Saturday, December 24, 2005
The Seahawks are 13-2. What is there to know about the best team in the NFC, at least during the regular season?
---NFC West Champs for the 2nd straight season.
---They will have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs in January.
---Shaun Alexander has scored 27 touchdowns this season and could break Priest Holmes' mark of 27 next Sunday in Green Bay.
---Five Pro Bowlers (Alexander, Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Mack Strong)
---8-0 at home for the second time in three seasons.
---Most wins in team history.
---Longest winning streak in team history, currently at 11.
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
The Seahawks took care of business today. As I said in the game thread post, this Seahawks team doesn't believe in scoreboard watching. With the win today, the Seahawks don't have to worry about watching the Bears tomorrow afternoon.
Since I'm a cynical Seattle sports fan, I will not be surprised to hear about the national media calling Alexander's touchdown in the 4th quarter "unsportsmanlike". It's important to note that the Seahawks had to win this game today so they could clinch homefield. Even though the score was 21-6, the Seahawks weren't content with that lead. This franchise has been bit more than a few times by blowing 4th quarter leads.
The moment I saw Maurice Morris fall short of the goal line, I knew Mike Holmgren was going to put Alexander in. We all know what happened last year with the whole "one yard" deal. You tell me, who do you give the ball to at the 1-yard line? I give to Alexander every single time. He's proved throughout his career in Seattle that once he's inside the 5, he will score more often than not. That's not necessarily because of his offensive line either. It's because Alexander is a great football player. He wants the ball and he's going to score, pardon the pun.
If Shaun Alexander doesn't win the NFL MVP award this year, I want a recount. Nobody can convince me of another player in the NFL who has been better than Alexander. He's rushed for a career-high 1,807 yards and has scored 27 touchdowns (26 rush, 1 rec). Without Alexander, I'm not so sure the Seahawks have homefield advantage in the NFC.
I don't think I've ever felt this good as a Seattle sports fan. Unlike the Mariners and Seahawks teams of the past, I have a real good feeling that the 2005 Seahawks are going to win the whole damn thing. That "whole damn thing" being the Super Bowl, of course.
Bring it on, NFC. The 12th Man is waiting for y'all.
Indianapolis at Seattle, 1:15 p.m. Pacific (CBS)
Yes, this game is still meaningful. The Seahawks have not clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs yet. They can do just that if they win one of their final two games or if the Bears lose one of their final two games. Scoreboard watching was part of the same old Seahawks regime. This year's team doesn't believe in scoreboard watching. They just get it done on the field, like championship-caliber teams do.
As for the death of Tony Dungy's son James, we send our condolences to the Dungy Family. Of course, America will now hop on the Colts' bandwagon because of this tragic news. It's nothing new to Seattle sports fans. See the 2001 Yankees. See Brett Favre. See Michael Jordan.
The Colts will not be at full strength today. That doesn't mean that a Seahawks win over the Colts today doesn't mean anything. There's no reason why this team can't finish 14-2. No reason whatsoever.
It's time for the 12th Man to rock once again.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Bremerton High 2004 graduate Marvin Williams scored two points on 1-for-5 shooting from the floor (missed a three-point attempt) and 0-for-1 shooting from the line in 22 minutes off the bench. He also grabbed six rebounds, dished out two assists, and blocked a shot to offset three fouls.
The Hawks host the Charlotte Bobcats (including a couple of Marvin's former North Carolina teammates) on Tuesday.
Flames 6, Canucks 5 (SO)
[posted in full Sun ~8:20a]
Would the Canucks manage to get a win on the fourth try of a six-game homestand? Would the Canucks manage to improve on their abysmal 5-8-3 record against Northwest Division opponents? Would the Canucks get their first win of the year against a team from Alberta?
Some successful penalty killing, but no goals in the first period. In the final minutes of the period, Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf had a point shot deflected and it rung off the crossbar. Calgary outshot the Canucks 10-9 in the period. The Flames were 0-for-2 on the power play, and Vancouver was 0-for-3.
In his own end, Bryan Allen tried to make a cross-ice pass through traffic that was picked off by Matthew Lombardi. The play happened quickly as Lombardi passed to Tony Amonte, who backhanded a pass from the left hash to Chuck Kobasew left of the slot. Kobasew finished off the play, beating Alex Auld stick side.
