I was in Philly over the weekend, and I might have missed the best two games of the playoffs. (I missed Saturday's because I was drinking/dining/drinking, and Sunday's sitting in traffic on the NJ Turnpike--thanks, Jersey!).
The Devils and Rangers both won in dramatic fashion over the weekend, winning in double overtime games at home. Marty was (allegedly) great but gave up a tying goal late, and the Rangers (I'm told) were the beneficiary of some bad calls, most importantly a goal that was waved off. This quote is telling, from the BUF/NYR Game 3 recap:
"A review ensued and the goal was waved off, the fourth time in this year's playoffs that replay worked in the Sabres' favor."
They've benefitted from FOUR WAVED-OFF GOALS? Wow, that must be some kind of record. And they had 6 straight power plays in that game at one stretch. With all that help, how can they NOT win the Cup? Anyway, I'm still not impressed by the Sabres; they played well in Game 1 and that's about it. Sure, when they score they score in bunches, but they also do nothing in bunches (they've been held scoreless in nine of 26 periods in the playoffs). Game 4 is obviously going to be crucial for the Rangers; if they win, it's a series and a Sabres wake-up call.
As for the Devils, they had to fight just to get a win at home. At this point Marty cannot afford to take every other game off. I smell a let down, and a loss, tonight. If that happens, they are not going to win this series.
Monday, April 30, 2007
I was in Philly over the weekend, and I might have missed the best two games of the playoffs. (I missed Saturday's because I was drinking/dining/drinking, and Sunday's sitting in traffic on the NJ Turnpike--thanks, Jersey!).
Friday, April 27, 2007
Meanwhile, I'm standing by the Sharks, they're still my pick out West after shutting out Detroit 2-0 in Game 1. One interesting tidbit I gleaned from this game: Pat Rissmiller, a 4th line left winger for the Sharks who played 79 games this season and had an assist last night, is the first player from Holy Cross to make it to the NHL. 'SADER NATION!
I love clicking around on old SI.com page looking for time capsule articles. How about: Sabres not flashy, but heading to finals--could it happen again (*gasp*)? Imagine if this happened today: Flyers-Leafs game marred by racial accusation. We'd have 24/7 non-stop news about it, and Reverend Al McInnis would be in the Canadian headlines every day! Then there's: Beer ingrained in hockey culture. Man, I can't wait for happy hour today.
Of course, there's also this quote: "Brett Hull scored at 14:51 of the third overtime, putting a rebound past weary Dominik Hasek on the edge of the crease as the Dallas Stars won hockey's biggest prize as much by exhaustion as execution, outlasting the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 Saturday night." See, Kris? The EDGE of the crease. Not IN the crease. So it's okay.
Amazon.com has an interesting new service called UNBOX that offers digital video downloads and 24 hour rentals, similar to iTunes, and you can watch them on your computer, TiVo or compatible device (and of course, the iPod is not one of them). Along with the usual titles, I noticed that the NHL has a number of things available including a few classic NHL games. Right now they only have 14, but there are some great games in there:
Philadelphia Flyers at Detroit Red Wings, 1997 06/07/1997
New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers, 1994 05/26/1994
Chicago Blackhawks at Pittsburgh Penguins, 1992 05/27/1992
Pittsburgh Penguins at Minnesota North Stars, 1991 05/26/1991
Calgary Flames at Montreal Canadiens, 1989 05/26/1989
Philadelphia Flyers at Edmonton Oilers, 1987 06/01/1987
Quebec Nordiques at Montreal Canadiens, 1985 05/03/1985
New York Rangers at New York Islanders, 1984 04/11/1984
Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders, 1980 05/25/1980
Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens, 1979 05/11/1979
Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins, 1977 05/15/1977
Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres, 1975 05/28/1975
Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens, 1967 05/03/1967
Toronto Maple Leafs at Detroit Red Wings, 1964 04/24/1964
Most of the above games are Cup clinching games, or pivotal conference matchups. I don't know if I would spend $3 to have a digital copy of the Devils/Rangers Game 6 from 1994 (couldn't they include just one Devils win???), but it's an interesting idea.
I know the NHL is trying their darnedest to market the sport. I don't think they should be charging extra for this year's playoffs, but hey I'm not the commissioner.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
It's time to open the Open Hockey E-Mailsack, because I said so, and because everyone wants to know what's in my large sack! Someone asked a question that was sure to rile me up, because it's about the local playoff hockey HD broadcast schedule!
Q: "Rangers are on Vs (Wednesday night), does that mean there is no HiDef ?" - Rob V. from Rockland County, NY
A: Ugh, I wish you hadn't brought this up.
Short answer: Yep. But it's worse than just Game 1 (see the official NYR press release). Unless you're one of the lucky few Comcast customers that has VersusHD, you're screwed for ALL 7 POSSIBLE GAMES, except the 2 NBC weekend games. So even though us Cablevision subscribers got about 60 Rangers games in HD during the season, for the 2nd round of the playoffs we'll get a MAXIMUM of 2 . Oh, and here's the kick in the ass: games 5 and 7 (if necessary) will be on MSG . . . in SD! And because of blackout rules, out-of-market viewers will be able to see these in HD on Versus! Brilliant.
As for the Devils, I've heard that the home games are on FSNY-HD (thank god). But NBC completely avoids that series, which is also probably a good thing. For both teams the away games (in Buffalo and Ottawa) will not be in HD. (As of 5 PM today, I have no idea if it's actually on in HD, since it's not scheduled.)
