Monday, November 28, 2005

Back From The Ville

I'm back from Louisville and ready to comment on what was an extremely disappointing week and a half.

Every year, I look forward to two games above everything else. Michigan/OSU football and Michigan/Minnesota hockey. And as has been the case pretty much every year as of late, both teams just grabbed their ankles and took it up the tailpipe.

I'm sure football has been hashed over time and time again, so I'm not really going to comment on it. Same old stuff we've dealt with for the rest of the season. Can't run the ball, passing game is erratic, defense plays pretty decently overall but can't quite seal the deal. Hands up, who else loved the bend-but-don't-break when a field goal wins the game. I know I did.

In hockey, the Wolverines came out of their bye week for two huge games: One against a team that they needed to get a win against to get the monkey off their back, and a game that would be #1/#2. They flopped in both.

The Minnesota game was just an embarassment. It's embarassing to go 1/11 on the power play when you have that many 5 on 3s. It's embarassing to give up 5 power play goals. It's embarassing that on the last shift of the game, Minnesota was going for 7 and the Wolverines were standing around watching them try to rub it in.

Sauer had one of those type of games like Al Montoya did in the regional against CC. Hard to fault him for the goals (apart from Kessel's first I've been told, by someone who had a much better view than I did) but you'd sure like to see him make some of those stops.

Tim Cook is an absolute pussy. For a kid that big to continually refuse to use his size...ugh! I understand that not everyone is going to be Jack Johnson and just go around killing people, but when I see a Minnesota player cutting to the middle of the ice with his head down, and Cook just lightly taps him, it absolutely infuriates me. On one of the power plays down in our end, he was running around like a chicken with his head cut off. Like he knew he was supposed to keep moving, but he really didn't have a clue where he was supposed to be. The Gophers didn't score (right then anyway) but they made about 4 tic-tack-toe passes around Cookie, with him a second late on all of them.

I think it's a pretty much consensus opinion at this point that Tyler Swystun is useless. I know the book on him was that he needed another year of seasoning to become the player that he's projected to be. But as I said on the Yost Post, he needs to show something. Some sign that he's got a future playing hockey. Because right now all he does is take up space on the first power play unit, get minuses, and take dumb penalties (Martin Lapointe would've been proud of him this weekend).

On the bright side, both Tim Miller and Brandon Naurato have been outstanding lately. Miller has points in 3 of 4 games and Naurato is on a 3 game goal-scoring and 4 game point streak. Naurato is kind of being Kal, since Kal can't be Kal. He's got a great shot, but that's not how he's scoring. He's been getting the ugly goals, and we need someone to do that.

Kal's hurt. I imagine that's part of the reason that he's been ineffective this year. Hopefully he can come back healthy and start making a positive impact.

This weekend was a nice measuring stick. We knew this team wasn't the best team in the country and they ended up just taking the lumps that we thought they'd take a little bit more often in the early-going this season. Minnesota is the better team, but they aren't as much better than Michigan as they showed the other night. 5 on 5 was pretty close, and Michigan's special teams had an off-night (they've been at the top all year). Things kind of snowballed from there. But they were all over the Gophers at times. I didn't watch that game and get the sense that Michigan was completely over-matched. They need to watch the back corner of the net on the PK though. RyPo was wide open every time, and they had that problem a couple times against Wiscy, though it didn't bite them.

I forgot how big Ryan Stoa is. Him and Wheeler are both huge. I thought Briggs looked pretty shaky in their net.

Minnesota has Michigan's number and it showed. A lot of bad breaks went against Michigan (pucks narrowly going in vs. narrowly missing, guys losing their sticks on PKs) and that's what happens when you're snake-bit against a team. Hopefully the Hockey Gods will be more kind in the future.

Oh, and McInchak sucks. I'm not blaming him for losing 6-3 (especially since we had our opportunities on the PP and didn't cash in) by any means, but that guy is an awful awful ref. Two no-calls that jump right to mind (and both went our way, for the record) were that Jack Johnson had about the most blatant charge I've ever seen in the first period and Andrew Ebbett creamed a guy from behind into the board and got 2 minutes for roughing or something. Johnson took about 5 strides before just murdering one of the Gopher dmen and it didn't get called. Not sure what Jack was thinking there...maybe he just needed to do something to get the crowd and his team fired up after they got down 4-1, but that was blatant. What a hit though! Ebbett's hit was worse than probably 75% of the ejections I've seen this year, and he gets two for it. Unreal.