»» 1, CALGARY, Chuck Kobasew 11 (Tony Amonte, Matthew Lombardi) 4:47
»» FLAMES 1, CANUCKS 0
Todd Bertuzzi from the right of the net on the goal line fonud Brendan Morrison in the low slot on the left side, and his shot was fended off by a nice Miikka Kiprusoff save. There was a rebound, however, and Jarkko Ruutu was camped out in front of the net to jab it through.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Jarkko Ruutu 5 (Brendan Morrison, Todd Bertuzzi) 5:44
»» FLAMES 1, CANUCKS 1
Brendan Morrison carried the puck from the end boards in the Vancouver zone out to the Canuck blue line with Chris Simon skating behind him. Simon stripped him of the puck, skated in on Auld, and beat him top shelf to the stick side. This was a very quick and disheartening play.
»» 3, CALGARY, Chris Simon 3 (unassisted) 16:29
»» FLAMES 2, CANUCKS 1
Fifteen seconds later, Jason Wiemer and Ed Jovanovski were engaged in fisticuffs. Later, Naslund fired a wrister from the left faceoff dot past Kiprusoff on the stick side.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Markus Naslund 19 (Morrison, Sami Salo) 18:48
»» FLAMES 2, CANUCKS 2
Vancouver outshot Calgary 14-8 in the period (23-18 overall) and were 2-for-5 on the power play (2-for-7 overall). Calgary was 0-for-1 on the power play (0-for-3).
On somewhat of a rush, Henrik Sedin on the right side centered to Daniel Sedin coming down the slot. Daniel's deflection was stopped by Kiprusoff, but Anson Carter followed it up from the left side, roofing the puck over Kiprusoff's pad stack to give Vancouver its first lead of the night.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Anson Carter 12 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 1:25
»» CANUCKS 3, FLAMES 2
Only 70 seconds later, Auld came halfway up the slot to clear a loose puck in the zone, but that attempt hit Steven Reinprecht, who corraled the puck and put it in past Mattias Ohlund, who rushed back trying to block the shot.
»» 6, CALGARY, Steven Reinprecht 6 (unassisted) 2:35
»» FLAMES 3, CANUCKS 3
Only 49 seconds later, a Jordan Leopold shot from the left point was deflected through by...Reinprecht, who went unimpeded to the front of the net and redirected the puck over Auld's right shoulder.
»» 7, CALGARY, powerplay, Reinprecht 7 (Jordan Leopold) 3:24
»» FLAMES 4, CANUCKS 3
After a sharp-angle Bertuzzi shot was stopped, the puck found its way to Bryan Allen, who blasted a slapshot from the left point that beat Kiprusoff top corner, stick side.
»» 8, VANCOUVER, Bryan Allen 3 (Morrison, Bertuzzi) 7:36
»» FLAMES 4, CANUCKS 4
As it has been going, while the goal was being announced in the arena by John Ashbridge, a Reinprecht centering pass from the left wing was punched through inside the far post by Jarome Iginla beside the net. The puck went inside the cage and bounced out quickly, leaving a small sliver of doubt as to whether it went in, but it did. So, the Canucks tied the game, and Calgary jumped ahead only 29 seconds later. Said Canuck radio color man Tom Larscheid, "this is sickening." Well said, Tom. Well said.
»» 9, CALGARY, Jarome Iginla 15 (Reinprecht) 8:05
»» FLAMES 5, CANUCKS 4
A great hard-working shift for Vancouver's top line. Off a faceoff at the top of the left circle in the Calgary zone, the puck found its way to Calgary's Robyn Regehr along the end boards. Bertuzzi wrestled the puck away from him and centered to Naslund mid-slot, who had a shot kicked by the left pad of Kiprusoff. The puck went to Jovanovski by the blueline, who had a shot blocked. The puck then came out to Naslund near the left dot, who fired over the net. Allen on the right-wing boards shoveled the puck toward the end boards, where Morrison dug the puck out of the left-wing corner to Bertuzzi behind the net, who fended off Marcus Nilson and came out in front, centering to Naslund in the low slot, who quickly pushed the puck top corner over Kiprusoff's right shoulder.
