Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Put the Puck in This.

Ready for some Stars talk?

How about we take a look at the most important element for the hockey team right now, scoring goals.

The Stars couldn’t score last season. They didn’t score at all in 5-on-5 where they ranked tied for 26th (122 goals, Buffalo scored 204). They didn’t score in the playoffs (they shutout the Canucks 3 times and still lost the series). And they didn’t add any offense whatsoever.

In 2006-07, the Stars scored 2.65 goals per game

It is certainly early, but in 3 games in 2007-08, the Stars are scoring at 2.67 goals per game

Here is something I pulled off a Stars message board:

Breakdown of goals scored per month and average goal production last season:

October- 34 (in 11 games) 3.09 GPG avg
November- 33 (in 14 games) 2.36 GPG
December 36 (in 15 games 2.40 GPG
January- 25 (in 11 games) 2.27 GPG
February- 31 (in 11 games) 2.82 GPG
March- 47 (in 16 games) 2.93 GPG
April- 7 goals (in 4 regular season games games) 1.75 GPG
Playoffs April- 12 goals (in 7 games) 1.71 GPG

225 total goals in 89 Gamea for an offensive total of 2.52 GPG, or 213 regular season goals for an offensive total of 2.60 GPG

5 years ago, this might have been enough. . . Last year, it was good for 22nd in the league. . . The top 10 teams in the league all produced at least 3.07 GPG or more, and the Stanley Cup Finals pitted the 2nd team in overall scoring (3.49 GPG) vs. the 9th team in overall scoring (3.10 GPG). . .

And if you watched the games so far, it sure looks like same song, 2nd verse. Honestly, I have high hopes for a great hockey season, but it all rides on the Stars doing some scoring. And, it appears that they will rely on the Power Play once again to compensate for the fact that they are among the bottom feeders at even strength.

Some good news, though, as leading scorer Mike Riberio rejoins the boys tonight after a lengthy injury had him miss plenty of the preseason and the first week of the regular season. He adds big skill to your top 6, and now, you may have some chance of getting goals from your 2nd line.

I would imagine you stick Jokinen up top with Morrow and Modano, and then your second line should be Riberio at center, Lehtinen on one wing and I think Hagman on the other. Of course, that leaves Miettinen and Ericksson out of the mix. Ericksson either needs to be in your top 6 or in Iowa, as he is 21, and doesn’t need to be a healthy scratch (I have similar feelings for Niskanen). Miettinen is a perfect healthy scratch candidate who is at the ready for injuries, and Hagman is versatile enough that he has the skill and grit to play on any of the 4 lines, and should bounce a meathead off the 4th line and into the press box. In fact, I after further review, I would put Hagman on the 4th (along with substantial penalty kill) and get Ericksson or Chris Conner as the 2nd wing on the 2nd line. We need goals, so let’s get all of the skill into the lineup, please.

I didn’t even mention the 3rd line of Lundqvist, Halpern, and Barnes. You don’t have to. They are money. They are dependable, and they not only shut down the opposition’s top line most nights, but they also led this team in scoring in the Vancouver series. Sad, eh?

Anyway, the Kings are here tonight, and the Flames Friday, so party.

Gil wants to know what it would take to get Romo benched

Conventional thinking should have benched Romo for the night at halftime, where he might have reflected upon his newfound mortality and learned the error of his Monday night ways.

But, no, that option was never discussed, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said Tuesday.
In fact, that very question at Phillips' press conference produced the most awkward silence of the day.

"No," good ol' Wade said quietly, shaking his head. "No.

"He had the four picks in the first half, certainly. But we were moving the ball in the second half. We moved the ball. We scored some points.

"No, I don't think anybody thought that."

Phillips sounded sincere, which is all the more disconcerting.

On the one hand, it speaks volumes about the coaching staff's lack of faith in 39-year-old backup quarterback Brad Johnson. At one point, the ESPN cameras caught Johnson on the sideline with his helmet affixed. All dressed up, as it were, with nowhere to go.

But it wasn't as if Romo was going anywhere, either. The fact that no one in authority -- Wade? Owner Jones? Anybody? -- even entertained the notion of yanking Romo in midgame bespeaks the emotional grip that the young quarterback has on the franchise.

No, this is not necessarily a good thing.

For six seasons Jones roamed the NFL desert, searching for the next Aikman. The anointing oils had already passed their "use by" date.

Along came Romo, who, unlike other recent Cowboys quarterback candidates, wasn't encrusted in baseball rust, hadn't failed an NFL drug test and wasn't almost as old or as slow as the owner himself.