No, really Mr. Bettman, attendance is up 0.1%, you're doing a bang-up job, don't listen to what anyone's saying! And Mr. Dolan, just stay the course, because according to your bank account everything's fine!
It might be time to move to Canada (I believe that CBC HD and TSN HD carry all the games, except for those @Anaheim).
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Hi there, hockey blogfans! God, I'm tired. I saw one of my indie rock heroes Spoon last night in Asbury Park, NJ (BRUUUUUUUUUUCE!) and didn't get home until 12:30 (although, getting back from a NYC show is usually later). Great show, but now I'm paying for it.
In the first round of my Stanley Cup® Playoff Blognostications™ I went 6/8, same as in 2006. I called Ducks in 5, and Devils in 6, and got burned by Ottawa and Detroit (which I don't pick winning the second round). So here's my latest round of earthshattering (albeit quick) picks.
(1) Buffalo vs (6) NY Rangers. It comes down to the Rangers D and Lundqvist's goaltending (what is a "qvist" anyway?), but in the end Buffalo is just too deep and too good. Oh, and Avery, maybe you should shut the hell up, because you're no Messier. Sabres in 6.
(2) New Jersey vs (4) Ottawa. I don't feel overly confident here, since I've seen my team crap out here many times. But if we get more of 'Marty being Marty' like we did in the last few games, they have a shot. I agree with Salo, if it goes 7, Ottawa will win, but nonetheless I say . . . Devils in 6.
(2) Anaheim vs (3) Vancouver. The Canucks vs. the Duck D means they will barely score at all in this series. Sorry, Canada. Ducks in 5.
(1) Detroit vs (5) San Jose. SJ are my sleeper pick to come out of the West, and I think a Duck/Shark matchup would be ideal. Did I mention that Hasek's groin being strangely intact lately? Sharks in 7.
That's it. And yeah, that's Heroes star Hayden "The Baker" Panettiere with the Cup again.
Okay, I need a nap.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
The Prince Of Wales [Eastern] Conference final four are set: Devils vs. Senators, and Sabres vs. Rangers. The Devils looked solid finishing off TB in 6 (bye bye, Tortorella!), but I fear they will have more trouble with Ottawa. Of course, I picked the Sens to lose in the first round . . .
Some other quick notes:
• Detroit finally finished off the Flames, winning 2-1 last night in 2 OT despite 53 saves by Kiprusoff--sweet Jebus, does Calgary have ANY DEFENSE??? In my opinion they deserved to lose after their garbage-time douchebaggery in Game 5 on Saturday (just like with Tortorella's team, they totally lost my respect). Maybe the fans were right, and ironically named Calgary coach Jim Playfair should have been fired after Game 2.
• Someone (besides me, I know it's hard to believe) came up with a NHL Stanley Cup playoffs drinking game. The best one is: "Ryan Miller makes a save look harder than it is". Man, he does this a lot. I hold my liquor pretty well, but even I can't drink that much. The coach part is funny too, especially the "Tortorella smiles sarcastically". Well, not any more, unless it's on the golf course.
• I love how the most boring series, between two teams that have no offense, has become "the best goalie battle in years!" (VANDAL). Regardless, it's the only remaining game in the first round, as well as the only Game 7, and it's in Vancouver so it should be fun to watch (too bad it's on at 9 PM).
• I'm already sick of Brett Hull on NBC, he's horrible. It seems like every time he says something the other guys don't know how to react, as his comments are either sarcastic or just plain incongruous. The whole '30 Rock' booth is completely awkward, and Bill "Clement Clement Hands of Cement" surely doesn't help things. And just like there are no ties in hockey, Ray "Chicken Parm" Ferraro's ties also have to go. ZING!
• NHL.com has decided that one of the top 5 most important articles on their website is what Edge thinks of the Devils chances in the playoffs. He even took time out from his European tour with U2 to comment . . . oh wait, it's not the guitarist, but the WWE wrestler. Either way, NHL Connect, which is trying hard to be a Myspace-like "networking" site, is pretty awful. However, I did find Christie Brinkley's site, where she claims to be a 17 year old from Pacific Palisades, CA--yeah right! That's what I've been claiming too! But here's the hands-down worst "profile" on the whole site: THE STANLEY CUP.
Location: TORONTO, ON
Favorite NHL team: Undecided
Favorite player(s): All of them, past and present
Favorite sports/teams: The NHL, of course!
Music: "The Good Old Hockey Game, " By Stompin' Tom Connors
Books: The Official NHL Guide and Record Book
Movies: Anything with hockey: Miracle on Ice, Slap Shot, Mystery Alaska, Youngblood....
Bonjour! Hello! My name is Stanley, and I’m the oldest trophy in North American professional sports. I was born in England, but now I live in Toronto, Canada. Oh, and I love hockey! I've probably seen more games than anyone else on this board. If you have a hockey question, feel free to drop me a line below or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ha ha, Youngblood! He's also lying about his age, didn't he just turn 115 in March? I sure hope Mr. Cup adds me to his list of friends.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
As Marty goes, so go the Devils. Well, they look like contenders again after a solid outing by Brodeur last night. He stopped all 31 shots in a 3-0 shutout win in Game 5. It's about time! This was his 22nd SO in the playoffs (one behind Roy).
However, after Gomez scored into an empty net to seal it with 1:47 left, TB coach John Tortorella decided to send out his goons to pick two separate fights with Mike Rupp and notorious enforcer . . . Jamie Langenbrunner? WTF? The whole time he was jawing and gesticulating wildly at assistant coach Johnny McLean, and as of today he hasn't given any reasonable explanation for this. But it gets better: here's a brief postgame interview.
