Friday, May 27, 2011

NHL Stanley Cup Finals Scheduling Fiasco

The NHL Conference finals officially wraps up on Friday, and there will be a full 5 day break for both teams before the Stanley Cup finals. This caused quite a lot of stir in Vancouver talk radio Thursday, as an extended break has been decided upon by the NHL for television purposes. Meanwhile in 2009, the Detroit Red Wings only had 2 days off between their series with Chicago and the championship against Pittsburgh. According to sources, Ken Holland is still upset and that the Red Wings could very much have used more time off; and should have earned it by virtue of finishing off Chicago in 5 games. Yet in 2011, there will be 5 full days without any hockey for anyone to watch after Boston-Tampa goes 7 games, negating any advantage the Canucks should have had by virtue of winning their series in fewer games. To make matters worse, there is going to be 2 full days off between games 1 and 2.

There is no question that the finals should be starting sooner. Every day counts, and the Bruins/Lightning should have to pay a price for taking 7 games to finish their series.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Boston Or Tampa Bay?

Now that the Vancouver Canucks are advancing to the Stanley Cup finals (exactly as I said they would) the remaining question is who will they be facing, Boston or Tampa? The Bruins have a 3-2 series lead over the Lightning, but if this playoff has taught us anything you should not count out Steve Yzerman's team. Personally I am cheering for the Bruins to advance, as I have always had an affinity for that organization. My father tried out for the Bruins after graduating from the NCAA during the Bobby Orr era. He played for their farm team. Yet my favourite player growing up was Steve Yzerman, so I do take some pleasure in seeing him succeed as a rookie General Manager. Statistically Boston has about a 70% chance of winning the series.

As a Vancouver resident who once worked as a janitor at GM Place (aka Rogers Center), seeing the Canucks succeed feels nostalgic. I've got a hat, t-shirt, and car flag to publicly display my bandwagon jumping. My only regret as I watched the Canucks win in the 2nd overtime was that I was not downtown to share in the celebration.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Vancouver Canucks: 2011 Stanley Cup Champions

The Vancouver Canucks are your 2011 Stanley Cup Champions, defeating the (Bruins or Lightning) in the finals. At least that's what people will be saying a few short weeks from now, I just want to be the first to publicly declare them champions, get out ahead of the pack. Sure the Hockey News predicted the Canucks would win it all before the season started, but that was before my amateur sports blog even existed. I did however manage to compile 7 bi-weekly Power Rankings from January to April and had the Canucks rated #1 for 6 of them; so I'm not just jumping on the bandwagon here. Regardless of fandom I have been calling this the best team in hockey all season, and it is carrying through to June.

With the Red Wings eliminated from the playoffs, I'm now cheering for the local team as a Vancouver resident. How did someone born and raised in Northern Ontario living in Vancouver become a Red Wings fan? My uncle, Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman , Glen Hanlon, and some very obnoxious Leaf fans deserve the most credit; but a reverence for Robocop didn't hurt either...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Year Of The Canuck

The Vancouver Canucks are going to win the Stanley Cup. Perhaps it is ill-advised to take a statistical likelihood and declare it to be an absolute certainty, but that's how things look from where I am sitting. They are the best team left in the playoffs and even though Boston would provide some serious match-up problems, it is safe to start planning the parade route. While I may be a Red Wings fan living in Vancouver, when Detroit got knocked out I started wearing my Canucks hat and even put up a Canucks car flag on my automobile. Screw it, I'll assimilate and start cheering for the home team. The internet was abuzz after game 2 after a female Canucks fan flashed Ben Eager in the penalty box (no wonder he kept going back for more), and forgive me if I would like to see this trend continue, even increase in frequency. She was wearing a Henrik Sedin jersey.

As the commercial says, we are all Canucks....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Steve Yzerman General Manager Of The Year

As the NHL playoffs advance into the Conference finals, it is becoming increasingly that Steve Yzerman has had one of the finest rookie seasons of any NHL General Manager I can remember. Not only should be the GM of the year in the NHL, I would nominate him as GM of the year for all sports teams. When this season started you did not hear many (if any) experts picking Tampa to make an extended playoff run, but that's exactly what they are doing (I'm watching game 2 as I'm writing this and Boston is winning thanks to the heroics of Tyler Seguin). The Lightning however are having success thanks to the acquisitions of their rookie GM. 7 of the top 8 scorers on the Tampa roster were signed, re-signed, or acquired by Yzerman. Steve Yzerman was my favourite player growing up, and after mentoring under Ken Holland for a few years, his move to the GM's chair has been an incredible success.

