Eye of the Hurricane

May 2, 2011

Rashard Mendenhall’s Tweets

Filed under: NFL football — eadeutsch @ 9:50 pm
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Like many public figures who wish to communicate with their fans, Rashard Mendenhall, the running back for the Steelers, has himself a twitter.  With it, he has a soap box that allows him to speak his mind freely.

Let’s see what insight this role model has for us today!

[insert Ben Roethlisberger joke here]

After that gem, news broke about Bin Laden’s death, and today Mendenhall has been commenting with his take on the historic event.

“We’ve only heard one side.”  I know these athletes take a lot of shots to the head…but…come on, Rashard.

At least he ended the issue there.

Hold on, he didn’t? Really?

Rashard Mendenhall’s sage wisdom can be found @R_Mendenhall

NHL Thinking of Retooling Playoffs?

Filed under: Uncategorized — eadeutsch @ 3:48 pm
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The National Hockey League has been attempting to re-brand itself and acquire a larger American audience ever since the lockout that saw the cancellation of the 2004-2005 NHL season.  When the league became active the next season, fans saw a number of changes that were meant to increase scoring and excitement in a league that was criticized for lacking in those departments in the years prior to the lockout.  No longer was the “two-line offside pass” rule enforced, there was a limited trapezoidal area behind each net that was the only location behind the goal that a goaltender could roam with the puck, and the fan favorite overtime shootout became a staple of the league

Still looking for excitement, the league has never been one to shun a suggestion, and this season’s All-Star Game was a perfect example of this.  The teams were split with captains–Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom–picking their own teams in a Fantasy-draft style.  The NHL deemed this a success and we can count on seeing this next year, although probably tweaked.

The playoff system is one of my least favorite things about the NHL.  The two conferences are seeded just like basketball, 1-8, with the top three seeds going to the division leaders.  But instead of a simple bracket format throughout the conference playoffs, the teams are re-seeded after the first round to guarantee the greatest advantage to the top-seeded team, and make the road to the finals as challenging as possible for the lowest-seeded team.  So if the eighth-seeded team won an upset in the first round, they would go on to play the best remaining team in the second round.

Now, however, the NHL may be considering a static bracket format like basketball or the NCAA where the teams will play the winner of another series no matter what.  I like this idea, and I don’t know why it hasn’t been initiated since the lockout.

But as I said, the NHL is not going to ignore an idea–no matter how outlandish it may seem at first–and it is considering a 1-16 bracket that will include match-ups determined by conference standings.  The top eight teams from each conference would advance to the playoffs, but they would be matched up with a corresponding team–determined by regular season points–that will not necessarily be from their own conference.  It would be possible, then, for teams from the same conference to play each other in the Stanley Cup Finals.

As much as I don’t like this idea (travel would be strenuous and costly, bad match-ups between teams with no history would be costly in terms of fan excitement in the opening rounds), it might be a win for the NHL, who after all is looking out for its best interests.

No offense to my friends who root for the Marlins, but you can bet your house that the front office of Major League Baseball enjoyed the viewership and earnings from the epic seven-game ALCS between the Yankees and Red Sox more than they did the world series.

Likewise, the NHL commissioner and owners might enjoy a Capitals-Penguins Stanley Cup or a Red Wings-Canucks matchup.  The integrity of the NHL may be at stake, but in the meantime, several of the league’s franchises are threatened by financial struggles, and this might be just one way to increase viewership at a time that the NHL is desperately trying to stay relevant.

In the meantime, enjoy the Stanley Cup playoffs as they are.  The Capitals and Red Wings, both down 0-2, are fighting for their lives, while the Predators are attempting to stun the top-seeded Canucks in a series that’s tied 1-1.  The Bruins, up 1-0 in their series against the Flyers, host Philadelphia tonight.

April 27, 2011

Billups Retained by Knicks

Filed under: NBA — eadeutsch @ 3:44 pm
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The New York Knicks are reportedly picking up the option to keep Chauncey Billups in New York.  The retention of Billups will cost New York $14.2 million.

Billups will be 35 years old at the start of the 2011-12 season, and the investment in the veteran point guard is a risk by the Knicks front office, who visibly have no plan b in terms of picking up a less expensive guard before next season.

Billups is only signed through the end of next season, so the Knicks may look to deal for a point guard, or trade up in next year’s draft to get a point guard who can run a team featuring two premier players in Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.

Billups averaged nearly 17 points per game this season, as well as averaged over five assists  per game.  If he can retain these numbers next year, the Knicks may be in the position to break into the top half of the conference standings.

