March 31, 2007

Devils 3, Flyers 1

I really should be doing homework.

Anyway, the Devils won. At home. That's good because it hadn't happened for a while. But they beat the worst team in the league and that is that.

It was a true score of 2-1, that's when I mean when I talk about the game being 3-1 but the last goal was by the team that was winning after they threw the puck in the empty net. So yes, the game was 2-1.

It started off bad enough for the Devils. Lack of discipline leading to penalties, not skating well, missing pucks all over the place, missing passes to each other, looking sluggish on offense and failing to get into position on defense. They played a pretty bad first period and didn't play much better for most of the second, but it was about even in the middle of the period and then the Devils took over late in the second, scoring both of their goals in the final 2 minutes of the period. First was Mike Rupp with a nice goal, then it was Zajac on the power play shoving one at the goal with hardly any time remaining and it went in. Brodeur had the shutout going until late in the game when Simon Gagne, of course, slammed one in there. The Devils hung on for the win.

Despite the poor play of the Devils, Broduer only saw 15 shots. That's pretty dang impressive. They went from 8 shots on goal in the first period to only 7 the rest of the game, with a measly 2 shots in the final period. One of which went in, as I recall.

Anyway, good win for the Devils to reassert themselves over a far inferior team. The team got a boost with John Madden's return, but also lost Gomez early in the game and for the rest of the game. So they could have been downhearted about that, but they didn't let it show. I don't know the status of Gomez, but hopefully it's not a big deal.

Interesting note: the Devils dominated the faceoffs, 32 to 15. That might be their best positive differential of the year, since they are usually not a good faceoff time. Not sure what it meant, probably that the Flyers aren't great.

Brodeur for Hart Trophy?

Kara Yorio says Brodeur beats Crosby by a nose:

Comparing a skater to a goalie is always unfair. There is no way to deny that the goalie has a bigger effect on the game's outcome. With the greatest respect for the amazing season from the 19-year-old Penguin, that's just the way it is, and it takes the trophy out of his hands.

This tight race goes to Brodeur, your 2006-07 Hart Trophy winner.

The best part of this whole thing is that these are two teams battling for the Atlantic Division, currently tied with 100 points apiece. Great stuff. Does the winner of that battle win the MVP? I'd hope not, whether it's the Devils or Penguins. Marty deserves it. He has been a little off his game of late, but what a season he has had. Nice to see some national recognition for it all.

Mavericks 105, Knicks 103

Whew. Yikes. Again.

Remember almost losing to the Bucks? It happened again, the Knicks are not a team that anyone should lose to. I mean, it happens. Thankfully this time it didn't happen. It blows my mind how one team can both be playing for a lottery pick as well as playing for the playoffs. It doesn't make any sense. That's how bad the Eastern Conference is these days.

The Knicks hung around due to many things, primary among them the Mavs shooting woes. They shot 38.5% from the floor, including an atrocious second quarter where they were 2/19. Other than shooting, the Knicks had the Mavs number in rebounds, though that margin was closed late. Starbury was HUGE for them, scoring a season-high 43 points. He was unstoppable until the end of the game, where he missed both of his late shots and was also forced into a turnover. If it were not for the fourth quarter, the Knicks would have had all the stats in their favor, but the Mavs went wild in the fourth quarter, scratching and clawing their way back in.

The only thing that kept the Mavs close early in the game were free throws. They ended up being 35/39 which was HUGE. Even though they did miss most of the free throws late in the game. That needs to stop. But they did well on free throws, finally having more attempts than the other team, even thought it was only by 2.

Nowitzki was ice cold throughout the game, feeling the effects of his injury. But he turned it on in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 of his 30 points. He also surpassed 15,000 points for his career on this game. Congrats, Dirk. He simply took over the game late in the fourth quarter for these Mavs. Stackhouse, while ending up with only 19 points, scored almost all of them early in the game. He kept the Mavs in it when they were out of it, and he was also 11/12 from the free throw line which was major. Josh Howard had 20 & 8. Jason Terry had 14 points, had a horrendous off-night shooting the ball, but still managed to hit two incredibly big 3-pointers late in the game. Once again, the Mavs got to 20 assists and once again they won. They barely got to 20 though. Also, the 3-point shooting kept the Mavs in it, as they were 10/22 which is pretty dang good.

All in all, the Knicks didn't have this in the bag, but they were staying around and playing better. The Mavs turned on the defensive pressure and made key baskets down the stretch. This is the story of their lives. They should have beaten the Knicks, and they ended up doing so, despite all the adversity going against them. Excellent.

Belisle is #5

Breaking news:

A spectacular spring earned Belisle a starter's job after he worked out of the bullpen last season.
And there you have it, from the official team site. Not a big surprise, because many people mentioned Saarloos can work from the bullpen. He would have preferred to be the starter, but he can be a good long relief man. Or just anything in relief really, except a closer. Maybe even that. There is no doubt Belisle earned it. I probably would have slightly given him the edge over My Man Bobby, but it's hard to bet against Livingston.

Here's hoping Belisle has a great year, and maybe even moves up a few slots! Due to his own performance, not the subpar performance of others.