NESN has a tiny camera in its TD Garden booth trained on wacko Bruins play-by-play guy Jack Edwards, and it captured this over-the-top reaction from Edwards to Patrice Bergeron's overtime goal in Game Seven against the Leafs Monday night.
Close your eyes and listen and it's actually a pretty good call but Edwards, clearly knowing the camera is there, added some major mustard to his hot dogging too.
TORONTO -- We're on hand at the Air Canada Centre for Game Six of the Leafs-Bruins series (tonight at 7:30) and I'm wondering if we're way-way-way overdue for one of those into-the-night marathon playoff games that people talk about for a long time.
Last night's Pittsburgh-Islanders game was the 16th overtime contest of the first round -- tying the record for a round set last year. Former East Amherst product Brooks Orpik scored the game winner at 7:48 and you can watch the video above.
But none of the 16 games have gone past the first OT. Only two have gone past 15 minutes and just five have gone past 10 minutes (Boston's David Krejci scored at 13:06 to win Game Four of this series here on Wednesday night. Five have lasted less than three minutes.
The average in total is just a shade over eight minutes. Sure, there's some great players on the ice but I can say no superstar has scored an OT goal yet. I point to bad goaltending and there's been plenty of it in the postseason so far. We'll see what happens here tonight, and whether Tuukka Rask and James Reimer can stretch a tie game deep into the night.
The teams salute the TD Garden crowd after the shootout's conclusion. (Getty Images)
By Mike Harrington
The stirring national anthem sung by the entire TD Garden crowd and the postgame, two-team stick salute to the fans seem to be the most lasting images from last night's amazing game in Boston.
Home teams routinely salute their fans after a win and the Bruins were no doubt going to do that last night, win or lose. How did the Sabres get involved? Most Boston players last night were crediting Thomas Vanek.
Vanek, along with alternate captains Steve Ott and Drew Stafford, broached the idea at the morning skate with team trainers, who took it to the Boston side. Vanek and Boston captain Zdeno Chara then met on the ice at the start of pregame warmup to finalize the plans.
"Even though they play in that city, it doesn't matter where you're from," Vanek said after today's brief practice in Amherst. "Buffalo, my case Europe or whatever. Everyone gets affected by it.
"We didn't think about the publicity it's getting. For us, it was just to appreciate the people who came. The atmosphere was unbelievable. It's a few hours away from something you have to not think about. It was good for everyone, a good few hours."
Taking a quick spin around the Web today, I found several other stories that are good reads.
---In the Boston Globe, Buffalo booster and Wegmans lover Kevin Paul Dupont (whose wife is a WNYer) penned a terrific lead column on the scene. Wrote Dupont. "It was a night to remember, a hope to hold dear, only some 48 hours after the afternoon we all wish could be chased from memory."
---Anthem singer Rene Rancourt, a legend at the old and new Garden for 35 years, said in an interview this morning on WEEI Radio in Boston, that the anthem will rate as the most memorable one of his career. Bruins officials suggested the crowd-led anthem in part because Rancourt said he was concerned he wouldn't be able to sing the song all the way due to his emotions. But he was wondering if the crowd would sing for him. No issues.
"It was wonderful," Rancourt said. "The sound was carrying me, lifting me up in the room. It was just something indescribable."
The Sabres will return to practice today, and their focus will be on Friday's season-altering matchup with the New York Rangers, the team they're chasing for the playoffs. Before that, it's worth reliving some of the Sabres' emotional visit to Boston on Wednesday for the first sporting event in the town since Monday's marathon bombing.
BOSTON -- The pain caused by the Boston Marathon explosions will linger for awhile. The Sabres and Bruins hope they can ease it for a couple of hours.
The teams will face off in TD Garden tonight in Boston's first sporting event since the act of terror that marred Monday's race. The Bruins are expected to memorialize the three people who died and 176 who were wounded when a pair of bombs exploded near the finish line of the legendary marathon.
"I’m sure it will be full of emotions after obviously what happened on Monday," Bruins forward Chris Kelly said after the morning skate. "Your thoughts and prayers go out to everyone that was affected, and hopefully we can go out and play hard for the city of Boston.
Interviews from the Bruins' dressing room Tuesday by ESPNBoston.com
By Mike Harrington
The Boston Bruins practiced as normal today in Wilmington, Mass., for their game against the Sabres Wednesday night
"It was one of those days you practice with heavy hearts," said coach Claude Julien. "Obviously, we have a job to do and we still have to do our job, but our guys are proud of this city they represent, Boston, and as much as it was hard to really go out there today and give your all, I think our guys did a good job. Practice is over and our thoughts are back with those people affected by it."
A quick Sabres update from First Niagara Center: Practice has opened as scheduled at 10:30 a.m., the normal time when the team is planning a flight. The plane to Boston is supposed to leave at 3 p.m. and there is no indication of any change in the schedule for tomorrow's game against the Bruins at 7:30 in TD Garden in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.
