“Cinderella” Story

23 04 2009
Boston Celtics Stephon Marbury (left) and Paul Pierce (right) were able to enjoy a laugh after sitting out the final few minutes of the Celtics rout of Chicago in Game Three.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Boston Celtics Stephon Marbury (left) and Paul Pierce (right) were able to enjoy a laugh after sitting out the final few minutes of the Celtics rout of Chicago in Game Three. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

By Brendan Tyman

The real question in this series is who is the underdog in the Celtics-Bulls series? The Celts are the defending champs yet Chicago was favored by 5 going into Game Three tonight.

Boston overcame the loss of Leon Powe to devestate the Chicago faithful 107-86 in front of a sold out United Center crowd. After losing the first game, the C’s hold a 2-1 advantage in the first round series.  They jumped to an early lead and did not step off the gear. They led by as many as 30 points in the final quarter.

Paul Pierce broke out for the first time in this series leading all players with 24 points. Rajon Rondo (20 points and 11 rebounds) had another great night and showed he is one of the best pure point guards in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Stephon Marbury came off the bench to post 13.

The C’s forced 22 turnovers and the Bulls to shoot 38% from the floor in their best defensive performance in the series.

Ben Gordon came back to Earth and scored 15 points, but was shut down for most of the contest. Joakim Noah added 10 boards.

The Celtics are reminding their fans of the 2003-’04 New England Patriots. People have underestimated them because of the injuries, but they continue to display that desire to win.

Keep wearing those slippers because they look good in green.


Habs Fans Boo American National Anthem, Bruins Take 3-0 Lead

21 04 2009

By Jim Chandleybsinmontreal

The fans of the Les Habitants de Montreal continued their strange (and slightly offensive) practice of booing the American national anthem last night, as the Canadiens hosted the Bruins in their first home playoff game of 2009.

But more importantly, the B’s took complete control of the situation on the ice.

Boston took a 3-0 lead in the series, putting the two teams in territory where the Bruins have never lost and the Canadiens have never won.

Christopher Higgins scored in the eighth minute of the game, the product of an expected early push by the Habs to try and get an early edge back in their own building.  So the Habs had momentum and a lead.

For the next few minutes, the Bell Centre was rocking as the fans started to get into it.  But Phil Kessel was not interested in hearing anymore “Go Habs, Go” chants.  He tipped in a shot from Dennis Wideman with just over a minute left in the first.

Early in the second, Shawn Thornton scored his first goal in the playoffs to give the B’s a 2-1 lead.  But he would be answered moments later by Yannick Weber.  The score sat at 2-2 for most of the period.  With under three minutes to go in the second, former Canadien Michael Ryder scored on his old team, burying a rebound from the left slot.

Taking a 3-2 lead into the third, Boston knew they would see a barrage of shots from Montreal in the final frame.  And did the barrage ever come.  While the shots were selective, the Canadiens controlled the puck for most of the period.  But the defensive effort was truly superb.  For fans who were wondering where the third period defense was during the regular season, the B’s have answered so far in the playoffs.

When the Habs were forced to pull Carey Price in the final minute (probably a big improvement, given Price’s play of late), they paid for it.  Chuck Kobasew out-hustled the entire team to put in an empty net goal.  The B’s took a 4-2 lead that would stand for the final 30 seconds.

Boston will skate on Montreal’s ice again on Wednesday night, looking to complete the sweep.

Boston Wins Again, Takes 2-0 Lead

19 04 2009

By Jim Chandley

The Bruins sent a clear message to the Montreal Canadiens last night at the Garden:

We are a better team, our goalie is hotter than yours is right now, and you are no tougher than we are.  That was the message, and the Habs appeared to have little trouble hearing them.

Boston jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on goals from Marc Savard and Chuck Kobasew.  Alexei Kovalev scored moments into the second to cut the lead in half.  For five minutes it looked like a game.

Five minutes later, ‘Sheriff’ Shane Hnidy scored to make it 3-1 and it would soon stop being a game.  Those few minutes between goals were the ones where Montreal needed to net another and try to swing some momentum.

After Hnidy’s goal, it started to pour.

Savard scored again three minutes later on the powerplay.  His was followed by Michael Ryder on the powerplay later in the second period.  With the game salted away at 5-1, things began to slip into the ever-familiar Bruins/Canadiens boxing match that fans are so fond of.

Josh Gorges is probably not feeling too well this afternoon.  He got rocked by an unlikely party; Patrice Bergeron decided to try and take his pound of flesh from the Canadien’s defenseman, and he was not to be denied.  Bergeron landed two punches on Gorges before he knew what had happened, and the third put Gorges firmly on his back.

From this point on, both teams got a little pride out.  Most notably, Milan Lucic cross checked Maxim Lapierre hard after a whistle (Lucic has since been suspended for tomorrow night’s game for the shot).  Fights were almost constant throughout the third as Montreal knew they were going home down 2-0.

The two will tango again on Monday night in Montreal.

Rose Outshines Rondo, Boston

19 04 2009
Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett (right) is not yelling "Freedom" like William Wallace, but he was not able to energize his teammates like Ray Allen (left).  (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett (right) is not yelling "Freedom" like William Wallace, but he was not able to energize his teammates like Ray Allen (left). (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

By Brendan Tyman

Yesterday, the Boston Celtics looked like William Wallace at the end of “Braveheart” when he is about to be executed. Fans realize that they are playing without their Big Ticket, Kevin Garnett, and the possibility of another championship is nearly unlikely.

