Daily Noontime – January 9, 2012

Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos punched their ticket to the AFC Divisional Round on Saturday, Jan. 14! (Photo Credit: Helmet2Helmet.net)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Good Monday morning to everyone, and welcome to yet another grand edition of the Daily Noontime! Here are some headlines, news, and much more.

* The Denver Broncos earned a rematch against the New England Patriots on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium, as Tim Tebow threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in overtime on Sunday to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 29-23.

* Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault released some harsh words toward Boston’s Brad Marchand, who recorded a vicious low hit on Sami Salo. The NHL office is expected to phone Marchand on Monday in regards to a possible suspension, which isn’t good news for the Bruins.

* According to sources – the Boston Red Sox have agreed to terms with free agent pitcher Aaron Cook on a minor league deal, yet, it’s pending a physical. Cook spent the past three years in Colorado, and appeared in 18 games in 2011.

* The New England Patriots announced on Sunday evening that they’ve officially re-hired and signed Josh McDaniels as an offensive assistant for the remainder of the season/postseason, too.

Claude Julien’s Take On Boston’s Loss Against Vancouver

Claude Julien wasn't too happy on Saturday afternoon about his team's performance against Vancouver! (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By Andy Deossa 

BOSTON, MA – The Bruins knew that they would be facing a Canucks’ team with a lot of vengeance on Saturday. What the B’s didn’t know is that they would also be going against the referees in their 4-3 loss to Vancouver on Saturday afternoon.

In what may have been the most physical game of the NHL season, the B’s and Canucks combined for 30 penalties, 18 power plays and 107 total penalty minutes. Boston went 0-for-7 on the man advantage while Vancouver scored all four of their goals on the power play, going 4-for-11.

It’s not typical to see 30 penalties in one game, but the refs did have a lot of questionable calls on Saturday. They tried to do their best to control the game, but despite that, they tossed two Bruins players as both Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand were given 10-minute game misconducts.

When asked about it after the game, Claude Julien wasn’t too happy, saying, “It doesn’t really matter guys. Like I said – you guys know – we can’t comment. Our job is to assess our team. Our job is to assess our players. Our job is not to assess or comment on referees. I’m not stupid enough to stand up here and criticize them. What I can tell you is that [Vancouver] scored four power play goals, so we gave them an opportunity to score on their bread and butter. Instead of criticizing the referees, I would much prefer criticizing us for the penalties – whether they’re worthy or not, take the responsibility”

Lucic received his penalty in the first period when he allegedly left the bench to take part of a scrum on the ice. After further review, the NHL rescinded the game misconduct because Lucic was entering a shift which legally allowed him to be on the ice.

However, Marchand’s penalty is a bit debatable. In effort to avoid getting slammed into the boards by Sami Salo, Marchand ducked and hit Salo low. The Canucks defenseman hit the ice hard and stayed down for a while before heading down the tunnel. Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault later announced that Salo had suffered an upper body injury and will be reevaluated.

As aforementioned, Julien didn’t want to talk about the refs but he did share his opinion on the incident.

“All I’m going to tell you is that I always told my players that they need to protect themselves. The last thing I want my players to do is get hit and then end up with a concussion, said the Bruins head coach. “In my opinion, if guys start protecting themselves the way Marchand did, maybe guys will stop taking runs at other guys because that’s the consequences you end up paying for taking runs at guys, too.”

Would the outcome have been different if Lucic hadn’t been sent out of the game? Maybe. Regardless, it wasn’t the deciding factor. Boston’s played well five-on-five, but facing 11 power plays — without two of your best forwards — is no easy task for any team.

“It was what it was,” said Julien after the game. “I think the build-up from last year is still there, but I’m going to reiterate the same thing I said this week: It was only a two-point game, and that’s how we had to approach it. There’s a lot that happened last year in the playoffs that carried over to today’s game. As much as the referees tried to control it, at times, it became a challenge.”

Although it wasn’t the outcome the Bruins hoped for, Julien made no excuses for the loss by stating, “They did the right things, and we didn’t do enough to win the hockey game. Let’s be man enough to admit it and move on.”

Sizing up the NHL Offseason Awards

Tim Thomas is just one of the many who could be awarded an end of the year award.

By Dan Rubin 

The NHL’s official final act of the 2010-2011 season will be to hand out its awards amidst the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. It’s the last day where the league celebrates the season it had, and it closes the book on a magical ride resulting in one team’s hoisting of the Stanley Cup. With news the NHL salary cap and salary floor are both increasing due to increased visibility, ratings, and revenue, there has never been a better time to be a player in the NHL. When free agency begins on July 1, there will be a crop of young stars waiting to make splashes in the new league, but first, we take a look and predict the winners of the major awards to be handed out on June 22, from The Strip.

