Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This Is What We Play For

I think we are among friends here; and when you are among friends, I think we should all feel we have permission to speak freely. Well, I do.

And therefore, I don’t think I should lie to my friends. Nor, should I feel obligated to pick the Stars in a series where I don’t feel confident of their success.

So, it is with great regret that I do this:

Vancouver in 7.

My reasons are many, including:

Vancouver’s PK
Vancouver’s Goalie
Stars’ Goalie
Stars PP

But, let’s be honest here. I just need to shown something by the Stars in spring time. They have lost 8 of the last 9 Game Ones. They get behind in a series early, and never catch-up. They never get timely goaltending or timely scoring. They just have not proven to live up to the legacy of the 1998-2000 Dallas Stars. That team survived no matter what.

But, that was then. Now, since Jason Arnott scored at Reunion Arena to give the New Jersey Devils the Stanley Cup on June 10, 2000 – sending Guy Carbonneau into retirement – the Stars have won only two series since. Both against the Edmonton Oilers.

So, Dallas, show me. Show me that this year is different. Show me that you have the grit and guts to win a tough series against a team that will throw just as much talent, grit, and guts back at you. Show me that you have the intestinal fortitude to stay off the golf course.

It starts tonight in Canada. I will have my Stars pennant and foam finger. I just need to be shown that they are worthy of playoff success.

Go Stars.

Does Home Ice mean much in the playoffs?

During the regular season, most visiting teams come staggering into a city, often having played the night before, in varying states of disrepair and with all kinds of concerns on their minds.

They might have injuries they're being cautious with and often the visiting coaches have given the game so little preparation it's all they can do to get the lines of the opponent right, much less figure out where they're going to have a beer after the game if they're not flying out immediately afterwards.

The playoffs are a whole different game. The Dallas Stars flew in late Monday and spent all of Tuesday enjoying the sunshine and getting in a full practice.

The Stars coaching staff has been working on strategy since it was determined these teams would meet. When the puck drops tonight the Canucks will be facing on home ice, perhaps for the first time this season, a fully-motivated, fully-rested, fully-prepared opponent.

The Stars will have looked at all Roberto Luongo's tendencies, just as the Canucks have looked at ways to ventilate Marty Turco. The Stars will have carefully considered which line and which defensive pairing will play against the Sedins, how they intend to play them and which ones will draw Brendan Morrison's line with Markus Naslund and Matt Cooke.

Now the home team, the Canucks in this case, will do all the same preparations, but
when the game starts it often comes as a shock to the home team just how prepared and well-rested is the opponent.

No matter how much the coaches tell them, it's hard to prepare for something you may not have experienced in a long while.

This leg up is not always enough to win Game 1, but virtually every visitor gives a solid account, win or lose.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault already has a sense of this, underlining before the series something which often doesn't get said until after the Game 1 damage has been done.

"We have to pick up our level of intensity," Vigneault says. "We've analyzed each other to death and it's going to come down to the team which has the best discipline and executes the best. I think we're ready for this.

According to, the Stars are an EXTREME longshot

NHL Playoff Odds
Odds to win 2007 Stanley Cup
Anaheim Ducks 6/1
Atlanta Thrashers 25/1
Buffalo Sabres 7/2
Calgary Flames 30/1
Dallas Stars 20/1
Detroit Red Wings 11/2
Minnesota Wild 10/1
Nashville Predators 10/1
New Jersey Devils 8/1
New York Islanders 40/1
New York Rangers 22/1
Ottawa Senators 8/1
Pittsburgh Penguins 7/1
San Jose Sharks 14/1
Tampa Bay Lightning 20/1
Vancouver Canucks 9/1

Odds to Win the 2006-07 Eastern Conference Championship
Atlanta Thrashers 12/1
Buffalo Sabres 7/5
New Jersey Devils 3/1
New York Islanders 20/1
New York Rangers 12/1
Ottawa Senators 4/1
Pittsburgh Penguins 7/2
Tampa Bay Lightning 10/1

Odds to Win the 2006-07 Western Conference Championship
Anaheim Ducks 5/2
Calgary Flames 15/1
Dallas Stars 9/1
Detroit Red Wings 5/2
Minnesota Wild 5/1
Nashville Predators 5/1
San Jose Sharks 6/1
Vancouver Canucks 4/1

Rangers reach .500!!!!

Jamey Wright, who won the fifth starter's job over Kameron Loe and Bruce Chen, was spotted a 3-0 lead after two innings and didn't get through the third.

Wright, who complained of some "arm fatigue" after his tune-up outing with Double-A Frisco on Thursday, was raked in the third inning. While the jet stream was in full force Tuesday, it had little impact on Wright. The Devil Rays batters hit him that hard. Wright said he had no physical issues Tuesday.

