Thursday, October 26, 2006


I'm out til Monday. Probably not around anywhere with internet unfortunately. See y'all then.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Michigan vs. Miami, Game One

Solid effort by Michigan tonight. Some quick thoughts:

-It didn't show up on the scoresheet tonight, but TJ Hensick was passing as well as I've seen him. He could've had 3 or 4 assists in the first period alone. He fed Porter in the slot a couple of times, who in true Porter form, missed the net. He also had a couple of great passes to Rohlfs, one of which ended up in the net in the second period.

-We were down 1-0 after the first, but Michigan had about 5 great scoring chances (despite only having about that many shots). Porter missed two point blank chances, Johnson had two slappers from the top of the circle. Hensick was just dealing, and Michigan wasn't finishing.

-I like Rohlfs an awful lot.

-The Tim Cook at right wing experiment may not end up working out, but he was decent tonight. I think they invoked the Shawn Crable "See the puck? Go get it" strategy. There was nothing positional about how Cookie was playing. He just went and found the man with the puck on the forecheck and hit him.

-Kolarik had a 3 on 1 in the third period, and simply decided to wind up and take a slapshot which ended up going way wide. From that point on, he was a man possessed. If there has ever been a player complete an unassisted natural hattrick in a single period, I would like to know about it. He pretty much ended that game. Part of me would like to see him on Hensick's line, since Chad can finish when they get him the puck in the slot.

-Effinger gave up 5 goals on 19 shots, but he really didn't play that badly. Miami hung him out to dry an awful lot. Just off the top of my head, I would say all but maybe one goal were either breakaways or odd man rushes. Can't do a whole lot about that.

-Sauer was inconsistent. He made some great saves tonight, but--at least from watching without the benefit of replay--I would say the first and third goals needed to be stopped.

-Hunwick was real good in the first period. He had a couple of huge hits. He took a bad penalty seconds after we made it 1-1 though. Can't have your senior captain doing that.

-McInchak was brutal tonight. I didn't like the diving call right off the bad. First off, it was Lebler not Cogliano. Secondly, I don't know how many times a guy is going to take himself out of the play by diving when he's trying to catch up to Cogliano and make it an odd-man rush. The next penalty called on Michigan was a dive however. They both should've gone for that one. That was the tip of the iceberg. I hate that guy.

-Haha, Sparty lost to USA again. 3 times in 5 years if I'm not mistaken.

That's all I've got for tonight. Miami really needs to cut down the odd man rushes tomorrow if they're going to have any shot at winning in Yost for the first time in forever.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


It's been a busy week for Michigan coaches, restocking the cupboard as far as prospects go. Earlier this week it was A.J. Treais, a 5'8" shifty forward (will enroll in 2009) and Jon Merrill (2010 recruit), a 6'2" 175 smooth-skating defenseman who USHR compared to Erik Johnson and therefore probably deserves OMG Shirtless status. But he's 14 so I think that might be illegal. Both players are from the Detroit Little Caesar's program.

Today it's Carl Hagelin, a left wing out of Sweden. Information on him is scare, considering most of it is in Swedish. I did find one especially interesting tidbit however:

Hyfsad driv i skridskoåkningen och fina offensiva instinkter. Okej målsinne.

I think it says something along the lines of "He is a good skater and has fine offensive instincts." Though that fourth word looks suspiciously like what Cooper from "Eurotrip" inadvertently told Lucy Lawless to use on him when he was at Wundersexxxxxx.

It appears that he was 12th in league scoring last year in the SuperElit league with a 20-20—40 line in 41 games (he also had 42 PIMs). This year so far he's scored 1-5—6 with 20 PIMs in 6 games. He measures about 5'11" 176. Shockingly, he's coming in next year.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Have Some Sparty

I think it was an omen.

Up in the booth, they were playing the usual Michigan pregame music cd (You know, the one with "Lady" by Lenny Kravitz). The song changes. The Michigan State Spartans come out of the tunnel. And what do we hear? Nickleback. And they couldn't have picked a better song:

"How the hell did we wind up like this? Why weren't we able to see the signs that we missed"

"Someday, somehow, gonna make it alright but not right now. I know you're wondering when"


"Now the story's played out like this/Just like a paperback novel/Lets rewrite an ending that fits/Instead of a hollywood horror"

It wasn't intentional. It was in the normal sequence of the cd, but how perfect was that?

Sparty didn't fail to disappoint. Whether it was jumping offsides four or five times on the first drive, somehow managing to rough our kicker three times, a late hit out of bounds (which was a cheap call IMO), bringing a kickoff out of the endzone to the 9 yard line, or simply fair catching a punt at the 4, those guys proved why they go to State (and why John L's teams have always been at the top of the country in penalties).

