Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Dog Days (or High School) are over

I admit it-I use Facebook.
More than I should and we even have a small page for the blog there, but it can be fun.

At the same time, it is borderline creepy at times.
The main offense?-Wanting to return to High School again.
2011 is the year of my 25th anniversary of leaving the school system and for the fifth time, I think I'll pass on renewing old acquaintances.
I say acquaintances because if they were friends, I would have renewed them already.
Besides, if I truly wanted to reunite (and it doesn't feel so good, thanks Peaches and Herb), Facebook allows more than enough opportunities to do just that.
There are a few people that I have "friended" from, school, but none from my graduating class other than my wife, and I cannot really say that my life has suffered much.

So many people just cannot grow enough to expand beyond that base that was formed by an arbitrary geographic base from their youth.
I can see the case for some that really did reach their peak in life in high school-the athlete that was good enough there but had no hopes of playing college sports, the person in the school play that really wasn't that talented, or the solo singer that was not headed for Broadway or a recording career.
Those people didn't have the skill to move on in something they love and I can see the nostalgia for them, but what about the average person that just seems to live for this stuff?

What can really be meaningful about seeing a person 25 or 30 years after sitting behind them in English that you didn't really know then and haven't seen since?
I am sure that some of my feelings are that I never enjoyed the school experience for the most part, but isn't it somewhat odd to be growing older being parents and some now grandparents and still living for taking Biology at the age of 14?
I can understand the nostalgia for college years as you are adults with adult memories, but high school?

I couldn't stand the school system, most of the instructors, and even more of my colleagues.
I refer often to the fact that my middle school years (grades 6,7 and 8) were the worst three years of my life.I didn't like them then and I doubt I would like them now.
Maybe it is because with the exception of meeting my wife, I had few memories worth keeping from the public school system or maybe it is as simple as I don't like group settings, but I cannot imagine something that I would enjoy less than a school reunion.
I have a great life and for me-the Dog Days are truly over (Excuse for a Florence and the Machine video).

To each our own and we all have our hobbies and silly things that we enjoy (hell, I am writing this, aren't I?), so go, have fun and enjoy!
But in the end, I'll think I'll look at this in a similar vein to William Shatner...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Whipped Wolverine

It was close for a quarter and a half and then things returned to normal as Ohio State cruised to a 37-7 pounding of the michigan wolverines in Columbus.
The win which clinched a share of the Buckeyes sixth straight conference title and seventh straight win over michigan.
The bowl that OSU will be headed to will be announced next week,but should be either the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans against either Arkansas or LSU or the Orange Bowl against the ACC Champion either Florida State or Virginia Tech....

Buckeye Leaves

1) Play of the game was Jordan Hall's kick return for a touchdown right after michigan scored their only points and trimmed the lead to 10-7.
The wolverines never had the same gas tank after that.

2) I cannot wait until Hall becomes the featured back as I think he could be the best Buckeye back since Eddie George.
That is a big statement,but only Jim Tressel's loyalty to Boom Herron has stopped that from happening.

3) Boom had a big game yesterday though,although most do against the cream cheese D that is played by the wolverines.
Herron's 98 yard run for a score that was canceled would have been a series record...

4) I dislike the uniforms worn in the win.
OSU looked like Rutgers for God's sake.
Ohio State has tons of tradition and they dont need to be an attention hog like Oregon,so can we please scrap the alternate togs?

5) So much for "Shoelace" Robinson.
Anyone remember all the "Shoelace" for Heisman and michigan is back talk???

6) I really missed Brent Musberger at the game.
No one brings the attitude of the college game more than Musberger and Big Ten games are lacking something without him...

7) Sean McDonough is passable in the booth,but three weeks in a row with Matt Millen?
Tough to take a guy seriously with his track record,yet he speaks with such certainty.
If some network ever put Gus Johnson with Matt Millen as a team on broadcasts,I might just lose my mind...

8) This could have been worse on the invaders as Terrelle Pryor was picked off late in the first half,Herron's TD was called back and became an eventual field goal and Jim Tressel sat on the ball at the end of the game rather than score another TD deep in opposing territory.

9) To those of you that think this rivalry is passe' and the Buckeyes "own" it for good.
Two words-John Cooper.

10) One more for the road-Keep Rich Rodriguez...

Photo Credits

Fans-John Grellick-Detroit News
Hall-Marvin Fong-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Devils clip Flyers in Shootout

The New Jersey Devils mixed a spirited first period with an average second and a hand on for dear life third period to force an overtime shootout with the Philadelphia Flyers at the Rock.
It took Travis Zajac beating Brian Boucher in round four to lift the Devils to a 2-1 win and two badly needed points after the less than strong effort against the Islanders on Friday.
Adam Mair's fortunate blast off the pipe (1) was the only New Jersey goal in regulation.
The Devils are off until Thursday against Montreal....

Hell Raisers

1) Despite a high energy effort in the first period,the Devils seem unable to put together a sixty minute effort.
This game was much like the win over the Flames and the team is fortunate to earn the two points.
At this point,how you are getting them shouldn't matter,but the quality of play is important in truly turning this ship around....

2) The player of this game had to be Johan Hedberg,who made many spectacular saves to keep the Devils in the contest.
Without the recent play of Hedberg,the Devils would not have four of the six points that they added to their coffers this week...

3) Hopefully,Travis Zajac will be able to use the game winner as an boost to his game after a turtle like start to his season (Just 2 goals).
Zajac has continued to play well defensively,but being the teams top center,his numbers need to improve.

4) The power play had a chance to give the team a quick start with a double minor on a high stick that cut Brian Rolston open.
The troubles continue as the team never truly threatened.

5) Ilya Kovalchuk's troubles continued as he dribbled a 2 on 1 breakaway in overtime off his stick.
The sniper reportedly left the arena without speaking to the press....

6) Adam Mair finally got his first point of the year when his shot smacked off the post and behind Brian Boucher in the first period.
Mair was the first member of his line (with Rod Pelley and Stephen Gionta) to score a goal this season....

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The game

This is the day that I look forward to all year.
My feelings are below,Language alert...

If Ohio State beats michigan today at the Horseshoe,it will set two records.
One will be the sixth straight Big Ten title and even though some of those are shared titles,with the upcoming championship game eliminating shared championships-that is a record that may never be broken.

The other is a record setting seventh straight win over the school up north.
Rich Rodriguez (I didn't like him before he became their coach) finally has the wolverines headed to a bowl even with a loss,they would finish 7-5 and go to a small bowl,but Rodriguez still isn't out of the boiling pot yet,I don't think.
If today is a huge Buckeye win and the bowl game is a loss,combined with the off the field issues,enough may be enough for Rodriguez,who never seemed like a good fit for the Big Ten anyway.
I am torn on this as I dislike Rodriguez,but he has torn their program down so much that I wouldn't mind seeing him stick around for a while.
Especially with Jim Harbaugh of Stanford being rumored as his replacement,I would not want to see that.

I know Ohio State has owned the series since Jim Tressel has been in Columbus (Only one loss),but I always take the bad guys seriously.
In this rivalry,you get arrogant at your own peril.
I never get tired of beating them,so here is hoping that another win goes to THE Ohio State University!
Go Bucks!

Someone breaks through...

