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Maza's Musings

Unsolicited sports opinion and insight

Month

May 2011

Did Patrice Bergeron suffer the luckiest injury in Bruins playoff history?

Let’s face it, if Claude Giroux hadn’t laid a devastating hit on Patrice Bergeron in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Tyler Seguin would still be sitting in the press box.

Instead, Bergeron sat beside Marc Savard as the two watched the No. 2 overall pick in the draft dazzle the crowd and befuddle Dwayne Roloson and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Where would this series be if Bergeron hadn’t gotten hurt?

More than likely, they would be up, 2-0. There. I said it.

Seguin has had an impressive start to his playoff career, but this team is still better with a healthy Bergeron in the lineup. Bergeron is the most complete player on the team, a terrific two-way player who often does all the little things that don’t show up in the box score. The Bruins not only lost a lot of talent and 12 points through 11 playoff games, but a lot of hockey know how as well.

What’s more, Claude Julien was forced to alter his lines, including breaking up the incredibly successful third line of Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, which carried the team offensively through much of the first round against Montreal. Bergeron’s linemates Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi had a combined seven goals and 11 assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-9. Since they have been centered by Kelly and Peverley in a game apiece, neither has recorded a point. Marchand is minus-3, while Recchi is minus-4 in the conference semifinals.

No doubt Seguin has put on a show, but there is a reason why he didn’t play in the first two series and it goes beyond the fact he had one point in his last 19 regular season games. The 19-year-old has immense offensive talent, but proved not to have the stamina to withstand a season-long NHL pounding and has not shown an ability to play consistent two-way hockey.

An unfortunate incident gave him his shot and he’s running with it with some heroics, but overall, in the long run, the team would have been better served to have Bergeron healthy.

Luckiest injury in playoff history? No way. Luckiest injury for Tyler Seguin? You bet.

Series saved by Thomas!

As much praise as the Bruins offense is getting, it can be forgotten that probably the reason why the Bruins are not down 0-2 is because of the efforts of Tim Thomas, who put in maybe the most spectacular efforts by a goaltender than has given up five regulation time goals in hockey history.

Thomas rebounded from a lackluster Game 1 with a stand-on-your head performance in a Game 2 that more resembled a no rules pond hockey game than an NHL playoff contest.

Did he allow a couple softies? Yes, he did. But at the same time, he made some very big saves when they were needed most, including in the final seconds of the game as the Lightning made a last-ditch effort to send it to overtime.

Allowing nine goals in the past two games has ballooned Thomas’ postseason goals allowed average to 2.39. Yep. Just 2.39. Considering he’s posted a career 2.26 GAA against Tampa Bay and has been sparkling on the road this year (4-1 in these playoffs, 17-6, 2.15 GAA in the regular season on the road), don’t expect another five goal game.

Man on Fire: Adrian Gonzalez

Will Monday night’s game prove to be a microcosm of the entire 2011 season for the Boston Red Sox? The team struggles through the early stages, only to keep their heads down, right the ship and in the final moments is saved by their newly acquired hero?

Perhaps that’s a bit romanticized, but one thing that’s not is the fact that Adrian Gonzalez is proving to be as good as, if not better than advertised. More than anything, the Red Sox obtained a player who instills confidence that something special is going to happen every time he comes to the plate. Possibly the reason why some have undervalued him throughout his career, besides wallowing in San Diego, is because he carries himself with quiet confidence and poise. There’s no pomp and fanfare. Just results.

For those who require a little more than feelings and appearance to be convinced that something special is happening in the three hole for the Sox, here is some knowledge, straight from the sport that provides statistics like none other. The Red Sox are now 10-5 since May 1. Over that span, Gonzalez has batted .349 with 12 extra-base hits (four doubles, eight home runs) for a slugging percentage of .794 on base percentage and 22 RBIs. He’s currently leading the majors with 37 RBIs. The power outage he suffered at the beginning of the season is ancient history.

As Carl Crawford appears to wilting in the Boston spotlight, Gonzalez appears to be opening up and charging himself up with it like Wall.E. All we have to do is sit back and enjoy watching an MVP season.

Something is Lackey-ing

Just as Gonzalez is raising fans’ hopes, John Lackey has them legitimately concerned.

“Everything went wrong that could go wrong. It’s pretty much the story of my year right now. Everything in my life sucks right now, to be honest with you,” Lackey was quoted as saying in the Boston Herald after getting lit up by Toronto on May 11. He has given up 17 runs in 10 2/3 innings in his last two outings and sports a 8.01 ERA for the season.

What is going on with the $82.5 million man? Probably more than we could ever know. We have no idea what’s going on in his personal life. Maybe his child is sick. Maybe his marriage is falling apart. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe everything’s fine and he’s just not performing. But regardless does that absolve him from criticism? If something is going wrong in your personal life, aren’t you told to leave it at home and don’t bring it into the office?

Because he’s a professional athlete, should we treat him differently? People want to say that he can’t be blamed for taking the money that was waved at him and we shouldn’t place expectations on him simply because of the contract. Any one of us would take that money we’re told.

I contest that there is an expectation that comes with a long-term, big money contract and you assume the responsibilities associated with that when you sign it. You know that there is a mantle of responsibility or at least you should. You would take praise for living up to your contract, such at the praise Gonzalez is getting, so take the criticism that comes with it, as well.

John Lackey has my sympathy if he’s going through something. But just like me, he shouldn’t be allowed to use it as an excuse if he doesn’t perform at the office.

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