Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pacman Watch

Adam "Pacman" Jones still can't get on the field for the Cowboys or participate in organized team activities. Unlike Tank Johnson, the commissioner hasn't granted Jones permission to join the Cowboys' activities prior to the lifting of the suspension. Goodell has insisted that he will review Pacman's case before the onset of training camp. 

One thing going for him. Tank Johnson has taken Jones under his wing. As a fellow member of the ousted, Tank can provide a unique view on how to get under the good graces of the commissioner. Having taken the necessary steps, Tank is returning the favor that Nate Newton, Michael Irvin and others paid to him. Giving Pacman support. 

Whether or not Pacman has actually turned a corner and realizes that playing in the NFL is a privilege is a question no one can answer. Perhaps not even by Adam Jones. But I don't think what Adam has done mandates a suspension longer than a year. Wouldn't cheating at the game deserve a much bigger punishment? Instead of focusing on personal lives, I would like to see Commissioner Goodell take a stance like that on the Patriots. Perhaps a first round draft pick for each tape made? 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cowboys Sign Barber & Newman Through 2014

Terence Newman signs a six year extension worth more than $50 million dollars. The new contract puts him in the same range as Asante Samuel and Marcus Trufant salary wise. As the lone stud in the secondary, this is a wise move and T New deserves the contract. 

I would like to see more interceptions or turnovers in general from Newman. But overall,  he's one of the best corners in the league. He should receive some much needed reinforcements with the additions of Pacman and Mike Jenkins. So, he should receive more opportunities to see the ball thrown his way. 

Marion Barber is a much happier running back as he receives a seven year, $45 million contract with $16 million dollars guaranteed. He is a fan favorite and I love the way he punishes defenders who try to tackle him. But not for a part-time back. With the addition of Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, Barber will not be a full time back. 

Given that, the fact that he hasn't proven that he could even handle a full load of carries with his aggressive running style plus his average pass blocking skills. I believe that this is a mistake. Not a Roy Williams mistake but a mistake nonetheless. Not because I don't believe he's a good back. I think he's a wonderful running back but $45 million dollars for a player that's not on the field every down.

If you're not convinced that he was overpaid, consider this. Only LaDainian Tomlinson is guaranteed more money. Is Barber the second best back in the league?

2008 NHL Playoffs: Stars vs Red Wings (Post Series)

So much for a lack of poise or confidence. The Red Wings jumped all over the Stars in the first period by scoring three goals in a series ending twenty minutes. The series ended the way it began. With the Red Wings being the best team on the ice and spending, virtually, the entire game in Dallas' zone.

Not there's anything wrong with losing to the Red Wings. They have been the best team in hockey this year. They proved it by getting to the Stanley Cup Finals in a dream matchup with the Penguins. Whether or not the series would have been closer if Dallas could have finished off San Jose in four games is mute. I still believe that Detroit would have won the series. Probably in the same number of games.

Regardless, the Dallas Stars went far beyond anyone's realistic expectations this year. Mired in an inability to win a first round series, reaching the Western Conference Finals is a remarkable achievement. The foundation that was built this year looks promising with Joel Lundqvist, Loui Eriksson, Matt Niskanen, Mark Fistric and Nicklas Grossman attaining invaluable experience in a deep playoff run.

Mike Babcock said that playing in playoff games was like a growth hormone for his young players. Hopefully, his words will ring true for our squad.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

2008 NHL Playoffs: Stars vs Red Wings (Game 5 Postgame)

Marty Turco finally breaks the win barrier in Joe Louis Arena. After going 0-9-2 in his career, Turco made 38 saves to keep Dallas in the Western Conference Finals. Not only did he stop 38 shots, he initiated the attack on both of the Stars' goals. Turco was truly at the top of his game yesterday.

The series now shifts to another elimination game in Dallas. The Red Wings talked about professionalism and intent to injure after the Game Two Ribeiro incident. It looks like the Red Wings might be losing some of that mystique and composure. With seven minutes left in the third, Tomas Holmstrom picked up a roughing penalty as he punched a Stars player as he skated by the Dallas bench.

The scene shifts to Dallas for another elimination game as the Stars continue their bid to come back from a 0-3 hole.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rick Carlisle: The New Kid In Town

So, the Mavericks wasted little time in replacing Avery Johnson and have hired former Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons head coach Rick Carlisle.

