Friday, December 31, 2010

10 New Year's Predictions

Here you go - a few predictions
  1. Nazim Kadri spends the rest of the season in the AHL.  He broke the code by criticizing his recent demotion.
  2. Steve Stamkos wins the scoring title for total points and Rocket Richard for most goals.  Just too much firepower on Tampa Bay and Sid doesn't have the same level of offensive skill with his linemates.
  3. Unfortunately both the Leafs and Raptors do not make the playoffs.
  4. Jose Bautista has another great season and exceeds 40 Home runs in 2011.
  5. Hamilton City council gets their act together and agree to a new stadium location within Hamilton.  Failing that Burlington location would work well - on Go Train route, easy access for Hamiltonians and Burlington has a really good football base to support the Cats.
  6. Argos suck! (again)
  7. Habs continue their slide and Carolina catches them
  8. Yankees do not make the playoffs for only the second time in 18 years.  Derek Jeter, great ambassador for the game, won't rebound offensively and his range gets worse in 2011.
  9. Super Bowl champions - New Orleans repeats
  10. Tiger Woods does not win his 15th major golf tourney.  His mistress count is still higher than his major count.
By the way following is a great shot from the last Bills game - early in the tailgate. From the left - Rob Mowder, Mike Brown, Jeff Morton, Dave Connors, Peter Thompson, Matt Connors and Paul Roberts.   What a crew!

Monday, December 27, 2010

XMAS wishes coming true or end of an era?

Just taking it easy today after a big day in Buffalo yesterday.  Bills really need a stud defender - no pressure on Brady yesterday and he sets some obscure no interception record.  Lets see if he can continue his dominance in the playoffs. 

These are the guys beside us at tailgate - I'm bundled with 7 layers up top and the guy on the truck is only supported by his liqueur.  Temp was 9 F with wind chill.

Big tailgate yesterday - Dave's best chowder on record, met his brother Matt, Paul brings the Lick's burgers, rusty nails.  Paul and Mike are not in the picture above - I think they were out yelling - "Don't pet the horses!"  Nice lid Peter.

Game starts out well and then we give up 34 unanswered.  With all the other lower echelon teams winning yesterday, we're setting up for top 3 pick - just as long as Jets and Mark Brunelle put up a good game next week.

Last game for the boys as a group in Buffalo.  11 years too much ineptitude for Pete and Dave.  Best times are the pre games - why pay for the games?

Leafs come out with a 4-1 win over Jersey - no goals for Kessel.  Habs get spanked by the Islanders - perhaps this is my XMAS wish being granted.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Xmas - unless you are with New Jersey Devils

Come on Lou - what's with firing your coach John McLean days before Christmas.  Not cool. 

Speaking of not cool, Lebron rags on the NBA for having to play Christmas Day.  Here's a tip Lebron - the NBA is not popular enough that they can give up the tradition of showcasing their product on Christmas Day.  I'm glad the game against the Lakers was a dud.

Upcoming predictions.  The World Junior Championships will featue Canada and the U.S. in the final.  Canada's size may be enough to have them wear down everyone on their way to 6th gold in 7 years.

Yes I had Pittsburgh and Arizona against the spread.  Other picks that seem a sure thing - Baltimore over Cleveland and the New York football Giants over Green Bay.  Coughlin some how gets the Giants focused up after their collapse against the Eagles.  Matt Dodge may not kick the ball in bounds again this season

Thursday, December 23, 2010

6 Things I want for Christmas (p.s. I've been pretty good)

  • Brian Burke pulls off a trade for a power forward without mortgaging the future. Give up someone like Beauchamin and Mitchell.
  • Boston Red Sox fans get a grip on reality - the season needs to be played before they can celebrate a championship. Who could possibly have chosen a World Series final of Texas and San Fran at this time last year?
  • The Bills get a stud for defence in 2011.
  • Adam Lind and Aaron Hill get their mojo back and hit like they did in 2009 (look out Red Sox fans if they do).
  • Phil Kessel gets his confidence and scoring touch back starting boxing day in New Jersey.
  • Carey Price plays like most people expected him to play this season and the Habs plummet in the standings.

Merry Xmas

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ho Ho Ho

Quite a weekend for sure.  Topping the list of guys whom I know longer respect or cheer for - Mike Shanahan from the Redskins.  Give me a break - Rex Grossman over the classy Donovan McNab.  Here's hoping the Skins don't win another game.  Merry Xmas Mike.

Speaking of coaches, I absolutely loved the reaction by Tom Coughlin of the Giants after his rookie punter Matt Dodge kicked a line drive punt to DeSean Jackson.  I thought he was going to hit his punter - I loved the old school tongue lashing he gave Dodge.  That kid will never screw up like that again.

Tonight I'm taking a night off of workouts and I'm watching my Leafs against the Thrashers.  I often do push ups when Leafs screw up - 10 when they get a penalty and 20 when they give up a goal.  In the first period tonight they give up 2 goals and a penalty in the space of 28 seconds.  My shoulder can't take it!

