It was the coach, not the Quarterback

Heartbreaking loss tonight for the 49ers.  A dream season comes to an end essentially on a fumble.  But they are setup for the long haul.  Get used to the Niners being back in the elite of the NFC for a long time boys and girls.  And the reason will be Jim Harbough.  And the reason they were in this game tonight was Jim Harbough…not Alex Smith.

After last weekend the media made such a big deal about how great Alex Smith was against the Saints.  “He went toe to toe with Drew Brees and won” they said.  No.  Look at the facts.  Saints have a high risk/high reward defense that lives and die’s by the blitz.  The 49ers have one of the best O lines in football.  Smith got protection in that game and when that happens against the Saints defense just about any NFL QB can pick them apart.

It’s similar to Tebow.  San Fran has a great TEAM.  That gets lost on a lot of fans these days.  So many fans (especially the ones 20-30 who have grown up hearing the same things preached) think it’s literally all about wins and loses and if a QB wins then it’s the end all be all.  We’ve gone too far the other way now.

Back in 01, 02, 03 when Tom Brady was first emerging a lot of the media would say he wasn’t a good QB and it was all about there system.  No…it was that Brady made all the right decision’s with the football.  He wouldn’t turn it over, he was great in the red zone, etc, etc.  Those teams didn’t win solely because Tom Brady was good, but he likely didn’t get as much credit as he deserved (as crazy as that now sounds).

So you started hearing Brady apologists say to the Manning apologists “he wins and that’s all that matters”.  Which in large part was true.  For years a lot of guys that put up huge stats didn’t win.  Wasn’t just Manning vs Brady it was Montana vs Marino/Elway, it was Aikman vs Young, and on and on and on.

But fast forward to today, and it seems like as soon as a QB wins a game some people (not all) want to ignore EVERYTHING and say “yep, you see this guy is a winner.  His teams win”.  Well in some cases yes, but more often than not anymore, no.  2 perfect examples this season were the Urban Meyer desciples: Tim Tebow and Alex Smith.

The 49ers are so close to winning a Super Bowl.  That defense is amazing.  There coach is elite.  They have some great weapons on offense with Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree.  I doubt they move on a QB this offseason, but they should.  If they get the right QB, this group will win a Super Bowl soon.

Don’t blame Flacco

All week I couldn’t figure out why EVERYONE was picking New England to not only win but run away and hide in the AFC Championship game.  It was basically as if 16 games didn’t mean anything, the only thing that mattered was what happened last week.  The Ravens went up against a great defense at home, and the Pats went up against a banged up, 8-8 Broncos squad.  And of course Joe Flacco is terrible, it has nothing to do with the Texans defense…

Yes the Pats won, yes Flacco failed in the AFC Championship game for the 2nd time in 4 years.  But Flacco did his job today.  There are 2 guys if you want to point the fingers: Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

It always amazes me when people point to Marty Shottenheimer’s postseason record.  When Marty was in Cleveland he went to 2 AFC Championship games.  The first one was the drive.  I don’t hear anyone put that on Marty, they praise John Elway (rightfully so).  The next year they went back and Ernest Bynar fumbled on the 2 yard line.  The Browns were about to take the lead late in the 87 game and Bynar fumbled.  How is that on Marty?!

Then in Kansas City he went back with Joe Montana at 38 years old and pretty much nothing else.  In 04 he turned the Chargers around and lost to the Jets at home.  Kicker Nate Kading missed a FG to win it in OT…a makeable FG.  Then in 06 he lost to the Pats at home…with a rookie QB.

Anyways, I’ve gone on and on about Marty Shottenheimer.  The point is this guy continuously got his teams to overachieve.  The reason he kept losing in the playoffs was because his teams realistically were rarely good enough to be where they were.  What does all this have to do with Flacco?

Well I’m not saying Flacco has nothing to work with or has bad coaching, complete opposite actually.  But you watch that game today, Flacco had that team in position to win.  Lee Evans got careless with a TD pass that had the Ravens going to the Super Bowl.  Then Billy Cundiff missed a kick to put the game into OT.  I’m not saying it will happen tomorrow.  Tomorrow people will remember the Cundiff miss and Evans being careless.

But in 11 months if the Ravens are back in a playoff spot, people will start asking yet again if Joe Flacco (only going into his 5th year and is 5-4 in the playoffs, only 1 of those games at home) can take the Ravens all the way?  He proved it today, he can.  Don’t forget that when the question comes up again.