Here are his most notable moves this calendar year.

1. Re-signed Teddy Purcell, who now has 13 PTS (and counting) in the playoffs.

2. Acquired Simon Gagne from Philadelphia for a cheap price, and Gagne has 8 PTS in 9 playoff games.

3. Signed Dominic Moore, who has 9 PTS in the playoffs (more PTS than Stamkos).

4. Signed Sean Bergenheim, who has 8 goals in the playoffs.

5. Re-signed Steve Downie, who has 12 PTS in the playoffs.

6. Acquired Dwayne Roloson for next to nothing, Dwayne is 9-3 in the playoffs with a .941 save percentage and a 2.01 goals against average.

7. Acquired Eric Brewer for a good price, and he has been their top defenceman in the playoffs logging 26 minutes a game in ice time and 6 PTS.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 Major League Baseball Player Rater (first 6 weeks)

Here are my top 200 player rankings for the first six weeks of the 2011 Major League Baseball season. The rankings are based on a standard 5 category scoring system of batting average, home runs, runs, RBI, and stolen bases; standardized with a modified Z-Score. This is not a scouting report or a future forecast, but rather an unbiased rating of each player's first quarter statistics. This is not a per game ranking, so players who have missed time due to injury will be punished, unless your name is Jose Bautista. Then you can sit out a week and still lead the league in HRs.

Thus far I am winning my 16 fantasy baseball league by a wide margin.

