If you’d ever like to feel totally humbled, cold, and alone, try to predict the outcome of an NFL football game through either betting or fantasy. Many a noble man has lost both his money and sanity through this pursuit.
* Goalies be getting yanked around the NHL on Thursday night: Henrik Lundqvist was pulled after giving up three goals on 13 shots against the Columbus Blue Jackets; James Reimer didn’t make it through the first period in St. Louis after allowing three goals on 15 shots against the Blues; and Devan Dubnyk rounded out the trio by taking a seat after one period after the Boston Bruins scored two goals on 15 shots through 20 minutes.
* Lundqvist, by the way, has given up 14 goals in his last four starts.
* On the bright side, Ottawa’s Craig Anderson stopped 40 of 41 shots in a 2-1 win over Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres, possibly adding some spice to Team USA’s Olympic goaltending conversation.
*Alexander Steen moved back into second in the NHL in goals with his 22nd of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs. His previous career-high was 24 and he could top that before Christmas so that’s a bit of a breakout.
* A bunch of guys notched a pair of goals on the night: David Backes scored two in a 6-3 win over Toronto, Blake Wheeler dropped two on the Avalanche in a 4-3 shootout loss while Matt Duchene countered with two of his own, Mikkel Boedker and Rob (best last name in hockey) Klinkhammer both scored a pair in Phoenix’s 6-3 over the Islanders, and Joe Pavelski notched two in San Jose’s win over the Wild.
* Finally, two other guys scored a pair in the Boston / Edmonton game. Jarome Iginla registered his first multi-goal game as a Bruins in his home town as Boston continue its Western Canadian road trip, while David Perron scored his 13th and 14th goals to take the team lead for the Oilers, ahead of, you know, all those first-overall picks.
Briere Returns to Philly
Daniel Briere received a nice ovation from the Flyers faithful in his first game back in Philly after being bought out by the team this past summer.
Matt Duchene continues to impress
Matt Duchene did a Matt Duchene thing, and, as per usual, it was pretty awesome.
The Islander have had their goaltending issues this season, but this save by Kevin Poulin off the stick of Mike Ribeiro was not too shabby.
Niemi makes Wild save
In another candidate for save of the night, Antti Niemi took a seat and kept the puck out with his elbow. Pretty standard save, really.
Perron scores on one-handed wraparound
Just, wow. As Thomas Drance notes, it’s even more impressive considering who’s he’s fending off on the play.
Fighting. Advanced stats. PK Subban for Team Canada.
So the Calgary Flames fired general manager Jay Feaster on Thursday, and while Brian Burke was sporting an interesting new look, he was kind of saying the same old thing as the organization prepares to move forward.
Forever citing his Ducks team that won the Stanley Cup in 2007, Burke said he wants to hire a general manager that shares his love for truculence and hostility, and that he’s looking to build a team that bangs because they want “black and blue hockey in Alberta.” Doesn’t it make you just want to grunt?
The problem is, other than Anaheim and possibly the Boston Bruins in 2011, the Stanley Cup hasn’t been won by big, banging, truculent teams in the post-2005 lockout era. The Carolina Hurricanes? Please. The Red Wings and Penguins? Not so much. The Kings and Blackhawks? Yeah, not really. In fact, maybe only the Cup-losing 2010 Flyers fit into that category, and they, like the ’07 Ducks, featured a guy named Chris Pronger. And that’s a key point right there. As much as Burke wants to tout this Anaheim prototype, he had the benefit of having both Pronger and Scott Niedermayer on the blue line, and that’s a pretty good starting point for ANY team, regardless of a preferred style of play.
Further to that, many of the most recent Cup winners (including those Ducks) have been backed by exceptional goaltending, which, in my mind, is where the Flames need to start.
James “the real deal” Reimer to Calgary, anyone?
* As if Brendan Shanahan doesn’t have enough to worry about these days, Montreal’s Alexei Emelin may get a call for this hit on Steve Downie.
Starting with Saturday in the Premier League, the big one comes early at 7:45 AM EST, with Manchester City hosting Arsenal who, if modern punditry is to be believed, will bounce back from their midweek Champions League loss to Napoli.
The 10:00 AM kick offs are the usual fare, though Newcastle vs Southampton could be very interesting.
Bit of a graveyard around Europe. ‘Gladbach visiting Mainz in the Bundesliga at 9:30 AM EST could be interesting to see if the former might throw themselves in the mix for third place as Dortmund continue to struggle in the league.
And there could be a potentially tasty fixture in Barcelona vs Villarreal at 2:00 PM EST. The yellow submarine are coming off a couple of lame draws, and could be an interesting challenge for Barca, who ran rampant against Celtic midweek.
On Sunday in the Premier League, the big game is Spurs vs Liverpool at 11:00 AM. Then in Ligue 1 at 3:00 PM you can catch the old grudge match in Lyon vs Marseille, though the earlier Lille result will be more interesting for the table.
Then in Serie A, the marquee fixture is Napoli vs Inter at 2:45 PM. Rafa Benitez’s side need to win to stay in the race for third spot, and maybe second depending on Roma‘s game on Monday. Finally in La Liga, a potentially huge result from Atletico Madrid vs Valencia at 3:00 PM.
What’s the big story today?
It’s a pretty slow news day, so I get to pick what I think is important. And it’s in Spain, it involves Barcelona, and it’s all about the future of Lionel Messi. From ESPNFC:
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has reacted to speculation of a surprise problem between the club and Lionel Messi by saying he will do everything “possible and impossible” to ensure that he stays.
