Friday, November 03, 2006

Teams in Review

Time to catch up on my various teams:

Let's start with Michigan hockey. I didn't see either game against Northeastern, so it's hard for me to comment, other than to say that losing to them is extremely disappointing, as is the fact that it took an overtime goal by us to avoid taking just 1 point at home vs. a lower-half Hockey East team.

It appears that the "Red Wing powerplay" that we debuted in the second game against Miami reared its ugly head again Saturday night, going 0 for 12 with the man advantage. There's no reason for a team with that much talent to not score on that many PP opportunities.

From what I saw on the Wolverine Sports Magazine, it looks like Billy Sauer wasn't really the problem. He made some HUGE saves in both games. And it seems like he's been absolutely outstanding on breakaways this year.

As for the Jack Johnson suspension: He deserved the DQ, and I'm not sure how anyone who watched the tape could say otherwise. He jumped the kid and pounded him for quite awhile. That said, I applaud Jack for doing it. You have to protect your goalie, and a beatdown of that punk was absolutely warranted.

As for the Northeastern player, he should've been given a match penalty and a DQ for intent to injure. That was about as blatant of a charge of the goalie as I've ever seen. He made no effort to stop and just plowed our goaltender. He's just lucky Jack didn't beat his ass any worse.

You would think that after the Exter/Eaves situation, the NCAA would be all about cracking down on players running the goaltender, but they haven't shown any interest in doing so that I know of. If they're willing to put a no-tolerance rule in for hitting from behind, which leads to minor bumps drawing 5 and a game, why not do the same for hitting the goaltender?

If they're not going to allow fighting, then they need to do something to keep guys from crashing into the goalie. Don't think for a second that teams would have run Montoya nearly as much if Mike Brown was allowed to throw down when he wanted to. Don't think for a second that teams would run Billy Sauer if Jack Johnson and Timmy Miller could drop the gloves.

Jack did what he had to do. It sucks that we're playing Sparty tonight instead of say, Ferris, and even though I'm sure the media will blow it up into another "OMG JACK JOHNSON IS OUT OF CONTROL" story, this incident was completely 100% warranted.

We need to get a win against State this weekend. I don't care if it's tonight or tomorrow, but we absolutely HAVE to get at least one, and I'd really like 3 points. If I'm not mistaken, if we don't get a win in this home-and-home, it will mark the longest we have EVER gone without beating the Spartans. That's a problem.

To football now:
I missed the Northwestern game due to my brother's wedding in Maine (unfortunately, there was no Julie "The Cat" Gaffney sighting when I was in Bangor). As for what happened though, I'll revert back to what I said after Central and Vandy: People need to calm down. As Bill Simmons put it when talking about the Patriots, we only pulled out just enough to win (and if you don't get the reference, you're luckier than me).

It was crappy weather, we're banged up, and we were playing a bad football team. Yes in past years, not respecting the opponent has cost us wins, but did anyone really think Northwestern was going to score on our defense? I didn't.

You know tomorrow we're going to get our 28 points and then just ride out the game. They'll score against our scrubs, we'll walk out of there with a 31-10 win or something and everyone will be panicking even more. They're not going to show anything until November 18th and the sooner people realize it, the better. This is a great football team, and they're on cruise control until the real National Championship game down in Franklin Counnnnnnnnty.

Lately the topic of a rematch in the BCS title game has come up. My view on it is this: If Michigan wins on the road against the Buckeyes, they don't deserve to get a rematch. If Michigan gets blown out in Columbus, we don't deserve a rematch. If, however, it's a very close game (I'm talking like within a field goal, or a very late touchdown providing the margin of victory) then Michigan probably deserves the chance to prove who is better on a neutral field. Vegas says homefield is worth what? 3-4 points? If we're within that, then I think a rematch on a neutral field is probably warranted.

Will it happen? I doubt it. It's looking like Louisville will be coming out of the Big East unbeaten (Go Cards!) after that win last night (Entertaining game by the way). And either team losing at this point in the year probably drops them behind Florida. Unless UM loses and gets blown out in the process, I can't see the loser of this game dropping below Texas though. OSU smoked them in Austin, and Michigan would be playing that same OSU team, only on the road.

It's going to be interesting regardless. And it's nice knowing that as long as we don't stuff up in the next two games, we've got the Rose Bowl as a worst case scenario. There are worse things in the world, as much as I want to go to the BCS Championship Game.

Packers:It's hard to say how good or how bad that team actually is. They've lost to 4 teams with records .500 or better, and they've beaten the three worst teams in football. They're currently sitting at 3-4 with 9 games to play, and looking at their schedule the rest of the way, I don't think 9-7 is completely out of the question. Likely? Heck no. But definitely possible.

Buffalo, NYJ, Detroit, SF are all very winnable games, though they'll be underdogs against the Bills and Jets. Win all four of those, and we're sitting at 7 wins. A split with Minnesota is pretty likely in my eyes (especially since the game at Lambeau is the home finale, and a night game in December).

Then they'd have four games left: New England, Seattle, Minnesota away and Chicago away. Gotta win one of those four to get to nine wins. Beating New England is very unlikely, but the other 3 are possible (the Bears will have everything wrapped up by the time they meet in week 17).

Like I said, is it likely? Heck no. I think 7-9 or 8-8 is what they're looking at right now. But I'll take having at least an outside shot at the playoffs. I'd really like to have the St. Louis and New Orleans games back right about now though. At least one of those should have been a win.

I love the way Charles Woodson has played as of late. The Green Bay media (and Packers fans as well) are really starting to come around on him. He's been outstanding the last couple of games.

And don't look now, but Brett Favre hasn't thrown a pick in 3 games, and he has just 5 for the season (4 of the 5 have been with the Packers trailing by 8 points or more). Amazing how much better a guy can look when his team isn't trailing 90% of the time and he's got a line that can somewhat protect him isn't it?

My last thought on the Packers: Why don't more teams run zone blocking? In the last four games, it's gone like this:Morency: 99 yards
Herron: 120 yards
Green: 110 yards
Green & Morency: 105 apiece
It seems they're getting to the point of being able to plug in a back and count on 100 yards, now that the line is starting to figure this thing out. Denver and Atlanta have run with great success, and Michigan is doing pretty well this year as well. The more I read about it, the more I can't believe that every team in the league isn't running this system.

To the Wings:
They're starting to play a little bit better, though I'm still very concerned about our offense. I think the power play and penalty kill will sort themselves out. Too many holdovers from last year's brilliant special teams for them to stay bad the entire year. Hasek is a notoriously slow starter, so I'm sure his play will improve. They need to find a scoring winger at some point this season though. Bondra would be a great pickup, and I don't know why no one has signed him yet.

Even though they've run off 5 straight now, I still can't help but feel that we're headed for another tank job in April. They're the same type of team they've been for the past few years, only now we've lost 60 goals of our offense and haven't replaced it.

That's all I've got for now. Beat State, dammit.

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