Tagged with "nhl"
Musings From The Hoodwood 5-20
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NBA NHL Golf Horse Racing

In loving memory of my dear friend Toni Rodriguez (1974-2014) gone way too young taken by cancer

This pic was 20 years ago at the University of Cincinnati Black Caucus Ball

 

Greetings from the Hoodwood where your humble scribe is balancing joy with sadness...

NBA: The best four on the floor?

The Conference finals are here and after all the grinding in the conference semis, the top two teams in each conference are left. The Thunder outlasted the Clippers in what I thought was a great series, the Spurs toyed with the Blazers in five in much the same way the Heat toyed with the Nets who were just out of their league. The Pacers are probably the most enigmatic team in the NBA, have you ever seen a #1 look so vulnerable? The Wizards pushed the East’s #1 seed as about as hard as a #5 seed should be able to push. The series went 6 but the Pacers seemed to play better on the road than they did in the supposed friendly confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers went a pedestrian 3-5 at home in the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs but they got through and they pointed at getting the #1 seed for the express purpose of getting that 7th game at home. In game 1 the Pacers suddenly looked like…well a #1 seed, flat running the Heat into the ground in a 107-96 win that really wasn’t as close as it looked. Lance Stephenson (a former Bearcat) attacked the goal like a beast repeatedly and when he wasn’t driving and scoring he was kicking out to the wings for three balls and the Pacers were hitting them and hitting them repeatedly. The Heat looked like a team that was more rusty than rested and just never was in the game. I still think that the Heat will win this series but they had better gird themselves for a long seires

Meanwhile in the West, the Spurs look like a team that will grind and grind but have their way with the Thunder, who without Serge Ibaka as a down low enforcer will repeatedly attack the rim, giving up 40 points in the paint in the 1st half. Kevin Durant with all his shiny MVP hardware just doesn’t look comfortable in the post playing with his back to the basket and it looks pretty apparent. Without a reliable 3rd scorer behind Durant and Westbrook the Thunder looked pretty one dimensional. They either play defense and have no reliable scorers or play offense and get run out of the building or exhaust Durant and Westbrook trying to keep up with the balanced attack of the Spurs. The Thunder scored 105 points and still got smoked. I think the Spurs are the team to beat in the West and that a rematch of the Finals from last year is imminent. And with the 2-2-1-1-1 format returning after a 30 year run of a 2-3-2 format the drama will be ratcheted

NHL: A dream final four?

You know the NHL is creaming its pants over the last four teams that are left chasing Lord Stanleys Cup. The three American teams are the three largest media markets and includes the last two defending Cup winners in Chicago and LA, and the lone Canadian market is simply the most hallowed team in the NHL. Lets frame the picture in the East you have the Canadiens and Rangers who last won the Cup 21 and 20 years ago, the former was the last time Lord Stanleys Cup was won by a Canadian team. The latter is the most covered and ballyhooed American team that has went massive time between Cup wins. The Habs have the home ice advantage but the Blue Shirts quickly snatched that away with a 7-2 thrashing in front of a sullen Bell Centre crowd, an equally stunning game 2 win in Montreal. The Habs got to the conference finals with a grueling 7 game series win over their hated rivals the Bruins and the acrimony was obvious all the way to the series ending handshake like where the Bruins Milan Lucic and Habs PK Subban were still sniping at one another as series end. The Rangers fell behind 3-1 and had to win not once but twice in Pittsburgh to rally to win the series and add yet another bitter defeat to the legacy story of Sidney Crosby. In the west the Kings and Blackhawks look like they are girding up for a classic fight but one has to wonder how much gas the Kings have left in the tank after rallying to win another series after being down this time 3-2 and again winning a 7th93 finale which was kind of boring. But I think that might be a minor point, because you have teams that have won the cup recently and teams with so much rich tradition and history and there could be an original six matchup if the Blackhawks win the West. This looks like it will be a May and June that the NHL will long cherish.

NBA: Sterling girds for a fight.

The one thing I have said about Donald Sterling all these years, the man is totally tone deaf. The man has long been an embarrassing owner for the NBA. This team has up until very recently been a joke and they have managed to screw up drafts, signings and coaches more and more and more. This is a team that has made losing an art. But Donald Sterling keeps cashing the checks and doing what he does. But after he malfeasance with his racial comments the NBA finally decided that they have had enough of this clown. NBA Commish Adam Silver dropped a $2.5 Million fine and a lifetime ban. Sterling would have no shortage of suitors for his team which most pundits figure would be north of a billion dollars. That’s 9 zeros, kids.  Sterling is being charged with conduct unbecoming, and Sterlings lawyer is demanding 3 months to prepare a case. The NBA is unlikely to grant such a delay, and you have to expect even with Sterling getting the formal boot from the NBA he will fight tooth and nail to keep his team and will spend lots of money in said fight. Sterling just doesn’t get it….no one wants him in the NBA. Hes a relic from a bygone time a time where paternalistic sporting men ponied up money for their “boys” and got the spoils of being the Lords of the Realm. Sterling is 80 and has that mentality of someone who is stuck in the 50s. He needs to get the clue that his paternalistic mentality is seriously out of step.

