Albom sums it up

The Wings were all lightning, no thunder. Whatever they were supposed to be on paper, it stayed there, on paper. On ice, they were eminently beatable. And now they are beaten. Final tally of the 2004 playoffs: The Wings won six and lost six. You don't get Cups for that.

Last dance. Lights out. To paraphrase Marlon Brando, "it coulda been a dynasty."

Instead it's considerably less. The Wings of Hull, Chelios, Shanahan and Yzerman have likely skated their last turn. And, perhaps fittingly, the final game saw Steve Yzerman at home nursing a wounded eye, Chris Chelios wearing street clothes with a bum shoulder, Shanahan blanked, as he'd been almost all playoffs, and Brett Hull playing like an old man trying to avoid getting puddle-splashed by a bus.

Calgary 1, Detroit 0.
Paradise lost.

Albom gives the Wings a nice requeim, though a little too bitter. But that's to be expected from the hometown paper on the night of the defeat, as time passes, this team will be even more appreciated. This Wings teams won three Stanley Cups in an era of extreme parity. The Red Wings dynasty, and it was a dynasty, lasted about ten years, enough time to see rivals come and go. Remember when the Avalanche were the Wings' equals? The stars? Hell, the Blues? The number two seed this year is the San Jose Sharks. Back when this run started for the Red Wings, the Sharks were an upstart team which made its mark knocking off an aging great team, the Calgary Flames. Yeah, the last time the Red Wings weren't awesome, the Flames were one of thebest teams in hockey.

Now it comes full circle. No one would seriously argue the Flames are a better team than the Wings, but as I've repeated many times in this space: it's all about goaltending. And CuJo is a very good goalie, but Kispuroff is a great one right now. It remains to be seen whether he's the next Hasek or the next Shtalenkov. He could be a one-year wonder, but what a one-year. Kirk McLean built an entire career off one good season, as did Felix Potvin.

But let's take the time to appreciate the final chapter of a truly great team. Hockey's playoffs have more upsets than any other, and while Detroit had its share of disappointments, it usually came through in the playoffs. Every year, they were the team to beat. now, with a bloated salary structure, and an incredibly old roster, it's time to dismantle the team. But hockey fans need to give them a big thank you, even if we hated the dynasty when it was dominating hockey. At least they gave us something to hate.

posted by Poseur 5/04/2004 03:27:00 PM

Nets suck

Well, that was almost completely unwatchable. I steadfastly ignored the first round of the NBA playoffs, with a promise that I'd start paying attention in the second round, but you have got to be kidding me. 78-56? How do you score 78 points and win by over 20 points? And the Pistons let up in the fourth quarter. The Nets had 39 points through three quarters, and scored 17 in the fourth to almost reach 60. It's hard to single out one player for mockery, so let's just rip on everybody.

- Richard Jefferson was 1 of 12 from the field. 1 of 12.
- Kerry Kittles led the Nets with 15 points. He shot 3 of 6 from three-point land and 2 of 7 everywhere else.
- Jason Kidd had half of his team's assists with six.
- Jason Collins had the line of the night. 17 minutes, 0-2 from the field, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 blocks, and 5 personal fouls.
posted by Poseur 5/04/2004 03:22:00 PM


Wow, I won!

While it is arguable that Smarty Jones and Lion Heart were the best horses, most of the evidence suggests that the track conditions prevented come-from-behind horses from giving their best efforts. Smarty Jones had won the Arkansas Derby by 11/2 lengths over the late-running Borrego; Saturday he beat the same rival by 15. Lion Heart had been caught by The Cliff's Edge in the stretch run of the Blue Grass Stakes; Saturday he beat that rival by nearly 10 lengths. The slow time of the Derby, 2 minutes 4.06 seconds for 11/4 miles, translated into a Beyer Speed Figure of 107. That is exactly what Smarty Jones earned in Arkansas. Of the 17 horses behind him, not one reproduced his best form.

Nevertheless, it would be unfair to suggest that the outcome of the Derby was an utter fluke. Lion Heart set an honest pace, running the first half mile in 46.73 seconds over the off going; he and Smarty Jones didn't "steal" the race by setting slow fractions; they outran their opposition.

Hope you enjoyed your winnings from the exacta bet I gave you. The odds went down, but I got a nice dinner out of the deal, so I'm not complaining. I'm not nearly the horse player Beyer is, so I'll let him have the word on the Derby. I'm gonna add my own two cents, just remember Andrew Beyer knows more about horse racing than almost any other person alive.

If Lion Heart didn't win in these conditions, he's never going to win. Preakness is a good race for front-runners, but there's no reason to believe he could beat smarty Jones in favorable conditions. The only way Lion Heart wins in Pimlico is if we have another sloppy track. Every year, we re-learnthe lesson that speed figures are important. Beyer created them, so I can't take credit for this, but betting on horses with marginal speed figures is a really bad idea. The best rated horses according the Beyer were the ones at the front. So Andy, have faith in your formula. It's won me more money than I've lost over the years. Stop betting against your own theories.

Smarty Jones will be a huge favorite in the Preakness. Right now, I don't see a reason why you should bet on any of these horses to beat him. We'll re-examine it closer to the race, but if Smarty Jones takes the Preakness, I think we have a Triple Crown winner on our hands. Because I love his style in the Belmont. Preakness will be the test.

posted by Poseur 5/03/2004 01:27:00 PM

Some hockey

"There's no question they're still the favourites," said Flames playoff veteran Martin Gelinas. "They've got a lot of skill and a lot of veterans and (tonight) they'll be a desperate team. We're going to have to play a lot harder and a lot better, because they're going to come fully prepared."

Fully loaded, as well, although their offence is one large link weaker without their leader, Steve Yzerman. Still, the Red Wings boast a bevy of experience from which to draw to force a Game 7.
"You just look around the room and there are a lot of leaders," said Red Wings centre Kris Draper. "There is character in here and it's up to us to step up as a group. We have a lot of guys who have been here before."
Meanwhile, Flames players are looking to go where, for the most part, they haven't gone before. Underdogs rarely make an appearance in the third round.

"I don't think we really view ourselves as underdogs," said Flames defenceman Andrew Ference. "I've kind of always hated that term. To say that you're the underdog, it's like saying failure is all right and that winning is kind of a bonus. That's kind of a twisted way to go about things if you're expecting your team to win and do well in the playoffs."

Well, look how interesting things have gotten here. Colorado refuses to just get eliminated already, the Leafs and Flyers keep winning their home games, and the Lightning swept the Habs. All pretty interesting storylines, but they pale in comparison to the ultimate small market team, Calgary, going toe to toe with the Red Wings. As I said before the series started, it's all about goaltending, and Kispuroff has been awesome.

It's the real flaw of playoff hockey. Th ebest team does not neccessarily win, but the team with the hottest goaltender. Remember giguere guiding the Ducks to the Finals? Olaf Kolzig and the Caps? The two-headed monster in Minnesota? These weren't the best teams, but they based their team on the premise that the goalie is awesome. Normally, these teams tend to run out of gas in the Stanley Cup Finals, when they run into a real juggernaut, but does anyone really think the Lightning are that 700-pound gorilla? If there's a year a team with marginal talent can ride a goalie to the title, this is the year. The Flames are your team.
posted by Poseur 5/03/2004 01:26:00 PM

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