Archive for April, 2012

Ménage à trois jeux

Posted: April 22, 2012 in Sports

To further prove that I have nothing to do on a Saturday night, I’ve taken the opportunity to watch 3 NHL games to the best of my ability: On the laptop, we got the New Jersey Devils vs. the Florida Misfits (actually named the Florida Panthers, but I’m calling them the Misfits for two reasons: 1) Sounds cooler; 2) I’ve taken to calling this team “The Peninsula of Misfit Toys” because it seems like the place where contracts go to expire. There’s no way at the beginning of the season that you could’ve talked me into believing this team would make the playoffs let alone win the division. Yet, here we are.) and the Ottawa Senators in New York against the Rangers. As for the main event, it’s the San Jose Sharks in St. Louis to take on the Blue on the big screen!

9 minutes into Florida game –Ed Jovanovski takes a penalty.(….wait, he’s still playing??? Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I present to you exhibit A for backing my “Misfits” title: Jovo-Cop.)

(For everything he’s done this year with the Misfits, I hope that Kevin Dineen gets nominated for the Jack Adams (top NHL Coach this year). Still may not top getting the last goal as a Whaler though.)

End of the first for the Devils/Misfits is scoreless and shots on goal are 11 a piece….very evenly matched. (Not a good sign for either team looking to advance into the second round).

Off to New York: Ottawa’s Paul MacLean has to be another consideration for the Jack Adams (…high praise for The Lorax!)

(If there’s one player for Ottawa that I’d want to see on my team, it’d probably be Nick Foligno: Loves to yap, can be physical, good hands….Like a poor man’s Jeremy Roenick. So you know, Darcy Tucker is a homeless-missing-a-shoe-with-cazy-hair-and-mumbling-to-himself-constantly-Roenick.)

CBC’s  Glenn Healey: “These two teams, do not like each other.” (That’s why he gets paid the big bucks…)

First Period – 9:18 – Ottawa opens the scoring (for both games) – Jason Spezza and it’s the first time they’ve lead in the series.(….and stopped me from getting 5 points in my playoff pool…I may or may not have Henrik Lundqvist as my goalie. Good job!)

3 mins into the Second – New Jersey/Florida – bodies flying everywhere in front of Theodore! Good pace and hitting!

4 mins in – Kris Versteeg – Scores! Panthers up 1-0 Power Play (…and they’re throwing the Rats on the ice!!! RATS ARE BACK!!!)

(I’d like to welcome San Jose and St. Louis to the party! There’s dip, chips, and pop in the fridge but please use a coaster and napkins….that’s all I ask.)

(Florida Panthers have sold out all 19,250 seats tonight! Good stuff! Just ignore the Mayflower trucks parked ‘round back….)

First Period – 12:37 – Martin “Boots” Havlat gets a penalty in San Jose(still my favourite nickname for any player.)

Florida was given a 4 minute Power Play and couldn’t do anything with it. (That’s like having someone lean in to kiss you and you pull away because you’re distracted by a squirrel….not that I’m speaking from experience or anything….umm….let’s move on, shall we?)

New Jersey/Florida and San Jose/St. Louis goes into intermission leaving Ottawa/NYR the only game to watch. (Any ADD I was developing can now take a breather….LOOK! Something shiny!)

Ottawa’s doing a good job passing the puck and winning the face offs; not good for the Rangers(…or my playoff pool.)

About 8 minutes left in the second and Anderson made a couple of nice saves, followed up by Lundqvuist making a crucial one. (I hope the Leafs are watching.)

Just showed Patrick Marleau’s stats – 3 goals in last 20 games, 7 shots in the play offs so far. (*Looking up the definition of a “cold streak”*)

San Jose/ST. Louis – FIGHT! Chris Stewart and Tommy Wingels have a good tilt! All these games are low scoring but scrappy.

Florida Scores! Martin Brodeur waits behind the net for the puck, takes a pass out front and a goal for Scottie Upshall from Kris Versteeg with 7 minutes to go.

(NOTE: If you told me that Jose Theodore would be better in goal than Martin Brodeur, I’d ask you if it was 2001 again).

5 minutes left in the second and San Jose is putting the pressure on Brian Elliot, who has the second lowest Goals Against in the playoffs this year coming into tonight. (Good thing he was a throw-away after last year!)

