Sunday, February 7, 2016

Like It Or Not Peyton Manning is A Super Bowl Champion Again

The NFL season came to a fitting end tonight in the Bay area. The Denver Broncos are the champions of the NFL (Denver defeated Carolina 24-10) and once again the AFC stands atop the NFL mountain!

Some people might not be happy that Peyton Manning won another Super Bowl tonight in Super Bowl 50 but he did. Peyton's Denver Broncos did just that. Denver's defense did just that.

Peyton didn't have to do much. He had to move the ball a little bit, get a few first downs and most importantly he had to make few errors. Peyton Manning made very few errors and that allowed the best defense in the NFL to do its job.

Most of the credit for Denver's championship has to go to the mighty Denver defense.

Smothering Denver Defense

Led by Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller, the Broncos smothered Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

Von Miller seemed to be everywhere tonight. The guy made big play after big play. He was sensational.

Carolina was able to make a play here and a play there but for most of the game's sixty minutes it was the Broncos defense that ruled the night.

When a Carolina running back tried to run the ball he was met by a Denver defender. When Cam tried to pass the ball he was either sacked, hit, ran down, pressured or his receivers were clobbered if they were even able to catch the ball.

The speed of Denver's defense was just too much for Cam and his offense to deal with. It was something to see this Broncos defense in action.

I never gave them a shot. I knew that they were good but not good enough to beat the Carolina Panthers.

Wrap Up

Peyton Manning didn't have great stats in Super Bowl 50. He didn't have to but he knew what to do. He knew it was the defense that would win the game.

Manning showed how great a football player he is. He took a step back and allowed his defense to get the glory.

I'm a huge Peyton Manning fan and I'm so happy he will leave the game on top. It's been a hell of ride he's taken his fans on. He's been fun to watch. He's been a gentleman and a great ambassador for the game.

Tonight is a great night. The Broncos won, Peyton won and the AFC won.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Minnesota Wild Have Gone from Pathetic to Comedic

On Saturday night I saw another pathetic game when the Minnesota Wild played faced off against the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis. You can’t make up the way this game went. Chances, chances and more chances in the first 38:13 before Matt Dumba got the team on the scoreboard by scoring getting a power play goal.

Prior to their power play goal, the pathetic Wild had a glorious chance and basically a wide open net and of course they missed. The St. Louis Blues took the puck down the ice and they scored.

The Comedic Wild

The Wild have gone from pathetic to comedic. Things keep getting worse and worse and worse. The Wild did score a power play goal that was their loan goal in a period that saw them register 24 shots on net.

Anthony Lapanta praised St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott for making save after save but in reality it’s the inability of the Wild to score that makes opposing netminders look great. This happened so many games of late. Is every goalie they play a future Hall of Fame inductee?

At the end of the second period the Fox Sports North crew were excited as the Wild had gained the momentum, but I was more skeptical. I’ve been lulled into a false sense of positivity by the Minnesota Wild. Who cares if they had twenty-four shots on net. They only scored one goal. I was thinking to myself “do they have to get fifty shots on net in the third period in order to score two goals?”

St. Louis took a 3-1 lead into the third period.

False Hope Was all that the Wild Gave us

Just as quickly as the Wild turned the game into a two score deficit the Blues widened the lead to three goals after scoring a power play goal at the three-minute mark of the third period. It was 4-1 and reality must have started to sink in to Minnesota Wild.

I’ve said this for a few years now; if you can’t score goals it doesn’t matter if you have numerous scoring chances and greatly outshoot your opponent. The Wild had outshot the Blues 33-19 at the 4:41 mark of the third but trailed 4-1 on the scoreboard. That’s all that mattered.

Do you think that the Blues cared that the Wild were greatly outshooting them? No! The only thing that they cared about is that they outscored their Central Division rivals.

The most annoying sounds during the Wild’s s losing streak are the dings, pings and clangs as the puck hits the pipe (goalpost and crossbar). After the Blues scored their fourth the Wild took a penalty but they had a shorthanded goal opportunity. As usual the Wild failed to score as Ryan Suter hit the post!

