March 10, 2007

Devils 3, Sabres 2

Well, they did it. It all came into place.

Minnesota takes care of Buffalo last night on the Devils off night and the Devils take care of the retro-jerseyed Sabres tonight. Not much changes. Buffalo remains #1 in the East, New Jersey remains #2 in the East. But Buffalo has 93 points, and New Jersey has 92. It's close. 20 days or so left until the end of the season. The battle for Eastern Conference domination is officially on.

Very exciting game. The Buffalo crowd seemed bored with it because it wasn't 8-7 or anything like that, but it was pretty dang exciting nonetheless. Well played by both sides.

It started off with a bang, Cam Janssen and Andrew Peters threw down pretty much right after the game started. Afterwards, Zubrus got the first goal for the Sabres and it looked like things were off and running. Travis Zajac answered him not very long afterwards, getting assists from his linemates and tying things up at one. The rest of the period held no more scoring, but it was by no means uneventful.

The second period started and as soon as it started, Mike Rupp was the recipient of a nice rebound and scored a goal for the Devils a mere 33 seconds into the period. With Colin White still out and no replacement for him (and why the heck not? someone explain this to me) and Gionta out and Rasmussen taken out early in the game, lines and ice time were shuffled for a whole lot of players and Rupp saw some action he would normally not see. He made use of it for his 5th goal of the season. The second period slowed down for a while and it picked up steam at the end of the period. At 16:12 of the second period, Daniel Briere got a nice pass and shot a nice shot past Brodeur for his 28th goal of the year. This tied things up at two goals apiece and then Sergei Brylin got flagged for high-sticking. Not only that, but he got the dreaded 4-minute penalty. Not sure if it was worth it, seemed pretty cheap to me. But I'm partial to the Devils. Anyway, with the Sabres just tying things up and the crowd brought back from the brink of death and with a FOUR-MINUTE penalty just called, things were looking Buffalo's way. It appeared to be disastrous. This was the last thing the Devils needed.

But lo and behold, what's this? The Sabres are playing all over the place. Jim Dowd takes advantage of their haphazard style of play and leads an odd-man rush with Langenbrunner. He notices he can't slide the puck to Langenbrunner, the angle was not right and the backcheck was too fierce. Instead, Dowd maneuvered up toward the goal, flung the puck behind him to Rafalski and Ralf let one fly into the net right before the end of the period. A rare shorthanded goal for the Devils!! And a HUGE goal, it could maybe be the biggest goal of the season because that halted the Sabres momentum in its tracks and no scoring was done in the third period, but there was plenty of action.

The teams will meet again one more time, and the stakes may even be higher.

Reds 5, Indians 2


Pitching: Paul Wilson started. Pitched 3 innings, 1 walk, 1 K, 0 hits. Very nice outing. I don't know if it should be described as "masterful" or "brilliant" unless you are comparing it to every other outing he has had since 2005. Then I guess you can use these terms. Seriously, though, this guy is now the leading candidate to be the #5 starter? Is it that easy? Do things change on a whim that quickly? I don't buy it. I mean, it was a great outing, I'll give you that. I'll also give you that there is no consistency shown that you can build anything off of that outing. Here is how I see things going, or at least how they should go, for the fifth starter job:

--Kirk Saarloos (he will be on the team no matter what, still could be bullpen guy)
--Bobby Livingston (maybe not initially, but he looks like the man right now, I give Saarloos the nod due to his proven track record)
--The Lizard
--Matt Belisle (nobody talks about this guy, but he's the dark horse)
--Victor Santos
--Paul Wilson
--Homer Bailey (sorry, Savior)
--Phil Dumatrait

Anyway, back to the game. Jared Burton pitched next and didn't do anything spectacular. Saarloos pitched the next 3 innings, giving up 4 hits, walking 1, K'ing 1, and giving up 1 earned run for the win. Dumatrait pitched a scoreless eighth, and Coutlangus struck out 1 for the save.

Hitting: Denorfia, oh Denorfia. Today was your shining day, getting the most at-bats out of anybody, showcasing yourself all throughout the outfield, and being "The Man." But no, you went 0/5 with 2 strikeouts. I don't know what's happened to you man, but after I pegged you to be the starter in CF when the team breaks camp, you have done nothing but prove me wrong. Hatteberg was 0/3, as was Phillips. Guys you can count on to make the hit did not do so today. Anderson Machado finally joined the offense and went 2/2 today with a sweet triple. Conine went 2/3, and ever since I said he was an offensive black hole, he has done nothing but prove me wrong. This is what you get, folks. Make sure to bet against everything I say, that way you'll know to be right. I just don't get it right ever. But it makes for a good paradox. Javier Valentin, hitting worse than Denorfia right now, finally got a hit. Juan Castro of all people went 2/3 with 2 RBI's. Chad Moeller got a pinch-hit RBI double. Others with doubles were Conine, Castro, and Crosby. You'll know something's wrong if Conine and Moeller are the actual designated hitters during the regular season. Crosby went 2/3.

Fielding & such:
Jerry Gil had the fielding error today. Reds also turned two double plays with Janish and Votto in the thick of things. If you think about it, though those guys will be on the receiving end of a lot of double plays in the future, as they should be with the Reds team in a few years in Janish's case or a lot sooner in Votto's case. Makes the future exciting.

Wild 5, Sabres 1

Well, Harding didn't get the shutout but the Wild got a huge win. For themselves and for the New Jersey Devils.

My 2nd favorite team took care of business for the Devils heading into tonight's game. I even got a little treat as I was listening to the Wild on the radio, they had Tom Chorske in between periods to talk about the Devils!! That was pretty cool.

So, here we go. HUGE GAME.

Sabres - 93 points
Devils - 90

No matter what happens, Buffalo remains the #1 team. Which sucks. But if the Devils win in regulation, they are within just one point. For first place in the Eastern Conference.