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Monday, November 29, 2010

The great pro sports fans of Atlanta finally have a hockey team to rally behind

I feel like I'm saying the exact same thing that I wrote after the Bruins' no-show on Friday against the Hurricanes but yesterday's performance in Atlanta was a post-Thanksgiving dump that clogs your toilet and floods the bathroom.

For the fifth straight game, the B's (12-8-2) gave up the first goal and not surprisingly, they've lost four of five during this weird stretch.

Conversely Atlanta (12-9-3) is actually playing some good hockey as evidenced by its fifth straight win yesterday, 4-1 over the Bruins.

Former Blackhawks playoff star Dustin Byfuglien has been reinvented as a defenseman and Boston made him look like Gordie Howe as he had a goal and three assists.

Atlanta pumped home three first period goals to take a 3-0 lead in front of about 1000 people at the Philips Arena.

Evander Kane, Byfuglien and Jim Slater had the first period goals for the Thrashers.

The Bruins should a little pulse in the second period as Matt Hunwick fought Kane and Shawn Thornton squared off with Eric Boulton. It seemed to fire up the team for a few minutes as Blake Wheeler scored from Michael Ryder and Milan Lucic at 12:22.

That hard work and effort was wiped out as Atlanta's Niclas Bergfors tallied a power-play goal with 13 seconds left in the second period. Game over Southern hockey fans.

Atlanta goaltender Ondrej Pavelec looked like Patrick Roy with 40 saves. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask continued to find new and different ways to lose, this time with 22 saves.

Boston will need to find their game or they'll be pummelled in Philadelphia on Wednesday as they take on the Flyers, one of the NHL's best teams.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh hi Rajon Rondo

With all due respect to Deron Williams and Chris Paul, who are better players and more well-rounded, I would still say that Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is as important to his team as those two superstars or anybody in the NBA outside of maybe Kobe Bryant (ever hear of him?).

Without Rondo, the Celtics are an old bunch of guys whose best years are behind them. With him, they're the best team in the Eastern Conference and the biggest threat to break the Lakers' two year reign at the top.

Thankfully, Rondo's latest absence was only three games to nurse a minor hamstring injury. He was back with a vengeance last night as the Celts (12-4) beat the Toronto Raptors (6-10) 110-101 at the TD Garden.

After the Bruins' no-show in the afternoon, the Cs took care of business against a team that they lost to last Sunday (Rondo's first game out).

Rondo was a tad erratic with eight turnovers but he still put up 14 assists in 36 minutes. Kevin Garnett was the man with 26 points (3 alley-oops) and 11 rebounds. Paul Pierce and Glen Davis scored 18, Ray Allen added 17 and Shaquille O'Neal continues to prove the haters wrong with 16 points and nine rebounds (albeit against a team with no inside presence).

At one point, Toronto used a lineup with five foreign guys so clearly they love to shoot the 3-pointer. Linas Kleiza led the way with 18 points, Leandro Barbosa added 14 points, Peja Stojakovic scored 13, Jose Calderon had 12 points and 15 assists while Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson each had 11 points (a far cry from their win vs. Boston in Toronto).

Boston jumped out to a 30-21 lead after the first quarter but Toronto closed it to 58-52 at halftime. The Cs seemingly put it away in the third quarter (28-15) but as usual they got bored with closing it out (34-24 fourth quarter for Raptors) until the bitter end.

As a team, the Celtics shot 53.9% to Toronto's 45.1%. The Raptors made three more 3-pointers (7-4) but the Cs made four more free throws (24-20). Toronto had nine more rebounds (44-35) which is unexplainable but Boston made up for it with seven more assists (33-27), four more steals (6-2), six more blocks (8-2) and six less turnovers (17-11).

Boston needs to clean some things up if they hope to win in Cleveland on Tuesday. The Cavs are not very good but they beat the Celts in the second game of the season.

Assuming he's healthy, it's time to give Marc Savard the green light

Every year, the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday to shoppers) the Bruins have a home game that begins at noon.

Yesterday, they faced the Carolina Hurricanes in that matinee. I've been to that early game before and I wanted to go this year but I can't explain how happy I am that I saved my time and money this year.

Carolina (10-10-2) blanked the Bruins (12-7-2) 3-0 at the TD Garden in a completely lifeless effort by Boston.

Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward stopped 37 shots for the shutout but his workload wasn't that strenuous since so many of the Bruins' chances went right into his glove.

Boston came into the game with the top-ranked penalty kill unit so it made perfect sense that all three goals they gave up were power-play goals by Carolina, who had terrible power-play numbers.

Rookie Jeff Skinner scored with 16 seconds left in the first period from Tuomo Ruutu and Joe Corvo. That goal was costly since Boston had owned the period (12-6 shots advantage) and deserved a better fate.

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (18 saves) couldn't stem the tide as Boston lost its third game in its last four overall.

Lately, they've been falling behind and counting on improbable third period comebacks. That simply won't last and it's not a winning strategy.

Ruutu scored at 11:09 in the second period from Ian White and Joni Pitkanen.

Nathan Horton hit two posts for the Bruins (he's been very unlucky lately) and Jussi Jokinen ended it with his goal at 7:52 in the third period from Eric Staal (on his butt) and Skinner.

Boston travels to Atlanta to face the Thrashers tomorrow afternoon. Tuukka Rask should get the start and with any luck, the Bruins should handle an inferior opponent.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It is all they've got but please get the Lions off of Thanksgiving

If there is one thing more predictable than getting sick of your relatives in about 10 minutes during a holiday, it is watching the Detroit Lions throw up all over themselves each and every Thanksgiving. In a perverse way, you've got to hand to them as they seem to have it down to a science at this point.

Yesterday, the New England Patriots were in Detroit on Turkey Day for the first time since 2002 and despite a slow start (17-10 deficit at the half), they turned it on in the fourth quarter and left that miserable city with a 45-24 win.

Detroit (2-9) has now lost seven straight Thanksgiving matchups so let me be the millionth person to ask, can we break the lame tradition of having them and the Cowboys host a game every year on Thanksgiving?

The Patriots (9-2) kept pace with the Jets (9-2), who beat the Bengals 26-10 last night, and set up the game of the year on Monday Night Football: December 6 as the Jets come to Gillette for a game that will likely determine the AFC East, possibly the top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage.

Ho hum, Tom Brady had a perfect passer rating, the second time he's done that in his storybook career (first time was in 2007 vs. Miami). Brady was 21 of 27 for 341 yards and four touchdowns. Deion Branch (3 catches, 113 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Wes Welker (8 catches, 90 yards, 2 touchdowns) had the best game they've ever had together.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, that touchdown machine, added two more as he ran for 59 yards on 12 carries. Devin McCourty continued his rapid ascension to stardom as he picked off two passes, giving him five interceptions on the season.

Lions quarterback Shaun Hill (27 of 46, 285 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions) kept his team in it for a while with plenty of help from Calvin Johnson (4 catches, 81 yards, 1 touchdown) and Maurice Morris (55 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns) but Detroit completely fell apart in the fourth quarter as they were outscored 21-0.

Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew added five catches for 67 yards.

Patriots kicker Shayne Graham opened the scoring with a 19-yard field goal as New England couldn't punch it in during their first red zone trip.

Johnson answered with a 19-yard touchdown catch on the final play of the first quarter. It's too bad he's not on a decent team because he would be a superstar for real.

Morris' first score (1-yard run) gave Detroit a 14-3 lead in the second quarter but Green-Ellis ran up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown.

Dave Rayner's 44-yard field goal as time expired in the first half gave the Lions a 17-10 halftime lead and no doubt caused a couple of your clueless relatives to start freaking out.

Welker and the Pats moved the ball on their first drive of the third quarter and scored when Welker dragged a couple Lions into the end zone on a 5-yard catch and run.

Detroit's final score was another 1-yard run by Morris which gave them a temporary 24-17 advantage.

From there it was a clinic as Brady and the Patriots receivers put on a clinic, particularly picking on Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith.

First Branch hauled in a 79-yard touchdown catch (longest play of the season for New England and longest catch of his career) where he no lie juked Smith three times. The third quarter ended tied at 24 but New England had finally gained the momentum.

Next, Branch added a 22-yard touchdown on a perfectly threaded pass from Brady. Thanks to McCourty's pair of interceptions (and nice returns), the Patriots defense pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter. Welker caught a 16-yard touchdown pass and Green-Ellis scored on yet another 1-yard touchdown run. Game over, drive home safely Lions fans.

After a cramped schedule with the Steelers, Colts and Lions in a short span of time, the Patriots deservedly are off until Monday and then they can get to work on the Jets. This game is a must-win for the reasons I already mentioned plus New York dominated New England 28-14 in Week 2 which seems like ages ago.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

That Steven Stamkos can sure play some hockey

Forgive me since my cable package doesn't get many Tampa Bay Lightning games but seeing my fantasy hockey stud Steven Stamkos live on TV was something to behold.

Luckily, the NHL can't properly market anything so he'll be toiling in obscurity in the land of blue hairs and early bird specials for a long time.

Anyways, Tampa Bay (12-7-2) skated circles around the Boston Bruins (11-6-2) last night at the St. Pete Times Forum in a one-sided 3-1 win.

Kindly enough for all the old people in the crowd and watching at home (haha yeah right), Tampa Bay did all their work in an eight minute span in the second period.

Dana Tyrell made it 1-0, Stamkos scored his NHL leading 20th goal of the season (from Martin St. Louis and Steve Downie) and Teddy Purcell tipped one in from Dominic Moore and Ryan Malone.

And that was it. As per usual this season, Tuukka Rask (33 saves) was not the problem but he still fell to a snakebitten 1-5-1.

Naturally Boston woke up in the third period when it was too late. Michael Ryder scored his sixth goal of the season from Blake Wheeler and Jordan Caron.

Lightning goaltender Mike Smith (26 saves) did enough to walk away with the win. Overall, Tampa Bay is an impressive team. They're fast and skilled even without the injured Vincent Lecavalier and Simon Gagne.

The Bs end their short two-game stint in the Sunshine State with a rematch against the Florida Panthers tomorrow night. Hopefully Florida plays as terribly as they did last week in Boston.

You can always count on the Atlanta Hawks to roll over when you need them to

No doubt about it, the Boston Celtics were reeling coming into Atlanta last night.

They were riding their first two-game losing streak of the season and frankly, they should have beaten the short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and the not good Toronto Raptors on Sunday but such is life in the NBA: where regular season boredom happens nightly.

Naturally, you had to be fearful of the Hawks since they swept the season series last season (four games) against the Celtics and pushed them to seven games during the 2008 playoffs in the first round.

Maybe Atlanta (8-6) forgot they had a game last night and spent Sunday in one of Atlanta's famous strip clubs? Whatever the reason, they never showed up in a pathetic 99-76 loss to the Celts (10-4).

If only the Hawks had any fans that cared, they would have demanded a refund for the garbage they had to endure.

Rajon Rondo sat out his second straight game with a hamstring injury and Nate Robinson played well for the second time in a row as a starter.

Nate will never be a passer first but he notched 16 points and 10 assists. Two other Cs had double-doubles: Kevin Garnett (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Shaquille O'Neal (13 points, 11 rebounds) who I have dubbed "Mr. First Quarter."

Paul Pierce added 13 points as they was essentially over in the first quarter (really) as Boston built a 26-point lead (39-13). From there, it was extended garbage time as the Celtics' three biggest scrubs: Luke Harangody, Von Wafer and Avery Bradley (NBA debut) all played at least six minutes each.

Mike Bibby led the Hawks with 11 points, Josh Powell and Jamal Crawford had 10 points apiece.

Boston hosts the New Jersey Nets tomorrow night on Thanksgiving Eve, aka drinking in your hometown night.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Brady wins this round in Patriots-Colts epic rivalry

Nothing will ever change fourth and two gate, Bill Belichick's worst playcall of his life last season that helped speed up the Patriots' chokejob to the Colts.

Indy came into Gillette Stadium yesterday afternoon having won five of their last six against New England. It was a far cry from Tom Brady's first six games against Peyton Manning (6-0).

That is only the tip of the iceberg why New England's nail-biting 31-28 win meant so much for this season and James Sanders' clutch pick could be a hallmark moment of a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations (yes I said it).

Recent history has shown that the winner of this game - the best rivalry in the NFL at the moment - goes farther in the playoffs so it was nice to see the Pats (8-2) come out on the right side of a chokejob by Manning (3 INTs).

It never should have been that close since just like last year, New England was up 17 points in the fourth quarter (31-14) but the offense couldn't close on a terrible Colts (6-4) defense.

Brady (19 for 25, 186 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT) and the offense were clicking in the first half. Manning (38 for 52, 396 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs) began the game with a overthrow that was picked off by Mr. Big Bang Clock himself Brandon Meriweather and returned 39 yards.

Brady made quick work of the short field and found Wes Welker (5 catches, 58 yards) with a picture perfect 22-yard touchdown pass.

Aaron Hernandez made it 14-0 early in the second quarter but any thoughts of a Pats blowout were ignorant given the opponent and how last year not to mention the 2006 AFC Championship game played out.

I hate to use injuries as an excuse (and it was tough this season with the Red Sox) and football is a brutal game but I will admit that the Colts have about as many important players out as I can ever remember. It's basically Peyton, Reggie Wayne (8 catches, 107 yards) and a bunch of scrubs.

One of those bums - Gijon Robinson - pulled in a 1-yard touchdown pass from Manning to cut it to 14-7 in the second quarter. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (21 carries, 96 yards) answered with a 5-yard touchdown run, his fifth straight game with a TD.

Wayne kept it close as he reeled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Peyton with four seconds left in the first half, making it 21-14 Patriots.

