Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hey everyone! Come see how good I look!

Great picture, isn't it? You're welcome.

It's so nice to see the Datsyukian Delight finally get some credit for his efforts, as he is a finalist for the Hart, Selke and Lady Byng trophies this year. Even though I'd love to see Dats win it, the Hart is going to go to Malkin and Ovechkin will be a close second. But, as you can see from my picture, the winner of the award doesn't concern me because Pavel clearly has his mind on other things.

The Quest for Lord Stanley's Cup (try saying that with any other sports championship trophy and you might get kneecapped) is one full round in. The last two teams to advance last night were the Carolina Hickcanes, in a shocking upset of the Devils in the final minutes of a game seven, and the Washington Capitals, who completed their comeback from a 3-1 series hole against the Rangers to win it in seven games. I was 6 of 8 in the first round, only erring in the New Jersey-Carolina and Chicago-Calgary series (it appears I was actually taking crazy pills when I picked the Flames). I'm satisfied with's the exact same number of teams I picked right last year too. And now that all of the matchups for round two have been decided, I'm ready to pick my winners for this one:

Eastern Conference

(1) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Carolina Hurricanes

The Bruins looked really, really good against the Canadiens. They won four straight games, got solid but not outstanding goaltending from Tim Thomas and beat the Habs. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, lucked their way past the Devils with some untimely goals let up by Marty Brodeur even though their team is actually pretty bad. This series between the Bruins and Canes annoys me greatly because it basically gives the Bruins another free pass. The Habs are crap, the Canes are crap and then woo hoo, they're in the Conference Finals. Stupid, but oh well. Boston in five.

(2) Washington Capitals vs. (4) Pittsburgh Penguins

The Capitals looked more than vulnerable in the first few games of the Rangers series, but rookie goalie Somebody Varlamov has them playing with confidence and poise. The Penguins have been waiting around for their next opponent after dispatching the Flyers in six games, and have looked as sharp as they were last year. Marc-Andre Fleury looks insane and I think he carries this series. Ovechkin, Crosby, and Malkin make this series a huge one for the league, but as Melrose said this morning, it will be the goalies who steal the show. My money's on Fleury. Pittsburgh in six.

Western Conference

(2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Anaheim Ducks

Awesome. The epic series that should have happened last year if the Ducks weren't so hungover is finally happening. It will be stressful, I will hate me some Poultry and I will yell more obscenities at the TV than ever before. Boy, do I hate these players. Pronger, Niedermayer, Selanne, Getzlaf, Perry, Parros, everyone else. There's not a single player I like on this team. It's going to be a blood bath, and I think Detroit will emerge. The Wings and more importantly, Osgood, looked real sharp in their first round sweep of the Blue Jackets. The Ducks are no regular eighth seed and have Jonas Hiller playing phenomenal hockey, but they take way too many penalties to get away with this series. Detroit's power play is ridiculous and the Wings won't stoop to Anaheim's level of play (as the Sharks did). Those keys, and Osgood, keep the Wings flying towards Cup #12. Detroit in six.

(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (4) Chicago Blackhawks

Ugh. I don't even want to pick this series. The Canucks, who have never won a Cup and will never win a Cup as long as I live, aren't going anywhere even with Luongo. The Blackhawks, who haven't won a Cup since 1961, are just too young and looked too mediocre against the Flames to give me any confidence. So, I don't know. Canucks, Blackhawks, Canucks, Blackhawks; they're both the same. Either one will lose to Detroit in the Conference Finals. Soooo I'm going to pick Detroit's bitch just to make it more fun. Chicago in seven.

Done. Necesito hacer mi tarea por mi clase de español. Game 1 is Friday night. I'll be here with pregame and recap. Adios amigos.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bring on the Poultry!

God I love playoff hockey.

And, more importantly, I love the warm feeling I get inside when I see all of those sad fans in Columbus with their Ohio State hats and sweatshirts. Ooooh, so sad! Nahht. It just makes me feel good to see them whining about a too many men on the ice penalty in the closing minutes. Suck it, buckeyes. You don't even deserve a hockey team, so be grateful you get to watch a guy like Rick Nash every night.

If you couldn't tell already, the mighty Red Wings took care of business last night, winning in a tight but loose 6-5 game where every time I checked the score, another goal was scored. I couldn't watch the entire thing while I was working, but I can tell you it was frustrating to see the score go from 3-1 to 3-3 to 5-3 to 5-5. I didn't like the way Osgood played, but in all fairness, none of the goals were really all that bad. I don't think it'll affect him in any way going forward. The more important thing to take away was his play in the first three games. He's got it goin' on folks.