The New Jersey Devils had won back to back games for the first time this year.
The New York Islanders had not won in the month of November and had dropped fourteen games in a row,so this one looked promised for the Devs despite historic troubles with the Islanders.
The result was a 2-0 win for the Gorton Gang breaking both streaks.
The Devils host Philadelphia today in another ice matinee and then will have until Thursday to prepare for the Montreal Canadiens at the Rock...

Hell Raisers

1) About the only bright spot in this one was Colin White's one punch KO of Bruno Gervais.
White doesn't fight much since he injured his eye,but I guess he knows a soft touch when he sees one in Gervais.

2) The Islanders scored just 92 seconds into the game and that was all that they needed.
Frankly,New Jersey looked lackadaisical and slow for two periods.
The effort and quality was improved in the third,but games aren't won with 20 minutes of effort even against the New York Islanders..

3) Five shots in the first period? Against the Islanders?
Talk about mailing it in early.
The Devils did outshoot the Islanders 13-1 in the third,but the Islanders were clearly in clock management mode by then.

4) The Devils did have one chance to get back in the game with 58 seconds of a 5 on 3 man advantage and produced zero shots on goal.
That is as close as it got...

5) Not much else to write after a game like this except this- a 2-0 loss to the worst team in the league and today the division leaders are in town-lets hope for some improvement or this could get ugly.

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pigskin Pickin Machine-Joe Friday version

The machine starts poppin a day early with the college game of the week on Friday!

Ohio State over michigan 45-24
Texas Tech over Houston 24-19
Game of the Week
Alabama over Auburn 23-20

Browns over Panthers 17-9
Seahawks over Chiefs 21-20
Game of the Week
Falcons over Packers 35-31

WBC Lightweight title
Juan Manuel Marquez over Michael Katsidis TKO 11

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

A quick wish to all of you that stop by here either every day,regularly or occasionally to say thanks for reading and hope that all of you and your families enjoy my personal favorite holiday of the year-Thanksgiving......

Cleaning out the Inbox-Finally!

We finally finish our cleaning of the inbox with a few more notes that have accumulated.

Wow,what a punch by Sergio Martinez to knock Paul Williams out before he hit the floor in their WBC Middleweight title fight last Saturday.
We thought Martinez had earned a narrow nod in their first bout that went Williams way and the arrogance shown by Williams and his promoter Joe Goossen came back to bite them in the posterior.
The whole catchweight thing (fighters being required to weigh no more than an certain amount even though that amount is less than the division limit)is ridiculous in a World Championship fight and Williams insisting that the two pounds makes no difference as his team would not make the fight without it sounds very hypocritical to me.
Add the champion being introduced first as the promoter makes those decisions as another slap in the face to Martinez and this adds up as someone got what they deserved.
In all the years I have watched boxing,I never have seen the champion introduced first even when huge stars fought non-descript title holders-show some respect for the game-Mr.Goosen.
As for the punch-see for yourself!

Sergio Martinez gets my vote for 2010 fighter of the year with his wins over Williams and Kelly Pavlik.Two top quality wins that were mild upsets gives Martinez that vote.
As for Pavlik,his reasonably close loss to Martinez doesnt look so bad now,so a Pavlik return could boost his status quickly.

Mike Leach has added ESPN to the list of people that he is suing for their part in his firing from Texas Tech.
Good for Leach as ESPN's coverage of the issue was so slanted towards the perspective of their employee Craig James that if it was a house it would have tipped to one side and crashed into the ground.....

Boo to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA for banning anti-LeBron James shirts for the "Lyin King's" return to Cleveland next Thursday.
I am not advocating violence by any means and people that go over the edge need to be removed and prosecuted,but one could say that this is a free speech issue.
Besides,I bet some of it comes down to this-the league isn't making any money off the anti-James clothing and they want to give it as little publicity as possible on the nationally televised game....

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Bill Livingston writes about the courage of Nile Kinnick and his statue outside the stadium at Iowa.
Iowa has a tradition of each player rubbing the helmet on the Kinnick statue,which features Kinnick as a student not as just a football player.
That is the best enduring tribute that Nile Kinnick could have...

The Columbus Dispatch columnist Bob Hunter discusses the Kinnick statue and has a great idea for Ohio State to do the same with Chic Harley,the man most responsible for starting the tradition that is Buckeye football.
What a great idea to honor Harley and add another tradition to the Ohio State family...

Florida Governor Charlie Crist is finishing his term after a recent loss in an attempt to become a Senator from the state and one of his last duties may be to pardon the late lead singer of the Doors,Jim Morrison for his conviction of indecent exposure and profanity in a 1970 concert.
This is pretty harmless and I suppose it is a nice thing to do,but this is the type of issue that seems so small considering our problems today....

Photo Credits-Unknown

La Flama Blanca lifs Devils over Flames

Anything for a Kenny Powers reference,so last nights win for the New Jersey Devils over the Calgary Flames gave me the idea for the title.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored the only goal of the shootout to lift the Devils to a 2-1 win over the Flames at the Rock.
David Clarkson (4) tipped in a Mattias Tedenby goal in the first period for the Devils goal in regulation.
The Devils will be playing back to back matinee games with a trip to Long Island on Friday against the Islanders and hosting a Saturday matchup against the Flyers.

Hell Raisers

1) This one has to go to Jonas Hedberg,who propped up an anemic offense with a super all round game.
The win over the Flames was a better outing for the Moose as he needed to be razor sharp in this one and he was just that.

2) The win was the first time this season that the team had won back to back games.
As the immortal Lou Brown once offered "We've won two games in a row. If we win tonight, its called a winning streak It has happened before"...

3) This was a pretty slow game to watch.
Brent Sutter and the Flames out trapped the Devils and arguably should have won the game and without the play of Hedberg would have done so.

4) Have to give John MacLean credit for going right back to Ilya Kovalchuk in the shootout after Kovalchuk's debacle against the Sabres in the Devils last shootout try.
I liked putting him in the first position as well as a way to boost confidence and keep him out of a slot with pressure until things get re-established.
Good call...

5) Despite not scoring a point,I thought Patrik Elias had a nice night and he was stoned on the Devils best offensive chance of the third period on a brilliant save by Henrik Karlsson,who I was pretty impressed with.

Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cleaning out the Inbox

The inbox is so full that it might take two cleanings to catch up!

The Devils are home tonight against Calgary and Brent Sutter,so coverage here either late tonight or tomorrow.

The box is being worked from the bottom up,so if some of this stuff seems dated,my apologies....

I have been told by three different people that the Hagerstown Suns are installing a "Jumbotron" scoreboard at the Muni.
I haven't been by to check things out and I haven't seen any press releases confirming this,but if this is true-I like the idea.
Keep the manual scoreboard though as a companion piece and this can be nothing but an improvement.

MaxBoxing offered this three part series (1,2,3) on the state of boxing and its top network HBO by Thomas Hauser.
I recommend this highly and IF I have time,I might offer my opinions on the state of the game to be posted automatically while I am on vacation...

Jake Plummer now is passionate about handball after his NFL career.
I always liked Plummer and thought that in the right system,he could have been a excellent quarterback.
Plummer was certainly a risk taker,but that is what made him so fun to watch..

