Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The game was heated early on, with the Rangers slowly but surely folding as time ticked away. In Sunday's game, Pierre McGuire between the benches said the chatter was going fast and furious, but of course he couldn't tell us what the players were saying. Not during an over-the-air broadcast, at least. I would pay very good American money to watch a pay-per-view special of a hockey game that's fully miked with live audio throughout. I know it would be an amazing viewing experience.
Though not in Game 4 Thursday, because the Rangers probably won't be doing too much talking. Jagr should be all screamed out after last night. He was barking so much during the game that his vertical mustache almost fell off. (SIDENOTE: Which mustache is more ridiculous? Jagr's up and downer or Ryan Hollweg's 19th century dockworker?)
Speaking of yapping, at the 6:00 mark of the third, Jagr drove the net with the puck, which led to a scrum around Fleury. This time Jagr did not sit on Fleury so the puck could go in. Not liking the early (perfectly on time) whistle, Brandon Dubinsky yelled at the ref and then gave him a dismissive wave. The ref was clearly heard to say, "Fuck yourself." Earlier, Dubinsky jumped a faceoff before the linesman even had the puck. When he was thrown out of the circle, he slammed the dot with his stick blade and bitched at the linesman until he was finally out of the circle. The linesman just shrugged at him. Lotta chirping for a rookie, but I guess nobody cares when you're not the best player in the league.
In fairness, I can see why the Rangers are so mad at the officials. After all, they've only gotten 15 power plays in the series. Every time a Ranger falls down, one of the refs draws attention to him by giving the Penguins a penalty. And that is embarrassing. But it's not the officials' fault the Rangers are 1 for 15 on the man advantage, it's their fault. And Hal Gill's fault.
And Jordan Staal's fault. During a 5-on-3 on three early in the second, Staal had one great clear from around the net and then completely bulled his way out of the zone through two Rangers to run out the 5-on-3. The first 5-on-3. The Rangers blew the second as shortly thereafter as well.
But the Rangers could've played this entire game up two men and still not won. A post for Gomez, 39 shots that weren't all that challenging, Straka trying to go five hole on Fleury even though he was out in the right faceoff circle. New York's offensive hex makes Marian Hossa look like he's on fire. (A goal and PP assist for Hossa last night, incidentally. God, he's so terrible! Let's get Colby back!)
So...I unno. What else can be said? Ovechkin will probably win the Hart, but Malkin is clearly better than him. A better shot, better defensively, better passer, better all around. Yes, a better shot. Ovechkin shoots 10 times a game from every where in the zone. When Malkin shoots, it goes in.
And the series is basically over. There was so much talk about the strong Ranger defense and Henrik Lundqvist. Who is good on that defense? Dan Girardi? Christian Backman? The ghost of Jeff Beukeboom? All I'm seeing is wave after wave of Penguins washing over Lundqvist with little to no resistance from the Blueshirt blue line. You tell me what's so good about this defense.
And to keep the metaphor going, Lundqvist collapsed like a sand castle last night. 12 saves on 17 shots? That's not going to get it done in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Or in a pickup street hockey game.
About the only two areas of concerns were on the last two Ranger goals. On their second goal, Scuderi was totally and completely pushed out of the way by Gomez. And on the third, Jagr beat Fleury seven hole, the second time this series a puck has slipped between his funny bone and ribcage.
Is that it? For the series, yes. For this post, no. There's still Sean Avery, remember? In the last two minutes, Rob Scuderi covered the puck along the end boards. Avery got on top of him and raked his face, fully knowing Scuderi hasn't had a fight in his NHL career. After the Pens won the following faceoff - a key faceoff - Scuderi cleared the puck down the ice. Avery chucked him in the back of the head.
You know, when Hal Gill is around, Avery hides behind a linesman and sticks his head down his jersey to complete the turtle effect. Rob Scuderi is around and suddenly Avery is JCVD. Totally fake tough guy. When he was in 8th grade, he played with 6th graders and threw his weight around to feel tough.
Sounds like he got his, though.
***UPDATE*** The Rangers announced that Avery will miss the rest of the season. AKA, one more game.
Monday, April 28, 2008
The sins of Yelpers fall into a few basic branches, but they all grow off of the same tree. The Please Think I'm Smart and Cultured billowing oak. And one acorn dangling off of that tree right now is Tawny C.
WOW! There are a lot of little pizza places in the Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo Park area that I have tried and been pretty content with, but this new place seriously leaves them all behind. I have only ordered once and I think the owner or manager was the one who helped me, but regardless of the great great service and super fast delivery, the food was amazing. We ordered the Cinque Formaggio, which for you brain-dead readers out there means 5 cheese. The pizza was EXACTLY like this pizza place in Florence that I used to frequent called Pizza Bianca. The crispy thin crust was warm and crunchy and the cheeses were melted upon arrival, which means it was just out of the oven. I really enjoyed their Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken also. Who would have thought that a pizza place could have such amazing pastas? Usually the pasta is generic and down right cheap but this place could give up pizza all-together and still bank on their alfredo. It taste fresh, homemade and buttery. It was not too oily and did not separate. There was a hint of rosemary I believe, but that may have been from the chicken. The only bad thing was that I inquired about their "Speciale di Giorno" pizza, which in the menu states is market price. The kid I was talking to had no clue what I was asking for. I had to hang up, push my frustration aside and call back. Thankfully I got the owner the second time. I guess they are too new to have day to day specials?
There you have it. Everything that is bad about Yelp in one post, such as:
1) The assumption that nobody else speaks basic menu foreign language, combined with the inability to resist proving you know what it means. Five cheese? Well, I'll be!
2) A mention that you were in Europe once and the food was just like this. Therefore, ergo, ipso facto, it is good food.
