Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Jai Means Goodbye

There are a couple of reasons that I don’t get worked up over football recruiting anymore.

One is that if there’s anything the last few years have taught me, it’s that the rankings really don’t mean much. Braylon, Hart, Long = 3 or less stars, star players. Mundy, Burgess, Crable, Watson, Woods, Max Martin, etc. = Very highly regarded players that didn’t/haven’t panned out.

One recruit I remember being devastated that we lost out on was Mike D’Andrea, who ended up going to Ohio State. I know he has had some injury problems and that he plays behind a great group of LBs, but that kid has done nothing in his career. It just doesn’t make any sense for me to get worked up about guys that honestly might not turn out to be all that good.

The other reason is this: We can get all the 5 star guys we want. We’re still losing our first road game every year, and probably 2-3 others.

Oh, and then there’s this. And this. And this. And a lot worse stuff that thankfully is no longer on the board. I’m trying not to get all soap-boxy but it made me sick some of the stuff I read last night. Or some of the stuff after Cone committed about “Why are we only taking a 3 star QB?” Especially after reading Spath’s article about how broken up Jai was about de-committing from Michigan ($$$), everyone who ripped him last night should be ashamed of themselves. It’s one thing to be a little upset that he left Michigan in a bit of a bind at DB (especially if they stopped recruiting DBs because of him) but it’s another to spew a ton of venom at him because of it.

He’s an 18 year old kid. His little kid had a birthday party and he realized that he didn’t want to be that far away from him. How dare any of us judge him on that? Who hasn’t made a decision that they ended up thinking better of after it was made? The kid decided he didn’t want to be 1,500 miles away from his son (or have to figure out a way to care for his son while attending school and playing football). Family is a nice support system and they’ll be close to him at LSU.

But to read stuff like “Why not teach your son to honor his commitments?” just makes me ill. Do people honestly think that 15 years from now his son is going to remember that Daddy didn’t go to the University of Michigan? Or is it more likely that he’ll remember that Daddy hung around to take care of him and raise him?

Also, would anyone here be bitching if Myron Rolle went to bed tonight a Seminole and woke up a Wolverine? Probably not.

Does that mean I’m not going to be hitting F5 like everyone else tomorrow, waiting to find out of Mouton commits? Of course not. I will be. But it also means that it’s not going to ruin my week if he decides Texas was a better option for him.

I’ll still follow hockey and basketball recruiting a little bit more closely, but that kind of goes back to reason #1. It seems like in those sports, it’s a lot easier to pick out who will be good at the next level. Plus in the case of hockey, I can see a lot of those guys play. But it also doesn’t mean I’m going to be on the Yost Post saying “OOOOOOOH SCREW KANE! HE WENT TO LONDON!!” If he does, so be it. It’d suck if he decides not to come here, but Michigan will be fine with or without him. Just like with Jai.

Quick Hits:

Osgood sucks and I don’t know why he’s on the Wings. Luckily Babcock was smart enough to get him out. I don’t think we’ll be seeing him again before the Olympics.

Michigan hockey has a must win against Western tonight. Big week as a whole. We make up all 4 games in hand on Northern by the end of next Tuesday.

Favre is leaning toward retirement. Not ready to talk or think about this yet.

Pistons won game 1 of the 5 games in 7 nights deal. New Jersey is up tonight. They’ve lost 4 in a row after winning 10 straight, but they’ve been very good at home. Should be a good one tonight.

Michigan basketball is ranked for the first time since I was like a sophomore in high school. Nice to see Tommy and guys like Horton get rewarded for things they’ve brought to this program. If they take 2 of the next 3, they’re going to be in really good shape, IMO. Very interesting post by CaliforniaGreen1 who breaks down the Big 10 assuming that the trends that the home teams win, and the Big 7 beat the little 4 hold true. Good stuff.

Monday, January 30, 2006

I Sees a Rock That Needs Biting!!!


Two Points The Hard Way

Michigan and Michigan State meet for 2 more hockey games, Michigan and Michigan State tie two more hockey games that Michigan should have won. Go figure. The recaps:

Friday Night: Michigan 1, Michigan State 1:

On the plus side, Michigan has started to make it so that when they venture into Munn Ice Arena, they’re coming away with at least one point more often than not. On the minus side, they missed several opportunities to come away with more than one point Friday night.

In an effort to fill the arena and make it, ya know, kinda-sorta loud, the Spartans brought a fair portion of their marching band to the game, and occasionally even turned off the piped-in music to let them play. Michigan brought a bus of students to the game, which came pretty close to out-numbering the “Slapshots” that were in the MSU student section. Priceless chant of the night: The Slapshots chanting “We can’t hear you” at the Michigan students. Hey. Sparty. There’s more of them than you, and it’s a road game. If I may edit the Spartan fight song a little: “See their student section is WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK”.

MSU got on the board first on a goal that—this will be a trend for the weekend—Bill Sauer would like to have back. His tendency to give up soft goals is starting to alarm me. Luckily, Billy was lights out for the rest of the game. He was outstanding in net. Sadly it didn’t carry over until Saturday. Michigan looked like hell in the first period, but Kolarik put one in right before intermission. The Wolverines carried the play the entire second period, and for fair portions of the third and overtime, but couldn’t solve Lerg. Hensick missed an empty net in OT and Sauer stopped an MSU breakaway so it ended in a 1-1 tie.

Other random thoughts:
--Jason Dest was probably Michigan’s best player in that game. For most of his career, he’s been the kind of defenseman that you don’t really notice, and apart from some of this year he’s been pretty solid in that role. Friday night, he was noticeably doing good things out there. Just a great game out of him.

--Tim Cook had an outstanding first period, save for the stupid penalty he took. He wasn’t as good for the rest of the game, but it was still better than 90% of the Tim Cook appearances. He looks like he’s playing with a lot more confidence out there, and that’s a good thing.

--The Spartan faithful got another reason to hate Jack Johnson as he got a high-sticking penalty. Jack was over by the MSU bench and a Spartan or two reached over and grabbed his stick. Jack started to skate toward his bench, but his stick was behind held. So he yanked on it a few times to try and free it. Finally the MSU players let go as Jack was tugging, and he ended up whacking another Spartan on the bench, who proceeded to dive in a way that would make Paul Kariya proud. Jack got 2, and an MSU player got 2 for holding. I can live with that. I just have to laugh at the people that wanted a DQ for it.

--Hunwick got beat around the outside another couple of times. I’m not sure what his deal is, but it appears that he’s a step late going into a full skate backwards and the opposing player is getting the corner on him.

--The power play was downright dismal. Too much passing around the perimeter, too many low-percentage shots (Shooting it into the defenseman’s shin guards is as low-percentage as you can get), too much looking for the perfect pass, not enough working it down low, not enough shooting. What happened to last year when they’d set Ebbett up behind the net and let him go to work? I know we don’t have a shot on the wing like Gajic or Tambellini had, but there’s a few guys that aren’t slouches. Every once in awhile they try to work the backdoor play, and it’s there, they just haven’t converted it.

--The disallowed goal: Can’t believe that didn’t count. It happened right in front of us, and I saw the net move. I guess the overhead cam didn’t show it conclusively going in though—and I’m not really sure how it couldn’t have. Count that goal and MSU probably wins the game.

