Adam Brady is the Director of Publications & New Media for the Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center. Email him by CLICKING HERE.
Updated May 29 at 3:08 p.m.
So, my father emails me last night after Game 3 and makes a remark about "Adam's perfect prognostication record" striking again. But actually, I don't recall saying who would win Game 3. I did expend some energy saying that I thought Detroit was the better team (and I don't think that's changed after last night). But frankly, I thought Pittsburgh had as good a chance as Detroit in that game, since they were coming home and had that desperation thing going for them. It was definitely nice to see them start to make a series of this thing, and even nicer that Sidney Crosby helped them do it with two goals on national TV.
It did look early on that Detroit would do the same things it was doing in Games 1 and 2 when the Wings had nine of the first 10 shots taken in the game. But the Pens stayed strong and Crosby got their first goal of the series when he squeezed a shot through Chris Osgood with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first. Let's say Pittsburgh wins Game 4 and gets back into this thing. I don't think there is any question that goal, which snapped more than 137 straight minutes in the Final without a Penguins score, was the turning point. And it helped that it, and the second goal, came from Crosby, the young leader who obviously sent a message to his teammates and everybody else watching. That goal and the enjoyable-to-watch celebration that followed essentially told the world, "Hey, don't forget about me. I'm still Sid the Kid." And by the way, if you hear the crowd volume after this goal, you can pretty much tell those folks haven't given up either.
It's always hard to reliably measure confidence in a group of guys when you're just watching them play on TV, but I think you could tell what that first goal did to Pittsburgh's collective psyche. They just seemed to be a different team from that point, even though Detroit fought back (like you knew they would) and actually outplayed the Pens in the third to nearly tie it. But as much as the Penguins probably feel refreshed by this, you've got to believe they have to be even better in Game 4 to pull even in this thing.
I liked that Pens coach Michel Therrien stacked the top line with Crosby, Marian Hossa and Evgeni Malkin in pursuit of Pittsburgh's first goal of the series. With that move, Therrien was pretty much conveying: Hey, balance is just fine and dandy, but when we haven't scored a single goal in two games, I'm putting my best guys together until we do. And throwing those three on a line could only help Malkin, who had one shot total in Games 1 and 2. Last night he had three, which still isn't exactly something to write back to Russia about, but it's progress.
In addition to those two Crosby strikes, I personally enjoyed the fact that Pittsburgh's other goal came from fourth-liner Adam Hall, since there aren't a lot of sports heroes (besides Oates and Vinatieri) named Adam out there. That's part of the reason I didn't really like my name growing up, and I definitely didn't like the name Brady either. When you're growing up, you can only take so much of, "Which one are you? Bobby? Peter?" before it gets a little old. But then a certain New England Patriots quarterback emerged, coincidentally became my favorite professional athlete of all time, and now I love it.
Chris Pronger was again a guest contributor on the L.A. Times website and offered his insights into Game 3. Among the interesting points he broached, there was this line about the Pens: They had to block out all the negative things, all the questions about losing, all of the other [stuff] and go out and play the game the way they know how.
I want to know where "[stuff]" came from. Was it the Times desk editor changing a word that Pronger had written? Was it Pronger editing himself? These are the things I think about.
Anyway, with this series suddenly gaining momentum and the Penguins doing the same, we can look forward to a highly anticipated Game 4 tomorrow night. Oh, wait a minute. No, we can't. It's not until Saturday. Oh well, that's okay. At least watching the Stanley Cup Final is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. What's that? It's not on until 5:00 here and 8:00 back east? A time when most people like to, oh I don't know, GO OUT? That's fantastic. Sometimes I wonder if the NHL schedule makers understand the meaning of the word "momentum." If they built a rollercoaster ride, would it climb slowly to the top, scream downhill, then screech to a halt for a few seconds before heading downhill again? Or was it that NBC was reluctant to preempt their Friday night airing of "Access Hollywood"?
That unfortunate bit of scheduling is just about as disappointing as a temperamental pop diva throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Japanese baseball game and four-bouncing it to the plate. Can't really visualize that? Well, here's some help. You've got to love the dangerously tiny denim shorts, not to mention the platform shoes (perfect for climbing pitcher's mounds). I also love how you can hear the P.A. announcer yell, "Nicethrow!" I think someone must have told him that in English "Nicethrow" means, "Honey, that was utterly embarrassing for you and, frankly, your home country. But at least your legs look fantastic. And we love that 'Touch My Body' song."
Last thing. I wanted to make an excuse for myself in the Duck Cast with George Parros that was posted Tuesday. When I asked him his favorite MTV show and he said "Flavor of Love with Tila Tequila" there was some confusion about whether that was on VH1 or MTV. Since he accidentally combined the titles of two TV shows, "Flavor of Love" and "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila," that led to me questioning him and then questioning myself and then giving in. (After all, it turns out George punches people in the face for a living.) But after all, it turns out I was sorta half right.
Which, coincidentally, is the title of my autobiography.
Updated May 28 at 3:43 p.m.
If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?
By the same token (or "on same hand" as a certain No. 8 might say), if Stanley Cup Final games are played on Versus, did they actually happen?
Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the answer is actually yes, as they trail 2 games to none (and seven goals to none) going into tonight's Game 3. Thankfully for the rest of North America who weren't already big hockey fans, this one will be aired on NBC, and that's where it will remain for what could be a short remainder of the series. Of course, should the Penguins win tonight, though they haven't shown too many signs of doing that so far, things would change a bit. And in their corner is the fact that they have yet to lose at home in eight games during these playoffs. I thought the Ducks' record of 10-2 at home during last year's run (remember that?) was impressive. Then again, if Pittsburgh loses these next two to the Wings? Not so impressive.
The Pens fans will try to push their team by wearing all the same color at the game, which means the Mellon Arena crowd will be all white for the first time since Bon Jovi had a concert there last March.
Helene Elliott has a nice story in the Los Angeles Times on what the Penguins need to do to get back in this thing, and she helps uphold the NHL rule that even in the offseason, Brian Burke needs to be quoted in a major publication at least once every 10 days. Burke stresses that the Penguins need to match Detroit's physical play, starting tonight. He also reinforces the point I was trying to make yesterday, that the whole "we've been here before" factor plays a huge role in the Stanley Cup Final. Says Burke, "to a point. I don't think we win last year if we didn't go to the conference final the year before. Getting to the third round you learn what it takes to get to the top of the hill."
Also in the story, Sid the Kid shows that he's already a seasoned NHL veteran with his quality sound bites. "It's two-nothing, and we haven't scored," he said. "So we have to find ways to score goals."
Remember how I wrote that I thought the East was the AAA of the NHL? Well, Penguins forward Ryan Malone had this to say about the physical style they've seen from the Wings so far: "We don't really see too many teams like them out East," Malone said.
You mean good ones?
