Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Would the Real Big 3 Please Stand Up ...

Opening night. You know this game has been marked on your calendar since it was announced. Pierce. Rondo. Garnett. Allen. Davis. Perk. You know the names. They are all back and ready to finish what they fell just shy of doing last year. Sprinkle in a few O’Neals (Shaq and Jermaine) and we might just be a contender.

But we have 82 games to worry about getting back to the championship. In the meantime, Boston fans are setting their sights on the most interesting home opener in the league: The Boston Celtics vs. The Miami Heat. There is just no other way to say it … this sh*t is going to be intense.

The freshly assembled terror squad that is Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James are ready to assume their role as the newly anointed Kings of the East, already announcing that simply making the playoffs this year will not be good enough. They want the Eastern Title … and then the Championship.

They do, however, have to go through the original Big Three to get there.

It will be interesting to see how Wade-Bosh-James balance their star power on the court. Preseason was not a true indicator as Wade missed all the action, leaving the opener with a strained right hamstring.

Welcome to Boston, LeBron
Equally as interesting will be Boston’s response to this three-ring circus. The team’s signature M.O. is to silence the star of the opposing team. They did it against both Wade and LeBron last year, shutting each player down in their respective playoff series. But will this suffocating defense be able to handle all three at once?

It all goes down at 7:30. And if you are on your way to the Garden tonight, visit 98.5 The Sports Hub’s website to print your Delonte West mask. LeBron’s mom will thank you.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Goalie Controversy Continues in Beantown

How does that expression go? Fool me once, shame on you … but twice, Tuukka? Now you’re flipping the script and making me look like the asshole for believing in you.

I – along with every other Bruins’ fan – have switched into panic-mode when it comes to second-year veteran netminder Tuukka Rask. After all, it was on his coattails that the B’s (excuse the pun) skated into the playoffs last year. This season, however, has been a totally different story. The season opener against the Phoenix Coyotes resulted in a 5-2 loss for Boston (and Rask). Tim Thomas, playing as close to flawless as a human can, won the next four games with a miniscule .75 GAA. Saturday night marked Tuukka’s redo on the season, a chance to prove that what happens in the Czech Republic stays in the Czech Republic.

Or so we hoped.

Tuukka vs Thomas ... it's a goalie showdown in Boston
Enter Artem Anisimov and Alex Frolov, the two NY Rangers who (arguably, with a lot of luck) each netted a goal in the first 12 minutes of Saturday night’s game. The first was batted in from mid-air after bouncing off of Rask’s chest protector and the second was actually scored by Boston’s own Mike Stuart who was trying to clear the puck but accidentally hit it in with his glove. The goals, which came 27 seconds apart, sucked the energy out of the Garden. Crowds erupted into “We Want Thomas!” chants and it took three fights in the 1st period to get them reinvested in the game itself. The game-winner came from Marc Staal on a breakaway after he exited the penalty box 48 seconds in to the 2nd period.

In defense of Rask, the loss is not entirely to his credit. The team, which seemed lethargic at times, simply wasn’t playing well in front of him. In fact, only four shots were taken in the first 7:30 minutes of play.

Said coach Claude Julien of Rask’s efforts, “we felt good about him and his game”.

The goalie controversy continues this Thursday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to Boston. It’s probable that Thomas will get the start but nothing would help Rask get back in to last season’s form like back-to-back starts.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This. Is. Sick.

Tell me this video montage doesn't make you want to immediately punch someone in the face ... er, I mean, head to TD Garden for a game.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bruins Fired Up For Home Opener

The Boston Bruins return from a four-game, three-country road trip for their home opener versus the Washington Capitals tonight at the TD Garden. The B’s will be looking to for their fourth consecutive win in this, the backend of a home-and-home series against the Capitals. On Tuesday, the Capitals (4-2) had their own four-game win streak snapped by Boston (3-1) on home ice at the Verizon Center.

