Why do television broadcast folks have to come up with a catchy, alliterative phrase for absolutely everything?
Following what may have been the best night in Boston sports in at least a year’s time (no time for hyperbole here, either), the immediate catch phrase on NESN was, “Walkoff Wednesday.”
Yes, the Red Sox won in a walkoff, for the second night in a row.
And yes, the Bruins won in double overtime. But they did not walk off. They skated off. After an immense and well-deserved celebration that you could barely hear over Jack Edwards’ squawking.
So it’s a misnomer from the beginning.
OK, let’s start at Fenway, where, for the second time in as many nights, the Sox stole a victory from underneath the struggling Texas Rangers. If nothing else, the Red Sox proved Wednesday that David Ortiz is entirely replaceable, that Mike Lowell deserves to be hitting more often than every fourth or fifth game, and that Jason Varitek is a much better positional catcher than Victor Martinez ever thought of being.
They also proved how solid their minor-league system is, and how deep the team really is. Talk of doomsday from Red Sox fans makes me laugh, because it reminds me of two things: a) how things used to be around here, and b) how Yankees fans felt after the first dozen games against Boston last season.
And we all know how last year turned out.
The fact is, Darnell ‘Who-the-hell-are-you?’ McDonald caught fire at the right time, J.D. Drew finally did something remotely close to what he should be doing for the amount of money he’s making, and the middle relief finally relieved something — two nights in a row.
Honestly, good for them, and good for the fans who, if not always sensible, are at least passionate.
Now, onto the Bruins, and the NHL.
After starting the Stanley Cup Playoffs with all eight series going to 1-1 through two games, we finally have some clear series front-runners, and some surprises among them.
The Bruins are among those upset specials. The No. 6 seed has a 3-1 lead over the No. 3 Sabres after an instant classic double-overtime tilt in Beantown on Wednesday. The epic battle lasted into a fifth full period, and Miroslav Satan showed more flair for the dramatic with another key goal. A veteran coming through when veterans come through, in the clutch.
A seemingly insurmountable task of facing and beating the No. 1 goalie in the NHL in Ryan Miller all of a sudden looks like nothing more than a walk in the park. But the reality is the Bruins worked their you-know-whats off to get to where they are. They grinded this series out by playing to their strengths, and by simply digging in harder against adversity and lineup shortages. Sabres fans will gripe that Tomas Vanek’s absence made the difference.
But so does Marc Savard’s for Boston.
And perhaps the one goalie who should have been in the running for the Vezina Trophy that isn’t among the finalists is playing like he still has something to prove. Tuukka Rask has been outstanding.
Around the NHL, as mentioned before, all eight series’ went to 1-1. Now, only two of the series’ (as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday) that have gone to four games have gone 2-2.
No. 4 Pittsburgh is ahead of No. 5 Ottawa, 3-1. No. 7 Philly, in another upset special, is in front of New Jersey, 3-1, No. 8 Montreal trails top-ranked Washington, 3-1, and, of course, the Bruins lead 3-1 over Buffalo.
Note the geography, here. All of the Eastern Conference teams appear headed to, at worst, a six-game series. Out west, two series’ are even up at 2-2, one stands at 2-1, and the other was still to be determined late into the wee hours.
Wild, wacky, walkoff Wednesday, indeed.
Makes me pine for Thirsty Thursday.