What a jerk, dropping an F-bomb on NY Post reporter Larry Brooks. And no, I'm not defending the reporter, as anyone who is employed by the Post has a dark secret that prevents them from getting a legitimate job in journalism. But I had respected this team until last night and the thuggery of their asshat of a coach. I hope the Lightning get drubbed tomorrow afternoon.
The Sabres finished off the Isles in 5, winning 4-3 in the HSBC last night. I give the less-talented Isles credit for never quitting, and playing well against a largely lethargic Buffalo squad, making a final sprawling save by Miller with 0:12 left frighteningly necessary. The Sabres remind me of the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez: immensely talented but occasionally lacking focus. Maybe they have a second gear for the second round--let's see.
The Predators became the prey, as the Sharks chewed up and spit them out to advance in 5. Ugh, don't you hate when sportswriters use stupid puns like that? So do I.
The Flames are well on their way towards losing today in Detroit, to go down 3 games to 2. The Red Wings should close this thing out in 6, as should Vancouver down in Big D tonight.
TRIVIA QUESTION (stolen from FSN last night): How many of the current 30 teams in the NHL have never won the Stanley Cup?
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
All I had to do yesterday is merely mention The Rangers' Michael Nylander, and he calmly responded by banging out a HAT TRICK! This goes beyond mere blognostication; this is like telekinesis wrapped in an extrasensory perception blanket, like bending spoons from 50 miles away. Okay, maybe not, but I'm sure my positive blog energy ("blogergy") helped his mystical aura during that 7-0 Thrashers trashing.
So I thought I should test this theory before tonight's games. Rob suggested that I say something like "I don’t think Lecavalier has missed a game due to injury since he was 5", but that's too negative. Along the same lines, I was going to say "It's been a while since a Sabres player has suffered a concussion", but that's even more nasty and I don't really want them to lose, per se; I just want the Isles to make it a series.
Let me just say before the Devil Dogs/Lightning Bugs Game 4 that it's been a long time since the last Brodeur shutout (Feb. 27). And Langenbrunner is way overdue to have a big night.
(And remind me to say something about Hasek's uncharacteristically resilient groin tomorrow.)
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Some quick notes on the NHL playoffs:
The Devils are down 2-1 and on the brink of losing this series. I give Tampa Bay full credit for the way they've attacked Marty: odd-angle shots, pouncing on rebounds. I won't make excuses for Marty, like "he peaked too early" or "he's tired from playing too many games"--basically he's being outplayed, just like last year against Carolina. And while Parise has been good, Vinny Lecavalier has been better.
The Devils' coach was fired with 3 games left in the season; can a coach be fired just 3 games into the playoffs? Believe it or not, those jumpy Canadians think so! Regardless, Calgary sucks out loud. They got outshot 51-15 in Sunday's 3-1 loss, and took about 14 penalties in the 1st on their way to a 2-0 series deficit. They have given up 97 shots in 2 games! Meanwhile, Iginla only has 2 himself. I'm really sorry I picked them as my upset special.
Islanders fans are big babies for throwing crap on the ice after losing game 3 to Buffalo last night; I really hope they were trying to hit Bettman in the head. Yes, the Robitaille penalty late in the game was garbage, but that didn't decide the game. The Sabres have been outplayed in this series, but it doesn't matter; they're better and can sleepwalk through this round.
The Rangers have played solid, disciplined hockey, refusing to be intimidated by the Thrashers physical play to take a 2-0 series lead. I'm impressed with Nylander the most, a very underrated player who consistently makes the right play. They can effectively end their series by going up 3-0 with a win tonight.
Malkin has been the difference for the Pens, and not in a good way; no goals, and he's been knocked around by a poised Sens team. Ottawa should wrap up this series in 5.
The other series are going as expected, with SJ/NAS being the nastiest, and the Ducks having the easiest time.
Sportsline asks "First round too long for you?" My answer: No it isn't, you stupid assholes! This is the best time of the year, as far as I'm concerned. Whomever wrote that isn't an NHL fan.
Monday, April 16, 2007
a storm with northeast winds
A cyclonic storm occurring off the east coast of North America. These winter weather events are notorious for producing heavy snow, rain, and tremendous waves that crash onto Atlantic beaches, often causing beach erosion and structural damage. Wind gusts associated with these storms can exceed hurricane force in intensity. A nor'easter gets its name from the continuously strong northeasterly winds blowing in from the ocean ahead of the storm and over the coastal areas.
Welcome to the blog with the world's worst color scheme. I've never been much of a colorist, an interior designer, a painter, or an artist. I've never been able to match a tie with a jacket and suit, and I don't know what burnt sienna is and why we had to burn it in the first place. If these colors are brutal to look at, that's the reason why and I apologize. I was getting all sorts of errors from the various crap that loaded in the sidebar so I gave up and went with the new Blogger layout. No, I'm not thrilled with it either, and now I can't get the Statcounter to work among other things. Eventually I'll fix it so it doesn't burn your retinas, if anyone is actually reading this.
Let me sum up every conversation I've had so far today: "flooding, traffic, Nor'easter, accident, wet, windy, rain!" Yes, we're getting a lot of rain, and yes the roads were probably bad, although I don't have much of a commute so I can't really comment on that--but can we move on now? It's a taxing day for a lot of people, no doubt. (Get it?)
I guess I should add one more word to the hot-button water-cooler-talk list: "TAXES!" On this Tax Monday, let me just give a shout out to TurboTax Online, which was incredibly easy to use. I actually got my taxes done in MID MARCH, a new personal best, and all I had to do was give them $25.95 (plus tax!). Not a bad trade-off for my lazy ass, and since it's all electronic I never had to write anything or mail in any forms.
