Ottawa pwns Habs; Casey fears Leaf playoff run

In one of the very few instances you'll see me rooting for a team playing against the Senators, les Habitants came up extremely short against our capital's team tonight. While Ottawa has locked up a playoff spot, and is in a fairly meaningless race for 4th spot in the East, it's far more important for Montreal to get the points necessary to beat the Leafs to the playoffs.

Thanks to Dany Heatley's 47th goal, and 3 points each by Mikes Fisher and Comrie, the Senators took a 2-0 lead within 6 minutes of the puck drop, and never looked back, en route to a 5-2 spanking.

So now, with 4 games remaining, Montreal sits at 86 points, in 8th place. The Canadiens are only 1 point ahead of the Make Beliefs, who have a game in hand. Adding to that, Montreal faces Buffalo (#1 in the East) tomorrow night, which probably won't end well.

The race for the final playoff spot in the competitive division of the NHL (the West is a joke) is a race I'm going to be following closely. With Tampa Bay sitting at 88 points (thanks to a 4-2 win over the Cup-defending Hurricanes), the NYR with 87 points, Montreal with 86, TO with 83, and 2 teams with 84 points (NYI/Hurricanes), it's still anybody's season.

Personally, I'm gunning for Montreal. It's gotta be a Canadian team, and I can't rightfully, as a Sens fan, support the Leafs ... so that only leaves one logical choice.

The playoffs have nothing on the final games of the regular season.

Chilliwack forgets to show up; Vancouver takes series

In "Gong Show of the day" news, the Vancouver Giants beat the Chilliwack Bruins 3-1 in game 5 of the best-of-7 series to move on to the next round. Based on the cockamamie scheme that the WHL has developed for the playoffs this season, I have no idea who the Giants will face next. Apparently the second round of the playoffs has the 1st/4th and 2nd/3rd place teams from each conference playing one another. Though I'm not sure how that works if one of those teams loses in the 1st round of the playoffs. So I'll let the people in the know figure it out, and I'll just come along for the ride.

In tonights game, Pat Smith and Derek Zalaski handed out a total of 114 minutes in penalties, for 17 total powerplay opportunities. Yet the only special teams goal was a shorthanded marker at 13:15 of the 1st, which tied the game up for Chilliwack, just over a minute after Vancouver opened scoring. The end of the game featured a bit of a brou-ha-ha, by the looks of the scoresheet, with 72 minutes in penalties (4 fighting majors, 2 game misconducts, 2 10-minute misconducts and an instigator minor) being handed out at the 20:00 minute mark of the 3rd. Now that's a classy way to leave the season behind, Chilliwack. Way to cap off a great inaugural season.

3 stars of the night:
1: Kendall McArdie (VAN) --> 1G, 1A, 2P, 2PIM
2: Mario Bliznak (VAN) --> 0G, 2A, 2P, 0PIM
3: Josh Aspenlind (CWK) --> 1G, 0A, 1P, 2PIM


Sitting, Waiting, Wishing - Jack Johnson Makes NHL Debut

Oh, the West. I'll admit, it's an incredibly intense division in the NHL, with regards to competition. Tonight featured a match-up of the irritatingly competent Cansucks against the basement-dwelling-40-points-out-of-first-place L.A. Kings (with former castrati Vancouver coach Crawford at the helm). Canucks pulled out 2 points (no surprise there, really), Luongo played again (I really need him to get hurt in game 1 of the playoffs), and the ginger twins combined for 6 points. Yawn. The story I, personally was interested in, was the big-league debut of Jack Johnson. No, not the Curious George-serenading beach bum, but the former NCAA star and US National team phenom. After the University of Michigan's loss to North Dakota in round 1 of the NCAA playoffs last Saturday, Johnson (who incidentally played high school stick-puck with sophomore sell-out Sidney Crosby) signed a multi-year deal with the Kings. It's kind of a weird story, because Carolina (who drafted him 3rd overall in 2005) offered him multiple NHL deals, which were consistently turned down. Johnson quoted a firm desire to play college hockey, rather than jumping right into the show, which is fine. But he's now given up his NCAA eligibility to play for a team who sucks -18 points more than the one that previously owned his rights.

So how did this whipper-snapper do in his first game playing in front of Sean Burke? I give him a solid "meh". Lots of ice time (23 shifts for 18:45 play time), but a -1 overall, with no shots on net. Give him time, and I'm sure he'll turn out to be one hell of a defenseman. But it won't be this season. With only 5 games left for the Kings, and no chance of a playoff run there's not sufficient time for Johnson to build his skill level up to pro caliber. It's a big jump from NCAA to NHL, and I think that's going to be reflected in his stats for a while still.

