Archive for December, 2009

Split Decision in Florida for the Bruins; Fenway Classic Looms

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , , , , , , , on December 29, 2009 by clarencethehorse

The Boston Bruins headed to Florida for games against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 27 and 28, respectively.

Both games ended as 2-1 affairs, with the Bruins beating Florida, but coming up short against Tampa Bay.

In Sunrise, Florida, the home of the Panthers, the Bruins fell behind 1-0 on a goal that Tim Thomas would like to have back.   But Thomas stopped all other 25 shots that the Panthers put on him, and goals in the second by Michael Ryder (10th) and in the third period by Marco Sturm (11th) gave the Bruins their third straight win.  Thomas made a great save on Jordan Leopold with seven seconds left that secured the two points for the Bruins – and more importantly, kept the Panthers from getting any points and gaining on the Bruins in the Eastern Conference standings.

The next night in Tampa Bay, Lightning goalie Mike Smith stopped everything the B’s threw at him except for Marco Sturm’s 12th goal with seven and a half minutes remaining in the third.  Tim Thomas was back in-goal, and he kept this game close.  He stopped 37 of 39 Tampa Bay shots, including 23 of 24 in the second period alone, when the Bruins were outshot 24-6.  This save against Vincent Lecavalier late in the second was one of the best...and was the direct result of a Matt Hunwick turnover.  Hunwick is officially back on “train wreck” watch – this guy should almost be used exclusively on the power play, where he can be an effective puck mover.
The second period also featured a quick bout between Tampa Bay’s

Zenon Konopka (league-leading 16th fighting major, most of them not against children) and the B’s Byron Bitz:

There was alot of weak officiating in this game that did not favor the Bruins, and I saw at least three posts hit flush by B’s shots – but the fact remains, the Bruins are not a Stanley Cup contending team with the current offensive pieces they have.  A sniper is needed – yes, a Phil Kessel type…dammit – and tomorrow night we will get to see the gunslinger that plenty of teams will be throwing money and draft picks at leading up to the trading deadline:  Ilya Kovalchuk. Just four years ago, he had his finest season with 52 goals, 27 of which were power-play goals…to go along with 29 power-play assists.  His center and main set-up-man that season?  Current Bruin Marc Savard, who could really use a sniper to get the greatest return on his deft play-making abilities.  The power play numbers are especially attractive, as the Bruins continue to flounder near the bottom of the league in power-play efficiency.

This guy can score:

Keep an eye on #17 for Atlanta tomorrow night…he sure would look good in black and gold.

Don Cherry on NESN

Hockey legend Don Cherry will join the NESN booth tomorrow for the Bruins home game against Atlanta Thrashers….word on the street is that he will be debuting a newly designed Bruins sportsjacket. 

WARNING: Do Not Adjust the Color on your TV

Candles for Ray

And Happy 49th Birthday (12/28/61) to the Captain, Ray Bourque ~

Winter Classic at Fenway

My mole on the inside, Jerri Blank, was one of the first to get onto the ice at Fenway and provided these pictures…Thanks, Jerri!

Photo Credits: Jerri Blank

Clarence has procured a ticket to the Winter Classic, so there will be plenty on the way over the next week or so.

Until then….

Bruins Devour Thrashers; Boxing Day Memories

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey, Music with tags , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2009 by clarencethehorse

The Bruins headed into their last game (12/23) before Christmas against the Atlanta Thrashers feeling good about their 2-0 win over Ottawa two nights earlier, but more importantly only one point ahead of the Thrashers in the Eastern conference standings.

“Tiny” Tim Thomas was back in net after shutting out the Senators, and the Bruins gave him a 3-0 lead in the first period scoring three goals in a span of 1:08.  Marc Savard, Daniel Paille, and Vladimir “ree Christmas” Sobotka scored to give the Bruins what appeared to be a comfortable lead.  But these Thrashers are gifted and explosive offensively, and before grandma could get run over by a reindeer it was a 3-2 game on goals by Bryan “have yourself a merry” Little and Maxim “out my credit cards for the holidays” Afinogenov.  This save by Thomas kept the Bruins up by a goal after one period.  In the second period, the Bruins scored on a five-on-three advantage as Zden”Ho-Ho” Chara scored a power play goal, his third of the season. Another five-on-three advantage gave the Bruins a 5-2 lead midway thru the third period, as Michael “Red” Ryder  scored his ninth goal (but only third in last 15 games).

