Capturing Heartbreak

You have to check out this unbelievable frame-by-frame shot of BU's game-winning goal against UNH. It's heartbreaking to look at the kid's face right as he's watching it go in and then once it is actually in. These photos were shot by Melissa Wade who does some awesome hockey photography.


Now For the Hard Part ...

I'm still smiling about my October prediction of BU going to the Frozen Four (see below post), but let's talk about last night's game against New Hampshire. Realistically speaking, the Terriers should not have won that game. But what has been realistic about this entire NCAA hockey tournament? Pretty much nothing.

BU controlled the first period of the game, going up 1-0. After that, it was all UNH. They held BU to four shots in the second, and the Wildcats were just all over the place. Really dominated. Thank God 75% of their shots went wide. I cannot say enough about Kieran Millan. Without him, the score would not have been so close. I'm still shocked at his unbelievable glove save in the third period. I'm hoping someone puts it up on YouTube.

As always, BU found a way to win -- even if they didn't technically "score" the game-winning goal. James VanRiemsdyk takes a penalty with 47 seconds left, and with fifteen to go, Jason Lawrence shot a puck across the crease that ultimately ended up going in off a UNH player's arm. My heart goes out to that kid. How awful does he feel right now?

BU is heading to the Frozen Four for the first time since 1997. Unreal. So excited. They play Vermont in the semi-finals. I'm still bitter over the back-to-back losses they handed the Terriers back in the fall.

The guys over at PuckDaddy had this to say about the upcoming Frozen Four:

When the teams get to Washington DC, it looks like the Terriers are going to steamroll whoever is foolish enough to oppose them. They're the best team left by far. They have the best forwards, the best group of defensemen (maybe in NCAA history) and above-average goaltending. And they're playing a third seed, then the winner of a game between two four seeds. If they don't win, it will be due to a UNH-style bed-crapping of proportions so epic as to be worthy of Homeric remembrance.

Then again, stranger things have happened. Like every other result in this tournament.

So true. Anything can happen. Vermont showed this season they can beat BU, and I mean, who would have predicted the Bemidji State Beavers would be going to the Frozen Four???? Those guys are on fire. It's going to be a good last leg of this tourney.



All I'm going to do right now is take you back to my post on October 11, 2008:

BU won that game against North Dakota 5-1. They're now heading to the Frozen Four.

I'm smiling.

More to come tomorrow.

Regional Madness

I feel sorry for everyone out there who isn't watching the NCAA college hockey tournament. Seriously. It has been filled with exciting games and upsets galore. For example:

Denver and Michigan lost to their lower-seeded opponents Miami and Air Force. Vermont beat Yale. Cornell beat Northeastern with 15 seconds remaining. UNH came back from being down 5-3 to tie the game with .3 seconds left and win in OT. Similar to that, Minnesota-Duluth was down 4-2 with a minute left, scored two goals with the goalie pulled and beat Princeton in OT. The team that no one's really heard of, Bemidji State, took out Notre Dame 5-1. The Irish were #2 in the nation I believe. I wasn't all that surprised because Notre Dame has a tendency to fall short after having a stellar season. Overrated? Judge for yourself.

BU was the only number one seed to advance to the regional championship, and they did so pretty nicely. They won 8-3. The hockey world kept pointing to Ohio State's youth (and they are young: 20 underclassmen or something like that), but BU has quite a crop of young players too. In fact, some of the Terrier freshmen and sophomores are their best players: Colin Wilson, Vinny Saponari, Dave Warsofsky, Colby Cohen, Kevin Shattenkirk, Nick Bonino, Kieran Millan, etc. That said, BU did look like the more experienced team. The Buckeyes showed some bright spots though -- especially when BU let up a little bit and got sloppy.

So the bracket now looks like this:

The BU/UNH game could go either way. UNH gave BU their first loss of the season back in the fall, but BU has beaten them the last two times they played each other. The key is whether or not BU will bring their A game. When they get on a roll, they're set. They will win. But they tend to fall back into reactive hockey sometimes and that hurts them.


Will Bylsma Stay?

Someone wrote into the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with this statement:

I would like to think that general manager Ray Shero will take the "interim" label off of the "head coach" title Dan Bylsma holds, given the success the Penguins have had since he was chosen to replace Michel Therrien. The team has really responded well to Bylsma's coaching style and he seems to have developed a special chemistry with the players. What else is Shero looking for? Are there any indications that he plans to keep Bylsma, and do you think he should name him (the permanent) coach before their first playoff game?

Bylsma has done a good job for Pittsburgh, but here's why he might not be named permanent head coach: because Todd Richards is going to get it.

