Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Alber Pujols hit .327 last year, which actually lowered his career average.
Yes, Matt, he's the best player in baseball.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Of course, being a vocal Wings fan, I now have to endure the many, many comments from all the customers that I deal with daily. Having basked in the glory that was my team winning only a year ago, I now must bask in the humiliation of my team losing to the very team they beat in 2008.
I think the reason I'm so upset this year is that I truly believe that the Wings are the better team. They didn't play like it, and the team that played better won, but the team that played better was not the better team.
I won't make excuses about reffing, fatigue or injuries. The Red Wings SHOULD have won this series, and they didn't, despite have 2-0 and 3-2 leads.
That's what hurts most of all.
I was upset that the Ducks pushed us to seven games, because I don't believe, still, that they were good enough to do that. It wasn't their doing, we LET them do it.
And it's the same story with the Penguins. Don't get me wrong, they are a great young team, and they have successful years in front of them. But they shouldn't be in those years yet. We are still the cream of the league, and we didn't prove it.
Perhaps that is what bothers me the most. That everyone out there now thinks that Pittsburgh was, is the better team, and that is just so misguided. They won the cup, deservedly so, in a seven game series.
But the better team allowed them to win.
And no one out there will realize that.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
About 7 years ago, a friend of mine sat me down in his room, and made me listen to Abbey Road, from beginning to end. Now, I had heard The Beatles before, of course, and had liked them, but I had never appreciated them like I would begin to that night in some overly purple apartment just off the east Danforth.
I sat and listened, really listened, to the vocals, the lyrics, the guitars, the bass, the drums, everything.
And it hit me just the right way. It possessed its way across the room from the speakers, into my ears, and settled it's way deep into my heart.
From, "Here come old flattop," to "Someday I'm gonna make her mine," Abbey Road became, is still, and, I assume, will remain my favourite album until the day I die.
The rebellious Come Together, the interminably romantic Something (which Frank Sinatra called the greatest love song ever written), the jarring and harsh I Want You (She's So Heavy), the incredibly beautiful and melodious Here Comes the Sun, the amazingly constructed medley's, and the sweetest 23 seconds in musical history in Her Majesty (a special girl's favourite Beatles song) all combine to make this the finest recording ever, in my humble opinion.
But my favourite, absolute favourite Abbey Road song, and therefore my favourite Beatles song, and therefore my favourite all time song ever, is Oh Darling!
It's a desparate song of a man, begging his love not to leave him, claiming that when he heard she was going to leave him, he, "...nearly fell down and died."
The lyrics are simple, nothing to write home about.
No, my friend, this song is all about the performance.
The piano plays the main tune, rarely in a minor chord, yet sounding minor the whole time. It, like the singer, is nervous, yet in control, but loses itself as it reaches the chorus, where it crescends into a frenetic pounding of the highest keys. The guitar, most likely the instrument that would be remembered after the first listening, thrashes a hard chord every few beats, adding to the desparation of the sound, then plays a somehow disjointed, but perfect riff during the chorus. The bass is haunting, sliding around, but then plummeting to the lowest of notes, hitting bottom, as it were, with the singer. The backing vocals present themselves as a pleading wail, while being harmonious at the same time. As the song builds to the chorus, all the instruments join together to hammer 24 hard beats, leading you to a man who's lost all composure. As though the man himself had lost control and is punching a wall or something else in frustration. Yet, he twice catches himself, and the song returns to the pleading calmness we saw in the first verse. However, he twice again falls into all out begging as the chorus replays itself.
The real thing here, though, is the lead vocals. While Lennon said he could have done it better (idiot) this is McCartney's finest vocal performance ever. He says that he practiced the song at least ten times before recording, to try and really capture the strained sounds of his voice. He begins his argument with his lady, trying to calmly, rationally and logically tell her that if she stays with him, he'll "never do her no wrong," but as the chorus hits, the singer has lost it, and screams with that incredible feeling we've all had where we've lost composure, we're making no sense, grasping at straws, saying things that will never work, realizing everything we're saying is the wrong thing, which forces us only to become more irrational and desparate.
McCartney scream/sings like no one else can, and that ability is on full display here.
So, without further ado, I present my favourite Beatles song, Oh Darling! Listen to it again, and again. Each time you do, try and listen to a different part, whether it be the bass, the backing vocals, or just McCartney's performance. It is truly why The Beatles are my favourite band.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Datsyuk, a center, sounded as if he’s willing to fit in anywhere to assist.
“Wing, center, defenseman, I want to play so bad,” he said. “I don’t want to watch this game again.”
How has he coped with watching?
“I take in lots of beer,” the Russian said.
Atta boy, Paul!
Another article from Yahoo, this one on the baseball side of things, about Randy Johnson - The Man, The Pitcher.
Best quote, from former team mate, Orlando Hudson, on the misconception that Johnson is not the friendliest of guys-
"You know, Randy’s a good dude, man.”
I guess I just expected a bit more of a poetical tongue from the man nicknamed 'O-Dawg.'
Saturday, May 30, 2009
All of my silly little game time rituals have paid off, and the Stevie Y bobblehead doll that absolutely must face the tv whenever the boys in red and white play, seems to be holding his little replica Stanly Cup a little higher today.
In the last round, I was 2-0, which brings me to 11-3 overall. Pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.
So, let's move on to the Final Round.
The Stanley Cup Finals
The Detroit Red Wings vs. The Pittsburgh Penguins
People have argued with me that Datsyuk is the better two way player. Datsyuk is amazing, probably the second best two way player in the league, but he doesn't compare with Zetterberg. Sure his point total is higher, and his +/- astronomical, but there's a big difference that separates the two. Zetterberg plays in the harder situations. He plays against the other teams top centre, every game, every shift. He is on the first unit penalty kill. His defensive responsibility is so strong, that he is used for that most often, and then, happily, provides an amazing offense on top of it.
So, in closing on my 'Love Of Zetterberg' diatribe, the only way that he doesn't shut down Crosby is if Babcock decides that Malkin is the greater threat of the two, and he sends Zetterberg out against him.