3) Too many adjectives and a desire to show that even though you didn't go to cooking school, you know your stuff. Buttery? The alfredo sauce you had, which is made with milk and butter and cheese was buttery? Interesting, interesting. Okay. I see where you're coming from. Was it also creamy? And it didn't separate into oil and clumps of milk solids? I know that's all I ever ask for from my pasta alfredo. A hint of rosemary? You know...if you're eating a white sauce...and you notice green needles in it, that might be rosemary, sure. Your aping of standard, professional food criticism, in a completely ham-fisted, tone deaf manner is really illuminating, thank you.
4) A desire to show that you eat so much that you're basically ready to work the line. The cheese was melted so it was just out of the oven? Slow down, i'm trying to learn here! So...you're saying this pizza place doesn't pull their pies out of the oven and stick them in the freezer to cool down? They send them straight to the table? Wild!
5) Frustration that some poor counter stiff doesn't even know the menu as well as you do. Being simply unable to deal with a person so unsophisticated for even one second longer, you hang up and take a deep breath, both to compose yourself and separate yourself from common man idiocy. Thankfully, you got the manager the second time and he explained to you they don't have daily specials yet, despite what the menu says. Just...like...the first person you spoke with told you!
And do you know why you got the manager on the second call? Because the kid you hung up on a second ago you recognized your number on the caller ID and told his manager "Oh man, you gotta take this. I'm not talking to this crazy woman again."
Meanwhile, I'm a guy commenting on another person's online comments. I have reached the bottom of social relevancy.
Friday, April 25, 2008
I don't care how bleached his spiky hair is and how many steel ball bracelets he wears, that guy is about as punk as my dad's podiatrist. He has all the edge of a tweed blazer-wearing bassist at a Lutheran mass. Just looking at him, you can tell guy the guy was a straight up nerd in high school, then reinvented himself as "edgy" when he was 20. I see through him like he was the Bud Light he ordered with dinner and then nursed for the entire night.
So that was the bad. The good was the dominance of the Penguins on Friday and Sunday. Looking at this team for a weakness, I just can't find one right now. Actually, here's one. Even though they keep winning, sometimes the outcome is in doubt for 20-30 minutes. It would be nicer if they scored two goals in the first minute of each game and then just cruised. They should work on that.
The thing I like most about this team is that even when rolling four lines somebody good is always on the ice. Somebody who can make things happen is out there for 60 minutes. Start with Crosby, then Malkin is over the boards, then Staal and Ruutu and then Talbot. Positive things are always happening.
Jordan Staal had two amazing games and it's amazing to see how somebody so gangly can continuously drop people to the ice. Everybody coming into this series talked about how good Lundqvist is and how tight the Ranger defense is and on Friday, the Pens scored four straight and five of the last six goals.
And then on Sunday, the Pens showed they can beat you however you want to do it. You want heartbreaking? Okay. You want steady and inevitable? Great. We can do that too. It was nice seeing Fleury bounce back after an iffy Game 1. Avery's goal through the seven hole was particularly weak, but on Sunday, he was square to every shot.
If I'm on the Rangers, I'm starting to wonder just how you beat this team. And if I'm still on the Rangers, I'm a little worried about giving Chris Drury $7.1 million this year for 58 points and a third line checking role in the playoffs. By New York standards, this is a pretty good return on investment. Actually, probably one of their best free agent signings in history. But by normal team standards, this has been a bomb. That's why you don't sign two centers to huge deals on the same day. By the way, in Connecticut, John Buccigross just started sobbing uncontrollably and he doesn't know why. His Drury boner is so strong that it can actually receive bad thoughts about Drury as they bounce across the universe.
If you're wondering, Martin Erat had 57 points this season, can serve as a checker and made $1.75 million this year.
And, of course, it's illegal to mention the Rangers in 2008 and not bring up Sean Avery, so here we go. He is suspiciously tan for a man who plays an indoor sport in winter. He almost looks like those Pittsburgh girls with orange skin and yellow hair. Do the Rangers have a tanning bed in their locker room? On the team plane? And the end of Game 2 featured a classic Avery technique. Take a shot at a smaller player and then turtle when somebody big and tough comes looking for you. Avery should've tipped the linesman that protected him after the game, because Gill and Laraque blocked out the sun as they pinned him in the corner. Avery can probably beat up Marty Straka, but he isn't taking on Gill and coming out on top.
Oh, and even though it didn't matter in the end, the penalty called on Gill was preposterous. Since Ranger Tom Renney was so outraged when Crosby went to the ice after Fedor Tyutin shoved him in the chest, I'm sure he had a talk with Avery after the game and said, "Hey, you don't have to dive headfirst over Fleury." Just a terrible, terrible call.
My other favorite moment of the weekend was Tom Kostopolous sucker punching Kimmo Timonen. Partially because Montreal Guy Carbonneau said Philadelphia deserved it and partially because immediately after the game, the Flyers traded two first round picks for Kostopolous. They just can't resist that kind of toughness!
However, I believe the point of hockey is to actually finish the game with a lead and this seems to be a problem for them. Too bad, too, because they had three wonderful goals last night where they threw the puck at the net just to see if it would bounce off of something and go in. An amazing display of hockey. Jeff Carter scored an amazing goal where he just let the puck roll down his leg and into the net. Remarkable!
Look for the Flyers to unscratch Riley Cote in Game 2. He is a difference maker.
Oh, also, when I wrote this in my Campbell conference preview...GOOD FOR COLORADO - Peter Forsberg did not get injured during his off days between series...I was totally wrong. He actually did get hurt and missed Game 1 with a bad groin. That's why you don't climb trees on your off days, kids!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Anyway, to the people worrying that the Democrats will lose in November, I say, "Ahhhhhh, come on." The nomination will be decided after the last primary on June 3rd. That leaves five months of Obama vs. McCain campaigning before the election. Five months is a very, very, very, very long time. Five months ago, people thought Mike Huckabee might win the GOP nod.
