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Amidst Goalie Controversy, Thomas Returns to Form

October 17, 2010

 

Thomas's hot start means the Bruins have decisions to make (Jim Davis/Boston Globe)

 

Two years ago, Bruins’ goalie Tim Thomas seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the NHL’s elite puck-stoppers, adding the 2008/2009 Vezina to his trophy case and a roster spot on Team USA in the process.  As last season unfolded, however, Thomas failed to maintain that success.  His goals against average jumped up to 2.56 and his save percentage dropped.  Soon he was losing time to young upstart Tuukka Rask, and come playoff time the 23 year old’s 1.97 GAA had earned him the starting job.

Entering the 2010/2011 season, it appeared as if Rask was the future.  He was the young, talented netminder on a young, talented team.  Thomas was the solid veteran who’d had one good year.  Only three games in, however, the situation has changed.  Rask let four goals get by in a disappointing debut against Phoenix in Prague.  The next night, Thomas got the start and shut out the Coyotes.

When Boston returned to American soil to take on New Jersey last night, Thomas was between the pipes again.  The 36 year old veteran settled down after giving up an early goal to lead the Bruins to a 4-1 victory.  All of a sudden, the Bruins’ future in net is unclear.  Long-term thinking dictates that Rask’s youth and tremendous upside mean he should remain the goalie of the future.  Given his performance last season, it’s hard to argue the goalie of the future should sit on the bench. Read more…

Adding Branch Could Make Pats Better Overall

October 16, 2010

 

 

The Brady-Branch Combo has worked in the past (Jim Davis/Boston Globe)

 

It may sound ridiculous, but the Patriots’ recent reacquisition of wide receiver Deion Branch could lead to a better all-around team than the one that included Randy Moss.  True, losing Moss dealt a serious blow to the Pats’ downfield passing attack.  The explosive deep threat wasn’t just a big play waiting to happen.  His skills warranted consistent double teams and help from safeties, opening up underneath routes for the rest of the Pats’ receivers.  But despite Moss’s important role, his loss may not be as devastating as first suspected.

First, Tom Brady isn’t hurting for targets.  All-Pro slot receiver Wes Welker has been as consistent and productive as ever and is on pace to catch over 100 balls for the third time in four years.  The hyped rookie tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski has, if anything, exceeded expectations.  Brandon Tate has, at the very least, established himself as a speedy option on the outside, and will likely be called on for deep routes now that Moss is gone.  Throw in Branch along with the emergence of running back Danny Woodhead as a threat out of the backfield and the Patriots’ receiving corp sill ranks as one of the best in the league. Read more…

FJM

October 11, 2010

FJM Merchandise

firejoemorgan.com has long been one of my favorite sports blogs, despite it’s unfortunate end in 2008.  I still go back and look through the archives every now and then, just for laughs.  Basically, FJM was dedicated to pointing out and poking fun at bad sports commentary and journalism.  The blog’s founders were especially irritated by announcers and writers who made dramatic claims with little to no factual or statistical support.  Thus the site became somewhat of a haven for Moneyball style statistical thinking as well.  The entire thing was done in a very clever way and at times was just downright hysterical.  I highly recommend it.

Bruins Have Some Firepower Again

October 11, 2010

Watch this video:

This is why, only 5 weeks into football season, I’m excited about the Boston Bruins.

That’s the first NHL goal by Bruins #2 overall draft pick Tyler Seguin.  Seguin is a high scoring, dynamic center who last year scored 106 points for the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers.  And the rookie, along with former Florida Panther Nathan Horton, is giving the Bruins offense a much needed boost.

Last season, the B’s defense was the strength of the team, ending the season with a stellar 2.33 goals against average, good for second in the league.  But after trading rising star and skilled goal scorer Phil Kessel prior to the season, Boston’s offense struggled, finishing dead last in goals per game (2.39).  The addition of Horton and Seguin will hopefully remedy that.

 

Dynamic Duo: Seguin and Horton bring the Bruins the goal scoring they lacked last season (Fluto Shinzawa, Boston Globe)

 

Horton is a physical scorer who has notched at least 20 goals and 45 points in each of the last five seasons on a sub par Florida team.  Now that he’s on a line with two talented young players, center David Krejci and left winger Milan Lucic (another physical forward who complements Horton well), it looks like his production could sky-rocket.  Although it’s way to early to draw any real conclusions, Horton’s 3 goals and an assist through the Bruins’ first two games is an exciting start.

While Horton was impressing on the stat sheet, Seguin displayed his explosive goal scoring ability with his high speed breakaway finish, validating much of the off-season hype surrounding the high draft pick.

Hopefully the Bruins can come close to maintaining last years stingy defense. This isn’t necessarily a sure thing given the emerging goalie controversy between last year’s breakout star Tuukka Rask and 08/09 Vezina (best goalie) winner Tim Thomas.  But if they can, it looks like this year they’ll have the offensive muscle to back it up.  All in all, I think it spells a pretty good year for Boston hockey.

Projected BCS Standings Show Flaw in System

October 11, 2010

According to ESPN’s Brad Edwards, if the BCS standings came out today undefeated Boise State would lead the pack, followed by Oregon and TCU.  At first glance, it looks like the system is doing exactly what it’s meant to do, judging objectively based on a team’s quantifiable accomplishments without the often nostalgic bias of the AP poll.  But does anyone really think that Boise State is the best team in the country?

 

Boise State fans have a lot to be excited about. But should fans of college football as a whole? (broncossports.com)

 

Sure they’re undefeated, and with only a weak WAC schedule left to play, they’re likely to stay that way.  But with the only things resembling quality wins coming against a Virginia Tech team that turned out to be much worse than everyone thought and a pretty average Oregon State team, do their accomplishments really warrant one of the two coveted slots in the national championship?

Read more…

Brady and Moss Argued over Hair/The Real Reason Randy Needed to Be Traded

October 10, 2010

 

It's called "flow" Randy (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

 

In perhaps the most bizarre Randy Moss related story of the year (a title that should evoke both disbelief and undivided attention, like video of Sasquatch or an opera composed by DJ Pauly D), the Patriots wide receiver apparently had to be separated from Tom Brady following an argument concerning, of all things, hair.  According to CBS’ Charley Casserly, the two players got into an argument about a week before Moss was traded, with Brady supposedly disapproving of the troubled receiver’s attitude and behavior in relation to the Patriots overall philosophy. Read more…

Wooden is Still Teaching

October 4, 2010

The title of legendary basketball coach John Wooden’s autobiography, with the help of sportswriter Jack Tobin, They Call Me Coach, says it all.  With Wooden, even in his own autobiography, the focus is always on TheyThey, as the book tips off with, are the members of his first NCAA championship team at UCLA.  As Wooden’s remarkable story continues, They morph into his family, his own coaches, his teammates, and the many, many players he coached over the years.  Ultimately They are the people who have had an impact on his life, and who Wooden shares with us.  While somewhat strange for an autobiography, it is fitting for a man who’s life has been defined by a constant effort to have a positive impact on others.  Even when recounting his childhood growing up in rural Indiana, Wooden is quick to credit his father, his high school basketball coach, and the love of his life, Nellie, who would become his wife, for making him the man that he is today.  Wooden’s own story continues in a vaguely chronological way, but time serves more as a structure in which Wooden can insert his wisdom, simultaneously profound and humble.

Read more…