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Detroit Red Wings Only Have Themselves to Blame for Losing to Nashville

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on April 20, 2012

For 20 years now the Detroit Red Wings have established a record of excellence unmatched in sports history. Their 20 straight playoff appearances, multiple Stanley Cups, and consistent level of play has been a modern marvel. They survived through the institution of a salary cap and were able to maintain the same level of excellence.

This year, the Wings seemed poised for another run. They set a new record for consecutive home wins during the regular season and seemed like a team that had what it took to win playoff series and possibly get back to the finals. They faded as the season came to a close, however, and ended up with a No. 5 seed.

Fans were confident that they could beat Nashville, although many predicted it to go 7 games. In the end though, the Wings proved to be no match for a stronger, quicker, and more advantageous Predators team. The Preds and Wings played were different styles. The Wings typical puck possession style of play dominated for large portions of several of the games and they managed to generate a large number of shots. Looking at the shot totals alone was very deceiving. Quality shots were few and far between for the Wings.

The Wings seemed to adjust to their style to throw shots at the net with as much screening as possible. Often focusing on rebound opportunities on Rinne’s blocker side. This had a little success but not nearly enough. Rinne was able to stop most shots without a rebound or the shots were quickly swept away by a collapsing Predators defense. The Predators simply stayed in tight, even allowing the Wings to move the puck on the outside perimeter of their zone at times.

Mike Babcock took offense to the notion that they were mostly getting shots from the outside and not getting quality opportunities before game 5. Any review of the film though seemed to support that idea. The Wings throw and go style wasn’t effective enough at crowding the net. The physical Nashville defense was able to fight the Wings off the net, neutralizing their rebound chances.

In a stark contrast, the Wings defense was neither tougher, physical, or smart. They were good at blocking shots and stealing pucks but struggled mightily with positioning. The first goal of game 5 was just another in an ugly string of defensive lapses by Detroit. Detroit continued to chase the puck and leave the front of the net open. Attempting to get numbers in the fore check battle, the Wings left voids in the middle of their zone which Nashville took advantage of. They regularly slipped guys in with little effort, getting point blank opportunities.

It is not what Red Wings fans are accustomed to seeing from their team that has always been known for being sly, smart, and controlled. The sloppy lapses in the defense weren’t the only issue for the Wings. The sloppiness in their own zone when handling the puck lead to multiple scoring opportunities and several goals. The Wings looked almost lazy. The talk locally was that the Wings had several injured players. Injuries are no excuse for lack of effort, which is what I saw from them.

It is hockey though and I sincerely hope that we find out that most of the main guys were playing hurt. That would at least explain some of the slow play, loss of concentration, and mental lapses. Playing through pain can have a real effect. it is worth noting that Lidstrom looked awful in a lot of the series and seems to be really suffering from the injury he sustained back in the regular season. He still wore extra padding and was taken off the power kill units. Sure signs he was playing hurt.

There are two things that concern me most with this team moving forward. First, they seemed to lack enough quality depth to make up for players lost to injuries. They played several younger players but no one really stepped up and showed they were ready to take over a real role on the team yet. Second, the Wings didn’t seem to play with the same will power as in years past. Even just last year, when they came back against San Jose, the Wings showed a grit and determination that made you believe that maybe they could pull it out. In this Nashville series the Wings lacked effort and intensity throughout the series. They had moments were the energy level rose, such as after the Huddler goal in game 5. They showed they could raise their level of play but they didn’t play with any consistent effort. They really disappointed their fans. I would blame injuries but I think leadership may be more likely to blame. Something unheard of in Hockeytown.

I hoep the Wings are able to revamp their roster a little and get some speed and hungrier players. Or maybe even just look in the mirror and decide they want greatness again. Either way, I would hate to see them lose becauee of sloppy play and lack of effort. It’s not what the Red Wings should ever be known for. In the end, it may goo down as exactly what they were known for in 2012.

David McClure

@detsportsmore

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Weekend NFL Playoff Prediction

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 22, 2011

The Pittsburgh and gets will play an intense game, much like last weeks games for each. I think Pittsburgh is the better team. I would like for them both to lose somehow but since that won’t happen I’ll take the Steelers. 27-20.