--Both teams were affected by another McInchak-called game. I’m not sure when this guy turned into the CCHA’s go-to ref, but I’ve seen quite enough of it. Where’s Shegos and Pio doing Michigan/MSU games? Instead with get McInchak and Brian Aaron this weekend? Doesn’t get a whole lot worse than those two. Neither team really benefited from the official, but I’d still like to see a more competent guy doing a game that big.

Saturday Night: Michigan 5, Michigan State 5:
Sparty had 24 hours to whine about the disallowed goal from the night before, and now they can stop. MSU’s first 3 goals were all of the questionable variety. The first was set up when Jack Johnson was slew-footed behind the net…not sure how they miss that call; it’s as dirty of a play as there is in hockey and people would be screaming bloody murder if Johnson had been on the other end of the hit. The second goal was blatantly kicked in and not reviewed. The third goal I didn’t see a replay of, but Mickey Redmond was doing color on the game and he mentioned that Michigan’s defenseman was interfered with Cold-War-Tying-Goal style.

--As good as Sauer was Friday, he was that bad Saturday. He simply has to stop 2 if not 3 of the MSU goals in that game. The third was a wrist shot from the top of the circle. Interference or not, how does that puck go in?

--It’s great to have Kaleniecki back in the lineup. They’ve missed him.

--I like Timmy Miller more every time I see him play. He’s a really well-rounded player and you can put him out there in any situation and feel comfortable about it.

--Cogliano is a great player, but I can’t handle his diving crap. An MSU player gets his stick up around Cogs’ chest and he snaps his head back like he was shot. He got an unsportsmanlike conduct call on the play. Not sure if it was for snapping his head back, or flopping when Kennedy shoved him. Either way, I don’t respect players that pull that kind of crap. It’s why I hate Paul Kariya so much.

--I really like the whole playing Rohlfs at forward and rotating 5 defensemen thing. Everyone knows my thoughts on Hunwick and Johnson together, but by rotating 5 defensemen, they still play together a little bit, but not a ton. I really liked Jack out there with Mitera and Dest (Not at the same time obviously). Both those pairing looked really good…and Rohlfs chipped in with a goal back at forward.

It’s hard to say that Michigan should have won Friday night—since MSU did have a goal waived off for no reason—though they did carry the play for most of the last 45 minutes of the hockey game. They just couldn’t solve Jeff Lerg. Saturday night they were the better team, scored enough goals to get a W, but they let the victory slip away.

Michigan got a break Friday night with the goal going through the net, and MSU got a break Saturday on the second goal for sure, but likely the first and/or the third as well. Both teams probably came out of this weekend with the proper number of points, but it should have been a victory for each team instead of two ties. If you’re a Michigan fan though, you have to wonder how they didn’t manage to pull at least 3 points out of this weekend, because they certainly had their chances.

Friday, January 27, 2006

This Can't Be Ignored

I said this would be a 99% sports-related blog, and as this is post 100 and I'm pretty sure I haven't had a non-sports post yet, I figure that buys me one. I have to comment on this, because it's one of the funniest stories I have ever read. And it's made all the funnier by the fact that 1) These girls went to State, go figure...and 2) They also went to my high school.

Basically here's the gist of the article: A couple kids got liquored up before prom. In the limo, they passed some shots to the other kids. At prom, one of the kids that was really drinking got caught by school officials. They then breathalyzed the rest of the students in the party. 3 girls were found to have .02 BACs. They all got MIPs. 6 weeks later, Judge Martone--the judge on the case--is looking around on the internet and finds a website with pictures of the girls, taken the day after the court hearing, drinking. The picture is captioned "F.U. Martone!" So he brought the girls back into court and they all got jail time. Just hilarious.

Highlights of the story:

On the site, they were giving him the finger. They were toasting him with cups
of beer and chugging shots of Jagermeister liqueur. They were posing with beer
cans stacked almost to the ceiling, and retching into toilets at Michigan State
The Web site's headline said: "F U Martone. ... Night after
court/ Hahaaa."

It's always smart to screw with a judge. To quote Fark, "What could possibly go wrong?"
She'd written a letter, asking for leniency. She handed it to the judge.
"It was sad," he recalled. "In it, she said she wants to be a criminal justice major. I told her, perhaps you might want to consider another line of work."

Ouch!! That should've been her first clue that this wasn't going well....

Stesney's mother, Cheryl Stesney, who would not let her daughter comment
for this report, said Martone "let his anger get out of control. He was just so
hurt and embarrassed by that Web site."

Polly Meerschaert agreed. "I do feel this is all about vengeance. I won't say my daughter didn't make a mistake. But the minute it became personal, the judge should've removed himself," she said.

Her parents have yanked her out of MSU -- out of its culture of drinking,
her mother said.

It cracks me up when these parents try to pass the blame. Your stupid beyotch daughter is on probation for drinking, and she put up a website with pictures of herself drinking. That's dumb enough without putting profane remarks directed at the judge on it. What did she think was going to happen? And Ms. Stesney...he was hurt and embarassed by the website? You should be hurt and embarassed by the fact that you raised a kid that dumb. Jim Rome once commented that if your daughter ends up dancing on a pole, you have failed as a parent. Well I would add that if your daughter violates probation and gets put in jail because she put up a website showing her violating probation and flipping off the judge, that you have failed as a parent. I think I would pour bleach down my throat if I had a kid that stupid.

There's two great threads on the RCMB that have links to some of the pictures, and some great comments by the Sparties, such as (with regard to the MSU's culture of drinking comment) "Looks like that culture is actually at Troy Athens, no?" I was dying.

It gets even better after you're done with the article, because there's a sidebar with a transcript of one of the hearings.

Martone: I would like to know what "F U Martone" stands for.

I may not have a good idea about the right way to answer that question, but I know this isn't it:

Meerschaert: It's not what you think. It's not angry. It's not...

I'm sure he was glad she cleared that up. Strong work, Sparty.

Then there's this priceless exchange:

Martone, viewing the Web site on his laptop computer: Then if we go down to some of these photos, I find them very interesting. That one that is dedicated to me, and it looks like you're standing in front of a City of Troy sign that was stolen.
Meerschaert: It wasn't stolen, your honor.
Martone: Oh, the City of Troy has signs in dorm rooms at MSU?

You can't put a price on something like that. I have no words. This is from the "You know you're screwed when...." department.

Yet, the parent still insists that the judge was just throwing her in jail because she made it personal. Her daughter, quite simply, is a fucking moron. There's no other way to put it.

It's Very Important That You Not Suck Today

As we head into this weekend's very big series with Michigan State in hockey, a few things to get to first:

The SunBelt Conference released its absolutely hilarious article about the findings when they had the Alamo Bowl tape reviewed by "Independent reviewers". Check out some of this stuff...

Our officials are a little ahead of our game, but the play is catching up fast.

Quarter 1 – 9:23: Head linesman rules the runner is down. The ball
comes out just prior to the runner’s knee touches the ground. All three
reviewers agree that this was an incorrect ruling. The runner recovered
his own fumble so there was no impact on the game from this call. The TV
announcers criticized the Replay Official for not reviewing the play.
Replay guidelines do not allow the Replay Crew to review a fumble play once the
runner has been ruled down by the officials on the field. Since the runner
was ruled down, there can be no “over-turn.” Actions by the Replay
Official were correct.