Well…that’s humiliating!

The plan isn’t to write blogs about my picks, but in this case I have to.  I know that’s its highly unlikely that anyone uses these, they’ve been pretty sub par all season.  But this weekend was a new low.  I really hope on some level that someone did use these, because I would enjoy knowing that someone lost money while I lost my dignity!

Wow!  You can’t lose that much if you TRIED!  Seriously, that’s incredible.  Some of these I deserve blame for not thinking the picks through, some I don’t.  Start with the Bengals, I deserve blame on this one.  I thought a lot of things would cancel each other out and it would come down to rookie QB vs rookie QB.  No, the Texans got a much better defense than the Bengals and a much better run game.  Add in that they were at home and I should have known better.

The Saints and Lions was just the way it sometimes goes.  I was right, the Lions stayed in the game.  But once the Saints got up 10 the Lions starting trying to play catch up and that’s when the Saints blitzing/ball hawk defense gets you.

The Falcons and Giants game was humiliating not just for what I picked (Falcons +3), but for the Falcons in general.  That was pathetic.  Horrific coaching by Mike Smith, who along with Matt Ryan is now 0-3 in the playoffs.  The Giants are good, and have a knack to play up to there competition.  But they aren’t THAT good.  Just an awful game for the Falcons who have a lot of holes that they will need to address in the draf…oh that’s right, they don’t have a 1st because Julio Jones was going to turn them into the 1989 49ers.

And finally Timmy and the Broncos vs the Pittsburgh M.A.S.H.  “Oh that’s an excuse, Tebow is god!!!”  No, it’s a fact.  Just like the Broncos started to decline once they started playing better teams and there defense started getting dinged up.  Tebow played great, credit where credit is due.  I still don’t budge off my opinion that he isn’t a long term answer.  Totally get why everyone pulls for him, I pull for him, but the majority of people that say he will be great have no clue what they’re talking about.  But back to the Steelers, say what you want about Roethlisberger, he was a warrior out there today.  No Mendenhall, no Pouncy, and only 1 good ankle and he still led them back.

As for next week, I will say the Ravens easily dispose of the Texans, the Pats handle the Broncos, the Packers win a tight one against the Giants, and the Saints win a tight one over the Niners.  Steelers vs Pats would have given us 3 VERY intriguing games.  But it’s not like “Tebow v Brady: the rematch” lacks sizzle, I just think it will be very similar to the last game a month ago.

The more things change, the more the Canucks stay the same

 

Saturday was a big day for the Vancouver Canucks.  Biggest game of the year.  They were in Boston to take on the Bruins, the team that humiliated them in last year’s Stanley Cup final.  This was the Canucks chance to get some measure of revenge, and they did by winning 4-3….and then quickly reminded everyone just who they are and why they will never win.

You see, in the grand scheme of it all this game means virtually nothing.  Yet in post game interviews, Henrik Sedin couldn’t wait to tell everyone how this game proved they’re a tough team.  WHAT?!?!  I don’t ever use this when I’m texting or tweeting something, but LOL!!!  Come the (place an F bomb here) on Hank!!!  “This proves were tough”…I would love for him to enlighten us on how this proves they’re tough?

In the 1st period (assuming this is what he was talking about), Shawn Thornton goes after Alex Burrows.  2 Canucks immediately jump on Thornton.  Ok…I understand Burrows while being a greasy chicken (place an S bomb here) isn’t a fighter and Thornton is there to protect a teammate from being destroyed I understand it, sort of.  But then, 2 more Canucks jump in as well!  The best of all of them was the heart of the team Max Lapierre literally jumping into the pile.  For some reason I wasn’t in any way shocked that he was willing to be the 5th man in.

Out of all of that Milan Lucic gets kicked out for what is acknowledged now as a blown call.  This was 4 minutes into the game.  So the Bruins are without there intimidator for essentially the entire game.  Meanwhile Lapierre is getting verbally murdered by Thornton in the penalty box.  So who does Lapierre end up dropping the mitts with?  You guessed it, 5’11 190 Gregory Campbell.  Of course.  And of course he still couldn’t win the fight, but either way he’s coming out the loser the hockey world all knows he is.

