Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Blog lives on...

Finally, after 2 weeks of absence and rumors of the apparent death of the Blog, The Dwarf's Musings are back. A lot has happened in the world of sports in the last 2 weeks, but discussing it all would be too long. We'll keep the football talk for next week as part of my NFL Musings, which will appear a day early on Monday. Also next week, I will post a couple of CD reviews, something I haven't done in a long while. But for now, here are my Thursday NHL Thoughts for this week...

THURSDAY NHL THOUGHTS - 11/16/06 EDITION

There is an excellent article on espn.com by Toronto journalist Damien Cox on the current uproar against the setup of the schedule. You can read it on the NHL page of Espn.go.com. Check it out, it's worth it.

In the article, Cox discusses how the lack of current controversy in the league is opening the door to pity little debates like the one on the schedule. Reading that, I thought it would be a great idea for me to share with you my thoughts on the current state of the league.

Let's start with the on-ice product. Like any good hockey fan, I love it. The game flows a lot more, there is less clutch-and-grab and the excitement is just that much more palpable. I mean, 2 nights ago, the Devils lost a 2-0 lead in 1 min 30 sec. in the 3rd period of their game against the Rangers. A couple of years back, that was inimaginable. You have to love that. Still, the effect on the game of some rules are still being debated. Patrick Roy was quoted as saying that the rule preventing the goaltenders from playing the puck outside the trapezoid behind their net was facilitating the dump-and-chase tactic, thus perhaps motivating players not to try to enter the zone carrying the puck and making it easier on less talented players.

Roy might have a point. Then again, one of the reasons the trap worked so well for teams like New Jersey and Minnesota was that their goalies were so good at handling the puck. They could sit at their blue line and wait for the opposition because they knew that if the fowards dumped it in, Brodeur or Fernandez would have no problem getting there and handling the puck. Goalies can still stop the puck behind the net, but they don't have the same freedom they once did, so defensemen now have to back up a bit more and maybe the blue line to the opposition. So, in fact, it is now much easier to carry the puck in. Likewise, if the player chooses to dump it in, the defenseman has to go get it, and when he does, he knows he's gonna get hit hard. Defensemen getting pummeled into the glass by hard-charging fowards? You have to love that. The Dwarf's verdict: good rule.

Some believe that removing the red line for 2-zone passes has actually led to a greater number of lazy players not coming back and waiting at the opposition's blue line. I can imagine that for a coach, this is a nightmare. I can also imagine that for a defenseman, having a foward behind you is the worst feeling ever. But as fans, are we just always waiting for that long, Hail-Mary pass sending a guy in alone on the goalie? Plus, if the player is too lazy and doesn't come back, then you can have a 5-4 or 4-3 situation in the opposition's zone, which is good. And finally, if that long lead pass is intercepted, then you can have a turnover which leads to a scoring chance. The Dwarf's verdict: good rule.

Some will argue against the tag-up offside rule (where no offisde is called if a player exits the offensive after a puck was shot in) and the delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone, but I think that when you look at the overall spectacle the game offers now, it all amounts to nothing more than petty bickering.

Are there things that could be better? Sure. Diving is becoming a real problem now and the league needs to start taking the necessary measures to stop it. Also, some players have developed the habit of turning towards the boards before being checked, effectively attracting a boarding call. You will never change the fact that some players will use the rules to their advantage, but the league could do more to prevent these types of actions. But overall, the game is as good as it has been in years; and we, the fans, are the main beneficiaries of that. And, as Carlito would say: "That's cool".