 Hart Memorial Trophy (League MVP):

Nominees: Corey Perry (Anaheim); Daniel Sedin (Vancouver); Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay)

Who Should Win: Perry. Perry posted 50 goals and 48 assists for a Ducks team that finished second in the Pacific Division. He was the only 50-goal scorer in the league this year, a plateau that is impressive unto itself. He also scored a full 18 points more than the team’s second-leading scorer (Teemu Selanne), and he had 16 goals more than the next highest goal scorer (Bobby Ryan). Compare that to Sedin, who had the same amount of goals as Ryan Kesler for the Canucks and Martin St. Louis, who led his team in points by only eight and had a season’s plus/minus of zero. If both Sedin and St. Louis are taken out of the equation, their teams probably have similar seasons to the ones they had. Taking Perry out of the equation puts Anaheim down the barrel of the division and possibly out of the playoffs.

Who Will Win: Sedin. Perry’s plus/minus pales in comparison to Sedin, who posted a whopping +30.  Even though he was exposed in the playoffs, Perry doesn’t nearly have the name recognition. And even though he scored more goals than Sedin, the Canuck had a 104-point season that included 63 assists.  Overall, Sedin had the better numbers, even if he was on a better team. Plus, the face of the league needs to be recognizable, and voters know that.  Daniel Sedin is a much more recognizable name and face than Corey Perry.

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Boston Wins The Stanley Cup, Beats Vancouver 4-0 in Game 7

It's been a long 39-years, but on Wednesday, Boston won its sixth Stanley Cup Championship against Vancouver!

By Matt Noonan 

The Boston Bruins won the cup; the Boston Bruins won the cup!

Wait, did Boston actually win the Stanley Cup? That’s Lord Stanley’s Cup, right? Yep, the men dressed as grown-up bumblebees were victorious on Wednesday evening, as they defeated the New York Yankees on ice, (a.k.a. Vancouver Canucks), 4-0.

Wake up Mayor Thomas Menino, contact Governor Deval Patrick and alert the Boston Police Department because the home team was victorious.

This isn’t something that happens over night or once a month, but really, once every few years. The Bruins haven’t experienced this much joy since Richard Nixon was the president of the United States and America was involved with the Vietnam War. Although, 39-years later, the current men dressed in Black and Gold have something to celebrate, the franchises sixth championship.

Patrice Begeron and Brad Marchand each netted two goals a piece and yes, they baffled Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, who finished Game 7 with only 17-saves.

“In this one game, they were the better team,” Alain Vigneault said via NHL.com.

Tim Thomas played phenomenally, as he denied 37-shots and ended the ’11 postseason with four shutouts, which is quite impressive.

“Boston played a real strong game. They’ve got great goaltending and [they] deserved to win,” Vigneault said.

All in all, it took seven games against Montreal, Tampa Bay and Vancouver, as well as four against Philadelphia, but in the end, Boston finished the ’10-’11 season as NHL champions for the first time since 1972.

NHL Playoffs: Nothing Like Game Seven

Game Seven's are usually the last resort, but in this case, six teams are playing for their Stanley Cup lives!

By Brian Willwerth

Game Seven.

They are two of the most magical words in sports. There is nothing like it: the winner moves on, the loser heads home for the summer. In the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there are three, juicy winner-take-all games to look forward to.

(7) Buffalo Sabres at (2) Philadelphia Flyers   (Tuesday 7:30 p.m.):

This has been one heck of a series.  Five of the six games have been decided by one goal. The last two have gone to overtime, with each team winning on the other’s home ice. Speaking of road warriors, the visiting team has won four times, with the Sabres taking two of three in Philadelphia. The bad blood between these two teams got turned up a notch in Game Six, when Philly’s captain Mike Richards shoved Buffalo’s Tim Connolly head first into the boards. Richards was called for a penalty, but Buffalo wanted more: a suspension for the decisive game.  The NHL said no.

Will there be revenge on Buffalo’s mind on Tuesday night?  Probably not – there is just too much at stake – but it does bear watching.  Richards will play.  Connolly will not.

(8) Chicago Blackhawks at (1) Vancouver Canucks   (10 p.m. Tuesday):

How much pressure is on the Presidents’ trophy winners for this one?  The Canucks looked to be well on their way to the conference semifinals a little more than a week ago. Then the defending Stanley Cup champions woke up and won three straight: two blowout victories followed by an overtime winner Sunday night in Game Six.

Roberto Luongo was benched in that last game, but entered in the third period after Cory Schneider suffered an injury and gave up the game-winning goal in OT.

Head coach Alain Vigneault says Luongo will get the nod in Game Seven.  The ‘Hawks are trying to become the fourth team in NHL history to come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series.

(5) Tampa Bay Lightning at (4) Pittsburgh Penguins  (Wednesday TBA):

Like the Canucks, the Penguins probably felt they had this series in the bag after winning Game Four in double-overtime in Tampa Bay. But the Lightning came back with an eight-goal outburst in Game Five, followed by a victory on home ice Monday night to even the series.

This quarterfinal matchup hasn’t gotten the attention that some of the other series have, but that does not diminish the fact that one of these teams will be all done come Wednesday night.

San Jose beats Los Angles:

Just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday, the L.A. Kings had a chance to send a fourth series to a seventh game.  But Joe Thornton (remember him?) made sure that wouldn’t happen. His overtime goal gave the Sharks a 4-3 win, and a 4-2 victory in the series.

Final Thought:

Three Game Sevens, two nights, plus, throw in Game Six (and possibly seven) between the Bruins and Canadiens, and you’ve got a hockey fan’s paradise.