Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and the Tigers

I guess this is just going to be a massive three-sport combination post recapping last night. Never before have I been so discouraged and angered by one playoff team while simultaneously encouraged and uplifted by another. I'm pretty sure my emotions ran the entire gamut featured in the poster to the left. Anyways, last nights final scores were as follows:

-Bulls 108 - Pistons 92
-Red Wings 5 - Ducks 0
-Tigers 7 - Red Sox 2

The Pistons game was so thoroughly frustrating that I refused to watch the fourth quarter. As a general rule, I stop watching a game when I feel I care much more than the team I'm rooting for does. To say Detroit gave a dismal effort would be a disservice to the word 'dismal'. Chicago shot 72% in the first half. Seventy-fuckin'-two. They then proceeded to 57% in the third quarter en route to building a 21-point lead entering the fourth. The 16-point final margin doesn't do justice to the savage ass-beating Chicago gave Detroit last night. Jason Maxiell was the only guy who looked like he cared whatsoever about the outcome, and he only played fifteen minutes, during which Detroit was +11. He was one of only three Pistons to finish with a positive +/-, and the other two were Lindsey Hunter (???) and Nazr Mohammed (garbage time). Further analysis of this game may cause my head to explode, so I'm just going to move on to the other action from last night.

The Red Wings absolutely dominated the Anaheim Ducks behind strong efforts from, well, everyone. Dominik Hasek was as stellar as ever in shutting out the Ducks. Tomas Holmstrom continued to dominate the front of the net, putting in two goals and adding an assist in the third. Mike Babcock made tremendous line adjustments before the game, throwing out Holmstrom/Datsyuk/Filppula and the all-Swede Samuelsson/Zetterburg/Franzen line as his top two offensive units. Both units meshed perfectly and produced scoring plays. In fact, each line produced a goal where one forward was assisted by the other two. That's chemistry, folks.

The story of the game, however, was the nasty tag team hit on Tomas Holmstrom by Rob Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. If you haven't seen the hit yet, here it is:

Niedermayer was assessed a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. However, the video clearly shows that Pronger was the one who drove Homer's head into the boards and caused the cut. The NHL reviewed the play today and has suspended Pronger for game 4. I'm sure if Homer had been hurt the suspension would have been longer, but he luckily only needed a few stitches and was back out on the ice in the third period. This was clearly a dangerous cheap shot by a frustrated duo (Anaheim was down 4-0 at the time) and the punishment was just about the minimum the NHL should have given Pronger. I'm sure the league was reluctant to suspend a star player multiple games in the playoffs, but in the regular season that hit garners a 3-5 game suspension, easily.

Other than the hit, this was a fantastic game that showed the Red Wings put together three full periods of great hockey for possibly the first time in the playoffs. If Detroit continues to play complete games like this one, they could be hoisting the Cup next month.

I didn't catch the Tigers game because of the full slate of playoff games last night, but the Tigers defeated the team with the best record in the MLB thanks to a very strong outing from Justin Verlander. JV went 7 2/3 innings, striking out 7 and allowing only 2 runs. Magglio Ordonez continued to make a push for AL MVP consideration, launching a third-inning home run that cleared the green monster in Fenway and landed somewhere in the street outside. Brandon Inge also hit a home run in the third, and Pudge Rodriguez added three hits. The Tigers maintained their one game lead on the Indians in the AL Central, and pulled within two games of the Red Sox for the best record in the majors.

Overall, it was quite an eventful night for Detroit sports fans. Tonight I look forward to kicking back and enjoying a stress-free night watching NBA playoff games I don't have a large part of my happiness invested in.

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