|April 12, 2012||Posted by TheCostanzo under Detroit Red Wings, NHL|
ESPN has a playoff power meter (behind its paywall) that judges teams on the the pieces they have in place compared to what past Stanley Cup champions had.
The fact the Red Wings are No. 1 on this list does not make it absurd. The fact that the Red Wings are so far from the pack, and one point away from a perfect score, probably does.
With Darren Helm suddenly a possibility for Game 1 of the first round, I like the Wings a lot more than I did a few days ago. Heck, I even have this wild theory that if they get by Nashville, they’re likely to win the West (I’ll explain that later).
But according to that list, the Wings are the favorite, which is ridiculous. The way they’ve played as of late (which I’m assuming this formula isn’t taking into account) does not inspire confidence, regardless of the fact they came back and beat the Blues in St. Louis. I have news for y’all, the Blues aren’t that good. The defense is an absolute mess, making critical errors at horrible times, and in the playoffs that will kill you. Sure, Jakub Kindl is probably going to be replaced by Brendan Smith, and that provides more upside, but it doesn’t take away the fact that mistakes are going to be made. Kyle Quincey is going to get ice time, so that’s bad. I’ll admit I was a fan of that trade deadline acquisition, but Quincey has been disappointing since arriving.
But it’s the matchup with Nashville that scares me more than anything. The Predators are the type of team we’ve always worried about as Red Wings fans — physical, disciplined defensively and backed by a great goaltender capable of stealing a series by himself. The one thing I never worried about with the Predators was their offense, as they have nobody that scares you coming up the ice with the puck on his stick. Well, had. With Alexander Radulov, the Predators have their scary offensive weapon. Or at least a guy who makes them collectively scary enough to, well, scare you.
My pessimistic (realistic?) prediction for this series is the Predators winning in six or seven games, and frankly I could see them winning it all.
But there’s a part of me that wants to pick the Red Wings because I know if they get through this, they could be well on their way to something special. Why’s that, after I just banged on them? Because of what’s left. Chicago should beat Phoenix, meaning one of two things will happen to the Wings: They’ll either play against St. Louis in the second round, or have home-ice advantage against the Blackhawks (if the Sharks beat the Blues, they’ll play the Canucks). Either of those matchups are OK with me, and for the first time in a long time, the Wings are spared traveling out west until the conference finals. Once they get there, I’m not all that worried about the Canucks. I don’t have any statistical evidence to make me feel good about this, and I realize the Canucks were a game away from winning the Cup a year ago so they’ve somewhat shed their identity as playoff choke artists, but I will never fear the Canucks as a Red Wings fan. Yes, I realize I’m being irrational.
Unfortunately, knowing the road ahead would be easier to navigate is not a very good reason to pick a team to win a series, and I see a first-round exit for the Wings.
As for the rest of the West … Vancouver should defeat the Kings, but it will probably take six games and a couple of goalie shuffles. … The Blues and Sharks will be the most entertaining non-Wings series outside of the state of Pennsylvania, and I think it goes seven. There, I think the Blues take it, as they are pretty damn good at home. … I already told you I think the Blackhawks beat the Coyotes, mainly because I doubt Mike Smith can keep this up.
That leaves us with some pretty intriguing second-round matchups as the Canucks meet their nemesis the Blackhawks, and the Blues and Predators will clash. I like the Canucks in seven against the Blackhawks in another ridiculously fun series. I think the Predators make fairly easy work of the Blues, winning in five or six games.
The Canucks and Predators split their season series, with the Canucks getting one of their two wins in a shootout. I just think with Radulov in the lineup, the Predators have the added firepower necessary to get them over the top.
On to the East … The Rangers have their hands full against an Ottawa team that gave them fits during the regular season. I see Henrik Lundqvist being the difference, however. And yes, I realize it’s not a good thing for the 1 seed to need its goaltender to be the difference in the first round. … Washington is toast, and I think Bruins sweep them. … Congratulations, Florida, on making the playoffs for the first time post-lockout. Enjoy your five-game stay. The Devils coast. … In what should be the most entertaining series of the first round, the Pens will knock off the Flyers in seven games. Unfortunately for the Penguins, they’ll barely have anything left for the next round.
The Rangers and Devils playing in a playoff series will be the only time two teams from New York/New Jersey ever meet and don’t lead Sportscenter every day. The Devils will push the Rangers to seven games, but the Rangers will survive. The Bruins will take advantage of the beat-up Penguins, and the physical toll will only build through this series. It will take seven games, because the Penguins are the better team, but the Bruins will simply survive.
