Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Songs They Should Play In Winnipeg Right Now

With the return of the NHL to Winnipeg (it is not known if they will be called the Jets) I thought I'd chime in to some music that all fans Winny would like to hear. And for those of you that don't know these, here are the lyrics.

Back in 1975, debuted a tv series called Welcome Back Kotter. Coincidentally, the show went of the air in 1979, the same year the Jets arrived in the NHL. Here's the theme song, for those unaware!


Welcome back, 


Your dreams were your ticket out. 


Welcome back, 


To that same old place that you laughed about. 


Well the names have all changed since you hung around, 


But those dreams have remained and they're turned around. 


Who'd have thought they'd lead ya (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya) 


Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya) 


Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've hot him on the spot, welcome back, 


Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

Then there is my favourite Nick Nolte movie, 48 Hours. It did more for Eddie Murphy, truth be told. Now, remember the song by the Bus Boys, The Boys Are Back?


We’ve been waitin’ for a long time



Yes, we’ve been waitin’ for a long, long time


We’ve been waitin’ for a long time


But we ain’t gonna wait no more


We’re getting’ ready to rock & roll


We’re gonna - 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3!



Well, there’s a reason everybody should be shakin’ in the house tonight


And you should grab your favorite lady and promise her you’ll do it right.


Tell Fat Jack to jump back and give you a shot of some booze


So you can party to some stomp-down, butt-bumpin’, rock & roll, rhythm & blues.



‘Cause the boys are back in town.


The boys are back in town.




I know that everybody when they hear the music will be doin’ it on the floor


Jump up and down they turn around and tell the band to play some more


‘Cause tonight you can dance and romance and do anything you feel like doin’


But don’t look surprised ‘cause you know what I like and tonight we ought to do it




‘Cause the boys are back in town.


The boys are back in town. Oh, yeah.




Well, there’s a reason everybody should be shakin’ in the house tonight


And you should grab your favorite lady and promise her you’ll do it right


Tell Fat Jack to jump back and give you a shot of some booze


So you can party to some stomp-down, butt-bumpin’, rock & roll, rhythm & blues.



‘Cause the boys are back in town.


The boys are back in town.


Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!


The boys are back in town.


And when the boys are back,


There ain’t no foolin’ around!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Hard Knock Against Harvey Haddix

Harvey Haddix, by all accounts, had a better than average career. He won 20 games with the St Louis Cardinals in 1952, but otherwise was a win one, lose one pitcher.

On the night of May 26, 1959, Harvey Haddix was on the mound against the Milwaukee Braves. The Brave lineup included Hank Aaron (755 lifetime homeruns) Eddie Mathews (548 lifetime homeruns) Joe Adcock (376 lifetime homeruns).

Facing that would he Haddix, whose record at that point was  4-2, but he was coming off a game that, although he won, he was tagged for 10 hits in 9 innings. It was against his old team, St. Louis. His ERA was at 2.16 going into Milwaukee. 19,194 fans took this one in at County Stadium. The game got underway at 8:00 PM.

How did Harv fair?

Haddix came out smoking the ball to Smokey in the first 9 innings! The Braves kept striking out looking (two times), striking out swinging (six times) popping out (one time), flying out (eight times), grounding out (eight times), line out to the infield (two times) . You name it, the Braves couldn’t touch him.

Alas, Haddix's own Pirates did get the hits, but his team wasn't about to score, either. Oh, they had hits, hits and more hits. Eight by the end of nine innings. By the end of the day, they had twelve, but it wasn't enough. Lew Burdette kept pitching out of jams.

The Pirates actually got 3 of those hits in inning #3. Haddix himself getting one of those hits. Seems like Haddix could do no wrong on this night! But on Haddix's single, which was the second hit of the inning for Pittsburgh, Roman Mejias was out trying to go first to third on the hit. Dick Schofield stroked the Bucs' third hit of the inning. This time, the runner (Haddix), made it to third. But no further, alas. This would prove to be the Pittsburgh Pirates' best chance to win the game.

Burdette came up in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the bases...empty, of course. He fanned. Haddix had the perfect game. But not the win.

With one out in the top of the 10th, Don Hoak singled, but was stranded right there, at first, as pinch hitter Dick Stuart (whose nickname was Dr Stangeglove, due to his poor fielding. That's why he's pinch hitting!) flied out and Haddix himself (Hey! They're not just gonna pull him when he has the stuff!) grounded right back to Burdette.

Joe Christopher, who would later play for the 1962 Mets, replaced Roman Mejias, (who Stuart had pinch hit for) in right for the bottom of the 10th. He got a view of a couple of close calls.

Del Rice came in to pinch hit for second baseman Johnny O'Brien. He lashed the ball to deep center. Bill Virdon made the catch.

