Happy Friday everyone! (unless you work weekends, then it’s a Monday or something for you and you hate these “Happy Friday” jerks like me and you have good reason to be grumpy). Wait, I have to work on Saturday? Anyway, there was another fun week of sports with lots of topics to touch on today. Yes, this is a Sports Spectacular, not an extravaganza anymore.: I realized I was flunking alliteration and needed to get it straightened out. OK, enough blather about nonsensical and onto the sports:
WHAT THE PUCK?:
The NHL Stanley Cup Championship Finals kicked off in style with a triple-overtime thriller in Chicago where the Blackhawks gutted out a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins. Both teams showed their grit and determination in game one Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The Bruins looked like they would continue their domination of their opponents by jumping out to 2-0 and 3-1 leads; however, unlike against Pittsburgh and New York where the imposing black and gold defense locked down the opposition, Chicago stormed back on their home ice.
The Blackhawks scored quickly to cut the deficit to 3-2 after Bruins rookie defenseman Torey Krug made a terrible pass out of his own end and right onto the stick of the Blackhawks at the blue line and Dave Bolland netted it to cut it to one. Boom. The light was lit and Chicago had a skip in their stride as they attacked Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with a bombardment of shots.
They finally broke through to tie the game with Chicago’s Johnny Oduya converting on a strange bouncer, as this time the puck deflected past Rask off the skate of defenseman Andrew Ference who was defending against the attacker behind the net with his back to the shooter. Suddenly in less than 5 minutes the match was tied and soon into overtime.
The Bruins brought the energy to the first overtime, generating some great scoring chances but not getting the puck past goalie Corey Crawford who was strong in goal in the extra period. By the second overtime, the Bruins had lost their mojo and looked like a team of “Jaromir Jagr”’s, slow and plodding as the Blackhawks skated circles around them. With first line playoff star Nathan Horton (upper body injury) in the training room, the Bruins constant offensive pressure of the first overtime was gone, and they hung on as goalie Tuukka Rask tried to keep them in the game.
Chicago finally broke through after almost completing an entire extra game as Michal Rozsival’s shot was deflected twice as it worked its way past Rask and ended the marathon game one.
The Blackhawks are a strong team, with some really creative and explosive players who can move the puck and put pressure on the defense. For the Bruins, it has to take some wind out of their sails after having been on a great roll since their game seven comeback in the first round of the playoffs against Toronto. Playing over 110 minutes and still losing has to hurt, and it will be interesting to see how the Black and Gold respond to this adversity.
The Bruins had this game in the bag, as a two goal lead should be an automatic win at this juncture of the season. Much credit goes to Chicago, as the Blackhawks ramped up the pressure and goalie Corey Crawford made a number of great saves to give his team a chance to to win. I may not want to stay up to 1:00 AM every game, but if game one is a preview of the series to be, it is gonna be a heck of a ride!
BIG ROUND BALLS:
Word association time as the NBA season grinds to its end with the Heat and Spurs locked in combat for the NBA Championship:
and one for the Boston locals:
Chad Johnson amazingly found the spotlight yet again outside of the gridiron. In court for a plea deal to get out of jail time for a violation of his probation after his domestic violence case involving his headline loving ex-wife (and reality television “star”). The player formerly known as Ocho-Cinco slapped his lawyer on the rear end playfully and got smacked down by the judge as she put him in jail for 30 days. So now the failure that was an overpaid wash out in New England, Ocho-stinko, is now Ocho-Clinko. The worst part of being in jail 30 days for Johnson is that if someone tosses him the soap in the shower, based on his play in New England, he’s gonna drop it.
OK, now that two years of pent-up frustration (due to overpaying and dealing with a bozo, overpaid, self-promoting wide receiver who could not get on the right page in the offense with one of the greatest quarterbacks of the modern NFL) is out, we’re focusing on keeping it classy the rest of the way with the NFL Notes:
Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow. There. That’s more than enough Tebow talk for me. The battle for the 53rd spot on the roster and right to be one of the seven inactives each Sunday has never been so thrilling.