Remember him? He was the head coach of the Baby Penguins prior to this year until the San Jose Sharks hired him as assistant coach. He got the Baby Pens to the Calder Cup finals, but above that Richards is one of Shero's guys. Winning the Stanley Cup this year wouldn't hurt his chances either. Call me crazy, but I can definitely see this happening. Then again, it all depends on how Bylsma finishes out the season/post-season. I also don't know what the contract situation is for Richards in San Jose. Those things aside, the move could definitely happen.


Thought of the Day

Just wanted to toss this out here: the more I read about quotes from various Pittsburgh Penguins' players about the post-Therrien period, the more I'm truly starting to believe they threw some games to get him outta there. They were going to do it last year (before they realized some things), so why not this year? Maybe they felt that was the only way to get him out of there. They never liked him, and it wouldn't be the first time a coach was fired that way.

I really, really, really hope that's not the case because the thought of it makes me furious. But I would in no way, shape or form be surprised.

Edit:I was just reading this article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and this quote from Sidney Crosby also angered me:

At times before he got here we could all look around the room and see guys who could give more than they were giving ...

You know what? Shame on them. In my eyes, that blame falls straight on the guys who weren't doing what they're capable of. You are professional athletes. You won't find sympathy from the people who don't get to live out their dream of doing the same thing. You won't find sympathy from the people who pay a ridiculous amount of money to go to these NHL games and support their favorite team. Grow up.

I might have to expand on this in a bit.


My Own March Madness

Forget NCAA men's basketball. It's time for NCAA college hockey tournament. BU goes in as the number one overall seed. There are four first round regionals that feature four teams. The winner from each regional moves on to the Frozen Four in Washington D.C.

Here's a look at the bracket:

There's some good match-ups there. I'm interested to see the Northeastern-Cornell game -- and BU-OSU of course.

Here's the TV schedule:

March 27:
Air Force v. Michigan 3:00 on ESPNU
Miami v. Denver 4:30 on ESPN2
Vermont v. Yale 6:30 on ESPNU
Princeton v. Minn-Duluth 8:00 on ESPNU

March 28:
UNH v. North Dakota 2:00 on ESPN2
Cornell v. Northeastern 4:00 on ESPNU
BU v. Ohio State 5:30 on ESPN2
TBD v. TBD 6:30 on ESPNU
Bemidji St v. Notre Dame 7:30 on ESPNC
TBD v. TBD 8:00 on ESPNU

March 29:
TBD v. TBD 5:30 on ESPNU
TBD v. TBD 5:30 on ESPNU
TBD v. TBD 8:00 on ESPNU

April 9:
TBD v. TBD 5:00 on ESPN2
TBD v. TBD 8:30 on ESPN2

April 11 (NCAA Championship Game):
TBD v. TBD 7:00 on ESPN

Terriers Are Hockey East Champs

I just have a quick note about last night's Hockey East Championship game. BU ended up winning 1-0, but it's very possible they owe it to one controversial decision. Actually they absolutely owe it to that.

UMass-Lowell had a goal disallowed halfway through the second period. There were at least five or six guys piled in Kieran Millan's crease at one point, and a UML player did manage to put the puck in the net. The issue was whether or not the whistle blew before or after the puck went in. The goal judge had the red light on, but the on-ice officials never signaled it a goal. NESN replays clearly showed the puck going in before the whistle blew. Unless there was another whistle even before that from another side of the ice, it should have definitely been a goal. They reviewed it upstairs, but I guess they don't have audio on their replays? I find that kind of hard to believe because I would assume all NHL replays would have audio. Regardless, they didn't count the goal, and BU held on to win 1-0.

I have to give credit to the Riverhawks. They played an excellent game, and I would go as far as saying they looked better than the Terriers at many points. They had a great finish, and no one likes to see any team lose that way.

On the other side of it, Millan did a great job to get the shut-out. He was very deserving of the tournament MVP award he received.

Also have to give a shoutout to Joey Pereira who was taken to the hospital during the game. He ruptured his spleen when his stick handle was forced into his stomach. It had gotten caught in the UML net. The Terriers will miss him. He's a guy you can always count on to get out there and work. Get well soon bud.

Photo Credit: hockeyeastonline.com


Quote Me

“El Nino? You think I could explain that?”
- Jack Parker

What Parker was referring to, of course, was how he could explain his team's three goals in 44 seconds that occurred in the third period of the Hockey East semi-final game against Boston College.

I caught most of the game, and those 44 seconds were it for the Terriers. Without that burst ('burst' is even an understatement) of scoring, I don't know if BU would've won that game. The Terriers were down 1-0, and BC's John Muse was playing solid as usual. But just like Game 1 of the Maine series, BU found a way to win with those quick goals from Zach Cohen, Brian Strait and - who else - Colin Wilson.

The Terriers face an unexpected opponent tonight when they skate against UMass-Lowell. UML was down 2-1 to the Northeastern Huskies until they tied it up with about 20 seconds left. Then they scored in OT to win. It will be the first time the Riverhawks play in the HE Final since 1994 I believe. Good for them. I always have a soft spot for this team. They always work hard, and they almost lost their hockey program. I can't like them tonight obviously, but I'm happy they made it to this point.

