Monday, April 30, 2007

Thoughts on the NHL/NBA Playoffs

One quick thing before I get into the playoffs: Michigan received another commitment for the Class of 2009 today. Per Western College Hockey, Greg Pateryn, a defenseman from Birmingham Brother Rice has committed to play for Michigan. Ohio in the USHL holds his rights, so he may end up there next year. He's already 6'2", 195. Here's Bob Miller's post on the matter. I'm sure he'll have more soon.

Let's start with the Wings. The Sharks are showing exactly why I've been so scared of facing them for the last several months. They've just got so many big, young, skilled forwards and they just keep coming at you. Hasek was the only reason that this game wasn't out of hand.

It was a bummer, really, because the Wings looked outstanding in the first period and the first half of the second. Where we really blew this game was not putting in another goal or two in that span. It was kind of similar to the Michigan/Minnesota game in the 2003 Frozen Four in that regard. Once the momentum shifted, the only question was if the Wings could hold on long enough, and it obviously didn't happen.

Our top line has really struggled on the road, with the opposing coach able to get the matchup he wants against them. Plain and simple, Zetterberg and Datsyuk have to be better if we're going to win this series. They were strong in Game 2, which is a big reason we were able to come back and win.

Nabokov was giving up some huge rebounds tonight and we didn't have anyone crashing the net to capitalize. I'm not sure why we haven't had someone in Nabokov's face the entire time like we did against Calgary. Holmstrom being out obviously hurts the Wings' play around the net, but there's still no reason that Bertuzzi and Franzen can't get there. Calder's play in the playoffs has been disappointing as well--but I think he's got a broken hand so that could explain it. Kyle Quincey has been a nice surprise. He hasn't looked out of place at all--getting his first real taste of the NHL in a tough situation.

It goes without saying, but Game 4 is a must-win. There's no way that we're beating the Sharks three times in a row. Hopefully Holmstrom coming back will help make it that much tougher for Nabokov to see the shots coming through, and maybe he can put in one of those juicy rebounds. It's easy to forget that that's a 30 goal scorer out of the lineup for us.

As for the NBA, I'm so happy that series with Orlando is finally over. The only question was if the Pistons would sleep-walk enough to lose a game, or if Mr. Davidson wanted that extra home date. Thankfully they took care of it in 4 games, and didn't risk a sprained ankle or something, which always seems to happen when we mess around with a team that we should've beaten quicker. Thanks for coming, now give us your draft pick. Bring on the Bulls in the playoffs for the first time since Detroit Radio was playing "Three Peat Beat" and Chicago killed that dream.

The Bulls are a scary matchup to me. We've struggled against them, and they're obviously playing well, having swept the defending champs, injured or no. The one thing we've got going for us here is that they don't have a superstar that the refs can give all the calls to. That's the only thing that would scare me more about facing Cleveland. I still think it's dumb that the NBA doesn't re-seed.

I gotta give a call to the Golden State Warriors. I've watched quite a bit of that series, and that's just fun basketball. The atmosphere in Oakland is amazing. Those fans were just going buck the entire game. When the Mavs got an and-one to take a three point lead going to halftime, it took the crowd out a little bit, then Baron Davis goes and nails a half-court shot to get the place rocking again. I don't usually watch out-of-market NBA games, but that series has been a blast. Steven Jackson does some great things out there when he's not being a complete psycho.

Good God. Robert Horry just hit another three with 30 seconds left in a one-point playoff game. How the hell does he keep doing that. And how do teams keep leaving him open in those situations. You know he's getting the ball, and you know he's making the shot if he gets a good look.

White guys in the crowd shouldn't wear basketball jerseys without an undershirt. That really is about the most white-trash thing you can do.

Lastly, there was a lot of stuff on Detroit Bad Boys about Cheick Samb, a Pistons prospect that's been playing overseas. They got him from LA for trading Mo Evans. He's like 7'2" and it sounds like his game is developing nicely. If he keeps that up, we could have a really nice frontcourt with him, Johnson, and Maxiell. Or at least a huge shotblocker to throw in the rotation. Well worth a read.

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