The only score of the third quarter was an electrifying 33-yard run by Danny Woodhead where he left multiple Colts defenders with broken ankles. Almost as bonerific as that was the fact that on the ensuing kickoff, Woodhead raced down the field and made the tackle. You know you'll be buying a pink Woodhead jersey this Christmas for your wife, girlfriend or favorite stripper/hooker.

Shayne Graham's 25-yard field goal, after Julian Edelman couldn't snag a fastball from Brady on the goalline, gave New England its final points at 31-14.

From there, Manning went into Madden rookie level mode. Blair White (5 catches for 42 yards), who was subbing in for Austin Collie (5 catches, 60 catches) when he picked up another concussion, had a 5-yard touchdown catch then an absurd 18-yard touchdown catch that left it at 31-28 New England with a lifetime (4:46 left) remaining in regulation.

New England's offense picked up one first down before punting back to the Colts. Peyton got greedy though at the end as he had gotten Indy well into field goal territory but he rushed to the line and threw a terrible pass that wasn't close to any receiver.

Devin McCourty had the other interception in the third quarter and he added six tackles (five solo). Jerod Mayo had 15 tackles (11 solo) and Gary Guyton posted nine tackles (six solo).

It's a very short week for New England as they go to Detroit for the 12:30 p.m. Thanksgiving day game vs. the Lions. I mean where would you rather be on Thanksgiving?

The stinker against the Browns a few weeks back should safeguard against any letdown on Thursday. The Patriots are tied atop the AFC East with the Jets, who picked up their third straight lucky win, and they both possess the best record in the AFC and tied with the NFC's best (Atlanta Falcons).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Solid night for the Black & Gold: Lucic gets a hat trick and Rask notches a shutout

It took way too long but Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask finally got his first win of the 2010-2011 season last night.

Rask stopped 41 shots and notched a shutout as well as the Bruins (11-5-1) blanked the Florida Panthers (8-9-0) 4-0 at the TD Garden.

The other headliner was Milan Lucic, who submitted his second career hat trick in the victory. His linemates Nathan Horton (3 assists) and Patrice Bergeron (2 assists) also had big games thanks to Looch's heroics.

Lucic gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 15:37 in the first period and that looked like it would stand up as the only goal of the contest. Horton and Bergeron assisted on that one as Lucic used a quick release to beat Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun (36 saves).

Shawn Thornton and Darcy Hordichuk had a heavyweight bout shortly after the first goal, which each guy heading to the dressing room to clean up the blood on their faces.

It was a quiet, scoreless second period that set up what turned out to be an epic third period for Lucic. His two goals - 15 seconds apart - delayed the game as the ice was littered with hats. Horton and Andrew Ference (who believe it or not has played well, for him) and Horton and Bergeron assisted on those tallies.

Finally, Thornton scored a garbage time, ugly goal that deflected off a Panther in front of Vokoun.

The Los Angeles Kings, one of the NHL's best at this moment, invade the Garden tomorrow night and it'll be interesting to see who will start for the Bruins: Rask or Tim Thomas.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Welcome home Delonte

Delonte West is that crazy relative we all have, granted with a couple more gun charges and rumors of banging LeBron's mom on his plate.

He's quirky, he's clinically insane, he has a ridiculous voice but deep down he seems like a misunderstood guy that truly loves basketball and being around his teammates (not named Von Wafer). Not to get all misty eyed on you but it's great to see him back with the Boston Celtics, the team he began his checkered NBA career with.

Without West's return last night after a 10-game suspension, last night's game lacked a subplot other than the fact that the Celtics are really good and the Wizards (especially without rookie point guard John Wall) are still hopeless.

The Celtics (9-2) won 114-83 at the TD Garden and it was all about West (12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists), who rightfully got a standing ovation when he first entered the game as a substitution.

Paul Pierce led Boston with 23 points, Kevin Garnett scored 18 points with seven rebounds, Rajon Rondo had 12 points and 13 assists, Shaq notched 13 points and six rebounds while Ray Allen added 11 points.

Semih Erden scored nine points off the bench for the Celts as he continues to acclimate himself to the NBA and Glen Davis had eight rebounds.

Washington (3-7) are coached by Flip Saunders and all you can say about that is how does that bozo have a job in the NBA?

Nick Young scored 20 points off the bench to lead the Wizards, Al Thornton added 15 points while Kirk Hinrich and Andray Blatche checked in with 10 points apiece. For Wall (out with a foot injury), there would be no dougieing on this night although he looked on point with a fly suit.

Things will be much more exciting and competitive tomorrow night as the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant come to town for a rematch after last week's loss at home that kicked off the Celtics' road trip.

Timmy Thomas (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap)

If you had told me this summer that Tim Thomas would be the NHL's best goalie for the first month of the season and Tuukka Rask would be sitting on the bench full-time, I would say you must be Thomas' wife or child to be so brainwashed.

Yet here we are. Thomas (10-1-0) has all of the wins so far for Boston this season and he completely stole one last night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.

The Bs (10-5-1) got up 3-1 but almost coughed it up as New York (10-8-1) blitzed them with 15 shots in the third period before falling short in a 3-2 loss.

For the game, the Rangers outshot the Bruins 36-20. The only reason Boston got two points from this one was Thomas, a lucky goal by Mark Recchi and a moment of brilliance from Tyler Seguin.

After a scoreless first period before a dead crowd, the game got interesting in the second period as Brandon Dubinsky gave New York a 1-0 lead at 7:10 with a power play goal from Ryan Callahan and Henrik Lundqvist (17 saves).

Less than four minutes later, Milan Lucic tied it up after a fine pass from linemate Nathan Horton. At 16:35, Seguin showed why he was the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft and why the 18-year-old will spend the whole season in Boston.

He stole the puck at his own blue line, whooshed into the zone and ripped a wrist shot top shelf. It was an unassisted thing of beauty.

Recchi scored 1:10 into the third period as his weak wrist shot somehow snuck past Lundqvist, who was positioned properly by the near post. Mark Stuart and Dennis Seidenberg assisted on what turned out to be the game-winner.

Marian Gaborik, who had a ton of chances all game, finally cashed one in at 5:26. Derek Stepan assisted Gaborik who was right in front of Thomas when he shot it.

This set up a frantic finish where the Rangers had a million more shots and the Bruins were on the ropes the whole time but ultimately hung on.

Boston comes home tonight to face old whipping boy Dennis Wideman and the crappy Florida Panthers. This is the Bruins' third game in four days so they'll have to dig deep to get two points at the TD Garden.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Perfect time to face the New Jersey Devils

Once upon a time, the New Jersey Devils were one of the truly elite teams in the NHL. They won Stanley Cups, Kevin Smith and Co. wore their jerseys in his movies and life was good in miserable Northern New Jersey.

Times have changed big time, last season's prompt playoff exit was a clue that the immortal Martin Brodeur ain't what he used to be. Coupled with a crippling amount of injuries and throwing way too much money at Ilya Kovalchuk and you can start to understand why the Devils are nothing more than a smoldering wreck on the NHL landscape this season.