The Bruins, who are already mirroring last season’s road warrior attitude, are excited to return to play in from of a home crowd. “The place will be loud,” said David Krejci of playing in front of tonight’s expected 17,565 sellout crowd. “We’re happy to be back for a bit”.

Krejci’s line, who he shares with newcomer Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic, have combined for 17 points on the season thus far. Fans are excited to see what Horton can do at home, especially after notching 3 goals and 3 assists on the road. Resident badass, Milan Lucic, earned his second career “Gordie Howe” Hat Trick during Tuesday night’s game. This particular hat trick – a goal, an assist and a fight – was completed when the power forward took a swing at John Erskine at 9:23 in the third. Both were given five for fighting.

Much of the Bruin’s success should be credited to Tim Thomas, the 36-year-old netminder, who is currently enjoying the best start of his career (3-0). Thomas, who was thought to be the high priced backup to Tuukka Rask coming in to this season, has allowed only two goals in three games – resulting in an incredible .67 GAA and a .979 save percentage. He has blocked 95 of 97 shots on goal. One of the more enjoyable of these blocks can be seen in this video of him stuffing Ilya Kovalchuck:

Expected to start in goal tonight, however, is Rask whose only appearance so far came in the 5-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes in the season opener in Prague (Czech Republic). Hopefully this outing goes better for 23-year-old as his job as starter depends on it. Fortunately, the blueliners did a great job of keeping Alex Ovechkin in check on Tuesday night, holding him to just 5 shots on goal.

The Capitals have won in their last three appearances at The Garden and have taken seven of the last ten (7-1-0). Home-and-home series are always more intense and the Caps are looking to return the favor by breaking the Bruins’ current win streak so tonight’s game should be a good one. It's Tuukka Time!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

4th And Inches: The Brett Favre Story

Haaaaa. Get it?

Brett Favre: Throwing Picks & Sexting Chicks 
Brett Favre met with NFL Security Director Milt Ahlerich behind closed doors yesterday to discuss the details of professional sports’ latest scandal. The exact location, time and length of this meeting were not publicly disclosed. Favre, who is accused of sexting former Jet’s gameday hostess Jenn Sterger, has not commented on or denied any of these allegations.

The only report coming out of yesterday came in the form of a tweet by NFL.com reporter Jason LaCanfora who wrote, “I'm told Favre's meeting with NFL Security has wrapped up. The league is not commenting on matter in any way or confirming meeting happened”.  Helpful. Anyway …

The intention of the meeting was to determine if Favre’s actions violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Any found infractions could result in a fine or suspension. The latter would impact the only successful on-field statistic that the Vikings quarterback has going in his favor – his consecutive games streak.   

The editor of Deadspin.com, the website responsible for bringing us these memory-scarring picture messages and desperate (read: creepy) voicemails, said the site paid a third-party for the material and acknowledges the possibility that is may not actually be Favre.  

So what’s been bothering me so much about this ‘scandal’? It isn’t that former Playboy and Maxim tarte Jenn Sterger is using this indiscretion as a means for increased publicity or financial gain (Sterger has actually cancelled public appearances in wake of this story being leaked and she’s refused to cooperate with NFL investigations). It isn’t even the far-stretched and totally ludicrous comparisons to Roethlisberger’s sexual assault charges last spring or the Ines Sainz/Jets sexual harassment firestorm last month.

No, no. My issue is with a 41-year-old man and his evident lack of understanding of modern technology. Unsolicited sexts clearly fall into the “questionable text practices” category. And MySpace?! Really, G-Pa? Unless you are spending your off-seasons jamming in your garage, dreaming of “making it big”, you really have no business being on that site. Act like the rest of cyber-stalking America and get on Facebook … Hell, even voicemails threw this guy for a loop. Friendly tip: any message (voice or text) can be saved and – if you happen to be, say, one of the most recognizable players in the NFL – it will (I repeat, will) come back to haunt you.