This should have been the first sign of trouble for Pittsburgh. I can't believe I hadn't seen this until today. If you look carefully, there are two kids in Red Wings jerseys by the wall laughing their heads off. Poor Fleury. He goes through all those regular season games and another 16 playoff games and probably didn't fall face first on the ice once. Then he comes out all pumped up for Game 1 of his first Final and it's KABOOM!
There is a strong chance you've seen this already, since the video of the Memorial Cup breaking in the hands of Spokane Chiefs captain Chris Bruton has quickly become a YouTube sensation. Just by itself the video is a classic, but there are a couple of added gifts that make it legendary.
One is the fact that Bruton is wearing a live mic, so you can actually hear the thing snapping. Second is the way he and teammate Trevor Glass stare at the thing for a good three seconds after it drops, as if that's going to make it magically go back together. Then Bruton sort of looks toward the camera as if to say, "What do I do now?" They look like two 8-year-olds who have just dropped Mom's favorite vase. I almost expected Glass to go, "Ooooh, you are soooo bus-TED!"
Then there is the way the crowd goes from "Awwww" to "Booooo!" in a matter of seconds, though they were already annoyed that their hometown Kitchener Rangers lost the game. And Bruton actually tries to put it back together, as if it's attached with velcro or snaps. Finally, as Glass holds just the base of the thing over his head and shouts "Wooo!" you can clearly hear Bruton, still wearing a mic, turn to his teammates and say, "Holy s---, that thing's old, eh?" on live TV, just before they cut his audio.
Turns out it might not be that old. The trophy was actually a replica of the one given to the junior hockey champion since 1919. The real one is in the Hall of Fame, safe from Chris Bruton.
Here were his comments afterward: "It just kind of crumbled in my hands and I'm sure I'll be all over YouTube and I'll get e-mails for the rest of my life over that, but I don't care because we won the Cup and that's all that matters. It's just as beautiful and maybe more beautiful that we have that top off and we can drink from the cup a little easier."
And really, isn't that what it's all about?
This week's cover story in Who Cares Magazine.
Last thing. Since my uncle won an Oscar earlier this year and my niece is the cutest girl in the whole world, I thought I'd include a picture of both.
Updated May 27 at 12:48 p.m.
Is it just me or did it seem like this three-day weekend went by in about 15 minutes? That's never a good feeling as the clock ticks toward bedtime on that Monday night, knowing you have to get back at it the next morning and coax yourself into waking up to an alarm again.
Regardless, the weekend did last long enough for us to see Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final and as I predicted (or did I? I really can't remember), the Red Wings have so far shown they're the better team. So far in their two convincing victories, Detroit has done everything they typically do to make them one of the best teams in the league the last five years. They've given the Penguins very little room to breathe, especially in the offensive zone, which to the Pens has to look as crowded as a nightclub dance floor on $1 beer night. The job that defense has done has made relatively easy work for goalie Chris Osgood, who definitely has to share the credit for the two shutouts he's put up. The guys in front of him have rendered one-time studs Sidney Crosby, Marian Hossa and Evgeni Malkin mostly ineffective. Malkin, for one, had only one more shot than I did in Games 1 and 2 combined.
Although this picture would seem to contradict the previous statement of how Detroit has been crowding the Pens, I still thought it was pretty cool. How many pictures do you see that include four of a team's skaters and goalie and isn't a celebration shot?
While this series certainly isn't over, you've got to believe Detroit has the advantage in that so many of their guys have been on this type of stage before. And while guys like Crosby, Hossa, Malkin and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury are supremely talented, this only reinforces the fact that playing in a Stanley Cup Final can be a whole different experience. And NHL hockey isn't the only major league sport where more often than not it's the guys who have been there and lost -- and learned from it -- who end up winning it someday. Just ask guys like J.S. Giguere, Rob Niedermayer, Sammy Pahlsson or Chris Pronger about that.
Speaking of Giguere and Pronger, both of them have written extremely well-done blogs for the L.A. Times website commenting on the first two games of the Final. Giguere wrote about Game 1, while Pronger commented in fascinating detail on Game 2. It's interesting to realize just how focused on these games these two guys have been and both commented on how the "narrow corners" in Detroit's rink forces teams to have to change their gameplan at times. Giguere and Pronger will continue to write about the rest of the series, along with possibly one other Duck . We'll keep you posted.
File this news item in the same place as the Patriots "Spygate" and Britney Spears: Things That Just Won't Go Away. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke before Game 1 about the state of the league and touched on a couple of items affecting the Ducks, notably the Brian Burke/Toronto situation. Bettman essentially told the Leafs to back off, without specifically telling the Leafs to back off. He said, "If there's tampering going on, ultimately there are no secrets in this world. We will get to the bottom of it. And I'm no fan of tampering. And when it happens, it gets punished severely." Bettman made it more clear, saying that "A team that meddles with an individual under contract could face heavy fines and the loss of draft picks."
Let's hope that Burke isn't the one dealing with those lost draft picks in Toronto.
It was good to hear that Game 1 of the Final had an 157% increase in TV ratings from last year's Game 1, despite the fact that doesn't exactly paint a pretty picture of the Ducks-Ottawa clash. Although, with the buzz that caused around these parts, it's easy to forget that Anaheim-Ottawa in the Final wasn't exactly a barn-burner across the U.S. This year's Game 1 was the most-watched cable telecast of the Final in the U.S. in six years. I guess that goes to show, people actually are learning how to find Versus in their channel guide.
Speaking of the rising popularity of the NHL playoffs, this piece on ESPN.com on "Why you should watch the Stanley Cup finals: was very entertaining and a nice reminder of why this is such a great game -- especially this time of year. Here's one line from the article: "NHL hockey … the iPhone of sports!"
Last thing. Yesterday afternoon I watched on DVD with some trepidation the movie "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," starring John C. Reilly and a surprisingly stunning Jenna Fischer (a.ka. Pam from "The Office"). I hadn't heard a ton of good things about it, despite the fact it was written by Judd Apatow, who also wrote "Knocked Up" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." But I was pleasantly surprised by "Walk Hard," which is essentially a spoof of musician biopics like "Ray" and "Walk the Line." This one was extremely funny and I highly recommend it, though it's the second comedy I've seen in the past couple of weeks ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall" the other) that had some look-away-from-the-screen-inducing male full-frontal nudity. Nevertheless, I loved this one.
I can't say the same for what I've heard about the new Indiana Jones movie, which I've avoided so far because of some shoddy reviews from experts and friends alike. If anyone would like to provide me with their two cents, I'm all ears. (Well, not all ears. I have nice eyes too).
Updated May 22 at 2:51 p.m.
So, did anyone happen to catch “American Idol” last night? I didn’t hear what happened.
You could say that based on my awful record of prognostication I intentionally predicted a David Archuleta victory just so things would go the other way. But let’s face it. I’m not that smart.