Then Eddie Mathews came to bat. He lashed the ball to deep center. Bill Virdon made the catch.

Hank Aaron grounded out. Now 30 straight batters had been retired by Haddix.

In the top of the 11th, Felix Mantilla came in to play second base for the Braves. The inning got off to a promising start as Dick Schofield singled to left.

But once again, the Pirates could do little more. Schofield would be forced at second by Virdon. Then Burgess hit into an inning ending double play.

Haddix was equal to the task in the bottom of the frame, however. Adcock grounded out to Schofield. Wes Covington lined out to Virdon and Del Crandall flied out to Virdon.

The top of the 12th brought up Rocky Nelson, who went out on a fly to left. Bob Skinner then lined out to first baseman Adcock, but second baseman Bill Mazeroski finally got his first hit of the game, in his 5th trip to the plate. Hoak ended the inning by forcing Maz at second, alas!

Haddix made it 36 batters in a row when he retired Andy Pafko by taking his grounder and flipping it to Rocky Nelson at first. Johnny Logan flied out to center, and then Haddix covered first as Nelson took Burdette's grounder, and tossed to Harvey for the third out of the inning.

Top of the 13th! Superstitious time! Can this finally mean the Pirates break through?

Christopher grounded out to Burdette. Then Haddix was retired on a fly to center. Schofield kept the inning alive with a single to left, his third hit of the day and the Pirates twelfth overall in the game. Virdon grounded out to second. Couldn't the Pirates just get one crummy run for Harvey?

One of the reasons they couldn't was the conspicuous absence of two of the Pirates best players, Roberto Clemente and Dick Groat.

The reason was interesting. Clemente, was out with soreness in the shoulder. Groat, was in a bad hitting slump Coming into the game, he was hitting only .248. However, Groat would hit .283 the rest of the way, finishing the season at .275. The next year, Groat would become one of many Pirates to win a batting title when he hit .325.

Another key player for the Pirates, Dick Stuart, didn't even start the game.

Haddix’s perfect game suddenly ended in the bottom of the 13th inning. After getting two strikes on Felix Mantilla, Haddix poured on another pitch that looked like strike three. The umpire didn’t think so. Then Felix hit a bouncer to Hoak at third.

Hoak's throw went in the dirt to Rocky Nelson.

Realizing that they weren't about to get any hits, Mathews sacrificed Mantilla to second, bringing up Aaron. The Pirates would do the smart thing and walk him intentionally. That brought Joe Adcock to the plate.

It was 10:54 PM

Haddix had gotten Adcock out on some fine inside sliders. He threw him one outside for ball one. Then he threw Joe a slider that was too high.

Adcock blasted it out of the park. No-hitter over, game over. 3-0 Milwaukee. But wait a minute!

Aaron thought the ball had hit the ground on the outfield side of the fence, rather than the ground behind the fence. (County Stadium had those see-through chain link fences at the time) When Mantilla touched the plate, Aaron (who touched second) trotted across the field and into the dugout. The second Adcock (with his head down) touched third, he was declared out, his homerun changed to a double. And the final score was officially, 1-0. Haddix had pitched 12 2/3 of an inning in this game despite the fact that the winning run was scored with one out!

Burdette would say after the game that he deserved a raise. Why? You just got out-pitched! But then again, if the greatest game ever pitched wasn't enough to beat Lew, what did that say about the Brave pitcher?

Haddix would learn, in a 1989 banquet for the 30th anniversary for the game, that the Braves had been stealing signs!

Through binoculars, the Braves bullpen pitchers would pick up the signal from Burgess and put a towel on their shoulder, fastball.  No towel, breaking ball.

Even that would turn sour. 32 years later, Major League baseball made a change in the record books. In order to be recognized as a no hitter, a game would have to feature zero hits by the opposition, regardless of the number of innings pitched. So, this game, and several others, is no longer looked at, officially, as a no hitter, let alone a perfect game.

Perhaps then, it was fitting that one of the many letters Harvey received after the game said simply, "Dear Harvey, tough sh_t."


References


Chen, Albert. "The Greatest Game Ever Pitched." SI.com. Sports Illustrated, 1 June 2009. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://www.si.com/vault/2009/06/01/105819842/the-greatest-game-ever-pitched>

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 27 May, 2011.

"Harvey Haddix." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 May 2011. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Haddix>


Books


Buckley, James Jr. Unhittable: Reliving the Magic and Drama of Baseball's Best-pitched Games. Chicago: Triumph, 2004, Print, PP. 64-67 Includes DVD, "No-Hitters, Perfect Games And Near-Misses."

Kaplan, Jim. The Greatest Game Ever Pitched: Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn, And The Pitching Duel Of The Century. Chicago: Triumph, 2011, Print, PP. 136-139.