Random Musings

Cali Chrome won the Preakness and after a ruling about a nasal strip, will run for the Triple Crown

No cold envelope, the draft lottery is tonight, what you bet the Bucks WONT win the drawing…

Robert Mathis got busted for taking a fertility drug…you would think that players would know every drug that goes in their bodies…you would think.

Is it me or do I think that Stephen Strasburg is just a wee bit overrated.

Next weekend is the Indy 500, but it will be interesting to see the race in the morning.

Damn, ManU was so far out of the money they qualified for nothing in the Barclays…they sure aren’t used to being in the middle of the pack

Phat Dap

To Lucy Li who with rounds of 74 and 68 qualified for the US Open as an amateur. Oh did I mention that Li is all of 11 YEARS OLD???? I have pictures in my house that are older than her. I would be lucky to shoot 68 on my video game golf.

Head Slap

To the idiots in the NFL that are pushing for expansion of the NFL playoffs. Leave a good thing alone…

A final pair of thoughts: Joy tempered with sadness

First my beloved Princess Katie will be graduating high school this week, she will be graduating with a 3.5 grade point average. Words cant express my pride with my Princess, she will be heading to college in the fall. I will be in Phoenix this week celebrating with her.

Finally, , you will see my leadoff pic you will see my cover pic  is of a very youthful Bandit (in a tux no less) standing behind a very lovely Hispanic lady. Believe it or not Im the older one in the pic (My mom says I look like im 12 in this pic but I was 21). I was going to the University of Cincinnati Black Caucus Ball and I was figured to be bold enough to ask this lady to be my date. A memorable night to be sure. That picture was taken 20 years ago. Toni Rodriguez was my friend and for a while the love of my life, t work the way things should but nevertheless we remained friends. I lost my friend Sunday to the fucking scourge of cancer. I got the call early that afternoon and more or less was in shock the whole day trying to process. I lost a friend who I never even got to welcome into Club 40, she passed 4 months shy of it. I will always think of her when ever I see a bunny (bunnie was her nickname), see a Puerto Rican flag (she was fiercely proud of her Puerto Rican heritage), or hear any song from the Rippingtons Weekend in Monaco (long story)

The joy of seeing my baby graduating from high school this week. is sadly balanced with the loss of an old friend…there are just things in life that keep you grounded…

Until Next Week…

 

Q-o-t-D 5/19/14 Tags: NHL Milan Lucic

Should Bruins forward Milan Lucic apologized for things he said and how he acted in the post series handshake line?

Here's a video of what took place...

 

 

Monday Moaning 5-19-14
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NHL Drinking The Beeze Life Blow Jobs Birdy Kids Music Preakness Stakes Californina Chrome NHL Playoffs NYR

 

 

Who needs a drink?

I do!  Shit, I already have two...Why waste time getting up and going to the fridge when you have all this room on the desk!?!

That's one of the biggest things I've noticed since going back to working night...I drink more...Not a lot...But I have a couple/few at least 3/4 times a week...You're kind of wound up after the shift...And then you get home, and douche the kitchen stank off of yourself, and you're wide awake...And you know a kid will be waking you up in a handful of hours...So you have a couple to relax, and maybe crash a little easier, and sooner...Unless you get hooked into some dumb movie you've already seen a 100 times...

Then there was Friday night...The Mrs. and I went out for dinner...I had the night off...She had a gift card for Outback Shithouse...The Beer was good...The bloomin' onion was what it is...The Tortilla soup was good, but they need to take the chicken out of the name, since there was none in the soup...Then came our steaks...Her's was good fine...My medium rare came out, barely cooked...It could have moo'ed me a song and done a fucking jig...So, even though I hated doing it, I sent it back...The manager brought a fresh one out, and waited for me to cut into it...As soon as I cut it, he picked it up and said, I'll take care of this...It was that raw, that he stepped in before I could fly off the handle...They bought the steak, and sent out another that was okay...But by that point, I was over it...

