Monday, April 10, 2006

The Stretch Run

Say what you want to about not playing teams from the other conference in the NHL, say what you want about playing 3 games in a row vs. one opponent, but the NHL schedule makers got one thing right when they made the schedule for this year: Great battles down the stretch for the playoffs.

Check out these playoff contenders remaining schedules in the West:
#5 Seed Anaheim (In by 5 points): at Vancouver, at Calgary, at Edmonton, at SJ, Calgary
#6 Seed Colorado (In by 3 points): Phoenix, at Calgary, at Vancouver, at Edmonton
#7 Seed San Jose (In by 2 points): at Phoenix, at Vancouver, Vancouver, Anaheim, LA
#8 Seed Edmonton (In by 2 points): at Detroit, Anaheim, Colorado
#9 Seed Vancouver (Out by 2 points): Anaheim, SJ, at SJ, Colorado

Counting Vancouver as a playoff team and LA as out, those 5 teams combine to play 3 games against non-playoff teams out of the 21 remaining games on their schedule. In addition, 14 of the 21 are games between teams on that list. It's going to be phenomenal, and I don't think any of those 5 teams can feel all that comfortable with their position, apart from probably Anaheim, who is whupping on Vancouver right now 3-0 in the first. Makes me really wish Comcast was still giving us free Center Ice because this is going to get awesome.

Coming soon: A retrospective look at my picks for this NHL season. Here's a quick summary: Western Conference: Pretty darn good. Eastern Conference: Fugly.

Jack Johnson's decision to remain at the University of Michigan for his sophomore season (at least for's a Michigan hockey summer, I know better than to count on him being back), appears to have created a ripple effect with a couple other potential defectors.

"If Jack's back, and he's our highest-profile player, I can't see why anyone else should leave,'' Hunwick said. "That tells you how special Michigan really is.''

The article also indicated that Hensick said there's only a slim chance he'll leave. Plus he's a Wings fan, so why would he want to go play for the Avs!

Mike Spath indicated there could be a defection or two with the fringe players. I guess MacVoy and/or Naurato could potentially leave, which I wouldn't really blame them for doing. If all of our high-profile potential defectors come back, this team could be looking really good for next year if they get anything out of their goaltending.

Also there's a rumor that Tim Cook may have played up to the last 2 months of the season with a broken hand. If that's true, then tack an extra half-grade onto his final report card, as that's ballsy. Pretty impressive to not only play your best hockey of your career with a broken hand, but not even let on that it's broken. I'm actually kind of excited to see what kind of year he has next year. Hopefully the confidence that carried him for the last couple months will carry over.

I don't have a whole lot to say about the Brett Favre situation apart from the fact that he can take as long as he wants to to make up his mind as far as I'm concerned. Yes I wish he'd announce it. No I don't think he's sabotaging Green Bay's offseason by not deciding. I also see a benefit in the draft by him not announcing. If any of the teams around them feel there's a chance they might take a QB, that could have a major impact on teams moving up/down.

Rumors abound that Arrington was in to visit today and that he had a nice time. Also rumors are that the Bucs aren't going to up their offer to Woodson any more, so he could be Green Bay's to lose. If by some miracle they land both of those players, that gives them all the flexibility in the world with the #5 pick.

Hawk? Barnett/Arrington/Hawk would be just a ridiculous LB corps.
Huff? Harris/Woodson/Collins/Huff or Manuel/Carroll is a pretty darn good base/nickel/dime set
Mario? Pretty darn good defense as a whole, balanced all around. What would a guy like Peppers do for any defense? What would he do for KGB, allowing him to only play on 3rd downs and not get doubled when he's in there?
Trade up for Bush? Since the defense would have added 3 big pieces (Pickett, Arrington, Woodson) they'd have the flexibility to move up for an electrifying offense player....
Trade down a couple spots, still get an impact player like Vernon Davis, Huff, or Hawk and land an extra day 1 pick.

Do I think it will happen? Not really. But I'm cautiously optimistic that Favre's "warning" to Ted Thompson will be heeded. They have the cap room to make a splash, they have the cap room to front-load a deal so that it won't negatively impact them in the future. Get 'er done Ted!

This is one of the most asinine ideas I've ever seen. #1, the Packers aren't trading Brett Favre. #2) They aren't trading him for Jake Plummer of all people. #3, any trade where one team gets a legendary player and the best draft pick is not a good trade for the other team. I could live with that deal if it was Walker and the #5 pick for Lelie and the 2 first-rounders (But that's still moving down in the draft farther than I would like to...even if the Packers would be getting a slight edge on the Draft Pick Value chart). But Favre for Plummer? Even if Favre does only have one year left, I have no interest in Plummer whatsoever. I'm sure Krieger loves the idea of getting the Broncos QB of the future and Brett Favre in exchange for their average QB and 2 mid-to-late-round first round picks. Why wouldn't he? To quote Joey Kinnish in Rounders, "And I [want] a blowjob from Christy Turlington".

