A week ago, did we really think we would all be terrified of this flag? Finland? Sure, half of the Dallas Stars play for Finland, but (retyped for clarity purposes at 9:16am) did anyone think they would join the Canadians, Russians, Swedes, and perhaps Yanks as favorites in the Quarterfinals? But here they are as a 1 seed and a heavy favorite today.
The surprises in this tournament have been many, but now we play for real. Now we see who has what, and anything that has happened so far is not that important.
It is a great day for international Ice Hockey, as the quarterfinals determine the Final 4 …
At Torino Esposizioni, the Swiss take on the Swedes at 4:30 p.m. local, 10:30 a.m. ET, CBC, USA), with the Russians and Canadians playing at 8:30 p.m. local, 2:30 p.m. ET, CBC, MSNBC).
At Palasport, the Finns and Americans open the quarterfinals (5:30 p.m. local, 11:30 a.m. ET, USA, MSNBC), while the Slovaks and Czechs close out the two-game set at Palasport (9:30 p.m. local, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBC, USA).
The winners of each game will advance to Friday's semifinals.
More specifically, the Americans have their work cut out for them against our friends, the Finns:
Team USA knows it has a rough draw with the Finns, who have done just about everything right in this tournament, finishing 5-0 while scoring 19 goals and allowing only two.
"We've been playing great defense," American center Doug Weight said. "We want to make sure we don't get frustrated and make sure we play the game for the full 60 minutes. We're confident if we play like that we will be successful.
"Whenever we play them," Weight said of the Finns, "it turns into a playoff game, low scoring, good defense."
"We certainly can't afford to make mistakes," American center Scott Gomez said. "The fun starts now. You lose, you go home, it's as simple as that. This kind of atmosphere is what you play for."
Mavs struggle, but beat Clippers …
For nearly 31/2 quarters, Nowitzki was still on the All-Star break, which was part of why the Clippers were hanging in the Mavs' shadow.
Nowitzki picked that moment to return to his All-Star form. He scored six points, grabbed six rebounds and had a steal down the stretch. He scored all of the Mavericks' points as they turned an 86-84 edge into a 92-84 advantage.
"We had three of our top scorers shoot 12-for-40 from the field, and that won't happen many nights," said Johnson of Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Stackhouse, who actually were 12-of-37. "We were really fortunate to win this game."
The Speedskating rivalry that qualifies as bizarre continues …
They would not look at each other.
They would not hug.
The feud they dare not admit began when Davis declined to race in the team pursuit to focus on winning the 1,000 meters, which he did. Hedrick believed that Davis's absence cost the team a gold medal, which it might have. His absence also dented Hedrick's distant hope that he might win five gold medals.
Davis congratulated Hedrick when he won the 5,000 meters, but Hedrick did not reciprocate after Davis won the 1,000.
And thus, a chasm developed for the news media to drive a custom Hummer through. Toward the end of their joint news conference on Tuesday, where they served a an hourlong repast of thinly veiled loathing, Davis praised his idol, Michael Jordan, for never acting unprofessionally when he lost.
"It would have been nice if, after the 1,000, he could have been a good teammate after I won, like I hugged him after he won the 5,000 meters," Davis said of Hedrick. Then he walked out, muttering loudly about Hedrick.
Remember a few days ago when I talked about how Nascar won’t punish the “big boys” like they will the new guys? Here is the example of what I was speaking: Hall of Fame Racing docked 25 points …Jimmie Johnson? No points. Awful.
The team that won the Daytona 500 didn't lose any championship points when penalties against the No. 48 Lowe's Chevy were announced Tuesday by NASCAR.
But Hall of Fame Racing, the new team of Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, was docked 25 points for a violation during qualifying.
Chad Knaus, crew chief for Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson, will sit out three more races and pay a $25,000 for a rules violation discovered a week before Johnson won the race.
Mom fights Bear …Makes you want to hear to coyote song…
One Wednesday evening earlier this month, Angyiou was walking near the village community center with her two sons when a group of children playing street hockey nearby started shouting and pointing frantically.
Angyiou, 41, turned around and saw a polar bear sizing up her 7-year-old son.
She told the children to run and raced around to get between the bear and her son. Then she started kicking and punching the animal, according to police reports.
In a flash, the bear swatted her in the face and she fell on her back. With the bear on top of her, Angyiou began kicking her legs in a bicycle-pedaling motion. She was swatted once more and rolled over, but the bear moved toward her again.
Siqualuk Ainalik heard the commotion and came rushing over. Seeing Angyiou wrestling with the bear, he ran to his brother's home, grabbed a rifle and headed back to the street. He fired a few warning shots.
Kiper thinks the Cowboys are thinking safety ….
The Cowboys need to improve at safety, but they are getting old at wide receiver as well. Do you see them going after a safety or Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes? -- Mark, Tiffin, Ohio
I don't know if Holmes will still be there when Dallas picks because he should be the first wide receiver off the board. Dallas also needs a free safety, so someone like Ko Simpson would be a good pick. Dallas also needs a right tackle (someone like McNeill) and an inside linebacker. Dallas will be able to go in a number of directions in the first round when it picks 18th overall.
The odd bits of Darren Daulton ….
Apparently deciding that he is not yet busy enough, Jamey Newberg joins MLB.com …
Adam Eaton feature …
The Rangers would like to explore a contract extension with Eaton, who said he is open to the idea but not sure if he would want to sign before testing free agency next winter.
"I'm going to do my job either way, and give my same effort," Eaton said. "I don't play for money. I play because I love baseball. I'm excited to be a Texas Ranger.
"I'm even more excited to be here this season with what the Rangers have. The pitching core is pretty awesome."
As you may know, we had Eaton on our show yesterday. There are several red flags from our visit and his talk with the FWST about whether this will be longer than a 1 year stay in Arlington:
1) He certainly did not back off his claim that the Rangers will need to overpay to extend him.
2) He is not very interested in extending until “testing the waters” next winter.
3) His family is not moving here for the year.
Not saying that this is a poor approach on his side. I am just saying that he appears very uncommitted to this franchise, and the only way he is staying is if he gets some of that “crazy money from the Rangers”.
I would certainly not seek to extend him this spring, until he proves he can handle pitching here. All of this might just be the 2006 holding pattern, so that by this time in 2007, DVD is ready to roll in to the rotation.
Arsenal was playing so poorly, that I wonder if this result tells us more about the silly state of Real these days, but what a win for the Gunners in Madrid: Arsenal 1, Real Madrid 0 …
Meanwhile, Liverpool huffs and puffs, but never scores again. Then they surrender another set piece goal, and will need a decisive win in Anfield in 2 weeks to move through: Benfica 1, Liverpool 0 …
Benítez will be restless until that opportunity for redemption. The Spaniard scowled his way back to Lisbon airport in the aftermath last night, struggling to digest his side's first defeat in this competition since November 2004. Their superiority was evident from the opening exchanges but, damningly, their monopoly of possession failed to prompt a single shot on target. Then, 84 minutes in, the substitutes Dietmar Hamann and Giorgios Karagounis collided, the German was penalised and, from Petit's free-kick, Luisao darted around the back of Liverpool's dawdling defenders to flick a header beyond José Reina.
Too often recently, most notably at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, set pieces have floored Liverpool, for all that Benítez insisted his side concede "less than anyone else from set plays in the Premier League". Confusion still occasionally flares at his preferred zonal marking. "We've seen the trick they played on the videos but we did not react," said the manager. "No one picked up their man and that is disappointing."
Let’s not celebrate early, Mr Soccer Goalie …