While you were all preparing for Wes Welker to drop Tom Brady's fourth championship ring Super Bowl XLVI with an unenviable amount of pregame coverage, there were four relatively entertaining Eastern Conference matchups going on yesterday afternoon that served as a wonderful appetizer to your wings and beer on Super Sunday evening.
The best part? Madonna was nowhere to be found.
Boston fans, rejoice momentarily. The Bruins navigated their way out of their recent funk and offered up a small bag of ice to help dull the pain of Eli Manning's swift kick in the nuts that last night's main event brought on.
Your defending Stanley Cup champions (see, life isn't so bad for you guys up there) methodically dismantled the strangely woeful Capitals in Washington yesterday, 4-1. Tim Thomas was great again, making 35 saves, and your favorite "Little Ball of Hate" was at his pesky best, creating chances with his physical play and potting a goal and an assist to go along with it.
Having lost three of their last four heading into yesterday's contest, the Bruins got an important road win and righted the ship as they embark on a grueling February schedule that has them playing seven of their next 10 games away from home.
The Bruins are in second place in the Eastern Conference with 58 points. We'll refrain from mentioning which city houses the team that's ahead of them. Kind of a touchy subject for those guys today. We now return you to your regularly scheduled sports-induced depression.
Oh, but seriously guys. Stop blaming Tom Brady. That's utterly ridiculous. So uh, knock it off already. Got it?
New York fans got more than their fill of rivalries yesterday. As if seeing David Tyree's miraculous catch in Super Bowl XLII essentially on loop in the hours leading up to yesterday's Big Game wasn't enough, their beloved Blueshirts hosted the hated Flyers in another afternoon affair at Madison Square Garden.
In easily the most entertaining game of the day, the Rangers dispatched Philadelphia, 5-2. Wayne Simmonds' early third period goal briefly tied the game at two, but Michael Del Zotto beat Ilya Bryzgalov just 36 seconds later to give New York their third lead of the game and one they would not relinquish.
Flyers winger Tom Sestito, who was the subject of Brad Richards' "fantasy camp" comment during a game featured on HBO's 24/7: Road To The Winter Classic, fought three times earning himself a game misconduct. In his last bout with Brandon Prust though, he drew the ire of the Rangers by pulling Prust's hair as the fight was coming to a close:
The league is reportedly looking into the incident and Sestito could face supplemental discipline.
Look out, Eastern Conference: Ilya Kovalchuk is out for blood. The Devils winger has been on fire lately, and isn't letting anyone stand in his way, especially Brayden Schenn. In New Jersey's last four games, all victories, Kovalchuk has 10 points, including a goal and two assists each in wins over the Flyers and Penguins this weekend.
Even more than his point production though, which has finally started to reach the levels Lou Lamioriello was expecting when he signed the Russian sniper to his mega-contract two summers ago, Kovalchuk's play has been elevated in all situations. In addition to his daunting five-on-five presence, head coach Peter DeBoer is now using him as a defensive winger/explosive weapon on the penalty kill also. And uh, it's working. Pretty well.
The Devils have surged from ninth to sixth in the East and now trail Pittsburgh for fifth by only one point with a game in hand.
Carey Price earned his third shutout of the season in the slightly late-afternoon game in Montreal as the Habs blanked the Jets, 3-0. The win does little to help Winnipeg's playoff chances, as they still sit six points behind Toronto for the final playoff spot.
And no, Scott Gomez officially hasn't scored in a calendar year. Just in case you were wondering, here's your moment of zen.
As the NFL season comes to a close and ESPN the NBA is hockey's main source of competition for the next few months with the playoff races heating up, the Beantown faithful are forced again to swallow a painful loss. This one will certainly sting for the forseeable future, just as all the others in the past surely have. However, all is not lost in New England.
Despite their recent rash of success across all four major sports, Bostonians know how to deal with the agony of defeat better than anyone. They'll bounce back, we're not worried. They just need to focus on the positives. Like for instance, it's been about a week since Tim Thomas last spoke, hasn't it?