OK, this one might lead Sportscenter. OK, it won’t but I’m thinking it might make the first half hour. Boston and New York, folks, get ready for it. Prepare for the compare/contrast between rugged underdog Timmy Thomas and upstate pretty boy Lundqvist. There’s something special about the Rangers this year, and it’s not just that I watched them on 24/7 this year (OK, maybe it is).
So the finals, Rangers vs. Predators. We could see seven 1-0 games, and they’d be fast-paced, physical 1-0 games that I would actually enjoy watching. When it comes down to it, I really like what this Predators team has going for it, and I think they go from winning a playoff series for the first time a year ago to winning it all this year.
|March 29, 2012||Posted by Zack under NHL, Puck Wit|
The Montreal Canadiens relieved beleaguered GM Pierre Gauthier of his duties this morning, days after the Habs were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention for the 2011-2012 season. Â Owner Geoff Molson addressed the media this morning, confirming Gauthier’s termination as well as the “mutual” departure of special advisor Bob Gainey. Â During the press conference, conducted largely in French, Molson announced that Montreal legend Serge Savard will slide into Gainey’s role and will, almost assuredly, choose the team’s new GM. Â Savard promptly stated that the team’s new GM “will speak French,” immediately eliminating much of the potential candidate pool from contention.
Gauthier, Public Enemy #1 amongst the vast and vocal Montreal fanbase, had little or no chance of returning to the Canadiens next year after a tumultuous season that has left the storied franchised battered and bloodied. Only the perennial doormat Columbus Blue Jackets have performed worse this season. Â Gauthier’s list of transgressions is long, and includes the firing of both assistant coach Perry Pearn (90 minutes before a game) and his oddly belligerent support of non-Francaphone replacement Randy Cunneyworth, who took the reigns in Montreal after head coach Jacques Martin was fired in the middle of the season. Â Gauthier was also the architect of the departure of star forward Mike Cammaleri, who was traded to Calgary in the middle of a game. Â Cammaleri broke omertaÂ by publicly criticizing the direction of the team near the half-way point of the season. Â Fans who have been spoiling for Gauthier’s termination will now undoubtedly focus their zeal on the search for a new GM.
The immediate installation of Sege Savard as Special Advisor to the Molsons, and Savard’s statement that the next GM “will speak French” have culled the potential candidates to a likely shortlist including Tampa Bay Assistant GM Julien Brisebois, Montreal legend and current Quebec Remparts co-owner/GM/head coach Patrick Roy, Chicago Blackhawks Assistant GM Marc Bergevin and NBC Sports NHL Analyst Pierre McGuire.
Savard’s comments have all but eliminated the, arguably best overall candidate, current Detroit Red Wings Assistant GM Jim Nill. Â Nill has been notoriously in demand around the league, but Red Wings ownership has been loath to allow him to interview for vacant positions. Â As Ken Holland’s right hand man, Nill has been an essential cog in the Detroit Red Wing machine for years. Â He has an intimate knowledge of how to run a successful NHL organization–and an Original Six organization to boot. Â Familiar with all aspects of a first-class team, Nill has that rare combination of hockey smarts and business sense that teams so desperately desire for their front offices. Â With Ryan Martin, Kris Draper and Chris CheliosÂ now shadowing and assisting Holland, Nill’s time in the sun has been imminent for years. Â Apparently, though, no amount of Berlitz training will help him with the Montreal job.
Patrick Roy, despite hisÂ ignominious exit from Montreal, is still one of the organization’s most beloved heros. Â Currently the co-owner/GM/head coach of the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL, Roy is a legitimate candidate for the job. Â He certainly has the organizational pedigree that Montreal seems to value so highly, he is a native French-speaker and his Hall of Fame playing career and successful career running a Major Junior squad all speak in his favor. Â Yet he is untested on an NHL level, even in an assistant’s capacity. He does not have the nuts-and-bolts experience that Jim Nill could bring to bear, and in the circle of GMs, contacts and reputation matter. Â While Patrick Roy himself is not an unknown, Patrick Roy as the GM of the Montreal Canadiens is. Â Never one to be considered even tempered, the fiery Roy represents the potential for great success andÂ great failure. Â While hiring Roy would likely not be met with derision from the sophisticated Montreal fanbase, he would likely be walking into a situation rife with cautious optimism.