It's hard not to like Tony Romo. He's young. Precocious. The energy that he brings to the team is apparent.

But if, say, cornerback Jacques Reeves had given up three touchdowns in Monday's first half and, say, missed three open-field tackles, wouldn't he have spent the rest of the night as a spectator? Just wondering.

Accountability only matters for some starters?

Better example: A certain mouthy, self-absorbed wide receiver who was shown yapping on the sideline because he wasn't being thrown the football.

As if Romo and Jason Garrett didn't already have enough on their plate.

At the end of the game, the squeaky wheel got the grease. Romo did throw Terrell Owens' way -- twice -- and Owens failed to deliver.

Let's hope Romo remembers that.

Painfully, after the game, I watched the ESPN postgame show. Emmitt, please stick to dancing.

When Stuart Scott wasn't annoying us with Non-Sensical Phrases That He Hopes Will Catch On Now That Boo-Yah Has Run Its Course, quarterback Steve Young, the Hall of Famer and ex-49er expressed his dismay that Romo stayed in and was allowed to keep putting the Cowboys in harm's way.

I didn't agree, until I went back and re-watched the game on TiVO. Suffice to say that Lou Piniella wouldn't have let Romo finish the first quarter.

"I think he just had a bad day," Phillips said. "Maybe he was trying to make big plays on them, rather than just keep making plays."

The impetuousness, however, of Tony Romo, his stubborn refusal to play to the norm, are the essence of the young quarterback. He's no bus driver, to use Bill Parcells' term. He's Batman -- for better and worse.

Offensive coordinator Garrett doesn't want to stifle Romo. But where, on any given Sunday, do you draw the line?

Wow. Not even at six turnovers.

Some, admittedly, were slow to embrace the storyline, this idea of a kid from Eastern Illinois being the football Roy Hobbs.

There are some who still think Romo is too short, hasn't beaten anybody of substance, throws too sidearm and takes too many chances to be what Jones and Cowboys Inc. want him to be.

To those people, the best answer this week, paraphrasing Phillips, is that anybody can have a bad day.

But what if it happens again?

"These are mistakes," the head coach said. "With all players, even quarterbacks, these are mistakes that you have to correct."

He expects that Romo will do so.

"I'll say this," said good ol' Wade. "At the end of the game, he was still in there."
Yeah, we noticed.

And it's not necessarily a good thing.

Reevo looks at the comeback

No more wondering what it takes to provoke a Tony Romo meltdown. Just put him under the glaring hot lights of Monday Night Football.

He'll melt quicker than Halloween chocolate clutched in a 4-year-old's hand.

But here's the real treat: He can still pull himself together to win a game when it's there to be won.

The Cowboys overcame six turnovers, including four first-half Romo interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, recovered an onsides kick with 18 seconds left and then watched Nick Folk kick not one, but two 53-yard field goals -- the Bills called timeout just before he booted the first one -- with no time left on the clock as the Cowboys escaped Buffalo with a by-the-skin-of-their-teeth 25-24 victory.
"He got me out of the doghouse tonight," Romo told MNF's cameras after Folk's game-winning field goal stunned the Bills and completed the Cowboys' improbable comeback. "The guys stuck with me, and they stuck together. This team is resilient. We've got a great bunch of guys, and they fought their... They fought hard tonight."
Stuck in traffic on the way into Ralph Wilson Stadium on Monday night, we chuckled as we listened to a Buffalo pregame talk show analyst tick off what needed to happen for the Bills to upset the Cowboys.

"Get three to five turnovers from Tony Romo," he said, "and a special-teams score."
We laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all. Sure, and why not pray for snow on this 70-degree evening while you're at it?

The guy turned out to be both genius and clairvoyant.

And still wrong.

Romo, looking completely unlike the darting, daring quarterback who had led the Cowboys to a 4-0 record coming in, threw five interceptions and fumbled to kill another second-half drive, and Terrence McGee returned a kickoff 103 yards for a third-quarter touchdown.

Despite all that, despite the fact that Terrell Owens twice failed to come up with two huge late-game catches after having the ball in his hands, the Bills somehow still managed to lose the game.

It was a Monday Night Football classic that will have the experts scratching their heads for weeks to come.

"Really, it was four?" Romo said to ESPN's Michelle Tafoya when she asked him how he recovered from throwing four first-half interceptions. "I thought there were about seven in the first half.

"Bottom line is, I played poorly. I put our team in a hole early on. They rallied. They're gutty. They're a great bunch of guys."

