Archive for April, 2012

1st round – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa – Although the pick is “boring” I was quite happy with it. Reiff was projected in the top 15 of most drafts and getting him at 23 was a very good value. Expect him to play at ¬†right tackle next year and be an upgrade of Gosder Cherilus. He is a physical run blocker and was durable in his two years starting at Iowa. Grade:¬†A-

2nd round – Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma – The most controversial pick of the Lions’ draft; without a doubt. Broyles was extremely productive, when healthy, at Oklahoma, but wide receiver isn’t a need, as far as any of us know. I was mad at first when the Lion’s made this pick, but the rest of their draft changed my mind about it (see explanation below). When Broyles is healthy he will be another talented piece to the Lions’ offensive puzzle and can help in the return game. Grade:¬†C

3rd round – Dwight “Bill” Bently, CB, Louisiana Lafayette – Although I have been unable to read Mel Kiper and Todd Mcshay’s mock drafts for day 2 (I need to get ESPN Insider) I have been told they BOTH had the Lions draft Bently in the 2nd round. We got him in the 3rd. He is a 4.4 guy who has good ball skills. Although undersized, he has the potential to be a playmaker in the secondary. This pick alone made the Broyles pick OK in my book. If we took Bently in the 2nd round, like the “experts” thought, and Broyles in the 3rd round nobody would be upset about it. Grade:¬†A-

4th round – Ronnell Lewis, DE/OLB, Oklahoma – Lewis has the potential to be the best value the Lions got in this draft. He is a fast and physical edge rusher who can provide a jump for the defense. He is a smaller guy, but I’m sure the Lions will have a few blitz packages drawn up specifically for him. If he adds some more pounds to his frame he could be a full time DE with his hand in the ground every game. ¬†I expect him to remain similar to the size he is now and be used mainly as a hybrid type player that is moved all over the place. Injury problems and a history of poor performance in the classroom caused him to fall to the 4th round. Grade:¬†B

Late Rounds Р5 -Tahir Whitehead, OLB, Temple, 5 РChris Greenwood, CB, Albion, 6 РJonte Green, CB, New Mexico State, 7 РTravis Lewis, ILB, Oklahoma. Like most late round picks, none of these guys are close to a sure thing. Whitehead will be a strong special teams player this year and could possibly develop into a good linebacker in his career. Greenwood is an athletic freak at corner and dominated Division III this past season. Who knows how he will handle the adjustment to the NFL. Jonte Green will be another special teamer who can possibly develop into a 3rd coner, or a nickel corner. Travis Lewis left Oklahoma as the 3rd leading tackler in school history. A broken toe early in his senior season caused his draft stock to fall from mid rounds to his 7th round pick. He too could contribute on special teams early. With fifth, sixth and seventh round picks it is more about quantity as opposed to quality. The Lions got a good group in the late rounds and if they hit on one it will be a success. Grade : B-

Final grade: B. Overall it was a good draft. Not great. Not bad, but good. When reviewing the draft it is important to react to ALL of the picks as a whole, not individually. The Broyles pick looked a lot better after the third round pick of Bently and the six straight defensive picks to end the draft. While it may have been a reach at the time, it worked out. I expect the top four picks to contribute this year and perhaps one or two of the late round guys can make an impact as well.

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Author: Wil Hunter

With this being posted almost a day through the first day of the playoffs and a few major injuries later, my predictions have not changed through the first round. The regular season played out, for the most part, exactly how the experts picked and lead to all playoff match-ups being any teams series for the most part.

Eastern Conference

Bulls vs 76ers

With or without Derrick Rose the Bulls can handle a young and inexperienced team. They have shown throughout the regular season, they can win without Rose. In my opinion I think that this could be almost a blessing in disguise for them. They were playing fantastic when Rose was out during the year and with him out, they do not have to try to work him back into the flow of the game. The only thing that hurts them is not having that proven, closer that a team needs.

Pick: Bulls in 5

Heat vs Knicks

This series is going to be interesting, the Heat proved today that they can flick on that defensive switch and lock down any and all players on the opposing team. They will not be able to do that every game, but look for them to give the opposing team fits. With two of the top superstars in the league, its easy to pick them. I think that the shortened season, injuries and a new coach, hurt the Knicks. With LeBron being able to lock down Melo and him and Amare trying to figure each other out still, they don’t have a chance this year.