It wasn't an overly impressive win on the scoreboard, but make no mistake, the outcome was never in doubt. Michigan managed a comfortable win while only throwing for like 130 yards on State's horrid secondary. And why not? If you know they can't stop the run, why not grind the clock, eat up chunks of yardage, and put up points while limiting MSU's options to do the same?

Now the rumors are swirling that Bowser got Super Mario, and Manningham is going to be out--at least for a little while. It would suck to not have him for these next two games (the three after that are "functional byes" as Brian would call them) but they're still both games that we will be favored in, and should win. It's not like we're really hurting that badly at WR as it is. If Henne throws the ball as well as he has on a good number of Manningham's touchdown passes it won't matter if it's Arrington or Breaston on the other end.

Side note, this Monday Night game is absolutely brutal. It's really 6-3 with 2 1/2 minutes to play and Jake Plummer threw for 6 yards in the first half.

On to Hockey:

I got my first look at the 2006-07 Michigan Wolverines, and while I missed important parts of each game this weekend (volleyball commitment Friday night, general lack of caring Saturday), I saw what I needed to see, and that was this: Billy Sauer looked great. Goaltending is the big question mark on this team and Sauer looks like he might be ready to make The Leap. Granted I have to keep in mind that it was Waterloo and the NTDP, not Michigan State and Minnesota, but he was still fantastic and that is encouraging.

Johnson was awesome, Cogliano was the best player on the ice in the chunk of the game I saw on Friday--I still can't believe how fast that kid is. I think we're going to like Summers. None of the other freshmen made a big impression on me--though I think Ciraulo is going to fit in just fine with Digger and Naurato on the fourth line. I really like the lines they were using this weekend. It seemed like a very nice mix of speed, skill and grit.

It felt great to be back in Yost, even if it was half full and the games didn't count.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

NHL Preview

When am I going to learn to write these posts in Word and paste them into Blogger? I was through 13 teams on my Western Conference preview, and Firefox crashed. So you’re getting a semi-in-depth Western Conference preview (which I will write again, because I love you all), and a very quick Eastern Conference preview because frankly, the East sucks anyway.

Western Conference:

1. San Jose Sharks

They started off horribly last year. Enter Joe Thornton. Suddenly they become one of the hottest teams in the league, Jonathan Cheechoo goes from “Who?” to the most unlikely 56 goal scorer in a long time, and they enter the playoffs as a 5 seed. I can’t imagine they’ll be so bad at the start of the year again. And Mark Bell was a great pickup, DUI and all.

2. Calgary Flames

Iginla will bounce back after a relatively sub-par year last year. Tanguay was added to play on the top line and even though he sucked last year, I still like Jeff Friesen as a player. And they have the best goalie.

3. Anaheim Ducks

Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack Mr. Ducksworth!

Chris Pronger knocked up a reporter in Edmonton (errr allegedly) and they trade him to a team that plays just south of LA? Wouldn’t that be like telling TO to go work for Pfizer?

Seriously though, trading for Pronger gives them two of the five best defensemen in the game (maybe two of the 3 best). Combine that with a very good goalie (whoever they pick…my fantasy team hopes it’s Bryz) and they’re going to be a tough team to score on.

4. Nashville Predators

It’s their time. They put up a great fight last year in the Central Division and in the offseason they added two nice forwards in Jason Arnott and JP Dumont. Their blueline is very young, but they’ve got a great goalie backstopping them in Tomas Vokoun—provided he’s healthy after the blood problem that knocked him out of last year’s playoffs.

5. Detroit Red Wings

If Dominik Hasek wasn’t such an injury risk, I would have them in the 2-3 spot on this list. As it is, his health is such a question mark that Detroit is carrying a third goaltender (Joey MacDonald) just so Hasek doesn’t have to dress on the days that he isn’t going to play and potentially go into a game cold. Unfortunately that also means 35-40 starts guaranteed for Nogood.

Hasek was a great acquisition and I’d be tempted to lay off Holland for awhile because of it, if it weren’t for the fact that if he would’ve taken a lesser incentives, Psycho Eddie would be getting the start at the Joe tonight. And that would’ve been a colossal mistake. I do like the Markov signing though.

The losses of Yzerman and Shanahan hurt bad, and Detroit didn’t do much to replace the scoring lost by those departures. Jiri Hudler should be set for a breakout year, but I have to wonder why Peter Bondra hasn’t been signed yet. He’s old (perfect for us!), he wouldn’t want a long-term deal, he’s still got enough speed to be effective, he’s a wing, and he had a good season last year. You can’t take cap room with you, and we’ve got more than enough to be a “buyer” at the deadline, even if we were to pay Bondra.

