Saturday, January 07, 2006


The Seahawks will play the Washington Redskins next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Pacific.

As we all know, the Redskins defeated the Seahawks in overtime 20-17 on Oct. 2.

Go ahead and start the hype now. Yes, you have the right to talk about Shawn Springs in a negative way. Just keep it clean. That's all I ask.

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Canucks 4, Flames 3 (OT)
CP photo -- Richard Lam

[posted in full Mon 16 Jan ~2:14p]

All the Canucks had to build on was a win over the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that lies in the lower depths of the Western Conference. Their opponent on this night was the Calgary Flames, who had beaten the Canucks four times (once in overtime) in four tries this season. All four of the losses were by one goal. Sometimes the pace in the four games had favored Vancouver, but a lot of times Calgary would do their thing, getting dirty-work goals in front, getting leads, and sitting on those leads by limiting the chances of the opposition and leaning on stellar goalie Miikka Kiprusoff as necessary.

Compared to just two games beforehand where Vancouver had lost their eighth game in nine tries, they would have to elevate their level of play light years ahead of where it was just three days ago.

This night would find the Canucks getting down and mounting a third-period comeback for a win they sorely needed.

1st period
The Canucks killed off a questionable early hooking call on Mattias Ohlund and had killed off 15 straight penalties. They didn't get to 16. Henrik Sedin went to the box for charging and the Flames went to the power play again. Tony Amonte skated behind the net and passed to Jordan Leopold, who shoved a backhand through Alex Auld on the glove side.
»» 1, CALGARY, powerplay, Stephane Yelle 3 (Tony Amonte) 7:54
Miikka Kiprusoff was flashing his brilliance in the Calgary net, robbing Markus Naslund at one point. After a weak penalty was called on Tony Amonte, a slash was called on Todd Bertuzzi that was a bit shaky, resulting in Canuck radio color man Tom Larscheid saying that it was "such a shame that you get such a weak officiating crew for such a big game," and that instead, "you get two schmos." Auld also recorded a nice save on a Matthew Lombardi shot. Shots were 11 apiece. The Canucks were 0-for-2 on the power play in the opening frame while Calgary was 1-for-3.

2nd period
Ohlund went to the box for hooking this time, 1:32 into the period. Auld was great on the ensuing Calgary power play. Jarkko Ruutu was up in Jarome Iginla's grill for most of the night, and they both went off for unsportsmanlike conduct 4:44 into the period. Forty-three seconds later, Chuck Kobasew went off for holding, giving Vancouver 67 seconds of a 4-on-3 power play. Sami Salo punched a slap shot into the net that was waved off when Todd Bertuzzi was ruled in the crease. In a move he does a lot, Bertuzzi will screen the goalie and jump up as the shot goes through. Just seconds later, Salo blasted the puck from behind the left circle and it caught some of Kiprusoff's pad and went through, with Bertuzzi camped out in front. Bertuzzi had some words with the officials after the goal, and the announcers thought he was taking a penalty after that, but he didn't.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Sami Salo 8 (Nolan Baumgartner, Markus Naslund) 6:09
Later in the period, Salo put a one-timer off the post on Kiprusoff's stick side. On a Vancouver power play (Andrew Ference for interference), Daniel Sedin passed across the low slot to Anson Carter on the left side, who was stopped on the stick side by Kiprusoff. With 6:42 left in the period, Iginla raced past Steve McCarthy and rushed with the puck, but was robbed high by the glove of Auld. Marcus Nilson of Calgary scored point-blank, but the goal was waved off because Trevor Linden was hauled down in the faceoff circle by Shean Donovan. On the resulting power play, Markus Naslund flung the puck toward the net with Matt Cooke and Brendan Morrison in front of the net, and Kiprusoff still kept the puck out. Henrik Sedin skated in alone on Kiprusoff, but broke his stick on the shot and whiffed. Both teams had goals disallowed in the period. The Canucks outshot Calgary 13-12 in the period (24-23 overall). Vancouver was 1-for-4 in the period on the power play (1-for-6 overall) while Calgary was 0-for-2 (1-for-5).

3rd period
With a group of tired Canucks on the ice (long shift), Salo lost the puck and Nolan Baumgartner flipped it over the glass for delay of game. On the power play, Dion Phaneuf took a pass up high, faked a shot, then moved to his left into the high slot, where he snapped the puck through on Auld's stick side.
»» 3, CALGARY, powerplay, Dion Phaneuf 10 (Andrew Ference, Steven Reinprecht) 3:40
With the teams skating 4-on-4, Naslund and Ohlund had trouble getting the puck out of their own end near the blue line and had even more trouble when Daymond Langkow passed to Iginla, who lasered a wrister past a helpless Auld on the stick side. Two very quick goals put the Canucks in a big hole to start the third period.
»» 4, CALGARY, Jarome Iginla 17 (Daymond Langkow) 4:24
Bertuzzi was hit by a Bryan Allen slapshot and favored his left ankle as he headed off the ice. Calgary started off getting the first seven shots of the period. Cooke was driven into the boards at the end of a Calgary power play by Leopold. As chants of "Calgary sucks!" permeated through GM Place, Henrik Sedin was stopped on a sharp angle shot on the right side, but Carter pounced on the rebound from the left side and put it through.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Anson Carter 15 (Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin) 12:29
Shortly after the Carter goal, Ryan Kesler was pulled down and no call was made. After a couple of hits by the Canucks on some Flames -- Ruutu upended Leopold along the Calgary end boards with 6:30 left, the puck leaked toward the left-wing boards and Ohlund nailed Kobasew, who was pursuing the puck -- the crowd got back into the game. Vancouver also got the officials' calls to go their way as Kristian Huselius went off for holding the stick with 1:56 left and Robyn Regehr went off 38 seconds later for tripping. Coach Marc Crawford pulled Alex Auld from the net to mount a 6-on-3 attack to get the equalizing goal. With about 37 seconds left, Salo shot high and missed the net. The puck went off the glass to Nolan Baumgartner at the right point, who revved up for a slapshot but faked it, passing to Salo instead, who blasted a shot from the back of the left hash to levitate the water bottle behind Kiprusoff.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Salo 9 (Baumgartner, D Sedin) 19:30
Shots were seven apiece in the third period (Vancouver 31-30 regulation). Vancouver was 2-for-3 on the power play (3-for-9 regulation) while Calgary was 1-for-2 (2-for-7).

The Canucks had 41 seconds of power play to start the overtime, but couldn't capitalize. Leopold went off for tripping Bertuzzi 56 seconds into the overtime, and the teams skated 4-on-3. Kiprusoff made a big save on Kevin Bieksa. Matt Cooke passed from the left-wing boards across to Salo, who faked a shot, then took one that hit the post behind Kiprusoff, who had come well out of the crease. Just as the awe was about to wear off from Salo hitting the post, Morrison grabbed the rebound from behind the net (and between Rhett Warrener and the net) and put it into an open net. Kiprusoff was late getting back to the net, and Phaneuf standing in front of the net lost it behind him.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Brendan Morrison 9 (Salo, Matt Cooke) 2:53
Vancouver made good on their power play chance, making them 4-for-10 on the power play for the game. Calgary had no power plays in the overtime and finished 2-for-7.

Three stars -- (1) Salo, (2) Calgary's Jarome Iginla, (3) Carter

skater, goals-assists-points
Salo 2-1-3
Baumgartner 0-2-2
D Sedin 0-2-2
Carter 1-0-1
Morrison 1-0-1
Cooke 0-1-1
Naslund 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1

Brendan Morrison's family (Morrison is from Pitt Meadows, BC) took the ceremonial faceoff at center ice as a part of Vancouver's observance of Hockey Day in Canada. If you're not lucky enough to get CBC (I'm not lucky this year), you're treated to a televised tripleheader of all six Canadian teams. Additionally, Alex Auld was playing on his 25th birthday.

Vancouver was 37-for-71 (52%) in the faceoff circle. Morrison was 10-for-16, Trevor Linden was 1-for-6, Ryan Kesler was 9-for-19, Henrik Sedin was 9-for-12, and Todd Bertuzzi was 7-for-16.

Since only one even-strength goal was scored the entire night, the only skaters that weren't even were the ones on the ice for the Jarome Iginla goal that made it 3-1 in Calgary's favor. On the Vancouver side, those minus-1 skaters were Mattias Ohlund, Markus Naslund, Kevin Bieksa, and Bertuzzi. Multiple Canucks led the team with four shots apiece, and they were Sami Salo, Morrison, Naslund, and Daniel Sedin. Jarkko Ruutu led the team with four hits, and Kesler had three.

This win pushed the Canucks' record to 23-14-5 (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 51 points and second in the Northwest Division, jumping over the Edmonton Oilers, who are now in third with 50 points. Of course, since this game went to overtime, the Calgary Flames did get a single point. The Canucks gained one point on the Flames as a result and are now four points back of Calgary, who has 55 points.

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[actual post Sat ~9:42p]

The Atlanta Hawks capitalized on Chris Paul's recent injury to get a home win by a 101-93 margin over the displaced Hornets. The Hawks led by four at half and stretched the lead to double digits in the second half. The Hornets were no closer than four after a Joe Johnson three with 4:25 to go.

Bremerton High 2004 graduate Marvin Williams had one of his better games of the season, scoring 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field (2-for-2 from beyond the arc) and 1-for-2 shooting from the line in 25 minutes off the bench. He grabbed seven rebounds (two offensive) and recorded a steal and a block to offset a turnover and two fouls.

SportsLine image

The Hawks will host the Celtics on Tuesday. They already have beaten the Celtics twice.

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They don't play today.

That doesn't mean today is meaningless.

If the Redskins win today, they will come to Seattle one week from today.

If Tampa Bay wins, the Seahawks get the winner of tomorrow's Panthers/Giants tilt on Sunday the 15th (late game).

Meanwhile, the Seahawks hopefully are healing well.

Enjoy the games today.

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Friday, January 06, 2006


[posted Sat ~8:56p]

The Atlanta Hawks lost fourth-quarter leads in each game of their four-game losing streak, but that losing streak was snapped with this 103-98 win in Boston. This pushed Atlatna's record to 8-22, with two of their wins coming against the Boston Celtics.

Bremerton High 2004 graduate Marvin Williams hit two free throws with 3:09 left in the third quarter to get the Hawks their first lead of the second half at 72-71. Marvin scored nine points on 3-for-7 shooting from the field (1-for-2 from beyond the arc) and 2-for-2 shooting from the line. He also grabbed two rebounds (one offensive) and was whistled for four fouls.

SportsLine image

The Hawks were to face the displaced Hornets the next day.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006


Canucks 3, Blackhawks 2
Reuters photo -- Frank Polich

[posted in full Fri ~4:27p]

The Canucks had lost eight of nine games (three overtime losses) coming into the final game of their four-game road swing. The four-game road swing was also part of their stretch where Vancouver was to play 14 of 18 games on the road.

It appeared the Canucks had met their match when it came to recent misery, however, in the form of the Chicago Blackhawks. The team owned by the abominable Bill Wirtz had lost eight straight coming into the game. In short, you really didn't want to be the loser of this game.

1st period
Just 22 seconds off the opening faceoff, Kevin Bieksa challenged Matthew Barnaby, and the two exchanged fisticuffs in an attempt to spark their respective teams. Bieksa did manage to hit the helmet off of Barnaby before being wrestled to the ice. With 14:17 left, Todd Bertuzzi from the left-wing boards passed to Markus Naslund down low near the slot, who one-timed the puck off the far post over the stick of Chicago goalie Craig Anderson. With 13:35 left, Anton Babchuk shot from the left hash and drew the iron unkind as well. Later, off a bad Vancouver line change, Tuomo Ruutu from the left faceoff dot snapped the puck far side, top corner over Alex Auld's glove side.
»» 1, CHICAGO, Tuomo Ruutu 2 (Radim Vrbata) 12:16
The Canucks were badly outshot 8-3 in the period despite their power play opportunities. Both teams went 0-for-2 on the power play.

2nd period
With Vancouver trying to kill off a Bryan Allen tripping minor, Henrik Sedin shot from the very high slot, and a big rebound came to Nolan Baumgartner, who was rushing the net. Baumgartner got a skate on the puck and it went into the net; the footage went to Toronto and it was determined that Baumgartner did not deliberately kick at the puck, and therefore, it was a goal.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, shorthanded, Nolan Baumgartner 3 (Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin) 6:22
Todd Bertuzzi shot from the right hash and was stopped, and the rebound went to Kevin Bieksa in front, who also had a shot stopped before the puck leaked out to the slot. Naslund got the puck from there and waited a couple seconds before wristing it high over Anderson's stick side into the net. Bieksa, the Manitoba Moose alum, recorded his first NHL point on the goal.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Markus Naslund 22 (Kevin Bieksa, Todd Bertuzzi) 7:32
Chicago outshot the Canucks 8-7 in the period (16-10 overall). Vancouver again was 0-for-2 on the power play (0-for-4 overall) while Chicago was 0-for-3 (0-for-5).

3rd period
In the first minute of play in the third period, Alexandre Burrows was sprung loose on a rush and was hauled down by Babchuk as he got to the crease. In only his third NHL game, Burrows was awarded a penalty shot, but he was foiled by Anderson. Fast-forwarding to the final minutes of play, Martin Lapointe made a rinkwide pass behind Duncan Keefe that was picked off by Burrows. Burrows raced down the ice and passed to Jarkko Ruutu, who barreled down the slot with the puck. The older Ruutu missed the net with his shot, but he was hooked from behind by Lapointe as he neared the crease and awarded a penalty shot. On the shot, Jarkko deked to his left, and Anderson had come out too far, committing to the deke but also leaving his entire glove side open for the backhand over his outstretched left leg.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, penalty shot, Jarkko Ruutu 6 (penalty shot) 17:58
With Anderson pulled from the net, the Blackhawks looked to get within one. Lapointe came off the bench and walked to the high slot untouched before getting a feed from the younger Ruutu and potting the puck over Auld's stick side.
»» 5, CHICAGO, Martin Lapointe 9 (T Ruutu) 18:23
Chicago outshot the Canucks 12-7 in the final period (28-17 total). Both teams finished 0-for-6 on the power play, with Vancouver going 0-for-2 in the final period and with Chicago failing to cash in on their opportunity. Auld stopped 26 shots.

Three stars -- (1) Naslund, (2) Chicago's Tuomo Ruutu, (3) J Ruutu

skater, goals-assists-points
Baumgartner 1-0-1
Naslund 1-0-1
J Ruutu 1-0-1
Bertuzzi 0-1-1
Bieksa 0-1-1
D Sedin 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1

The Canucks were 31-for-56 (55%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 10-for-15, Trevor Linden was 5-for-9, Ryan Kesler was 6-for-13, Henrik Sedin was 6-for-12, and Todd Bertuzzi was 3-for-6.

Markus Naslund led the Canucks in shots with three, though the team only piled up 17 shots against the lowly Blackhawks. They racked up 22 hits, with a trio apiece dished out by Matt Cooke, Kevin Bieksa, and Bertuzzi.

Nolan Baumgartner, Daniel Sedin, and Henrik Sedin were plus-1 for the Canucks. Sami Salo, Brendan Morrison, and Bertuzzi were minus-1 for the Canucks. All other Vancouver skaters were even.

Now at the halfway point of the season, this win put the Canucks at 22-14-5 (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 49 points and third place in the Northwest Division, three points back of the leading Calgary Flames and one back of the Edmonton Oilers, which is somewhat amazing considering the slide on which the Canucks have been. Unfortunately, they are only two points up on the Colorado Avalanche and are seventh in the conference.

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Alexander celebrates his 27th touchdown of the 2005 season against the Indianapolis Colts 12/24/05

Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander is your 2005 AP NFL Most Valuable Player.

Alexander ran for a league-best 1,880 yards and scored 28 touchdowns (27 rush, 1 rec). He ran for over 100 yards in 11 games and became the first player in NFL history to rush for 15 touchdowns in 5 straight seasons. In addition, he was the 4th player in league history to rush for 20 touchdowns in consecutive seasons.

Alexander is the first Seahawks' MVP in team history. He is the first Seattle athlete to win an MVP award since Ichiro won the AL MVP with the Mariners in 2001. Alexander joins Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Terrell Davis, Thurman Thomas, Marcus Allen, Walter Payton, and O.J. Simpson in the class of running backs who have won the Most Valuable Player award.

Congratulations to Shaun, the best running back in football. Or should I say the best player in the National Football League? I think the latter sounds better. Doesn't it?

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Stars 3, Canucks 1
Reuters photo -- Jeff Mitchell

[posted in full Fri ~7:04p]

After losing to the lowly Saint Louis Blues just two nights earlier, one would have to figure that the Canucks would have to respond to such a loss with a spirited effort, a win, and maybe even sixty minutes of good hard-working play. After all, the Canucks had lost seven of eight games coming into this game in Dallas, the front end of a back-to-back. A win would have been nice, since the Canucks had an 0-4 record this season on the tail end of back-to-back sets.

1st period
Seven minutes into his second NHL game, Alexandre Burrows took a puck to the end boards and was stapled to said boards by John Erskine. With 2:37 left in the period, Jon Klemm let a blast fly from the right point which got through Alex Auld but leaked wide of the net. Dallas outshot the Canucks 11-7 in the period. Vancouver was 0-for-2 on the power play while Dallas was 0-for-1.

2nd period
With the Stars trying to kill off a Niko Kapanen interference minor, Brendan Morrison beat Dallas goalie Marty Turco with a slapshot from the back of the left circle thanks to the nearby traffic created by Todd Bertuzzi, Matt Cooke, and their associated defenders.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Brendan Morrison 8 (Nolan Baumgartner, Markus Naslund) 8:31
With just over eight minutes remaining in the period, Sergei Zubov from the blue line centered a pass toward the slot which was deflected by Mike Modano toward the crease to Jussi Jokinen, whose shot was stopped by the alert Alex Auld in net. Dallas outshot the Canucks 13-8 in the period (24-15 overall). The Canucks were 1-for-1 on the power play (1-for-3) while Dallas was 0-for-3 (0-for-4).

3rd period
The Canucks sat on the one-goal lead and had it through most of the third period though their play was deteriorating. With Vancouver down a man for an early Matt Cooke hook, Stephane Robidas from the left point passed to Stu Barnes, who skated away from the crease before centering to Jason Arnott in front of the net. Auld remained sharp, stopping Arnott's jabs. Not long after, Bill Guerin shot from the right point and had it deflected by Mathias Tjarnqvist onto the net, where Auld kicked it away. With 8:33 left in regulation, Erskine appeared again, throwing Jarkko Ruutu onto his teakettle with a stiff left arm as he was trying to leave his defensive zone. Vancouver's top line failed to get the puck out of its own zone, and Dallas finally capitalized. A Guerin shot from the high slot was kicked out by the pad of Auld to the right-wing boards. Bryan Allen's clearing attempt was held in at the blue line by Sergei Zubov, who immediately blasted a shot from the blue line that got through Auld. The goal was originally credited to Zubov, but the NHL scoresheet leads me to believe the puck was double-deflected by Tjarnqvist mid-slot and Steve Ott in front of the net.
»» 2, DALLAS, Steve Ott 4 (Mathias Tjarnqvist, Sergei Zubov) 12:17
The game stayed tied for 85 seconds. With about three Canucks and two Stars in front of the net, Jason Arnott held the puck behind the net, walked out in front untouched, and fired a shot through Henrik Sedin's legs and past Auld. That's what it looks like on the goal reel.
»» 3, DALLAS, Jason Arnott 12 (Brenden Morrow, Stu Barnes) 13:42
Sami Salo tried to pass from his own blue line to one of the Vancouver forwards, but the puck was picked off by Mike Modano, who skated behind the right circle and unleashed a perfect wrister that beat Auld high inside the far post.
»» 4, DALLAS, Mike Modano 16 (unassisted) 17:34
Vancouver was outshot 13-6 in the period (37-21 overall). The Canucks had no power plays and finished the game 1-for-3. Dallas was scoreless on their only chance of the final period and finished 0-for-5. Auld stopped 34 shots.

Three stars -- (1) Dallas' Jason Arnott, (2) Dallas' Sergei Zubov, (3) Dallas' Stu Barnes

skater, goals-assists-points
Morrison 1-0-1
Baumgartner 0-1-1
Naslund 0-1-1

Here's a gross stat from Canuck radio play-by-play man John Shorthouse -- the Canucks have been outshot 144-83 in their last 11 third periods. They've been getting outworked in every third period lately, and the quantitative proof just makes it all the more sickening. In this particular game, it was too bad that Alex Auld did his job when the Canucks were up 1-0, but the offense didn't feed off of that. Worse yet, the Canucks' own worst enemy, the defensive zone breakdown, appeared yet again. All three of the Dallas goals were related to bad plays by the defense. Failure to clear led to the tying goal, horrible coverage led to the go-ahead goal, and a Salo giveaway led to the Modano goal. Brutal.

Vancouver was 21-for-45 (47%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 6-for-12, Trevor Linden was 4-for-10, Ryan Kesler was 1-for-7 (ouch), Henrik Sedin was 6-for-10, and Todd Bertuzzi was 3-for-3.

Daniel Sedin led the team with seven shots, but unfortunately that accounted for one-third of the Vancouver shots on net. Kesler led the team with five hits, and Anson Carter had four. The scorekeepers reflected Bryan Allen's tough night with a staggering seven giveaways. Mattias Ohlund blocked six shots.

There were zero plus-skating Canucks. Minus-1 Canucks were Allen, Daniel Sedin, Kevin Bieksa, Henrik Sedin, and Carter. Minus-2 skaters were Sami Salo, Morrison, Markus Naslund, Steve McCarthy, and Bertuzzi. All other skaters were even.

The loss put the Canucks at 21-14-5 (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 47 points. The Canucks have lost eight of nine.

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San Diego LB Shawne Merriman is your 2005 AP Defensive Rookie Of The Year.

Seahawks LB Lofa Tatupu finished 2nd with 16 1/2 votes, to Merriman's 28 1/2.

The difference between Merriman and Tatupu this season?

Merriman: 54 tackles, 10 sacks
Tatupu: 105 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown

The only reason why Merriman won the DROY award is because of his performance against the Colts on Dec. 18 in Indianapolis. In that nationally televised contest, Merriman had 7 tackles and 2 sacks as the Chargers ended the Colts undefeated streak at 13 games.

Tatupu was the best rookie defensive player in football this season. This was a guy who took over the middle linebacker position as a rookie. The Seahawks' defense was vastly improved because of the efforts of Tatupu.

Merriman is a good player, don't get me wrong. But he's not nearly as valuable as Tatupu. Tatupu won't always make the Sportscenter highlight reel, but that's fine by me. He's a keeper and I'm glad he's a Seahawk.

Tatupu has been disrespected before. He wasn't supposed to be a star at USC. He wasn't supposed to be an impact player in the NFL because he was too small.

Let Merriman enjoy his defensive rookie of the year award with his teammates, who were part of what clearly was the best team in the NFC this season. Tatupu and the rest of the Seahawks are gearing up for the playoffs. Stay classy, San Diego.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006


[posted Sat ~8:43p]

The Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks have pretty bad records, but unfortunately for Atlanta, Toronto is now 3-0 against them this season by virtue of their 108-97 victory in Atlanta. It marked the Hawks' fourth straight loss, and they have lost fourth-quarter leads in all four of the losses.

Bremerton High 2004 graduate Marvin Williams scored 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting (0-for-1 from beyond the arc) in 19 minutes off the bench. He also grabbed two rebounds (one offensive) and recorded an assist to go with two turnovers and three fouls.

SportsLine image

The Hawks were to travel to Boston on Friday night.

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Here we are, talking about the 2005 NFL Postseason and the Seahawks aren't playing this weekend. Fortunately, the Seahawks don't have to play until Jan. 14-15 (more on the dates later), because of the 1st round bye.

This weekend has the potential to be the best Wild Card weekend in the history of the NFL. You have the 12-4 Jacksonville Jaguars (12-4!) having to travel to Foxboro to take on the 2-time defending world champion New England Patriots. How about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Washington Redskins in a rematch of one of the best games of the 2005 regular season? If that's not enough for you, the New York Giants take on the Carolina Panthers, NFC champions of 2 years ago. Now, if those three matchups aren't exciting for you, then I'm sure that the Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals tilt will do the job.

The Road To The Super Bowl goes through Seattle.

The postseason begins Saturday.



Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5, 2nd AFC North) at Cincinnati Bengals (11-5, AFC North Champs)
---This will be the third game between these AFC North rivals. The Steelers won the first matchup in Cincinnati while the Bengals returned the favor in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have won 4 in a row while the Bengals have looked less than stellar in the final two weeks of the regular season. While most people have figured this game to be a Steelers victory, I'm not going to lean that way.

I like the Bengals in a high-scoring shootout, similar to the second game in Pittsburgh. The Steelers will run the ball at will against the Bengals' defense. In the end, however, the Bengals will do just enough in the air with Carson Palmer and the solid wide receiving corps of Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Bengals 38, Steelers 31
(Cincinnati at Denver in divisional round)

Jacksonville Jaguars (12-4, 2nd AFC South) at New England Patriots (10-6, AFC East Champs)
---I'm sick and tired of the Matt Jones lovefest here in Arkansas. The Patriots defense will not allow him to go wild. If I wanted to predict my "lock of the week", this game would be it.

Patriots 17, Jaguars 6
(New England at Indianapolis in divisional round)


Washington Redskins (10-6, 2nd NFC East) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5, NFC South Champs)
---I love this matchup. You have two teams that can run the ball and play solid defense. As I said earlier, their game earlier this season (TB 36-35 win) was one of the best games of the 2005 regular season.

It's amazing how little respect the Buccaneers are getting this week. Yes, the Bucs have Chris "I can't beat Oklahoma" Simms at quarterback. When you have a running back like Carnell Williams, though, life is definitely alright. The rookie from Auburn has been a huge piece of the Bucs' success in 2005. Against a banged-up Redskins defense, I can see Williams having a big day on Saturday.

Speaking of that banged-up defense, guess who's nursing his sore groin? I'll just say he used to wear #24 for the Seahawks and referred to Seattle as Egypt.

Buccaneers 28, Redskins 20
(Tampa Bay at Chicago in divisional round)

Carolina Panthers (11-5, 2nd NFC South) at New York Giants (11-5, NFC East Champs)
---Which Gulf Coast quarterback would I rather have in this matchup? Louisiana-Lafayette's Jake Delhomme or Ole Miss' Eli Manning? Give me the Ragin' Cajun over the Rebel.

Pray for Jay Feely, especially when he misses a key field goal on Sunday.

Panthers 24, Giants 14
(Carolina at Seattle in divisional round)

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That's right, I'm predicting the NFC South to sweep the NFC East this weekend.

I think it would be hysterical to see both the Giants and Redskins lose this weekend, considering how they're supposed to be better than the Seahawks. Granted, the Redskins beat the Seahawks on Oct. 2, but there's the Josh Brown upright deal...well, I don't want to talk about that. The Giants lost because of 3 Jay Feely missed field goals, not because of the Seahawks' efforts. That's what I've been told ever since November 27.

The Seahawks' first opponent, according to my predictions? Carolina

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What day will the Seahawks play next weekend?

Redskins at Seahawks SATURDAY, JANUARY 14 at 1:30 p.m. Pacific

Panthers/Giants at Seahawks SUNDAY, JANUARY 15 at TBD (late game)

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Sit back, relax, and enjoy this weekend of football, Seahawks fans.

Bring it on, NFC.

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I haven't done this yet, but big thanks to our readers for sticking with us through 2005. The both of us have had a lot happen within the last 12 months. For instance, Jeremy is back in college again and is journalistically active, and this blog isn't his first priority when it comes to writing about sports, nor should it be. For me, I finally went from unemployed to employed, and that was definitely a good thing financially. Of course, it meant my posting here got a little less obsessive, and if you peered back through last winter's archives, you could probably detect that easily.

I got a job in Hawaii and had to wait a few weeks to get a connection, which were some of the longest weeks of my life (not as long as six weeks without it in Oregon due to field school). For the three months after that, it was a perpetual cycle of getting home, loading up MLB.tv, and constructing the Mariner game posts, then throwing in my piece afterward.

Then my job sent me over here to Virginia Beach for training, the Mariners had their season end, and the Canucks started theirs. The Canucks started hot, and I listened to as many of their games as I could, but since the home games start late here, I'd been guilty to knock out halfway through the second period. Then my training (it's school-like) got incredibly hard, and I did nothing but study/sleep/eat on weekdays and watched no television whatsoever. My only real output consisted of backposts for the Canucks and Marvin Williams. Somewhere along the way, the Sonics decided they shouldn't defend anymore (and a head rolled for that today).

The point is this -- we, the writers of Sports and Bremertonians, now have lives. We're busy now.

For those who have stuck with us through this year of big changes, we can't thank you enough.

I wish I had something more of a pseudo-gift than night pictures of Harbor Park (home of the Norfolk Tides -- Mets AAA) and the Scope (arena), but alas...I've been busy. Yes, I had the car stopped when I took the second one, I wasn't just driving and snapping.
David photo
David photo

I guess maybe a greater gift would be to have you realize how good we've had it with the Seahawks right now, then go through our Seahawk gameday posts for the 2004 season. Just shock yourself and realize how great this year's been for the Seahawks.

Anyway, thanks once again to all of you, and may 2006 bring you good fortune.

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Monday, January 02, 2006


Blues 4, Canucks 1
AP photo -- James A. Finley

[posted in full Sat ~5:49a]

You know, I've got three teams to root for this winter between the Seahawks, Sonics, and Canucks, with the Sonics kind of in the background since they can't defend. I was hoping the Seahawks and Canucks would pick up the slack. The Seahawks are doing pretty well. The Canucks started out well, but now they're throwing a monkeywrench in the whole deal because now they officially suck. We knew this stretch they were on was bad, sure, but to go on the road and lose to the horrible Saint Louis Blues after you just blew five of six on a homestand...it's unfathomable. This team sucks. I don't know how else to put it. One or two more weeks of this type of listless play and the Canucks will miss the playoffs.

1st period
Just eight seconds into a Saint Louis powerplay, Mike Sillinger on the left-wing boards passed to Dennis Wideman at the blue line, who blasted a slapshot toward the net. Doug Weight redirected the shot past Alex Auld for the game's first tally.
»» 1, SAINT LOUIS, powerplay, Doug Weight 8 (Dennis Wideman, Mike Sillinger) 7:40
The slap-pass play appeared again for the twins; Henrik Sedin on the right-wing boards slap-passed to Daniel Sedin in the slot, who tipped the puck on net, where Curtis Sanford stopped it, but Anson Carter pounced on the rebound and jabbed it through.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Anson Carter 14 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 13:23
On a Saint Louis power play, Todd Bertuzzi delivered some forechecking, mashing Eric Weinrich into the boards on a dump-in. Again, the Canucks failed to seize momentum from a key goal. Just after a Vancouver power play had expired, Weight left a drop-pass to Scott Young mid-slot, where the latter beat Auld to the stick side.
»» 3, SAINT LOUIS, Scott Young 8 (Weight, Barret Jackman) 16:18
The puck was passed nicely with about four passes between the three names listed on the goal. Auld made a couple of nice saves before the passing play started, but when it was all over, Sillinger was the one who got the final pass and beat Auld on the stick side.
»» 4, SAINT LOUIS, Sillinger 13 (Petr Cajanek, Dallas Drake) 18:28
Vancouver outshot the Blues 12-10. Vancouver was 1-for-2 on the power play, and Saint Louis made good on their only power play chance.

2nd period
Auld recorded a decent save on a Young slapshot from the left-wing boards. Henrik Sedin shot hard from the high slot and couldn't beat Sanford. On a Saint Louis power play midway through the period, Matt Cooke helped protect the Vancouver end by crushing Wideman into the left-wing boards. The Blues outshot the Canucks 9-7 in the period (19-19 overall). Vancouver was 0-for-2 on the power play (1-for-4) while Saint Louis was 0-for-3 (1-for-4).

3rd period
Three minutes in, Daniel Sedin looked like he may have been centering a pass from the end line on the left side, but Sanford gloved it. The Canucks couldn't solve Sanford or the Blues, who were sitting on a two-goal lead. Much later, Vancouver couldn't keep the puck out of their own end for one last time, and this time it was without a goalie. Weight passed to Sillinger near the net, and that was that. It was the first empty-netter the Canucks had given up this season.
»» 5, SAINT LOUIS, empty net, Sillinger 14 (Weight, Drake) 18:21
In his first NHL game, Alexandre Burrows was lured into a scrap with Wideman with just over two minutes left in the game. Wideman didn't get the instigator for the fight. Vancouver was 0-for-2 on the power play (1-for-6 total) and Saint Louis went 0-for-1 (1-for-5).