Greatest Comeback in Cowboys history?

The Cowboys' dramatic, come-from-behind victory over the Buffalo Bills was breathtaking, all right. But if you're struggling with where it ranks on the team's all-time list of most memorable comebacks, relax.

It might not even make the top five.

True, it came on the final play of the game, on “Monday Night Football” and, considering Tony Romo's five-interception, six-turnover effort, it certainly was improbable. But it came against perhaps the worst team in the NFL.

Staff writer John Whisler provides his list of the top finishes in Cowboys history.

1. Cowboys 17, Vikings 14

Date: Dec. 28, 1975

Setting: NFC divisional playoffs, Metropolitan Stadium

How it happened: Trailing 14-10, Drew Pearson makes a dramatic, one-handed catch of a 50-yard prayer from Roger Staubach with 24 seconds left. “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary,” Staubach confided afterward.

Reason for ranking: Considering the opponent — it probably was Vikings' best team ever — and the stakes, this gets nod as No. 1. Still talked about by Cowboys fans 30 years later.

2. Cowboys 30, 49ers 28

Date: Dec. 23, 1972

Setting: NFC divisional playoffs, Candlestick Park

How it happened: Sidelined since suffering a badly separated right shoulder in August, Staubach — aka Captain Comeback — tosses two touchdown passes in the final two minutes as the Cowboys erase a 28-13 deficit.

Reason for ranking: Is this the real No. 1? Hard to argue, especially considering the stakes and the size of the deficit overcome.

3. Cowboys 24, Redskins 23

Date: Nov. 28, 1974

Setting: Thanksgiving Day, Texas Stadium

How it happened: After Staubach gets knocked woozy, rookie Clint Longley steps in and pulls the Cowboys out of a 16-3 hole with two touchdown passes. The clincher comes on a 50-yarder to Drew Pearson with 35 seconds left.

Reason for ranking: Coming against the Cowboys' archrival, it turned Longley into an instant folk hero.

4. Cowboys 35, Redskins 34

Date: Dec. 16, 1979

Setting: Texas Stadium

How it happened: Again led by Staubach, the Cowboys erase a 34-21 deficit in the final two minutes. Staubach's 7-yard touchdown pass to Tony Hill with 39 seconds left is the game-winner.

Reason for ranking: The last of Roger the Dodger's legendary comebacks. Staubach retired after the season.

5. Cowboys 41, Redskins 35

Date: Sept. 12, 1999

Setting: Season-opener at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium

How it happened: Trailing 35-14 entering the final quarter, the Cowboys erupt for 21 unanswered points, then win in overtime. Troy Aikman leads Cowboys on drives of 70, 66, 90 and 95 yards, capped by 76-yard touchdown pass to Raghib Ismail on first overtime possession.

Reason for ranking: Aikman couldn't have picked a better opponent for his greatest comeback.

Scoreability rankings

1 New England 2139 182 11.75
2 Dallas 2148 176 12.20

Lane with a guarantee? …surely not…

Running back Jorvorskie Lane ripped a well-worn page from football's motivational playbook – and Mike Gundy's, too – on Tuesday and guaranteed a Texas A&M victory over Texas Tech this weekend.

When told that A&M hadn't won in Lubbock since 1993, Lane said, "We're going to win in 2007. That's a guarantee. I promise you."

And what would coach Dennis Franchione think about that?

"I'm a man. I can say what I want to say," said Lane, who is 20. Gundy, the coach at Oklahoma State, is 40, as he noted in his infamous Sept. 22 postgame rant.

Lane's confidence is admirable, but A&M's pass defense doesn't need any extra pressure. The Aggies already have their hands full trying to stop the Red Raiders offense. Tech is averaging 52.5 points per game. A&M's pass defense is ranked 75th nationally.

Unfortunate new chapter to Aggie-Red Raider Hate

Texas Tech has banned the sale of a T-shirt bearing the likeness of Michael Vick hanging the dog mascot of rival Texas A&M.

The red and black shirts, with text that says "VICK 'EM" on the front in an apparent reference to the Aggies' slogan "Gig 'em," was created by a Tech student who was trying to sell them before Saturday's game in Lubbock.

The back of the shirt shows a football player wearing the No. 7 Vick jersey holding a rope with an image of the mascot Reveille at the end of a noose. Vick, who faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal dogfighting charge, is suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Tech officials late Tuesday announced the fraternity that sold the shirts was suspended temporarily and will face judicial review for allegedly violating the solicitation section of the students' code of conduct.