Random thoughts fom around the league
  • The Canadiens are looking really good right now. In the absence of Chris Higgins, Guillaume Latendresse has been elevated to the first line and he's responded well. Still, I don't really understand the whole frenzy around this kid. He's gonna be good someday, but he's no Malkin. And if the fans in Montreal don't let up with all the talk, in 3 years from now, when he scores 25-30 goals/year, they'll burn him at the stakes for not being a 50 goal scorer. So it needs to stop. On another note, it's good to see Huet has regained some of his previous form and that Souray has learned the art of the slap shot again.
  • The Detroit Red Wings have as much character, if not more, than any other team in the league. Just when everybody was writing them off, they alter their game plan and suddnly no one seem to be able to beat them. Hasek is playing great again and Zetterberg is starting to fill the net. The question remains, though, as to whether they can avoid folding in the playoffs again.
  • While the Rangers, like the Red Wings, have gotten into a groove, Pittsburgh is quickly falling from grace. As of my last post, they were 7-3-0. Today, they stand at 8-6-2, having gone 1-3-2 in their last 6 games. The kids are scoring, but it seems getting outshot badly in every game has finally caught up to them. I still feel they will battle for a playoff spot, but they are just a pretender for now, not a contender.
  • Is there a more surprising team than Washington right now (8-5-5). It seems no one on that team except Ovechkin can score in the shootout, as evidenced by their 0-4 shootout record, but they have bought into a team concept, even though the team could be called the Washington Ovechkins. Still, they are letting their star player carrying the offense, and the rest of the team concentrates of playing good defense, being physical, and protecting their goalie. If they make the playoffs, it will be quite an achievement. Consider this: a team with far more talent, featuring the likes of Sergei Fedorov, David Vyborny, Rick Nash, Anson Carter and Adam Foote, the Columbus Blue Jackets just fired their coach.
  • Will someone please kill all the rumors of Martin St.Louis and Vinny Lecavalier going to Montreal, or anywhere else for that matter? It's not going to happen.
  • With Christmas approaching, big contracts are starting to be more easy to fit under the cap. Look for some more or less big trades to happen within the next month. Forsberg probably won't be a Flyer by the time the trade deadline arrives. Also look for the Oilers to add a #2 or #3 defenseman to quarterback the power play. Names going around are Brad Stuart (possible), Dan Boyle (not going to happen), Paul Mara of the Bruins (possible), Chris Phillips in Ottawa (not happening) and Lubomir Visnovsky of the Kings. If anything does happen, I think Visnovsky is the likeliest candidate.
  • Look for Glen Murray to be moved out of Boston. It won't happen soon, but towards the trade deadline, he will be very good bait. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Well, I have fallen even deeper in the standings of the pool. Very simply, my players stink right now. Between Martin Gerber in nets, Wade Redden and Marc-Andre Bergeron on defense and Doug Weight, Patrick Elias and Joffrey Lupul on offense, my team boasts an all-star lineup of busts. I thus proclaim this group the all-star bad pick team of the week. By contrast, our pool leader, Sweet LP, can put an all-star cast of Great picks of the week on the ice by sending out Slava Kozlov at center flanked by Marian Hossa and Jaromir Jagr, with Bryan McCabe and Zdeno Chara on defense and Martin Brodeur in net. Pretty good... Pretty good... No wonder he's 61 points ahead of me. Meanwhile, The Dick, Huy and Veillotron are fighting to stay alive, and they're still in the game. Huy is still a contender despite losing Marian Gaborik and Todd Bertuzzi for extended periods of time. And while Evgeni Malkin has turned out to be a pretty good pick (although a high one), I have to tease him a bit for picking Jordan Staal, who came a hair away from playing 10 games and the rest of the season in Junior. And finally, a little tip of the hat to Veillotron for picking the coolest player in the league, Ovechkin. Coolness goes a long way when you're doomed to lose.

See you Monday!

Dwarf out

15 Comments:

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous huy said...

what a depressing weekend..

donovan mcnabb is done for the year...again. as a fan, i just wish they tank the rest of the season in order to get the best draft pick possible. god knows they need with that sorry of an excuse for a defense. i'm officially indifferent to the nfl season from thsi point on.

on a lighter note, this little nugget of information came to my attnetion this morning while chatting with the lard one.

it seems that our fellow pooler mat, a guy that i have a great deal of admiration and respect for, a guy who's level of culture could make the prince of monaco look like any "analyst" from 110%, is a kansas city chief. mind you, theres nothing wrong with that. a proud organization, dedicated fans, a workhouse in Larry Johnson. the story takes a hilarious turn when i learned that he became a fan because of.......get this...STEVE BONO. That's right, steve bono folks, Mr. "if only my parents last name was mcnair, young or god forbid deberg, my career and life would've been relevant" himself. in my book, steve bono's value on any team is equivalent to somewhere between the punter and the 13 year old boy holding the wire behind the head coach so they don't get tangled. he is in my book, the poor man's scott mitchell, and lets not forget scott mitchell ain't quite the rich crops of NFL Qb. That being said, i find our buddy Mat courageous for being a Bono fan. imagine somewhere 10 years from now.

mat's son: dad, who was your favorite football player in the days?

mat: hmm(embarassing tone), it was steve bono

mats' son: bono the clown?

mat: no son, that would be bozo the clown. steve bono was a perenial backup qb, but he was a nice guy and had great hair?

mat's son: was he good?

mat: hmmm(stalling)....he was a very smart qb who never had a chance to suceed.

mat's son: like rich gannon?

mat:hmm(scratching his balding head) no, more like a koy detmer on his good days

mat's son: who the heck is koy detmer? euh, i'm gonna go play PS3 now

 
At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Sweet LP said...

The proper answer would be : just like Dave Krieg... Then his son would understand everything... and send him to the asylum...

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger Veillotron said...

OK. A lot of bullshit is being said on this blog, by both Huy (you disappoint me, protégé..) and El Sweetness. This needs to be put right.

First, LP. Shame on you (and fuck you) for insulting the Game’s greatest ever quarterback. I know you are frustrated that John still has his 2 (huge) front teeth and that now he is spending most of his time looking depressed in medical conventions, trying to hand out to people free tubes of Colgate, while Dave is taking it cool and playing golf. Also, not to rub salt on the wound, but Elway was snubbed by Dan Marino when he had his all-starts charity football game (and yes, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana and Dave Krieg were invited). By the way, this is all very true. It is also very true that Elway has suffered a long-term battle with acid reflux disease. In 2003, he made this condition public and became the spokesman for Prevacid (if you don’t believe me, Google it). But I can handle all this playa-hate for Dave, I’m used to people being jealous of DK.

I’ve got more of a problem with a lot of the pure shit Huy is babbling on about.

1) First, Huy, how dare you call yourself an Eagles fan when you wish for them to finish at the bottom of the table? Especially when their backup is the ex-Pro Bowl and very capable QB Garcia. If you’re a McNabb fan, cool. But if you’re an Eagle fan, than you have some serious issues. And by the way, when and why did you decide to take for the Eagles? Because of Buddy Ryan?

2) You have got the Bono/Matthieu thing completely wrong. Matthieu didn’t choose the Chiefs because of Bono, but because he is madly in love with Simon Bergman (who loves the Chiefs because of Derrick Thomas and good ol’ Steve DeBerg, who played a few games with a broken finger).
But even if he had decided to become a KC fan because of Bono, what’s the problem?
For the record, in 1991, with Montana lost for the season, and Steve Young injured mid-season, Bono started six games. He went 5-1 as a starter and finished the season fourth in passer rating behind Young, Jim Kelly, and Mark Rypien. Bono returned to his backup role behind Young in 1992 and 1993. Prior to the 1994 season, the 49ers traded Bono to the Kansas City Chiefs, where once again he served as a backup to Joe Montana. After Joe Montana retried, Bono became the starting quarterback in 1995. He guided the Chiefs to a 13-3 record and a division title. At season's end, he was selected for the AFC Pro-Bowl team. So if poor little Matthieu started watching football in 1995, Bono would have actually been a successful QB to look up to.
Oh and by the way, Simon Bergam saw Steve Bono this weekend in San Francisco (for his 30th, his girlfriend flew him over to SF, and because she has connections with the Niner's front office, she was able to get passes to see the players and spend a bit of time on the field before the game... And since Rice was being honoured, Bono obviously was going to be there...)

3) Scott Mitchell wasn’t that bad also: first, he led in 1992 the Orlando Thunder to the World Bowl in Montreal. Second, he had a really good year in 1993 as the Dolphins' starting quarterback in when Dan Marino was injured. Mitchell played well, and was signed as a free agent by the Detroit Lions in 1994. Mitchell wasn’t good enough to take starting job from Dave Krieg, I’ll give you that. But after Dave went to Arizona, in 1995 Mitchell set single season records for the Lions in touchdown passes (32) and passing yards (4338). Mitchell's Lions made the NFL playoffs in 1995 and 1997. So Boy, KNOW YOUR FACTS!

 
At 11:29 AM, Anonymous huy said...

tss, ok, you accused me of having issues as a philly fan? i wish for them to finish last because i know they stand no chance of making the playoff let alone winning the big one..so drafting high is the next best thing for them.....i may bitch and whine about them, but i never kissed another teams ass like oh say.........the SAINTS?

and since scott mitchell wasn't that bad, why couldn't he repeat that one good season he had with herman moore, brett perriman and some guy named sanders behind him?

my point was, to pick a team to cheer for based on a backup is pretty lame. i could've pick any other name than scott mitchell....todd collins, rodney peete, or even dave krieg, but i chose to not diss dave krieg out of respect....

unlike someone, losing 4 nfc championship and a super bowl didn't make me cheer for some team nobody gave a shit about until a hurricane hit them....

and buddy ryan brought respect to the eagles.

 
At 12:40 PM, Blogger Veillotron said...

