Monday, May 29, 2006

Shock Me, Shock Me

Another one of those weekends that I've spoke of before. But what else would you expect in the worst sports year in history.

-Pistons lose two
-Michigan softball knocked out
-Herta's team seemingly has the wrong rear wing on the car for the Indy 500
-Gordon's car breaks and puts him in the wall
-Harvick's exhaust pipe breaks

The best thing that happened all weekend was Dale Jr. pitting outside his box and ending up 11th. That's not really what you're looking for.

It really pains me to see the Pistons going the way of the Mid 90s Packers. Great runs every year, but 5 years from now you're going to look back and wonder how in the hell they only won one title. This ain't over yet (and to be fair, neither is the window of opportunity), but the way they're playing they have no shot of coming back. If the old Pistons miraculously show up for game 5-7 they might have a shot at it, but these imposters are done in 5.

Shit, I'm wearing my Ben Wallace jersey right now and they just called me for fouling Wade.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Couple Michigan Hockey Tidbits

A rare second-update-of-the-day while I sit here at my desk waiting for this day to get over. The day before a long weekend always drags so bad.

Bob Miller had two good updates on the Yost Post about hockey recruiting. Basically we're 50-50 to land another stud defense recruit (whose dad happens to be ex-Tiger Dan Petry) and despite his appearance at the Plymouth Whalers rookie camp, AJ Jenks isn't going anywhere but Ann Arbor. The highlights:

The 6-3 180 pound right defenseman has seen his stock skyrocket since
joining the eventual USHL champion Des Moines Buccaneers mid-season. He posted a 1-14-15 scoring line with a +6 plus/minus and 68 penalty minutes in 48

Pro scouts agree on his skating and puck movement abilities, so much so that he was ranked the 36th overall North Ameican skater by the NHL's Central Scouting Service in their final 2006 listings.

A 6'3" defenseman that can skate well and move the puck? Sign me up! Hopefully we'll land him, since we see Cook, Dest, and Hunwick leave after next year (and more than likely Jack Johnson as well). Here's more on Petry courtesy of INCH (HT: Western College Hockey)

The good news for Michigan hockey fans is that Jenks more than measured up in
his on-ice play. Although competing in a roller hockey tournament as well over
the weekend, Jenks employed his usual brand of skills to be one of the dominant
on-ice performers. His uncanny ability to find open ice in the offensive zone
allowed him frequent scoring chances and he continued to be a dominant force in
the faceoff circle.

I love everything I've read about Jenks (most of which has come from Bob Miller). Despite the fact that he looks just like Paul Davis, minus the crying, I think he's going to be awesome for us. I wish we could have him next year, even if it's just to take faceoffs, since apparently he wins like 90% of his draws.

One other very interesting thing I read this week in The Hockey News' Draft Preview (no link since it's in the print version): They have incoming freshman Chris Summers listed as a first-round pick (along with Mark Mitera). The article says that "He glides faster than most players in the NHL skate", but then it goes on to project him into the NHL as a defensive forward. Kind of interesting considering the logjam on defense this year with both Hunwick and Johnson spurning pro offers. If Steve Kampfer is good enough to earn a spot on the blueline this year, maybe Summers could see some time up front. Or maybe it was just a typo. The other oddity was that uber-recruit Trevor Lewis didn't crack their top 100, despite the fact that he's...ya know....God and all.

Can you tell it's the offseason?

Tied Headed to South Beach

It’s amazing to watch people in the media flip-flop from game to game. It brings back happy memories of the 2004 NBA Finals where at the start of the series it was “Lakers in 4, Pistons can’t score” and by the end of game 4, Screamin’ A Smith was saying “I ALREADY BOUGHT MY TICKET BACK TO PHILADELPHIA BECAUSE THIS SERIES IS OVER IN GAME FIVE”.

One bad shooting night from all four of the Pistons top-scorers, and suddenly we went from the majority of ESPN’s experts saying Pistons in 5 (!!) or 6 to “They could get blown out of this series”. Let’s just calm down a tick shall we? In game one, the Pistons had a very uncharacteristically bad shooting performance. But the difference between Game One, and some of the games in the Cleveland series was that in Game One, they were getting GREAT looks, they just weren’t knocking the shots down. And despite the fact that Wade was in foul trouble, which everyone wanted to bring up as a sign that Detroit was even more doomed in the future, the guy didn’t miss! Neither did the Miami role players. It wasn’t going to keep up. Gary Payton shooting 75%? C’mon.