»» 10, VANCOUVER, Naslund 20 (Bertuzzi, Morrison) 17:49
»» FLAMES 5, CANUCKS 5
Kiprusoff made a couple of great stops in the final minutes, including a Henrik Sedin shot from the left hash off a steal behind the net from Daniel Sedin. Calgary outshot the Canucks 16-12 in the period (Vancouver 35-34 overall). The Flames were 1-for-3 on the power play in the period (1-for-6 overall). Vancouver was 1-for-1 in the period on the power play (3-for-9).
none; Calgary outshot Vancouver 3-2 in the overtime period (37-37 overall). Vancouver failed to capitalize on a power play chance resulting from a Kristian Huselius holding minor with 3:11 left. Auld stopped 32 shots.
Reinprecht - YES (roof after deke to backhand, great goal, no chance for Auld)
Naslund - NO (backhand to forehand, stopped, 0-for-4 on shootouts this year)
Iginla - NO (Auld to knees, shuts door)
Bertuzzi - NO (pulled to forehand, shot wide, 1-for-4 on shootouts this year)
Amonte - YES (backhand to forehand, Auld to wrong side)
»» FLAMES 6, CANUCKS 5
Three stars -- (1) Calgary's Steve Reinprecht, (2) Bertuzzi, (3) Naslund
D Sedin 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1
Again, it's disturbing. Another loss to a division foe. Zero wins in seven tries against Edmonton and Calgary. They only blew one lead this time, and it was a one-goal lead and not a two-goal lead, but it was still in the third period, however early. They were outshot once again in the third period. They took three minors in the third period. A couple of giveaways led directly to Calgary goals. Perhaps the best moment of the game was the shift that led to Naslund's tying 5-5 goal with 2:11 left. In overtime, though, the Canucks blew a power play and proceeded to lose in the shootout. The other disturbing thing, though, is how quickly the opposing teams are scoring after the Canucks get a key late goal. For example, the Flames scored twice within two minutes of the goal that put Vancouver up 3-2 in the third period. The Canuck goal that made it 4-4 was answered only 29 seconds later. Luckily Calgary didn't respond quickly to the last Naslund goal, or else Vancouver would be left without a point after this game.
The Canucks were 35-for-73 (48%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 8-for-15, Rick Rypien was 1-for-5, Trevor Linden was 2-for-6, Ryan Kesler was 7-for-13, Henrik Sedin was 8-for-16, and Todd Bertuzzi was 6-for-12.
The only plus-skating Canucks were Bryan Allen (plus-1) and Ed Jovanovski (plus-2). Minus-1 skaters included Morrison, Linden, Kevin Bieksa, Steve McCarthy, Jarkko Ruutu, and Bertuzzi. Minus-2 skaters included Sami Salo and Matt Cooke. Mattias Ohlund was a minus-3. All other Canuck skaters were even. Morrison led the team with five shots, and Ohlund and Naslund followed with four shots apiece. Cooke delivered four hits, and Kesler delivered three.
The Vancouver Canucks are now 20-10-5 (1-3 in shootouts, two overtime losses), good for 45 points and a bump down to second place in the Northwest Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oilers with a game in hand. They are one point ahead of the third-place Flames with a rematch coming on Monday.
Who's ready for hoarse, shredded throats come tomorrow night?
Who's ready to thank people for their gifts, but do so with a hacked voice?
The Seahawks' home crowd this year set a bar with the 11 false starts against the Giants.
A standard has been set. This team has a chance to go 8-0 at home for the second time in three years.
But this 2005 team is way better than the 2003 team.
One fanbase. One team. One goal.
Team feeds off the fans, fans feed off the team.
I want Christmas in February.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Oilers 7, Canucks 6
[posted in full Fri ~10:59a]
How would the Canucks bounce back from an overtime loss and a shootout loss in their first two games of a six-game homestand? Well, they didn't have trouble scoring goals. Problem was, they didn't have trouble giving them up either.
Prior to the game and in the arena, Ed Jovanovski and Todd Bertuzzi were named to Team Canada for that country's defense of the gold medal in Torino (or Turin) in February.
Very early in the game, Nolan Baumgartner went to the dressing room and never returned due to the dreaded "upper body injury." Vancouver would go with five defensemen for the remainder of the game. Ed Jovanovski made a sloppy clearing attempt which was stolen by Todd Harvey and nearly immediately put under the crossbar from just behind the left circle.