Dude, every team has a chance to win the Big One if they make it to the playoffs – you gotta believe… I hate to break it to you, but your Eagles already have talent – what they lack is heart. And a high first draft pick ain’t gonna change that. And what’s the big deal with me liking the Saints? (and I have an excuse for not being a crazy Bills fan anymore – I haven’t seen them play in years… loin des yeux, loin du coeur…)

For the record, Dave Krieg wasn’t a backup (and yes, you better not disrespect…)
And my point is you could have picked worst back-ups / even starters then these guys. Being a back-up at one point in your career doesn’t mean you are shit… Steve Young was one for a long time, and so was Frank Reich, and Hostetler (sorry – bad example – HE WAS SHIT!). At the time he choose Bono, the guy was a high-flyer in the NFL. A one-year wonder, like Mark Rypien. If you want perennial shit QB, you gotta think more like Billy Joe Tolliver, Dan McGuire, Rick Mirer, Kyle Boller, Kelly Stoufer, Anthony Calvillo…

And for the record, Buddy Ryan is a child molester.

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous huy said...

what? is this a joke about buddy ryan being a child molester?


it's not funny anymore

 
At 1:06 PM, Blogger The Dwarf said...

Buddy Ryan is not a child molester: he likes grown men with mustaches. We all know his little "brawl" with Kevin Gilbride on the sidelines when he was in Houston was just an excuse to gently touch Gilbride's face... you should've heard the noises coming out of the Oilers' coaching offices after that game...

"Come on you big horse!"

"oh yeah, ride it! ride it!"

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger Veillotron said...

Seriously, wasn't there some sort of scandal like that for Buddy Ryan a few years ago?

 
At 3:42 PM, Blogger Veillotron said...

Hey guys, I'm going in the North of England this Saturday for a wedding. Nothing amazing there. But what is cool is that last year, I took a friend who is a HUGE Manchester United supporter to see Chelsea vs. Man U (yeah, that game that Chelsea won convincingly 3-0, that win that won them the Premier League Championship...). And what is even cooler is that to repay the favour, he's taking me to see Man U vs. Chelsea this weekend! That is going to be a monster of a game, and it will be the first time I will see a game at the venerable Old Trafford (80,000 crazy screaming fans - Dwarf, imagine Stamford Bridge x2 for size and x1.4 for emotion...)...)

 
At 11:20 PM, Blogger Nick the Dick said...

Another great football news... who wants to try it? I guess it tastes like shit...

Mike Ditka, a former American football coach known for his tirades on the field, has just launched a new wine – Kick Ass Red.

There is nothing surprising about sports stars launching their own wine brands. What distinguishes the abrasive Ditka – whose aggressive style led the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl victory – is that his wine aims for premium quality, despite its name.

Kick Ass Red – a premium blend of Zinfandel and Syrah from the Parducci Winery in Mendocino, California – will fetch about US$49 retail.

'Some people do wonder about the wine decision – they ask, “Why not beer?” But Mike is a real wine lover,' she added.

'Looks can be deceiving,' Ditka told the Chicago Sun-Times. 'I've drunk red wine my whole life. There's no wine ever made that I didn't try.'

 
At 4:41 AM, Blogger Veillotron said...

That's such a good news - I think it will taste great!
I'll buy a whole case of KickAss Red!!

 
At 7:39 AM, Anonymous huy said...

it's definitly on my list of 'must get' along with jim ross barbecue sauce.

 
At 9:22 PM, Blogger Veillotron said...

Well I am still shit in the pool (it had a been a while since I had checked)

Chelsea played tonight and they lost to Werder Bremen 1-0 in the Champions League. But it's OK because:
1) Chelsea qualified to the next round of the competition anyway on goal difference vs Bremen (and now, if Barcelona wants to go through, they now need to beat Bremen at home, a draw will not be enough...)

2) Frank Lampard wasn't playing (ruled out because he had got his 3rd yellow card of the campaign the game before), and Chelsea's inability to generate any kind of real offensive threat in his absence goes to prove just how important he is to the team...

Hey Dwarf, Chelsea has completely updated its website, and now you can see Ballack try to speak English in the players' profiles...

 
At 1:45 PM, Blogger Veillotron said...

what's the deal with this blog? Hello anyone?

 
At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need a Riddle ASAP! i know this sounds extreamly werid but i need a riddle. Dont ask why just give me something!! thanks!









































[url=http://www.thedaytheearthstoodstill.org/]the day the earth stood still[/url]

 

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