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Here are 5 musings about the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Bruins and Tampa BayLightning heading into Game 5 tonight at the Garden. The series is tied at two games apiece.
So the Bruins blew a GOLDEN opportunity. There’s no way getting around it. After one period of play Saturday, in Game 3, the Bruins had commandeered control of the entire series going up three goals. The Black & Gold had chased goaltender Dwayne Roloson, took the life out of the crowd, and left the Lightning wondering, “What the hell happened?” after their Game 1 ambush that they could possibly be staring at a 3-1 hole in the series.
Five unanswered goals later, Bruins fans wondering “What the hell happened?” Did Nathan Horton google “The Rapture”, tell the team about it, and they corroborated to decide this game is extraneous since the world was ending two hours after the third period? I’m not sure, but the team reverted back into their 2010 form and the product deplorable.
And as much as I want to kill the team and the coaching staff, I can’t. I can’t because, as I wrote Friday, Bruins fans have to realize the other team gets paid too. Am I cynical about the team’s reaction to the Lightning comeback? Of course. Boston’s demeanor failed to evoke any hint of mettle. Naturally the fan base is justified in showing consternation, but again, there’s a fine line between consternation and castigation.
You’re going to hear a lot of “Claude is telling the boys to take their foot off the gas pedal!” talk tomorrow heading into Game 5. It’s going to be
Awesome! redundant. Another hot sports take is how Julien left the B’s exposedby not taking a timeout while Tampa inched closer. It’s a fair point, Julien probably should have used to TO at some point in the game.
But would the timeout had led to a different outcome? I don’t think so, it’s not like Claude Julien not using a timeout is comparable to Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in to implode during the ALCS. At some point, blame has to be delegated to the players on the ice.
Julien’s team gave up a three goal lead in a game, sure. But before the catastrophe, his “defensive” philosophy was working flawlessly. His system succeeding is largely imperative on an aggressive dump and chase forecheck, as well as creating timely opportunities.
Let’s play a little question/answer game…
Question: How did the Bruins score the first goal?
Answer:On an pugnacious challenge – while forechecking – from Patrice Bergeron.
Question: How did Boston take a 2 goal advantage?
Answer: Off a strong poke check from Tyler Seguin in the neutral zone, resulting in a 2 on 1 odd man rush with Michael Ryder. Sounds like a mitigated risk? Hmmm..
Question: Finally, how did the Bruins take a 3 goal lead into intermission?
Answer:Bergeron forechecking, while shorthanded, this time in the neutral zone. Bergy realized he had a 1 on 1 break the other way and capitalized strongly with a blast from the top of the circle.
Every staple of the maligned system Julien institutes was on full display in the first period — in a beneficial way. It is not as if, in the ensuing intermission, Claude Julien said the following:
“Alright boys, pack in it. Here’s what I want: Tomas Kaberle give the puck away in front of the net. And, Milan give away possession in the neutral zone – while we’re in the midst of a line change. I want to make this interesting.”
Thinking all the blame resides at the feet of Julien is a fallacy. Brad Marchand’s comments about being complacent, and thinking the game was over after the first period is alarming. This is the same team who blew a 3-0 lead in a game which caused them to lose a series which they held a 3-0 game advantage. As players, at some point, that needs to be reinforced not ignored. It seems as though Marchand is admitting the later.
Kevin Paul Dupont, of the Boston Globe, tweeted that the Bruins should insert Shawn Thorton back into the lineup. He calls for either Danny Paille, Rich Peverley, or Gregory Campell to be the casualty of this roster move. As I detailed in Friday’s piece, Thortondoes not belong in the line-up. He does not bring anything to the table in the PK, which both Paille and Campell provide. Thorton’s spirit is infectious, but so is Paille and Campell laying out to block shots in the first period – which they did on Saturday. The Thorton vs. Peverley arguement fails, considering Peverley was playing on the second line, with Bergeron and Marchand, during crunch time Saturday while Mark Recchi was delegated to the fourth line. Frankly, if there’s a move to be made it’s Mark Recchi and Peverley flipping places on a fixed basis.
I cannot accentuate enough, this is not a time to over-react and shake the lines up drastically. As painful as losing the lead was, the fact Boston obtained the margin must not be minimized.
As chilling as the aforementioned Marchand comments were, Tim Thomas’ statement that Boston would prevail in the series was an indicator the 5 unanswered-goal-meltdown was not a deal-breaker for Boston. The team’s goalie re-affirmed their resiliency which has been manifested throughout these playoffs.
The conudrum that has driven fans crazy during this playoff run is their heart being palatable and lucid one night, while seeming detached the next. There is no question Boston has the ability to recuperate from the Game 4 debacle, especially after Thomas’ sentiments.
It’s far less offensive than a team named the ‘Redskins.’
Where’s the fire?
What’s next, are we going to be forced into rooting for both teams?
They’re like terrorists?! We don’t negotiate with terrorists, just like we shouldn’t negotiate with whiny radio shock jocks. Giving into their bitching only makes them more powerful
Those – along with other thoughts that I couldn’t possibly type here at Sports of Boston – are the sentiments expressed towards the news the Bruins were taking down their anti-Tampa Bay Lightning Fan ads from my friends. The “offensive” signs alluded to Tampa Bay fans being mythical creatures like the Loch Ness Monster, and also the stereotype people from Florida are generally, ah, hoary.
When I first got word the Tampa Bay radio station was going to “fight back” against this “injustice”, I thought they meant fire back with their own comical banter. Subsequently, I knew if this came down to a war of attrition, Boston’s passionate fan-base would supersede anything Tampa Bay would lob our way. For example, the guys from Day’s Of Yorr have waged war against the entire state of Florida on Twitter. Honestly, those dude’s take no prisoners and I think they have enough ammunition to fight the battle themselves.
Things weren’t quite going to play out that way though. Instead, they – umm- went the other way with the signs. Screw it, I’m not going to beat around the bushes here, the “shock jock host” acted like a 6th grader who heard a dirty word in the back of the school bus and told the effing principal. They flooded the B’s management inbox, and compelled the organization to take down the signs. This treachery of the art of trash talk felt like Henry Hill in GoodFellas ratting out his friends, except in terms of fan-hood.
I was going to write up a long piece on being a fan and how I josh-it-up with my buddies who love rival teams. Then it morphed into a large column, summarizing how the politically correct world has taken away pride in fandom. Then I puked on my shoes and submitted this instead…
Can’t we have anything anymore? Why does something involving sports have to be treated like it’s an issue of involving great levity? What happened to geography, fun stereotypes, and life-long adulation of a team being sufficient reason to, you know, rag on another team’s fan base?
Nothing in sports is actually critical in the grand scheme of life. Yeah, we throw terms around like “Going to war”, “Do-or-Die Time”, “Pivotal Game” — but the significance of the subject is never proportionate to the adjectives used to describe it. There’s sports – which is fun and competitive – and there’s life – which is weighty and serious. As “fans”, Tampa Bay should be ashamed for confusing the two. Using “Shuffleboard” and poking fun at the large segment of retired residents in Florida should not cause an uproar and be means of a catharsis for Lightning fans. The mere fact I had to type the last 500 or so words is pathetic.