Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Don't count the New York Rangers out just yet. The Rangers who have been clinging to a playoff berth throughout the winter are starting to look more and more like a certain playoff participant. Monday night, the Rangers shut out the rival New Jersery Devils 3-0 at Madison Square Garden.
The once untouchable Martin Brodeur was effected big time against the Rangers, and it didn't help that the Devils offense took a night off.
In the second period, the Rangers went to work on Brodeur. Brandon Dubinsky scored his 11th goal of the year to open the scoring at 1-0. Two minutes later, Daniel Girardi scored his 4th goal of the year to make it 2-0 Blue Shirts.
Later in the period, Ryan Callahan scored his 21st goal of the year with assists from Scott Gomez and Sean Avery.
Henrik Lundqvist had a huge night for the Rangers, recording 38 saves in 38 opportunites, which included four shots from Jamie Langenbruner and five shots Brian Roslton. BOXSCORE.
The Rangers are now 40-28-9 with 89 points, placing them seventh in the playoff race. The Devils fall to 47-25-4 on the year and fall to the number three seed in the playoff race. The Devils have now lost five straight games.
Yeah, that is coming out in mid-April, can't wait! Maybe it's a good thing that Rodriguez will not be in New York when the book hits stores?
Chien-Ming Wang is now the best No. 2 starter in baseball. A freak injury against the Astros ended a brilliant season too soon for the Tainan native. In 2006 and 2007 combined, Wang went 38-13 with an ERA around 3.65. If Wang is healthy, it will create an impossible scenario for opponents in a short series. Imagine having to face both Sabathia and Wang? Not exactly a good dream for potential playoff opponents.
Andy Pettitte will return as well this year. After a terrible 2008, Pettitte will look once more to end his career in style with the Yankees. Age is a factor though. Pettitte is 37 and not getting any younger. Perhaps his time has passed him already. We shall see.
That shouldn't be a problem this year, but the Yankees would be better served with Chamberlain in the bullpen, setting up for Mariano Rivera.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Pittsburgh lost on a poorly played defensive adjusment that allowed Villanova's Scottie Reynolds to cruise to the basket for the easy layup in the final seconds to send the Wild Cats to the big show.
Louisville never showed up against Michigan State, as senior Goran Suton led the Spartans charge with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Michigan State romped to a 64-52 win and will have a de facto home game in the Final Four which will be played at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Talk about home court advantage.
Meanwhile, the University of Connecticut did away with the pesky Missouri Wild Cats to make it to their third Final Four in nine years. North Carolina stormed past Blake Griffin and Oklahoma Sooners 72-60 to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 2005.
At the end of the day, only two stand alone from the Big East. UCONN and Villanova have been playing inspired basketball in this tournament. Even though they are a number three seed, the Wild Cats of Villanova have been something of a Cinderella, having to play as an understudy to Louisville, UCONN, Pittsburgh and Syracuse throughout the season.
Villanova was near perfect from the free throw line against Pittsburgh, shooting 96 percent from the line (22 for 23). Dwayne Anderson, Dante Cunningham, Reynolds, and Shane Clark all scored in double figures, and they needed to do so in order to keep up with Pittsburgh.
The Wild Cats were so physical with Pittsburgh, that the Panthers, who are known for their own physical play, couldn't keep up.
As for the Connecticut Huskies, they are getting better with each game that is played. In some ways, people have underrated the Huskies because Pittsburgh beat them twice late in the regular season, and the fact that Louisville won the Big East Title. But the fact remains that outside of the two Pitt losses, Connecticut is 31-2.
Kemba Walker had a huge night against Missouri, scoring 23 points on 7 for 9 shooting. But the success of the Huskies is based on the play of A.J. Price and Hasheem Thabeet. Price is a good point guard. He scored 18 against Missouri and has become a vital player in the Huskies run at the end of the season.