Battlin' Bob sends this article on caring for retired thoroughbreds from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Always nice to see a worthy cause earn some press....

The Battler's blog also features his thoughts on "Black Friday" and holiday sales.
A hilarious must read,but as always a language caution.

The Cincinnati Enquirer has a article that looks at the son of the late Brian Pillman as a high school football player.
Pillman spent time with the Bengals and the CFL's Calgary Stampeders before a long career in pro wrestling.

Hard to believe,but that only cleans out half the inbox,so hopefully we can finish the cleaning tonight or tomorrow....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On the signing front

More catching up from the signing front today as I slowly but surely continue to work on the signing for the 2010 season.

One reason that the signing front falls behind is that I do not put cards away until I have had a chance to write about them here,so I will always get around to it sooner or later.

Today we finish up with the visitors to the Muni and the Hagerstown Suns with the Lakewood Blue Claws and Delmarva Shorebirds.

Lakewood had the same cast of characters from their other trips in,just that this time I had the Blue Claw team set to work on.
Jonathan Singleton looks like the teams top hitting prospect and was super accomodating every time the team was here this season as was former first rounder Anthony Hewitt.
Catcher Sebastian Valle signed,but didn't seem thrilled and Leandro Castro still would not sign his Bowman,yet would sign his Topps Debut card.
I have to figure that one out sometime!
Manager Mark Parent signed everything and everytime and was quite engaging as well.
My favorite Parent story came after the game,when a collector asked him to sign and he replied "sure,but you gotta hold my beer!".
Great guy.
Another former big league backstop was gotten on this trip as former Toronto catcher Ernie Whitt was in town as the catching instructor.
Whitt too signed everything and was very nice...

Delmarva was the same as Lakewood,just with fewer prospects as many of them had been promoted to Frederick.
First rounder Matt Hobgood was still there though and was a great signer.
I only had one card for me,but had stuff for others and Hobgood was among the best I saw all season.
Delmarva's coaching staff ranked at the top as well with Ryan Minor,Mike Devereaux and Troy Mattes all signing and doing so pleasantly as well.

Time for a few thank yous from the front at this time.

Thanks to Tom O'Brien for his help with the Richmond Flying Squirrel team set.
Red hot prospect Brandon Belt signed his 09 San Jose card and other nice adds were Michael Main,who I ad never gotten since he was a Ranger,Thomas Neal on his Richmond and Topps Debut and Nick Noonan,who reportedly is an up and down signer.
Tom also hit the Indy circuit and added former Oriole and Angel catcher Andy Etchebarren on a few cards for me.

Jason Christensen helped me with a few signatures,most notably Phillies prospects Yohan Flande and Mike Cisco.

Bill Cover helped me with some Harrisburg Senators with Tom Milone and Steve Lombardozzi being the main cards there.Bill reports that Lombardozzi has cut his signing down to two per person.

And finally to the lovely Cherie for getting one player for me in Frederick.
I know how uncomfortable she is with all this and anything she does is appreciated..

Next signing front will feature the final two visitors to Frederick in the Potomac Nationals and Kinston Indians,along with even more thank yous to my friends....

They are alive!

The New Jersey Devils woke up from a three game slumber with a roar as they slammed the Washington Capitals 5-0 at the Rock.
Devils goals to Jason Arnott (7 and 8),Patrik Elias (3 Power play),Mattias Tedenby (3 Penalty shot) and Dainius Zubrus (3).
Johan Hedberg earned the shutout.
The Devils will host Calgary tomorrow at the Rock as part of a three games in four day swing over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Hell Raisers

1) As if the score indicates,the game was the best game played all season by the team.
The Devils added defenseman Mark Fayne to the team before the game and Fayne made his NHL debut in the win.

2) Super outing from the "Moose" Johan Hedberg.

Hedberg was sharp and with only one exception (a clang off the pipe) made all the saves and never put himself into any real danger.
This is the type of backup that the Devils are paying for and with the injury to Martin Brodeur,the Devils will need some more outings like this from Hedberg.

3) Jason Arnott's two goals added to his team lead,but I really liked the second goal.
Arnott used his long wingspan to reach a puck that seemed out of his range and swept it past Braden Holtby.
The big veteran has certainly picked up his play as of late and boy,is it needed!

4) However,my favorite of the night was the third of the first period goals as Mattias Tedenby whipped Holtby on a penalty shot that he used the backhand for.
Tedenby scored the other hand on the backside and goalies will soon learn to respect the Swede's backhand or suffer the consequences!

5) Another highlight was late in the game when Brian Rolston beat Alex Ovechkin to the puck on a Washington power play and forced Ovechkin to grab Rolston's stick for a penalty.
I found that amusing on many levels..

6) The team honored Pat Burns before the game with a video tribute and the team will wear patches on the home jerseys for a while to honor PB.

7) Since everyone is now acknowledging that Pat Burns will be going into the Hall of Fame on the next ballot,why didn't the voters do the classy thing and put him on the last vote,so Burns could have seen it?
If the qualifications are there now,they were there then!

8) Brent Sutter brings the Flames to town for the first time since Sutter jumped the Devils ship before last season.
I wonder what the reaction from the crowd will be and especially if the Devils are able to build on the win over Washington and win another game,will Sutter be serenaded???

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vanilla iced or the real Brian Daboll stands up

Despite the defense forcing six Jacksonville turnovers, the Browns offense could not vary their play calling to take advantage of the Jaguar front that was set to control Peyton Hillis, and finally, the Jaguars were able to bust through, which sent the Browns back to Cleveland with a disappointing 24-20 loss that should have never gotten to the point of being close, let alone a loss.
The Browns host one win Carolina next week in a matchup that the team has to win considering the Panthers' record and injury situation.

Brownie Bits

1) I'll get to Mr.Vanilla and his play calling shortly, but the top reason for this loss goes to the offensive line, specifically the right side of the line and their inability to protect Colt McCoy.
Jacksonville entered the game with just 14 sacks but yet dumped McCoy six times.
Shawn Lauvao was pretty bad at guard, but he is a rookie and after missed time due to injury, a less experienced than a normal rookie.
The main player to blame is the consistently terrible John St.Clair, who was unable to do anything against a Jaguar d-line that doesn't remind anyone of the Purple People Eaters.
If St.Clair is on this team next season, I have to wonder what is going on in talent evaluation...

2) Brian Daboll and his play calling just drive me up the wall.
After the wins over the Saints, Patriots, and the near-miss against the Jets, Daboll seemed to grasp that taking chances to catch teams off guard was the Browns' best chance to win and he was right.
Yesterday, Daboll must have had little respect for Jacksonville as the vanilla calls were back and Daboll never had any answers for the Jacksonville front that knew that controlling Peyton Hillis was the key to victory and used the run blitz with impunity.

3) If you didn't believe that the Browns had the worst receivers in the league before, you must do so now. None of the receivers have the type of speed to separate from cornerbacks and cannot get open fast enough to help Colt McCoy (or anyone else) get the ball off from a rusher that is being blocked by John St.Clair.
The Browns HAVE to address this need with both attention in the draft and free agency next season.

4) The defense does get plenty of credit for forcing six turnovers and scoring a touchdown and I wouldn't stretch to blame them for the loss, but the Maurice Jones-Drew 75 yard screen pass that sent the Browns to their doom featured poor tackling at the end of the game for the second straight week.
Part of that is that they were on the field so much at the end of the game, but basic fundamentals can win or lose a game -for the second straight week they lost one...