Again, the Thrashers made it interesting on goals by Evander “Candy” Kane and Ilya Kovalchuk just 70 seconds apart to make it a one-goal game with less than five minutes remaining. But Patrice “Burgermeister Meister” Bergeron would make sure that Bruins fans left the Garden with the early Christmas gift of a win by scoring an open-net goal in the waning seconds of the game to give the B’s a 6-4 win heading into their Christmas break.

The Bruins are riding a rather dominant streak against Atlanta, as they last lost to the Thrashers on 12/29/2007 – almost two years ago.  The Bruins are now 8-0-0 against Atlanta since.  At the Christmas break, the Bruins stand at fifth in the conference, four points behind the Buffalo Sabres for the Northeast Division lead.  Leading up to the big game at Fenway

Photo Credit: Jerri Blank

on New Year’s day against the Flyers, the Bruins visit the sunshine state to play the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday and Monday respectively, then on 12/30 Atlanta makes it consecutive Wednesday night visits to the TD Garden.  All three of these teams figure to be battling for playoff spots with the Bruins come seasons’ end, and the Bruins would serve themselves well by continuing their recent solid play going into these final three games of 2009.

Boxing Day

I could not pass up the opportunity this Boxing Day (for our friends from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ghana, Switzerland, Germany, Greenland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Trinidad & Tobago, and Jamaica) to show some of the best fights in memory since I was a foal. Feel free to add suggestions via comments on any fights you remember and think I should add to the array below:

Reason #37 why you shouldn’t jump on the ice and charge the opposing team’s bench:

It seems I can’t go for very long without linking back to my man Ben Folds – but he has a great song from Ben Folds Five’s 1995 self-titled debut album, “Boxing”, so I couldn’t pass it up.  Here is a symphonic version with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra from 2005:

Elvis Costello also paid tribute to Boxing Day on “T.K.O. (Boxing Day)”, from his 1983 album with the Attractions “Punch the Clock”.  The album, and this song in particular, featured the TKO Horns and is still one of my favorite albums from EC and the A’s:


Clarence Wishes You a Very Mare-y Christmas and a Stable 2010

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey, Movies, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2009 by clarencethehorse

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the departed Phil Kessel.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Looch fight!”

As we prepare to enter 2010 and enjoy our last two years before the Mayans blow up the world (that’s my understanding…?), here’s a few holiday oats from Clarence’s trough…

This hilarious audio clip is from Steve Martin, Paul Simon and Billy Joel…..I’ll let Billy set the table:

ONE GREAT NIGHT IN NEW YORK

“One night around Christmas 20 years ago, I was doing a recording session at A&R Studios in Hell’s Kitchen. We had just finished the session, and my producer and I decided to get some food. It was fairly late at night, and we ran into Paul Simon and Steve Martin at the restaurant. We had a little bit of wine, and then we had a little more wine. Nobody was feeling any pain. We got a brainstorm that we would go back to the studio and record a Christmas record. It must’ve been about midnight at this point. So we go back to the studio, and Paul Simon and I are singing in the background that Christmas carol ‘Silver Bells.’ We’re harmonizing, and Steve Martin starts into this soliloquy ‘What Christmas Means to Me,’ with these hysterical descriptions of the secretary sitting on the copying machine, all these very risqui scenarios. And Paul and I are just trying to keep it together. We did this maybe in one take and we had a Christmas single. Now, it was never given to a record company, but there’s a copy of it floating around somewhere. Stuff like that happens in New York. It’s a small town.”