Then we get to last night. Hamilton has an outstanding first half, Prince has a great game, Billups wakes up in the second half, Ben Wallace gets his dunks, Sheed’s knocking down threes, Walker starts clanging 6+ three pointers a game again, James Posey got the Flip Murray award until the fourth quarter, and suddenly, the Pistons look like they could win the title again.

To me, fans of both teams have to be feeling pretty good about their chances at this point. Both teams got a win in a game that they pretty much dominated, both teams can take solace in working hard in a valiant comeback in a game they lost (and a game where the score was probably closer than it should’ve been) and point to poor shooting as a reason for the defeat.

Make no mistake, Detroit outplayed Miami last night worse than they themselves got outplayed in Game 1. Miami made that game close thanks to some absolutely horrendous officiating down the stretch, and of course the fact that Jim Hermann’s prevent defense made an appearance on the basketball court. If they call a jump-ball instead of fouling Sheed out, and if there’s a foul on the in-bounds pass (or even if Bavetta awards the timeout that Prince clearly called) the Pistons win going-away last night. That was the type of officiating only Dick Bavetta can provide.

Just gotta get a split at worse in Miami and we’re fine.

Quick thoughts on the Indy 500 this weekend:

-Hard to go against Helio Castroneves in this one. He’s won a pair of em, he’s got a great car, and he’s a lot less likely to stuff his car into the wall than Hornish is.

-Of the Andretti-Green cars, I like Kanaan and Herta (shocker there). Marco’s got a good car, but he’s a rookie and he’ll probably do something dumb, since it’s his first 500 mile race. Franchitti’s been slow for most of the month, and he’s not as good at taking care of equipment as Kanaan and Herta, and it wouldn’t be Indy without hearing “Andretti is slowing down on the backstretch!” with regard to Michael. Herta hasn’t been fast, but this is his best starting position ever in the 500 and in his previous starts he’s been 9th, 4th, and 3rd. He’s good at staying out of trouble. Kanaan has been faster, albeit not as quick as the Penske or Ganassi cars, and he too takes care of equipment. He’ll probably be right there at the end.

-Danica won’t win. I think Yahoo had it right today when they referred to her as the Anna Kournikova of racing.

-Wild ass guess at the top five: 1. Castroneves, 2. Wheldon, 3. Kanaan, 4. Dixon, 5. Herta

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Heat is On!

Bring it Miami.

The Pistons did it again with their backs against the wall, shutting down LeBron in the second half, and...well....everyone on the Cavaliers the rest of the game to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth straight year. Cleveland was held to the least points in the history of NBA Game 7s, breaking the record previously set when the Pistons held NJ to 68 a couple years back.

Lots of credit to Detroit for pulling that series off, even if it shouldn't have taken as much time as it did (we'll see if that comes back to bite them against Miami). LeBron was unreal in the first half, but Detroit did a great job shutting him down in the second. Maybe Nike's new shirts should say "Witness Protection Program", because he disappeared down the stretch.

It wasn't pretty--especially when Detroit was at the free-throw line--but they got it done and now they move on to take on the Heat. You have to believe that Billups needs to be a bigger part of the offense next series. Miami's got Jason Williams and Gary Payton to guard him. Neither one of them can handle him...and if they try to move someone else over there, then Williams or Payton will be on Hamilton, which works too. I'm looking forward to it!

One thing which I forgot to mention after game 6, but has to be brought up: Did anyone see Matt Shepard's interview with Usher? Outkast's "Hey Ya" was playing in the background while Shep interviewed Usher, and at the end of the interview, he said something along the lines of "Hey, they just got done playing your song too." He couldn't be more white.

Congrats to Michigan Baseball on winning the Big 10 Title, despite their facilities and to softball for advancing to the Super Regional. Ritter is amazing. 19 strikeouts today out of the 24 outs in the game? Only one walk--and that on a hit batter? Unbelievable.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Y'all Sheed Sheed Sheed Sheed Sheed Sheed!