Late goal by Joe Thornton puts the Sharks up 1-0! (That could totally deflate the Blues….)

New Jersey/Florida – Delayed penalty on a Tomas Kopecky breakaway, misses the empty net but it counts as a goal. (NEVER seen that before!)

(Amazing! The Misfits win, 3-2 series lead, Theodore with the shutout (NOTE: NOBODY took Theodore in the pool), and Ilya Kovalchuk is slowly turning into the Tracy McGrady of the NHL!)

Ottawa/New York – Play stopped because a pane of glass has fallen. That’s the second time it’s happened this round of the playoffs (but nobody was taken out this time).

Ottawa/New York – 13:21 – Milan Michalek gets a slashing penalty but might’ve saved a goal by breaking the stick of Ruslan Fedotenko.( It’s the most surprising play of the night so far; Michalek playing defense).

(I think my brain is fried…eyes….twitching….must….keep…..going….)

Sepzza gets the empty net goal off a Gaborik turnover. (It’s brutal but still not the worst turnover of all time.)

San Jose/St. Louis – 11:16 in the third and Jamie Langenbrunner with a HUGE goal to tie it up! (St. Louis fans are going NUTS right now!)

Not even a minute later and David Perron tips in an Alex Pieterangelo shot and the Blues are in front 2-1. (This place is going ballistic! God I miss Playoff hockey….)

Blues win and they’re going on! (The only thing happier than their fans is me because I finally get to look away from a screen for the first time in 3 hours and use the bathroom!)

The Summer’s Starting Lineup!

Posted: April 20, 2012 in Movies

The great thing about baseball is that every year during spring training, every team thinks that “this year is our year.” You could be on the Yankees, Tampa Bay, or even Pittsburgh but you go into spring training thinking that you have a shot at winning. In a lot of ways, the summer movies are like baseball: you hear about a movie, see the trailer and get super excited. This summer looks to be the best summer for Action movies! It’s like looking up and down the lineup and thinking “anybody at any point on this roster could be dangerous!” (for me, that was the 1993 Blue Jays lineup; everybody seemed to be able to get on base and contribute). So let’s take a look at this summer’s starting lineup:

Leading OffLockout

This has all the makings of an amazing bad-action movie. Guy Pearce delivers a sarcastic tough-guy performance who’s bad-a** when needed (NOTE: this is an unfair advantage and a little biased, but I’ve seen it, it’s good. If you liked The Losers, you’ll enjoy this too). There’s just one flaw: it’s rated 14-A. That’s like saying it has an Ichrio-style of getting on-base but can’t steal. Needs to work on getting a good jump.

Batting SecondThe Avengers

Here’s what’s great about the potential for The Avengers: it’ll bring together a bunch of Marvel heroes that everyone loves to fight Loki and this looks to be as action-friendly of every other film. It’ll have 2 All-Stars in Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson!) and may be the first modern film with The Hulk that everyone can agree is decent! The potential problem: we’re not really paying to see The Hulk or Hawkeye (sorry, but it’s true) so they better not dominate the screen. It’s like having someone with a little too much power hitting out of the second spot (Aaron Hill circa 2010); great that he can park it but it’s almost more valuable that he just gets on base and move around instead of popping out.

Batting ThirdThe Dark Knight Rises

This is where we start to really get into the heart of the lineup. The Christopher-Nolan-Era of Batman has almost been unfair to non-movie-goers (by which, I mean it may or may not have cost me a couple of dates because I’ve argued about going and seeing this movie). Admittedly, it will be hard to top The Dark Knight only because of the fact that we had an amazing performance from Heath Ledger. This seems to be almost a lock for movie of the summer and has a Pedro-possibility (everyone will stop what they’re doing at some point to see this). The only possible downside that could hurt this is if something unforeseeable happens where it shakes the locker room and lowers morale.

Number 4 spot/Designated HitterThe Expendables 2

Thank god there’s no PED testing in action movies! Having this follow The Dark Knight is almost on a 2004 Manny-Ortiz level for me; if one can’t do it, the other will definitely leave me walking away with a smile! The best part about this is the fact that they’ve added to the cast with Jean-Claude van Damme and Chuck Norris! Much like how Fast and the Furious franchise will give everyone a lead foot, this has the potential to make everyone rush home and play Call of Duty for 78 straight hours. The only downside (which could be the upside) is the writing; it’s like watching Vernon Wells swing at the first pitch.