Julien Brisebois,34, currently an Assistant GM under Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay, is another Canadiens alumnus that will likely be considered for the job. Â The book on Brisebois is that he exhibits a great deal of potential, but may not be ready for his close-up. Â While he never played the game professionally, he is a seasoned sports lawyer that has worked with and for the league for years before hiring on in Montreal’s front office as Director of Legal Affairs in 2001. Â Over the next several years, Brisebois worked his way through the Montreal organization acting as both the Director of Hockey Operations as well as orchestrating a highly successful run as GM of Montreal’s AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. Â In 2010-2011, as GM of the Lightning AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals, Brisebois successfully returned the squad to the Calder Cup playoffs after a 3-year absence, and is Steve Yzerman’s go-to guy on issues of salary cap, collective bargaining and player personnel. Â Brisebois speaks French, has a French name, and is familiar to the Montreal community. Â While his lack of playing experience may (unfairly) be a strike against him, his record of front-office success is indisputable.
Marc Bergevin, a 20-year NHL veteran, is, first and foremost, French Canadian. Â He has been the Assistant GM of the Blackhawks since the summer of 2011, when Kevin Cheveldayoff packed up for Winnipeg. Â Bergevin was the Director of Player Personnel for the ‘Hawks during their run to the Cup in 2009, and had been both an assistant coach and scout with the team in the years prior. Â Bergevin is a bit of an unknown quantity. Â While his resume isn’t as impressive as that of some other potential candidates, Bergevin is generally regarded as a friendly, personable and professional guy, and his lighter touch would be a welcome change considering the dour countenance Gauthier presented to the public. Â Bergevin has to potential to be a “people’s candidate,” who could repair the damage Gauthier has done to the club’s relationship with Habs Nation.
Pierre McGuire, currently an analyst for NBC Sports in the US, is perhaps the most interesting candidate in the field. Â His enthusiasm for the game of hockey is unmatched. Â Words like “honor,” “tradition,” “guts,” and “pride” roll off his tongue with absolutely no self-consciousness. Â McGuire is a true believer that is as concerned about the preservation of the history and tradition of the NHL as he is with bringing the game of hockey to all corners of the globe. Â He is the closest thing the hockey world has to an evangelist. Â He also happens to be a dual US/Canadian citizen, is fluent in French, and has strong ties, both professional and familial, to Montreal. Â McGuire was plucked from his job as assistant coach at St. Lawrence University by none other than Scotty Bowman himself, and won two cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 1990s as a scout and assistant coach with Bowman and the late Bob Johnson. Â McGuire spent a few years in Hartford as both assistant and head coach and assistant GM of the Whalers. Â After some scouting work for the Ottawa Senators, McGuire moved into the media as a color commentator for…you guessed it, the Montreal Canadiens. Â McGuire’s time in the media has been as divisive as it has been successful. Â His exuberance and insider’s knowledge of the game, while at times causing a few headaches, has served him well. Â He is a proponent of the type of fast-moving, skilled hockey that fans in Montreal crave and is smart enough to surround himself with a support network that could have a huge impact in little or no time at all. Â McGuire’s personality, like that of Bergevin, lies in stark contrast to that of Gauthier, and he could be the best options the Habs have, considering their criteria.
Serge Savard and Geoff Molson will not waste time bringing in a new GM and coach. Â Montreal has gone without success (read: Cups) for too long, and if Molson’s presser was any indicator, he wants this Habs team expanded and reinforced sooner rather than later. Â With multiple first and second round picks in the upcoming draft, the new GM will have all the blocks needed to build a winner immediately. Â Considering the solid core the Habs are working with, it is not crazy to assume that with the right men in charge, Montreal could be battling for Cups instead of battling to stay out of the cellar.