And that goal to win it in the final minute was awesome. You just knew it was coming when the penalty was called. And it was the right call, no matter what way you look at it. If you read my column about BU beating UNH in the NCAA hockey tournament, you'll know that I absolutely go crazy when a penalty is called in the last couple minutes of a tie game. It's dumb. But in a case where the rule is so ridiculously obvious that the referee has no choice but to call it (like this one), it must be done. If it was a discretionary call, like a hooking or interference penalty, I'd feel dirty after a win like that. But it wasn't. The Columbus player coming off the bench made a stupid play to touch the puck when it was epically clear that his teammate wasn't off the ice yet. Sorry, that's just a blatant violation of the rules.

And you know what? I'm glad it happened that way. Columbus didn't deserve overtime. The series was over; they needed to face their fate as immediately as possible. Have fun golfing, BJs.

In other playoff news, the Ducks are also taking care of their business against the all and powerful San Jose Sharks. The Sharks remind me of the wizard in the Wizard of Oz because every year, they seem like this giant, scary team that will win the Cup and squash everyone in their path but in reality, they're nothing but a choke-prone team that hides behind a bravado that they built up in the regular season.'s funny becuz it's trwoo.

Alright, I have to go. The Wings will have a week off before the play the Ducks in round two (sorry San Jose, you're not climbing out of a 3-1 hole with Evgeni Nabokov as your playoff goalie). I'll be back before then with something creative and an update on my first-round playoff picks.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hey Columbus! Welcome to the playoffs.


There's simply nothing more fitting for tonight's multiple victories than Johnny Drama's famous cry. Detroit crushed Columbus, and we cleaned house at the Student Org Awards. I had good steak, and Brad Stuart magically turned R.J. Umberger into dead meat. That hit was insane. In case you missed it...

Nuts. Even crazier, Umberger came back later in the game and scored the Jackets' only goal. It didn't really help though, since the series is over. Up 3-0 and outscoring the team 12-2. Out. Standing.

I was only able to watch the last eight minutes of the game, and even though they weren't the prettiest to watch since Columbus basically controlled the play, I don't care. I saw the major highlights and I've concluded that they played exactly how they needed to play. They took advantage of the hyped up crowd and made me look like a genius by dominating that key first period in 2-0 fashion. And 31 saves by Osgood?! I can't believe this guy. Worst in the regular season, best in the playoffs. Makes no sense, but I love him for it. This team deserves their own league.

As for our big night at TNH, we won Media Publication of the Year, Rookie of the Year (Christine Hawkins), Leader of the Year (John Ferguson), and Organization of the Year! After winning zero awards at the same banquet last year, it was a huge deal to be named the best organization on campus. Oh, and John's editorial shoes just grew a few more sizes...not sure if I have the feet for them. I'll do my best though, that's all that matters.

Final note: how did I miss this Pavel Datsyuk interactive pop-up ad on the Red Wings' website? Hilarious. Go Wings.

Game 3 Catch 22

Problem: The Student Organizations Awards Banquet is tonight at 7 pm. Game 3 is scheduled to start at 7 pm. I never want to miss a second of Red Wings playoff hockey, but it wouldn't exactly look very good if TNH won Org of the Year and next year's leader was off somewhere yelling and cursing at little hockey players on a television/computer screen. And the only way I can avoid that and still watch the game is to somehow jailbreak my iPod touch and stream live TV on it. Not gonna happen. Looks like I'll have to make due with frantically refreshing the score all night becuase I know I'll bite the bullet and go to the dinner.

While my Wings will play on with one fewer viewer, know that I'm not happy about it. Not one bit. If the chance to leave early arises, I'm jumpin' on that like I would have jumped one of the Titanic lifeboats. Oh, don't give me that look Women of the World. You're the ones who wanted equality, so don't judge me if I want to throw the people's elbow to one of the girls on the boat who can't spell 'equality''s just natural selection at work. Let it happen. Back to tonight's game.

It's simple: Wings win, the series is over. Wings lose, it's just beginning. I'm confident that the first period will be the deciding factor. Not the second. Not the third. The first. If the Wings can get a lead or even keep the score even after one, the game is theirs. But if they fall behind and those BJ "fans" get all antsy in their pantsy, I'm predicting a game three defeat.