Rank, Name, Team, Score
1. Jose Bautista , TOR 13.0
2. Ryan Braun , MIL 11.9
3. Curtis Granderson , NYY 9.8
4. Lance Berkman , STL 9.6
5. Matt Kemp , LAD 9.5
6. Drew Stubbs , CIN 9.1
7. Ben Zobrist , TB 8.6
8. Adrian Gonzalez , BOS 8.4
9. Paul Konerko , CHW 7.6
10. Joey Votto , CIN 7.5
11. Jacoby Ellsbury , BOS 7.4
12. Shane Victorino , PHI 7.1
13. Jeff Francoeur , KC 7.0
14. Adrian Beltre , TEX 6.9
15. Matt Holliday , STL 6.8
16. Prince Fielder , MIL 6.8
17. Miguel Cabrera , DET 6.8
18. Ryan Howard , PHI 6.6
19. Robinson Cano , NYY 6.5
20. Troy Tulowitzki , COL 6.3
21. Albert Pujols , STL 6.3
22. Matt Joyce , TB 6.3
23. Jay Bruce , CIN 6.2
24. Martin Prado , ATL 6.2
25. Howard Kendrick , LAA 6.1
26. David Wright , NYM 6.1
27. Gaby Sanchez , FLA 6.0
28. Brandon Phillips , CIN 6.0
29. Melky Cabrera , KC 6.0
30. B.J. Upton , TB 5.9
31. Asdrubal Cabrera , CLE 5.9
32. Rickie Weeks , MIL 5.8
33. Jose Reyes , NYM 5.8
34. Adam Lind , TOR 5.7
35. Alfonso Soriano , CHC 5.6
36. Justin Upton , ARI 5.6
37. Elvis Andrus , TEX 5.5
38. Chris Young , ARI 5.4
39. Michael Young , TEX 5.4
40. Ian Kinsler , TEX 5.4
41. Ryan Roberts , ARI 5.4
42. Adam Jones , BAL 5.4
43. Mike Aviles , KC 5.3
44. Alex Gordon , KC 5.2
45. Johnny Damon , TB 5.1
46. Ichiro Suzuki , SEA 5.1
47. Carlos Beltran , NYM 5.1
48. Neil Walker , PIT 5.1
49. Andrew McCutchen , PIT 5.0
50. Ike Davis , NYM 5.0
51. Erick Aybar , LAA 5.0
52. Placido Polanco , PHI 5.0
53. Mark Teixeira , NYY 4.9
54. Cameron Maybin , SD 4.8
55. Colby Rasmus , STL 4.8
56. Hunter Pence , HOU 4.7
57. Carlos Gonzalez , COL 4.6
58. Coco Crisp , OAK 4.6
59. Kevin Youkilis , BOS 4.6
60. Michael Bourn , HOU 4.6
61. Carlos Quentin , CHW 4.4
62. Starlin Castro , CHC 4.3
63. Jimmy Rollins , PHI 4.2
64. Alex Avila , DET 4.1
65. Ian Desmond , WSH 4.1
66. Jayson Werth , WSH 4.1
67. Shin-Soo Choo , CLE 4.0
68. David Ortiz , BOS 4.0
69. Andre Ethier , LAD 4.0
70. Russell Martin , NYY 4.0
71. Todd Helton , COL 3.9
72. Alex Rodriguez , NYY 3.9
73. Corey Patterson , TOR 3.8
74. Chris Coghlan , FLA 3.7
75. Brennan Boesch , DET 3.7
76. Jason Bourgeois , HOU 3.7
77. Jhonny Peralta , DET 3.6
78. Michael Brantley , CLE 3.6
79. Mike Stanton , FLA 3.6
80. Sam Fuld , TB 3.5
81. Victor Martinez , DET 3.5
82. Carlos Gomez , MIL 3.4
83. Jose Tabata , PIT 3.4
84. Chipper Jones , ATL 3.4
85. Jason Kubel , MIN 3.3
86. Stephen Drew , ARI 3.3
87. Alexei Ramirez , CHW 3.3
88. Darwin Barney , CHC 3.2
89. Jonny Gomes , CIN 3.2
90. Josh Willingham , OAK 3.2
91. Justin Smoak , SEA 3.1
92. Laynce Nix , WSH 3.1
93. Hanley Ramirez , FLA 3.1
94. Seth Smith , COL 3.0
95. Ramon Hernandez , CIN 3.0
96. Travis Hafner , CLE 3.0
97. Mark Trumbo , LAA 3.0
98. Maicer Izturis , LAA 2.9
99. Orlando Cabrera , CLE 2.8
100. Dustin Pedroia , BOS 2.8
101. Ryan Ludwick , SD 2.8
102. Jason Heyward , ATL 2.7
103. Alex Gonzalez , ATL 2.6
104. Carlos Lee , HOU 2.6
105. Will Venable , SD 2.6
106. Wilson Betemit , KC 2.5
107. Buster Posey , SF 2.5
108. Brian Roberts , BAL 2.4
109. Mitch Moreland , TEX 2.4
110. Brett Wallace , HOU 2.4
111. Yunel Escobar , TOR 2.3
112. Danny Espinosa , WSH 2.3
113. Dan Uggla , ATL 2.3
114. Jed Lowrie , BOS 2.3
115. Billy Butler , KC 2.3
116. Pablo Sandoval , SF 2.3
117. Austin Jackson , DET 2.3
118. Nelson Cruz , TEX 2.2
119. Logan Morrison , FLA 2.1
120. Bobby Abreu , LAA 2.1
121. Torii Hunter , LAA 2.0
122. Yadier Molina , STL 2.0
123. Nick Markakis , BAL 2.0
124. Casey McGehee , MIL 1.9
125. Willie Bloomquist , ARI 1.9
126. Jason Bartlett , SD 1.9
127. Grady Sizemore , CLE 1.9
128. Alberto Callaspo , LAA 1.9
129. Rajai Davis , TOR 1.9
130. Brett Gardner , NYY 1.9
131. Ryan Theriot , STL 1.8
132. Matt Wieters , BAL 1.8
133. John Buck , FLA 1.8
134. Matt LaPorta , CLE 1.8
135. David Murphy , TEX 1.8
136. Jamey Carroll , LAD 1.8
137. Peter Bourjos , LAA 1.7
138. Nate McLouth , ATL 1.7
139. Luke Scott , BAL 1.7
140. Greg Dobbs , FLA 1.6
141. Chris Heisey , CIN 1.6
142. David Freese , STL 1.6
143. Jack Hannahan , CLE 1.6
144. Carlos Santana , CLE 1.6
145. Chone Figgins , SEA 1.6
146. Vladimir Guerrero , BAL 1.5
147. Orlando Hudson , SD 1.5
148. Jonathan Lucroy , MIL 1.5
149. Garrett Jones , PIT 1.5
150. Derek Jeter , NYY 1.5
151. Chris Denorfia , SD 1.5
152. Dexter Fowler , COL 1.5
153. Alex Rios , CHW 1.4
154. Chris Getz , KC 1.4
155. Ben Francisco , PHI 1.3
156. Denard Span , MIN 1.3
157. Julio Borbon , TEX 1.3
158. Jonathan Herrera , COL 1.3
159. Kelly Johnson , ARI 1.3
160. Aubrey Huff , SF 1.3
161. Angel Sanchez , HOU 1.3
162. Brian McCann , ATL 1.2
163. Rod Barajas , LAD 1.2
164. Chris Iannetta , COL 1.1
165. Marlon Byrd , CHC 1.1
166. Chase Headley , SD 1.1
167. Ryan Raburn , DET 1.1
168. Derrek Lee , BAL 1.0
169. Freddie Freeman , ATL 1.0
170. Mike Napoli , TEX 1.0
171. Raul Ibanez , PHI 1.0
172. Miguel Montero , ARI 1.0
173. Danny Valencia , MIN 0.9
174. Juan Pierre , CHW 0.9
175. Cliff Pennington , OAK 0.9
176. Eric Hinske , ATL 0.9
177. J.P. Arencibia , TOR 0.8
178. Alcides Escobar , KC 0.8
179. Daniel Murphy , NYM 0.8
180. Brent Lillibridge , CHW 0.8
181. Casey Blake , LAD 0.7
182. Gerardo Parra , ARI 0.7
183. Kurt Suzuki , OAK 0.7
184. Lyle Overbay , PIT 0.6
185. Gordon Beckham , CHW 0.6
186. Milton Bradley , SEA 0.6
187. Vernon Wells , LAA 0.5
188. Jorge Posada , NYY 0.4
189. Mark Reynolds , BAL 0.4
190. Nick Swisher , NYY 0.4
191. Scott Rolen , CIN 0.3
192. Michael Cuddyer , MIN 0.3
193. Roger Bernadina , WSH 0.3
194. Aaron Hill , TOR 0.3
195. Adam Dunn , CHW 0.3
196. Aaron Rowand , SF 0.2
197. Conor Jackson , OAK 0.2
198. Nick Hundley , SD 0.1
199. Jason Pridie , NYM 0.1
200. Jeff Baker , CHC 0.1