Famously written on the wall in the Montreal dressing room are the words of Lieutenant Colonel John McRae’s classic WWI poem In Flanders Fields. Â ”To you from failing hands we throw the torch, Be yours to hold it high.” Â Brimming with emotion and fiercely proud, In Flanders FieldsÂ has always served as a rallying cry for the Canadian public at large, and the Montreal Canadiens in particular. Â Never before have those words held more weight for Les Habitants. Â The next GM of this storied franchise will have their work cut out for them, whoever he may be.
|February 28, 2012||Posted by Zack under Detroit Red Wings, NHL, Puck Wit|
The 2012 trade deadline has come and gone.Â A potential seismic shift in the landscape of the NHL instead developed into a grueling, hours-long game of flick-the-tip.Â And anyone with half a brain has to be asking â€śWhy?â€ťÂ In a year when so many teams are riding the razorâ€™s edge between the post-season and April golf, GMs around the league were curiously quiet.Â Sure, there were a few â€śdepth movesâ€ť around the league.Â But for most of the day, the consensus among the â€śinsiderâ€ť media was that the Nick Schultz (D) for Tom Gilbert (D) trade between Edmonton and Minnesota was the deal of the day.Â Wrap your brain around that.
The Rick Nash Saga, although far from over, ended with Columbus GM Scott Howson declining to accept Glen Satherâ€™s â€śmammoth package.â€ťÂ This, apparently, was because Howson was intent on screwing himself.Â The Washington Capitals, a team that should have been extremely active on Deadline Day, did nothing.Â Ditto for the Philadelphia Flyers, whose only deals were to bring in defensemen Pavel Kubina and Nicklas Grossman from Tampa Bay and Dallas a week earlier. Not exactly replacements for the still-concussed Chris Pronger.
Since I canâ€™t bear to go through the entire boring list of â€śdepthâ€ť moves yet again, here are my Trade Deadline Day 2012 highlights.
Columbus Blue JacketsÂ - Scott Howson is Delusional
What Happened: On February 23, the Columbus GM traded pure goal-scorer Jeff Carter to the Los Angeles Kings for highly touted yet underachieving defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first round pick. A pick that Columbusâ€™ new GM can use in 2013. A day earlier Howson dished forward Antoine Vermette to Phoenix for another sub-par goaltender and two more draft picks he wonâ€™t be around to use.Â Then, he refused to trade Nash despite reports of the Rangers offering a â€śmammoth packageâ€ť (Pierre LeBrunâ€™s words, not mine) that likely would have stopped some of the hemorrhaging occurring amongst the Blue Jacketsâ€™ forward lines.Â Adding insult to injury, Howson took to the press on Monday evening to sewer Columbus captain Nash as emphatically as possible.Â Amazingly, Howson also managed put on the record that he believes he will still have a job by the end of the season.Â I choose to believe Howson is delusional.Â The alternative explanations for his behavior are just too depressing.
Bottom Line: Columbus is in worse shape than they were a month ago, which is a pretty neat trick.Â Howson should be fired before he screws up another chance to deal Nash.Â Thereâ€™s no way Nationwide can still be on his side and maintain credibility with the dwindling Blue Jacket fan base.
Washington CapitalsÂ â€“ George McPhee has a set of Brass Balls
What Happened: Nothing.Â Not. A. Thing. Despite being a point out of the 8th and final playoff spot, Caps GM George McPhee decided to stand pat, intimating that prices were too high and, incredulously, that the Caps â€ścan beat anyone in the [Eastern] conference with a healthy Nicklas Backstrom.â€ťÂ Heâ€™s right about prices being high.Â The Nash debacle and the Paul Gaustad for a first round pick deal prove it.Â But McPheeâ€™s confidence in his current squad reeks of desperation.Â On paper, the Capitals are loaded. They should be a dominant force in the sub-par Eastern conference.Â Yet they arenâ€™t.Â And it has become very clear over the last couple months that Bruce Boudreau was not the problem.Â McPhee has clearly taken the public position that missing the playoffs and/or cleaning house are not options currently on the table.Â The problem is that Washington is in the midst of a dogfight with Toronto and Winnipeg for the final spot in the East, and success is far from guaranteed.Â McPhee had a chance to improve, short-term, and didnâ€™t take it.Â And while I understand that he didnâ€™t want to mortgage the future, his inactivity is bizarre when you consider his â€śfailure is not an optionâ€ť stance.
Bottom Line: The Caps are in trouble.Â After winning the Eastern Conference for the last two years with largely the same team, theyâ€™re one point out of the playoffs going into March. With seemingly half the teamâ€”including lame duck head coach Dale Hunterâ€”up for new contracts at the end of the season, Iâ€™m a bit surprised McPhee didnâ€™t take the opportunity to move a few guys out, bring a few guys in, and better position his team to lock up that final playoff spot.Â Normally this is where Iâ€™d say â€śbut what do I know, Iâ€™m just a fanâ€ť but if yesterday taught me anything, it is that I give most NHL GMs too much credit.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Stevie Why Not?.