Thabeet, is the glue of the defense. His presence in the paint makes life difficult for opposing guards and forwards who drive to the hoop. He averaged 10.9 rebounds a game in 2008-2009 and has 28 rebounds in the last two games.
As for Michigan State, nobody expected them to get past Louisville, yet they blew them out of the building on Sunday afternoon. Senior Goran Suton took matters into his own hands, with 19 points in the game, 17 of which came in the first half. Suton is not known as a scorer; he averages only 9.8 points a game but has scored 39 points combined in the last two playoff games.
The real scorer, Kalin Lucas, added 10 points in the victory over Louisville. He averaged 14.7 points per game this season but was kept under control in the Louisville game. If he is allowed to have fun against UCONN, Michigan State could be rolling to the title game.
As for the new overall favorite in this tournament, the North Carolina Tar Heels are the most loaded team.
Tyler Hansbourgh is a good scorer for a big man. He scored 24 points against Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 but struggled against Blake Griffin in the Elite Eight game against Oklahoma. Hansbourgh was held to eight points in the game, while Griffin had 23, but the great supporting cast that Hansbourgh has, takes pressure off of him.
Ty Lawson was bothered by a bad toe injury before the tournament, and there were concerns that it would hamper him from playing, but the oppisite has been the case. Lawson has been on fire and causing opponent's pain. Lawson had 19 against Oklahoma, 19 against Gonzaga and 23 in his return game against LSU. Lawson's return has been crucial to the Tar Heels sucess, and his pressence along with Hansbourgh makes North Carolina the favorite to win the whole tournament.
PREDICTIONS WILL COME FRIDAY!!! SO STAY TUNED!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
But this much is clear: The Jets are definitely in the Cutler Derby."
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Martin Brodeur is now number one.
The future Hall of Fame goalie for the New Jersey Devils is officially the greatest goal tender of all time.
With a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on St. Patrick's Day night, Brodeur secured his 552 career victory, putting him ahead of Patrick Roy on the all time NHL wins list for goalies.
"After about a minute, they let him stand alone in front of the net and accept the cheers of the crowd. Brodeur then started to cut the net from the crossbar, only to stop and take a victory lap around the ice, high-fiving his coaches as he passed the bench.
While the crowd roared, teammates finished the job of taking the net down. Brodeur eventually took it and skated to the bench for an interview." (Tom Canavan, AP Sports).
“Martin Brodeur is the gold standard of goal tending—the model of character, consistency and commitment to the craft,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a prepared statement. “A champion. A winner above all."
As for the game, the Devils wasted no time in making this night a night to remember for Brodeur. Jamie Langenbrunner scored the opening goal 0:38 seconds into the game. Later, Travis Zajac scored his 20th goal to make it 2-0.
Brian Gionta scored what would become the game-winning goal with a shorthanded score to make it 3-0, early in the second period.
Chicago got a couple of goals late to make the contest interesting again, but it was not enough. Brodeur had 30 saves on the night in 32 attempts on goal.
Brodeur's next milestone will be most shutouts. He is at 100 and needs three more to tie Terry Sawchuk for the all time mark.
The Devils are now 46-20-3. BOXSCORE.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
For the second straight season the Phillies took advantage of another collapse by the New York Mets to capture the NL East, this time by two games and made a fantastic run through the playoffs to capture the world championship.
The Phillies disposed of the Brewers and Dodgers with ease and exposed the Tampa Bay Rays as a young baseball team in a rather uncompetitive World Series. Now Philly is looking for a repeat.
If Philadelphia has one thing going for it in 2009, it is this: they have guile and guts. No team in the majors found a way to excel in clutch moments more than the Phillies in 2008, and that should continue in 2009.
Philadelphia is led by the a group of scrapy players in the prime of their careers. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino find ways to wreak havoc on the base paths and in the field. Victorino, who is only 5'9" and 180 pounds, led the Phillies in batting average in 2008 with a .293 clip with 14 homers, 58 RBIs, 102 runs scored and 36 stolen bases.