Against Wisconsin, I thought the effort was a lot better. Wiscy is a completely different team from Minnesota, and to fight back from 2 goals down against them was impressive. Johnson and Hunwick got caught and it led to the last goal. They need to tone it back just a bit (or they need to split the two of them up) because they've been a little bit too much Danny Richmond lately. As good offensively as they've been this year, they need to realize that they're still defensemen first and foremost.

As much as it sucks to get swept in the Showcase (again), I came away feeling like we can play against both of those teams. People keep saying that Wiscy is the best team in the nation, and if that is the case (I've only seen em once) then we're not too far off from where we need to be. This was a young team getting beat by two teams who are better than them at this point. I think we're right there at the end of the year though.

The Packers lost another tough one, this time by 5 points to the Eagles. That makes 7 of their nine losses that have been by a TD or less. This time the culprit was 2 fumbled kickoffs (one by the 6th string WR, and one by the 6th string RB) and another fumble by the 5th string RB, Gado, who looks like he might actually end up being a player. He's got 5 TDs and 2 100 yard games in 4 efforts and also has the 3 highest rushing totals by a Packer RB this year.

This season is just becoming comical at the way they're finding to lose. I still say they're not that far off and one great offseason can have them right back in contention. Especially if that offseason includes Reggie Bush. The Lions are firing Mariucci today and I have to believe he ends up in either Green Bay or East Lansing. If they axe Sherman, I really think GB could do a lot worse than Mariucci. Especially if they can keep Jim Bates as DC. Plus it'd almost definitely mean that Favre would be back.

With that Packers loss, it assures them their first losing season since 1991, and they also become the last team in the NFL to have a losing season in the salary cap era. So in honor of 13 years of great football, I close with my 5 favorite plays of this era in Packers football:

5. Favre to Kitrick Taylor gets everything started. Earlier in the day, I had been crying when I heard that my favorite player (Majik) had screwed up his ankle (I was 9, ok???!!). I ended the day by jumping around like crazy and wondering who the hell this Favre guy was!

4. Wayne Simmons and Craig Newsome combine to get that playoff game with the 49ers started off right. Probably the best upset of this team's run.

3. Favre to Sterling Sharpe to kickoff this team's run with a last-second playoff victory over the Lions (not to mention it gave me bragging rights over my whole school! God I loved wearing my Favre jersey to class after that one!)

2. Desmond Howard's runback to seal the Super Bowl. His entire season was just amazing to see. Way to go, Michigan man!!

1. Favre to Rison on the second offensive play of the Super Bowl. 54 yard TD and Favre runs off the field with his helmet in his hand, jumping all over the place.

Honorable mention to Josh McCown and Nathan Poole. While it wasn't really a Packers game, it would rank probably #3 on this list in terms of excitement. "TOUCHDOWN!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The Cardinals have knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs!!!"~Minnesota radio

Other honorable mentions to Favre's backhanded TD pass to Freeman vs. Seattle, the falling down 2 handed push to Dorsey Levens vs. Carolina in the playoffs, the Hail Mary to Freeman against the Bears where he jumped over the guys back, every throw Favre made against Oakland after his father died, Robert Brooks's 99 yard TD pass, Ahman's long TD run against Denver, Reggie White's 3 sacks against NE, Desmond's two long runbacks against SF in the playoffs, Levens' leaping TD grab vs. Carolina in the playoffs, that TD catch Edgar Bennett had against I believe Tampa Bay where he laid completely out for the ball, and the play in the snow against the Lions where Sharpe thought he was in the endzone (he wasn't) and the guy hit him from behind, he fumbled and the ball bounced right back into his hands for the score.

War this being a quick turnaround for the Pack and Favre playing another couple of seasons.


Anonymous said...

just like no "D" in anny richmon, there is no "D" in Jack Johnson and Matt Hunwick.

Packer487 said...

Heh. I suppose technically you're right :)