What Happened: GM Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning made a few moves to shore up their blue line and managed to secure a few extra draft picks in the process.Â Yzermanâ€™s deadline-day deal with The Irishman in Toronto could prove to be an excellent deal for both teams.Â Toronto acquired the Lightningâ€™s top prospect, power forward Carter Ashton, while TB picked up young Toronto defenseman Keith Aulie, who (if he pans out) will be a valuable addition to the Lightningâ€™s blue line corps.Â Yzerman also managed to score a â€śthank youâ€ť defenseman from Detroit in the form of journeyman Mike Commodore.Â The consensus seems to be that Commodore was a gift from Ken Holland as a token of thanks for Yzermanâ€™s role in the three-way deal with Colorado that brought Kyle Quincey back to Detroit last week.Â The Lightning also acquired Ottawa d-man Brian Lee in exchange for Matt Gilroy.Â The loss of Pavel Kubina is a bit more palatable.Â Yzermanâ€™s restrained but proactive moves indicate an acknowledgement that while post-season play is unlikely this year; the Lightning will be looking to actively improve their defense while building on their solid core of forwards.Â One would imagine their offseason priority will be goaltending.
Bottom Line: Yzerman has proven to be a fascinating GM.Â Clearly, heâ€™s learned from his time under the venerable Ken Holland in Detroit.Â Yzerman is equally comfortable as a buyer and seller, and seems to have a steady, pragmatic hand on the Tampa Bay tiller.Â Like Holland, Yzerman plays the long game, and it will be interesting to see if any of the seeds he has planted bear fruit.
Nashville Predators â€“ The Team No One Wants to Play Just Got Tougher
What Happened:Â Nashville added rough and tumble center Paul Gaustad and struggling goal-scorer Andrei Kostitsyn on Deadline Day and added defenseman Hal Gill a week prior.Â David Poile, a hidden gem among NHL General Managers, continues to systematically assemble a team that is on the cusp of becoming one of the elite squads in the tough-as-nails Western Conference.Â Kostitsyn, who is reunited with his brother Sergei, should provide a boost to Nashvilleâ€™s offense, and Gaustad is a big body who will win face-offs and exact a physical toll on opposing teams.Â Nashville is already one of the tougher teams in the West, and their devotion to Barry Trotzâ€™s disciplined, defensive-minded system is near-total. On top of everything else, Nashville has the best goaltender in the league in the towering Finn Pekka Rinne.Â The only piece the Predators lack is a true â€śsuperstarâ€ť forward.Â Rumors abounded on Deadline Day that Poile was putting the hard sell on Columbus to acquire Rick Nash, but to no avail.Â Had that trade gone through, the groans of consternation from Detroit and Vancouver would have been audible from coast to coast.
Bottom Line:Â David Poile knows his team is on the cusp of something special, and is clearly looking to make a run in the playoffs this year.Â After nearly knocking off Chicago two years ago and doing the same to Vancouver last year, the Predators just might have found the right mix of dedication, intelligence and grit that could propel them into the Stanley Cup Final.Â Sure, they gave up a first-rounder for Gaustad, but come July that pick could look like a pittance if the Cup makes an appearance in Music City.
Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings â€“ the Best of the West
What Happened:Â Ken Holland unanimously considered one of the bestâ€”if not the bestâ€”GMs in the league, took this yearâ€™s trade deadline in stride.Â The acquisition of Kyle Quincey in a three-way deal with Colorado and Tampa Bay shores up a depleted blue line corps and serves as a hedge against the departure of Brad Stuart and the potential retirement of future Hall of Famer Nick Lidstrom in the offseason.Â Holland also managed to pick up a seventh round pick from Tampa, which in the Wingsâ€™ organization will likely turn into another Zetterberg or Datsyuk five years from now.Â
In stark contrast to the Wings, the Vancouver Canucks had a busy day on Monday, adding some toughness and physicality to a squad many consider to be the best in the West, while trading away potential superstar Cody Hodgson.Â GM Mike Gillis, alternatively a hero and villain to the fickle Vancouver fan base, was clearly looking to bolster the Canucksâ€™ ability to play in their own end.Â Forward Sami Pahlsson is an excellent third line center, and 6â€™3â€ť 214 lb. winger Zack Kassian, obtained from Buffalo in the Hodgson deal, has the potential to develop into a player of the Todd Bertuzzi/Milan Lucic mold.Â Pahlsson and Kassian will add some much-needed toughness that will complement Vancouverâ€™s platoon of offensive-minded forwards.