C’mon, Brett, has Tiger taught you nothing?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tiny Guy, Big Balls

Nothing inspires haters to come out of the woodwork quite like a Patriots victory. Leading up to this past Sunday’s week six matchup versus the Ravens, sports talk radio was alive with callers claiming that this would be a tell-tale game for the Pats. Concerns arose around a Moss-less offense, Deion Branch’s involvement in/impact on the offense and the defense’s ability to contain Ray Rice. The general consensus?  The Patriots were about to get embarrassed (again) at home by the Baltimore Ravens.

Fast-forward through 5 quarters of football, 115 unlikely yards from a 5’ 7”* workhorse of a running back Danny Woodhead, a franchise OT record with a 65 yard punt from a rookie named Zoltan and what did we get? Tom Brady’s 30th career fourth quarter comeback and a 23-20 victory over the Ravens in overtime. Oh baby. Yesterday’s game certainly was spicy.

Predictably enough, the Monday morning quarterbacks were on the horn this morning recanting their pre-game forecasts and arguing that the Ravens aren’t really that good of a team and this win proves nothing about the Patriots. Hmmm. So this come from behind, team effort victory (which, incidentally, puts NE among the NFL elite as they sit tied-for-second in League standings) is meaningless? Interesting take but I’m not buying it.

New England's new favorite tiny
white guy
In my not-so-humble opinion, the best part of yesterday was watching Woodhead pickup the blitz and – on more than one occasion – OWN Ray Lewis. Everyone knows that size in the NFL is an important factor … but no one would have thought that being the smallest guy on the field would pay dividends like this. But Woodhead got low, real low, and straight up trucked one of the most feared ILBs in the league. It was beautiful. He finished the day with 63 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving on a total of 16 carries. Get some.

Credit should also be given to Deion Branch who, after only four days of practice, went 9-for-98 yards and notched a touchdown in his triumphant return to New England; the (2nd half) defense that worked together to render the Ravens useless in 3rd down situations (most notably stuffing Flacco on a 3rd-and-1 sneak), forced three punts in OT and effectively silenced Ray Rice (who was held to just 88 yards); and Bill O’Brien, who combined effective play-calling with enough reverses/fakes to keep the Raven’s D guessing.

On deck for this newly rejuvenated team? The 2-4 San Diego Chargers. Batters up …

* I know that his listed height is 5' 9" but there is just no effing way that is right.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brady Discusses Moss Trade on NFL Network

Brady: Foolish to think losing Moss improves Pats

NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi sat down with Tom Brady to discuss the end of the Randy Moss era in New England and how practice during the week breeds confidence for Sundays.

The full interview airs Sunday on NFL Network’s GameDay Morning (9 a.m. ET).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bostonians Chucking Deuces Up ...

Peace out, MLB regular season. Love to say it was fun while it lasted but clearly, I'd be lying. So thanks for taking months to drag out the inevitable demise of the Boston Red Sox ... slowly and painfully. 

Mercifully (and unceremoniously) , it all ended this week with a loss to the Yankees. This was far from the final nail in the coffin but I think it summed up the past 162 games perfectly.

RIP 2010 Boston Red Sox

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where Amazing Happens? Not Quite ...

Whelp, I know who will be starring in my nightmares later tonight ... KG, Shaq, Big Baby and Nate Robinson kick off their preseason with some creepy masks and a little krumping to Waka Flocka Flame.

Celtics for Life? Maybe ... but I hope I never have to see this video again. Boi!

Man Up And Wear Some Pink

According to NBCAM.org (the website for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month), an estimated 40,170 women will die from breast cancer this year alone. During the month of October, the NFL is honoring these women – and the 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the US – by going pink. Goal post padding, field paint, and even the game balls changed color in support of the NFL’s “A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives” initiative. The goal is to stress the importance of yearly mammograms for women 40 years of age and older.

