So which team do the Mavs want?
"Probably everybody in the basketball world knows who they'd like to see," Jerry Stackhouse said of the long-hyped Texas showdown. "But we've got to be diplomatic and politically correct of the possible next matchup."
The top-seeded Spurs and No. 8 Kings are tied 2-2 going into tonight's game in San Antonio. The series has to return to Sacramento for Game 6 on Friday and, if necessary, the deciding game will be Sunday in San Antonio.
Either way, the Mavs are looking at five days off minimum before they start the Western Conference semifinals. After getting just a day off before facing Phoenix last year, the only team in the current playoffs to sweep the first round certainly will take the mini-vacation.
"Hopefully that other series will stretch to seven games and give us some more time," Johnson said.
The Mavs claim not to have a rooting interest either way, other than having the home-court edge against Sacramento. Just let the potential opponents beat each other up some more.
Lebreton on the Mavs story …
You could make a worthy argument that it was as impressive a playoff game as the franchise has ever contested.
But don't look for any confetti.
Nor champagne. Nor locker room high-fiving. Nor any cries of "Bring on the Spurs!"
On a night when the Mavericks carved up the Memphis Grizzlies with surgical precision, 102-76, like good doctors they washed up, shut up and headed for home Monday night.
To await...whom? What? When?
Whoever it is and wherever it begins, the challenge for Round Two has been thrown down. These are not your uncle's Mavericks.
Especially not your Uncle Nellie's.
Gifted with what amounted to four chances to close out the series, coach Avery Johnson's Mavericks opted Monday for the quick knockout.
They seldom stood still on offense. Their passing was almost relentlessly unselfish.
For the fourth time in four games, the Mavericks dominated the boards.
And on defense, they grabbed a firm bite on the Grizzlies in the middle of the second quarter and refused to let go.
It was exhilarating to watch -- and exhausting.
Misery loves company! Down goes the Red Wings …and suddenly, the Stars fans can smile again…
Teetering all game, all series, the collapse finally came, in stunning, legendary fashion. The Red Wings are done, beaten by a feisty Edmonton team and perhaps battered by time.
Once in command, the Wings lost it completely and suddenly, surrendering four goals in the third period and falling to the Oilers 4-3 in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series Monday night. This was a shocking ouster, even by the Wings' shocking recent standards, and it had a somber finality to it.
Wings captain Steve Yzerman left the ice probably for the final time, after returning to the lineup with a torn rib muscle. He is expected to announce his retirement later this week or early next week, an inglorious finish for one of the greatest players in NHL history.
When the game ended, cameras focused on Yzerman, who stood in line with all the other Wings and shook hands with the Edmonton players as the Rexall Place crowd celebrated.
In Detroit, the blame goes to an old nucleus, poor goaltender …sound familiar?
GM and Coaches are safe for Stars …
"The reason we gave this coaching staff the contracts we did is because we believe in them over the long term," Armstrong said. "It was never an issue whether Dave and the coaches would return."
Hicks said that he supports Armstrong and Tippett.
"I've obviously expressed my faith in Doug, and Dave Tippett is one of the best young coaches in hockey," Hicks said. "We've won 140 games over the last three years. You don't just tear that up."
The Stars were a No. 1 seed in 2003 and lost in the second round. They were a No. 2 seed this season and lost in five games in Round 1.
"This sport is all about winning in the playoffs, and we know that," Armstrong said. "But our task is how do we try to win next year, and we don't believe that's by changing the coaching staff."
Tippett has a 140-71-33 regular-season record but has gone 8-14 in the playoffs. On Monday, he was still focused on what went wrong during the loss to Colorado.
"If I thought screaming at players in front of the media was going to do a player good, I'd do it," Tippett said when asked if he was a player's coach. "I prefer to take care of it behind closed doors and keep it tight. The players know the accountability factor we have. I don't think you can have as good a team as we had without that."
What now for Turco? …
What to do with Marty Turco? The Stars goalie this year signed a four-year, $22.8 million contract extension that includes a no-trade clause. But the interesting thing about this clause is that it does not kick in until the new contract does on July 1, and it is written on a year-to-year basis. If Turco meets certain performance levels, which have yet to be disclosed, then he keeps the no-trade clause. If he doesn't, then the Stars are given windows to trade him.
So, do you let the July 1 date go by and stick with your goalie for at least one more season, or do you study the possibility of trading him? There are certainly targets out there.
San Jose would gladly deal Evgeni Nabokov, who just signed a similar contract to Turco's and is serving as the Sharks' backup goalie in the playoffs. The problem is that San Jose probably doesn't want Turco's contract, and it's difficult to say this is a good trade for the Stars.