Reichler, Joseph L. Baseball's Greatest Moments. 1985 ed. New York: Bonanza, 1981, Print, PP. 75-78.


Videos

Baseball's Greatest Moments. Major League Baseball Productions. VHS, 1991. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baseball Playing Card Of The Day: Ralph Kiner



Ralph Kiner was an outstanding right handed swinging slugger, whose career was all too brief.

He signed with the Pirates, and after a three years in the minors (including one in Toronto in 1943) he was in majors by 1946, as baseball stars returned from the second World War.

The pitchers who returned encountered a big problem in Ralph. Although they did find some ways to cope with him.

In his rookie year, he hit 23 homeruns to lead the senior league. Now, he also led in strikeouts with 109, as well and batted just .247.

But the next year, Kiner really took off, belting 51 homeruns, upping his average to .313 and drove in 127 runs.

His slugging would continue for the next several years: 40, 54, 47, 42, 37 homeruns. Indeed, he led the league in homeruns his first seven seasons.

Traded, to the Cubs, he added 35 more, although he would finish a distant fifth to Eddie Mathews 47.

From there his totals winded down and he retired after the 1955 season, having played his last season in the AL with the Indians.

About Kiner there are two stories which stand tall:

In the 1950 All Star Game, Kiner hit a high drive to left which Ted Williams made one of the finest catches of his career, a nice over the right shoulder. Unfortunately, The Splendid Splinter crashed into the concrete wall, breaking his elbow. He missed    games that season.

And the Red Sox still finished with 94 wins. One has to think that with a healthy Williams, the Red Sox could have won the pennant that season. See dad, the All Star Game does affect pennant races!

The other story was after the 1952 season. Given Ralph's power (He would famously say, "“Singles hitters drive Fords, home run hitters drive Cadillacs.”, at one point in his career) he would usually asked for a raise after putting on a tremendous power display each season. Soon, he was the baseball pro to get $100,000 a season.

He asked for another raise that season, but Branch Rickey, the Pirates GM, famously told him, “We finished last with you, and we can finish last without you.”.

References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Kiner__Ralph.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Kiner

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

1961 Yankee Of The Day: Tex Clevenger

Clevenger would be one of the most unknown Yankees of 1961.

He didn't even start the season with The Bronx Bombers. Actually, his first 1961 team was the expansion Los Angeles Angels, where he posted some good numbers. The Angels had acquired the right handed pitcher in the 1960 expansion draft from Cleveland.

In 12 games with the Angels, Clevenger posted a 2-1 record with a more than fine 1.69 ERA. Then, on May 8th, the Yankees traded pitchers Ryne Duren, Johnny James and outfielder / first baseman Lee Thomas to Los Angeles for Tex and Bob Cerv. This would be Cerv's third time around as a Yankee.

For Clevenger, 1961 was a bit of a letdown with the Yankees. He made 21 appearances, posted a high ERA (4.83) and more than a hit per inning (35 in 31 2/3 innings).

He did have his moments, though. His very first Yankee game (May 10) saw him polish off the Kansas City A's with 4 strong innings reliving Ralph Terry. Although it goes into the record books as a blown save, he picked up the win by allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk. It also goes into the books as a win for Tex.

He also tossed 2 innings of scoreless relief on May 16th, May 22nd, June 8th and Sept 15th.


References


Gallagher, Mark. Explosion! Arbor House, 1987

Golenbock, Peter. Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964. Contemporary Sports Classics, 2000.

Mantle, Mickey and Herskowitz, Mickey. All My Octobers. Harper Collins, 1994, pp. 129-145.

Smith, Ron. 61* The Story Of  Roger Maris And Mickey Mantle And One Magical Summer. The Sporting News, 2001.

Golenbock, Peter. Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000, pp. 405-445. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 25 May, 2011.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Baseball Playing Card Of The Day: Christy Mathewson

The man from the 1905 World Series!


Matty started 3 games in that World Series, which pitted his New York Giants against the Philadelphia Athletics.

Game one saw Mathewson square off against Eddie Plank. And did Christy ever set the tone!

The game was scoreless through 4 innings. But in the top of the fourth, the Giants broke through with 2 touches of home, which was all Matty would need. The Giants added a run in the top of the ninth, but there would be no other scoring in this game. Matty rolled along with a 4 hit shutout.

After Chief Bender evened the series with a shutout of his own in game 2 (3-0, btw), it was Mathewson's turn again in game 3. This time the Giants scored him nine runs, but once again, he needed only one as he rolled along to another 4 hit shutout.

After Joe McGinnity out dueled Plank in game 4, 1-0, the stage was set for Christy's third start.

Facing Bender, once again the score was "no score" through four. But then the Giants plated a run in bottom of the fifth frame. They would add another in the bottom of the eight.