Again, this link is ‘audio only’….no (known) video of this session exists:

Ben Folds has a great Christmas song, “Bizarre Christmas Incident”, that was part of 2002’s “Maybe This Christmas” compilation (highly recommended).  Here’s Ben doing a rare live performance of this future Christmas classic (thanks 2 ColdandComposed) just before Christmas 2005:

And this video deserves to be shown again…

Nine-year-old hockey player Oliver Wahlstrom scored this amazing goal for NESN’s mini-one-on-one back in October.   If the Bruins can’t manage to get Ilya Kovalchuk by the trading deadline, they should talk to this kid’s agent – hopefully Scott Boras hasn’t gotten him yet:

Speaking of young sports prodigies, here’s my nephew/godson from 1991 – still honing his golf skills:

ONE GREAT NIGHT IN CALGARY?

And what would the Holidays be without a drunken celebrity karaoke star!  Kudos to the Calgary Flames Dion Phaneuf for doing “Piano Man” just like Billy Joel used to do it…..shit-faced.

Click on the picture to see the performance…..this picture probably looks like he did when he left the bar that night:

So to everyone, from Munich…..

….to Minnesota…

Merry

Christmas!

Bruins Snap Four Game Losing Streak, Shutout Senators

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , , on December 23, 2009 by clarencethehorse

The Bruins ended a four-game losing streak (0-2-2) on Monday, as Tim Thomas was strong in shutting out the Ottawa Senators, 2-0.  It was Thomas’ 4th shutout of the season.  Marc Savard also ended a six-game pointless streak with an assist on Marco Sturm’s goal.  Here are the recaps of the three games since my last entry:

5-4 SO loss to Black Hawks on 12/18:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20092010,2,515

2-0 loss to Toronto on 12/19:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20092010,2,521

2-0 win over Ottawa on 12/21:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20092010,2,536

The Chicago 5-4 SO loss featured a late goal by David Krejci that gained the B’s a point, but the Hawks continued their dominance at home (16-4-1 this season).  In the Toronto loss, Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid made his NHL debut.  Tuukka Rask was back in net, and he was solid but the Bruins just couldn’t finish their chance on this night.  The loss aside, the Bruins have been able to keep Maple Leaf Phil Kessel pointless in his three games against his former team. Tempers did flare late in the game, and the last seven or eight minutes ensured that these two teams have developed a genuine dislike for each other. But the Bruins (17-11-7) finally got a win against Brian Elliot (Goalie) and the Senators, and are currently second in the Northeast Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  Sorry for the concise entry this week….Clarence will return to form after the holidays.

Note to Jack Edwards:  Enough, ENOUGH ALREADY with the overuse of the “forearm shiver” phrase. It’s tired an meaningless…like you as an announcer.

Note to NESN: Can we get a real Bruins play-by-play person for Christmas?

The Bruins face the Ilya Kovalchuk and the Atlanta Thrashers in about an hour at the TD Garden, with Tim Thomas back in net, then are off until they swing through the sunshine state next Sunday and Monday for games against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

30 Years Ago Today…

It was 30 years ago today that the Bruins went into the stands at Madison Square Garden:

This article was also in today’s NY Times…you may need to sign-up for a FREE account to view:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/23/sports/hockey/23brawl.html?_r=4&ref=hockey&pagewanted=all

Vivid Sunset after the Storm – Norwood, MA

Posted in Travel and Nature with tags , on December 20, 2009 by clarencethehorse

Town of Banff at Dawn Today 12/20/2009

Posted in Travel and Nature with tags on December 20, 2009 by clarencethehorse

Here’s a nice shot from Banff’s webcam this morning…..2158 miles (3473 kilometers) from Boston; the town is below the clouds:

Here’s the link for the current image:

http://www.explorerockies.com/banff-webcam/

And here’s a couple of shots I took from the same location on a visit to Banff in October 2007:

Bruins Stumble; A Capella Craze Sweeps Nation

Posted in Boston Bruins, Music with tags , , , on December 18, 2009 by clarencethehorse

Clarence is slacking, but I did not see the majority of the Bruins/Islanders game on 12/12.  The Bruins lost 3-2 in OT, but the stat that stood out was a 17-3 shot advantage for the Bruins in the third period of a 2-2 game.  So the offense was having trouble finishing of their chances, and that continued into the next game on Monday 12/14 in Boston against the Philadelphia Flyers.  Flyers goalie Brian Boucher stood tall, especially in the third period when the Flyers rallied from a 1-0 deficit to score three times (one empty-netter) and win 3-1.