In the future when the Wild’s announcers start praising the team and try to convince you that the Wild have momentum heading into the third period, take that with a grain of salt. More often than not, the Wild will disappoint you and make you feel horrible inside.

It's much easier to expect that the Minnesota Wild will find a way, any way to mess things up. Actually it’s not easy to believe this but it’s easier than thinking the Wild will impress me and actually start producing.

Final Thoughts

In the end this game was another example of the Wild having glorious scoring chances, tons of shots on net but having the inability of scoring goals. 

A team that outshoots their opponent 33-23 midway through the final frame, should be leading on the scoreboard. That’s not happening with this team. It’s frustrating and infuriating but it’s the reality that we face as Wild fans.

The Wild lost 4-1 to the Blues and outshot them 39-24.

Fox Sports North Not Doing a Good Job Promoting Minnesota Girls During Hockey Day Minnesota

During today's telecast @FoxSportsNorth (FSN) mentioned that Minnesota has the most girls playing hockey in Minnesota. That's great news but Fox Sports North gives the viewer of their coverage of Hockey Day Minnesota that they give a darn about girl's & women's hockey in the state of hockey.

I've been watching FSN's coverage of Hockey Day Minnesota for a number of years now and the one thing that stands out to me is that the reality of the girl's game takes a back seat to the boy's. I think that it's worse than taking the back seat. It virtually takes a no seat.

Surein the past FSN has aired taped a girl's game that aired when most everyone was sleeping. This yearFSN will not even air a taped game.

It annoys me when they (FSN) even mention girl's hockey. In reality of the coverage of Hockey Day Minnesota is that  FSN doesn't care about the girl's game. If FSN cared about the girl's game and wanted to promote it, they would air a live game when people are awake and not sleeping.

If a big network like Fox would air a girl's game, maybe girls in Minnesota would feel that they are being taken seriously by Minnesotans. Girls growing up now would be more inclined to play hockey.

Minnesotans Need to Start Supporting the Game

Every year, including this year, I come down hard on FSN but maybe my anger is misguided. Maybe my anger should be directed at Minnesotans. Why would I say that? If Minnesotans refused to watch FSN's coverage of Hockey Day Minnesota, maybe FSN would air a live girl's game.

I place blame upon myself as well. I watch FSN's coverage and the only thing that I'm doing is writing one measly blog post per year. Maybe I could do more to support the girls who play hockey in this state.

My guess is that they air live games based on ratings. If Minnesotans demanded coverage of the girl's game, I'm guessing FSN would air more live girl's hockey.

FSN Still to Blame

While Minnesotans do share in the blame of not supporting the girls playing hockey in the state of Minnesota, FSN could take the lead and help promote the girl's game. Why be a follower FSN? 

If FSN took it upon themselves to promote girls in this state, it would go a long way to get more Minnesotans involved in girl's hockey.

I believe the media has a role to play in growing Minnesota hockey. The game of hockey needs to include the girls who play hockey as well. The media needs to show more girl's hockey games. At this time FSN has failed the girls who play hockey in Minnesota.

Until FSN decides that they will air a live girl's hockey game during Hockey Day Minnesota, I will continue to criticize them. I don't think that FSN can claim they are doing a good job promoting and covering hockey day in Minnesota when they ignore the girls who play the great game of hockey.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Why Hasn’t Johnny Manziel been Suspended by Roger Goodell and the NFL?

UPDATE: Johnny Manziel is now under investigation for an alleged domestic assault of his ex-girlfriend.

In the past couple of years we saw a number of NFL stars being suspended for an entire season. Ray Rice was the first player suspended for an entire season in 2014 and he hasn’t been able to latch on to an NFL team. Adrian Peterson was also suspended for a year due to beating his son.

Sure the NFL and Roger Goodell reacted harshly to these individuals due to a public outcry after a video surfaced of Ray Rice knocking out his then girlfriend. The NFL’s initial mishandling of the incident also resulted in an angry public reaction. Ray Rice initially received what amounted to a slap on the wrist. The NFL later changed that suspension to a year ban.

The Rice and Peterson bans were eventually overruled by Federal  Courts  but the players did sit for an entire NFL season.

If the NFL is trying to be consistent in handing out suspensions and penalties, they are doing a terrible job. Like the reception, no reception rule or rules that no one understands, players don’t really know what punishment they will receive for a myriad of infractions. The NFL seems to make things up as they go along.

Recently we’ve heard about Johnny Manziel and his alleged assaults on his ex-girlfriend. She claims he recently struck her and threatened to kill both of them. What has the NFL’s response been? Nada. Zero. Bubkis. Zilch.

For a league that orchestrated a witch hunt against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for the so called and immaterial Deflategate, the NFL has done nothing to Johnny Manziel.

Is the NFL’s Reaction/Inaction Due to a Race issue?

On the surface it might look like the NFL’s reaction and inaction are motivated by race. I’m sure there are many people that are upset that Ray Rice who by all accounts has turned his life around and learned from his transgressions can’t find a job and Manziel has had no penalty levied against him. They might think that they race has played a part in NFL not taking action against Johnny Manziel.

I think the NFL will have a tough time convincing people that race has no part in their decisions to punish players. The NFL reacted very harshly against Peterson and Rice and in my opinion that reaction was warranted on moral grounds.

The problem for me is that the NFL had to be forced into taking a tough stand against domestic and child abuse, so the NFL has anything but a moral compass. I’m not sure if there is a moral bone in the NFL’s body, so handing out a punishment on moral grounds seems futile.

That’s exactly what two different federal courts thought as well.

NFL’s Inaction Regarding Johnny Manziel is Based on Legal Grounds

I think that the NFL is taking it’s time and being extremely careful in handing out any punishment to Manziel because they have been embarrassed before by losing in Federal Court. Both the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson bans were ruled to go against NFL policy. The courts ruled that the NFL was basically making things up as they went along and weren’t following their own protocols.

The last thing that the NFL needs now is another case where a degenerate player wins in the court of law. I believe that the NFL does need to be careful but they’ve had enough time to establish a process of dealing with players that are behaving poorly and in some cases might be breaking the law.

I believe that the NFL needs to issue a statement regarding Manziel and they need to suspend the guy. It might end up being a moot point because there is a chance that Manziel never plays in the NFL again. But they still have to punish him. This is the NFL and there are teams like the Dallas Cowboys who will hire Manziel and won’t care what Manziel has done in his private life.

I personally don’t believe that Manziel is capable of being productive right now due to the state that he’s in but I’m sure that there’s a team out there that believes that they can change Johnny. The only one that can change Johnny is Johnny. The best thing for him right now is to be in rehab.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Minnesota Wild are Now Consistent - Consistently Atrocious that is

The Minnesota Wild continues to find unique ways to lose games and tonight's game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden left this Wild fan scratching his head. I'm beyond getting mad and angry. I'm disgusted.

The Minnesota Wild have become consistent at something but that something is losing. They have become consistently atrocious. There aren't enough words for me to describe how I feel about this team right now but it's safe to say that I want to SCREAMMMMMMMMMMMM!

Minnesota Wild Start Hot Then Fizzle into Oblivion

The Wild surprised me in the first period. They had two goals on six shots and looked like they had found their mojo. The Wild would end up with only 18 shots and more importantly they would give up the next four goals (one was an empty net goal).

In my last Minnesota Wild article I mentioned that I would rather the Wild get fewer shots and more goals than the opposite. Tonight it looked like that was going to happen. Then in a matter of moments the Wild gave this game away.

The second and third periods were a joke. The same thing occurred two nights ago when the Wild played the New York Islanders. They had a strong first period and then laid an egg in the final two periods.

The Wild are definitely lacking something. What that something is, I have no idea but losing the way the team is losing right now is terrible and disheartening. The team seems to lack the drive necessary to make the type of push that they've made the last two seasons.

Something has to change and it has to change now. Actually things had to change yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.

So what do I and other Wild fans think needs to change?