(Someone told me they're actually not due until tomorrow, because the Andover, Mass. office is closed for Patriot's Day.)
Did you know that CompUSA is owned by a Mexican guy? Yuppers! And his name is Carlos Slim--could the guy sound any shadier? Anyway, they're closing hundreds of stores across the country (including West Nyack and White Plains), and not a moment too soon, because their prices and customer service suck. I almost bought a laptop before I realized that they're prices are HIGHER during their "clearance". Of course that leaves Best Buy as the only place to go for computer gear . . . which is a crappy alternative. My suggestion: NEWEGG.COM.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Since I'm tired of talking/reading about it just like everyone else must be, this Jason Whitlock article ("Imus isn't the real bad guy") sums up how I feel about this whole Imus nonsense.
Kris pointed me to this Sportsline article by Mike Freeman ("Real man of genius: Mr. Spoiler of all things hockey"), which sums up how I feel about Gary "Fucking" Bettman.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
The NHL playoffs kicked off in fine style last night with TWO OT games: the Sharks beating the Preds in 2 OT and Vancouver upping the ante by beating Dallas in 4 OT. Wow! I watched a little of the beginning of VAN/DAL, and I think they should make identical twin brothers on the same team illegal--the Sedins CAN READ EACH OTHER'S MINDS! It's been proven! That game probably ended at 3:30 AM Eastern time, and I sure hope we don't have a similar scenario tonight because I need sleep. Tonight, we've got Devils, Rangers, Sabres and Isles--it's almost too much. (Oh, don't forget the HNA Landsharks. ) But I'm not going to complain, this is what I wanted. I don't even care that the rest of the East outside of Canada and the New York area is probably not watching, because I'm selfish. (And don't try to convince me that Tampa and Atlanta give a crap.) Oh, and I know I whine about this alot, but out of the 4 games on tonight only one is in HD (Devils/Lightning). Normally, all three local teams will be in HD but since they all play on the same night,
(Let me just mention that Sportsline's scoreboard, and the site in general, are clueless. When I got into work, both OT games were listed as "SH", or wins in the shootout, an obvious holdover from the regular season. COME ON! AM I THE ONLY ONE PAYING ATTENTION??? Of course, they also have "Watch the Masters Live" ads on their site, so they're not really on top of things. Sure, they eventually fixed it, but I'll stick with sites like TSN that get it right the first time.)
The typical overtime game in the playoffs goes like this: 2 minutes of furious action and scoring chances, followed by 18 minutes of uninspiring play; repeat until done. Multiple OTs are the result of the teams playing extremely close to the vest to avoid making that game-ending mistake: defensemen usually stay at home, teams take short shifts, goalies cover up everything nearby, and overall everyone tenses up. More often than not, one of these games are decided on a cheesy goal or a weird bounce. But if you have something invested in the game, or are rooting for one of the teams, you have to watch because it can end in the blink of an eye.
I just hope this doesn't lead to the NHL bringing the shootout into the playoffs (I'm looking at you, Buccigross). I don't mind the shootout as it is, even though the novelty of it has worn off turning it into a mere skills competition. It's fine relegated to the regular season, but the 'golden goal' will ruin the drama that is postseason hockey. If they really need to, they can make teams skate 4 on 4 for a couple of OTs, and then 3 on 3 until someone scores. Heck, pull both goalies for all I care! We've already seen a shootout decide a playoff berth (hello, Islanders!), I really don't want to see it decide a Cup champion.
However, the best idea was by Kris, in a chat we had earlier: COACH FIGHT!
Kris: if it goes to 4 OTs, the coaches have to strip to their skivvies and fight it out in a mano a mano deathmatch . . . it'll make the following games of the series that much more fun
me: I'd take Lindy over Nolan in that case
Kris: I'd take Lindy over most...Too bad Pat Quinn isn't still around. i'd pay to see Lindy f--k him up
me: Lou Lamoriello would hit you with his money clip, he probably fights like a girl. I think Laviolette carries pepper spray at all times, like Dwight Schrute
Kris: yeah...Laviolette doesn't seem like much of a fighter...Him vs Paul Maurice...that might be a fair match up
"...and then Schrute pulled out a can of hair spray and a lighter..."
We'll see. Just don't, sweet Jebus, don't put the shootout in the Stanley Cup playoffs!
In closing, this is officially my favorite hockey scratch explanation:
Vancouver D Brent Sopel didn't play after hurting his back trying to pick up a cracker from the floor Tuesday, coach Alain Vigneault said. Rory Fitzpatrick took his place.
As Vertullo said, "I can only assume the coach will be fired for his racist remark." Damn straight! I blame the crackers for everything that's wrong in the world.
I'm taking advantage of posting this on Open Hockey to express myself. I'm going for the post-title of the year.
Anyway, Julie was in London a couple of weeks ago (or last week...who can keep track, that chick travels more in a month than I do in a year) and she brought back some beer. She's good about that...She'll ask her distributors for advice about beer and get whatever they like for me. Anyway, I don't know this distributor, but he apparently swings to the fruity side of things; he suggested Wells Banana Bread Beer. The company that imports Hooray Beer! Red Stripe and Mexican Toilet Swill Corona to England brings us this "intriguing, award-winning beer" that kinda realifies the moniker "Liquid Bread."