One note to the NHL: You have instant replay, so USE IT.  If there is any question concerning a goal/no-goal situation, HAVE THE PLAY REVIEWED.  Vladimir Sobotka had a goal disallowed for the Bruins in the first period as the referees ruled the goal was off its moorings before the puck crossed the goal line, but a simple review would have validated the goal and given the Bruins a 1-0 lead.  Mind-blowingly, neither referee (Dan O’Rourke, Kevin Pollock) thought it should be reviewed, and play resumed with the Bruins being robbed of the game’s first goal.

So it was back to back losses for the Bruins as they head into tonight’s game in Chicago against the Black Hawks.  There is more original six action tomorrow nite as the B’s visit Toronto for another meeting with Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs, this time on Toronto’s home ice.

Here’s some pretty cool A Capella stuff, since I don’t care to re-cap these two Bruins’ losses.  Here’s an array of A Cappella-related clips…featuring some Ben Folds and a look at Todd Rundgren’s 1985 “A Cappella” album.  But let’s start with the Beatles (a British rock quartet from the 1960’s) and a rare a capella version of “Because”, from the album “Abbey Road”:

** See Abbey Road webcam below **

Here’s a LIVE look at Abbey Road:

Bruins Rake Leafs (twice) after Day Off in Montreal

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by clarencethehorse

On Friday November 4th, the Montreal Canadiens celebrated their 100th anniversary before their game against the Bruins. A sellout crowd of 21,273 filled the building for ceremonies that featured some of the team’s former greats, including Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and Patrick Roy — and the jersey retirements of the two oldest living Canadiens, Hall of Famers Emile “Butch” Bouchard and Elmer Lach.

And the Bruins didn’t stand a chance.

Carey Price was in a zone, especially in the second period as he stopped 18 Boston shots, including everything the Bruins threw at him on a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes.  In the third period, the Bruins had the rarity of a 6-on-3 for 20-30 seconds (they had a 5-on-3, then Tim Thomas was pulled when there was another delayed penalty called on Montreal), and still could not score.  Ouch. The power play has been very good of late, but it was a complete disaster on this night.  Thomas could not really be blamed for this one, and Vladimir Sobotka at least got the B’s on the board with his second of the year in the third period.  Mike Cammalleri had a hat trick, as the Canadiens rolled over the B’s 5-1.  This game was played on a Friday nite to coincide exactly with the 100th anniversary date: December 4, 1909. It was only the 14th Friday night home game in Montreal franchise history — they’ve now won 10 and tied the other four.  Face it — the Bruins were not going to win this game.

Kesselmania – Pt. 1

The Bruins returned right home to Boston after the game to face Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs the following nite. The Saturday night sellout crowd of 17,565 let Kessel know during warm-ups what they thought of his decision to leave the Bruins for the greener pastures Toronto this past off-season, as he was roundly booed every time he touched the puck.

The “Boos” continued for every touch that Kessel had during the game, and he seemed unnerved at times as he had only two shots for the game and finished at a minus-3 as the Bruins demolished the Maple Leafs 7-2 behind a Marc Savard hat trick . Tuukka Rask returned in net for the B’s, and had 31 saves as his stock continues to rise with each start.  Marco Sturm (9th) and Marc Savard (6th) got things going for the Bruins, scoring goals 33 seconds apart early in the first to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.  After the first goal, Shawn Thornton and Colton Orr dropped the gloves for a real heavyweight joust:

Ex-Bruin Wayne Primeau, who came to the Bruins in the Joe Thornton trade (there go those shivers down my spine again), has surfaced in Toronto…..that’s just a cheap segway to show this picture I have of him from a trip to the Calgary Saddledome in October 2007 after badly injuring his knee:

Rask had several key saves in the first, none better than this one, as the B’s took a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Professional pussy Mike Komisarek has also moved on to Toronto, and he is still a yapper and a gutless invertebrate.  Let’s revisit one of his prouder moments last season when he was with Montreal, as Milan Lucic absolutely punished him in this “fight”:

And yes, he was out for several weeks after this tussle. The Bruins continued their dominating play in the second, as Chara popped home his 2nd goal of the season on a shot from the point and Marc Savard scored his 7th (second of game) on a power-play for a commanding 4-0 Bruins lead.  This was also the period where things started to get pretty chippy; Blake Wheeler slammed the Leafs’ Ian White and got a return face-rake from Toronto’s Colton Orr, and Zdeno Chara tossed down Jason Blake toward the end of the period.  Rask continued to make all the save that he should, as well as few of the spectacular variety — including this save on Lee Stempniak’s shorthanded bid.

The assault continued in the third, as the Bruins built a 7-0 lead on goals by March Recchi (5th, PPG), Johnny Boychuk (1st NHL goal) and Savard (8th, Hat Trick).  Recchi’s goal was the 550th of his career, and was the result of a beautiful rush by Patrice Bergeron.  Tuukka Rask also registered his second assist of the season, and moved past Big Al Pedersen  on the Bruins all-time scoring list. Even before Boychuk’s goal, he had acquitted himself well in this game with his solid, physical defensive play.  His first NHL goal was made possible by David Krejci’s perfectly placed drop pass.  Marc Savard’s hat trick goal (19 seconds after Boychuk’s) would close out the Bruins scoring on the nite, and a couple of late Toronto goals accounted for the 7-2 final.  Niklas Hagman  celebrated his 30th birthday with his 14th goal as Rask lost the shutout with under five minutes remaining. Mikhail Grabovski got his fifth to close out the scoring — although a Russian getting a fifth is nothing unusual:

The third period also featured a bout between Steve Begin and the Leafs’ Jamal Mayers, which ended with a takedown by Begin:

The Leafs also have Christian Hanson  in their lineup.  Why do I mention this?  Hanson is indeed the son of Dave Hanson of the Hanson Brothers from Slap Shot.

The elder Hanson also had a cup o’ coffee in the WHA and NHL in the late 70’s, but even his ‘fists-o-foil’  could not get him a permanent slot on an NHL team.  Rask (31 saves) also had to savor this victory, as Toronto dealt him to Boston on June 24, 2006 for goaltender Andrew Raycroft (currently with Vancouver).

Kesselmania – Pt. 2

The Bruins enjoyed four days of rest, while Toronto played two games, before these teams met again at the Garden on Thursday, 12/10.  But it was the Leafs who came out strong, and the Rask (in goal again) and the B’s weathered the storm in the first few minutes. The Bruins also clanked 3-4 posts in the first seven minutes, until Mark Stuart’s shot from the point gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead.  In the second period, the Bruins got an early power play and needed only six seconds to increase their lead to 2-0 as defenseman Derek Morris ripped a slap shot that beat Vesa Toskala.  It was then time for Mark Stuart and the Leafs’ Jamal Mayers to do a “Slap Shot” tribute to make Christian Hanson feel at home.  Following matching roughing minors, Stuart and Mayers arranged a second date while still in the penalty boxes, and stepped out of the box right into round 2 of their battle:

They each went back into the box for five minutes each, but Stuart’s pounding had another sellout Garden crowd on their feet.  David Krejci scored his 4th, unassisted, on a beautiful breakaway after a great Tuukka Rask save to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead.

Things got a little too interesting in the third period, as Toronto came out strong scored twice early to make it a 3-2 game.  But the B’s held on, as Mark Recchi scored a power play goal (6th) and an empty-net goal (7th) in the waning minutes to ensure a 5-2 Bruins victory.  So the Bruins win both games, outscoring Toronto 12-4 and getting two power play goals in each game.  The Bruins power play is 8 for its last 23 (34.8%), which has raised them from last (30th) in the league to 21st in the league at 18.3%.  Think the importance of an effective power play is overrated?  The Bruins are 9-0-2 this season when they have a power play goal — and 7-9-3 when they do not.