Players have also gotten in on the action, donning pink gloves, chin straps, cleats, towels (for players who wipe their hands), wrist bands, helmet decals, mouth guards, shoes laces, captain patches and baseball hats on the sidelines. Game worn pink apparel will be autographed and auctioned on NFL.com, with the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society and other team charities. 

So here's my question: why the f*** are the two most visible players in the New England franchise electing to keep their pink apparel to a bare minimum? Ya, that’s right. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, I’m calling you out. 

In an ESPN.com story posted on October 3rd Belichick was quoted as saying, "I think it's a great statement by the league and by the players and all of us that are putting our support behind something that hopefully can be better for everybody going forward”. Then he added, "I don't think I'll be in a pink hoodie, though, no". 

I get it, BB. You’re an evil genius; the quiet mastermind behind the building of a dynasty here in New England. I enjoy your “the injury report comes out on Wednesday” callous attitude towards the media. But this? Limiting your support of this horrific disease to your sneakers? I gotta tell you … you’re kind of a dick.

And Brady? Are you kidding me?! You’re willing to rock a woman’s haircut but throwing some pink laces in those shoes is too much to ask? Every time I saw you on Monday night – you and your singular pink piece of apparel, your hand towel – I wanted to slap you. And before all you tough guys out there respond by telling me that QBs don’t wear gloves or make up some other excuse for Tommy Terrific, please take a look at Henne. The boy is repping his pink. As did Sanchez, Favre and Brees. Just saying. 

The NFL is the ultimate home for all-things-man but c’mon guys, man up and wear some pink.

[Editor's note: breast cancer is an issue that hits close to home here at T1AOB ... to learn more or donate to help find a cure, visit The National Breast Cancer Foundation or Susan G. Komen for the Cure]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Patriots, Special Teams Wreak Havoc Miami

Is it 2008? Last night, the New England Patriots demoralized the Miami Dolphins on their way to victory, dishing out their best road-game beat down in years. With the final score of 41-14, Brady became the 11th quarterback in NFL history to earn his 100th win. Because everything in New England is a competition, I’d like to point out that he was the fastest in history to get there. Just saying.

Historically significant moment aside, Brady had very little to celebrate on the field. On the sidelines, however …

It was a Special Teams showcase last night, with the heroes of the game coming in the unlikely forms of Patrick Chung (2 blocked kicks and a pick six), Rob Ninkovich (2 interceptions and a sack) and Kyle Arrington (blocked FG return for a TD). With 3 non-offensive touchdowns, Special Teams’ coach Scott O’Brien certainly earned his paycheck this week.

With this performance, the Pats became the first team in league history to run, rush, return a kickoff, return an interception and block a field goal – all for TDs – in the same game.

Belichick’s goal entering this Week 4 divisional matchup was to overcome the 2nd half momentum issues that have been plaguing this team. Brandon Tate’s 103-yard kickoff return touchdown at the start of the 3rd did just that. 35 of New England’s 41 total points were scored in the second half of the game.

Another apparent focus of the team was their switch in offensive red zone strategy. Despite having only three running backs active (Green-Ellis, Morris, Woodhead), Brady focused on the run for scoring opportunities. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a 12-yard TD run while newcomer Danny Woodhead channeled his inner Kevin Faulk with his 11-yard catch-and-run TD. This is a clear switch from the pass focus seen in earlier weeks. Moss had zero catches on the night.

Losses like this are especially painful when you look
like a total dick
While momentum for the Pat’s stayed white-hot, the Dolphins struggled to find their rhythm. Henne went 29-for-39 and tied a career high with three interceptions. He was pulled with 6 ½ minutes left to play and replaced by Tyler Thigpen, who threw the Fins 4th INT of the game. Miami fans - a loyal group - had enough and bailed in the 4th, inspiring the following tweet from the Patriots: "Where's everyone going? 'The party' is just getting started at Sun Life Stadium". Haaaa.

The Patriots (3-1) are now tied with the Jet’s at the top of the AFC East standings. The team is off until Thursday as they enter their bye week. They return to action on October 17th against the Ravens.