Not even former Devils great and Die Hard inspiration John Mclean can turn things around with this AHL worthy squad.

New Jersey (5-11-2) had actually been playing better lately but you wouldn't know it if you watched last night's 3-0 win by the Boston Bruins (9-5-1) at the TD Garden.

Tim Thomas (28 saves) boosted his record to 9-1-0 with his fourth shutout of the season. Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler, Boston's most expendable players who are thought to be gone when Marco Sturm and Marc Savard return, continue to make that decision tougher as they play well and put the puck in the net.

I don't think I've ever mentioned him but Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart had a whale of a game, continually pummelling nameless Devils. Adam McQuaid also fired up the crowd and the team with a fight against Rod Pelley early in the first period. He'll likely be sent down or be a healthy scratch when Johnny Boychuk comes back from his broken forearm but McQuaid has proven he's a solid defenseman.

Ryder gave the Bs a 1-0 lead in the first period with a power play goal (5 on 3) with 4:34 left. Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi assisted on Ryder's sneaky shot from the side. He looked like he was going to pass, Brodeur (21 saves) bought it, and then he whipped it at the goal and in.

43 seconds into the second period, Nathan Horton scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season, from Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara. Lucic found him with a strong cross ice pass and then Horton seemed to catch Brodeur by surprise with a long, low snap shot.

Wheeler capped the scoring 43 seconds into the third period with a wrist shot assisted by Recchi and Jordan Caron. Switched to center (his position in college) with David Krejci out, Wheeler has looked more comfortable on the ice.

The Bruins visit Long Island tomorrow night to visit the NHL's worst team - the Islanders - who fired head coach Scott Gordon (former Providence Bruins coach) yesterday. Boston needs to keep up the momentum while their schedule lets up for a few games.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The NFL is filled with punks and criminals but Big Ben & Jeff Reed take the cake

There's something immensely satisfying about beating a team that's fans think they're the shit. Clearly, that is why so many people outside of New England love it when the Patriots lose but is their a bigger group of frauds than Steelers fans?

Cheering for a scumbag like Ben Roethlisberger like he is a choir boy is sickening. The guy can play tackle football but yikes, the hard-working people of Pittsburgh are better than that right? No, I guess they're just like the fanboys of the Vikings who fell hook and sinker for Brett Favre. How's that going? End of rant.

After the Pats shit the bed last week in Cleveland, to put it politely, they obviously were just setting themselves up for their best performance in years: a 39-26 last night at Heinz Field.

New England (7-2) dominated this game of the AFC's best (not named the Jets) and the Steelers (6-3) scored a pair of garbage time touchdown catches by Mike Wallace (8 catches, 136 yards) to make it respectable for their fans who were already headed back to the steel mills and coal mines (stereotype much?).

Tom Brady (30 for 43, 350 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) ridiculous hair and all (still no haircut) was the star of stars and his matchup with Big Ben (30 for 49, 387 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) never really materialized since the Pats sacked Roethlisberger five times (I know, unreal) and James Sanders returned the pick 36 yards for the clinching score (29-10).

After a brutal game last week, rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski showed why he is such a stud, hauling in all three touchdown passes from Brady. Overall, he had five catches for 72 yards.

The playbook for New England was back to spreading the field and using all their weapons: Wes Welker had his best game of the season by far (8 catches, 89 yards), Deion Branch (7 catches, 71 yards) looked healthy again and Brandon Tate had a 45-yard catch. Somewhere Randy Moss gets released.

You can't run on the Steelers' top ranked rushed defense, except BenJarvus Green-Ellis put up 87 yards on 18 carries. His 17-yard rush in the first drive of the game was the longest given up by Pittsburgh all season.

In fact, Gronkowski's impressive 19-yard touchdown grab on New England's opening drive, was the first TD the Steelers had allowed this season. New kicker Shayne Graham added a 31-yard field goal for the early 10-0 lead.

That drunk kicker/goofball Jeff Reed hit a 22-yard kick in the second quarter which would be the game's only scoring.

Brady and the Patriots showed the first half was no fluke as once again he found Gronk for a 9-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Brady even ran for a 3-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, putting New England up 23-3 late in the third quarter.

Steelers rookie wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (in for a concussed Hines Ward) gave the Steelers some hope with a 6-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter but then Sanders iced it.

The last four scores for strictly for fantasy football purposes: Wallace's 15-yard TD catch, a 25-yard touchdown catch by Gronk - completing his hat trick according to Al Michaels - a 33-yard score by Wallace and a 36-yard kick by Graham.

Patrick Chung was back in action for the Pats and he made his presence felt with 11 tackles, six solo including a couple serious pops. Devin McCourty continued to ball with 11 tackles, nine solo. Finally, Jerod Mayo had nine tackles, four solo.

It will take another effort like this next week as Peyton Manning and the Colts (6-3) come to Gillette Stadium. As much as Brady (6-1 career record against them) has the Steelers' number, Indianapolis has seemingly always beat the Patriots the last few seasons. Should be another good one.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How about those Miami Heat?

The Miami Heat are quickly becoming the best reality show on television.

Watching them lose never gets old and hopefully it continues since it makes for some great schadenfreude viewing.

For the second time this season, the Heat (5-4) matched up with the Boston Celtics (7-2) and once again, the Cs came out on top 112-107 at AmericanAirlines Arena in South Beach.

LeBron James had a monster game with 35 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists but Chris Bosh had a quiet 15 points and seven rebounds while Dwyane Wade was held to eight points.

Ray Allen led Boston with 35 points (including 7 of 9 on 3-pointers), Paul Pierce added 25 points, Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 13 rebounds while Rajon Rondo dished out 16 assists. Rondo has the second most assists in NBA history through nine games, behind John Stockton.

Nate Robinson scored 12 points off the bench for the Celts and Glen Davis notched six points and nine rebounds.

Udonis Haslem had 21 points and 13 rebounds off the bench for the Heat and Eddie House added 13 points.

There are so many issues with Miami, it is hard to know where to begin: Pat Riley will take over as head coach any day now, Joel Anthony and Carlos Arroyo have no business starting on any team in the NBA and their bench is painfully thin. Oh and Bosh is not very good at all with the spotlight on him.

Boston led 27-20 after the first quarter and 61-46 at the half. With Wade and LeBron, the Heat will never be out of a game (since they get so many calls) but conversely, those two will never be known as good shooters in their lifetimes.

Miami clawed back with a 32-27 third quarter and 29-24 fourth quarter but thanks to Allen's ridiculous shooting display, the Cs held on for a nice road victory.

Boston shot 54.4% to Miami's 50.0% and made six more 3-pointers (9-3). The Heat made 15 more free throws (32-17) and had two more rebounds (38-36) but the Celtics had six more assists (24-18) and four less turnovers (14-10).

The Green will look to wrap up their four-game road trip 3-1 with a win tomorrow night in Memphis against the talented but inconsistent Grizzlies.

