Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Habs - Bruins Post Mortem Thoughts

Yes, I know, I need to get over the disappointing outcome of the Canadiens - Bruins series, but the Boston sports media isn't letting it go so I'm not either. Here are a few post-mortem thoughts:

  • It's very difficult to win a playoff series when you can't score 5 on 5. The Canadiens last scored an even strength goal in Game 5, and credit the Bruins and Tim Thomas with shutting them down in the final 2 games of the series. On the flip side, it seemed like the Habs scored on every one of their power play chances. Their execution on the man advantage was superb, and with all the personnel turnover on the point over the last few years, the power play remains a strength of this team.
  • With PK Subban, you have to take some bad with all of the good. I'm not a fan of falling/diving to try and get calls, and for whatever reason, this seems to be part of PK's game. Regardless, the kid is electric and I look forward to him antagonizing the Bruins for years to come. His goal late in Game 7 punctuated an excellent series for him.
  • On the topic of diving, let's not get carried away by saying this is a team strategy or characteristic. That's projecting the actions of a few onto the entire team and that's not fair. Go through the roster and I think you'll see that there are about four players who use this tactic: Roman Hamrlik, Andrei Kostitsyn, Benoit Pouliot, and PK Subban. Of these four, I'd like to see the first three gone from this team next season. Kostitsyn and Pouliot are particularly useless and beyond frustrating to watch as a fan.
  • And sticking with the diving topic, is there a writer who has exploited this topic any more than Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald? He's certainly guilty of projecting (as stated above) and he does nothing but get Bruins fans needlessly riled up by serving them emotional red meat that. I find his columns to be willfully ignorant and undignified. A great rivalry like Boston - Montreal doesn't need his classless contribution, and I suspect even Jack Edwards would take umbrage with the outrageous and baseless nature of Harris' conclusions.
  • At the outset of the Habs - Bruins series, I was skeptical of Tim Thomas' ability to be counted on in the playoffs. After the first 2 games, that skepticism appeared warranted as the Bruins netminder was simply average and his playoff record was an unimpressive 10-10. However, the fact is that he got better as the series moved along. The nervous starts that characterized the first few games were gone by the end of the series, and now the Flyers are getting Thomas' best. That's bad news for Philly. Thomas looks supremely confident and the Flyers aren't seeing much of the net.
  • One difference between this Bruins team and the one that relinquished a three games to none lead versus the Flyers last year is the quality of goaltending. While Tuukka Rask had a very nice season in 2009-2010, he didn't play well in the Philly series. In contrast, Thomas has looked dominant in the first two games. For Philadelphia, their goaltenders played better in last season's playoffs than they have thus far in this campaign. It seems like they use two goalies in almost every game and that isn't a recipe for success.
  • The Canadiens surpassed pre-season expectations with their finish in sixth place in the conference, and for that, they should be proud. Many experts had them pegged at 10th. Considering their struggle to score goals and the decimation of their defense through injuries, a 6th place finish was remarkable. To improve next season, GM Pierre Gauthier will have to spend his summer addressing the lack of offense. With limited cap room, it will be interesting to see what moves he can actually make.

OK, I feel better now that I get that off my chest. On to the second round (finally), but I'm not sure these matchups can produce the same kind of drama that we witnessed in the first. We can only hope.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Canucks Goaltending in Game 7

If you're a Vancouver Canucks fan, you can't feel good about the goaltending situation going into Game 7 versus the Chicago Blackhawks this evening at GM Place. Corey Schneider was the surprise starter in favor of Roberto Luongo in Game 6 and that decision backfired as Schneider mishandled the puck twice, both instances leading to goals, and was unable to stop a penalty shot (a play in which he was injured and had to leave the game) which tied the contest. Other than that, Schneider did play well, but you can't overlook the miscues (I thought Carey Price was the only goalie in the playoffs giving the puck away on a regular basis) and apparently Canucks coach Alain Vigneault isn't. Luongo is back in the net for Game 7.