Then we went to elsewhere for a couple more drinks, and desert...After that we hit an ATM so we could pay the sitter...Then, we stopped in a lot behind the bank, where the Mrs. dropped an gobbled...That's always a sign of a good night...Dinner may not have been great, but the drinks did their part! Here we are, married 13 years, 3 kids, and she's still a gamer like that...She's the best!

Since  I'm talking about Mrs. Beeze...Almost a month ago I took her to the Christina Perri concert at the House of Blues, for her birthday...I really didn't know the chick with the exception of the few songs my wife an daughter play...I have to admit, she put on a great show, and has a cool voice...But I was even more blown away by the opening act, who was only 17 years old...Her music was more suited for a coffee house, but wow, she's got some talent...She goes by the name Birdy...

 

 

 

And while I'm talking about talented girls...Last Monday was my oldest daughters school band concert...And at one point, their teacher let her put down her clarinet, and her, and a friend took to the keyboard to perform a short piece they wrote themselves...

 

 

 

I'm very proud of them...And I find it refreshing that in 2014, my 12 year old daughter is downloading a the same music on her iphone, that I have...This past week, she just asked me if I added any new Beatles or Rolling Stones songs...We both grabbed some Birdy songs as well...In a world full of one-hit wonders, and bullshit Jay-Z crap, and stupid fucking Bieber, I have a 12 year old daughter searching for good classic rock tunes on iTunes...And yes, I suggested "Gimme Shelter" and "Paint it Black"...And of course, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"...I may try to turn her onto Husker Du this week!

 

Maybe you're asking, where's the Sports? I don't know, I was working during every damn NHL playoff game I wanted to see...But the Rangers beat the Penguins, and then rolled Montreal Saturday...This after Montreal beat Boston, and somehow managed to still get their Canadian feeling hurt...But if you watch Montreal play, the diving, the crying, and bitching, the cheap shots...You'd understand why people don't like them...They are the Canadian version of the Penguins...Douche-nozzles!

 

Last I saw, Sterling is still a racist, and keeps saying stupid shit...Tall guys are playing basketball, and I have spent no time or energy on seeing what that's about...Baseball...I'll get to you when Hockey is done...

California Chrome won the Preakness Saturday...I was working...So now, everyone's hopes are up again...Is this the horse that will do it...Finally a Triple Crown winner....Let me answer that for ya...NO! But we're going to get a few weeks of hype...Hopefully it draws more people to watch the Belmont...But you can have California Chrome...I'll take the field...

Have a week...

The Beeze.

And Away We Go --- Again
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NHL playoffs

 

Well, that's over with. The quarterfinals, that is. Was it good for you? I freely admit that I've had better sports moments, but despite a lot of bogus officiating (Isn't it funny how the more we demand  safety, the more rigged our lives get? Where are you when we need you, Ben Franklin?), somehow the right outcomes were achieved. I think.

A lot of chokers got exposed. A lot of weaknesses that seemed insignificant during the regular season suddenly became glaring. And four presumably good teams got to the Cup semifinals. The West now clearly has back the Cup advantage it had at the beginning of the season before Boston ran roughshod through the Western Conference and finished with the best record.

How did all that happen, quickly?

MTL 4 BOS 3:

Montreal had an advantage on Boston in their few regular season matchups, but that wasn't significant. Their win was capsule-summarized by some as speed being Boston's Achilles Heel. But everyone knew they had speed. That wasn't it. Subban got a lot of ink and played well, but even he wasn't it, and was largely neutralized in later games. Price was great in goal, but you expected that too. And Montreal played up to their best abilities. So what? Everybody's supposed to do that in the playoffs.

The truly significant things were mostly on the Bruins. In no particular order:

Item 1: Boston's star players choked. David Krejci didn't score a goal. Sometimes that happens. What doesn't usually happen is that he also gets almost no assists. That speaks not only to him but to Milan Lucic and Jerome Iginla, who failed to put the puck in the net. Tukka Rask was exposed as a non-top-tier goalie despite his shining stats. He always is by Montreal. Brad Marchand spent the entire playoffs missing wide open nets. Too much more on this topic to treat here.

Item 2: Claude Julien failed to get his team properly prepared. The Bruins were capable of storming Montreal, as they did in game 1 (to great futility thanks to Price). But they didn't keep the pressure on, and allowed themselves to get frustrated by ill fortune (of which they had plenty). Their discipline broke down at all the key moments even when they had a huge advantage in puck control.

Item 3: Despite all this, they did, as alluded, have a lot of plain bad luck. They hit posts left and right. It wasn't because Price made them do it. Add to that total their misses of open nets, and about a dozen goals were left off the scoreboard. But the misses aren't anyone's fault but their own. The clangs? Some bad luck, some also just bad shooting. And the national announcing crew bemoaned their total lack of 'puck luck'. It was true, but you have to fight your way out of those situations. It ain't always handed to you.

