Monday, March 19, 2012

"Did you miss us? No? Well, I didn't miss you either" Games of the Week

I'm still not certain Boomer is alive at this point.  He texted me at random times throughout the weekend and for all I know, it was somebody who stole his phone.  I'll let him dive into what happened in college basketball over the past few days. I'll just continue my focus on the pros in the NHL and NBA.


On the ice:
I'm tired of covering the whole league when I only really care about one side.  So today marks the beginning of me covering the East with a focus on the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Suck it.

Yesterday's game of the week on NBC featuring the Flyers and Penguins is still sitting rather unwell in my tummy.  The Cryers won with 0.9 seconds left in OT to take the 2 points.  However the Pens managed to get that point.  Nevertheless, the Pens did have a 2-0 lead going into the third and it snapped an 11 game winning streak (longest in NHL this season).  If that shot would have missed, I would have liked the Pens chances in the shooutout too.

Now look at what it has done in the standings!  Here's how hockey works.  The 3 divisions, Atlantic, Southeast, and Northeast, leaders get the top 3 seeds.  Then everyone else just fills in behind with the top 8 going to the playoffs.  The Penguins have the 2nd most points but since they are not in first, they ultimately fall to the 4th seed, LAME.  The good news is that the Rangers, Penguins, and Flyers (Atlantic) are all within 3 points which will make for a very exciting finish.  Boston and Ottawa (Northeast) are basically batting for a HUGE spot because you will end up 2-3 or 7th.  A top four team gets home ice in the first round.  The Devils are also in the Atlantic but seem destined for a 6-7 seed.  Everybody in the East is still mathematically in the race for the 8th spot and there's the lowly Florida Panthers (Southeast) holding a decent 5 point edge for the 3 spot.

As you can see by the GP (Games Played) column, most teams have about 10 games left.  That's 20 points on the line.  A win = 2 points. A loss in regulation is 0 and both teams are awarded 1 point for going to OT/shootout with the winner receiving the extra point.  EVERY POINT MATTERS.

Just for fun since I live in the State of Ohio.  The Columbus Blue Jackets (in the West) are the only team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention this past week.  Such a shame with such high expectations this past October.  And speaking of Ohio, the NCAA Sweet 16 features 4 Ohio schools! Go Ohio State, OU, Xavier, and Cincy (only for a few more days until the Bearcats play the Bucks, then it's Scarlet and Grey all the way).














1New York RangersRangers  71442079519515814.286.524-1120-164-5-1
2Boston BruinsBruins  71412738522817817.283.221-1520-154-6-0
3Florida PanthersPanthers  713523138318019719.179.520-1715-196-3-1
4Pittsburgh PenguinsPenguins  71442169423118019.489.324-1020-179-0-1
5Philadelphia FlyersFlyers  72422289223120419.882.019-1523-158-1-1
6New Jersey DevilsDevils  72412658719818716.589.420-1621-156-3-1
7Ottawa SenatorsSenators  733726108422121318.681.819-1818-185-3-2
8Washington CapitalsCapitals  72363067819320516.680.723-1313-235-4-1
9Winnipeg JetsJets  72343087619220318.579.723-1511-235-4-1
10Buffalo SabresSabres  723329107618020415.781.618-1915-206-2-2
11Carolina HurricanesHurricanes  732929157319421716.479.318-1911-255-3-2
12Toronto Maple LeafsMaple Leafs  72323287220821919.577.816-1916-213-6-1
13Tampa Bay LightningLightning  71323277119924015.578.621-1511-245-4-1
14New York IslandersIslanders  722932116916921618.480.915-2214-213-4-3
15Montreal CanadiensCanadiens  732832136919120314.889.513-2415-214-3-3

Here are the games to watch this week!
Monday 3.19 - Devils @ Rangers 7pm on NBC Sports Network
I hate both these teams but I need the Devils to win in regulation to keep the East lead at 1 point, 2 at the worst.
Tuesday 3.20 - Jets @ Penguins 7pm
After losing for the first time in forever, the Pens need to rebound so they don't fall asleep.  It won't be easy as a hungry Jets team is dying to make the playoffs.  
Wednesday 3.21 - Red Wings @ Rangers 7:30pm on NBC Sports Network
A month ago I would have said this is possibly a finals match up but now, Wings Captain Lidstrom is hurt and the Rangers are falling apart.  Go Wings!  That hurt a little.
Thursday 3.22 - Capitals @ Flyers 7pm on NHL Network
I really wanted to say Pens/Preds here but to pass up on my 2 least favorite teams was impossible.  I hope the stadium blows up. But go Caps.  Man, that still really stings. Stupid Ovechkin.
Friday 3.23 - Jets @ Capitals 7pm
Not really a ton of relevant games Friday night but this one is huge for the final spot.  Which if you're a Pens fan like me, it will matter when we finish #1! Stupid Ovechkin.
Saturday 3.24 - Pens @ Senators 7pm
I'll miss this game due to a concert I'm attending but Ottawa has way over achieved.  Here's hoping Crosby has finally scored a goal by this game.
Sunday 3.25 - Devils @ Penguins 7pm
Just over a week later, this teams meet again after a 5-2 blowout Pens victory.  This time it's in Pitt.  I have a strong dislike for goalie Marty Brodeur.

Alright, I'll move on to some round ball.  NOT.  I'll admit it.  I just don't care.  I attended the Hawks/Cavs game yesterday afternoon with our good friend T-Rex.  After exiting my row, I realized how boring, effortless, and crappy that game was.  These were 2 teams fighting for playoff position and I saw about 3 guys on each team putting forth effort.  All teams have 20+ games left and I just don't have the energy to give a crap.  

A word on the Cavs:
Kyrie Irving is the real deal.  He made mistakes yes, but he's 110% every second he's on the court.  That's offensively and defensively.  A real pleasure to watch.  The Cavs were a way less talented team and got within 6 or so points before Atlanta realized in the 4th quarter, they have good players.  I don't want the Cavs to make the playoffs so they can get a decent chance at a good lottery pick.  But it's painfully obvious they aren't that good.  Jamison the last time I was at a game in February had 34 points and yesterday 17 on 6-22 shooting.  The story of his career, streaky.  The Cavs already desperately miss Ramon Sessions behind Irving because Daniel "Boobie" Gibson is, uh, awful.  Alonzo Gee is a pleasant surprise as an energy guy who dropped a career high 20 points and 9 rebounds but that was it.  Seeing Varejao in a suit is crappy too,  they miss him a lot.  

Next year, they'll have Jamison off the books as well as Anthony Parker.  I see them resigning Alonzo Gee, Samardo Samuels (Louisville Cards represent!) and possibly Ryan Hollins because he's huge. That's a core of Irving, Gibson, Casspi, Gee, Walton, Thompson, Samuels, Varejao, and Hollins.  9 guys. You can have 15 signed but only 12 dressed to play.  I see them addressing a back up point guard big time this offseason as well as a post presence to complement Varejao.  While Gee has been solid, they need a reliable shooting guard who can put up some points.  I see that position or the post up player being their first and/or second picks of the 2012 draft.  They will have 2 first rounders and 2 second rounders.

The post-LeBron era really has begun and frankly, they aren't the worst team in the league after the debacle that was 2010-11 which surprises me.  A couple more decent pieces and a some savvy veteran back ups coupled with Coach Byron Scott, this team will be a contender for the 2nd spot in the Central next seaon.  Mark it down bottom dwellers.