April 26, 2011

R.I.P. Jim Mandich

Filed under: NFL football — eadeutsch @ 8:52 pm
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Jim Mandich, 1948-2011

Jim Mandich, tight end for the Miami Dolphins from 1970-1977, passed away today.  Mandich had been battling bile-duct cancer over the past year, and had been a sports commentator for WQAM, a job he acquired in 1997.  His role as a radio personality–where he was known as “Mad Dog”–helped cement his place in South Florida sports lore.

Mandich will forever be remembered as a member of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins team that won Superbowl VII over the Washington Redskins.

Mandich had a career that spanned 9 years, from 1970-1978.  He was drafted in the second round out of the University of Michigan.  Mandich averaged better than 13 yards per reception during his final two years as a Wolverine.  In the NFL, Mandich played every season for the Dolphins except for his last, which he spent as a role player on the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

Janoris Jenkins Released

Filed under: sports, college — eadeutsch @ 6:25 pm
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Jenkins at The Swamp last November

University of Florida’s Janoris Jenkins, a senior cornerback for the SEC powerhouse,was released from the Gators’ football team today.

Coach Will Muschamp was put in an unenviable position of choosing between releasing Jenkins or keeping him on the team roster after Jenkins was charged for the second time in three months with a misdemeanor for marijuana possession.  Jenkins is an All-SEC defensive player and his absence will hurt the team, but this is something that Jenkins did to himself.

Hopefully Janoris Jenkins will learn from these mistakes and realize that he not only puts the Gators at risk this season, but has now put his character into question, which may cost him in the future.

Tonight’s NHL Games

Filed under: Uncategorized — eadeutsch @ 4:44 pm
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This evening’s NHL playoff games are a smörgåsbord of thrilling match-ups featuring desperate teams from both conferences.

At 7:00, the Bruins visit the Canadiens.  The Bruins lead the series 3-2 and will look to close out the series in Montreal.  These teams genuinely dislike each other, and the series has been one of the tightest in this entertaining opening round.  The Canadiens bested the Bruins 4-2 in the regular season series, and hope to win two straight to oust their Northeast Division rivals.  I tend to favor the home team in tighter match-ups, particularly in this case because Montreal fans may be the most vocal in the league.

At 7:30, on Versus, the first of two game sevens will begin.  The Buffalo Sabres visit Philadelphia to see who will advance to the conference semifinals.  The last two games have gone to overtime, with the visiting team winning both times.  Brian Boucher is expected to start tonight for the Flyers, whose goaltending has revealed a significant weakness in the team.  Ryan Miller, on the other hand, has been consistently solid in net.  Tonight’s game will promise to be entertaining, and I would not be surprised to see the visiting team win tonight’s game.  Consider this: the visiting team has been 8-2 in NHL game sevens since 2009.

The other game seven tonight will feature the Blackhawks and the Canucks.  If Chicago wins, they will complete a historic comeback as the fourth team in NHL history to fight back from a 0-3 series deficit to win a seven game series.  The eighth-seeded Blackhawks are led by young players who have plenty of playoff experience (they won the Stanley Cup last season), and the top-seeded Canucks are led by the Swedish Sedin twins.  Once again, tonight’s game will most likely come down to goaltending.  Roberto Luongo has been struggling in this series, and Corey Crawford of the Blackhawks cannot afford to make mistakes tonight.  It would be exciting to see a Blackhawks victory tonight, and they would be a troubling match-up for any team going forward in the playoffs.

April 25, 2011

Blackhawks force Game 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — eadeutsch @ 8:33 pm
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Michael Frolik beats Cory Schneider on a penalty shot in the third period

The 2010 Bruins were up 3-0 in last year’s conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers.  Then

the nightmare: four unanswered Flyers’ wins for the Philadelphia team that ultimately found itself in the Stanley Cup finals.

The team the Flyers lost to?  The Chicago Blackhawks, who found themselves in the same predicament as the Flyers in their opening series against the top-seeded team in the West, and the points leading team in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks.

After Sunday’s dramatic overtime win in Chicago, the Blackhawks and Canucks will return to Vancouver on Tuesday night for a surprise game seven.

Corey Crawford had 32 saves for the Blackhawks

Sunday’s hero was Ben Smith, the 22-year old rookie who attended Boston College.  Smith’s overtime

winner was his third goal of the playoffs and sealed the Blackhawks 4-3 victory.

Roberto Luongo did not start game six due to struggling in the last few games, but replaced Cory Schneider in the third period and did not allow a goal until 15 minutes into the overtime period.