In my opinion, Tebow is at his best a back-up quarterback who should be kept in glass with a “Break in Case of Emergency Only”. No team can afford to develop him at another position without an NFL Europe to send him out to for learning and seasoning. Also, any situation with a shaky starter in place can fracture the team. New England is a fit for him this camp, because he has no chance of starting (Tom Brady) and equally has no chance to be the number two quarterback (Ryan Mallett). After thinking about it, and the fact he has a two year contract, Tebow is likely to spend the season on the Patriots “veteran practice squad”, which is injured reserve. A tweaked hamstring or “concussion” is often enough to shut a player down for the year and another look after a season of working out, learning the playbook, and being coached up.
St Louis Rams fans have to be in a tough spot. They must wonder what in the world their management staff had to be thinking when they kept quarterback Sam Bradford and traded Washington the pick that turned out to be Robert Griffin III. Bradford is back for year three in St Louis without a lot of progression towards becoming a star, and having watched RGIII lead his team to the playoffs as a rookie and revitalize an entire franchise in just one year, panic must be setting in. This is a big year for Bradford and the Rams, as they do not want to find themselves in the position of the franchises who passed on Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL Draft and suffer a decade plus of regret.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, spent part of this week smack talking like he was the illegitimate son of Buddy Ryan, making news by noting division rival, the Pete “pumped and jacked” Carroll led Seattle Seahawks, are currently leading the league...
in PED suspensions.
Coaches commenting on other teams is usually not something going on in the NFL, but the Harbaugh’s are part of the young, brash coaches who talk big and then back it up. There’s n problem with anyone talking trash, but backing it up is important. When the Jets beat the Patriots in the playoffs, the Patriots had no choice but to take the heat. Seattle fans may not like to hear about it, but this has the makings of a heck of a rivalry this fall. Both teams have creative coaches, fantastic young quarterbacks, strong and aggressive defenses, and loads of big play talent on offense. The teams meet in week two, and this could be a rivalry for the NFL to spotlight for years to come.
Some running backs are on the move, as former New York Giants bruiser Ahmad Bradshaw landed in Indianapolis on a one-year deal. One of the “old breed” running backs, Bradshaw chews up yards and linebackers while trying to play through the foot injuries he has had and the bumps and bruises of his pad-lowering power running style. An underrated performer in New York, some dings and bruises last year hurt his value this off-season and the Colts got a true feature back who, when able to play, will make young Andrew Luck better just by keeping linebackers close to the line of scrimmage and safeties up in the box.
The Denver Broncos decided to release feature back Willis McGahee and give the ball to 2nd round pick Montee Ball, from Wisconsin. Ball the Bruising Badger must have put on a heck of a show in OTAs as McGahee, who missed the voluntary workouts for personal reasons, never got on the field to show he was healed from last season’s knee injury that left the Broncos vulnerable in the post-season with only third-down back Ronnie Hillman and the completely useless Knowshon Moreno to try and keep defenses honest. The pressure is on Ball to step up and contribute immediately, as Denver is not going to scare any linebackers with Hillman or Moreno in the backfield.
Interesting tidbit (I found it at Mike Florio’s NBC site ProFootballTalk) about the Buffalo Bills and high price free agent defensive lineman Mario Williams. Williams mentioned to Buffalo News writer Tim Graham that Mike Pettine, the defensive coordinator in the great white north of New York, usually says “Kill ‘em or hurt ‘em”. Florio mentions it as part of the post-BountyGate NFL frowning upon these statements, but not really dishing any discipline. So the defense is trying to “kill the quarterback”? Shocking. Of course, from what I saw of Williams in his in initial season in Buffalo, he’d best concentrate on getting near the quarterback on the field, and not talking about it on the sidelines.
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OK, that’s all for now. Thanks as always for checking-in, and let’s kick-off a great weekend!