Friday, May 23, 2008

Here Come the Weekend

The Stanley Cup Finals begin tomorrow night, and I am ready. I really wish the Red Wings would lose, but I think it is tough to imagine that Detroit team losing. They are too good and too ready. I think Crosby’s time is coming (and trust me, I will be rooting for him) but I think now it is time for those stinking Red Wings.
Detroit in 6. Yuck.

James Mirtle has a numerical breakdown that will give you tired head

Stanley Cup final
(1) Detroit v. (2) Pittsburgh
Series starts Saturday

Average age
Detroit 32.32
Pittsburgh 27.75
(Detroit without Chelios and Hasek: 31.13)

Average height
Pittsburgh 6 foot 1.8"
Detroit 6 foot 0"

Average weight
Pittsburgh 208.95 lbs
Detroit 195.26 lbs

Can USA Euro
Pittsburgh 45.0% 30.0% 25.0%
Detroit 39.1% 13.0% 47.8%

Oldest players
Chris Chelios, 46 years, 4 months
Dom Hasek, 43 years, 4 months
Gary Roberts, 42 years
Dallas Drake, 39 years, 3 months
Nick Lidstrom, 38 years, 1 month

Youngest players
Jordan Staal, 19 years, 9 months
Sidney Crosby, 20 years, 10 months
Kristopher Letang, 21 years, 1 month
Darren Helm, 21 years, 4 months
Evgeni Malkin, 21 years, 10 months
Tyler Kennedy, 21 years, 10 months
Marc-Andre Fleury, 23 years, 6 months

Over 6 foot 3
Hal Gill, 6 foot 7
Ryan Malone, 6 foot 4
Ryan Whitney, 6 foot 4
Jordan Staal, 6 foot 4

Under 6 feet
Brett Lebda, 5 foot 9
Brian Rafalski, 5 foot 10
Jiri Hudler, 5 foot 10
Kris Draper, 5 foot 10
Chris Osgood, 5 foot 10
Sidney Crosby, 5 foot 11
Pavel Datysk, 5 foot 11
Darren Helm, 5 foot 11
Tyler Kennedy, 5 foot 11
Maxime Talbot, 5 foot 11
Henrik Zetterberg, 5 foot 11

Tipping the scales
Hal Gill, 250 lbs
Georges Laraque, 243 lbs
Ryan Malone, 224 lbs
Jordan Staal, 220 lbs
Andreas Lilja, 220 lbs
Johan Franzen, 220 lbs
Brooks Orpik, 219 lbs
Ryan Whitney, 219 lbs
Rob Scuderi, 218 lbs

Dom Hasek, 166 lbs
Darren Helm, 172 lbs
Chris Osgood, 178 lbs
Marc-Andre Fleury, 180 lbs
Jiri Hudler, 182 lbs
Tyler Kennedy, 183 lbs
Dallas Drake, 186 lbs
Kris Draper, 188 lbs

Ice time leaders (forward)
Henrik Zetterberg 21:24
Pavel Datsyuk 20:49
Evgeni Malkin 20:22
Marian Hossa 19:49
Sidney Crosby 19:44
Ryan Malone 18:16
Johan Franzen 18:08
Dan Cleary 17:08

Ice time leaders (defence)
Sergei Gonchar 24:45
Nicklas Lidstrom 24:42
Brian Rafalski 24:02
Niklas Kronwall 22:10
Brad Stuart 20:58

Faceoff kings
Kris Draper 63.4%
Henrik Zetterberg 57.9%
Pavel Datsyuk 55.8%
Jordan Staal 52%
Valtteri Filppula 52%
Johan Franzen 50%
Sidney Crosby 49%

Ryan Malone 62
Brooks Orpik 62
Jarkko Ruutu 42
Pavel Datsyuk 37
Dallas Drake 34
Brad Stuart 34
Jordan Staal 33

Blocked shots
Brooks Orpik 33
Sergei Gonchar 31
Hal Gill 25
Rob Scuderi 21
Brad Stuart 18
Kristopher Letang 18