Pick: Heat in 5

Pacers vs Magic

This is probably the most¬†intriguing¬†series in the playoffs, both teams are inexperienced. The Magic do not have their go to guy, and the Pacers are young and aren’t proven yet. This should be a back and forth series and I look for Danny Granger and Jameer Nelson to be the most important guys in this series.

Pick: Pacers in 6

Celtics vs Hawks

The Celtics are old and everyone knows that, and with Ray Allen injured it could be tough for them. However, the Hawks have Tracy McGrady on the squad, i can just leave it at that. T-Mac hasn’t made it out of the first round in his career.

Pick: Celtics in 6

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Western Conference

San Antonio vs Utah

This is an easy pick, say what you want about the Spurs but hey can play. No matter what their age is, Parker is an MVP candidate, Duncan is well, the same Timmy that has played since the Twin Tower days, and Ginobili is still one of the best European players in the league. The Jazz are in a position where no one thought they would be, and ill give them credit, they fought tooth and nail to get the 8 seed and the deserve it. They will still have a tough time with the Spurs.

Pick: Spurs in 4

Oklahoma City vs Dallas

This could potentially be the best first round series in the playoffs, the best 1-2 scoring punch in the league against the defending champs. I think that OKC is more skilled at the guard positions with Westbrook, Sefolosha and Harden coming off the bench then the Mavs are, and i would say its a push in the front court. I would say that everyone cancels each other out, however Ibaka will be a huge problem for the Mavs not being able to get into the lane. The Mavs have been the most inconsistent team in the NBA this year and I look for them to be them same way in the series.

Pick: OKC in 6

Lakers vs Nuggets

This is going to be probably my favorite series of the playoffs. So much drama going on with the Lakers and the ultimate TEAM in the Nuggets. When i say the ultimate team, i am¬†referring¬†to their ability to share the ball, not care who is the leading scorer and my favorite part, not have the “superstar” that most playoff teams have. I think that the suspension of the man formally known as Ron Artest, will definitely hurt the Lakers. It wont hurt their chances of moving on though. I look for the Black Mamba to be his usual self and dominate the game without a primary defender to lock him down. It will be a long series though, and Metta World Peace will be back just in time to help close out the series.

Pick: Lakers in 7

Clipper vs Grizzlies

This will definitely be the best 5 on 5 team match-up of the playoffs. It will be interesting because both teams have good players at each position and anybody on the team can score. The Grizzlies have been here before, whereas the Clippers are a first time playoff team together. I look for Rudy Gay and Chris Paul to carry their teams. However any player on either team can have a huge night.

Pick: Clippers in 7

Check back after the first round is over to see not only if these picks are right, but for the second round picks as well.

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Author: Zach Tanton

When the Detroit Red Wings lost to the Nashville Predators Friday night, it was the end of more than a playoff series. The Wings lost in the first round of the playoffs for only the fifth time in the last 21 seasons, and yes, they made the playoffs all 21 times. At the start of the next season this team will be five years removed from their most recent Stanley Cup, with the last three years being early exits from the playoffs. While many franchises would kill for this success, it is not enough, not in Detroit. I have a few offseason needs that I would love to see happen, and if they were to happen it would make the Red Wings one of the favorites next year. The team has cap space and GM Ken Holland decided against using it to make a move at the trade deadline this year. That move will now pay it’s dividends this offseason, allowing Holland, who is one of the best GM’s in all of sports, to work his magic. These are my needs in order of importance.

1. Sign Ryan Suter – Nick Lidstrom is aging and may only have one season left in him. Suter is in the prime of his career and is a physical defensmen who can immediately step in and take over the void Lidstrom leaves, if he does retire.

2. Nick Lidstrom paycut – He is without a doubt one of the best three defensemen to ever play the game and there is no arguing that. However, he turns 42 next week and although his production is still solid, he is no longer a $7 million player. I would over him one year at $3.5 million and if he doesn’t take it, I’d let him walk. Sports is a business and the extra money is absolutely necessary.

3. Sign Zach Parise – Holland will need that money here. It is no secret Parise and Suter want to sign in the same place, so why not Detroit? Parise is a skilled and tough forward who will add more punch to the offense that was exposed in the Nashville series. Parise needs to be a Wing next year.

