Saturday, January 15, 2011

Columbus Blue Jackets (at) Detroit Red Wings: The Live-Blog

Pre-Game Skate:  They are wearing the uniforms of the Detroit Red Wings...but.  The Wings host the Blue Jackets here tonight minus 5 starters and minus their first and second string goaltenders and it all makes you have wonder for just how long the Wings can carry on (they enter tonight's game first in their division--the Central--and second in Western Conference 4 points back of first-place Vancouver) with all these injuries.  Here's the current list of wounded Wings: Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary, Mike Modano, Tomas Holmstrom. Brad Stewart, Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood.  How can this not have an impact?  But, Detroit has points in 12 of their last 15 games, including last night's 3-2 shootout loss to these Blue Jackets in Columbus.  Dating back to their last game before Christmas Detroit has gone 7-3-2, a win percentage of .667.  Play .667 hockey all season and you wind up with a 109-point season which is pretty good.  Here's the thing.  Right now, the difference between being second in the West and 12th in the West is 15 points.  That's 11 teams separated by 15 points.  And Detroit is 9 points ahead of the 8th-place Chicago Blackhawks.  I don't have to tell you the top 8 make the playoffs.  That lead, 9 points, can disappear in a hurry if you, say, lose four in a row while the team chasing you, say, wins 4 in a row.  So we shall see what we shall see.  The teams are out, the line-ups are being announced, and we will--as they say--be back with the opening face-off, right after this.

7:10pm:  That didn't take long.  Derek Brassard has just scored his 10th firing his own rebound past Wings goalie Joey MacDonald at the :33 second mark.  After Rick Nash won a face-off circle to the left, Brassard fiRED a close-in shot that MacDonald got a piece of before hit hit the post and came right back out in front.  Brassard made no mistake with the second chance.  All of this happened just :33 seconds after the aforementioned opening face-off.  0:33 OF FIRST PERIOD: COLUMBUS 1, DETROIT 0.

7:16PM:  Oh, my.  Now it's 2-0 Columbus.  Grant Clitsome let this little wrist shot go from just inside the blue line and the thing hit Detroit's Justin Abdelkader in his left knee and skipped off the ice and bounced past MacDonald.  We haven't yet played 5 minutes and the Blue Jackets have a big lead.  4:12 OF FIRST PERIOD:  COLUMBUS 2, DETROIT 0.

7:21pm:  If I have to leave you suddenly tonight it probably means I've been arrested for watching NFL football on my computer, illegally.  (I've got the Ravens-Steelers on.)  So, I'm trying to watch the hockey game and the football game, and write.  Plus, I'm picking the 3 Stars of tonight's game here and I have to stay focused on that because I don't want to look like a fool later.  Those picks go on the Official Boxscore, you know.  That means they become a part of hockey history, forever.  So, I don't like to mess them up.  Good football game, though.  Down early 21-7, Pittsburgh has stormed back to take a 24-21 lead over Baltimore with 6 minutes left in the game.  Good stuff...

7:39pm:  It started badly but ended well for Detroit, this first period.  The Wings got 2 goals in the last 2 and a half minutes and are, somehow, tied here 2-2 after one.  Johan Franzen made a great pass to an open-in-the-slot Valtteri Filppula and he rifled it home for his 11th goal of the season and a 2-1 game with 2:26 left in the period.  With 39.9 seconds left in the first, Drew Miller, behind the goal line in the Columbus end, banked one in off the left skate off Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason to tie the game 2-2.  Hard to believe.  And with under 2 minutes to go in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have first-and-goal at the 1 with under 2 minutes to go in a 24-24 tie.  Wow, etc.     END OF FIRST PERIOD, DETROIT 2, COLUMBUS 2.  (AND THE STEELERS UPSET THE RAVENS 31-24)

8:06pm:  The tie didn't last long, but then again, neither did the 3-2 Columbus lead which the Blue Jackets grabbed at 2:57 on a breakaway goal by Matt Calvert.  That's because Jonathan Ericsson scored exactly a minute later at 3:57 to re-tie this thing.  Franzen lost Calvert in the neutral zone and he took a perfect in-stride pass to go in and score on the backhand on MacDonald (nice deke) but for the second time tonight Mason was victimized when a shot from behind his own red line banked off his backside and in.  Calvert's goal was his second, Ericsson's his 3rd.  12:50 LEFT, SECOND PERIOD: DETROIT 3, COLUMBUS 3. 

8:12pm:  Columbus coach Scott Arniel looks like he thinks he needs a new goalie as Brian Rafalski scores from the slot on a shot which Mason got most of, but not all of.  The puck had just enough left on it to slide across the goal line between Mason's legs as the Blue Jackets goalie was, once again, unable to corral the disc in the crease.  It's Rafalski's 4th and it gives Detroit their first lead of the night.  The goal comes at 8:02.  10:50 LEFT IN THE SECOND PERIOD: DETROIT 4, COLUMBUS 3.

8:37pm:  The scoring flurry to begin the period turned out to be the only scoring of the period. So Detroit, 15-0-2 (.941) when leading after two periods, leads two periods into this one.  MacDonald made his best save of the game late in the second with a kick save and a beauty off  Fedor Tyutin with about 3 minutes left in the period.  He dropped his left pad to deny Tyutin on a rebound.  Franzen had Detroit's best chance of the period but Mason blockered him on a shot from right out in front.  The Wings had 14 shots in the second, Columbus 13.  For the game, Detroit has a 23-22 edge in shots on goal.  AFTER 2 PERIODS: DETROIT 4, COLUMBUS 3.

8:57pm:  Columbus has now scored a goal within the first three minutes of the start of each period tonight.  Their goal in the 3rd, at 1:10 by R.J Umberger, has tied the game.  Unberger beat Nicklas Lidstrom to a rebound (you don't exactly see that every night, now do you?) and tapped it past MacDonald to tie the game 4-4.   1:10 OF 3RD PERIOD: DETROIT 4, COLUMBUS 4.

8:59pm:  Kris Draper has just restored Detroit's 1-goal lead at 3:32 of this 3rd period.  Draper--who earlier tonight got his 200th career assist and who is making a strong case for first star considerations--deflected a shot on goal before shoveling the rebound home with but one hand on his stick.  It's the 4th of the year for Draper, and it's a big one,.  3:32 OF 3RD PERIOD: DETROIT 5, COLUMBUS 4.

9:26PM:  The Draper goal is standing up and the Columbus net is empty with 1:14 left in the game.  Stay tuned...

We're watching Green Bay-Atlanta, too, just in case you were wondering. The NFL keeps kicking us off, but every time they do, we find the game somewhere else on the web.


9:31pm:   No goal.  Overtime.  Detroit is playing their 13th game in the last 21 nights and its overtime.  Just like last night.  

9:33pm:  Franzen scores, Detroit wins 6-5!  Franzen was alone in the left circle and went high blocker side on Mason.  Off the post and in.  A great shot and the Wings win.  Gee, we were going to give Franzen a star tonight but went with Ericsson instead.  Maybe they'll change it for me.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Flyers (at) Red Wings: The Live Blog

The big question of the day, the one I know all of you have had on your mind all day long, has been answered.  Yes, I could make it from Ford Field to the Joe Louis Arena in time to make the 5pm face-off for the Wings-Flyers game...

5:11pm:  We're sort of flying (heh, heh, the Wings are playing the Flyers, right?) by the seat of our pants after rushing over from the Lions 20-13 season-ending win over the Vikings.  About all I can tell you is that this really ought to be a good game.  The Wings (24-9-5, 53 points) lead the Western Conference and one of only 2 teams in the NHL to have not lost in double digits yet (Vancouver with 8 is the other), face Philadelphia, (23-10-5, 51 points) tied for 2nd in the Eastern Conference.

5:18pm:  For the next :48, the Wings have a 2-man advantage here.  With Detroit already on the power play, Claude Giroux shoots the puck in the stands and that is delay of game, which is just wrong.  Detroit does not score.  The Wings are a little cute early, going for the extra pass and not getting the shot on goal. 11:00 left in first, DETROIT 0, PHILADELPHIA 0.

5:26pm:  A typical home-ice start for Detroit--they dominate the opening minutes and have outshot the Flyers 8-3.  But, no goals for the Wings.  I saw a troubling story at the Lions game.  A Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher, Alfredo Simon, is suspected of murder in the Dominican Republic:  A spokesman for the Orioles says Simon says he is innocent.  (We really weren't trying to be cute there, its just the way it came out.)  Simon remains at large at, as we say, press time.  Of course, these days, press time is real time, right?

5:35pm:  I know this is going to sound silly and I neither expect nor deserve your sympathy, but I am surprisingly tired right now.  This is not a good sign.  How can you get tired watching spectator sports?

5:43pm:  The period ends with Jeff Carter getting about as good a chance as the Flyers got in the first, set up all alone between the circles with about 3 seconds left in the first.  He shot wide.  Detroit outshoots Philadelphia 9-8 in the first.  It was, as expected, a good period.  I think we'll take a break and check out-of-town scores or something.  After 1: DETROIT 0, PHILADELPHIA 0.  

6:00PM:  The second period starts.  Checking NFL during intermission scores wore me out.  GB is down 3 to Chi and if Bears win, Pack misses postseason. Giants lead.  If they win and GB loses, NY is in.  TB won, if GB and NYG both lose, they are in. Otherwise the Bucs will spend the playoffs thinking about how a loss at home to Detroit of all people cost them a playoff spot. Meanwhile, at the :51 mark, Philadelphia opens the scoring when #51 for Detroit, Valtteri Filppula inadvertently (as opposed one supposes to advertantly) tips a shot fired by Philly's James vanRiemsdyk past Jimmy Howard, his own goalie.  DETROIT 0, PHILADELPHIA 1.  

6:11pm:  Howard makes about as good a save as we've seen all season, going post-to-post to deny Daniel Carcillo but it doesn't even matter because before the Wings can clear the zone, Carcillo tips in a shot fired from the blue line.  He scored less than 5 seconds after that great save by Howard.  Oh, well.  The time of the goal is 5:32.  DETROIT 0, PHILADELPHIA 2.

6:21pm:  No change in the score and the fans are in foul humor.  From time to time one or more of them will shout, "Skate!"  Like that's going to help.  Meanwhile, for the second game in a row, the opposing coach is somebody who played in the first game I ever broadcast.  Remember I mentioned my first play-by-play job was as the voice of the IHL Flint Spirits?  Peter Laviolette, currently the head coach of the Flyers, was one of our best defensemen that year.  It's a long way from the IMA Sports Arena to the NHL, I can tell you that much.  (Actually, it's only 60 miles or so, but the distance in this case is not measured in miles.)  STILL DETROIT 0, PHILADELPHIA 2.

6:30pm:  Now Scott Hartnell has scored and it's 3-0 Philly and this is not going at all well.  Booing begins.  The "F" word is heard.  Hartnell was in close and when Howard went down he went high.  Howard didn't leave much of an opening but these NHL guys don't need much of one.  The goal is at 14:24.  DETROIT 0, PHILADELPHIA 3.  

6:39pm:  The period is over and Philly gets 3 goals on 19 shots in the middle twenty.  Many boo as the Wings skate off.  Fans are brutal.  Fans are unbelievable.  You get the feeling that the score may as well be 300-0 the way that period went.  Time to check more out-of-town scores.  Oooh, GB has come back to lead the Bears.  More on that, and this one, later.  (My god, they just booed the intermission remote car race!)  AFTER 2: DETROIT 0, PHILADELPHIA 3.

6:55pm:  Chris Osgood replaces Howard to start the 3rd period.  The announcement is cheered by the crowd.  I'm going to say this is because it is the first appearance here at home by Osgood since he won his 400th game last week.  The Flyers scored at :51 of the first and now Detroit has scored at :51 of the 3rd.  The goal is by Detroit's #51, Filppula.  A blast from 20 feet, give or take. He put in the proper net this time, at least.  EARLY 3RD: DETROIT 1, PHILADELPHIA 3.