Great game, and I was completely correct when I told my buddy Kevin that we'd probably get a more fair whistle in this game if they just let Mike Brown & LeBron James call fouls. Because even they wouldn't have had the audacity to call some of the crap that the refs whistled in that game (the best example was Rip's second foul....he touched LeBron on the shorts. And the shorts weren't even touching his body at the time). But the Pistons overcame the officiating and some horrendous free throw shooting to send it back to the D for Game 7. The home-court edge might be offset by the fact that it's obvious the NBA wants LeBron v. Wade (get it? Like the court case?) in the Conference Championship, but you still have to like the Pistons' chances.

One point that I wanted to make after the last game, but held off because I wasn't sure if it was appropriate to say: If you're Larry do you miss four playoff games? It's just horrible what happened to him and his family, and I'm trying to not be crude about this, but how do you miss four playoff games? That's almost two weeks. My dad even agreed with me on this one, so I knew I wasn't just being an insensitive ass. If that's what he needs to grieve, then I'm sure the Cavs don't have a problem with it, but I find it really, really odd....

Time for my own hockey game so I'm out.

And great work by Ritter striking out 15 and pitching a no-hitter for the Wolverines. Way to open up the title defense in the NCAA Tourney, girls!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

One More....

And we can officially close out the worst year in the history of sports.

But, it's LeBron vs. Wade, like everyone (read: The NBA and its officials) want to see, so that's cool.

Anyone wanna know how many times Chauncey Billups fouled out this season? Twice before tonight. Twice. And once was in a double-overtime game. He averaged two fouls a game this season. Just saying....It's not like he's an MVP candidate or an All-Defensive team member or anything.

And Ben Wallace? I know the wrist is hurt and all. But sack up. 0 for 7 at the line? Are you kidding me? 0 for 7? I can do better than that, and I'm not gonna be making $10 million anytime soon.

I'm beyond sick of it when the best play the Pistons come up with in a late game situation is to flail around and pretend they got fouled. Billups does it all the time. They're not going to bail you out with 2 seconds left in the game.

The best play of the night was the no-call on James for pushing Billups to the ground to get after a loose ball and the subsequent technical on Flip Saunders. No sir, can't put the King in a position where he might have to come out, nope. But 6 on the MVP candidate, all-defensive team member? Why not.

At least if there's any team that knows how to come back, it's the Pistons. But I think they'd get a more fair shake in Game 6 if the NBA let Mike Brown and LeBron have whistles. It's gonna be hella-fun.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Story Time

Alright, since I've got absolutely nothing to talk about today (Pistons off day, Wings still piss me off, pretty much a dead day for Michigan news) I think it's story time.

One quick comment before the story though: At this point, is there really any reason to continue having the Challenge Cup? Pontiac pulled out earlier this year as title sponsor, I believe Fox Sports has trimmed back coverage, and honestly it's not so much a competition. The Challenge Cup has been around for 3 years now, and Michigan has held possession of the Cup for all nine seasons that it has been awarded. Sparty, you suck at life. Deal with it.

Now to the story:

I take you to Columbus, Ohio (BOOOO!) in January of 2005. Michigan hockey was in town to play the Buckeyes (and coincedentally, the women's club hockey team--which I have several friends on--was playing down there as well). So me and several of my friends decided to make the trip and catch 4 hockey games in a 3 day span.

Well, Shawn Crable's girlfriend at the time worked in the media relations office, and with Shawn being from Ohio and all, they decided to make the trip as well and their seats were right next to ours for one of the men's games.

It happened right away that some Buckeye fans behind us noticed Shawn's Big 10 Championship ring, and started to taunt him about how the Buckeyes had beaten us that year. Shawn turns around, points at his ring, and says "I got two of these! You guys can keep on going to the Motor City Bowl or whatever. That is not a good bowl. Unless you're making $13 million, that's not a good bowl!" Shut them right up...