4. Trade Hudler and Filppula – Don’t get me wrong, I like both of these players. They play both ways and are solid forwards who play well within the Wings system. The downside is they both make $3.5 million and $7 million is too much money for almost no production. They are relatively young so they will have good trade value and we can get some good draft picks for them.

5. More Gustav Nyquist – I came away very impressed with Nyquist’s performance this season and in the playoffs. He is, in my opinion, the best young guy the Wings have and should be a full time NHLer. He played very well and was extremely productive when he was paired up with Datsyuk this season and I want to see more of them together next year.

6. Less Tomas Holmstrom – I love Tomas Holmstrom. He has been a staple of Red Wings hockey for the entire length of his tenure in Detroit. He made his living taking abuse in front of the other teams net, and I still believe he can do that, but that is all he has left to contribute. He was never a skilled guy and he is always a step behind everyone on the ice. He isn’t getting any younger so, as much as it sucks to see, I would like to see his role reduced drastically again.

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Author: Wil Hunter

Chad Billins Staying in Michigan

Posted: April 12, 2012 by awalk9 in Other Stuff

If you were wondering what Chad was going to do after the Ferris State Bulldogs hockey season ended, you didn’t have to wait long. Like most college hockey seniors, Chad signed with an AHL team immediately after the season ended. It was announced today on griffinshockey.com that Chad Billins, the 22 year old from Marysville, Michigan, has signed the defenseman to an amateur tryout.

The Grand Rapids Griffins are an affiliate to the hometown Detroit Red Wings as well. Maybe one day we will get to see Chad wearing the red and white. Good luck to Chad in his future which is looking really bright right now.

 

Here is  the link to the site where I found the information if anyone would like to take a look at it

http://griffinshockey.com/news/releases/index.html?article_id=2169

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know as much about hockey as I’d like to, nor do I know as much about the sport now as I did 10 years ago, when I was a pretty hardcore Wings fan and (roller) hockey player. That’s not going to stop me from trying to outsmart and¬†out-pick¬†the hockey heavyweights (Walker and Hunter) here at Put Away the Whistle. I’ve been paying attention, so here goes my best effort:

Eastern Conference

1. New York Rangers vs 8. Ottawa Senators

Offense: Advantage Ottawa.
Defense: Advantage New York.
Goaltending: Advantage New York.
Power Play: Advantage Ottawa.
Penalty Kill: Advantage New York.

I guess we’re about to find out if the Rangers are as real as the 1-seed might indicate. Ottawa possesses decent scoring ability between Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Milan Michalek. However, they can’t play defense to save their collective lives, so go ahead and give me…

Rangers in 6

2. Boston Bruins vs 7. Washington Capitals

Offense: Advantage Boston.
Defense: Advantage Boston.
Goaltending: Advantage Boston.
Power Play: Push.
Penalty Kill: Advantage Boston.

Ovie has really fallen off this year, only managing to scrap together 65 points this season. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not awful; however, it is¬†disappointing¬†for a player of his caliber. Tim Thomas is, in fact, a boss, and I believe the Bruins are capable of admirably defending their title from last season. I’ve got…

Bruins in 5

3. Florida Panthers vs. 6. New Jersey Devils

Offense: Advantage New Jersey.
Defense: Push.
Goaltending: Push.
Power Play: Advantage Florida.
Penalty Kill: Advantage New Jersey.

I can’t believe in Florida when they have Jose Theodore in net; I also can’t believe in Florida when they don’t really have any particularly dynamic goal scorers. Thus, by default, give me…

Devils in 6

4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs 5. Philadelphia Flyers

Offense: Slight Advantage Pittsburgh.
Defense: Push.
Goaltending: Advantage Pittsburgh.
Power Play: Push.
Penalty Kill: Advantage Pittsburgh.

I’ll channel my inner Mugatu – Bryzgalov is SO HOT right now. The guy was 11-3-1 in the final month of the season, with four shutouts and a .939 save percentage. The bad news for him and his Flyer brethren is that they’re going up against the highest-scoring team in the NHL in the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’ll take…

Penguins in 5
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Western Conference

1. Vancouver Canucks vs. 8. Los Angeles Kings

Offense: Advantage Vancouver.
Defense: Advantage Los Angeles.
Goaltending: Push.
Power Play: Advantage Vancouver.
Penalty Kill: Push.

