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?

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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

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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.

New England Hockey Notebook: Endicott Picked To Capture Comm. Coast Conf.

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John Carricato and the Endicott College men’s ice hockey team were picked to capture the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) this winter. (Photo Credit: David Le ’10)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

One year after securing the first-ever Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) title, the Endicott College men’s ice hockey team was picked to capture their second consecutive  conference crown this winter, according to this afternoon’s release.

The Gulls collected nine first-place votes for 99 points, while Salve Regina (78 points) earned one first-place vote – the Seahawks checked-in third on the preseason poll. University of New England tallied 85 points for a second-place projection, while Nichols College (74 points) and Curry College (55 points) rounded out the top five.

Wentworth Institute of Technology and Johnson & Wales were tied for sixth in the poll, while Western New England, Suffolk University and Becker College checked-in eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

Last season, the Gulls made their initial appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament after defeating University of New England in the conference tournament finals by a score of 5-4. The Gulls defeated Hobart, 4-3, in the opening round, but fell to Trinity College in the second round, 2-1 (OT).

Endicott completed its second season with a program-best 24 wins, which included a 12-game winning streak, spanning January to March. The Gulls never lost a game in February, winning seven games, including a conference tournament quarterfinal clash against Western New England.

In addition to winning 24 games one year ago, the Gulls concluded their 2016-17 campaign in the top 10 in multiple statistical categories, including first in scoring offense (4.83 goals per game) and scoring margin (2.87).

Additionally, Endicott was one of the top power play teams in the country. They were third on the power play (28.1 percent, 43/153) and 12th in penalty kill (86.5 percent, 147/170).

Endicott begins its season next Friday, October 27th when they host Plymouth State at 7 p.m. Following their season-opener against the Panthers, Endicott will visit Wentworth on Thursday, November 2nd for a 7 p.m. face-off before entertaining the Leopards on Saturday, November 4th at 2 p.m.

Endicott Men’s Ice Hockey Made History Saturday In NCAA Tournament

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The Endicott College men’s ice hockey team made history on Saturday, claiming the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win over Hobart. (PHOTO CREDIT: Endicott College Athletics).

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

The No. 7/7 Endicott College men’s ice hockey team made history yesterday, winning their first-ever NCAA Division III tournament game with a 4-3 win over  N0. 4/5 Hobart in the opening round.

Endicott’s one-goal victory secured them a quarterfinal date with No. 8/9 Trinity College (Conn.), which scored a 4-1 first-round win over Plattsburgh State.

The two New England squads will meet this Saturday, March 18th in Hartford, Connecticut with face-off scheduled for 7:00 p.m. A win for either squad would send them to the semifinals on Friday, March 24th.

The Gulls, who captured the initial Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown with a 5-4 win over University of New England, secured the program’s initial national tournament win midway through the final session when Jason Kalinowski netted his second goal of the contest. The go-ahead goal was set-up by Logan Day and Cam Bleck

Endicott led Hobart, 1-0, after the opening period before the Statesmen evened the score at 3-3 with a trio of second period goals.

Kevin Aldridge, the Gulls’ netminder, turned aside 40 of 43 shots to help the visitors secure an exciting win.

Saturday’s victory over Hobart was the Gulls’ 12th-straight win – Endicott hasn’t dropped a contest since falling to the Nor’Easters on January 21st.