However, I really don't want to see that happen, so show up tonight boys. Please. As A2Y so aptly points out today, the stress rockets up a few notches if the Wings are clipped tonight.

Final thoughts: Drapes is still out, Cleary's still in and the Blue Jackets are playing the sympathy card.
I can't really harp on the story itself, but I will ferociously attack the Blue Jackets' logo and mascot once and for all; the stupidity behind their choice never ceases to baffle me.

First, you're the Blue Jackets. Simply put: that doesn't exist. Unless you mean this, and that's not a mascot; it's an article of clothing. Second, if you want to claim that a "Blue Jacket" is really just a yellow jacket that's blue, then your freaking mascot shouldn't be GREEN. Finally, what the hell is your logo? First, it was this. Now, it's this. Neither makes any sense! A star with a State of Ohio flag swooshing through it? That doesn't tell me your team mascot is the Blue Jackets. All that tells me is that you're an Avalanche-imitator that wants to seem more American. It may look better than this or this, but it's wayyyyy dumber on the accuracy scale.

The sheer lack of intelligence in Ohio is staggering. Go Wings. Recap late tonight.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Normal. Normal. WHAT THE BEJEESUS?

Yep, that's right doubters. Ozzie is the playoffs' best goalie thus far. Eat it, everyone who thought Osgood would be just as bad in the playoffs as he was in the regular season. Suck on that, all you predictors of Wings playoff destruction at the hands of poor goaltending. Especially you, Cameron Kittle, who thought he'd be only slightly better than a dilapidated sloth with one arm and no eyes. Ozzie looks good up in that stat box. Although it certainly helps that he's next to the ugliest Russian maybe ever.

This is a perfect setup for a Game 3 jinx, but maybe this bad post decision will cancel out the other bad post decision of breaking my mid-playoff-writing silence. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Breaking the Silence

I can't do it. I can't keep quiet for another two months. Last year, I kept my superstition going for the whole postseason, but I'm just unable to do it again. I didn't post a new blog entry mid-series at all last year in the playoffs, and I only updated the blog in between series to make my picks. No more.
That's wallpaper-worthy stuff right there people. Amazing picture with an even more important significance.

I'm too excited about Ozzie's play in the first two games to let superstition keep me down. I'm too excited about Datsyuk's new Rahmani commercial to be silenced by the Blue Jackets. And dangit, I'm just too darned excited to see Yo-Han Fran-Zan rope in some mo' of dem playoff records. God I hate people who pronounce Johan Franzen's name incorrectly. He's a Swede, not an immigrant now living in Texas. Get it right broadcasters.

Anyway, that's basically it for today. I will be posting regularly during the rest of this series and beyond. I have some other things to get done in the next couple hours before I go see Kings of Leon tonight in Boston. And Flight of the Conchords on Friday night was awesome; they were hilarious. No hurt feelings during that show.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2009 NHL Playoff Preview!

I may not get enough sleep. I may not have the time to shower everyday. But this week, I have the NHL playoffs to look forward to. April is simply the best for sports: the Final Four, the Frozen Four, Opening Day, the Masters, and, saving the best for last, the NHL playoffs. I've written countless times how there is just nothing like it in sports and that feeling won't ever change. The intensity is unmatched throughout the entire two-month battle. Even some non-hockey fans tune in to watch! What other evidence do you need?

And, following upon last year's tradition, I decided to make my playoff predictions for the first round once again. I'm in a five-dollar, March-Madness-esque pool with some friends at school to try and decide hockey bragging rights, but I've thought about it for days and there's only one thing that matters: the Wings. I could make seven asinine picks and still be happy as long as my boys in Red move on. I could lose my left arm to an angry Blue Jackets fan and still be happy as long as the train to 12 keeps on rollin'. But Cam, you'd lose your left arm for the rest of your life! There's no way one more Cup would make you happy all those years...You make a good point Italics. But you're forgetting that Blue Jackets fans don't exist. They're all in your iiiii-ma-ginnnn-aaayyy-shunnn! Anyway, time for the picks; I don't have time to be arguing with myself in different font styles all night.

