Note From The Editor: Announcing Some New Coverage Plans for Noontime Sports

Note From Editor

By Matt Noonan | @MattNoonan11 

Hey Everyone,

Happy Tuesday (and almost Fourth of July)! Hope everyone has some great plans in-store to celebrate America’s Birthday with family and friends tomorrow.

It has been a while since I did a quick check-in, so I thought, why not today?

The sports world is somewhat in a holding pattern as we anxiously await the start of another football season, but there is some news from the NBA about two well-known players changing teams: LeBron James is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers while DeMarcus Cousins inked his name to a contract with the Golden State Warriors.

Sure, more news will come from the NBA world over the next few days and weeks, and hopefully my Boston Celtics can lock-up Marcus Smart for another year or two, so he can help the Green and White take down the Philadelphia 76ers in next year’s Eastern Conference Finals.

But enough about the NBA, let me switch gears to an update on where Noontime Sports is headed over the next few months and what you can expect from both our blog and social media channels going forward.

  • More Feature Stories: We will be producing long-form stories from the New England (and northeast) baseball, basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse and soccer worlds, which will be similar to what I produced over the past three years on the Amherst College football and Babson College field hockey teams.
  • New England Top 10 Polls: The New England Top 10s on basketball, football and lacrosse will return once again this school year, so make sure to stay tuned for our initial poll of the 2018-19 school year next month.
  • Stay Social: In case you missed it (or did not know), we recently launched a few new Twitter handles that focus on baseball, hockey and soccer. You should definitely click follow because these channels will be producing content all about their sports. Additionally, these channels will be our go-to for game coverage, stories, links and videos. We will make sure to give you a heads-up on our main Twitter handle (@NoontimeSports) which handle you should follow for in-game updates, scores and news.
  • Pro, Prep School and High Schools will be included in our 2018-19 content coverage plan: When I first launched Noontime Sports in May 2009, my friends and I initially wrote blogs about pro sports. And while we used to include pro coverage before switching to just college sports, my thought is to welcome it back, but more in short or long-form pieces. Consider them more columns or opinion pieces. We also used to cover some high school sports when we launched, too, so one should expect some features on prep and high school teams this coming school year, as well. Our focus will remain on the college sports world, but expect to see some additional content on professional, prep and high school world.
  • We welcome story ideas or pitches for podcasts: Have a story idea or an idea for a podcast? Then let me know! Feel free to send me an email to MattNoonan@noontimesports.com. I would love to hear from you – any input is always welcome!

Well, that concludes my ‘editor’s note’ about some exciting content changes for Noontime Sports. I am really excited to branch out and tell some different stories, beginning later this summer. And as always, thank you for being amazing fans, friends and readers – I never would have imagined my tiny blog becoming what it is today, but that is due to the amazing support from all of you!

Have a great Fourth of July, as well as a wonderful summer, and I look forward to keeping you updated on the New England sports world later this week and beyond!

Stay connected with Matt Noonan on social media by following him on @MattNoonan11 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Welcome Noontime Hockey To Twitter!

Noontime HockeyBy NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

In case you missed it – or perhaps saw a new Twitter handle pop-up yesterday – we are excited to unveil @NoontimePuck, which will be keeping you updated on New England hockey.

The goal – similar to our other single-sports related Twitter handles – is to produce some engaging content that keeps you coming back for more. And since hockey is woven into our six New England states, it makes total sense to launch a Twitter handle that is all about … hockey!

So, make sure to toss our newest member of our Twitter family a follow, while lacing up those skates at the same time.

Flaherty: Is Tuukka Rask’s The Right Goaltender For Boston?

rask_zv995mhy_9nzpzri2
Tuukka Rask has been up and down in the postseason, but can he eventually put it all together to lead Boston to a Stanely Cup? (PHOTO CREDIT: SportsOnEarth.com)

By Dan Flaherty (@TheSportsNotebo)

It was the moment that defined the Boston Bruins’ recently concluded series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Charlie McAvoy gets pulled down. The obvious penalty goes uncalled and leaves Steven Stamkos wide open. The Lightning star promptly rips the goal that tied Game 4 past Tuukka Rask. And the series essentially ended there, and the questions rose anew about whether Rask is the right man in net if this young Bruins team is going to win a Stanley Cup next season or beyond.

Critics of Rask point to moments like the Stamkos goal in Game 4. They’re not being unreasonable.

In the immediate aftermath of that particular goal, I looked toward my friend, who I was watching the game with and said something to the effect of how it wasn’t a bad play by Rask, but one that if you have Stanley Cup aspirations, you need your goalie to step up and make.

That’s not the first time such sentiments have come up with regard to the Bruin goalie. Consider the recent history:

  • It wasn’t Tuukka’s fault that Boston lost to Ottawa in the first round of last year’s playoffs. The Senators defense made them a better first-round opponent than anyone gave them credit for—as evidenced by the fact Ottawa Senators took eventual champion Pittsburgh to double-overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But Rask was outplayed by counterpart Craig Anderson.
  • It wasn’t Tuukka’s fault that Boston dropped a seven-game series to Montreal Canadiens in 2014, ending the best Bruins season in recent memory. They must have set a record for most shots to hit the pipe in a single playoff series, which is a sure sign that it’s not your year. But Rask was undeniably outplayed by Carey Price.
  • And it wasn’t Tuukka’s fault for the infamous collapse in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, when the Chicago Blackhawks scored two goals in the final two minutes and celebrated on the Garden ice. But like the Stamkos goal this year, it was an area where it’s reasonable to hope for your goalie to bail out the defense in the closing minutes.

Good but not good enough would be the simple summation of the bill of indictment drafted by the Rask critics. Particularly given that his $7.5 million annual salary makes him higher-paid than any goalie still playing and third-highest in the league overall.

I see the argument of the anti-Rask forces, but the question has to be asked about what exactly the point of their criticisms are. If it’s simply that Tuukka still has unfinished business on his resume before he can be considered in the pantheon of all-time greats, I agree. But if it’s something deeper—like cutting loose his salary and going with Anton Khudobin, I’d have to sharply disagree.

Any litany of Tuukka’s shortcomings has to be balanced with a litany of his postseason successes:

  • Save percentage is a great stat and I rely on it, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. A good example is Tuukka’s 89.9% save rate in the first-round series win over Toronto. If you just look at the numbers, that’s not good. But if you watched the series you saw how many shots were coming at home from point-blank range. The bigger story was how often Bruin defenders were beaten to a good spot near the net—and how often Rask bailed them out.
  • There aren’t many goaltenders good enough to single-handedly win you a playoff series. But that’s what Rask did in 2014, in the first-round series win over Detroit.
  • Even fewer goaltenders can do what Rask did in 2013, which was to essentially shut down the potent Pittsburgh Penguins lineup, filled with quite a few of the same players who won the last two Stanley Cups. Boston’s sweep of Pittsburgh in that ‘13 Finals was defined by Rask’s superiority.

What these successes (above) illustrate is that while Tuukka Raask may have some spots on his postseason resume, he’s not the NHL equivalent of David Price. Tuukka doesn’t fold up in the biggest moments, he just hasn’t quite gotten over the hump.

So the question that has to be asked of Rask critics is simply this: do you think it more likely that Rask will finally have the one great postseason where he takes it start to finish and wins a Stanley Cup. Or, on the other hand, if the Bruins do move on, that we’ll find that Khudobin won’t be able to handle a full-time workload and we’ll have a full-scale goalie mess on?

I think the answer to that question is self-evident.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. All we know for sure is that Tuukka Rask isn’t the second coming of Patrick Roy or Martin Broduer when it comes to playoff performance. But Rask is still better than an awful lot of goalies who have won Stanley Cups.

Dan Flaherty is the owner of TheSportsNotebook.com and the author of Great 1980s Sports Moments

Bruins Top Maple Leafs In Dramatic Game Seven, Advance To Tampa Bay

jake-debrusk_f04aych4tji91pd8f1zztkg71
Jake DeBrusk recorded two goals in Boston’s Game 7 win over Toronto on Wednesday evening at the TD Garden. (PHOTO CREDIT: Sporting News)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Jake DeBrusk netted a pair of goals, including the go-ahead strike early in the third period as the Boston Bruins erased a one-goal deficit to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 7-4, in the final game of their opening round playoff series.

With the win, Boston advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals where they will face the Tampa Bay Lighting, which won its opening round series against the New Jersey Devils in five games.

Boston and Tampa Bay last met in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, which the Bruins won in seven games. Boston would then advance to the Stanley Cup and defeat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games.

Boston trailed Toronto, 4-3, after two periods, but evened the game 70 seconds into the final session with a goal from Torey Krug. Boston would push ahead minutes later with a goal from DeBrusk before David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand sealed the win by netting the Bruins’ sixth and seventh goals, respectively.

Pastrnak’s goal halfway through the final session helped the Bruins clinch the series and halt a two-game postseason losing streak. The Bruins led the best-of-seven game series, 3-1, but fell to Toronto in back-to-back games, including Game 5, which occurred last weekend at the T.D. Garden.

Both teams swapped goals throughout the opening frame before Patrice Bergeron provided the hosts with a 3-2 advantage heading into the first intermission. Toronto erased the deficit in the second period and pushed ahead with back-to-back goals from Travis Dermott and Kasperi Kapanen to secure a 4-3 lead after two periods.

Boston and Tampa Bay met four times this season with the Bruins winning three meetings, including two games last month.

The second round series between the two teams is scheduled to commence on Saturday, April 28th at 3 p.m. in Tampa Bay, Florida.