I honestly thought that based on the way things went the night before, combined with the obvious teeny-bopper obsession with the younger David, he would take the title. But as most of us know, that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, I found out David Cook won the thing even before I turned it on last night. I got home around 10:00 after an evening of co-ed softball (awful) followed by the obligatory postgame beer-drinking (much better). When I turned on the TV, there was a drained-but-jubilant David Cook staring right back at me, with his smiling mother by his side.
Despite the spoiler, the final episode – all two hours of it – was rather entertaining and crowning Cook as the champ (despite history showing us that the winner of this thing is mostly immaterial) was a fitting ending. Both he and Archuleta looked good in some of the several performances that went on last night. With the pressure of the competition behind him, it was sure nice to see Archuleta sing without that lingering look of terror he usually carries on his face.
A quick recap of the rest: The announcement that 97.5 million votes had been cast? Mind-boggling. The transparent sketch with Mike Myers as "The Love Guru"? Shameful, admitedly funny in places, but mostly embarrassing. Seal? Still ugly. Syesha? Still gorgeous. Amanda Overmyer, the "rocker" chick that was elimated weeks ago? Still has a voice that makes my ears bleed. Randy Jackson's awful red jacket? A perfect ending to an absolutely ingratiating season of that moron. Donna Summer? Can't believe she was available. ZZ Top? Can't believe they still have the beards. Carrie Underwood? My ... GOD. Jordin Sparks? Fire the person who convinced you to dress as Alice in Wonderland in gold lamme. Kimmel? Funny, but awkward since it was clearly taped beforehand. Jason Castro doing "Hallelujah"? Nice reminder of why we liked him in the first place. Guitar Hero commercial with Cook? Pretty cool. Guitar Hero commercial with Archuleta? Slightly creepy, despite the obvious choice of boxers over briefs. Archuleta doing ''Apologize" with OneRepublic? Very cool. USC band? Slightly corny, but surprisingly cool. Bryan Adams? The HD was not kind to his aged face, but it was nice to remember he's recorded a couple of the most timeless songs of the last 20 years. George Michael? Not good. Simon's apology to Cook? Extremely classy. Cook's victory? A very good thing. Cook's efforts to acknowledge and include Archuleta in the closing moments? Further proof that a legitimately good guy won this thing, and I'm curious to see just what he does with it.
I did get more than my share of emails reminding me of my continuing failure in the predication game. (I also didn't predict that it would be freakin' pouring in Orange County in mid-May.) On that note, since every prediction apparently is going the other way, let me say that I definitely see McCain winning the election this November.
(Uh oh. It’s one thing to admit you watch “American Idol” and “The Hills” and confess to enjoying the occasional Carrie Underwood song, but to reveal your political leanings? I know I’ll pay for that one.)
Let’s quickly change the subject to Ducks dealings, as the team made a bit of news yesterday. It’s not often that anything going on in Bakersfield has much of a buzz in Orange County, but the Ducks announced yesterday they are moving their ECHL affiliation to the town commonly known as the “Vegas of the San Joaquin Valley.” (Okay, no one calls it that.)
I had a couple of emails asking how this move (after the Ducks had been associated with
As Brian Burke said yesterday, “The Samuelis want to have all our farms team eventually located in
As great as the city of
With the Pirates still going strong in the Calder Cup playoffs, we’ll have to wait a bit to see what happens with that affiliation. It should be interesting.
As I write this, only 50 hours to go until Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. I wish I were kidding.
Moving on to items affecting the current Ducks, Burke indicated yesterday that he believes the Ducks will be able to resign Corey Perry, especially because the salary cap is probably going to be pushed up a bit by the NHL. "Right now we don't have the tagging room, but we think we will on July 1 if the cap goes up as much as we think," Burke said. "We think we will be in position to sign him. He's made it very clear that he wants to stay."
Burke wasn't quite as confident on the chances of resigning Jonas Hiller, who made $850,000 last season and all indications are that he's in store for a big offer from a European team. Said Burke, "He has to decide if he wants to play in the NHL. We'd love to have him back."
Burke also has made it clear that as lenient as he was last season with Niederlanne’s indecisions on whether or not to retire, he isn’t affording the same luxury this time around. He told the L.A. Times he has given each of them until next month’s NHL Entry Draft (which starts June 20 in Ottawa) to let him know what they want to go. He also said that through conversations with both players he has made it clear that rejoining the team mid-season is not an option.
Updated May 21 at 12:12 p.m.
I was reminded by my co-worker yesterday that I have a terrible track record of prognostication this season. Anytime I wrote anything like "You have to like the Ducks' chances tonight" or compared a Ducks home matchup with Phoenix to a high school football team's homecoming game, the Ducks invariably lost.
And the tradition continued with Monday night's loss by the Stars in Dallas to Detroit. I had written that "I see the Stars pulling this one out" and the game was pretty much over before the first period was finished. Detroit scored three goals in the first 16 minutes (one of them, just to rub it in, by a guy named Dallas) on its way to a convincing 4-1 victory that vaulted the Wings into the Stanley Cup Final. You would have thought the Stars would have put up a better fight at home in Game 6. But I think the way Detroit dominated that game, when all the talk surrounded the collapse they appeared on their way to enduring, shows what a special team they have there.
The most unfortunate fallout from Detroit's victory is that the Stars didn't get one last chance to shoot off the cannons and rain those streamers from the ceiling. You know they were up there, just waiting to burst. Now the Dallas marketing people are in a conference room as we speak going, "What do you think? Let them go after the first home victory next year? I mean, we've already paid for them."
As the clock ticked down on that Game 6 and Detroit's berth into the Final was secure, I wonder if Mathieu Schneider placed a call to last year's Wings teammate Todd Bertuzzi and just said, "Dude." And Bertuzzi responded with, "I know, dude."
Now the Wings play Pittsburgh in a Final that the NHL couldn't have dreamed up any better when the postseason started. The perennial Original Six power that hasn't won a Cup in six years against the up-and-coming group of youngsters led by the poster boy for the new NHL. And I can't wait to get things started with Game 1 tonight. Oh, it's not tonight? Well, then tomorrow night. No? Friday night? You're kidding me. Saturday? On Versus? Seriously, NHL. Are you even trying?
So, who do I see winning the whole thing? Despite the fact that a leading 31 percent of our poll takers think it's Pens in 6, I'm not so sure about that. Sure, the Penguins have rolled through the first three rounds of this thing, going 12-2 along the way, but if I'm not mistaken, all of those games have come against Eastern Conference teams. I still think Detroit has the better team and I like them to take it in 6.
Which is why you can now put your money on Pittsburgh.
