sports

This Week In Sports (Jul 16th)

This week is the launch of our new segment, This Week In Sports, where we will recap what we judge to be the best, most interesting and newsworthy stories of the past week in the wide-world of Sports.

Whether it’s Baseball, Football, Darts, Cricket, Water Polo or bridge, if it’s newsworthy we’ll throw it your way. If you have suggestions or idea’s, or want to throw a newstory our way fire it to henry.whitfield@gmail.com or leave it in the comment section.

This Week In Sports (Jul 16th Ed)

  • In baseball the Year Of The Pitcher continued into the All-Star break, with a close 3-1 win by the National League over the American League. The stellar pitching also continued in the Home Run Derby, where Corey Hart’s pitcher managed to help him go homerunless in the second round.

 

  • Perenial choke-artist Evgeni Nabokov has flown the coop and run back to Europe with his tail between his legs, the San Jose Sharks had informed the goaltender that his services were no longer needed to help them with their string of playoff mishaps; They  already resigned Marleau to fill that role.

 

  • In the NBA, the Miami Heat performed a coup in bringing Toronto favorite Chris Bosh and reigning NBA MVP LeBron James to their city, whilealso  re-signing their own fan favorite Dwaye Wade. This prompted the New York Knicks to temporarily lose their mind and sign Amare Stoudemire for a contract that could be worth $100mil over five years.

 

  • Roy Hodgson, former Fulham saviour and the new Liverpool manager, has come out and informed the public that neither Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres will be leaving the club anytime soon. However, the manger seemed concerned that he was unable to locate and contact Argentine Javier Mascherano; this isn’t really news, as the midfielder was no where to be found for much of the World Cup and the 2009/2010  season.

 

  • In sad news for the world of baseball, the owner of the New York Yankees has died. George Steinbrenner, who was made a part of pop-culture through Seinfeld, passed away on the morning of the All-Star game after what was described as a massive heart attack.

 

  • Lastly, in a plug of shameless self promotion, Sports With Henry broke an exciting news story on the status of highly-touted European draft pick Martin Frk and how contract negotiations are going with the Halifax Mooseheads, Allan Walsh says Have faith.

NHL 2010 Playoffs – Round 3 Roundup

As a die-hard Toronto Maple Leaf fan, havent made the playoffs in 5 season, and season ticket holder for the Halifax Mooseheads, last in the QMJHL for the past two seasons, I am used to disappointments but this round of the playoffs took that to a whole new level.

I chose to jump on the bandwagons of both the Montreal Canadiens and the San Jose Sharks only to be rewarded with two lopsided series – going in favour of the other team.

The WestSan Jose Sharks (1) – Chicago Blackhawks (2)

The San Jose Sharks got swept in convincing fashion by the Chicago Blackhawks, a demise I predicted last round here against the Detroit Redwings, but obviously the hockey Gods just wanted to torture me some more. They never really competed and I’d be surprised if Evgeni Nabakov ever plays another game for the Sharks. The question remains if the Sharks will gut their top line and trade the ‘big name players’ who are constant no-shows in the playoffs.

My Pick: San Jose in 7

Actual Result: Chicago in 4


The EastPhiladelphia Flyers (7) – Montreal Canadiens (8)

The Cinderella story had to end sometime; too bad it shattered after I picked the Canadiens to win this series.

Jaroslav Halak had been the goaltending standout in the 2010 playoffs until Michael Leighton swiftly stole that title with three shutouts against the Canadiens. While he put up a brick wall on the backend, his scorers went to work booking a place in the Stanley Cup finals for a team that didn’t make the playoffs until the last day of the regular season.

I genuinely felt bad for the Habs as they looked physically exhausted out there against the Flyers, who threw their body around and made their presence felt. After beating two of the best teams in the league, Washington and Pittsburgh, it didn’t seem that the Canadiens had any gas left in the tank and they were never really in this series.

My Pick: Montreal In 6

Actual Result: Philadelphia in 5

MVP Of The Round – Michael Leighton stole this and ran away with it. He posted three shutouts against the Habs, and has quickly shown that the Flyers backup goalie can get it done. We’ll wait and see if he can get it done against the high-powered Chicago offence, but for now I’ll let him enjoy his MVP performance.

The No Show – I was going to say the Habs entire roster, but they won a game, so clearly for the second time this series it is a tie between Marleau, Thorton and Heatley. Where were you guys? Pavelski didn’t pick up the slack and the Sharks got swept. I feel a change is coming in San Jose and a real shake up needs to happen.

Most Goals – Even though his team is out, Michael Cammalleri still leads with 13 goals, that are four better than the next best total.

Most Assists – Jonathan Toews continued his offensive success this post season and leads with 19 assists in these playoffs.