They still have one of the best defense corps in the league. Probably second to Anaheim now.

The Wings just came out for player introductions. It looks really fricken weird to see a "C" on Lidstrom's jersey.

6. Dallas Stars

I underestimated them last year and I might be doing it again. They didn’t lose much from last year’s team and their #6 ranking is more due to the fact that I think San Jose and Anaheim are gonna be really, really good. Turco has to get it done this year or it might be over for him in Big D. Why would you strip Mike Modano of his captaincy though after he could have easily taken the money from Boston (I believe) a year ago? I don’t like that move.

7. Vancouver Canucks

After years and years of playoff failures due to the presence of Dan Cloutier, they finally wised up and made a great move in acquiring Roberto Luongo (Where were you, Kenny??). Unfortunately the rest of the offseason wasn’t very kind to them. Their blueline got blown up, and they lost two big wingers in Bertuzzi and Carter. They didn’t really replace the scoring lost with the departure of those two, but with Luongo in net, maybe they didn’t need to. Scary team to play in the first round.

8. Edmonton Oilers

I learned my lesson about picking against them last year. Losing Pronger is a killer, but Sykora was a nice pickup and if they had to move Pronger at least they were able to get a guy like Lupul. They also return about 8 guys that are no-namers but can score 20-30 goals and go buck in the playoffs—Hi Fernando Pisani. Dwayne Roloson’s deal with the Devil might have expired in the Stanley Cup Finals though.

9. Minnesota Wild

Demitra, good pickup. This team still bores me.

10. LA Kings

How can the same General Manager make the best move of the offseason (Fleecing Carolina out of Jack Johnson) and the worst move of the offseason (Giving up multiple draft picks—including a second rounder—for Dan Cloutier, when a superior goalie in Manny Legace could have been had for free). This team can’t seem to make up their mind if they’re looking to the future (trading Gleason in the Johnson trade, moving Demitra for Patrick O’Sullivan) or playing to compete now (moving a high pick for Cloutier). It’s very odd. They’re set up really nice for the future however. Though you would think they would have learned from Vancouver that Cloutier is unquestionably not the answer.

11. Phoenix Coyotes

This team has sleeper potential. They bolstered the blueline with Nick Boynton and Ed Jovanovski, and JR returns the desert where he’s looking for a “Teemu Selanne going back to Anaheim” type resurgence. They major downer for Phoenix is that they’re in a real tough division. They might finish in last place, but they’ll still be a pretty decent team.

12. Colorado Avalanche

I picked them to miss the playoffs last year, and they damn near pulled it off. This year it’d be a shock if they DID make the playoffs. I didn’t like the Tanguay/Leopold trade when it happened and I like it even less now that Leopold is hurt. Wolski is going to be a front-runner for the Calder Trophy though. He was outstanding last year when he was up, and this year he’ll be along for the entire season. Sakic, Hejduk, Wolski, Svatos is a nice top group of forwards but there’s not a ton behind them. Rob Blake sucked at the start of last year, but he played pretty well in the second half. And they’re going to miss him. Oh yeah, and they have Jose Theodore in net. That was a desperate move by a team on the decline, and it’s not going to work.

13. Columbus Blue Jackets

Once again, the West basement is inhabited by 3 teams from the Central Division. Rick Nash is healthy, Fedorov isn’t. Denis is gone. They’re going to be down in Franklin Counnnnnnnty this year. At least the Buckeyes hockey team is gonna be good….oh wait.

14. Chicago Blackhawks

Bad. Again. No Mark Bell. Havlat good pickup though.

15. St. Louis Blues

Bad. Again. Better goalie now though.

Eastern Conference:

1. Carolina Hurricanes

Even though they made an awful trade in moving Jack Johnson, I still gotta go with the Champs in the East. Unless Cam Ward goes Ben Roethlisberger.

2. New York Rangers

Lundqvist is sweet, they nabbed Shanny from the Wings, Petr Prucha and Fedor Tyutin have a year of experience, and they don’t have Tom Poti anymore. I won’t practice sports bigamy, but I’m growing to really like that team. They like Michigan players, they have Shanny, and I’ve got half their roster on my fantasy team.

3. Ottawa Senators

Scary top line. I like Gerber. Chara big. Chara gone. Own Toronto. Choke again in playoffs.

4. New Jersey Devils

It’s nice to see that someone has already figured out how to cheat the salary cap and get away with it. Bravo.

5. Buffalo Sabres

UG-LY JER-SEYS! I hate you Ryan Miller. Enjoy wearing the Buffaslug.

