Not that I’m a bitter Bruins fan but I’d like to thank the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for a memorable night of hockey Saturday that came at the expense of the Washington Capitals.

The baby Pens defeated Washington’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, in a thrilling series-clinching game 5 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wikes-Barre, Pa. last night. The Penguins scored two second period goals and survived a furious third period rally by the Bears to win 2-1, and advance to the second round of the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs.

Last night was quite the experience for this Bruin fan in Penguin territory. Given the circumstances, a winner-takes-the series game 5 between two regional rivals, of course last night was going to be intense.

I’ve attended AHL games in seven cities and there’s no question, Wilkes-Barre has the loudest and most passionate fan base that I’ve encountered. [Insert complaints here.]

For nearly two periods I listened to anxious Pens fans scream and mutter under their breaths and squirm as the first round’s final game inched forward without a goal. It’s cliché but yes, the tension was palpable.

Penguins forward Cal O’Reilly scored at 17:31 of the second and the arena exploded. We were still celebrating when Zach Sill scored a softie seven seconds later on Bears goalie Dany Sabourin, a former Providence Bruin and WBS Penguin who backed up Braden Holtby early in the Bs/Caps series.


The Penguins handed out glossy paper (about letter size) that was folded-up like a fan and pounded constantly during the game. The paper was sturdy but many ended up in shreds as Pens fans nervously clutched them, slapped them against seats and the glass and tore them at game’s end.

You want passionate? Their mascot, Tux, sported a black leather vest that looks like something he stole from a Hells Angels biker. Like all good mascots, Tux does his usual zany things but there was almost something menacing in how badly he beat on a stuffed bear and how much the crowd enjoyed it. Tux also wasn’t bashful about driving an off road utility vehicle to center ice between periods and doing a bunch of donuts.

They also pass around a wooden or plastic garbage-can sized Penguin during games, which is an arena tradition that further fires up the crowd.

Surprisingly, the Penguins rank in the bottom third of AHL playoff attendance this year (averaging 3,501 per game compared to a league average of 4,845). It was noticed as there was a three-seat gap between me and a super fan to my left in the lower bowl.

Even with the empty seats, last night was beyond expectation. Loud. Fun even for a diehard Bruins fan. A compelling AHL playoff game.

Watching the Penguins defeat Washington’s AHL affiliate brought a small measure of satisfaction, though I am still stinging from my NHL team’s premature playoff defeat.

Regardless of your rooting interests, if you’re a serious hockey fan and you pass through Pennsylvania, then a stop in Wilkes-Barre is a must.

BIO- Justin Walden blogs about the business of minor league and college hockey at Follow him on Twitter, @justwalden.

So when last we met, I was waxing poetic about the talent on the ice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Ma., where the future B’s (they hope) had gone through Day 4 of Development Camp.  Well, the young men were back on the ice for Day 5, and there were some notables in attendance as well.  Peter Chiarelli had a great spot to watch the action from and Claude Julien, sporting some after playoff facial hair and possible golf attire, was walking the seating area during the intermission.  Unsure as to how much of the action he witnessed, but my guess is he saw quite a bit.

The day started out with, of all things, skating drills.  These were fun to watch on Day 3 and exposed some skating issues for the young guns.  Today was no different.  Everyone seemed to grasp the concept of skating forwards and backwards, staples to be sure, but coach Besa Tsintsadze had other plans.  Anthony Camara had issues skating over his stick and and also with the “stand your stick on the butt end, spin around and catch it before it falls” drill.  He fell once.  He wasn’t the only one that fell, Koko had his issues as well, but showed some good footwork making figure 8s around his stick while it lay prone on the ice.  The good news is that once again Tommy Cross showed no ill effects as he worked the drills with no issues but did appear to take one or two of them a little more slowly than the others.

At the opposite end of the ice sheet coach Essensa put the goaltenders through some workouts, and once again Lars Volden showed that he was equal to the task.  As mentioned in the previous post, he has nice horizontal movement from post to post, and also showed a strong glove hand when faux one-timers were being fired at him from 1o feet out.  Hutch and Goth looked strong through most of the drills but appeared a little exposed when shots were taken over there shoulders to the top shelf.  None of the three are going to be challenging for a starting spot on the Bruins any time soon, but Hutch looks to be heading toward a back up role in Providence with the baby B’s.

Some more mental notes…

Zane Gothberg:  Showed that he can handle the rubber being fired at him and stopped just about everything he was supposed to stop.  During the scrimmage section he did make some nice stops, but never really ventured away from the net.

Ben Sexton:  Showed some speed during both the skills and scrimmage.  Had some issues during the scrimmage but looked good on offense.  The thing with Sexton that I liked most was his ability to take direction and his willingness to ask for direction, as evidenced by his taking face off instruction from, I believe, Cunningham or Koko.

Jared Knight:  One of the most polished of the crew at camp this week.  He looked as though he was showboating a little, as was Spooner during the skating drills.  Jared is better at back-checking and defense and he is really good in the offensive zone, as to be expected.  His passing is spot on, and he has a good shot, but looks much better from in close.  He was also willing to get a little physical.

Craig Cunningham:  To me Craig didn’t do anything blatantly wrong, but he didn’t jump out at me either.  He has good speed, but had an issue finishing one timers in front of the net.  He did go into the corners and was willing to muck it up, which works for me when it comes to having a B’s mentality

Alexander Fallstrom:  Alex doesn’t seem to shy away from the physical contact, both taking and receiving it.  It appeared that he checked Camara into the stanchion (anyone say Max?) but it was later learned that Anthony put himself into the stanchion avoiding or trying to hit Fallstrom.  Anyway, Alex did appear to have some issues with the skate drills in the morning session but he showed good hustle and grit.

Brian Ferlin:  Brian showed some hustle and speed on Day 4 scrimmage.  Day 5 saw him repeat the effort.  Appeared to be having a good time on the ice, nothing glaring about his defense, would like to see more physical in his game.

Justin Florek:  He can score, and what a shot!  Fairly accurate as it hit the back of the net twice.  The line combo for both scrimmages had Florek and Ferlin centered by Spooner, and they clicked well together.  All three were vocal and knew who was supposed to be where.  He was physical behind the net and didn’t shy away from contact.

Only got a few in here, but keep an eye out for the rest of the Development Camp roster…

Today was Day 4 of Bruins Development Camp. All the usual suspects were present again for some drills and some fun! Session 1 took the raw recruits through the drills they have gotten used to over the last few days. Session 2 gave the masses present a glimpse of what the future might look like, at least for some of the young men on the ice today.

Some mental notes…

Ryan Spooner: Ok, arguably, he is the Left Wing’s future binkie, but in the interest of being unbiased, he still needs to work on his back-checking. His passing is crisp, his decision making on offense is good, but still appears to be missing something on defense.

Alex Khokhlachev: I must say he has shown me something. Good hands and speed. He can move with the puck and has nice vision. Better on the back check than I first expected but still needs work, as do most of the youngsters. Appeared a little gassed at times but could have been that he’s not used to North American workouts. Had some issues with the skating drills.

Anthony Camara: Supposed tough guy and that is all I had heard about him, but he can move and likes to throw his weight around, as seen in the scrimmage. Nice shot but appears to need some work with positioning. Better on his skates than anticipated.

Dougie Hamilton: P.C. was smiling like the cat that ate the canary at the draft, and during the scrimmage we really saw why. Highlights of Hammie show him scoring, but he is great with the puck in traffic, evidenced by his weaving through 4 players making his way into the slot area from the offensive blue line. Not as powerful a shot as I first thought, but may have been holding back. Had a little trouble with positioning at one point, having to take a “penalty” resulting in a penalty shot.

Tommy Cross: first off, the knees look good. Didn’t appear to be favoring them at all. He and Button appear to be the leaders here in camp, but Cross was giving out advice to Hammie and Spinell whenever they appeared to need it. Cross and Hamilton were paired up for the whole second session and they had great chemistry. They would look real good as linemates. Cross showed good instincts and appeared to know where to be just about all the time. Not the heaviest shot but accurate as he was putting it low to the ice for rebounds.

Lars Volden: Bob Essensa appeared to be working Lars twice as hard as Goth and Hutch on Day 3, and Lars looked real good during the scrimmage. He comes way out of the crease but backs in and tracks the puck well. He’s quick down to his pads and back up to his skates again. He didn’t appear to wander away from the net much so it was difficult to assess his puck handling. Appeared to have good instincts.

I only covered a few of the prospects here as I wanted to get this out. Will cover the rest of the squad and Day 5 tonight. From the left wing’s perspective the future looks good for the hometown team. The four invites, Steven Spinell, Brett Olson, Josh Jooris, and Eric Robinson also indicate that the scouting for the B’s will show good results in the future as well.

See you after Day 5…

Still 12 minutes left in the game, Thornton was just given a misconduct and The B’s have been kicking Vancouver gluteus all night.  But that isn’t the story.

The fact that this league has allowed Alexandre Burrows to continue playing after the incidents of game 1 has been embarrassing enough but now they have to deal with the act of disciplining Aaron Rome.  And they better or the NHL will become a laughing stock among the big 4 sports.  But what the Bruins have done as a result of that hit has been outstanding…

Boston has shut down the power play, allowing no shots.  All this while scoring two shorties of their own.  The power play looked strong.  Even strength the guys were throwing their weight around.  Pushing Vancouver, letting them know that this wasn’t going to be the cake walk they may have been expecting.  And Timmy…Mr. Thomas was worth every penny of his 5 million dollars this year.  He even had more hits recorded than the Sedins had shots on net at one point. 

It’s no secret that the Left Wing binkie is Milan (hey, he plays left wing!) but it was great to see him come to the defense of his goaltender and let Burrows know in no uncertain terms that he is on Milan’s radar.  Very important for the on ice officials to escort him out of harm’s way at that point or it would have been a painful ending to Alexandre’s night. 

As I wrap this up…and the game has ended, quite the one-sided affair it appeared to be, I can’t help but wonder…What does all of this mean if the Bruins come out flat in the next tilt?  The Boys in Black need to carry this momentum over to the next game, come out physical, put Vancouver on the defensive as soon as the puck drops.  Letting a game, and a motivation, such as tonight, go unused would be a sin.  Just heard Keith Jones say that what Milan did was entertaining and necessary and J.R. disagreeing with Claude, stating that sending a message tonight was absolutely important.  The Left Wing couldn’t agree more.

So the B’s have accomplished Must Win #13.  One game at a time, One must win at a time.

Quick wrister from the Left Wing. 

So with the second game of the finals almost upon us, I would be remiss to not mention that tonight’s game is a must win. 

Or is it?

Sorry, but that is all sports radio talking heads have been blathering on about since the end of game 1.  Is tonight a ‘must win”?  Can the Bruins come home with the series tied?  Even today, on the way to the supermarket for the all important four food groups (cookies, cakes, candy and pie), I was inundated with drivel about tonight’s must win scenario.

Is tonight’s game important?  You bet Timmy’s contract it is.  Is it a must win?  Not necessarily.  The Boys in Black have been thriving under the pressure since that first series against their hated rivals, the ones that took the gold medal in diving.  Down 2 games to love (oops, sorry, tennis term) The Bruins pulled up those laces just a bit tighter and won it in 7.  Riding that wave into a sweep and yet another tight one in Tampa, where they again pulled it out. 

The Bruins have played one game in the finals, and with the exception of a late blunder by a defenseman who shall remain nameless, played the favorites to a tie for over 5 minutes, shutting down their potent powerplay in the process.  As stated earlier, is it important, yes.  The Bruins have lost two games in a row twice in these playoffs, after both they won the third game.  I don’t want to see that happen again, but if it does I have the confidence that the B’s will come home and piece together two wins in a row.  As I predicted, this series is going at least 6 and all games will be extremely entertaining. 

There are two ways of looking at this:  Every game in the entire playoffs is a must win, or The Stanley Cup Champions must win 16 games.  Tonight’s game will go a long way towards boosting either the B’s or the Canucks towards the Cup, but it isn’t a must win unless you think of it as must win #13!!

The Left Wing

This was sent to me very shortly before game 1, due to the internet being fun, it didn’t make it up before then.

Hey all,


Welcome to my little corner of the world.  I’ve finally been given an opportunity to get my viewpoint out about the status and activities of our favorite team.  So on to the obligatory…


Thanks to my great friend “The ‘Sage” for giving me the opportunity to write about a team I am passionate about.  The Sage is already well established and I only hope that I can add to that reputation.


So let’s start at the beginning…


Before the beginning of the season we were left with a sour taste in our collective mouths over an unexpected exit from the playoffs.  Following cries of “Hell one, snowball zero” thanks to New Jack, we were expecting more.  Then came talks of trading Thomas as we discovered what we thought was the second coming in Tuukka.  But the Bruins did the right thing in hanging onto the Vezina winner as he would go on to demonstrate this season.  There were other things such as Savvy’s concussion and Seidenberg’s wrist.  Then there was the rookie…We marveled at his first goal and everyone had hopes of a high goal scorer.


Thomas showed us what he could do with two healthy hips and freedom of movement.  Another Vezina could be on the horizon.  My man Luc started showing us that he wants to be the next…I’m not gonna say it, but I still hold out hope.


We came to the trade deadline and Chia pet wanted something that, The Sage told me, all the cool kids have and he got his PMD.  Some guy named Kaberle.  We overpaid, no doubt, but fans rallied behind this move, even though Kaberle has spent the second half of the season trying to prove us wrong.  Two other players were brought in, and at least one is paying off as Peverley has been playing his heart out.  Kelly has been pretty good on the PK, and I probably wouldn’t send him back.


So here we are in the Finals.  Beating our hated rivals, the Divers, in seven games, and exorcising the demon from last season by sweeping the Flyers.  What a great feeling that was!  The Lightning showed us that they are for real with their talent and gave the Bruins all they could handle.  Thomas stood on his head, and leaned on Reebok for a little assistance to get us here.


This series will be tough, 6 games minimum is my take.  Our top defensive pair is better than what Vancouver can offer but their defense has the ability to score.  The Boys in Black have something more important though, scoring depth.  The third and fourth lines for the B’s have 5 more goals and 12 more points than their counterparts for the guys in green.  Thomas will have to be the Vezina winner again, but the men in front of him will have to play their best and STAY OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX!


One last thought as they literally get ready to sing the national anthems on my television…at the end of the season, one way or the other…do the B’s do the unthinkable and trade a Vezina winner?  No joke, I have heard it mentioned that his trade stock will never be higher and we have the future sitting on the bench.  I say that with all the money coming off the books at the end of the season, and a cap increase, we need to keep this stellar goaltender for another shot next season.  Tuukka will still be there, and we never even talked about the two rookies except for the quick mention at the top!


So lets drop the puck and get this thing started already…


Left Wing Lock