»» 1, EDMONTON, Todd Harvey 3 (unassisted) 3:17
»» OILERS 1, CANUCKS 0
Markus Naslund fed to Todd Bertuzzi on the goal line, who moved in, jabbed away, and eventually found the back of the net.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Todd Bertuzzi 12 (Markus Naslund, Ed Jovanovski) 11:53
»» OILERS 1, CANUCKS 1
Jovanovski's wrister from the point was blocked in front of the net, but Rick Rypien pounded it past Jussi Markkanen glove side for his first NHL goal, which came on his first NHL shot.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Rick Rypien 1 (Jarkko Ruutu, Jovanovski) 15:13
»» CANUCKS 2, OILERS 1
It didn't take long for Edmonton to answer. An Igor Ulanov puck toward the net was stopped, and the rebound trickled through traffic to the other side of the crease, where Shawn Horcoff made good on a wide open net to Auld's stick side.
»» 4, EDMONTON, Shawn Horcoff 8 (Igor Ulanov) 16:25
»» OILERS 2, CANUCKS 2
Shots were 14-6 for Edmonton in the period. The Oilers were 0-for-1 on the power play, and Vancouver was 1-for-3.
Bertuzzi centered from the end boards to Morrison on the left side, who was foiled by a great Markkanen save. However, there was a rebound, and Ruutu stood in front of the crease and chipped it into the net.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Ruutu 4 (Brendan Morrison, Bertuzzi) 1:15
»» CANUCKS 3, OILERS 2
Once again, the Oilers didn't take long to answer. Ales Hemsky blasted a plain wrister from the high slot that beat Auld top corner, glove side.
»» 6, EDMONTON, Ales Hemsky 8 (Steve Staios, Jarret Stoll) 2:14
»» OILERS 3, CANUCKS 3
Then Henrik Sedin pretty much copied Hemsky, beating Ty Conklin (who had since replaced Markkanen in net) top corner, glove side with a wrist shot.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Henrik Sedin 9 (Daniel Sedin) 3:48
»» CANUCKS 4, OILERS 3
The Canucks lost control of the puck on the power play, and Michael Peca got loose behind the defense on a rush, poking it past Auld on the stick side. It was the third straight game in which Vancouver had allowed a shorthanded goal.
»» 8, EDMONTON, shorthanded, Michael Peca 4 (Ulanov, Ethan Moreau) 5:42
»» OILERS 4, CANUCKS 4
On a very odd play, Conklin tried clearing the puck, but it went off Morrison in the low slot and into the net.
»» 9, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Morrison 7 (unassisted) 6:15
»» CANUCKS 5, OILERS 4
As the Canucks were trying to kill off a Ruutu double-minor for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct, Hemsky fed Chris Pronger on a one-timer from the blue line that was deflected into the net by Raffi Torres, beating Auld glove side.
»» 10, EDMONTON, powerplay, Raffi Torres 14 (Chris Pronger, Hemsky) 9:14
»» OILERS 5, CANUCKS 5
Vancouver outshot Edmonton 12-11 in the period (Edmonton 25-18 overall). Edmonton was 1-for-3 on the power play (1-for-4 overall) and Vancouver was 3-for-4 in the period (4-for-7).
Ryan Smyth scored the killer, raring back from outside the left hash and booming a slapshot past Auld high glove. Shorthouse and Larscheid were pretty dismayed by this goal on the radio (or the Canucks.com highlight reel, which I'm using to look at the goals).
»» 11, EDMONTON, Ryan Smyth 15 (Fernando Pisani, Marty Reasoner) 9:24
»» OILERS 6, CANUCKS 5
After Auld made a great toe save on Smyth on a rebound, the puck was never cleared, and a centering pass from Marc-Andre Bergeron was tipped in by Marty Reasoner, who looked like he was physically on top of Auld as he tipped the puck past.
»» 12, EDMONTON, powerplay, Reasoner 8 (Marc-Andre Bergeron, Smyth) 11:46
»» OILERS 7, CANUCKS 5
With the benefit of a 6-on-3 power play, Jovanovski from the high slot shot a puck toward the net that was deflected in by Daniel Sedin.