Once again, Mathewson didn't need it.

Amazingly, Christy finished off the A's for good with a 2-0 triumph, behind a brilliant 5 hitter. The Giants had won the World Series, 4 games to 1.

What an amazing statline for Mathewson: 27 IP 13H 0ER 1BB 18K!

Actually, the whole Giants pitching staff deserves a look. Amazingly, the 3 runs scored by the Athletics in the second game were all unearned, so the Giants staff compiled an ERA of 0.00 for the 1905 World Series.

Joe McGinnity would go on to a Hall Of Fame career that saw him win 246 games. (The Giant's third pitcher, Red Ames, who pitched in game 2 in relief of Joe, would finish up with 183 victories himself.)

For the Phillies, Chief Bender, an Indian, posted a ERA of 1.06 and got the only win for the junior circuit champions. He went on to a Hall Of Fame career himself, and is considered by some to be the inventor of the slider.

Plank would go on to win 326 games and also make the Hall.

Andy Coakley was the game 3 started for the A's. Although charged with 9 runs (he threw a complete game, regardless) only 3 of them were earned. He is the forgotten man from this series, as he would finish up with only 58 victories.

But he can always brag of a span of 6 days where he brushed shoulders with 4 Hall Of Famer pitchers...

None better than Matty.


References


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 17 May. 2011.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Stanley Cup 2011: Western Conference Finals


Vancouver (1) VS San Jose (2)

So the best two teams in the West did end up advancing to the Conference Finals! San Jose returns from last year, whereas Vancouver is back for the first time since 1994.

Offence

Vancouver

Kesler leads the Canucks in points(15) and assists(10). Second on the team in points is Daniel Sedin with 10, but also first on the team in goals with 6. Brother Henrik has 9 points, but just one goal. Alex Burrows has 4 goals and 4 assists. Left winger Mason Raymond has a goal and 4 assists. Another left winger, Chris Higgins, has 3 goals.

From the point comes Christian Ehrhoff with 2 goals and 7 assists to pace all Canucks blueliners. Alex Edler has 2 goals and four assists, while Kevin Bieksa has a goal and 3 assists.

San Jose

Ryan Clowe, despite missing a game, lead the Sharks with 13 points. His 9 assists are tied with 2 other players for team lead. Logan Couture has 6 goals and 6 assists. Their top center, Thornton, is tied with Clowe and defenceman Dan Boyle for team lead in assists. However, he has only 2 goals.

Devin Setoguchi is tied with Couture with 6 goals. Left winger Dany Heatley had 8 points and Joe Pavelski has 7. Kyle Wellwood has 7 assists, but only 1 goal. Patrick Marleau has 3 goals and 3 assists. Torrey Mitchell has a goal and four assists.

Boyle leads all Shark defenceman with 2 goals and 9 assists. Ian White has just one goal, but also 6 assists. Nic Wallin has 1 goal and 3 assists.

Edge: (Slight) San Jose

Defence

Vancouver

Bieksa is second on the team with a +5.Dan Hamhuis is second among defenceman with a plus 3.

But some of the defenceman really are struggling with the +/-. Ehrhoff is a minus 7. Edler, Aaron Rome and Sami Salo are minus 1.

Foward Kesler leads the team with a +5. Right winger Jannik Hansen is second among Vancouver forwards with a plus 4. Higgins and Raymond are +3 and +2. Also at +2 is Raffi Torres. Maxim Lapierre is down at plus 1.

The Sedin twins really need to improve in this area. They are both a minus 8.

San Jose

White tops all blueliners with a plus 5. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is next with a plus 2. Wallin is also +2.

But Douglas Murray and Jason Demers are both minus 1. And then Boyle is a minus 2.

Among forwards, Clowe also tops them with a plus 6. Pavelski is a plus 4. Couture is a plus 3. Mitchell is a plus 2. Marleau is a plus 1.
There several forwards that are minuses.

Jamie McGinn was a minus 1. Ben Eager, Thornton and Heatley were all minus 2. Setoguchi was a minus 3. Right winger Jamal Mayers was a minus 4 and Scott Nichol was a minus 6.

Edge: (Slight) San Jose

Goaltending

Vancouver

Roberto Luongo is where he's never been before. He's been this far in the Olympics, World Juniors and World Championships.

But never in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Like some of his teammates.

He looked a little shaky and unsure of himself against the Hawks. Against the Preds, there were moments of both brilliance and unconsistantcy. Still, he got through both. Which is going to help.

In 13 games he has posted a 8-5 mark with 2.25 GAA and .917 S%.

And with that, he is now a vetran of 57 playoff games.

Corey Schneider has yet to impress and will only appear if Luongo struggles.