Hell, two months ago, people were saying things about McCain like, "What he has got to be concerned with,” Mr. Limbaugh said of Mr. McCain, “is all these Republican voters who say right now they’re so fed up they’re not going to vote at all. That’s deeper than they realize."...Asked what Mr. McCain might do to change his mind, Mr. Limbaugh said: "I don’t think there’s anything he could do. If he did do it, he would be accused of selling out." Then, in a familiar baritone as resonant as it is on the air, he added, "If I were to endorse McCain based on the current circumstances, I’d be looked at as a party hack."
Naturally, Limbaugh has since endorsed McCain. Who has indeed sold out every one of his principles to attract the GOP base. So can we calm down just a little bit about Obama and Clinton?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I nailed Rangers in 5 exactly, just missed with San Jose and Philadelphia in 6, and transversed Montreal and Pittsburgh. Shoulda picked Montreal in 7, not Pittsburgh.
And congratulations to the Caps for trying hard despite not being quite good enough. I wanted you guys to win not only because the Flyers are a scourge on the universe, but also because a Pens/Caps series is basically a guaranteed win. The Capitals deserved to make the playoffs this year, mainly because they went back to red, white and blue from black, navy and copper. I don't know what graphic design conference voted on black jerseys with copper numbers in a font that was impossible to read, but thankfully they're gone. On to the picks!
(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers
Two different styles square off here. The Canadiens like to play actual hockey and the Flyers are more into back alley goonerism. Montreal had the best power play in the league this season and the Flyers are not afraid to take dumb penalties at key moments. But it's entirely possible that the repeated flying elbows from Scott Hartnell and Derian Hatcher will convince the Brothers Kostitsyn to avoid the crease, the slot and most of the offensive zone. Especially when Philadelphia has such an incredible knack for finding an opponent's softest player and cheap shotting him so they can appear to be tough.
The Montreal power play will be the absolute difference in this series, but another major factor is how well Carey Price handles being run into halfway through "O Canada". And when the puck drops. And on his way back to the locker room after the game. The Flyers are going to crash the crease to the point that they might scrape away all of the blue paint, and outside of Mike Komisarek, the Canadiens don't have too many guys that can make them stop.
GOOD FOR MONTREAL - They are definitely more skilled than Philadelphia, as their 4-0 regular season record indicates.
BAD FOR MONTREAL - They are definitely not as goony as Philadelphia.
GOOD FOR PHILADELPHIA - Montreal plays the type of game that will allow Li'l Danny Briere to keep his nose clean in the crease, and that's how he likes to score. Untouched from close to the net.
BAD FOR PHILADELPHIA - Still, nobody likes them.
THE PICK - Montreal in 7.
(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) New York Rangers
The idea of watching six or seven games with Sean Avery on the other team sounds about as enjoyable as a cross-country drive with Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott. Word is that New York plans to bring back Adam Graves for this series so he can slash Sidney Crosby and break his hand in Game 1, knocking him out for the series.
A friend texted me last night that he saw Michel Therrien at a bar chain smoking and mumbling to himself while watching the Caps/Flyers game. If he leaned in closely, my friend probably would've heard, "FuckingAveryfuckingAveryfuckingAvery..." There's a lot to love about a coach who scouts games in a bar, not an office, and there's even more to love about a coach who tells Georges Laraque to pummel Sean Avery on the first shift of the first game. And if Gary Roberts comes in to finish off the job as soon as Avery serves his five minutes, well, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Then again, Marc-Andre Fleury didn't sleep with his wife's sister, so Avery's "Suzanne sucks pussy! She's a dyke!" routine might not be as effective on MAF as it was on Marty Hanrahan. Besides, the rushing tide of Pittsburgh's ten scoring lines should make more of a difference in the series than unbridled shenaniganery.
GOOD FOR PITTSBURGH - They swept Ottawa while Marian Hossa was absolutely cursed on the goal scoring front.
BAD FOR PITTSBURGH - Booing Jaromir Jagr is already old and about to get older.
GOOD FOR NEW YORK - They have guys like Brandon Dubinsky who score annoyingly timely goals.
BAD FOR NEW YORK - Jaarko Ruutu may want to prove he can be even more annoying than Sean Avery.
THE PICK - Pittsburgh in 6.
(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Colorado Avalanche
Detroit! Colorado! Bad blood! Twelve years ago! Speaking of things that were better twelve years ago, Dominik Hasek has been benched in favor of Chris Osgood. The swinging cage goalie mask may finally be a thing of the past. In the other net, Jose Theodore had better be ready, because Detroit's offense is just slightly better than Minnesota.
For whatever reason, it is just impossible to get excited about this Colorado team. Yeah, Sakic is still there and Forsberg is back and Paul Stastny is good and Milan Hejduk used to be a 50-goal scorer, but they also have guys like Jeff Finger and Ben Guite. And if you have any semblance of an opinion on those two, they were in your vagina at some point, be you mother or girlfriend.
Detroit is still not going to win the Cup this year just because, but is Colorado really the team to knock them off?
GOOD FOR DETROIT - They are very good at playing ice hockey.
BAD FOR DETROIT - Their bad playoff karma is so strong you can actually bottle it and sell it for $8.99.
GOOD FOR COLORADO - Peter Forsberg did not get injured during his off days between series.
BAD FOR COLORADO - They were 0-4 against Detroit this year. They'll need to, uh, break that streak at some point.
THE PICK - Detroit in 6.
(2) San Jose Sharks vs (5) Dallas Stars
The 1, 2, 5 and 6 seeds advanced in both conferences. Ain't that a kick?! And how appropriate that as the seconds ticked off in Dallas' first round win, Chris Pronger was cooling out in the box for cross checking?