7:02pm:  It turned out that Dwayne Roloson's overtime win over the Wings here on New Years Eve (he was the game's #1 Star as selected by, oh yeah, me) was his last as an Islander.  Steve Yzerman traded for him, so he's a Lightening, now.  If you haven't noticed, Stevie's got Tampa going good, real good.  They lead their division and are tied with Philly and Washington for 2nd in the East.  And now Yzerman has his goalie.  13:00 left, here.  DETROIT 1, PHILADELPHIA 3.

7:17pm:  Hey, now.  Henrik Zetterberg just scored on the power play and the Wings have played themselves back into this one.  It's the 14th for Zetterberg.  He was in close and went high with a backhand to beat Brian Boucher and Detroit is down by only one.  The fans?  They are no longer booing.  Imagine.  The goal comes at 12:28.  DETROIT 2, PHILADELPHIA 3.

7:30pm:  And we're done.  The Wings had a few chances down the stretch, pulled Osgood with 1:10 left but couldn't tie it up.  And now Detroit hits the road for 5 in a row and 6 of the next 7.  So, we'll talk to you later...

Lions 20, Minnesota 13: The (sort-of) Live Blog

11:55am:  Pregame Warm-up.  We bid adieu today to the 2010 Detroit Lions today with a Ford Field ceremony which will feature a National Football League game between the Lions and the Minnesota Vikings.  These sorts of things (National Football League games against Minnesota) typically do not go well, for Detroit.  As any Lions fan can tell you, Detroit has lost 6 straight to the Vikings, 16 of the last 17 and 20 of the last 22.  This is the 99th all-time meeting between Minnesota and Detroit.  The locals have managed wins in only 30 of the previous 98. 
But, hey, the Lions have won three in a row and that hasn’t happened in a while.  And they ended their 26-game road losing streak (an NFL record, thank you) a couple of weeks ago and 3 weeks ago they won a game against a division foe for the first time in years so who knows?  Maybe this is the day they end this losing streak to the Vikings, no? 
The last time the Lions had a four-game win streak was in 1999.  That streak began with a win over Minnesota and when it ended the Lions were looking oh-so-good with a 6-2 record at the halfway point of that ’99 season.  Detroit proceeded to go 2-6 in the second half, finished 8-8, missed the playoffs and everybody got fired.  In the 11 years which have passed since then, the Lions have won as many as 8 games in a season only once (9-7 in 2000).  Additionally, the Lions are 2-20 vs. Minnesota since that win over the Vikings in ‘99.
Look, don’t tell anybody, but there appears to have been some sort of a mistake made here.  I am sitting in the front row of the pressbox this afternoon—an upgrade from the third-row seat I normally occupy.  I feel like a kid again.  In other words, I feel like an usher will be coming along any minute now to kick me out of the good seat I just snuck into.  (Okay, into which I just snuck.)  So, as I said, don’t tell anybody…
1:19pm:  The Lions actually look good to start the ballgame.  They held the Vikings to negative yards or no gain on 3 of Minnesota’s first 8 plays then drove from their 25 to a first and goal at the Vikings 8.  It was here, at the Vikings 1, that TE Tony Scheffler fumbled into the end zone after catching a short pass from Shaun Hill.  Minnesota’s Jamarca Sanford recovered in the end zone…maybe.  The ruling on the field—a fumble recovery for the Vikings—is under review.  My guess is that an overturn is coming.  Sanford appeared to go out of bounds before the recovery.  If he did, then the question becomes, where do you spot the football?  We are unsure up here in the box, and when I say “we” I mean “me”.  There isn’t another reporter within a dozen seats of me.  THE RULING ON THE FIELD STANDS.  It’s a fumble into the end zone and Minnesota has the ball, first and ten, at their own 20.  A good drive, spoiled. 