Honestly, if it wasn't British, I would've turned my nose up at it and left it in the fridge for months or years...but come on, the Brits brought us IPA and Porter, they can't be completely off their rocker when it comes to beer. It'd be like not drinking a Bordeaux because there wasn't Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot grapes it in...it's just not done. So; looking at the bottle, I'm informed that it's a "Full English Pint" none of this shitty "Europeanization" crap. These fuckers mean business to the tune of 568ml (that's like 19 fl oz). This poses a problem. All my pint glasses were "acquired" in bars that serve non-English pints. I thought my Old Speckled Hen glass was up to the task...Alas, nothing could solve the problem...I still had a couple of drops left in the bottle. Oh well...the sole solution is the take a few sips to liberate the space for the remainder.
I read another review that spoke of the aftertaste being pleasantly bananatastic...I got a full Banana from the get go...but not in a bad way. The fair trade bananas used in this brew are not sweeted (a frequent problem that I've found with fruit-fortified brews), so this doesn't get that "I can't drink another drop" sweetness that certain others have displayed.
It hits your palate with a surge of banana, but it kind mellows out. It's banana all the way through, it's ind of refreshing and interesting. I'll tell you. I wanted to dislike this beer. I mean who puts banana in a beer, but it really was an different beer. It's a change from the Heinishit that I usually drink here (it's better than "33" believe me) and it actually goes down quite well...in fact, my glass is totally empty (or "completely lacking fullness" if you prefer) and I could go for another; but only one more...I'm sure that more than two of these babies and you would be spending the better part of the evening near the piss trough of your local. It's not too sweet, but it's sweet enough that you'd want to quickly shift to something a bit less fruity, if you will. The aftertaste does have a bit of bitterness to it, but I've always found that the best solution to bitter aftertaste is to not allow the aftertaste to hit between sips...No honestly, the aftertaste is completely acceptable, although while burping you get the distinct feeling that you just ate a pound of bananas.
I do vote the logo for this beer as my #1 for the summer-season 2007; without touching another summer beer, I am sure I won't find one better than the one below.
So, in conclusion: Banana + Beer ≠ Bad. If you have a chance, I suggest that you do taste it, just to say "yeah, I've had Banana Bread Beer." But I would also say...if you're in England on a beer-tour, you'll probably want to spend more time tasting porters, bitters, IPAs, pilsners, ales and what have you. This beer is the answer to the question that very few people asked: "What other fruit can use to brew beer?"
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs are almost underway--and it's about time. This season seemed longer than most for some reason, and I still think they should cut down the season to 70 games or so. But that's just me.
For the first time since the last time it happened, the conference champs from the previous season are not in the playoffs. This time around its Edmonton and Carolina, the latter being the first Stanley Cup champion to miss the postseason since the Devils did it in 1996. Welcome to that auspicious club, Rod Bit O'Love!In the end, all three New York City area teams made it in, which makes me happy but pisses off the rest of the hockey world. Add Buffalo to the mix, and this area is well represented. This also means that all the locals will be fighting for TV coverage, and from what I've read, it looks like this: Isles/Sabres will be on Versus (except Games 1 and 7), the Devils and Doc Emrick's play-by-play on FoxSports Net, and the Rangers will alternate between MSG and NBC (first one is Game 2 @ 3 PM , Sat 4/14). Who knows which games will be on HD (I haven't seen an away game in HD from Tampa), and I don't know anyone who gets VS-HD.
Let's get into the blognostications, because I'm the only one who reads this anyway.
Clarence Campbell [Western] Conference
This conference is pretty loaded, and the Stanley Cup winner is probably going to emerge from here, although not necessarily from the top seeds.
(1) Detroit vs (8) Calgary. Ahh, the mighty Red Wings, who led the West and tied Buffalo for the most points in the NHL. Like last year, they feasted on St. Louis and Columbus, two of the bottom feeders in the West. And do you really think Hasek, who was used sparingly this season has another tough playoff run in him? Yeah, I don't think so either. Calgary will upset the Red Wings: you heard it here first. Flames in 6.
(2) Anaheim vs (7) Minnesota. The Wild had a good run, but they're a dull, old school pretender who are about to get trounced by a very talented, though no longer mighty, Ducks team. Ducks in 5.
(3) Vancouver vs (6) Dallas. This is probably the least watchable series in the whole postseason: Dallas can't score, and Vancouver plays a plodding game just hoping to not make mistakes in front of Luongo. Turco has never proved himself in the playoffs. Canucks in 6.
(4) Nashville vs (5) San Jose. Sharks are scary, in and out of the water. On paper this looks like the best matchup in the West, and it's a shame one of these teams will have to lose in the first round. In the end, the Predators will become prey to the San Jose. Sharks in 7.
Prince of Wales [Eastern] Conference
(1) Buffalo vs (8) NY Islanders. Let me just say that it's ridiculous that the Isles are in the playoffs. They had to win 3 games to close out the season (done), Montreal had to lose their final 2, including a come-from-behind win by Toronto (done), and they had to win a shootout on the final day with a backup goalie (done). All of that was for the privilege of being unceremoniously kicked out in the first round. Sabres in 4.
(2) New Jersey vs (7) Tampa Bay. New Jersey has had some serious ups and downs this year but as always it's about Brodeur, who had an amazing season this year. But I'd rather have tuberculosis than have TB in the playoffs for another round. I just hope they figure out some way to stop that one killer line (St. Louis, Lecavilier). Devils in 6.
(3) Atlanta vs (6) NY Rangers. The Rangers got the matchup they wanted (i.e. anyone but the Devils), but they're such a Heckyl and Jagr team that it's hard to believe in them. Atlanta had a great first half and benefited from the demise of Carolina to win the division. If the Rangers can't get up for this series, they've got serious motivational issues. Rangers in 7.