In other news, the Predators are absolutely, positively screwed. Apart from Mikka Kiprusoff, there's no other player whose health meant more to his team's playoff hopes than Tomas Vokoun. With him, they're a legit contender. Without him? They probably lose in the first round. Part of me hates to see that because I love Vokoun, but it's to Detroit's benefit...and it sucks for Paul Kariya. So that's funny too.

Western College Hockey had an excellent LiveBlog of the NCAA Title Game, including an absolutely classic line:

Wisconsin's mascot, with his abnormally large neck and red-striped sweater reminds me a lot of Michigan goalie Billy Sauer. So not good-looking, yet at the same time, so cute.

Not gonna lie, that just killed me.

Congrats to Wisconsin on the NCAA title. Of all the WCHA teams, I find them to be by far the least evil (especially since their fans were pure class all the way when I was there in 2001 for the Michigan/Wiscy game, thank you Brett Bell). I hereby apologize for saying that I didn't think you guys would be very good this year. And Robbie Earl just dove again.

The RCMB caught this as well, but what in the hell was on ESPN2 tonight? The NHL can't get a national TV contract on a major outlet, but ESPN2 will show VIKING OBSTACLE COURSE??!! It was hilarious, don't get me wrong (why did it take them so long to solve that addition problem??) and I watch MXC religiously, but really? Viking Obstacle Course? In the middle of the playoff races in 2 of the major sports?

Bonus link, Jimmy Howard got in a fight with Michael Leighton. Video goodness. Although I think I've seen UFO videos of higher quality. Howard is in the dark jersey and from the looks of it, it's a pity Patrick Roy isn't still playing, because Howard would be the next goalie in line to beat his ass.

The Wings just clinched a share of the President's Trophy with Ottawa's loss tonight. 1 point in our last 5 games clinches home ice throughout. I wonder if all of these "upper/lower body injuries" that the Wings players have suffered is just a way to get their guys some rest without the rest of the league bitching that we're "not fielding a competitive team" like they did after the Olympics. Kudos to the Wings for pulling off what no one (apart from thought they could...first in the West, and more than likely #1 overall. Amazing what forward depth that none of the MSM thought we had, and the puck-moving defensemen that everyone forgot we have can do for a team huh? And even with Osgood playing like ass for most of the year until recently, the Wings actually have a shot at the Jennings Trophy for best team GAA. Crazy.


Colin said...

Nice recap. And actually I think I saw Timmy clutch his hand a few times over the season and had to yell encouragement to ignore the hand issue a few times. I think I got a little TCook obsessed back when he was killing us (your fault, I'd say). Now, of course, I love the kid.

Also, how are the Wings doing this in goal? Legace ≠ shut down goalie, as far as I knew. And where are the Playoffs being televised anyway? I have caught like 3 games, because I never know what's going on. More evidence that ESPN sucks huge ass. How can they show strongman/poker/VIKING OBSTACLE COURSE horseshit and not hockey?

Chris said...

I've gotta give them credit. That's a pretty good fight for two goalies. Howard threw some pretty nice punches.

I'd love to see the type of damage Mike Brown can do now that he's allowed to fight.

Packer487 said...

I've always liked Legace, ever since he was basically our starting goalie at the end of Osgood's first stint in Detroit. It's great to see him be doing it for basically a whole season though.

Most of our games are on Fox Sports, but I'm still missing the days of ESPN 2 Nite and National Hockey Night. Thank Goodness for CBC!

Chris: I too would love to see what Brownie's doing in the AHL. Once I get more time maybe i'll have a search through and see if I can't find some of him...

Anonymous said...

I wasn't real happy about UW winning the NCAAs, because that team dives like crazy (and it's not just Earl). I was in Milwaukee and watched games live, and it is totally out of hand with them.

I was especially upset that the game winning goal was scored on a powerplay after 3 players dove in the offensive zone trying to get a call. Shegos didn't bite on the first 2, but called the third one.

That kind of behavior has to be coached, because it simply can't be coincidence. Since Wisco is a primarily defensive team with not a lot of scoring power, I got the feeling UW felt they couldn't beat Schnieder 5x5 so they needed a PP chance.

And as a ref with that kind of home crowd there's no easy way to call it. And since UW won, they have no incentive to stop. Sickening.

Packer487 said...

Ya know, I wasn't paying close enough attention to the game to make any judgements on the officiating, but there's really nothing I hate worse than diving. One of the (many) reasons that I can't stand soccer.

So basically it was like Wiscy had Gordon Bombay behind the bench then huh? "Take the fall! Act hurt! Get indignant!"