With that bad run of predictions in mind, I see David Archuleta winning it all tonight on "American Idol." (Actually, I think I might be right about this one.) Archuleta seemed to have the upper hand on last night's show, which was marred by that horrific boxing theme, which in the Fox tradition made me think they're going to start airing fights on the network. It's like when they scan the crowd at a World Series game and say, "Hey look, it's the cast from 'House' and they happen to be in the crowd! And right behind the dugout, no less!" I also thought it was funny that Fox portrayed the two Davids as boxers, then had them do something that's 180 degrees opposite from fighting -- singing in public.
I was also annoyed last night that Randy Jackson seems to have no idea that he's uttered the phrase, "You could sing the phone book" to Archuleta no less than 34 times this season. Thank God this thing is almost over, because if I have to hear him say that one more time, I might pull an Elvis on my TV. (Or, I would if I actually owned a gun and didn't consider my flatscreen to be one of the top 5 things I love most in my life.)
All that being said, I see little Archuleta with confetti raining on him tonight, as he bursts into tears and announces to the crowd that he's officially divorcing his hat-wearing dad.
Having rooted for David Cook for awhile now, I'm already prepared for the inevitable disappointment, which would just be the latest one for me in 2008. First it was the Patriots in the Super Bowl, then UCLA in the Final Four, then the Ducks losing in the first round, the movie "21" being not close to how good I thought it would be, Lauren Conrad's blog, Shayne pulling off a major upset on "The Bachelor," the first time I bought Angels Stadium nachos and realized they were a plastic bag of chips with a cup of cheese, the last two episodes of "How I Met Your Mother," hearing that our company softball team was going to be called the Quack Addicts, and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting. So needless to say, I'm prepared.
Brad May's day with the Cup was one of the featured segments on The Hockey Show yesterday. Even if you've seen it before, it's worth a repeat viewing, just as a reminder of what a geniunely fun guy May Day is. Or, as his trainer says in the video, "He's a person you want to cherish, a person you want to be around." You can't find a better compliment than that. And I have to admit to smiling once again when they played the mic'd-up May's excited reaction to Arnold Schwarzenegger dropping the puck before Game 1, followed by the shot of May having the guts to hug Arnold during the championship parade while teammates laughed and shook their heads. Great stuff.
ESPN.com has a lengthy and engaging story on hockey fights and the fan obsession that oftens accompanies the game within the game. It's one of the few stories you'll ever read that starts with the words, "F---me." One of the focuses is on brawler Jon Mirasty of the AHL's Syracuse Crunch (one of the greatest team names in all of sports) having a bout for the ages with Trevor Gillies of the Albany River Rats. Ducks fans might remember Gillies as the guy who in 2005 got in only one game for the Ducks, against Minnesota, picked up 21 penalty minutes and got absolutely pummeled in this fight with Derek Boogaard. He left the game after that fight with a serious facial injury, got sent down to Portland and never came back. He's in the Carolina organization now.
The YouTube obsession with Jonas Hiller just got a little weirder. This highlight video was apparently put together by Sidney Crosby. Wow, you'd think he'd be busy right about now, but somehow he found the time. And while you're on YouTube, take a look at this compilation of Teemu Selanne goals that some fan put together. Even if the goals don't thrill you, it's probably one of your only chances to hear Finnish rap. Oh, and one more: You know how you're always saying that you wish you could watch a slideshow of Bobby Ryan photos set to techno music? Well, your wait is finally over. My personal favorite is the photo that was apparently taken of his parked car in Owen Sound. Something tells me this video may be used as evidence in court someday.
The most predictable headline to run at the top of this story?: Bye, Bye, Bye. I've been really surprised to hear Lou Pearlman was doing dirty deeds. He looks like such a standup guy.
And finally, this week's edition of Girly Song I'm Embarrassingly Enjoying A Lot Lately: "No Air" by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown. I know, just hit me over the head with a hammer.
Updated May 19 at 1:12 p.m.
A few days ago, I definitely didn't think we'd be sitting here on Monday with the Dallas Stars still alive in their series with Detroit. But here we are with the two teams set to battle tonight in Game 6 in Dallas after the Stars have carved out wins in Games 4 and 5. And the guy who struggled in net over the first three games of that series, goalie Marty Turco, virtually carried his team in the two bounce-back wins. It's mind-boggling to hear that Turco's win at Joe Louis Arena two nights ago was his first in 12 tries. Of course, it should be noted that in those first 11 losses, his Stars scored just 15 goals for him, an average of just 1.37 a game.
So, it's a whole new series and you really have to like Dallas' chances tonight at home, after they seem to have found the stride they displayed in series wins over the Ducks and Sharks. I see the Stars pulling this one out tonight, with the God-forsaken gunshots and streamers punctuating the victory, with an incredibly intriguing Game 7 in Detroit on Wednesday night. Of course, Wednesday night is also the "thank-God-it's-finally-ending" finale of American Idol, so the Brady flatscreen will be getting a workout that evening.
The winner of the series will of course play a waiting Pittsburgh Penguins team that has looked nearly unbeatable in the NHL equivalent of AAA baseball, the Eastern Conference playoffs. All signs before the playoffs seemed to point to the Penguins being at least a year away from this level, despite their trade deadline pickups (notably Marian Hossa). And the fact they gave away much of their youth to get guys like Hossa, fellow Atlanta forward Pascal Dupuis and defenseman Hal Gill raised a few eyebrows. But they have looked tremendous in this postseason, thanks in part to the one guy who was thought to be a liability for them, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. The 23-year-old earned his third shutout of the playoffs yesterday as the Pens made a major statement going into the Final in demolishing Philly 6-0.
The climb to this peak by the Penguins is exactly the kind of thing the NHL (or any pro sports league) loves to see. Pittsburgh, a franchise in a great sports town with loads of tradition, finished last four straight times from 2002 through 2006. But those finishes allowed them to draft guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Fleury and others. Now this team finds itself four wins away from a Stanley Cup, led in part by a guy in Crosby whom the NHL has been trying to establish as the face of the league. This is good for hockey. Now, if we can only make sure their games are shown on a network people can actually A.) Receive and B.) Find in their channel guide, we may really have something here.
Scott Burnside's story on ESPN.com gives further insight into the improbable rise of the Penguins.
Congratulations to Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Kunitz for earning a silver medal at the World Championships, despite the fact their tournament ended with a thrilling overtime upset at the hands of Russia in the final. I was only able to see the highlight of Ilya Kovalchuk's game-winner in the extra session, but if you saw the unbridled jubilation in the way the Russian team celebrated that thing, you had to be somewhat happy for them. Check out the video of the goal as called by these apparently Russian announcers who make it sound like they let two fans into the booth after a few Labatts. "Ilya! Ilya! YESSSSSSSS!!!!" Apparently, "Yes!" in Russian is "Yes!" For more on that game, take a look at this story.