The Packers and bears match up is already too good to be true. The more they lower their draft status the better in my mind. This one is also personal as I still think the Bears are beneficiaries of a weak schedule. Even in the playoffs they’ve gotten a lucky draw. The Pack proved they could beat the Bears when they had to. I say Green bay pulls away late and more points are scored than some anticipate. I say Packers 31-24 over the Bears.

The super bowl should be a really good one. I think Green bay will rise to the occasion adn win a game that many feel they won’t win. The NFC North was tougher than most give it credit for. I think the Packers win it 27-17.

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Michigan’s Early Spring Fishing May be Tougher Than Usual This Year

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 19, 2011

The early cold snap that covered much of Michigan with snow has helped to bring about one of the colder winters I can remember. My dreams of Detroit becoming a fresh water Cancun by the time I’m ready to retire are slowly dwindling. Global warming, get your act together will ya!

The additional ice and frozen ground moisture is likely to create a lot of run off this spring. I’m not writing a forecast but the basic idea is more snow and ice equals more water that will need to find its way out to bigger waters. The other concern is timing. The ice out and snow melt will likely last longer than normal. I think this spring will be marked by a later start to many of the spring fishing opportunities and many rivers will be muddier than in years past.

The next part of the chain reaction will be to the lake temperatures. Colder water inflow will result in delayed spring runs of many common sport species. On the flip side, fishing spots like the Detroit and St. Clair rivers may be great spots to go in late spring and early summer. A few weeks of delay can mean you get to fish in 60 degree weather instead of 50 degree weather. It’s a small plus. I’d also expect walleye to remain in the west side of Lake Erie a bit longer which is nice for those of you making long runs to go after them.

It’s far from a perfect science, just my opinion on something to watch out for. If your planning trips to rivers like the Maumee you may want to delay just a bit or take some extra time to check out the conditions.

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Michigan Moose Hunting Viability Being Researched

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 13, 2011

In an article on Mlive.com, really a small series of articles, I have been paying attention to the possibilities of Moose hunting becoming an option in coming years. The feedback is very interesting to me.

Right now there is an estimated 500 moose roaming Michigan’s upper peninsula. That’s not all that many obviously but the question is whether or not the population could sustain a harvest season and, if so, how many moose could be harvested in a season. Make no mistake, moose hunting is not allowed and is not going to be allowed soon, they are simply doing the research at this point.

I think it is great overall. If the research concludes hunting isn’t sustainable then that’s good. Hopefully we will know what the herd needs to look like to support a hunting season. If it is plausible then I am happy whenever we are allowed to make use of the resources of our great state. Moose hunting can be quite special and any time you get the opportunity to harvest big game like elk or moose you have something special and unique. Most of us can’t afford to fly in to Alaska and to have the ability to go on Elk or Moose hunts close to home is a real blessing.  The harvest season may consist of a 10 bull season, kind of like some of the inland sturgeon seasons we see, but even that is a big improvement over no opportunity.

I sincerely hope that if we go down the road to a moose season that some of the money goes towards improving habitat. Habitat and predation are too major factors for the moose population. The rebound of wolves and industry present more danger than a hunter in my mind. It will become important to protect and enhance the environments if we want continued moose hunting privileges.

I will do my best to follow up on progress as I hear about it. If you have any thoughts on the subject or are following/familiar with it please let me know in the comments.

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Keeping it Simple – Michigan’s New Football Coach Brady Hoke

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 13, 2011

I’ll be honest, I started writing a huge post about Hoke and Michigan and all the different points I wanted to make but it’s really this simple:

Hoke wants to be at Michigan and he has the passion and desire that you want. He seems to know the game well and understands what Michigan is.He also has broad support from former players. On the down side his experience is very questionable.

Harbaugh has a better record thanks to his success at Stanford and would have had everything else that Hoke had.

Les Miles is the same as Harbaugh.