San Jose

Antii Niemi has been here before. Last year, he took the Hawks all the way. And now, he's the first goalie since Patrick Roy to win his first 6 playoff series that he has appeared in.

Having said that, though, he and Luongo share a dubious mark this season. They've both been forced to win a seventh game after having been up 3-0.

That's not going to happen to either team this series.

But how will Niemi respond. Was he a fluke last year? Then how has he gotten this far this year?

It's not often that you can have a GAA of 3 or over (3.01) and get this far, but so far he has done it.

Mind you, when needs be, he's been very good. But those numbers have to improve, or we will see the other Ant appear.

Here are Niemi's numbers 13GP 7W 5L 3.01 GAA .906 S%

The other A N (Antero Niittymaki) has actually won a game and played the equvilant of half of another. He's 1-0, 0.66 GAA and .967 S%. That might be needed in this series!

Edge: (Wide) Vancouver

Prediction: Vancouver in seven games

Friday, May 13, 2011

Stanley Cup Predictions: Eastern Conference Finals 2011


Boston (3) VS Tampa Bay (5)

So it’s down to two in the East. Both swept past their second round opponent, after needing 7 to get to that round. Boston last made the Conference Finals in 1991/92 and Tampa Bay entered the league in 1992/93, winning the Stanley Cup 12 seasons later, before the strike.

Offence

Boston

Patrice Bergeron, despite just two goals, leads the Cubs with 12 points. Brad Marchand had 5 goals and 6 assists. Nathan Horton (Mr Overtime in this year’s playoffs) has 5 redlights and five passes. Also with that is David Krejci. Chris Kelly is the fourth center on this list with 7 points.

The Bruins lost to the Pens in the 1991 and 1992. On the Penguins in 1991 was Mark Recchi. This year, the 43 year old has contributed 2 goals and 5 assists on this run. Finally, Rich Peverly has a goal and 5 assists.

From the point, Dennis Seidenberg has the same numbers as Peverly. Andrew Ference has a goal and 4 assists.

Tampa Bay

Stamkos needs to get with the other 2 to form the big three. For now, the new big three is

St. Louis 13 pts

Lecavalier 12 pts

Downie 12 pts (in only 10 games)

Tedd Purcell has only 1 goal, but also has 10 assists. Sean Bergenheim has scored several key goals so far, and leads Tampa with 7. Dominic Moore has 8 points. Simon Gage has 7 points in only 8 games. Finally, we have Stamkos at 6 points.

Eric Brewer leads all Lightning rearguards with 6 points. Pavel Kubina has 2 goals in only 8 games.

Edge: (neither wide nor slight) Tampa Bay

Defence

Boston

The Big Z, Chara is an amazing +11 in only 10 games. Seidenberg, meanwhile is a plus 8. Ference is a +6. Thomas Kaberle, +5, Boychuk, +4. Adam McQuaid is also a plus 4.

For the forwards, Marchand and Recchi are both an impressive +9. Bergeron and Kelly were both +7. Horton and Peverly were each a plus 6.  Krejci and Ryder were +5.

Tampa Bay

A lot of minus guys!

Steve Downie, the right winger, actually lead Tampa in +/- at this point.

As for defenceman, tops on the team is Mattias Ohlund with a +6. He’s not getting much help. Mike Lundin is only +3,  Kubina is only a plus 2, Brewer, +1. Indeed, this needs to improve.

Hedman is a minus three.

Up front, we have Downie with a team leading +9. Lecavalier, Bergenheim, and Moore were all +4. Purcell is a +3.

St Louis, though, is minus 5, and Stamkos a minus 2.

Edge: (slight) Boston

Goaltending

Boston

Thomas continues to step it up, and has stretched his winning streak to 5 games. Doesn’t look like were going to see much, if any, of Rask. 8-3, 2.03, .937 S%.

But now, he will need to steal a few against this kind of offence.

Tampa Bay

Continuing to amaze, Dwayne Roloson nears 42 years and is on a 7 game winning streak here in April / May. His numbers are actually a little better than Thomas’ 8-3, 2.01, .941 S%. He’s proving that he has the abilities to steal some. I see no reason why we won’t see more of that.

Edge: (slight) Tampa Bay

Prediction: Boston in seven games

Friday, May 6, 2011

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011: Western Conference Round 2

(more apologies for getting this one a little late)

Vancouver (1) VS Nashville (5)

Vancouver finally beat Chicago, but no Vancouver fan wants to talk about it, it was that close. Meanwhile Nashville finally won a playoff series.

Offence

Vancouver

Sedin continued his strong season by adding 5 goals and 2 assists. That's Daniel I'm talking about. Meanwhile the hero of the series, Alex Burrows had 3 goals and 3 assists.