Most Points – Jonathan Toews also leads the overall points with 26 points, which is five better than Flyers Captain Mike Richards who sits at 21 points.

Cam Russell.. Seriously?

This week the Halifax Mooseheads announced they had re-signed GM and Coach Cam Russell to a contract extension, keeping the former NHL player around until the end of next season and although this isn’t a big surprise, it will be upsetting to Moosehead fans in the manner it was announced.

Apparently Cam was resigned last month but the team chose not to announce it, similar to the resigning of Marcel Patenaude in the 2007/2008 season, where they announced him signing a new contact a mere eight months later.

It’s obvious that Bobby Smith and the management team decided to hold off on the announcement due to disgruntled fans and the many fans who are upset with the job that Cam has been doing behind the bench.

I’ll fully disclose that I’m a full-fledged, card-carrying “Cam Russell Must Go” fan club member, albeit as a GM he has been doing an okay job, as a coach he has failed to make an impact on the team and get positive results.

Here are his fantastic stats for the last four seasons as a Coach:

2006/07 – 32/31/3/4 (71pts, 14th)
2007/08 – 42/23/0/5 (89pts, 4th)
2008/09 – 19/41/3/5 (46pts, LAST)
2009/10 – 13/48/3/4 (33pts, LAST)


This gives him a total of 106/143/9/18 for a shiny winning percentage of just .384% and yet the Ownership is more than happy to keep him behind the bench.

Last season the Mooseheads went up and down, and then down some more. Able to pull off some surprise wins over the top teams, but failed to turn up in must win games against fellow cellar dwellers.

With the junior draft fast approaching and the Moose sitting with the overall 2nd pick and six others in the top 35, Cam is  under the microscope to put together a team that can compete for the Memorial Cup in the next two years.

For now I will put away the “Will trade Cam for Bag of Pucks” sign, and wait and see how next season pans out.

After two seasons in last place, Cam will need to pick it up or the fans will finally give up on him and chase him out-of-town.

Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.

How the Habs can beat the Pens

With the Montreal Canadien Bandwagon in full effect and fans believing that they can make it past the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and their superstars, it’s time to look at the five possible ways that the Canadiens could possibly beat the Pens.

–          In a wild twist Jacques Martin reveals that his sensation Jaroslav Halak is actually a cyborg built by the team to fill the gap left between the pipes from the Patrick Roy trade. In a further twist, he says they tried to do this when he was in Ottawa, but alas, they accidently programmed their robot to play like Patrick LaLime.

 –          In an attempt to stop the offence of the Penguins, defencemen Hal Gill lies down along the blue line, essentially making it impossible to skate into the Montreal zone past the 15ft tall defencemen. After, Pundits laud this move and point out it’s the fastest he’s looked in years!

–          Habs fans create a “What If Moment” video of Sidney Crosby’s golden goal, leaving a copy under the superstar’s door. Sid spends the rest of the series in his hotel room, stroking his ego and telling himself how amazing he is. He ends up missing the rest of the series.

–          The Quebec government makes it law that all French Canadience players must play for the Canadiens; Marc-Andre Fleury, Maxime Talbot, Pascal Dupuis, Kris Letang dress for the Habs.

 –          Former owner and fan, George Gillette organizes the Penguins to be in a Gillette commercial; The Pens shave, and are subject to the worst losing streak since the Red Sox broke the Curse Of The Bambino, going 100 years until their next cup win.

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Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.

Top 10 Goalkeeping Blunders

Top Ten Goalkeeping Blunders

The key to any Football team is the Goalkeeper. Look at teams that have dominated year in and year out, and there is usually a big name Goalkeeper between the woodworks. Whether it was Petr Cech for Chelsea in the Mourinho years, Peter Schmeichel for Manchester United or Oliver Kahn in the Bayern Munich net, these teams conceded few goals and won many titles.

Here are Football’s Top Ten Goalkeeping Blunders:

10 – Andy Divil, Barnsley vs Nottingham Forest
Andy Divil was playing for Barnsley in a game against Nottingham Forest when a simple throw out turned into a disaster for the goalkeeper. As he held the ball in one hand to kick it out he failed to notice the Nottingham player. As he protested the striker placed the ball into an open net. As the rules state that a goalkeeper must have both hands on the ball at all times, Mr Divil had no-one to blame but himself and his lack of peripheral vision.

9 – Gianluigi Buffon, Unknown

The man regarded as the greatest goalkeeper in the world isn’t himself immune to the concentration lacking moments that define this list, while its not the worst mistake ever to be made, it’s a mistake that someone as good as him should be above, a reminder that we’re all human.

