Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Who's The NFL MVP?

This entire NFL season has been dominated by the New England Patriots, and more specifically, Tom Brady. Many people think that he is the NFL MVP, but I don't think it's that automatic.

Although Brady had had one of the best seasons in NFL history, i don't think it would have been possible without another player on the Pats. Randy Moss.

Moss came from Oakland looking like he was at the end of his career. But with a good QB, he has become the best receiver in the NFL, getting 19 touchdowns this season, just 3 off the NFL record set by Jerry Rice. I think that Moss may be the real reason for the Pats success. Not only does he get a lot of touchdowns, but with teams double covering him, he gets others in single coverage or even wide open. He could get the MVP award this year.

There is another player in the NFL that I think might get the MVP. Brett Favre.

Favre has lead a rejuvenated Packers club to a 12-2 record this year after a disappointing 8-8 record last year. During the off-season, Favre thought about retiring, but decided to come back. It is looking like a good decision for him. He is 2nd in the league in passing yards, 5th in the league in touchdowns, and 5th in the league in passer rating. And although many think that those wouldn't be MVP numbers, it is what he does off the field and during the game that doesn't get put on the statsheet that counts. He is a leader to a relatively young Green Bay club, and does everything in his power to win.

Those 2 players I think will give Tom Brady a run for his money when it comes to MVP voting. But no matter what happens, Brady has had an amazing year.

Simon Gone for 30

Last Saturday, it was just another game between the Islanders and the Penguins. But Chris Simon took a rough game too far during a scrum. He stepped on Jarrko Rutto's foot! Today he received his punishment.

He was handed the longest suspension in NHL history, as he will not be playing for 30 games! Although the act might not of been worth 30 games, it was him as a repeat offender that made it such a long suspension.

"There were several factors that were considered in imposing the largest suspension in NHL history for an on-ice incident," explained NHL Vice President Colin Campbell in a statement.

"While fortunate, Mr. Ruutu suffered no serious injury as a result of Chris Simon's actions, the deliberate act of kicking an opponent with a skate blade, especially when that opponent is in a vulnarable position, is and always has been a repugnant and totally unacceptable act in the game of hockey."

"In addition, while the act itself was extremely dangerous, the fact that this is the eighth incident requiring the imposition of supplementary discipline on Simon compelled me to impose a very severe penalty in this case," Campbell added.

"When a player repeatedly evidences the lack of ability to control his actions and conducts himself in total disregard of the rules, as well the health and safety of other players on the ice, each subsequent incident is deserving of enhanced scrutiny and more severe discipline. This response serves not only the purpose of imposing appropriate punishment for the player involved, but also the purpose of deterring the player and all other players from engaging in similar conduct in the future - hopefully creating a safer long-term work environment for all NHL players."

Simon will be eligible to return to the ice on February 21st.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Simon to Recieve More Punishment

Ever since that game last year between the Islanders and the Rangers, everyone has looked at Chris Simon a little bit differently. That's because during that game, Simon slashed Rangers player Ryan Hollweg in the face. It was one of the most disgusting sights that hockey had ever seen, and they suspended him accordingly. 25 games Simon got, which is the longest suspension in hockey history. Now, it looks like Simon might be facing even more suspensions.

Yesterday, Simon was thrown out of the game between the Islanders and the Penguins because he tried to step on Jarkko Ruutu's foot! At that time, it just seemed like Simon would just get thrown out, but it looks like he's going to missing many more games than just that one.

All signs point to the veteran forward getting the seventh suspension of his career, and it could be another lengthy one considering his status as a repeat offender.

But during a press conference, Simon was remorseful. "I want to apologize to my team and Islanders fans everywhere," Simon said last season in a statement regarding his hit on Hollweg.

"My actions played a major part in our team losing a crucial game. I also want to apologize to the National Hockey League for the damage I have caused this great game of ours."

But this is just another incident in what seems to be a league that doesn't have any respect for their fellow players anymore. Already there have been many acts of hitting from behind and slashing this year, that have resulted in suspensions. It seems that with the new NHL, the enforcer, has now gone to drastic lengths to get ice time, to the point where they may not get ice time, ever again.

The NHL will make their decision about what to do with Simon later this week, but it doesn't look good for him.

Leafs Lose Against Habs

The Toronto Maple Leafs were facing the Montreal Canadiens in a Saturday Night showdown between the 2 teams. It was a battle of 2 teams going in different directions. The Leafs winning 6 of their last 7, and the Habs playing their worst home hockey since 1968. It was sure to be a good game.

The 1st goal of the game went to the Canadiens, as Saku Koivu snapped a 12-game scoreless drought with goal off Hal Gill's skate. The Leafs then pressured all period to get the goal that would tie it, but they couldn't get it passed Carey Price, who was playing amazing. The shot total was 13-6 in Toronto's favour at the end of 1 period, but the Habs still held the lead.

Then the 2nd period started. The 2nd period had been a place that the Leafs had dominated all year, scoring a league-high 44 goals in the 2nd. But that was not the case in this game.

Early in the period, Saku Koivu scored his 2nd of the game to give the Habs a 2-0 lead, and the effects of the game a day before, were starting to show for the Leafs. They let the Habs have consistent pressure in the zone, playing almost a penalty kill system, but 5-5. Eventually, the Canadiens scored again, when a shot from the point from Mike Komisarek was tipped in by Andrei Kostsitsyn. Going into the 3rd period, the Habs had a 3-0 lead.

It was more of the same in the 3rd, as Alex Kovalev added to the lead before a late goal by Devereaux cut the lead to 4-1. Then, with the game virtually over, Bryan McCabe went down after receiving a check from Kostsitsyn, and went straight to the dressing room. What the Maple Leafs trainers found was not good.

After the game was final, at 4-1, the trainers found 3 breaks in McCabe's hand. The earliest he could come back is in 6-8 weeks. Toronto coach Paul Maurice was livid, saying Kostitsyn horse-collared McCabe and threw him into the boards.

"He's too good a player to miss that much time after a (expletive) play like that," he said.

But in the other dressing room, it was a much happier feeling. Saku Koivu ended a 12-game scoreless drought, and the Habs ended a horrible winless streak at home.

"When you don't score and there's a lot of talk about not scoring, getting that first goal was a big relief," said Koivu. "But this was more about getting that win on home ice. We played well for 60 minutes and, when you play well defensively, it gives you a chance to win."

The Leafs will now play Tuesday against the Ligtning, while the Habs will play the Panthers on Tuesday.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pettitte Comes Clean

After the Mitchell Report named close to 90 former and current MLB players, some players have started to come clean about their drug-use. But so far, no one really vital to their teams or former teams had admitted to using steroids or HGH. But today, one of those players did.

Andy Pettitte, fresh off re-signing with the Yankees, admitted today that he took HGH in 2002. He took the performance enhancer after an early-season elbow injury put him on the DL. "I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow.'' So Pettitte asked the trainer he shared with Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee, to help him with HGH. McNamee recalled injecting Pettitte two to four times. Pettitte says that he only took HGH on 2 occasions.

''If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize,'' Pettitte said Saturday in a statement released by his agent. ''I accept responsibility for those two days. I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped. This is it - two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list,'' he said. ''I wasn't looking for an edge. I was looking to heal.''

Even if Pettitte comes out of HGH problem this unscathed, he has just brought further evidence toward the great Roger Clemens' drug use. As it said earlier, Pettitte obtained the HGH from a trainer that he a Clemens shared at the time. Although Clemens and his attorney deny that he has ever taken performance-enhancing drugs, the evidence seems to piling up on him.

Leafs Continue Hot Play

Yesterday, the Toronto Maple Leafs were facing the Atlanta Thrashers and the best scorer in the league in Ilya Kovalchuk. It was going to be a real test of Toronto's defensive ability and goaltending, but they were up to it.

The game was expected to be a high scoring affair, but it was a defensive battle in the 1st period. Toskala and Lehtonen stopped a combined 14 shots in the period to keep it scoreless. But in the 2nd period, the scoring started.