Beyond that, the blogs go on to say what I would have said.
Pittsburgh has had a great run, and have improved far beyond what they were at this time last year. But they haven't faced anything like this Detroit team in these Stanley Cup Finals.
Their forwards haven't seen anything like our defense. There defense haven't seen anything like our forwards. And Fleury hasn't seen anything like what we'll put in front of him.
Our players are faster, get to loose pucks quicker, hit harder, and are more patient than any other opponent the Pens have faced this year.
And, one of their best players last year left them after the season to join, heh, heh, The Red Wings.
So, go read those other blogs. I'll just say here that the Red Wings will win.
Wings in six
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
All I do is bleed Red and White, and they see fit to wait until three minutes left in game 7 against Anaheim to score the winning goal.
I mean, I have a weak heart. I can't handle these tense games. Had that game gone to overtime, I might not be here today. The first time Anaheim carried the puck over the blue line, I would have had a heart attack. If it was Getzlaf, I would have skipped the heart attack and gone straight to death.
Thank god the boys pulled it out (that's what she said).
Yes, Cleary did the job. No one mentions how beautifully he deflected Zetterberg's pass to the front of the net out of mid-air to even put the puck into scoring position. The puck was moving quite fast, about two feet off the ice, and Cleary, standing where he should be, deftly tapped the puck into Hiller's pads, then had the common sense to whack at the puck while Getzlaf was all over him.
I know a lot of people will argue that the goal should have been called off, that it was goalie interference. I suppose they have an argument, but in my opinion, it was a good goal. The puck was at no time frozen, Cleary was going for the puck, and I think Hiller would have knocked the puck in even if Cleary had never touched him.
Well, it's all a moo point now. The Wings won, and have moved on to the Western Conference Finals.
So, how did I do in the second round?
I guessed Bruins in six, and the Hurricanes won in seven.
I guessed the Penguins in six, and the Pens won in seven.
I guessed the Wings in five, and the Wings won in seven.
I guessed the Hawks in six, and the Hawks won in six.
That's a 3-1 record in the second round, and a 9-3 record overall. Of course, I only got the games prediction right in one of these series. Oh well.
So, we're down to four. Let's make some round 3 predictions.
The Eastern Conference
(4) Pittsburgh vs. (6) Carolina
Well, Carolina has proved me wrong twice, and they're going to have to try and do it a third time, as I'm picking the Pens here again.
While Carolina has impressed me so far this post-season, I just can't see them keeping up with the Pens speed and constant offence.
Crosby is playing like the superstar that he is, leading the league in points (21) and goals (12), and is showing no signs of slowing down. Malkin (third in points) is playing inspired hockey, and Guerin looks rejuvenated playing on this team.
Goaltending may be where the Canes could steal this series. Fleury has been spectacular, making the flashy saves that he has become famous for. But his puck control, while improved, is still nothing to write home about. Big rebounds in front of the net could be his undoing, and Fleury can be rattled. If the Canes can get under his skin, they need to capitalize there.
Cam Ward has been fantastic in these playoffs, and has the ability to shut down Crosby et al, and he will without a doubt need to steal a game or two in order to give his team a chance to win.
Also, Gonchar may be playing hurt, and that will most definitely play into Carolina's favour.
It's a long shot for Carolina to win, but of course it was a long shot for them to beat the Devils and the Bruins, too.
Pens in seven
The Western Conference
(2) Detroit vs. (4) Chicago
This could be as exciting as that Pens/Caps series in round two. Two skilled, fast, puck possession teams. Youth vs. experience. The present vs. the future.
I read somewhere today that the Hawks hope to become what the Wings are. I like that. And I think it's true.
The Hawks have played extremely well against two tough teams, and have scored at a torrid pace, against two of the greatest goalies in the league. They have a defence that will soon be the greatest in the league, and a goalie that won a cup not all that long ago. Up front, they have a one-two punch in Kane and Toews that someday may rival that of Crosby and Malkin, and Ovechkin and Semin.
One recurring theme there. One day. But not this day.
The Hawks have had a wonderful run, and have made it further than anyone could have hoped. But they just don't possess the experience that the Wings do for a late playoffs push. They play a run and gun game that doesn't match up well with the Wings strict defensive style. Their forwards may be able to match the Wings forwards offensively, but no one in the league has more complete players than Detroit.
I've said it before, and I've said it again. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are the two best players in the league. (Crosby and Ovechkin will better, but for now, it's Paul and Henry). And what makes them so great is their defensive responsibility. If those two fellas decided to concentrate solely on scoring, they would lead the league by leaps and bounds. I know people disagree with me. That's fine. I know what I know.
And it doesn't just stop with those two guys. Top to bottom, Detroit forwards are defensive machines. Hossa may be as good as Pav and Zetters, Franzen never stops, Filpula is all over the ice, Draper and Maltby have made careers of it, and the list goes on.
And that will be the big difference in this series. Kane, Toews, Havlat, and so on will simply be shut down by Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Hossa, etc. And should (should) they make it through those guys, then they have Lidstrom, Rafalski, Stuart, Kronwall etc. to deal with.
It's mere experience.
This is not a team that I'd like to see the Wings play again next year. This year's experience might just give them that added edge in 2010. (This is much how I feel about possibly facing Pittsburgh in this year's finals).
But this year, it's still the Wings.
What the Wings have going for them in this series that they didn't have against Anaheim (who I still believe wasn't that great, and didn't deserve to make it to a game seven) or even against Columbus is not facing a hot goalie.
Khabibulin is great, don't get me wrong, but he hasn't been stopping the puck like Hiller and Mason did, and there's no reason to believe that that will change.
Of course, Ozzie hasn't faced an offence like this yet, either. It will be interesting to see how he holds up.
Wings in six
Everyone is talking about a rematch of last years finals, but I haven't heard anyone mention that should Carolina and Detroit make it to the finals, it would be a rematch of the 2002 finals, the last time before last year that we made it to the finals, and won.