Things got chippy latter in the game too when Brad Marchand delivered a shady hit to Sami Salo.  After the game, the Canucks can’t WAIT to start crying “See! See!  Look what they did!  They’re dirty too!”  Oh dear lord.  Kevin Bieksa was one of the clowns to start this.  He couldn’t wait to start in about how the Canucks aren’t dirty and the Bruins are because Marchand laid a dirty hit.  Mike Gillis started in about it too.  Why stop there Mike?  Why not get out your recipe cards again and go down the list of hundreds of ways the Canucks have been wronged this season?

This is a very talented team but I very literally have never seen anything like the Canucks before.  They’re entertaining, no debating that.  They’re hockey’s version of Jersey Shore.  They got it going on in many different ways, yet they can’t get out of there own damn way and just quit acting like d-bags!  Is it really THAT hard to quit crying about everything?  Is it THAT hard to quit playing like chicken *****?  Is it THAT hard to just put your head down and play the game hard and honest?  Apparently for this group, that’s EXTREMELY difficult, and I doubt they’ll ever change.

Oiler fans…I don’t wanna hear it

 

They’re ready to jump off a bridge.  It’s all ending.  Added to the misery of Canada losing at the World Jr’s in Edmonton is the fact that once again there beloved Oilers are near the bottom of the NHL standings.  “Fire Renney!  Fire Tambellini!”  That’s all you are hearing these days.  Whether it’s on message boards or call in shows, all the fans are losing there minds.  They have no right to, not yet anyway.

You see 2 years ago at this time this fan base was PLEADING for a proper rebuild.  Kevin Lowe in particular (as it was still pretty much the team he built at that time) kept trying to build through free agency and trades.  They had a garbage farm team in Springfield after years of not even having their own.  So every fan was on board for a rebuild and to not just rebuild but do it the right way.  Pick a lot at the top of the drat much the way the Penguins, Capitals, Blackhawks and Kings had done.  Get an actual AHL farm team and develop players properly, don’t rush them like they had done with Cogliano, Smid, and Gagner.

Now here we are 2 years later.  The 2nd year of the rebuild.  You read that right, the 2nd year.  And fans are losing it.  Why?  Did all of you not understand what you were asking for?  Clearly, you didn’t.  The Oilers are amassing an incredible group through the draft.  Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle are going to do very special things in Oiler silks.  Some fans are giving up on Magnus Paajarvi…he’s 20 years old.  Also have Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, they will likely deal Sam Gagner at some point but if they don’t he is finally taking a step forward.

They also have some very nice defensemen who are still a few years away but they’re coming.  Oscar Klefbom was awesome for Sweden at the WJC, David Musil, Martin Marincin, Martin Gernat, Colten Teubert, all these kids look like they could play in the league.  None of them look like they will be number 1 defensemen, but a lot of number 1 defensemen don’t look that way when they’re young.

They will likely get a 1st round pick once they deal Ales Hemsky.  A top 5 pick in this draft at this point looks like it will get them one of Ryan Murray or Matthew Dumba.  Both potential number 1 defensemen.  With that late 1st they could get for Hemsky they might be able to land there goaltender of the future in Malcom Subban.  And that’s assuming they don’t already got it.  They’ve picked 3 tendy’s in the last 2 years.  2 of them (Bunz and Tohimma) are having great seasons, and the book on Perhonen was that he would need a lot of seasoning but had the highest upside of any goaltender in last year’s draft.  A freak athletically.

So Oiler fans….stop freaking out.  I get it, the team started off amazing and you all thought that the rebuild was done.  Next time don’t be so stupid.  It was a hot streak.  You all asked for this, you were all on board for this, and you are in prime position to be an elite team in the next few years and stay there for a long time so shut up already.  If at this time next season the team is still hanging out near the bottom of the standings, then you have the right to start questioning the coach and the GM.  By next season they should start being a top 8 team, but not now.  I know it’s been terrible in Edmonton for 6 years now, but it’s only the 2nd year of the rebuild.  You’re time is coming soon I promise.

Sure we lost, but we’re by far the best

Panic in Canada!  Alert the elders, something disasterous has happened!  How we will recover, I have no clue.  2012 as it turns out really is the end!!!