Item 4: When Denis Seidenberg went down for the season, a collective groan went up. But at the time the Bruins weren't playing all that well, and their finishing streak put consistent weaknesses shown by some of their young defensemen on the back burner. It came back to haunt them big time. No one watching the first minutes of the final two games could possibly have missed it, as absurd miscues by the defense (and by Rask) led to quick Montreal leads that they would never relinquish. Even Chara got in the act, permitting Pacioretty to slide by him while Rask did his impersonation of a hypnosis subject. There was no defensive communication, at least none that showed, during those situations. Why Boston went out of its way to get Mezaros to shore up the D late in the season, then sat him in favor of the embattled Bartkowski, is a question mark only Julien can straighten up.

But, despite all the analysis paralysis, the series went to Montreal because they played better clutch hockey. And they clearly tried harder. That almost always wins in the postseason, even against the President's Cup winners.

NYR 4 PIT 3:

It's a little hard to remember Pittsburgh having a 3-1 lead in this series, with sages in sports/politics rags like SI showing smiling Crosbys and Malkins all over (when they were showing hockey at all) and claiming they were just too much.

Too much for what? Yes, New York seemed to get an infusion of purpose from Martin St. Louis' family loss (should have been from the coach, one would think) and fight back with heretofore unseen persistence and intensity, but the series was in Pitt's back pocket. That New York should play harder didn't seem to be enough. Dan Bylsma lost again, and probably lost his job too, but he wasn't outcoached. Neither coach seemed to provide much inspiration.

Item 1: For the first several game of the series Pittsburgh was all over Lunqvist, and King Henrik looked like he was about to be deposed. Meanwhile, the Penguins' weak link in goal, Marc-Andre Fleury, was outplaying the King. That all turned around. Lundqvist began to nip Pittsburgh rallies in the bud with the sort of play he's known for, and Fleury largely reverted to form under added Ranger pressure.

Item 2: The vaunted Pittsburgh stars choked. Crosby, the supposed 'best player in the world', stunk. There was no excuse. He's not even the best player in the NHL East. In this series, he wasn't even the 10th best player on the ice. No real superstar goes underground like that. His vaunted teammates didn't do much better.

Item 3: As mentioned, neither coach seemed to have motivated his troops. What did motivate one team was a set of extenuating circumstances. Apparently it was enough. We saw a series between two teams that were not exactly what you would call self-starters.

CHI 4 MIN 2: 

For a while there it seemed the energetic Wild Stars (bear with me) had enough juice to simply wear out a somewhat worn-looking set of Black Hawks. Despite having a coach who looks like a Professor of Geekology, Minny (the name I will use for the rest of this segment) was running all over the ice and generating havoc. It seemed the series would certainly go 7 games. Why didn't it?

Item 1: The Champs got the calls when they needed them. It ain't much, but it tipped a series that was so evenly played it's hard to fathom how it ended in six games.

Item 2: Chicago may not have matched Minny's speed, but when game 6 went to the late moments, Chicago's passes were still accurate and their puckhandling still effective. Minny was still skating at 100mph, but their passing accuracy collapsed and their ability to handle hard passes when they got them deteriorated also. Bad passing and stickhandling led to fairly consistent Black Hawk pressure.

Item 3: Crawford isn't generally considered a top-tier goalie in the NHL, but he played like one. Conversely his counterpart Bryzgalov, who played well, wasn't quite up to Crawford's heroics.

Item 4: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Minny has a ton of fine players, but nobody truly in these guys' class.

LA 4 ANA 3:

Somehow this series didn't seem very close in the end, with LA turning on the jets. The Ducks resiliantly climbed from an 0-2 hole (both losses on home ice) to a 3-2 series lead. How did they let it slip away? Was it a case of LA just turning it on when they had to? Perhaps. But there was more to it.

Item 1: Like Boston, Anaheim failed to put its best foot forward in the clutch, while its dutiful opponent did. There's probably no way LA should have won the series with the pressure Anaheim could bring to bear when they turned it on, and with LA behind 3-2 to boot. Problem is, they didn't turn it on often enough when it really counted. LA did. Their performance to open the seventh game was clearly the deciding factor.

Item 2: The series began with Anaheim in a goalie controversy. Not good. John Gibson, a highly regarded rookie but a rook nonetheless, was brilliant in the Anaheim comeback run, outplaying his highly regarded rival Jonathan Quick. That evaporated a bit in game six, and disappeared totally in game seven. He had been the third goalie Anaheim played in three games. He's a kid. His mental stamina likely wore out.