In roster news, Mikhail Grigorenko is on the ice at practice today but there is no decision yet from the Sabres whether he will be going to Boston or is simply here working out and getting ready to go to Rochester.
More updates, of course, after practice is complete.
The Sabres are scheduled to leave for Boston on a 3 p.m. flight Tuesday afternoon and are slated to play the Bruins Wednesday night at 7:30 The Sabres are scheduled to stay at their normal Boston hotel, the Ritz-Carlton by the Boston Common. It is about 1 3/4 miles from the explosion site on Boylston Street.
Tyler Myers celebrates his third-period goal. (Harry Scull Jr/Buffalo News)
By Mike Harrington
It was one of those nights.
The Sabres were decent in the first period (albeit unable to get the puck out of their zone for the first 82 seconds). They were horrific in the second, getting richly deserved boos on their way off the ice in a 2-1 hole that would have been about 6-1 or 7-1 were it not for Ryan Miller.
Something pretty darn interesting must have gone on in that dressing room in the second intermission. Tyler Myers and Lindy Ruff both admitted there was plenty of anger and the third period that followed was easily this club's best of the year.
When the 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins was complete, Drew Stafford (the elephant finally off his back after scoring his first goal), greeted the media in an outlandish fur coat with Sabres logo on the back. He then unleashed this gem as reporters encircled him: "Guys, I want to thank Mike Harrington for letting me borrow his coat."
Tyler Seguin celebrates his goal last week in Montreal. (Getty Images)
By Mike Harrington
Lindy Ruff has made several references this year to the Sabres' plan of using Mikhail Grigorenko as being similar to what the Bruins did during the 2010-11 season with winger Tyler Seguin.
Two years ago, a season he began at age 18, Seguin was a healthy scratch seven times during the regular season and scored 11 goals. But he really produced in the playoffs with a couple key goals in the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa -- and those came after he was scratched for every game in the first two rounds against Montreal and Philadelphia.
Last year, Seguin burst on the scene with 29 goals, 67 points and a plus-34 rating. So far this year, he hasn't been as good (two goals, six points, plus-8 in 11 games) but he still plays 17:46 a night.
I asked Boston coach Claude Julien today about the process of massaging young players through the early travails of their career and he said the Bruins had a distinct plan in mind.
You think of the Boston Bruins and you would instinctly think of sheer dominance against a struggling outfit like the Sabres. But you really have to think again. The numbers don't match up.
The Sabres are 1-1 against the Bruins this year and they continue to stay above water against the B's in the post-Drury/Briere era. They were 2-2-2 against Boston last year, 4-1-1 against the Bruins in 2010-11 (Boston's Stanley Cup season). It was 2-2-2 again in 2009-10, 4-2 in 2008-09 and 4-2-2 in 2007-08.
Since the 2005 lockout, in fact, the Sabres are 17-3-5 against the Bruins at home. One of the three regulation losses was Sunday's 3-1 loss, a game the Bruins dominated but didn't take a lead for good until there was less than 13 minutes to go.
NEW YORK -- If the Bruins can get out of Boston, they will play Sunday night in Buffalo. But that's still an "if."
Boston.com reports that Logan International Airport in Beantown won't open until at least 11 tonight. Parts of Boston received 28 inches of snow.
“It’s very tough going and there’s still challenging conditions,” Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, told the Boston Globe.
The massive snowstorm claimed today's game between the Bruins and visiting Tampa, with the NHL electing to cancel the contest.
As of 4:15 p.m., the Sabres had no official word one way or the other as to whether the game with the Bruins will be played Sunday. A spokesman for the Sabres said they expect to host the game but wouldn't know for sure until later tonight.
At least the folks in New Orleans got the Super Bowl restarted after the lights went out. When things went dark during Game Four of the 1988 Stanley Cup final in old Boston Garden, the game was suspended and the series was sent back to Edmonton for the Oilers to wrap up the Cup.
Check out the video here. There was a lot of fog too, circa the Aud 1975.
Thomas Vanek burns Tuukka Rask for his hat trick goal. (AP)
By Mike Harrington
BOSTON -- So much happened in the Sabres' 7-4 win over the Bruins that it's hard to process in the hour or two immediately after it. My sense, however, is this has the potential to be a huge turnaround game. Quick hits:
---The Sabres need to get some scoring out of more than one line but Thomas Vanek is so hot right now, it doesn't matter. He's got 15 points in just six games this season -- and 54 points (28-26) in just 46 career games against Boston. And his passing has never been better.
"He's been awesome," said coach Lindy Ruff. "That play to Tyler Ennis [to score Buffalo's third goal] was second to none. Outmuscled a guy in front of the net and really a diving type pass that helped us get back in the game."