How about those Jays? Cecil and Ray have looked just fantastic, and Tallet is throwing up zeros all over the scoreboard, not just in runs, but in hits too.
Meanwhile, the offense just clips along.
Keep it going, boys.
Stat not mentioned enough for my liking: Zetterberg has points in all but one of the Red Wing's playoff games this year. Surprisingly, the one game where he didn't register a point this year was in the Wing's six goal performance during game four of the first round.
Zetters is performing perhaps even better this post season than he did last year when he won the Conn Smythe. His defence is incredible. Watch the two 5 on 3's during last year's game six of the finals, and the 5 on 3 in this year's game seven against Anaheim. Just small (tiny, wee) sample sizes of what Zetters does for this team.
He is, by far, the most complete player in the league.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
That's what playoff hockey is all about.
There is nothing like a game 7, and we got two of them tonight.
I watched the entirety of the Rangers/Caps game. The Rangers were in control for the first two periods, and Sean Avery was playing a hell of a game. The puck seemed to be constantly in the Caps zone, and every time it went behind the net, it seemed that Avery was there to take it. He checked, and played hard. He made a beautiful play on the Rangers goal, winning a couple of battles against the boards to gain possession of the puck, and then made a nice pass to Dubinski, which led to Antropov's goal.
Through two, the Rangers controlled the play, and anytime the Caps got a shot on net, Lundqvist was there. Even the goal that the Caps scored was an ugly one (three deflections, two of them the most unlikely, could never do that again type).
Then the third period started, and the Caps suddenly remembered they were the better team, ultimately resulting in Fedorov's beauty of a snipe to make it 2-1.
I love Fedorov, by the way. The all time leading Russian playoff scorer scored most of those points while playing with a winged wheel on his chest. After time in Anaheim and Columbus, he fits so nicely on to this Capitals team with a bunch of young Russians around him to learn from his experience.
So thrilled that the Caps won.
Because of the half hour difference in start times, when the game in D.C. finished, there was a good 12 minutes left in the Canes/Devils game. Now, as I've stated before, I don't really care about either of these teams, except that I have Cam Ward in my hockey pool, and, well, it's playoff hockey, and a game 7 at that. It's worth watching no matter who it is.
It was 3-2 in favour of the Devils when I tuned in, and the game was pretty good. Fast paced, with chances going both ways. Finally, with under 1:30 left, the Canes tied it up, a nice goal from, well, I don't remember, and I'm too lazy to look it up. I feel like the name will come to me, but so far, nothing.
So then, I figure, we're heading for overtime, and overtime in a game 7 is the best part of any sporting even, (and perhaps the best part of anything ever), when Eric Stall breaks down the right side and rips a shot past Brodeur, putting the Canes ahead 4-3.
I cheered out loud.
That's right. I cheered out loud, in a game I really didn't care about, for a team I was rooting to win merely because their goalie is in my playoff pool.
But it was fucking exciting.
So, let's see how I did in my first round predictions.
I guessed Boston in 4, and Boston won in 4.
I guessed Washington in 7, and Washington won in 7.
I guessed Carolina in 6, and Carolina won in 7.
I guessed Pittsburgh in 7, and Pittsburgh won in 6.
I guessed San Jose in 7, and Anaheim won in 6.
I guessed Detroit in 5, and Detroit won in 4.
I guessed St. Louis in 6, and Vancouver won in 4.
I guessed Chicago in 6, and Chicago won in 6.
So that's a 6-2 record in the first round, and three of those six predictions actually did it in the amount of games I predicted.
I may be a semi-genius (the "may be" part of that sentence is where my modesty shines through).
I give myself a pass on the Sharks/Ducks series, because I thought that one was a toss up.
But I was way, way off on St. Louis. I just don't see the talent on Vancouver beyond the Sedins and Luongo. A strong team, for sure, but that's about it. And I thought The Blues could do it.
I was wrong. But it was close. 3 games decided by 1 goal, including the final game that went to overtime, and hard-fought games were they all.
Oh well, one glaring mistake in eight series. I'll take it.
So, let's get on to some round two predictions.
(1) Boston vs. (6) Carolina
Well, I just don't see Carolina going past this series, but I do think they will fight hard. Cam Ward is a good goalie, and will keep the Canes in any game just enough to give them a chance to win.
But Boston is just a bit too strong for them.
Besides that, the playoffs are grueling, and Boston has had a week and a half off. This series starts on Thursday (I believe), and that gives Carolina one day off to rest, and prepare for the East's top team.
I think Carolina will push the Bruins, but not hard enough.
Bruins in 6
(2) Washington vs. (4) Pittsburgh
I do believe that the two series that everyone was hoping for in these playoffs was Detroit vs. San Jose, and Pittsburgh vs. Washington.
Well, we got one of them.
Crosby vs. Ovechkin, and Malkin vs. Ovechkin - the sub-plots in this one are endless. I think Pittsburgh is the favourite in this series to win, but Washington having home ice is actually an advantage in this series.
The Caps will be pumped, not being in the second round in 11 years, and the obvious rivalry between the two teams will bring an intensity to this series that will only make for some of the best hockey these playoffs will see.
Again, the Penguins have a few extra days of rest, and that can only help them, after a hard hitting series with Philly.
Washington came back from down 3-1 in the Rangers series, and that puts some serious momentum in their corner, but Pittsburgh has experience on their side.
The talent is deep on both teams (and perhaps a bit deeper on Washington), but Pittsburgh's top players combined, are better than Washington's top players combined, and that, along with their trip to the finals last year will be the difference maker.
Pens in 6
(2) Detroit vs. (8) Anaheim
You know, I didn't watch much of that Ducks/Sharks series, but from what I did see, San Jose dominated. They controlled the play, attacked continuously, and really were the better team.
They just didn't score, and you can't win if you don't score.
That's where the difference lies in this series.
I truly believe that Datsyuk, Zetters, Hossa et al, will succeed where Thornton, Marleau and others didn't.