A guy at work here is a lifelong Sharks fan. For the Sharks' lifespan, not his. When Calgary went up 2-1 in the last series, he was absolutely convinced the Sharks were done. He watched Game 7 like a 13-year old watches a horror movie. Hand over the face, one eye peeking through a small slit in the fingers. You might say that Sharks fans are never too optimistic about their playoffs chances.
Dallas fans, on the other hand, should be ebullient that the Star offense came out of hibernation against the Ducks. They won their first series in five years and Marty Turco won his first series ever. To repeat: Marty Turco just won his first series ever. Against the worst offensive team in the playoffs outside of New Jersey. So maybe he hasn't proven himself just yet.
Joe Thornton versus Marty Turco. In the playoffs, that's the Resistible Force against the Moveable Object. Both will bend furiously, but which one will shatter into pieces?
GOOD FOR SAN JOSE - They won in round one without Nabokov being fantastic.
BAD FOR SAN JOSE - Ryan Clowe can't carry them forever.
GOOD FOR DALLAS - They are actually in round two.
BAD FOR DALLAS - Marty Turco.
THE PICK - Dallas in 7.
***UPDATE*** - Lifelong Sharks Fan just told me that he DVRed Game 7, but didn't watch it until he heard the final score. Said he wasn't going to watch if they lost. Now that is one tormented fanbase!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
"Can you believe how handsome I am? Can you believe how poofy and lustrous my hair is? Can believe that all it takes is five minutes with a blow dryer? This thick step effect is totally natural. Can you believe how I have just enough stubble to look rugged without appearing unkempt for a wedding? Can you believe I'm so confident in my sexuality that I'll happily be part of a bridal party? Can you believe this woman's fiance doesn't mind me being her best friend in the world? Does he really think he can compete with my hair? He cannot. He will not. Can you believe that at the reception, when you go to the bathroom for two minutes, I'm going to hit on your wife? Can you believe I will easily get her? You'd better believe it, because that's definitely what's going to happen. Yeah, I'm made of honor. And also amazing follicles and a steel boner."
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Ottawa played like they had a charity golf scramble Thursday morning and didn't want to tire themselves out for the 8am shotgun start. Hell, they were even shooting wide of the net from a foot away so they didn't accidentally win. What a sad performance. Intentionally losing the season finale to Philly was a stroke of genius. Martin Gerber is probably looking at the team photo this morning and individually frowning at every person in there.
And while the Penguins face a tough summer of figuring out whether to keep Ryan Malone or Marian Hossa, thank Christ they don't have to figure out what to do with Jason Spezza, who will be making $7 million a year for the next 7 years. That guy plays like a stone cold bitch. Exactly the type of player who will have five points in an 8-4 win and zero points in a 3-2 loss.
After publicly asking Bryan Murray to put the big line together, to put Alfredsson and Heatley back on his wings, Spezza responded with a dazzling -2. Because they're such close teammates, Alfie and Heater put up a -2 as well just so Spezza wouldn't stick out. So he could stay invisible. One assist in the entire series. One $7 million assist.
Let's take a look at the Spezza splits. He played in 38 wins this year, racking up 22-41-63 and a +34. Good numbers, probably assisted by the fact that Ottawa's top line always seems to be on the ice against the empty net. In 38 losses, he went 12-17-29 and -8.
I know what you're thinking. "Jason Spezza is handsome and yeah, he doesn't play much defense and also he makes a lot of turnovers on fancy plays, but when he scores, Ottawa wins. They need him! If he doesn't score, they lose and thus he is good."
Okay. Fine. He also had zero overtime points this year. He put up 38 points when Ottawa was winning in a game, 30 when they were tied, but only 24 when they were losing. He also had 21 points in the last five minutes of a game, though no word on how many were empty netters. He only had 10 points that Yahoo defines as clutch, whatever that might mean. I'm going to guess it's somewhere in the realm of down by one or tied in the last five minutes of a game.
Conversely, in 22 losses played this year, Sidney Crosby had 23 points. He had 19 points while winning, 20 while losing and a stunning 33 when a game was tied. He also had 14 clutch points. That, my friends, is a gamebreaker. In 35 losses played, Malkin had 32 points. 35 when winning, 39 when tied and a remarkable 32 points when the Penguins were trailing, with 16 clutch points.
If you're playing the Los Angeles Kings in December and you're ahead 5-1 in the third period, send Spezza over the boards. If you're the playoffs and you need a goal, go with Crosby or Malkin.
Now the Penguins can sit back, watch the Center Ice package and wait to see if they'll be playing Washington, New York, New Jersey or Boston. (Hint: It won't be Boston)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
In the fine American tradition of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson's anonymous pamphleteering during the Congressional Congress days, a faceless fan wrote, MAF can't play like a girl all season and then redeem himself in playoffs. Especially not when his offense is beating the other goalie to death. Someone might need to spend a little time in the Ottawa locker room explaining what a real offense looks like. Exhibit A: The Penguins…
Well, hold on. MAF was maybe the best goalie in the league after returning from his injury. In the month of April, he was 9-1-1 with a GAA of 1.44 and a save percentage of .951. Admittedly, he struggled in April with a lousy 1-1 record while falling all the way to a 1.51 GAA and .940 save %.
Conklin's best month was January when he was 7-3 with 1.92 and .942. As great as he was, Fleury was even better when he returned. And it's not just Hal Gill clearing people out of the crease. Which he doesn't even do as often as he sends clearing attempts straight up the middle of the zone. Pucks are hitting Fleury square in the chest because his positioning is so on point and he's reading plays so well. He's standing tall when forwards are crashing the crease and he's also much improved when playing the puck behind the net. He's not Brodeur back in the trapezoid, but it's no longer an adventure, either. And his rebound control is officially excellent. Last year, and even this fall, Fleury had an amazing knack for kicking rebounds into the slot and right onto an opposing forward's tape. And those forwards showed an amazing knack for burying those rebounds. But now, he's eating up pucks entirely if not kicking rebounds out to the boards. I know some people still doubt Fleury because of the past few years. But I watched every game of Crosby's rookie year when the Penguins were still losing games 5-1. And the defense was so bad back then that Fleury single-handedly prevented those games from being 10-1. He's an amazing talent in net and it looks like the fundamentals are finally coming together for him.