Bottom Line:Â While Detroit and Vancouver are clearly the powerhouses in the West, their differing Deadline Day strategies seem to indicate that Ken Holland is a bit more confident in his playersâ€™ ability to win than his counterpart in BC.Â From the GM to the players to the fans, Vancouver doesnâ€™t lack for reactionaries.Â Both teams improved at the deadline.Â Only time will tell which of these two juggernauts will come out on top.Â Unless one of these two teams is upset by Nashville in the first or second round, expect a long and fiery Western Conference Final between these two teams.
San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings â€“ The Rest of the West
What Happened:Â Dean Lombardi, GM of the currently-in-tenth-place Los Angeles Kings should have probably lost his job after the Kings were knocked out in the first round last year.Â He didnâ€™t, and he now seems bent on making sure history doesnâ€™t repeat itself.Â To that end, Lombardi traded away highly touted (but underachieving) defenseman Jack Johnson and LAâ€™s first round pick in 2013 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for pure goal scorer Jeff Carter.Â In a Kings lineup sorely lacking scoring punch, Carter is expected to put the puck in the net early and often.Â But is he ready for that kind of pressure?Â In eight months with Blue Jackets, Carter underperformed.Â Lombardiâ€™s hope is that Carterâ€™s reunion with Philly teammate Mike Richards will lead to sunburn for opposing goaltenders.Â But Carter has little or no time to get up to speed.Â Goals need to come immediately if the Kings hope to rise out of the morass at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture.
Heading north, the San Jose Sharks appear to be as clueless as ever.Â Perennial underachievers (unless the NHL is secretly giving out a trophy for 86ing the Red Wings), the Sharks made some of the strangest moves in the league on Deadline Day.Â San Jose GM Doug Wilson sent middling forward Jamie McGinn and prospects Michael Sgarbossa and Mike Connelly to Colorado in exchange for middling forwards Daniel Winnick and T.J. Galiardi.Â Winnick and Galiardi are, in the vernacular, shit-stirrers.Â Like most of the Avs roster, they were languishing under the ham-fisted rule of coach Joe Sacco, but whether a change of scenery will cause them to elevate their game remains to be seen.Â WIth a combined 13 playoff appearances between the two newest Sharks, it is hard to see how this trade made San Jose any better. And that makes it hard to see how the Sharks can expect to reach the Stanley Cup Finals this year.Â Anything less and Doug Wilson should, and likely will, be fired.Â The Sharks are, to a lesser degree, the Washington Capitals of the West.
Bottom Line:Â Carter could be the boost the Kings need.Â Or, he could continue to underperform and the Kings will miss the playoffs.Â If that happens, expect a bloodbath in the LA front office.Â In San Jose, my prediction is that their deadline day moves make little or no difference.Â The Sharks are their own worst enemy.Â At times, they almost appear to lack the will to win.Â Unless Thornton, Marleau, Couture and the rest catch fire soon, San Jose will be fighting for a playoff spot up until the last day of the season.Â While the scuttlebutt is that Doug Wilson was hot to trot for Rick Nash, he wasnâ€™t willing to pay the high price Howson put on him.Â Ultimately, Wilsonâ€™s inability to put together a team that can gel and win consistently will be his downfall.
And there you have it folks.Â The 2012 NHL Trade Deadline.Â Flick. Flick. Flick. Flickâ€¦
Authorâ€™s Note: Credit for the â€śTrade Dudlineâ€ť headline goes to Justin Ptak (@Jptak) and the â€śNationwide is on your sideâ€ť bit was stolen from Mike Porter (@MPorter25). The mammoth package bits are mine.
|February 22, 2012||Posted by KG under B1G Ten Basketball, B1G Ten Football, NHL|
My football and baseball lists are in the books. Â I hope I effectively imparted on you all just how much I hate Tim McCarver and what a travesty it is that he is still employed as an professional MLB analyst. Â I also didn’t hear any Sox fans stick up for their man Hawk Harrelson, so I will just conclude that I was 100% on the mark.