The biggest news for Teemu Selanne wasn't the bronze he earned with his Finland team, but his announcement afterward that he is retiring from international play. What does this have to do with his future with the Ducks? I say not very much. Then again, if he announced something like, "I'd like to play for the next 10 years for Finland, and I'm kind of feeling the same away about the Ducks," then we'd have a different story. He did say, “It’s time to move on. As far as NHL, it’s up in the air” and indicated one more time that he'll decide by July 1.
By coincidence, I watched on DVD in the last few days two movies in which Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a major role, "Before the Devil Knows Your Dead" and "Charlie Wilson's War." I highly recommend both, and mostly because of him. In "Devil" he plays a sleazy guy who plans a heist with his brother (played very well by Ethan Hawke) to rob their parents' jewelry store. If you can get past the fact that the very first scene of the movie is a nude Hoffman (who is not an attractive man and is even less attractive undressed) having a graphic love scene with Marisa Tomei (who refreshingly spends half the movie naked), it's an entertaining two hours. Meanwhile, "Charlie Wilson's War" is a movie I saw originally in the theatre and again last night on DVD, and it appears to have gotten better with a repeat viewing. While Tom Hanks is predictably charming in his role as the U.S. senator for which the movie is named, Hoffman dominates every scene he's in with witty dialogue delivered in a flat drawl that he has seemingly mastered over the years. It's taken a little while for his career to take off (remember him as the annoying redheaded schoolmate in "Scent of a Woman"?), but he has developed into one of the best actors we've got. And both these movies put that on display as well as any he's ever made.
I don't know if you've seen this relatively new channel called The N, but I've caught myself watching reruns from the first season of "The Hills" recently. It was a show I really didn't start watching until this season, and I've become inexplicably mesmerized by it. Watching the original episodes, I've come to a couple of conclusions. Lauren Conrad, despite the shots I've taken at her blog efforts in this space, is strangely alluring to me, despite her unfathomable attraction to d-bag Jason Wahler. I fell for LC just a little bit more the other day when she made a "Seinfeld" reference on the show, recalling the episode when George's fiancee Susan died from licking envelopes. Any girl who makes "Seinfeld" references is okay in my book. Here's the other conclusion I've come to from my recent "Hills" binge: Heidi Montag is one of the most despicable people in the world.
I continue to go to about two dozen Angels games a year despite my fervent rage over the fact that Arte Moreno has insisted on calling them the Los Angeles ... I can't even write the rest. And there are a couple of other annoyances about the Angels experience I can't seem to get past. I mentioned this in a blog post months ago, but does anyone know why the electonic marquee on the "Big A" near the 57 freeway has been out of order for the past couple of years? It's pretty embarrassing for that organization to know that 10s of thousands of cars are driving by the marquee every day and all it has to show for itself are a handful of glowing dots. Does anybody know why this is? Update: I had forgotten that I had linked months ago to a story indicating plans to renovate the marquee. (Thanks to reader Blake for pointing this out.)
I came to work today with four days worth of facial hair growth (the weekend combining with the day off I took Friday). I don't think in my long history of working in offices have I ever come in without shaving that morning. But I thought I'd try something new. So far, the reviews have been ... not-so-good. This thing's coming off as soon as I get home.
Updated May 15 at 1:34 p.m.
As I was driving in this morning along the 5, I had two separate amusing encounters with personalized license plates. Somewhere around the Santa Ana exits I got behind a brand new silver Mercedes with a license plate that said, NEW MVP. I naturally assumed that when I pulled alongside the car, I would see Kobe Bryant behind the wheel. Imagine my surprise when it was not Kobe Bryant, but instead it was a 60-year-old Asian woman.
Not more than two minutes later, I got behind another car with the plate U2 SEXY and a license plate frame that said something like, "This girl is 100% sexy." I was only slightly disappointed when I looked through the window and saw a middle-aged guy who looked a lot like Tony Soprano.
It reminded me of one of those certainties in life, something I have learned from years of experience. I think it's death, taxes and the fact that if a girl has a license plate, license plate frame, bumper sticker or window decal that contains the words hot, sexy or cute, you can invariably count on the fact that the girl driving the car is ... not. The same goes for online screen names.
(Note to IT Department: I am expecting a flood of emails from angry women within the next few hours. Can you make sure the company server is prepared for that?)
I was sad to see Syesha Mercado eliminated from "Idol" last night, only because she has somehow managed to get increasingly hotter with every passing week. On the other hand, it was definitely her time to go. A Cook-Archuleta final was inevitable more than a month ago. But how about the fact that I actually found myself nervous as I watched them reveal the name of the ousted singer last night. Is that a sign I need to re-examine my life? I say, possibly.
I came across this photo in the last couple of days and I got some laughs out of it for a number of reasons. This was taken at the George Strait concert at Honda Center back in late March. First and most obvious, look at the t-shirt George Parros is wearing. Even aside from the obvious resemblance between the guy on the shirt and the guy wearing it, just owning a Yanni concert tour shirt is beyond hilarious. Secondly, check out Georgie's awesome belt buckle, which appears to be some type of lion's head. Add to the fact that the shape and tilt of Travis Moen's cowboy hat looks somewhat like he's wearing Mickey Mouse ears. And finally, Rob Niedermayer just seems to make me laugh regardless of what he's doing. Absolutely priceless.
It was definitely a good thing that Dallas pulled off a win over the Red Wings last night to at least slightly make a series of it as they head to Detroit for Game 5. But what wasn't good was the fact that you could see on the Versus telecast that they shot off the guns and dropped the green and gold streamers from the rafters after the final horn sounded (just like they did when we were in Dallas for their Games 4 and 6 wins). Hey, Stars, you just won your first game in the series and still trail 3 games to 1. How about acting like you've freakin' been there before? Pretty embarrassing, if you ask me. Then again, they probably realized this might be their last night at home this year and they already paid for the streamers, so they had better use them.
What happens if they actually win the Cup? Do they shoot fireworks out of every seat in the arena?
Then again, it doesn't look like they'll have to worry about that.
Updated May 13 at 3:08 p.m.
There were a couple of considerable developments in the hockey world yesterday, as the Detroit Red Wings made easy work of Dallas to take a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals. Meanwhile, the team the Stars beat to get there, the San Jose Sharks, asked head coach Ron Wilson to clean out his desk.
We'll start with the Red Wings, who are proving what I had thought going into these playoffs -- that they're the best team in the West (if not the whole league). Detroit has made the impressive play of the Stars over the first two rounds a distant memory. Meanwhile, the traditionally streaky Marty Turco has hit a rough patch at the worst possible time, as he gave up five goals on just 21 shots last night.
When the Wings finish off the Stars (possibly as soon as tomorrow night), they look to likely take on Pittsburgh in the Final, as the Pens own a 2-0 advantage on a suddenly-depleted Philadelphia team. That's an intriguing Final in which I see the Wings prevailing, since I think they're the better team and I'll always lean toward the West with the way the league has looked the last couple seasons.