The Bruins travel to Long Island tonight to face the Islanders.

Odd Fact of the Day

When the Bruins acquired Daniel Paille from Buffalo on October 20, 2009 for a third-round and a conditional fourth-round draft selection, it was the first ever trade/transaction between the Boston and Buffalo organizations.  Buffalo joined the NHL in the 1970-71 season.

Wanna Get Away?

For this week’s “Wanna Get Away?” award winner, there is no heading/caption required:

One last note….

Dan Carcillo was rightfully suspended for 4 games for this:

Savard Signs 7-year Extension with Boston; Bruins Ground Lightning

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey, Music with tags , , , , , , on December 4, 2009 by clarencethehorse

The Tampa Bay Lightning came into Boston on Wednesday night  with many familiar faces in tow.  Head coach Rick Tocchet and assistant coach Adam Oates played for the Bruins, and were both sent to the Washington Capitals (along with goalie Bill Ranford) in the same trade that brought Jim Carey, Anson Carter and Jason Allison to the Bruins on March 1, 1997.  Needham native Cap Raeder is the goaltending coach, and former Bruin Wes Walz is also an assistant coach. But the Bruins were looking to continue their winning ways (7-1-4 in last 12) and had no homecoming festivities planned for the Lightning, as they played another solid defensive game and beat Tampa Bay 4-1.

Before the game, the Bruins announced they had signed star center Marc Savard to a seven-year extension, which is great news for Bruins fans:

The Bruins offense really suffered, and often disappeared, during the month that Savard missed with a broken foot earlier this season.  It was Savard who gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with a power play goal off the back of the goalies legs at 8:05 of the first period.  It was Savard’s 5th of the season, and the 200th of his NHL career.  Patrice Bergeron continued his torrid pace of late, and scored a goal on a rebound of a Zdeno Chara shot to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead after one period. Marco Sturm added two second period goals, his 7th and 8th of the season, and the Bruins had a  commanding 4-0 lead  at the end of two period. Bergeron and Mark Recchi assisted on both of Sturm’s goals, and Recchi assisted on Bergeron’s goal as well.  The Bruins’ second line combined for eight points on the night, and Bergeron has officially returned to form.  The Bruins would like to see this chemistry  continue, as their biggest asset last season was their ability to get offense from all four lines.

That reminds of this long-lost “Clarence-Classic” from Semisonic:

Tim Thomas was back in-goal for the Bruins, on the heels of giving up (another) last-minute goal, and a point in the standings,  to the Senators last Saturday nite.  Thomas did stand tall in that game’s shootout and allow the Bruins to get the two points, and he was solid in this game, as he had a season-high 39 saves in net for the Bruins.  Only Jeff Halpern beat Thomas early in the third, and this game was never in doubt for Boston. So the Bruins have now lost in regulation only ONCE in thir last 13 games (8-1-4), and find themselves one point behind Buffalo for the Adams…I mean, Northeast division lead, and in fifth place in the conference.

Here’s a picture from the game:

Photo Credit: Jerri Blank

The Bruins have an important three games coming up against divisional opponents, starting with a visit to the Bell Centre in Montreal tonight (12/4) to face the Canadiens.

KESSELPALOOZA

Then, “KesselPalooza” comes to town, as the Bruins play consecutive games (five nights apart) at the Garden against ex-Bruin Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, then Thursday night. This scheduling quirk, playing the same team in consecutive games at home, should provide an opportunity for the Boston fans to express how they feel about Kesssel’s decision to jump ship for the Leafs in the name of

That is no knock against Kessel; professional athletes need to take the $ when they can, as their careers can be over at any minute due to injury.  But the fans will still let him know what they think of his decision to jump ship to Toronto.

