to stop and catch his breath after expanses of 5 games in 7 days or something equally ridiculous that the Bruins currently face on the schedule (because the NHL schedule-makers are the most incompetent entity in the league - including referees.)

Only a few hours after the Bruins released this statement regarding Tuukka Rask's injury, Peter Chiarelli then announced the signing of veteran goaltender Marty Turco, to a one year contract. The contract has a few significant stipulations due to the nature of the situation: (1) Because Turco is a UFA returning to the NHL after playing in another pro league during the season, he must clear waivers first after the contract is signed (think of Nabokov last year when he tried to sign with Detroit and got snapped up by the Islanders); and (2) Because Turco was signed after the trade deadline, he may not participate in the playoffs this season should he clear waivers. Although an annoying policy, it is certainly justifiable to keep teams honest and, as I will explain below, this particular circumstance may be perfect for strictly regular season play from Turco.

Tuukka is said to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, at which point the Bruins will be in the final games of the regular season, or already in the first or second round of the playoffs. Turco's ineligability to play in the postseason is irrelevant because Tuukka should be back by then. In the next month or so before we get there, however, the Bruins definitely needed more reinforcements in net. AHL goaltenders Khudobin (injured) and Hutchinson (sucks or something) were not adequate enough to provide any relief to Tim Thomas over the course of the final stretch leading into April where the Bruins have several back-to-back games, a West Coast road trip, and a span of no more than one day off between games for a few weeks. 

While Thomas is clearly the Bruins starting goaltender by now, he cannot be expected to play in every single game for the rest of the season. This poses two significant risks: (1) over exhaustion from playing that many games in such a short span of time will make him vulnerable to injury, and (2) will certainly drain some very important long-term rest to prepare for the brutality of the playoffs (especially if he is going to perform the way he did last year).

"Review of Literature Found in my Basement" Volume 1: "Hockey Now!", Part 1: Masked Marvels

Hockey Now! by Mike Leonetti with photography by Dan Hamilton. 1999, Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books Ltd.
  1. Masked Marvels! - Top goalies
  2. Rearguards! - Defensemen who are on the ice in all key situations
  3. Blueline Attack! - Defenders who can lead the offense
  4. Power Forwards! - Players willing to use their size and strength to get the puck
  5. Play Makers! - softest hands in hockey
  6. Snipers! - pure goal scorers
  7. Hit Men! - players who change the course of a game with a crunching checkk
  8. Young Guns! - new players with star potential
Can you guess the players that lead the league in each category 13 years ago?

The first chapter, Masked Marvels, looks at the 11 best goaltenders as of 1999 and is reviewed below.

Friday, March 2, 2012

3/1/12: Bruins 4, Devils 3 (OT)!!

My pic (from warmups).
What a game!! Krejci hat trick to win it in overtime in perfect view...absolutely made up for the atrocity of the Rangers shutout...this is why it is always worth it to spend all the money you have in the world on tickets. This is the type of game I will always remember as one of my favorites, although several this year and last year have been so great. I decided to wear my Savvy jersey instead of my Peverley jersey cause I felt that the Savvy jersey had some luck drawing me to wear it, as it has been quite lucky in the past.