While in the late stages of a penalty kill, Toskala stopped a blast from Kovalchuk, and the rebound went right to Hal Gill. He then dumped it to an open Boyd Devereaux coming out of the penalty box, but the pass went to deep and to the goaltender. But good hustle made Lehtonen make a mistake a fan on the dump. Devereaux then got the puck and shoveled it in to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead. Then, 3 minutes later, Mats Sundin took a bad shot from a bad angle, but he caught Lehtonen off his guard, as he opened the 5-hole just as the puck was coming to him. It was Sundin's 16th of the year to give the Leafs a 2-0 lead.

Nut before the period could end, Alexei Ponikarovsky took a hit to the head from Bobby Holik. The result was a hard bite on the tongue, and a whole lot of bleeding. Durong the intermission, he got stitches, but stayed in the game. It turned out to be a good decision.
Because in the 3rd period, after some hard work from Antropov in the corner, Ponikarovsky got the puck, and sniped it top shelf on Lehtonen. And 2 minutes later, he did it again, and again it was off a beautiful play from Antropov. The final score in the game was 4-0, as Toskala picked up his 10th career shutout, and his 2nd of the season.

This was the Leafs' 6th win in their last 7 games, and right now, everyone is firing at all cylinders. Sundin and Antropov are on pace for career years, and Toskala is playing great in goal. He hasn't allowed more than 3 goals in a game in his past 12 games, and hasn't allowed more than 2 in his past 7 games! Ironically, this stretch of good play came 7 games a go, when the Leafs won 4-2 over the Thrashers. So why is Toskala playing so good of late?

"I'm seeing the puck well," Toskala said. "Overall, I'm really comfortable. I'm having fun. That's the key."

The Leafs will now play Montreal in a Saturday night showdown of 2 teams going in opposite directions. The Leafs playing their best hockey of the year, and the Canadians playing their worst home hockey since 1968. It will certainley be a good game to watch.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Taylor Dead

Today, the entire football world mourned, as young of the brightest young stars of the NFL died today.

Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor died Tuesday at the age of 24. His death comes a day after he was shot at his house at 2:00am. From that point on, he was in critical condition and in a coma.

"It is with deep regret that a young man had to come to his end so soon," father Pedro Taylor said in a statement on behalf of the family. "Many of his fans loved him because the way he played football. Many of his opponents feared him the way he approached the game. Others misunderstood him, many appreciated him and his family loved him."

Trauma experts said a serious wound to this large artery, leading from the abdomen through the upper thigh, is among the most difficult to fix and can quickly drain the body of blood, which can prevent oxygen from reaching the brain and vital organs.

The attack came eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor's home. Officers were sent to the home about 1:45 a.m. ET Monday after Taylor's girlfriend called 911.

Doctors had been encouraged late Monday when Taylor squeezed a nurse's hand, according to Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' vice-president of football operations. But family friend Richard Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being taken to the hospital.

"Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something," Sharpstein said.

Sean Taylor (1983-2007)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Classa of '07

The Hockey Hall of Fame is set to induct its greatest class of all time.

Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis and Al MacInnis will be honoured on Monday. Former general manager, NHL executive and director of central scouting Jim Gregory will also be inducted in the builder category.

"To know these guys and their professionalism, they're all such great ambassadors to the game," he told The Canadian Press. "To go in with that select company, you couldn't ask for a better group." said MacInnis, who is in awe of the players he's being inducted with.

It is a sign of the amazing careers of each player. Messier was the one of the most feared players in the league in his prime, as was certainly the most clutch in the league. Stevens became the hardest hitter ever to lace skates up. Francis made himself known as one of the consistent scorers in the league, scoring 20 goals in an amazing 20 seasons! And MacInnis made his slapshot feared by players and goalies alike, winning the fastest slapshot award numerous times.

In the future, it will be interesting to see if any Hall of Fame class will ever top this one.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Pats Stay Undeafeted

Yesterday, the entire football world was watching 1 game. The Colts vs the Patriots, in a battle of 2 undefeated teams.

The game started in Indy's favor, as they dominated the play and ended up with the 3-0 lead going into the 2nd quarter. The Colts added to their lead scoring 10 points in the quarter, but only after the Pats scored 7. So the score going into the half was 13-7.

But in the 2nd half, New England started a comeback. After a 3rd quarter where the Pats scored 3, Tom Brady took over in the 4th. But before he could get the ball, the Colts scored another touchdown, to make the lead 7 points more. But just a few minutes later, Wes Welker scored a TD to cut the lead by 7. And then, with the score 17-20, Kevin Faulk scored to give the Pats the lead. Indy couldn't come back though, so New England won 24-20.

The win in perhaps the NFL's biggest regular-season game ever keeps the Patriots (9-0) on course for the NFL's first unbeaten season since Miami did it 1972 and gives them the first tiebreaker over Indianapolis (7-1) in the AFC playoffs.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The New Wave

The NHL has just gone through a huge change with the lockout, which was just a couple years ago. More goals, shootouts and new rules. Now, the NHL is going under a new change. The new wave of young talent.

The last generation of NHL players brought such greats as Teemu Selanne, Chris Chelios and Eric Lindros, but now those players are fighting for jobs, and their talent is deteriorating. But there are more than enough players to take their spot.

The draft this year brought 2 stand out players so far. Sam Gagner and Patrick Kane. Kane is right at home in Chicago, as he shares the pressure of the being the "next one" with fellow rookie Jonathon Toews. Kane already has 13 points in the season and Toews has a good 8 points. Another big rookie combo is in Edmonton, where Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner play.

Gagner was expected to play in the OHL for another year, but he impressed at the Super Series, and at Oiler training camp. Now, he is a full-time Oiler and 2nd on the team in scoring. Cogliano also made the team and is 2nd on the team in scoring as well.

But these are just the rookies. What about the sophomores in the league? Guillaume Latendresse, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Stall, and Anze Kopitar can all call themselves successful NHLers, and none of them are 25! Latendrasse looks to imprive on his rookie year and help the Habs get to the playoffs again. Malkin and Stall both had phenomenal rookie year, with Malkin getting close to the 100 point mark. Both will be key parts of the youth movement in Pittsburgh this year. Finally, Kopitar will try to get to the point-a-game mark this season while on the top line with Mike Cammeleri.

And lets not forget the 2 biggest young stars in the game, Alex Ovechkin, and Sidney Crosby. I really don't think I have to go into detail about these 2. Everyone already knows about their skill and ability. Both players are looking toget to the playoffs and win the Cup. Crosby will have the best chance of doing this, as he has an even better team than the 100+ point team of last year, and Ovechkin has Micheal Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom to centre him now. Both players will challenge for the scoring title.

There are a lot more players I could of covered, but I just did those to show you how much the NHL is turning toward their young players for points. This is the year that the new generation takes over and the last generation of players take a step back.

Canadiens Sink Hurricanes

Although it has been a long time since my last post, I'm still watching the sports world. Yesterday, I saw a great game that I had to cover.

The Montreal Canadiens were facing the Hurricanes in Carolina. But it didn't look like the Canes had a home-advantage, as Montreal scored 5 goals in the 1st period, to give them a 5-1 lead! From there on, Montreal just held back and kept the lead. Both teams traded goals in the 2nd, and Carolina got 2 i the 3rd, but the Canadiens ended up on top to win 7-4 for!

The key to the game was the Canadiens powerplay. Montreal scored five power-play goals, four in the first period, en route to its third straight victory. The Canadiens have scored eight of their NHL-best 16 power-play goals in two games in Carolina, both wins.

When Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau was asked what was working for the Canadiens with the man-advantage, he answered, "everything."

"There are no secrets to it," Carbonneau said. "We have guys that can move the puck and make plays. You can pass it around for two minutes, but you can't score if you don't shoot it. That's all we did. Just by shooting the puck a lot, it opened other options."

Montreal will now play Pittsburgh in the Saturday Night Hockey game tonight.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stepping Down

Joe Torre, the long-time manager of the New York Yankees, is stepping down from his job.

Today, Torre rejected a 1-year offer for $5 million dollars a year that still would have made him the highest paid manager in baseball. "It's a difficult day," general manager Brian Cashman said.

Don Mattingly , the bench coach for the Yankees is expected to replace Torre as manager next season, but broadcaster Joe Girardi, the NL Manager of the Year with Florida in 2006, is another top contender. Torre led the Yanks to 12 straight playoff appearances and won four World Series championships.

This was a day, that the fans in New York could see coming though. After getting to the World Series in 2003, the Yankees had high expectations for the next few years, but no rings came out of it... not even 1. Under Torre, the Yankees went 1,173-767. He trails only Joe McCarthy (1,460) for wins among Yankees managers.

This is the 2nd big loss to the Yankee organization in the past week, as owner George Steinbrunner stepped down and gave the Yankees to his sons, Hank and Hal.

"It is now time for the New York Yankees to move forward," Levine said

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Steinbrenner Stepping Down

George Steinbrenner, the legendary owner of the New York Yankees, is reportedly stepping down as the owner of the Yanks.

Members of the Yankees brass told the newspaper that Hank and Hal Steinbrenner (George's sons) will share leadership in an arrangement to be further ironed out in Tampa, Florida later this week.

"George has taken on a role like the chairman of a major corporation," Yankees president Randy Levine told the Post. "He's been saying for years he's wanted to get his sons involved in the family business. Both of them have stepped up and are taking on the day-to-day duties of what's required to run the Yankees."

Steinbrenner took over as owner of the Yankees when he bought them in 1973. Since then, Steinbrenner has been one of the most controversial owners in baseball history. Some incidents that have occurred include signing Dave Winfield a monster contract, and later called "Mr. May" (in reference to Reggie Jackson, "Mr. Octoer"), and faking the assault of 2 Dodgers fans on him during the 1981 World Series.

Both brothers are expected to have final say on baseball decisions, the running of the YES Network and the construction of the new Yankee Stadium.
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"There's always been a succession - and that's myself and my brother," Hank told the newspaper. "I'll pay more attention to the baseball part. The stadium, that's more Hal. But basically everything will be decided jointly."

Some people may be saying goodbye and good ridints to Steinbrenner, but I say that were are losing one of the best owners ever.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Boulerice Gets 25 Games

Maybe now Philadelphia will really get the message: The deliberate and dangerous hits that put two Flyers on the suspended list no longer have a spot in a safer NHL.

Jesse Boulerice is now suspended for 25 games for his vicious hit on Vancouver's Ryan Kessler. It ties Chris Simon's suspension last year for the longest suspension in NHL history.

Now Boulerice may have gotten off easy hear because he wasn't a repeat offender in the NHL. But in 1998, Boulerice was suspended for one year by the Ontario Hockey League for violent stick-swinging. He went to the American Hockey League the following season and was ruled ineligible until mid-November.

Boulerice is the second Flyer in two weeks to draw a long suspension -- rookie Steve Downie was suspended 20 games for an intentional hit against Ottawa.

Many are now making comparisons that the Flyers right now could be the a re-creation of the broad-street bullies. But the Flyers coach is saying that that is not the case. "It's almost implied that's the direction we're going when it couldn't be further from the truth," Stevens said.

The Flyers are now at risk at being fined by the the league, and I think they should be. There is now place in hockey for stick-swinging and cross-checking to the face.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Blake's Battle

Jason Blake was the Toronto Maple Leafs biggest signing this off-season, but through the 1st 3 games of the season, all Blake had were 2 assists. Well today he shared something with the world that may explain that.

“This morning I shared with my teammates news that I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. It is highly-treatable, and I have begun taking a pill on a daily basis that has proven to be very effective in controlling this cancer. The prognosis, and certainly the expectations of my physician, myself and my family, is that I will live a long, full and normal life."

For those who don't know what leukemia is, well lets just say that he isn't joking when Blake says "cancer". It's considered chronic leukemia because it usually progresses more slowly than acute leukemia, sometimes over the course of years.

The pills Blake spoke of are helping him, but may be taking some of his energy away. The pills have been described as "chemotherapy-like pills", and we all know how chemotherapy takes away energy.

Blake missed the last 13 games of the 2000-01 season with the Islanders to be with his pregnant wife, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She gave birth in April 2001, two weeks early, to a girl and later had throat surgery to remove a tumor that turned out to be benign.

Blake isn't the only hockey player to ever have cancer though. Both Saku Koivu and Mario Lemieux had lymphoma and survived, which is uplifting to Blake. Lemieux even came back to win the scoring title!

"Overall I feel good. I'm still here and my goal this whole season hasn't changed. Obviously you take a step back and you kind of re-evaluate everything but for the most part I feel good. I think to get it off my chest and to move forward is a big weight lifted."

"My goal has not changed since I heard this news," Blake said. "And that's come to Toronto, bring another piece of the puzzle and hopefully win a Stanley Cup here."

Even though Jason says that the condition isn't affecting his play, something like this is sure to affect you mentally for a while.

Wish you all the best Jason and good luck with your battle!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Leafs Get 1st Win Against Habs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have high expectations for this season. They are expected to make the playoffs for the 1st time in 2 years, and contend for the Cup. But before yesterday, the Leafs didn't even have a win. They were looking to change that against the Canadiens.

The game started out fast, as Mathieu Dandenault scored on the Leafs just 2:43 into the 1st. But Toronto answered back quickly when Ian White scored his 1st of the season . The goals were just 2minutes a part! In the 2nd, the Habs once again opened the scoring when Andrei Markov scored a short-handed goal to give the Canadiens the lead. Montreal then padded the lead near the end of the 2nd with a goal from Andrei Kastsitsyn. But the Leafs wouldn't go into the break down 2 goals, as a bad play from Huet led to Alexei Ponikarovsky's 1st goal of the season. In the 3rd, Ponikarovsky struck again, firing the puck past Huet from the slot to tie the game up. The game would be scoreless from there until overtime.

In the O.T period, each time had it's share of chances, but it was the Leafs who capitalized on those chances. They had a powerplay late in the period, gave the puck to Kaberle, who scored his 1st goal of the season to win the game 4-3.

"Finally," Leafs forward Alexei Ponikarovsky said Saturday after the 4-3 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens. "We worked hard for it. The first two games we've been working hard but we didn't get the results we wanted."

Both teams look great, but in the end, it came down to goaltending. Vesa Toskala was the best player in the game and stopped shot after shot.

The Leafs will look for their 2nd win of the season against the Hurricanes on Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Leafs Lose Opener in OT

Although the official season NHL opener was on Saturday, most of the NHL's teams were playing last night. Those teams included the Leafs and the Sens.

The game started out with some controversy, as Andrew Raycroft got the call to go in net instead of Vesa Toskala. That decision would later prove costly. The 1st goal of the game was scored by Antoine Vermette, who blew by the Leafs' defender and buried it by Raycroft. But the Leafs answered with 2 quick goals, both by Nik Antropov to get the lead. But that lead was later given up, when Daniel Alfredsson scored on an easy shot from the circle. In the 2nd period, the leafs dominated. They got powerplay after powerplay, and managed to get a goal by Matt Stajan by the end of the period.

Ottawa though, did not intentions of losing this game. They fought hard through-out the period, and managed to tie it up when Dany Heatley scored on another questionable shot. From that point, it was scoreless until overtime.

In that overtime period, both teams had some chances,a and the goalies made some great saves. But on another easy shot to the 5-hole, Dany Heatly ended the game. The final score was 4-3 for Ottawa.

The key to the game was goaltending. Th Leafs out-played the Sens in every way expect for goaltending. "We generated enough offence, except for our power play," said Maurice. "Defensively, we have to be better."

The crowd got on Raycroft after Ottawa's second goal.

"I thought the first two (goals) were tough," said Maurice. "They were good shots but . . . clearly he was not loved (by the crowd) early but I think he did a really good job settling into the game, and after that I thought he was very good."

The next game in this series will go tonight in Ottawa.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Phillies Complete Historic Comeback

On September 12th, everything was going smoothly for the New York Mets. They were getting hitting, they had Pedro Martinez back from injury, and most of all, had a 7.0 game lead on 2nd place Philadelphia in the National League East. But that was September 12th.

Today, on September 30th, just 18 days from the 12th, the New York Mets were tied with the Phillies going into today. Yes the Mets had given up a 7.0 game lead in 18 days. But the Mets could still make the playoffs. They had a game left to do that. But the problem is, the Phillies had one as well. So it came down to 2 games. The Phillies vs the Nationals, and the Mets vs the Marlins to decide the NL East Title.

The 1st game that was played was the Mets game. Coming into the game, many thought it would be a pitching duel between veteran Tom Glavine and ace Dontrelle Willis. But that was not the case. Before the Mets could even come to the plate, the Marlins pounded Glavine for a total of 7 runs! It was just the 2nd in Glavine's amazing career that he lasted less than an inning. He was booed off of the field and for good reason. The inning blew the Mets' entire season. New York could not comeback from 7 runs down. They looked frustrated and depressed the entire game. They only managed 1 run against Willis. The final score was 8-1 Marlins.

Now for the deciding game. But before even 1 pitch was thrown, the out-of-town scoreboard put up the Marlins big 1st inning, which caused a lengthy standing ovation from the Phillie faithful. The ovation inspired the Phillies to play their best, and they did. They scored 3 runs through the 1st 3 innings, then added another 3 by the end of the 7th. The Nationals could only muster up 1 run, which meant the Phillies won the game and NL East Title for the 1st time since 1993!

"A lot of people counted us out," Howard said. "That's why they call us the Fightin' Phillies. We're going to celebrate, the whole town of Philadelphia is going to celebrate, but we're going to come back on Wednesday ready to go."

The playoffs will begin right after the Padres and Rockies have their 1 game playoff to decide the winner of their division.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Kings Beat Ducks in '07-08 Season Opener

It was a historic day in the world of hockey today. Not only was the 2007-08 NHL season getting underway, but the 1st ever NHL game was being played in London, England, and 2 future stars took to the ice for the 1st time in their NHL careers.

It was packed at the O2 Arena in London with fans from all over the world in attendance. After a short delay due to the lighting, the game got underway. Mike Cammaleri got the 1st goal of the new season early in the period to give the Kings the surprising lead. It was then a full period and 2 minutes until the next goal was scored, and that was in part due to the Kings goaltender, Johnathon Bernier. Bernier played 2 games for Canada in the Super Series and looked superb, and he looked the same facing the games best. He saved shot after shot as the Ducks tried to tie the game up, but Bernier didn't flinch.

Then, in the middle of the 2nd period, the Kings were on a powerplay. Anze Kopitar fired a shot that didn't get through all the way. The puck laid in the crease and to the back of the unsuspecting Ilya Bryzgalov when Rob Blake tapped it in to give the Kings a 2-0 lead. Los Angeles didn't wait long to get goal number 3, as Cammaleri scored his 2nd goal of the game early in the 3rd to give the Kings a 3-0 lead. From then on, Bernier took over... again. He was a brick wall and seemed to have no jitters as he neared closer and closer to his 1st NHL win. His day would of been perfect if it hadn't been for another rising star.

While on the powerplay, Chris Pronger fired a shot from the blueline that was saved by Bernier. But a huge rebound came to the 2nd overall pick in 2005, Bobby Ryan. Ryan showed no hesitation, as he went quickly to his backhand and potted the puck in. But that goal was all for none, as Micheal Handzus scored a empty-net goal shortly after to clinch the game for the Kings. The final score was 4-1.

All the talk after the game was the stellar performance from 19 year-old Johnathon Bernier. "I don't think you could've expected a better game from a 19-year-old goaltender," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "There was a lot of pressure tonight, and he looked like a really solid, solid goaltender. Not very many pucks bounced off of him, and he made a couple of great saves."

''It's pretty amazing,'' said Blake. ''At 19 years old, the way he plays is very calm. He just stands in there, he doesn't move too much, he seems to swallow those pucks. They got that goal and started coming at us pretty good and he smothered two or three pucks and you could see our bench calm down.''

They other key to the game was Anaheim's lack of discipline. 3 of the Kings 4 goals were scored on the powerplay, and the 4th goal as you might remember was just a empty-netter. ''Our inability to stay out of the box obviously killed us today,'' said Ducks captain Chris Pronger. ''You're going to lose a fair amount of games if you take that amount of penalties.''

The 2 clubs meet tomorrow at the O2 Arena for what promises to be a good re-match.

NHL's Top 3 Breakout Players

Every year, there is 1 player who has an awesome year, when no one expects him to. Eric Stall did it in '05-06, and his brother Jordan did it last year. This year, there are a couple players that may just be the next Jordan or Eric Stall, and I'm going to give you my choices to be that player.

Number 3: Anze Kopitar Kopitar had an amazing rookie year as he piled up 20 goals and 41 assists for a total of 61 points! This year, he still has Michael Cammalleri (who is only going to get better) to center him, and Alexander Frolov on the other wing. Kopitar is a center, but did play a little wing last year, and I think the Kings will put him there for the entire season. I predict 36 goals, 45 assists and 81 points.

Number 2: Paul Stastny The kid from Colordao tallied up 28 goals and 50 assists last year for 78 points in total. But this year, he has Ryan Smyth with him, and an aging Joe Sakic, so Stastny may get the 1st line job. The Avalanche also has Wojtek Wolski on the wing, another young player to help out Stastny. I predict 35 goals, 55 assists for a total of 90 points for Stastny.

Number 1: Evgeni Malkin Although Malkin is already a superstar, I expect big numbers from him this year. The Russian scored a total of 85 points last year. But with improving players such as Crosby and Stall, and veterans such as Mark Recchi and Petr Sykora, his point total can only go up. I think Malkin gets 42 goals and 58 assist this year for a total of 100 points.

There you have it. 3 player who I think will shock the NHL world and have career years. I will be keeping watch on these players all year, and have regular updates on them.

The NHL Opener

Sorry about not putting up an alert saying that I would be away for a week. I just forgot. But now that I'm back, it's time to do one of the biggest stories of the year.

The NHL season opener is today at 12:00pm with the Kings facing the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks. Don't think I made a mistake with the time. The game is being played in a special place. London, England! Yes the great city of London is hosting it's 1st ever NHL game. But right now, the teams aren't thinking about showing hockey off to English fans. They are just thinking about winning the opener. ''There's a subtle feeling that comes over a team,'' said Kings head coach Marc Crawford. ''And you can see it in the players, there's a little more focus in their eyes."

Although the Kings might be focused as Crawford said, I don' think they have a chance at winning this game. The Ducks did suffer some blows during the off-season, losing Maurice Richard Trophy candidate Teemu Selanne to free-agency, Dustin Penner to Edmonton, and maybe Scott Neidermayer to retirement. But they do have some young players ready to step up, like Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf, how everyone is choosing to have a breakout year.

Because of this, I think the Ducks will beat the Kings in the season opener today. But be ready to see a re-match tomorrow, also at 12:00pm.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wellwood May Require Surgery

The Toronto Maple Leafs are expecting to be in the playoffs come spring-time. But they may have suffered a huge set-back to that plan, before the season has even begun.

Kyle Wellwood, the Leafs best young player may need additional surgery for a hernia injury last year. The team received word early Friday evening that extensive testing had discovered an issue in the same abdominal area that was surgically repaired in Montreal last season.

Wellwood missed over 1/3rd of the Leafs games last year with the injury, but still almost tied his point total from the year before in which he scored 45 points. The extent of the injury is unknown. It could be as many as 2 days, to 2 weeks to 2 months!

Wellwood has been picked by many hockey experts to be this years breakout player, as new linemates Mark Bell and possibly Jason Blake will add talent to Wellwood's line.

The Leafs are going to get more info about his injury as training camp goes on, but it seems that Kyle Wellwood may be watching the 1st few games in the Leafs season in the press box.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Leafs Lose Pre-Season Opener

The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming into this season with high expectations. Fans expect a playoff berth for the 1st time in 2 years. They got their season started yesterday against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers got the 1st goal of the game, when Slava Trukhno scored late in the 1st. But the Leafs came back just 2 minutes later with a goal of their own to tie it up. In the 2nd period, there was no score, so on to the 3rd. In that period, the Leafs got the lead when Bryan McCabe fired a shot past the Edmonton goalie. But just like the Leafs in the 1st, Edmonton came back quick to tie the game back up. The game ended up going into overtime.

In the O.T period, the Oilers scored early when Denis Grebeshkov scored just 3 minutes in to give the Oilers the win. Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish says the whole organization is still discovering what the 23-year-old Grebeshkov brings to the table.

``He has all kinds of skill,'' he said of Grebeshkov. ``For him to win the hockey game has to be a good feeling for him. There were other aspects of his game that we all saw can use some fine-tuning but there is obviously a lot to work with there.''

The Leafs will play tonight against the Coyotes.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Belichick Pays

Roger Goodell already has a reputation for being strict. He has already dealt with Pacman Jones and Micheal Vick, and now he needed to deal with Bill Belichick, who was spying on the New York Jets.

The New England coach was fined the NFL maximum of US$500,000 Thursday and the Patriots were ordered to pay $250,000 for stealing an opponent's defensive signals. Commissioner Roger Goodell also ordered the team to give up next year's first-round draft choice if it reaches the playoffs and second- and third-round picks if it doesn't.

When Belichick addressed the media yesterday, it was almost painful to watch. "All we're focusing on is the San Diego Chargers." That was his answer to everything. He seemed that he had gone days without sleep, and was hiding something.

The Patriots have been caught once before. Last November, during their 35-0 victory in Green Bay, the Packers caught the Pats shooting unauthorized video and told them to stop.

New England will now try to put this incident behind them and get ready for the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bell Suspended

After a long wait, the NHL finally announced today the length of Toronto forward Mark Bell's suspension for DUI back in 2006.

Bell will miss 15 games of the season without pay for his actions back on September 1st, 2006. The 27 year-old was has been sober for over a year now. "Playing in the National Hockey League is a privilege, and with that privilege comes a corresponding responsibility for exemplary conduct off the ice as well as on it," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

"However, over the past year, Mark has made extraordinary strides in his rehabilitation," added Bettman. "This positive progress was a material factor in reducing what could have been a lengthier suspension."

The NHLPA though is not in favor of the suspension.

"The NHLPA sees no basis for the excessive suspension Gary Bettman has imposed upon Mark Bell. Mark has fully accepted the serious consequences of his actions. He faces incarceration at the conclusion of the season and has already been suspended without pay as a result of his placement in Stage 2 of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program (SABH). There is no legitimate purpose served by adding a substantial league disciplinary suspension to the severe sanctions that have already been imposed."

Whether it was fair or not fair, this is all part of the road to staying sober for Mark Bell.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Everett Under Sedation

Yesterday, during the game between the Denver Broncos and the Buffalo Bills, Domenik Hixon was returning the second half-opening kickoff. It seemed like a normal play. Nothing special was happening. It looked like the Bills had Hixon cornered, and all they had to do was wrap him up. But instead, the Bills' Kevin Everett decided to hit not with his shoulder, but with his head. The moment he made contact, Everett went limp. It took trainers 15 minutes to put Everett on a stretcher properly and put him in a ambulance. Today was the 1st time that we heard from him since that play yesterday. The news wasn't good.

Everett, after under-going 4-hours of emergency surgery was evaluated by doctors. They said that he would be lucky to walk again. Eric Armstead, a partner of the player's agent Brian Overstreet, told The Associated Press on Monday, ''He'll be sedated for the next 24 to 48 hours and we won't know more until then,'' Armstead said. ''We were told by the doctors that the surgery went well.''

Replays showed the player twitching for a few seconds as he attempted to get up before falling back to the ground. Everett had his eyes open but showed no further signs of movement during the next 15 minutes. Everett though did show some signs of life, as he twitched many times when at the hospital.

The reason for this injury, and for other injuries like this is the way these players are taught to hit. They are taught to use their head, instead of the more traditional way of wrapping up the guy with your hands and shoulders. If your going full speed, then putting that kind of force on your neck, your bound to get hurt at some point.

I think the NFL should stop this nasty habit. Maybe put in a new rule that you can't hit with your head or it will be a penalty. Or you could argue that the penalty could be even more severe, and the player should get kicked out of the game. All of these are good solutions. The NFL should really consider doing some sort of rule change.

Tomlinson Leads Chargers to Victory

Yesterday was the 1st Sunday of the NFL season. There were a lot of teams going at it , but there was 1 matchup that everyone was going to watch.

The Chicago Bears and the San Diego Chargers were facing off yesterday in what was supposed to be a game full of scoring. The Bears went to the Super Bowl last year, and the Chargers had the best record in football at 14-2 last year. But after the 1st quarter, no one had scored a single point. The 2nd quarter wasn't much different, as the Bears scored the lone points with a measly field goal. But LaDainian Tomlinson wouldn't be denied in the 2nd half. He got the Chargers in the lead in the 3rd as he threw his 7th touchdown pass of his career to Antonio Gates. Then, in the 4th quarter, LT ran in for his 1st touchdown of the 2007 season. The Chargers defence took over from then, and held the Bears scoreless for the rest of the game for the Chargers to win 14-3.

The Bears, who topped the NFC last year at 13-3 before losing in the Super Bowl to Indianapolis, were nothing short of brutal with four turnovers. Two of the turnovers set up the game's only touchdowns. 'When we're playing at our best, those mistakes don't happen and tonight definitely wasn't our night,'' said Grossman, who was a pedestrian 12-for-23 for 145 yards and an interception. ''We had all the opportunities in the world. Our defence gave us a chance to win this game.''

Here are the rest of the scores from yesterday:

New York Giants vs Dallas - 35-45
Detroit vs Oakland - 36-21
Tampa Bay vs Seattle - 6-20
Tennessee vs Jacksonville - 13-10
Denver vs Buffalo - 15-14
Pittsburgh vs Cleveland - 34-7
Philadelphia vs Green Bay - 13-16
Miami vs Washington - 13-16
Carolina vs St.Louis - 27-13
New England vs New York Jets - 38-14
Atlanta vs Minnesota - 3-14
Kansas City vs Houston - 3-20

Friday, September 7, 2007

Colts Win 2007 NFL Season Opener

The last time the Indianapolis Colts took the field in a meaningful game, they won the Super Bowl (in convincing fashion I might add). Yesterday, they looked as dominant as ever against the New Orleans Saints, who were coming off a 10-6 year which was ended by the Bears in the NFC Championship game.

The game started out horrible for the Colts, as one the 1st play, Joesph Addia went down. There were a few moments of silence in the crowd, but it was evident that Addia would return. On the Colts 2nd possession, Peyton Manning threw long for Marvin Harrison, who caught it for the 1st touchdown of the 2007 NFL season. In the 2nd quarter, the Saints came back. An interception brought a touchdown and a tie game, and a field goal gave them the lead. But the Colts later kicked their own field goal to have it tied up at 10 a piece at half-time.

The 2nd half was all Colts. 1st, Joesph Addia, who was back in the game ran 2 yards for a touchdown, after Manning marched the Colts down the field. Then, Reggie Wayne scored after catching a 28-yard pass Manning. The Colts kept on coming in the 4th, as Wayne scored another touchdown and Matt Giordano got a 83-yard interception. The final score was 41-10 for the Colts.

The key to this game was the Colts defence. They shut down Drew Brees, and didn't allow anything from Reggie Bush. ''All off-season, that's what everyone talked about, that the defence has lost all these guys,'' said Peyton Manning, who threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns. ''A lot of young guys played good tonight. It's only one game and there's a long way to go, but we played really well tonight.''

Now the Colts can relax and get ready for their week matchup.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Printers Signs With Ti-Cats

Former MVP of the CFL Casey Printers thought he had football figured out. He went from the CFL to the NFL, thinking he would become a star. It didn't work out, and now he is back in the CFL.

Printers signed a 3-year deal with the Hamilton Tiger Cats today. Financial terms of the contract are unknown, bot is expected that Printers will make a high salary of $500,000. For the past few years, Printers played for the Kansas City Chiefs. He never got much playing time, and failed to make the lineup during this pre-season. As many as five teams were said to be in the running for Printers. The Montreal Alouettes believed they had a deal with the 2004 Most Outstanding Player, until the Ticats swooped in with a last minute offer he could not refuse.

At only 26, the former MVP will look to lead the Ti-Cats past the Argos and into a playoff spot.


For the past week, I haven't been able to update my blog. I apologize to all my readers and I will try to make some more free time in the future.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Top 5 Moments of August

September was a month to remember. The Super Series, Micheal Vick and a lot of other things make up the top 5 moments of August.

Number 5 - Phil Rizzuto Dies at 89. The former player and announcer died at 89 year early in August. He was one of the best shortstops in Yankee history, and was a fun announcer known for his catch phrase "Holy Cow".

Number 4 - Little League World Series. It was Georgia and Japan in the final of the LLWS late in August. It was a close game that went into extra innings. When Dalton Carriker came in the 8th, he blasted a ball to right, clearing the fence to win the Little League World Series.

Number 3 - MLB History. In the month of August, lots of stuff happened in the MLB. Tom Glavine got his 300th win of his career, Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th homer, and Barry Bonds hit broke the all-time home run record.

Number 2 - Canada/Russia Super Series For the anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series, Canada and Russia decided to do a series with their juniors. It was supposed to be a close Series, but Canada took the 1st 4 games of the Series and will play in Canada on Tuesday.

Number 1 - Micheal Vick and Dog Fighting. After months of investigations and controversy, Micheal Vick finally pleaded guilty to charges of dog fighting. He will face a minimum of 1 year in jail.

Rookie Buchholz No-hits Orioles

Clay Buchholz. Do you know the name. Probably not. He's an MLB pitcher for the Red Sox. But during his entire career, he had only made 1 start, which he won. Before yesterday he was just a young pitcher fighting for a job in '08. But now he's in the history books.

Buchholz took the mound yesterday against the Orioles and looked for his 2nd career win. He didn't need to wait long for the Sox to get him some runs, as Coco Crisp drove in his 49th run to give the Sox a 1-0 lead. The runs just kept on coming from there, as the Sox cashed in 10 by the 8th. But by then the buzz wasn't about the runs, it was about Buchholz. He had throw a no-hitter threw 8! All he needed was 3 more outs. Brian Roberts was the 1st to go up, and went right back to the dugout after Buchholz struck him out. Then Corey Patterson flew out to centre for the 2nd out. Then, Nick Markakis came up to bat. Buchholz got 2 quick strikes then a nasty curveball to strike him out and throw a no-hitter! It was the 1st no-hitter by a Red Sox rookie ever.

The closest the Orioles came to a hit was when Miguel Tejada led off the seventh with a sharp grounder up the middle. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia raced to his right and dove. He backhanded the ball, stood up and fired to first, where the throw easily beat Tejada, who slid in headfirst.

''I jumped up as fast as I could and I threw it as hard as I could,'' Pedroia said. Buchholz jumped but missed the ball. ''I was thinking it was over,'' Buchholz said. ''When he made that play I knew something was meant to happen tonight. It was an incredible moment in my life.''

Buchholz joined Mark Buehrle of the White Sox (April 18) and Justin Verlander of the Tigers (June 12) among the pitchers to throw a no-hitter this season -- all of whom are American Leaguers. He also became the 21st rookie to throw a no-hitter, the first since Florida's Anibal Sanchez on Sept. 6, 2006.

''There's no going back to Triple-A,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Canada Sweeps 4 Games in Russia

Team Canada was coming into their game today up 3-0 in the Canada/Russia Super Series. They were looking to make it a 4-game sweep of the games in Russia.

Russia started out the game great, putting the pressure on the Canadians from the puck-drop. But Canada managed to get a goal from Brad Marchand near the end of the period to take a 1-0 lead. Same Gagner then added on to the lead with a early 2nd period goal. John Tavares got the final goal of the period, his first in the series and Canada's third of the game with a power-play goal at 12:19 thanks to a heads-up play by Claude Giroux.

But Russia wouldn't go away. In front of the home-town crowd, Russia sored 2 quick ones to get within 1 of the Canadians. But Brad Marchand came up big once again with a goal off a rebound. That took the wind out of the Russians sails, and the Canadians played it safe for the rest of the game. The final score was 4-2 for Canada.

The key to the game was Canadian goalie Steve Mason. As in the 1st game, Mason stopped all but 2 shots in the game helping Canada to a win. If Canada gets even a tie in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Canada will have won the series.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Canada Takes 3-0 Lead In Super Series

Team Canada was facing the Russians today in the 3rd game of the Canada/Russia Super Series. Canada was trying to keep the momentum going from last game, a game that they won 3-0.

The Russians were starting the game with some bad news, as one of their best players, Alexei Cherepanov was out for the rest of the Super Series. Cherepanov suffered a concussion when he collided with Canadian forward Brandon Sutter in the first period of Game 2. He did not skate this morning and is still in hospital.

So Russia came into the game a little short-handed, and it sure showed. Sam Gagner started Canada off with a quick goal, and then, on the powerplay, Kyle Turris blasted a shot above Russian goaltender Semen Varlamov. Russia answered back though when Pavel Doronin scored a short-handed goal. But near the end of the period, Colton Gillies scored on a breakaway to give Canada the 2-goal lead.

After a 2nd period where Russia scored 1, Canada turned it on in the 3rd. Claude Giroux scored a beautiful goal in the slot to start off the Canadian team, and then Stephan Legein wired a slapshot over the Russian goalie to give Canada a 3-goal lead. From then on, Canada coasted, scoring another one just to be sure. The final score was 6-2 for Canada.

The Canadian team had four power-play goals, including two to open the scoring. Goaltender Leland Irving of the Everett Silvertips got the victory. The next game will be tomorrow in Omsk, and then the scene shifts to Canada.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Oh Canada

NHL training camps are opening up in a few days, and all 30 teams are starting off fresh. New players, new staff, a new season. That's the beauty of training camp. There are 30 teams that think they have a shot at the Stanley Cup. But as always, only 2 lucky teams can get into the Final. Last year, one of those lucky teams were the Ottawa Senators, who seemed to have shaken off their playoff jitters from years past, only to lose in the Finals. Now they and 5 other Canadian teams hope to bring the Cup to Canada for the 1st time in 14 grueling years. But which of these Canadian teams actually have a realistic shot at bringing back glory to Canada. Well here's what I think.

Calgary Flames - The Flames made the playoffs last year by 1 point, just beating out Colorado. This year though, it seems that the Flames will be going for a much higher spot than 8th. This off-season, the Flames big signings were Owen Nolan and Cory Sarich. Nolan had 16 goals and 24 assists with Phoenix last year, while Sarich had 15 points with Tampa last year, all assists. But Sarich's job isn't to score, it's to fill Roman Hamrlik's spot. Hamrlik spent 2 years with Calgary before leaving for Montreal this off-season. The Flames also acquired Adrian Aucoin from the Blackhawks via trade. Not much has changed for an already solid offence. Veteran winger Owen Nolan should bring some swagger and all-around nastiness up front. Jarome Iginla will have his usual strong supporting cast , as Matthew Lombardi, Alex Tanguay, Kristian Huselius, and Daymond Langkow all had career seasons.

This team looks like a 100 point type of team and could go all the way this year. They will probably get the 4th or 5th seed, seeing that the Avalanche and the Canucks are in their division. This is a team that is made for playoff hockey. They have gritty and skilled players, so watch out for the Flames, they could win the Cup.

Edmonton Oilers
- Edmonton's season went from bad to worse last year when Ryan Smyth was traded at the trade deadline to the Islanders. The Oilers finished the season with a measly 71 points. But Edmonton made some changes in the off-season, getting powerplay specialist Sheldon Souray from the Canadiens, Dustin Penner from the Ducks and Mathieu Garon from the Kings. But the Oilers did lose some good players as well, as Petr Sykora, Jason Smith and Joffery Lupal are all on different teams now. If there's one thing GM Kevin Lowe could be looking at sooner than later, it's a top-six forward who can play on the second line. They are likely prepared to part with one of their nine NHL-ready defencemen and a prospect or two to try and get it.

But unless the Oilers make that kind of trade, I don't see them making the playoffs. They lack talent and they don't have a "wow" player, that all teams need to lead them. They will finish 10th-13th in the Conference and last in their division. They are not threat to win the Stanley Cup.

Montreal Canadiens - The Habs missed the playoffs barely last year after losing to their arch rival Toronto Maple Leafs in the final game of the season.

But during the off-season, Montreal looked to get some good players to help them this year. They made great offers to Paul Karyia, Ryan Smyth and even Quebec native Daniel Briere, but none of them signed. But the Habs did get some guys. They signed Roman Hamrlik for the defencive end, and Bryan Smolinski for faceoffs. The Canadiens did lose some key guys during the off-season though. Sheldon Souray went to Edmonton, Alexander Perezhogin left for Swedan and Radek Bonk left for the Preds. At this point, it looks like the additions were made to off set the loss of other players. But Smolinski is a solid faceoff man - something the Canadiens desperately needed.

Faceoffs though don't get you you into the playoffs. I expect the Canadiens to finish 9th-11th in the Eastern Conference. Montreal just lost too many goals with Souray, Perezhogin and Bonk (39 goals between just Bonk and Souray). They are not a threat to win the cup.

Ottawa Senators - The Senators got all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last year, but ended up losing to the Ducks. Ottawa didn't really make any big moves during the off-season, as their only notable loss was Mike Comrie, and their best signing was Niko Dimitrakos. The Senators may not score as many goals this season, but the drop-off will be insignificant. The team is also expected to play a more physical type of game. With players like Chris Phillips and Antoine Vermette, many people expect more hits.

Ottawa has almost the same exact lineup from last year, and they made it to the Final with that lineup, so I have to put them as the front-runners to win the Eastern Conference and the Northeast Division. They are a real threat to win the cup.

Toronto Maple Leafs - The Leafs missed the playoffs by 1 point last season after the Islanders beat the Devils in their final game. But the Leafs made some moves this off-season to make sure that wouldn't happen again. Toronto signed Jason Blake to a long-term contract, and traded for Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell on draft day. The Leafs did lose some people as well as Micheal Peca and Yanic Perreault found new homes.

Those losses aren't that great though, and the Leafs signings will do lots of good. The addition of Toskala will put pressure on Andrew Raycroft to perform better in training camp, or his starting job will be taken away. Blake will be a great force up front, and Bell will help Kyle Wellwood on the 2nd line. I expect the Leafs to finish 5th-8th in the conference and 2nd in their division. Even with those high expectations, I see them as only a minor threat to win the Cup.

Vancouver Canucks - Vancouver is coming off a great year that ended at the hands of the Ducks. The Canucks had 105 points last year and had the 3rd seed in the Conference. During the off-season, Vancouver didn't really sign anyone that can make a difference for them, and they didn't lose anyone good either. They have basically the same team as last year, which is pretty good.

I think that Vancouver will have another great year behind Roberto Luongo and get the 3rd-5th seed in the Western Conference. They are a pretty good contender to win the Stanley Cup.

So out of all these teams, I think that the Ottawa Senators have the best chance to win the Stanley Cup. They have the talent, the grit and the goaltending. But over the past few years, there has always been a surprise Canadian team in the Final. So we'll have to what and see what happens.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Canada Takes 2-0 Lead in Super Series

After Team Russia dominated Canada in the 1st 10 minutes of game 1 of the Canad/Russia Super Series on Monday, the Canucks turned it up a notch. They came back and won the game 4-2. Today, they were looking to keep the momentum from that game going, as they faced Russia in game 2 of the Super Series.

The Canadians got the lead in the 1st from Kyle Turris after a great give-and-go with David Perron. Canad brought the lead into the 2nd. In the 2nd frame, tempers were flaring. A simple push started a huge fight in which almost all players on the ice contributed in. But Canada got their revenge with their play.

With a minute left in the 2nd, Stephan Legein blasted the puck past the Russian goalkeeper to give Canada a 2-0 lead. In the 3rd period, fog started rolling into the new arena in Ufa, Russia. But the teams kept on playing. The players participated in a few fights during the period, and Canada sealed the win when David Perron scored to give Canada a 3-0 lead with less than 5 minutes remaining. The final score was 3-0 for Team Canada to give them a 2-0 in the best of 8 series.

The Canadians did everything right in their game today, and were much more disciplined than last game. The Canadians had excellent goaltending for the second game in a row. Lewiston's Jonathan Bernier earned the shutout.
Related Info

Games 3 and 4 of the series are Friday and Saturday in Omsk. The Canadian team has a two-hour flight to Omsk on Thursday.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Canada Wins Game 1 of Super Series

35 years ago, something special happened in hockey. It was the Summit Series between Team Canada and Team Russia, or guess back then, The Red Army. Canadians watched as their dream team, which included Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr lost 2 games and tied 1 in the 1st 4 games at home! It was apparent to both Canadians and Soviets that the Canucks had a fight a head of them.

When Team Canada arrived in their opposing teams country, they again lost. But with a new found respect for the Soviets, Canada turned it on for the final 3 games and won all of them. It was Canada's greatest accomplishment in their history with sports.

Today, Canada and Russia honoured the great series by playing another one. But this time, we got to see Canada's juniors represent in what is called, "The Canada - Russia Super Series.

The 8 game series started off in Ufa, Russia today with both teams ready to roll. The Russians though were the ones who started off with an edge as they scored 2 quick goals to take the lead. But Canada responded with goals 45 seconds apart, one of them off a penalty shot from Kyle Turris to tie it up. In the 2nd period, Canada grabbed the lead when Sam Gagner scored early in the period, and extended that lead later in that period.

From that point on, London Knights goaltender Steve Mason stole the show. He made many spectacular saves the keep the 2-goal Canadian lead and rarely gave up a rebound. He stopped 40 of 42 shots to lead the Canadians to a 4-2 win in the 1st game of the Super Series.

The key to the game was Canada's penalty kill. They killed off 14 penalties plus 2 2-man advantages. If Canada had let even one of those powerplays score, than nobody knows what could of happened with a 1-goal lead.

The second of the eight-game series is Wednesday (Sportsnet, 9 a.m. ET) in Ufa and then two games will be played in Omsk on Friday and Saturday.

Georgia Wins Second Straight LLWS

My 1st post since last week is definitely an exciting one. Japan and Georgia were playing in the final of the Little League World Series.

The game was very exciting the entire way through. The Japanese got got 2 quick runs during the 1st 2 innings, but Georgia came back getting a 2-run double courtesy of Keaton Allen. From then on, the pitchers took over. Not a run was scored for the rest of regulation, so the game had to go into extra innings.

The 1st 2 1/2 innings of extras were also scoreless, until Georgia's Dalton Carriker came up to the plate in the bottom of the 8th. . The slugger, hitting .769 entering Sunday's game, was 0-for-2 with a walk when he came up in the eighth.