That’s the sense around this country when we lose at the World Juniors.  Especially when we lose for the 3rd year in a row, and this time don’t even make the gold medal game.  I had 1 friend trying to make the argument right from the get go that this was the worst Team Canada since 1998 (the last time we failed to medal).  It wasn’t.  It was a team that got quite a few bad bounces in 1 game and came up 1 goal short….perhaps of winning gold.

Add to that, Devante Smith-Pelly got injured in the 1st game.  I don’t think casual hockey fans have any clue how big of a lose that was.  Without Smith-Pelly this team lacked a spark plug.  A momentum shifter.  An intimidater.  This is why I was disappointed with a guy like Brad Ross being left off the team in favor of Tanner Pearson.  Full credit to Pearson for forcing his way on to the roster, but I don’t believe for a 4th line role on a hockey team you give it to a guy that brings a subtle game.

Ross could have changed that Russian game, Pearson couldn’t.  DSP could have changed that game as well, but when you only bring 1 guy like that you leave yourself open to losing that element.  9 other forwards play a similar game to Pearson.

Also, something that always is lost upon this country is that if we had our BEST under 20 players, we would win this tournament 9 of 10 years.  Remember this: Canada has not lost 1 game in the 2 years they had all hands on deck (95 and 2005).  6 players that are eligible for Canada are in the NHL.  Let’s just give us 3, and in fairness give the Swedes there guys (Larsson and Landeskog).  Seguin, Nugent-Hopkins and Gudbranson.

If we had Seguin and Nugent-Hopkins to go with Scheifele down the middle we would have been SCARY offensively, as if we weren’t already!  Gudbranson with Gormley on the top pairing would have flat out owned every teams top line.  That means Kuznetsov and Yakupov wouldn’t have run our show the way they did.

We would have won with 3 of our 6 guys.  I didn’t even give us Jeff Skinner, Ryan Johanson or Sean Couturier who would have made us unbeatable.  And please don’t say “well we wouldn’t have had the goaltending”.  The goaltending wasn’t phenomenal, but it wasn’t why we lost.  Which goal should Wedgewood have stopped?  There weren’t weak goals allowed, there were glorious scoring chances allowed.

Looking towards next year is tough because you don’t know which guys will end up in the show.  Russia could be punished for having 2 elite prospects in Yakupov and Grigorenko.  Both could be in the NHL.  Yakupov will be for sure.

The Swedes could be the heavy favorites.  They have a lot of guys that will return, and some high end guys that might be viewed as needing a little more seasoning.  Filip Forsberg, Mika Zibanejad, Jonas Brodin, Oscar Klefbom, Victor Rask, Richard Rakell, Sebastian Collberg, and Jeremy Boyce-Rotevall could all return.  Then add to it they have kids like Pontus Anberg who will be on the team next year (potential 1st round pick this year).

As for Canada…Huberdeau will very likely be in the NHL, and I believe Strome will be as well just cause the Islanders like to rush players.  Scheifele I would say is 50/50.  If you ask me the Jets should give him another year, but a lot can change from now until September.  Boone Jenner should return, but he is a kid that I could see forcing his way on to the Blue Jackets.  The big story I see coming up front is Nathan McKinnon being on the team.  He COULD be the number 1 centre.  Hunter Shinkaruk of the Medicine Hat Tigers is another potentially high 2013 draft pick that could challenge for a spot on what could be a weaker than normal forward group.

Scott Harrington will be back on defense and could be joined by Ryan Murphy, Cody Ceci, Matt Dumba, Morgan Reilly, Derrick Pouliot and Griffin Reinhart all will likely be on the team.  I can’t see Dougie Hamilton being back, but if he is it would be an incredible addition.  Same goes for Ryan Murray, he will be picked high and likely be playing right away for whoever drafts him.  I really hope Dumba doesn’t get rushed, but out of these kids he has the potential to be in the NHL.  Murphy would be but with Justin Faulk doing a nice job in Carolina that role is filled for the Canes so they can be/should be patient with him.  4 of those 7 are more than suited for the big ice they will be playing on.  Needless to say, defense will be our strength.  And if we do end up getting Hamilton and Murray back…wow!

For the first time since in my opinion 2008, we will have very solid goaltending.  Unless someone steps up big, or he falls on his face in the next 11 months, Malcom Subban is the guy that I see being head and shoulders above everyone else for the job next year.  We all know how much the Subban boys love the spotlight too.  As for who will join him…at this point I have absolutely no cule it’s just way too early to tell.