Bruins Battle for Northeast Division Lead

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , , , , , , , on December 2, 2009 by clarencethehorse

The Bruins returned home from their four-game/four-win road trip to face New Jersey on what has become know as Black Friday, the noon matinee game on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  This also means dealing with sure first-ballot hall-of-famer Martin Brodeur in net for the Devils.  Brodeur has been a workhorse for New Jersey since 1993, and he would aggravate the Bruins again on this day, stopping 32 of 33 Bruins shots and leading New Jersey to a 2-1 shootout win.   Tuukka Rask was also solid, stopping 36 of 37 shots by the Devils, as he started his sixth straight game (4-1-1) for the Bruins.  The Bruins were trailing 1-0 as the game entered the third period, and coming back against Brodeur and this Devils team is usually a pretty tall order.  But Byron Bitz took advantage of a rather fortuitous bounce at the outset of the third period, and fed Blake Wheeler who buried his 7th goal of the season to tie the game at one.  Brodeur made a great save on Marc Savard with five seconds left in regulation to ensure this game would go into overtime.  In the shootout, New Jersey scored twice to outpace the Bruins lone goal by Blake Wheeler.  The 2-1 shootout loss still provided the Bruins with one point; one more than they usually get against Brodeur and the Devils.

About three minutes into the second period, Martin Brodeur passed Patrick Roy to set the new record for career minutes played by an NHL goaltender, and the Garden crowd gave him a well-deserved round of applause.  Brodeur has won three Stanley Cups (95, 00, 03) with New Jersey, and had a twelve season stretch from 1995-96 thru 2007-08 (lockout in 04-05) where he played 70+ games in every season except for one (96-97), and he played in 67 games that season.  For the two season stretch of 2006-07 and 2007-08, the New Jersey Devils played 164 regular season games; Brodeur started 155 of them.

Now that’s durable.

He has a lifetime goals-against of 2.20 and a save percentage of .914, with 102 shutouts.  His postseason stats are equally impressive, as his three Cups attest to.

One more Keith:

The next night against Ottawa, Tim Thomas returned in net for the Bruins and the Senators came out of the gate strong, building a 2-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game.  The Bruins dodged a bullet in the first period, when Patrice Bergeron needed assistance to get to the bench after taking a  shot off the foot.  It did not initially look good, but Bergeron would return after a few minutes and the Garden crowd collectively exhaled.  In the second period, the Bruins regained momentum and eventually tied the game on power-play goals from David Krejci and Michael Ryder.   The power play has been coming around as of late for Boston, and Dennis Wideman would get the Bruins third PP goal of the game at 9:19 of the third for a 3-2 Bruins lead.  In a bit of unwanted deja vu, the Senators  tied the game with 19.3 seconds remaining on a weak goal from Milan Michalek (his second of the game) that slipped between Thomas’ pads.  This was Thomas’ first game since November 14 in Pittsburgh, when he similarly allowed an inexcusable goal with under one second left in regulation to allow the Penguins to tie the game.  In that game, the Penguins completed the comeback with an OT win.  But Thomas would have some redemption against the Senators, as he stopped all four Ottawa shots in the shootout and the Bruins prevailed on a Michael Ryder goal in the fourth round for a 4-3 shootout win.

The Bruins are 7-1-4 in their last 12 games, and that run has put them near the top of the Adams…I mean Northeast, division. Their 31 points has them one point behind Buffalo and one point ahead of Ottawa, with Montreal (26 pts) and Toronto (19 pts) filling out the bottom of the Northeast division.  If the Bruins want to keep climbing in the standings, they can not have any more of the last-minute collapses that have plagued them so far this season.

Tampa Bay visits Boston tomorrow night (12/2), followed by the Bruins first visit of the season to Montreal on Friday (12/4) and the Boston Garden return of Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday (12/5).

Wanna Get Away?

*****

Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard takes the inaugural “Wanna Get Away?” award with this near-decapitation of goalie, and teammate, Tomas Vokoun.  Ballard angrily tries to smash his stick against the goal post after being largely responsible for a goal by Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk, but remembers too late that Vokoun’s head MIGHT be in the way.

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO HERE: