Saturday, January 14, 2006
It's been a long time coming.
After near-triumphs against Miami in 1999, Green Bay in 2003, and St. Louis last season, the Seahawks were absolutely due for a win in the postseason.
The long playoff drought of 21 years is over. With today's 20-10 win over the Washington Redskins at Qwest Field, the Seahawks will play in the NFC Championship Game next Sunday, Jan. 22 at 3:30 p.m. Pacific. Seattle's opponent will either be the Carolina Panthers or Chicago Bears, to be determined tomorrow afternoon at Soldier Field.
When Shaun Alexander went out in the first quarter with a concussion, past Seahawks teams would have panicked. Not this team. Sure, Alexander is the NFL MVP. If you know the Seahawks, however, you know how valuable Matt Hasselbeck is to this offense. He understands everything that there is to know about this offense. He was labeled as Mike Holmgren's guy when he was acquired by the Seahawks in March 2001. For the first year and a half of his career in Seattle, Hasselbeck didn't live up to expectations.
I really believe that the final game of the 2002 season for the Seahawks was the beginning of Hasselbeck's success in Seattle. In the final game of the 2002 season in San Diego, Hasselbeck was 36-for-53, threw for 449 yards with 2 touchdowns as the Seahawks defeated the Chargers 31-28. It wasn't the stats from that game that led to this conclusion for me, though. It was the fact that when he jawed with then-Chargers defensive back Rodney Harrison, I knew that the Seahawks had their man.
Since that game in San Diego, Hasselbeck has led the Seahawks to three straight appearances in the postseason. This season, he finally can say that he has a playoff win on his resume.
While Hasselbeck was a main reason why the Seahawks won today, I can't help but credit the defense enough for their effort. It doesn't matter that the Redskins' offense isn't that good. To hold a team to 10 points in the playoffs means that you're doing your job. Sure, the Seahawks defense had their lapses, with the 51-yard completion by Chris Cooley and the 4th-and-16 play by Santana Moss. But when I think about defenses, I think about one key stat: how many points did they allow? The 2005 Seahawks will allow a few yards, but they seldom allow too many points. I'll take that anyday.
What a day in Seattle sports history. The job isn't done yet, however. Just because the Seahawks have ended their playoff victory drought doesn't mean that the season is over. As Alexander has said, this season will be a failure if this team doesn't get to the Super Bowl. (By the way, Alexander should be able to play next week.)
And remember, this feeling NEVER gets old. Let's hope this isn't just a once-in-21-years deal.
Canucks 8, Islanders 1
[posted in full Sat 21 Jan ~6:48a]
The Canucks were coming off a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Martin Brodeur. Just one night later, the Canucks headed out to Long Island to match up with the Islanders, who were fresh off of the departures of coach Steve Stirling and longtime futile general manager Mike Milbury.
They responded with their first win by more than one goal since December 4th at home against the Boston Bruins, a 5-3 win. Also, hats were thrown for the second time this season for a current Canuck and former first-round pick of the New York Islanders. The same player also had gone ten games without scoring a goal.
Matt Cooke from just past the goal line on the right side centered to Todd Bertuzzi, who tapped it through. It looked like it might have gone off of Oleg Kvasha and in, but nonetheless, the goal was given to Bertuzzi, and though I have ability to watch replays right now, the resolution isn't too good.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Todd Bertuzzi 13 (Matt Cooke, Trevor Linden) 4:29
»» CANUCKS 1, ISLANDERS 0
With John Erskine already in the box for holding, the Canucks were on the power play when Rick DiPietro cleared the puck over the glass. That's a penalty, and the Canucks would have 83 seconds of two-man advantage to work with. With Bertuzzi camped in front of the net, Markus Naslund put a pass right on the tape of Bertuzzi's stick, and the immovable right-winger punched it through.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Bertuzzi 14 (Markus Naslund, Nolan Baumgartner) 6:15
»» CANUCKS 2, ISLANDERS 0
Daniel Sedin skating beside the slot on the left side centered through the crease and through the legs of Chris Campoli and to the stick of Anson Carter, who put the puck over a prone DiPietro, who had played to the side of the twin.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Anson Carter 17 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 10:39
»» CANUCKS 3, ISLANDERS 0
With 8:01 to go in the period, Kevin Bieksa and Kevin Colley exchanged fisticuffs, but it was pretty one-sided in favor of Bieksa, a member of the Manitoba Moose last year who is contributing nicely (blue line toughness) along with Alexandre Burrows. The Islanders outshot Vancouver 12-7 in the period. The Canucks were 1-for-4 on the power play while the Isles were 0-for-1.
Bryan Allen unleash a hard slapshot from behind the left circle that beat DiPietro glove side. DiPietro was subsequently yanked and Wade Dubielewicz took the pipes in his place.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Bryan Allen 5 (Jarkko Ruutu) 5:35
»» CANUCKS 4, ISLANDERS 0
Just as he got into the game, Dubielewicz was playing the puck behind his own net when Carter came up behind him and poked the puck away and it ended up on the stick of Henrik Sedin in the low slot with Dubielewicz beside the net as the puck went into the yawning cage.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, H Sedin 10 (Carter) 5:44
»» CANUCKS 5, ISLANDERS 0
With Sean Bergenheim in the box for a hook, the Canucks went on the power play. Naslund flung a shot on the net from near the right hash which was stopped by Dubielewicz and controlled in close on the left side by Morrison. With Dubielewicz already down, Morrison passed across to Bertuzzi on the right side near the goal line, and Dubielewicz was meat as soon as the pass went across. Hat trick number two for Bertuzzi.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Bertuzzi 15 (Brendan Morrison, Naslund) 17:34
»» CANUCKS 6, ISLANDERS 0
Vancouver outshot the Islanders 16-10 in the period (23-22 overall). The Canucks again were 1-for-4 on the power play (2-for-8) and the Islanders were again 0-for-1 (0-for-2).
Miroslav Satan centered to Mike York in the slot, who put the puck on the net, and it was stopped by the right pad of Auld, but went off of Alexei Zhitnik in front and into the net.
»» 7, NEW YORK, powerplay, Alexei Zhitnik 4 (Mike York, Miroslav Satan) 2:06
»» CANUCKS 6, ISLANDERS 1
Henrik Sedin along the right-wing boards passed to brother Daniel on the right side near the net and the goal line, where he passed across to Carter skating from the left hash to the net. Dubielewicz had to cover the short side for a shot from Daniel Sedin, but as the pass went across, there was no way he could cover the other side of the net for a Carter shot. Carter went high for the goal.
»» 8, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Carter 18 (D Sedin, H Sedin) 10:57
»» CANUCKS 7, ISLANDERS 1
Jarkko Ruutu skated toward the net on the right side and lost the puck, but Burrows put a shot on Dubielewicz that was stopped, and Ruutu made good on the rebound.
»» 9, VANCOUVER, Ruutu 8 (Alexandre Burrows, Ryan Kesler) 15:34
»» CANUCKS 8, ISLANDERS 1
The Isles outshot the Canucks 15-8 (37-31 overall) as Vancouver was holding the lead. Vancouver was 1-for-1 on the power play (3-for-9) and the Isles were 1-for-3 (1-for-5). Auld stopped 36.
Three stars -- (1) Bertuzzi, (2) Carter, (3) Auld
H Sedin 1-2-3
D Sedin 0-2-2
Truth is, the Canucks badly needed an easy blowout game like this. The one-goal wins were energy-sapping, and the one-goal losses were worse. Todd Bertuzzi also nabbed his second hat trick of the season against his former team. Also, Brent Sopel was playing for the Islanders against his ex-mates, who could really use him on the blue line.
Vancouver was 28-for-66 in the faceoff circle (42%). Brendan Morrison was 4-for-11, Trevor Linden was 6-for-15, Ryan Kesler was 5-for-16 (ouch), Henrik Sedin was 9-for-16, and Todd Bertuzzi was 2-for-4. Seven Canucks led the team with three shots apiece. Matt Cooke led the team in hits with three. Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo blocked four shots apiece.
