Well this was another of those weekends where you have about 50 games to choose from and as always, it is impossible to watch all of them. Given so many games on TV in about a four-day period (Thursday night right through to Monday night), covering all of the major North American sports leagues, it can be a task watching as many as I can.
If one of your teams did not win (like was the case with me), there was still a 50/50 chance that one of your other teams will pull one out (like one of mine did).
We go back to Thursday night in the Div I NCAA football schedule saw the North Carolina Tar Heels entertain the Miami (FLA) Hurricanes. The only ones ‘entertained’ that night included you if you were watching it.
Miami won on a last-second play. By 4 points. I didn’t really care who won, I don’t know much about either team; my guys played last night.
Which brings us to last night (there was not much on the sched on Friday night, Notre Dame hockey, Battle of Alberta in the CFL and a whitewashing in the MLB postseason that most people saw coming.
Anyways, last night we start with the NHL and the crazy good season the Leafs had been having; I say ‘had’ because it looks to be a case where the party time is over. Going into Chicago’s United Centre for the first time with a former Blackhawk on the team, I was looking for a lot more from the Leafs, who played one of the worst performances of the entire weekend-so far.
Toronto center Dave Bolland was kept off the scoresheet in his first game in Chicago since he was traded to his hometown Maple Leafs in June. Bolland helped the Blackhawks win two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons and received a warm welcome from the sellout crowd.
Everybody was brutal in this one, including Leafs’ top players. Jonathan Bernier was not strong in net. They have 2 strong goalies on this team, one of them is going to falter. We just hope that they don’t both falter at the same time. Bernier is starting to see that playing pro hockey in Toronto is not fun and games all the time.
Offensively, one goal is not going to win you any games. The chances of a shutout in the game these days is zero to none. The effort factor is the most important factor in these games. Last night, Leafs had none. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near Randy Carlyle today. Or tomorrow.
Toronto went only 1/5 on the powerplay. They had a total of 20 shots on goal last night. I heard someone on Twitter mention in disgust that they had 6 SOG in one of the first two periods. That’s disgusting.
Brian Bickell got the Blackhawks going in what was the first of four goals in that period. All of the scoring came in that period so Chicago went on to win 3-1. That feeling that you get late in the game when things are still within reach got a lot harder last night, nothing came of it and that’s how it ended. Let’s all hope that Reimer will be good to go on Tuesday night when Leafs play Anaheim.
Bernier failed to grab a stopped shot in the second, and Bickell made the most of the opportunity. He skated around a prone Bernier before stuffing it into the net to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead at 5:32.
It was just the second point on the season for the 6-foot-4 Bickell, who is being counted on for more scoring after he got a big new contract during the summer. He began the season on Chicago’s top line, but looks more at home in his spot lower in the lineup.
It will be truly interesting to see which goaltender Carlyle starts on Tuesday.
Some of us all still waiting for big Colton Orr to drop the gloves again and start laying down the old fashioned law. It does nobody any good to sit back and wait for the other ‘Bash Brothers’ to return (Mark Fraser, David Clarkson can fight of course, and Frazer McLaren), the more the rest of the team waits for those guys to return, and the team falls in the standings. Nobody wants that.
Toronto had a chance to get back in the game in the third, but it failed to convert two power plays and went 1/5 with the man advantage for the game.
“They play a pretty high-tempo game and we didn’t seem to be able to keep the pace up until the third period,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. “Then we got desperate and we started to play a lot more of a skating game and do a few things that we should be doing for 60 minutes versus 20 minutes.”
Leafs F James van Riemsdyk was back in the lineup after missing two straight games with back spasms. … The Blackhawks wore white warm-up jerseys with lavender lettering as part of “Hockey Fights Cancer Night,” and the coaches wore lavender ties. All the jerseys and ties will be autographed for an online auction benefiting the team’s charity organization and local cancer awareness organizations … Fs Trevor Smith, Carter Ashton and David Clarkson were scratched for the Maple Leafs. … Ds Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival and F Ben Smith were scratched for the Blackhawks.
If Leafs are not your only team, then there is still a chance you will be doing some celebrating this weekend.
In US College sports, another handful games keep everyone busy. The Texas A&M Aggies fall for the second time this year as QB Johnny Manziel took a beating, then took another beating, and lost the game, 45-41.
TEXAS A&M and NOTRE DAME
Give Johnny Manziel some credit, he took a lickin’ and kept on ticking. Injured his right shoulder early in the 4th quarter, then came back, made some plays, and got his team in position to win the game. They kept dropping passes, and Auburn holds on to win.
Don’t fault Manziel in this, blame all the receivers. The game was good, better than watching Alabama dismantle someone, again.
Then the night got good, Notre Dame hosting University of Southern California. These game are always close. Then someone gets hurt, then it comes down to the last couple of plays (usually with less than a minute play), then someone wins it.
Notre Dame upps their record to 5-2, USC falls to 4-3. T.J. Jones caught the winning TD pass for the Irish. For at least the 2nd game in a row, ND led at the half, they led Arizona State at the half too. Notre Dame did not completely beat USC. Penalties helped beat USC. USC took more penalties than a Junior A or B hockey game.
There are far too many NCAAF games to keep track of on a typical Saturday afternoon.
Some of the other scores saw Michigan and Indiana break a bunch of records. Michigan won 63-47, Alabama crowned Arkansas, 52-0 and Oregon demolished Washington State, 62-38 and Florida State manhandled Clemson, 51-14; that game was over in the first quarter lol.
So if one of those winners is you team, that is good.
And…there are still several games left before the end of the so-called ‘sports week’. The New York Jets used overtime to hand Tom Brady another loss, the Steelers are looking to improve (again) at home to Baltimore, and the granddaddy of them all comes along at 7pm when Peyton Manning returns home to Lucas Oil Stadium to play the Colts.
The other good news is the Steelers have the Ravens trailing, and the 49ers are riding Colin Kaepernick’s arms and legs, leading, also at the half.
Also, in CFL play, Hamilton was blown out of the water in Montreal, a game which was a thorough embarrassment to anyone who associates themselves with the Tiger-Cats, who couldn’t score a touchdown in a 35-5 loss.
Tomorrow night’s schedule has the Minnesota Vikings playing with their new quarterback against the NY Giants. Josh Freeman will take his first snap NOT playing for the Tampa Bay Bucaneers.