This is still my least favorite rule in all of sports. The NFL--at least for one week--was encouraging their officials to let the play play out and then make a ruling on the field after. But after the one week when the announcers talked about it non-stop, I never heard from it again, which is disappointing. I don't get how a runner can't fumble when they're down by contact, and you never see the refs allow a review when the call on the field was that there wasn't a fumble, and then Henne's fumble on the 1 against ND gets reviewed and overturned. Something wasn't right there....

This is the best one:

Quarter 4 – 2:39: 4th down pass play near the goal line. A bang-bang
pass play that was ruled as an incomplete pass by the crew. The sideline
view looked like a good defensive play. The end zone view at slow-motion,
frame-by-frame speed showed the defender’s hand and arm on the receivers
back. Two reviewers did not have regular speed view of the play from the
end zone – only the slow motion replay. Both thought Defensive Pass
Interference should have been called. The Sun Belt Coordinator of
Officials had a “live” view of the play from the end zone (basically the same
view as the deep officials’) and felt the “no call” was appropriate because the
pass was behind the receiver and there was some question that the movement of
the receiver to reach back for the pass caused the “turning action” and not the
contact by the defender. This was one of those plays that could go either
way and would make half the people happy and the other half upset.

At least we're not trying to skew peoples' feelings on this one: "Bang-bang play" "It looked good from the sideline" "The two reviewers that ruled against us only had the slow-motion view" "It could've gone either way". I love the SunBelt.

And about the last play of the game:

After the muffed backward pass (#6), the Nebraska players and coaches in the
team area came onto the field thinking the game was over. Some players and
coaches from Michigan also came onto the field at this time. During the
last advance by the Michigan player (after backward pass #7) there were players
and coaches from both teams on the field. The officials ruled that the
actions by the players and coaches who came off the sideline were
Unsportsmanlike Conduct fouls, not illegal participation fouls.
Unsportsmanlike conduct fouls that occur during a live ball situation are “live
ball fouls, penalized as dead ball fouls,” and are enforced from the succeeding
spot. Since there was no time left in the game, there was no succeeding
spot, thus the game was over.

So we're ignoring the fact that 1) They never threw a flag to call an unsportsmanlike foul on anyone, 2) The Nebraska players took away half the field from Mike Hart, 3) What the hell is a live ball foul, penalized as a dead ball foul? Does that mean on the last play of the game, you can do whatever you want to your opponent because there won't be a succeeding spot? Does this seem weird to anyone else?

Spin, spin, spin, spin, spin, spin, spin:

Quarter 3 – 9:02: Nebraska is awarded a touchdown on a low pass in the end
zone. Replay reviewed the play right away and “buzzed” the crew, but got
no response. Replay Official noticed an “Error” message on the pager base
and had to reset the pager system. After the reset, he was able to notify
the crew that the play was under review. Fortunately, in this case,
Michigan felt strongly that the ball was not caught and called time-out.
This gave the Replay Official enough time to reset the paging system. The
touchdown catch was correctly over-turned as an incomplete pass by the Replay
Official. In hindsight, the Replay Official should have notified the
Referee that he tried to shut the play down prior to the Michigan time-out and
that there was an equipment malfunction. If this had happened, the Referee
would have re-instated the Michigan time-out.

In hindsight, your officials are stupid. There's gotta be a better way...give the guy in the booth a flair or something.

Quarter 4 – 6:06: Quarterback’s arm is hit from the backside and the
Referee correctly rules a fumble, not an incomplete pass. Quarterback’s
forward motion of his arm is an “empty hand” movement, meaning the ball is loose
in his hand as a result of the defender’s hit, prior to his arm going
forward. Replay reviewed the play from several angles and confirmed the
Referee’s ruling on the field, thus, no stoppage of play was required. The
television broadcasters were very critical of the Replay Official for not
stopping the game and reviewing the play. Stopping the play was
un-necessary because the Replay Official had already confirmed the ruling on the

Is there anyone that actually thinks this was a fumble, or at the very least that it was possible for the replay ref to "review the play from several angles and confirm the Ref's ruling on the field" before Lloyd burned another timeout. Didn't this play ultimately end up getting reviewed? So did the replay ref change his mind? Did he bend to Lloyd's pressure? Or was the play close enough it should have gotten reviewed all along? Just another case for coach's challenges in my eyes.

None of the three reviewers found any evidence that the game was too fast for
the crew. At no time did any official get beat to the spot on the field
that correct CCA mechanics dictated for that official. Every goal line
play and every end line play was correctly covered, and there were no
positioning errors by the crew.

I'm not sure that's what anyone was talking about.....

What a great read. I needed a laugh like that.

Despite the fact that I don't follow football recruiting that closely anymore since it doesn't really matter who we get, we lose 3-4 games a year anyway, it was still nice to see us pull in Steve Schilling, if for nothing more then I won't have to read a bunch of "Lloyd can't close!" posts. Mgoblog has more information than you could possibly need about him.

I'm not sure how I forgot to mention Petway's attempted murder via elbow in my post about the basketball game. Why is this such a big deal? Did he actually even elbow the guy? Whether he meant to or not, it was one of the big turning points in that game, and it was nice to see one of our guys sack up. Who is a bigger public enemy in East Lansing right now for something that really wasn't all that bad: Petway, or Jack Johnson?

Going to hockey now: This is a really big series for us. Sweep the Spartans--hell, even take 3 of 4 from the Spartans--and we're back in business. Miami's 11 point lead does look daunting, and there's probably no way to catch them, but we do have 3 games in hand. Win 'em and suddenly it's only a 5 point lead. And it's not like their schedule is a cakewalk (not to say ours is either). They've got a series at Ferris this weekend. Hard to imagine them taking 4 points there, so the door's open if we don't suck this weekend.

On USCHO's front page right now, they have a picture of Colton Fretter with the caption "Colton Fretter and The Spartans are NCAA tournament contenders". I must've missed the new rule that allows you to win the NCAAs getting shutout every game.

From Paula Weston's column:

Rick Comley is not a fan of Tuesday nights.
After Michigan State lost to Ferris State, 2-1, Tuesday night, the MSU head coach said, "Tuesday scheduling is very destructive for a team."

Well Rick, if you hadn't been a "Courtney Sims" about your schedule at the start of the year and not asked Michigan to move one of the games to a Tuesday night, your team would've had one extra day in there. Plus, amazing as it sounds, Ferris had to play Tuesday night too. And they were in a 6 games in 12 days stretch. But they aren't bitching. Go have a pity party with the Angry Midget.

LuvD1Hockey on USCHO posted a breakdown of all of Jack Johnson's penalties. I don't have the link to the original post, but this goes to Gomer's quoting of it: Jack has 106 PIMs this year with only 8 of them coming from tripping, hooking, and interference. I love Jack. Saying he would break Michigan's PIMs record and become the most hated player in college hockey was my best predicition of the year. The worst? "Why does everyone think Wisconsin is going to be so good this year??"

Get it done tonight Michigan. At least show some effort unlike 2 weeks ago. I want to get the "Just like basketball" chant going. Or going one step further "Just like football, basketball, and life". GO BLUE!

