The two teams slated to play at Fenway on the New Year's Day NHL Winter Classic took a tour of the ballpark, locker rooms and incomplete rink on Monday before facing each other at the TD Banknorth Garden. Now as thrilled as I am to have America's first NHL team play an outdoor winter game in America's oldest big-league park, one of the first thoughts to cross my mind was that the home teams are 0-2-1 in these outdoor games (going back to the Heritage Classic held at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium in 2003).
Monday night's performance did not bode particularly well for the black & gold, despite getting off to a 1-0 lead in the closing minutes of the 2nd period on Vladmir Sobotka's goal. Philly started off the 3rd by tying the game just after the two minute mark on a James van Riemsdyk goal. Kimmo Timonen broke the tie after getting one past Tim Thomas at the 9:32 mark of the 3rd and then an empty-netter with 41 seconds left in regulation after Thomas was pulled for an extra attacker. Tim Thomas stopped 35 or 37 shots faced while Philly's Brian Boucher stopped 26 of 27 faced. Elsewhere on Monday Night, the Sabres took on the Canadiens and won 4-3, giving them sole possession of first place in the Northeastern Division with the Bruins losing 2 in a row and presently trailing by 4 points.
The Bruins will face the Blackhawks at Chicago's United Center on Friday night, and I'm really hoping for better results in a few weeks when the Flyers and B's take to the ice at Fenway on New Year's Day.
Speaking of better results, The Celtics won their 11th straight game in Memphis on Monday Night and are currently 12-1 on the road this season. Paul Pierce had 19 points, and Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo had 18 each, including a 3-pointer to ice the game with 17.5 seconds left in the 4th and Rasheed Wallace came off the bench for 15 points in the game. The Celtics will take on the 6-18 76ers in Philadelphia on Friday night.
ELSEWHERE: The San Francisco 49ers upset the visiting Arizona Cardinals 24-9 on Monday Night Football. And if your team turned the ball over seven times in one game, you'd be pretty upset too. The 49ers took a 17-3 lead into halftime, with all 17 points coming off of Arizona turnovers. Frankly, I'm a little surprised that the Cardinals managed to muster up nine points (it could've been 10 if the PAT wasn't blocked).
A Warwick, RI man who acts as New England's Patriot Pat mascot was arrested for solicitation and prostitution related crimes late last week. Robert Sormanti was among 14 people arrested in an undercover sting at a hotel. Sormanti could face several misdemeanor charges and a 15-yard penalty for illegal use of the hands. [hat tip: Wyatt Earp].
VITTLES FROM THE HOT STOVE: The Red Sox are reportedly close to agreements with both free agent starting pitcher John Lackey and outfielder Mike Cameron. Lackey is said to be getting a 5-year contract reportedly worth anywhere between $16 and $17.5 Million a year. Lackey is coming off a 11-8 regular season with a 3.83 ERA for the Angels.
The 2-year Mike Cameron deal is reportedly worth $7 to $8 Million a year and is seen as an indication that the Red Sox will no longer try and retain outfielder Jason Bay. The 36 year old outfielder batted .250 with 24 homers and 70 RBI for the Brewers last season.
However, most of the offseason buzz seems to be centered around the proposed trade that would send Roy Halliday from Toronto to the Phillies, Cliff Lee from Philly to Seattle and prospects back to Philly and Toronto. After failing to trade the Blue Jays ace by last season's trade deadline, Toronto resumed shopping Halliday once the offseason began. This brought renewed interest from the Phillies, who made an unsuccessful bid for Halliday's services prior to last season's trade deadline. The deal could be finalized by Wednesday, although there are now reports circulating that the Blue Jays might have to ship a prospect off to Oakland as well in order to complete the deal. Upon being traded to the Phillies, Halliday would also recieve a contract extension that could keep him in the club 2013.
NCAA FOOTBALL UPDATE: Navy beat Army 17-3 at the annual Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Saturday, which means that Army is not bowl-eligible this year. Instead, the UCLA Bruins will take on Temple on December 29th 2009 at RFK stadium in Washington DC.