Monthly Archives: February 2009

Detroit 4, San Jose 1

jawsdead

Since there are plenty of great recaps already out there, here’s just a few thoughts on last night’s whoopin’ of the Sharks.

  • Even though the season series tied at 2, Detroit outscored San Jose 17-11 this season. Last season? Nearly identical, with a 17-9 mark in favor of the Wings.
  • Detroit continued it’s domination in the faceoff circle. 3 of 4 games this season had Detroit winning more than 50% of the faceoffs.
  • Ty Conklin was FILTHY good in net last night, making crucial saves on a late Sharks powerplay. Tip of the hat to Conks, who won his 12th straight at the Joe.
  • Yes, the officiating was questionable. Yes, the puck did hit the netting before Hank’s shorthander. No, I don’t care. A similar incident happened last season in this matchup, and the Sharks wound up with a goal because of it. These things happen and usually work themselves out in the end.
  • The Detroit backcheck was incredibly solid. How many times did the Sharks just flip the puck into the neutral zone, only to watch the Detroit defense scoop it up and go the other way?
  • I saw multiple mentions of how the Sharks were continuosly chasing the Red Wings last night on Twitter.
  • Ville Leino’s single to right field crazy goal out of mid-air was awesome. (Dave Dombrowski, were you watching?)
  • Hank’s spin-o-rama with Ehrhoff draped all over him was better.
  • Is the Turtle’s comeback over?

Major kudos go out to Yahoo! sports for live streaming the game last night. The feed was awesome, even though we got stuck with the San Jose broadcast.

Does this win change my thinking on who wins the West now? No*

*If the Sharks somehow fall to the Sens tonight and Detroit beats L.A. tomorrow, San Jose will be in trouble. They cannot afford an 8 point swing in Detroit’s favor over two games. That said, I hope the Sens blow the roof off their joint tonight. GO SENS!

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Makers Mark makes a funny

As seen over at MGoBlog today, a new billboard has found it’s way up in Columbus.

Reader Nick Walstra provides a picture of this enormous Columbus-area billboard analogue for your general disgust:

makersad

Next time you’re strolling the aisle looking for a libation, suggest you skip the Maker’s Mark.

Former Buckeye Alex Boone must have taken this advertisement to heart.boonemugshot

 

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“Sorry kid. You’re headed to…”

As the NHL trade deadline approaches, hockey fans from every corner of the globe anxiously await the “breaking news” that “X ” Superstar is headed to their team for the playoff run, or that “Y” Locker-Room Cancer has been banished to rot away on a team that is 20 games under .500. For some fans, this time of year means nothing; your GM is confident that he has the right pieces for a contender and is content to stand pat. But no matter what you feel or who you root for, the trade deadline is always guaranteed to be filled with drama and excitement, even if the “blockbuster deal” never happens.

smyth11

Here’s the thing: How many of us have actually sat back and thought “I wonder what it’s like for the player involved?” Think about it, folks. It’s like working 3/4 of a fiscal year with Sony, and then abruptly being forced out and winding up at Toshiba. Or having a great job at Tavern on the Green in NYC, but you dropped one too many cups of coffee, so you’re being shipped out to peddle McLatte’s at the Golden Arches. It’s a big change. And it’s a change that gets even more complicated if you find yourself heading to that one organization you can’t stand and thought you would never play for.

Which is…who?

I asked this question on Twitter last week, and got some great responses.

  • Tampa: “Organization is a complete mess.”
  • Phoenix: “Worried about the health of the organization.”
  • Toronto: “Because it’s Toronto.” (immediately followed by…)
  • Ottawa: “Because it’s Ottawa.” (HOORAY REGIONAL RIVALRIES!)
  • Pittsburgh: “Superstar, not coaching, issues.”
  • New York Rangers: “Coaching/GM problems.” (Are they fixed now via the Torts hire?)
  • Colorado: “Just say no!”
  • St. Louis: “Bad Location. Bad Uniforms.”

