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round 2

Posted by the immortal scurds on April 24, 2017 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

 st l - nash: preds are rocking an unstoppable goalie behind a solid lineup with a good system in place and confidance galore. blues are playing well enough to win one, maybe 2 even. preds in 6

an-edm   fascinating old guard new guard matchup. annahiem is better than san jose. talbot is the difference. oilers in 7 ot games

ot-nyr  the obvious choice is redhot lunkwist. ny in 5

wsh-pitts: the marquee matchup of rd 2. caps certainly showcased very good goaltending, grit and resilience, but the group of young upstarts that overacheived vs them did so with speed and clutch goalie. crosby et al are very experienced, have line depth galore, and are extremely fast. pitts in 6

The Twelfth Night and it's Over.

Posted by Radatz on April 23, 2017 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (2)

Move over Shakespeare. Your comedies and tragedies had company today. It's a topic of conjecture whether Boston could have won its game with Ottawa even without suffering another overtime PP goal, but it probably cemented the bad look the series had to this point. Meanwhile the miracle of Toronto's kids, exciting as it was, got no further than Boston did. Or Montreal. Or San Jose. And those were the 4 longest series. We haven't had a seven game series once. 4-0, 4-0, 4-1, 4-1, 4-2, 4-2, 4-2, 4-2. The Sunday games were somewhat bizzarely similar as both losers seemed unready for overtime.

Every time Bobby Hull took the ice, even if Chicago put him on the 3rd line, Ed Westfall took the ice. The Bruins have no Ed Westfall, but you'd think at least they'd give Ryan special attention by now. So why was he lolling alone in front of the net for the tip-in that tied the game and turned it? Somehow though Boston sucked it up and tied the game in the 3rd. They could have won it but Marchand whiffed a couple of chances in close. Boston then ran out of gas, seemed unable to pass or control a pass and played pure defense as the crowd booed. Overtime came, not their strongest suit (I actually typed that before it started). Were they revived from the rest? Were they going back on the attack? Inexplicably, Boston came out of the intermission the same way they went in, like zombies, this time without the defense. It was teamwide. There was no energy. Soon Pasternak was called for a predictably unpopular hold (the officials had let a clear-looking breakaway trip on a stickless Ottawa defender slide earlier; it was noted by the booth) and with Karlsson and Ryan on for the PP you could tell what was coming. The Boston penalty kill, great for so much of the series, was flat too. That was it.

More playoff hockey took place in Toronto, with the league-best Caps as usual having their hands full with Babs' Blue Leafs and their Gang of Five Kids. It's becoming obvious that Toronto may rise to as yet undetermined heights, but after regulation it was 1-1. The Caps lost Schmidt late in the 3rd, dropping them to 5 defensemen. It's a huge loss if he's as hurt as he looked, though he returned in OT, looking agonized on the bench. Meanwhile the Leafs looked early in OT like they had the fresher legs, as they did for much of the game. Suddenly though the Caps started skating and forechecking aggressively and the Leafs had no answer. Inexorably the rink tilted toward the Toronto end, and finally Johansson put it past Anderson to end the Leafs' season. It ended with a sour taste for the Kids as they looked the part in crunch time, perhaps for the first time.

Eleventh Night. All Three Series End. Refs Strike Again

Posted by Radatz on April 23, 2017 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (2)

All three first round series on display bit the dust on Saturday. They're dropping out like flies. Bad news for hockey fans. The good news? Not the officiating, as yet another potential winning goal (for the Wild) was negated on yet another GI call, one which was not (have any been?) well-received. It's at the point where the officials have heavily influenced the outcome of not one (which is too many) but several series, doubtless with more to come. The NHL better figure out how to deal either with replay, the expanded Euro-crease, or Las Vegas. Yep, it's now gotten that bad. We used to assume a bad call was just that. Now a well-officiated game has you scratching your head wondering what you missed.

The two young teams that dazzled the NHL early in the season, each earned over 100 points, and outshot and outplayed their first-round opponents often by a wide margin, are done. Each lost its series by an almost incomprehensible 4-1 margin. The Wild joined the BJs on the sidelines as, despite a 37-27 shot advantage and a 3rd-period comeback from 2 goals down, they lost in OT to the Blues. Another series down the tubes in what has reverted, following a promising start, to the usual gang of first-round wipeouts. And, as mentioned, there was the little matter of yet another questionable GI-negated goal. Not mentioned was Staal arguably getting tripped head first into the boards and missing the rest of the game. No call.

In a series that Montreal seemed a lock to win through three games, the NY Rangers somehow not only clawed their way back but also made the adjustments necessary to shut down what seemed an unbreachable speed and skill advantage for Les Habitants. In game 6, a microcosm of the series, Montreal put on a good show in the first period, then declined to a state of near-helpless disorganization as the NY defense thwarted most of their attempts at zone time. Gone too were the breakouts that characterized their early success. Adjustments. The result: 4-2 in favor of the Blueshirts and an unanticipated early exit for the legends of North American hockey. It was also a rare series largely untainted by suspect officiating.