But no matter what happens with the roster, know that we have the best under 20 kids.  There is no need to jump off buildings and bridges if we don’t win this tourny.  When we don’t win this tourny we usually have 4 or 5 kids in the NHL that could be on the team, many more than other countries.  When we do win this tourny, it just shows how far ahead Canada is of everyone else…and we win the under 20’s a lot!

NFL Picks – Wildcard Weekend

 

Better late than never, although since I’m still in the process getting this website finished beyond what it is and getting the podcast going it really doesn’t make a difference.  If people are actually out there using these I apologize…although it’s likely saving you money.  I was 2-3 the last 2 weeks I made my picks, only 3-2 the other week.  If you are actually using these once again I ask that you don’t bet what you don’t have.  Also, Tebow is about as real as the tooth fairy or the Easter Bunny.

 

Cincinnati vs Houston

Soups pick: Cincinnati +4

I’m stunned the Bengals are 4 point dogs.  This might end up being a decent game, but make no mistake that the teams that will take the field are not worthy of the playoffs.  Houston would be but for just about the entire 2nd half of the season they played without there 3 top players.  T.J. Yates has come back down to earth the last few weeks, and the word is that Jake Delhomme is going to be very ready to step in.  The Bengals are young, and the Houston defense might give Andy Dalton fits, but at worse I see the Bengals keeping this within 3 points.  I think the Bengals will win outright, but you just play it smart and take the points.

 

Detroit vs New Orleans

Soups pick: Detroit +11

It’s just too many points.  Could I see the Saints blowing out the Lions?  Yes.  The Lions are inexperienced, while the Saints are dominant at home.  But the Lions have gone under the radar the last few weeks with how good they’ve been playing.  They will come into New Orleans with absolutely nothing to lose, a swager, they played ok down there a month ago, they SHOULD keep this close.  Like I say, it’s just too many points to give up.

 

 

Atlanta vs NY Giants

Soups pick: Atlanta +3

Everyone seems to be leaning towards the G men.  I was leaning that way earlier in the week and believe they have the home field, better pass rush, and better QB.  But Atlanta has a better run game which could be huge in this game.  Supposed to be brutal weather for this game, and in bad weather games we all know the game plan is to run the ball.  Turner could torch the Giants defense.  Also, the Giants more than any team in the league let you down just when you think they’re going to turn it on.  The Falcons have been building towards the playoffs all season.  They’ve done 13-3 and the #1 seed before.  This group is 0-2 in playoff games.  They got something to prove.

 

Pittsburgh vs Denver

Soups pick: If you don’t know what it will be you don’t read my blogs…

I guess I should point out that the Steelers are 9 point favorite’s and will win this game by more than that.  I heard some analysts say today they think the Steelers could shut them out.  They COULD, but they won’t.  Timmy will do something significant.  He won’t be as bad as he’s been in the last few weeks.  But make no mistake, he will get eaten alive by the Steelers.  And I would bet good money Tomlin and the Steelers coaching staff has been looking at Broncos film for quite a few weeks now because the Broncos were really the only team they could be playing on THIS weekend.  It was going to be the Broncos or a bye (although the Broncos did all they could to make sure the Steelers played the Raiders).  I see this being about a 27-10 game.  Roethlisberger isn’t 100% but he plays his best this time of year and with no Brian Dawkins, Von Miller not at 100%, it won’t be as difficult for Big Ben as some might think.  Take the 9 points.

 

Looking at it Rationally

 

Maybe I’m just the guy that pisses on everyone’s parade.  I don’t mean to be, but that is what this feels like.  But it’s what I believe.  And what I believe is that Tim Tebow just isn’t a good QB.  Might he become one?  He might, I don’t think he will ever be elite.  Nobody will kill himself more than Tebow to become as good as he possibly can be.  But right now he isn’t a good QB.

Look at who he has beaten.  Chumps.  The top 3 teams he has started against this season, he is 1-2 against them.  He got crushed by the Lions at home, and just today was only able to put up 23 on one of the league’s worst defenses.  I haven’t checked this (I should, but I haven’t) but I would guess this Pats D was the worst one he has seen.  I heard Phil Simms say late in the game “Tim Tebow sure has answered a lot of questions today.”  Ummm, I know Phil has forgot 5 times as much about football than I’ll ever know, but Tebow only put up 23 against a BAD defense.  That answers nothing.