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Oh, what a game, what a game! After that first half, it would’ve been really easy for the Wolverines to come out of halftime, give up 5 straight points to the Spartans and then crumble and lose by 15-20. When they were down by 13, it would’ve been really easy for them to lose faith, and let the Sparties “Own Crisler” once again. Knowing beforehand that Dion Harris would make 1 field goal, Courtney Sims would have 4 points, and Horton would have 7 turnovers, there wouldn’t have been a Michigan fan alive that would’ve thought this game would even be close. And yet they prevailed.

Daniel Horton was absolutely outstanding once again, Ron Coleman was an unexpected surprise, Chris Hunter provided the post presence that we needed Courtney Sims to be, the Rockbiter was rockbiting it up—creating jumpball situations, getting on the floor, and looking goofy as all getup in the process….gotta love that kid.

Big-time credit to Tommy Amaker and the Michigan coaching staff on this one. They recognized that Sims was completely useless out there and that Smith was in way over his head and they got them out of the game before it was too late. And once they got State in foul trouble, they took advantage of it. It was obvious that the team that came out of the locker room at halftime was not the same team that went in there down by 7 points. I don’t know enough about basketball to talk about specific adjustments that were made (aside from the fact that I know they did a much better job of getting into the paint, and their zone defense was outstanding), but it felt really good to see something positive happen for Amaker after what he’s done for this program.

As for the MSU fans/coaches bitching about the officiating, a couple of points: 1) I’m sure MSU never gets calls in Breslin, nosir! That’s what happens in Big 10 basketball, and it was nice to see U of M getting calls at home like every other team seems to. 2) You rip on Lloyd for complaining about the refs all the time, so shut it. 3) Michigan was playing without probably their best all-around player (though Horton’s play is making me rethink that sentence) and if he’s there, the refs probably don’t matter all that much.

That was a great game by 2 pretty darn good Big Ten basketball teams. For State, I was very impressed with Neitzel, even if I made a few tasteless comments throughout the game. Davis still looks soft as ever. Him and Courtney should have a cuddle. I thought Michigan did an outstanding job against their wings and with keeping MSU from running in the second half.

Michigan proved with that win that they have the capability to be right there by the end of this Big Ten season. Beat Wisconsin, and this team probably cracks the top 20 next week in the polls and they would have a tie for the Big Ten lead.

And the best part of all this? Friday night I’ll be in East Lansing for the hockey game. There will be no comments about basketball directed toward me, and if the Wolverines win, the “Just like football” chant can be amended to “Just like basketball”. Gotta love it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The First Half

Thank God for Ronald Coleman or this would look a lot worse. We've succeeded in getting their bigs in foul trouble, which would be more helpful if Courtney Sims wasn't a giant vagina. Seriously. Vagina.

Not a whole lot of dribble penetration once again....Still, it could be a LOT worse right now, especially considering Harris hasn't remotely gotten it going yet.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Breaking Down the Carnage

More notes on Michigan’s disappointing 5-2 loss to the Falcons:

--In his return, Jack Johnson was on the ice for 4 of BGSU’s goals, and both of Michigan’s.

--Matt Hunwick took 3 penalties. All of them resulted in PPGs for the Falcons, including two that put the game out of reach after Michigan had made it 3-1. I’ve heard from a couple of different people that he was benched for much of the third period. Not really what you want to see out of one of your captains. That’s very Scott Matzka.

--Michigan gave up 3 short-handed breakaways during the game. This has been a disturbing trend for a team that coming into the weekend had given up 6 SHGs in their last 12 games. The goalies stopped all three, but the coaches can’t be happy about that, even if they were pinching more than usual due to the score.

--Bowling Green tallied 49 shots on goal. It’s very possible that the scoring staff at BGSU was more generous with the shot totals than most rinks, but 49 is still waaay too many to be giving up. Our defense has been comically bad for the last 2 months or so.

--I’ve also heard that the coaches may finally be coming around to the idea of splitting up Jack Johnson and Matt Hunwick. The duo was on the ice for the first goal, and a bad pinch led to an odd-man rush and a goal. On the second goal, they were out there again and Michigan had (guess what??) a turnover in their own end.

--The last time Michigan lost 4 consecutive road games? The last year we didn’t make the tournament. Nice omen.

--On the bright side, Chad Kolarik is still rolling. He has 4 multi-point games in his last six and has tallied 9 points in that time.

We’re just playing stupid, stupid hockey right now. 14-9-1 (9-6-1) is not a record I expect out of a Michigan hockey team. With 2 more against Sparty this week (who we haven’t beaten in 5 tries), that .500 mark in conference could be getting closer and closer. I still haven’t given up on this season. Two years ago, Denver finished 5th in the WCHA and lost in the first round of their conference tournament. We have the talent to make a run, they just have to get back to playing like they were at the start of the season. All it takes is getting hot for 4 games. It’s doable.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

BGSU 5, Michigan 2

And they throw everything away with that loss tonight. Johnson and Hunwick victimized again, Ruden sounded like he was hung out to dry numerous times, Billy Sauer sharp in relief. Awesome.

Michigan 6, Bowling Green 1

I want to know who kidnapped the real Wolverines and put that team in white out there last night that actually looked like they knew how to play hockey.

There were two guys last night that could probably say that they played their best games as Wolverines: Tim Cook and Tim Miller.

It wasn't just that Cook scored last night. He was pretty darn good in almost all of the aspects of the game. He still had a couple of Tim Cook "moments" but he had a goal, chipped in on the offensive end a couple more times (he looked like he did at the start of the year in that regard), he was a team-high +3, and actually made 2-3 bodychecks. It looked like he was actually playing with confidence out there, which was great to see. Hopefully he can keep it up. That'd be a big addition to the team if that kid starts actually helping the team.

Timmy Miller was just awesome last night. 2 assists I believe, he was great on the kills and in his own end, and as tbarr put it at Grizzly Peak, he threw more punches without getting a DQ than anyone we've seen. He popped about 3 different guys in that fight and only got 2 for roughing. Miller, Naurato and MacVoy are really playing well for us right now, and Bailey was before he got hurt.

At the other end, Travis Turnbull has really fallen off with his play. I'm not expecting him to go dropping 3-5 goals a month or anything like that, but I've barely noticed him out on the ice these last few games. He hasn't been nearly as good as he was at the start of the year.

Our defense all around was much better last night than it has been lately. I think it add support to the idea that Johnson and Hunwick shouldn't be playing together. It doesn't do any good to have both offensive defensemen in the same pairing when (in most cases) the other 4 dmen don't jump into the offensive zone all that often.

Montville and Ward didn't hurt us any last night.

Hensick's goal was just gorgeous, though I would've been absolutely hacked at him if he didn't score, because he had a teammate WIDE open the entire time and he didn't even look at him. Great moves, great goal...should've passed the puck. I guess that's TJ.

Cook's goal was just as pretty. Cogliano and Miller (I believe) had a nice give and goal on a 2 on 1 then Cogliano brought the goalie to one side of the net before throwing a behind the back, no-look pass into the slot for Cook to tap it in.

