Political junkies are eager for the drama of Super Tuesday tomorrow, but for fans of the NHL it's all about Manic Monday and today's three o'clock trading deadline.
Teams likely to reach the playoffs are trying to wrangle deals to make their teams better, and teams knowing that hitting a golf ball come April is more likely than passing a puck are trying to shed veteran players and pick up prospects for a rebuild. Some big moves have already been made, and yesterday the New York Rangers stole the headlines, acquiring veteran center Eric Staal from the Carolina Hurricanes for a couple of second round draft picks, an absolute steal for the Rangers. Staal has spent his entire twelve year career with the Canes, and won a Cup with them in 2006. He'll join his brother Marc, who plays defense for the Blueshirts, and the Rangers get a savvy veteran who's reached the thirty-goal plateau five times in his career. The Rangers have struggled at times to score goals this season, but they just made themselves potentially a whole lot better in that department.
So what will the Boston Bruins do? Well, after another dispiriting home loss last night, a 4-1 dud against the Tampa Bay Lightning, it's pretty clear the Bruins could stand to bolster their blue line. Last night's game was tied at one when defenseman Adam McQuaid had one of those moments that can feel like the kind of bad dream when you show up to school in your underwear. The Bruins won a face off in Tampa Bay's end and the puck went back to McQuaid, who skated with it laterally to line up for a slap shot on net when he fell down. Just fell, right on his posterior. That allowed Tampa to start a two on none breakaway the other way and as good a goalie as Tuukka Rask is, he couldn't do much about that rush, which resulted in a goal as easy as you'll ever see in the game. The Bruins never recovered and fall two points behind Tampa for second place in the Atlantic. Left wing Loui Eriksson is still a Bruin for now, and it looks like GM Don Sweeney will hold out on trading Eriksson, who's having a career year and is an unrestricted free agent next season, unless he can get top value in return, which would mean an impact roster player to go with any future prospects. Stay tuned.
In mens' college basketball, the Middlebury Panthers went into the Division three NESCAC tournament as the number four seed, nobody's favorite to win the tournament and its big prize, an automatic berth for the NCAA tournament, but the Panthers didn't care much for seeding or regular season records, and came home with the conference championship after edging out number two Amherst 81-79 last night. Matt St. Amour led the Panther attack with twenty-two points and the conference title is Middlebury's third since 2009, and for the sixth time in the past eight years they'll be headed to the big national dance. They'll find out who they're playing in round one later today.
In college womens' hoops the UVM Catamounts closed out their regular season with a 44-37 win over Stony Brook yesterday, led by Lauren Handy's ten points. Hayley Robertson owned the glass, pulling down ten rebounds for UVM, who will enter the America East playoffs as the number eight seed and will have to contend with top-seeded Binghamton in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
And things are suddenly looking up for the UVM mens' basketball team. After an up and down regular season, the Catamounts will enter the America East conference tournament as the number three seed on the strength of five straight wins, including a 76-62 win over Stony Brook on Long Island Saturday, the first home defeat the Seawolves have tasted all season. Ernie Duncan had a team high twenty-three points to lead UVM, who will open the playoffs against number six Maine on Wednesday.
In womens' college hockey, UVM was ousted from the Hockey East playoffs, losing 6-0 to Boston University in the quarterfinals after forcing a deciding third game in the best of three tournament format, and the St. Michael's women have seen their season come to an end as well, with Franklin Pierce winning 6-0 in the consolation round of the NEHC Open Tournament at St. Anselm.
The Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association championships wrapped up this weekend and the University of Vermont defended its title, taking first place for the sixth year in a row. The Catamounts finished with 989 points to beat second-place Dartmouth, with the Green tallying 826 points overall. New Hampshire came in third, followed by Middlebury and Colby to round out the top five. St. Michael’s took ninth among the sixteen schools. UVM dominated in the womens' and mens' divisions, with Iris Pessey getting her first career win to lead a UVM sweep of the women’s 15-K race. In the men’s 20-K, Jack Hegman captured his fourth win in five races to pace the Catamounts.