Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We Are Marshall (Stage 6)

Flyers need to control their players or pay the price

By Scott Burnside

Oh, we know the drill.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Randy Jones offered heartfelt remorse for his hit on Patrice Bergeron that might have left the talented Boston forward paralyzed. It didn't. Bergeron has full range of motion, but the timetable for his return to the Bruins lineup is unknown (Boston is expected to say more on the matter Monday).

Did we mention Jones was sorry? Really sorry?

Just like Jesse Boulerice was sorry he nearly decapitated Ryan Kesler when he cross checked him in the face. And Steve Downie was exceptionally sorry after he headhunted Dean McAmmond of the Ottawa Senators during preseason.

Sorry, sorry, sorry.

The NHL season is not yet a month old, and three times the Flyers have had to answer for how one of their own has gone AWOL and committed an indefensible act against another team's player.

We acknowledge that Jones' hit on Bergeron doesn't compare to the brutality of the other two incidents, but let's not just pass this off as "just another hockey hit." To suggest this is the kind of hit that happens every night is to ignore the hit entirely.

Jones tracked Bergeron as he headed into the Flyers' zone. Bergeron's back was to Jones the entire time leading up to the hit, but Jones still used his forearm to drive Bergeron's head into the boards.

Rest assured: If a Flyer, let's say, Daniel Briere, had been on the other end of any one of these three assaults, the team would be screaming blue murder.

If the NHL responds as if this were just another hockey hit and penalizes Jones lightly or lets him off altogether, all the league's statements that it is serious about eliminating dangerous play would be rendered moot.

For all the praise being heaped on Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and coach John Stevens for turning around a Philadelphia franchise that finished dead last in 2006-07, these incidents suggest this franchise has no real control over its players.

What else are we to conclude from the fact that three players scouted and signed by the Flyers have engaged in behavior that could have ended players' careers?

The culture of recklessness in Philadelphia has been known for years, from the Broad Street Bullies on. It is part of the team's identity, whether anyone has tacitly endorsed it or not. Holmgren himself is known as one of the toughest players ever.

At what point does the NHL say this culture has to change?

Apparently, two potentially devastating incidents weren't enough. Maybe a third will prompt some action.

Perhaps this is a good moment for the league to send a parallel message to its teams that if they can't control their players, then they too will be held accountable.

Earlier in its season, the NFL fined the New England Patriots and took away draft picks (depending on the team's regular-season finish) for spying on the New York Jets. That was a tough penalty, and no one got taken to the hospital.

The Flyers have essentially robbed their opponents of a chance to compete through their flagrant disregard for the rules. McAmmond has yet to play for the Senators. As for Bergeron, the most talented of the three victims, it is not overstating the case to suggest he is crucial to the Bruins' return to the playoffs. Now, Bergeron's return to action is in question and one wonders what effect it might have on the Bruins' strong start.

Why not impose a sliding scale that takes into account previous history? That's what NHL lord of discipline Colin Campbell does when he levies suspensions against players. You could start with a suspension of the coach for five games after a second serious incident. Then, if there's a third incident, start carving off draft picks; the more serious the incident, the higher the draft pick.

As for safety in the workplace, we happened to see Don Cherry on "Hockey Night in Canada" talking about cushioning the dasher boards in the wake of the Jones hit on Bergeron. The NHL has tested a cap system on Long Island last season, but there seems to be no indication it improves safety. Maybe it's time to take another -- harder -- look.

Slap Shots

Good Week
It falls into the Ripley's category, but the Columbus Blue Jackets hit the 10-game pole with a 6-3-1 record buoyed by a three-game winning streak this week. Picked by most prognosticators (including this one) to be battling for last place in the Western Conference, the Blue Jackets have consistently turned in tight defensive performances. And anyone who wonders if coaching is overrated should check the NHL stats where the normally porous Blue Jackets have the No. 1 penalty-killing unit in the league as coach Ken Hitchcock enjoying his first full season in Columbus. The Blue Jackets are getting great goaltending from Pascal Leclaire, whose four shutouts leads the NHL, and Fredrik Norrena. The pair is tied for first in the NHL with a 1.90 goals-against average. It's hard to imagine the oft-maligned franchise can keep this pace up over the long haul, but, then again, it's hard to imagine where they are now.

Bad Week
By the end of last season, one might have imagined that all former Boston sniper Sergei Samsonov might have needed was a change of scenery. He got into Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau's dog house and couldn't get out. Now, having been given a new lease on hockey life in Chicago, playing on a roster that includes the two best rookies in the game in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Samsonov has laid another egg. The 29-year-old has no goals, two assists and is minus-6 and was made a healthy scratch in the Hawks' loss to Atlanta on Saturday night. Can anyone say waivers?

Stuck in Neutral

A few trees gave their lives to support newsprint this week carrying stories about the Toronto Maple Leafs' overtures to super-prospect John Tavares. The stories suggested the Leafs were interested in signing the junior star and having him play for their AHL team next season and then paying him so much he would opt out of the NHL draft and wait until he's an unrestricted free agent at which time he would join the blue and white. Nice idea if you're the Leafs and struggle to develop your own players the normal way. But the 17-year-old Tavares is too young to play in the AHL next season. To suggest he might hang around to play minor pro hockey just so he could experience the unadulterated joy of pulling on a Leafs jersey down the road? We don't think so. Tavares will end up playing one more season of junior and then settle in as the first overall pick in the summer of 2009.

Our top story lines of the week

1. Things aren't getting any brighter for the New Jersey Devils now that their nine-game road trip to open the season is over and they've settled into their new home in Newark. The Devils were ripped 4-1 by Ottawa in their home-opener Saturday and woke up Monday morning tied for 13th in the Eastern Conference. Winless in four games, the Devils have the NHL's worst penalty-killing unit and have given up 34 goals in 10 games. Yikes. New coach Brent Sutter is doing it his way, refusing to allow veteran defenseman Richard Matvichuk on his squad and calling out captain Patrik Elias, who has been dreadful (two goals, minus-7). The Devils have Tampa Bay and Toronto at their new digs this week, followed by a road trip to Manhattan. Not a bad week, all things considered. Of course, when you're this bad, they all look tough.

2. Lots of folks will be focusing on the ice beneath San Jose Sharks coach Ron Wilson's feet -- thin or not? -- after another uneven week concluded with back-to-back losses to Detroit and Columbus. San Jose was outscored 7-2 in those two losses, highlighting a perplexing problem for the talented lineup -- an inability to put the puck in the net. The Sharks (5-5-1) have scored just 25 times in 11 games. For a team that boasts former scoring champ and MVP Joe Thornton, former Rocket Richard Trophy winner Jonathan Cheechoo and a strong supporting cast, that's not good. But one thing that may be a mitigating factor -- the Sharks have played eight of 11 games on the road and play Monday night in Dallas.

3. It wasn't so long ago in this space that we raved about the Minnesota Wild, who opened the season without a regulation loss in eight straight games (7-0-1). But now, the Wild are winless in three after being dumped 3-1 on Sunday by Colorado. Worse, the Wild are starting to get a little banged up. They did not have No. 1 netminder Niklas Backstrom, Pavol Demitra or Marian Gaborik in the lineup Sunday. Given the unpleasant injury histories for both Demitra and Gaborik, the Wild is facing their first significant test of the season.

4. There is always a firestorm of some kind in Montreal. The only question is whether it's starting in full blaze or just smoldering. But one thing Hab fans can agree on, it's that their team's power play is smoking hot. The Habs lead the NHL with 17 power-play goals and are clicking at a 30.4-percent rate, also tops in the league. Against Carolina this past week, they were an amazing 5-for-8 on the man-advantage as they waxed the red-hot Hurricanes, 7-4. The good news for the Habs is they're getting great balance on the man-advantage. Five different players have at least two power-play goals, including oft-criticized veteran Alexei Kovalev, who has three power-play markers. The Habs have Atlanta, Philadelphia and Toronto this week and all three teams rank in the bottom half of the league in penalty killing.

5. Back in 2000, Brad Boyes was living the dream as the native of Mississauga, Ontario, was a first-round pick of the hometown Maple Leafs. But the forward got shuffled off to San Jose for whom he played one game before being dealt to Boston. But Boyes didn't mature quickly enough for Boston and he was dealt to St. Louis at the trade deadline last season for defenseman Dennis Wideman. Oddly enough, Boyes has ended up assuming the role as the Blues' designated sniper. Playing on the team's top line with veterans Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk, Boyes has eight goals in nine games and is a major part of the Blues strong 6-3-0 start.

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Evening Harder: An Evening With Kevin Smith II

We Own the Night

Monday, October 15, 2007

First of Eight Battles

Today the Buffalo Sabres welcome, well maybe not welcome, the Toronto Maple Leafs to the HSBC Arena. The 2-2-0 Sabres take on the 2-3-1 Leafs with Miller and Toskala in net respectively. It's time to break out the Canadian jokes and Cap on a Canuck.

An American, a Scot and a Canuck were in a terrible car accident. They were all brought to the same emergency room, but all three of them died before they arrived. Just as they were about to put the toe tag on the American, he stirred and opened his eyes. Astonished, the doctors and nurses present asked him what happened.

"Well," said the American, "I remember the crash, and then there was a beautiful light, and then the Canadian and the Scot and I were standing at the gates of heaven. St. Peter approached us and said that we were all too young to die, and that for a donation of $100, we could return to the earth."

He continued, " So of course, I pulled out my wallet and gave him the $100, and the next thing I knew I was back here."

"That's amazing!" said one of the doctors, "But what happened to the other two?"

"Last I saw them," replied the American, "the Scot was haggling over the price and the Canadian was waiting for the government to pay for his."


Friday, October 12, 2007

Sabres Rally 6-0 Past Thrashers

Finally the Buffalo Sabres arrived to participate in the NHL regular season. After a home-and-home sweep by the Islanders, the Sabres were desperately hurting for a win. As Mike Robitaille stated in the pregame coverage Buffalo had to keep their goals against average down. And the Sabres did just that marking a 6-0 shutout of the returning Southeast Division Champions the Atlanta Thrashers.

The boys from B-Lo were looking to match the feat of the Carolina Hurricanes the day before in having a different player score for each of their goals. Ales Kotalik started off the scoring in the 1st period followed by Tim Connolly and Brian Campbell all scored on the power play. Then Jason Pominville started off a two tally 2nd period with a short handed goal on a two on one breakaway. Derek Roy scored again with three seconds remaining in the 2nd period to put the Sabres up 5-0. Looking forward to his first full season in a Sabres jersey is Danny Paille who capped the night off with a goal in the closing seconds of the game. Ryan Miller posts the 5th shutout of his career and his first for the 07-08 NHL season.

The Blue and Gold looked backed to form in their defeat of what many consider to be one of the better teams in the NHL. Let's hope that the Sabres can keep up their winning ways. As of this point their looking from the bottom up in the Northeast Division of the Eastern Confernce.


Kenna -

The Henderson Fire Dept Hurt My Car (a year ago)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

THE KING OF KONG: Fistful of Quarters


The Duel in Dallas

Well after my Cowboys barely scraped by the Buffalo Bills this past Monday, they have a lot of questions to answer. And apparently one of four stars on Sunday has decided to forgo the fielding of any questions; especially about the 'other 81'. Both QBs were brought in during a Drew Bledsoe regime, both replaced him, both darlings of the media, and both through to arguably either the best receiver in the league or the most futile, depending on the given Sunday.

Naturally I'll be wearing my Witten jersey come Sunday. I'll probably have a couple down by the time kickoff rolls around. Navy and silver beads around my neck, with a bold star hanging from those beads. I'll clasp my hands around them as Troy Aikman and Joe Buck begin their intros. Bouncing up and down nervously I wait. I know that Tony Romo and Tom Brady will duke it out while never being on the field at the same time. Randy Moss and Terrell Owens will do the same.

Somehow I feel that this game will come down to field positioning. That means it all comes down to the kickers. So really I feel that this Duel in Dallas is about Gostkowski vs Folk. Well neither are very notable, but we all know Folk from this past Monday's heroics, so one up for the Cowboys there. Then it's McBriar vs Hanson, which puts an Aussie footballer vs a Marshall grad. I think I'll take one of the best punters in the entire league in McBriar there.

So there you have it folks, Folk and McBriar bring er home for my 'Boys. How Bout Dem Apples?!

Justice - D.A.N.C.E.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


No, I'm anything but kidding people Fantasy Congress is Where People Play Politics!

While casually surfing about for some snipets on Fantasy Sports I came across the best thing since the ESPN Crew talking pottery, FANTASY CONGRESS. You draft Congressmen and women and they get scores based on their legislation, votes, and soon to come on news they generate and their election metrics. Think you have an edge with your representative? Draft him today and watch as you soar above your Fantasy rivals to Political glory. Too bad league winner doesn't get a free romp on the town free of law enforcement cause you have the blessing of your top Congressional performer. Here's more directly from their website.

"Playing Politics Step One: DRAFTING

Your team consists of sitting Members of Congress (MCs) from all parts of the spectrum of seniority. The more senior a Representative or Senator, the more powerful they are. For your team, you will draft:

  • Upper Senators- Senators with seniority more than half the Senate
  • Lower Senators- Senators with seniority less than half the Senate
  • All-Stars- Senior Representatives
  • Supporting Lineup- Mid-Range Representatives
  • Rookies- Junior Representatives

You can bench, trade, or grab free agents to react to the changing political climate.

Your league commissioner can choose a range of drafting options, including: Autopick, Offline Draft, Open Draft (Pick'Em), or Silent Auction (where you bid political capital to get Members of Congress)." - for more visit them at FantasyCongress.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wait on Halo 3 - I Am!
Okay, okay, the only reason I'm waiting is

1: I don't have an XBox 360
2: I don't have the money to buy a 360
3: I don't have the money to buy Halo3

So join me in my boycott/statement of no wealth, and don't buy Halo 3. I will let you know when my boycott ends/ I actually get some money. So meanwhile I'll be spending my money on things like rents, food, beer, 'party favors', etc. So join my/our boycott of the greatest game ever. If for no other reason, than you simply can't afford it. (Afford= cash available, not that you still have room on your credit card before you go over the limit.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Tonight, after two lackluster games in London, the NHL opens the season here in North America. Returning Stanley Cup champs, the Anaheim Ducks, splitting those two games in London with the Los Angeles Kings. Each game ending 4-1, with a breakout performance in Saturday's game by Kings' netminder Jonathan Bernier.

The Ducks have a rough road ahead of them. Tonight the face perennial Western Confernce powerhouse the Detroit Red Wings. Versus Network will air the game when the puck drops at 7pm ET. The Red Wings ride Dominick Hasek into his 15th NHL Season. Loaded with their usuals: Lidstrom, Chelios, Datsyuk, and Zetterberg, the Red Wings always seem to pose a serious threat.

Ottawa sucks so forget them as do the Leafs so we're not gonna talk about them. (We're both die-hard Buffalo Sabres fans so we have, what one could call, a LOATHING for both teams. Round them out with the Flyers and you pretty much have our hatred trio in hockey.)

The Avalanche seek to improve greatly behind Joe Sakic, Jose Theodore, and Paul Stasny. Missing the playoffs last year hurt them something bad and they look to strike back with a vengeance this year. They've added to their roster this off-season, picking up D Scott Hannan from the Sharks, and the cry-baby RW Ryan Smyth from the Islanders by way of Edmonton. The Stars look alive and ready to repeat their playoff appearance from last season, their stars Mike Modano and Brendan Morrow are fully healed from their injuries from last year. The come into this season with a chip on their shoulders after their first round exit from the post-season.

This season fires up tonight. Pick a game. Pick a winner. Pick your nose, just pick the NHL!

Expect Odd Things

Random topics, sports debates, political ideologies, video game rantings, fantasy sports breakdown, and much more.

Keon & I have known each other our entire lives and find interest in the faintest topics and rage on conversations that head to nowhere. While others see our statements as obscene and unnecessary, we know that your our viewing audience share the same twisted idiotic minds that we do.

We entrust you to be all over this blog as we hope to make it a quint home for all those who check it out.

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