Ruden was outstanding in goal. He's playing well enough to keep starting. I hate it for Sauer because he really hasn't had much help, but Rudy is at the top of his game right now and he earned another start tonight.

Amazing that in a 6-1 game, Swystun can still find a way to be a minus.

A play I had never seen before: Bowling Green got a delay of game penalty when they had 2 players thrown out on a faceoff. I guess it must be a mandatory penalty, but I had never seen that.

Molina--the original porno moustache (we started that chant!)--shaved it off! What gives??!! We finally have the guy do one of our games again and he doesn't have his famous moustache. Disappointing....

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Quick Comments

Absolutely great game out of our basketball team tonight. When you shoot at that high of a percentage, you aren't going to lose too many games. The one thing that was very troubling for me though was that there was almost zero dribble penetration by anyone in that game. The most telling stat about our lack of drives was the fact that as a team, Michigan shot one free throw. One. Luckily we were knocking down almost 3 out of 4 outside shots because there weren't a lot of easy baskets to be had. If they were having an off night though....well....it'd be UCLA all over again. Like against UCLA, our bigs weren't anywhere to be found. Petway had a couple of nice dunks, but Sims and Brown combined for 4 points on 2 attempted shots.

Lester looked like the Lester of old, and Dion Harris was great shooting the ball as well. Jerrett Smith had a horrible game. 4 turnovers against 1 assist, but I swear he could've had twice that in TOs. I don't know how many times that kid wanted to try and split a double-team, but he didn't have it working at all tonight.

That was one of the cleaner Big 10 games I've seen. Only 13 free throws and 21 fouls between the two teams, and no one had more than 2 personals with the exception of Harris (who somehow had 4).

Good win for the boys in Blue, I just get the feeling that we're in for some really ugly games if we can't get the ball inside the paint. You're not going to shoot 65% all that often, no matter how good of looks you're getting from the outside.

To hockey last night:

Christ Almighty....that was not Michigan hockey. The lack of effort is really disturbing me. As I said last night, if you can't get up for Michigan State, you've got real problems. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find more than 2 players on our team (Tim Miller and Noah Ruden) that you could say played even average hockey last night. Johnson and Hunwick let another man get behind them for a breakaway goal, Hunwick took a stupid-ass penalty leading to the first goal (though the penalty on Bailey was BS).

The powerplay was lifeless...even when they kept the puck in MSU's end for over a minute and twenty seconds, they still couldn't muster up any quality scoring chances off it. The wings look to pass back to the point too quickly, and the point men look to shoot it into the defenseman's pads too quickly. What happened to Andrew Ebbett setting up behind the net? What happened to the John Shouneyia play where he'd be down low and cycle it with one of the guys on the wing? You're telling me TJ Hensick couldn't be lethal in that same role?

Why put Hensick on a line with Bailey and Fardig? I love both those kids, but you're wasting TJ putting him with 2 non-scorers. They got outhit, outworked, and pretty much dominated by the Spartans, who did an outstanding job of clogging up the passing lanes and using their sticks to keep Michigan from getting anything going. I don't know that Michigan completed two passes in a row on a breakout the entire night.

The Johnson hit. I'm still at a loss. Everyone who saw it thinks he committed murder, then a Michigan fan tells them to watch the tape, and they realize they're completely wrong. Even my dad thought the penalty was reasonable until I made him watch the clip again and pointed out that at no time did he leave his feet, hit Howells in the head, use his elbow, raise his stick, or intentionally hit him from behind (Howells obviously saw him coming and turned). He got Johns-owned and McInchak responded to seeing blood and just assumed Johnson must have done it.

That brings me to another point: Isn't it about time that the league takes on responsibilities for suspensions? It's one thing to ask a ref to make a split-second decision about is it a penalty or not, and if so, how many minutes should it be. It's another thing to ask him to make a split-second decision on if a player should be suspended for the next game or not. Without the benefit of replay. The technology is there. Every game is recorded in some form or another, and sure, sometimes you won't have a good angle. But if the technology is there--like say in a game covered by Fox Sports Detroit--when the video clearly shows that no contact was made with a player's head, how can a player be suspended for a contact to the head violation??? This is the second time this year that sometime like this has occurred, the other being David Rohlfs getting suspended for a fight where he never threw a punch and never took off his gloves. Why not use video replay if you have it to review incidents before issuing a suspension?

The announcers were just brutal last night. For being Michigan basketball's play-by-play guy, Matt Shepherd sure had a stiffy for Colton Fretter and David Booth last night. And for being the CCHA's media guy, Fred Pletsch just does not have a clue. I can't even go into how much was wrong with some of the stuff they were saying last night....the tip of the iceberg being that Kevin Porter apparently was the captain of the Canadian World Junior team and won a medal. And yes, he's also somehow one of the 22 Michiganders in the game. Imagine that. Michigan kids going to Michigan and Michigan State. What a concept.

Ruden was awesome between the pipes. It'd be hard to fault him on either goal. And it seems like I'm saying that after every single game.

One final note tonight: I forgot to mention this when I talked about the Wings/Rangers game, but NBC's coverage of the NHL was absolutely outstanding. I love having the "sideline reporter" in between the two benches, because he can hear what the coaches and players are saying to each other. I love the interviews with the players on the ice. Goalie cam is going to be ridiculously cool. Mike Emerick is by far the best hockey announcer in the States. Especially considering it was a first broadcast, I thought they did an excellent job.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I am Michigan Hockey's Complete Lack of Enthusiasm Part 2

What a piss-poor effort tonight. I can't even talk about it right now.

That was a horseshit call on Johnson. Absolute horseshit. Can someone tell me how this is a DQ?

I am the Michigan Hockey Team's Total Lack of Enthusiasm

I meant to post about this before but haven't had a chance til now. Just like last year, the Wolverine hockey team came out and found themselves trailing USA before ultimately squeaking by with a W. Unlike last year however, this edition of the U-18 team isn't all that good. Where last year they had Phil Kessel, Jack Johnson, Jack Skille, Ryan Stoa, Peter Mueller, etc., this year they have Pat Kane and Erik Johnson. There are some other good players on the team, no doubt, but this team is nowhere near as talented as last year, and their 4-11 or so record against NCAA opponents supports that (last year, I believe they ended up right around .500).

Michigan looked completely disinterested from the drop of the puck. It was probably the worst game I've ever seen Jack Johnson play--and a bad giveaway by him led to USA's first goal. The Tim Cook "moment" for the game was in the third period when he went to actually make a check out by the blue line. The only problems were that #1) he missed and went feet first into the boards and #2) He was the last man back and the USA player ended up with a breakaway that thankfully Ruden stopped. Hensick was better than he has been, but he still coasted for a big portion of that game (thankfully trying long enough to chip in a couple of points).

The best player on the ice for us was the guy that was supposed to be out long-term: Kolarik. Though, if he was that hurt, I'm not sure why they'd risk him in an exhibition game.

