Archive for the ‘Boston Bruins’ Category

Here's Bergeron, clearly not suffering at all.

Here’s Bergeron clearly not suffering at all.

Teams are always cagey about injuries during the playoffs, but Boston took it to entirely new heights this year when they revealed that Patrice Bergeron had a body injury. Not upper body, not lower body, just body. The injury turned out to be multiple upper body injuries (a broken rib, torn cartilage, a separated shoulder, and a pneumothorax) none of which could be considered minimal by any standards, and none of which prevented him from finishing the series.

Cartilage! Ribs!

The fun started in game four when Bergeron tore cartilage in his chest on a check from Michael Frolik. He then left game five in the second period, due to what was later revealed was a broken rib and concerns for a spleen inury. The cartilage in your chest has an important job, namely holding your ribs onto your sternum. The cartilage is highlighted in red below to point out just how heinous the pain is when you tear it. Generally people with costochondral injuries (costo = rib, chondral = pertaining to cartilage) sit very still, breathe very shallowly, and try not to do anything that would move their chest in any way. Try that. It’s impossible. What do you do for the injury? Nothing. Seriously, nothing. You wait it out, you take pain pills, and you suffer.

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In the battle between chronic shoulder dislocation and cup final, cup final wins every time.

In the battle between chronic shoulder dislocation and cup final, cup final wins every time.

The first thing that should come to mind when anyone mentions chronic shoulder dislocations is Mel Gibson throwing himself against a wall after escaping from a straitjacket in Lethal Weapon 2. TOTALLY REALISTIC (not really). While Nathan Horton hasn’t escaped from a straitjacket and nobody has seen him launching himself into walls, the Bruins have admitted he has a “chronic shoulder issue.”

Horton’s problems began April 20th when a fight with Jarome Iginla ended with him skating off holding his left arm awkwardly. The fight itself wasn’t much to see – A few punches, and Iginla dumped Horton to the ice. They were holding each other’s jerseys when he went down, which could explain the injury – the weight of one’s body on an outstretched arm is a great way to dislocate a shoulder. It’s also a great way to suffer a shoulder subluxation, a similar injury in which the shoulder comes partway out of the socket, and pops back in. The problem of course is that once you’ve had one injury in which you’ve dislocated (or subluxed) your shoulder, you’re very likely to do it again. The other problem is that nonsurgical management isn’t a great solution for someone who needs a working shoulder and uses it for hockey things like slamming into people and taking shots. The other other problem is if you’re a UFA you probably don’t have time for a six month recovery unless you’ve kicked so much playoff ass that your team can’t help but re-sign you.

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2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three

Mention that Jonathan Toews is playing poorly in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and an angry mob of advanced statistics people will march on your home carrying charts and graphs. Mention that Jonathan Toews is playing well in the postseason by pointing toward his Corsi and Fenwick numbers, and old sportswriters will roll their eyes and ask if you pay rent while living in your mom’s basement.

Trying to determine why in the heck a player as good as Toews has one goal in 20 playoff games is about as difficult juggling chainsaws with your feet, only instead of feet, you have stumps smothered in baby oil.

During the regular season, Toews was so good at the sport of hockey that he finished fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy. On the strength of a career-best (pro-rated) 23 goals and 48 points in 47 contests and excellent defensive game that won him the Selke Trophy, the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks also received the third-most first-place votes for the Hart.

The Blackhawks won the Presidents’ Trophy with 131.5 (again, pro-rated, obviously) points, which if you round up ties the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens for the most in a season. Sure, it happened over the course of 48 games so it doesn’t mean as much, but the Blackhawks put forth the NHL’s most dominant season in nearly four decades, and Toews was a major reason the Blackhawks brought hockey back the way Justin Timberlake brought sexy back in that neither brought anything back because it was already there. Read the rest of this entry »

Sidney Crosby's face, telling you everything you need to know about the emotional experience of playing Boston.

Sidney Crosby’s face, telling you everything you need to know about the emotional experience of playing Boston.

The Boston Bruins are the toughest team in the NHL.

The above statement is both true and untrue. It would be difficult to prove it by any objective measure. In the era of their dominance, they’ve never led the League in any of the standard metrics of thuggery. They don’t have the most fights, the most hits, or the most penalty minutes. They’re not the biggest team or the dirtiest. Although they appear with some regularity in the Annals of Controversial Incidents, they’re not even close to cornering the market on terrifying plays. If a skeptical alien came down to Earth today and asked us to demonstrate, with clear logic and pure evidence, that the Bruins are tougher than everyone else, we would disappoint it badly.

And yet, somehow, this is something we all know. Not because we have data or proof, but because we’ve seen the games, and in seeing the games, we see something in Boston- not constantly, but consistently- that speaks to us of violence. Sometimes it whispers, other times it screams, but it’s always there. It’s in Chara’s mad eyes, in Lucic’s f*&k-you snarl, in Marchand’s shameless dirtiness, in Thornton’s old-school pugnacity. Even their players who don’t especially represent any kind of danger or aggression it in their own game carry these traces, as if it’s rubbed off on them like dandelion pollen. They have the swagger of men who won’t back away from a fight, and are apt to start one for no good reason.

Last night, a friend who’s hockey fanaticism is so casual it barely even counts as attention- I dunno, the Bruins just seem like dicks. I don’t like that guy, I don’t like the way he plays, I don’t like his face. You know the one. This morning, a headline in my inbox- The Chara Factor looms over Final. When we speak of the Bruins, we speak of them in the language appropriate to school bullies and the Red Menace, without even realizing that we’re doing so. Their toughness has become a social fact without ever being an actual one. We don’t know it for any specific reason, we just know. It is known.

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Valtteri Filppula enjoys his last few moments with an intact ankle as Andrew Shaw plots his devious slewfoot.

Valtteri Filppula enjoys his last few moments with an intact ankle as Andrew Shaw plots his devious slewfoot.

For a move that’s worth a match penalty and so inherently dangerous, it’s amazing how often a slewfoot happens. What’s more amazing is how often players get away with it. Somehow the slewfoot is also one of the most-defended moves, with someone always willing to loudly claim it was just a hockey play, no matter how blatant. This year’s playoffs have already had their share of slewfoots (slewfeet?), all of which have somehow avoided anything more than a minor penalty.

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2011-12 winner Max Pacioretty demonstrates how to be awesome

2011-12 winner Max Pacioretty demonstrates how to be awesome

 

The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is voted on annually by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. The writers have their work cut out for them this year, since all three finalists are unquestionably worthy of the award.

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Perfect Patrice

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Seven

It takes a lot more than goal scoring to win a hockey game. Well, that’s not entirely correct, but it takes a lot more than finishing ability to win a hockey game, and the only stats that appear in a boxscore that are to be trusted are goals and assists.

Patrice Bergeron is good at those things, but he’s also good at all the other things that aren’t recorded in the traditional boxscore, the things you could, until about six years ago, only really see with your eyes. Patience in the neutral zone and impatience in the defensive zone, Bergeron doesn’t like to play too many seconds on the ice without the puck on his stick, and that’s a damn good thing, because there aren’t many players better in the game with the puck on their stick.

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