Another option is going after Chicago netminder Nikolai Khabibulin. The Blackhawks would probably love to unload the free agent, who signed a four-year, $27 million deal before the season, and might think 30-year-old Turco is a better fit for a Chicago team trying to build. Khabibulin is only 2 ½ years older than Turco and seems to have plenty of rubber on the tires. What's more, he won the 2004 Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay and could easily bounce back if he's placed on a good team.
If you don't like those scenarios, you could try to trade Turco to teams that need goaltending help – Toronto, Tampa Bay and Vancouver come to mind – and then try to pluck one of their talented forwards. The Stars might have a shot at the Lightning's Martin St. Louis (intriguing), the Canucks' Todd Bertuzzi (yikes, no way) or the Maple Leafs' Darcy Tucker (there's your grit). You could even try to get more from the Maple Leafs.
Heika analyzes the Stars roster …
The Highest remaining West seed, Calgary has Game 7 in front of them …Could you imagine 5,6,7, and 8 all advancing in the West? WOW!
Rangers win again; Kam Loe gets it done …
The Rangers finished April leading the AL West. Yet, Kameron Loe and Francisco Cordero, two key members of the pitching staff, wanted to forget the month as quickly as possible.
The amnesia arrived Monday night.
Loe, winless in April, and Cordero, who lost the closer’s role in the month’s waning days, combined to pitch the first eight innings in the Rangers’ crisp 3-0 win over Tampa Bay.
Perfect through the first four innings, Loe allowed just four hits in seven innings to get his first win of the season. Cordero pitched a perfect eighth. It was the first time he’d had a scoreless inning since April 20. And new closer Akinori Otsuka followed with his own perfect inning, demonstrating that not all saves require the drama of a Kurosawa film.
Our friends at profootballtalk.com point out that Smith and Irvin have not kept in shape:
you didn’t think Dallas Cowboys 5th Rounder Pat Watkins had a website? Guess again. …
Reggie Evans makes Chris Kaman angry. You won’t like him when he is angry.
And now some email:
After watching the Mavs squash the Grizzles like a bug, I had a thought about the difference between the Mavs and Stars. I think everyone will agree that the Stars had a great team this year, but why did they fail in the playoffs? The Stars had the division locked up fairly early, while the Mavs continued to fight for the #1 spot in the WC up to the last week of the season. The Stars seemed to put things in cruise control a few weeks prior to the end the season - specifically the week after the West Coast trip where they were accompanied by BAD radio.
The Colts are a prime example of a team laying off the final few weeks of the season and choking in the playoffs; while in the early 90's Jimmy was cutting Curvin Richards for fumbling in week 16 in a blow out game to a 5-10 Bears team. Dirk and the rest of the Mavs look like William Wallace right now, and the Stars players were whining that "they deserved better". The great one's never let up, they step on their opponents throat when given the opportunity - see that guy who won 6 rings in Chicago. Give the C to Morrow and you might just see the team develop that killer instinct.
Who knows how far the Mavs will go, but they definitely have the look of a team that now has a killer instinct and I think we all know who to thank for that....
Peace out from KC.
What team had the worst showing in the first round of the playoffs? I think it's 1a and 1b with the Wings and Stars going out in the first round, with the Wings getting the 1a vote because I'm a Stars fan. I can't imagine how much the media in Detroit will take this puck and shoot it, as I'm sure the Wings will get hammered far more for their loss to Edmonton than the Stars will ever get here in Dallas for losing to Colorado.
However, I'm so glad that the Wings will be playing golf one day behind our Stars.
This Red Wings-Stars stuff every year is worth looking into. The two franchises are certainly worthy of rivalry status, but since they last met in the spring of 1998 (I watched the series from Lynchburg, not realizing I was about to be hired here) it is actually surprising how they have both avoided each other so easily. One or the other is always being bounced out of the playoffs way too early:
Year - Stars - Red Wings
1998 - Lost Rd 3 - Cup
1999 - Cup - - Lost Rd 2
2000 - Lost Rd 4 - Lost Rd 2
2001 - Lost Rd 2 - Lost Rd 1
2002 - Missed - - Cup
2003 - Lost Rd 2 - Lost Rd 1
2004 - Lost Rd 1 - Lost Rd 2
2006 - Lost Rd 1 - Lost Rd 1
Red Wings regular season point totals since 1999: 93, 108, 111, 116, 110, 109, 124
Stars regular season point totals since 1999: 114, 102, 106, 90, 111, 97, 112
Bottom line? Hockey is a sport where the best team doesn’t always win.