Item 3: LA has Cup pedigree, and in this series it showed.


So where do we go from here? It's easy to summarize the important factors in each quarterfinal series.

1. Better goaltending won the day every time.
2. Lack of performance from star players was a decisive factor in several series.
3. Coaching made a difference sometimes.

Sounds like every year. Let's put on our turbans and try to predict what we'll see in the two series that follow.

NYR vs. MTL:

First the pre-series logic. Price is a good goalie and can be great. His opposite number is already considered great. New York plays a soft-hitting, cycling, skating and passing game. Montreal plays a defensive, hitting game and relies on fast-break hockey when the opponents are stuck in the Montreal end.

It looks like the perfect setup for Montreal. The caveats are that
1. the Rangers have good speed, and 
2. the Rangers have King Henrik.

But it's hard to pick a team that seemingly needed to draw inspiration from a teammate's loss against a team that drew its inspiration from playing its opponent. A question is whether Montreal will either be spent from their effort against Boston or suffer a letdown when they see the comparatively innocuous Blueshirts across the ice.

I don't think anyone else could have beaten Boston. Montreal was my clear pick until I saw game one. Now I don't know what to think, but I'll have a good idea after games 2 and 3.

I do have a theory on the back burner that the Habs were built, like the NY Jets, for one purpose... to beat the leviathan in their own division. That would be the Bruins for Montreal, and the Patriots for the Jets. Sometimes that works too well. Game one is giving that theory some practice.

CHI vs. LA: 

This is a heck of a matchup. Both teams have some star power, both have recent Cups (2 for Chicago), and both have had great goaltending.

It's as hard to pick against Chicago's Toews-Kane-Hossa troika. It's hard to pick against Quick, Kopitar, Doughty et al.

I have no idea who wins this, so I have to go with home ice. And home refs. Chicago.

 

Owner of a Broken Heart?
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NBA NHL Playoffs

Elimination week...teams in both the NHL and the NBA were shown the door in Game 6's or Game 7's this week.  That leaves us fans in one of two states:  elation or despair  (or for the athletes, "the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat").  Reflecting on this situation from the fan perspective, I have come to realize that despair is far more likely than elation since only 1 team per sport wins the ultimate prize.  The second element to the losing fan, especially to a losing team this week since they were "close" is that it is a full 12 months before the team can be in this position again.  It seems like such a long wait.

A third element to the ending playoff game is frustration - and how that must be to the fans of so many NBA teams.  Do you realize that half of the league - yes half - have never even played for a title?  Or that a handful of teams (Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Bulls & now the Heat) have won over 60% of the titles?  The average time between titles for teams not in that group is over 30 years!  So as a Wizards advocate, as promising as this playoff run was, (1) it is a long wait for another shot at the ring, (2) chances of breaking through in the NBA are small and (3) free agency may take the team apart before it has even had a chance to figure out if its any good.   Such is the life of the fan of a losing team.

So the NBA finished its quarterfinals with the Heat & Pacers in the East and the Spurs & Thunder in the West...The top seed plays the #2 seed in the NBA...is that the way it should be or is that why no young and upcoming team can break through?  To contrast that with the NHL....

Now, I know there are some broken hearts on this board with the outcome of the Bruins - Canadiens' series.  It was a tough, hard fought, mean spirited battle between two long time, bitter rivals.  It was a classic matchup that deserved a Game 7 and a game that played out to the last seconds.  Also, there is both jubilation for the Rangers and heartbreak for Penguins fans (no sympathy from me on the Pens, though) in another classic series.  So now we have 3 Original 6 in the Final 4 with Chicago playing the Kings (an Original 12 club...I trademark that phrase).  Pity poor Bruce B & the "Mighty" Ducks...looked to be in control of another series and then collapsed in the ultimate series game.

So the NHL, in contrast to the NBA has a much more diverse dynamic in their playoffs...#5 & #6 seeds play for the conference championships here.  So for the NHL is the regular season goal just to "get in" while in the NBA, the regular season goal is to "Win it all?"  By contrast, the NHL has excellent variety in its champions even with the occasional dynasty sprinkled in for the challenge.  Which is better?   For me, I prefer variety but I will take a home town dynasty!

Overall, I have to wonder if being a fan isn't generally an exercise in masochism.  The chances of success in any given sport are so small - we should know going into the season that our chances of ending happy are small, yet every new season, hope springs eternal.  I, for one, am really looking forward to the NFL season and see how my 3-13 Skins recover and head to the Super Bowl behind RGIII!!  Or how the Nationals...a team that has not won a championship since the 1930's...will sweep the World Series.   Oh, how we love to be a fan!

Have a great Saturday!

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