6. Philadelphia Flyers

Forsberg might be healthy for a little while. When Floppa’s healthy, Gagne’s probably worth the money they’re paying him. Calder and Baumgartner were nice signings, but they still don’t have a goalie.

7. Montreal Canadiens

If Huet is for real. If he’s not, drop them to 11 or so.

8. Tampa Bay Lightning

They finished 8th last year and I think they have a slightly better goalie now.

9. Atlanta Thrashers

Ready to break out since 2003.

10. Boston Bruins

Chara big. Big good. Dave Lewis bad. Bad Bad Bad.

11. Pittsburgh Penguins

Did I really pick them that high last year? It’s too bad Malkin got hurt. I’m looking forward to seeing him and Crosby both times they’re on TV this year. They should’ve brought back Hilbert. He was great with Crosby. Of course, I guess I would be too.

12. Toronto Maple Leafs

The natives aren’t going to be happy about this one. Raycroft has a sweet mask, but unless he gets back to his form from a couple years ago, this team isn’t going anywhere. Great coaching hire with Paul Maurice. It would help if they’d draft a 20 goal scorer once in awhile.

13. Florida Panthers

Out: Roberto Luongo

In: Ed Belfour, Alex Auld

All you need to know.

14. New York Islanders

Awesome offseason. The borderline insane moves of hiring their backup goalie as GM and signing a mediocre goalie to a 15 year deal undermine what was actually a pretty decent offseason. I love the Ted Nolan hiring.

15. Washington Capitals

Ovechkin rules. I wish he was in a bigger market so I could see him more. But since he’s on the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 2007 this year, he’s probably going to get the clap or something.

I'll take Calgary over the Rangers. But give me a healthy Hasek in April and I like our chances.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Beating the Gophers Like Our Name is Holy Cross

Another win, another boost to my faith in this team.

Michigan staked a claim to being the second-best team in the country with a dominating-even-though-it-doesn't-look-like-it-on-the-scoreboard performance over the Gophers.

The Good:
Henne was on again, and he found a new weapon in Adrian Arrington. He also did a fantastic job of looking off the safety.

Hart let the Gopher fans know how it feels to have someone run for almost 200 on them. Even if 50+ of that was on a garbage time run, he still had a great game.

The line was excellent. Minnesota only came up with 1 sack (and that was for 2 yards) and they opened up some huge holes for the RBs to run through. They set the tone of the game early, where we pounded the ball down their throat before going to the air to finish up the drive.

The defense was against very good. Only a late touchdown followed by a botched onside kick recovery soiled the effort.

Oh, and last but not least:

ZOLTAN! (Kid's got a leg. More than anything though, I just wanted to use this picture)

The Bad:
Brian was right about Morgan Trent. And Charles Stewart is not good.

Kevin Grady still thinks he's Ahman Green.

Rivas...22 yards? Really? He's been pretty darn good this year so far, but he never fails to amaze me with some of the kicks he shanks.

Overall it was a very nice effort though. Michigan was thoroughly in control the entire game, and the only moment in the entire outing where I wasn't sure we'd win was when they recovered the onside kick, because no matter how many times I looked at the scoreboard, I thought we were only up by 10, not 14. I've got a bad cold and was on a lot of medication, okay?

So now, after a year of being paraded around in Minnesota like it was the Stanley Cup, the Little Brown Jug can return to its familiar home: A trunk in the laundry room at Schembechler Hall. Maybe when today's newborns are the Gophers' freshmen, we'll let them see it again. Hopefully by then they will have learned that when you've been owned by a team for the better part of two decades, one win doesn't give you the right to plant a flag.

Unless it's your first road conference win in about 4 years and it's the other school's Homecoming game.

Now it's on to Sparty.

I'm not one of those that believes this will be a remotely close game. I've heard all the talk about how MSU is like a wounded animal, they're circling the wagons around their coach, Drew Stanton was born to beat Michigan, blah blah blah. At some point you have to have the horses to do it, and MSU just doesn't right now. Their OLine is banged up (Not good when you're going against Woodley and Branch). Their QB is banged up (If he plays, I really don't think he finishes the game). Their RB is probably gone for the year. And their secondary still blows (Who is going to cover Manningham, let alone A2 and Breaston).

If they had a healthy Ringer/Stanton, I might be more inclined to be worried, but this game has a similar feel to the 49-3 day. Michigan's too good and MSU is too banged up for this game to be all that close, IMO. If the line was still on the board, and the Republicans weren't bastards, I'd have no problem laying the 16/17 points on this one.

By the way, thanks to all the readers who have kept coming to this site, despite the fact that I hardly ever get around to writing anything. Now that hockey season is coming back, the updates will likely be much more frequent.