Now when it comes to fitness, I discovered a new web site and I am pretty impressed by the guy who publishes the site - Trainer Josh.  Check it out - here's a direct link to a fat burn workout

Ho Ho Ho!  Thx to Robbie G for the XMAS sweater

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tip of the hat to Bargnani

Surprising title?  Sure is - Andrea pulled his game up a notch last night, fighting through sore knee, taped up hands and actually playing some tough D down the stretch.  Plus some tough shots late in Q4 and nice dish to Demar for a key bucket.  What really impressed me was Andrea actually dove for a ball on D with less than 2 minutes to go in the game - I've never seen him compete like that before.  Keep it up Andrea

NFL picks of the weekend - Chicago over Minnesota - how can anyone favour Minny in outdoor game without Brett?  New Orleans over Ravens in Baltimore - what has happened to Raven D?  Last chance for Jets?  No Troy for Pittsburgh could mean trouble - I'm picking Jets to cover.  My Bills go to Miami without two top receivers in Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish - can they keep it within a touchdown?  Doubtful.

Hockey news - congrats to Matt Duchene on quietly jumping into the top 10 in league scoring.  More surprising performance though has to come from Dustin Byfuglien - really who predicted he would first of all be moved to D and secondly be the top scoring D man to date.  Leafs in tough tonight.  I still remember last year when Canucks came to Toronto - Leafs got out to a big lead and then the Sedins took over.  I don't think we have an answer for them. Giggy groin issues - come on Monster, we're really counting on you tonight.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spudniks prevail

I have not written about my own sports exploits in the past, however I feel compelled to do so today.  Last night at the Burlington Fitness and Racquet Club in Burlington, the Spudniks doubles squash team prevailed in the Wednesday night house league.  We capped off an undefeated season with a 4-0 win in the finals.  Team members pictured above - back row - Jeff Beaton, Peter Lemieux, Al Scott and Dave Picklyk.  Front Row Jeff Morton and Ray Coates.  Missing Paul Lloyd and Dave van Wely.  Great work and ton of fun lads.

Winninng is always fun but the league in total is a real blast and well organized by Peter Lemieux and Richard Bellm.  Pictured below I'm having some beer out of the Cup. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is this the same team I saw last Thursday?

Wow the Leafs have really improved down the middle in their past two games - wins over the hated Habs and payback against the young Oilers.  I think props are due to Ron Wilson and likely Keith Acton, one of the Leafs Assistant Coaches.  They went from not being able to win a draw to dominating both Montreal and Edmonton on faceoffs.

Bozak clearly got a fire lit under him as his game is much improved.  Grabovski is playing his best hockey as a Leaf.  These two guys are key for us trying to inch back into the playoffs.  And of course we got scoring from the guys who are supposed to score last night - Versteeg, Grabovski and Kessel. 

I am not a big hockey fight fan but Colton Orr sure knocked the hell out of Oiler Zack Sortini last night.  Poor Zack spent more time in the box than on the ice and won't look good in the Christmas pictures this year.

Off to Calgary next where Stajan and Hagman will be under a lot of pressure to prove the Leaf trade was not a total fleecing (again) of the Flames organization.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Break up the Bills

The weather in Buffalo yesterday sucked - rain all day - it would have been much better with snow.  Great tailgate regardless.  We park beside the Bud Light VIP tent - the parking lot was quite empty yesterday.   So empty that the Bud Light girls came over to our fire and invited us to the VIP party.  I suspect they thought Dean and Dave were there and came over to chat with them.

Anyway I get the all time record for ring toss and win "top prize".  One less gift to buy for XMAS.  50,000 fans braved the elements and saw the Bills D step up and shut down the Browns.  Win 3 for the season - likely the last win with trips to Miami and Jets and home game against the Pats.  Not sure of status of Lee Evans going forward and Steve Johnson seems to have lost is mo jo.

Nice job by Bills protecting the ball in wet conditions yesterday.  With our weak pass rush it's unlikely we'll do well in last home game.  Jets are in real trouble and could be 9 and 6 when we go there for last game of season.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Calcutta time

Here is a message from Chairman Nate
  • These are the final handicaps for the calcutta.
  • Decisions were made by a board not just one person, in case someone wanted to complain. (Editor's note:   If you want to complain speak to the hand.) 
  • These are the first round matchups, and I know it is over a month away but it gives more time for trash talk.
  • Minimum starting bet for every team will be $40.00.
  • We will not move to the next team until the previous team is purchased for at least the minimum. Anyone is welcome to bid on teams so if you have friends that want to be involved but are not playing they are more than welcome to come out.
  • Remember, all matches are 2 outta 3 to 15 no additional points and single elimination.
  • Calcutta's cannot be a success without people willing to gamble, so please come to the auction on Tuesday January 18th 7 the BFRC cafe with the mindset that you will have to spend some money on a team. If it is a success then we can do it again and improve on it.

See you in January boys!!


Al Scott / Ivan Hunt             plus 4
Ray Coates / Byron Goodwin plus 1

Rick James / Frank Thomson plus 3
Dean Lloyd / John Bodnar minus 1

Gary Long / Gord Dowbiggin   plus 3
John Graham / Mark Litton   minus 2

Nick Stryland / Greg Rae       minus 5
Chris Barrett / Dave Peters plus 2

Gerald Marshall / Dave v Wely minus 3
John Rekrut / Ted Charuk       plus 5

Peter Lemieux / Ross Vipond minus 2
Rob Bowder / Paul Grootendorst -4 minus 4

Mike Donnelly / Brent Hurtubise minus 4
Bob Sullivan / Nathan Drew minus 1

Norm Crook / Jeff Morton         even
Pete Naughton / Mark Braden plus 4

Leaf Observations

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Leafs/Flyers game by my friends Jeff V and Kevin -Wings and Bruin fans if you can believe it.  Add Michelle, a Habs fan to the group and you can imagine how much ribbing I took from them.

Leafs biggest issue is their lack of strong centers.  They lose most draws and really struggle in the defensive and neutral zones.  In the defensive end, we lose possession and then when we do get the puck, we don't have the guy in the middle that can consistently move through defensive and neutral zone. 

If you look at the Flyers their puck handling before they get in the offensive end is much better - they make longer passes which means they require fewer passes to gain the offensive end.  We make too many  short passes which provides more opportunity for something to go wrong - either a bad pass, pass not received well by the recipient or deflected pass leading to turnover. 

In the offensive end we got snake bit with lots of quality chances. 

Tonight against the Habs we need to get off to a good start - getting down 2 or 3 goals just doesn't work.  We'll see - need to get winning 6 out of 10 on a regular basis to move up the standings.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Which team shows up tonight?

So the Leafs played well Saturday and got lucky on Monday against Washington. Here's my take on why Washington under achieves in the playoffs.  Did you see the genuine joy that Clarke McCarthur showed when he scored his two goals against the Caps?  I thought he was going to go through the glass on the first one and his celebration on his second was really infectious. 

The Leafs are up a goal in the shootout, Semin needs to score to extend the game and as you know he missed scoring.  He showed the square root of frick all emotion when he didn't score.  Come on Alexander - get into it.

In Pittsburgh tonight and Sid the Kid is unstoppable right now.  Look for the Leafs to put Schenn out every time Sid is on the ice.  If Sid does not get two points, we'll win

Speaking of emotion there certainly is no lack of confidence in the newest Blue Jay 20 year old Canadian Brett Lawrie.  He says he's going to start the season in the big leagues - I sure hope so otherwise why would we give up on Shaun Marcum.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What a difference a day makes at ACC

Great atmosphere in ACC last night as the fans really got into the Raptor game.  The Raptors are surprising a lot of people with their energy and athleticism.  Guys that I really like on this team:
  • Barbosa - too quick for most - great at getting to the bucket
  • Weems - man can he go get the ball
  • DeMar DeRozan - expanding his game to play well both outside and in
Bargnani gets a double double - he should against a small line up like the OKC team had last night.  It was good to see Andrea score some points late in the fourth quarter for a change. 

15 Assists from Jose is good stuff but he needs to start producing like that on a regular basis.

Listening to Jack Armstrong do the Raptor games is a treat.  Funny guy with good insights.

Some predictions for this weekend's NFL action - Jets lose to Pats by 10.  Steve Johnson goes to church and the Bills beat Vikings in Minnesota.  Too bad the Bills are not at home this weekend - most snow there for a long long time.  Chicago blows out Lions - Bears have got too tough a schedule left and need this one bad to solidify playoff positioning.

Friday, December 3, 2010

We're in trouble

Fortunatley I was at yoga last night and did not witness the Leafs latest goal less game.  No touch around the net, no flow offensively and lots of players chirping about lack of effort.  Time to shut up and play boys

My football pool did not start out well either.  I turned the game off at the beginning of Q4 with Texans in lead by four.  8.5 point spread it looked pretty good for my first pick of the week.  Vick was getting banged up all over the field and the Eagle receivers and DBs were bitching on every other play about fouls.  Full marks to Vick for leading the comeback - he's a pretty tough dude. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Observations about the Leafs collapse last nigt

Monster stands on his head in the first period and we escape with a 1 to nothing lead.  Second period starts out badly but we get it together and Kullemin scores a beautiful goal.  I've heard so much about Kadri turnovers that I decided to keep mental track of his gaffs. 

Part of his puck handling problem comes from poor passing from Leaf's defencemen - particularly Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin.  Both of these guys slap pass as opposed to slide pass - the resulting spin on the puck creates a lot of passes that are hard for the recipient to handle.  In addition, both these D men handle the puck like a grenade - "just get rid of it before it blows up in my face."

Check out how Kaberle and Schenn handle the puck - look how nicely they deliver passes to their teammates.

Observations on the final goal - the Leafs panicked.  Bozak loses the draw and he and the two forwards all run at Martin St. Louis.  Guys that's one man's responsibility.  One winger and center should be moving men out of position so your goalie can see.  In the lost faceoff scenario with less than ten seconds left, remember your responsibilities and do whatever it takes to ensure your goalie has a good luck - so what if you take a penalty.  Ughh!