 As you can see, the reasons are endless as to why to avoid certain teams and markets, based on personal preference. As for me? Well, since you asked…

Wait, wait, wait. Some insight into this process. I want all of you to understand my reasoning, so you can better debunk my arguments. First, the teams NOT under consideration and why.

  • Hometown squad
    • Detroit, you’re always safe in my heart. Plus you’ve won 4 cups in 11 years. Who wouldn’t want to go to Motown?
  • Canadian Teams
    • Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton are all in. Sure, one of these teams has a penchant for pissing away and under-developing talent (rhymes with Moronto…which also includes Moron) and the other is lurking in last place in the Northeast, but you can’t beat the crowds and passion of the fans in the home of hockey, eh!
  • Major Markets
    • Philadelphia, New York Rangers, Boston, Chicago, Washington, Pittsburgh and Minnesota make the cut. Hey, even if your team sucks, you exist in a major sports market. Enjoy your penthouse apartment overlooking lake/river/cityscape, dry your tears with your piles of money and enjoy looking at yourself in the paper and on TV every night after you go partying with a group of girls who have NO idea who you are or what you do, just that you have money that you dry your tears with and can take them shopping.
  • Perennial Competitors
    • New Jersey, Buffalo, San Jose, Dallas and Anaheim get the nod because they are regularly in the playoff mix and they put butts in seats. Enough said.
  • “It wouldn’t seem right without you”
    • St. Louis, Colorado and Los Angeles get the “It would feel wrong to  not invite you” vote. Colorado because of the Cups and rivalries with Detroit. LA because of Gretzky. St. Louis…I don’t know why. A cool goal horn, perhaps? How about because of Yzerman’s slapshot winner in Game 7? Has nothing to do with why I would be ok playing there, but I like it. Plus I get to put up a picture.yzermanovertime
  • Just out of sympathy
    • New York Islanders and Nashville make the cut for no reason other than I feel bad and feel like I could make a difference because of that. The Islanders instill a sense of nostalgia in me that makes me want to channel my inner Trottier and go nuts, while Nashville’s fan support and energy would keep me going. You two are lucky because…

…the following teams would make me wince if I heard I was going there.

  • Columbusbluejacketsabstinence
    • First of all, it’s in Ohio. Secondly, it’s a tiny market existing in a state that doesn’t care about hockey existing in a division that is controlled by a juggernaut (Detroit) and an upstart (Chicago). Thirdly, it’s in Ohio. No thanks.
  • Carolina
    • Honestly, I don’t mind the Hurricanes. Nice area. Team competes on a regular basis. Good talent. But those uniforms are gross and I’m a primadonna wants to look good while I play. Not happening with the toilet bowl on the front of my sweater. And you hijacked your franchise from Hartford. Not that I would look any better in those ridiculous uniforms the Whalers used to wear, but that’s besides the point. Plus, your attendance is down from last year and NASCAR would compete with our Sunday playoff games. Just not feeling it.francis01
  • Florida
    • Tell me the last great thing you remember about the Panthers. Seriously. It’s OK, I’ll wait. Need a hint?flarats

Exactly. Ten minute delays while the ice was showered with rats, followed up by getting swept in the Cup Finals. Since then? No playoff appearances since 2000, the successful shipment of Roberto Luongo out of town for peanuts and a close to league worst attendance ranking. In fact, they have tried to GIVE AWAY tickets to “first time” fans this year. It’s time to face facts: one hockey team in Florida is probably too many. Two is overkill. Miami/Sunrise is not and will never be a hockey town, so why the hell would I want to play there. Pack this team up and ship it to a city who wants a team (say, Seattle?) and then I will reconsider.

  • Atlanta
    • Where should I begin?
      • One playoff appearance in seven seasons, complete with a first round sweep.
      • Lowest attendance percentage in the league this season.
      • Ownership locked in a bitter struggle…with themselves.
      • Previous franchise flopped with fans and high operating costs. Lesson NOT learned.
      • Worst alternate jersey in the league…that eventually became the permanent home jersey. hockeykovalchuck

I have friends in the Atlanta area. I went to college just south of Atlanta. I think I know ONE person in Georgia that is a Thrashers fan. I’m steering clear as a player.