(4) Ottawa vs (5) Pittsburgh. Yes, the Penguins are the feel-good story of the decade and all that, with Sid the Kid leading the way to a huge turnaround season. Although they've got plenty of talent, I still don't believe Fleury is a good enough goalie to carry this team all the way. Despite that, I always pick Ottawa to crap out in the first round, so why should I stop now? Penguins in 7.
That's it. Let's drop the puck!SPORTSLINE POSTSEASON SCHEDULEHDSPORTSGUIDE.COM NHL SCHEDULE
NHL.COM TV SCHEDULE
Welcome to another CARTOONSDAY! This week we feature "Little Red Riding Rabbit" (1944). For some reason the part when the wolf is singing, "Put on your ol' gray bonnet with a blue--" cracks me up every time.
Warner Brothers Presents Merrie Melodies - "Little Red Riding Rabbit" featuring Bugs Bunny (1944) [YouTube]
UPDATE: I have to find a video that's better synched. That's awful.
Monday, April 9, 2007
Etymology: obsolete nappy, adjective, foaming
chiefly Scottish : LIQUOR; specifically : ALE
As a child, my grandfather would give me "a wee bit of the nappy" to get me to sleep.
(I don't know why Imus got in trouble for saying this. Unless he said "malt nappy".)
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
I can't believe it's finally here: The Masters® tournament!
I don't care if you hate Jim Nantz but his hyperbole is apropo: there is nothing like this golf tournament, golf course, golf broadcast, the golf tradition. Period. And you're probably bored of me saying that. Okay, yeah, the green jacket is ugly but it's the most notable sports award next to the Stanley Cup.
As it did two years ago it lands on Easter weekend, which gives me a convenient excuse to leave work early the next two days. Back in 2005, on Easter Sunday evening I was literally pulling out of my parents driveway at their house in Maine to when my mom ran out to stop me. I had no idea what was going on, I thought I had left something important in the house; it turned out that she wanted to tell me about a shot Tiger had just made: that famous chip-in on the 16th hole that dramatically hung on the lip before plunking in for a birdie (BROUGHT TO YOU BY NIKE). That drive back to NY was irritating because golf isn't really sports radio fodder (I had to put up with the WEEI Boston yahoos talking Sawx baseball). I didn't realize Tiger had bogeyed the final two holes to create a playoff scenario with DiMarco until I got about an hour closer to home, and could just barely hear Steve Somers on WFAN. Anyway, this time around I took off Monday so I can watch it all on my parents' 42" HDTV. That's right, I'm not kidding around.
Hey, this is the MASTERS®, dammit, the only major that's got a registered trademark. Let's break it down.
Name: Augusta National, Augusta, GA
4/5 - 4:00-7:00 pm: 1st round (USA/UniversalHD)
4/6 - 4:00-7:00 pm: 2nd round (USA/UniversalHD)
4/7 - 3:30-7:00 pm: 3rd round (CBS HD)
4/8 - 2:30-7:00 pm: Final round (CBS HD)
The difference with this HD broadcast and all the others is that every camera is HD and they use fiberoptic cables buried throughout the golf course, and the results are simply stunning (suck it, NBC!). The online coverage will once again include Amen Corner Live, and an extra hour of coverage before TV coverage. Yes, they do it right. Oh, and NONE of it is on ESPN (suck it, Worldwide Loser!).
FIRST ROUND TEE TIMES (EDT)
Just check out the heavy hitters in these opening threesomes:
[10:23 am] Mike Weir, Henrik Stenson
[10:34 am] Fred Couples, Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy
[10:56 am] Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott
[11:07 am] Charles Howell III, Jose Maria Olazabal, Justin Rose
[ 1:41 pm] Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald
Other notables: [10:45 am] Sergio Garcia, [11:51 pm] Jim Furyk, [12:57 pm] Retief Goosen, [ 2:03 pm] Vijay Singh
Some guy named "Tiger Woods" tees off at 1:53 pm. What a silly name! He might as well be "Leopard Irons" or "Elephant Sandtrap". Well, I guess it's better than his real name: ELDRICK! Man, if he hadn't spent his entire childhood on the golf course, just imagine the teasing he'd get at school. Anyway, this kid might have a chance to win.
So let's start with who won't win it: Retief Goosen (too many times he's let me down), Adam Scott (too shaky with the putter), Charles Howell III (stank at the Ryder Cup), Mike Weir (too Canadian). And Ian Poulter is trying to out-ugly the field by wearing stupid looking hats that match his shirt. Good lord.
As for the potential winners, Vertullo came up with an interesting pool: choose 2 US players not named "Tiger", 1 European, and 1 other, all must make the cut, lowest composite score wins. Here's who I'm going with:
Phil "FIGJAM" Mickelson. Yes, Phillis is a no-brainer pick, but I respect him more for losing 15-20 pounds in the off-season (which gets shorter each year). I was secretly hoping he'd shave his head and start cursing up a storm, yelling at the gallert like Monty on steroids. At the very least I wish he would wipe that geeky smile off his face.
Brett "Slippery When" Wetterich. I almost chose Jim "Hitch" Furyk, but I can't watch him putt anymore. I went down the list of uninspiring U.S. players and decided on him because he played well at the Doral and the Honda. Big hitter, but his accuracy and putting aren't great.
Paddy "Whisky" Harrington. This is the last time I pick him. Seriously. And I almost chose Sergio "Los Pantalones Feos" Garcia instead, so don't make me regret it Padraig!
Robert "Good Show" Allenby. This Aussie has been in the top 10 in 6 of 7 events this year, and he's 12th in driving distance, a boon at Augusta.
This Final Four is sure to suck just like my NCAA picks. Anyway, it's like Xmas eve, can't wait for it to start! Enjoy.
SECOND ROUND TEE TIMES
1) Tea Olive - Par 4, 455
2) Pink Dogwood - Par 5, 575
3) Flowering Peach - Par 4, 350
4) Flowering Crab Apple - Par 3, 240
5) Magnolia - Par 4, 455
6) Juniper - Par 3, 180
7) Pampas - Par 4, 450
8) Yellow Jasmine - Par 5, 570
9) Carolina Cherry - Par 4, 460
10) Camellia - Par 4, 495
11) White Dogwood - Par 4, 505
12) Golden Bell - Par 3, 155
13) Azalea - Par 5, 510
14) Chinese Fir - Par 4, 440
15) Firethorn - Par 5, 530
16) Redbud - Par 3, 170
17) Nandina - Par 4, 440
18) Holly - Par 4, 465
WEATHER - AUGUSTA, GA
(It's supposed to be around 60 and sunny down there. Meanwhile, it's going to be brutally cold around here, not getting higher than 40 in Maine all weekend. But at least I can dream about playing golf soon.)
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
I tuned into ESPN HD last night to watch a little of the Sunday Night baseball game of the Mets @ the Cards to kickoff the season . . . and they were showing women's college basketball instead. I shit you not. I can't bring myself to watch "The Deuce" since it looks like grainy garbage on my TV thanks to Cablevision, so I just forgot about it. I don't know why I even bother turning on ESPN. Furthermore, I'm not the only one in the NY area that doesn't get ESPN2 in high definition, since Cablevision and Time Warner NY dominate the local cable market and don't carry it. What garbage.
I was also excited to hear that the Discovery Channel's show "The Deadliest Catch" is filmed in HD. In fact, they reportedly lose nearly a quarter of a million dollars of equipment due to the brutal conditions while filming the show. Since I now have the Discovery HD channel, I was looking forward to the season 3 premiere on Tuesday night. . . except that THEY ARE NOT BROADCASTING IT IN HD. In fact, there are no plans to show it in HD. I have no idea why. What a joke.
Thank Jebus that The Masters is coming in 2 days, shown in fantastic, glorious HD. Here's the TV schedule:
4/5/2007 Golf The Masters -- 1st round - Augusta National 4:00 PM UniversalHD (1080i)
4/6/2007 Golf The Masters -- 2nd round - Augusta National 4:00 PM UniversalHD (1080i)
4/7/2007 Golf The Masters -- 3rd round - Augusta National 3:30 PM CBS (1080i)
4/8/2007 Golf The Masters -- Final round - Augusta National 2:30 PM CBS (1080i)
It's another CARTOONSDAY. In honor of the baseball season starting, here's Bugs Bunny in "Baseball Bugs" (1944).
Bugs Bunny - Baseball Bugs - Watch today’s top amazing videos here
The Gas House Gorillas are very similiar to the current New York Yankees: they're loaded but can't win when it counts.
I just came across this list of Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes. There are some winners on here:
#20. 15th Annual New York City April Fool's Day Parade. The best part of this one: the "Atlanta Braves Baseball Tribute to Racism" float, with John Rocker "spewing racial epithets at the crowd." The best part of this is that FOX5 News, the most pathetic excuse for a news team in the NY metro area, fell for this one.
#91: Augusta National Goes Public
The May 1990 issue of Golf magazine had good news for golf enthusiasts. It reported that Augusta National, the elite private golf course where the Masters tournament is held, would begin allowing public access to its course at certain times. As a result of this report, both Augusta National and Golf magazine received hundreds of calls from eager golfers inquiring about playing privileges. But the report was an April fool's joke, despite its placement in the May issue. Golf magazine was forced to publish a retraction, reaffirming that Augusta National was still a private club open only to members and guests.
HA! Yeah right. Karl mentioned #2: Sidd Finch.
In its April 1985 edition, Sports Illustrated published a story about a new rookie pitcher who planned to play for the Mets. His name was Sidd Finch and he could reportedly throw a baseball with startling, pinpoint accuracy at 168 mph (65 mph faster than anyone else has ever been able to throw a ball). Surprisingly, Sidd Finch had never even played the game before. Instead, he had mastered the "art of the pitch" in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the "great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa." Mets fans everywhere celebrated at their teams's amazing luck at having found such a gifted player, and Sports Illustrated was flooded with requests for more information. But in reality this legendary player only existed in the imagination of the writer of the article, George Plimpton.
A lot of people believed this, apparently. Sports fans are so gullible, they'll believe anything you feed them if it will help their team win (see: Barry Bonds and SF Giants fans). The best part was the subheading of the article that spelled out HAPPY APRIL FOOL'S.
"He's A Pitcher, Part Yogi
And Part Recluse. Impressively Liberated
From Our Opulent Lifestyle, Sidd's
Deciding About Yoga (and his future in baseball)."
#23: Guinness Mean Time. I've been on this for years, this is a hoax?
Monday, April 2, 2007
[BLOH-vee-ayt], intransitive verb:
To speak or write at length in a pompous or boastful manner.
It wouldn't be spring without the bloviating John Sterling, who stated during the Yankees opening day broadcast today that Robinson Cano was "the BEST #8 HITTER IN BASEBALL HISTORY".
(Strangely, I didn't miss baseball as much as I missed the awkward dynamic of the Sterling/Waldman Lowe's broadcast booth.)
