BOSTON -- Fenway Park, especially for Yankees-Red Sox, is almost the perfect combination of sporting event/party in North America. Almost.
It was 90 degrees and sunny Wednesday, awesome for a ballgame. I'd been to Fenway once before (my son, Ty, and I hit the park last summer as part of our 10-day drive up and down the East Coast), and it was a high-quality experience. The game was against the A's, however, and the atmosphere can't compare to the Yanks-Sox rivalry.
The ample number of bars around the yard were rocking, and they also close off Yawkey Way for a party. Bands, dudes on stilts playing catch, food, drinks ... just a good time. More places should do it. Columbus has a quality entertainment area around its arena, but no comparison. Buffalo should take notes.
The game itself was cool, with the passions evident. As soon as I sat down the college kids behind me asked, "Yanks or Sahx?" I said, "Giants," which is A) true, and 2) a good answer, allowing one to avoid getting punched in the back of the head if Jeter happens to go yard. For the record, I can't stand the Red Sox.
Anyway, the only drawback to Fenway is the beer situation. They don't sell it at food stands. So if you want a dog and a beer, you have to stand in the food line, then go stand in the beer line (or vice versa). That's two lines, for those of you scoring at home. I asked why, and the girl replied, "Well, we don't want people who just want a sandwich to have to stand in a long line." OK, but then you have people standing in two long lines. "Oh well."
Oh well, indeed.
It should be a little later start tonight as the Bruins are holding their year-end award ceremony before the game.
7:11 p.m.: It's Patrick Lalime versus Tuuka Rask in the goaltending matchup.
7:13 p.m.: The Bruins should not have third jerseys. And if they insist on doing so (like tonight), they should be better.
7:15 p.m.: The Bruins are all over the Sabres' zone, and it results in Chris Butler taking a tripping penalty with 2:01 gone.
7:17 p.m.: The Sabres' second-ranked penalty kill puts forth another impressive outing. No score, shots are 1-0 Boston with 15:35 left.
7:21 p.m.: This is the second arena in three games that has different colored seating sections (joining Toronto), and it's the one thing I miss about the Aud. You knew what gold, red, blue and orange meant, whereas 100 Level IV and 300 Level II in HSBC Arena mean nothing. If they ever redo the seats, they should color code them. It's 0-0, with 13:05 to go.
7:24 p.m.: Nice save by Lalime on shot by Mark Recchi with 12:19 to go. You have to think Lalime will play two of the final three games, including tonight.
7:27 p.m.: Oh yeah, if you're ever in Beantown on a sunny, 90-degree day, eat at The Barking Crab. The lobster roll goes well with their Barking Crab White. Of course, I'm sure it would go well with anything.
7:28 p.m.: Sabres have made a little push, but the Bruins hold a 4-2 edge in shots with 10:19 to go.
7:30 p.m.: Derek Roy gives Buffalo a 1-0 lead with 9:00 left. The center steals the puck off a soft backhand clear attempt by Dennis Wideman, then beats Rask gloveside on a breakaway.
7:31 p.m.: Tyler Ennis takes the second penalty, going to the box for hooking with 8:40 remaining.
7:35 p.m.: Zdeno Chara is wearing a full face shield because of a broken nose.
7:36 p.m. Sabres kill the penalty. Rask looks shaky. He's whiffed on catching two shots so far, but the pucks went wide or high. It's still 1-0, with Boston holding a 9-5 shot edge with 5:13 to go. The Bruins have Ice Girls -- I saw them downstairs -- but I have no idea what they do since they have dudes cleaning the ice during commercials.
7:40 p.m.: Bruins take their first penalty, as Shawn Thornton takes a cross-check to the back by Paul Gaustad and responds by dropping his gloves and grabbing Gaustad. The Sabres' center turns down the invite, and Thornton heads off for roughing with 4:19 to go.
7:44 p.m.: Sabres' unsuccessful power play ends with five seconds left as Nathan Gerbe goes to box for tripping with 2:24 to go.
7:46 p.m.: Lots of booing fans as Sabres' PK again dominates.
7:48 p.m.: Sabres head to dressing room with 1-0 lead, while Boston leaves with 10-6 shot advantage.
8:05 p.m.: The Bruins' media relations staff is awesome. They hand out fact sheets prior to the game and during every intermission that tell you anything you need to know for your story. Roy, for example, has six goals and three assists in his last seven games, with eight goals and 12 assists in his last 18. No one has any goals in the opening 1:38 of the second period.
8:09 p.m.: Old friend Miroslav Satan scores with 2:15 gone, however. He picks up a loose puck deep in the Buffalo zone, goes in alone and slips a backhand between Lalime's pads. It's 1-1.
8:13 p.m.: Andrej Sekera takes an interference penalty with 15:30 to go. The Sabres have killed off 22 of 23 times short over the last seven games, according to the Bruins' PR. Thanks again, ladies and gentlemen.
8:17 p.m.: Make that 23 of 24. The Ice Girls are finally here, handing out T-shirts to screaming fans. You can't beat free stuff, eh? It's 1-1 with 13:10 left.
8:19 p.m.: Sabres get a power play with 12:47 to go as Matt Hunwick goes off two minutes for holding the stick. The Sabres are 6 for 17 with the man advantage over their last seven games. Any idea where I got that from?
8:23 p.m.: Make that 6 for 18.
8:24 p.m.: Another Sabres penalty, with Toni Lydman going for delay of game after flipping the puck over the glass with 9:43 to go. That penalty, and too many men on the ice, have been showing up often for the Sabres lately. Cheap Plug Alert: Read Friday's notebook for words from Ruff on the too many men situation.
8:28 p.m.: Buffalo's PK is again the victor over the Boston PP, and Lalime wins with Vladimir Sobotka's breakaway attempt. The goalie's poke-check with 7:17 to go keeps the game tied at 1-1.
8:39 p.m.: I think they've shown every fan in the building on the scoreboard. Lots of fan shots. It's still 1-1 with 1:24 to go.
8:41 p.m.: And the teams head to the dressing rooms tied, 1-1. The Bruins have a slight 21-20 shot edge.
8:43 p.m.: Hey, it's Sea Bass!
9 p.m.: The Sabres are 12-3-8 when tied after 40 minutes, while the Bruins are 9-3-7.
9:02 p.m.: Wideman makes up for his first-period miscue, giving Boston a 2-1 lead with 1:59 off the clock. His shot from the point went through a screen and past Lalime on the glove side.
9:12 p.m.: The Sabres have 13:22 left to tie the game.
9:15 p.m.: Nathan Gerbe shows his spunk again, earning roughing penalties with Sobotka with 11:35 left.
9:18 p.m.: Daniel Paille hits the post with 10:04 left, as the Sabres remain down, 2-1. There's 9:45 to go as of this commercial break.
9:20 p.m.: Raffi Torres crushes Wideman with a check with 9:10 to go. Boston's Matt Hunwick then takes a cross-checking penalty with 8:37 left, putting Buffalo on the power play.
9:27 p.m.: Final commercial break comes with 4:46 to go. Boston's lead on the scoreboard is 2-1, while it's advantage on the shot chart is 30-29. Good game by Lalime, but not much offensive help so far.
9:31 p.m.: That'll do it. Chara, who has one of the NHL's hardest shots, scores on a blistering slap shot from the point with 3:25 to go. It's 3-1, and the Sabres will fall for the third time in four games. (They have since changed the goal to Mark Recchi, who tipped it in front.)