Hiller is playing phenomenally, and that's always a concern, but so was Steve Mason heading into the post season. The Wings scored 18 goals in 4 games on him, and from a very balanced attack. Every line the Wings have is lethal, and that's not something that San Jose can boast.
Sure, maybe our fourth liners don't score, but they can keep the puck out of the net. Can the same be said about Roenick, Grier, Lemieux, etc?
Anaheim's top line is scary. There's no doubt about it. But they can't be on the ice all of the time.
Detroit is a far better team, and while I do believe Anaheim will give them a challenge, I don't see it being much of one.
Wings in 5
(3) Vancouver vs. (4) Chicago
I just don't like Vancouver. I don't know why, but I've always had a dislike for them.
Which may account for my first round prediction of them losing, and it may account for my second round prediction of them losing.
They just aren't that deep of a team. They are talented, and when the Sedins aren't on the ice, they have Luongo who can bail them out of any trouble they may get into, and who could quite possibly steal a series for them.
Hell, he was probably the difference maker in the first round.
But I just don't see them making to the Conference finals.
Chicago is young, quick, talented, and has a roster full of future superstars.
Toews is playing like he's played in the league for 10 years, and they have one of the best defences in the league (shit, almost the entire corps could play for team Canada at the Olympics next year).
Vancouver has the rest, and the home ice advantage on their side. Chicago has everything else.
Hawks in 6
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Well, the boys have finally showed up. These three games for the Wings have been the most complete games I've seen from them all year.
Every inch of the ice, the Wings are playing perfect hockey. All the big boys are playing wonderfully, and how great to see my favourite, Zetterberg (whom I've decided to dub Zetters) score two goals.
How about Commadore flying into the Wings bench on a missed hit on Cleary? I laughed out loud.
There's not really much to say about this game, except how thrilled I am to see the Wings playing so well.
Shame to see Ozzie lose the shutout with only 3:43 left. He was brilliant tonight. The Wizard of Oz has shown up when it matters.
Anyone ever notice how there's only an 'E' missing from Samuelsson's name to get the word 'useless' out of those letters? I will, from here on in, dub him 'Useless.'
So, I would really like to see the Sharks win tonight, the Ducks win the next game, then the Sharks win the one after that. Then I'm not sure. I don't really want the Wings to face the Ducks in the next round, but I don't really want to see the Sharks win at all. As long as that series goes long, and everybody for both teams tire themselves out, I'll be happy.
As I type this, Carolina has just scored with 0:00.02 seconds left, to win game four of their series, and tie it at 2-2. The only reason I have any, ANY, interest in this series, is that I have Cam Ward in my playoff pool, and he just got me two points.
Roy Halladay lost his first game of the season tonight. However, he should have gotten out of it with at least a no decision. Overbay, Barajas and Snider all came to the plate in the eighth with a man at third. Overbay drew a walk, so I don't blame him, but then Barajas came up with the bases loaded, and less than two outs, and lined out to Michael Young.
Ok. I'm not a major league hitter, so I can't really criticise. But you need to score that run, in a one run game in the eighth. Simply hit a fly ball into the outfield. Harder than it sounds, I know, but still, I blame Barajas for this loss.
Halladay's line: 8 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
This post is for you, pretty girl. Sorry it didn't say more.
Ich liebe dich.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
(1) Boston vs. (8) Montreal
Let's face it. This was not the centennial season Montreal was hoping for. They struggled and clawed just to make it into the playoffs, and are rewarded with facing The B's in the first round.
I actually chose The Habs to take the Eastern Conference this year, and now, they are the only team that I absolutely, 100 percent believe has no chance of making it out of the first round.
Now, Tim Thomas is playing way out of his league this year, but there's no reason to believe that won't continue. Savard has been out of this world, and Chara has been, well, Chara. Milan Lucic will pound players. Canadiens fans say that they can match Lucic with Laraque, but there's no way that Big Georges should even be playing. Lucic put up 42 points to match his 136 PIM's. He can play the game. He deserves to be there. Laraque doesn't. He shouldn't even be playing in the regular season, but I've already covered that. There is no way that he should ever see game time come the playoffs.
I'm sure Gainey doesn't agree with me.
The biggest problem here is Price. Last year, he was obviously not ready for the second season. That's ok. He's young, and it was great experience. But it became quite obvious early on this year that his confidence was shaken. This kid is projected to be the next great goalie, but the Canadiens have done nothing to protect him. He should have been sent down in November, let him dominate the AHL for awhile, and grow that confidence back. But the Montreal brass may have sent this kid's career into the toilet for good.
And if they didn't, Boston has a good chance to do it themselves.
Bruins in 4
(2) Washington vs. (7) New York Rangers
This will be billed as Ovechkin vs. Avery, but I don't think that will be much of a story. More likely, it will end up being Ovechkin, Green, Semin, Backstrom and Laich vs. Lundqvist. Because, make no mistake about it, Lundqvist is The Rangers' only chance to win this series. The thing is, he's good enough to do just that. He truly is.
Like the Canadiens, the Rangers probably shouldn't have made the playoffs, but they're here, and they were lucky enough to get to the 7th spot and face the Caps instead of being a spot lower and taking a trip to Bean Town.
The Caps are near the top in goals scored. The Rangers are near the bottom. The Rangers are near the top in goals against. The Caps are near the bottom.
Something's gotta give.
Caps in 7
(3) New Jersey vs. (6) Carolina
Is there a series I care about less? I'll tell you. There isn't. I hate the Devils, and I nothing the 'Canes. While I've always liked Paul Maurice, and even more now that he's in a post-Leafs world, I just can't muster any interest in this series.
I do hope Shanahan is amazing, because I'll always love Shanny.
Hurricanes in 6
(4) Pittsburg vs. (5) Philadelphia
Now here's a series I can sink my teeth into. The Battle of Pennsylvania should be great. It's a fiece rivalry from these cross-state foes. The goaltending at both ends have ups and downs - stellar one moment, shaky the next.