This post is my mixed bag of broadcasters, which covers college basketball and the NHL. I don’t watch a great enough variety of these sports to have a favorites list. Â There are names, though, that I want to mention because there is one in college b-ball commentator that is probably my favorite in all of sports. Â I’ll admit these lists are shorter than my football an baseball lists, but this isn’t for lack of effort. Â I haven’t had a lot of
I’ll also cover some Chicago sports broadcasters, most notably those that are part of sports talk radio shows on the Chicago dials. Â Many of my readers aren’t from Chicago and many from Chicago don’t listen to the joy of sports talk, but I want to discuss them because I’ve spent so much time tuned into these stations.
NCAA Basketball – The Best
- Gus Johnson:Â Gus, in my opinion, is the best announcer in the sporting world today. Â No one brings more excitement to a call and no one enthralls his audience better than him. Â Some people complain that he is too much for the broadcast, but I completely disagree. Â Gus’ enthusiasm is genuine, which is more than can be said for many other announcers. Â You can see that Gus loves his job and he loves sports. His talent has spread across multiple sports, but college basketball has always been his best, especially the March Madness tournament. Â The Gus Johnson factor is at play every time he is in the booth-games that he calls are much more likely to go down to the wire or head to OT. Â He is the one guy who I would tune into watch just because he is on the call. Â If you haven’t really listened to him before, watch/listen to this clip, and then enjoy many more on YouTube (such as thisÂ hilarious mashup).
- Â Jay Bilas:Â Bilas is one of the smartest men in the sport. Â As a former college basketball player (4-year starter at Duke), he brings great insight into his analysis. Â He can break things down for the casual fan, but provides lots of depth for even the most crazed college fan. Â He has talent both in the studio and as a color man. Â You can also tell he prepares for his games well. Â He doesn’t just speak about the best players, but has analysis for everyone on the team. Â He also has some of the best tweets, so follow him if you are on Twitter
NCAA Basketball – The Worst
- Dick Vitale: Â 15 years ago, I never would have considered putting Dicky V on the “worst” list for college basketball. Â I used to love all his phrases and his childlike enthusiasm for the game. Â However, that hasn’t changed, and now that I listen to a color commentator for analysis, hisÂ shtickÂ has gotten very old. Â His Duke-UNC bias can border on the unbearable and he spends so much time on his catch phrases that he never really gets to any useful break downs. Â ”That’s awesome, baby!” and “Get a T.O.!” Â have lost their magic. Â Vitale is an guy who was once great and fresh, but now he comes off as someone’s goofy grandpa.
NHL – The Best
- Mike “Doc” Emrick andÂ Eddie Olczyk: Â I’ll pair these two since they are NBC Sports #1 team for its NHL broadcasts. Â Doc was normally the play-by-play for the New Jersey Devils (until last summer) and Eddie O is the color guy for my Chicago Blackhawks. Â Doc’s call is great, adjusting to the tempo of the game while keeping an (mostly) unbiased view. Â I love his goal call (ScccOOORReeesss!). Â What’s best is that he compliments the game well. Â He understands what needs to be called and clarified, and does so without interrupting the rhythm of the game.
Eddie O is a former player who was never spectacular, but has done a great job breaking down the best in the booth. Â He spots what happened before anyone has a chance to check out the instant replay. Â What I like best is that he talks about and shows what the players do right and wrong. Â He commonly uses the phrase, “For all you young hockey players out there,” using the play of the best in the world to instruct the up and coming talent of the hockey world
NHL – The Worst
- Matthew Barnaby:Â ESPN should beÂ embarrassedÂ that they every employed Barnaby as one of its lead analysts. Â They recently let him go, but only after a DWI forced their hand. Â The guy was a goon when he played whose only purpose on the ice was to headhunt the other teams’ stars and take them down with some serious cheap shots. Â He had no idea how to break down plays and frequently praised big/illegal hits as necessary play in the NHL. Â I have no reason to listen to analysis of the NHL’s best from a guy who spent his whole playing career yapping his mouth with no skill to back it up.