Henrik Sedin was held to without a goal in the series, but had 5 assists. Also without a red light was Ryan Kesler although he too was dishing: 4 assists. As well, Mason Raymond had not red lights and three assists.

From behind the (forward) lines were

Christian Ehrhoff (1-3-4)

Kevin Bieksa (1-2-3)

Alexander Edler (1-2-3)

A warning though. The team seemed to fade from games 4-7 in offence as they managed just 2 meaningless goals in game 4, none in game 5, three in game 6 and two in game 7. Yup, that's just 7 goals in four games. They need to get pucks in more regularly. As it was, they finished the Chicago series with just 16 goals.

Nashville

Mike Fisher had 3 goals and 3 assists for team lead. Joel Ward and defenceman Shea Weber also had 3 goals each.

Jordin Tootoo had 4 assists for (I should say tied for) team lead, while a pair of centers, David Legwand and Nick Spaling each had  2 goals and 2 assists.

Left winger Sergi Kostitsyn also had 4 assists, but is still looking for his first postseason goal this year.

As for defencemen, in addition to Weber, Cody Fransen was the third Pred to register 4 assists. But like Kostitsyn, he needs to dent the twine sometime soon. Kevin Kline had 3 points. Ryan Suter had 3 assists, but again, no goals.

Edge: (Slight) Nashville

Defence

Vancouver

Again, it was something that was at times good and at times bad against Chicago.

Bieksa had a strong series on defence with a plus 3. Dan Hamhuis was +2.

Unfortunatly, you had Ehrhoff at minus 4, Edler and Sami Salo at -2. This needs to improve.

Up front, Kesler was a +4 and Burrows was +2. Mason Raymond was a +2.

But both the Sedins were a minus.

Nashville

Weber topped all Nash rearguards with a plus 4, which also led the team. Kline, Suter and Jonathon Blum were all +2. Shane O'Brien was a minus 2, however and Cody Franson was a even 0.

Forwards were led by Tootoo, who was a plus 3. Fisher, Spaling and Matt Halishchuk were each a +2.

But Ward and Legwand were each -1.

Edge: (Slight) Vancouver

Goaltending

Vancouver

It's either confidence or concern about Roberto Luongo.

He got a shutout, he won game 7 in overtime after almost getting another shutout. He made a big save on a Chicago power play in overtime in that game 7.

But his overall numbers weren't so good. His S% needs to improve: .903 and his GAA is way to high for this time of year: 2.97

Will we see more of Corey Schnieder? He's already made 3 appearances. But alas, he has yet to impress: .878 S% and 3.09 GAA

Nashville

Though they got through, Pekka Rinne had some difficulty. Allowing 19 goals in only 6 games, his GAA was too high: 3.29. And his S% is nowhere near .900, at .876.

Anders Lindback did play in the series, albeit a short appearance. Should Rinne continue to struggle, we'll see more of him. He managed to get into 13 minutes of game 4 against the Ducks.

Edge: (Slight Vancouver)

Prediction: Vancouver in 6 games

San Jose (2) vs Detroit (3)

A rematch of last year's Western Conference Semifinals. San Jose came through in five games last year, even though they actually were outscored in the series. Detroit comes in red hot. Despite what you are going to read below, I'm going with San Jose because the have a Stanley Cup winning goalie, home ice advantage, and the face they overcame their mediocre playoff results last year and are continuing to do that this year. They won three games in overtime against the Kings, including game 3, when they came back from 4-0 down, on the road. This is not the same team that had struggled notoriously in the postseason in the past.

Offence

San Jose

The Fierce Fish come into this one having really taken it to Los Angeles on offence. Not that it was easy.

Ryan Clowe led the was with 4 goals and 3 helpers. From there, you had 4 players with five points:

Logan Couture

Patrick Marleau

Joe Thornton

Ian White (defenceman)

Then you had 4 players with 4 points

Joe Pavelski

Dany Heatley

Torrey Mitchell

Kyle Wellwood

In addition to White the following defencman were contributing from the back. The following defencmen had three points each:

Jason Demers

Dan Boyle

Niclas Wallin

Detroit

Detroit did step it up against the Coyotes. And they needed to because although the swept, many of the games against Phoenix were not decided until the third period.

Pavel Datsyuk led the way with 2 goals and 4 assists. But right behind him was another center, Filppula with a goal and 4 helpers.

Thomas Holmstrom, forgetting about his 38 years, netted 2 and added 2 assists, while the third center, Franzen also had 2 goals.

Bertuzzi, Cleary, Helm, Hudler and Kronwall all managed to get 3 points.

Drew Miller added two goals.

For the defence offence, after Kronwall you had Brian Rafalski with 2 goals and Nic Lindstrom with 2 assists, but still looking for his first marker this postseason. Look for that in this series.