"I have no excuses," Wright said. "I have to do a better job out there the next time, whenever that is."

Wright started the inning by allowing consecutive doubles and a triple to the bottom three hitters in the Tampa Bay lineup. He walked Carl Crawford, who was promptly caught stealing for the second time in the first three innings and got a hard lineout to short. He then hit Rocco Baldelli before allowing a home run to Ty Wigginton. After Delmon Young followed with a single to give the Devil Rays the cycle in the inning, Rangers manager Ron Washington went to reliever Scott Feldman.
Wright had already thrown 59 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, only 32 of them for strikes.
"We had a three-run lead, and before I could blink, it was 5-3," Washington said. "I was just trying to keep the game in check. The guys had fought hard early in the game, and [Tampa Bay] wasn't hitting the ball soft. I felt like it was important to stop things right there."

Though the Rangers scored seven runs in the bottom of the inning to take a fairly comfortable lead, the question still begged to be asked: Could Wright lose the fifth spot after just one outing?

Washington doesn't need the fifth spot again until April 21, but he was non-committal about who would make that start against Oakland.

"We really haven't determined it yet," said Washington. "We'll make sure Jamey gets checked out by the trainers and make sure everything is OK, and we'll go from there."

The Rangers find themselves in a slightly ticklish position very early. They will have to make room on the roster for closer Eric Gagne on Friday. That likely forces the Rangers to make a decision between Wright and Chen, who pitched two innings of relief Tuesday. Chen allowed three runs, but none of them were earned. Chen, a starter for most of his career, has not allowed an earned run in four innings this season.

The pitcher the Rangers take off the roster to make room for Gagne would have to be exposed to waivers. That could mean losing the pitcher for good. Wright's arm fatigue, combined with a poor first outing, could make that decision a lot more difficult for the Rangers.

Terry Bowden promises College Football playoff is coming

In January of this year, at the American Football Coaches Association meeting, a majority of the 70 or so coaches in attendance voted in favor of a seeded four-team playoff. Although there are 119 coaches of schools in the Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A), I believe the AFCA's majority vote would hold true even if put to a vote by the entire group of 119.

And the coaches that publicly support a playoff are not just anybody. They include the movers and shakers within the business, guys like Urban Meyer, Mack Brown, Pete Carroll, Joe Paterno, Steve Spurrier, Lloyd Carr and Bob Stoops. Every one of these guys has won a national championship under the old systems, and they still want a change.

And don't think for a minute that these ultra-successful coaches haven't gained the respect and the ears of their presidents.

Speaking of college presidents – and they must make the ultimate decision – much is happening with them as well. They have been united in opposition to even discussing the possibility of a playoff. I never could find even one who was willing to stand up for a playoff.

However, this week Florida president Bernie Machin, a staunch playoff advocate, announced that the Southeastern Conference presidents have agreed to bring to the table and discuss the possibility of a Bowl Subdivision playoff at this spring's meetings in Destin, Fla.

Folks, Bernie Machin is not just a college president. He is the president of the university that has the current national champion in both football and men's basketball. Not only does his school produce national titles but also graduates student athletes at a very high rate. When you win the championship in both of the biggest college sports, and you have a strong stand on academics in collegiate athletics, you've got a platform from which you will be heard.

And believe me, college presidents are going to listen.

So the question now becomes, when is a playoff going to happen in the top division of college football? The existing Bowl Championship Series television contract with Fox ends after the 2009 season, but with discussions of a new contract coming up next year, I guaran-dadgum-tee you that a seeded four-team playoff, at the very
least, will be discussed.

If my estimations are correct, what once was seen as an impossibility – a big-time national championship playoff – will become a reality in the next five years.

Best picks in each spot of all time

Boyd blog follows last night’s Rangers Theatre

Here's what's happening in my living room right now. I'm watching the Rangers on satellite TV. I have my laptop out with a wireless Internet connection. I learn that the boys at The Ticket (who are all living in one house this week called the Compound) are doing an unusual broadcasting bit: Four of their hosts (for those that understand: Norm, Bob, Craig, and Boyd's own "The Hammer") are sitting around watching the Ranger game and are commenting on it on the radio in real time. I mean they all are mic'd up and just talking about the same game I'm watching. So I listen to them over the Internet. (They call if "Mystery Science Rangers".) They are incredibly relaxed, with sometimes 30 seconds of silence, and it's like they are in my living room. I can't tell you how odd it is.

