Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NFL and NHL thoughts; 10 best CD's of 2006

Well, I'm sick. I went to Montreal for the weekend and got sick. Maybe I should stay in Florida a little bit more...

That being said, this will be my only blog of the week. I've got a big week in front of me, and being sick means going to bed early, so not a lot of time to blog around.

So, without further ado, let's get to my NFL and NHL thoughts...

Random thoughts from around the NFL:
  • Veillotron pointed to this in a comment recently: Ladainian Tomlinson is on the verge of shattering Shaun Alexander's single season touchdown record. Alexander's record is 28 and LT is up to 26 now, with 4 games to go. Last week, he became the fastest player in the history of the NFL to reach 100 td's for his career. But what's amazing about LT is what a pleasure it is to watch him play the game. Just like Thurman Thomas, LT is much more than just a runner: he is the best receiver out of the backfield in the NFL today, and like the future Bills hall of famer, he is a tremedous blocker on blitz pickups. When he runs, he reminds you of Barry Sanders more than any other RB we've seen since #20 retired. He jukes, he stops and starts in a flash, he makes people miss... he is a running highlight reel. And on top of it, he is as consistent and durable as any back since Emmitt Smith. And that is why he will break the all-time rushing record when all is said and done. Still, with all he has done this year, he isn't my MVP.
  • No, that would be Drew Brees. The Saints are now looking at a minimum of one home game in the playoffs. While they are the feel-good story of the year, the Saints are also much more than that: in a very weak NFC, they are a possible Super Bowl contender. The Cowboys are on a roll, but Tony Romo still has a lot to prove, especially once he gets in the postseason. The Seahawks are going to be part of the mix, but you have to wonder just how good they are after getting most of their wins against a very, very weak division (think the Detroit Red Wings last year). And then you have the Bears, who have a QB who seems intent on throwing around 2-3 picks/game. Make no mistake folks, the Saints could do some damage in the playoffs.
  • Speaking of the weak NFC, the playoff picture looks like this: Chicago (10-2) are Champions of the NFC North and have the inside track at home field advantage. Then, the Cowboys, Saints and Seahawks, all 8-4, all have at least 2 games lead in their own division and will probably wrap those up very soon. Then, 7 teams are battling for the 2 wild card spots: the Eagles, Giants, Panthers and Falcons are all 6-6, and the Vikings, Rams and 49ers are standing at 5-7. At this point, it's not out of the question that an 8-8 team could make the playoffs. The Giants and Rams are slumping badly, and their prospects don't look too good right now. The Falcons are the most inconsistent of the bunch, and I don't see them making it either. That leaves the 49ers, Eagles, Panthers and Vikings. The Vikings are also in a slump, and I don't think the 49ers will be able to make it. That leaves the Eagles and Panthers joining New Orleans, Dallas, Chicago and Seattle in the Playoffs.
  • In the AFC, while the playoff race involves much better teams, it seems like the same story. The South looks like it belongs to the Colts (10-2), and the West is the Chargers' (10-2) to lose. New England and Baltimore hold 2 games leads in the East and North divisions, respectively. The Wild Card race will go down between the Jets, Jaguars, Bengals, Broncos and Chiefs. The Broncos and Jaguars have a pretty tough schedule down the stretch, and they meet in the final game of the season. I don't think either of these teams will make it. The Jets, on the other hand, have a pretty light schedule and I think they will get in. It leaves the Bengals and Chiefs, so I would give the upper hand to the Bengals. The biggest game will be on Dec. 17, when the Broncos and Bengals meet. That could decide the last playoff spot.
Random thoughts from around the NHL:
  • As we move toards Christmas, trade talks are heating up. Of course, the woldest rumors seem to be coming out of Montreal, where the hockey community there seems to have no connection whatsoever to the rest of the league. Last week, Ron Fournier came up with the rumour that Sheldon Souray and Sergei Samsonov would go to Detroit and in return the Canadiens would get Chris Chelios and Pavel Datsyuk. There is as much truth to this rumour as there was to the one that would bring Lecavalier for David Aebischer and a first-rounder. Yesterday, Michel Villeneuve reported on 110% that Souray would be heading to Vancouver for Markus Naslund. Even if that rumour makes a bit more sense than the previous ones, Montreal needs a center and Naslund does not fill that need. If indeed Souray is dealt by the Canadiens, it will be for a top center. My guess is Gainey will stand pat until the trade deadline, and then he will try to get a "rental" centerman at a reduced price. I think Souray will quarterback the Montreal power play all the way to the playoffs, and he will sign elsewhere after the season.
  • Ken Hitchcock has really turned the Blue Jackets around. Unfortunately for them, it will be too little too late in a strong western conference.
  • Don Cherry is the most entertaining hockey personality around, but he needs to stop talking about fighting on every saturday night. It's getting a bit old.
  • After an awful start, Cujo and the Coyotes seem to have settled down. They are now sitting at 5 games under .500. While the playoffs are definitely out of reach, they could climb back towards respectability. Getting young stud defenseman Keith Ballard will help a lot. That being said, look for the underachieving Ladislav Nagy to be dealt before the trade deadline passes.
  • The Senators have clawed their way back into the playoff pictures. With Ray Emery plying very well and Martin Gerber looking like he is on his way back, things are looking up for Ottawa.
  • Things are still pretty tight in the hockey pool. There is still more than half the season to go, and only 60 points separate first place Sweet LP from last place me, of course. While Veillotron and I are further behind, it seems like The Dick and Huy could jump to second place with only 1 huge night. Remember, at this point last year, The Dick was in first place, yet he finished at the bottom of the rankings. My Good Pick of the Week? I am giving it to Veillotron for his pick of Vesa Toskala, the last goalie he chose. Toskala has a very, very good 33 points, and in only 15 appearances! As the season progresses, he will probably get more and more of a workload in preparation for the playoffs. Right now, this pick looks as good as Mat's pick of Khari Lethonen, a previous GPOTW. My bad pick of the week? I will give it to Huy for his pick of Janne Niinima, who currently sits dead last in the pool standings with 1 tiny point. Consider this: the second worst player in the pool (Mark Bell), has 7 points. That is indeed a truly terrible pick.
I know I haven't written about music in a while, but here are my ten best (my ten favorite) releases of the year:

10. Brand New - The Devil and God are raging inside me: These emo-punkrockers come up with an album full of great riffs and hooks and filled with good lyrics. They leave the screamo tendencies to their contemporaries and focus on strong melodies instead. Great work.

9. Loreena McKennitt - An ancient muse: The celtic/eastern influenced new wave artist comes back on the music scene with an album that is sometimes uneven, but still features some of her best melodies ever. Nice to hear her work again.

8. Regina Spektor - Begin to hope: The Tori Amos sound-alike ditches her piano and voice format to incorporate more instruments. Driven by the presence of musicians from The Strokes, the record is refreshing and features some of the sweetest hooks of the year. 'Better' and 'Fidelity' are real standouts.

7. Snow Patrol - Eyes open: The album that brought you single-of-the-year candidate 'Chasing Cars'. Better yet, it's not even one of the best tracks here. The duet with Martha Wainwright is a gem. Very strong follow-up to the smash hit 'Final Straw'.

6. Ani DiFranco - Reprieve: The Buffalo singer-songwriter offers up her most consistent album yet. She isn't as angry anymore, and the melodies strongly benefit from that. Furthermore, she incorporates Jazz influences in her music, which is most welcomed.

5. Damien Rice - 9: Rice's second album is not as good as his first, but it still beats most of what's out there today. This time around, Rice puts some real rock songs in, and the result is mostly very good. We might be a bit disappointed by this release, and it is a bit of a sophomore slump, but it is a great record nonetheless.

4. Jeff Martin - Exile and the Kingdom: This is pretty far off The Tea Party's best work, but songs like 'The world is calling', 'Lament', 'Daystar' and 'The Kingdom' alone make this one of the year's best records. We can only hope the best is yet to come for The Tea Party's former frontman's solo career, but this was a good start.

3. Muse - Black holes and revelations: Muse build on the best of their previous albums for this record. Their melodies are as strong as ever, and they blend electronics, hard rock and acoustic ballads seemlessly here. Very, very strong effort that is constent from the first minute to the last.

2. Joshua Radin - We were here: On his debut album, this indie-folk musician offers up a beautiful, quiet and all-around very enjoyable record. The melodies are carefully crafted and they lyrics are beautiful and stay with you. Radin got his break this year on Zach Braff's "The Last Kiss" soundtrack, and his career skyrocketed on Itunes. He finally got signed and his record is now available in stores. A great story, and a better album.

1. Placebo - Meds: Their best work since 'Without you I'm nothing', which gave us the hits 'Pure morning' and 'Every you every me'. This record is excellent from start to finish, with not one disapointing song. The slower numbers are mesmerizing ('Pierrot the clown', 'Follow the cops back home') and the rockers truly hook you ('Post blue', 'Meds', 'Drag', 'Because I want you'). But the real standout, and one of my favorite songs of the year, is 'Space Monkey', a song Trent Reznor will spend his whole life wishing he had written. 'Meds' is an excellent record, and my favorite release of the year.

Honorable mentions: Neko Case - Fox confessor brings the flood; Badly Drawn Boy - Born in the U.K.; AFI - Decemberundground.

See you in the comments section!

Dwarf out


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

I wanted to make sure that Dwarf wasn't left with 0 comments for his last effort.

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Veillotron said...

thank you for that beautiful comment Sweeteness

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Veillotron said...

I had actually written a long reply on Friday, but the bastarding site freaked out and I lost all that I had written. Pure gob of shite

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Veillotron said...

Hey Huy, what about Da Saints winning again?
And what about Garcia, leading "your" team to victory again??
Yesterday, Chelsea 1 - 1 Arsenal. Another game we should have won - we hit the woodwork 3 times during the game (2 times by Lamps). It looks like its going to be hard to win the title this year...

At 1:20 PM, Anonymous huy said...

Da Saints never bothered me, what bothered me is people keep bringing that stupid hurricane up and make them the charity case of the nfl and people kissing drew brees ass. i have no beef with jeff garcia, but the giants and falcons will bring them back to earth unfortunately. garcia can throw for 4 td, but that sorry excuse of a defense will manage to lose a game.....getting run over by ladell betts.....WTF?? even vince lombardi's half decomposed corpse could run wild over those maggots....no heart indeed veillotron, no heart indeed

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Veillotron said...

By the way, guys, if you want to buy me a book for Christmas, go to the following website: www.krakenopus.com

I saw the ManU book at Harrods this weekend, and it is absolutely beautiful. I wish I could have seen the SuperBowl one...

The only thing is that they are a little bit too expensive...

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