In other "irritating Casey" news, the Penguins beat Boston 4-2 (thanks to the aforementioned Crosby's 3 assists), putting them 2 points ahead of Ottawa in the east. However, Ottawa has a game in hand, so it'll be a tight race for that meaningless 4th place. Also of note in the PTS/BOS game was former Golden Gopher Phil Kessel, who was named the #2 star, thanks to a 1-1-2 night.


It's the End of the World as We Know It.

Well, my WHL-following year is over. The Blazers succumbed to the Prince George Cougars in a well-fought game four tonight. They kept it together, but ended up losing in overtime in the city. Hopefully a few more people showed up to game 4 than were in the stands in game 3. Watching highlights was like being at a Burnaby Express game ... the hockey's good, but where are the fans? I expected a lot more out of the city of PG than 6 twelve year old boys scattered throughout the front row. At least Kamloops would have the senior-citizens clapping along to "Takin' Care of Business".

It's a good thing the Senators are still doing relatively well, or my hockey season would be over. Right now I'm interested in seeing who the Canadian team of the year will be. Last year, the country got behind Edmonton. Year before that, everybody was a Flames fan. If it's the Canucks, I swear to god I'll snap. 1.3million fanboys are bad enough ... can you imagine an entire country of people on the Luongo-bandwagon? If that's the way the playoffs are going to be, I'm hitting the golf course.


My Hockey Luck is Shite

So first it's UMN. They break my heart and go out in not-so-blazing not-so-glory before they even reach the Frozen Four. Then Ottawa decides to lose to ex-pat Zdeno Chara and the Bruins. Which is fine (Ottawa and Pittsburgh are still tied for 4th in the East ... I'm fine with that). And now I read the Blazers lost, again, to PG? Another 1 goal game, another loss by Kamloops. They're now down 3 games in a best of seven, and I don't seem them crawling out of this hole easily. Kamloops had a one goal lead going into the 3rd, when the Cougars pulled out 2 unanswered goals to take the W. Game 4 is tomorrow in PG at 7pm (PST), and you can expect the rabid Cougar fans to show up in droves. Prince George has a great fan base, and Kamloops is definitely going to be hard up to get a win, and try to drag themselves back into the series.

In other WHL news, the Vancouver Giants showed their #1 rank against the Chilliwack team, shutting out the team from the valley 4-0 and regaining the series lead, 2 games to 1.


Slow News Day; Still No Anna Nicole News

The scene is set for the Frozen Four, the WHL has tonight off, and nothing really exciting happened in the NHL. Well, the Canucks lost to the Avalanche (thanks to a great performance by Burnaby Joe), but Canucks news is played out in this town. When they win, they're awesome. When they lose, blame Naslund. Not to say I'm anti-Naslund blame ... I think he's an overpaid waste of ice-time ... but I love how the media (I'm looking at YOU Neil McRae) is the first to dive off the band-wagon. And people wonder why the Vancouver fans are so fair-weather.

I'm not a big fan of the MotoGP scheduling. They tease me with two races in the beginning of the season, and now I have to wait 4 weeks until the Grand Prix of Turkey. It's hard to keep interested in testing and engineering when the races are so sporadic. That being said, I feel obligated to report on ... post-race testing in Jerez. All teams stayed an extra day in the wonderful Spanish heat to tweak the settings in preparation of Turkey. Quickest times in day 1 testing? Why it was the 2 Kwaks, of course! I wonder how this team would be if they signed a solid, young rider. The engineering ability is there, they just seem to be lacking some key factor.


Rossi is Awesome, Hayden Sucks in Jerez

It's been 5 races since Valentino Rossi won a race. Which is his longest span ever. So you have to imagine there was some pressure on him, both internally, and from the Fiat Yamaha team. I mean, they're paying him a big chunk of change to be the greatest rider in the field, so when you combine 5 races without a win, with his 2nd place finish in the championship last season to Nicky Hayden, I can imagine some angry Yamaha race execs.

Luckily, winning wasn't really an issue in Jerez on Sunday. It took about a half lap for Rossi to get in front, and he never looked back. Dani Pedrosa, racing in front of his home crowd, stayed close until about the 14th lap, when Rossi stretched the lead to a full second. At that point, it was all over and Rossi cruised comfortably to the checkered flag.

Ever gracious, Rossi credited his team, his tyres and his bike for giving him the win, saying "they did a fantastic job for me this weekend, and they all deserve this win". Rossi is now 1st in the championship series, 9 points ahead of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.