It's mind-boggling to think how close the Red Wings came to winning the Stanley Cup last season, and it brings my joy to be reminded of how much they must have been kicking themselves after the series with the Ducks. Just think about it: Scott Niedermayer scores a goal with the Anaheim net empty with just 47.3 seconds left in Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena, on a shot that caromed off the stick of Nicklas Lidstrom before flipping past Dominik Hasek. Say the Ducks don't get that goal. Teemu Selanne doesn't score the game-winner in regulation and Anaheim comes home down 3-2 in the series. Even if they win Game 6 at Honda Center (which they did to win that series), how tough would it have been to win a Game 7 back in Detroit? Let's admit it, you would have had to like Detroit's chances in that game, and you definitely would have thought they would take down Ottawa in the Final.
Of course, the Ducks did outplay Detroit for most of that Game 5 (as they did for the majority of that series), and that game-tying goal was a long time coming for the Ducks in that hard-fought one. All of it is extremely irrelevant now, but it does point to how a playoff series and a team's championship fortunes can turn in the blink of an eye. That takes us to Ron Wilson's canning in San Jose, despite the fact he led the Sharks to three straight trips to the second round of the playoffs. But that second stage was as far as the Sharks went, including this season when they lost in six games to Dallas despite winning a very tough Pacific Division and putting together the league's second-best regular season record.
With all that success Wilson led them to, this almost feels like if your wife makes you dinner every night, but she always burns the dessert -- so you divorce her. On the surface, it doesn't seem logical. But just like any coaching situations in any sport, we really have little idea what the reputably sarcastic Wilson is like in the locker room. We don't know how he gets along with the players, how he gets along with management. All we know is that GM Doug Wilson (no relation ... obviously) said, “Sometimes the class needs a new professor, and sometimes the professor needs a new class.”
That may be true, but time will tell whether the coach was the reason the Sharks could get no further than the second round despite having as much talent as any other team in the league. Then again, regular season talent doesn't always translate into the postseason (we're looking at you, Joe Thornton), and that appears to be what has happened with the Sharks.
Wilson, a former Ducks head coach, said that "In most ways I was shocked when Doug told me, but in some ways I guess I was not surprised. Even though coaching can be a very callous and negative position, my staff and I poured my heart and soul into this. It's very difficult to talk about this unemotionally."
You have to believe Wilson will soon find a job somewhere else, as Colorado, Atlanta, Florida and Toronto each have openings. They are just four of the probably 25 or 26 teams in the league who would give their life for the second round of the playoffs every year.
While Wilson's firing caught me off guard, it wasn't even close to the biggest surprise that hit me on a night when my masculinity was taken on a mental rollercoaster ride. The evening started with an Angels game and beers and ended with season finales of "The Bachelor" and "The Hills" (all three excursions with my girlfriend, it must be noted).
Matt Grant, the British Bachelor, somehow chose so-called "actress" Shayne Lamas on the final episode of "The Bachelor" last night, despite the fact the bleached blonde is seemingly dumber than a bag of hair. As soon as the show ended, my girlfriend immediately began scouring the internet for the inevitable reports of their breakup.
Meanwhile, the script (oh wait, there isn't supposed to be a script) on "The Hills" called for Heidi to apparently give up a golden job opportunity in Las Vegas to reunite with her tool of a boyfriend, Spencer, and his flesh-colored facial hair. And the biggest development of all? Lauren set a new reality show record by looking bewildered for a 14th straight episode. Congrats, LC.
The Duck Cast with Ryan Getzlaf we just posted on the site is the first of hopefully several we will do this offseason. While Getzy talks a little about the World Championship and the offseason (I promised him I wouldn't ask about the buried speeding ticket), the biggest sound bit came when he talked about Corey Perry. "There is not really a doubt in my mind," Getzlaf said, "that he'll be with the Ducks next year."
Last thing. I don't know if you caught it, but the increasingly insane Don Cherry quickly made his mark on his new gig at ESPN by saying that the Red Wings' boring style of hockey was unappealing to Detroit fans because it's a "redneck town." Even better was the backpedaling Cherry did later, as according to one report he said he “defines rednecks, not as bigots, but as Irish and Scottish immigrants working on construction ... and literally having red necks.”
Yeah. That's what he meant.
Redneck town? Detroit? You sure you're not thinking of Nashville, Don? I think a better excuse would have been if he said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say 'redneck.' I meant to say 'crappy.'"
Updated May 9 at 3:48 p.m.
This may come off as overly positive spin, but am I the only one who thinks this story is good for the state of Ducks hockey? This sounds like the kind of thing that would happen in Vancouver or Toronto, not here. I think this is a sign of a major boost in popularity of hockey in this area. Of course, if it did happen in Canada, it probably would have never made the paper.
Next time I get pulled over by the cops, I'll hand them my license and say, "That's right, Officer. I'm that Adam Brady. Shall I just be on my way? Consider this a warning?"
Updated May 8 at 12:43 p.m.
I honestly can't remember the last time I had popcorn at the movies (the words "Three Men and a Baby" come to mind) and this morning I'm realizing why that is. Last night I had about half of a medium-sized popcorn while at the movies with my dad and I think I'm still full. I got up in the middle of "Iron Man" (more on that later) because I was starting to feel very sleepy, which had more to do with a lack of sleep than the impact of the movie. So, I went to get a Diet Coke and decided that something to eat would be a good option as well. I ordered a small popcorn, and like a million idiots before me, I got talked into the "would you like a medium for just 50 cents more?" offer. "Sure!" I said.
It's always an awkward scenario for two men to share a bag of popcorn, especially when one of the guys is holding the bag on his lap and the other guy reaches in to grab a handful ... of popcorn. And while my dad had several helpings, it still wasn't enough to control the almost-rhythmic movement of my hand going from the bag to my mouth, as if it was set to an up-tempo dance song.
So how was Iron Man, you ask? I actually liked it a lot. Despite the fact I spent a good part of my childhood wearing a cape, or including Superman or Batman Underoos as part of my everyday wardrobe, I've never been a big fan of the superhero genre as an adult. I liked the first "Batman" movie with Michael Keaton, but was never into the "Spiderman" trilogy. The new "Superman" was above average. "Fantastic Four"? Never saw it. "X-Men"? Saw the first one, but not the last two.
But I heard so many good things about "Iron Man" that I just had to see it. And it definitely did not disappoint. As I expected, Robert Downey Jr. (probably the most well-liked former drug addict on the planet) was at his usual best. His performance as main character Tony Stark/Iron Man came off as extremely charming, despite the fact he played a very rich, very arrogant guy. Meanwhile, one of my all-time favorite actors, Jeff Bridges (rent "The Contender" if you haven't seen it already), was again excellent as the mysterious business partner.