The only difference between Hoke and Miles or Harbaugh is perceived experience and recruit respectability. The truth is that all Hoke needs to do is win and be competitive in his losses. That will gain the recruit respectability. If he can find a way to do that then he will be fine. He has to revitalize Michigan’s winning tradition, even if he’s 7-5 or 8-4 but plays teams tough, that’s all that’s needed. The team was 7-5 this year with a horrid defense and questionable offense. I don’t see that as out of reach. If he can find a way to get to 7 wins and then goes and wins a bowl game I think everything else falls in place.

I equate this move to drafting the underclassmen or small school kid that is a little raw but full of potential. If it works than you make out big time. It’s like getting a Tom Brady in the 6th round. He’s likely to develop here and will be a lifer if given the chance. Hopefully he realizes the potential that Michigan sees in him and leaves a legacy of excellence like the University expects.

Best of luck Michigan fans. I’d love to see Michigan and Michigan State fighting for the Big Ten championship year in and year out.

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Detroit Lions 2011 Draft – 4 round

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 11, 2011

I am going to continually update this quick mock draft based on players I think are real candidates where the Lions are picking.

Round 1 No. 13 overall – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

Round 2 No. 45 overall – Robert Sands, SS, West Virginia

Round 3 No. 77 overall – John Moffit, OG, Wisconsin

Round 4 No. 109 overall – Devon House, CB, New Mexico State

Miller appears to have the agility, athleticism, speed, and  size to play the strong side. Robert Sands is an over looked safety prospects with amazing size, 6-5 215, great speed, who lays the wood and makes plays. I think he is one of the guys that may be a 2nd round steal if he can elevate his game in the NFL. John Moffit doesn’t get the praise that Carimi gets but I think Moffit is better at moving guys off the ball and is an ideal right guard prospect. I think he has the natural size, strength, and mobility to play at the next level. The running backs, especially a healthy Javhid Best, need someone who can open holes. Devon House is a developmental prospect that would need a year or two of coaching but he has good potential and may be able to contribute early with some NFL experience and coaching. He has the physical tools and a good feel for the position.

Another later round guy to watch is Demarco Murray. I think his skill set will translate well to the NFL. Nate Irving is a good mid round prospect that has the speed and range to cover the weak side line backer spot. Kelvin Sheppard, the ILB from LSU, fits the same bill as Irving.

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Detroit Pistons Trade Rumor

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 11, 2011

Reportedly Houston is making a pitch to acquire Carmelo Anthony which would kill the NJ trade and leave Rip here. Reports I was seeing yesterday suggested Dumars would wind up getting the round 2 pick I was hoping we’d get. Houston may not get Melo but they could give Denver increased leverage and make the deal not as good for Detroit and/or NJ. We will see.

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Detroit Lions 2011 Off Season Preview and 2011 Draft

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 7, 2011

For the purposes of the article I am not going to concern myself with the potential lockout and I’ll assume that money will talk and an agreement will happen in time. That said, the annual Lions super bowl has taken less meaning in some respects, no longer is Detroit the talk of the nation after the #1 and #2 picks. Obviously as a fan, this is a good thing. It means we actually won some games.

There are several common lines of thinking for the Lions draft, most of which I disagree with so let’s address them first. Misconception numero uno: The Lions are targeting a corner or line-backer in the first. Misconception numero dos: The Lions need to get an elite left tackle so Stafford doesn’t get hurt again. Misconception 3: The pass defense was the biggest problem this season. Misconception 4: Millen’s biggest problem was drafting players with no talent. There are more but those are the top ones it seems like.

As far as drafting is concerned, the Lions DO NOT target positions. They may see a player they like and align themselves to get that player ( see Javhid Best) but they will not reach or gamble on a player because of the position they play. They employ an almost strict Best Player Available strategy. There are general rules, they won’t draft a kicker in high rounds and they won’t draft a QB in high rounds, but most standard positions are fair game. The idea in the NFL is to gather talent. A great LG is worth as much on the field as a great safety. The financials aren’t equal but the impact on the game is similar. Point being, an elite RG would have a significant impact just like an elite corner would. In the draft, you have to try to get elite players almost regardless of position. Even though we may be set, in some peoples minds, on the defensive line doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t draft a player you believe will be an elite defensive end because there is a good corner sitting there. We saw this with Pettigrew, many felt Oher should have been the pick but the Lions weren’t sold on him being an elite player and they believed pettigrew was an elite prospect. Oher has played well and was a good pick up for Baltimore but Pettigrew has the makings of a true Pro Bowl caliber tight end. You may want to value a tackle more but the truth is that a tight end like Jason Witten or Dallas Clark have immense values to their teams.