Chicago Sports Talk – The Best
- Â Dan Bernstein:Â Like Dicky V, I thought very differently about Bernstein 10 years ago. Â He seemed to spend the entire time making eloquent jokes and demoralizing callers. Â But as a listened more, I came to realize that he is probably one of the smartest guys in Chicago sports. Â He never says anything without having sound reasoning to back it up. Â Even if I disagree with his view, I know exactly where he is coming from. Â His tweets and comments indicate that he has a good to great understanding of major sports. Â He also demands a high level of intelligence from the callers to his radio show, Boers and Bernstein, which is refreshing in this ESPN-era of sport. Â Fans often call with baseless claims and opinions, which he immediately sees through (which makes him seem like a total jerk). Â Dan simply asks that you have a way to back up what you say with some sort of common sense. Though I’m not a fan of Terry Boers, he is my favorite talk show host in Chicago, and I hope that Chicago fans can learn from his methods, especially in this generalizing, throw-it-and-if-it-sticks-keep-it world we live in.
- Matt Spiegel: Â After being a behind the scenes producer for the Score and hosting a nationally syndicated sports radio show, Spiegel rejoined 670 alongside Dan McNeil. Â The reason I like him is that he makes listening to McNeil manageable. Â Mac, as you will see below, spends his time trying to demonstrate how experienced he is, but never actually proves he knows anything. Â Matt actually has a great historical knowledge of sports. Â Also, unlike McNeil, he is actually funny. Â Spiegel is one of the reasons why 670 the Score is much better than ESPN 1000 in the realm of Chicago sports talk.
Chicago Sports Talk – The Worst
- Dan McNeil: Â Mac has his fingerprints all over the Chicago sports talk radio scene. Â When I first heard him, he was on ESPN Radio 1000 on the show “Mac, Jurko, and Harry.” Â It started out as my favorite show, but as time passed and I gained sports knowledge, I realized that they never really said anything useful. Â Harry was a former comedian, and I’ll get to Jurko later. Â In the end, he came of as a major jerk, and worse, a jerk that was hypocritical. Â He didn’t actually prove a caller or a co-host wrong, but would insult them as a means of shutting them up. Â Mac was let go by ESPN after multiple on-air fights with Harry and was taken back by 670 the Score, where he started his broadcasting career. Â He’s become somewhat less of a jerk, but still flaps his head without any meaning. Â He is also a Sox fan, so he can’t really be trusted, can he?
- John Jurkovic:Â Jurko is the loveable idiot of the “Afternoon Saloon” on ESPN 1000. Â He is a former NFL defensive lineman who grew up in the Chicagoland area. Â He is another man who says nothing of value, but just tries to be funny in the Homer Simpson sort of way- he is not smart and he knows it. His personality was funny at first, but now it is just annoying. Â He actually reminds me a lot of Mike Golic of “Mike and Mike in the Morning.” Â He just says really general things that anyone can figure out, but they are somehow masked as intelligent talk because he used to be in the NFL. Â As I said with McNeil, “Mac, Jurko, and Harry” was once my favorite show which I listened to every day, much to the chagrin of the people I drove home from high school. Â However, as my desire to grow my sports knowledge andÂ acumen, I liked the show less and less. Â Jurko’s mindless banter had a lot to do with that.
My final list will cover the mothership, ESPN. Â I hope you are enjoying reading these lists as I have had writing them. Â Leave some feedback via the comments or Facebook (or any social media really [or by owl if you are a wizard]) and we can compare our respective lists.
|February 20, 2012||Posted by TheCostanzo under Detroit Red Wings, NHL|
Jimmy Howard is expected to be back in goal Tuesday night when the Detroit Red Wings travel to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks. It will be his first game since Feb. 2 when he broke a pinkie finger against the Vancouver Canucks.
When Howard went down, the natural — and correct — response from Red Wings fans was, “Oh $@*%.” Without Howard in the lineup, the Red Wings were 3-5 before his injury as Ty Conklin struggled to find any kind of consistency between the pipes. Not having a healthy Jimmy Howard for two weeks or more looked to be catastrophic as the Red Wings were (and still are) in the middle of a tight divisional and conference race. (more…)
|February 18, 2012||Posted by Jameson Draper under Detroit Red Wings, NHL|
I’ve been a huge Red Wings fan since I could remember. And, if one thing stands out to me through all of the years, it’s the fact that they’ve barely managed to make the playoffs with a mediocre goalie, and then rock the playoffs all the way to the Stanley Cup. Both of the Wings last 2 Stanley Cups have come along with the President’s Trophy (2002 and 2008), but remember it was supposed to be the “dream season” in 2006 when the Wings killed the entire Western Conference to win the President’s Trophy, then proceeded to lose to Edmonton in the 1st Round. What I’m saying is that this doesn’t tell the whole story.