Yet another series with the refs on the back burner evaporated tonight. What a bringdown. First I have another pithy Shark epitaph erased as they dominate play for the second half of the game. Then my Boris Badenov analogy (he writes "Dear Diary, today I bumped off Moose and Squirrel, weather continues fair", then, seeing them outside his window, quips "#*&&^*&! Now I have to erase entire page!"... guess you hadda be there) gets sabotaged when the Sharks lose anyway. Talbot's not my idea of a Vezina contender but he was the story for the Oilers tonight. That and a one-minute siesta by the teal team from the land of snowflakes that handed Edmonton two breakaways and two goals. The Sharks have made a science out of artfully losing, this time managing to roll the tying shot across the bottom of the upper crossbar, off the post and out. Bet you can't do that. Thus the third young upstart to top 100 points not only survived the first round but put away last year's Western finalist in six.


Posted by the immortal scurds on April 22, 2017 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (5)

 its as simple as that. this rangers team really played an aesthetic series of hockey games and go into round 2 looking extremely sound. lundquist is unbeatable.

 mtl looked weary. they came out hitting in game 5 and exhausted themselves in a losing effort.patchoretty embarassed us with a fight ..... the habs were literally staggering thru the 3rd period. ptice pulled, plekanac wide open net on a nice tic tac, zap! lundquist magic.

 julien did nothing, but had few options.

Tenth Night: 3-2 All Around, More Brutal Officiating

Posted by Radatz on April 22, 2017 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (1)

It became obvious that late games are getting rare tonight. Boo. And with only two games on tap, the increased viewership of the Boston/Ottawa game exposed a deepening and suspicious looking NHL officiating problem to a huge audience. Are they suddenly inept? Are the Toronto big brothers calling the calls? Or has replay made them so afraid to be wrong they make the safe call every time?

Oshie scored at the end of the 1st period but Toronto shored up and tied it. A 1-1 game went into OT, where at 1:04 playoff terror Williams put it away. The Caps perhaps dodged a cannon shell when Ovechkin went down in the first period but came back. As usual a well-played game, and the result a simple service hold. 3-2 Washington, next stop Toronto. The Caps clearly are getting more out of this series than they probably expected.

It may not have been as well played as the other game but it sure was more interesting. Boston did everything it could to hand the game to Ottawa and the officials did everything they could to hand the game to Ottawa. Ottawa would have none of it. Two early bonehead errors in the neutral zone, one by an overplayed and aging Chara, gave the Senators a 2-0 lead and seemingly the game. But Boston fought back, tying the game on a wraparound by newcomer Sean Kuraly. Now the interesting part. With about 5 minutes left, Boston took two inane penalties, the first delay of game, the second too many men, and survived. Then in the first OT Boston celebrated as Kuraly crashed the net, went for the rebound as Anderson fell backwards and tripped over Anderson's skates. Anderson took the opportunity to lie down immobile, hoping for the best, while Kuraly's second shot (which he saved) bounced to Acciari who laboriously stuffed it in. But no official signaled goal. Why? The official at center ice called GI. The nearby officials didn't. The goal was waved off. Seconds later, Boston was back at it and the puck was covered by Pageau at the goal line. Somehow it was slipped to Anderson, but clearly Pageau covered it. It was reviewed. We were told "no goal." Duh. No penalty? Then as the second OT opened for two exhausted teams, Bergeron delivered a hit behind the net and was called for something or other by the official... at center ice! Again Boston killed the penalty. With Anderson and Rask making save after save, finally... surprise... Kuraly, in his first playoff game (nearly his first NHL game), scored his second goal of the night and Boston had made it to another game.

Wake Up!!!

Posted by JDIN827 on April 21, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (12)

After watching two sluggish teams, things seem to be heading in the right direction...

Yesterday was a good day for Cleveland Sports.....

The BIGGEST COMEBACK in NBA History, with a SuperStar that had 41 points, 13 Rebounds and 12 Assists, passing Kobe on the scoring post-season list and Wes Unseld on the rebounding, notching his 17th post season DT, plus playing in the 4th WITHOUT Kryie and Kevin!  They played D!  They Woke Up!!!  Plus, the Raptors and Celts are two down!!!

A Sweep of the Twins, and bats hitting!  They Woke Up!!!

Pretty sure Myles is going Number One, with lots of planning involved in who to pick and potentially trading up.  Here's hoping they dont mess up the draft!

Lots of Buckeyes in the First Round Baby!!!

Hopefully things stay in the right direction!