Shooting percentage
Gary Roberts 40%
Johan Franzen 25%
Georges Laraque 25%
Jordan Staal 21.4%
Pavel Datsyuk 17.6%
Ryan Malone 16.2%

Henrik Zetterberg 84
Evgeni Malkin 59
Mikael Samuelsson 58
Marian Hossa 58
Pavel Datsyuk 51
Johan Franzen 48
Brian Rafalski 43
Sidney Crosby 41
Dan Cleary 38
Ryan Malone 37

Missed shots
Henrik Zetterberg 25
Evgeni Malkin 23
Johan Franzen 19
Tomas Holmstrom 18
Brian Rafalski 16
Pavel Datsyuk 14
Sergei Gonchar 14
Marian Hossa 14
Petr Sykora 14

The real story – what will people in Detroit watch?

On Wednesday night, May 28, the Detroit Red Wings will travel to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup Finals series, as the action shifts to NBC. On that same night, and if necessary, will be Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA, as the Detroit Pistons travel to face the Boston Celtics on ESPN.

There's already been a firestorm of controversy over the scheduling conflicts between the two popular Detroit teams. But NBC Sports' hockey analysts are convinced that Motor City sports fans are going to choose hockey over hoops.

"It's called Hockeytown for a reason, said Pierre McGuire, NBC's "inside the glass" reporter, on a conference call earlier this week. "I don't think because there's a basketball game being played head-to-head with a Red Wing game it's going to have any effect, due to the fact that it truly is Hockeytown. Their fans are going to watch on TV, and I think they're going to keep their eyes glued to what could be one of the best Stanley Cup Finals we've seen in a long time. Hoorah for Hockeytown!"

Well, that was emphatic. NBC color commentator and former Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk went even further than McGuire. "I will guarantee you that the people of Detroit will have our game on before they'll have that final or whatever the Pistons are in, in the Eastern Conference," he said. "Pierre hit it right on the head: It is a hockey town, and this being a Stanley Cup Finals Game 3 versus whatever game it would be in the Eastern Final for the Pistons ... I'm not afraid of stepping out, and I would say that Game 3 on NBC, we will win that ratings war."

Gary Bettman, in an interview with WDFN-AM, expressed remorse that there was a conflict for Detroit fans, and wasn't sure what the ratings would look like:

The answer is basketball fans will watch basketball, hockey fans will watch hockey and the casual fans will probably flip back and forth. Whatever game seems to be more compelling at the time will probably do the higher number. I will be interested to see. Most people will assume that basketball will beat us from the ratings. We'll have to see what happens.
He's right: If Game 5 is an elimination game for the Pistons -- meaning they could be eliminated -- the Wings get a bump. If Game 3 is a blowout either way for the NHL, and the NBA series is still competitive, then the NBA gets a bump. There can't be any generalizations; it's all about the specific conditions in place next Wednesday.

Josh Hamilton does it again!

Hamilton shook off his day-time malaise and hit a 10th-inning homer – on a 3-and-2, two-out fastball – to give the Rangers an 8-7 win in a game in which it looked like no lead was safe.

Hamilton's homer and some efficient relief work by beleaguered closer C.J. Wilson allowed the Rangers to split the four-game series in Minnesota after losing the first two. They have not lost any of their last eight series. They head to Cleveland today once again within a game of .500 (24-25).

Hamilton, who turned 27 on Wednesday, has been the difference in a handful of games already this season, and he was again Thursday.

He also moved to the top of the AL's Triple Crown race. His homer tied him for the AL lead with 12. He leads the planet with 53 RBIs. And his afternoon, combined with an unsuccessful pinch-hitting appearance by Minnesota's Joe Mauer, gave him the batting lead at .335. Mauer, who began the day at .336, is now at .333.

And this is from a guy who has had a serious handicap in afternoon games. He began the day hitting .365 at night but just .236 during the day. In the outfield, he misjudged several balls in the daylight.