»» 13, VANCOUVER, powerplay, D Sedin 11 (Jovanovski, Sami Salo) 19:07
»» OILERS 7, CANUCKS 6
Naslund had the puck trickle away from him on the left wing in the dying seconds trying to find the equalizer. Edmonton doubled up Vancouver in shots 12-6 in the period (37-24 total) and was 1-for-2 on the power play (2-for-6). Vancouver was 1-for-2 on the power play in the final period (5-for-9). Auld stopped 30 shots.
Three stars -- (1) Edmonton's Ryan Smyth, (2) Bertuzzi, (3) Edmonton's Chris Pronger
D Sedin 1-1-2
H Sedin 1-0-1
Back when the unbalanced schedule was introduced into Major League Baseball in 2001, the Seattle Mariners used divisional play in their schedule to jump out to a 15-4 start. After 34 games, the Canucks have played 16 games against opponents in the Northwest Division, and they have come out with a brutal 5-8-3 record (two overtime losses, one shootout loss). Beside that, the one other real disturbing trend is that the Canucks have been getting taken to the woodshed in the third period for the last couple weeks. They're blowing a lot of leads. Worse yet, the goaltending situation that seemed like it might be in good hands with Alex Auld stepping in for Dan Cloutier maybe doesn't look all that secure after all, also considering that Maxime Ouellet is the backup man in the pads and his Canuck debut didn't exactly come up roses.
The Canucks were 32-for-65 (43%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 8-for-15, Rick Rypien was 2-for-6, Trevor Linden was 3-for-9, Ryan Kesler was a brutal 2-for-11, Henrik Sedin was 15-for-24, and Todd Bertuzzi was 2-for-9.
The only plus-skating Canucks (plus-1) were Rick Rypien, Linden, and Jarkko Ruutu. Minus-1 Canucks were Bryan Allen, Richard Park, Kesler, Matt Cooke, Kevin Bieksa, and Ed Jovanovski. Minus-2 skaters were Mattias Ohlund, Morrison, Markus Naslund, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Bertuzzi. Sami Salo was a minus-3. Nolan Baumgartner was in the game 38 seconds, enabling him to be the only even Canuck skater. Morrison, and the Sedins led the team with three shots apiece. Ruutu led the team by dishing out five hits. Cooke and Salo followed suit with a trio of hits apiece. Ed Jovanovski led the team with four giveaways. Allen and Salo blocked three shots apiece.
The loss dropped the Canucks to a record of 20-10-4 (1-2 in shootouts, two overtime losses), still good for 44 points, which wouldn't be so bad except that now Edmonton is tied with the Canucks in points for the Northwest Division lead. Vancouver has a game-in-hand edge over the Oilers, who have lost one more game. The Canucks are two points ahead of the Calgary Flames, who are in third.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
[posted Fri ~11:58a]
It was the Miami Heat's first home game since Pat Riley retook the reins as Miami head coach. Unfortunately, it was on this night that the Atlanta Hawks had to be their opponent. The Heat led by 38 points in the third quarter before pulling their starters en route to a 111-92 win.
But there is a silver lining. Bremerton High 2004 graduate Marvin Williams got his usual minutes plus some massive garbage-time minutes, which helped him to score 17 points in the fourth quarter. He ended with a career-high 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting from the floor (1-for-3 from long range) and 7-for-9 shooting from the line in 25 minutes of play off the bench. He also grabbed seven rebounds, dished out two assists, and recorded two steals to offset three fouls.
Congratulations to Marvin on a big night. Hopefully there's more big nights for him like this, and hopefully his team usually ends up winning on those nights. It's a lot to ask right now for the Hawks, but Marvin's time should come.
Here's the mega-fun shot chart for said night, which may or may not include all the shots and stuff. They can be spotty sometimes.
The Hawks were to host Allen Iverson and the Philadephia 76ers on Friday night.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Kings 4, Canucks 3 (SO)
[posted in full Fri ~8:26a]
The Canucks had won four straight games, all against Eastern Conference teams before opening a six-game homestand with an overtime loss (another divisional loss too) against the Edmonton Oilers, twice blowing two-goal leads and getting worked in the third period by the Oil. How would they fare against the Los Angeles Kings, who had been known for some high-powered offense this season?
