Ramblings: Bruins and Avs Even Their Series, RIP Botch (May 3)

by Ian Gooding on May 3, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Bruins and Avs Even Their Series, RIP Botch (May 3)


With no clear team emerging as the Stanley Cup favorite, it only makes sense that three of the four series are now tied 2-2.

The Boston Bruins evened their series with the Columbus Blue Jackets at two wins apiece with a 4-1 win in Game 4.

The usual top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak was reunited for this game (Pastrnak was moved back onto the line and Danton Heinen bumped off), and it seemed to provide the spark that the Bruins needed. Bergeron led the charge with two power-play goals while taking seven shots on goal. Both Bergeron and Marchand (one assist in Game 4) had been held without a point in the three previous games in this series, so needless to say this output was much-needed. Pastrnak also scored a goal and added an assist. Old clichéd expression, I know, but your best players have to be your best players in order to win.

Tuukka Rask was impressive, stopping 39 of 40 shots in earning the win. He would have earned a shutout had it not been for a controversial goal from Artemi Panarin in the first period. The puck hit the high netting, so the play should have been whistled dead. Instead, the puck fell and play continued with the puck eventually getting to Panarin for the goal.
 


David Backes took a vicious elbow from Dean Kukan. Backes has had multiple concussions, but fortunately, he was able to return to the game.
 


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The Colorado Avalanche also evened their series with the San Jose Sharks with a 3-0 win in Game 4.

Nathan MacKinnon’s sixth goal of the playoffs, scored in the second period, turned out to be the game-winner. MacKinnon was difficult to contain as usual, firing seven shots on goal.

Linemate Mikko Rantanen recorded two assists, including this filthy pass to Colin Wilson on the Avs’ second goal.
 


Cale Makar recorded another assist, giving him five points (1g-4a) in seven playoff games. He has only reached the 20-minute mark in icetime once, which is expected for a rookie defenseman getting his start in the playoffs. Yet he is already seeing regular power-play time on the second unit with fellow 20-year-old Samuel Girard. If these two youngsters develop as hoped, the Tyson Barrie trade rumors are really going to heat up. Particularly since Barrie will be on the final year of his contract next season and the Avs will need to sign Rantanen (among several other RFAs) this offseason.  

Philipp Grubauer turned aside all 32 shots he faced in earning his first NHL playoff shutout. He has provided the Avalanche with stable goaltending during the playoffs, posting a save percentage of at least .900 in all but one playoff game so far. If his late-season and playoff success continues into next season, his $3.33 million cap over the next two seasons could turn out to be a bargain for the Avs.

This was hardly Brent Burns' finest game. Burns was on the ice for all three of the Avalanche's goals. You can see him getting burned on the Rantanen pass to Wilson. Burns posts amazing offensive numbers, though his Norris Trophy nomination will be debated because of the level of his defensive game. I won't go any further on that, as I don't feel like another award debate. 

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The Vegas Golden Knights will promote Kelly McCrimmon to general manager effective September 1. There seemed to be more talk on how this news would affect the Oilers, who now have one less potential general manager from their pool of candidates. I get the feeling the Oilers are waiting patiently for Ken Holland to leave the Wings because he has the burning desire to be a GM again, but in the end they will frustrate a significant portion of their fanbase by hiring Keith Gretzky. Wayne’s younger brother might not be the ideal candidate in terms of experience, but the Oilers’ job isn’t exactly the most appealing one in the NHL at the moment. Then again, didn’t Peter Chiarelli have experience when he was hired?

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Dobber has some guides for pre-order, in case you missed this:
 


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No doubt many of you have heard of the sudden passing of Vancouver hockey writer Jason Botchford due to apparent heart failure. Mike Clifford mentioned it in yesterday's Ramblings and offered me the opportunity to add some words about Botch (thanks again Mike), but I opted instead to include my thoughts here.

I didn't know Botch personally, but his Canucks game recaps, known as the Provies or the Athletties (depending on where he was writing) were must-reads for me, sometimes even after I wrote my Ramblings before I went to bed. His use of video and social media along with his dig-deep research using both words and analytics took his work to a whole new level well beyond the run-of-the-mill game summary. Once he left the Vancouver Province and joined the Athletic, Vancouver subscriptions from the Athletic no doubt sharply increased as he sold readers on receiving the “spa treatment.” I also made a point to tune into his compelling radio spots on TSN 1040, which most recently included the Patcast podcast with Jeff Paterson and the Power Hour on the Halford & Brough Show.  

Even though he was not originally from British Columbia, Botch connected with the “us against the world” mentality of a stereotypical Canucks fan. He understood the angst of a fanbase that had been teased with a near-Stanley Cup win in 2011 and the down years that followed, often standing up for the Canucks when they became an easy target for other writers and other teams’ fans. One of Botch's most famous quotes from his radio hits on TSN 1040 was, "You need an army!" which described how many more prospects the Canucks need in their rebuild. With his passion for everything Canucks, it felt like he led the army of fans. No doubt there was an edge to his personality, as he could be a polarizing figure with his brutally honest takes. Yet here in Vancouver, his loss leaves a huge void that I don't know will ever be filled.

It doesn't seem right to simply mention what I personally will miss about Jason Botchford, particularly since I am in a similar stage of my life as he was. There is a wife who is now without her husband, and three young children who are without their dad. This must be an incredibly difficult time for his family and those who knew him, since he has left so suddenly and well before his time (at age 48). My thoughts and prayers are with them at this time. If you wish to help his family, a Go Fund Me page has been set up.

By the way, all of Botchford’s articles on The Athletic have been unlocked, in case you don’t have an account. You can find them all here. I was looking forward to reading about his plans to improve the Canucks this summer, but sadly it was not meant to be. Regardless, I would think that many writers tasked with game recaps might try to follow his model of being able to both inform and entertain his readers. In that sense, Botchford was a trailblazer. Even though the news is now over a day old, Canucks Nation is still mourning this loss.

As a writer, I believe one of the reasons you get into this field is that you are inspired by reading the work of others. Since he was a writer that I would specifically seek out to read his latest work, I felt the need today to devote considerable space in my own writing to acknowledge his work.  

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I should also mention the passing of Hall of Famer Red Kelly, who was a man of many accomplishments and lived a full life: Red Wings’ defenseman, Maple Leafs’ center, NHL coach, and Canadian Member of Parliament.

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.