Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals opens tonight as the Boston Bruins welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to town in what's going to be a fun night of comparing which team is rustier coming off their 2nd-round sweep and subsequent rest period. Goaltenders Tim Thomas and Dwayne Roloson are each giving up barely over two goals per game. The series of the two old goalies will now probably turn into a shootout, as these playoffs continue to prove their unpredictable nature. Puck drop is at 8:00 EST tonight.
Unfortunately, the start of the conference finals has been marred by two sad stories to come out around the NHL.
First, Rangers' forward and resident tough-guy Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment. Cause of death has yet to be determined. Boogard last played an NHL game on December 9th as the Rangers took on the Ottawa Senators. During the 5-3 Rangers victory, Boogard suffered a concussion in a fight with Ottawa's Matt Carkner. From the NHL.com release:
Throughout his career, Boogaard sought to make a difference in the communities he played in, taking part in numerous charitable endeavors. Boogaard was a supporter of the Defending the Blue Line Foundation, a non-profit charitable foundation whose mission is to ensure that children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in the great sport of hockey. While with the Rangers, he created "Boogaard's Booguardians," hosting military members and their families at all New York Ranger home games. In addition, he made multiple appearances with partner organizations of the Garden of Dreams Foundation, the non-profit charity that works closely with all areas of Madison Square Garden, including the New York Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, MSG Media, MSG Entertainment and Fuse "to make dreams come true for kids facing obstacles."
I didn't know much about Boogaard. As the son of a man who has spent a large portion of his adult life in the U.S. Army, Boogaard's charitable accomplishments hit home for me. Reading stories about him from around the league, it really seems as though the NHL has lost a personable, friendly, and caring member.
In the still-sad-but-for-a-different-reason news, ESPN's Matthew Barnaby was arrested Friday in Buffalo New York in a domestic incident that left all involved physically unharmed, but the former NHLer charged with criminal mischief, criminal trespass, harassment, criminal contempt and aggravated harassment. No further details have come out regarding the case, and I'm sure we'll see the lawyer-talk press releases show up soon enough, but this is certainly not the way the NHL wanted to start this weekend.
You may use this thread for tonight's game or whatever else comes to mind. Just remember, everything goes unless it doesn't.