The 1 win (I promise you I’m not making this up to support my argument), he beat the Jets on a short week when experts all said previous to the game it would be very difficult for the Jets to game plan for such a unique offense on a short week (it was a Thursday night game).

Another part of this is that the Denver defense has come together.  “Well why didn’t they with Orton at QB?”  Some of it is playing hard for Tebow and buying into him being the guy no doubt.  But Denver had been running a 3-4 defense and John Fox uses a 4-3.  Its going to take some time for 3-4 guys to get used to playing a 4-3, especially with no OTA’s this year and a shortened training camp.

This especially hurt a kid like Von Miller who not only is trying to figure out the ways of the league as a rookie but was a 3-4 guy (rush end).  Very different being an outside LB in a 4-3 than being a outside LB in a 3-4.

Denver has to run an option offense to get the most out of Tebow’s abilities.  Gimmick offenses have a shelf life in the NFL.  Remember the 08 Dolphins running the wild cat?  They went 11-5 and won the AFC East that season running the wild cat which the NFL had not seen in a very long time.

But the next season it didn’t work, and it was completely scrapped by most teams come the 2010 season.  Coaches get film on things, study it a ton during the offseason, and figure out how to stop them.  The option offense isn’t exactly new…in fact it’s as old as the sport.  These coaches aren’t stupid, if the option had a shelf life more of them would be using it.

Then on top of this you add in running QB’s have a history of success until coaches get film on them.  Take Vince Young.  VY has a terrific win/loss record in his NFL career.  Out of the gate he was outstanding, led Titans back from the dead in 06, to the playoffs in 07.  Yet by 08 he was benched for Kerry Collins.  Came back in 09 to once again lead the Titans back from the bottom of the league, and was benched once again in the 2010 season, cut in the offseason.

Tebow isn’t Vince Young.  He will improve as a thrower.  But if he needs to play in this kind of offense the rest of his career to just be ok, then I doubt he starts for very long in the NFL.  You have to completely overhaul your roster to find guys to fit this system, not to mention find backup QB’s that fit it which isn’t easy to do.

A Look at the 2012 Edition of Team Canada

Well my roster that I would have picked wasn’t exactly like Don Hay’s.  Of course I would have had Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly (the latter is a HUGE addition weather I include the pun or not!), but at the time I wrote my first blog on the team I wasn’t aware they would be made available.  And my whiff on forgetting about Brendan Gallagher and putting Tyler Toffoli on the team was embarrassing.

 

What I do like is that there is, as I said in my previous blog about the juniors, a LOT more skill.  It’s a pretty sick top 6 up front and a pretty great top 4 on the backend.   But I do have some concerns with Hay’s team.

 

First let’s know that it’s not just Hay picking this team.  I’m pretty sure Don gets the most say in who is on the club but make no mistake there are a lot of politics going on to help separate these kids and a lot of guys getting there opinions in.  But back to the team…

 

First of all to me the biggest shock was Ryan Murphy being cut.  This is a kid that nearly made the team last year, in fact a lot of pundits said he should have been on the team.  He brings a lot of offense, a lot of speed, and was the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft.  I was stunned, but after hearing that they were looking for safe guys before the final cuts were made I said to a friend “it will be interesting to see what happens with Ryan Murphy”, and sure enough…

 

3 other cuts got made that I flat out HATE.  Matt Dumba (one of the first cuts), Brad Ross, and Tyler Bunz.  I will start with Dumba who I really believed wouldn’t just make the team but would really leave his mark before the tournament was done.  I would have had Dumba as the 7th d-man.  Don’t let his size fool you, while only listed as 6’0, 185 pounds he is a brick on skates.  A punisher who brings a ton of energy and offensive ability.

 

I remember when Ross was drafted and I seen the label “dirt bag” next to his name.  Trust me, that was a complement.  And he hasn’t let up since he has been drafted.  A Darcy Tucker type player, a PERFECT guy for the 4th line role.

 

What I don’t like about these 2 getting cut is that they would have been big spark plugs that the last 2 teams (both good teams but facts are facts, they didn’t win gold) lacked.  Jordin Tootoo (03), Dion Phaneuf (04, 05), Steve Downie (06, 07), P.K. Subban (08, 09) brought big time life to there teams.  In my opinion (one that the Team Canada brass clearly doesn’t agree with), when you can get your hands on these types of guys you take them.  I wasn’t at the camp, I can’t say if either guy had a good camp or not, but there body of work speaks for itself.