But it's really the offence in this one that's lip smacking. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on one side, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards on the other.
This will be a goal fest, with checking hitting, speed, great passing, great play making, fun, fun, fun hockey.
This may be the best first round series.
Pens in 7
(1) San Jose vs. (8) Anaheim
Another great series. St. Louis really did both these teams a disservice on Sunday by winning their game against Colorado, and jumping into sixth place, moving Anaheim in the eighth spot and this first round matchup against the Sharks.
San Jose, looking to put an end to their playoff woes have drawn absolutely the worst opponent they could, outside of The Red Wings. Anaheim, on the outside looking in for most of the season, pulled it all together in the last month or so, and are looking almost unstoppable. With Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, they have youth, speed and talent. With Rob and Scott Niedermeyer and Chris Pronger, they have proven winners, and experience. And between the pipes, they have a guy that won the 16 most important games of his life just two years ago in J.S. Giguere.
San Jose has Thornton, Marleau, Cheechoo, Nabokov, etc. All superstars. All guys that have failed come the playoffs, though often being considered a favourite. Can they finally pull it together this year? I don't know.
I hate to call this one, because it's the series I'm the least sure of. It'll go seven. I'm pretty positive about that. Who'll win that last game? I'll give it to the Sharks only because they have the home ice advantage.
Sharks in 7
(2) Detroit vs. (7) Columbus
Columbus makes it's first ever playoff apperance against my beloved Wings. They split the season series, with Columbus prevailing 8-2 in one of those games. Rick Nash has been a Wing killer, with two hatricks against the boys from Detroit, and Steve Mason, quite possibly this year's Calder Trophy winner, has been amazing between the pipes for the Blue Jackets.
But Columbus simply can't match Detroit's talent. The big question for everyone concerning Detroit is Chris Osgood, but I just don't see it being a problem. I think Ozzie will be fine, and that leaves Columbus with no chance.
Detroit in 5
(3) Vancouver vs. (6) St. Louis
You just know that Mats Sundin is sitting in a pool of his own saliva right now as he looks at his first game in the playoffs in four years. I don't think he'll be the best player in the game, but he'll definately have an impact. Let the Sedins feed off of his veteren presence, and rack up some goals. And with Luongo in net, arguably, the game's best goalie right now, the Canucks will be tough to beat.
But I think St. Louis will do it. This team has absolutely no pressure on them. They weren't expected to be in the playoffs at all, and the most talked about thing in this series will be the fact that the Blues were in last place IN THE ENTIRE LEAGUE as of February 15, exactly two months to the day that this series opens. They were the hottest team in the league since the all star break, and really have nothing to lose. If they win the series, great. If not, it's amazing that they made it at all.
St. Louis in 6
(4) Chicago vs. (5) Calgary
This will be a great series. Lots of speed, and talent.
It's really hard not to love Jerome Iginla. He is that true hockey player - strong, talented, feisty, smart, quick, and a great leader. Giving him a guy like Jokinen was a great move by Calgary, and it has worked out, for the most part. Bertuzzi has revived his game, though nowhere near where he was pre-scandal, but he should be a factor in the series. Phaneuf had an off year, but none of that matters anymore, and I'm sure the Hawks will be keeping their heads up when he's on the ice. Kiprusoff will, of course, be Kiprusoff again.
But let the Hawks roll out the future for us. Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane have the skills to rack up a lot of goals, and then add Havlat, Eager, Sharp, etc. Back on the blue line you have Campbell, Seabrook, Sharp, Keith, Barker. I mean, that's just an amazing defensive corps, and will be the difference maker in the series. It doesn't hurt that Khabibulin won a cup with Tampa Bay.
Chicago in 6
Favourite stat of the day: Last night, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox hit back to back homers. The 300th career homer for BOTH players. The odds of that happening have to be phenomenal.
This is why I LOVE baseball. It's all about the numbers. The game is fun to watch, and there's nothing like the battle between pitcher and batter, but I could enjoy a season of baseball without ever seeing anything more than the newspapers.
The stats, the facts, the history, this is what makes this game so much more than the game that's played on the field. While hockey has the slight edge in my heart, the sunny days of baseball are a thing of beauty.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
It's the gosh darned Blues, for Christ's sake. We've already beat them five times this season.
However, that two game losing streak heading into this one just makes me a bit apprehensive. We need momentum. Like, wrecking ball momentum.
I want a blow out tonight. I mean, a blow out that would put Paris Hilton in a room of half rate musicians to shame.
6-0 has a nice ring to it.
Because a close game doesn't cut it. These Blues are fighting for their playoff lives, and will being playing hard. They will be fighting for every inch of ice, pinching, checking, skating, trying to win a face off come April 15th.
If we let them stay close in this game, it's an embarrassment to the Wings. 3-2 sucks. 2-1 sucks even more.
It is time (way past due, if you ask me) that the Wings show that they are the cream of the crop, the guys to beat.
And an absolute blood slaughter of a desparate team seems like just the right message to send.
So here's what I want tonight.
A hattrick from one of Datsyuk, Zetterberg or Hossa (we have yet to score a hattrick this year). At least two points from at least two of those same three guys as well as Franzen, and at least a point from all four of them. I'd like at least a point, if not two or three from Lidstrom, plus at least a +3 rating. I'd like a goal from either Filpula or Hudler, showing that the top three lines will all contribute come playoff time. I'd like the fourth line to not allow a goal at all, and maybe score one if possible. I'd like a shutout from Conklin.
But, mainly, I want a blow out. I want to make St. Louis look like a minor league team.
I want to win. And I want to win big.
Anything less, and I'm worried heading into the final games of the season.
Oh, and P.S. Go Oilers Go.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Six games to go until the playoffs begin.
My beloved Wings have lost two straight, blowing a lead to the Predators on Sunday, and losing to the worst-in-the-NHL Islanders on Friday.