And beyond all of that, my original point was that Fleury's performance is going to lead the Penguins to offer him a significant contract, which means there probably won't be much in the discretionary fund for Hossa. With Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche declaring that Fleury was the best goalie in the NHL when he returned from his ankle sprain, and also during the ten games before that injury, it sounds like the team has their minds made up. The going rate for top notch goalie contracts is about $5 million a year. Figure another $4 million a year for Malone and Hossa just won't be affordable.
However, I love Hossa and I think he's been amazing since coming over from Atlanta. This is...um...somewhat of a minority opinion. Most people seem to be agreeing with Chris Costa of Warwick, NY, who wrote to Dave Molinari in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Maybe I am missing something, but three No. 1 draft picks and a great shootout player for Marian Hossa? This guy has looked no better than a second-line winger, at best. What is the deal; is he hurt? That may explain some, but not all of this. I have not seen this player take over a shift, let alone a game, and that is not indicative of a player worth three No. 1 picks.
Chris Costa, Warwick, N.Y.
Okay, first off, Pascal Dupuis is already better than Colby Armstrong. He does everything that Colby did, except faster. Eric Christensen was completely lost as a third or fourth liner and his shootout skills are easily replaced by Jaarko Ruutu and Kris Letang. Angelo Esposito had 79 points in 60 games in the QMJHL, which sounds good, but that barely puts him in the top 20 in the league. He was also dropped from the Canadian team before the World Juniors. And for the 2008 first-round pick, the Penguins will be selecting somewhere around 25th. Here are the guys taken 25th overall since 2000, in order: Steve Ott, Alexander Perezhogin, Cam Ward, Anthony Stewart, Rob Schremp, Andrew Cogliano, Patrik Berglund. Cogliano and Schremp will be good for Edmonton, but we have fourth liners and guys in Wilkes-Barre better than anybody we'll get 25th in 2008.
Even if we don't resign Hossa this summer, which we probably won't because of Fleury (see above), we didn't give up too much for a guy who is dominant at times. He backchecks like a manic, can stickhandle on a Manhattan sidewalk, outskates guys and strips them of the puck like they were children and he's a bull in the corners and along the boards. He doesn't "dominate shifts" because he's playing next to the best player in the world and it's Crosby's responsibility to lug the puck, not a winger's. And if you're the type of hockey fan that only understands tangibles and also thinks Jordan Staal had a bad year, he has 1 goal, 5 assists and 15 shots in three playoffs games. You can't play the what if game, but Hossa was also flat out robbed twice by Gerber. He's had a bunch of chances, but two in particular stand out. A ripped one-timer from the slot that Gerber gloved and the pass from Dupuis when Hossa was literally behind Gerber in the crease and didn't score. Turn that bad luck to good luck and Hossa's line is 3-5-8 in three playoff games and he's leading the tournament in scoring. I honestly have no idea what else people want from Hossa. The guy is snakebit right now and we're up 3-0. It'd be one thing if we were losing this series. The way he's been playing, and with the chances he's getting, he could put up a hat trick tonight. Which, incidentally, would give him 9 points in 4 playoff games. Perhaps that would be enough to please Chris Costa of Warwick, NY.
Speaking of a Hossa hat trick, I'm also predicting the Penguins wrap it up tonight. If I picked them win the series in 7 and they do it in 4, just how much credit do I deserve? Either way, I'm taking a ton of it!
But why are we looking into the distant future when we should be looking into the near future? Namely Game 4 or 5, when the Penguins are going to wrap up a first round win! Ottawa was at home and desperate for a win. Gary Roberts was scratched with a balky groin. The crowd was revved up in two languages. Ottawa came up flying in the first period. Ottawa scored the first goal last night. Everything looked like it was going against the Pens. And they won 4-1.
Quick answer by Talbot, clutch goal to start the third period by Crosby, a flash of Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy and this game was over. It was nice to see Hossa get on the board with the capper, particularly since he has about 17 shots in the series. He's so jinxed right now that he was actually behind Gerber in Game 2 - with the puck! in the crease! - and still couldn't score.
If you had to sum up Pittsburgh last night, look at Crosby's early goal and then Staal's quick follow up and everything backended by Fleury. If you had to sum up Ottawa's series, look at Chris Neil playing one of the dumbest games the NHL has seen in some time. Three penalties, two of which came from cheap shot punches where he was the only guy to go to the box.
Monday, April 14, 2008
HEY, YOU'RE SMART!
- On Friday, TSN compared the records of Carey Price and Patrick Roy in their first two playoff games. To complete the comparision, TSN used a photo of Roy from 1986. Both had GAAs under 1.70 and save percentages over .940, though Price had a slight edge in both. Oh, and both were 2-0. Consider that prediction NAILED!
- The Rangers are completely dominating the Devils. Forget that overtime skate deflection goal, even if it was one of the prettiest goals the Devils have scored all year. Throw the puck to the net and hope you get lucky! Devils hockey!
- Anybody can pick stars to perform well, but how about calling Mikko Koivu? AND declaring that he would be better than Wojtek Wolski! Wow! I could be talking about hockey or the avant-garde experimental orchestal music scene for all most people know, but I was right and that's always what's important!
- I deftly pointed out that Calgary has a history of playing great in the spring while Joe Thornton mentally checks out. That is exactly what happened last night in Calgary. It's almost like I know things!
YOU GODDAMNED IDIOT!