The top 5 in Jerez were as follows:
Valentino Rossi - 45:53:340
Dani Pedrosa - 45:54:586
Colin Edwards - 45:56:041
Toni Elias - 45:57:691
Casey Stoner - 45:58:333

Hayden was notably in 7th, with a time of 46:07:486, putting him at 6th in season standings.

Frozen Four Set. Casey Disappointed.

It's a sad day for hockey. Not for North Dakota fans, I suppose ... but I don't fit into that category. Perhaps UMN, as the #1 seed was a bit too cocky. Maybe they were just outplayed and out worked. Regardless, Chris Porter jammed a puck into the net to give the Fighting Sioux an overtime win, and sending North Dakota to the show, where they'll face Boston College (who shutout Miami 4-0 to advance). This means that none of the top 4 seeds are in the Frozen Four. As for the national polls, the top team to make it is BC (ranked #4 at the end of the season). In fact, the Frozen Four will see the nationally ranked #6 team (UND) facing #4, and #14 (Maine) against #10 (Michigan State). Yawn.

NCAA Frozen Four Taking Form

The first match-up has Michigan State facing Maine, thanks to Michigan's unprecedented upset of the Fighting Irish. What to look for in this game? Maine's a perennial contender, with a Frozen Four appearance last year. As such, you can expect them to come out hard, and put on a good show. They finished the season with a very respectable 21-14-2 record, thanks to strong goaltending by Ben Bishop. In fact, Bishop has to be considered one of the reasons (the "Maine" reasons?) the Black Bears are even here, given the 36 shots he faced against UMass.

As long as Michigan State isn't coasting after their win against the Irish, they can easily put up a good fight. The Spartans are a hard working team, and pretty much flew under the radar the entire season. Even though they finished 2nd in the CCHA (behind Notre Dame), they were ranked 10th nationally at the end of the regular season, and didn't really help themselves by losing to Bowling Green in the regular season finale.

To put it concisely, it will be the Spartans who beat the Spartans on April 5th. Or it will be Ben Bishop. Or a combination of the two. Ok ... it's anybody's game.


Blazers Choke Hard in Game 1

I've been pleasantly surprised with the way Kamloops has been playing this season. After attending nearly every home game over the past couple of years (thanks to the generosity of a boss with season tix), I was used to seeing the unenthusiastic play typical of a club with a fan base born in the Depression era. But this season, the seemed to have a new fire (no pun intended). Nobody on the team is outstanding as an individual (there's no Iginla, Tucker or Nash), but as a team, they seem to click. So, after going .597 during the regular season, and finishing 2nd in the BC Division (behind the powerhouse Vancouver Giants), I expected big things in the playoffs. Maybe that will still happen, but they managed to lose game one to the "meh" Prince George Cougars by a 3-2 overtime margin.

Game 2 goes tonight at 7pm PST, and I'll be watching (not literally ... it's not televised) for a strong effort by a team that has the ability to bring some pride back to the Kamloops hockey scene.

Alright ... another game, another OT loss by the Blazers. The games are close enough ... as was the regular season. So I'm sure the Blaze will come up cherries in no time. To be fair, Chilliwack beat Vancouver by 2 this evening. Upset central.

#2 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Coming off an amazing year in the CCHA (how's a .817 winning percentage sound?), Notre Dame is easily a favourite to do well in the tournament, according to 70% of the same ESPN experts previously quoted. However, as with all tournaments, the possibility for upsets exists. For instance, ND required overtime (2x overtime, even) to beat Alabama-Huntsville in the first round. Currently ND is facing Michigan State (who holds a respectable 23-14-2 record), and it's all tied up at zeroes at the start of the 2nd. So what to look for in this tournament from the Fighting Irish? Solid, defensive play, mostly. The CCHA, as a league, is all about a solid defense and Notre Dame, as the league's #1, represents that fully.

Well, my predictions are pretty weak ... as are those of 70% of ESPN's experts. Notre Dame ended up losing 2-1 to Michigan State, sending Michigan to the final four, facing the Maine Black Bears, who beat UMass 3-1 in their 2nd round playoff.