During his introduction press conference, Carlisle emphasized the need to turn Dallas' offense into a run and gun offense. Repeatedly emphasizing that the players will go through an extensive training camp and will need to be prepared for the amount of running that they'll be doing. He did say that there still needs to be an emphasis on the defensive side of the ball.

I have concerns about employing the run and gun offense. I think there are inherent lapses on defense because of the all go method employed by Phoenix and Nellie. Dallas couldn't get anywhere with Nellie, Phoenix couldn't win with D'antoni and Golden State couldn't get anywhere with that offense. So, what makes Dallas any different? Especially with the lack of athletes on this squad.

We have been assured that the roster will undergo some changes. With the amount of players set to become free agents, that seems assured. They have also assured that Howard will remain a big part of the team. Whether or not this is posturing remains to be seen? Armed with only the mid level exception, it'll be interesting what player(s) will be moved, if any.

If Carlisle is serious about running and gunning, the following moves have to be made:

- Trade Dampier for Anything
- Trade Stackhouse for Anything
- Resign Antoine Wright
- Release everyone else on the upcoming free agent list
- Reaquire DeSagana Diop

These are things Dallas should do:

- Sign Matt Barnes
- Sign Mickael Pietrus
- Sign Beno Udrih
- Trade Josh Howard For Shawn Marion or Dorell Wright

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

2008 NHL Playoffs: Stars vs Red Wings

The Dallas Stars are down 3-0 and it looks like the magical run will close on Wednesday night. Detroit has answered everything the Stars can muster. Nicklas Grossman tied up Game Three at 15:13 in the first period. Pavel Datsyuk got his second goal at 15:50. Johan Franzen is scratched from games two and three. Losing the top goal scorer in the postseason and still finding little difficulty in dispatching the Stars.

Chris Osgood is now 9-0 in the postseason and Turco has lost another game to the Red Wings. Although it's looking ugly, the Dallas Stars have made significant strides this season and a young nucleus has emerged. But the Red Wings are simply better. For now.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

2008 NHL Playoffs: Stars vs Red Wings (Game 1 Postgame)

0-7-2 was Turco's record at the Joe Louis Arena heading into Game One of the Western Conference Finals. Heading into the game, it was asked if it was something that Turco should think about. The way the first two periods went, it might not matter how Turco plays.

Detroit completely outplayed Dallas and I'm afraid we might not be in Detroit's class at this point. No matter what the state of the game was in, it seemed like Detroit was on the verge of scoring. Even with a man down, the Red Wings still generated quality scoring opportunities. 

The Red Wings cruised to a 4-1 victory and took the first game of the series. Hopefully, Dallas can find a way to stay with Detroit on Saturday.

Monday, May 5, 2008

2008 NHL Playoffs: Stars vs Sharks (Game 6 Postgame)

It's over. Finally. It only took the eighth longest game in NHL history. Who else would end it besides Brenden Morrow? He's been absolutely the best player on the ice for the Stars. And that includes Stephane Robidas and Marty Turco. 

The Sharks did not go quietly though. And after Nabokov's save 1:31 into the first overtime on Brad Richard's shot. I thought this series was destined for a seventh game. That save by Evgeni Nabokov was one of the best saves I've ever seen in a playoff game. It was so close that even in his glove, Richards still almost had the series clincher. 

But the Stars had an answer for that as well. Now, the Stars will meet the mighty Red Wings in their first conference finals since 2000. They've knocked off the defending champions and the 2nd seed in the West. Now, they only have to beat the best team in hockey. 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

2008 NHL Playoffs: Stars vs Sharks (Game 4 Postgame)

I don't understand the back to back games in the playoffs and you could tell it was affecting the players last night. It had the feel of a game that had gone to overtime. And the Sharks had the fresher legs last night.

After a turnover by the Sharks and a point blank goal by Jere Lehtinen, It felt like the Stars would walk through this game and close out the series. Especially after withstanding the flurry of opportunities in the first period by the Sharks. Marty Turco looked brilliant last night.

But, Zubov made another unforced error which looked eerily similar to the Game 3 error that led to goals by Patrick Marleau. This time the Stars had no answer. The Sharks came out for the third period with a non stop onslaught on Turco and the Stars finally succumbed to a beautiful pass across the crease to Michalek to put the Sharks up for good. The Stars had some opportunities but could not cash in on any of them as they looked a tad off cue all night.

So, the Sharks are on the board and the series now shifts to San Jose for Game 5. It might be fitting that the Stars have to finish this series at their home away from home. Let's hope that trend continues.