Notable players outside top 200: Carl Crawford, Aramis Ramirez, Adam LaRoche, James Loney, Jack Cust, Justin Morneau, Miguel Tejada, Magglio Ordonez

Canucks, Lightning Win Game 1

The Vancouver Canucks have won the first game of the Western Conference finals and clearly owe the Detroit Red Wings a debt of gratitude for forcing the Sharks to a game 7 in the last round. The Tampa Lightning extended their winning streak to 8 games in winning game 1 of the Eastern final last night, putting the Canucks and Lightning in their respective drivers seats to advance to the Cup finals. Boston clearly missed Patrice Bergeron, and I feel safe declaring that if Mark Recchi continues to lead their forwards in ice time, the Bruins will not win this series. The Sharks blew yet another 3rd period lead in a losing cause, which is either a conditioning issue or psychological. Have they come to expect to lose? If so, the series edge has to go to the Canucks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Detroit Wins 3 Straight, Force Game 7

What a hockey game! The Detroit Red Wings have accomplished the unlikely and have tied their series with San Jose after going down 3 games to zero. Antti Niemi was incredible, but not incredible enough as Detroit won the game 3-1 after trailing 1-0 with 10 minutes left to play. In their last 3 wins, the Wings scored the game winning goal in the 3rd period leading to exciting finishes. The first star of game 6 was unquestionably Valteri Filpulla who played his best game of the playoffs, with an honourable mention to Dan Cleary.

The Vancouver Canucks have to pleased to see this series go back to San Jose for a 7th game, as both teams are banged up and have taken a physical toll.