Eastern Conference Match-Ups

(1) Boston Bruins vs. (8) Montreal Canadiens

This looks familiar. The Bruins were in the Canadiens' spot last season and took the series all the way to a seventh game. The Canadiens haven't looked very good this year, due to a lot of injuries and a dash of Carey Price, but I think they'll turn it up a notch for the playoffs. Problem is, they'll be facing a Bruins team that has been incredible this year. My question all season long for the B's was their goaltending. Not that it was suspect, but that they might have trouble settling on one guy and having a mental game of tug-of-war where everybody loses. Looks like they're set on Thomas though, so I see them winning their first playoff series since 1999. Boston in seven.

(2) Washington Capitals vs. (7) New York Rangers

Interesting series. Lopsided, in my opinion, but interesting nonetheless. The Rangers choke. They do. They always have great teams on paper and lose in the playoffs if they can even make it there. This season, they looked amazing at the beginning of the year, but then Brandon Dubinsky and Nigel Dawes started playing like the real Brandon Dubinsky and Nigel Dawes and the team almost lost their way to a lottery pick. Meanwhile, the Capitals have been very good all year. Good defense, great offense, solid goaltending. I don't like Jose Theodore any more than the next guy, but I don't think he's due for a meltdown quite yet. Washington in five.

(3) New Jersey Devils vs. (6) Carolina Hurricanes

I fell flat on my face with a New Jersey pick last year against the Rangers, when the team defense completely fell apart and left their boy Marty out to dry, but this year the team is different. They may have slipped a bit off of their great mid-season pace, but the Devils still have Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur. Lots of people are picking the Hurricanes to upset the Devils here, but I can see right through that. There is no way in hell that two teams from the Eastern Conference's South division are advancing to the second round. Based on that and the big 'ol chip on Marty's shoulder, I'm taking the Jersey Jean-Skiers. New Jersey in seven.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers

These two teams met last year in the Eastern Conference Finals. This year, one has to go home in April. Sounds unfair to me, but I don't make the rules. The Penguins have been an enigma this year. With two of the top three scorers in the league and a solid young goalie, the Pens should have been competing for the East's top spot all year. So what if they lost Ryan Malone and Marian Hossa? It's still the freakin' East! But after a huge slump that had people saying they wouldn't even make the playoffs, they picked up Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz at the deadline and climbed the ladder once again. The Flyers, on the other hand, have been fighting in the trenches all season. I love Mike Richards and I love veteran Simon Gagne, but I just don't see it. The Pens are just too talented and more importantly, too good at Mellon Arena. Pittsburgh in six.

Western Conference Match-Ups

(1) San Jose Sharks vs. (8) Anaheim Ducks

God, I hate both of these teams. I don't hate them enough to predict (slash hope-for) an explosion, but I'd love to see them beat the living crap out of each other. And oddly enough, that's exactly what I expect. The Sharks and Ducks played a home-and-home series already this month, and it was fantastic theater. The games were full of fights, penalties and very few goals. It was playoff hockey at its finest. The seeds don't matter here, especially with the experience the Ducks have in the playoffs over the past couple years. My boy John Buccigross picked the Sharks in a close series because "San Jose's home ice and goaltending give it the edge." Home ice and goaltending, huh Bucci? Might want to rethink that reasoning. San Jose has Evgeni Nabokov (Playoffs Version) as their "goaltending," and the Ducks have 22 road wins this year. Down goes Frazier in the Shark Tank. Anaheim in seven.

(2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (7) Columbus Blue Jackets

People are jumping all over this series like its the next incarnation of the 2003 Ducks, who swept the second-seeded Wings when they were defending Stanley last time. It's the perfect Rocky scenario! Steve Mason is gonna take down the champs! Please. The Wings are too experienced to let that happen, and they still have the Cup hunger in Marian Hossa, who wants to make his offseason pay cut worthwhile. Once this team gets going, they will be hard to stop. All they need to do is squeeze a couple past Mason and get in his head. Then, it's a done deal. Detroit in six.

(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) St. Louis Blues

The Schmucks and the Lose. Two hot teams that don't have any chance to win the Cup. Ah, so sad. But someone does have to win this series, I suppose. I pick the blue team! Oh, damn. Color selection won't work in this one. I guess I actually have to think about it for a second. The Sundins will probably win because Roberto Luongo is the best goalie in the league and usually plays well in the playoffs, but I could see T.J. Oshie and Chris Mason stealing a few overtime games and taking the series to the limit. Vancouver in six.