Chicago’s Michael Frolik tied the game at three in the third period on a penalty shot.  The Blackhawks only registered three shots in the third period.

Play was physical in Sunday's game

The overtime period was played at a frantic pace, with Vancouver taking 12 shots and Chicago shooting 11 times–more than their totals from any individual period in regulation.

Daniel Sedin had his fifth goal of the series, but his effort has not been enough to seal the series for the West’s top team.

Will the Blackhawks be the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after being down 0-3?  We’ll find out tomorrow night at 10pm on Versus.

[images:ESPN]

Judge Rules in Favor of NFL Players

Filed under: NFL football — eadeutsch @ 5:32 pm
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Chris Mortensen of ESPN just reported that a judge ruled in favor of the players which will lift the lockout.  But this does not necessarily end the struggle between the two sides.

Writes Mortensen:

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson has granted NFL players their motion for a preliminary injunction, therefore lifting the lockout that was imposed by owners on March 11.

Neither side had an official reaction, pending the official posting by Judge Nelson but the NFL is expected to immediately request a stay of the ruling until it can make its arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which is headquartered in St. Louis but also has an office in St. Paul.

If the stay of ruling is granted, then the case will move to the US Court of Appeals where the dispute will remain unresolved.  Neither side, clearly, is willing to concede anything–at least so far.  Could a ruling change this?

April 21, 2011

Canes Reportedly Looking at Larranaga

Filed under: sports, college — eadeutsch @ 1:10 pm
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Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reported that the University of Miami, under new leadership of Shawn Eichorst, is in discussions with Jim Larranaga, the head coach of George Mason’s basketball team.

Larranaga in 2006

He has been at the helm of George Mason for fourteen seasons, making the final four in 2006 and advancing to the second round in March’s NCAA Tournament.

Larranaga does not exactly bring youth to the program–he is 61–but he has done more in the postseason at George Mason than anyone has ever been able to do at Miami.

Larranaga would likely come with a cheap price tag.  He makes $525,000 a year at George Mason, and could expect a higher starting salary at Miami.

April 20, 2011

Western Playoffs Get Interesting

Filed under: Uncategorized — eadeutsch @ 12:53 pm
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The Canucks, who had been feasting on opportunities against the Blackhawks, failed to complete the sweep against the defending Stanley Cup Champions last night and were routed in Chicago 7-2.

Roberto Luongo wasn't himself on Tuesday night

Roberto Luongo, one of the best goaltenders in the league, was embarrassed at the United Center and let in six goals of the 28 shots he faced in just over two periods of play.  Cory Schneider took over in net for the Canucks and allowed one goal in the seven shots he faced.  Vancouver would love never to see him again, and instead rely on Luongo to be consistently solid throughout the playoffs.

Corey Crawford for the Blackhawks played well enough, making 21 saves in the win.

The game was tied 1-1 going into the second period, when Brian Campbell and Duncan Keith scored within 17 seconds of each other to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead.  After four more consecutive goals for Chicago, and dozens of penalty minutes handed out to the frustrated teams in the third period, the game was beyond over.

Tuesday's game featured six game misconducts

The Canucks are up 3-1 in the series and the series returns to Vancouver on Thursday for Game 5.  If the Blackhawks show up with as much fire as they did on Tuesday, the series could become a fight until the end.  The Canucks, however, remain the Stanley Cup favorites after running away with the Presidents’ Cup this regular season.

Meanwhile, the Sharks scored five goals in the second period to overcome a 4-0 deficit, and ultimately beat the Los Angeles Kings in overtime on a goal by Devin Setoguchi.  The Sharks now lead this closely fought series 2-1.  Both of the Sharks’ wins have been in overtime games, and being able to grind out wins is important in the playoffs.

The Sharks’ Antti Niemi was pulled after the first period in which he made only six saves out of the ten shots he faced.  Antero Niittymaki finished the game allowing one goal the rest of the way.  Los Angeles’ goalie, Jonathan Quick, had an uncharacteristic game in which he allowed all six of the Sharks’ goals, and was never replaced.  The coach must be second-guessed about the decision to leave Quick in the game–although he did have a perfect third period.  The series continues Thursday night at Staples Center.

Meanwhile, the Ducks play the Predators in Nashville tonight.  The Predators currently lead the series 2-1 and are looking to wrap up the opening round at home.  The Predators’ Mike Fisher has been the key to their success thus far.

The Red Wings will attempt to close out their own series against the Coyotes tonight in Phoenix.  The usual suspects of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Nicklas Lidstrom, and goalie Jimmy Howard, will present a challenge to any challenger going forward.  Expect the sweep tonight.

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