Go Cavs!  Go Tribe!  Go Browns!  OH!  IO!

Ninth Night: Two Down, Two Strangely Easy OTs

Posted by Radatz on April 21, 2017 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (2)

Our undertone tonight is the officiating again, but there was hockey too. The NFLization of NHL officiating (replay et al) seems to be taking its toll on good hockey. The seemingly better team didn't always win, which seems to be an odd theme this offseason. Two teams tried to stave off elimination. Neither did. Dominos are falling now. We had two games with a complete reversal of form in overtime. Last preliminary thought: does everyone have a player named Carlson or Karlsson or whatever? Are they all good?

The worst officiated play of the evening came in Pittsburgh. Columbus, trailing despite dominating play, tied the elimination game with Pittsburgh in the 3rd period... but no goal. Wennberg was called for the increasingly bothersome GI, again on a goalie outside the crease, being sandwiched into him by one of the Penguins. Fleury in fact looked like he moved at Wennberg more than vice versa. Awful call. Then Crosby scored on the PP. Brutal. No excuse. Columbus looked like they were on the PP themselves (fooled me a couple of times) during 5-on-5 for large parts of the game. They didn't deserve this. However, the youngest team in the league looks poised to hit next season hungry (for whatever consolation that may provide), and Tortorella has rebuilt his image as a coach. The Jackets are nameless and methodical, reminiscent of a Soviet team we saw in 1970. Meanwhile, there's no doubt Fleury carried the Penguins through this series. That's a problem. He was all set to warm a seat. Can he keep it up? Murray didn't look good in a brief comeback.

Bet you didn't see this coming. When Montreal is on, they're tough. When they're not, they're bad. Despite being outskated in the first period, NY played the Habs nearly even for the last two and even tied the game. Then they were suddenly, almost inexplicably the only team on the ice in OT. Montreal reeled and staggered as NY passed and pressed. Kreider did his Mighty Casey imitation fanning on what looked like the game winner, but was instrumental later for the actual clincher, his slightly deflected pass still reaching Zibanejad who popped it by Price on a pretty play. NY actually holds a 3-2 advantage in a series which, it seems, hasn't seen their best hockey for more than one overtime. In keeping with our theme I just have to mention this: if you're Rick Nash getting roughed on the boards and it's not called, popping the guy isn't called either. Which it shouldn't be. If you're Riley Nash, same situation (worse in fact), and it's early OT (much worse), you get 2 minutes and it costs your team a playoff game. "They have to call it." Really? That blows that whitewash.

Bet you really, really didn't see this coming, certainly not a week or so ago. Chicago losing to Nashville? Unlikely. Chicago losing in 4 straight? Unthinkable. Chicago scoring 3 goals in the entire series? Unbelievable. Yet it happened, and it was only partly Pekka Rinne's doing. Even the officials couldn't screw this one up. I gotta admit, I've been wondering for the better part of a decade how Crawford won all those games. Guess he used to have more help. But Chicago was the 1 seed, odd behavior for a washed up dynasty. Swept by the 8 seed. Blown out. Is this just a Pittsburgh/Bylsma slump? If it is, it's not for the same reason. Quenneville's coaching isn't being questioned. Unless it's just a bad matchup, the remaining reason may be irreparable. As for Nashville, right now I think more are surmising that Chicago may be done than that Nashville is on a collision course with destiny, but who knows?

San Jose came to Edmonton off the most dominating performance of the postseason. Early on it looked like the Return of the Snarks when the Oilers took the lead. However, SJ suddenly regained its form and blew out to a 3-1 lead. But they seemed to start misfiring; that, or perhaps protecting their lead. Bad idea. The Oilers got some spark. With a little over 2 minutes left in the game, Edmonton tied it and sent it into OT. What happened then was amazing --- an even worse mismatch than NY over Montreal. The Sharks lost all timing and Edmonton was on a virtual OT-long power play. The outcome felt almost inevitable. Who's the Jekyll/Hyde here, San Jose or Edmonton? Both? It's understandable if SJ lost steam late on the road. It is, however, hard to figure why they seemingly abandoned a successful style of play sometime in the 2nd period. It was like a prevent defense.

Eighth Night: The First Domino

Posted by Radatz on April 20, 2017 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (2)


To provide yours truly with at least something pleasant, we present the Patriots calling the NYT for fake news:


Game 4 has been comeback city, but the first team to break the mold was Boston. They pressed early but couldn't score, actually having a goal wiped off the board on challenge by an offside that was collecting dust after having gone uncalled. Marchand skated hard but continued snakebit as far as finding the back of the net. Pasternak had nothing. The shell of Krejci continued to feed blind passes to the wrong team. But I was actually thinking about writing that Chara was becoming useless and Backes just getting in the way when, having been hit, Backes took a leisurely stroll to the bench (with 4 minutes left) and Chara fed him the puck. Backes' replacement was already skating. Too many men. Just what you need. Cassidy was fit to be tied. Folks are wondering whether he'll get his job back next year. They should be wondering if he'll take it. Ottawa will win the series but won't stand up to a real contender.