5) I complain every week about not getting the ball to Evan Moore enough, so this week I'll try a new tack-what about putting him outside as a wideout instead of a tight end?
Moore's hands and size mismatch just might give the quarterback a check-down receiver that has a shot at being open when the rusher against John St.Clair comes barreling at the passer.

6) Colt McCoy played most of the second half with an injured ankle and the injury might give Eric Mangini the easy way to do what he has wanted to do all along and play veteran Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace.
I am not saying play McCoy through an injury that could damage his career, but this seems like Mangini might not be disappointed in getting a veteran back in the lineup.
Wallace played the better of the two, but Delhomme against his old team might be too good for the Browns to pass up...

7) Josh Cribbs was missed on special teams as the Jaguars weren't afraid to kick to Clifton Smith and as a result, the good field position that the Browns often get from the short kicks did not take place.
Cribbs's place in the offense is often overrated, but his special teams' presence is not as he makes a difference even when he never touches the football...

8) Eric Wright was injured early in the game, Joe Haden replaced him and had a great game.
I especially liked the hustle of Haden coming from the other side of the field to run down Maurice Jones-Drew at the one-yard line.
No one can fault the effort of Haden, that is for sure...

9) T.J. Ward picked off two passes yesterday, but he was involved in the missed tackle fiasco for the second week in a row.
I like Ward a lot, but he needs to wrap up and not go for the strip of the ball in these situations- part of gaining experience I hope...

10) Phil Dawson missed two fifty-plus yard field goals that meant the difference in the game.
Now I am not going to hammer Dawson for missing two long kicks, but it does show that the veteran is losing a bit of leg strength with age and might come into play with Dawson becoming a free agent at season's end.
Dawson is going to want a big raise and considering that this team needs him to nail all opportunities with an offense like this-it might be more cost-efficient to allow him to leave for a cheaper option...

11) I am working out and despite my age, I think I can do what John St.Clair does every week at a far cheaper cost-The Browns can give me a call at BR-549......

Photo Credits=Joshua Gunter-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Unlucky by the Arch

I was able to see most of the Devils trip to St.Louis and did see all the scoring as the dips and dodges of the puck both helped and hurt the Devils and basically decided the winner as the St.Louis Blues got the duke by a score of 3-2.Devils goals to David Clarkson (3) and Mattias Tedenby (2).
Devils hockey returns to the Rock tomorrow night for a visit from the Washington Capitals..

Hell Raisers

1) This really was an odd game from both sides.
David Clarkson scored seconds into the game on a rising knuckler that went over Jaroslav Halak,landed behind him and skidded into the net.
It looked like something that should have been called on the infield fly rule instead a goal,but they all count the same...

2) Mike McKenna played well as all three Blues goals were lucky.
McKenna stopped what he saw and that is about all that you can ask for from a career AHL level goalie.

3) The Blues first goal was a bad one,in my opinion as the referees didn't call the puck dead (which I thought it was) and allowed Alex Pietroangelo to hammer the puck between McKenna's legs for the goal.
Usually the whistles are too fast on these calls and this one cost the Devils a point.

4) The other goals came on a deflection and an Eric Brewer dump in that that caught the end boards,took a crazy bounce and rapped into the net off McKenna's back.
Absolutely nothing that could be done about that-That is the sort of season that it has been for the New Jersey Devils.

5) Mattias Tedenby's goal was a pretty one as he took a Patrik Elias pass down the ice and flipped the puck over Halak backhanded.
Shades of Zach Parise there and the more you watch Tedenby the more he looks like a future star!

6) Scary moment for an already depleted defense when Andy Greene hit the boards awkwardly in the first period.First thing I thought of was "great,yet ANOTHER injury".
Greene just suffered a shoulder stinger and returned later in the game and that is good news...

7) McKenna might get some extra roster time as the MRI came back on Martin Brodeur's elbow.
The tests were negative,but Marty is expected to rest the elbow for at least a week or two.

Photo Credit-AP

Buckeyes stay alive in Iowa

The Ohio State survived miscues,spotty play calling and a sold out Kinnick Stadium with a fourth quarter game winning drive to nip the Iowa Hawkeyes 20-17 in Iowa City.
Boom Herron's run with under two minutes to lifted Ohio State to the win and kept their BCS and Big Ten title hopes alive with the win.
Ohio State still needs to beat michigan and could use some help in the form of a Wisconsin loss next week,but a Buckeye win gives them a piece of the crown no matter what the Badgers and Spartans do.

Buckeye Leaves

1) The happiest person in Columbus tonight has to be DeVier Posey,who dropped a touchdown pass that would have given the Buckeyes the lead with just under five minutes to go and forced OSU to go for it on fourth and ten.

2) Terrelle Pryor came through on that fourth and ten with a season saving fourteen yard scramble and he played well on the final drive,but other than that his day was not strong.
A poor throw turned a possible touchdown into an Iowa interception late in the first half and a poor decision handed Iowa three points off great field position from another Pryor pick...

3) In hindsight though,the Posey drop turned out to be the best thing for the Buckeyes as the winning drive took roughly three extra minutes off the clock that would have given Iowa more time to tie or win the game.
That said,at the time,you take the points and worry about the stop when it comes...

4) What a catch by Dane Sanzenbacher at the Iowa two on the winning drive.A leaping catch over defenders and able to barely graze the grass to stay in bounds.
Sanzenbacher's grab certainly deflated the Hawkeyes as you could see their DB's shaking their heads in dismay.

5) Jim Tressel went against his conservative nature in going for it on fourth and ten right after the Posey drop.Terrelle Pryor made it happen,but I thought for sure that Tressel would punt and try to pin them back with OSU having all three timeouts..

6) Jermale Hines was called for a helmet to helmet hit,but that wasn't the only hammer like hit that Hines dealt out through the day.Hines might have found himself with an NFL future as a special teamer with hits like that.

7) Underrated stat of the day-Iowa's final two possessions-six plays and two Buckeye sacks-that is stepping up in the clutch.

8) Boom Herron's game winning touchdown was the tenth game in a row that he has found the end zone.
Herron has often been a target of barbs from us in the past,but one cannot argue with that number.

9) Defensively,I thought the star was Brian Rolle,who seemed like he was involved in every play and finished with 10 total tackles on the day and three for losses.

10) Finally,a quick tip of the cap to Mike Adams,who kept Adrian Clayborne from harassing Terrelle Pryor.Clayborner made plays but they were downfield and not rushing Pryor in the pocket.

Photo Credit=Marvin Fong-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pigskin Pickin Machine-Joe Friday version

Sleep calls,so if I want to get up for the Buckeyes, The PPM goes with the Dragnet version

Ohio State over Iowa 21-18
Texas Tech over Weber State 51-13
Game of the Week
Texas A&M over Nebraska 24-21

Browns over Jaguars 21-17
Saints over Seahawks 35-14
Game of the Week
Patriots over Colts 31-24

Sergio Martinez over Paul Williams-Unanimous decision

Pat Burns passes away,Devils lose in Toronto

The Devils family lost one of their own with the passing of Pat Burns yesterday at the age of 58 after a long bout with cancer.
Burns led the Devils to the last Stanley Cup that the team won in the 2002-03 season.
Burns coached the Bruins,Canadiens and Maple Leafs as well as the Devils in a long and distinguished career.
New Jersey was the final stop in Burns coaching career and the Devils enabled him to win his only Stanley Cup.
Burns left the Devils shortly after being diagnosed with cancer and would never coach again,although the teams continued to employ him as a scout and team advisor.