Pat Kane was outstanding for USA, with a gorgeous one-touch pass to set up USA's second goal. He was an offensive threat all night. Chris Summers I didn't notice too much, but he did seem to have much better awareness in his own end (read: He knew where his own zone was). Didn't notice him all that much and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Sauer couldn't be faulted for at least 2 of the 3 goals (and if he was screened on Johnson's bomb, you can add that to the list). Ruden didn't get much more help than Billy but he was outstanding between the pipes. Our defense just doesn't have the look of a team that's going to contend for an NCAA title right now. I like that they shuffled the D pairings a little bit, though I still think Johnson and Hunwick need to be split up in even-strength situations. Leave them together on the PP, but for 5 on 5, split em up. I like Mitera with Cook. If you can't trust #25 in front of the net, put out the best positional defenseman that you have with him. Sauer has had almost no help in front of him, but at some point he has to stop letting 3-4 pucks get behind him. I can make excuses for him all year, but at some point he needs to make some saves that he "shouldn't".

The Wolverines take on MSU tonight at Munn, and will be shown on Fox Sports Detroit. Michigan's looking for their first 2 game winning streak at Munn since the year the place opened. Ouch. Hopefully the boys come out with a much better effort tonight than they had against USA. State's been playing pretty well lately, and I can't even make fun of them for their schedule since they actually swept UAF. Should be a bunch of Wolverines fans in attendance though. I'm not going to make it to this one, but I'm going to the Friday-night game there in a couple weeks.

In the "Rumours Du Jour" section of the Ottawa Sun this week, they speculated that the Wings might have an interest in Mike Komisarek. That'd be a huge pickup. Komisarek hasn't been great for the Canadiens, but he's not even 24 yet and we've learned from watching Jiri Fischer how long it can take big defensemen to develop. He probably came out a little too early, but he does have almost 100 NHL games to his credit and he's a big body on the blueline that will actually hit, and he has a nice shot from the point.

I also have to give a call to Andreas Lilja who has been very good for the Wings lately. I was hard on him earlier in the year, but he's been pretty solid as of late. Though he's not Chris Chelios who was a machine against the Rangers. I can't believe how good that guy still is. He doesn't look like a 44-year old, and he sure looks like he could play another few years if he wanted to. Shanahan looks great too. Babcock pointed it out that he's actually skating more, and playing really well even when he's not putting the puck in the net.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: When Rasheed Wallace is shooting the ball well, the Pistons are next to unbeatable. 9 of 12 from the field yesterday, including 18 points in the third quarter. He's a bad, bad man. Carlos Delfino was outstanding off the bench yesterday, and if he can keep providing a spark like that, we're going to be in pretty good shape between him, Dyess, Fried Ice Cream, Evans, and Hunter coming back.

Saunders mentioned in the newspaper the other day that he might use Tayshaun as a backup point-guard to throw a different look at teams. Interesting idea, and I like the idea of Billups getting some time at the 2. That team is just such a pleasure to watch.

Honestly, if they stay healthy I don't know how that team win the title this year. It's not just that they're 30-5, it's not that they've got a ten game lead in what might be the best division in basketball....they're just blowing teams out in the process. They can come at you in so many different ways. They've got 4 starters capable of dropping 20-25 in any given game. Billups has been phenomenal whether he's scoring or just dropping dimes on people (16 yesterday). And I don't think Saunders has even installed the entire offense yet. When Hunter comes back, their defense should even pick up a little bit. You just never feel like there's a point during the game when they don't have their opponent covered. Wojo put it really well today:
They can dig a healthy little 14-point deficit against Boston and nobody -- trust me, nobody -- thinks they'll lose the game.
That's pretty much it. At this point though, it's a hard wait until the playoffs. I want to see them win 70 as much as the next person, but it's hard to watch games just hoping that no one gets hurt. Because honestly, that's the only way I see this title run derailed....

Friday, January 13, 2006

Good Night in Detroit

The Wings and Pistons had games last night, both against teams who were in the top 2 in their respective leagues. They both won in convincing fashion.

I caught more of the Wings game than I did the Pistons game, but man was that an entertaining hockey game, and a true indication of how good hockey has gotten thanks to the new rules. 1-1 through two periods, but a pretty entertaining 1-1 game. The Flyers had a goal waived off for one of the most phantom penalties I think I've ever seen. The announcers weren't sure if it was called for goalie interference, or Savage pushing Schneider a little bit to set up. If it was the former, he never touched Legace and if it was the latter, it was an extremely weak call. They blew that one.

But man what a performance out of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg! Those two guys are so much fun to watch when they're out there together. Babcock put them back together, on a line with Shanahan, and they only combined for 4 goals and 8 assists. The Captain also had a great pass to Robert Lang for essentially and empty-netter, which put Stevie past Gordie Howe into 7th place on the all-time assists list.

Meanwhile, the Pistons took care of the Spurs, once again by 15 points and once again holding the Spurs well below their average point total. For the two game series this year, the Pistons held San Antonio to a total of 138 points. And once again the Stones absolutely dominated SA on the boards. And here's a fun fact for you: There's no one coming to help SA on the glass unless they pull a trade before playoff time. Tim Legler wrote today (get this) that the Pistons would sweep San Antonio if the Finals started today. Can't say I disagree. You're not supposed to go into SA and win as easily as Detroit did. When Sheed is hitting from outside, they're almost unbeatable. Billups can beat you in so many ways. This is without a doubt the best starting 5 in basketball, and unless they get a major injury or face the Jazz in the Finals (haha), you have to like their chances.

Some familiar names on the rosters for the AHL All-Star game. For PlanetUSA, Wings' prospects Jiri Hudler and Valteri Filppula. 'Anny Richmon' and Al Montoya also made the roster. The Canadian team includes Jeff Tambellini. That makes me feel better about Montoya and Tambellini going pro. At least they're not skating around in the E, or fighting for shifts in the A, they're all-stars in the league right below the NHL, and they've both seen some games up in the Show, even if Montoya didn't play.

I'm off now to go watch the Wolverines hockey team take on the USA Under 18 team. It'll be nice to see Chris Summers again and see how he's progressed since the last time I saw him, which was over a year ago. He was a little too much Werner for me last time, so hopefully he's gotten a little more responsible in his own end. Sweet Lord can that boy skate though. Pat Kane will also be playing for USA, and according to the Yost Post hockey hotboard (and a tidbit Inside the Fort), the chances of him becoming a Wolverine are looking better and better. Another bit of good news as Chad Kolarik, thought to maybe be done for the season with a hernia, may actually play tonight. I don't know that I'd risk him in an exhibition game, but it's nice to know the possibility is there. Save him for MSU Tuesday.

The Blue also picked up a commit from 6'1" forward Max Pacioretty from Taft School in Connecticut. Nobody seems to know much about him yet.

UNO also took a hit, with sophomore defenseman Joe Grimaldi leaving school to go to the OHL. He was benched for the Friday game against Michigan and apparently wasn't too happy about it. Don't know if that played a role. That's a big loss for the Mavericks though. That kid's a good player....

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Packers have a new coach

You know how I said that I wasn't a fan of hiring an offensive coordinator of a team that didn't have a good offense? Well. Umm...My team just hired the offensive coordinator of the team with the worst offense in football. Super.

I'm not going to freak out yet, because he was here before and Ron Wolf always had high praise for him, and apparently he's pretty well thought of, but holy crap. They didn't score a touchdown for like 4 games. To be fair, his offenses in New Orleans were pretty good (to be fair, they're right about the same as Brad Childress's offenses that I wasn't thrilled with the looks of...but at the same time, I always thought of NO as a pretty good offensive team and I was never scared of Philly in that way) and the 49ers weren't really bursting with talent.