(4) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (5) Calgary Flames

Melrose: Blackhawks in seven. Buccigross: Blackhawks in seven. LeBrun: Blackhawks in five. Hradek: Blackhawks in five. Burnside: Blackhawks in six. They're a team of rookies with a goaltending controversy! Hasn't anyone noticed this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills! The Flames have Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen and Mike Cammalleri on the same line! They have Miika freaking Kiprusoff! I don't care if they only have three forward lines...Chicago hasn't been in the playoffs since who the hell cares and Calgary has Miika Kiprusoff! Why do I feel the need to explain myself!? The choice is clear to me, even if it's cloudy for everybody else. Calgary in six.

I need to get back to work. Early wake-up call and still lots left to do tonight. Enjoy the picks, and Happy Playoffs! It all starts tomorrow...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Men of Evil, Goats with Wings and Pre-Playoff Excitement

A light night for sports in the newsroom here...we're leading with women's lacrosse for the third issue in a row. Wow, that just screams news. If a college female lacrosse game between the New Hampshire Wildcats and the LeMoyne Dolphins (WHO?) isn't an irresistible story, I don't know what is. That's the joy of covering sports in the spring when your school doesn't have a baseball team, I suppose.

Anyway, I've decided to use some of my time to finish the post I started a week ago: the ghosts that have haunted many Detroit Red Wings' postseasons past. I have both sides of the bench covered too, from the team's memory-melting enemies to the team's self-inflicted cancers. Cooperating with my cyberfriends (no homo?) at The Triple Deke, I have a goalie, two defensemen, two wings, and a center for each, so be sure to check over there before the playoffs start on Wednesday for their own choices.

The All-Nemesis Team:
G - J.S. Giguere '03

There's really no one else who can fill this spot. I refuse to fill it with Patrick Roy because a) I hate him, b) the Wings once scored nine goals on him and c) he reeeally didn't steal any whole series from the Wings like this Lucky Duck did. The Wings have been swept only six times since 1950, and the 2002-03 loss to Anaheim was one of them. Giguere was the reason. The only reason, really. I was so tempted to put "Marc-Andre Fluery '08 (Game 5 only)" in this spot just because of how personally violated I felt after leaving the Joe at 1 a.m. that night and having to fly home out $800 bucks without seeing the Wings hoist the Cup. But they won two nights later...sooo that takes some of the sting away. Giguere takes it.

D - Scott Stevens '95

I've never liked him. I think he's a dirty player who threw his arms up and got away with a bunch of calls. But to make this list, he had to hurt the Wings in the playoffs. Try 1995 on for size. The Wings should have won five straight cups from '95-'99 in my opinion, but this hit turned everything around and knocked off any momentum the heavily favored Wings had at the time. Damn. It didn't matter that much because I became an obsessed fan during that playoff run, but it hurts a little in retrospect.

D - Chris Pronger '06, '07

Sasquatch: the affectionate name many of us A2Y fans have come to love calling Pronger. He gets that title for a reason. He has no brain, he's an overall asshole and he just skates around trying to cheap shot anyone he can. The only problem: he's a menace to the Wings. While his Ducks have been losing feathers for the past couple years, his year as an Oiler when he upset the top-seeded Wings was painful and the following year as a Duck when the Wings went down in the West Finals was heartbreaking. So, hate him or loathe him, he makes the list.

RW - Claude Lemieux '95, '96

It's not possible to make an all-nemesis list without this "human being." I put that in quotes because I question how any person could commit the offenses he has and still be considered "human." He's a menace to society and a menace to hockey. And while that's certainly an exaggeration, he was at least a menace to the Wings. I hate him more than any player ever, if you remember my post from a year ago, and he was a key part in the 1995 and 1996 playoff heartbreaks to the Devils and Avs. Some of it might be forgotten if the Wings play the Sharks and Kronner drops the gray-haired Lemieux for a career-ending concussion, but his hit on Draper will never be forgiven.

LW - Adam Deadmarsh '96, '99, '00, '01

The name just sends shivers down my spine. Deadmarsh. He scored so many timely goals while he was on the Avalanche and then again when he was traded to the Kings and they upset the Wings in the first round in 2001. The worst part: he's not even that good! The guy sucks most of the year, is an average ice-eater in the playoffs against any random team but somehow buries Detroit whenever he sees that winged wheel. Annoying.

C - Peter Forsberg '96, '99, '00

Forsberg...ohh Forsberg. For a period, there was no one more talented in the league. He could score at will against the Wings, and certainly against Osgood. I don't know what it was, but Forberg could beat Ozzie with a blindfold and without a stick. I was never more scared of any player than I was of Forsberg in the late '90s and early '00s. He was just that good. That is...until the injury bug finally got to him. I guess the lockout was good for something.