"The puck is going in," Vanek said. "I've always been a good passer in my mind. People are focusing on it more right now because the puck is going in."
The site of the demolished old Boston Garden will be developed in front of the TD Garden (rear, as shown in this 1998 Boston Globe photo).
By Mike Harrington
BOSTON -- The Sabres are breaking ground in a few weeks on Harbor Center, Terry Pegula's $123 million pet project in front of First Niagara Center that will feature a hotel, restaurant and two hockey rinks. By the drawings I've seen and the conversations I've had with people about it, it should be spectacular and another game-changer downtown.
Mikhail Grigorenko has been a surprise in the faceoff circle. (Getty Images)
By Mike Harrington
BOSTON -- The Sabres have to be quicker on the draw. That's become plainly obvious this season. But it could really be a major issue tonight.
Buffalo enters the game last in the NHL in faceoff percentage at 42 percent -- and the Boston Bruins are No. 1 at 60.7 percent. There's been plenty of chatter on Twitter in recent days over how significant the Sabres' troubles in the circle really are. I say it's one key problem to the season (although I would list lack of secondary scoring and poor play along the blueline as bigger trouble spots).
(*I acknowledge a decent argument can be made that six games is a small sample size, although I remind you it's already 12.5 percent of the season. And it also can be pointed out that the numbers might even out a little bit as well because 42 percent is historically bad; the last-place team in the league has never been under 44 percent since 1998.).
Let's start by comparing the two teams' numbers. The NHL lists faceoffs in wins-losses format so a team or player that's, say, 20-25 has won 20 and lost 25 and is NOT 20 OUT OF 25 (Going 20-25 essentially means 20 of 45).
BOSTON -- It's been nearly 15 months but Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller was still on the media's minds today in TD Garden in advance of tonight's Sabres-Bruins game. Boston reporters swarmed new Sabres Steve Ott and John Scott in the locker room after the team's 40-minute pregame skate and peppered Lindy Ruff with questions about the Sabres' new approach.
Was adding Ott and Scott a reaction to Lucic? "It was just overall team toughness, make us a grittier team," said a clearly agitated Ruff. "It had nothing to do with the Bruins."
"You try to win the puck battles and the territorial battles. We have to win a game. Not coming out of here with points is not being successful. In a short season we need points. We've answered the physcial challenge. We've been there for each other from day one in this. We play a gritty style, a hitting style. We have to win games."
Come on, admit it. I got you right from the headline of this post.
But I'm not joking either. Did you see what happened at the start of the Bruins-Devils six-round shootout last night in TD Garden?
The video above gives you the answer. Hall of Famer Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe recounts the doughy affair with this uproarious game story.(*Dupont wrote a photographer at rinkside said the object was a pretzel even if the YouTube author above said hot dog).
The Canadiens are keeping No. 3 overall pick Alex Galchenyuk. (Getty Images)
By Mike Harrington
The Sabres are still up in the air with Mikhail Grigorenko even though the decision to keep him in the NHL seems like a no-brainer from this view. He's talented, he's creative and he plays center -- an area this team is woefully thin at. You want to see Grigorenko or Matt Ellis? You want them to force Ville Leino back to center, as Lindy Ruff mused about today? Please.
Keep the kid.
Still, it's only been 50-50 among other NHL teams about keeping key junior eligibles or sending them back. Here's a quick rundown:
The first thing Boston coach Claude Julien was asked after his team's pregame skate today was how strange it would be to not see Lindy Ruff on the Sabres' bench. Tonight's game, after all, will be just the second one since 1997 with Ruff absent.
Julien admitted it would be odd and said he's had several close calls in practice as well with collisions like Ruff and with pucks to the head like the one Edmonton's Tom Renney took Monday in Toronto.
"He may pop in there, you never know," Julien said of Ruff. "But I know he's been through a pretty bad fall. You don't like to see those things. Tom gets the puck in the head and it just goes to show you there's always a risk out there.
"... It happens. That's why you've got to be ready all the time. Sometimes when you see it, you can brace yourself. When you don't, it can be a tough fall. We don't have much protection underneath that sweatsuit except for the extra weight we carry."
Julien confirmed that Tuukaa Rask, who beat the Sabres in the playoffs as a rookie in 2010, will start tonight against Ryan Miller instead of Tim Thomas. Rask is a backup goalie who hardly has backup numbers -- he's 11-6-2 and third in the NHL in both goals-against average (1.88) and save percentage (.936). But like his team, Rask has struggled of late with an 0-2-1 record, and figures of 3.26 and .884 in the last three games.
Rask is 4-3, 2.28, .931 in his career against Buffalo in the regular season. Thomas, meanwhile, is 10-9-4 against Buffalo and his stats against the Sabres (3.10, .899) are his worst in every category against teams he's played at least 10 games.
John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, is in his sixth season covering the Buffalo Sabres. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.