Canadiens fans: Eurotrash residing in North America

It figures that my first Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens game at the TD Garden would be a turd pie.

The Bruins (8-4-1) seemed to have tired legs from the start (due to their taxing comeback the night before against the Penguins) and the Canadiens (10-5-1) took it to them in a thorough 3-1 beating.

Since Boston was so flat, I have to say the crowd while a couple pops deep was very disappointing. The Bruins did not give us much to cheer about but is it too much to ask to start a fight with a Canadiens fan in the cheap seats?

Montreal's fans were well represented, wearing their red proudly and wildly cheering on this November tilt that ultimately means absolutely nothing.

Poor Tuukka Rask. He played well again last night, making 38 saves and standing on his head at times but it wasn't enough for his team which seems allergic to wins with him between the pipes this season.

Canadiens whipping boy Carey Price (34 saves) did his job but you just know if the team makes the playoffs, he'll choke since that's what he does.

We had barely settled into our cramped seats when Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban (great name) scored a power play goal at 5:19 of the first period from Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara answered with his second goal in as many nights. He was assisted by Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron. Z took the open late to the net, got close to Price and picked a corner with a snap shot.

After a scoreless second period, as a Bruins honk I hoped that an epic third period was in store. Not so much. Former BC midget Brian Gionta (from Michael Cammalleri and Plekanec) scored on a power play 29 seconds into the final frame. Chara took a shaky interference call near the end of the second period and it came back to haunt them.

Washed up Scott Gomez put it away at 10:30 from Andrei Kostitsyn and Roman Hamrlik.

The Bruins will look to bounce back at home tomorrow night as they host the Ottawa Senators in another Northeast Division matchup.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bruins score as many goals vs. Penguins as they would have in a month last season

So far, this season by the Boston Bruins seems like a reward for their long suffering fans who watched last season end in such utter disgrace.

The games still don't mean much now but how can you not be excited by the way the Bs are playing? It's like they are a completely different squad (with only a few new faces) from the one that struggled so mightily last season to put the puck in the net.

Trailing in the second or third period doesn't mean anything as last night showed. Boston (8-3-1) was down 4-2 heading into the third at Pittsburgh's (7-8-1) CONSOL Energy Arena but rallied for five straight goals in a rousing 7-4 victory.

The most impressive stat was that 15 of 18 Bruins registered points in the game. Mark Recchi (1 goal, 2 assists), Patrice Bergeron (2 assists) and Nathan Horton (1 goal, 1 assist) led the way with multiple points.

Tim Thomas (42 saves) did not have his best performance but at least he was much better than Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson (26 saves).

The first period set the stage with a frenetic pace and a pair of fights. Arron Asham opened the scoring for Pittsburgh with a rebound off an Evgeni Malkin (2 assists) shot. Piece of shit Matt Cooke also assisted.

Shawn Thornton fought Eric Godard and two seconds later, Gregory Campbell squared off with Maxime Talbot.

The brawls seemed to fire up the Bruins as Recchi tied it up a few minutes later with a power play goal. Tyler Seguin set him up with a great cross ice feed and after Recchi's first shot was stopped, he stayed with it and roofed it for his first goal of the season. Bergeron also assisted on it.

Brad Marchand gave Boston a 2-1 lead later in the first period with an unassisted snipe and then Penguins defenseman (and BC product) Brooks Orpik tied it up with assists to Malkin and Sidney Crosby (1 goal, 2 assists).

In the last five minutes of the second period, Chris Kunitz (from Kris Letang and Crosby) and Crosby on the power play (from Alex Goligoski and Letang) put Pittsburgh up 4-2.

As they showed last week against the Capitals (before eventually falling 5-3), third period deficits don't faze the Bruins.

Horton (from Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Hunwick) and Zdeno Chara (from Jordan Caron - first NHL assist - and Recchi) scored 15 seconds apart to tie it up not even five minutes into the third period.

From there, it was all Boston as Thornton (from Campbell and Adam McQuaid) and Blake Wheeler (from Recchi and Michael Ryder) were the unlikely combo to score the most important goals. Milan Lucic wrapped it up with an empty-netter from Horton and Bergeron.

After losing two in a row and looking like they were going down again last night, the comeback was a great sign of things to build on. Boston comes home tonight to host bitter rival Montreal in the teams' first meeting this season.

I'll be there, I'm pumped for my first Bruins-Canadiens game. The clown Canadiens fans show up in big numbers which always makes it a great atmosphere.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back to backs are going to be an issue all season, huh?

A win slipped thru the Boston Celtics' hands last night as they suffered a couple defensive breakdowns in crunch time and as a result, lost 89-87 to the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Arena.

Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks (4-2) with a game-high 25 points and Jason Terry added 17 points off the bench. Not surprisingly, they both made the biggest shots in the win. Terry hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 87 and then Nowitzki hit a mid-range jumper over Glen Davis (8 points).

Boston (6-2) had two chances to tie or win it but an uncontested 3-pointer by Rajon Rondo (11 points, 15 assists, 6 rebounds, 5 steals) and a fadeaway three by Kevin Garnett (18 points, 15 rebounds) are not exactly the first, second or third options in a late-game situation.

Despite having their five-game win streak snapped, this one had some meaning for the Celts since KG had probably his most impressive game yet (3 alley-oops from Rondo). Let's close the book on last season, time has caught up to him somewhat but he's not washed up yet and that's a big development for this team.

Paul Pierce also had a very nice game with 24 points and seven rebounds. Ray Allen had 11 points. Jermaine O'Neal left the contest in the second quarter and didn't return with knee soreness. Can we merge him and Shaq together? There's just no way either of them is healthy for more than half a season apart.

Tyson Chandler had 12 points and 13 rebounds for Dallas, Caron Butler and JJ Barea (Northeastern in the house!) added 11 points apiece and the ageless Jason Kidd had a classic JKidd line: 0 points, 10 assists.

In the second night of a back to back, against two playoff teams, the Celts started off slowly as usual. The Mavs led 23-19 after the first quarter and 50-40 at the half (the first time this season that Boston has trailed by double digits).

Dallas is a team that lives on jumpers (which is why they choke every year in the playoffs) so when those didn't fall in the third quarter, the Cs climbed back in (29-20).

Boston was up by five late in the fourth quarter (19-18 Dallas) but couldn't get enough stops and/or timely buckets to get a nice road victory.

Dallas shot 50.0% to Boston's 41.8%. The Mavs also took 13 more free throws (20-7) and made 10 more (17-7). Boston had four more rebounds (42-38), four more assists (24-20) and five more steals (11-6). Dallas had six more blocks (8-2), showing how little lift there was in Boston's legs (third game in four nights).