Time for Mike Yeo to Go

My Twitter friend @kpaananen40 (also known as vikings4life) has called for Mike Yeo to be fired for a number of weeks now. He is a guy that I regularly tweet with during Wild games and he usually pushes me to see another side of things.

We don't always agree but we respect each other and have a fun time (well not always fun) talking about our favorite NHL team.

I've continuously defended Yeo and placed the blame on the players and their inability to score goals but after this New York trip, I think that Yeo has lost his team and a change is necessary.

It does pain me to say that it's time for Yeo to be fired. Every year Mike Yeo seems to be on thin ice and somehow he survives but his time has run out. The way the Wild keep losing is unacceptable and while it's easy to blame the players, at some point the finger has to be pointed at the head coach.

The Wild just can't have these huge swings season after season. The team needs to play consistently well and not consistently poorly. If Wild management and ownership really feel that they have the talent necessary to make the playoffs and go far in the playoffs, then they need to seriously consider a change in the head coaching position.

Firing Yeo this far into the season is a tough thing to do and it might not solve the immediate problems that the team faces. But in the long-term it might be what is needed. The players have to realize that their actions and horrendous play can and will get their coach fired.

Other Changes Necessary as Well

If the Wild are serious about winning they need to send the message that losing is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. They need to shake things up before the NHL trade deadline that is on February 29th.

The Wild should consider trading some big names in order to get big names who could potentially provide much needed scoring. It might be tough to give up a potential future superstar but the team needs to improve this club and improve it now.

I don't have the magic answer about who should be traded and what that trade should look like. I do know that the Minnesota Wild are spiraling out of control and something needs to be done to stop the losing. This team's chances of making the playoffs continue to dwindle away. Waiting for the next loss and the one after that and the one after that to make changes will have a negative impact on the club.

Let's hope that Wild management start making changes now!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Minnesota Wild Look Worse after the All Star Break

When the Minnesota Wild entered the All Star break last week, the break couldn’t have come too soon. The team was spiraling out of control and were in search of a victory. No matter what they did they couldn’t score a goal. It didn’t matter how many shots and good scoring chances the team had, they couldn’t score.

For fans who think that the lack of scoring is an anomaly, you can go back a few years and see that the Wild seem to have long streaks of being unable to score. In those scoring droughts, the Wild have had many games where they’ve outplayed their opponents, outshot their opponents and out chanced their opponents, only to come away with a big fat L in the loss column.

The team’s inability to score has been well documented as of late this season and in previous years. The Wild have made opposing goalies look like Vezina Trophy candidates. Instead of ripping into players in previous years, the media has heralded the great goaltending of opposing goalies.

Now It’s time to rip the team’s players. I will say what I’ve said in the past. Who cares about how many shots on goal you have? Score a darn goal and I will be happy. I’d rather the Wild have 5 shots on net, score three goals and win a game than have them outshoot their opponents 40-18 and lose the game 3-1.

More of the Same

Wild fans were eager to see what version of the Minnesota Wild would take the ice last night against the New York Islanders. In the first period, it was more of the same, except the Wild managed a goal out of twenty shots. They seemed in control but still showed the inability to score goals.

With the way the team is playing right now, one goal on twenty shots is not going to cut it. They can’t win games that way. Recent history has shown the Wild that their opponents will score more than just a goal or two and even when the Wild give up only two goals, they can’t score more than a goal. So they will and still lose.

I was really worried that the Wild were in for another rude awakening. I was afraid that they allowed a team to remain nonexistent through a period but due to not being able to take control of the game (via the scoreboard) that the Islanders would take advantage of that and decide to be more competitive in the following two periods.

That’s exactly what happened and that has been the blueprint for Wild opponents in the past month. New York came on strong in the second period and limited the Wild to less than ten shots. They scored two goals before the Wild would score an equalizer with under two minutes to play in the second period.

I was worried that the Wild would fail to take advantage of the momentum that a late goal gives most hockey teams. Less than a minute later, the Wild gave up the Islanders’ third goal of the game  and it seemed as if the Wild were a balloon that had been popped.