Washington took a 4-1 lead early as Anderson looked shaky and then had to be wondering what was going on as the officials waved off what looked like a good goal (to the announcers even) on a GI call. Then, with the Caps bolting up ice on a pass up the boards, the linesman blocked the puck giving the Leafs an onside play with numbers. That goal made it 4-3. The Caps weren't happy and took over play for a bit, making it 5-3. It stood up as the Leafs got one more at 00:26, too late to make a difference. And just like that, home ice returned to default.

The two late games were both pending sweeps. The second team to blow the comeback trend turned out to be Calgary, who fell behind 2-0 and never caught up. It seemed an oddly even series to have been so one-sided in games, but there ya go. One question: why is he "Dougie" Hamilton? Sounds like the sort of affection reserved for Dickie Kerr, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe etc. Kid's got a way to go.

The second sweep candidate got the job done as Minnesota shut out the Blues, staying alive and prolonging the series. It's another series that seems oddly one-sided. The lineup got a shakeup. Did it work or just law of averages? We'll see.

Seventh Night. Comebacks Everywhere

Posted by Radatz on April 19, 2017 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (9)

Hockey fans everywhere (except in three cities) had reason to rejoice tonight as we were spared two sweeps and one foregone conclusion. The playoffs are short enough as it is. Could the NHL simply shorten the season to 60 games and make all playoff series best-of-11? I'll watch. It'd sure help with Super Bowl hangover.

Despite the 3-0 Pittsburgh advantage coming in, this series has featured near picture-perfect hockey and close games. This night Columbus' shot advantage dwindled in the 3rd but it was a solid win, Pitt's last goal coming at 00:26. Are these teams really as close as they've looked, or do the champs just have too much star power? We'll have more time to answer that. One thing is sure, Torts has manufactured a well-oiled machine of who-deys in Ohio. The question is whether they have the overall horsepower. They don't look too far off.

Once the Rangers finally realized that Montreal's game is heavily predicated on the 2-on-1 and 1-on-0 breakout (and that skating is required), things changed a bit. The officiating monster reared its ugly head again as the Habs' only goal, a pretty 2 on 1 play, came with six skaters on the ice, and not marginally. NY, meanwhile, had a goal turned into a Montreal PP on a GI call on Nash. But fortunately these items (particularly the former) didn't dictate the outcome. NY's chances in game 5 will be dictated by their ability (or inability) to quash breakouts and forecheck effectively, two things they hadn't really done until the last 2 periods of game 4. Montreal will have to lay back a bit for breakout prevention themselves, to judge from this game, though the Rangers aren't nearly as adept as the Habs in decision-making on the fly.

The basic question seemed to be how dominant the Oilers would prove. Few expected that if a blowout occurred it would be by San Jose. It's hard to believe in retrospect that their shot advantage was only 32-23. It looked for all the world like a skilled Cup finalist against a bunch of kids. Maybe that's what it was. The basic questions now are whether Edmonton can absorb this blow and whether San Jose can sustain this level of play. The latter should be true; after all, they're good and it's the playoffs. The former dominates. Was Joe getting his legs back making the difference? Maybe but not likely. The Sharks for years folded when they got hit and the machine was disrupted. Tonight they outskated, outhit and outshot what had looked like a fast, physical and confident team until now, and on a grand scale. If they've added toughness to their repertoire they'll be tough to beat for anyone.

Remarkably Productive Quiet Day in Foxboro

Posted by Radatz on April 18, 2017 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (1)

The Patriots don't like to waste time it seems. With 'voluntary' workouts beginning, it appears the team wants to eliminate as much uncertainty as possible as quickly as possible. To wit, this day with little fanfare,

Malcolm Butler signed his 1st-round tender. Translation: NE can deal him for a #1 pick or can pair him for a year with Gilmore.

Reserve TE Matt Lengel signed his ER tender, meaning he'll be back.

OG Tre' Jackson was released. He spent the year on IR and apparently lost his job to impressive rookie Ted Karras.

Perhaps tiring of waiting for Blount, NE put in an offer sheet to Bills' RFA big-back Mike Gillislee and his career 5.6 ypc average. Buffalo has 5 days to match. The deal, if completed, will cost NE a 5th-round pick, making it clearer and clearer that their strategy for having a deflategate-stripped draft may have been not to have one at all but to stock up on young but proven NFL talent.

Finally, besides introducing new RB Rex Burkhead to the media, NE extended SB hero James White for 3 seasons.