Game time is 7 p.m. NESN will broadcast the game beginning at 6:30. Definitely tune in. Even though BU is the outright favorite, you can never, never underestimate UML. They can beat the Terriers, and they're sure as hell going to try.


BU vs. Maine: Game 1 Recap

You see that Terrier? See how angry he looks?

That's how I feel towards BU after Game One against Maine. Before I go on, the final score was 2-1 BU. But boy were the Terriers lucky. Really lucky. They probably should not have won that game.

As I said in my previews, play-offs are a completely new ball game. Anything goes. Maine showed that tonight as they went on to battle hard against BU all 60 minutes. The Black Bears outworked the Terriers for most of the game. They were more aggressive, more physical and just seemed to want it a lot more. They had nothing to lose coming into this game. There was no pressure on them. They did awesome.

Maybe I'm being hard on BU, but they were overall just blah. Nothing special. They weren't the team I've seen that can move the puck, complete flawless passes and keep the scoring chances coming one after another. I liked the words one of the play-by-play guys used: "casual". They were very casual in their play. Not really aggressive. Only one for eight on the power play. Colin Wilson was awesome as usual, but they can't rely on him for everything. They had their little bursts of good scoring chances, and then they had their times where Maine just took their game away. Was it a case of being too cocky? I don't know. I don't think so. They just fell into that same relaxed, reactive style they've gotten caught in a few other times this season. This is the playoffs though boys. Step it up.

So Terriers: please show up tomorrow, work hard and show why you are number one.

Other HE updates:

+ Here's a big score: UMass beats Northeastern 2-1. What did I say in my predictions earlier? If UMass won the first game, they'd win the series. We'll see what happens.

+ BC beats UNH 5-3. This one surprised me. They're closely matched, but I'm not sure I expected this score. Brock Bradford had two goals for the Eagles (and Brooks Orpik's younger brother Andrew also tallied one) and James vanRiemsdyk got two for the Wildcats.

+ UMass-Lowell and Vermont are about to head into their first overtime period. Vermont was leading 2-0 and then 3-1. At some point UML must have come back to tie it up 3-3. Good for them. I'd like to see UML win that series.

Hockey East First Round Predictions

Hockey East Playoffs begin tonight. All I can think is, 'Playoffs already?' My heart is still getting over the Baby Pens last post-season run to the finals. I'm ready for the heart attacks to begin again starting tonight when BU takes on Maine at Agganis Arena. Here's a look at the HE match-ups going on:

#1 BU vs. #8 Maine

BU is number one in the nation. Of course this means absolutely nothing in the post-season. I've seen the underdog succeed many, many times in all different leagues. The last time these two teams played each other they skated to a tie. So anything can happen. On paper, BU should win this no problem. But paper = BS. That's why play-offs are so fun.

BU has to do a few things. One thing I've been on them about all year is penalties. They take too many. I know they have an awesome PK unit (three shorthanded goals in the Beanpot? What?), but eventually that stuff will catch up with you. So discipline is one. Second thing: Kieran Millan has to be on. He has been excellent in the majority of his starts this year, but there were certainly a few times where nerves may have gotten to him. When he's on, he's on.

As for Maine, if they can find a way to shut down BU's offense (and defense), they'll have a much better shot at stealing a game. Other teams have done it this year.

Some quotes from the coaches that I think are 100% truth:

“There’s nobody in this league, and I mean nobody in this league, that is capable of beating anybody in this league by thinking they’re going to win on talent. We have a lot of talent, but we’re not going to win on talent. The question is, will we come with effort, intensity, focus, and good decision making? If we have that, we’ll be a good team. We may not win but we’ll be a real difficult team to play against. Maine has got enough talent to beat us.” -- BU's Jack Parker

“It is a new season and a fresh start on Friday and anything can happen if we work hard and stay focused. Crazy things do tend to happen in the playoffs and that is going to be our mindset.” -- Maine's Tim Whitehead.

Prediction: Sorry. Since BU is my team, I can't make a prediction. I'm superstitious when it comes to playoffs hahaha. No, seriously.

#2 Northeastern vs. #7 UMass

Northeastern has without a doubt been one of the most fun teams to watch this year. Just ask all their fans who came out of the woodwork just in time for a winning season (low blow, I know. Couldn't resist). Anyway, NU is a team that works hard and wins games. I've enjoyed watching them. They hung on to first place in HE until the very last second.

Key stat: UMass is the only team besides BU that Northeastern did not win a series against. So this is definitely something to watch.

UMass is one of those teams in HE (just like UMass Lowell) who can steal one right from under your feet. I never underestimate them.

