Sunday, April 30, 2006

tough way to go out

So for a third time the Stars outplayed the Avs only to lose in overtime. Three loses in OT and three loses at home wont get it done in the playoffs. They again out shot the Avs in a huge way, 52-30. When you put 50+ shots on goal, you need to get more than 2 through to the net. Theodore gave up fat rebounds all game but the Stars didn't have anyone out front to bang them home.

Similar to Games 2 and 3, Turco allowed one soft goal, when he left a small opening between his pad and the post when the Stars had momentum and a 1-0 lead in the second period. Jim Dowd found the hole from the side on a rebound.

With the Stars having some momentum in the latter half of the 3rd, Modano took a brutal shoulder-to-jaw hit from Colorado defenseman Brett Clark that should have drawn a penalty. Modano was out cold and had to be helped off the ice, looking for sure that he was done for at least today. The Stars were a team that looked loss on two power plays it was awarded late in the 3rd while Modano was in the locker room gathering his senses while trying to remember what day it was.

Without Modano the Stars had no go to guy, no one to create with the puck. Tippett tried to turn to Jason Arnott, but Arnott, who despite having produced a career year, had just one game-winning goal to show for 90 previous career playoff games. Arnott, a key unrestricted free agent, failed to score in the playoffs.

Modano miraculously came back to play in the overtime and despite an 11-4 SOG edge, the Stars still couldn't find the net. That seemed to be the theme of this years playoffs for the Stars. So there will be no magic comeback in the series, no Stars in 7. A series they should have won in 5 games they instead lost and now Doug Armstrong needs to figure out who from this team should stay and who should go. A task made tougher by the 53-win season, Turco's 40 wins, Guerin's season long MIA (though he played very well in the playoffs) and Arnott's career year then playoff disappearing act.

Stars in 7, next year.


The Rangers lead the West after one month and have 5 blown saves.

Though its not official yet, explain to me how Steve Nash is the NBA's MVP? Over Kobe, Dirk and LeBron? Get real.

First there was the monster dunk over Nash in Game 3 and then the winning buzzer beater in OT in Game 5 to put his Lakers up 3-1 over Nash's Suns. I think that's Kobe's way of saying "I got your MVP right here."

So the Texans decide to pass on hometown favorite Vince Young and Heisman winner/superstar Reggie Bush for a defensive end... that will really help the ticket sales.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

gut check time

The Stars finally played a complete game this series and look what happens when they did. They crushed the Avs in every aspect of the game in a 4-1 victory. The Stars outshot the Avalanche, 39-23 (Bill Guerin had nine shots), had a 21-15 advantage in hits, had 23 blocked shots to Colorado's 16 and won 38-of-59 face-offs. What's more, the penalty kill shut down the vaunted Avs power play on six opportunities. When the Stars show up and play for 3 periods, they're a tough team for anyone to beat. After Friday's game, Philippe Boucher said, "We had flashes and spots in the last two games, but tonight we had 60 minutes. We've shown all year that if we play 60 minutes, we can be a really good team." Quite a novell concept, play the whole game. What should be a 3-1 Stars lead is a 3-1 deficit in this series because they've been playing about 50 minutes, letting up at the end trying to nurse home one goal leads. Turco looked much better, a good call by Tippett to start him. There's still hope. The Stars are the best come from behind team in NHL history. They are playing a franchise that has a history of blowing series leads, and they know they should be ahead in the series. They have to take it one game at a time, and play all 60 minutes.

Stars in 7.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

long road back

For the second time in as many games, the Stars outplayed the Avs but gave up a late 3rd period goal, allowing the Avs to force overtime. Once again, it took just one shot for the Avs to finish things off. Now down 0-3, look for Johan Hedberg to be in goal for Game 4 in Denver on Friday night. It will take a lot of heart for the Stars, who could easily be up 2-1, to come out and play good enough to win Game 4. If they do and can come home and win one, anything could happen. Win two in a row and shift the momentum and the Avs might get tight for a Game 6. But thats a long way away, tomorrow will tell if the Stars live to see another day.

Stars in 7.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

stick a fork in them

They're done. The Stars playoffs aren’t officially over, but that's a mere formality. In the NHL, you can't lose the first two games at home and have much chance at winning the series. Sure its been done, most recently by Tampa Bay during their Cup run in 2003. But right now, the way they are playing, the Stars will be lucky to make it to Game 5 back in Dallas.