He said a little prayer before settling himself in the batter's box. "God, please give me the strength to get a hit and help my team out," Carriker said in recounting his prayer. He did more than just get a little single or double though. He blasted a pitch to right field that easily cleared the 225 foot fences. As he was rounding the bases, Carriker said he couldn't feel his legs. "I felt like I was flying, like Peter Pan," Carriker said. "I didn't know what I was doing."

It was a bitter end for the Japanese team though, who had ironacly gotten to the big game off a walk-off home run yesterday againstCuracao. Japan manager Youichi Kubo, who managed Japan to the 2001 Little League crown, tried to console his pitcher afterward.

"I told Junsho that when you are a reliever these things can happen," Kubo said through a translator. "I told him that he has a bright future and not to let this homer affect that."

Well no matter how any of this will affect these little leaguers careers, both teams can hold their heads high. Playing in the LLWS Championship Game is a huge accomplishment.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


For the next week I'm going to be away. I will be back on the weekend and get back to covering sports. See ya.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Canada Wins It's LLWS Opener

The Little League World Series started out with a bang yesterday with one of the most dramatic games in recent memory. By today, many people were still buzzing about the play that Michael Rando made, but for a lot of the LLWS teams, they had games to play. One of those teams were Canada, who were playing their 1st game of the tournament against Saudi Arabia.

The Canucks sent 6 foot 2, 200 pound Shaylen Buis to the mound, and started off smoking. His 1st 6 outs were all off strikeouts and took a 5-0 lead into the 5th. But the Saudis equaled Canada's 5 to tie it up and chase Buis out of the game. But Canada's bats were not fazed by the shaky inning.

Parker Stefaniuk and Jackson Temple both homered in the inning, which highlighted the 8 runs the Canucks scored. Canada then shut down Saudi Arabia for their 1st win of the tournament. Temple said his players weren't discouraged despite blowing a five-run lead.

''These guys have been in this position before,'' he said. ''They knew what had to be done. There was no panic. We weren't heading for the lifeboats.''

Canada's next game is Monday afternoon against Japan (1-0), the favourites in Pool D. The Japanese pounded the Caribbean 10-3 in their tournament opener Friday, and if they are not careful against them, they may be heading for the lifeboats after all.

The Great Home Run Race

I saw this picture on ESPN Page 2 and I was amazed. I knew that J.D Drew had been having a bad year, but not that bad. I think that Drew is just another disappointment who was pressured by to much money.

If you take a look, many players are having bad years after signing lucrative contracts. Vernon Wells and Frank Thomas are both having some of the least productive seasons of their careers. Barry Zito was signed to the biggest contract for a pitcher ever in the off-season, and, well lets just say that a guy named Chuck James in his 2nd year is having a better year. I think that GM's around the MLB should just take a little closer look at free agent signings, or they might come back to bite you.

Walpole Wins Little League World Series Opener

When your 12 years old, most kids are getting ready for high school, hanging out with their friends and just being kids. Things are much different for the kids who play sports at a high level.

If you play baseball or hockey at Triple A level, then a lot of pressure is thrust upon you. It becomes more than just a game. Parents and coaches are focused more on winning than their kids, and many kids do this and end up hating the sport. Many of the kids who don't end up hating the sports won't make it in the professional ranks. But there are a select few who fight through the tough times and get a future in their sport. It was obvious to the crowd at the Little League World Series Opener yesterday that Michael Rando is one of those kids.

The Walpole Americans were facing the Great Lakes regional representative West Side of Hamilton, Ohio yesterday. The Americans were down 1-0, heading into the top of the sixth. Through five innings, Great Lakes starter Kyle Cotcamp had allowed just two hits and struck out nine.

But Walpole’s Matt Bender hit a one-out single to right, with P.J. Hayes pinch-running for him. A wild pitch moved Hayes to second, then Great Lakes decided to intentionally walk Adams. Another wild pitch then put both runners in scoring position for Johnny White. White fell behind in the count before working it full. He then stroked one over the left fielder’s head for a double that scored Hayes and Adams. Mike LaVita greeted new pitcher Tyler Richards with a single to move Adams up a base before Sam Falkson laid down a bunt for a base hit that scored White for a key insurance run and a 3-1 lead.

Then, in the bottom of the 6th, John Cornett came up with 1 man on and 2 out. He hit a 226 foot blast to centre fielder Micheal Rando. Rando tracked it and came to the wall. He jumped and stuck his glove out, hoping he would catch it. He did. Before he even touched the ground, he had the ball in his hand, showing it to the amazed crowd. His teammates mobbed him at centre. "I thought I had a chance to rob it," said Rando, still clutching the ball in his hand during postgame interviews. "I knew it was going out, but I thought I had a chance to rob it - so I went back to the fence and I caught it."

"I couldn’t believe it," said Rando.

The victory gives Walpole American (20-1), the New England representative, a 1-0 record in Pool A play - while also handingWest Side its first loss of the summer. Walpole has today off, returning to action tomorrow.

For more on the Little League World Series, see ESPN Little League World Series 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Zambrano Gets 5-Year Extension

Carlos Zambrano is having the best season of his young career. Today he got rewarded for it.

The 26-year old has signed a 5-year, $90 million dollar contract extension with the Chicago Cubs. The new deal runs through the 2012 campaign and includes a vesting option for a sixth season.

Zambrano is is 14-9 with a 3.86 earned run average in 26 starts this season in the MLB. He is one of the Cy Young candidates in the National League and is leading the Cubs to a possible playoff berth.

Zambrano signed this contract to stay with the Cubs, as he was a free agent at the end of the season. "Not everything is about money, you know," Zambrano said. "I know if I got to free agency there were a lot of things that would come to me and offer me. I feel comfortable here. I feel good here and my family feels good here."

"We were within earshot of this thing, completing a deal near Opening Day. But due to the sale of the Tribune (the Cubs owners, Tribune Co. was sold this season), it changed everything," Zambrano's agent Barry Praver said.

Zambrano will now spend 5 years on a playoff contending Cubs team.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rizzuto Dies at Age 89

Phil Rizzuto, one of the best shortstops in MLB history has passed away.

Rizzuto had pneumonia and died in his sleep at a nursing home in West Orange, N.J., daughter Patricia Rizzuto said Tuesday. He had been in declining health for several years.

Rizzuto played 11 years for the New York Yankees getting an MVP award in 1950 and 5 all-star appearances. Popular as a player and beloved as a broadcaster, the New York Yankees shortstop was during their dynasty years of the 1940s and 1950s. "I guess heaven must have needed a shortstop," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "He epitomized the Yankee spirit - gritty and hard charging - and he wore the pinstripes proudly."

After his playing career, Rizzuto immediately became a broadcaster. He was known for his catch phrase, "holy cow". Rizzuto also became known for saying "Unbelievable!" or "Did you see that?" to describe a great play, and would call somebody a "huckleberry" if he did something Rizzuto didn't like. Phil always did know who to keep it fun in the press boxes. Rizzuto would typically refer to his broadcast partners by their last names, calling them "White", "Murcer" and "Seaver" instead of "Bill", "Bobby" or "Tom."

Rizzuto broadcasted some great moments in baseball, which include Roger Maris' 61th home run. After a long wait, Rizzuto was voted into the hall of fame in 1994.

Just to show how good Rizzuto was, Ted Williams claimed that his Red Sox would have won most of the Yankees' 1940s and 1950s pennants if they had had Rizzuto at shortstop. Rizzuto was a great player on the field, and a character at the least off it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Coyotes Sign Auld

Alex Alud has been signed by the Phoenix Coyotes.

The 26-year old was signed to a 1-year contract today by Phoenix. He had a record of 7-13-5 last season with the Florida Panthers. Auld should prove a good backup for David Aebischer.

Auld has a career record of 46-44-13 in five NHL season with Florida and Vancouver. He also has a 2.89 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.

Auld is now part of a good goaltending crew in Phoenix with Aebischer and Mikael Tellqvist.