- Of course, after writing all of that, I went ahead and picked San Jose to win solely because of Evgeni Nabokov.
- And I also said you could skip Minnesota/Colorado because it would be so boring. Well, the first two games were decided in overtime. And you know how boring playoff overtime is!
- Marty Turco and the Dallas offense have been good through two games, which is literally the exact opposite of what I said would happen. Awesome anti-prediction, dude!
- Nashville is...um...probably not going to upset Detroit in seven games.
- I thought that Ottawa would have tons of intensity. Problem is, I was thinking only about last year's team and not the six Ottawa playoff teams that preceded it. The Penguins are faster, more interested in loose pucks and flat out better. If not for Martin Gerber, Game 2 would've been 15-0. Carnival music should start playing when the Penguins enter the offensive zone. Although let's not forget that I picked the Pens to win in 7. If they win in 4 or 5, I still get credit! Gimme dat credit!
Friday, April 11, 2008
So there was this story in the LA Times today about a serialized radio show in Alabama (today, not in 1926) that tries to get people to realize just how bad it is to open up a bag of Lays and give them a second frying in Crisco before chowing down.
The story focused on Loretta Ragland, who's had diabetes for years. She ignored her doctor for years, but when a character from the radio show, Rosalyn, had her kidneys give out, Ragland finally gave up soda and sweets and started walking a bit.
Why did a radio show work and not a doctor? Because, according to Ragland, "When I heard it from a doctor, I wouldn't really listen. But when I heard it on the show, I was like, 'Wow, maybe there is something to this.'"
! !! !!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When she heard it from a DOCTOR, she didn't care! But when she heard it from a RADIO SHOW, she sprung into action! !! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As it turns out, the show was created by Connie Kohler, a public health professor. And, one can assume, a person who gets advice and facts for her show from a DOCTOR!
Now, I know what you're saying. This is a chubby woman in Alabama. What do you expect from her? But I'm not so patronizing! I'm hopeful about people! I like to believe that people are thoughtful and reasonable! And I am just constantly, constantly disappointed.
Oh, you know those doctors are their ulterior motives. Always telling you to do this and that so you live longer. It's so annoying! I need 87.9 FM in Huntsville, Alabama to tell me what to do!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
It might be the fact that the first thing Team Bush did was accuse the outgoing Clinton staff of vandalizing the White House. A story that turned out to be false, of course. The fact that the very first thing they did upon taking power was to lie, that's a pretty good legacy.
The Iraq war is an easy answer, of course. Especially with everything going so well.
There's also the fact that Bush once vowed to track down bin Laden "Dead or alive", but six years later, he still has no plan for doing so.
But for me, I think the Bush legacy will be summed up by his first Attorney General, John Ashcroft. Mainly because Ashcroft refused to extend Bush's program of warrantless wiretapping before, ahem, stepping down. And also because when high-ranking members of Team Bush met in the White House to approve torture as an American tactic - with Bush's full approval, no less - according to one top official, Ashcroft reportedly asked aloud after one meeting, "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."
John Ashcroft, a man who once had a sheet placed over a statue's bare breast because he thought a marble nipple was indecent, a man who wrote and performed a song called "Let The Eagle Soar", a man who lost a Congressional race to somebody who died during the campaign, a Pentecostal man who believes he can speak in tongues when touched by the Lord...was the sane voice of reason in the Bush White House. He was the normal one. That is quite a legacy.
- Scoring the first goal. Yes, always nice. In fact, after the game Coach Therrien admitted we lost the season to finale to Philly on purpose because Ottawa is so prone to giving up goals in the first 70 seconds of a series.
- The emergence of Marc-Andre Fleury. In previous seasons, and even earlier this year, MAF had a remarkable ability to kick a rebound right onto an opponent's tape. It was a neat trick and very difficult, I'm sure, but it usually resulted in a goal from the slot. Now he's swallowing up shots whole, which is much more boring but also less goal-inducing.
- The dominance of Gene Malkin. On Malkin's goal, Nick Foligno did two things. Stay two steps behind Malkin for the entire shift and give Malkin a cheap chuck after his gorgeous skate to stick to roof goal. That was not very effective defense.
- Laraque, Roberts and Talbot pinning the Senators in their own end for an entire shift. Humiliating. Also great to see the fans recognize this while it was happening and give the line two standing ovations for their efforts.
- The pummeling of Wade Redden. Redden thought he could deliver a message to Sidney Crosby with a couple shots to the face after a whistle. Ryan Whitney came in and delivered a message to Wade Redden. That message being, "I can pull your jersey over your head and punch you in the back of the noggin until you skate off the ice in shame."Any Senators fans that still think the Sens were right to keep Redden instead of Chara changed their minds after that beating. Both of them did.
- Two goals for Gary Roberts. Just for the beautiful symbolism.
- I don't like Roberts boarding Cody Bass so much, but I do like Roberts challenging all five Senators to come get him before the linesman took him off the ice. Just a complete show since nothing was going to happen, but Cody Bass sort of lost his mind when that happened. The veteran Chris Neil did a great job of showing Bass how to stand around and do nothing while Roberts is barking at you.
- It's weird and probably annoying to argue about officiating after a 4-0 win, but let's just say that the calls seemed a little...uneven. So it's nice that Ottawa was completely unable to score on the power play, including two different 5-on-3s.
- Somewhere in Monroeville right now, a mother and her 14-year old daughter are arguing about whether Paul Coffey or Kris Letang is sexier. The mother is saying that Coffey's hair gives him the edge.