The school said it wouldn't allow the sale on campus of items that are "derogatory, inflammatory, insensitive, or in such bad taste."

No more shirts are being produced, the school said in a release.

A&M officials, in a statement, thanked Tech administrators for "their response and action regarding this matter."

Geoffrey Candia, the creator of the shirts who is with the Theta Chi fraternity, told The Associated Press they were taking full responsibility. "We realize the shirts shouldn't have been printed," he said.

He told The Battalion, A&M's newspaper, for Tuesday's editions that the university prohibited sale of the shirts on campus through his fraternity. He said he
originally had wanted to give 50 percent of the proceeds to an animal defense league in Lubbock "because we knew there would be a controversy about the shirts, you know, animal rights, stuff like that."

Candia told the newspaper about 300 had been sold. He had hoped 500 would be sold before Saturday's game.

In a posting on his Facebook site at about 4 a.m. Tuesday, Candia wrote: "a little tshirt get aggies all worked up... its a t-shirt people!"

The controversy comes about 2½ months after Gerald Myers, Tech's athletic director, announced a campaign to promote good sportsmanship across the campus and at athletic events. The words used in the effort are honor, respect, pride and tradition.

Tech dominates at Lubbock

As Mike Leach might say, all pirates had best be on the lookout. The soldiers are heading to Lubbock.

One of the Big 12's hottest rivalries gets cranked up Saturday as Texas A&M makes its biennial pilgrimage to the South Plains. After six straight losses at Texas Tech, is A&M finally ready to end its Lubbock losing streak?

Or will Leach and his swashbuckling pirates, as the Tech coach likes to think of his team, send A&M's "soldiers" back home cursing about dusty, ol' Lubbock and everything that is scarlet and black?

Tech students are getting ready, albeit in a deranged way. Red shirts are being sold on campus that depict a football player holding a rope with a dog attached to it – supposedly A&M's mascot, Reveille. The front has two words: "Vick 'Em."

Tech spokesman Chris Cook said the university does not support this shirt "in any way,
shape or form."

"The two times I went there, you just feel out of place," former A&M quarterback Mark Farris said. "That's part of playing on the road, and you have to adjust to that. But I think another part of it is their fans really, really get up for that game. It is the end-all, be-all."
A quick recap: A&M has not won in Lubbock since 1993. Since that time, Tech fans have torn down two goal posts after victories over A&M (1999 and 2001). The second time, they threw a fallen upright into the A&M fan section and giggled as Aggies fought each other in the stands.

Mike McKinney, father of A&M center Seth McKinney and Gov. Rick Perry's chief of staff, needed eight stitches to close a wound over his eye that day. With blood trickling down his face, McKinney walked into the A&M locker room, looked at coach R.C. Slocum and said, "Welcome to Lubbock."

Slocum's response: "That's terrible."

An investigation revealed that an A&M fan threw the haymaker. The 12th Man Magazine later dubbed Tech as the "Classless Clowns" because of the incident.

"I personally thought that was classless and disrespectful, but you can't say it was [Tech coach] Leach saying that or the players telling them to go in that direction," said Christian Rodriguez, an A&M linebacker who was on the field on Nov. 3, 2001.
"You can't stop an army of people from doing that. But it was like pouring salt in the wound."

As if that weren't enough, the Red Raiders also got a huge kick out of blowout victories in 2003 and 2005. And Tech won at Kyle Field last season, 31-27.

"Glad to get out of here with a win," Leach told a TV reporter afterward. "This is a tough place to do it. Once in a while, a pirate can beat a solider, ya know?"

Avery getting Spurs jersey retired …but the Mavericks will wisely be absent…

When Avery Johnson picked up the telephone some weeks ago and heard what Gregg
Popovich had to say, he thought the Spurs head coach had cracked open one too many bottles of Bordeaux.

The Spurs, Popovich was trying to tell him, had decided to retire his No. 6 jersey.
“I thought he was just kidding me,” Johnson said, “or that he'd had too much wine.”
It was no joke, and the ceremony to retire Johnson's number has been set for Dec. 22, after the Spurs' game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Neither Popovich nor Johnson wanted the occasion to be affected by the intensity of a Spurs-Mavericks matchup.

“Avery and I decided that would be too cruel,” Popovich said. “One of us would have to fake like we were having a good time.”

Johnson, who played nine seasons for the Spurs, is the team's all-time leader in assists. He said the honor ranks “up there” among those he has received, including being named NBA Coach of the Year.