Edge: (Slight) Detroit

Defence

San Jose

White was the high +/- man on defence with a plus 4. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was only a +2 and Boyle was actually a minus (-1).

Demers was an even zero and Wallin was a +1, as was Douglas Murray.

Wellwood, the center, actually led the team with a plus 6 rating. Joe Pavelski was second among forwards with a +4 and Torrey Mitchell was right there with a plus 3. Clowe and Marleau were each +2.

Detroit

Kronwall and Ruslan Salei tied for team lead of the the defence corps with +6 each.

Lindstrom was only a +3, but that will improve this series.

Rafalski and Brad Steward were both +2.

Jonathan Ericsson was only a +1.

Datsyuk was the third player to be +6, so he led all forwards. Filppula was right behind him in this category as well with a plus 5. Holmstrom was a plus 4.

Kris Draper didn't get a point this series, but was a plus 3. Franzen, Cleary, Helm, Hudler, Eaves and Drew Miller were all +2.

Edge: (Slight) Detroit

Goaltending

San Jose

Which A.N. do we choose?

Antti Neimi looked a little shaky Actually, he really looked shaky!

Here are his numbers: 3-2/3.99/.863

Now that's gotta get better because the Sharks aren't going to score more than about 3 goals a game against Detroit. The good news is he still won 3 games. And he's still got that Stanley Cup ring from a year ago with the Hawks.

Should he falter, Antero Niittymaki could see some more action. He managed not only to win a game, but also post some fine numbers in limited duty: 1-0/0.66/.967

Will he play more, all depends on how Antti performs. I tend to think that with his experience, Niemi will right the ship.

Detroit

Jimmy Howard will get his second shot at San Jose.

So far this post season, he has performed well. 4-0/2.50/.915. Now the problem is, can he do it against San Jose?

Detroit's two other goaltenders, Joey McDonald and Chris Osgood, haven't played one minute so far. I doubt we will see them in action this series.

In order for Detroit to win this series, they will need for Howard to steal some games. I don't know if he can. He still has played better than Niemi this postseason.

Edge: (Slight) Detroit

Prediction: San Jose in seven games

Monday, May 2, 2011

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011, Eastern Conference: Round Two

 (Note, sorry for the delay in getting it up)

Washington (1) vs Tampa Bay (5)

Which team comes in hotter? Washington was swift and methodical in sending the Rangers to the golf course, while Tampa Bay clawed back from 3-1 down against the Penguins.

Offence

Washington

The Big Guy, Ovie had three goals, but they were all pretty important. He added three assists while the other Alex, Semin also notched three goals in the five games.

Marcus Johansson and Brooks Laich gave stellar performances, and Jason Chimera was clutch with two game winnings goals. Jason Arnott provided his experience and savvy.

Matt Green scored a goal and added four assists from the blueline. 

Tampa Bay

The Lightning scored more as the series went on against the Pens.

St Louis 4-4-8

Gagne 2-5-7

Downie 1-6-7

Lecavalier 2-4-6

Purcell 1-4-5

Stamkos, though, was held to just 2-2-4. Bergenheim scored three times.

From the point, Eric Brewer had a goal and five assists.

You know though, I watched that series against the Pens in earnest. The Lightning were shutout in game 1, scored just twice in games 3 and 4 and just once in game seven. Yes, I know winning overcomes everything, but they'd better be more consistent game to game in getting pucks through.

Edge: (Slight) Tampa Bay

Defence

Washington

Jeff Schultz was an impressive +5 in the 4 games to 1 triumph. Also tightening the screws on d were Scott Hannan, Green and John Erskin.

Semin led all forward with a plus 4. Erich Fehr, despite playing only two games, was a plus 3.

Tampa Bay

Despite all that offence, the best any defenceman could muster in a series like this was vetran Mathias Ohlund's +3.  Bret Clark was second on the point with a plus 2.

It was actually Right Winger Steve Downie who led the team in +/- in the first round with a +5.

Edge: (Neither slight nor wide) Washington

Goaltending

Washington

Michal Neuvirth's numbers, now were they better than they appear. 4-1, 1.38 GAA, .946 S% and even his first playoff shutout in his first ever playoff series. Hmmmm, the Caps have answered they're playoff troubles? We'll see if it continues.

Tampa Bay

Dwayne Roloson gutted it out with a 4-3 record, 1.77 GAA and a S% of .949. He got a huge, game seven, 36 save shutout performance, to get the Lightning here. Can he continue? It's hard to say. He has the experience (over 40 playoff games) and the age (42 later this year)

Edge: Neither

Prediction: Washington in 7 games.

 Philadelphia Flyers(2) vs Boston Bruins(3)

Boston overcame a 2-0 series deficit to come back and beat their hated rivals, the Habs (for just the 9th time in 33 playoff meetings). Meanwhile, Buffalo gave Philly all they could handle before falling in seven games, as well.