Three stars -- (1) Saint Louis' Curtis Sanford, (2) Saint Louis' Doug Weight, (3) Saint Louis' Barret Jackman

skater, goals-assists-points
Carter 1-0-1
D Sedin 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1

They lost to the Blues. When the Blues had Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, and Curtis Joseph back in the day, something like this wouldn't have been so bad, but now, they're horrible, so to lose to them...ugh.

Vancouver was 29-for-60 (48%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 8-for-16, Trevor Linden was 3-for-4, Ryan Kesler was 8-for-13, Henrik Sedin was 8-for-18, and Todd Bertuzzi was 1-for-6. Daniel Sedin led the team in shots with five, and Bryan Allen had four. Matt Cooke dished out five hits and Kesler had four.

The only goal for the Canucks was on a power play, therefore, no Canucks were plus skaters on this night. Minus-1 skaters were Bryan Allen, Morrison, Daniel Sedin, Cooke, Kevin Bieksa, and Henrik Sedin. Minus-2 skaters were Mattias Ohlund, Nolan Baumgartner, Markus Naslund, Bertuzzi, and Anson Carter.

The Canucks are now 21-13-5 (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses) and are still stuck at 47 points. Though this wasn't a divisional game, and therefore not a sure loss, it was still a loss to the NHL's worst team, and it dropped their road record to 7-10-2. Mix that with their 5-10-4 divisional record, and you get...well, yeah. Pretty much.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

1880 AND 28 = ONE 

AP Photo/Andy Manis

Sure, the Seahawks lost to the Packers today 23-17.

The Seahawks, however, finish the 2005 regular season at 13-3, a franchise-best record.

The main goals today in Green Bay were to keep everyone healthy and to allow Shaun Alexander to win the NFL rushing title and break the NFL touchdown record. Well, nobody got hurt. Alexander earned his rushing title and touchdown record.

Alexander ran for 73 yards and scored a touchdown. He finishes the 2005 season at 1,880 yards, 20 yards ahead of New York's Tiki Barber. His 1-yard run in the 2nd quarter was his 28th TD of the 2005 season, breaking Kansas City's Priest Holmes' mark of 27 TDs, set in 2003.

There is no set standard as to whether it's good or bad for a team to win or lose their final game, if they have a first-round bye. I'm sure the Seahawks players wanted to win this game today. They didn't, however.

I'm not going to worry about today's loss too much. This has been a very exciting season for the Seahawks and their fans, up to this point. Winning 13 games is something that this franchise has never accomplished. They've never had homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, until this season.

Enjoy the new year, even with today's loss. As I mentioned in the game thread post, be glad that you aren't a Chargers fan. Things could be a lot worse. We know the feeling of what it's like to be on the outside looking in.

The Seahawks will play their first playoff game on either Saturday, January 14 or Sunday, January 15 at Qwest Field. They will either play the #4, #5, or #6 seed in the NFC. The #4 seed is the NFC East champion New York Giants while the #5 seed is the Carolina Panthers. The #6 seed will either be the Washington Redskins or the Dallas Cowboys. If the Redskins beat the Eagles, they are in. If they lose to the Eagles and the Cowboys win tonight against the Rams, the Cowboys are in. If the Redskins and Cowboys lose, the Redskins are in, thanks to their sweep over the Cowboys this season.

The regular season is over. It's time to start thinking playoffs.

Enjoy the ride.

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Seahawks at Packers, 10:00 a.m. Pacific (Noon Central), FOX

Tiki Barber (NYG) 1860 yards
Shaun Alexander (SEA) 1807 yards

Barber ran for 203 yards Saturday night against the Raiders as the Giants clinched the NFC East title with a 30-21 win in Oakland. He now leads Alexander by 53 yards.

To win the NFC rushing title, Alexander must run for 54 yards. He can have the all-time touchdown mark to himself with one more touchdown. He's currently tied with Kansas City's Priest Holmes (2003) at 27 TD.

The Packers defense has been awful against the run in the 2005 season, allowing 127.5 ypg. Does this mean that Shaun will win the rushing title today? It remains to be seen, because I believe that Mike Holmgren will only play him for just a quarter, the first half at the most. The most important thing, however, is to keep Alexander healthy for the playoffs. Rushing titles are nice, but a Super Bowl ring is even nicer.

Just be glad that you aren't a Chargers fan today. You know, the same Chargers who were clearly the NFC's best team. I mean, the Chargers were the 2nd best team in football! Ask any national media personality and they'll tell you that.

Fact is, the media has been wrong before. Remember when the Arizona Cardinals were supposed to win the NFC West? I remember those days. Good times.

With that, Happy New Year, Sports And B's readers.

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