  • Phoenix
    • Ask Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City/Seattle ThunderSonics why I wouldn’t want to play in Phoenix. Quite simply, who knows how long this team sticks around in the desert. The organization is a financial MESS, with something to the tune of $80 million in debt. It’s so bad that the NHL has had to come in and promise advance revenues to the team, while it tries to work out a deal with the city of Glendale. While the organization does have quite a bit of talent in the tank, I don’t think I want to move to Arizona just to potentially have to turn around and move again because attendance sucks and ownership is in way over their heads. coyotesattendance1

 But when it comes down to it, there is just ONE  place I would have the most reservations about playing in and would do everything possible to avoid…

  • Tampa Bay (Caveat: I have friends in Tampa. My Mom lives just north of Tampa. This is not a slam on the city or the fans, who are actually very into their hockey.) lightningfail
    • The prospect of playing for this organization scares the crap out of me. It’s ironic that owner Oren Koules is a producer for the “Saw” series of movies. He’s turned this organization into a horror show, and co-owner Len Barrie and General Manager Brian Lawton are doing nothing to instill confidence in the media, fans or players. This season started with Danny Boyle getting shipped out of town, Barry Melrose being named head coach, Melrose subsequently being fired 16 games into the season, and the Pete Rose of hockey, Rick Tocchet being named interim coach. Now Lawton is busy playing games with Vinny Lecavalier, the playoffs are all but gone and this team looks like it will be no better next season than it is right now. They need at least two defenseman to shore up the blue line, and adding another scoring threat wouldn’t hurt either. But the idea that trading for talent is the ultimate answer is foolish and near sighted. Yes, they drafted Steve Stamkos this past year, but what plan do they have in place to develop him as a player? What supporting cast do they have to pick up the slack as he develops? And what promise can they make to any player coming into this organization that they will stick around long enough to see a difference, when ownership is shipping players in and out of Tampa like pieces of mail at the post office.

Tampa Bay? No Way.

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BASEBALL!!!

Spring training starts today! Tigers to the World Series! Believe!

And now, John Fogerty to help set the mood:

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Prepare Thyself: Feb. 23 – Mar. 1

Before I get to everything else that happened this week, let me first say this:

DEEEEEETROIT BAAAAASSSKETBALLLLLL: You are officially on notice.

pistonfail

This team SUCKS is not very good and, if it were not for the awful bottom half of the East, would probably miss the playoffs. As it stands right now, this team will get bounced in 4 games by the Celtics or Cavs and the run of Eastern Conference Finals appearances is all but finished. I’m not sure who to blame, but part of me has to point the finger at Michael Curry. Carlisle, Brown and Saunders all got their teams to the ECF, whereas Michael Curry will definitely not. Yes, he has younger players. But the fact remains that he has the same nucleus that all of his predecessors did (plus an All Star in A.I.), and he has successfully driven this team to the shit heap. I don’t care if the ‘players won’t play hard’ or if the shots ‘just aren’t falling.’ You are the EFFING COACH. It is YOUR JOB to find a way to motivate them and get them to play and if someone doesn’t have it, get someone in there that will. You have successfully guided your team to a 6 game losing streak, a now .500 record, and an embarrassing week that started with a horrible loss to MILWAUKEE and finished with a swift kick in the ass from the Cavs. It’s time to put up or shut up, Pistons, so what’ll it be? Are you going to fight your way back to respectability or just continue sleepwalking through this season?

*Now back to your regularly scheduled programming*

HAPPY MONDAY EVERYONE!!!

Since angry CHollis kicked off the morning with some happy thoughts on the Pistons, here’s a quick rundown of everything else that happened last week:

  • Michigan Hockey: 1-1
  • Michigan Basketball: 1-1
  • Red Wings: 2-1
  • Pistons: 0-3
  • Michigan Baseball: 4-0 (WOOOO!!!) 

Grad total: 8-6 (Counting the SO loss for the Wings as a loss)

Without Michigan baseball: 4-6.

Quickly, M Hockey whooped the Bucks on Friday, and then lost a lead on Saturday and was finished off by Kevon Langseth allowing a CLEARLY kicked in goal to stand. For more on bad CCHA officiating, who Kevin Langseth is and how much he sucks, head over and check out this post at MGoBlog. Michigan hoops followed up a nice win over Minnesota earlier this week with a gut-wrenching loss at Iowa yesterday. That NCAA bid everyone has been talking about? On life support today. The Wings hammered Nashville and Anaheim this week, then brought up Jimmy Howard for the Minnesota game to get him some work. He gave up 5, Wings got shut down and Howard was sent back to the minors. Pistons: See above. Finally, Michigan baseball kicked off the season the right way going 4-0 down in Florida to start the season. Late comeback wins over South Florida and Purdue, a solid win over Cincinnati, and a great victory over St. John’s has the Wolverines off on the right foot.

Congrats, baseballers. You are the Team of the Week.

michbase

In the spirit of the baseball squad, here’s what’s ON DECK(get it?) for this week:

Michigan Basketball

  • Thursday, February 26 vs. Purdue – 9:00 PM (ESPN)
  • Sunday, March 1 at Wisconsin – 1:00 PM CST (Big Ten Network)

Michigan Hockey

  • Friday, February 27 at Ferris State – 7:05 PM (MGoBlue.com)
  • Saturday, February 28 vs. Ferris State – 8:05 PM (CBS College Sports)

Red Wings

  • Wednesday, February 25 vs. San Jose – 7:30 PM (FSN Detroit)
  • Friday, February 27 vs. Los Angeles – 7:30 PM (FS D+)
  • Saturday, February 28 at Nashville – 8:00 PM (FSN Detroit)

Pistons

  • Tuesday, February 24 at Miami – 7:30 PM (FSN Detroit)
  • Wednesday, February 25 at New Orleans – 8:00 PM (FS D+)
  • Friday, February 27 at Orlando – 7:00 PM (ESPN)
  • Sunday, March 1 at Boston – 1:00 PM (ABC)

Michigan Baseball

  • Wednesday, February 25 at North Florida – 7:00 PM
  • Friday, February 27 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (at Jacksonville, FL) – 1:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 28 at. Jacksonville (DH) – 3:30 PM
  • Sunday, March 1 vs. Akron (at Jacksonville, FL) – 10:30 AM

Also of note, SPRING TRAINING starts this week!!! WOOO!!! That said, the Tigers have tilts against the Braves, Nationals, Jays, Mets and Pirates this week. Mama CHollis will be taking in the game against the Nats, so I will see if she can send me some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Game of the Week

Sharks Red Wings Hockey

Wings: Wednesday, February 25 vs. San Jose – 7:30 PM (FSN Detroit)

Duh.

If you want context on why this game is important, point your browser in this direction. If you want some interesting lead-up to the game, Jennifer Leggio and I are guaranteed to have some interesting banter taking place all over Twitter, so feel free to follow myself (chollis) and Jennifer (mediaphyter) for all the fun. I believe one bet is already in place, and there could be more on the way. **UPDATE: So Jennifer has informed me that she was trying to put a bet in place with another person, who couldn’t bet and who apparently suggested me as a replacement. However, no details were settled, so no bet is in place. TRANSLATION: Jennifer knows the Sharks are going to lose and is backing out. WEAK.

Non-Michigan/Detroit Game You Shouldn’t Miss

washasu

22. Washington vs. 14. Arizona State – Thursday, February 26 – 8:00 PM PST

Gotta give the nod to the local game, as this one is HUGE for the Pac 10 standings. Washington holds a slim half game lead heading into this one, and controls their own destiny when it comes to winning their first outright Pac 10 regular season championship since 1952-53. This one is guaranteed to be good, which means I HIGHLY doubt I will be able to get tickets to it. Oh well, GO DAWGS!

A Final Thought:

At best, the Pistons go 1-3 on this road trip. 0-4 wouldn’t surprise me. Ugh.

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The “Race” for the West’s Top Spot

With just about seven and one-half weeks to go in the NHL regular season, Wings fans can sit back and be comfortable in the knowledge that we have the best record in the West, are coasting into the Western Conference playoffs with the top seed in hand and might even lock up our seventh President’s Trophy. Everything is as it should be.

wingsbanners

What’s that you say? “Look at the standings?” Why bother? We’re on top of the West and everyone knows it.

OK, OK, if you INSIST on wasting my time, I ‘ll humor you with a quick look at NHL.com.

See right here, ‘Western Conference Standings.’ Number one team? The Detroi…

Um, whoops.

That’s right Wings fans, in case you haven’t been paying attention (which i’m sure you ALL have), our beloved Hockeytown Heroes sit in lowly SECOND PLACE in the Western Conference, behind…

newsharkslogo

SAN JOSE? WTF DUDE?

Ok ok, no need to panic. We are only 1 point behind the Sharks with 24 games to play. We can make that up…can’t we?

Great question and glad you asked. Here’s the deal: while we are only 1 point behind the Sharks RIGHT NOW, the key thing to remember is that they have three games in hand on us, since we have played 58 games to their 55. If you count those three as wins for SJ, that puts them 7 points ahead of us at the end of the season. The point: Realistically, we sit 3.5 games back of the Sharks with 24 games to go. Insurmountable: not quite. A challenge: you betcha.

Before we go any further, let’s get some background information out there that will prove vital in this discussion.

Records as of 2/19/09 (W/L/OTL)

  • San Jose: 38-8-9, 85 points
  • Detroit: 38-12-8, 84 points

Home/Road Records this season(Win Percentage)

  • San Jose (Home): 24-2-3 (82.75%)
  • San Jose (Road): 14-6-6 (53.85%)
  • Detroit (Home): 21-4-3 (75.00%)
  • Detroit (Road): 17-8-5 (56.67%)

Games remaining before end of season

  • San Jose: 27 (12 at home)
  • Detroit: 24 (13 at home)

Games remaining before March 31st

  • San Jose: 21 (9 at home)
  • Detroit: 18 (9 at home)

What does it all mean? Basically, we will know EXACTLY what needs to be done when we hit March 31st and both teams have exactly six games remaining. For the sake of the argument, and the sake of saving everyone from reading 50+ game predictions, here is how we will move forward:

  • San Jose wins 83% (7 wins) of their remaining home games and 54% (6 wins) of their remaining road games before March 31st.
    • Projected point total: 111 points
  • Detroit wins 75% (6 wins) of their remaining home games and 57% (5 wins) of their remaining road games before March 31st.
    • Projected point total: 106 points

Um, ok? EXACTLY! Basically what this futile math exercise has told us is that the Wings (statistically) should make up minimal ground on the Sharks, and (statistically) should be 2.5 games back heading into the final six games of the season.  

OK, so now what? Now, I am going to attempt to break down the last six games of the season for each team and determine what the result of those games may be, thus determining a Western Conference champion.

San Jose

Against

Season Results

Projected Result

4/2 @ Edmonton

2-0-1

Win

4/4 vs. Anaheim

2-1-0

Win

4/5 @ Anaheim

2-1-0

Loss

4/7 vs. Colorado

2-0-0

Win

4/9 vs. Phoenix

2-1-0

Win

4/11 @ Los Angeles

3-0-0

Win

Detroit

Against

Season Results

Projected Result

4/2 vs. St. Louis

3-0-0

Win

4/5 vs. Minnesota

2-0-0

Win

4/6 @ Buffalo

1-0-0

Win

4/9 vs. Nashville

3-1-0

Win

4/11 vs. Chicago

4-0-0

Win

4/12 @ Chicago

4-0-0

Loss

Which gives us?