Ohlund, Salo, Linden, Cooke, Steve McCarthy, Wade Brookbank, and Bertuzzi were plus-1. Nolan Baumgartner, Bryan Allen, Alexandre Burrows, Kesler, Daniel Sedin, Kevin Bieksa, Henrik Sedin, Jarkko Ruutu, and Anson Carter were plus-2. Morrison and Markus Naslund were the only even Canuck skaters.
The win moved the Canucks to a 25-15-5 record (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 55 points. The Edmonton Oilers lost at home to Ottawa, while Colorado and Vancouver won. Thus, Colorado and Vancouver are tied (Colorado has played one more game) for second in the Northwest Division and sixth in the Western Conference. Both teams are two points back of division-leading Calgary. Edmonton is two points back and is fourth in the division (eighth in the conference).
2005 NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks, 1:30 p.m. Pacific (FOX)
(Winner advances to NFC Championship Game to face winner of Carolina-Chicago)
This is the biggest game the Seahawks franchise has ever played in the city of Seattle.
If you can't get up for this game, then don't even bother.
I'm tired of having to talk about how the Seahawks haven't won a playoff game since 1984. I'm tired of having to defend a team that's 13-3, has homefield advantage, and has the NFL's Most Valuable Player in Shaun Alexander to the people here in northeast Arkansas. Basically, I'm sick and tired of waiting around. I wish this game would kick off already.
Obviously you've noticed that we haven't posted a lot this week. We would have loved to have posted more on the Seahawks this week, but hey, we have lives. What can I say?
This afternoon, however, my life consists of watching the Seahawks take care of business against the Redskins. It's our time, dammit.
Welcome back to Egypt, Shawn Springs.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Devils 3, Canucks 0
[posted in full Sat 21 Jan ~4:19a]
The Canucks were in the midst of a stretch with 14 of 18 games on the road. They had bounced back a bit from dropping eight of nine by winning three straight, including big wins over Calgary and Toronto, both at home. For this game, they headed back onto the road with their 5-0 record against the Eastern Conference on the line to face the New Jersey Devils. And Martin Brodeur.
Alex Auld stopped a Brian Gionta backhander with 11:10 to go. Seconds later, Sergei Brylin erased Sami Salo behind the Vancouver net and Erik Rasmussen checked Matt Cooke in front of the penalty box. With 8:47 left, Auld was able to glove a close shot off the stick of Cam Janssen. With 7:36 left, Henrik Sedin shot from just inside the left point through some traffic, but Martin Brodeur covered it. With just over a minute remaining, Scott Gomez flung the puck from the high slot to the net, where Zach Parise tried jabbing it in, but was unsuccessful and knocked down by Canuck defenders. Vancouver outshot the Devils 13-11, but were 0-for-1 on the power play, unable to cash in on a Grant Marshall hooking penalty. The Canucks weren't called for any penalties.
Auld was tested early, stopping a Gomez backhander from midslot that may have been a pass to Gionta coming from the left side. Either way, Auld put the right pad on it and covered. Nolan Baumgartner was drilled into the boards by Rasmussen with 5:18 to go. The Devils outshot the Canucks 7-6 (Vancouver led 19-18). New Jersey was unsuccessful on a single power play while not having penalties called on them.
New JErsey got their second power play of the game when Ryan Kesler went to the box 94 seconds into the period for holding. From the back of the left hash, Viktor Kozlov snapped the puck under Alex Auld's right arm to score the game's first goal.
»» 1, NEW JERSEY, powerplay, Viktor Kozlov 10 (Sergei Brylin, Paul Martin) 2:31
»» DEVILS 1, CANUCKS 0
This time it was Steve McCarthy in the box for boarding.
Brian Gionta skated from the left-wing corner to the low slot unchecked and took a pass from the end boards from Scott Gomez. All Gionta had to do was bat the puck through.
»» 2, NEW JERSEY, powerplay, Brian Gionta 24 (Scott Gomez, Brian Rafalski) 6:38
»» DEVILS 2, CANUCKS 0
Henrik Sedin was in the box late, and the net was empty in a last-ditch effort to at least make a mark on the scoreboard. Zach Parise made a long lead pass to Gionta, who blew past Mattias Ohlund in the Vancouver end and hit the empty net.
»» 3, NEW JERSEY, powerplay/empty net, Gionta 25 (Zach Parise, Rafalski) 18:07
»» DEVILS 3, CANUCKS 0
Vancouver was outshot 8-7 (26-26 overall). They were 0-for-1 on the power play (0-for-2 total), but surrendered a 3-for-4 period on the power play to the Devils, who finished 3-for-5 overall. Auld stopped 23.
Three stars -- (1) New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, (2) New Jersey's Brian Gionta, (3) New Jersey's Viktor Kozlov
none for the Canucks
If you click on the very first link at the top of the page, you'll get Kevin Kinghorn's recap at Canucks.com, and if you read that, you'll get a better feel for the game. In short, the NHL's new rules did nothing to prevent the New Jersey Devils from playing the kind of hockey that helped make hockey a trapping and icky game for a chunk of the 1990s.
Vancouver was 35-for-64 (55%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 9-for-15, Trevor Linden was 10-for-21, Ryan Kesler was 4-for-8, Henrik Sedin was 9-for-16, and Todd Bertuzzi was 3-for-3.
Since all the goals were scored on man-advantage situations, all Canuck skaters were even. Mattias Ohlund led the team in shots with four, while Henrik Sedin had three. Bryan Allen and Matt Cooke delivered two hits apiece. Ohlund blocked four shots, and Nolan Baumgartner and Kevin Bieksa blocked a trio apiece.
The loss bumped the Canucks to a record of 24-15-5 (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 53 points and a three-way tie for second place in the Northwest Division. They are two points back of Calgary, but are tied with Edmonton and Colorado (the Avalanche have played one more game). As such, the Northwest Division is an airtight race, but the teams in the three-way tie for second in the division are tied for sixth in the Western Conference, with fourth-place Nashville (59), second-place Dallas (60), and first-place Detroit (61) all having more points than anyone in the Northwest Division.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Former Seahawks All-Pro defensive back Dave Brown is dead at the age of 52.
Brown, who played for the Seahawks from the team's inception in 1976 to 1986, collapsed yesterday in Lubbock, Texas while playing basketball with his son. The cause of death is believed to have been a sudden heart attack, although there is no official word yet. He was to have turned 53 on Monday.
I'm part of the "younger generation" of Seahawks fans, so I didn't get to see Brown play live. But I couldn't help but watch my tape of the 1984 Seahawks team last night. During the 1984 season, Brown was a key part of the Seahawks defense that led the NFL in interceptions with 38. And in case you haven't heard about this fact yet, the Seahawks haven't won a playoff game since 1984. Surely you know that fact already.
Brown was the team's all-time leader in interceptions with 50. He was inducted into the Seahawks' Ring Of Honor in 1992. This Saturday, the members in the Ring Of Honor will be recognized before the divisional playoff game with the Washington Redskins (1:30 p.m. Pacific).
Sports And Bremertonians expresses their condolences to the Brown family and the Seahawks organization at this time.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Canucks 4, Maple Leafs 3
[posted in full Fri 20 Jan ~8:18p]
After beating the lowly Blackhawks and then rallying to beat the Calgary Flames at home, the Canucks seemed to have leveled out a bit from a stretch where they had lost eight of nine games. How would they fare against the Toronto Maple Leafs? Canada's version of the New York Yankees came in with the same amount of points as Vancouver (51), and also with the second-winningest goaltender in NHL history with Ed Belfour. Would the Canucks carry this momentum into a third straight game?
With Vancouver on the power play, Sami Salo had a slapshot blocked by Clarke Wilm, and Chad Kilger streaked down the ice. Kilger held off Salo as he headed toward the net, then Wilm did a spin-o-rama and stuck the puck through Alex Auld.
»» 1, TORONTO, shorthanded, Chad Kilger 8 (Clarke Wilm) 4:41
»» MAPLE LEAFS 1, CANUCKS 0
Jarkko Ruutu on the left side moved with the puck and lost it, but Alexandre Burrows fed it back across the crease to Ruutu, who put it over Ed Belfour's right shoulder.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Jarkko Ruutu 7 (Alexandre Burrows) 12:48
»» MAPLE LEAFS 1, CANUCKS 1
Kilger from the end boards put the puck out front to Alexander Khavanov, who beat Auld.
»» 3, TORONTO, Alexander Khavanov 3 (Kilger, Wade Belak) 17:54
»» MAPLE LEAFS 2, CANUCKS 1
Vancouver outshot the Maple Leafs 10-8 in the period. Toronto was 0-for-1 on the power play, and Vancouver was 0-for-3.
Ryan Kesler stole the puck in the Toronto zone and passed across to Matt Cooke, who beat Belfour stick side from the inside notches of the left circle.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Matt Cooke 7 (Ryan Kesler) 10:25
»» MAPLE LEAFS 2, CANUCKS 2
Burrows backhanded a shot wide, then had the rebound go to Todd Bertuzzi, who held the puck in and dished back to Burrows. Burrows skated back behind the net, came out and put another shot on the net, which was stopped, and the puck flew high into the air and ended up in the net, possibly off a Toronto defender in front. This was Burrows' first NHL goal.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Burrows 1 (Todd Bertuzzi, Kesler) 16:45
»» CANUCKS 3, MAPLE LEAFS 2
Toronto badly outshot the Canucks 13-4 in the period (21-14 overall). The Leafs were 0-for-2 on the power play (0-for-3) and Vancouver was 0-for-3 again (0-for-6).
Daniel Sedin from the right-wing boards flung the puck toward down low, where Anson Carter deflected it into the net.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, Anson Carter 16 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 8:18
»» CANUCKS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 2
Alex Steen got a long lead pass, freed up his stick from Mattias Ohlund, then backhanded a shot through the short side (glove) on Auld. The puck didn't have a lot of space with which to go through, but Steen found it.
»» 7, TORONTO, Alex Steen 11 (Tomas Kaberle, Jason Allison) 10:51
»» CANUCKS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 3
Vancouver was once again badly outshot 17-5 (38-19 overall). The Leafs were 1-for-4 on the power play (1-for-7 total) and Vancouver was 1-for-1 (1-for-7 total). Alex Auld stopped 35 in the Vancouver net.
Three stars -- (1) Auld, (2) Burrows, (3) Kesler
D Sedin 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1
Vancouver came back from being behind 2-1 to score three straight goals for their third straight win. The game also had emotions running high in GM Place with chants of "Leafs suck!"
Vancouver was 32-for-65 in the faceoff circle (49%). Brendan Morrison was 6-for-11, Trevor Linden was 3-for-8, Ryan Kesler was 6-for-18 (ouch), Henrik Sedin was 14-for-21 (nice), and Todd Bertuzzi was 2-for-6.
Matt Cooke led the Canucks with three shots. Mattias Ohlund led the team by dishing out four hits. Ryan Kesler was a plus-3 skater. Ohlund, Alexandre Burrows, and Kevin Bieksa were plus-2. Cooke and Wade Brookbank were plus-1. Bryan Allen and Sami Salo were minus-1. Oddly, Morrison and Markus Naslund were both minus-2, which is weird considering the outcome of the game. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The Canucks won their third straight game to put them at 24-14-5 (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 53 points and a hop over the Edmonton Oilers again for second place in the Northwest Division, two points back of the Calgary Flames. They lead the Oilers by one point and Colorado by a mere two points. Unfortunately, 53 points for the Canucks at this point is only good for sixth in the Western Conference. Though Colorado is eighth in the West and only two back of Vancouver, the ninth-place team in the West is Anaheim, six points back of the Avalanche. Six points separates eighth from ninth, but four points separates Colorado from the Northwest Division lead (Calgary). It's insane. The division is nuts.