The Cs get a couple days off then travel to Miami on Thursday to face LeBron, Wade, Bosh and the Heat for the second time this season. I guess the NBA is taking a page out of MLB's playbook to have overkill early in the regular season of the money matchups (ala Red Sox-Yankees). Thank you Donald Sterns.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Celtics are deeper than most give them credit for

For good reason, the Oklahoma City Thunder entered this season as one of the NBA's most hyped teams. With Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green, they have the best young nucleus in the NBA and they play a fun, up-tempo style that will provide much excitement in a podunk city.

The Boston Celtics began a four-game road trip last night at the Ford Center and they showed why they are still one of the top teams in the league - with defense and a much deeper bench - in a 92-83 win.

Green was out with an ankle injury but Durant (game-high 34 points, 6 rebounds) and Westbrook (16 points, 10 assists) put up some numbers. The problem for the Thunder (3-3) was that they don't have much beyond those three young studs. Nenad Kristic added 13 points and Serge Ibaka (8 points, 11 rebounds) did his energy thing but that's about it.

Ray Allen led the Celtics (6-1) with 19 points, Paul Pierce had 17 and Rajon Rondo notched 10 points and 10 assists. Kevin Garnett (8 points, 8 rebounds) and Jermaine O'Neal (9 rebounds, 2 blocks) also made some plays.

For the first time this young season, the Celtics' bench completely dominated the opposition to the tune of 33-12 and that was without Delonte West. Nate Robinson and Semih Erden both scored nine points, Glen Davis had eight points and Marquis Daniels added seven points.

Boston led 28-21 after the first quarter and 58-37 at the half thanks to a running, one-handed 3-pointer by Robinson at the halftime buzzer.

Oklahoma City woke up in the third quarter, thanks to Westbrook's nine straight points, and were down 73-64 entering the fourth quarter.

Things got a little scary since the Cs 22-point lead was down to six after James Harden's 3-pointer but defensive stops and big shots by Davis (three foul line jumpers in a row) allowed Boston to hold on (19-19 in the fourth).

They will definitely need a good performance from the bench tonight as they go to Dallas to meet the Mavericks.

On a side note, I decided last week to DVR all Celtics and Bruins games this season since I think they both have a chance to be really good and I don't want to miss anything that you can't find in highlights and game stories. It's the best decision I've made in a long time, both of these teams are very enjoyable to watch and the hometown announcers on Comcast Sportsnet and NESN are some of the best around.

What the hell happened in Cleveland?

There is a reason I always tell people that I never gamble on the NFL (besides Fantasy Football which is totally different) - it is impossible to predict!

How else could you explain the Cleveland Browns looking like the best team in football yesterday as they dismantled the Patriots 34-14 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Yes New England (6-2) was due for a letdown after playing great football for the past five games (all wins) but they would find a way to beat Cleveland (3-5), right?

Nope, the term trap game was an understatement as everything went the Browns' way while fullback Peyton Hillis (career-high 184 yards and two touchdowns) resembled Walter Payton and rookie quarterback Colt McCoy (174 yards passing, 16-yard rushing TD) looked polished in just his third NFL start.

Basically, the only Patriots that bothered to show up were rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez (5 catches, 48 yards, 2 TDs) and Danny Woodhead (54 yards rushing, 38 yards receiving).

This one-sided beating recalled the pasting the Ravens administered in the playoffs last season but come on, that was Baltimore not the Browns. Sure they won in New Orleans two weeks ago and then had a bye but did anybody that doesn't reside in the dog pound take Cleveland seriously?

Phil Dawson hit a 38-yard field goal on the Browns' opening drive. A miscommunication between Sammy Morris and Rob Gronkowski on the ensuing kickoff led to former Pat Ray Ventrone recovering deep in Pats territory. From there, Hillis capped off the short drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

Hernandez got New England on the board in the second quarter with his first NFL touchdown, a 2-yard pass from Tom Brady (19 for 36, 224 yards, 2 touchdowns) that was actually intended for Gronkowski. It was tipped but Hernandez managed to make the athletic play and catch it in the back of the end zone.

Gronkowski (4 catches, 47 yards) had a miserable day befitting of a rookie, kind of like Hernandez against the Ravens earlier this season. Besides the kickoff mistake, he dropped a couple passes, had a penalty and worst of all, fumbled near the goal-line when New England was driving late in the first half (down 17-7).

Cleveland scored on a gimmick play to go up 17-7 later in the second quarter when wide receiver Chansi Stuckey took the handoff from Josh Cribbs and ran around the left side for an 11-yard score. It completely fooled the Patriots defense and summed up a day when they didn't know how to stop Eric Mangini's improving team.

McCoy's 16-yard touchdown run accounted for the only score in the third quarter and Dawson added another kick in the fourth quarter (37 yards) before the Patriots showed a little pulse with Hernandez's 1-yard touchdown catch.

However, that was short-lived as Hillis successfully ran out the clock and added more points with a humiliating 35-yard touchdown run.

As if the day couldn't get any worse, New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski left the game with a thigh injury, forcing Wes Welker to kick the second extra point. We'll see how serious Gostkowski's injury is moving forward.

Not that they deserved it at all but the Detroit Lions didn't do the Pats any favors as they choked against the New York Jets and lost in overtime. The Patriots and Jets are tied atop the AFC East at 6-2 while the Dolphins are 4-4 and the Bills are 0-8.

With next Sunday night's game at Pittsburgh and then hosting the Colts in two weeks, this was a game that New England had to have and they failed epically. The young defense will need to have a short memory if they're going to make any progress during the meat of the schedule.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Former Bruins scrub night at the Garden goes swimmingly

Maybe it's because I was never more than an average athlete but I always find myself developing a special attachment to the pro athletes that aren't the superstars on the four Boston teams.

Obviously, if you're playing a sport for a living, you're doing something right but there's something interesting and refreshing about the people that appreciate it and don't take it for granted.

It wasn't officially recognized but last night might as well have been former Bruins scrub night as a pair of them made a big return in the St. Louis Blues' 2-1 shootout win over the Bs.

Vladimir Sobotka scored St. Louis' (8-1-2) lone goal in regulation and then Brad Boyes had the deciding tally in the third round of the shootout.

Boston (7-3-1) received a goal from Gregory Campbell (his first of his Bruins career) to tie it in the third period but they were befuddled by bad luck. Nathan Horton had two near goals waved off and then Patrice Bergeron and Michael Ryder hit the post in the shootout.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (34 saves) continues to look for his first win of the 2010-2011 season (0-3-0) and this was one he truly deserved better in.

On the other end of the ice, Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak (33 saves) played well in what was a very entertaining Saturday night game.

Sobotka scored his first of the season at 16:40 of the first period from Alexander Steen.

After a scoreless second period (highlighted by two fights - David Backes vs. Andrew Ference and Mark Stuart vs. B.J. Crombeen), Campbell tied it up with seven minutes left in regulation. Ryder and Brad Marchand assisted on the goal.

Boston will look to snap its two game losing streak on Wednesday as they go to Pittsburgh to face Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tim Thomas & Bruins come back down to Earth

After beating the Washington Capitals the first two times they played this season and with Tim Thomas off to the best start in franchise history, both steaks were bound to come to an end sooner or later.

