Tag: NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Commentary: Momentum Is On The Boston Bruins’ Side

Craig Smith’s game-winning goal on Wednesday provided the Boston Bruins with a 2-1 series lead against the Washington Capitals. (PHOTO COURTESY: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

By Matt Noonan

It’s hard to not think about round two of the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, especially after an exciting (and thrilling) 3-2 double-overtime win last night by the Boston Bruins.

Yes, they need to win two more games against the Washington Capitals before advancing further in the postseason, but Wednesday’s hard-fought victory has provided the Black and Gold with all the momentum heading into the fourth game of their opening-round series.

Game four is tomorrow evening at the TD Garden — it is a tremendous opportunity for the Bruins to position themselves for a series-clinching win on Sunday in Washington.

At times, it appeared as if the Bruins had nothing left in the tank last night — to be honest, I was worried that Nic Dowd‘s goal at 18:15 in the second period would wind up being the eventual game-winner, but somehow the Bruins found a way to even the score at 2-2 with a much-needed (and important) power-play goal by Brad Marchand in the third period before Craig Smith sealed the win in the second overtime period.

Smith’s goal will certainly provide the Bruins with a spark tomorrow evening — I wouldn’t be surprised if Friday’s outing results in a non-overtime win by the Black and Gold. Yet, the way this series has gone thus far, a one-goal victory should be expected.

Game four is an important one for both teams, but especially the Capitals — this is a must-win for the Red, White, and Blue. A loss to Boston would present a serious challenge for coach Peter Laviolette‘s squad as they would have to win games five, six, and seven to clinch the series.

Sure, Peter Laviolette has prior experience leading a team past Boston — does anyone remember 2010? — but I don’t think this Washington squad is equipped to win three-straight contests.

As expected, Boston Bruins playoff hockey has been fun, but also nerve-racking at the same time. Sometimes, I just wish most of their shots would sail into the Washington net, so we would not have to play overtime hockey. But after last night’s one-goal victory, I am thinking optimistically about tomorrow’s contest — in fact, I believe we’re going to win.

Let the countdown for Friday’s early evening affair commence — I hope the hometown fans are ready to do their part in helping the Bruins win their third-straight contest so we can possibly celebrate a series-clinching win late Sunday evening.

New England College Notebook: WNE Starts Women’s Ice Hockey, Nichols Names Linton Men’s Basketball Coach

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports

Just hours before the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues squared-off in the seventh game of the 2019 Stanley Cup FinalsWestern New England announced some exciting news that they would be adding women’s ice hockey, the school’s 20th varsity sport, during the 2020-21 school year.

The exciting news of the school adding women’s ice hockey was shared by Matt LaBranche, Western New England’s Director of Athletics, Recreational Sport & Physical Education, who looking forward to seeing the team compete in 2020.

“Interest at the high school and youth levels has never been higher, and we are proud to be providing a new opportunity for those young women to pursue their passion in a highly competitive collegiate program,” said LaBranche in Wednesday’s press release about the women’s ice hockey team.

LaBranche also announced the hiring of Katie Zimmerman, who becomes the first head coach in the program’s history. Zimmerman previously served as an assistant at nearby Amherst College and has prior coaching experience with USA Hockey and SUNY Cortland.

Zimmerman also played Division III hockey for Hamilton College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)

According to Wednesday’s release, Western New England will join 66 other colleges that sponsor women’s ice hockey at the Division III level.

Nichols College announced on Thursday that Brandon Linton has been named the 20th men’s basketball coach in program history.

Linton replaces Scott Faucher, who guided the Bison to 28-3 record this past winter, including an appearance in the NCAA Division III sectional finals (elite eight).

Faucher was recently named the new men’s basketball coach at Assumption College.

Linton arrives in Dudley after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach at Army West Point where he “was responsible for the development of scouting reports on opponents and managing the scout team,” along with additional duties, as well.

“Nichols College is a special institution that offers a world-class experience for our student-athletes both on and off of the court,” said Linton in Thursday’s release. “I cannot wait to begin the process of getting to know our current players and continuing to build on the foundation they have created.”

Linton is no stranger to Division III basketball as he played for Clarkson University in the Liberty League (LL) and spent time as an assistant under coach Tim Gilbride at Bowdoin College.

Finally, congratulations to former Babson College men’s ice hockey assistant coach Chris Zimmerman, who recently celebrated a Stanley Cup championship on Wednesday evening with the St. Louis Blues.

Zimmerman, who President and CEO of Business Operations for the Blues, played hockey at the University of Vermont in the Hockey East before pursuing his MBA at Babson.


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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.

Daily Noontime: Tuesday, May 2nd

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Washington’s Kevin Shattenkirk netted the game-winning goal in overtime last night to provide the Capitals with their first Eastern Conference semifinal victory against Pittsburgh. (PHOTO CREDIT: Sports Illustrated)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

It’s Tuesday … what rhymes with Tuesday?

There really isn’t much to say about a Tuesday other than it’s not Monday, right?

Well, while we try to find good words to rhyme with Tuesday, let’s dish out today’s Daily Noontime for Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017.

Have a great day, everyone!

So, you probably know by now that the Cleveland Cavaliers dominated game one of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Toronto. However, did you know LeBron James picked-up a beer during the third quarter?

Don’t worry, James didn’t drink it, but he admitted after the game that he prefers wine, not beer. Pretty funny stuff, LBJ! 

Continuing with our lead-off story, here are a few tweets of James picking-up a beer during last night’s contest against Toronto (BELOW!): 

If you’re a Netflix fan (or subscriber like we are), then we suggest you check-out this New York Times article on what new shows and movies one should watch over the next few days and weeks – we spy a new season of ‘House of Cards!’

In case you’re not officially over this past weekend’s N.F.L. Draft, then we suggest you take a peak (and even read the entire article, too) on the draft’s biggest winners and losers, via the Washington Post

Speaking of the N.F.L. Draft, does anyone know how the Cleveland Browns did? Michael Silver, who is the NFL.com Media Columnist, has a few thoughts (and ideas!). 

Finally, can the Utah Jazz beat the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals? We think they can and so does Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report

Trivia Tuesday: In the movie ‘The Wizards of Oz,’ what did the scarecrow want from the wizard? (Tweet us your answer at @NoontimeSports). 

Video of the Day: It’s a LONG video – just giving you a heads-up now, so don’t watch this when your boss is around – but enjoy highlights via NHL’s YouTube channel from last night’s epic third game of the Eastern Conference semifinals between Pittsburgh and Washington – what a game, wow! 

Thanks for checking-in and have a great day, everyone! Remember to become a fan on Facebook and LinkedIn, while following us on Twitter, too. And we’re on YouTube, by the way, so become a fan of our page today!