On the bright side, I think this means Favre will be back since Mike McCarthy was his QB coach before and they're apparently on good terms.

On the downside, Jim Bates is probably gone, which means a 4th offensive coordinator in 4 years for the Packers. Though it might be Mike Singletary, which would be cool.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Wow, Dumb....Wow.....

Is there anything you can even say to this? Good thing he's "Showing everybody that he's not the person a lot of people claim he is."


The Return of Nogood!

What an absolutely hilarious hockey game last night. Wings get up 3-0 a minute into the second period. By the time the third period is 10 minutes old, Dallas suddenly has a touchdown on the board and are awaiting the PAT. Thankfully they finally got Osgood out of the net, or I'm guessing the Stars would've gone for two and made it.

I'm not sure what Babcock was thinking, putting Osgood back in between the pipes after two stellar games by Legace. I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that Osgood has a very good track record against Dallas (despite Jamie Langenbrunner's moon shot).

Honestly, I don't even know why I bother watching games that Osgood starts. It's going to be the same thing every time. He makes a few absolutely ridiculous saves and follows it up with a goal like #4 where for some reason he bent down with his blocker to try to stop a shot rather than kick out his leg. What dude?

To be fair, the Wings stopped skating after they scored their 3rd goal of the game, and not all 6 of the goals were Ozzie's fault, but it's the same old crap from him and I'm sick of it. It's amazing, the Wings are struggling a little bit, Legace comes back and they give up 1 goal in a two game span, then they put Osgood back in and they give up a 6 spot. It's not a coincidence. That effort last night gives him a 3.01 gaa and an .888 save percentage. That's pathetic (especially considering Legace has a 2.02/.922 with the same defense in front of him).

I'm sure the MSM is blowing Osgood today, talking about how not everything is his fault and he's still a top-notch goalie, blah blah blah. Lord knows Mickey Redmond was all over his nuts last night still. The next time he says that a goal Ozzie lets in was weak will be the first.

I get the feeling though, that after last night, we won't be seeing any more random apperances by Ozzie--at least for awhile. They'll start Legace til he has a bad game, Osgood will get a start, he'll give up 3 or 4 goals, then Legace will be back.

Edit: Fun random fact...in the last day, 3 people have found The Blog That Yost Built by using "Osgood sucks" or "Chris Osgood sucks" as their search query on google.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

UAF 4, Michigan 2

First off, anything good that was said about Cook or Pochmara last night should be taken away tonight.

Tim Cook should not be playing hockey at Michigan. It's that simple. The kid is just terrible, and if Montville or Dunlap isn't good enough to get on the ice then we should be rotating 5 defensemen out there. I wrote last night that he was directly responsible for the first two goals. Having seen the replay today I'll back off a little bit from that, but he still played a role in both of them. On the first, he chased his man all the way out to the point (why, when you have forwards out there???). That left the front of the net wide open for the goal. Without knowing the system we run, it's possible that Cogliano should have rotated down, but it's hard to say. I still highly doubt it was the plan for our left dman to be out by the right point. On the second goal, Dest whiffs on a clearing attempt and takes himself out of position. Cook gets caught in no-man's land between picking up Dest's man (though Fardig was kind of there) and covering his own man in the slot. Instead he does neither, the pass gets across and it's in the net. I've always been told that in a 2 on 1, the defenseman should take away the pass, and leave the shooter to the goalie. Cook screwed up by letting the pass get across, but Dest needs to not whiff like that. They can share blame for that one.

And Pochmara just doesn't have a clue. I thought he called a good game last night, but he was brutal tonight. Everytime someone fell down, it's a penalty. To be fair, a lot of the calls went in our favor, but I can't believe how many times he fell for that diving crap that UAF pulls. I thought Gordon Bombay was coaching that team: "Take the fall! Act hurt!" The best was when Michigan was breaking out on a 2 on 1, the UAF player laid down like he was dead, Pochmara blew the play and the kid got up and skated off. That's just embarrasing. And he fell for it every time.

That being said, the guy only gave us about 6 power plays in the third period that we couldn't convert on. When they were just passing it around and not taking shots, they were shooting it right into the defensemen. UAF's PK was awesome tonight. They put a lot of pressure on the points, the backdoor play was open, but Cogliano whiffed at least 3 times and Kolarik missed a couple as well.

Once again, Bill Sauer couldn't be faulted on any of those 4 goals. I don't think I'm being overly biased since I like the kid. The defense just let him down once again. The first goal, for whatever reason Cook decided to go out past the circle on the PK leaving the front of the net wide open for a guy to walk in. The second goal he left his man open again. The third goal was a cross that was a slam dunk and the 4th he got bowled over. Can't fault the kid. Hunwick got beat to the outside a couple more times tonight...ugh. He was pretty brutal. As were our faceoffs. The stat was that we got beat 60%-40% which is an extremely large difference, but I thought it was worse than that.

That's about all for tonight. That was just 2 1/2 hours of not having fun. Blech. Cogliano was the only one that really cared last night it seemed. Everyone else (HENSICK!) was at half-speed.

And Cook sucks.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Michigan 4, UAF 0

Fardig was awesome tonight. I thought he was outstanding tonight, whether he knocked that goal in or not. I was really disappointed to see MacVoy go off with an injury because that line had a few really good shifts.

Sauer played well even if there wasn't a ton of big time scoring chances. It was really nice to see him get rewarded with a shutout and for the defense to play well in front of him. He hasn't been at fault for some of those large goal totals lately. The defense just hasn't played well in front of him but tonight they did.

I didn't notice Cook out there, and that's a really good thing.

The brawl at the end was awesome. David Rohlfs has to be hacked off that he got a DQ for getting punched a bunch of times, and Turnbull and Johnson get roughing penalties for their incidents tonight. Turnbull pulled away from the ref twice to go hit someone else and didn't get the gate. Jack Johnson is quickly gaining legend status amongst the Michigan students I think. Everyone loves him.

Funniest moment of the game...after Jack railed on the one guy and popped someone else on the way into the box, they were lining up in the handshake line and Red Berenson made a specific trip over to the line and made a "calm down" motion with his hand to Jack--as if he was worried that Jack would punch someone in the handshake line. Just hilarious.

I still get the sinking feeling that we're going to be eliminated from the NCAAs on a bad giveaway in our own end. Still happens WAY too much. They were better about it in the 2nd and 3rd than they were out of the gate.

Kolarik also had a pretty nice game. Hopefully the MTU game and tonight will spring him to a great second half.

I sure hope MacVoy's ok though. I've been on the record several times as saying I'd like to see what he could do with a little more ice time.

Bailey had a nice goal too...great shot off a great feed. Not sure how they called that unassisted at first. He seems like he's settling in nicely.

Mitera has been watching Jack. During the second period he was in the corner to the right of Sauer and he pulled Jack's little fake-with-the-stick-up-around-his-shoulders-and-spin-back-the-other-way-with- the-puck move.

That game really didn't entertain me a whole lot til the last couple of minutes. I felt like it was pretty boring overall. But I suppose that's a good thing because it meant our defense was making it that way. No real adventures like we've seen the last couple months.