- Before the series started, insightful Ottawa Sun writer Don Brennan suggested the Sens give Crosby's ankle a two-handed chop to see how it holds up. That statement and Bryan Murray's declaration that the Pens ducked the Flyers to play Ottawa are currently having a metaphorical 15-round boxing match too see which phrase is dumber. Georges Laraque called the statement stupid. So in today's paper, having nothing positive to say about the Sens' play in Game 1, Brennan tells Laraque to call him stupid to his face. Although Brennan is clearly a devilishly handsome ladies' man, I'm sure Laraque would have no problem whatsoever honoring that request.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The fine folks in Golden, Colorado have recently taken a page from Pizza Hut's book and have started reinventing their flagship beer. No, it doesn't taste better. That's not the kind of improvement they're after. Instead, they've invented a vent can so when you're wasted and pouring your Coors Light straight down into a plastic cup on the lawn while pissing, you don't end up with an all-head beer.
Also, for accident victims that have lost their tactile sense, part of the Coors Light bottle label turns blue when the beer is properly chilled. It is very hard to tell when something is cold simply by touching it, so this has been a monumental leap forward for humankind.
Personally, I cannot wait for the day the Edison and Michelangelo of corporate innovation join forces and make the great leap forward. Pizza Hut pizza with a ring of Coors Light inside the crust! Every bite of crust delivers an icy, refreshing blast of Coors Light right into your gullet! Mmm!
(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Nashville Predators
Since they started handing out the President's Trophy in 1985, only six winners have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. Of the 17 President's Trophy winners that came up short, four were Detroit. Since Nashville came into the league in 1998-1999, Detroit has one lousy Stanley Cup, even though they had back-to-back Cups in the '90s. What does all of this bedrock scientific evidence lead us to conclude? Nashville and the President's Trophy are jinxes to Detroit!
Detroit has 25 guys that can score goals on a 23-man roster. Nashville has J.P. Dumont, Jason Arnott, Martin Erat and occasionally Alexander Radulov. Very occasionally. But they also have Dan Ellis in goal and he's turned Detroit away like somebody shopping for a new car and worrying about good gas mileage.
Every year there's a big upset, every year a no name goalie gets hot, almost every year the President's Trophy winner loses. Killing three birds with one giant stone here.
GOOD FOR DETROIT - They are better than everybody else.
BAD FOR DETROIT - Which makes it more noticeable when they lose.
GOOD FOR NASHVILLE - They finally have an owner again.
BAD FOR NASHVILLE - Game 6 in Nashville could be pre-empted by a truck pull.
THE PICK - Nashville in 7
(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Calgary Flames
Since trading for Brian Campbell, the Sharks have won approximately 50 games in a row. On the other hand, both the Sharks and Joe Thornton have a history of...flaming out in the playoffs. On the third hand, Calgary has shown quite a knack for playoff upsets during the aughts. The Flames play physically and the Sharks don't. Literally they do, but you know what I mean. Although on the fourth hand, San Jose wasn't afraid to rack up about 95 PIMs in the season finale Sunday, with Jody Shelley taking care of 41 by himself.
What does all of this mean? Something for sure. But Evgeni Nabokov has been so dominant this season that nothing else really matters.
GOOD FOR SAN JOSE - Evgeni Nabokov's record this season was 114-6.
BAD FOR SAN JOSE - Cheechoo and Marleau split the vote for Most Disappointing Player. So that's something else they couldn't achieve this season.
GOOD FOR CALGARY - They will almost definitely win Games 3 and 4 at home.
BAD FOR CALGARY - Nobody wants to win the Cup for Mike Keenan.
THE PICK - San Jose in 6.
(3) Minnesota Wild vs. (6) Colorado Avalanche
Here's the one series you can skip. You can only watch so many games each night, so why bother with these? The most interesting thing about this matchup may be seeing if Peter Forsberg, Pavol Demitra or Marian Gaborik get hurt first.
Uh...uh...there's probably nothing else to say about this one. I guess it comes down to Brian Rolston and Mikko Koivu versus Wojtek Wolski and Marek Svatos. Whichever secondary duo has the better series will be the edge. Let's go with...Rolston and Koivu.
GOOD FOR MINNESOTA - They have very knowledgeable fans.
BAD FOR MINNESOTA - Jacques Lemaire hates goals by either team.
GOOD FOR COLORADO - Half of their Cup heroes are back on the team.
BAD FOR COLORADO - Not Uwe Krupp, though.
THE PICK - Minnesota in 7.
(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Dallas Stars
Steve Ott. Brad Winchester. Trevor Daley. Travis Moen. Brad May. Chris Pronger. Somebody is definitely going to get hurt in this series. PIMs should outnumber goals by a factor of 10. Historically, Jean Sebastian Giguere is very good in the playoffs while Marty Turco is very bad in the playoffs.
Dallas had a good offense this season up until March. Leading scorer Mike Ribiero has 0 goals in the last 10 games. Jeff Halpern and Jussi Jokinen were traded for Brad Richards and Richards is the 3rd leading scorer in that group since the deal went down.
Anaheim struggled to score all season, but they have playoff experience and a complete lack of conscience when it comes to cheap shots.
GOOD FOR ANAHEIM - They won the Cup last year.
BAD FOR ANAHEIM - Teams very rarely repeat.
GOOD FOR DALLAS - Their black uniforms are imposing.
BAD FOR DALLAS - Marty Turco.
THE PICK - Anaheim in 5.
Monday, April 7, 2008
(1) Montreal Candiens vs. (8) Boston Bruins
In the first 30 playoff matchups, Montreal has gone 23-7. So maybe Boston is due. The last times these Original Sixers face each other in the playoffs, Boston's Kyle MacLaren elbowed Montreal's Richard Zednik in the schnozzarino, the second-worst injury of Zednik's career. But both of those guys have since moved on, so it really has nothing to do with this series.
In net, Montreal has a young, untested wall in Carey Price. If Montreal makes a run, it will be pointed out many, many times that Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy also won Cups in their rookie year. It will not be pointed out that Patrick Roy is possibly insane. Meanwhile, Boston has an old, untested wall in Tim Thomas. If Boston makes a run, it will be pointed out many, many times that it is very surprising that Tim Thomas is playing well.