Hamilton said he'd been more uncomfortable at the plate than in the field during the day.

"I'm not sure what it is, because I didn't have any problems in spring training," Hamilton said. "But in spring training, you pretty much have a routine, and everything happens during the day. During the regular season, with different starting times, the routine isn't as set.

"I'm sure it's not just me, but it's something I've got to get used to. And it's not that way every game."

Said Washington: "I think that's just Josh's youth. I know [outfield instructor] Gary Pettis has worked with him, and he'll make the adjustment. We'll blow that off as just youth."

Hamilton rescued the Rangers when it looked like they might just waste leads of 4-0 after the first, 6-3 through 5 ½ and 7-5 through 7 ½. Wilson, who blew a save in the 12-inning loss that began the road trip, put the finishing touches on things with a 12-pitch, 10-strike 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth.

Wilson gave the Rangers what they needed after relievers Jamey Wright, Frank Francisco and Joaquin Benoit combined to walk or hit six batters from the sixth through the ninth.

Hamilton contract about to go down?

The latest contractual trend in baseball is to lock up players with less than two years' experience to deals that extend well past eventual free agency.

In the wake of several recent deals, the Rangers have started exploring the possibility with Josh Hamilton. Hamilton, who has one year and nearly two months of major league service time, is at the forefront of the AL Triple Crown chase.

There have been some internal discussions and at least one casual conversation with his agent.

"What's meant to happen is going to happen," Hamilton said after acknowledging some conversation. "The more I read the Bible, the more I realize it doesn't make any sense to worry. I'm not going to be able to add one day to my life by worrying. I know God will provide for my family.

"I feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be. I feel like I mix well with these guys and have felt that way since the first day at spring training. Since I started playing baseball, this is the most comfortable I've ever felt."

Hamilton's twisting path to major league stardom makes doing a deal more complicated than the ones recently signed by Evan Longoria with Tampa Bay and Ryan Braun with Milwaukee.

Longoria signed a deal that could keep him with the Rays for nine seasons; Braun signed an eight-year, $45 million deal. But both players are younger than 25 while Hamilton turned 27 on Wednesday.

The sides would probably also have to consider Hamilton's difficult past, which included three years out of baseball because of drug-addiction issues.

March 11, 2007 – Peter Gammons on Josh Hamilton

Eddie Sefko decides to spray proposed Josh Howard Deals in every direction

Eric Musselman thinks the Bulls should take Rose over Beasley

With CHI winning the lottery, the Bulls have to decide who fits in right now, as well as how much better can he get (i.e., his upside).

As I look at this year's draft, if I was sitting in the Bulls' position, I'd ask myself where would D. Rose and M. Beasley be right now at their position?

Rose would rank among the league's top 10 point guards right now, behind only C. Paul, D. Williams, S. Nash, T. Parker, G. Arenas, and B. Davis. Rose is that good. In fact, I think he'll be better than D. Harris, Billups (Chauncey's getting older), J. Kidd (so is Jason), and M. Williams in MIL.

Looking at Beasley today, I don't think he'd rank among the top 10 at either forward spot. Just look at the NBA's best power forwards -- Dirk, KG, Bosh, Boozer, Gasol, Jefferson, Marion, Brand, Aldridge, Jamison, West, Josh Smith. How about small forwards? LeBron, Pierce, Butler, Anthony, Howard, Turkoglu, Iguodala, Kirilenko, Gay, Deng, Artest...

Of course Beasley is a great player. But the NBA is loaded with talented forwards.

Here's my case for taking Rose:

1. You'd immediately have one of the league's top 7 point guards.
2. You can trade Hinrich for a team need. I'm sure the Bulls are already getting calls about his availability.
3. In order to win in the NBA, you need a great PG (Paul, Williams, Nash, etc.)
4. Rose is a Chicago kid.

Regardless, both Rose and Beasley will be terrific pros. Because they're so young and talented, they've got plenty of upside.

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