The concern here is two-fold. One, we are now four points behind San Jose for The President's Trophy. Which, aside from bragging rights, is a bit of an issue, should we meet San Jose, as everyone expects, in the conference finals. San Jose has been lights out at home, including two wins against Detroit (The Wings won the two games against the Sharks in Detroit).
That scares me a bit. But we'll face that when (if) we get there.
No, the bigger concern here is that, with two weeks left in the season, we have begun to lose to lesser teams. The Islanders game was bad, but I could have called it a one-off.
It's the Nashville game that worries me a bit more.
It's very possible that we could be playing the Predators come April 15 or 16. However, could Babcock be happy about these two losses? This article by Peirre Lebrun (via the On The Wings blog) says he might be.
It's an interesting theory, and I suppose it's better to lose games you shouldn't now rather than in the playoffs, but still, I thought we had our losing streak in January. Last year, it happened in February, when Lidstrom and a slew of others were injured, and the Wings went on an extended loss streak then. It was commonly accepted at the time that those two weeks of hardship lent experience the most experienced of teams, and helped carry them all the way to the cup in June.
But, to lose now is not ideal. We need to enter the playoffs on a strong note. Luckily, we have a fairly easy schedule to close the season out, with four of the remaining six games at home.
Let me state here that I will be happy with no less than five wins, and would definitely like to see a sweep of the home and home with Chicago in the last two games of the season.
Otherwise, not having home ice against the Sharks may not matter, because we might not make it that far.
Of course, the other worry in Motown is the goaltending.
Our number 1, Chris Osgood, with his two Stanley Cups, has been less than stellar this year. His .884 save percentage and 3.18 goals against in 42 games are just awful, and well below his career averages (.906 and 2.47).
It doesn't exactly instill confidence.
Our number 2, Ty Conklin has been significantly better than Osgood this year (.912 and 2.43). He has kept Detroit in almost every game he's played in, and I, as a fan, have felt much more confident with Conklin in net this year.
However, he has no playoff experience, other than six minutes played for the Oilers in their improbable cup run against the Hurricanes three years ago (and the reason the Oilers lost the cup, in many of their fan's opinions).
So what do you do? Go with the seasoned goalie who has been here time and time again, but who is having a pretty bad season. Or with the hot goalie whose playoff experience is mainly shaping his own ass groove into the bench and making small talk with the trainers.
Greg Wyshynski writes an intersting blog on this, suggesting we ride Conklin until he proves he can't handle the job. Then, and only then, hand the ropes to Ozzie and hope that he returns to his magic of last year when he took over for Hasek.
However, I disagree.
You have no choice but to start Osgood. He's been there. He's won games, series and Stanley Cups. He understands the pressure, and knows how to handle it.
I have the utmost faith that come playoff time, we will see The Wizard of Oz return to form, and help us defend Lord Stanley's Mug.
And, should he falter at all, we have an extremely capable backup waiting to take his spot.
Favourite Player Stat of the Day: Roy Halladay's Sring stats, 7 G, 33 IP, 4 BB, 25 K, 3.27 ERA, 2W, 2L.
Is this guy ready for the season, or what? See you on Monday in Toronto, Roy.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Well, in what could have been The Sudbury Wolves last game of the year, they went out and played hockey. Good hockey. They were loose, they skated, they didn't force the puck, and they scored. The final score was 6-2.
The Sudbury newspapers will read that the Wolves stepped up their game, played for their lives with their lives on the line. The Belleville papers will read that Belleville didn't show up, phoned this one in, assumed the win before the puck was dropped.
Perhaps both are true, but it was a fun game to watch if you were cheering for the home side.
Matt Dais, in what could have been his last hockey game, made sure it wasn't by scoring four goals, including a natural hatrick in the first period.
This likely was the last home game for the Wolves this year. It would be a huge upset if they were to win the final two games of the series in Belleville, but of course, I hope they do.
And while they would never admit that it was their final home game of the '09 playoffs, they gave a nice salute to the fans at centre ice after the final buzzer, raising their sticks in thanks.
I'd seen teams like the Rangers do this on tv,
but it was touching to see it in real life, from a team I was cheering for. Thank you Sudbury Wolves.
But the real treat in watching these two games was being able to see PK Subban play live.
He truly is a madman, who is stacked with talent, and Sudbury fans had begun to catch onto this. There was a smattering of boos every time he touched the puck, something that wasn't heard in game 3. And Subban is hardly ever off the ice. He must be averaging over thirty minutes a night, and literally does not sit during powerplays, or penalty kills. He carries the puck like a forward, and pinches like the best of defensemen. I'm glad I got to see him up close.
The worst part of the night? The nearly 2000 empty seats in the arena.
I guess Sudburians gave up on this team a bit early. It was sad.
Marion Hossa says he will take less money to stay in Detroit, as long as the deal is fair for both sides.
Don't toy with me, Hossa. My heart can't take it right now.
If anyone can get this deal done, it's Mr. Holland. C'mon Kenny, I'm counting on you. Oh, while you're at it, can you please show Samuelsson the door? Thanks.
Favourite Player Stat of the Night - My new, instantaneous favourite player, Matt Dias: 4 G, Natural Hatrick, GW
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I can't remember the last time I was excited to hear what Don The Dick was going to say, but I wasn't about to miss Saturday night's edition. After Ovechkin's 'hot stick' routine after scoring his 50th of the season, I was sure Cherry would have something to say that would boil my blood.
But...nothing, really. I mean, he did have that one dig at the beginning, "Ovechkin - Alex - is that his name?" - I'm sure you had no idea what his name was Donnie. But after that, he was almost magnanimous. "You're a class guy," said The Dick, more than once. "You don't need to do that."
Ok, you're right, Mr. Cherry, he doesn't need to do that. It was over the top, and no matter how much I enjoyed the theatrics, I hope it ends there, and Alex the Great returns to his glass pounding celebrations.
I mean, you must admit, Donald, that Ovie would never have warmed his hands on his hot stick (that's what she said) if you hadn't babbled some nonsense about him 'being a goof' in the first place.