They both went down last night at the Verizon Center in Washington DC as the Captials (9-4-0) beat the Bruins (7-3-0).

Washington scored three goals in the second period, which forced Claude Julien to yank Thomas (22 saves). Of course, the B's scored three goals in a frantic third period comeback but the Captials - the San Jose Sharks of the Eastern Conference - can still score some goals and they got the game-winner in the third period before an empty-netter put this one in the win column.

Defenseman Tyler Sloan began the Caps' second period barrage with a blast from the point, 59 seconds into the frame. He was assisted by Tomas Fleischmann.

Mike Green made it 2-0 with a nice move, assisted by Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. The key goal was by Alex Semin, late in the second period, as he went on a shorthanded odd man rush and slammed home a feed from Green.

With Tuukka Rask (12 saves) in between the pipes in the third period, you have to give the Bruins credit for not giving up.

Michael Ryder sparked the three goal flurry with a power play goal (poking home a rebound with a backhander) at 3:07 from Mark Recchi and Dennis Seidenberg. Less than a minute later, Nathan Horton scored another power play goal, this one from Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic.

One of the most unlikely sources tied it up as Shawn Thornton scored on a pretty backhander, following a 2-on-1 breakaway. Brad Marchand and Mark Stuart assisted.

Washington goaltender Michael Neuvirth (11 saves) was pulled at that point, for rookie Braden Holtby (4 saves), who had never played before in the NHL.

At 13:25, Caps defenseman John Carlson scored the game-winner from Eric Fehr and Boyd Gordon and then Ovechkin (from Backstrom and Jeff Schultz) whipped in the empty-netter.

The B's are back home tonight as they host the St. Louis Blues.

Only in Boston would Brian Scalabrine get a standing ovation

At a jaded 27 years old, it takes a lot to surprise me these days. However, I was at the Celtics-Bulls game last night at the TD Garden and I have to say that I was shocked at what I heard from the Massholes around me.

Former Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau was back in town for the first time as Chicago's head coach. Along with him was former Celtics joker Brian Scalabrine. Naturally, when they were both introduced on the HD scoreboard with tribute videos, Thibodeau didn't get much of a reaction (even though he deserved it, since he was the defensive mastermind of the last couple seasons) while Scal (one of the most useless players in the NBA, albeit a funny, self-aware one) received a standing ovation.

Yikes. I guess all you can say is the the pink hats that have taken over Red Sox games at Fenway Park, have found their way to the Garden when the weather gets cold. I don't think it was about being ironic too, no, no, people genuinely thought Scal deserved the applause. Is this real life?

Anyways, it was a hell of a game as the Celts (5-1) won 110-105 in overtime.

Much like the Hawks, the Bulls (2-3) are one of those teams that for whatever reason, matches up well with the C's. Surprisingly, it wasn't even all about Derrick Rose (18 points, 9 assists) although he had his highlights. Joakim Noah had a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds. Luol Deng added 20 points and six rebounds while Taj Gibson notched 18 points and seven rebounds.

Ray Allen led Boston with 25 points, including a rare dunk in OT. Kevin Garnett added 16 points and 10 rebounds, Jermaine O'Neal scored 12 points, Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 11 assists while Paul Pierce was off all night with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The bench was the story though for the C's as Glen Davis (15 points), Marquis Daniels (13 points) and Nate Robinson (7 points) outscored Chicago's bench 37-19.

The Bulls led 23-19 after an ugly first quarter but the Celtics exploded in the second quarter (30-15) for a 49-38 lead. Boston increased their lead up to 16 in the third quarter before the inevitable Bulls run (26-23 Chicago third quarter). It seemed like Chicago couldn't miss in the fourth quarter (32-24) and as a result, it went to overtime. The Bulls actually had the ball on the last possession with a chance to win it but Rondo knocked it away from Rose.

Boston goes to Oklahoma City tomorrow night, the tough start of a four-game road trip.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pierce reaches elite company in Celtics history

In overtime last night, Paul Pierce joined John Havlicek and Larry Bird as the only Celtics players to reach 20,000 points in their career with just Boston.

It's been a remarkable turnaround for Pierce personally and professionally and save for the occasional wheelchair drama, he's a steady leader that truly loves to play here and appreciates being with one storied franchise for his whole career.

The Celtics (4-1) beat the Bucks (1-4) 105-102 at the TD Garden. It marks the first time this season that Boston has won on back to back nights, something that will be talked about often until they prove it is real or not.

Pierce had a game-high 28 points, Ray Allen scored 23, Rajon Rondo nearly had another triple double (17 points, 15 assists, 8 rebounds) and Kevin Garnett had 13 points and eight rebounds. Glen Davis continued to be the guy off the bench, scoring 14 points and coming up with several great hustle plays.

Despite its poor start, the Bucks are a team to watch this season, particularly if Andrew Bogut (21 points, 13 rebounds) stays healthy. They have a bunch of players not really known around the NBA but they can play.

Carlos Delfino had 15 points, Ersan Ilyasova scored 15 off the bench, Brandon Jennings added 13 points while Corey Maggette (11) and Keyon Dooling (10) were in double figures.

Like almost every NBA game, this one was back and forth. The Celts led 25-16 after one quarter but their old legs showed up in the second quarter (31-22 Milwaukee). It was a gross third quarter (16-15) but Boston seemed to take control in crunch time. They were up six with under two minutes left but the Bucks kept hitting shots and making free throws, hence overtime.

Former Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau returns to Boston tomorrow night with his new team, the Chicago Bulls. This rivalry developed two seasons ago with the epic first round playoff series and it will continue as long as Rondo and Derrick Rose are on these respective teams. Should be a good one and I'm happy to say, I'll be in the building.

Get set for another miserable winter in Buffalo

Tim Thomas gave up a season-high two goals but somehow the Bruins still managed to win, 5-2 last night in Buffalo's HSBC Arena.

Thomas (7-0-0) made 33 saves and became the first Bruins goalie in franchise history to start out with that spotless mark.

This one was over early (maybe before it started since Sabres goalie Ryan Miller was out with an injury) as the B's (7-2-0) scored three goals in the first period.

The Sabres (3-8-2) gave up two straight shorthanded in the first period, a pathetic start for a terrible team. Brad Marchand took advantage of missed connection to go in on a breakaway and pot his first NHL goal. Then Patrice Bergeron scored after his first shot was blocked but then he whipped a snipe of a wrist shot in (from Marchand and Gregory Campbell).

Even Blake Wheeler got in on the scoring act (a rare thing) as he tapped in a nice feed from Michael Ryder (stationed behind the Buffalo goal) later in the first period. Zdeno Chara also assisted on Wheeler's first of the season.

Ryder kept the good times rolling with his third of the season 2:11 into the second period.

Buffalo's Drew Stafford got his team on the board with a power play goal at 16:39 in the second period. He was right in front of Thomas and was able to jam it home.