So the game continues, and Crable had obviously never been to a hockey game before. The Buckeyes get a power play, and it's pretty quiet in our section. All of a sudden, he looks at the ice and just yells, "WHY WE ONLY GOT FOUR GUYS???!!!!!"

Pretty much floored all of us. That was good times.

One other note from the trip...we went to the women's game that night and made the decision to get plastered before the game. In addition, we brought a liter water bottle into the game filled with our drink of choice. By the end of the first period we weren't feeling any pain. So this girl on the Buckeyes (and I use the term very very loosely), decides that it'd be a good idea to run Michigan's goalie (who happened to be one of our good friends) a full 3 seconds after the play. The official gives her five and a game for charging and we got the "Ooooooooh CYA" chant going. She had to walk right behind us to get to the locker room, and as she walked by I turned around and said "Drive home safely!"

The girl flipped out. She pulled her stick back like it was a baseball bat and yelled at us "YOU PUSSIES GONNA BRING IT????" She was met with lots and lots of laughter and an "Are you serious?" comment from my buddy Scott. She then stormed into the locker room.

That was good times.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Lost in the Shuffle

Lost in my week of simmering after the Wings sucked it up in the first round yet again were two very important happenings.

Awwwwww yeah.

Favre's coming back, which kept a smile on my face even as I watched the Wings go down. And Woodson a Green Bay Packer?? HAIL YES!

There really weren't too many people that had a better week that week than Ted Thompson. Favre came back, he landed one of the prizes of the free agent class (coupled with signing Ryan Pickett and keeping Aaron Kampman earlier in the offseason), then he had what was by all accounts (apart from John Clayton and the guy from the Dallas Morning News who stated they got themselves 5 starters on Day 1 then gave them a C- overall) an outstanding draft.

Abdul Hodge in the third round? Yes please.

I'm trying to not get myself too worked up over Green Bay's draft since it seems that every time people like their draft (e.g. 2001) it's horrible, and every time people hate their draft (e.g. 2000) it ends up being great. But I have to admit that I'm getting pretty excited about their defense. They were in the top ten in the league last year (and somehow had the #1 pass defense), and they've added Pickett, Woodson, Ben Taylor, AJ Hawk, Abdul Hodge, and Marquand Manuel in the offseason. A linebacking corps of Barnett, Hawk and Hodge sounds great, and having Woodson and Harris on the corners is going to make it pretty difficult to throw on them.

If they find someone to catch the ball, this team could actually be pretty good next year. And Favre did make Bill Schroeder into a 1,000 yard receiver. I'm ready for football.

But in the meantime, I suppose there's still an NBA title to win, eh? And to that, courtesy of the RCMB:

I guess that I should mention this since this is a college hockey blog and all....Zac MacVoy left to go to the USHL and hopefully earn a scholarship to another school. I'm going to miss Zac. He didn't do much here, but I still think he's going to be a solid player for someone. The good thing is that it helps to spread out that big class a little bit.

Lastly, even if this is true, doesn't it make you chuckle a little bit to see in print?

If there's a question mark, then it's probably in the goal, but Justin Tobe played well in spot duty behind John Daigneau last year.

Yes Spartan fan, that Justin Tobe. Put it this way, if he's starting for Harvard next year, I don't like their chances very much. That guy was BAD.

And one more time, because it looks so nice....

Fuck yeah.

Monday, May 08, 2006

On My Soapbox About Datsyuk

I’m still not ready to talk about the Red Wings. In an interview on WXYT, Ken Holland said that everyone in the organization is going to step away for two weeks before discussing anything about the team, so I’m doing that as well before I write about what I would do with that team.

One thing I am ready to say, however, is that I’m firmly behind trading Pavel Datsyuk. Holland said that they’re not thinking that way. He pretty much blamed Datsyuk's injury for his performance in the playoffs (Sorry, he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt from me on this one....if he didn't already have a 20 game goalless streak in the playoffs coming into this year I might buy it....), and said that they feel one of these years he’s going to have a breakout playoffs.

I really hope that that was GM-speak and that Holland isn’t being short-sighted enough to see what’s in store in the future. Datsyuk is making $3.9 million, and he’s a free agent after next season. Barring an absolutely awful regular season next year, he’s going to be looking for big-time money in probably the $5-6 million range. And frankly he just isn’t worth it.