It’s hard to pick against the Sedin twins; however, Daniel’s recovery from the concussion he suffered in March has made me second-guess the confidence I had in this pick. Jonathan Quick’s tremendous ability to keep the puck out of the net made me third-guess my second-guess. In the end, by the smallest of margins, I’m gonna pick…

Canucks in 7

2. St. Louis Blues vs. 7. San Jose Sharks

Offense: Advantage San Jose.
Defense: Advantage St. Louis.
Goaltending: Advantage St. Louis.
Power Play: Advantage San Jose.
Penalty Kill:  Advantage St. Louis.

When you have a goaltending pair like Halak and Elliott, you have to feel pretty good about your chances in the playoffs. However, St. Louis has had some trouble scoring against good teams this season. Nonetheless, the Blues need to be careful, because you never know when douche-of-a-captain Joe Thornton¬†is gonna take a few more pathetic dives like this one:¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=defOE1Ewxsk. What a¬†Nancy; I can’t pick any team he captains, so I guess that means…

Blues in 7

3. Pheonix Coyotes vs. 6. Chicago Blackhawks

Offense: Advantage Chicago.
Defense: Advantage Phoenix.
Goaltending: Advantage Phoenix.
Power Play: Advantage Chicago.
Penalty Kill: Advantage Phoenix.

The Blackhawks have the second worst goals against mark of all playoff teams, which is scary. However, they combat that problem with some great offensive firepower in the form of Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews. That being said, I think that Mike Smith is the difference-maker in a very competitive series. I’m gonna pick…

Coyotes in 7

4. Nashville Predators vs. 5. Detroit Red Wings

Offense: Push.
Defense: Push.
Goaltending: Push.
Power Play: Advantage Nashville.
Penalty Kill: Advantage Nashville.

I hate to say it, but the Wings are old and haven’t been able to win consistently on the road this season. Pekka Rinne is a monster in the net, but I think it’s actually special teams that makes the difference in this series. Thus, I have…

Predators in 7

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Author: Joe Cook

NHL Playoffs Round 1

Posted: April 9, 2012 by awalk9 in NHL
Tags: ,

Goals, fights, blocked shots, broken noses, lost teeth, bruises, collisions, speed, sacrifice, determination. All of these things and more are what people think of when they hear the words “the NHL playoffs”. I know that I, along with many others, are very excited to see the playoffs start and just wanted to give a quick rundown of the matchup and who will win.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1 New York Rangers v.s. 8 Ottawa Senators

RANGERS in 4. Clean sweep for the rangers here. Basically Ottawa is garbage and found themselves to be a little bit better than the bottom of the barrel in the East. New York will take it to the Sens early and often, won’t be a very entertaining series.

2 Boston Bruins v.s. 7 Washington Capitals

BRUINS in 5. This series is very simple to explain. Bruins have Tim Thomas and Washington has Holtby, Neuvirth, and a banged up Vokoun. Enough said. Next!

3 Florida Panthers v.s. New Jersey Devils

DEVILS in 6. Brodeur plays great and leads the devils to the 2nd round. It’s not like there are enough Florida Panther fans that care anyway.

4 Pittsburgh Penguins v.s. 5 Philadelphia Flyers

PENGUINS in 6. Should be the best series to watch along with the wings-preds. Although I hate to see cindy crybaby win, I don’t see Philly taking this one. Pens have too much talent. However it will be fun to watch this rivalry possibly taken to a whole new level in this series.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1 Vancouver Canucks v.s. 8 Los Angeles Kings

CANUCKS in 5. Canucks will choke, but not yet. Canucks are too good offensively, defensively, and in the goaltending department. That usually adds up to a series win.

2 St. Louis Blues v.s. 7 San Jose Sharks

SHARKS in 7. This will be a fun one to watch. Youth versus experience. The sharks offense will show up and Niemi will play great. They will sneak by the blues with my biggest upset in the first round.