"Iron Man" was directed by Jon Favreau (of "Swingers" fame), who put together a perfect mix of room-shaking action with more tranquil, often funny scenes in between. Favreau, by the way, has a small role in this one and appears to have lost about 80 pounds. And one of the more pleasant surprises was Gwyneth Paltrow as the redheaded assistant, Pepper Potts. I've always put Paltrow in that Hollywood actress category with women like Nicole Kidman or Julie Roberts, women who are unquestionably attractive but guys aren't really into them. They're women's women, if you get my meaning. You'll rarely hear a guy going gaga over them, like they would with an Angelina Jolie or a Jessica Alba.
That being said, Paltrow looked fantastic in this movie, and possibly hasn't looked this good since she wore that green top in "Great Expectations" with Ethan Hawke.
Anyway, "Iron Man" is definitely one of those movies you have to go into with the right mindset, where you're prepared to buy a billionaire making a suit of metal and suddenly being able to fly and shoot lasers out of it. But if you can get into that zone, there is no question you'll have a good time with this one.
Speaking of Hollywood actresses, Ducks message board admin Ken sent me this really cool montage of "Women in Film" that expertly morphs together dozens of iconic actresses from throughout the years. Just mesmerizing.
Hey, how about some hockey? As four Ducks continue to shine in the World Championship games, goalie Jonas Hiller led Switzerland to a 4-2 win over Sweden yesterday. (I'm sure half of you thought Sweden and Switzerland were the same country up until now.) Hiller, who has obviously been tutored a bit by J.S. Giguere in the past year, appears to be taking interview lessons from him as well. For some reason, I thought this quote sounded very Giguere-like (and I mean that as a compliment): "It's always good to win and a win over
The conference finals are finally getting underway, starting tonight with Game 1 of the intriguing Dallas-Detroit series at 4:30 Pacific. I honestly have a hard time calling this series, with the way Dallas has been playing in these first two rounds. I don't think there is much question that Detroit has the better team on paper. But did you know that having the better team on paper doesn't necessarily mean you're going to win the series? Yeah, I found that one out about a few weeks ago.
The Toronto Maple Leafs just fired coach Paul Maurice, although I'm not sure why it took them a month to figure that one out. As Maurice said himself, “You know the way the season ended up and the changes that are going to take place on the team. So I was very aware that it was a possibility." And he added, "I appreciate it happening sooner rather than later. " I don't know. I think later might have been better. Like in another five years or so? Either way, his dismissal was about as easy to predict as Jason Castro getting eliminated last night.
And speaking of that, I want to thank Mr. Castro for forcing me to spend most of yesterday morning with this piece of music running through my head: "Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me ... uh-nuh-uh-uh-uh-uh-nuh-uh-aaaaaaa..." Something tells me Jason got on the phone with his buddies immediately after that performance ended and had a mellow conversation that went something like this: "Hey, get the boys together. We're going to Ensenada this weekend. I'm finally done with this thing. And let's make sure we stop by San Diego State on the way down. We need to stock up."
Last thing. If you haven't seen it yet, check out the latest of our player photos galleries, which is of my personal favorite, Sammy Pahlsson (and I say that in the most heterosexual way possible.)
Not that there's anything wrong with it.
Updated May 6 at 1:58 p.m.
The slow and gradual destruction of my home continues...
Just when things got back to normal with the triumphant return of my welcome mat, I got a voicemail from my once-a-month cleaning lady yesterday afternoon. She sounded a little stressed (though somehow she always sounds that way because of the language barrier) as she told me that she accidentally broke one of the vanity bulbs above the mirror in my guest bathroom. She said she called maintenance, but they wouldn't accept her permission to be let into the place because she's not a resident.
I get home to find out that not only is the bulb knocked out of its base, but that it somehow has killed the power in that bathroom, the other bathroom and my entire bedroom (including the closet). I can't tell if maintenance turned off the power in preparation for coming in to fix the problem (and never switched it back on) or if the bulb breaking actually knocked it off. Regardless of how it happened, I had to spend last night in my guest room since I couldn't plug in an alarm clock in my bedroom. And after the night's sleep I got last night, let me make a formal apology to anyone who has stayed the night at my place in that bed. I didn't realize.
Anyway, there apparently is a guy there right now fixing the problem, but I fully expect to come home tonight to find my TV missing ... or maybe my couch.
Do you ever find yourself surprised by your instincts? In other words, do your initial reactions to things ever catch you off guard? Like a friend tells you some good news about themselves and you initially get jealous? Or you find out someone you didn't like died and you're initially happy about it?
Well, my reaction to the news that Scarlett Johansson got engaged to Ryan Reynolds surprised me a bit. At first impulse, I somehow found myself disappointed and saddened. But what did I think, that I had a chance with her before that? We've never even met. It's not like she was a friend of mine whom I harbored a secret crush for and never got the chance to tell her how I really felt. And I've had similiar reactions to people like Katie Holmes (before she went crazy) and Jessica Alba being taken off the market. It's a strange instinct, but I know I'm not the only guy who does that.
And by the way, am I the only one who didn't realize they were dating?
If you haven't checked them out already, the new segments of The Element that we just put up are very well done. That includes features on all six games of the Dallas series, as well as a recap of some season highlights. I know it might not be all that easy to relive some of those games, but it's still some good stuff. If anything, at least watch it for this shot alone (see right).
Updated May 5 at 3:53 p.m.
I wouldn't bother giving this update, but I've had at least two dozen people emailing me and asking about it.
As of 8:45 this morning, the welcome mat is ... still in place at my apartment. The strange thing is, my doorbell is missing now.
But every time I arrive home over the last few days I'm kind of looking at the welcome mat, trying to convince myself that it is definitely mine. As I mentioned before, I'm about 98 percent sure it is. It didn't help that Friday night my girlfriend (who had heard the story) knocked on my door and when I opened it, she looked down and said, "Are you sure this is yours?" My face dropped like she had told me a relative had died. She eventually admitted she really had no idea.
Another wrinkle to this whole thing is that I'm not entirely sure that apartment where I found it is currently occupied -- which makes this whole thing even weirder. But every time I get an email lately with the words "Welcome Mat" in the subject line, there is a little part of me that thinks it's going to say: Hey, Adam. This is your neighbor in the apartment below you. Give me the damn mat back!
But so far we're in the clear. And thank you to everyone who shared their own stories of stolen welcome mats (I still can't believe there are so many) or even stolen patio furniture (I got that email this morning).
I'll definitely keep you informed of further developments.
Updated May 5 at 10:28 a.m.
You could make the argument that the single most exciting thing to watch in all of sports is overtime in an NHL playoff game. What other segment in sports offers the same edge-of-your-seat excitement, the same do-or-die circumstances, the same scenario where the whole game can be won in the blink of an eye. Sure, you have similar drama in the bottom of the ninth or an extra inning in a baseball game. But usually the winning run has to be set up by a runner reaching base, or getting into scoring position. An overtime NFL game usually takes some time to reach its climax, as the team with possession has to push its way down the field, usually to get in range of a game-winning field goal. And considering that can happen without the other team even having the chance to have the ball makes that overtime lose its luster. Basketball overtime is engaging, but you know that's not going to end until the clock expires.