1:28pm: The Vikings get a pair of 20-yard pass completions from rookie QB Joe Webb (Brett Favre is inactive again today and his NFL career thus ends with him in street clothes on the far sideline) and the Vikings move into Detroit territory at the 40.  Lorenzo Booker is some kind of wide open inside the Lions 5 but Webb overthrows him badly and the Vikings miss out on a sure touchdown.  They end up punting, pinning the Lions at the 5.  That fumble not only cost the Lions a chance to score, it cost them about 93 yards of field position.  END OF FIRST QUARTER: DETROIT 0, MINNESOTA 0.
1:50pm:  Webb could have strolled to a first down but elected to throw deep across his body and he threw it right to Detroit’s _____ and the pick gives Detroit 1st-and-10 at their own 31.  Detroit gets POT (Points Off Turnover) as Dave Rayner hits a 55 yard field goal.  It is tied for the 3rd-longest field goal in Detroit Lions history.  The kick comes 6:45 left before halftime.  DETROIT 3, MINNESOTA 0. 
2:20pm:  The Lions complete what was probably their nicest drive of the season—a 15-play, 94-yard beauty—when Hill throws his 16th TD pass of the season, a 7-yarder, to Nate Burleson 0:28 left before halftime.  It is the 6th TD catch of the season for Burleson and it comes with Calvin Johnson on the bench.  Johnson isn’t listed as injured and he’s in uniform on the sideline.  Why he isn’t in the game is the question.  Meanwhile, halftime arrives and the Lions have shut down Adrian Peterson.  His 80-yard run may have been the key to the Vikings win over the Lions in week 3 and he ran for 118 yards this Tuesday past in Minnesota’s upset win at Philadelphia.  In the first half today, Peterson has carried 7 times for only 8 yards.  HALFTIME:  DETROIT 10, MINNESOTA 0.
2:44pm:  Dave Raynor’s second field goal of the day—a 37-yarder this time—ups the Lions lead to 13-0.  The Lions drove to the Vikings 18 on their first possession of the second half but the drive stalled.  Calvin Johnson, Detroit’s Pro Bowl wideout  He has not been thrown to by the Lions today.  I am not sure that he has played a down for the Lions today.  I have no explanation for this.  9:58 left in the 3rd:  DETROIT 13, MINNESOTA 0.
2:57pm:  And just when things were going so well…Hill makes his first mistake of the game, failing to spot Vikings DE Jared Allen who had dropped into coverage and is there to intercept the Lions QB and return it 36 yards for the score which puts Minnesota right back into the game.  This takes place with 6:03 left in the 3rd quarter.  We learn, from sources, that Calvin Johnson, who has not played today, is going to play today on an emergency basis only.  He’s generally sore, especially, apparently in a shoulder.   DETROIT 13, MINNESOTA 7.
3:04pm:  In spite of the score, it is being reported by ESPN that Vikings interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier has been named Minnesota’s new Head Coach.  The Vikings have the ball and are driving.  END OF 3 QUARTERS: DETROIT 13, MINNESOTA 7.
3:14pm:  Minnesota drives to the Lions 9 but that’s it and Ryan Longwell makes a 27-yard field goal to make it a 3-point game.  12:05 left in the game.  DETROIT 13, MINNESOTA 10.
3:29pm:  You have to give the Lions credit here today.  Just when Minnesota got back into the game, the Lions take them right back out of it.  Detroit goes 77 yards in 8 plays (it took 2:36) and Maurice Morris finishes it off with a 5-yard TD run.  We are under 9-and-a-half to go now.  DETROIT 20, MINNESOTA 10.
3:46PM:  Longwell gets another field goal, a 48-yarder, and if the Vikings recover the on-sides kick they have a chance.  If they don’t, they don’t.  We have 1:55 left and Minnesota has only 1 timeout left.  Burleson recovers the kick and Detroit should be able to kill the clock.  
3:51pm:  They do, but not before Minnesota gets one last chance with 0:20 left.  A wild, lateral-filled last lick chance ends the game.  The final play lasted for over 30 seconds but there were flags on the field due to forward laterals and whatnot and the referee said simply, "Game over," when the Vikings were finally tackled.  The Lions had to punt the ball to Minnesota in the waning seconds as they were unable to completely kill the clock, but in the end it made no difference.  And now, it's off to the Red Wings-Flyers game.  What a day...