Northeastern's anchor is goaltender Brad Thiessen. I've raved about this kid since his freshman year. He is a really, really good goaltender. I think NU owes him a lot for this season's success.

Prediction: Wouldn't it be something if UMass took this one? Why not. If UMass wins the first game, they take this series 2-1.

#3 UNH vs. #6 BC

This could go either way. BC has been struggling quite a bit this year. They remind me of BU last year but reversed: BC had a decent first half and a bad second half (reminder: last year bad a poor first half and a good second half). It hurts any team when you lose a guy like Nathan Gerbe. They could also have that cursed championship hangover that most teams (except the Detroit Red Wings who are just awesome every year) get.

Prediction: UNH managed to beat BU this year. James vanRiemsdyk is a beast. UNH wins this one. I just don't think BC has the confidence to pull it out.

#4 Vermont vs. #5 Umass-Lowell

Anything can happen here. Seriously. Vermont beat BU twice this season in a series that stung a lot, and I have never took UMass-Lowell lightly. Ever.

If Vermont gets out-willed by UMass-Lowell, UML wins. Other than that, I'd say the Catamounts (whatever that is) take this in two games.

Hockey East is always one of the best divisions in NCAA Division I hockey. All the match-ups will be good games to watch. They'll be broadcast on the B2 Networks for $8 a game. Check one out.


Satan is Coming!

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced today that Miroslav Satan will be reporting to Wilkes-Barre. He's actually supposed to show up too.

As a Baby Pens fan, naturally I'm excited about this. Does he deserve to be playing in the AHL? Absolutely not. It's just how it worked out for him I guess. I don't think Pittsburgh should've signed him in the first place. Just wasn't the right fit.

I was able to catch Wilkes-Barre's last two home games, but I'll be back in Boston before I get to see Satan. He will no doubt give the team a lift. They've been struggling a little bit lately.

So Mr. Satan, I hope you suit up for the Babies and actually play like you would in the show. I understand it's a tough pill to swallow, but the fans will love you here if you give it a chance.



Bad Boys.

Just a quick news bit here outta Wilkes-Barre:

Luca Caputi and Jon D'Aversa were demoted to Wheeling in the ECHL for disciplinary reasons. Chris Minard and Aaron Boogaard will be scratched during the next game for the same reasons. This is the second time Caputi has been punished for off-ice "activities" if you will. I really like the kid, but clearly he's got to get his head on straight. NO ONE wants to go to Wheeling. Trust me. I've heard horror stories. (No offense to the city itself)

Sitting guys like Caputi and Minard take away a lot from the roster. I think it's good they're being punished. They're professionals, and they should act like it. That doesn't mean they can't party and have a good time (come on, they're HOCKEY PLAYERS). But there is a line. They're hurting their team. Wake up boys.

Needless to say I'm not sure Boogaard or D'Aversa's absence will affect anything. Life goes on.


Just got a chance to check out trade deadline moves. I don't even know where to start!! Bill Guerin to Pittsburgh for God knows what! Mark Recchi to Boston?! It's so nerve-wracking.

Stay tuned. Once I grasp everything that's going on, I'll share what I think.


Is Bylsma the Next Boudreau?

My favorite (and pretty much only - thank you!) commenter of this blog, Matt, recently brought up the Dan Bylsma comparisons to Bruce Boudreau. It's not the first time I've heard this, so I wanted to give my two cents on it. I'm still not sure if that's an entirely accurate comparison. Generally, yes, it works: minor league coach gets NHL job and turns a team around.

Here's where I think things differ:

For one thing, Boudreau was a minor league coach for years and years before he got his chance. He started in 1990 and coached through the IHL, ECHL and AHL. He won two championships and had winning records in all but about four of his coaching seasons. Dan Bylsma was an AHL head coach for a few months. Prior to that he was assistant for the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks in 04-05, the Islanders in 05-06 and the Baby Pens since then. So the actual experience differs -- not that his lack of it inhibits him from being a successful coach in the NHL. I'm just saying that's a big difference between the two of them.

Secondly, Boudreau inherited a Washington Capitals team that had gone 6-14-1. It was also an organization that had missed the play-offs for three consecutive years before that. They were pretty much a mess. What he did was amazing.

Bylsma inherited a Penguins team that had gone 12-19-2 since the start of December. They had started at 14-6-3 and were coming off a Stanley Cup finals series. The talent was clearly there. It was just a matter of lack of will and chemistry stemming from the players (and they just didn't like Therrien). You can't argue with the Pens' recent wins since Bylsma took over. They've definitely done better than they were doing. I'm just not sure if there's been enough time to judge whether that was because of Bylsma or the players' response to the change.

Time will tell. I'd love to see Bylsma really shift things around not just in terms of winning but in how the team comes together. I just don't know if the change will be as huge as Boudreau's was in Washington.

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