One of the fonder and more recent memories Bruins fans will have is of game two against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Patrice Bergeron is looking on from a suite, the first game of the series had been dropped, and neither the first or second lines looked engaged. The outlook was bleak. And then there was the second period.

An anxious Causeway crowd was treated to a visit by both the ghost of hockey future and hockey past. Tyler Seguin’s future was put center stage under the big light and he jumped into the spotlight and provided neat looks, quick feet, and a stellar shot. No one was more responsible for that win than Seguin. Number two on the list was the type of player the Bruins have lacked for many years, a gifted set of hands, a nose for the puck and the ability to set a screen. Michael Ryder was that man. This was the two time 30 goal scorer Montreal once coveted with the ability to anticipate where the puck was going to be and put quality shots on net from any angle, in traffic or in the clear.

For one period two unlikely players dominated a game played at the highest level. The chemistry showed in this game by these two was breathtaking, and the results tipped the balance in the eastern conference finals. If these two can show that kind of frisson in the future there is no reason not to resign Ryder for another season, and perhaps move Kelly during the season for a draft pick from a team that is likely to finish below the Bruins in the standings. With Recchi’s retirement, if Ryder were resigned that would just leave the spare forwards roster spot to fill. Depending on what Julien and Chiiarelli want for that position the front runners are almost certainly Caron, Arniel and Knight. If Ryder is let go that makes things even more interesting.

Like everyone else I’ve spent the last couple weeks going over prospect reports. Like everyone else I have my favorite players in the draft. And i suspect like everyone else,  I have no idea how the draft will fall out.  Those of you following me on Twitter know I’ve said I’d love for the Bruins to reel in Gabriel Landeskog I view him as that Shane Doan type of physical and emotional catalyst. I don’t however expect him to land in a Bruins uniform as even I don’t think all of the GM’s drafting 1-8 are stupid enough to pass on him. He probably isn’t the most highly skilled guy in the draft,  but he’s no slouch and shows up every night.  Fortunately for Bruins fans the only team in the division with a chance of landing him are the Senators, which means he’d probably only be there until management fumbled him.

Another of the forwards worth thinking about is a good friend of Landeskogs, Mika Zibanejad. He’s billed as an aggressive, skilled forward. Judging by what isn’t said about him, I’d peg him at two and possibly three years away from the NHL.  At 6’2 192 he’s about the same size as Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, and likely to fill out a little more over the next year or two. He’s ranked second my NHL Central Scouting, and is the sixth ranked skater by ISS. He is under contract to a KHL team for two more seasons.

Ryan Murphy, a small offensive defenseman has been put into the Bruins draft slot in more than one list. I can’t say I’m sold on his size. He’s currently listed at a slight 166lbs (or 176 depending on where you look), and in a conference with Vincent Lecavalier, Alex Ovechkin, Eric Staal, Sidney Crosby, and Ilya Kovalchuk among other large, hard charging forwards, its a concern. That said, ISS, TSN, and Central Scouting all list him in their top ten and anyone who can skate the puck out of the Bruins defensive zone and potentially transform the PP from a smelly waste into a powerplay again is more than welcome. No one doubts his offensive ability, but his defensive game is in need of development.

Other first round possibilities: Duncan Siemens, Nathan Beaulieu, Tomas Jurco.

Whoever the first round pick is will complete the Phil Kessel trade, and hopefully inspire his own round of “ThankYouKessel” chants whenever he takes the ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They of course will be drafting 30th in the first round with a pick they received for the Kaberle trade.

At a guess, having watched him draft three years now Chiarelli will draft at least one small, skilled center, use mid and late round picks on alternating bottom nine forwards and bottom three defensemen and not go with anyone flashy or high risk-high reward as a project.  This isn’t of course exactly what I think the team needs.

After the draft I’ll take a look at what the Bruins, the  northeast division and one or two other teams did.

 

I looked at my Blackberry at 5:07am on Saturday. Three of the people I follow on twitter were already in position downtown. Ya, I was unlikely to get a great spot. I didn’t much care, but it was amazing to see knowing that the forecast included a hot morning and thunderstorms as late as six pm Friday.  Like thousands, and thousands, and thousands of others I got on the Blue line at Wonderland with friends after barely escaping the first tshirt vendor of the day.

The train was full before we left. The train was Tokyo full when we got to Boston. It was about 8:25 when we switched over to the Green line for the ride to Copley. Fans everywhere showed their appreciation for the team.

Bruins fans show love for #30

Fan ages ranged from these two young ladies above, to

…who clearly appreciates nice young men. Boston’s hockey fans look a lot like Boston itself,

long memories

an appreciation for the finer things in hockey,

one can’t go to a Bruins game, or even the parade and not notice how much love, so many different people have for the team.

Boston Public Library

No parade featuring the Boston Bruins would be complete without recognizing some of the broadcasters, and Jack Edwards and Naoko Funayama were on hand and smiling. Sadly, no one reported seeing Rene Rancourt.

Jack Edwards & Naoko Funayama aboard a duckboat.

With the fun tees and signs just about down, and having covered the coverage, the next post is on the players.  It should be noted that despite several days between winning the Cup and the parade, a full million people in attendance, there were no major disturbances and certainly, no riots.

Silly season is absolutely one of my favorite times in hockey. The drama. The desperation. The dollars. The dipshits pulling the strings. This summer the RFA market is definitely as tantalizing as the UFA market.  Kevin Paul Dupont hinted at the potential ceiling for Steven Stamkos

 

Bloggers who wish to participate should comment here, or send me a message @pucksage on Twitter to be linked to and for bragging purposes. All entries must be up by the Noon ET on June 30, 2011. Bloggers can participate in any or all parts of the challenge. For the sake of everyone using the same source, we will use NHLNumbers ( www.nhlnumbers.com ) for the free agent listing and TSN.ca or NHL.com for any signings that don’t make the NHLnumbers site by deadline. You can of course make more than one post to cover each part.

Part 1: The First Domino

Pick a player at Forward, Defense & Goal off the UFA list who you expect to be the first to be signed.

Part 2: Team UFA

Very simple, really. Make a team 13 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goalies that is all off the UFA list and under the cap. Projected salaries for each player should be realistic.

Part 3: Worst Contract

Name the team likely to hand out the most absurd contract on July 1.

Part 4: Where’s Brad and

That right, you too can gaze into your crystal ball, ask your magic 8 ball or ouijia board or just sprinkle some Angel Dust on your Poptart and use it to tell the world where Brad Richards will be playing next season.

Remember, prizes are bragging rights, pity beer from your friends, and not having to think of something to blog for at least one day. Void where prohibited!

It’s been more than twelve hours since I got to see guys who I’ve watched their whole careers lift the Stanley Cup. Patrice Bergeron, has been through so much to get back into playing form. The story of Tim Thomas is the type of life of drama that Hollywood would kill, die, steal and cheat to craft. Then look at Zdeno Chara, he’s been to the mountain top and might never have been there had fans in a certain Canadian city had their way. In this series, here are the giants, the first rank of heros, but it was truly a battle every man fought.

Brad “I felt like it.” Marchand. He felt like scoring twenty goals in the regular season when most expected him to spend the season in Providence. He felt like earning his way off the fourth line. He felt like scoring five shorthanded goals dwarfing all other rookies in that stat. He felt like scoring another shorthanded goal in the playoffs. He felt like scoring more goals as a rookie than Mario Lemieux. He felt like being sixth in scoring in the playoffs. In a thick RFA crop, you just have to wonder how much attention he’s going to get from other teams.

Zdeno Chara.

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;

A third round pick of the Islanders, one of the pieces of the great Senators run, and then discarded. He comes to Boston and has certain chowderheads in the media blame him for the quality of the teams built around him. Never was his value more apparent than when he was out in the Montreal series. In the finals he played against the Sedins and made them afraid to go to the net, made them afraid to go to the corners.

Dennis Seidenberg, like Brad Marchand he had an enormous coming out party that lasted twenty five games. He had the unenviable task of being “the other guy” playing with one of the leagues best. Don Sweeney, Hal Gill, Kyle Mclaren have had that job here in Boston in the past, and performed well for years at a time. Seidenberg was unreal. He led all players in the post season in blocked shots. No player spent more time on the ice in the post season than he did. Like the guys who have played opposite Bourque and Lidstrom, he got to be “the better option” as a corner to go to or a lane to drive. It didn’t work out well for players who wanted that sad of the ice as they ran into the 172nd pick of the 2001 entry draft from Schwenningen Germany.

Patrice Bergeron looked like he’d have fought the entire Canucks roster one at a time, its not his comfort zone. In game seven he picked up the dagger, hamstrung, blinded and heart stabbed them then gave it a good twist. With five points in the series you large minutes, and faceoff domination its easy to see his impact. The fact that he had to come back from a concussion suffered in the closing moments of the Philadelphia Flyers series. Neither of his game seven goals were the type people ooh and ah over, but both show the type of player he is. Always ready, never giving up no matter what burden is played on him. The heartshot was the shorthanded goal, but having the hands, vision and timing to toss the that first goal in is just part of the package.

Tim Thomas. The scariest thing in the world about Thomas is that he doesn’t know how to give up or back down. He’s more athletic, more precise, and every bit as hungry as he was the first time he was brought up. He started the season as the backup. In game two a continent and a lifetime away from where he is today, Tim Thomas started his season with a shutout.  Through the marathon that is the the regular season he led all goalies in GAA and Sv% first to last. He finished the regular season setting records. He then topped those numbers. Lecavalier, Cammalleri, Carter, St Louis, Van Reimsdyk, Stamkos, Sedin are some of the guys who’s frustration litters his path to the Cup.  Two shutouts against the top offensive team in the NHL in the Stanley Cup Finals. Eight total goals allowed to the top offensive team in the NHL.

Claude Julien, was exactly the coach this collection of players needed. Love him, hate him it doesn’t matter.  He outfoxed his old friend and former defensive partner on the other bench, and did it with class.

The rest of the team was tremendous as well, I’ll be covering each one in later posts. Thanks again to the whole Bruins organization for a season I’ll never forget.

It odd, after four series, and four teams I don’t think I’m ready for things to be over.  Each series had its own flavor, and the bitterness of the series from the word go to the final puck drop made the sweet of seeing my boys win indescribable. I didn’t see the series taking shape the way it did.  The end is what I hoped for, but the road was something no one could see more than a stick tap away.

For Mason Raymond, one can have nothing but hope he recovers to his full strength and agility. He’s one of the guys I think even the most biased of Bruins fans can call “good guys” in a locker room crowded with guys who don’t fill the bill. Its unfortunate that his teammates spent so much effort on drama that he got tarred with the same brush as the less desirable elements on the team. With his speed and ability, he’s a guy I wouldn’t not mind seeing in a Bruins uniform.

Ryan Kesler, one armed paper hangers have nothing on one legged hockey players. Its obvious from watching one of the leagues premiere players over the course of his career that the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. He never laid down and died, started a fight in the finals when he had every reason not too and went out in games seven and played like his life depended on the outcome. Any team that couldn’t find a place on their roster for him is kidding themselves.

Kevin Bieksa,  another of the guys who didn’t give up and just gave on.  At the end of the first two periods of game seven he’d played almost nineteen minutes. I said coming in to the series he was the best player on the blueline. I didn’t realize he was as good as he is. While I can’t quite put him in the same class as Chara, Weber, Lidstrom and Keith he’s still got “it” and is likely inline for a Norris nomination at some point in his future. In two weeks he’s an unrestricted free agent in two weeks, and it’s safe to say that so many of the Bruins locked in for at least one more year that he’ll be getting attention.

Roberto Luongo was the most polarizing player in the playoffs.  Like many of the figures who initiate extreme reactions all of the loudest, and many of the most repeated at either the high end or the deepest depths they just aren’t deserved. What do Chris Osgood, Marc-Andre Fluery, Anti Niemi have in common? They all own at least one Stanley Cup. They also have worse career playoff save percentages than Bobby Lou. Lucongo went out and did his job. He game the Canucks two shutouts, and made home ice his ice. Three wins that rested largely on his shoulders, with only eight total goals of support. Not eight goals from a team that didn’t belong in the playoffs, but eight goals from the team that led the NHL in scoring. Eight goals from the team who had the best powerplay all regular season, and through the first three rounds of the playoffs. Eight goals.