Pat Burns might have been my favorite of the Devils coaches,although Larry Robinson seemed to be a really nice person and easy to play for,Robinson was the type that players could take advantage of and know that Robinson would let some things slide.
There were never any such occasions when Pat Burns was running a club-that is definite.
Burns demanded accountability from his players on both ends of the ice and wasn't afraid to put the hammer down when assignments were missed..
The Devils lost a lot when Burns was struck ill as he seemed to be the one coach that really defined the Devils team mantra and I still think that had Burns avoided his illness that he very well may be still the Devils bench boss today.
Somehow I do not believe that some of the topics that the Devils are going through right now would not be taking place on a Pat Burns coached team.
Our best to the Burns family and rest in peace,coach.

Meanwhile,I finally get to talk about the Devils 3-1 loss in Toronto after a long day yesterday that was spent talking everything but hockey in a fun and enjoyable time with my brother.
Believe or not,I even got a compliment or two,which is always refreshing to hear when you are a jerk like me!
Anyway the Devils continue their less than stellar ways in the defeat that was less than exciting to say the lease.Dainius Zubrus (2) scored the only Devil net burner.
The Devils are in St.Louis tonight,so coverage is unlikely due to the Central time zone start of 8 PM.

Hell Raisers

1) Dull,Dull,Dull-Lots of dump and chase from two teams that are exactly the opposite of high scoring.This might have been the most boring game of many this season.

2) Martin Brodeur left after the second period with pain in his elbow that was injured early in the season.Brodeur allowed two of the Toronto goals with Johan Hedberg finishing up.
Brodeur is not in St.Louis for tonights game and Mike McKenna has been called up from Albany .
Hedberg is the likely starter,although McKenna is a St.Louis native and the Devils could give him the nod to make his NHL debut in his hometown.

3) After another loss,the team held another closed door meeting to address the issues of well,why they are playing so bad.Most meetings are a bunch of "we gonnas" anyway,so short of a roster move,which is inevitable sooner or later,this likely is just another meaningless gesture.

4) Injuries have hurt the team and looking at this list there is no doubt about that.
RW Jamie Langenbrunner (sore neck), LW Zach Parise (torn meniscus right knee), C Jacob Josefson (detached ligament in left hand/thumb), D Matt Taormina (sprained left ankle), D Bryce Salvador (concussion), D Mark Fraser (fractured right hand), D Anssi Salmela (torn ACL, meniscus right knee).
At the same time,can you blame injuries for everything?
Sometimes,one can make a good argument that hard work can cancel some of the issues out a bit and it seems to me that the team has several players that just are lacking the certain unnamed something this season.
We are getting to the point of beginning to name some names,I have been hesitant thus far,but time is running short...

Photo Credit-Getty Images

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why it is difficult to forget

Battlin' Bob sent me this article by Bill Plaschke in the Los Angeles Times and after reading it-I have my doubts that I can truly ever think of Michael Vick as just another quarterback-no matter how well he plays or how many public service announcements that the lefty passer makes.

I never had an issue with Michael Vick before the dogfighting problems came to pass.
I really enjoyed watching him play at Virginia Tech and the Falcons and despite not being a terrific thrower, he was exciting and fun to watch.
Vick didn't seem to have a bad attitude either for the most part, so it was easy to pull for him.
I had him on my fantasy team for years and was a "keeper" of mine for the longest time.

So I didn't come into this with an already established dislike of Michael Vick the player/person, I just followed the brutality of his deeds as they came out and Vick has served his time for his crime.
I have no problem at all with Vick playing in the NFL, if they didn't allow him to play, he would have a huge court case to play with -the NFL, after all, is the league that allows Ray Lewis to pursue a career in their game.

At the same time-consider Plaschke's words "Essentially, an ex-convict is dominating America's most popular sport while victims of his previous crime continue to live with the brutality of that crime, and has that ever happened before?".
I cannot imagine the thinking of anyone that allows dogs to fight to the death and cause such damage to dogs physically and mentally and anyone that knows me knows that I am not exactly a Mr.Softee on things.

Read this article and tell me where you stand.
The article gives more detail on the suffering of a Vick dog than I will detail, but I would implore you to give it a glance, it should make you at least ponder a bit.
No matter how many touchdowns Michael Vick throws, how many playoff games his teams win and no matter how many mea culpa that he speaks-In some quarters, he will never escape the horrific
activities that he was involved in with canines.

I know we should forgive and forget, but some things just cannot be gotten past, and uncalled for cruelty in the name of someone's sick version of sport/competition is just too difficult to forget.
Forgetting may be the humane thing to do, but Michael Vick's treatment of his dogs (Mel is the black dog in the rear of the picture) was the furthest thing from humane.
I suppose I just cannot get that far down the road.....

Photo Credit-Richard Hunter

Reviewing the tape-Second half Stampede

Truth be told,I missed the first half of Ohio State's showdown with Penn State.
Other than the Minnesota game that was televised nowhere locally,it was the first Buckeye game that I had missed in years,but I had good reason (A terrific Ham and Oyster dinner) and I made it home for the second half and that was far more pleasurable to watch as the Buckeyes scored 35 of the 38 points that they scored then and allowed the Nittany Lions to score none in a 38-14 romp over Penn State.
Ohio State continues to be one of the three teams (Wisconsin and Michigan State) tied for the Big Ten title and will attempt to stay that way after this Saturday's trip to Iowa City and the Hawkeyes.

Buckeye Leaves

1) Nice to see Penn State passer Matt McGloin fire two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns this week after his behavior about comments by ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit.
Like it or not (often I think commentators go way over the line),commentators in the studio are asked for their opinion and they give it-that is the nature of the job.
It is one thing to use these things as fuel,another to fire back publicly.
To do so makes you seem immature and unable to handle the pressure of various issues that high profile athletes must control.

2) Ohio State made big plays happen in the second half,both skillful and lucky.
The Devon Torrence pick six was very skillful as he tipped the ball himself multiple times before finally grabbing it and racing to the end zone.
Tremendous hand-eye coordination by Torrence...

3) The long pass to Dane Sanzenbacher was lucky as Penn State had perfect double coverage on the play and these things cannot be blamed on the PSU secondary,but Sanzenbacher gets tons of credit for hustle as he continued his route and put him in position to make the play that broke the game open...

4) Player of the game goes to Boom Herron.
I have never been totally sold on Herron as a feature back,but he seems to be rounding into the best choice for now as he rumbled for 190 yards over the tattered Lions defense.
Herron is the difference maker in this offense as when he gets rolling,things become opened up for the rest of the offense....

5) I didn't think Terrelle Pryor played well or poorly,but I do think that the pressure for playing against Penn State works against him at times.
There has to be tons of behind the scenes things going on during the week and that cannot help anyone play their best.