Brendan Morrison passed to Markus Naslund in front of the crease. Naslund held off on shooting and skated to his left until Los Angeles goalie Mathieu Garon went down to the ground before shoveling over him.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Markus Naslund 18 (Brendan Morrison, Bryan Allen) 6:32
»» CANUCKS 1, KINGS 0
A Sami Salo one-timer slapshot was stopped, Anson Carter was stopped on the rebound, and Daniel Sedin picked up the scraps from the right side.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Daniel Sedin 10 (Anson Carter, Sami Salo) 9:01
»» CANUCKS 2, KINGS 0
Pavol Demitra passed from the left hash to Jeremy Roenick, who one-timed a laser past Alex Auld top corner, glove side.
»» 3, LOS ANGELES, Jeremy Roenick 6 (Pavol Demitra, Craig Conroy) 9:54
»» CANUCKS 2, KINGS 1
Sean Avery and Ed Jovanovski exchanged blows and took fives. Roenick from the left point was able to spot Derek Armstrong behind the defense of Bryan Allen and Ed Jovanovski. Armstrong too a pass at the left hash, bore down on the net, and backhanded it past Auld's glove side.
»» 4, LOS ANGELES, powerplay, Derek Armstrong 6 (Roenick, Lubomir Visnovsky) 16:22
»» KINGS 2, CANUCKS 2
The Canucks outshot Los Angeles 11-6. The Kings were 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Canucks were 1-for-3.
Daniel Sedin passed to Steve McCarthy camped out on Garon's glove side. McCarthy jabbed away at the puck and managed to put it through for his first goal of the season and his first goal as a Vancouver Canuck.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Steve McCarthy 1 (D Sedin, Carter) 5:01
»» CANUCKS 3, KINGS 2
On a Vancouver power play, seconds after Jovanovski lost the puck, Naslund was wiped off the puck at his own blue line by Conroy. Conroy and Demitra took a two-on-one the other way with Brendan Morrison being the only Canuck back for defense. The two Kings worked a give-and-go, with Conroy taking a Demitra pass in the crease and roofing it over Auld.
»» 6, LOS ANGELES, shorthanded, Conroy 13 (Demitra) 15:27
»» KINGS 3, CANUCKS 3
Shots were eight apiece in the period (Vancouver 19-14 overall). Vancouver was 0-for-3 on the power play (1-for-6 overall) while no penalties were called on Vancouver.
With about 7:05 left, Henrik Sedin shoveled a pass from the right side to Daniel Sedin in the low slot, who redirected the shot onto the net. Garon got a piece of the shot, and the puck dribbled along the goal line but went off the post and out (the red goal light was even turned on). Craig Conroy also hit a post in the period. Shots were 10-4 for Los Angeles (24-23 overall). Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play (Los Angeles 1-for-6, Vancouver 1-for-8).
none; shots were 3-2 for Los Angeles (27-25 total). Auld stopped 24 shots in regulation.
Demitra - NO (wide of net)
D Sedin - NO
Alexander Frolov - YES (delayed forehand, five-hole from right side)
Bertuzzi - NO
Paul Corvo - NO (deke to backhand, Auld right toe save from splits)
Naslund - NO (Garon challenged and made same move as Auld, but to his left)
»» KINGS 4, CANUCKS 3
Three stars -- (1) D Sedin, (2) Los Angeles' Pavol Demitra, (3) Carter
D Sedin 1-1-2
Before this shootout, the Kings had been in two shootout games. They had made every shot they took and had not allowed a shootout goal. In this game, Pavol Demitra became the first King to miss on a shootout attempt this season. Still, Los Angeles has not allowed a shootout goal in three shootouts this season.
However, a 13-1 start at home for the Vancouver Canucks has turned into a 13-1-2 home start after an overtime loss and a shootout loss. Most disturbing over the span is that the Canucks have been blowing leads in games and getting badly outshot in the third period of each game, which has been going on for at least a week or so.
In the faceoff circle for this game, Vancouver was 39-for-65 (60%). Brendan Morrison was a stellar 14-for-19 (outdoing even Craig Conroy), Trevor Linden was a nice 7-for-9, Ryan Kesler was 4-for-8, Henrik Sedin was 10-for-18, and Todd Bertuzzi was 3-for-6.
Markus Naslund and Bertuzzi led the team with four shots apiece. Steve McCarthy and Ed Jovanovski recorded three shots apiece. Bertuzzi led the team in dishing out five hits. Linden recorded three takeaways. Jovanovski recorded four giveaways (not good). Daniel Sedin missed the net with six shots.