Andrew Alberts, I’m sure many of the fans who remember him from his days in a Bruins uniform were salavating as he took the ice for the first time expecting him to be a seive and take stupid penalties. He played good. He’s another of those guys who rose to the occassion.  He played a smart, conservative game and  together with the guys listed above showed heart.

I’m not going into the rest of the team. They either A: didn’t show up, or B: were a disgrace to the greatest sport on earth. If I missed someone who picthed in and played right, oh well. For the real fans in Vancouver with class who cheered the opposition as they lifed the Cup and the Conn-Smyth, and just as importantly booed Bettman, other real hockey fans know you aren’t the morons who set your city on fire.

What a season. What a series. What a dream.

Mark Recchi has said he’s done, and he got to go out on top of the mountain, in his home province. With an assist, a +3 and 4 faceoff wins off the wing and a couple good hits. He’s going to the Hall of Fame for all the right reasons, and his last team is one that helps break a drought that goes back decades.

Roberto Luongo had zero chance on the first Bergeron goal, which was the eventual game winner. The Marchand goal was possibly a bad goal with it bouncing off his body before going in. The third goal was the killer though, he allowed a shorthanded goal with the goal scorer already on his stomach. Had he been a little tougher to move that goal might not go in.

Tim Thomas.

Patrice Bergeron.

Brad Marchand.

Boston Bruins 2010-2011 Stanley Cup Champions

It’s the last game of the year. It may be the last game of a career or two.  Salo would be 37 at the start of next season, and is a UFA on July 1st. Mark Recchi is already the oldest player to do just about anything you can name, and likewise a UFA in sixteen days. Anyone who’s been saving some energy, coach, player or fan can tip the bottle over and shake it all loose now. Training camp is a long way away and if you’re going to have regrets “I should have tried harder.” is among the worst.

  • Which Luongo is on the ice tonight?
  • Do any of the Canucks go after Marchand who says he hit Daniel Sedin because “I felt like it.” and how far do they get?
  • How does Jeff Tambellini impact the game? He’s played only five games this post season, do his fresh legs help or his rustiness hurt?
  • Who scores first may also have the distinction of scoring last, who will it be?
  • Can either team score big tonight? In the three previous games on seven total goals have been scored.
  • Intrusive officiating or permissive, the NHL as a whole seems to flash back and forth between the two, the playoffs have been no different.

16: One team has a coach who knows what the adjustments that need to be made after a loss are, the other one says “it doesn’t matter”.

15: Patrice Bergeron who has scored at least once goal in each round has yet to score against the Canucks.

14: The hockey gods are not kind to the arrogant, note that the Canucks tried to sell their parade broadcast rights before game six.

13: Between injuries and suspensions the Canucks are missing Mason Raymond, Dan Hamuis and Aaron Rome.

12: Game 7 will be the 100th playoff game of Zdeno Chara.

11: This is the twentieth anniversary of Mark Recchi’s first Cup winning year.

10: The most popular player on the ice will be Vancouver native Milan Lucic.

9: Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis has never won a championship at any level.

8: Only seven of twenty five President’s Trophy winning teams have won the Stanley Cup.

7: Of the President’s Trophy winning teams to win the Stanley Cup, none have collected the Stanley Cup in their first President’s Trophy win.

6: There really is a conspiracy against the Canucks, the comments by “keepthesonics” over at Puck Daddy prove it all.

5: The goalie with the better regular season stats has won the last three Cups.

4: The Canucks have not scored back to back powerplay goals in this series.

3: Only four teams have won the Cup while being outscored, none with a deficit as large as the Canucks currently is.

2: Claude Julien has won coach of the year in the NHL and the AHL.

1:  It is the anniversary 6/17/2007 of the “reassigning” of Dave Lewis away from head coaching duties.