6) Fox will have the Big Ten title game starting next season and the following five beyond that.
I have nothing against Fox coverage,but I do think that networks that don't show the regular games and then jump in for post season contests usually come off far less smooth than the networks that show the games every week.

Photo Credit-Marvin Fong-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beantown Whitewash

Not a ton to write about in the New Jersey Devils trip to Boston and resulting 3-0 loss to the Bruins.but I have a few thoughts.
Obviously no Devil goals to add,so lets move to the next Devil game in Toronto Thursday night.

Hell Raisers

1) I don't blame the result of the game on this note as officials do not score goals against you,but they were horrible on this evening.
The call that hurt that most wasn't even the worst call (although still pretty awful) as Adam Mair took advantage of a Bruin misplay in the Boston zone with the Devils down a man and tried to sneak the puck by Tim Thomas.
The type of play that happens in a game ,oh 10 times a night between the two teams in hockey.
Thomas takes offense at this effort and leaps on Mair like Mair committed the cardinal sin of trying to score.
Whistle blows-Penalty on Mair! For Interference!?
Boston now has a five on three,Michael Ryder scores and the band plays on.....

2) But,that wasn't the worst call.
Jason Arnott picked up a minor for boarding,when he actually delivered a hit/check that is commonplace and added a tripping minor for not touching anyone as Blake Wheeler added a Ric Flair bump to his repertoire and drew the penalty.
I am not saying these calls cost the game,but still-call the game correctly!

3) If there was a flashlight sized ray of light in this one,it was the penalty killers as the Devils killed off five of six penalties allowing only the Ryder five on three goal.
The Devils even killed off a four minute double minor on Mattias Tedenby for a high stick,so at least that was strong.

4) Tedenby just missed starting the game off with a bang as he was unable to score near the net on two chances seconds into the game.
Tedenby led the team with five shots on goal and obviously didn't score,but simply put-one cannot put the puck into the net without shooting it on the net.

5) Patrik Elias commented after the game on the lack of respect that teams are giving the Devils defensemen in the offensive zone and he is correct.
Andy Greene is the best of the veterans and he is just average and Matt Taormina was showing potential there,but is injured for the time being.
This is an issue,but I don't see it being any larger than it has been since Scott Niedermayer left.
It looms larger because the team is losing and the offense is struggling so much than in the past.

6) I have no idea what the fans behind John MacLean in the photo are doing,but I noticed them during the game.
How they can enjoy a game wearing those things is beyond me,besides they look like they are wearing a huge condom over their entire body...

Photo Credit-AP Photo

Monday, November 15, 2010

A win at home!?

I realize that this is late by a few days,but I'll mix in the latest in Devils news to go with the Devils come from behind 4-3 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Ilya Kovalchuk gunned the game winner into the net by Devan Dubnyk on a overtime powerplay (4) to lift the slumping squad to their first win at home all season.
Devils goals also to Alexander Vasyunov (1),Brian Rolston (1) and Mattias Tedenby (1 Power Play).
The Devils are in Boston tonight as they attempt to win back to back games for the first time all season,

Hell Raisers

1) Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game winner on his only shot of the game,but the goal was set by Kovalchuk's drawing a penalty in the extra session on Dustin Penner for tripping.
Penner had little choice and that made the difference in the game.

2) I don't see the lack of effort in Kovalchuk's efforts,I see lots of that,but I do think that Kovalchuk is struggling mentally and hopefully Friday's goal can help get the sniper back on track.

3) Brian Rolston returned in the win and as noted above scored a goal.
Rolston is way overpaid for his production right now,but still can be a huge help to the team in the absence of Zach Parise.
The wily veteran just needs to get back into playing shape.

4) I thought both rookie wingers played very well with Alexander Vasyunov and Mattias Tedenby each scoring their first goal in the league.
Vasyunov seems to be settling in nicely with Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac,while Tedenby's speed is a nice fit with veterans Jason Arnott and Patrik Elias.
The Devils would be wise to keep these two around as long as their play continues at this level.

5) The Devils will be without Jamie Langenbrunner tonight for the second game in a row with the dreaded "upper body injury".The word is that the injury is a neck or shoulder issue.

6) Just as the Devils add a player from injury they then lose one.
Matt Corrente returns from a broken hand,but Matt Taormina will be back in Jersey with an MRI on an ankle injury.Corrente brings a more physical brand of play,but Taormina will be missed with the man advantage.

7) Of all the good things in the win,I liked this the most-The Devils never led until the game ended and yet they kept digging in.I know the Oilers aren't a very good hockey team,but the Devils could have packed in on either of the two goal deficits and they did not.
That was good news.

Well,I have gotten some things finished.
Still will have Ohio State-Penn State,tonight's Devils visit to Boston and a cleaning of the inbox over the day or so to come.

Photo Credits
Pau; Bereswill-Getty Images

Pirates hire Clint Hurdle

The Pittsburgh Pirates finally tabbed their new bench boss in former Colorado skipper Clint Hurdle.
Hurdle had been the hitting coach with the Texas Rangers since being fired by the Rockies.

Pittsburgh apparently had Hurdle either at or near the top of the list of potential managers after a flurry of interviews immediately following the seasons end,but a Hurdle interview would cause the process to stop until the Rangers were eliminated from the post season.

I like the hire even though Hurdle only had one winning season in his Colorado tenure,he is used to rebuilding programs as the Rockies needed renovating from the ground up and he is supposedly an excellent teacher of the fundamentals,which lord knows the Pirates could use.
Hurdle is also a manager that is used to dealing with a limited pitching staff as the Rockies weren't exactly loaded with aces on the mound in the time that he was in Denver.

Pittsburgh also adds a manager with intensity with the addition of Hurdle as the Pirates have not had a manager with fire since Lloyd McClendon,who for all of his warts as a manager,intensity and passion were not problems.
I recall seeing a Hurdle temper tantrum when he managed against the Suns with I believe a Mets team,although I am not sure on that and he will not be afraid to argue such as Jim Tracy and John Russell were,that's for sure.

All considered,I really like the hire and I fail to see who the team could have hired that would be any better considering the limitations of finances and the lack of success recently.
Now,lets watch the upcoming GM meetings and see if the Buccos make any moves there!

Progress isn't always measured in wins

I have ended the work gauntlet and hopefully can get caught up with things.
With a bit of luck today,I'll get to either or both of the Devils rally over Edmonton and Ohio State's huge second half in their win over Penn State.

The Cleveland Browns could have won their game yesterday over the powerhouse New York Jets and some would argue that with a play or two at the right time,they should have won.
Unfortunately,coulds and shoulds are not the same as did and the Browns lost with seconds to go in overtime to the Jets 26-20.
Cleveland travels to Jacksonville next week and I am interested to see how they bounce back from such a heartbreaking defeat.

Brownie Bits

1) First off,I understand Eric Wright hasn't earned a ton of goodwill from us this year and his Mr.Softee act on the game winning pass to Santonio Holmes was painful to watch,but before we blame everything on Wright on the play,T.J. Ward missed a tackle as well.
One must be fair,so I blame both players for whiffing on the play.

2) The play that I am furious at Wright about was the pass to a injured Jerricho Cotchery,who looked like he could not move and found a way to avoid Wright and make a catch for a big Jets first down.
There is no reason at all for Wright not to make that play and keep an obviously injured player from making a play.
Laziness or poor play-you make the call.

