Thursday, December 1, 2011

Not Quite The Weekend Sports Chowdah for Dec 1st- Bruins November Reign Continues; Valentine's Day Arrives at Fenway; Perils of Paulina

Mike Cassese/ Reuters photo
NHL: The defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins wrapped up their already strong November with a road game
against one of their Original 6 archrivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Interestingly, despite Boston's 10 game winning streak (and subsequently going 1-0-1 since then) the Toronto Maple Leafs held a narrow lead for 1st place in the Northeastern Division heading into Wednesday night's game.

The Leafs got out to the early 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Mikhail Grabovski on Toronto's first man advantage of the evening. The Bruins got on the board thanks to a Milan Lucic power play goal with 4:52 remaining in the 1st. Both teams would head into their locker rooms with the contest tied at 1-1 thanks to Tim Thomas denying Phil Kessel on a one-on-one breakaway with 4 minutes to go in the first period

The Bruins would take a 2-1 lead on a David Krejci tally before Toronto's Joffrey Lupul got one past Tim Thomas to tie the contest at 2-2 three and a half minutes later.Boston would once again go up by a goal after Zdeno Chara beat Leafs netminder Jonas Gustavsson with 4:30 remaining in the secon period to make it 3-2 Boston.

Although the Leafs had just killed a penalty early in the 3rd period, Benoit Pouliot scored on Gustavsson to make it a 4-2 Boston lead. About three minutes later on the other end of the ice, Matt Frattin got on by Tim Thomas to make it a one-goal game once again. But with less than 5 minutes to go, the Bruins would start to pull away, getting a tally from Lucic followed by an empty-netter from Brad Marchand to wrap the game up by a 6-3 final.

Tim Thomas turned aside 34 of 37 shots faced while Toronto's Gustavsson stopped 34 of 39 faced. The bruins went 1 for 3 on the man advantage while Toronto went 1 for two. The win caps a 12-0-1 November, the first time since 1969 that the Bruins have played an entire month without a regulation loss. The win also gives Boston sole possession of 1st place in the Northeastern Division, with Toronto just a point behind.

The Bruins and Leafs go right back at it from the Garden on Saturday at 7PM ET geaturing a game that will be broadcast on both the NHL network and CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

OTHER BRUINS NEWS: Boston has signed Center David Krejci to a 3-year contract extension. The 25 year old Krejci was a 2nd round pick by the Bruins in the 2004 NHL Draft.

OTHER NHL NEWS: I did not know about this until the other day, but apparently hockey legend Wayne Gretzky's daughter Paulina has (or HAD) a Twitter account.

The 22-year old is the oldest child of Wayne Gretzky and actress Janet Jones and has been pursuing a career in modelling and singing. Although an enthusiastic user of the microblogging site Twitter, her most recent Tweet has led to some rumors on possible ownership changes regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Throughout most of November, speculation was ramping up that the current majority owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs were interested in selling their stake. Among the reportedly interested parties included a group led by Wayne Gretzky as well as Providence Equity Partners- the firm behind the YES Network and Canadian cable and media company Rogers Communications Inc [NYSE: RCI/ TSX: RCI.A & RCI.B], who also happen to own the Toronto Blue Jays.

The current ownership group- the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan announced last week that it was no longer interested in divesting their 79.5% stake in Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, but various rumors out are that Gretzky had a talk with Paulina about keeping a low profile on Twitter and other social network sites while Gretzky's group is making one final push to purchase a share of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, pre-empting any gaffes, wardrobe malfunctions or meltdowns on Paulina's part via the 140 character or less microblogging site.

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
RED SOX: Former Mets manager and ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine was announced as the Red Sox new manager this week. After multiple interviews, the 61 year old Valentine agreed to a 2 year contract as manager with club options for 2014 and 2015.

Initially, many observers had initially thought that the Red Sox would go with a 'newer' face and that Valentine wasn't a serious candidate for the position. Valentine's previous experience as manager includes the Texas Rangers, New York Mets and two stints with the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese League. In 2005, Valentine became the first foreign-born manager of a Japanese team to win the Japan Series- the Japanese League equivalent to the World Series.

NFL: If New England didn't deliver the death blow to the Eagle's playoff chances, Seattle certainly did Thursday night, roughing up Philly in a 31-14 win. The Eagles started the 4th quarter down 24-7, but managed to punch it in on a long drive into Seahawks territory. However, Seattle LB David Hawthorne picked off a Vince Young pass attempt and returned it 77 yards for a TD with just over 4 minutes remaining.

OTHER NFL NEWS: The Minnesota Vikings have released QB Donovan McNabb on Thursday. So far this season, McNabb has been 1-5 and threw for a total of 4 TD passes before being benched. McNabb was benched for rookie Christian Ponder back in mid-October.

The struggling QB's services could still be demand elsewhere, however. The Houston Texans lost QB Matt Schaub for the season to a foot injury, and replacement Matt Leinart lasted all of a quarter before suffering a fractured collarbone to end his season.

The Chicago Bears also lost the services of QB Jay Cutler for the season, and McNabb is a Chicagoland native as well, so that may be a more realistic place for him to wind up.

NCAA FOOTBALL: One game in the books on Thursday night as the West Virginia Mountaineers rallied past the South Florida Bulls to win by a 30-27 final in Tampa. The win guarantees West Virginia at least a share of the Big East title and may secure them an automatic BCS bid depending on the outcome of Saturday's other games in the Big East.

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