“What a thrill,” Johnson said. “What an honor. It's pretty special. You go to the arenas around the NBA, and there's not many guys whose jerseys are hanging in the rafters.”

Darvin Ham leads the Mavs?

Right now, the Mavericks' junior varsity is better than the Spurs' junior varsity.
Dallas broke open the game in the fourth quarter using a lineup consisting of J.J. Barea, Jared Newsom, Trenton Hassell, Nick Fazekas and Darvin Ham, a 34-year-old who at this time last year was working as a TV analyst.

Matt Bonner, a second-year Spurs player battling for an increased role in Popovich's rotation, turned in a productive 25 minutes off the bench. He scored 14 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

For the most part, it was hardly the kind of heated Spurs-Mavs rivalry game to which fans had become accustomed. Minutes before tipoff, Popovich was spied on the bench stifling a yawn.

"One down, six to go," Popovich said afterward, alluding to the team's remaining preseason schedule.

Josh Howard led Dallas with 18 points, while reigning league MVP Dirk Nowitzki scored 13. Neither played after halftime, by which time most of the Spurs' regulars had also packed it in for the game.

Manu Ginobili was the only Spurs starter to log more than 18 minutes. Duncan was the only starter to play more than 16.

Limas Sweed done

The pain kept reminding Limas Sweed that all was not well in his left wrist.
After six games, the senior receiver decided he couldn't continue any longer with the injury he suffered during preseason drills.

Sweed, the sixth-leading receiver in Texas history, will undergo season-ending surgery to repair ligament damage in the wrist, the school announced Monday.

Texas, which has started 0-2 in the Big 12 South, loses a player who commanded double coverage despite the injury. Sweed averaged 33.3 yards on his 20 career touchdowns. Last season, he tied Roy Williams' school record with touchdown catches in seven
consecutive games.

"I knew it was an injury I would be dealing with going into the season, and I did everything I could to play through the pain and help the team," Sweed said in a statement released by the university. "I've aggravated it a couple of times and again last week and have probably been in more pain than I let anybody know."

Want to see what gets you a 20 game suspension? Steve Downie is a Sean Avery starter kit…

Bradshaw with Leno


Flaco said...

Oh Sturm.... I couldn't disagree more.

I think you need to have Morrow with Ribby. They are hungry together and can produce some good stuff with maybe an Erikkson with them. Even Lehtinen with them. That might be your top line.

Morrow and Modano together have shown nothing. Modano looks like he is drifting along waiting for something to happen. Morrow doesn't deserve that.

Barnes/Lundqvist/Halpern is so genius.

I wish there were a stronger spot for Hagman. He can be a force when paired right.

Jay said...

Monday was a meltdown of epic proportions and it falls to the hands of one Tony Romo. It wasn't the Cowboys team that feel apart it was one guy Romo with TO Owens getting an honorable mention.

Pulling Romo would have been stupid. Brad Johnson the answer? It's much more productive to have Romo get himself out of his own mess than the see the weak armed BJ get in there and throw 5 yard passes.

I do wonder if this will make Jason Garrett ease Romo into big games more, have him to check downs and outs and whatnot to get him comfortable before he starts hitting Witten down the middle of the field.

I am pretty happy with the game day coaching. I think without question it's been better than last year. This staff makes adjustments that make sense. They attack. They will change something that's not working. They at least attempt to dictate the pace of the game (worked 4/5 times so far). I haven't seen any really dumb decisions thus far and I am most pleased.

Go Cowboys!

mrowlou said...

Vick 'em

I laughed.

Gravypan said...

I might be wrong on this, but I could have sworn that when ESPN showed Brad Johnson on the sidelines with his helmet on, it was during Dallas' final possession of the first half when they were trying to drive into field goal range.

And since Johnson is Nick Folk's holder, that kind of..I dunno...makes sense that he'd have his helmet on in case the field goal unit needed to run out onto the field?

Jay said...

Gravypan, ya but but he was throwing the ball back and forth like he was warming up to throw the ball.

Jonathan said...

I've was in Lubbock on Monday and one of my coworkers bought a Vick'Em shirt, $15.

The only one on Ebay is going for over $100.

JY said...

"Manu Ginobili was the only Spurs starter to log more than 18 minutes. Duncan was the only starter to play more than 16. "

Does this statement even make sense? The more times I read it the less sense it makes. If Ginobili was the on starter to log more than 18 minutes, then how can Tim Duncan be the only starter to play more than 16? The sentence before that just said that Ginobili had 18 minutes....! Arghh... do the people that work at the paper even read what they write?