3) Three huge injuries in this one as Scott Fujita,Sheldon Brown and Josh Cribbs all left the game with injuries and did not return.
All are big losses,but Brown might be the biggest,even though he isn't the best player of the three.
Cleveland was forced to use Mike Adams at corner after Brown left and Adams is more of a safety.
Why the Browns are carrying so few corners is a puzzle that I still cannot see the logic in..

4) Some are questioning the long pass from the end zone in OT when three run plays would have likely ended the game with a tie.
I am not one of them as I give the team credit for playing to win and if the pass hits,the Browns would have likely won the game.

5) It is still early,but I have a feeling that the Browns have indeed found their QB.
Colt McCoy driving the team down the field late in the game to force overtime answered a huge question for me and McCoy can do nothing but learn from the experience of playing in late game pressure situations and overtime.
I am getting pretty close to sold....

6) The Chansi Stuckey fumble in overtime was a huge dagger to the hopes for a win,but Stuckey was fighting for extra yards and one cannot hassle the effort,even though the more prudent course might have been to get out of bounds.
The issue for me on the play was Brian Robiskie not recovering the ball.
Robiskie looked to me to be trying a dive on the side for the recovery instead of just falling on the ball.I blame Robiskie far more than Stuckey on the play.

7) The Browns still have many needs for next year,someone to rush the passer would be nice and another corner is a must,but to me the obvious first rounder should be a wide receiver.
These guys are so bad that Darrelle Revis is the elite cover corner in the game and the Jets used him to cover a tight end.
Cleveland needs at two new pass catchers and maybe three.
Colt McCoy will not continue to develop without them...

8) The defensive line missed a few chances to sack Mark Sanchez and could have changed the game,but I cannot be too harsh on them considering the amount of time that the defense was on the field in second half play.
The miracle was that this game went to overtime at all..

9) Liked the onside kick call in the first quarter.
Everything was done right and the ball just skittered out of bounds.
The Jets were fooled,the ball just bounced away.Things happen.

10) Anyone wish that Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll had tried some gambles in those losses to Tampa,Kansas City or even Baltimore?
Some of the things tried recently might have won one of those games....

Photo Credits-Scott Shaw-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pigskin Pickin Machine-Joe Friday version

Ohio State over Penn State 30-13
Oklahoma over Texas Tech 24-12
Game of the Week:
Fresno State over Nevada 42-40

Jets over Browns 13-10
Cardinals over Seahawks 28-20
Game of the Week
Patriots over Steelers 21-17

Antonio Margarito over Manny Pacquiao Split Decision

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reviewing the tape-Pounding the Pats!!

The Cleveland Browns clicked up a win that I believe might have been the biggest and most impressive since their return to the NFL in 1999 last Sunday with a steamrolling of the New England Patriots 34-14.

Brownie Bits

1) Impressive?That wasn't the word for it.
The Cleveland Browns bullied and plundered the 6-1 New England Patriots and did what they pleased.
For whatever one thinks of Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll,on this day one cannot complain.
Win against the Jets this Sunday and even more will move into their corner.
That (to my surprise) seems very possible as the Jets aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut.

2) This was total domination in all three facets of the game as the offense used daring and muscle to physically beat up the Pats defense,the defense confused Tom Brady with a dazzling variety of fronts,blitzes and coverages and the special teams were strong as well using a pop up kickoff to gain possession.

3) Peyton Hillis ran for 184 yards and what I love most is the willingness to run between the tackles and run over people.
That usually doesn't make for career longevity,but it does make you a memorable fan favorite...

4) Colt McCoy ran for a touchdown and gave even more hope that he could be the eventual quarterback.
McCoy made plays when needed,yet didn't force things and make the type of error that can change a game.
Against the Saints,the Browns won in spite of McCoy,on this day,the Longhorn was a contributing factor in the win...

5) What a crazy call by Brian Daboll with the Josh Cribbs handoff to Chansi Stuckey for a rushing touchdown that crushed the stunned New England defenders.
That play was the pivotal one of the game to me...

6) McCoy's toss to Evan Moore downfield that Moore hauled in with a great catch was a step forward in setting the tone of the game early as well.
The Moore catch set up Peyton Hillis and his first TD run.
Why Moore isn't a larger part of the offense with receivers this weak still baffles me..

7) Ahtuba Rubin had the only sack of Tom Brady,but the barrage of Browns kept Brady off balance all day and Rob Ryan gets plenty of credit for that.
I think the Browns can do the same to Mark Sanchez,but the wild card is REX Ryan.
Can he anticipate his brothers thinking for this weeks game?

8) I am often critical of Abram Elam,but Elam played well in the game.
Often times Elam is a less than strong tackler,which is the opposite of the reputation that he brought to town,but Elam was very solid in this one.

9) Tons of credit to the beef up front as Joe Thomas and Eric Steinbach were knocking Patriots off the ball on every run.
Both had their struggles at times this season,but both were huge last Sunday.

10) How much did Bill Belichick have to hate the post game handshake in this one?
Shaking the hand of the man he despises most in Mangini in the one city in the country that doubts his genius had to be difficult for him....

11) I realize that this is crazy,but keep this in mind-IF (and a huge if it is) the Browns could get by the Jets this week,Cleveland would be 4-5.
The Browns then have the easiest run on their schedule all season- 4-4 Jacksonville,1-7 Carolina,4-4 Miami,0-8 Buffalo and 2-6 Cincinnati,a 4-1 run through that would put the Browns at 8-6 with the Ravens and Steelers coming to Cleveland.
I still think that is optimistic,but conceivable.
Only with a win over the Jets though,3-6 might be too big of a hole to dig out of ....
A guy can dream can't he?

Photo Credits
Handshake_John Kuntz-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Hillis-Joshua Gunter-Cleveland Plain Dealer

Losses can be fun

The New Jersey Devils lost a 5-4 shootout game to the Buffalo Sabres in a game that generally defied the standard definition of Devils hockey with up and down the ice play combined with both teams using backup goaltending that alternated between great stops and soft goals...
Devils goals to Jason Arnott (5 and 6 power play),Jamie Langenbrunner (3) and David Clarkson (2).
The Devils will host Edmonton tomorrow night at the Rock.

Hell Raisers

1) Despite the loss,the Devils did pick up one point on the evening and the game was exciting to watch.
Could it be that the Devils are taking a step back to take two forward down the road with a change in playing style?
Not sure if I am willing to go that far,but this one was a good one that could have been better with...

2) Better play from Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk had a chance to win the game late in the overtime on a breakaway and fired high over the net and then dribbled the puck off his stick in the end of the shootout end without making a shot.
I wont blame the loss on Kovalchuk,but those are glaring issues.
Is it possible that the pressure could be getting to the 100 million man?
Most likely,but this is a short blip on the radar considering Kovalchuk's history.

3) Mattias Tedenby made his NHL debut in the game and assisted on the first Arnott goal.Tedenby has to be the fastest skater on the team walking in the door and despite his size,I love his tenacity.
I look for big things eventually from Mattias Tedenby.