Batting FifthG.I. Joe – Retaliation

This may be raising an eyebrow, but hear me out. Remember how I said it’s awesome that there’s no PED testing in this league? Well, welcome to the Rock! G.I. Joe getting Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis for a sequel is like watching Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds get better as they get older (NOTE: I’m not saying that they took anything illegal; as of now they have not been proven guilty in a court of law…). What better way to kick start a franchise than by teasing with one of the best action stars of today with an all-time great who still looks like he can command a room in a beret? (Seriously, if I was Bruce Willis, I’d wear a beret around the house just to show I mean business 24/7!) The only downfall is, much like certain athletes who have had issues in the past, is getting reminded of the past constantly. It’s a mental thing they’ll have to overcome.

The 6 thru 8 spotsTotal Recall/The Amazing Spiderman/The Bourne Legacy

This is where you hear rumblings of “I’d go, but only on a cheap night and if I have nothing else to do.” The main reason for this is that you’re looking at the lineup, recognizing the name, but then saying to yourself “the name on the back is one that I recognize but something’s off.” It’s true: Total Recall, The Amazing Spiderman and The Bourne Legacy are all names we’ve trusted over the years to entertain us, so why mess with it? Well, Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripkin Jr., and Prince Fielder all seemed to pan out okay so why not give these a shot? They all have the possibility to be real contributors to this lineup, but the slightest mistake and you’ll immediately be compared to your old man.

Batting NinthBattleship

This made sense in the 9-hole for two reasons: 1) Liam Neeson (always clutch when it comes to great-bad action movies) and 2) the thought of being on a boat in the middle of the ocean having to fight an alien spaceship. There is no slower moving method of transportation for action movies than a giant boat, so the thought of making this really intense is almost comical. But, they got all the key points nailed (the grizzly veteran, the hot blonde, and the hot-shot-kid-who-doesn’t-know-how-much-potential-he-really-has-until-he’s-tested) and there’s aliens. But here’s their flaw (which is similar to the flaw of the 6 thru 8 spots): those of us old enough to remember will probably compare this to Independence Day and, if young enough (this guy!) will speak glowingly of ID4 without going back and really rewatching it (Wait…Jeff Goldblum was able to hack into an alien spacecraft using Windows 95? I was barely even able to play MechWarrior without it freezing…).

The BenchwarmerSafe

Honestly had no idea until last night that this movie even existed and was tempted to throw it into the starting rotation because it’s got Jason Statham. Here’s why it’s on the bench right now: 1) There’s been virtually NO press on the thing (never a good sign if there’s too little or too much), 2) I legitimately thought it was another Transporter (and after watching the trailer, go back and watch it a second time because the first 50 seconds, you’ll probably think the same). But it does look good and seems original, so this could be the scrappy movie that could fill a spot in a snap and you may end up gushing about all summer (the John MacDonald of the roster).

September Call Up – Dredd

This is the one movie that seems to have all the hype but nothing to show for it. You’ve never seen it, heard next to nothing about it, but could very well come out of nowhere and hit the mid-90’s consistently on the gun with some of the nastiest off speed pitches around. The only problem: you’ve seen nothing! A remake of a comic book that was decent-to-great for kids in the early-to-mid 90’s, made into a campy movie once and now has the potential to come back and destroy everything (with justice!!!…sorry, I had to) and you haven’t even released a teaser trailer yet?? This has both the potential to be awesome or resulting in Tommy John after a third of an inning.

A Reunion with the Blog!

Posted: April 14, 2012 in Sports

American Reunion just came out with perfect timing (as far as where the cast members are in their careers) and it was great because it had all the things that a real reunion has. We got together with our fave people, got to catch up with the people, reflect on what things were like “back in the day”, and see where they are now in their lives. Taking some of those elements, it’s now time to reflect on the Toronto Maple Leafs and see where they’re at.

Before I get into it too much, I must say that I have never seen so much piling on after the fact (some of it deserved) but this has become such a farce that even Rex Murphy has decided to weigh in with his opinion (because EVERY Canadian knows, when we need to hear an opinion “from Politics to Pop culture”, we IMMEDIATELY turn our attention to Rex! For our American friends, you can call him “Andy Rooney North”. Personally, I cannot WAIT to get his review of The Pauly D Project. C’mon, Rex! Get on this!! What’s your in-depth take on GTL?!).  So let’s try and salvage some of this and go out on a high note.