But why was Schneider the Game 6 starter over Luongo? On the Versus broadcast, there was speculation that Luongo was nursing a stiff back and that that may have been justification for the move. The evidence doesn't support that theory and the only logical explanation that one can come up with is that Vigneault had lost confidence in his netminder. After losing two playoff games in a row by 5 goals each, can you blame him? That fact along with Luongo's poor playoff performances against the 'Hawks in recent years would lead you to believe that Chicago has the formula for disrupting his rhythm and play. When Chicago lost Dustin Byfuglien over the summer, no one could have been happier than Luongo. Byfuglien was seemingly his nemesis in the last couple of years and he was a major factor in Chicago's triumphs over Vancouver in the playoffs in 2009 and 2010. Byfuglien may be gone, but 'Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has managed to plug new players into the role of Luongo agitator, and it's working. Luongo is off his game and Vigneault is panicking.

Can Roberto Luongo be counted on in a big game? That question came up early in this series on one of the Versus broadcasts, and analyst Daryl Reaugh insisted he could be counted on to deliver when needed, as he helped Team Canada win Olympic Gold in Vancouver in 2010 after all. While that statement is factually correct, on closer examination, it may not stand up to scrutiny. Yes, Luongo was in goal for Team Canada for the big games on the way to the Gold Medal. However, his presence in net did not inspire confidence especially in the Gold Medal game versus the United States. He looked extremely nervous in that tense contest especially down the stretch when he was bobbling the puck all over the place. He seemingly couldn't control his muscles due to the nerves, and I would say that Team Canada won the Gold Medal in spite of its goaltending situation, not because of it (none of the goaltenders stood out). I think Reaugh has missed the mark with his answer to this question, and I saw the same Luongo at the end of Game 6 in Chicago that I saw in Vancouver in 2010 in the Gold Medal game. A goalie flopping around, unable to control the puck and giving up a crucial goal when his team needed a big stop.

So Roberto Luongo is the Game 7 starter, and no, you can't feel good if you're a Vancouver Canucks fan.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Game 4 - Habs/Bruins Game Blog

This post is a game blog of tonight's Habs - Bruins match up at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Canadiens' coach Jacques Martin said after Game 3 that he noticed in the morning skate that his team wasn't mentally ready. As someone who coaches mental performance, I find it hard to fathom that professional hockey players wouldn't be ready to compete at their best, but of course it happens. The lesson from Game 3 is that you have to bring your intensity right from the start so let's see how the Habs come out of the gate.

6:59 pm: OK, the first bit of bad news is that I have to watch the Bruins broadcast on NESN which means listening to the screeching of Jack Edwards. Ugh! Well, it's not the first time I have had to endure that so I shall survive.

7:02 pm: Great video from Annakin Slayd to get Montreal fans pumped up. Couple of nice digs at the Bruins included!

7:06 pm: Wish we got to see the pre-game activities at the Bell Centre. To Edwards' and Andy Brickley's credit, they recognize the special atmosphere that is the Bell Centre in Montreal.

7:11 pm: The fans are ready, are the Habs?

7:15 pm: It's time to drop the puck, are you ready???

7:16 pm: Good hit from Roman Hamrlik on Mark Recchi to get things going. Positive sign.

7:19 pm: Lars Eller scares me sometimes. Clearly, he has talent, but seems to turn the puck over a lot. Just made an errant pass coming out of the zone to absolutely no one.

7:21 pm: A fairly neutral start for both teams and Recchi just had a great chance in front of Carey Price. Habs have to do better there.

7:22: Monitoring Twitter during the game and theDAshow is worth following!

7:23: First screeching call from Edwards on hit on Kostitsyn. Helmet and head separation.

7:27: Moen with a chance in front of Tim Thomas. The line of Gionta - Gomez - Moen needs to play well.

7:28: Thomas with a great save on Moen, however I like the fact that the Habs are putting on some pressure now.

7:29: YES! Habs score and the Bell Centre explodes. A deserved 1-0 lead. Brett Sopel gets the goal and perhaps another questionable one from Thomas. You have to question his performances in the playoffs.

7:32: 10 minutes in and it's been a good start for Montreal. The early lead is so key to how they play. Will be interesting to see how much pressure they continue to exert.

7:33: Thomas looks very unsure of himself in the net. Keep firing at him!

7:38: Huge pressure on Thomas now. Bruins are reeling at this point.

7:39: 16-4 in shots now for Mtl. Looks like a B's power play coming up. That's unfortunate timing based on the flow of the game.

7:44: Good penalty kill for the Habs with 0 shots on goal. Time to put the pressure back on Thomas. Desharnais with a nice play tying up Chara in the B's zone on the PP! :)

7:46: Price stifles an attempt from Patrice Bergeron. Bruins mounting some pressure here at the end of the period. Dangerous. It's too early to start backing the bus in front of Price.

7:49: Bruins are finishing the period on a positive note with sustained pressure.

7:50: End of the first period and the Habs lead 1-0. Overall, a good bounce back effort on the heels of the Game 3 loss. Bruins didn't seemingly wake up until the period was about 18 minutes over. It will be interesting to see how the teams come out in the second period. Boston has to be happy that they are only down one goal and obviously that isn't an insurmountable lead. Habs have to continue skating and pressuring the puck. That will keep the fans in the game as well.

8:02: Bad timing alert - dinner almost ready and second period about to start. Don't think I can eat and type at the same time!

8:07: Back for the second period.

8:10: Lots of end-to-end action results in a goal from ex-Hab Michael Ryder. Ooof! Step up time right now. Good effort from Boston to come out well in the second period.

8:14: Thomas is complicating his evening by giving up juicy rebounds that the Habs are getting to.

8:15: 2-1 Habs with Cammalleri scoring. A just reward for the latest surge in pressure.

8:17: 3-1. Another quick counter by Mtl results in a goal from AK46. Bell Centre has exploded with noise. Smart by Boston to call a time-out at this point. They need to regroup big-time.

8:24: Bruins close the gap to 1 goal against the run of play. Ference blasts it over Price's glove - his usual weak spot. Habs have to be careful here and tighten up defensively. Bruins aren't going away - to their credit.

8:32: PK with some nice moves in the offensive zone. He was looking 5-hole, but Thomas closed it up.

8:33: Just read on Twitter from HNIC's Jeff Marek that Ference gave the finger to the Bell Centre crowd after scoring. I wouldn't call that professional behavior. Sounds like something Sean Avery would do.

8:37: I was just thinking how I'm not liking the trend of this game and all of a sudden the Bruins tie it up - ugh! The third period is going to be some battle - the series may be on the line.

8:39: OMG! Kaberle just took a shot on goal. His first since 1991. At least that's what Leafs fans think.

8:41: Bruins are taking a page out of the SJ Sharks playbook from the other night when they came back against the Kings in LA to win in OT. One more period to go - this is a bit nerve wracking. I'm not liking what's happening, but the intermission is probably coming at a good time. Montreal needs to settle down and come out hard in the last frame as they need this game.

8:56: Price needs to play at his most confident in this third period. His team is committing defensive lapses and they need to be bailed out by a confident net minder. It's Patrick Roy time!

8:59: Time for the 3rd period. Habs can't lose this game. They dominated Boston in 3 regular season Bell Centre games. It would be unforgivable to drop 2 to the same team in the playoffs.

9:00: Power play time right away.

9:01: PK! 4-3! The thorn in the Bruins side gives the Canadiens the advantage via the PP. Great shot by Subban going top shelf. Now, can they hold this lead???

9:07: AK46 with a nice move. A very talented player who often annoys me for his mindless play and bad penalties.

9:09: Price with some big stops to maintain Montreal's lead. I get the feeling that he's going to be called on a few more times before this one is over.

9:15: Krejci in all alone on Price and he can't quite get a handle on it. That's a close shave!

9:16: Cammalleri with a break away on Thomas, but he fires it right into the Bruins goalie. Good play by Thomas.

9:17: I hope the Habs aren't going into a defensive shell here. It's not the night for that. Bruins have shown resiliency this evening.

9:19: Glenn Healy enraged by Ference's salute to the crowd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjF9-rns5Ng&feature=player_embedded. To be clear, it doesn't take much to enrage Healy. I think he wakes up pissed off. Anyway, Habs have bigger worries than a moment of idiocy from Andrew Ference.

9:25: Conservative play from the Habs comes back to haunt them. Chris Kelly ties the game at 4. This is exactly what I feared. Bruins will not go away and you could almost see this scenario unfolding in the last few minutes. 5 minutes to go in regulation. Hello overtime?

9:28: Canadiens with a good rush, then Bruins come back with a point blank chance on Price. Difficult to watch now.

9:29: Bruins are getting the better scoring chances. If Habs are to win this game in regulation, it will be agains the run of play at this point. They need to start skating and pressuring the puck again. That's the formula for forcing a critical turnover.

9:32: Seidenberg with no stick is forced to take an interference penalty to stop Plekanec. Habs powerplay to finish regulation.

9:35: Heart pounding ending to this 3rd period. We are going to OT. Wow!

9:52: OT underway. Let's go Habs - come out hard!

9:53: Good early pressure from Mtl. Cammalleri has had a great game tonight - 3 points thus far.

9:54: Ryder ends it with a goal on Price as he is all alone in front of the Montreal goal. Critical defensive lapse again leads to a Bruins goal. The series is tied now as both teams have lost their home games.

Canadiens have somehow managed to blow a 2-0 series lead and a game in which they never trailed until the end. It will certainly be a mental challenge for this team as they go back to Boston for game 5. As good as the defense was in the first 2 games, it was decidedly poor this evening as Price was left all alone several times including on the game winning goal. If there is one thing that this team has shown throughout the season, there doesn't seem to be any connection from one game to the next. They're going to need that if there is any hope of pulling out this series.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Habs' Price is the difference

Coming into Game 1 of the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Carey Price had lost his last eight playoff starts and hadn't won a playoff game since the Spring of '08. Well, that was a different Carey Price than the one we've seen in 2010-11. This season, Price has relished his role as the number 1 goaltender and appears to be far more confident on and off the ice as he started 72 games for the Habs. It was that Carey Price who backstopped the Canadiens to a 2-0 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of their playoff encounter at the TD Garden in Beantown, a result that hands Montreal home ice advantage in the series.

Right from the start, Montreal appeared to be employing their game plan from last season's playoff run in which they upset both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins before falling to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Conference Finals. Score early and then back up the bus in front of the net to protect the lead. Brian Gionta got the Canadiens started with the early goal on a defensive lapse from the Bruins as he beat goaltender Tim Thomas high on the glove side. Thomas couldn't be blamed for this one. However, the same cannot be said for the second goal.

Rewind to the Spring of 2010 and it was Jaroslav Halak barring the door in front of the Canadiens goal and often having to stop 40+ shots a night. Last summer, one could easily have made the argument that Montreal dealt away the wrong goaltender. The decision to trade Halak to St. Louis doesn't appear to be so controversial any longer. Now it's Carey Price facing the barrage of shots and the Bruins did their part to play the role of frustrated opponent, especially in the second period when they looked closest to scoring and appeared to have the Habs reeling. As Price said in the locker room after the game, the "rope-a-dope" style worked and they were able to play a much more effective game in the third period by clearing traffic away from the net and giving Price a clear view on Boston's shots on goal.

And then out of nowhere, a Canadiens goal was manufactured by of all people, Scott Gomez. Gomez has had a terrible season in Montreal and has been heavily criticized by fans and media, but on this night was one of the team's heroes with 2 assists. Gomez stole the puck inside the Bruins zone and fed Brian Gionta for the goal that sealed the Bruins fate. This was a bad goal for the Bruins on a couple of levels. It was the result of a turnover in their own zone late in the game and it was a shot that Tim Thomas should have stopped. If you're a Bruins fan, you have to wonder if Thomas is the type of goaltender that can take a team to the Cup. His playoff record coming into this game was a mediocre 10-8. Yes, he put up Vezina Trophy winning numbers this season as he did 2 years ago, but the question is, can he be relied upon in a big game? To date, the answer is No. He doesn't project the confidence that you expect from a big game goalie, and his unorthodox style can sometimes leave him out of position and vulnerable. Until this season, Carey Price may not have inspired that confidence either, but Price has excelled in big game situations in the past with Team Canada in the World Junior Championships and more recently with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Price now appears to be bringing that game to the NHL Playoffs. This isn't a major revelation, but this series is going to come down to the goaltenders and in that regard, the Canadiens have an advantage. This loss substantially hurts the Bruins chances of winning the series as they have played poorly at the Bell Centre in Montreal this season (losing all three contests convincingly), and now they are going to have to win a game in that building to survive.

Factoid: Price's shutout of the Bruins in Game 1 was his third in his playoff career. All have come against Boston.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Who will win the Stanley Cup?

It's almost playoff time in the NHL, and I'm here with my 9 year-old friend who is going by the pseudonym "Johann Bulukis" so that he can maintain anonymity, and we're going to preview the playoff field. We are experimenting with a chat format just like one of our favorite blogs, The Kurtenblog.

Brian: So the playoffs are starting next week. Who are you picking to win it all?