  1. San Jose – 121 points
  2. Detroit – 116 points

ARGH! Do you believe this is true?

*Sigh* Unfortunately, yes. While the breakdown I have provided is chock full of speculation, all signs point to it being tough to catch the Sharks. They are a VERY good club who are itching to win their first Western Conference regular season crown. They know that this is their best chance to date, so look for them to keep the pressure on to win.

THAT SAID, Todd McLellan is not a fool and has to realize his team is running away with their division. They are practically guaranteed a top three seed in the playoffs, and he can afford to rest his players before the playoffs if they keep performing the way they have. Meanwhile, Detroit has a good grip on the Central (but not a stranglehold) but could face some late pressure from Chicago. This could keep the Wings aggressive, while San Jose takes it easy, potentially giving Detroit a shot at claiming a late regular season championship. This is HIGHLY doubtful in my mind, but it is a possibility.

The short of it is this: If the above numbers hold true, Detroit needs to go 6-0 and has to have SJ do no better than 3-3 in the last six games. This could potentially give Detroit 118 points to SJ’s 117, with the consideration that SJ loses all of their games in regulation. If they somehow end up tying in points, it becomes a matter of who won more games and who won the head-to-head matchups, which then makes the Feb. 25th game a must win for Detroit to salvage a 2-2 record against the Sharks. If they SOMEHOW wind up tied in wins and head-to-head, it goes to goal differential, which San Jose currently leads, though only by four goals.

Say it ain’t so?!

Keep in mind, this is all speculation. There is ALOT of hockey yet to be played and this could change drastically. All I am trying to do for you is break down what the landscape would look like come April if both teams played at a pace consistent with how they have played this season. It’s entirely possible that either team could go on a crazy win streak while the other slogs along, which would throw my entire equation to the birds. However, I think that it is more likely that these two teams will continue to play well, and will ultimately give us a rather interesting run to the playoffs.

I also think that the head-to-head matchup on the 25th could dictate how the rest of the season plays out. A win for Detroit and they are breathing right down the necks of the Sharks and making them second guess if they can stave off a proven, championship caliber team. A win for the Sharks, and their confidence is sky high from taking the season series and could create doubt in the mind of the Wings as to whether or not they can hang with a team like San Jose down the stretch.

In Conclusion…

Accordingly to my ridiculous calculations and numerical lunacy, San Jose wins the West regular season crown. They have a statistical edge, and the odds are in their favor that they win enough games to keep the Wings at bay. But in the other corner, the Wings have all of the intangibles. They are a proven winner. They have been here before. And they know that the Cup isn’t won in April. But they also know how important home ice is come playoff time, and would love to limit their potential trips to the west coast by locking up the top spot.

My numbers say San Jose wins this. Common sense tells me that San Jose will also win this, as they are just THAT good this year (Jennifer Leggio is grinning ear to ear right now, I guarantee it). But don’t ever count out Hockeytown and the magic of the Red Wings. Let’s hope it’s a good run to the finish line.

GO WINGS!

Some extra tidbits: Of the Stanley Cups that the Wings have won since 1997, they have been the top seed three times. The 1998 championship team was the 3 seed in the west. The last time the Wings were a 2 seed, they were swept by the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the eventual Western Conference champion.

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Update: Prepare Thyself: Feb. 16 – 22

michbase2 Totally missed this one, but definitely worth the mention. From Varsity Blue:

“This Friday, the Michigan Wolverine baseball team will open up the 2009 season with the South Florida Bulls in the Big10/BigEast Challenge, held in Clearwater, FL.”

Damn. If I was still living in Florida, I would totally be at this one. Michigan baseball is pre-season favorites to win the Big Ten and have really built themselves into a quality program the past few seasons. They will be getting included in future PT’s, so check back often.

Go Blue!

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