Rollins didn't have a great 2008, but he did hit for his career average of .277. What these two bring to the table however goes beyond baseball. They find ways to motivate their ball club. Before the 2007 season, Rollins guaranteed that the Phillies would win the east. He put up big time, hitting 30 homers and driving in 94, as Philly took advantage of the first Mets collapse to get into October baseball.
The Phillies also possess the best right side of the infield in baseball with MVPs Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Howard is the game's most prolific hitter in what may be post-steroid baseball. Last season, Howard hit 48 homeruns and drove in 146 in what was a down year for Howard as far as batting average is concerned.
The biggest concern the Phillies should have this year is the fact that they are very left-handed. After the loss of Pat Burrell to free-agency via Tampa Bay, the Phillies went out and added Raul Ibanez, a left handed power hitter from the Seattle Mariners. This gives the Phillies a primarily left handed lineup from the power department with Utley, Howard, and Ibanez. The only right handed bats in the regular lineup of any significance are Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliez, but niether provides much power from the right side.
This means that a tough lefty, i.e. Johan Santana, should have a lot of success in facing the Phillies. Expect them to address this as the season moves along.
Another concern for Philadelphia in 2009 is pitching. Last year, the Phillies got by with Ace Cole Hamels near perfect postseason and rather mediocre play from everyone else. Jamie Moyer is 47 years old, and even though he uses guile to get people out, one has to wonder how much is left in the guy's tank.
Kyle Kendrick and Brett Myers were inconsistent last year. Both had astronomical ERAs; Kendrick had an ERA over five, while Myer had a 4.58 ERA. Joe Blanton was once a very good pitcher with the Oakland A's but trailed off last year. After the mid-season trade, Blanton was 4-0 with Philadelphia but had a 4.20 ERA to go with it.
The Phillies must address their starting rotation if they are to repeat.
As for the Philly bullpen, the combo of Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge proved to be too much for people. Lidge who was once considered a head case by many, but he finally got control of his emotions in 2008 and had a perfect 48 saves in 48 attempts. Don't expect Lidge to be perfect in 2009, but if can come close to being unhittable then Philadelphia is in good shape.
PREDICTION: 91-71 1st place NL East.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The excellence of Martin Brodeur was on display once again for the New Jersey Devils. The future Hall of Fame goalie is now one win away from tying Patrick Roy for most wins all time by a goalie, with 551 wins. After tonight's 5-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Brodeur has 550 all time wins.
2008-2009 has been a wild ride for the goalie, but after returning from a torn bicep, life has been good to Brodeur and the Devils.
Just 18 seconds into the game, Zach Parise scored his 40th goal of the year with assists from Jamie Langenbrunner and Paul Martin to make it 1-0 Jersey.
Later in the opening period, John Madden added his seventh goal of the year to make it 2-0.
In the second period, Dainius Zubrus and Patrick Elias added two more goals to make it 4-1 Devils.
There is not much to be proud of in Metland right now. People around the team will try to pump up Johan Santana's first start of the spring as an encouraging sign, but the fact remains that the ace was not sharp in his two and two-thirds innings against the Flordia Marlins.
After an easy first inning, Santana labored. He served up a solo home run to Dan Uggla in the second inning and surrenderd three hits and two runs in the third inning before being removed for Matt DeSalvo. Santana was not overpowering. The only comfort the Mets can take out of the lackluster outing is that Santana went through the game pain free.
However, the Mets battle for the fifth spot in the rotation remains muddled. Tim Redding got absolutely destroyed by the Marlins. In two innnings Redding gave up eight hits and nine runs to the Fish. Three of which were for home runs. Redding gave up five runs to the University of Michigan in just a third of an inning earlier in the week.
Redding has now surrendered 14 earned runs in just two and a third innings, which amounts to a ERA of 54.00. Not exactly what the doctor ordered.
The Mets now need to be concerned and must reconsider their stance on free agent Pedro Martinez and bring him back. Nobody is pitching well for the Mets right now.