At least UAF didn't really run our goalie tonight. That's a change. There's a bunch of divers and cheap shot artists on that team.

Not sure what the deal was with the whole pulling the goalie and calling timeout in the last 2 minutes. They obviously wanted to get on the board, but pulling your goalie down 4-0? Umm...errr....

I thought Pochmara called a pretty good game. Got away from him a little bit at the end, but at least he didn't go tossing people for tomorrow. I'll take him over Wilkens, McInchak, Aaron, and Hall at the very least. I think that's the first time we've had him as a ref. Want to say he was a linesman before....

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sherman Axed, No Reggie Bush

After defeating the Seattle Seahawks JV Squad--and falling from 3rd to 5th in the draft order in the process--the Packers fired Head Coach Mike Sherman. None of the assistants have been let go--yet--but many of them have contracts expiring at the end of this month and will be free to walk away at that time. Hopefully Offensive Coordinator Tom Rossley is included in that bunch.

My thoughts: Sherman is a good, good man who simply didn't have what it took to take this team to the next level. Injuries completely derailed this season, but it can't be ignored that in 6 years he has failed to get this team out of the second round of the playoffs, and has accounted for the only 2 home playoff losses in the franchise's history. In their best chance to make a run at the championship under Sherman, the team blew a 14 point lead on the road against Philly, culminating in the 4th and 1/4th and 26 debacle that led to the firing of Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell.

Sherman's main shortcoming was in his tenure as General Manager, where he had numerous drafting and free agency mistakes, which ultimately doomed him when Mike Sherman the coach ended up coach a team devoid of talent--and what talent was there ended up on injured reserve.

He also failed to even remotely reign in Brett Favre, who--as much as I love him (I had tears in my eyes after the Seattle game, just thinking that that could be the last time I ever got to see him play)--has killed the team with poor decision-making. It's well documented how good Green Bay's record is when committing 0 or 1 turnover, and how piss-poor it is when committing 2 or more.

That said, he's a good man and I hope he lands on his feet.

Who will be hired as his successor? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Bears DC Ron Rivera, Dallas Assistant Head Coach Sean Payton, Browns OC Maurice Carthon, Steelers OL coach Russ Grimm, Packers DC Jim Bates, Steelers OC Ken Whisenhunt, and Giants DC and ex-Packer Tim Lewis are on the list. Eagles OC Brad Childress was previously mentioned, but did not get named in the most recent article. JSO also speculated that Kirk Ferentz and Bobby Petrino could be candidates.

I don't like the idea of coordinators of mediocre offenses (Carthon, Childress and Whisenhunt) being candidates, nor do I like the idea of a guy who has not run an offense or defense (Grimm) being named head coach. I know he's highly regarded, but I'm having Mike Tice flashbacks here. Carthon is probably just a Rooney Rule candidate.

My personal preference is Bates. He did an outstanding job with a defense that doesn't have a ton of talent on it. Who would've ever thought that a team starting a rookie, Ahmad Carroll, and Mark Roman could lead the league in pass defense? Granted more of that had to do with crappy QBs, but still. The players seem to love him. He's an in-your-face leader. He's close with Favre. And he did an excellent job as Miami's interim coach last season (going 3-4 and beating New England). I also would not have a problem with seeing them bring in an offensive-minded coach and keeping Bates as DC, if he would go for that.

I can't understand the fascinating with Brad Childress that NFL teams seem to have. I've never watched Philly and thought "Boy there's an offense I wish Green Bay ran". He transformed Brian Westbrook into a weapon and then stopped giving him the ball. In the last 4 years, Philly has never ranked higher than 9th in total offense. Granted apart from the Super Bowl season, they've never had a WR that was above average. They could do a lot worse, but I'm not sold on Childress.

I'd prefer Bates with an offensive guru as OC.

The win against Seattle put Green Bay out of the Reggie Bush derby, but as it happened they would have only picked 3rd as they didn't get the help they needed. They should still be in prime position to get AJ Hawk or Mario Williams and add an impact player to their defense. Once it became evident that they wouldn't get a top 2 pick, picking 5th is probably the prime spot to be. They wouldn't take Ferguson (I don't think) and either Hawk or Williams will be there at 5.

Without looking it up, I believe this is the first time since 1992 that the Packers have had a draft pick in the single digits (Jamal Reynolds went 10th when they traded Hasselbeck to Seattle...good pick). Which also means they should be in great position to get a RB/DL whoever in round 2.

The team also has about 25 million in cap room (add 8-10 million to that if Favre retires) and should be able to go after a top-notch free agent or two. The one good thing about a season this bad is that it makes for a very interesting (read: Shorter) offseason. The coaching search, the draft, free agency. I love it!

Memo to USA Hockey

If you're going to take away all of Michigan's best players year-after-year, effectively screwing any chance they have at winning a GLI, at least come home with a gold medal when you're the odds-on favorite. At least make the Championship Game.

The Americans fell 5-1 to the Russians last night, and will now take on the Finnish team in the bronze-medal game. The Russians scored 4 goals in the third period after entering the 3rd period up 1-0. The American players will return in time for Michigan's game against UAF. Cogliano we're not sure about at the moment. I'm sure glad we got pooped on against CC for that.

In the meantime, Jack Johnson continued to work on becoming the most hated man in hockey--and at the same time, my favorite player in the world--by elbowing Canadian scum after Canada's empty net goal put away the Americans. MGoBlog has more on the incident. My view of it was that Jack barely got him. Granted if it's an elbow to the head, "barely got him" could still be not fun (and I didn't see if the kid conked his head on the ice or anything).

The incident led--in part--to this: A preview of the USA/Czech quarterfinal game on the IIHF website. No link, as it was sent to me in an email and I don't feel like finding it. Can you tell a Canadian wrote it?

By Greg Alexis

USA: When the tournament started, most people predicted Team USA would
finish first in Group A and receive a bye into the semi-finals. But
after a surprising 2-2 draw with Switzerland and a 3-2 loss to Canada in
the Round Robin, the USA finds itself in a tough quarter-final duel with
the Czech Republic. The Americans will be under immense pressure to beat
the Czechs and advance to play the Russians in a January 3 semi-final.
In goal, Cory Schneider will most likely get the start, as he has played
most of the key games so far for the Americans. In three starts, he has
a win, a loss, and a tie, and sports a respectable .911 save percentage
and 2.01 GAA. Up front, Phil Kessel leads the team in scoring with eight
assists but has still yet to score a goal in the tournament, while Chris
Bourque has six goals in four games (five of those, however, came
against Norway). Although the Americans (tied with Russia for the
tournament lead in goals at 21) may have the edge offensively over the
Czechs, they will need to play a solid defensive game to reach the
semis, and refrain from unnecessary cheap shots like the one Jack
Johnson laid on Steve Downie at the end of the New Year's Eve clash
with Canada. Incidentally, apart from the contributions of Jack and the
other Johnson, Erik, the USA blueliners have done little to spark the
offense, with all other notching one point or less through four games.
If the Americans lose in the quarter-finals, a lot of questions will be
asked about how a team that had so much promise couldn't put all the
pieces together to achieve a championship.

Nice, unbiased writing there.