How does a team that many predicted would contend for the Stanley Cup play so poorly? Goaltending is atrocious, defense is horrible, and coaching is terrible. How did this team win 53 games? They've had leads in both games though they were thoroughly outplayed in Game 1. Game 2 was a different story. They won every aspect of the game except the final score. Put this one on Turco and Tippett. Turco can’t give up 5 goals a game, the last two he definitely should have stopped. Franchise goalies must make those stops. And Tippett, he throws 50+ wins out the window with some crazy line changes that did nothing but turn over the puck creating odd-man rushes. Modano, Guerin and Hagman? wtf? Arnott, Barnes and Miettinen? Huh? Morrow, Kapanen and Lehtinen? What was Tippett smoking? Those lines hadn't ever seen ice time together and it showed. And why didn't Tippett use a TO after the Stars were down 2-0 or even 3-0 to try and settle his team down? Very poor coaching on Tippett's part. Sitting Daley though wasn't a bad move. The defense sucked on Saturday so something needed to change and sitting a rookie for a playoff vet isnt a bad call and Niinimaa responded with a good game. If the Stars bow out here in 4 or 5 games, Tippett's job security should go out with it.

So yeah, its been done, several times actually in the last few years, but it must start with Game 3 Wednesday night.

Fifteen teams in NHL history have come back to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first two at home. Here's the list since 1994:

Year Team Opponent Series
1994 New Jersey Boston Won in 6
1995 Chicago Toronto Won in 7
1996 NY Rangers Montreal Won in 6
1996 Pittsburgh Washington Won in 6
1999 Colorado Detroit Won in 6
2000 Philadelphia Pittsburgh Won in 6
2002 Detroit Vancouver Won in 6
2003 Tampa Bay Washington Won in 6
2006 Dallas Colorado ????

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

stop the dirk insanity

I'm sure I've mentioned it before but I'm REALLY freakin tired of all the local media homers proclaiming that Dirk is the NBA's MVP. Pleeeeeeeease get real! The MVP is for the best player in the league, not who someone arbitrarily thinks is the most valuable to their team, how can you really even determine that. The award is for the most valuable player of the LEAGUE, and this year that player is Kobe Bryant. Dirk could never carry the Mavs the way Kobe has carried the Lakers into the playoffs. This year, picking anyone ahead of Kobe Bryant as the NBA's most valuable player is insane. Dirk's a great player on a great team, but also one that Kobe outscored by himself until taking the fourth quarter off! Kobe's beaten Dirk 2 out of 3 times this year, not that it really matters. The important factors are that Kobe's the first player to average 35+ points/game since Jordan did it 19 years ago, not to mention the 81 he put up in a game back in January.

With the #1 seed on the line at Golden State a week ago, did Dirk carry his team to victory? Nope.. he scored a whopping 2 pts over his average... on a night when the Mavs needed someone to step up, to be a team leader and it didn't happen. Dirk doesn't play D and cant carry the team on his own, two things Kobe does night in and night out. What has Kobe done with the Lakers playoff birth on the line? Led the team to four straight wins while averaging 40+ points per game.

Up next is LeBron, because supposedly his overall numbers are better? What? An assist and two boards more but 5 less points? Lets get real, only 5 teams in the East even have a above .500 record! What a pathetic bunch the East is after Detroit and Miami. Put the Lakers in the East and they're the 3rd best team in the conference. Put the Cavs in the West however (against which they are merely .500) and they are fighting Sactown for the last playoff spot. LeBron hasn't carried the Cavs, the weak East has, where 3 of the playoff teams dont have a winning record.

Anyone who doesn’t vote Kobe as MVP isn’t voting for the best player but instead voting for a more likeable player. You may not like him, but Kobe's carried a team that everyone said had no chance of making the playoffs to a 45 win season and the #7 seed and deserves more respect as the best player in the league. Enough with the homer calls here in Dallas, Dirk's good, but he's not the best. Two words - Eighty One.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

nba playoff seeding - how to win by losing

With two games left in the season, Memphis and the Clippers are battling it out for the 5th seed in the West. Denver has their division locked up ensuring the 3rd seed. The 5th seed plays the 4th and the 3rd seed plays the 6th seed. The interesting piece here however is between the 3rd and 6th seed where the team with the better record gets home court advantage, even if they are the lower seed.

So now both the Grizzlies and Clippers both have clinched home court advantage over the Nuggets so basically the team that loses more of the their last two games gets home court advantage against the Nuggets. The team that wins more earns the 5 seed and gets to play the Mavs while starting on the road.

Something doesn’t seem quite right there. Normally the goal of the whole season is to win as many games as possible in order to gain home court advantage for the playoffs. How much fun is it going to be to see these teams trying to lose games? Or more to the point, lying about trying to win games while “resting” their players.

And home court isn’t just about having a better chance to win with your fans behind you, its an opportunity for teams to make more money. Sounds like the NBA needs to restructure their playoff format so teams cant win by losing.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

more kobe for mvp

A good article on the NBA MVP race..