The Sabres added another grimy goal in the third period, from Andrej Sekera. Finally, Milan Lucic iced it with an empty-netter with 2:07. Nathan Horton and David Krejci assisted on Looch's goal.

Boston goes to our nation's capital tomorrow night for its third matchup already with the Capitals. They've beaten them the first two times so Washington is due for a win at some point.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rajon Rondo is from another planet

Admittedly, it's hard to get pumped out about any NBA regular season game unless you're going or some other special situation.

Still, there's a reason I set the DVR for the Celtics' game at the Detroit Pistons last night and I plan to the do the same for the rest of the season - Rajon Rondo.

Boston's young point guard is the heart and soul of the team and he is playing on another level right now.

In last night's easy 106-89 win for the Celts (3-1) at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Rondo had 17 assists and no turnovers. Think about that. This comes after a triple-double on Friday vs. the Knicks with 24 assists (four short of the franchise record by Bob Cousy).

I've never seen a guy that's able to control the game like he can, especially when he's not much of a scoring threat at all himself.

Kevin Garnett looks more like the 2008 KG than last year's shadow of himself. He had 22 points, Paul Pierce had 21 points and Ray Allen added 16 points.

In his first start for the Green, zombie Jermaine O'Neal even had 12 points and two blocks. He was getting plenty of open looks so if he can knock a few shots down a game, Boston will be in great shape. Him and Shaq are sure to be hurt a ton this season and Kendrick Perkins won't come back until at least January.

The C's bench continues to play well without its leader - Delonte West. Glen Davis had 10 points, Marquis Daniels scored nine while rookies Luke Harangody (4 points) and Semih Erden (2 points, 2 blocks) scored their first NBA buckets in limited action.

Detroit (0-4) is a mess as they're off to their first 0-4 start in 11 seasons. They can't seem to decide if they want to completely rebuild around Rodney Stuckey (15 points) and Austin Daye (16 points) or live off past glory with Ben Wallace (6 points, 8 rebounds) and Tayshaun Prince (10 points), not to mention Richard Hamilton, who didn't play since he's injured.

I don't know where Ben Gordon (14 points) fits into that equation but either way, the Pistons are going nowhere fast despite having a decent collection of talent. Charlie Villanueva should start, even though he doesn't play defense, since he put up a team-high 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Boston shot 51.9% to Detroit's 44.9%. The Celtics made five more 3-pointers (7-2) and shot 100% from the free throw line (18 for 18). Oh and they had a whopping 20 more assists (33-13), eight more steals (10-2) and five more blocks (7-2). The Pistons had 17 turnovers while the C's only had eight, which was a great sign since that's been a major issue in their first few games this season.

The other big issue will come tonight as they face the Milwaukee Bucks at the TD Garden. Can the Celts beat a good team in the second night of back to back games? The Bucks have gotten off to a slow start but the Celtics lost in Cleveland last week under similar circumstances to a bad team.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween from the Minnesota Vikings

As expected, the Minnesota Vikings coming to Gillette yesterday was similar to the circus coming to the TD Garden.

There was plenty of media coverage and in the end, the team with more substance (the Patriots) beat a team loaded with way more talent (the Vikings) but completely held back by their joke of a quarterback (Brett Favre) and powerless, enabler of a head coach (Brad Childress).

New England (6-1) won their fifth straight game overall, 28-18 over Minnesota (2-5) and surprisingly Favre (22 of 32, 259 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT) didn't cost them the game. However, since he couldn't win, he still had to get some attention and he successfully did that by acting like he was dead after a fourth quarter hit.

His pathetic 41-year old body was dragged off the field and he was laid on the training table. My buddy compared it to the Undertaker of WWF fame cause once the Vikings scored on the next play after he left, he raised his arm then sat up like nothing happened. Sure, he had a nasty laceration on his chin (which required eight stitches) but I feel no pity for the biggest fraud in sports and possibly on the planet.

Nobody with the Vikings has the balls to sit him down when he clearly can't help this Super Bowl contender as they fade faster than Randy Moss (1 catch, 8 yards) in crunch time.

Ah yes, it was Moss' return to Gillette after his surprising trade four weeks ago. The only thing more predictable than Favre's attention whore tendencies are seeing Moss completely disappear against our average secondary. Moss is done, over the hill, case closed.

He opened the field up for his teammates but he can't be counted on to do anything other than that anymore. It's all reputation with him now, his skills have really diminished. Seeing him reflect on his days as a Patriot after the game was strange but that's typical for his post-game stream of consciousness diatribes.

Adrian Peterson (92 yards rushing, 50 yards receiving) is still the best running back in the NFL, sorry Chris Johnson, but for the most part, the Pats contained him. He started off the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter. It's a moot point since he probably would have gotten in on the next play (third down) but it didn't look like he broke the plain since Jerod Mayo (14 tackles) met him in the air and sent him flying back with a shoulder thump.

New England answered on the next drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by everybody's favorite folk hero Danny Woodhead (58 yards).

Childress had a chance to take a 10-7 lead into halftime but decided to predictably run up the gut with Peterson on fourth down late in the second quarter and he was stuffed.

Ryan Longwell gave the Vikings a 10-7 lead on their first drive of the third quarter with a 24-yard kick.

That's when the luck and bounces started to go the Patriots' way. Brandon Tate caught a 65-yard touchdown pass from Brady on a broken play. Brady had absolutely nobody to throw to but he bought time with a spin move and then found Tate (101 yards receiving) wide open on the sideline after his defender bit on a short pass.

After that, Percy Harvin (6 catches, 104 yards) had a reception ripped from his hands by Devin McCourty, who returned it 37 yards. How much of a stud is McCourty? Nobody knew who he was when he was drafted late in the first round this April but he's proven to be a solid all-around football player: he can cover, tackle and play special teams. What's not to like about him?

From there, it was the BenJarvus Green-Ellis (career-high 112 yards rushing) show. He used the short field to get a 13-yard TD run which put the Pats up 21-10 late in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota was in the red zone halfway through the fourth quarter when Favre got crushed by bum Myron Pryor. On the next play, Tavaris Jackson threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Naufahu Tahi and then found Harvin for a nice grab in the corner of the end zone on the two-point conversion.

I'm not dumb enough to say Tavaris Jackson is the answer but how long can the Vikings stick with Favre? This season is pretty much a wrap already unless they win out or go on a crazy run (which is quite unlikely).

The Pats iced it with a long, clock-killing drive, including a 16-yard catch and run by Woodhead on third-and-12. Green-Ellis put it away with a 2-yard touchdown run, his first two TD game of his career.

Don't look now but New England is in first place in the AFC East, thanks to the Packers' shutout of the Jets, and they have the best record in the NFL. That doesn't mean anything in the middle of the season but it's crazy how much progress they've already made this season.

The Patriots go to Cleveland next Sunday afternoon to play the Browns. I'm not going to break out my Super Bowl DVDs quite yet but this season is quickly starting to feel like one of those magical years.