A media storm blew up when Barca vice-president Javier Faus dismissed the idea of offering Messi a new contract at the moment, with his comments read by some as a slight on the player.
Talk of a pay rise had been provoked by reports that the huge signing-on fee apparently paid to Neymar means he has leapfrogged Messi in the Camp Nou salary scale.
Right now it’s mostly hearsay and back-biting, but there are deep rumblings here, the early signs of a fault-line forming which other moneyed interests are no doubt monitoring closely. Stranger things have happened in a World Cup year. Stay tuned…
Arsene Wenger asked questions about Manchester City, answers them: “”City has a strong squad, I don’t deny that, but when I look at my squad I don’t envy them,” said Wenger. “We have more creative players and we are more versatile. It’s easier for me to rotate.”
Balo plays ball against Blind (h/t reddit.com/r/soccer):
Any good reads?
I am linking to a Paul Hayward editorial. It’s that. Important. On football’s ugly love affair with gambling. Snippet:
With football, we see painful naivety about how betting markets work, and how recklessly it has sold its soul to gambling, so that the two industries are now indivisible.
In June, for example, one of Campbell’s earliest clubs, Aston Villa, announced a shirt sponsorship deal with Dafabet, touted as “Asia’s No 1 online betting and gaming site”. All above board, you understand, except that “Asian markets” are the bogeyman always cited when people try to comprehend how a Championship player could allegedly be paid £60,000 to punch an opponent in the wedding tackle to get himself sent off.
The latest entry in ESPN’s 30-for-30 series, Youngstown Boys, directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, will premiere on Saturday, December 14, at 9 p.m. ET after the Heisman Trophy Presentation on ESPN. Youngstown Boys is the second effort in the documentary series from the Zimbalist brothers, with their previous entry, The Two Escobars, standing as one of the most celebrated films of the collection.
Via ESPN official release:
Youngstown Boys explores class and power dynamics in college sports through the parallel, interconnected journeys of one-time dynamic running back Maurice Clarett and former elite head coach Jim Tressel. Both emerged from the working-class city of Youngstown, Ohio—Tressel as the head coach who turned around the football program at Youngstown State—before they joined for a magical season at Ohio State University in 2002 that produced the first national football championship for the school in over 30 years.
Shortly thereafter though, Clarett was suspended from college football and began a downward spiral that ended with a prison term. Tressel continued at Ohio State for another eight years before his career there also ended in scandal.
Youngstown Boys instantly sets itself among the top tier of the 30-for-30 series’ films. Fans of films like The Two Escobars, The Best That Never Was, and Once Brothers will be satiated by the story’s powerful portrayal of relationship dynamics, success, struggle, and redemption.
We spoke with co-director Michael Zimbalist about making the film, its themes, Clarett and Tressel, and the NCAA.
As some of you may be aware, I recently started a new gig here at theScore that sees me write/talk about the NBA as a whole on a full-time basis, so while I won’t be able to provide RaptorBlog posts and general Raptors commentary with nearly the same regularity, I hope you’ll continue to read/listen along with me this season (You can read my season preview here and my predictions here).
As for the Raptors, what I’m going to try to do is take some time every weekend to post my wide ranging thoughts on the week that was in Raps Land, in a similar fashion to how I usually wrote my “Thoughts On the Game” posts. Again, I’m hoping you’ll stop by on weekends to get the little bit of Raptors ranting I’m still able to do on a regular basis.
Other than, most of my Raptors thoughts and observations can be found through twitter, where I’m prone to my fair share of passionate Raps-related tirades.
As for the coming season, I’m predicting a 40-42 season for Toronto that results in a No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, though if Cathal Kelly’s Toronto Star report proves correct, Masai Ujiri and MLSE may blow things up before such a mediocre finish is allowed to fully take rot.
For what it’s worth, Kelly’s source indicates a 45-day deadline for the Raptors, which would take us to December 13. The Raps play Philadelphia in the 21st game of the season that night, and I’ve got them as a 10-11 (7-14 worst case scenario, 12-9 best case scenario) team at that point, so the question is really what will Ujiri find acceptable to continue with, and what’s his line in the sand of ‘we can’t go on like this’?
I also feel like with the Honeymoon period that exists between Raptors fans and Ujiri, he wouldn’t have lost any support had he decided to blow things up as soon as he got here to put this team in a better position to properly take a strategic step backwards this season, so I don’t quite understand the point of now reportedly setting a hard deadline on whether to tank or not if that’s they’ve wanted all along.
In any event, a Raptors season opener wouldn’t feel quite right without at least a little drama (last year it was DeRozan’s extension), so let’s get this intriguing season of questions under way, shall we?
For the first time ever in a UFC video game, EA Sports’ upcoming UFC title will feature playable female characters, headlined by UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and top bantamweight contender Miesha Tate.
“This is a great moment for videogames and for Mixed Martial Arts,” said Dean Richards, General Manager, EA SPORTS UFC. “In our commitment to delivering the most realistic fighting experience ever achieved, we wanted to represent the full spectrum of talent and diversity of all the fighters in the sport, including women who have become an undeniable force to be reckoned with.”
Thank you to theScore for the opportunity to make something that shows just how much fun the NBA can be. And thank you most of all to anyone who’s listened, watched, read, commented, emailed or in any other way been even a small part of TBJ over the past three years. It has been awesome.
Please followallofourTwitteraccounts to see what the future holds. We’re very excited for our next step, you will be too and the season starts soon, so don’t worry too much.