But with NHL playoff overtime, you're afraid to avert your eyes from the set. God forbid you should run to the bathroom, go into the kitchen, or even turn to your friend to have a conversation. You could miss something incredible. And when the playoff fortunes of one team is riding on that overtime, where if they give up that one goal their season is over, the anticipation is turned up about fifty notches more.
Hockey fans were lucky enough to have those circumstances in two games yesterday. The first was Game 5 between Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers, in which New York's playoff life rode on that overtime, only to see the door slammed on their season with a Marian Hossa goal 7:10 into the first extra session. The celebration after that goal further emphasized by NHL hockey may be the best sport in the world to see in person. Just a thin sheet of glass separated fans in the first row from feeling like they were actually part of the Penguins' celebratory hugs. Meanwhile, a wide shot replay that NBC showed of the arena when that goal hit the net, with 17,000 fans throwing their hands in the air in unison, was as chill-inducing a moment as you'll ever see.
As thrilling as the finish to that game was, it had nothing on Game 6 of the Dallas-San Jose series, a game that started at 8 p.m. Dallas time and ended somewhere around 1:30 in the morning. That game went four thrilling overtimes before Brenden Morrow (who else?) scored the game-winner on the power play (of course) 9:03 into the fourth overtime. It was the first power play of any of the overtimes for Dallas, and just the second overall, as each breakneck-paced, incredibly hard-fought extra session went back and forth with hardly any stoppages in play. And Morrow, as much as we don't enjoy the guy around these parts, deserved the glory. No one on that ice fought harder than he did in those overtimes, and he got popped hard in the mouth two different times and hardly flinched.
I know it's hard to get excited right now for any playoff games that don't involve the black, gold and orange, but if you didn't stay up for this one, you really missed out. The overtimes could have (and should have) ended about 427 times, with both Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov making incredible save after incredible save (Turco nabbing 61 in all) and both teams working for the puck as if their lives depended on it. In a way, their lives did depend on it. San Jose was trying to stay afloat in a series they once had no business being alive in, and Dallas was trying to avoid going back to Cali for a Game 7 that would have been extremely difficult.
With all of that on the line, Game 6 could easily have been some of the best hockey of the entire season. I was actually reading a Sports Illustrated during that first overtime, occasionally looking up whenever I sensed something about to happen. Finally I had to just toss the thing aside, because I was looking up every five seconds. (The fact that the Versus announcing team was one of the worst I've ever heard only slightly tarnished the viewing experience.)
I can't believe I'm saying this, but during the game I found myself looking up the price of tickets on StubHub for Game 7 in San Jose (a minimum of $200). In my mind I was going to road trip it up there to get a glimpse at a Game 7 that could have been one for the ages.
Last week, when it looked as if the Sharks were about to be swept by Dallas, I had this joke all ready to go for this space. Based on the fact the Sharks seem to come into the playoffs every year with a very good team, only to exit in the second round each time, it went something like this:
Q. What do a tax attorney and the San Jose Sharks have in common?
A. They both stop working after April 15.
However, the way San Jose fought back in that series, and the way they grinded with Dallas through seven grueling periods of fierce hockey last night, that joke gets watered down just a bit.
I know we've covered this before, but as a Ducks fan you have to take a bit of solace in the way things panned out in this series. Let's admit it: Dallas deserved to be there and they deserve to move on and face Detroit in the conference final. Last night just reminded us that this Dallas team may not be the most talented team in the league, but they are working as hard or harder than any team on the planet right now. It tears me up inside to say it, but they belong. They've earned the right. And I'm looking forward to seeing just how far they can ride this thing.
That being said, I hope the Ducks beat the hell out of them next season.
Updated May 2 at 1:31 p.m.
Here's a strange story:
Last night I was at the Angels game and got home around 11:00 at night. Just before putting my key in the door, I was surprised to find that the welcome mat that I've had for years was missing. It's a decent welcome mat with nice strong, tan bristles. I'm sure it came from a Pottery Barn or a Crate & Barrel or something. Anyway, I found it odd that it was missing.
I had almost forgotten about it until this morning when I was walking out the door for work and I was reminded that it was gone. I found it strange that anyone would steal a welcome mat. I live on the third floor of my apartment building, and when I walked downstairs to head to my car, I noticed that at the foot of the door of an apartment on the second floor was ... my welcome mat.
At least I'm about 98 percent sure it was my welcome mat. I mean, it looked exactly like it and the odds of two neighbors living that close to each other and having the exact same welcome mat are astronomical. Right?
So, what did I do? I stole it right back. I tiptoed up to the stranger's door, picked up the welcome mat, walked up one floor and put it back in front of my door. I'm fascinated (and a little nervous) to see what happens next. Do they steal it back? Was it even my welcome mat?
I'm open to thoughts or suggestions if anyone would like to email any. I mentioned this morning to my sister that I was going to write about this and she (only half-jokingly) said, "What if the people who stole it read your blog?" Well, I'm willing to take that chance.
Moving on to some Ducks stuff, congratulations to Rob Niedermayer and his wife Jessica on the birth of their first child, daughter Brooke, who was born Saturday. I tried to make some type of empty-net joke the other day, something about how the baby doesn't take to the bottle unless no one is standing in front of it, but it completely bombed. I've got nothing.
Speaking of jokes, I had a great one saved (which I actually made up) that was ready to go if the Stars swept the Sharks a couple nights ago. But alas, San Jose stayed alive with a Game 4 victory, so it will have to wait. I was actually rooting even harder for the Stars just to have a chance to unveil this mediocre joke on Thursday morning, but it didn't work out. The Stars and Sharks go at it in Game 5 tonight at the Shark Tank. Hmm, seems like "Shark Tank" might be a good newspaper headline after this series eventually ends. (That wasn't the joke.)
Ever wondered what happened to extremely annoying gravel-voiced sports talk radio host Scott Ferrall? Apparently he's taken to shooting embarrassing segments for "The Hockey Show" on the NHL Network. Wow, I can't believe he was available. For something a little more palatable but just as mindless, check out this segment on the Dallas Ice Girls hanging out on a yacht in their bikinis. I'm not sure where the Stars find their Ice Girls, but I'm guessing it's a place where if you ask for change for a 20 they give you 20 $1bills. Here was a highlight: "Hi, my name's Meagan. For fun I like to hang out with my friends and just chill ... at my house." Get in line, boys. She's a keeper.
Um, this is kind of odd.
In case you missed it, Lauren Conrad wrote an 850-word blog post looking back on the Ducks' first-round defeat to the Stars and very perceptively examining the reasons behind it. Okay, I'm kidding.