Johann: Well, I picked the Canucks at the beginning of the year, and I'm sticking with them.

Brian: Yes, you did pick them my friend, and I'm impressed that you came up with that. However, they haven't won the Cup in the past. Why do you think they'll do it this season?

Johann: At the beginning of the season, I really liked Roberto Luongo, and I felt like the Sedins were going to have a big season.

Brian: The Sedins have come up big again this year, and Cory Schneider has been more than an adequate back up. I think the biggest thing for the Canucks in the upcoming playoffs is that Dustin Byfuglien is no longer in the Western Conference. He single-handedly beat the Canucks in the last 2 playoff campaigns. OK, maybe not single-handedly, but he certainly was a factor as he totally annoyed Luongo. Who do you think will be Vancouver's toughest challenge?

Johann: Detroit is the team that scares me the most. First of all, I don't like octopuses - they're gross! Second, they have a lot of playoff experience and many of their players have won a Cup. That's an advantage for them.

Brian: I agree with you on both points! I don't like those octopuses on the ice either. And Detroit is a scary team when they are playing well. About a month ago, I thought they were in good position to win it all, but they haven't played that well in their last 10 games. It will be interesting to see if they can turn it around in their first round series. Any last thoughts on the Western Conference?

Johann: It's so close in that conference that I'm really excited to see the match ups. That and I want to see the octopuses. I lied, I love them!!! What's for dinner? Pizza with octopus topping? :)

Brian: Hmmm, not sure about that pizza choice, but I think the Western Conference is going to have some amazing series this Spring. Looking forward to it!

Habs and Bruins in the first round?

The NHL Playoffs are around the corner and the Canadiens are entering the fray with some very mixed results over the last month. They went a week without scoring and then in their next game scored two goals in 11 seconds - bizarre. But that's been the signature of this team all season - inconsistent (except in goal) and tough to figure out from game to game. Now the playoffs are here and it looks like the Habs could be facing the old enemy, the Boston Bruins.

Games between Boston and Montreal this season have been intense, especially the last three contests in which two of them could be designated as "statement" games. Kind of interesting that each team had very sub-par performances in the other club's building in those contests. Regardless, a first round series between these rivals will have a physical and emotional intensity that goes beyond that which simply comes with competing for the Stanley Cup. That's bad news for both teams. Whichever team emerges from this match up will in all likelihood be physically and emotionally spent from a tough series, and that's bound to have a carryover effect into the next round. Anytime you're in a tournament atmosphere, you want to take the path of least resistance to the final. For the most part, the Habs and Bruins have been closely matched this season so even without all of the extra baggage between these teams, this is going to be a tough series. It should be interesting if it happens.

Do either of these teams have a chance of winning the Cup? Doubtful. The Canadiens don't score enough and they give up too many shots. That worked for a while last Spring, but I don't expect a repeat of that. As for the Bruins, they can play with any team on a given night, but in the long haul of a playoff series, I can't see them beating the top teams in the league. "Bruins hockey" as defined by its fan base and by club management over the years simply isn't the formula for capturing Lord Stanley's Cup. I recently attended a B's game and was a bit taken aback by the highlight video on the big screen that was played prior to the game. For every goal highlight, there must have been about 7 fighting highlights. Memo to Bruins management - fights don't win Cups. And this Bruins team isn't necessarily that much of a goon squad to begin with although they can play that way if motivated.

Teams that win the Stanley Cup seem to have 2 legitimate offensive superstars. Just look at the last 3 years and you see Chicago with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and then Detroit with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsuyk (to name just two). Sure, there are exceptions to this pattern, but if you keep going back through the years, you see that the majority of Cup winners have offensive superstars. When the Bruins last won in '72 and '70, they were an offensive juggernaut with Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr. That talent level isn't present on the 2010-11 edition of the Bruins which leads me to believe they won't seriously challenge this year. The drafting of a player like Tyler Seguin is a good sign for B's fans in this regard. It demonstrates a shift in the defense first mentality that has gripped this club's approach to talent since Orr left in '76.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Don't Go Roger!

I find it interesting that we as tennis fans seemingly want Roger Federer to retire and go away because he's starting to lose somewhat consistently to his two main rivals, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Perhaps I'm overstating the position, but when I hear commentators discussing whether or not Roger will want to stick around now that he is losing these matches or read the comments of various people on the internet who think he is aging and won't win another major, I have to wonder what we really expect Roger to do based on his recent performances. It feels like we're driving him out of the sport, but we can't possibly want to do that, right?