Then, confusingly, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (pic above) who is at the game in Arlington, calls into the Boys at The Ticket because he has heard what they are doing. So now I'm listening to Evan talk to the Boys at the Ticket over the Internet. Suddenly, and I don't know why, Evan Grant is shown on the television screen by Fox Southwest. The Ticket boys, who see him on television (since we are watching the same channel), tell him to wave. He does. I'm watching Evan Grant waving on my television screen at the prompting of the Boys on The Ticket - who I just heard over the Internet.

I certainly have no love for Manchester United. But what they did last night is nothing short of amazing, beating Roma 7-1

And, Chelsea, pulls a huge result, too, with a last second winner at Valencia

Chelsea can now consider a third European Cup semi-final in four years and almost certainly a second one against Liverpool. It is the chance for Mourinho to exorcise Luis GarcĂ­a's "ghost goal" at Anfield in 2005. The quadruple, moreover, remains a possibility and we are almost nine months into a 10-month season. As all at Stamford Bridge concede, it has been some season.


Hey Bob, big fan. After the whole Arkansas/Gillespie dispute its obvious there is a large Razorback fan base in Dallas. I thought you could add this blog (The Pig Pen) to your approved blog section on your daily blog. It is very credible and includes all Razorback news as well as all other sports. Just thought it would be helpful. Go Hogs.

Thanks again,

Keep it up.

P1 Mike

More email

I have two friends (Grown Married Men both in there early 30's) who are big golf fans!!! So of coarse yesterday we all got together to watch the Mavs play for home court advantage. So we gathered around had a couple beers and watched the Mavs beat the Clippers. Well somewhere in the 3rd qtr. Masters talk got started between my two friends and you must know that one is a Tiger Fan and the other a self professed Tiger Hater.
So the Tiger Hater was rubbing it in to the Tiger lover about how some no name beat him and how Tiger "choked" once again in crunch time. Well the argument, which is common after a Tournament with these two, went from friendly to heated when the Tiger Hater said "Yeah Johnson put the Johnson on Tiger"! This is where my other friend, the Tiger Lover jumped up and called the Hater to the Backyard to fight, Note: they only had 3 to 4 beers each. Well the Hater and Lover went to my backyard and slugged it out in a UFC type manner, after some good exchanges of blows by the two, the "Hater" threw the "Lover" into my Firewood stack splitting the "Lovers" Hand open ( which required 22 stitches). Needless to say they are pissed at each other , Now tell me is it gay to slug another man for talking trash about your favorite sports figure, and it has to be gay to get your ass kicked after the fact! Is the Tiger lover Gay or Not Gay?

The 2D preview for the upcoming U2-3D IMAX movie, scheduled for fall 2007. For more U2:

And this from my good buddy, Chance, who wrote the Yao Ming, Ask Sports Sturm, and many other songs:

Would you gimme a plug? Me and Frank...the guy I record with...enterd a jingle int he Jingles for Pringles national competition and I was wondering if you could put the embed in your blog?

It's pretty funny..especially if you compare it to the other stuff that has been submitted. has a good line about changing the name of our beloved country to the united states of Pringles...

The link to the page is: here

OK in fairness we concentrated on the music and not the video and we started it the day it was due. And we had a couple cocktails.


cracker1743 said...

Please tell me Casey rolled tape on Lover vs. Hater. Bill it as 'Tards in the Yard.

Oh, and eff the Hogs. Most. Annoying. Fans. Ever.

Flaco said...

I hate to agree with your Stars I won't:

Canucks in 6.

I do however agree with everything else you said...the Stars need to show SOMETHING

Go Stars.

Beat VAN

Gravypan said...

Oh jeez...

Please tell Norm to quit joining the millions of mindless morons who are blowing this Don Imus/Rutger's Women's basketball thing out of proportion.

I guarantee half the women on the team listen to rap music that contains far more offensive lyrics than anything Don Imus said.

mrowlou said...

Bob, if it is the Nucks in 7, than that means LOTS of changes.

Tippet, gone
Armstrong, gone
Turco, gone

And I would have to agree with the firings.

Andy Douthitt said...

Bob- you are dead on...

I don't care what anyone says, since Hitch left town and since the Stars have made themselves into an afterthought in this town with a series of moves (Hatcher gone, Turco unproven but extended etc.) and just plain not winning when it counts since 2000, if the Stars don't get deep into the playoffs this year this town will drop them quickly.
Its very easy. We have the big 4. in this order:

Not caring about a team is probably the worst attribute a franchise can ever have. Even worse than losing. We could be closing in on that very soon.

Kipster198 said...

Wow.... 9:50 and still no blog... You'd think that Bob was working later than usual last night...

artfromtex said...

i say fire 'em during the playoffs and bench Turco's five goal surrendering ass.

dear God, did i just post about friggin' hockey?