4) Stephen Gionta made his debut against the Rangers and stayed around despite the constant moves up and down the roster between New Jersey and Albany.
Gionta is an instant fan favorite between being the brother of former Devils Brian and a hustling style that usually makes fans.

5) Johan Hedberg didn't play poorly although a few goals were borderline soft.
Hedberg ranged from dazzling to marshmallow in this one.although the defense didn't help him much.

6) The defense was not very good and although that made for exciting hockey it didn't help very much for winning hockey.
Andy Greene and Colin White both made glaring errors to that led to Buffalo goals.
Considering the lack of experience on the Devils blueliners right now,the team needs more consistency from the few veterans that they are using right now.

7) Jason Arnott played with verve and toughness with two goals and was tossing the body around as well.Nice to see the veteran turning it on with the team needing it most....

Photo Credit-AP

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Missing in Action

Sorry I have been MIA especially after the huge win for the Browns over New England,but time has been especially short this week with extra work and attempting to stay on my new workout regimen.
Believe it or not,I am doing reasonably well with it.

In any event,I hope to be back later today or tomorrow with a look at the huge Browns win and a Devils catchup with their loss to the Rangers and tonights game against Buffalo...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pigskin Pickin Machine

The machine starts the lottery ball popping without an Ohio State game with the Buckeyes on bye with Texas Tech (4-4 2-4) hosting 12th ranked Missouri (7-1 3-1).
Tech looks to be hoping for a 6-6 record and a minor (very minor) bowl bid and pins their hopes on season ending wins over Weber State and Houston with the Raiders playing Missouri and Oklahoma in the next two weeks.
If there is an upset,it comes this week against the Tigers as I see then having little chance in Norman next week.
Tech pulls upsets in Lubbock against superior teams,so don't rule out an upset today,but it isn't likely.

Our game of the week is in the Mountain West as 3rd ranked TCU (9-0 5-0) travels to Salt Lake City and 5th ranked Utah (8-0 5-0).
The winner keeps their BCS title game hopes alive and likely adds the Mountain West crown as well.
The game has produced BCS bids for the winner in each of the last two seasons and will likely do so again.
In addition,this is the last time the pair will play with Utah going to the Pac 10 (or 12) next season.
I like TCU's defense a little better,but Utah does have the home field.
Looks like a good one...

Our Picks
Missouri over Texas Tech 41-21
TCU over Utah 17-14

The pros feature the Browns (2-5) and Colt McCoy starting again at QB against visiting New England (6-1).I know Browns fans are enthused with the win in New Orleans and the Patriot defense looks vulnerable and the bye week will be helpful in planning.
However,can the Browns use gimmick plays every week to overcome a weak passing game?
New England has had trouble against the pass and the Browns will have to likely throw some to win.

Seattle (4-3) hosts the Giants (5-2) after a awful game against Oakland for the Hawks.
Seattle always is better at home and has a history of dropping the Giants at Qwest Field,but the Seahawks have a first time starter in Charlie Whitehurst and a banged up and weakening offensive line against a team with a huge pass rush.
I don't like this matchup for the inconsistent Seahawks.

The game of the week goes to the battle for first place in the NFC South with 5-2 teams Tampa Bay and Atlanta hooking it up in Atlanta.
Raheem Morris and his comments on being the best team in the NFC aside,I see Tampa as a paper tiger as they have lost to the only two teams on the schedule with winning records and seem to specialize in close wins over bad teams.
Look for a huge day for Matt Ryan and if you have Falcon receivers on your fantasy team,get them in the lineup!

Our picks
Patriots over Browns 24-13
Giants over Seahawks 26-14
Falcons over Buccaneers 30-14

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reviewing the tape-Raided in Oakland

The Seattle Seahawks had a chance to cement a playoff run with a win over the Raiders in Oakland.Instead the Raiders smashed the Hawks with a huge second half and rolled to a 33-3 win that dropped the Seahawks to 4-3 on the season.
Seattle hosts the New York Giants on Sunday.

Puget Sounds

1) Crazy bounces contributed to the loss as Oakland had huge plays on both offense and defense off tipped balls,but the bottom line was that Oakland was more physical and dominated the line scrimmage.
That made more of a difference than any of the tips and bad breaks.

2) Two stats that make you see that it isn't your day.
Jason Campbell 300+ yards passing,Darius Heyward-Bey 100+ yards receiving.

3) Seattle didn't have a first down until three minutes to go in the first half.
That shows the dominance of the Raiders defense.

4) With Russell Okung out of the lineup,the offensive line isn't half as strong as the Raiders sacked Matt Hasselbeck eight times.
Hasselbeck was bad enough already completing just thirteen passes,the offensive line didn't need to have him destroyed as well.

5) Pivotal point of the game-With Oakland leading 3-0 in the second-Lawyer Milloy was waiting to grab an interception to end a Raider drive, David Hawthorne leaps in and knocks Milloy.That allowed Marcel Reece to grab the ball and run for a 30-yard touchdown.
Back breaker.

6) News today on Matt Hasselbeck missing the Giants game Sunday,so Charlie Whitehurst gets his chance to shine.
This was a needed move to begin with and the injury to Hasselbeck allowed Whitehurst his opportunity.

Road trip ends with a win!

The New Jersey Devils might have played their best game of the season all around and despite losing Martin Brodeur midway through the game,managed to defeat the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackawks 5-3 in Chicago.
The Devils finish the road trip at 2-4,which stinks,but is a whole lot better than 1-5.
Devils goals to Jason Arnott (4),Travis Zajac (2),Andy Greene (2 empty net),Jamie Langenbrunner (2 empty net) and Brad Mills (1).
New Jersey gets two days off before the Rangers hit the Rock Friday night.

 Hell Raisers

1) Martin Brodeur was working on a shutout before a Patrick Kane shot hit his right elbow and deadened it.
Brodeur attempted to play on and made one save before leaving the game in favor of Johan Hedberg.
X-rays were negative and it will be a Friday decision on whether Brodeur will start against the Rangers...

2) Johan Hedberg played pretty well in relief of Brodeur despite allowing three goals.
Hedberg allowed one with Chicago having an extra skater out late and the other two were redirections and rebounds.Nice job pulling this one out by the backup.

3) The Devils first goal was a sharp one too with a pretty pass from the corner of the net by Patrik Elias to the waiting Jason Arnott.
It was the type of the pass that recently would have seen Arnott stoned by the goalie,but this time all was smooth sailing.
Arnott's goal was his fourth and that leads the team much to my surprise.
Didn't seem like he had that many.

4) The play of the game goes to Brad Mills,who scored his first career goal by mucking around the net and digging a rebound of his own shot off Marty Turco for the lead later in the third period.
Mills showed tons of energy in this one and John MacLean noticed as Mills received plenty of ice time.Always nice to see the journeyman minor leaguer come to the big leagues and play well..

5) The defensive play of the night goes to Johan Hedberg for stopping Jack Skille on a breakaway that looked to be a sure goal with the old fashioned stacking of the pads.

6) This was a great win considering the play of late,being on the road and the competition level,but can they build on it?
The team still is understaffed although Anton Volchenkov is expected to return against the Rangers on Friday and that alone will be a huge help to the young and depth lacking defense.
Division rival,first game at home and a win gives (gasp) back to back wins.
There is something on the line.

Photo Credit-Getty Images..