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Here’s five thoughts about the second-round series between the Bruins and Flyers as Game 3 is set for Wednesday night in Boston.
1. In hockey, more than any other sport, certain players get the puck and immediately strike the fear of God into fans. These players are like maniacal villains in the old-school slasher movies that terrorize the audience for an hour and a half, coming inches within killing our protagonist. After Game 2, I think it’s safe to say James van Riemsdyk is our resident Freddy Krueger for the duration of this series. He was all over the ice terrorizing the B’s fan-base, tantalizing the rowdy Philly crowd, and even getting the VS booth all hot and bothered.
2. Milan Lucic is over-rated. Look, I’m not hockey aficionado, but all I’ve heard coming into the playoffs is how Lucic has transformed from the “PJ Stock Ass-Kicker” into “PJ Stock Ass-Kicker…With some offensive ability.” In other words, Milan could approach a Cam Neely-esq level at some point in his career. While all that’s well and good, through 9 games this post-season it appears Lucic seems to lack the fire it takes to succeed at this stage. Unless I’m missing something, all I’ve seen is a guy taking dumb penalties, lose the tough battles behind the net for possession, and give away the puck in critical moments leaving his teammates exposed.
3. The Bruins don’t have a Freddy, Jason, or even Michael Myers. BUT – and there’s no getting around this – they have Tim Effing Thomas. And that may be enough. I remember post-season runs from the Bruins truncated because of a goalie catching fire. Jose Theodore, anyone? Therefore — unlike the ‘game managing quarterback’, ‘puck moving defense-man’, ‘staff-managing-catcher (who doesn’t produce offensively)’ — a ‘goalie standing on his head’ is not overrated. Put simply, Thomas stole Game 2. He was unjustly scrutinized following the first two games against Montreal, and is the reason the Bruins are in the fortuitous position they find themselves in today.
A few more thoughts on Thomas: So many times in professional sports we see athletes try hanging on for to long despite a clear deterioration in skill. Sometimes we criticize players for prolonging the inevitable (Brett Farve), other times we encourage their continued participation (Brett Farve, again. I know, I didn’t think it made sense either), and finally other times we just sort of shrug and say to ourselves, “I don’t blame him. He’s making a lot of money, and having fun” (Tim Wakefield). But Thomas? He’s a guy who didn’t get his shot until his mid-30’s. He’s been overlooked, decorated, overlooked AGAIN (after an injury filled campaign last year), and finally re-assessed for his tour de force performance both in the regular season and in the playoffs. Crazy career arc, right? The only parallel I could come up with was Kurt Warner. Both were late-bloomers, who were humbled by their lack of success early in their careers. Additionally after both found initial successs, they were stripped of their position for a younger player with more pedigree (Marc Bulger/Eli Manning with Warner; Tuukka Rask with Thomas), only to rejuvenate their career at an even more improbable age.
4. Game 2 reinforced a tough verity of sports in general – it’s cruel. Think of things from a Flyers’ perspective for a minute. I mean cruel game, no? They take a two-goal lead early, the crowd is fired up, and even when the B’s leveled things up, it still felt like Philly would eventually score with the 87 scoring chances they had. Though, from a B’s perspective, this was the type of game that really felt good to win. You know you were gift wrapped one game, and now the onus must be put on performing better as the series continues.
5. Final note on a harsher reality of sports pertinent to more than just the result of a game: The Adam Mcquaid injury. These things happen all the time, and it looks like McQuaid isn’t injured the the degree where his quality of life will be impacted. But with that being said, I think we need to re-examine how we view all of these players. I get that athletes are overpaid entertainers, who have a proclivity towards the obtuse in regards to off-field antics. I think that’s because they have the propensity to go all in on everything they do. They made that choice after deciding to become what they are. Each professional athlete sat down, while in high school, with their parents or whoever they’re close with and said “I know I have to become part of a distinguished club to make it. I need to be part of the 99.999999999 percentile, then maybe – just maybe, I’ll be drafted and make money.” They were all in then, as well as after making it. It’s the only gear they know, and these guys really do lay it all the line.
My point is McQuaid’s lunge into the boards last night was reminiscent of Travis Roy and his injury he suffered while playing hockey for Boston University which left him paralyzed. All I’m saying is that owners participating in the NFL lockout, and the presumed NBA lockout about to take place this summer, have to realize that the risk they take on financially is minuscule compared to that of the professional athlete.
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