Offence

Philadelphia

Strong team offence carried the Flyers past the Sabers, and they netted 22 goals in that series.

Giroux came through with 9 points, although he scored just once. Danny Briere scored six times, though, and finished with 7 points.

Failing to score in the seven well played game against Buffalo were Mike Richards and Chris Versteeg although each had 5 assists.

James Van Riemsdyk scored four times and another left winger, Ville Leion scored 3. Scott Hartnell, despite just one goal, should be watched in this series.

As for the blueline, Andrei Meszaros had just one goal but four assists. Kimmo Timonen scored just once as well, but had 3 assists. Matt Carle potted nothing in the twine, but had 4 assists.

Boston

Patrice Bergeron came on with 7 points and Chris Kelly was right behind him with 6. Still another center, Brad Marchand had a goal and 4 assist.

Rich Beverly put up the same numbers as Marchand, while 43 year old Mark Recchi, with his goal in game 7, became the oldest player to ever score in a game seven. (Take that Gordie and Chris).

The other player to look out for is right winger Nathan Horton, who had 3 goals.

From the point came Andrew Ference with a goal and 3 assists. Dennis Seidenberg had a goal and 2 assists.

Edge: (slight) Philadelphia

Defence

Philadelphia

Kimmo Timonen was a very impressive plus 9, while Braydon Coburn was a plus 6.

But look for two veterans to step it up in this series.

First we have the return of Chris Pronger, who was so instrumental in getting Philly to the finals last year. And while we're on the topic of experience, Sean O'Donnell was an even 0 in the series, but he will probably get more ice time this series, and I expect him to play better.

Versteeg is at plus 6 right now to lead all Flyer forwards, just ahead of Giroux and Richards, who were each a plus 5.

Boston

Ference was a very good +6, which lead the team. Surprisingly enough, almost all the other defencemen were low.

The acquired Kaberle was only +1 as was Zedeno Chara, and Seidenberg was -2.

Some were better, though. Adam McQuaid was a +3 and Johnny Boychuk the same.

But it was the forwards that impressed me with the +/-.

Bergeron, for instance was a +5, as was Marchand. Right behind them was Kelly with +4 and Peverly with +3. Recchi, belying his 43 years, was a plus 4, if you can believe it. Michael Ryder's +3 isn't too bad either.

Edge: (Slight) Boston

Goaltending

Philadelphia

So once again it came down to Brian Boucher. The minute BobrovskyGAA (2.10) and a high S% .934. What was most impressive was that two of the wins were in relief.

Will the Flyers stick with him? Here's where it gets interesting.

Late in the season, the Flyers called up Michael Leighton. This is the same Leighton who played an important part in the Flyers run to the Stanley Cup Final. He wasn't suppost to contribute. But injuries to Ray Emery and Brian Boucher forced him in, and he took advantage of it.

I was so sure he wasn't going to play, despite a late season call up, that I didn't even mention him in my first round predicition. Lo and behold, he did play! Twice. Although, he didn't do much. Still the fact that he is here suggest the Flyers will use him if both Boucher and Bobrovsky struggle.

Boucher, right now I'm high on. I think he's just someone who knows how to play in the postseason. Bobrovsky, I'm not sure of. And frankly, I think the Flyers will be the same. It's going to be Boucher in game 1, and we'll see from there!

Boston

The Bruins took no chances with Rask and stuck it out with Thomas for all seven games. Talk about a difference from Philly's situation!

Thomas was 4-3, of course, but his GAA was 2.25, and he gutted it out in that overtime in game 7, which always helps. A .926 S% isn't quite as good as Boucher's, but given his rough start in the first two games and then needing four out of five to close out the Habs, he comes into this series on a hot note.

Edge: Neither (Hey! This one is too close to call as well, okay?)

Prediction: Boston in seven games


References

"Official Site of the National Hockey League." NHL.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2011.

Baseball Playing Card Of The Day: Whitey Ford

The Chairman Of The Board! Ford has some fine World Series records.



Not to mention an impressive .690 winning % in his career 1950, 1953-1967. If you subtract his last three years, it's even better, .720.

In looking at Ford's World Series performance I'm amazed to find somethings amazing:

Ford never started a game 7!

But no doubt, Ford was the man you wanted if you went to a World Series. Consider that he holds World Series' records for:

Games Started (22)

Innings Pitched (146)

Wins (10) [Okay, fine! Also losses (8)]

Strikeouts (94)

Consecutive Scoreless Innings (33 2/3)


References


Golenbock, Peter. Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print.

Snyder, John S. World Series!: Great Moments and Dubious Achievements. San Francisco: Chronicle, 1995. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 02 May 2011.