There was that little bit of hope for a great run, but Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls quickly evaporated that optimism among the Boston faithful with a 105-103 overtime victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Bulls took away home-court advantage.

All five of Chicago’s starters scored in double-figures. Rose led all scorers with 36 points and 9 assists before fouling out with 10.3 seconds left in the contest. Joakim Noah added 11 points and 17 rebounds in helping Chicago dominate the paint. Ben Gorden tallied 20.

Throughout the game, the Celts looked out of synch especially on offense where there was no ball movement. Players were just stagnant.

Rajon Rondo posted 29 points, grabbed 9 boards, and dished out 7 dimes. Paul Pierce, who missed a free throw that would have put the Celtics ahead with 2.6 seconds left, finished with 23. Ray Allen failed to reach double-figures in scoring and was 1-12 from the floor, including 0-6 from 3-point shooting.

The Green do not want to stop believing, but things look bleak. If the C’s continue to compete like they did yesterday afternoon, it will be hard to see another celebration coming in June, unless it is from the other squad that plays at the Garden.

One Down, 15 to go

16 04 2009

By Jim ChandleyCanadiens Bruins Hockey

The B’s beat the rival Canadiens 4-2 at the Garden tonight in their first playoff game of 2009.

Phil Kessel scored twice including an empty net goal with 15 seconds left to salt the game away.  Zdeno Chara scored on the powerplay and David Krejci scored only moments after Kessel’s first goal to set the pace.

The Habs got goals from Christopher Higgins and Alexei Kovalev, but it was not enough to hold of the top seed in the East.

Fisticuffs ensued as the game came to a close.  Steve Montador and Guillaume Latendresse went at it in an obvious carryover from the last regular season game the two teams played, which was full of rough stuff.

Game 2 will be played Saturday night in the midst of one of the best sports days Boston has seen in some time.

The Celtics will open their first round playoff series with the Bulls at the Garden Saturday afternoon.  The facilities crew will then flip the floors so that the B’s can host the Canadiens in game 2.  At 7, the puck will drop at the Garden and the Sox will take the field against the Orioles back in the Fens.

The city will surely be abuzz over all the sports action; just make sure you’re in town early to get a parking space…

Never Underestimate the Heart of a Champion

16 04 2009
Kevin Garnett may be out for the playoffs, but the Boston Celtics are not done yet. KG likely out for playoffs  (Reuters)

Kevin Garnett may be out for the playoffs, but the Boston Celtics are not done yet. (Reuters)

By Brendan Tyman

Go ahead, Stephen A. Smith, pick your boys LeBron James and Kobe Bryant to meet in the NBA Finals. Everyone in America take the Chicago Bulls (Boston’s first round opponent) as your Cinderella team in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics should not even compete in the playoffs without Kevin Garnett. Like Herm Edwards once said, “This is why you play the game.”

The Celts may be better off without KG because he has not proven to be fully healthy. Is Garnett the most indespensible player on Boston? Maybe, but they still have last year’s NBA Finals MVP, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen (a.k.a. Jesus Shuttlesworth). The C’s have one of the best point guards in the NBA in Rajon Rondo (he can shoot now).

Off the bench, Leon Powe and Tony Allen are back and healthy. They have Stephon Marbury who can start on some playoff teams.

Garnett is a big loss and you cannot replace him, but the heart of the tiger is still there. The Celtics are 18-7 without him this season. Now let us watch and see if someone can dethrone the defending champs. The postseason has just become an even playing field.

MLB Mourns Another Tragedy

14 04 2009
Mark Fidyrich was a character on the mound in his playing days. (frank o'brien/1996 File/The Boston Globe)

Mark Fidryich was a character on the mound in his playing days. (frank o'brien/1996 File/The Boston Globe)

By Brendan Tyman

After losing Los Angeles Angels pitcher, Nick Adenhart, Major League Baseball lost another member of its elite fraternity. Mark Fidryich was killed yesterday in an accident on his farm in Northbourough. He was just 54 years old.

Fidryich was found by close friend, Joseph Amorello, at 2:30 P.M. He was under his dump truck.

Known for his on-field antics as he would talk to the baseball and clean the dirt on the mound while on his knees, Fidryich always delighted  the crowds. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In 1976, he won American League (AL) Rookie of the Year as he won 19 games  for the Detroit Tigers. His other stats were impressive: ERA (2.34), complete games (24), and he started for the AL in the All-Star Game. He finished second to Jim Palmer in the Cy Young voting.

On June 28, Fidryich got his moment in the sun. He pitched on ABC’s “Monday Night Baseball” against the New York Yankees. The crowd was sold out at Tiger Stadium. Fidryich threw a complete-game and allowed just 7 hits in a 5-1 victory. This was when America got their first look at Fidryich. He settled in Northborough.

After 1976, Fidryich suffered torn knee cartilage in Spring Training and then he had shoulder problems that he never recovered from. He won just 10 games. In 1983, after attempting a comeback with the Boston Red Sox, he retired.

Due to his grin and curly hair, Fidryich was nicknamed “The Bird” because he resembled the Sesame Street character.