UMN Already Better Than Last Year

It wasn't pretty, but Minnesota got the job done against Air Force today with a 4-3 win. Air Force took a 1 goal lead into the 3rd period, and expanded upon that quickly with a Brett Nylander goal at the 5 minute mark. As time elapsed, it looked like Minnesota was bound to repeat last year's dismal tournament performance, and reduce themselves to Canuck-like playoff contenders. But a powerplay goal by Ryan Stoa at 11:50 of the 3rd brought the game back within reach, and put the momentum fully behind MN. Just over 2 minutes later, UMN tied it up after Erik Johnson's slapshot bounced off freshman Jim O'Brien and into the net. And then, less than a minute and half later, Mike Carman knocked his own rebound out of the air and into the net, securing the game for the #1 seed, and ensuring that this season would be longer than the last.

Overall, UMN was out worked and out played, but not out shot. Their persistence payed off, thanks to a "never die" attitude that will hopefully be carried into Sunday's game against the winner of the North Dakota/Michigan game currently taking place (North Dakota is up 7-5, late in the 2nd).

Stay tuned ... this tourny is going to be a barn burner.


#1 - University of Minnesota Golden Gophers

I guess the best way to do this is by rank. So, #1 is Minnesota. Coming off an amazing (and slightly surprising) WCHA league win, thanks to an amazing, diving, one-handed, overtime goal by Blake Wheeler (seen here, thanks to GooTube), Don Lucia's team has to have high hopes for the tournament, and so they should. But surprisingly, only 4 of 10 ESPN "experts" are picking the Gophers to be in the Frozen Four. ESPN didn't really say why the experts picked the way they did, but we'll assume they had their reasons/inside sources, etc. Granted, UMN was also the #1 seed last year, and ended up losing to Holy Cross in the 1st round ... but Holy Cross was the Atlantic champion. Oh wait. Air Force is ... the Atlantic champion this year. I'm getting nervous here.

Countdown to the Frozen Four

While some people are all stoked on the NCAA basketball that's taking place (and by some people, I really mean "most people"), I'm more a hockey guy myself. Sure, I'd throw in my money, and pick my teams for the pools back in the high school day, but that was mostly to try and win a few bucks from simple flukes (I assure you, it never worked out).

They're currently in the 1st round of regional play-offs, with Minnesota going in as the #1 seed. Which makes me happy, since I'm a big MN fan. They face Air Force tomorrow at 3:30 (EST), while #2 seed, Notre Dame, has already defeated Alabama-Huntsville in round 1 play. By a surprisingly close, overtime-needing 3-2 margin. Alabama. With a dismal record of 13-19-3 ... compared to Notre Dame's incredible 31-6-3. Just goes to show ... anything can happen ... it's playoff time.

Over the next while, I'll take a look at some of the big-name teams, and give a run-down of what to watch for (in my incredibly expert opinion)


New look, same great ... content?

So people might be surprised at the things I can find to do when I'm avoiding the cornucopia (with a Newfie accent, as per the McDick's commercial) of homework I have. Like updating the colors/fonts/etc of the page. yay. The people rejoice.

All things bright and beautiful ...

This is beauty, mechanified. With BMW's upcoming release of the new M3 (based on the E92 3-series coupe) comes a new engine. A beautiful, V8-style engine. With 420hp and 295ft-lbs of torque, at an extremely rev-happy 8300rpm.

Alright ... honestly, I'll never be able to afford one ... family/friend discount or no. But I guess it's more achievable than the M6.

Folding at Home:
So a while back, somebody from Sony mentioned that nobody would ever be able to take full advantage of the PS3's capabilities (reference missing). I'm happy to see that molecular biologists are at least giving it the college try (pun intended). Stanford University's protein folding research team is utilizing PS3's to create computer models of the 3D modeling of proteins, which is absolutely brilliant. Since folding is, essentially, responsible for a good portion of the protein's ability to do it's job, knowledge of the act is great for all things molecular bio.

Eat that, Penguins!
Well, that was actually uncalled for. I tend to cheer for the Penguins, resulting from many childhood years of being a Lemieux fan, and the whole "underdog" thing. Plus, if all of their young superstars mature into decent journeymen players, it's best to be on the bandwagon early, so you don't look too foolish when they're rocking their way through the 2010-style NHL.
Fact is, the Penguins and Senators are in a dead heat for 4th in the East (yeah, it's not a do-or-die, but it's a good race). And I'm all for the Sens, who tonight beat up, solidly, on the Panthers (I wonder if Belfour had a chance to go all Ron Hextal on anybody before he was pulled in the 2nd?). Combine that with a Penguins loss to the Isle, and we have Ottawa up by 2 points, while Pittsburgh has the game in hand.
And on another hockey note ... why all the press about Bertuzzi coming back? He's a 2nd rate player (at best), who happened to have a decent season. It was a fluke. It won't happen EVER again. For once, I'll actually commend Nonis for doing something intelligent. It won't happen again, I promise.