I said all that to say that needs are secondary come draft time, as they should be. Get talent and worry about holes later. The more talent you bring in the less holes you will have down the road. It’s the best long term solution. You can use trades and free agents to plug holes on the roster. If we’ve learned anything this year it should be that you can never have a team that is too deep.

As for Backus, he’s not one of the top left tackles but he had another great year, he was consistent, and he shut down many of the best pass rushers in the game. Just because Peppers made one play doesn’t mean Backus is garbage. Peppers gets paid for a reason too. If that’s your logic than Suh is garbage and it was really just the offensive lines he faced that were no good. Give credit where credit is due. He had a good year and probably has a few more left.

The pass defense graded much higher than expected. This is a team that has statistically ranked at or near the bottom in both run and pass defense the past several years. A testament to how truly awful things were at one time. This year the pass defense was actually better then the run defense and outside of a few big plays earlier in the season, they held together decent. Coverage was tighter and there was an emphasis on keeping plays in front them in the last 6 games.

As for Millen, who admitted recently how horrible a job he did, there was a bigger problem than his drafting blunders. You can find that article over on Detnews.com by the way. Millen’s biggest problem in my mind wasn’t just drafting the wrong guy. I think the lack of development is what destroyed so many draft picks here. Run down the list of guys he brought in and they all had skill, maybe less than he thought they did at times, but they had potential. The obvious choices are Calvin Johnson and Cliff Avril. Avril is a great example. They talked a lot about how they thought he could be a really good DE. You didn’t see it with previous coaching staffs but the jump from last year to this year has been outstanding. Despite being slowed by injuries Cliff has had an outstanding season. Statistically speaking, he had a better season than Julius Peppers, Mario Williams, Brian Orakpo,  and Ray Edwards. 33 tackles and 8.5 sacks while battling an injury mid-season is a solid effort. I think he will be even better next year.

Another example, this one from a different view was my favorite prospect from 2009. Sammie Lee Hill was one of the rawest prospects in the entire draft but he had strength, size, and athletic ability that you can’t teach or coach. When you have players that have the natural ability, those are the players that you have to look at in the draft. The natural abilities are the start, what you are able to get them to do with it, that determines how good they can become. I truly believe SLH is good enough to start on any 4-3 team in the league. He still has significant upside and the way he can collapse the pocket and still get after a QB is impressive. His development throughout the year last year and heading into this year has gone unnoticed by some. He picked up 2.5 sacks and 30 tackles by being a back up the entire season. That’s a quality rotation guy. He could have gone downhill after having some issues in the off season but the coaching staff woke him up and got him heading back in the right direction.

When all is said and done the Lions have the most significant need at LB. The system Detroit runs calls for very versatile guys that can cover the pass just as well as play the run. I think the LB play is the crucial piece to the Lions defense. The run defense was the weakest link on defense based on stats.

What happened late in the season, after Suh’s injury, the Lions went to a 3 man rush with Suh playing like he did at Nebraska. He would read and respond. I think this was a big reason for the improvement in run defense. It also was smart because teams were double teaming Suh and by staying back he allowed for true one on one match ups for his teammates. They were able to keep the pressure on and Suh is amazing in space for a DT. It was a great scheme. It took some pressure of of the backers who could focus on receivers and reading plays more than worrying about a QB stepping up or a run in the middle.

Teams will notice this and adjust by blocking him one on one more next season and the scheme will not be as effective. The Lions really need to target a guy that can move really well in space, has the size to knock the bigger backs backwards, and has the speed to go sideline to sideline. We need a big time player on the strong side. That will make all the difference in the world. For everything Julian Peterson has done in the NFL, this scheme didn’t fit his strengths. It was still a decent trade but Julian is better when blitzing and playing the run. He’s probably best suited in a 3-4 at this point. Less reading and reacting and more going will show his true abilities.

The weak side spot is also a concern, we have several guys that might fit the bill but on a really good defense, they should be relegated to back up duty. I like the potential of Carpenter, he did well in pass coverage which was a big boost down the stretch and he did decent against the run. He wasn’t dominant and he didn’t necessarily stand out but he gave good production. Ashlee Palmer showed some good hitting ability, decent speed, and he made some plays against the run that made you think the potential is there and it very well may be. Landon Johnson was better against the run than the pass but I can’t see him being an everyday starter if the Lions want to take the jump to playoff contender. Dizon looked good to start the pre-season and I think he is a very solid depth player as well.

So looking forward at the draft I see one player in the first round that has the kind of potential that warrants consideration. I’m not sold on a lot of the prospects this year and I’m not sold on this prospect but the raw talent is there. He just looks like an under developed kid who is still growing into his body to me. That man is Akeem Ayers. He has the size/speed combination and is a decent natural athlete. He needs to develop an aggressiveness towards attacking the ball and he needs to work very hard on his ability to function in space. He shows flashes that he can move and change direction but he wasn’t asked to cover screens or backs out of the backfield like he will if he ends up in Detroit. His combine and workouts will be very telling. He’s the top OLB prospect so he fits Detroit’s drafting criteria. The best at his position, and he will grade out high enough to warrant a 1st round pick. The only problem with Ayers is I have to wonder if he can make a difference right away or will we have to wait a year or two? But again, you draft talent, not production, not need. I think he fits a nice combination of need, production, talent, and potential. He’s a good fit.

Some other LB prospects on my radar that aren’t talked about as much would be Nate Irving over at NC State. He had injury problems but has flashed some really good potential, if he’s around in the round 4 I would be very interested in him. He is more of a run stopper but plays a very aggressive, hard hitting, style of football. He has decent size and shows the ability to drive ball carriers back. I like his instincts and speed to the ball. Colin McCarthy, although he doesn’t jump off the screen, he has plenty of potential as well. He is well rounded and has decent size. If he’s in position he seems to make the play. I would look at him later in the draft as well.

As for the secondary concerns, I think they need two pieces to take that leap forward. A nice CB prospect will be available in multiple rounds of the draft. It’s a matter of what you are looking for. Aaron Williams is a really nice round 2 prospect. I like the potential of Devon House and Jimmy Smith as well. They may be available in round 3 or 4. Ras-I-Dowling has potential as a number 2 corner in the league or he could role back to a safety role with his size. Same goes for Jimmy Smith. The thing about Smith is that he is kind of like Sammie Hill. Gifted but very raw. There is lots of potential there but he needs some time to develop his talent.

Another thing I can see this team doing in the middle rounds is going after one of the big raw tackles. Ben Ijalana and Marcus Cannon are the kind of players that can be real road graders on your offensive line. Cannon could be a Phil Loadholt type right tackle but I think Ijalana is the guy that can move into guard and make a difference if coached up right. The potential is definitely there. Both guys have that size and athletic ability that only God can give.

So, as we move into the off season, watch for Mayhew to get to work finding a player or two in Free Agency to plug known holes while using the draft to stock talent, regardless of position.

 

- Dave

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New State Record Pumpkinseed From Lapeer

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on January 5, 2010

A new state record Pumpkinseed sunfish was certified by the DNR in 2009. The monster seed came in at 12.5″ and 2.15 pounds. The fish was only 1.6 ounces shy of the world record, caught in South Carolina. That brings Michigan’s new state record fish entries to 5 for the 2009 calendar year.

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Salmon Are Starting to Run in Many Northern Michigan Streams

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on August 20, 2009

I’m hearing multiple reports that Salmon are rolling into many streams in the northern, Lower Peninsula. I plan on making a trip up north in a week to get a first hand look at the action. Stay tuned for updates.

If you haven’t been up north fishing recently, or ever, then there’s no better time to go. The economic crunch is lessening the amount of travelers. The cool weather this summer, should pay dividends. Things are shaping up to be as good as they’ve been in recent memory.

Skip fishing, go “catching”…

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