8 – Massimo Taibi, Manchester United vs Southampton

When legend Peter Schmeichel left Manchester United, the team underwent an expensive and prolonged search for a replacement. The first of the new goalkeepers was to be Massimo. Unfortunately, the Italian stopper had his first game  against Liverpool, where he flapped at a free kick allowing future Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia to score. This however, was not to be his biggest mistake. During his next game against Southampton, Taibi decided to prove to Sir Alex that he was to be the first of many flops. When a simple long range shot from Matt LeTissier went straight through his hands and out his arse. He was given one more chance but after a 5 – 0 drubbing from Chelsea,  he was shut out from the team and packed off to Reggina.

7 – Robert Green, Norwich City vs MK Dons

Future England goalkeeper + mistake = same old story. Back in the days Norwich City were a team looking for promotion and they had been getting rave reviews about a number of their players, no less deserving was their goalkeeper, Robert Green . Who even earned a call up to the England Team after a superb season, but as most people do, even great keepers are prone to mistakes. A simple lack of looking both ways before placing the ball on the grass, allowed MK Dons striker David Johnson to strip the ball off him and into the back of the next.

6 – Oliver Kahn, Unknown

Football’s law states that only the goalkeeper is allowed to use his hands, so long as he his in the area, but what if said goalkeeper is in the other area? German No.1 Kahn decides to test this theory.

5 – Unknown J-League Player, Unknown

Goalkeeping is a specialised position; as such they normally don’t have excellent ball control. But really, it’s much easier for me to show you and let you laugh, this is one of the funniest goals you’ll ever see:

4 – Jens Lehman, Unknown

If you’ve heard his name, you know that we could make endless Top Ten posts about his mistakes and horrific displays of what he calls ‘goal-keeping’. He definitely shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a football pitch. In this one clip, from one game; He pushes over a player, he goes to ground looking for any kind of card on the opposition and then acts like he’s been shot, only to jump right up when the call doesn’t go his way.

3 – Roy Carroll, Manchester United vs Tottenham

Number 13, unlucky for some. Definitely for Roy. Anyone who is familiar with English football remembers this one and we’re here to show everyone else! In a fairly mundane game against Tottenham, Pedro Mendes tries an audacious shot. Cue Manchester United 5th expensive replacement flop: Northern Ireland ‘keeper Roy Carroll. In one play, he makes the biggest blunder we’ve ever seen and then makes a ridiculously big recovery to keep the ball out of the net. We’ll just ignored the fact the ball is cleaaaarly across the line.

2 – Peter Enkleman, Birmingham vs Aston Villa

In a footballer’s career there are few matches bigger than a local Derby, in the UK when the two Birmingham clubs meet, it’s a big deal. You would think that this would be a game where you concentrate thoroughly on the task at hand. As a seemingly harmless throw-in back to the keeper turned into a nightmare as the ball rolled over his foot and into the net, leaving the Birmingham fans with a 2 – 0 win with which they can boast to their rivals to this day.

1 – Jose Higuita, Various Colombian teams

José René Higuita Zapata is a Colombian football goalkeeper who is famous for inventing the “scorpion kick”; a clearance where the keeper jumps forward, arching his legs over his head and in doing so, kicks the ball away with his heels. This save earned him notoriety when he pulled it off in a friendly game against England in September, 1995, blocking a mistaken cross by Jamie Redknapp.

It it was a mistake by him that knocked Colombia out of the 1990 World Cup, where he seemingly dithered with the ball at his feet 35 yards from goal and cost his their place in the tournament. Mistakes like this earned him the nickname “El Loco” by media and fans alike.

He sports a dirty moustache, a big hairstyle and still thinks he’ll break into the Colombian National side. Here’s your top blunder and some of his highlights rolled into one convenient video:

Tom Dobbyne throw’s his own spin on current sports affairs and offers satirical commentary on current events. Follow him @TomDobbyne or on Facebook as English Tom.

Round Two:What we want to see, but won’t…

After an exciting first round that saw plenty of overtime action, highlight reel saves and ridiculous goals, it’s time to move on and enjoy Round Two of the 2010 NHL Playoffs

Here’s some thing’s we’d like to see happen in Round Two:

– Sydney Crosby realizes his dirt ‘stache needs to go and shaves it off. Women everywhere rejoice and declare a national holiday.

Joe Thornton learns how to score in the playoffs; Unfortunately he was taught by Dan Boyle, and it ends in the back of his own net.

– The San Jose Sharks forget to book their flights to Detroit. Hey, it’s not their fault! They just haven’t made it through the first round in a while… give them a break!

– The Boston Bruins get tired of Carcillo and Zdeno Chara throws round like a rag doll, McCabe anyone? *Okay this one might actually happen..

Even though they were no where close to the playoffs, Brian Burke decides to hold a news conference to inform the media on how his team’s golf game is going.