I didn’t have much confidence that the Wild would play a good third period. The team had just fallen apart and the Islanders have had some decent third periods this season.

Disaster Continues for the Minnesota Wild

The Islanders did what good teams do. They came out strong to start the third period. The New York Islanders scored two goals in less than five minutes into the third period and with that the Wild were done. The chances of the Wild scoring three goals in 15 minutes when they couldn’t score more than two goals in forty minutes were slim to none.

The Wild did manage a goal to make the score look respectable and to provide some false hope for Wild fans who might think that the Wild scoring machine was back in action. Note to fans: The Wild will have difficulty scoring three goals consistently and the only hope that they have is if Devan Dubnyk has shutout after shutout after shutout, so the team can win games 1-0 or 2-1.

Don’t Count on another Wild Finish to the Season for Minnesota

Minnesota Wild fans are counting or praying for another strong and improbable finish to the season for the Wild. They seem to expect that the Wild will be in the playoffs come April. While the Wild have pulled a rabbit out of the figurative NHL hat the previous two seasons, I don’t think that it will happen this year.

Good teams are consistent. Sure they have minor slumps here and there but they don’t have the crazy swings that the Wild have. It takes a lot out of a team to be able to put together a full two months of having to win almost every game and if they miraculously do that again this year, they will have almost nothing left in their tank.

The Wild entered the season with high hopes and expectations. They had a good first half of the season, their best start to a season. The Wild lulled us all into a false sense of security and led us to believe that something was different this season.

Then like a lightning bolt that struck the team’s fans, the Wild went into a terrible slump and haven’t recovered. They are likely to be a mediocre team at best for the remainder of the season.

As a Wild fan, this is the worst possible situation. This is a team that had a lot of promise. They seemed to have turned the corner and were scoring goals and winning games. Now this? I seriously feel like I’ve wasted a number of evenings/nights watching this team. My time, like anyone else’s is precious to me. Some of the games that Wild fans have had to endure is not only pathetic it’s almost unforgivable.

Maybe the Wild will surprise me once again find a way to make the playoffs and then go on a magical run but I’m not going to hold my breath. I don’t have much hope that this team will turn things around, even if the team is banking on the fact that since they’ve done it before, they will do it again.

Sports from the Past - New England Defeats St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI

Growing up, I hated the New England Patriots. I loved the Dolphins and they are in the same division, the AFC East. Hating the Patriots came with the territory. Things started to change for me around 2005. I had started to slowly change to the dark side a couple of years earlier.

I started to become a fan due to the excellence that the team fielded each season. Bill Belichick is a genius when it comes to coaching and Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.

As I witnessed greatness in action, I also heard of the many detractors that the team had. I think when it comes to the Patriots, people are just jealous of greatness and a winner.

February 3rd 2002 - New England Patriots Defeat St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI

This was the beginning of an era, the Patriots era and the start of football greatness in the 2000's for the Patriots. Almost a decade and a half later the Patriots are still relevant and each year they continue to be one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

It seems as if the Patriots are in the AFC Championship game every year. In fact the, the Patriots have been to nine AFC Championship games in the past sixteen seasons (beginning in 2001). That's nine out of the past sixteen seasons. They've won six of them and won the Super Bowl four times.

Back in 2001, few people gave them a chance to defeat the mighty St. Louis Rams who had arguably the best offense the game had seen until that time. The Rams were the clear favorite but the Patriots found a way to win by a field goal.

Greatness had begun and from my perspective it was hard not to be in awe of the Patriots and to fall in love with the Patriots. As mentioned above, it would be a few short years before I would be a fan of this great organization. Another reason for becoming a fan of New England was due to the team being in the AFC. I'm an AFC fan and the Patriots have been one of those teams in the past sixteen seasons that have given the AFC a legitimate shot at winning the Super Bowl.

Some people might think that the mighty Patriots are on the decline but Tom Brady still has a few seasons left in him and he has a nucleus of good players. Look for the Patriots to compete for Lombardy for at least the next three season!

***Sports from the Past is a This Day in Sports feature. Only one story is featured daily***