Monday, March 26, 2012

California Dreamin' Sports Chowdah Update- B's Make Most of Southern California Road Trip; C's Return to Garden After Road Trip; Final, Frozen 4 Set

NHL- After Thursday night's road loss to San Jose, the Bruins faced off against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center in downtown LA on Saturday. The Bruins and Kings had already met at the Garden back in December and Boston was looking to complete a sweep of the season series.

The game remained scoreless after a first period where LA had managed to pressure and outshoot Boston. It looked as though the momentum would continue into the second period when the Kings would go on the power play about five minutes in. LA would then turn the puck over deep in their own end with Jonathan Quick making a sprawling save on Brad Marchand only for Patrice Bergeron to pick up the rebound and put it in the wide-open net to give Boston the early 1-0 lead. Before the 2nd period drew to a close, the Kings would get an equalizer off the stick of Colin Fraser to make it 1-1.

In the 3rd Period, the Bruins struck quickly with goals from Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly (both even strength) less than a minute and 20 seconds apart to take a 3-1 lead, but with about five minutes to go in regulation, LA's Slava Voynov made it a 1-goal game on an even strength tally. In the final minute, the Kings pulled Quick for the extra attacker, and although they were able to get a number of shots off, Thomas was able to turn them aside and clear the puck while Brad Marchand got a shot off from the neutral zone as time expired and lazily drifted into the empty net- it counted after further review. Boston beat LA by the final of 4-2 on Saturday night, further complicating an already-convoluted playoff picture for the Western Conference.

As of Sunday night, Los Angeles had a tenuous grip on the 8th and final playoff spot in the west, 1 point behind the Phoenix Coyotes. However, the Sharks and Coyotes also went head-to-head Saturday night, with San Jose winning in the shootout and putting them in a three way tie with LA and Colorado (who had lost in OT to Vancouver on Saturday). Calgary had already lost to Dallas earlier on Saturday, but remain within 4 points of Phoenix for the #7 seed [so much more interesting than the Eastern Conference, where it's looking like it will be a two team race between Buffalo and Washington- NANESB].

Tim Thomas made 40 saves on 42 shots faced on Saturday while Jonathan Quick allowed 3 goals in 35 shots faced. The Kings went 0-4 on the power play while Boston was 0-1. The win snaps a 4-game road losing streak for the Bruins.

Saturday night's game in Los Angeles also marked captain Zdeno Chara's 1000th career NHL game.

On Sunday night, took their road trip a few miles down I-5. It was announced that the Bruins opted to rest Thomas and start Marty Turco at Anaheim's Honda Center. Reaction from Casa de Fenway was swift and unambiguous.

With Turco's disastrous start in Tampa Bay this month in mind, it was easy to overlook his 24 career wins against Anaheim with the Dallas Stars. But it was also folly.

After a scoreless first period, the Bruins got on board thanks to a Zdeno Chara shot from out near the blue line. Chara's goal was followed up 1:22 later by a tally from Benoit Pouliot to give Boston the 2-0 lead. However, about 5 minutes later, the Ducks would get on the board thanks to a power play goal from Teemu Selanne. Selanne's goal lifted him to 4th all-time for career power play goals in the NHL, surpassing Luc Robataille.

In the 3rd, Anaheim looked as though they tied things up at 2-2 with a Matt Beleskey tally, but the goal was waved off after Andrew Cogliano was ruled in the crease. Shortly after that, the Bruins would take a 3-1 lead on a goal from Brian Rolston [who is now riding a 6-game point streak- NANESB]. Anaheim would then pull to within a goal on a Lubomir Vishnovsky tally. Much like Saturday's game in Los Angeles, the Bruins were able to hold off a frantic last-minute attack after the Ducks pulled goalie Jonas Hiller for the extra skater.

With the goal that was waved off earlier in the 3rd, Boston holds on to win by a 3-2 final and goalie Marty Turco gets his first win in a Bruins jersey. Turco made 25 saves on 27 shots while Anaheim's Jonas Hiller stopped 22 of 25 shots faced. The Ducks were 1-3 on the power play while the Bruins went 0-2.

The productive weekend in southern California also puts some distance between the Bruins and the Ottawa Senators- who had briefly overtaken them for first place last week- in the Northeastern Conference. Boston returns home on Tuesday night to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night- the game will be televised on the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) and gets under way at 7:30 ET.

RED SOX- Boston relief pitcher Bobby Jenks was arrested by police in Ft Meyers, FL for DUI and hit and run after striking a parked car outside a nightclub and getting pulled over.

Jenks told officers that he had taken some muscle relaxers before admitting "[I'll] be honest with you, I was just leaving Babes [nightclub] because I hit a car. I just had to get out of there."

Jenks appeared in just 19 games for the Red Sox, going 2-2 with a 6.32 ERA before being sidelined by back surgery. Last month, the Sox listed him as being on the 60-day DL.

NBA- The Celtic's 99-86 loss to the 76ers Friday night was an afterthought after Mickael Pietrus left the court on a stretcher after a collision late in the first half. Pietrus was rushed to the hospital, although he was able to leave later that evening. Although remaining on the DL, he was cleared to travel back to Boston to rejoin the team on Sunday.

Although Friday night's loss in Philly cost them a shot at first place, the Celtics made quick work of the Washington Wizards on Sunday, winning by an 88-76 final. The win still leaves them all of a ½ out of first place in the Northeast division once again.

On Monday night, the Celtics will travel to Charlotte to take on the 7-39 Charlotte Bobcats. The game gets underway at 7:00 ET and will be televised on CSNE.

OTHER CELTICS NEWS- Duke freshman Austin Rivers, son of Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, announced that he was leaving for the NBA after just one season. Austin averaged 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists this season. With the announcement, Rivers has reportedly signed an agent and has waived his eligibility for playing his sophomore year at Duke.

NCAA HOOPS- Although UConn, Harvard and Vermont all made early exits from the NCAA Tournament, the UMass Minutemen received a berth in the NIT tournament and have made it to the semifinals after beating Drexel by a 72-70 final last week. In the NIT semis, they will face the Stanford Cardinals on Tuesday. The winner will go on to face the winner of the Washington/Minnesota game in the west- also on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, the Final Four has been set, with Kansas, Louisville, Ohio State and Kentucky. Ohio State will take on Kansas on Saturday while Louisville faces Kentucky for the right to advance to the Tournament championship.

NCAA HOCKEY- Speaking of the number four, the Frozen Four is set and will include Boston College after shutting out Minnesota-Duluth by a 4-0 final this weekend. They will face the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the semifinals on April 5th while Union College will take on Ferris State.

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