In fact, something seemed wrong with Don the Dick this week. The tears I mentioned above were shed while naming the Canadian soldiers that had died recently in Afghanistan. While Cherry does this regularly, (and I have issues with it) I've never seen him get so emotional. Something personal was bothering him this week, and it seemed to make him a non-confrontational person.
So maybe that's it. The Ovechkin vs. Cherry feud is over. Much to my chagrin.
I can only hope Ovechkin keeps filling the net and pounding the glass, and that 'Hot Air' Cherry keeps saying things to piss me off. I don't know what to complain about otherwise.
I was fortunate to see an OHL playoff hockey game tonight. It had been about 17 years since the last one I had seen, and it stirred all kinds of emotions.
If you're lucky enough to live somewhere where you can see junior hockey, do yourself a favour, and go and see it. The small arena creates an atmousphere of familial familiarity, and I'd forgotten how much I loved that.
I used to be this fat little kid, that went to see every Sault Greyhounds game. I'd grab a big bag of chips, and an extra large coke, and at the end of the game, the chips would be gone, the coke would be empty, and my voice would be horse. I knew everyone that sat around me, and while most of them were adults, they accepted me as the fat little kid that adored these Greyhounds (my favourite player on that Soo team was Adam Foote, by the way).
And, in remembering these times, I remembered a whole time of my life that I had forgotten. I recalled feelings, and feelings I didn't feel then, and I missed being twelve.
It was a time of my life that I miss deeply. My world existed in the few blocks that surrounded my house, and no further. I loved girls, but they didn't love me. My best friend tried to beat me up on a regular basis, simply because somebody suggested he try (I easily outweighed him by twenty pounds, but I would never fight back). The summer, at dusk, smoking cigarettes stolen from my mother, with my group of friends will forever be one of my favourite memories.
There was pain, and sadness, and heartache, and I can still remember all of that hurt. But I'd return to that age in a second.
In the middle of those most formative of my years was the Greyhounds. My sweet mother, a single parent, provided me with season's tickets each year. I lived and died with those Greyhounds, and they never let me down. I'm sure there were bad years, years they didn't make the playoffs, but I don't remember them.
I do remember the Eric Lindros fiasco. Remember what he did to the Nordiques? That was old news to us Sooites, as he had done it to us a few years before. Which was fantastic, because it set up one of the finest rivalries I've ever been partial to.
Lindros ended up playing for the Oshawa Generals.
That year, Oshawa met the Greyhounds in the playoffs, and defeated them on their way to a Memorial Cup championship.
That only made us hate Lindros more.
The next year, we met them again. It was some of the most amazing hockey I've ever seen (in my overly-biased, memory-blurred mind).
In fact, the only thing I really remember from that series was Bob Boughner and Eric Lindros getting into a fight, and the end result of that fight being Lindros down on one knee with a bloody nose, and Boughner skating to the penalty box with his hands in the air, a decisive victory.
We won that fight, and the series. It was amazing.
The Greyhounds went on to the Memorial Cup, which we lost handedly.
The next year, we went back to the Memorial Cup, and lost again, though this time it was much closer.
That summer, I moved to Sudbury. For the following year, I had to stomach many hardships as a 14 year-old. I had to get used to a new city. I started highschool, without any friends. I had a step-father, two step-brothers and a step-sister to get used to. And that spring, the Soo hosted and won the Memorial Cup, and I had to watch it all on tv.
Talk about teenage angst.
I remembered all of those feelings tonight as I watched the Sudbury Wolves lose to the Belleville Bulls. It was a fun, close game, and it reminded me of why all hockey fans should go to junior hockey games.
Not because we owe it to those teams, or that support should come at all levels. If you don't like junior hockey, don't go. It's your money, and you get to decide how to spend it.
But, if you enjoy hockey at an intimate level, go support your local hockey at every chance you get. We were in the second row, and while we couldn't see what was happening in one corner of the ice, it was fun letting the crowd that could see that angle dictate how we should cheer at that moment.
There was a pregame tribute to Matt Dias, a player who's been with the Wolves for four years, and who is not going to the NHL. His career is all but done after these playoffs. It was touching, even in its brevity, and he received a standing ovation.
When you attend an NHL game, you cheer for your team, but it feels bigger than you. You know thousands or hundreds of thousands or more people are watching on tv. Even more will read about them in the paper. It's exciting, and it's fun, but it's beyond you.
When you watch a junior game, you become almost family with the other four thousand people in the arena, and the players become your own.
When I was twelve, these guys were heroes to me. Now that I'm 31, they still are.
Go Wolves Go!
Favourite player stat of the day: Well, he's not a favourite player of mine, but it was fun to see PK Subban live. During the juniors, he was exciting to watch, and he was no less tonight. So the stat? Well, I can't find any stats on tonight's game, but I believe, for a 60 minute game, he played about 74 minutes. Seriously. He was never off the ice. Even if he left, it was only brief, and he was right back on. AND HE WAS GOOD!!! Canadiens fans, you've got something to look forward to.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Now, as I stated previously, I love Ovie's celebrations, and think Don Cherry is an idiot for saying that they are wrong.
But my first thought when I see this: It's too forced. Don't get me wrong - I like it, but it's not the same as the exuberance of him crashing into the glass, which seems a spur of the moment reaction to the excitement of scoring a goal.
This, though, this was premeditated. Admittedly. Apparently, Jose Theodore gave him the idea.
And, while it strikes me as slightly cocky to plan a celebration for a goal you haven't even scored yet, I still laughed. I like it. It's funny. And I don't see what's wrong with it. I prefer the spur of the moment jumping, but throw in one of these every once in awhile, and I'll laugh, and defend it to the death.
I don't believe it's taunting the other team. Like Greg Wyshynski stated on his blog, "If he wants to taunt, he'll taunt; mouthing off on the ice or skating past the opposing team's bench."
Well, maybe that's true, but I do believe there was some taunting going on here. No, not to The Tampa Bay Lightning, but to one Don 'The Dick' Cherry.
