Thursday, February 26, 2009

Angels win the first of '09

Angels 12, White Sox 3

You know it's spring training when the Angels use three catchers (Bobby Wilson, Ryan Budde, and Ben Johnson) along with two more as DH's in Mike Napoli and Hank Conger. Granted, with Scioscia at the helm, the catchers tend to see a lot of action, particularly in the earlier games. Of the batters you can expect to see in April, Brandon Wood hit two deep fly balls for outs at the wall, Bobby Abreu went 0 for 1 with a walk (and saw about 20 combined pitches during his at-bats), Sean Rodriguez went 0-1 with a walk, Kendry Morales went 0-3, and Napoli had a 2-RBI double.

Most of the damage was done in the 8th against Brad Salmon, charged with 6 runs. Conger went 2-3 on the day with 3 RBI, and Fredy Sandoval (who I still see as a legitimate MLB prospect) also picked up two hits, including a double, and 2 RBI.

On the pitching side, Scot Shields and Jose Arredondo eachepitched hitless innings, with Shields earning his K over Jim Thome and Arredondo picking up a pair. You won't see any of the other pitchers in Anaheim this season, although seeing another Francisco Rodriguez out there was pretty weird.

The Angels take on Oakland today at 12:05 Pacific.

Kings 0, Philadelphia 2

A rough game fo the Kings, who put 34 shots on net without getting a goal and lost 1-0 before the 1 second remaining empty netter sealed the game for Philly. Even this loss is encouraging, though, in that the Kings were playing their second game in as many nights and still outskated a very good Flyers team.

Erik Ersberg got the start over Jon Quick, expected after Quick played 65 minutes + a shootout of hockey the previous night. Ersberg was spectacular in the first and solid through the rest of the game, making 18 saves on 19 shots.

I am continually impressed by the combination of Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson. Both are extremely skilled in the defensive zone, and Doguhty has the ability to outskate everyone in taking the puck into the offensive zone. Johnson has a heavy shot and a great sense of positioning on the ice. Both of these guys will be recognized for their talents in the coming years as the Kings become regular Stanley Cup contenders.

Northeastern 47, Drexel 46

The men's basketball team beat Providence earlier this season. Providence just beat #1 Pittsburgh. Does this mean we've earned a little 1 next to our name?

Regardless, Drexel came into Matthews Arena earlier this month and harassed the Huskies into choking up a 13 point second half lead, beating Northeastern 62-58. It was, by far, the worst loss of the season for the Huskies and is the reason why they are currently in second in the CAA.

I actually completely forgot about this game until well after it was over. I checked the score walking back from broomball and was pleasantly surprised to see that the Huskies, courtesy of Big Spot Baptiste Bataille's 1.3 seconds-left jumper, pulled out a 1 point win on the road. This is a season-saver. It guarantees NU a first-round bye in the CAA tournament in Richmond, something they've never had before. The only team in the CAA to make the NCAA tournament this year will be the winner, and one less game is never a bad thing.

For the record, Bataille is maturing into the clutchiest player on the team. His miracle three-pointer against Georgia State that should have forced the game into overtime was erased by poor defense during an inbounds pass, but this is the second shot he's hit that's been a difference-maker. He'll be back next year, too.

I Killed Mufasa 1, Evan Berry's Pancakes 0

Apparently my broomball team is now called "I Killed Mufasa." Who knew?

Anyway, I got a little testy after this weekend's loss and had a frank post-game discussion criticizing our lack of offense. Playing goalie for a team which infrequently scores is hard, but combining an inability to score with a lackadaisical defensive effort is aggravating, particularly when I maintain such a passion for the game. So, after doing my best to explain the need for being two-way players, I went back to my dorm still fuming.

Yesterday, I sent an email with some nifty MS Paint drawings indicating how I thought we should be positioning both on offense and defense. Essentially, the team needed to be forcing the action towards the other net while on offense while collapsing towards me on defense. One of the unique aspects of broomball is that breakaways aren't tremendously dangerous. 90% of the players in this league don't have the skill to put an accurate, hard shot in the air, so most breakaways I just concentrate on cutting the angle and play the waiting game. My offensive scheme leads to more breakaways but emphasizes point shots as well as following breakaways to keep trailers out of the crease and force rebounds to the outside.

To summarize, it worked. Sorta.

The first shot I saw glanced off the post, the second almost snuck through five-hole, and the third was an ugly stick save that rebounded right into the middle of the crease. From there on out, though, I played fundamentally good goalie with few exceptions. I had a neat save where I knocked down a shot, then dove across the crease to knock the one-time rebound shot wide with the tip of my glove. It was lucky, but it probably looked pretty cool.

I had an easy penalty shot fired into my chest, along with a couple breakaways that stayed low and deflected wide. We scored with 3:25 left in the third, with Tom's first collegiate goal (congrats!) coming off a rebound from Jeff's shot shallow in the slot. He elevated the ball over an outstretched goalie for the gamewinner.

Then, all hell broke lose.

I saw five or six good shots in the last three minutes. My best save came with about a minute left on a deflected shot that hit me in the chest before I cradled it and rolled over it. I was telling my defenders to dump the ball down the ice, but our defense coming back into the defensive zone was a little porous.

Our offense is still impotent. This team wasn't very good, although they played well. We can't expect to win scoring a single goal in most games, so I think we're going to need to further refine our offensive strategy. The key is probably more bodies in front of the net...the stupid back door play that works consistently against NU hockey would probably be a cinch to execute against most defenses and goalies.


WANT. Damn those Canadians and their way cooler McDonalds.

This one's good too. "Five hole!"

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