Plus skaters (all plus-1) for Vancouver included Nolan Baumgartner, Bryan Allen, Sami Salo, Daniel Sedin, McCarthy, Henrik Sedin, and Anson Carter. Minus-1 skaters included Mattias Ohlund, Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, Bertuzzi, and Jovanovski. Matt Cooke was the lone minus-2 Canuck. All other skaters were even.
The loss put the Canucks at a record of 20-9-4 (1-2 in shootouts, two overtime losses) good for 44 points.
I don't have the energy for a really obvious/effortless Carl Everett punchline, but this will do for now.
More on the Mariner offseason from me as time allows, i.e., after Thursday (work-related).
Sunday, December 18, 2005
[posted Fri ~11:52a]
The Atlanta Hawks used their home floor and the fact that the Denver Nuggets dressed nine players and used only seven in the game to continue their stretch of decent basketball. The Hawks put the game away in the final minute of overtime to win it by a score of 110-107. This was the first time the Hawks had won four of five since winning four and losing the last game of the season in 2002-2003, and no players remain from that team.
Bremerton High 2004 graduate Marvin Williams played 18 minutes off the bench and was scoreless on two shots from the field. He grabbed two rebounds and recorded an assist and a steal to offset three fouls.
The Hawks were to travel to face the Miami Heat on Tuesday.
The Seattle Seahawks are 12-2. The last time this team won 12 games? 1984. And if you're a Seahawks fan, you know when the Seahawks last won a playoff game. It happened 21 years ago to the day on Thursday. Dan Doornink, hello.
Sure, the Seahawks had a tough ballgame today in Nashville, holding off the Titans 28-24. But the Titans weren't going to roll over and die for the Seahawks. Titans head coach Jeff Fisher wouldn't allow his team to do that. It's crazy for me to say this, but today's game was just what the Seahawks needed. While some fans will complain that it should have been a rout, educated fans like myself take notice of the fact that the Seahawks overcame adversity today.
Down 24-14 in the 3rd quarter, the Seahawks offense stepped up in a big way. Three plays and 83 yards later, the score was cut to 24-21. That drive in the 3rd quarter was extremely important for the Seahawks. The defense had been subpar, so it was up to the offense to create some life after blowing an early 14-0 lead.
With the score at 24-21, the Seahawks defense once again bended, but did not break. On 4th-and-1 at the Seattle 6-yard line, Grant Wistrom and Michael Boulware stop running back Chris Brown for a 1-yard loss, giving the Seahawks offense the ball back. A 13-play, 93 yard drive was capped off by the return of Darrell Jackson, as he scored his first touchdown since Week 4 at Washington, which was the Seahawks' last loss.
The Seahawks have won 10 in a row. It's amazing to think that they won 9 of those games without their #1 receiver in Jackson. Yet nobody in the national media likes to bring that up. The Seahawks have had their share of injuries, folks. Three of the Seahawks' big free agent pickups from the offseason are currently out. Linebacker Jamie Sharper is on injured reserve while cornerbacks Andre Dyson and Kelly Herndon could return for the playoffs.
The NFC West was clinched weeks ago and with today's win, the Seahawks have a 1st-round bye in the playoffs. In fact, it's the franchise's first playoff bye ever. One by one, the monkeys are flying off the backs of the Seahawks. It's a beautiful feeling.
Unfortunately, the Seahawks will have to wait another week to see if they will have homefield advantage throughout the entire playoffs, thanks to Chicago's 16-3 win over Atlanta tonight.
These are the up-to-date scenarios for homefield advantage in the NFC:
NFC HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE
1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
2. Best won-lost percentage in games played within the conference.
3. Best won-lost percentage in common games, minimum of four.
4. Strength of victory.
5. Strength of schedule.
6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
8. Best net points in conference games.
9. Best net points in all games.
10. Best net touchdowns in all games.
11. Coin toss.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (12-2, 10-1 NFC)
Dec. 24 Indianapolis
Jan. 1 at Green Bay
CHICAGO BEARS (10-4, 9-1 NFC)
Dec. 25 at Green Bay
Jan. 1 at Minnesota
NEW YORK GIANTS (10-4, 8-3 NFC)
Dec. 24 at Washington
Dec. 31 at Oakland
CAROLINA PANTHERS (10-4, 7-3 NFC)
Dec. 24 Dallas
Jan. 1 at Atlanta
If the Seahawks win 1 more game, they will earn homefield advantage. However, if they were to lose their final two games against the Colts and Packers, we have a situation on our hands.