– The Ottawa Senators still manage to have a better golf game than the Leafs, even though they’ve had a month’s less practice. I guess that’s where Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek for the first round.

Marc Savard returns from injury, determined to prove he isn’t made of glass and goes after Mike Richards. He was wrong and shatters into a million little pieces. Game 1  is delayed by an hour as the rink crew picks up the pieces.

– The Twitter account of Allan Walsh breaks and the hockey world is free from …”Halak it, Halak it a lot!“… and his comparing of his client Jaroslav Halak to the greats like Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden.

– The Vancouver Canucks announce that they’ve legally changed the name of forward Mikael Samuelsson to Mikael Sedin, but Mikael decides to play like Daniel in the first round and forgets how to score.

– Contrary to recent reports, Steve Yzerman does not join the Tampa Bay Lightning as their GM, he instead suits up for the Redwings and leads them to a sweep of the Sharks and scoring a hat trick in all four games.

Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.

NHL 2010 Playoffs – Round 2 Predo’s

2010 Stanley CupWhile most of us are recovering from the stunning comeback by the Montreal Canadiens last night, I figured that I would try to put together some predictions for the second round.

I correctly predicted just one of the outcomes in the East, but recovered with the West going 4 for 4 and finishing the first round with a 5 out of 8 right. But seriously, how many people had Boucher dominating New Jersey and the Habs coming back after going down 3 games to 1?

With that being said, here we go for my Round 2 predictions:

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The EastI said that the East was pretty even before the first round, and that came true with 3 of the Top seeds being knocked out.

Pittsburg (4) – Montreal (8) – While we catch our collective breath from the Habs comeback, this matchup has hockey fans licking their lips. Sid the Kid comes to town to face his childhood heroes, and Jaroslav Halak enters the series as the MVP of round one Mike Cammalleri led the Canadiens with 5 goals and 5 assists, while Crosby was explosive with 5 goals and 9 assists. This series will come down to goaltending, and if Halak can steal another series. He made 231 saves against the Caps and let in just 14 goals, his counterpart Marc-Andre Fluery only had 173 shots against but let in 19 goals. 

As tempting as it is to jump on the Halak bandwagon, i’m going to give the star-studded Penguins the edge in this series: Penguins in 6.

Boston(6)  – Philadelphia (7) –  There are so many stories in this bottom two matchup, its hard to know where to start. The two teams combined for just four 20-goal scorers, and this series will come down to defence and goaltending: Tuukka Rask verse Brian Boucher. Chris Pronger verse Zdeno Chara. Between the pipes Rask pipped Tim Thomas for the starting job, while the Flyers had Michael Leighton and Ray Emery fight for the job, until the team jumped onto the back of a hot Brian Boucher.

This one is a toss-up for me and the closest series that the playoffs have served up in recent years, however: Philadelphia in 6

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The WestFour for four isn’t bad eh? The noise you hear right now is the sound of the ‘Yotes bandwagon emptying and people jumping back onto perennial favourite Detroit Redwings.

Sharks (1) Detroit (5)– Playoff choke artists verse Playoff Masters.  San Jose has 4 Stanley cup champions on their roster, while Detroit sports 20, oh and four of them have four rings, while two have two.  Joe Thornton, Danny Heatley and Patrick Marleau combined for one goal between them, and continued the Sharks streak of key players disappearing in the playoffs. Lucky for them, Joe Pavelski won two games by himself and Evgeni Nabokov was in fine form. In stark contrast, Detroit struggled in the regular season but showed once again why they are a perennial Stanley Cup favourite. They are a team built for the playoffs and their best players were their best players in round one.

It’s not really an upset, but more like same old for these two teams: Detroit in 5

Blackhawks (2) – Vancouver (3) – This will be the MOST exciting series of the round, hands down, no questions asked. Two of the most offensively talented teams in the league, with the Sedin twins, Mikael Samuelsson, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Where to start? Sammy had 7 goals in the first round but between him and the twins they had all four game winning goals. Talk about your stars coming out to play. On the other side, the Blackhawks had 10 different players score but Kane, Toews and Hossa combined for 8 goals. Goaltending is where this series gets interesting with Roberto Luongo looking shaky down the stretch and letting in 17 goals against LA, although most were on the Powerplay. Down the ice, Antti Neimi stole the starter job from Christobal Huet and rattled off another two shutouts in the first series.

This series will be full of high-octane offense and stunning saves, but definitely go the distance. Luongo has me worried but I have to believe he will turn his play around and for that reason I say: Vancouver in 7.

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So there you have it, my Conference finals will look like this:

East – Pittsburg (4) – Philadelphia (7)

West – Vancouver (3) – Detroit (5)

Henry Whitfield is an avid sports fan who covers everything and anything in the sports world, while focusing on hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield.