Mitch's Sports: Rask Ties Record For Most Bruins Goalie Wins; Yankees Winning Bullpen Arms Race
The Boston Bruins shook off a loss to the league-worst Philadelphia Flyers, returning home to Boston for a victory over the St. Louis Blues that re-wrote the team's record books.
That's because goalie Tuukka Rask was in net for the win, making 28 saves for victory number 252 in his Bruins career, and that ties the all-time record for franchise wins set by Tiny Thompson, who played eleven seasons with Boston, ending his career with the most victories by a Bruins goalie in 1939 until Rask matched him with last night's 5-2 decision.
Rask was supported by goals from Torey Krug and former long-time St. Louis Blue David Backes, returned to the line-up against his former team after sitting out as a healthy scratch against the Flyers. Backes deflected a shot by defenseman Zdeno Chara past Blues goalie Jake Allen but St. Louis, winners of four of their last six games after struggling for most of the season, had the game tied at two before the Bruins broke it open in the third period.
The eventual game winner was scored by fourth line winger Chris Wagner, who took a feed from rookie Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson at the blue line and raced in for a breakaway on Allen, feigning backhand before going forehand at the last second, a move that fooled Allen and ghave Wagner an open net to slide in the go-ahead goal.
Brad Marchand and Sean Kuraly added insurance goals to make sure Rask would get his name into the record books, and he'll become the Bruins all-time leader in goaltender victories with his next one.
Meanwhile the Bruins pick up an important two points in the standings, remaining one point behind teh Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic division, the Leafs coming up wuith a big 4-2 win last night over the number one team in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Mitch Marner had the go-ahead goal for Toronto in the third period, and to demonstrate how good the Lightning are this season, that win still has the Leafs a full 14 points behind Tampa for first place in the division, and the loss at home last night for the Lightning was the first one on home ice in their last nine games.
Patrick Marleau and Nazem Kadri each had a goal and assist for Toronto in a game that will stand as a confidence builder for the Leafs should the two teams eventually meet in the playoffs.
Down under at the Australian Open tennis tournament, last year's women's champ is out of the competition. Caroline Wozniacki was ousted by a well-known former champion, Maria Sharipova, as the 31-year old Russian out-lasted Wozniaki in a more than 2-hour match, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to advance to the next round.
There she'll face Australian native Ashleigh Barty. Despite Sharipova's high profile as one of the world's best players, she was seeded only 30th for this tournament after missing most of last year due to shoulder injuries. The defending women's champ Wozniaki was seeded third before her ouster.
The top women's seed is Simona Halep, and she advanced to the next round where she'll play Venus Williams, after dropping the first set but rallying to beat Sofia Kenin yesterday.
No major upsets on the men's side, with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both winning easily to advance.
The Norwich women's basketball team got off to a good start against conference foes Suffolk University in Northfield last night, but the Cadets lost their shooting touch in the second quarter and ultimately lost the game 59-49.
Lebanon, New Hampshire's Vanessa Fleury led the Cadets with 15 points and Mary Casamassa turned in a double double with 11 points and 12 rebounds but as a team Norwich had a 2-12 cold spell from the floor that allowed the Rams to take the lead for good. The Cadets fall to 6-10 overall with the loss and are now 1-3 against Great Northeast Athletic opponents.
The Norwich men were also in action but alos fell in defeat, a 97-80 loss against New England College. The Pilgrims built up a 22 point lead by half-time and never looked back. Jesse Davis had the best individual performance for the Cadets, pouring in 29 points, and Northfield native Kyle Booth had 12 points and eight rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome the big first half deficit. The Cadets are now 6-10 on the season.
Finally, let's turn to baseball's hot stove, and when it comes to next year's bullpens, the NY Yankees may have already won the arms race. Already boasting one of the game's best closers in Aroldis Chapman, and having added former all-star closer Zach Britton to the fold, the Yankees stacked their pen even higher by signing Brooklyn native Adam Ottavino to a three year deal yesterday.
Ottavino had a stellar season in 2018 for the Colorado Rockies, sporting a 2.43 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 77 innings and holding batters to a paltry .158 average, and remember that Coors Stadium in the thin Denver air is one of the toughest ballparks for any pitcher to throw in.
This is not good news for any other team in the American League, especially not those in the American League east, including the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, who will have to face the Yankees 19 times next season.
If one were to be critical of Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski, and that's a tough thing to do when he calmly put together a Red Sox team that in 2018 not only won the World Series but set a franchise record for most wins, it would be pointing out that the Red Sox bullpen situation heading into 2019 is unsettled at best.
Closer Craig Kimbrel is looking for a big payday, the Red Sox are waiting him out to see if they can get him for less than other teams would be willing to pay, while the Yankees have moved aggressively to pick up a reliever like Ottavino, who I was hoping Dombrowski would entice to pitch at Fenway. Still, I haven't assembled a World series team of any kind, so I suppose I should trust in the guy who did.
One other note on Ottavino. He does not lack for confidence. He's said that if he were to face Babe Ruth, he'd strike him out every time. I would point out to Ottavino, however, that the Babe has been deceased for many years now, so that would be less an impressive feat than Ottavino may understand it to be.