Sunday, March 18, 2012

Luck O'The Irish Sports Chowdah Update- C's Not So Lucky @ West Coast Tilt; B's Blow Late Lead, Get Past Philly; March Madness Brackets Busted Already

NHL- After a forgettable road trip and briefly being overtaken in the standings by the Ottawa Senators on Friday night, the Boston Bruins were hoping to snap a 4-game losing streak at home on St Patrick's Day.

For whatever reason, the day games have not been kind to the Bruins this season- last weekend's back to back losses to Washington and Pittsburgh were both matinees. And despite the promising start, Saturday's game seemed to be headed the same direction. Although the Bruins got out to the 2-0 lead in the first thanks to tallies by Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin, the visiting Flyers were able to chip away at that lead, getting on the board thanks to a Matt Read power play goal in the 2nd and knotting the contest up at 2-2 after a Jakub Voracek goal late in the 3rd.

Nothing was resolved in OT, so the game headed for a shootout. It was starting to appear as though the shootout wouldn't resolve anything either, with both Thomas and Bryzgalov allowing goals from the first two shooters each of them faced. Listening to the shootout on the radio, I had the feeling that whoever stopped a shot first would win, and while Patrice Bergeron was able to get the puck past Bryzgalov for the 3rd goal of the shootout, Thomas was able to stop Danny Briere's attempt to seal the Bruins win.

Through regulation and OT, Thomas stopped 27 of 29 shots faced while Bryzgalov turned aside 31 of 33 shots faced. The Bruins went 0-2 on the power play while the Flyers were 1 for 4 with the man advantage on Saturday.

The win- coupled with an Ottawa loss to Toronto on Saturday night- puts the Bruins back into first place in the Northeastern division. As of Sunday night, the Senators and Bruins are separated by a point.

The Bruins will next host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night. So far, the B's have a clean sweep of the season series. The game will be televised on NESN and gets underway at 7:00 PM ET Monday.

OTHER BRUINS NEWS- The Bruins have signed LW Shawn Thornton to a two year extention. Thornton was slated to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. THe extension is reportedly worth $1.1 million per season.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL- The St Louis Blues are the first NHL team in either conference to clinch a playoff berth this season. The Blues 3-1 win over Tampa Bay on Saturday sealed the deal. Currently the Blues have 100 points, which is 8 more than the next closest team in the Central Division- the Nashville Predators.

NCAA HOCKEY- Boston College won the Hockey East tournament with a 4-1 win over the Maine Black Bears on Saturday night. Eagles netminder Parker Milner made 41 saves against Maine and Eagles freshman Johnny Guardeau had two goals and an assist to garner the tournament MVP honors.

Saturday's win would be Boston College's 3rd consecutive Hockey East Championship. The Eagles draw The US Air Force Academy in the first round of the NCAA Men's Hockey tournament next week. The matchup will take place this upcoming Saturday afternoon at Worcester at 4:00 PM ET.

NCAA HOOPS- If you filled out your brackets last week, chances are you probably wanted to rip them up, throw them out and start over again after a couple of first-round upsets knocked out some heavily favored schools in March Madness.

Most noteworthy was the #15 seeded Norfolk State Spartans took down #2 seed Missouri by an 86-84 final. This was Norfolk State's first trip to the NCAA tournament, but their run came to an end when they were blown out by Florida by an 84-50 final.

Not to be outdone, another #15 seed took down a heavily favored program when Lehigh beat Duke 75-70 on Friday afternoon, although Xavier would end Lehigh's run with a 58-70 loss on Sunday night.

UConn, Harvard and Vermont would all qualify for the NCAA tourney [with the Catamounts getting by Lamar 59-71 to get into the tournament- NANESB!] but all three New England schools wouldn't advance past the first round. UConn lost to Iowa State, Vermont lost to North Carolina and Harvard would lose to Venderbilt.

While the UMass Minutemen had to settle for an invite to the NIT tournament, they have managed to advance to the quarterfinals after beating Mississippi State in OT in the first round and Seton Hall in the 2nd round. They will next face Drexel at 7:00 PM Tuesday night in a game that will be televised on ESPN.

NFL- NFL's free-agency began last week with the Buffalo Bills having signed free-agent defensive end Mario Williams. Williams was the Texans #1 draft pick in the 2006 NFL draft. The contract is reportedly for 6 years and could be worth upwards of $100 million.

OTHER NFL NEWS- The Washington Redskins have spurred talk that they have their sights on former Baylor QB and last year's Heisman winner Robert Griffin III after trading with the St Louis Rams to get the #2 overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

The Redskins get the second overall pick in exchange for giving St Louis three 1st round picks and a second round pick.

NBA- Although the second half of the season has been much kinder to the Celtics than it has been the Bruins, the C's are still running into some trouble on their West Coast road trip.

While they did manage back-to-back wins against the LA Clippers and Golden State Warriors, their western tilt started off with a 97-94 loss to the Lakers at the Staples Center and back-to-back losses against Sacramento and Denver.

The C's are still in 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, only a game and a half behind the 76ers. Their road trip continues on Monday- although it will be alot less western- when they travel to Atlanta to take on the 26-19 Hawks for the first time this season.

Monday night's game gets underway at 7:30 ET and will be televised on Comcast Sports New England.

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