It was a wild weekend in the world of sports. Here are my thoughts:
Bruins 3, Canucks 4
-First of all, Vancouver played really well. Schneider was solid in net and the top forwards produced, unlike the three games in Boston last June.
-The 10 minute misconduct on Lucic was one of the more ridiculously mishandled situations I've seen all year. The penalty was for leaving the bench during an altercation, and is standardly assessed with a five minute major, game ejection, and 10 game suspension. The problem is it was clear as day to anyone watching that the Canucks had six position players on the ice themselves. Both teams were in the middle of a change, and the decision had a huge impact on the game.
-Brad Marchand's misconduct on the other hand, worries me as a fan. Part of what makes him so good is his aggression, and you just have to deal with the fact that it is part of his game to play on the edge. I believe the hip check on Sami Salo will warrant suspension from the league office, because Marchand has a history of these things, and Salo ended up with a concussion.
-This game was just a midyear regular season game, and the job Claude Julien has done so far this season in keeping the team focused should be an indicator that they will be ready to play the next game. Montreal comes up on the schedule later in the week, so Boston will have a chance to get their groove back.
-What a great atmosphere we had at Fenway on Saturday night. The whole scene around the stadium was phenomenal, every bar and restaurant packed with fans from the 4 schools involved. Once we got into the stadium, the aesthetics of the setup was simply breathtaking. The new centerfield video board was great consolation for anybody who got tickets near field level and couldn't see well.
-The games did not disappoint, as UMass upended UVM in overtime 3-2, and UMaine beat UNH 5-4 in OT in the nightcap. Lead changes were aplenty, as UNH actually took the lead 2-1 in the second period on something I had never seen before; a 5 on 3 shorthanded goal. Maine took the lead right back with 2 power play goals before the period was over, and extended that lead to 4-2 with a goal 13 seconds into the third. 2 UNH goals tied it up to send it to OT, and Brian Flynn scored under UNH goalie Casey DeSmith's freshman arm to win the game. I wasn't pleased with the result, but the atmosphere and electricity of over 30,000 fans at a college hockey game more than made up for it.
-Side note, pretty cool seeing UNH legend Ralph Cox drop the ceremonial first puck. Since Miracle is my favorite movie, seeing the man portrayed in that movie for the first time at a UNH game was pretty cool.
-Houston played well against a young Cincinnati team, but I could easily see Baltimore doing the same thing to TJ Yates. Houston's vaunted run game will be tested against a well-rested Baltimore defense. If the Texans can keep Ray Rice in check, this could be an interesting game between two very inconsistent teams. I say Baltimore has the edge with home field and a playoff ready QB.
-New Orleans is ridiculously good on offense. They pretty much take what the Pats do, and extend it even further. They were down at halftime, against a good Detroit team, and Calvin Johnson was doing his usual freakish thing. Not unlike the Patriots last few first halves. Brees led them out of halftime slingin' as usual, and they just blew the Lions away. They're scary looking forward as a Pats fan, or any fan outside of Louisiana. Experienced playoff team clicking on all cylinders with a Hall of Fame QB in his prime, good luck Jimmy Harbaugh, welcome to the playoffs.
-New year, same story for the Falcons. Overmatched by a better team. Giants fans are coming out of the woodworks, leaning on comparisons with the 2008 championship team. I'm still not buying it. This team is too inconsistent, and the wins they got down the stretch were against the collapsing Jets, and the Cowboys (who they matchup very favorably against) twice. Now Atlanta, who has gotten destroyed in their last three playoff games. I'll drink the Kool-Aid if they find a way at Lambeau, but for now I can't see Green Bay losing
to this team.
-Kudos to the Denver coaching staff for allowing for individual routes downfield and taking shots with big plays. Kudos for Tim Tebow for making those throws on the money when he needed do. Kudos to the Denver defense for stopping a last minute Pittsburgh drive, and holding on for the win. The Steelers fatally underestimated this team and their QB. Sorry Denver, Bill Belichick will not be underestimating anyone. Patriots fans should be very confident going into this game Saturday night, and look forward to what will hopefully be a trip to the AFC championship game for the first time in four years.