 

And then we had Tyler Bunz.  This is going to be short and sweet with Bunz.  He has been the best out of this bunch in the CHL for the last year and a half.  I read today he didn’t have a great camp and Wedgewood did.  Awesome job by Scott Wedgewood to rise to the occasion, and if he is given the chance I hope he makes this argument irrelevant.  But I really don’t know how you can take a guy based on 4 days work.  Especially when you consider Bunz reputation of being a battler and rising up when challenged.

 

But that’s all in the past now.  This is the team Don Hay has to roll with.  It’s a very safe team, much like how last year’s was built.  2 scoring lines, 2 checking lines, last 3 d-men picked are all safe stay at home guys, as many 19 year olds as they could fit in.  If they win, awesome!  I won’t give a damn that they didn’t take some of the guys I thought they should and will be more than happy to admit I was wrong.  It will be tough.  The Americans and Russians will be tough outs, but I would put Team Canada as the slight favorites.

Great Tenders…or Great Tippett?

 Great TITLE…high five.  Anyways, the topic at hand.  Ilya Bryzgalov signs in Philly just before the draft this past summer.  FINALLY the Flyers have solved that pesky goaltending issue that’s hung around that organization for a mere decade or 2…or 3.  Big market/no money Phoenix couldn’t afford to re-sign him.  Instead they went and got Mike Smith who has been injured and inconsistent since when?

 

Oh that’s right, since he was in Dallas.  And what did he do when he was in Dallas?  Well by the time he was dealt to Tampa in the Brad Richards deal Smith was considered one of the top young tendy’s in hockey and an elite backup.  The kid was putting up unreal numbers.  But they had Marty Turco.

 

Turco had been putting up unreal numbers his whole career.  He took over as the number 1 guy in 03, the same season Dave Tippett stepped behind the bench for the Stars.  Turco was an elite NHL goaltender from 03-08.

 

Then came 2009.  Dave Tippett is fired, Marty Turco’s game goes into the tank.  Turco is really terrible in 2010, his first full season without Tippett behind the bench.  Meanwhile in Phoenix, Dave Tippett gets his 2nd head coaching gig and he gets as his new starter Ilya Bryzgalov.

 

Bryzgalov has a reputation at this point of being a kook who is very inconsistent and while having talent isn’t really a guy that you can rely on to really carry a team.  In 2010, he becomes an elite goaltender.  Sets the world on fire, a top 3 tender in the league.  2011, more of the same.  Maybe not top 3 tender, but very similar to what 2010 was, and top 5 for sure.  Both seasons he carries a Phoenix club that has virtually no talent to the playoffs.

 

Now as I stated before they got Mike Smith for 2 years/4 mil.  Because it’s Tampa and people pretty much only pay attention to them when they’re good, but people forget that Mike Smith was a bust for the “ning”.  This kid was the big get in the Richards deal for my good buddy Jay Feaster (another sweet move Jay).

 

The Yotes once again with virtually no talent, going through the mess of the Kyle Turris holdout, going through yet another season where it’s a guarantee they will move, are hanging tough (shout out to NKTOB) in the Western Conference.  How has Smith been?  Outstanding.  How is Bryz doing in Philly?  Inconsistent though much too early to tell either way.  Solid for the most part…so was Bobrovsky last season, Ray Emery, Martin Biron, Robert Esche, Roman Cechmanek, Brian Boucher, John Vanbiesbrouck, Sean Burke, Garth Snow, Ron Hextall, Tommy Soderstrom, Dominic Roussel, and Ron Hextall.

 

Point I’m making obviously is that Tippett’s system is clearly a huge reason for these goaltenders performing so well yet it doesn’t seem to get recognized as such.  The man is a tremendous head coach, in my opinion a top 5 coach in the league despite his teams being very “Lemaire” for entertainment.

 

And as for the Flyers sinking that much coin and that many years into a kook like Bryzgalov…I hope for the Flyers sake it isn’t yet ANOTHER swing and miss by Philly management at a legit number 1, but that possibility is definitely real.  We will find out in April just how much of it was Tippett.