The way I see it, here’s the case for moving him:

1) Frees up $3.9 million to go after a more…how shall I put this…playoff-ready player…or a goalie.

2) Likely could bring in a top prospect or proven commodity in return. His flashy goals and pretty passes should give him some significant value around the league, even if he’s never done anything come playoff time.

3) After next season, you’re either going to end up overpaying him or losing him for nothing.

4) They have Jiri Hudler in the wings, who is probably the same type of player, albeit completely unproven.

5) He’s already shown that he’ll play hardball in contract negotiations.

6) Trading him means you lose 30 goals and 80 points in the regular season, but it’s a loss of exactly nothing in terms of playoff production. If you move him for a top prospect or something, and then go out and sign a guy like Sergei Samsonov (for probably less money), aren’t you coming out ahead?

Don’t get me wrong, I like Datsyuk and I love watching him play, but these playoff disappearances are getting old, and the fact that he made it such a sticking point to get a two-year contract last summer tells me he’s looking for a big payday next year. I have no problem with Datsyuk for $3.9 million. I would, however, have a problem giving 15% of our salary cap to a player with a penchant for disappearing in the playoffs or whenever someone lays a body on him.

I've probably got a couple other things to say about Datsyuk, but that'll have to wait for my season wrapup/look toward the future next week. I don't have time to do anymore today.

Monday, May 01, 2006

This is it...

Trusty Blogger wouldn't publish this last night, so here's what I wrote before the games. More to come later:

I remember this situation back in 2002. The Wings were playing the Avs and it was win 2 or go home for Detroit. Win on the road in a hostile environment or all the offseason retooling would go for naught. Win two, and the Stanley Cup was theirs (essentially). The Wings sacked up, Hasek didn't allow a goal for the rest of the series, they got a little luck in the form of the Statue of Liberty, and they advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Here we are tonight, with another elimination game on the road. Another 3-2 deficit, and another win-or-become-a-laughing-stock situation. The difference? We had Dominik Hasek before. Now we have Manny Legace and frankly, I don't have any confidence that he's going to hold Edmonton scoreless for 20 minutes, let alone 120. I was firmly on the guy's bandwagon all along, but I think Mike Rosenberg hit the nail completely on the head today. All throughout the playoffs, Legace has seemed like he'd be more comfortable if he were still the backup goalie. He's not responding to the pressure well (not like the rest of the team outside of Zetterberg is). And the fact is, if the Wings lose tonight, Legace's time in Detroit is done. It's that simple.

It may not be just him though, tonight could spell the end of an era as Steve Yzerman could be playing his last NHL game (Or with him on the sidelines, it's possible that he has played his last game). It's hard to think about, and I hope that Stevie has one of his famous speeches in store for them tonight, because they need a kick in the ass.

I'm not ready to break down my offseason changes for this team until they're dead and buried, because 2 wins, and things could completely change. Quick might not be popular, but a big change would involve #13.

I love the idea of playing Don MacLean tonight even if Yzerman can go. He was effective in his short time up with the Wings (and he did it against Edmonton of all teams). He'll go to the net and do the dirty work, and he's had the scoring touch this year. Sit Samuelsson if you have to, but get him in the lineup.

I'm not worried about the Pistons. The Bucks shot like 62% in Game 3. It won't happen again. Maybe I should be a little more worried based on what's happened with the other top seeds in the league (Spurs 2-2, Suns down 3-1, Nets 2-2, Heat 2-2), but this Bucks team just doesn't scare me. Mo Williams gets the "Scrub off the bench that destroys us for one game" award after going 9-10 in the last game. I thought you had to be white to get that award, but he is very deserving. Now he can go back to scoring 5 points in 22 minutes or whatever it is that Scalabrine, Walton, and Austin Croshere did.

By the way, how happy are the Spurs that Artest got suspended for Game 2? If he plays, San Antonio is down 3-1 right now. I'm not so sure that we won't see SA, NJ or Miami go out in the first round. Miami seems the most likely, but apart from Game 1, the Kings have been better than the Spurs and Artest is giving Ginobili fits. Phoenix is done.