3 Phoenix Coyotes v.s. 6 Chicago Blackhawks

BLACKHAWKS in 5. Another upset in the works here. Although it’s not really an upset at all to me. The firepower the hawks possess is undeniable. They will take this series from a very overrated Coyotes team. The hawks are a playoff performing team, the coyotes are not.

4 Nashville Predators v.s. 5 Detroit Red Wings

PREDATORS in 7 (even though i’m rooting for the wings). The best for last. Everyone will have their eyes on this series. Can the predators finally take the next step after the moves they have made? Or is this the same predators team who will fall flat on their face and let the almighty wings take this series from them? I believe this is Nashville’s time. They have home ice, which kills the wings chances. They have built a team now that will quite possibly be as good as it will ever become. Predators and Rinne get by the wings in 7 and make a deep playoff run this year. Give Barry Trotz the coach of the year award and David Poile the GM of the year award. Both have done a great job with this team.

BRING ON THE HATE  WINGS FANS!!

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are THE greatest playoff system in all of sports, in my humble opinion, of course. The playoffs start Wednesday so I figured now would be a wonderful time to put down some thoughts and predictions for the first round.

Eastern Conference

1. New York Rangers vs 8. Ottawa Senators

Ottawa has had a nice and very surprising season, and the future looks bright for the Senators. Unfortunately they run into a buzz saw in the first round. The Rangers have one of the most talented teams and are very balanced up front and on the blue line. Henrik Lundqvist is a stud and should lead the Rangers deep into the playoffs.

Rangers in 5

2. Boston Bruins vs 7. Washington Capitals

Expect this to be a very fast and physical series. The Capitals had a down year this season, but are still tremendously talented up front. You can never count Ovechkin and co. out. I expect the Caps to put up a fight, but the Bruins are just too big and too strong. Expect Bergeron and Seguin to have big series’ and help carry the B’s to round two.

Boston in 6

3. Florida Panthers vs. 6. New Jersey Devils

The upstart Panthers won the Southeast division and made the playoffs for the first time since 2000. You may not know much about the Panthers, but they have a good amount of strong hockey players and are very good on the blue line. The devils bring the star power to this series with Brodeur, Kovalchuk, Parise and others. The Devils are still a good team, but are running out of time to win.

Florida in 7

4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs 5. Philadelphia Flyers

This is the series that I am so excited to watch. These two teams are both loaded with talent and they HATE each other. Malkin has been the best player all year for the Penguins and Crosby has looked real strong since his return. Expect Giroux, Hartnell and co. to play an extremely physical game to slow down this Pittsburgh attack. Ilya Bryzgalov needs to have a big series in net for Philly.

Pittsburgh in 7

Western Conference

1. Vancouver Canucks vs. 8. Los Angeles Kings

This series will not be easy for the Canucks. The Kings have been playing better hockey lately after a slow start and will have Jeff Carter returning to the lineup soon. The Cancuks are still loaded up front and will need strong play from the Sedin twins. Ryan Kesler had a down season but was great in last years playoffs. I expect John Quick to make this a great series.

Vancouver in 7

2. St. Louis Blues vs. 7. San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks are not as good as they were the past few seasons and need the last week of the season to squeak into the playoffs. The Blues broke out in a big way this year and play some of the most physical hockey in the NHL, along with boasting good talent all around the team. This series will make a lot of people in Detroit happy.

St. Louis in 5

3. Pheonix Coyotes vs. 6. Chicago Blackhawks

Pheonix has had a very nice season and wrapped up the Pacific division on the last day of the regular season. Mike Smith has been very reliable between the pipes for the ‘Yotes this year. The Blackhawks obviously have great talent up front and have a great top pair of defense men in Keith and Seabrook. One thing they lack is a goaltender and that is a little important in the playoffs.

Pheonix in 6

4. Nashville Predators vs. 5. Detroit Red Wings

Picking this series breaks my heart because although I adore my Red Wings, this series will be an uphill battle. I expect the Wings to step up their play considerably, because they always seem to do that for the playoffs. The Preds have been hot lately and their moves at the deadline have payed off big time. Pekka Rinne is a stud in net for Nashville. So many signs point towards Nashville winning this series that I can’t possibly pick the Wings without losing my integrity. Wait, yes I can, this is my blog. Screw integrity, I’m a homer.

Wings in 7

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Author: Wil Hunter