Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Brian Lebler Goes Blue

Brian Lebler, long thought to be headed to the Badgers, committed to the Wolverines today, and will likely sign a letter of intent tomorrow according to this thread on The Wolverine. He's not putting real big numbers (especially for being in the BCHL) but he's a big, big forward (6'2" 205 right now) who apparently has some scoring ability. He's also faired pretty well on the power play last year (10 ppgs) and this year (6 so far). He should fit in with the bigger team that Red is trying to put out there now. It's nice that Michigan was able to steal away a recruit from the Badgers, and as MaizeOut pointed out, if he signs tomorrow he won't have time to Benedict Earl us.

Andy Hilbert's rights were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 5th round pick. This is a move that I wish the Wings had made (and I said it at least 2 months ago when he said he wanted to be traded). I know they're close to the cap, but to land a prospect like Andy for a 5th round pick is a pretty good gamble. And I'd rather see Andy on the roster than a guy like Mark Mowers who really doesn't do anything for me. Hilbert put up numbers in the AHL last year that were right up there with the likes of Spezza, Cammalleri, and Vanek who are all fairing pretty well on the NHL level this year.

Michigan hockey completed the sweep of Notre Dame with a 4-2 win Saturday night at Yost. I missed the first 18 minutes of the first period (Michigan volleyball duties), so I missed both goals that Sauer allowed. I heard one was extremely weak, but Billy played very well the rest of the game. I think he had something like 17 saves in the third period, which is unacceptable for the defense to be giving up that many shots. Mel Pearson said on WTKA that he thought the fatigue from the previous week's trip to UAF caught up with them and it would probably be another couple days before they were back to normal. Kolarik added a pair of goals and it looks like he's out of his slump. Cogliano netted himself a CCHA Rookie of the Week award with 3-3--6 over the two games. He's now the leading freshman point getter in the country, with Jack Johnson right behind him at #2 (they also are 1-2 in ppg for freshmen).

The additions of Johnson and Cogliano have done absolute wonders for the powerplay, which currently sits at #1 in the nation at 33.3% (24 of 72). Qunnipiac has the 2nd most ppgs with 18, but they've also had 15 more powerplays. The PK is also a very solid 91.7%, good for 4th in the country.

Sterling Sharpe was on the Jim Rome show yesterday and his interview made me want to puke my guts out. He got up on his high horse about Terrell Owens, saying that at some point the player has to realize that the team is more important than individual things like money. Sterling. You jackass. You are the last person who should be criticizing players for being selfish. Mr. Sharpe, back in 1994, threatened on the eve of the first game to not show up the next day if Green Bay did not make him the highest paid WR in the league by $1. And now he's going to criticize Terrell Owens for threatening a holdout and basically just being a jackass? Please.

Lebda is back with the Red Wings, and Howard was sent back to Grand Rapids--a good sign, because that means that Legace is back and I don't have to watch Osgood anymore. Lebda has been a very pleasant surprise, and I'm hoping that means less of Jamie Rivers (or failing that, Lilja). Actually, I take that back about Lilja. He hasn't impressed me much, but the guy does lead the team in +/- and that has to account for something. That's shocking actually. I'm pretty much stunned to see that. He would've been my bet as one of the few guys on the team with a minus. It'd be nice to see Woolley back healthy as well. He's been very solid since he was resigned, before he was hurt.

The Packers lost again. And once again it was the little things that beat them. Favre gets killed and the Steelers get a scoop-and-score off it instead of it being a GB field goal. There's the 10 point margin of victory. Longwell shanked a field goal (thankfully he blamed the wind, and not his holder this time. How bout "I just missed the kick" for once, Ryan) and Driver dropped a pass that was right in his hands and would've been a first down. Instead the Steelers get a pick off it and it sets up a TD. 3 plays, and that's the difference between a 10 point win and a 10 point loss.

And the injuries just keep getting worse and worse. Tony Fisher is now out with a broken rib, pretty much leaving the starting job to Samkon Gado. Apparently he was 3rd string on his college team last year. Amazingly, he actually looked pretty decent against the Steelers great defense and set a season high for yards by a Packers RB (62. That's pathetic that that's the high).

I still say this team is a helluva lot better than their record. And they keep fighting, which is more than I can say for a lot of teams out there that have already mailed it in it seems. It's not going to get much better this season, but there's still plenty of talent there, and plenty of money in the offseason to fix some holes.

I can't say enough about the defense though. They're now ranked 9th in the NFL in yards given up per game, tied for 10th in yards given up per play, and a respectable 18th in ppg given up. The only thing that's lacking is turnovers created, which is only 10 through 8 games. That'll come with more playmakers on the field, however. For a makeshift defense, 9th in the league in yards is just amazing.

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