The New Jersey Devils have fired head coach Claude Julien. GM Lou Lamiorello will coach for the rest of the season and the playoffs.
I have no problem with Sweet Lou's hockey moves, and no one in their right mind can argue with 3 Stanley Cups in the past 12 years. But what the hell happened here? Imagine you coach a team all year to first place in the division and 2nd place in the East with 3 games to go, and then being unceremoniously kicked out the door. Maybe Claude insulted Lou on the color of his tie during dinner last night, I don't know. Lou has pulled this stunt before, shitcanning Robbie Ftorek with 4 games to go and plugging in Larry Robinson to win the Cup in 2000. But they were sucking at the time, and no one liked the bench throwing Ftorek.
By some accounts, Julien seems like an idiot incapable of tying the laces on a hockey skate. Okay, by my account alone he seems like an idiot. I liken him to the Red Sox Terry Francona: just get out of the way and let them play. But I haven't heard anything about him not getting along with the team, or being disliked by the media. On the contrary, he's barely ever interviewed and generally has only positive things to say. But this is Lou we're talking about, so there must be a good reason.
On the other hand, despite his reputation as a shrwed businessman, Lou is partially to blame for the Devils not being the premiere team in the NY area despite all their success. I understand that the Rangers are THE TEAM, and the Isles won 4 Cups before the Devils became the 3rd man in. But the 1st place Devils are languishing in the bottom 4 of the NHL attendance figures in percent seats sold, and part of that has to do with the way the team is marketed, something Old School Lou probably doesn't have the best grasp on. The other problem is having a team in an area with plenty of other ways to spend your money (see: Boston, Chicago, Washington). If you put this team in Winnipeg, Quebec, or Saskatoon, I bet they'd have 22K there every night and people would be tattooing Lou's name on their asses. (Calgary somehow averages 112% of their arena capacity. Are fans sitting on each other's laps? Does the fire marshall know about this?)
Regardless, I can't argue with the move since I don't know much about Julien, and it seemed like he was merely a puppet. Hopefully, this won't affect their playoff run (which I don't see going very long anyway).
As the season winds down, the big question is: who want's the President's Trophy? If you listen to ESPN, they would tell you Detroit and Nashville are the only ones in contention. But if you're not an idiot you know better than to listen to the Worldwide Leader in Shit, who show more funny car and women's basketball highlights than hockey highlights. Right now the standings have Detroit with 108 pts., Nashville 107, and Buffalo 106. The key here is that the Sabres have a game in hand and two more wins than Detroit. But who really cares? There's only one Cup that matters.
Speaking of the President's Trophy, I have a funny story about that (and forgive me if I've blogged this already). After seeing a Beastie Boys concert back in 1995, I was walking down the stairs to get out of MSG, and naturally as the arena empties it gets more crowded and slow as you get closer to the street. So I decided to look for a shortcut through one of the side doors that was ajar. It turned out that I ended up in the New York Rangers offices, and staring back at me from a glass case was the PRESIDENT'S TROPHY that they had won from 1994, among other plaques and assorted awards. I really thought it was interesting that they didn't have this office securely locked during a rap concert, and I'm just sorry that I didn't attempt to take it home with me. Anyway, that was my brush with hardware greatness; it was nice, but it was no Stanley.
Maybe the Devils want that 2nd spot after all. They're waking up at the right time, coinciding with Elias, Madden and Gionta being healthy again--now there's a shocker! Of course, if you believe Sportsline they had a hell of a weekend. Stars back in place, Devils whip Bruins to seize Eastern lead. This headline should be followed by . . . APRIL FOOL'S! Because unless that win was worth 10 points, they're still well behind Eastern Conference leader Buffalo. Maybe they should institute a new point system that increases as you get closer to the playoffs. Yeah, that idea isn't any more asinine than bigger goals or shootouts in the playoffs, both of which would be a monumental disaster.
As for the rest of the Eastern Conference, it should be an interesting fight for those final playoff spots, as Tampa Bay, Montreal, and Toronto (who got stomped by the Rangers last night) claw for position. Carolina is fading fast, and the DiPietro-free Isles are all but out of it. And someone has to upset Ottawa in the first round, so who better than the young resurgent Pittsburgh Penguins?
The 8 teams representing the Western Conference are pretty much decided, and they might all have over 100 points. With the new point calculation system we all know that stat is meaningless, but the playoffs should be interesting as there isn't a bad team in the bunch.
They really should change the NHL playoff seeding rule, where a division winner gets a top seed regardless of their point total. Right now Atlanta has 93 points, but because they are 1st in the Southeast they're seeded ahead of Pitt (101) and Ottawa (102). Poppycock, I say! Just seed them 1 through 8 already! The only playoff seeding system more screwed up is baseball, with the "no division rivals can play each other in the first round", which is utterly stupid.
Listen good, because I'm only going to say this once: Bernie Parent's single-season modern record 47 wins cannot be fairly compared to whatever Martin Brodeur's final tally is this season, because of the fact that THERE ARE NO LONGER TIES IN THE NHL. For every game, someone has to get a win, whether it's in a shootout or OT. In 1973-1974, Bernie Parent played 73 of the Flyers 82 games, winning 47, losing 13, and tying 12. Under the current "somebody's fans go home happy" system he would have definitely had at least 50 wins, and might have won as many as 59! He also had a 1.89 GAA and 12 shutouts (and 3 assists), and 12 wins in the playoffs for the Stanley Cup Champs, so as good as Marty's season has been this year, it won't top that.
Stay tuned for my 2007 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS PREVIEW EXTRAVAGANZA coming next week!