I truly doubt this 'hand warming' would have happened if Cherry had never opened his vile mouth in the first place.
No, I believe this celebration happened purely for Cherry's benefit. And that makes me love it all the more.
Looking forward to this weekend's Coach's Corner.
The Blue Jays Beat The Rays today 15-4. Looks good for the Skychiefs (the Jays triple-A affiliate) seeing as all but one of the RBI's came from guys that won't be on the major league roster (and that single RBI came from a guy who will be a bench player, and even he might not make the team - sorry Bautista).
Brad Mills gave up 4 ER in 5 IP, with a walk and 4 K, but Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp, Brandon League and Jesse Carlson threw an inning each, and combined to give up 2 hits, 5 K, 1 BB and gave up zero runs for the rest of the game. The three 'sure thing' Jays starters in the game (Rios, Wells and Barajas) went a combined 1 for 6 with 2 walks (both Rios') and no RBI's.
According to Mike Wilner, my favourite baseball blogger, despite Mills poor line, he actually increased his likelihood of making the team. You see, Wilner's in Florida, watching all of the Jays games. He's up close, watching the action, talking to the players and coaches, and I'm here, in Canada, reading Wilner's posts and checking MLB.com for all of my Jays info. I can't wait until I can finally watch some games, so I can put some of my own well thought out analasys (read: drunk ramblings) into the Jays, rather than stealing it all from 'my sources.'
The Red Wings play the Thrashers tonight, in Atlanta. Kovalchuk is back in the lineup for the Thrashers after missing the last three games with an injury. It is Hossa's first game in Atlanta since he was traded from the Thrashers to the Penguins last year.
If we lose this game, we don't deserve the President's Trophy. The Stanley Cup, yes, but not the President's Trophy. I just don't want to play the Sharks without home-ice advantage.
By the way, does it really seem like 22 games since the Wing's five game losing streak?
No favourite player stat today. In it's place, I'll make mention of my favourite Beatles song of the moment. Being a bit heartbroken these days, I find myself listening to The Night Before about every second song now.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
So, this is a little bit overdue, but I feel it is my duty to mention that I hate Don Cherry. I mean, I really hate him. He infuriates me with every word he utters. So, the latest Cherry-ism to piss me off is this whole business of Alexander Ovechkin acting like "a goof" with his celebrations.
I'm sorry, was it not Cherry himself who for years has criticized the Europeans at every chance he gets? They are talented, but they don't have what it takes to win, because they don't care enough. They don't have enough grit, they don't check, they don't play hard, they aren't tough enough, THEY DON'T PLAY WITH ENOUGH HEART. Tomas Holmstrom alone is enough to make all of Cherry's comments laughable.
Yet, let's celebrate players like the skate stomping, stick swinging, all-the-time-elbowing Chris Pronger.
However, now we get a player like Ovechkin, perhaps the most talented player in the game today (my vote is for Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and I could argue this, but I also admit I may be biased), who is tough, who plays with grit, who checks (he was voted as the most underated and hardest checker in the game, in a player poll last year), and doesn't skate a stride without displaying his heart. Every shift, every game, Ovechkin is the hardest working player in the game.
Surely, Cherry couldn't find fault with Ovechkin, even despite his non-Canadianess.
Wait a sec, you know what's wrong with Ovie? He celebrates too much when he scores. We've all seen it. He jumps around, he cheers, he jumps into the glass. It's fantastic, and it shows that he LOVES the game he is playing. Yet, according Don 'The Idiot' Cherry, this is showboating, and going too far. This is acting like "a goof."
So, let me get this straight. Play hard. Play tough. Play with heart. Just not too much. And especially not if your European. In fact, if you're European, just take dives, so that Cherry can keep slamming you.
I say that we do our best to get Cherry off the air. Write letters to the CBC, send emails, turn the tv off between the 1st and 2nd periods.
And when he finally does leave the air, let's all jump around, cheer and jump into the windows of our neighbours. It's a bigger goodbye than Cherry deserves, but too apt not to do it.
So, recently a bunch of NHL GM's made some recommendations to try and curb fighting, perhaps leading to it's eventual all-but-elimination from the sport, and poor Georges Laraque thinks this is just terrible. Tons of players whose only job on their team is to fight, will lose their jobs.
Oh no. So a bunch of guys who can't play hockey won't be allowed to play hockey anymore? Yes, I can see how this might be bad for the sport.
I mean, imagine if they got rid of all the baseball players who can't catch or hit for shit, but who can charge the mound like no one else.
Look, I like a good hockey fight, like anyone else. One of the best fights I ever saw was Lecavalier vs. Iginla in the cup finals a few years back. Not because it was a great fight, but because who was fighting, and when they fought. It was the intensity of the moment and situation that they were in, not because that was their job. These guys actually play the game. They score. A lot. You may have heard of them.
Hockey is an intense game, and tempers are going to flare. Fights will happen. But the league needs to eliminate the guys whose sole purpose is to fight.
As long as the NHL allows fighting with no severe penalty for it, there will always be a place on a team for a Laraque or a Boogaard. Make the penalty more severe, and these guys will be weeded out of the league, much to Laraques chagrin. And no one will miss the five points a year they were producing for their team.
By the way, these are the type of guys Don Cherry just loves. Can anyone say Tie Belak? Or was that Wade Domi?
Doesn't this unknown Puerto Rican player look like he's concentrating just a little too hard on where exactly to pat Alex Rios on the ass? I mean, I know he looks good in those pants, but really, anywhere on the cheek will get the message across.
The Flyers haven't won in Detroit since 1988. Children born in The City of Brotherly Love the last time Philly won in Motown can legally drink their sorrows away in green beer tonight as the Wings beat them once again 3-2. If you get the chance, watch the hilights, as the second goal was a Datsyukian thing of beauty. And it wasn't even Pavel who scored.
Favourite player stat of the night: Henrik Zetterberg 1 G, GWG