The All-Goat Team
G - Manny Legace '06

While Manny gets too much blame for the team loss against the Oilers in the first round of '06, he was not ready to be the starting playoff goalie for the Detroit Red Wings. He just wasn't. The team played badly and Dwayne Roloson was incredible, but I honestly think the team would have won with someone else in net. His mental demons got a hold of him and screwed the Wings for the series. I will say that Osgood in 1996 and 2001 was an honorable mention for this spot, but he'll be our playoff goalie this year and I can't be giving off any negative vibes right before the postseason.

D - Andreas Lilja '07

You might notice that the picture above doesn't have Lilja in it. It shows Lebda and a sprawled Hasek next to Teemu Selanne right after his overtime goal sent the Ducks to a 3-2 series lead back to Anaheim in the '07 Western Conference Finals. But the whole play only happened because Lilja gave the puck away. Right to Selanne. I've never seen anything worse in the playoffs from a Wings defenseman, save the time when Paul Coffey scored on his own net in the '96 West Finals. And as good as Lilja has been this year, I can't take him out of this spot.

D - Mathieu Schneider '03

Not much reason behind this pick. I'm bitter that he left the Wings because I liked him, especially for the damn Ducks, and I'm able to justify his place here because of his invisibility in the '03 playoffs. I was so pumped that year. He was a great pickup at the trade deadline, but then was a -4, had zero points and took three penalties in the Ducks' sweep of the Wings. I'm really stretching the stats to fit my argument there, since no Wing had a good series that year, but Schnieder certainly didn't help.

RW - Todd Bertuzzi '07

The 'Tuz is the sole black mark on Kenny Holland's nearly perfect GM resume. I hate him for that. The Wings picked him up and lost Shawn Matthias to get him at the deadline from Florida. Matthias hasn't done anything of note yet, but he's a great prospect lost nonetheless. And after playing less than five regular season games, Bertuzzi did nothing in the playoffs and then jumped ship to those damned Ducks right after the West Finals loss. As Yoda would say, "A disgrace to the logo, he is."

LW - Shawn Burr '95

Wow I'm stretching this. There just aren't that many ex-Wings or Wings that I dislike. There are some (look above), but not that many. So, simply because Shawn Burr was a bust as the Wings' first round pick in 1984 at seventh overall and did nothing in their Stanley Cup Finals loss to the Devils (did he even play?), he gets a place on the All-Goat team. I almost put Mikael Samuelsson right here because he ceaselessly misses the net and rarely scores, but again, he's on the current roster and I'm a bit of a pansy so I don't want to root against him right before playoff time.

C - Jason Williams '06

I couldn't really come up with anything here. Williams came to mind because he never did very much with the Wings and he's been great everywhere else. He didn't get as much playing time as he could have someplace else because the Wings were just too good, so he might not be really worthy of this spot. He is a current Blue Jacket though, so I will be heavily rooting for his demise soon anyway. Fedorov in '03 was another possibility, but I like Fed too much to put him anywhere on an All-Goat list. I still miss him.

Alright, I'm done. I should probably actually get some work done for the paper. Tomorrow is the big playoff preview; stay tuned. Playoff hockey is only days away...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

2008-09 NHL Season Wrap-Up

The Red Wings finished 51-21-10, good for 112 points and the 2nd seed in the Western Conference. How bad is it that I, and Wings fans everywhere, are disappointed with the team's fourth consecutive 50-win season and ninth straight season with more than 100 points? I'm completely spoiled to have my absolute favorite sports team succeed at such a high rate every year, but I can't help thinking that this regular season just adds up to a shoulder-shrug feeling given the expectations it began with.

And that's crazy. Bruins fans have sprung up all over the place here in New England after their energizing 116-point season, but Red Wings fans are more or less unphased by only four points less. Nuts. But it's true. I've been here before. I know what this team is capable of and I'm surprised they only managed 2nd place. I really hope they can pull it together for a playoff run, and I'm confident they can, but the inconsistencies throughout the season have left me with some doubts.

I'm getting ahead of myself though; my playoff preview and predictions won't come until Tuesday night. I just wanted to voice my opinion on the NHL season and I've found that I haven't got much to say. Other than a huge THANK YOU! to Kenny Holland for once again being the best GM in sports and signing Johan Franzen to an 11-year deal, I'm feeling so done with the regular season right now.

But just because I set out to do it at the start of this post, here are some thoughts on 08-09 now that it's in the books:
  • The Avalanche finished in last place. Well, last place in the West. Awesome, nonetheless. HA!
  • The Sharks look in perfect position to choke another season away. Just sayin'.
  • ESPN made a "Top 5 NHL plays of the year" highlight list and left out multiple plays that I think deserve serious consideration. Franzen's goal against St. Louis a week ago was unbelievable, anything Datsyuk does is pure gold and Hossa has had plenty of goals this year that deserve some recognition. BIG thumbs down to ESPN for that bogus reel. I do love seeing that Ovechkin goal again though...what a beauty.
  • Pavel Datsyuk should be the damned MVP. I'm pissed he didn't get to 100 points but he should be anyway. I know he won't win, but he should. And regardless of what everybody else says, Nick Lidstrom should win another Norris Trophy. I don't think he will because everyone is so enamored over Mike Green, who should just be a forward because he doesn't do anything well as a defenseman except score goals (what?!), or because Zdeno Chara had a great season too. But the vote should be for Lidstrom over Chara not only because of my bias, but also because without Chara, the Bruins would still have had a great season. Without Lidstrom, I'm not sure the Wings would have kept it together all year long. Oh well, "Fake Z" will probably get it.
  • My Marty Turco for Vezina prediction was laughably off target. I still love him but really, I couldn't have been more wrong if I picked Barry Bonds to win the same award. I also picked Barry Melrose to win the Jack Adams for Coach of the Year. Haha, wow. Please point at me next time you see me and say "FAIL!" for my terrible blunder of epic proportions.
  • The Winter Classic is amazing and I can't wait for next year. Bruins-Canadiens in Fenway. Unreal. That's one thing the NHL is actually doing right.
  • Mike Milbury is still a huge douche. No big surprise there. Don Cherry, too.
  • The Blue Jackets made the playoffs for the first time in history! Yayyyyy....just in time to be put in their place by the power of the league.
I'm done. The playoffs are coming. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter, but I'm still a little pissed that BU lucked their way into another national hockey title and that Angel Cabrera won the Masters. Bah, that's annoying. I mean good for him, but Phil and Tiger played so well that it kinda sucks that the day had to end that way. Kenny Perry would have been good too, but Cabrera managed to be the last guy standing. Oy. And those Terriers...ooooh those Terriers. I can't get started on them or I just won't sleep tonight. Long story short, they deserve nothing.

Tomorrow, I'll be unveiling my All-Nemesis and All-Goat teams from previous Red Wings' postseasons. It's a collaborative effort with The Triple Deke, who came up with the idea a couple weeks ago, and you should be excited because it's awesome. Goodnight.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Scooped by SI

Back in January, I made an argument about why Pavel Datsyuk is the best player in the NHL and has been since the lockout. This year, he's only three points shy of 100 and is having his best year yet. So for me, there's no question he's the choice for the Hart Trophy (MVP) this year. And apparently, more objective observers are starting to notice too.

Datsyuk has more than his share of YouTube highlights—"He can embarrass you wherever the puck is, on his stick or in his skates," Chicago right wing Patrick Sharp says—but, of course, that does not distinguish him from other stars such as Washington's effusive Alexander Ovechkin, whose celebration after his 50th goal last month lacked only pom-poms and a Sharpie, and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Datsyuk, who has yet to score 35 goals or total 100 points in a season, had a career-high 32 goals and 63 assists through Sunday. He was 13 points back of the league-leading Malkin and 23 goals behind Ovechkin, who is favored to repeat as the MVP.

But if you are willing to wade a little deeper into the statistics, you don't need 20-20 vision to see that Datsyuk is the most efficient—and arguably most productive and valuable—of the Russian troika.

Datsyuk averages 19 minutes, 14 seconds of ice time a game, almost four minutes fewer than Ovechkin and about three fewer than Malkin. Of those 19-plus minutes, he spends an average of 3:26 on the power play (about two minutes fewer than the other two with the man-advantage) and 1:37 on the penalty kill (about 30 seconds more). Babcock also tends to use Datsyuk's line against opponents' most dangerous threesomes. Thus, Datsyuk not only plays less overall, he also gets significantly fewer minutes in prime scoring time. Still, he averages more points a minute than either Ovechkin or Malkin.