Don't believe the hype

'k ... I'm not buying it. Literally and metaphorically. $299USD for the Apple TV, eh? And what awesomeness do I get for 3 times a C-note? Oh ... the ability to watch things from my computer on my tv ... but wait ... my computer has TV-out ... and I can buy a remote control for it. For a lot less than 300 quid. There's gonna be some people feeling stupid in about 6 weeks. Probably the same people who feel stupid, currently, for buying a PS3.

Speaking of PS3, how is it that you still can't buy a Wii, if you wanted to? I'll admit, they're fun, easy to lose a few hours in ... but my personal issue is the lack of games that really take advantage of the Wiimote. I can only play so much Wii Sports and Wii Play before I get bored. I guess it's a new technology, and good things are on the horizon (see: EA's "Fight Night", and Mario Party 8), but aren't we putting the cart before the horse here?

Audi, German engineering, diesels ... I love 'em all equally. Due to some issues the ALMS (American LeMans Series, for all you non-motorheads) has with Audi winning ... well, everything ... they've put in new "rules" to limit the abilities of the uber-great R10, including such ridiculousness as not allowing them to carry as much fuel (yeah! ... penalize them for good fuel economy!). So now Audi is talking about just pulling out of the series altogether, which would be a great loss.

I'm anti-Canadian politics right now. Well, anti "big 2". Firstly, Stephane Dion kicks poor Joe Comuzzi out of the caucus because he refuses to vote along party lines on a budge that's really not that bad (I mean, c'mon ... it's no worse than any other budget). Then, Stephen Harper says the Liberals are more concerned about Taliban prisoners than Canadian soldiers. It seems the real issues are being lost in the wash. But I guess that's politics for ya.

And, on a sad note, the Canucks beat the NHL's #1 team tonight. And Luongo got a shut-out. Making him the winningest goalie in the league. At least Naslund didn't score. And the twins were held of the scoresheet. (Hey TD ... the purse picked up another assist ... that's 22 points). I've taken to cheering against Edmonton. Not that I've anything against the Oil ... not at all. I just thought it was silly of them to trade Smyth ... and I think it's funny that they've not won since (it's the curse of Bambino, all over again)


New run route

Which actually was pretty nice. Fairly short (1.8km, each way), flat, wooded ... with the pungent stench of skunk cabbage to keep you moving.

Casey says "Seal hunt must happen"

Forbes (here) is reporting the seal hunt in the Canadian arctic might not happen this year, due to "higher-than-normal mortality rates of seal pups and poor ice conditions". And I'm not sure what to think about this. I suppose global climate change could very well be leading to the conditions mentioned ... but what's causing the death of seal pups, if not a well-fashioned oak club? Probably those Coca-Cola drinking polar bears.

What the hell is with the A&E show "King of Cars"? That "Chop" Towbin fellow seems awfully white for the way he acts. But maybe I shouldn't racially profile him. Who's to say how white people should act? Certainly not me.

Does anybody actually expect Kawasaki to perform well in MotoGP? They're a great manufacturer, and always seem to compete well in AMA Superbike or Supersport, or whatever Americanized version of racing Roger Hayden participates in ... but they've never been able to perform at the top level. Even when I heard they had signed de Puniet, I didn't expect much. But then, I don't expect much out of Suzuki either. It's a 3 horse race, in my mind (well, 4 if you count KR ... but he's running a Honda engine ... so I lump him in with the "Honda" crowd). I'm excited to see if the Yamaha team can do enough engine tweaking to allow the M1 to compete along the straights with the Ducati GP7 ... Rossi had no chance against Stoner in Qatar, and I fully expect the entire season to end in such a fashion.

Only 4.5 days until Jerez ...

Is it June yet?

I am so not liking this semester so far. All 2 days of it. Seems to be a whole bunch of stuff that I care nothing about jammed into multiple hours, exams, presentations and reports. I suppose the good thing is that it's only 9 weeks. And after a couple week in Princeton this summer, I'll be wishing that I were back in "Human Relations" class learning how to not be a racist.

The news of the day (well, the news that I found interesting) is that Infinity has been told to cease and desist using the "M" moniker on their cars. I can only imagine they had good intentions with the M35/M45 badging ... but selling an "M6" package for the G35? That just reeks of a BMW rip-off. The cars are kind of similar in shape as it is ... I guess it gives people a way to pretend their $50,000 car is actually a $150,000 car. Might as well just re-badge that 318ti as a 335xi and call it a day.