Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Weekday Sports Chowdah Update; The Joy of 6th- Bruins to Face off Against Buffalo; Sox Fall Short of Target in Twin Cities; Bulls Make C's See Red


The Bruins finished the regular season on a high note in the nation's capital on Sunday with a shootout win over the Washington Capitals. There was even a Tim Thomas sighting, with last season's Vezina winner stopping 34 of 37 shots faced in the regular season finale. Thomas also didn't allow a goal in the shootout and got in the grill of Caps LW Jason Chimera in the 1st, letting loose with a series of haymakers. Micheal Ryder had two goals before the Bruins fell behind 3-2 and Marco Sturm tied the game up with about 5 minutes left in the 3rd.

As glad as I was for the point and the win, it didn't change much in the standings. Also worth noting that Washington sat their normal netminder Jose Theodore and went with Seymon Varlamov, who stopped 35 of 38 shots faced in regulation and overtime, but gave up the two shootout goals to David Krejci and Miro Satan.

The one point for the shootout loss left Washington with 121 points on the season, although they had locked up the President's trophy well before Sunday's game with the next closest team (San Jose) finishing with 113 points on the season. Alexander Ovechkin was held scoreless on the day, which left Vancouver's Henrik Sedin the winner of the Art Ross Trophy (the NHL's scoring title) with 112 points versus Ovechkin's 109. Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos both have 51 goals to their name for the 2009-2010 season, one ahead of Ovechkin's tally for the league lead.
Boston, on the other hand finished with 91 points, good for 6th place overall in the Eastern conference. As mediocre or craptastic as that might sound, I think even the most partisan Hub hockey fan would've thought that limping across the finish line barely squeaking past with an 8th place finish would've been unrealistic in the middle of that 10 game skid back in January. The 6th place finish earns them a first round matchup against the Buffalo Sabres beginning Thursday.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL: Sunday afternoon's Flyers/Rangers game had alot riding on it- and since there's no shootouts during the Stanley Cup playoffs, why not make the final shootout of the regular season all the more dramatic? Heading into the final day of the regular season, the NY Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers were tied at 86 points each, good for the 8th and final playoff spot....in theory. Montreal's regular season finished the night before with an overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, leaving them with 88 points on the season. Montreal had the advantage in a couple of tie-breakers over the Rangers, but a Flyers loss in either regulation or OT would leave Philadelphia a point behind both New York and Montreal and out of the postseason.

Leading 1-0 on Jody Shelly's 1st period goal, the Ranger's Henrik Lundqvist entered the 3rd period stopping all 30 shots on goal from the Flyers until Philly's Matt Carle notched a power-play goal a little over halfway through the 3rd to tie the game up at 1-1 and send it into overtime, and each team being awarded a point did nothing to break the deadlock.
After a scoreless OT, the game went to a shootout where Philly's netminder Brian Boucher stopped 2 of the three shots he faced, both teams' season hinging on Olli Jokinen's attempt that Bouchet saved. Philly wins, gets the 88 points, good for 7th place finish (they had a tie-breaker over the Canadiens) and a first round matchup with the New Jersey Devils. Montreal has the misfortune of landing the Washington Capitals as their 1st round opponent.

NHL draft: The Bruins landed the second overall pick of the 2010 NHL draft Tuesday. The pick was originally the Maple Leaf's, but Toronto gave up their 1st round draft pick as part of the Phil Kessel deal. The Edmonton Oilers were awarded the 1st overall pick, and it's believed that Boston will select Taylor Hall {Windsor Spitfires, OHL} or Tyler Seguin {Plymouth Whalers, OHL}.

(Hanna Foslein/Getty Images)

MLB: Some 24 hours after their 8-6 win over Kansas City on Sunday, the Red Sox traveled to Minnesota to take on the Twins in what would be the regular season debut of Target Field. The game would pit Jon Lester against former Yankee Carl Pavano.

Leading off in the top of the 1st, SS Marco Scutaro would get the first hit in the new ballpark only to get picked off by Pavano. Minnesota's Denard Span had the first walk of the new ballpark in the bottom of the 1st before Lester gave up a single to Orlando Hudson before Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau to pop out. However, with two out, Micheal Cuddyer would have the ballpark's first RBI after his 2-out single drove in Span. Jason Kubel would add to that with an RBI single of his own before Lester would walk Delmon Young to load the bases before getting J.J. hardy to hit into a fielder's choice.

The Twins would add to their lead with a 2-out Joe Mauer RBI double to make it 3-0 in the bottom of the second. The Red Sox were kept off the board until the 4th, when Big Papi hit a booming double (that would've been out of most parks) that clanged off the glove of Delmon Young. However, Minnesota would get one back in the bottom of the 4th to make it 4-1 Twins.

Perhaps the highlight for the partisan crowd was Jason Kubel's leadoff homer in the bottom of the 7th to make it 5-1 Twins, with the home crowd witnessing the 1st ever homerun in the new ballpark. Minnesota would go on to win 5-2 in their Target Field debut. Interestingly, the last time the Red Sox were the visiting team in a ballpark's debut was 1923 in the toilet Yankee Stadium.

After having the day off today, the two teams will go at it again tomorrow in another day game. Kevin Slowey will start for Minnesota against John Lackey.

Other Sox-Centric News: Jacoby Ellsbury bruised his ribs in a collision with 3B Adrian Beltre during Sunday's 8-6 win over Kansas City. He was out for Monday's game against the Twins and is expected to miss a few more days according to Terry Francona. Beltre was able to start at third for Monday's game while Jeremy Hermida is expected to continue play left field in Ellsbury's absence.
Boof 'That's-Not-A-Sound-Effect-That's-My-Name' Bonser had another rough outing with the PawSox on Tuesday, lasting only two innings and giving up 9 runs in a 12-0 loss to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Bonser was reportedly limited to a 90-pitch count, but only threw for 50 in his outing and currently maintains an ERA of more than 17

A female knuckleballer from Japan who sought pointers from Tim Wakefield during spring training is set to make her debut with the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League this season. Eri Yoshida, Japan's first female professional ballplayer, will report to the Outlaws for spring training in May.
“I want to practice knuckle pitching more, and I want to become a stable knuckleball player like Wakefield,” Yoshida said. Yoshida had previously pitched for Kobe in the Kansai Independent League in Southern Japan.

NBA: After Boston's win at Milwaukee on Saturday, they seemed to be phoning it in against the Bulls at the United Center Tuesday night. Even for Chicago, the 101-93 win over Boston seemed overshadowed by reports of a physical altercation between head coach Vinny Del Negro and Bulls executive VP John Paxson. The Bulls are currently in 8th place in the Eastern conference heading into the final day of the regular season- one point ahead of Toronto.
Paul Pierce led the scoring for Boston with 28 points, followed by Ray Allen with 25. The Celtics will close out the regular season at home against the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night- with the Atlanta Hawks clinching the #3 spot in the conference, it is looking like the Bucks will be #4 Boston's opponent in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

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