GOOD FOR MONTREAL - They have the best power play in the league.
BAD FOR MONTREAL - Coach Guy Carbonneau cannot give himself a few checking shifts.
GOOD FOR BOSTON - They have nice uniforms.
BAD FOR BOSTON - They will lose this series like they lost all eight games with Montreal this year.
THE PICK - Montreal in 5.
(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
A fierce playoff rivalry dating all the way back to 2007, this series will feature much more hitting than people expect. In last year's matchup, Ottawa bounced Pittsburgh in five games while showing them how to turn it up to 11 in the playoffs. Chris Neil, Mike Fisher, Anton Volchenkov and Chris Kelly were better than basically every Penguin and the Penguins could never catch up to Ottawa's intensity.
After battling injuries all season, the Pens enter the tournament mainly healthy, while Ottawa is missing Fisher, Kelly and captain Daniel Alfredsson. While you might think the Penguins learned from last year and will ratchet up the intensity, Ottawa clanked them in 3 out of 4 this season. And when Ottawa was suffering through a 3-8-3 stretch, two of those wins came over Pittsburgh in one week. Basically, of the seven Wales opponents, this is the worst possible matchup for the Penguins.
GOOD FOR PITTSBURGH - They have two of the best three players in the league.
BAD FOR PITTSBURGH - They are playing Ottawa.
GOOD FOR OTTAWA - Martin Gerber's all-black mask is a good reminder to keep things simple in the playoffs.
BAD FOR OTTAWA - Mark Bell decided that if he has to miss the playoffs, so does Daniel Alfredsson.
THE PICK - Pittsburgh in 7.
(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers
One of two matchups in the Patrick Division semi-finals. America's Darlings against America's Despised. Washington steamed into the playoffs. Cristobal Huet won six straight games in the past two weeks, which not only put Washington into the playoffs, but won me my fantasy league. Ovechkin has been leading the charge offensively, but Washington is getting goals from everywhere, which could frighten Martin Biron because he's never been in a playoff game before.
For Philadelphia, the key is to figure out how to injure Ovechkin without making it seem obvious. Fortunately, the Flyers work on cheap shots at the end of each morning skate, so they probably know a few tricks. Offensively, they have lots of young talent, although R.J. Umberger won't be able to score goals since he's not facing Pittsburgh.
While most hockey fans are getting juicy thinking about Alexander Ovechkin against Mike Richards, Flyer fans are getting moist thinking about Donald Brashear against Riley Cote. They are not a very sophisticated bunch.
GOOD FOR WASHINGTON - They are on fire.
BAD FOR WASHINGTON - Playoff games have never been a real strength for the Capitals.
GOOD FOR PHILADELPHIA - Derian Hatcher is still hurt and won't play.
BAD FOR PHILADELPHIA - Nobody likes them.
THE PICK - Philadelphia in 6.
(4) New Jersey Devils vs. (5) New York Rangers
This is a great matchup because the New York/New Jersey fanbase will immediately be cut in half. Plus, they'll be bothering each other for the first two weeks and leaving the rest of us alone. The Rangers owned the Devils this season, going 7-0-1 with Henrik Lundqvist completely shutting down the Jersey offense. Granted, that is not an incredibly impressive feat, but still, he did it. Also, whatever you think of Jerry Jags, he is usually great in the playoffs.
Beyond bad offense, New Jersey also has the worst defense they've had in years. I dunno. Maybe you like Johnny Oduya. Basically, any game where Martin Brodeur is not playing out of his mind is a Devil loss. However, he plays out of his mind in 95% of games.
If Devil fans are clever, they will start the chants of "19-94" in Game 1. Unfortunately, there are no Devil fans. After moving into the Prudential Center this season, the Devils had a computer malfunction that rendered them unable to sell any tickets for seats in the lower bowl. At least, I assume that why nobody ever sits there during Devil games.
GOOD FOR NEW JERSEY - Martin Brodeur. Nothing else. Not even close.
BAD FOR NEW JERSEY - There are still no points awarded for defensive positioning. Only for goals.
GOOD FOR NEW YORK - They've owned New Jersey all year, remember?
BAD FOR NEW YORK - Games in New Jersey are sometimes played without a puck. With the Devils' style of play, a puck is superfluous and that is quite a home ice advantage.
THE PICK - New York in 5.
Tomorrow! Your handy dandy Campbell Conference Playoff Preview! Yowza!
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Proving that wearing glasses doesn't automatically make you smart, Flyers coach John Stevens drew up a gameplan that didn't seem to go beyond "Let's get some cheap shots in there, boys." The Penguins going 4 for 6 on the power play in a 4-2 win maybe shows that strategy wasn't very well thought out.
On another note, Penguins fans can stop booing Jaromir Jagr now and save up their energy for Scott Hartnell. Two seperate punches to the head after whistles and raking Brooks Orpik with his stick while Orpik was on the ice is all the incentive we need. And if Georges Laraque doesn't perform a little frontier-style justice on Hartnell this Sunday, I will be highly, highly, highly disappointed in Big Georges. And I know he looks to me for approval, so that's not just some idle statement.
A Caps win tonight and a Devils victory over the Flyers Friday and the Philly goon squad should be on the wrong side of the playoff picture. They can take their cheap shots to the golf course, where I'm sure Riley Cote is a great putter because of his incredibly soft touch.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
He stated that it was a "misperception" that he was willing to make such a bargain.
You know, it's surprising that he isn't able to accomplish more on the world stage.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Let's take a look at our house on the internet!
What?! No! Oh no no no no! We look like bums! We have a car, we fixed up the front yard with a nice desertscape and our garbage is no longer overflowing! Please, random people of the web, do not base your opinion of you on this one picture! It represents only a blip in time! We are good people!