When Brian Burke fired Ron Wilson, he made a point to say that he’s never seen a free fall like this before and compared it to a transport going over the side of the cliff. To me, this was more like an old school, B-rate horror flick; you have the attractive girl standing in the woods late at night, you see the killer creep up behind her and with each loss, the butcher knife is getting plunged into her. Not hitting her vitals to finish her off with one motion, but it’s going in and doing some damage. Here’s the thing: Burke saw what was happening too. It’d be like he’s in the woods with the girl and nonchalantly walking over while she’s getting killed, and when he finally holds her and sees she’s gone, he then cries “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” to the heavens. It’s like there’s time to intervene but he chose not to. He wanted to stay the course when it’s a dog-leg left and the Leafs have the worlds nastiest slice (There. I threw in a golf reference for everyone. Go ahead, make your ‘Golf Leafs, Golf’ jokes to your colleagues around the water cooler). So after watching the team collapse, a tone of negative publicity and criticism along the way (some highly questionable ‘journalistic research’ methods; even I won’t link them which is saying a LOT), and the full page apology taken out in the paper it’s easy to pile on this team but let’s, as always, look to the future.

(Side Note: Dear MLSE, It’s clear you need a VP of Common Sense and I’d like to apply for the position. I’m young, energetic, enthusiastic, and I’m in touch with how people feel in social media. If you had brought the full-page apology to my attention before publication, I would’ve said it’s a horrible idea and ripped it up in front of the board like Cersei Lannister tore up the King’s Letter in front of Eddard Stark. See? A ‘Game of Thrones’ reference has to put me in the running for that position!)

Before Leafs Fans everywhere get all excited for next season in July, you have to promise me you realize a couple of things: 1) It’s a CBA year. There’s going to be a new deal, maybe a lockout with a shortened season, that could hurt a team like Toronto because you may not be able to bury contracts in the minors like Jeff Finger (I think 35% of the fan base just said “Wait, we still have him?”). So, that’ll make every contract signed that much harder to move. Another thing is that the Leafs are only looking to have about $2.1-million come off the books, and with their one million in cap space as it is (unless the cap goes up), that’s not a lot of wiggle room especially when you have 4 restricted-free agents that need deals (on the plus side, in two years we’ll have FINALLY paid off Darcy Tucker’s buyout! An extra million in cap space! Rejoice in it!!!). So, it does seem bleak that we have a bunch of over-priced rentals going into next year, but there’s a couple of catches.

I said “rentals going into next year” for the one reason: the 2013-14 season has the Leafs (so far) with seven, count ‘em, SEVEN free agent forwards. Contracts like Tim Connolly’s $4.75-million, GONE! Colby Armstrong’s $3-million, Buh-BYE! Matthew Lombardi and Clarke MacArthur you could re-negotiate to either keep the same or bring it down a little. Joffrey Lupul may get a bit of a raise (hell, if Mikhail Grabovski gets $5.5-million a season, after this year you’d think Lupul is entitled to that too) as will Tyler Bozak and David Steckel but there’s a lot more wiggle room 2 years down the road. The only one that should really bother you is Nazim Kadri is also an RFA that year and will probably want a bump. But that should be manageable (that is, IF the Leafs finally decide to keep him up for a full season).

Here’s the last reason why you should hold out hope: the Marlies are good. REALLY good. Like, “tied-for-second-overall-with-the-lowest-goals-against-in-the-league-going-into-the-playoffs” good. The only team that may have a better plus-minus for goals for and against is the top-seeded Norfolk Admirals (who’s NHL club is the Tampa Bay Lightning, so watch for them to get good again next year). What I’m getting at is something good’s happening in the Marlies’ system and it’ll be a matter of time before the Leafs will be able to capitalize on it. It may start with one or two call-ups, but in a couple of years, if they keep drafting near-ready NHL players, they will finally be able to make a push for the playoffs. I know how hard it is right now, and it feels like the last couple years we’ve either been played or lied to, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And as for Brian Burke, just remember that we’ll be patient but you’re coming up on 5 years with the club. And for all fans who root for Toronto-teams, I’ll warn you now that we don’t respond well to 5-year plans that don’t go anywhere after 5 years. Ask the last guy did it.