Throw in Datsyuk's first-rate 56.7 face-off percentage, and it becomes clear that his ability to accomplish so much in so little time should get him into the Hart Trophy debate.

That's from Michael Farber's new article in Sports Illustrated this week. The whole piece is great, as it highlights Pavel's hilarious commercial fame and talks up my favorite player in the league. And, because I can, I prefer to think Farber must have looked at my argument before writing his own story. Either that or he's saw The Triple Deke's new poll, which could be the best, and least arguable, thing I've ever seen.

The Red Wings have three games left before the season's over, and then the playoffs start on April 15th. I'm pumped slash terrified. It's about time to board the good ol' A2Y stress train (#23)...

Oh, and it's Masters week. Quite possibly the best week of the year. I'm thinking Tiger, as usual, but Cool-New-Look Lefty will definitely be up there too. Some guys to watch for are Nick Watney and Dustin Johnson though...I just have a good feeling about 'em.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Blues

Why, calendar? Why?

Every year, the first day of April comes and every year, my gullibility is shown to the world. Most years, I take my punishment and simply shrug sheepishly at the resounding chorus of "April Fooooooooooool's!!!" after a clever prank. But today featured one after another like I was riding a line of dominoes as each one fell and spit me out onto the next.

Today was kind of like that April Fool's Day I can still remember that happened many years ago, when I was only five or six years old. My mom convinced me that I would be late for school while I was busy downstairs watching Peter Pan for probably the 40th time that week. I hurriedly ran up the stairs, devastated I couldn't keep watching my boy Pan and all flustered that I'd be in trouble somehow. After all the effort, my mom let the truth shine through: it was Saturday. Ouch.

April Fool's '09 was different, however. I was getting it from all angles.

After a long night of laundry, homework, and college life, I set my alarm for 6:20am, bright and early for my weekly squash game at the Rec Center. It didn't go off until 6:47! Damn those machines that will one day rule the world if I-Robot is to be believed (and really, who's going to question Will Smith at any time, let alone when he's wearing these?).

While I somehow managed to get through an hour of squash without any tomfoolery, when I came back to my room I was blasted once again. I was quickly perusing my usual favorites on web before heading to class and saw this on my favorite blog, A2Y. The story was believable enough and I was shocked and saddened and panicked...then he too hits me with the catch phrase of the day. Oh, come on! Not you too, internet! I can't win.

And it continued on into my first class of the day, Spanish. I was still groggy from only having four hours of sleep and my friend Joe, who I sit next to most days, hit me while I was down. I was the sedated bear to his poking stick. A brief reenactment:

Cam: "Hey Joe, what's up?"
Joe: "Nothin' man, just feeling pretty tired. Didn't sleep too well with all the sirens."
Cam, originally not paying attention, quickly perks up: "What sirens?"
Joe, acting way too intense for 10am, is taken abak: "Where have you been man? There was a huge fire; half of Kingsbury burnt down! I thought you would've been the first to hear about it, being with the paper and all."
Cam: "What? Holy shi--(Joe smirks, losing his credibility)-- oh you son of a bitch."
Joe: "April Foooooool's!!"

Ugh. Damn you, journalistic instincts that made me pull out my phone and nearly text half the people I know so we could be on the breaking news as soon as possible. Admittedly, the prank was pretty tame but it made me feel immediately awake and got the adrenaline going for a second before turning to the fuzzy feeling of humiliation once more. Inevitably burned like a marshmallow around a campfire.

The rest of the day featured more false news that I ate right up and even a non-April Fool's prank that I thought I was ready for. In my Editing class, we have these short student presentations where you teach a tricky snippet of grammar to the rest of the class (like semicolons, how to avoid jargon, etc.). But the key thing everyone is supposed to do is bring in some kind of small candy/delicious sugary snack for everyone to have like bite-size chocolates or cookies or whatever. And I was sure Phil, the kid who presented today, was just foolin' when he said he didn't have something for us. He wasn't. Triumph to turmoil.

There's not much else to report on; I was just feeling April Fool's Blues today and wanted to share. I think the calendar chooses April juuust so it can catch us right as we're coming out of winter-hibernation mode: our weakest point as a society. Only the eager beavers and tricky bastards are the ones who can come up with any pranks and the rest of us are left to suffer! I mean, I have certainly pulled some pranks of my own and am by all means a hypocrite...but it's your fault you're still reading this useless post! But since you have, you'll be rewarded below with the video of the day. Goodnight.