Monday, February 22, 2010

U.S. defeats Canada 5-3 in Olympic Hockey

Wow what an exciting game that was last night for both countries. In Canada they estimate that 2/3 of the entire population watched portions of the game and MSNBC recorded there 3rd highest show rating ever with only Presidential debates topping it.

For an official recap see US stuns Canada 5-3 to win Group A

This game really reminded me of old fashion playoff hockey pre-Lockout with the physical hard skating nature of the game and the officials just letting them play. I did not see to many ticky tack holds or interference penalties being called and the faster and more aggressive team coming out on top with the U.S. team. I found myself waiting for the announcers to mention names like Crosby, Iginla, Thorton, etc but instead it was mostly the 3rd and 4th line muck and grind types for the Canadian team being called. It did bring joy to my heart seeing Crosby sprawled out on the ice in front of his own net after a U.S. score.

The United States team used the tried and true formula of hot goal tending by M.S.U.'s own Ryan Miller stopping 42 of 45 shots with lots of effort and work in there own zone fighting of the Canadians and taking advantages of turnovers and mistakes on the other side. I am not sure where Dearborn's own and current Detroit Red Wing Brian Rafalski found all of this offense with 2 goals and an assist in the game coming on the heels of scoring the last two American goals the game before. The United States team really used there youth and speed to take it to the big guns of the Canadians who have only known the new NHL and never had to fight through the vaunted New Jersey Devils neutral zone trap and deal with defenders obstruction, hooking and holding til there hearts content. And yes I am talking to you Mr. Crosby, Nash, and Iginla you might want to talk to some of the older players on the team to get a handle on just how much effort and work is required in those tight checking games.

Now Canada faces the unenviable position of facing the Russians in the Quarterfinals and they better be ready to give all they can or the unthinkable could happen by missing the medal round completely.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympic Hockey gets under in Vancouver

In light of the NHL Olympic break and the NBA All Star break plus the sad rebuilding state of the hometown Pistons I feel compelled to jot down some random Olympic musings.

The biggest story line from the Olympics for me is the mens Hockey Tournament which is sure to feature some dynamite games from powerhouse's like Russia, Canada, U.S. and Sweden and of course the ever present dark horse that is just 1 hot goalie away from a run in this one and done format.

It is such a crap shoot between the Russians, Canada and Sweden because they all feature such top level talent from with Russia featuring Ovechkin and Malkin along with Datsyuk and Canada with all world goalie Martin Brodeur along with Crosby, Nash, Iginla etc... just to many names to mention and of course the Red Wings affiliate Sweden team with hometown hero's Zetterburg, Lidstrom, and Franzen. The main strength of the U.S. team is youthful exuberance with just a veteran or two thrown in like Brian Rafalski, the sort of team that just might not know how nervous they should be. I predict the preliminary rounds will go according to form with all the favorites easily making it thru and I see 3 of the 4 in the medal round with Sweden or United States losing in the quarters.

I believe we will see a rematch of the famous 1972 Summit Series between Russia and Canada in the finals. A finals that will shatter many many Olympic Television rating records with the same result as it was in Mother Russia with Canada winning the biggest Hockey Game ever played anywhere.

On a foot note I think for once the Olympic break will greatly benefit the Red Wings given the precarious health of the team all year. I think the 3 weeks off will really allow the players staying home a good long recovery time and a player like Franzen just coming back from a major knee injury a great chance to get his conditioning and timing back. I expect a very hot start for the Wings after the break to safely put them in that 5th or 6th seed slot.

Feel free to comment on any other Olympic moments that stand out to you


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Michigan State plays Purdue in conference contest

Today we are going to talk about turnovers.

Not the kind bakeries churn out to satisfy the sweet tooth. It's the kind that happens in sports when you give up your possession of the ball to the opponent. When talking about Michigan State's basketball team, they've been churning out plenty of turnovers lately and how sweet that has been for their opponents.

This season's State basketball squad has been giving the ball away to their opponents at an alarming rate. Following Saturday's 78-73 loss at Illinois, the Spartans are the leaders in the big ten in turnovers. In their 11 conference games, MSU has 157 total turnovers. The next closest is lowly Iowa who are near the bottom of the big ten standings. MSU is the conference leader in the standings, but also the conference leader in miscues.

The total turnovers would not be as concerning if they were forcing their opponents into even more miscues. Unfortunately for State, their opponents aren't coughing it up as much. Their opposition is at 122 turnovers which puts State at 8th place in that category. In only 2 of their 11 conference games thus far, they've turned it over less than their opponent (in that category, less is good).

Turnovers are a double edge sword in which you're taking away an opportunity for you to score, but then handing your opponent an extra chance to score. Empty at your end, but a bonus possession at the other end. It's kinda like carrying around a handful of money on a windy day—you're going to get poorer, but chances are someone is going to find those bills and they'll get richer.

So who is to blame? Are big ten defenses that good? Or is MSU's ball handling that bad? Smart money is on the latter. While State may be the epitome of carelessness, several big ten teams are the cornerstone of carefulness. An amazing 4 big ten teams are in the top 20 nationally at fewest turnovers. National statistics here folks, not conference. Wisconsin turns it over less than anybody in the land and Michigan coughs it up the 10th fewest times. Michigan State's next opponent, Purdue, is also a top-20 member of the protecting-the-rock club.

This seems to go against the grain of one of coach Tom Izzo's greatest traits….discipline. His Spartans aren't showing the discipline needed when it comes to maintaining the ball. That will be crucial against Purdue on Tuesday. If State can maintain the ball better, chances are they'll get a win to maintain their conference lead better.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saints defeat Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl 44

The NFL concludes its season with a very exciting Super Bowl game. Saints pick off Manning, Colts to win Super Bowl Drew Brees definitely laid claim to his place in the elite Quarterback conversation and Congratulations to Who Dat Nation in New Orleans.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Spartans lose tough road game it Illinois

I have to admit right off the top that I don't watch a whole lot of regular season college basketball, but I did watch Saturdays ESPN's College Game day feature game pitting the hometown Michigan State Spartans vs the Fighting Illini.

Of course there was a major subplot of M.S.U. being without its All American Point Guard Kalin Lucas due to a sprained ankle suffered against Wisconsin earlier in the week. I know during last years magical run to the title run Korie Lucious was a definite spark plug and came up big in some unexpected spots, but being counted on running the attack for the number 5 team in the nation is a whole other matter. Unfortunately he did let his inexperience bubble to the service by to often rushing the plays as opposed to letting the game come to him and this resulted in him having 6 of the 18 total turnovers for M.S.U. Of course he was not alone in the turn over department with several other players chipping in for 3 or 4 turnovers.

For a look at the numbers see the Box Score

Of course the most startling number is the fact that the Spartans shot over 50 percent from the field and still managed to lose thanks to the aforementioned 18 turnovers. Hopefully they can right the ship for the showdown against Purdue at East Lansing on Tuesday and maintain a little breathing room atop the Big 10 standings.

Take care and enjoy the SuperBowl

Jason Behr