IF SEATTLE LOSES FINAL TWO GAMES AND CHICAGO WINS FINAL TWO GAMES
Seattle 12-4, 10-2 NFC
Chicago 12-4, 11-1 NFC
(The Bears would earn homefield advantage, thanks to their better NFC record)
IF SEATTLE LOSES FINAL TWO GAMES AND NEW YORK WINS FINAL TWO GAMES
New York Giants 12-4
(The Seahawks would earn homefield advantage, thanks to their 24-21 win over the Giants)
IF SEATTLE LOSES FINAL TWO GAMES AND CAROLINA WINS FINAL TWO GAMES
Seattle 12-4, 10-2 NFC
Carolina 12-4, 9-3 NFC
(The Seahawks would earn homefield advantage, thanks to their better NFC record)
IF ALL 4 TEAMS (SEA, CHI, NYG, CAR) FINISH 12-4
4. New York Giants
Basically, let's just wish for a Seahawks victory Christmas Eve against the Colts.
Which reminds me...
Just because the Colts lost today to the Chargers does not make Saturday's game meaningless. There is still a lot at stake for the Seahawks. Of course, as we've mentioned, homefield advantage is at stake.
An 8-0 record at Qwest Field is also at stake. I don't know about you, but an 8-0 record at home sounds very good. Two years ago, the Seahawks went 8-0 at home. Last season, there was no excuse for the Seahawks not to go undefeated at home, but nothing can be done about that now.
Saturday's game will be nationally televised on CBS. The majority of America will get to see the Seahawks. There's no excuse not to be pumped up about this game, Seahawks fans. The 12th Man isn't just the 67,000+ at Qwest Field. The 12th Man includes each and every Seahawks fan, worldwide. If you're lucky enough to be at the game on Saturday, make your voice heard.
Show America what the 12th Man is all about.
More importantly, the Seahawks will show the uneducated what they're all about as well.
As nice as Nashville is, I wish the Titans were in Memphis. If they were, then I'd probably be in the Liberty Bowl with my Shaun Alexander jersey on. Unfortunately, Memphis couldn't handle having the Oilers/Titans in 1997, so they're in Nashville. Oh well.
(In related news, Memphis is awesome. But that's another story.)
It's time for the Seahawks to clinch a 1st-round bye in Nashville. Better yet, they could clinch homefield advantage with a Chicago loss to Atlanta at Soldier Field.
So, Seattle sports fans, quit bitching about the Mariners' quest for a 3rd straight last-place finish. There's this championship-caliber football team that plays in a stadium just footsteps away from Safeco Field. And get this, the Seahawks aren't going to give Joe Jarzynka a 5-year deal just because he's local!
Seahawks. Titans. 10 a.m. Pacific. Noon Central.
FIRE IT UP!
Some of those days the Mariner game would get over, and maybe I didn't feel like typing up the Mariner piece right away, since they aren't exactly quick to punch through. So, I'd flip through the channels.
Obviously, no professional sports teams hail from Hawaii or Honolulu. The biggest thing in town (or the state) is University of Hawaii sports. That's why you can see things like live UH women's volleyball live on the local WB affiliate.
So I'm sitting there one day and I'd watched a few of these matches, which are actually a pretty hot ticket in Hawaii. They've been known to draw crowds of 10000 to the Stan Sheriff Center to watch women's volleyball. I watched the Hawaii team tear through a few opponents in the beginning of the season, hang with a really good Penn State team for five games, and beat UCLA.
Then they faced the Huskies, and they got shredded. Granted, the Hawaii team hung with the Huskies a little better in the rematch the next night, but the point was made. The Huskies swept the Rainbow Wahine on back-to-back nights.
Three months later (i.e., yesterday), the same Huskies swept the Nebraska Cornhuskers (who had swept Hawaii very early in the season) three games to zip to win the national title.
My deal here is that if the Husky men's basketball team would have won a title last year, we would have given them props, so why not the volleyball team? It did help that I'd invested some time earlier in the year to actually watching the stuff after the Mariners were done with.
Anyway, congrats to the Huskies. There haven't been that many national titles in Husky history, but now this team's got one.