Who's the NBA MVP? By Bill Simmons of

Say what you want about the NBA, but the league offers seven superior features to every other professional sport: a wildly entertaining draft, a new dress code that caused "Big and Tall Store" stock to jump eight points, the wit and wisdom of Mr. Jalen Rose, cheerleaders who dress like hookers, a ridiculously surreal All-Star Weekend and, of course, the only "Most Valuable Player" award that truly matters.

Can you name the last 10 NFL MVPs? Of course not. Can you remember the last 10 MVPs in each baseball league, and definitively say which guy was better every year? Nope. Do you even know the name of the NHL trophy? Unless you're Canadian, probably not. The MVP concept works best in the NBA: Every player is eligible, everyone plays against one another, it's relatively simple to compare statistics and, if you watch the games, you can always figure out which players stand out over everyone else.

Of course, the experts seem just as confused as they were last season, when Steve Nash stumbled into the award because some people thought it would be fun to vote for a white Canadian dude with bad hair who didn't play defense. As it turned out, Nash raised his game in the playoffs and vindicated everyone who picked him. (Note: I thought Shaq should have won the award and still do.) But that raises a bigger question: What makes for an NBA MVP?

I concentrate on three questions:

1. Ten years from now, who will be the first player from this season that pops into my head?

2. In a giant pickup game with every NBA player waiting to play, and two fans forced to pick sides with their lives depending on the outcome of the game (I think this is how the annual Rucker League tournament works), who would be the first player picked based on the way everyone played that season?

3. If you replaced every MVP candidate with a decent player at their position for the entire season, what would be the effect on their teams' records?

The first two questions are subjective. You might think the 2004-05 season belonged to Nash, whereas I thought it belonged to Shaq. And until this season, I would have picked Shaq first in any pickup game, you may have picked Kobe or LeBron. But the third question isn't nearly as subjective, it's also crucial to this year's dilemma. We're dealing with the deepest pool of potential MVP candidates ever (eight by my count). And I think the choice is pretty clear. But before we get to that, check out some of the names who didn't make the cut:

Read the rest of the article here

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

more local musings and mvp talk

• Today marked the first time in 45 years that the SF Giants had back to back home games rained out... Maybe God is trying to give Bonds a hint?

• The Mavs can beat the Spurs on the road, but not Golden State (playing on back to back nights)?

• The Rangers won for the first time in their last 9 tries against the Angels and stopped a 9 game losing streak in Anaheim.

• The Rangers have put Ian Kinsler, their best hitter thus far this season, on the 15 day DL with a dislocated thumb that happened while trying to steal second base on Tuesday. He was thrown out on the play. Kinsler was batting .476.

• Is Mike Modano a serious contender for the NHL MVP award?

• Who's the NBA MVP this year? My rankings:

Kobe Bryant - he simply does it all and if you have one shot to win a game, who else would you want taking it? Carried Lakers on his back and into the playoffs. Can you say 81?
Chauncey Billups - the best player on the best team
Dirk Nowitzki - consistent 25-10 guy but cant carry the team when needed
Steve Nash - heart and soul of the Suns, but not on Kobe's level
Lebron James - good scorer but not quite at mvp level

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

random musings...

I attended both the Rangers and Stars games yesterday starting with some tailgating at the Ballpark at around 10am, ending with a late PP goal by Joe Thorton lifting the Sharks to an OT win with 20 seconds left ending the chances of a possible shoot out. What a buzz-kill that was, but it was still a great day of sports capped with watching the end of the NCAA Championship game.

I dont want to over-react with just two games played for the Texas Rangers but isn't this the same type of team they had last year? They lose 7-3 yesterday, only generating offense on two long balls and then win 10-4 today, again getting the bulk of the offense from the long ball. How long before they feel the affect of losing Soriano's 35-40 HRs? The pitching again appears to be Jekel and Hyde. That rotation would look imensly better with Kenny Rogers in the #2 spot.

The Rangers pulled out all the stops for Roger Clemens yesterday, even going so far as to have Mack Brown throw out the first pitch with Daryl Royal along with him. Geez Tom, could you be a bigger orange koolaid homer? Besides it's not going to be enough to bring Clemens to Arlington. If he ends up playing, it will be in Houston again.

Jesse Jackson, just shut up already! Said Jackson regarding the syringe incident Monday in San Diego, "That fan should have been arrested. That object could have had a needle in it. It could have hit him. The commissioner of baseball must be outspoken in protecting any players whose lives are in jeopardy, whose security is at risk." Ok, there was no needle, it was actually some type of toy and not even real. Shut up Jesse and go back to what you do best, having illegitamate kids.

Barry Bonds deserves every bit of ridicule and criticism he gets this year. He should leave the game now and stop tarnishing the record books.

If two women's teams play a basketball title game in Boston and no one cares to watch, does it still count?

This came out a couple months ago, but with April 15th coming up, it just cracks me up.