Let's face it - the guy is still capable of top-level tennis and can basically beat everyone on the planet save for a couple of guys. Why would he quit? Conventional wisdom says that an athlete at Roger's age will only deteriorate from a performance perspective, but Federer's athleticism isn't normal. He's a superb athlete and I don't think there's a degradation in that area. As long as he feels good on the court, I can't imagine that he'll quit as he will always believe in his ability to rise to the top of the sport. And who are we to dispute that possibility?

We as fans have pushed other top players in similar ways with Pete Sampras being one of the most notable. In Sampras' case, he was able to weather that talk and eventually win his last Grand Slam event at the US Open which gave him the type of exit he may have wanted all along. Ultimately, Federer won't listen to the fans or the media when it comes to deciding whether to continue to play or not. Our opinions don't matter and nor should they. However, the paradox is that by constantly questioning this great player about whether he wants to continue or not, we are in essence trying to deprive ourselves of watching this great player. Even if you're not a Federer fan, you have to admit that he plays a beautiful brand of tennis that can be simply stunning. I say, let's ask Roger to stick around for another 10 years. The game is better with him whether he's winning or losing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Phil Mickelson and Rafa Nadal - Nice Pipes and other Random Thoughts

Some random thoughts after watching sports over the last week:

  • It’s hard to believe the Canadiens team playing the Capitals this week is the same one that limped into the playoffs. After a nervous first period on Thursday night, they have consistently looked like the better team in the first two games. For the Caps, it’s deja vu as they lost the first two games to the NY Rangers in the first round of the 2009 playoffs (they prevailed in 7).
  • Rafael Nadal looks as impressive as ever on the clay in Monte Carlo, and perhaps it’s the shape of his shirt, but he’s looking pretty pumped up too. I don’t think anyone would want to mess with this guy in a dark alley.
  • I love Jim Hughson’s voice on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. I’ll watch a game that I have zero interest in just to listen to him. Looking forward to Kings - Canucks later tonight.
  • On the flip side, I’m not a fan of Jack Edwards, the Bruins television play-by-play announcer. He’s a completely irrational homer who says some very strange things. It’s kind of a shame since his partner, Andy Brickley, is really good.
  • Another point on Jack Edwards. I actually met him while I was in high school. He was working at WJAR-TV in Providence and he was covering our High School Tennis State Final. Clearly, he’s done pretty well to rise to work for NESN on Bruins’ broadcasts.
  • One of my favorite blogs on hockey, sports and other topics - Orland Kurtenblog. Jason Brough and Mike Halford do a great job and the blog was absolute must reading during the Vancouver Olympics (they’re based in Vancouver). Check them out on Facebook and Twitter too.
  • My original plan today was to write a blog post with my seven year-old nephew whom I’ve brainwashed to be a Yankees fan and a Canadiens fan. However, he woke up with a 103 degree fever and is out of commission. I can’t believe how unreliable kids are today.
  • I know it’s fashionable to be a Sidney Crosby hater, but I like the kid. He’s a clutch player and he showed it again on Friday night against the Ottawa Senators in a must win game.
  • While the NHL Playoffs are going on, I’m just not ready for baseball.
  • I really enjoyed watching The Masters last weekend. It was great to see some final round drama and I didn’t mind the fact that Phil Mickelson won the green jacket. Speaking of Mickelson, did he spend the winter lifting weights and working out? He looked like a completely different guy, but I didn’t hear anyone on ESPN or CBS say anything about his new physique.
  • Are Yankee fans really surprised that Javier Vazquez is struggling in his second tour of duty with the pinstripes? Pitching reasonably well in the National League means nothing in the American League East.
  • Speaking of another questionable signing by the Yankees in the off-season, what was the thought process on Nick Johnson? I just don’t get it. He’s injury prone and I’ll be surprised if he has much of an impact.
  • I'm amazed at the number of series in the NHL Playoffs that stand at 1-1 in games. That's going to make for some very exciting third games. Even if the Canadiens lose in Washington tonight, can you imagine the atmosphere in the Bell Center on Monday night? I'd love to be there, especially since it doesn't appear that it will be broadcast in the Boston area. :(