Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quickie Helping of Sports Chowdah- No Doubting as Thomas Blocks Hawks; UConn Goes Four All the Marbles; Opening Day 2011 Around the Corner

NHL: It's been a busy past couple of days for the Bruins after their epic beatdown of Montreal last week. The weekend saw them lose at home by a 1-0 final to the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon before travelling to Philly and coming from behind to win by a final of 2-1 to officially clinch a playoff berth [Interestingly, a cursory glance at the NHL standings shows that no less than 4 teams in the Eastern conference have clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs as of Tuesday night while aside from the Vancouver Canucks clinching, the field is still wide open out in the Western conference- NANESB!].

The Bruins would head back home on Tuesday night to take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, who appear to be fighting for their playoff lives now. The game went without any scoring until about 12 minutes into the second period when Zdeno Chara would get an even strength goal followed by a Johnny Boychuck tally 2 minutes later to make it a 2-0 Boston lead. Nathan Horton would open up the Boston lead to 3-0 after scoring a little over 5 minutes into the 3rd period to make it a 3-0 final.

Tim Thomas stopped a total of 32 shots for his 9th shutout of the season and 25th of his career. Mark Recchi's assist on Boychuck's goal moved him to 1,532 career points, moving him past Paul Coffey and into 12th place all time in the NHL. Boston has now won 4 out of their last games after dropping 6 out of 7 games earlier this month. Despite the loss, Chicago still manages to hold onto the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western conference- 3 points ahead of Dallas and Calgary while one point behind Anaheim as of Tuesday night.

The Bruins will close out the month of March by hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Garden on Thursday night. The Leaf's fairly slim playoff hopes are still alive after beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on Tuesday night.

NBA: While the Bruins seem to be getting hot at the right time, the Celtics look for all the world like they're starting to wilt against a fairly unimpressive array of opponents. Now, part of me would like to think that this is some sort of intentional strategy by Doc Rivers to have the C's avoid certain teams that have given the C's a handful in the postseason.

Although they held off a late rally by Minnesota to win by a final of 85-82 on Sunday, Monday night was a different story wit Indiana's Roy Hibbert taking advantage of the Celtic's depleted front line, netting 26 points and 4 rebounds. Paul Pierce led the scoring in the losing effort for the C's, with 23 points and 5 rebounds in Boston's 100-107 loss in Indianapolis.

The road trip continues for Boston this week, with the C's travelling to San Antonio to take on the Spurs. While the C's have dropped 3 of their last 4, the Spurs are coming into Thursday night's game riding a 4-game losing streak. The game starts at 8PM ET (5 Pacific) and will be broadcast on TNT.

NCAA HOOPS: UConn survived a last second scare from Arizona's Jamelle Horne on Sunday while his 3-point attempt bounced off the rim as time expired in a 2-point game. UConn would hang on to win by a final of 63-65. The win (in which Kemba Walker had 20 points and 4 rebounds while freshman Jeremy Lamb had 19 points) sets up a showdown between UConn and the University of Kentucky Wildcats. The winner of that game will take on the victor of the VCU Rams/Butler Bulldogs game for the NCAA Men's Basketball championship.

MLB: Just a gentle reminder that we're less than 48 hours away from the opening day of the 2011 baseball season. There actually will be a slate of 6 games on March 31 starting with the Braves at Washington Nationals at 1:05 ET (10:05 AM PT) and finishing off with the World Series Champion Giants at Chavez Ravine to take on the LA Dodgers at 8PM ET (5 Pacific). Other teams getting underway Thursday will include Detroit @ the Yankees, Milwaukee @ Cincinnati, San Diego @ St. Louis and Anaheim @ Kansas City.

The Red Sox season doesn't officially get under way until Friday, April 1 at Texas where they'll take on the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers. The Red Sox home opener will be on Friday, April 8 against the NY Yankees.

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