Canucks Advance To Western Finals

Start mapping out the parade route, the Vancouver Canucks have advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 1994, eliminating the Nashville Predators in 6 games. This team has never lost a conference final series, so we can assume that they will win in the next round. That's a joke, based on how Vancouver fans responded to the win on Monday. You have to live here to get it. Right now my favourite for the Conn Smythe is Ryan Kesler, followed by Clowe or Datsyuk (depending who wins that series). Luongo had a good series, but then again Nashville doesn't have much offensive punch. The next two series will be much more challenging and really test Roberto's mettle. Right now I am picking Vancouver as my favourite to win the Stanley Cup.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Red Wings Come From Behind To Stay Alive

When the San Jose Sharks went up 3-1 in the 3rd Period of Game 5 with a 3-1 lead in the series, the future looked bleak for the Detroit Red Wings. That was until Pavel Datsyuk took the team on his back as the Wings scored 3 unanswered goals en route to a dramatic 4-3 win. Goaltender Jimmy Howard stood on his head making 39 saves as the series heads back to Detroit for Game 6. When the team went down 3 games to 0 their probability of winning the series was about 3%, but now it has risen to about 30%. The smart money is still on San Jose to win one of the next two, but Detroit has momentum and has at least made this series interesting.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Nashville Forces Game 6

The Nashville Predators forced a 6th game against the Canucks with a big win in Vancouver Saturday night. Ryan Kesler played a fantastic game, but Pekka Rhinne was just a little bit better. Vancouver was the better team for most of the game, and the Preds had fluke goals on two lucky bounces. The Canucks are going to win this series as it heads back to Nashville where the Nucks won games 3 and 4. I like the Canucks to advance to the Stanley Cup finals, but if they go back to 7 games the wear and tear will be cumulative and an impediment going forward.

Ryan Kesler is turning into one of the game's most valuable players.

Friday, May 6, 2011

2011 Kentucky Derby

On Saturday they will be running the 137th edition of the Kentucky Derby and I am picking Soldat (12 to 1) to win the race. Dialed In is the favourite at 4 to 1 and will likely attract the most attention by those who choose to wager on the event with Uncle Mo being a late scratch from the race. My parents are big horse racing fans, and as such I have always had a fleeting interest in the sport. The Bleacher Blog likes Midnight Interlude to win the race at 10 to 1, but I don't like horses without much race experience.

I have several fond memories of watching horse races with my family, be it on television or at Woodbine race track in Toronto. The Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown, and eventually a horse is going to capture that title again. 2011 doesn't look like a good year for a Triple Crown.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Washington Capitals R.I.P

The Bruce Boudreau era in Washington is likely at an end after an embarrassing 2nd round sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning (who have won 7 consecutive playoff games after going down 3-1 to the Penguins). Having predicted that the Caps would advance to the Stanley Cup finals, seeing them swept by Tampa is a trifle embarrassing. Oh well, at least they made it to the 2nd round this year. This team is loaded with talent that should be able to persevere in the playoffs, but they have been unable to convert regular season success into post-season success. It also appears that San Jose will eliminate my Detroit Red Wings, but at least that result I predicted ahead of time.

Boudreau should be fired. After that 24/7 series on HBO was such a huge success, I heard ESPN's Bill Simmons say after watching it he was convinced that you could be functionally retarded and a successful coach in the NHL. Somebody will hire him, but he is overrated.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Greatest Game In Vancouver Canucks History...

After going up 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs, the Vancouver Canucks lost 3 straight and came within inches of a catastrophic defeat. They won game 7 in a dramatic overtime victory that had many Canucks fans calling sports talk radio shows declaring this to be the greatest victory in team history. There was even debate whether it was a better moment than the gold medal game in the Olympics. It is exposes the sorry state of "great" Canuck memories, in a fan base that has memorialized a loss in the Cup final as though the team won. If narrowly avoiding an embarrassing first round upset is now the best moment in the history of your franchise, that doesn't say much about the history of your franchise.

Vancouver needs a Cup very badly. If for no other reason than so Sportsnet can stop running those 1994 tribute montages.

Pekka Rhinne Is The Best Goalie In The NHL

Having watched the first 2 games of the Vancouver-Nashville series (tied 1-1) I have to say that Pekka Rhinne is unquestionably the best goalie in the NHL right now. He would be the favourite to win the Vezina had it not been for the immortal magnificence of Tim Thomas pre-Christmas. Tim was average down the stretch, where Pekka single handedly led his team into the playoffs. The Vancouver Canucks should be leading their series 2-0, but the Preds goalie was sensational in game 2. Had that been Brian Boucher in their net, the Canucks win that game 5-1. He might have struggled at times in the Anaheim series, but the Ducks were one of the hottest offensive teams in the league heading into the playoffs. No team currently left in the playoffs has the Ducks scoring punch.

There is no goalie in the league that I would rather have in my net over Pekka Rhinne. He's got a bright future.