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Garden parties

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 5, 2009 09:57 AM

Best in the East. Best in the West.

Tonight, at the Garden. Second show added Tuesday.

In Pittsburgh, they’re already claiming the Steelers as the NFL team of the decade, which is only further proof that Steel City residents can’t count. But please. Is there anything better than this in between the shadow of the groundhog and the onset of spring training?

Two possible finals previews in the span of five days.

Lakers-Celtics.

Bruins-Sharks.

I read a report this morning which detailed how local TV stations are wildly cutting back on the amount of reporters and talking heads they’re sending to Fort Myers next week, mainly based on the thought that the struggling economy is preventing them from being as frivolous as in the past. Sure, that’s part of it. Then again, you going to leave this in order to find out what Big Papi did on his winter vacation?

No, thanks.

The lame groundhog and the overrated “pitchers and catchers” aside, our own true taste of what might await us come spring is landing in the Garden beginning tonight, when the Celtics try to garner retribution for the Christmas Day coal the Lakers delivered at the Staples Center. Next week, ol’ buddy Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks arrive, a game that could finally serve as the catalyst to eschewing any remaining doubt about the high-flying Bruins.

The Lakers already have their Andrew Bynum excuse wrapped and ready (again) heading into tonight’s showdown, with should mark the return of flu-ridden Kevin Garnett. Boston is seeking its 13th-straight victory against the team that ended its 19-game winning streak back in December. The Bruins still have a pair of games to get to their own California dream matchup, but in the coming days, it will probably become the most anticipated regular season hockey game since…well, a damn long time.

Anyone want to debate who will be the fifth starter in the rotation? No?

These are two very different contests, with various levels of importance. Tonight, it isn’t exactly a “must-win” for Boston, considering the events of the past year between these two clubs. But a Boston loss does get the Cleveland Cavaliers ever so much closer to that No. 1 slot in the East, and home-court advantage, a feather that wouldn’t be so bad for LeBron James and company seeing as they’re 23-0 at home this season. The last time the Celtics beat them there, Larry Lucchino was still parading the first World Series trophy to every town in the Commonwealth.

Meanwhile, the Bruins face a more keen challenge on Tuesday. In the grand scheme of things, a loss to the Sharks means literally nothing in a conference where they hold a 12-point lead on the Washington Capitals. But perception, in this case, will be different. If they can’t win the big game – at home – in February, how can we expect them to do it come April? May? June?

That is, of course, a harried take on a team that needs to do little more to prove its dominance these days. But the Bruins needn’t worry too much. They’re not just the best team in the NHL. They’re apparently the best team in the world.

So says the New York Times, which ranks them atop their World Top 10. The Sharks are third, bested for the No. 2 slot by Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the Kontinental Hockey League.

It’s like they used to say back in the days of Bobby Orr. Today, Boston. Tomorrow, San Jose. Then, bring on HC Košice.

The Bruins are in Ottawa tonight for a game that should serve as good TNT ad filler. But prime time belongs to the Celtics, welcoming the Lakers to Boston, otherwise known as where they couldn’t finish the job.

Just two more reasons why this is the town of the decade when it comes to professional sports. Sixburgh. Ha.

Actually…can we use that for a while? At least until we see if we can secure seven and eight in a few months?

5 comments so far...
  1. Sports City of the decade, Team of the Decade, blah blah blah.
    1972 Miami Dolphins 17-0. Still Perfect.

    Posted by Bob Griese February 5, 09 10:49 AM
  1. Watch out for trolls...Don't feed them!

    Posted by Cbass February 5, 09 12:30 PM
  1. Right on, Wilbur, with saying that pitchers and catchers reporting is overrated. To me, the spring always started with Pedro and Manny reporting. That's how I always knew opening day was right around the corner.

    Posted by J-Bone February 5, 09 12:35 PM
  1. Waiting for Pedro and Manny? Spring is NEVER going to come!

    Posted by Adam February 5, 09 12:55 PM
  1. What?! Are you saying that we're not going to be bludgeoned over the head with meaningless 'updates' of Dice K driving himself to practice? No 'breaking news' stories during the evening television news about Josh Beckett (gasp!) carrying his own luggage?

    I'm not sure I'm ready to live in a world where irrelevant minutae on an (well) over-hyped local baseball team is no longer worthy of Lead Story status on the six and eleven o'clock evening news...

    Wake me when we know what Dustin Pedroia is having for breakfast...

    Posted by Ed S. February 5, 09 01:23 PM
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