Life And Death?

Pic of the day, part i: Scenes from the life of David, by Hans Sebald Beham

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People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Roger Clemens did not lie to congress. Kinda surprised me when I heard that. Sounded like he said he didn’t do steroids. But he did. That is what everyone has heard. That’s what everyone believes.

Maybe everyone is wrong. Maybe they aren’t but maybe they are. Never say you know when you weren’t there. I was not in the locker room with Mr. Clemens when he could have done them. I was nowhere near the scene at the time. I just don’t know the truth.

Now I can speculate, but how much of that speculation is simply what I want to think about someone rather than something that might be realistic. How much of the picture of Mr. Clemens is painted by not only my own wants but by sports commentary suffering from much the same problem that I suffer from, egoism?

Now he might have gotten one by the congress and the jury as well. But I never even thought until now that I could be wrong about this, that there could be any outcome but the one I wanted, the one I thought was right, the guilty verdict.

But if Roger Clemens did not lie, does that mean that someone else did? And how many other cases in the public eye have I acted as judge, jury, and executioner, in error? Many, one presumes, because guilt is always presumed until innocence is proven. But it is rarely proven enough for our liking. Hence a sense of disbelief. I could not find many who agreed with the jury. Could you? If we thought we could be wrong, would a sense of disbelief exist?

And a bigger question. Now that the trial is over, can his reputation be fixed? Or has he been damaged beyond repair by the circus that has surrounded him? I am of the belief that the man, with the trial behind him, should get the full measure of respect that a man who did what he did throughout his career should get.

The hall of fame should be a lock. He should again be spoken of alongside the greats of the game. Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, and Nolan Ryan now have another name to add to the absolute best the game has ever seen. Roger Clemens.

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Pic of the day, part ii: Braque Family Triptych (closed)

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A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Read a headline that made me giggle. “Romney says US can “learn a lot” from Wisconsin Governor.” I think he may have a point, but not the one he intended. I wonder if he meant that once you come to power, you can feel free to screw your people over publicly, subvert the system to work to your advantage, destroy the power of the people, and then when the people call you out and demand change, you can then use outside money to buy an election and subvert the will of the people a second time?

If that’s what he meant , he may well be right. And if he is right, does that mean that we should break out the pitchforks and mass on both Romney and Walker’s doorsteps and tar and feather the no good rat bastards? Because that is what learning that lesson makes me want to do.

Just saying…

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

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Wildly Inaccurate 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final Prediction

Pic of the day:  A picture of the Stanley Cup, circa 1957.  Seated with it is former Referee and NHL League President Clarence Campbell

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If I knew the answer to that I’d bet $10,000 on the game and retire from coaching!

Montreal Canadiens Coach Toe Blake, after being asked if his team would win an upcoming game.

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I don’t know everything.  Prognostication is nothing more than using your head and taking guesses with whatever information is available, and listening to your heart.  My head told me the Kings would win, and pretty easily.  My heart told me the Rangers could beat the Devils.

Head 1, Heart 0.

I nailed the Kings winning it in 5.  I picked the Rangers in 6, and I was right as far as how many games but got the team wrong.  I also said that Anze Kopitar would step his game up a notch.  He had only scored three goals in the previous two series.  He scored 5 points against the ‘Yots, and 3 goals.  Nice.  I said the Rangers devils series would be smashmouth hockey, and it was.

The Rangers and the ‘Yots lost for the same reason.  The offenses came up small.  The Rangers had more offense but lost just the same.  They suffered from the disappearance of their entire first line.  The entire line was ineffective out on the ice, the Devils had their number every game.  6 points for the combination of Hagelin – Richards – Gaborik, for the entire series.  The ‘Yots had 3 goals in the first three games of the Conference finals.  Neither team, when placed in that light, deserve to be in the Stanley cup finals.

The Devils outshined the Rangers, outplayed them at every turn, and the Kings continued to dominate the West.

That round is over though.  The Stanley cup finals are here.  New Jersey.  Los Angeles.  The City of Angels have never had a cup to call their own.  This might be 40 year old Marty Broduer’s last shot at the cup.

Who will win?

F*cked if I know!

LET THE INACCURACY BEGIN!

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Stanley Cup Final:  (6) New Jersey Devils vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings;  Looking at the offense, there are a flurry of statistics you could use to determine who has been the best so far. None would be very compelling and most would point to a very even match up. Ilya Kovalchuk has 5 power play goals during the playoffs, more than anyone else by far.  The next closest remaining players are Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Zach Parise and Patrik Elias with 2 each.

However, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar are hellaciously talented players who can find the back of the net frequently.  Same with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk.   The top five players in plus-minus in the playoffs are on these two teams, three on the Kings (Brown, Kopitar, Doughty) and 2 on the Devils (Salvador, Henrique)  If the goaltending doesn’t hold up, there may well be a lot of 6-5 games in this series.

But with the goaltenders in question, I severely doubt that will happen.

Jonathan Quick has been the best playoff goalie I have seen this year, and the best in a long time. That is saying something too, there have been some amazing goal-tending the last few years in the playoffs.  Mr. Quick has given up only 22 goals in 14 games and lost only twice.  Martin Brodeur has played more games than Mr. Quick played more minutes, faced more shots and still, at times looked like the man he was over a decade ago.  The man who brought 3 championships to the Devils organization.   Mr. Quick has faced more shots per game than Marty has, and has a lower GAA average to boot though.   So if this series turns on goaltending, then the advantage, however slight, must go to the Kings and Mr. Quick. And frankly I think this series does in fact turn on goal-tending…. aaaand some timely scoring by Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar.  So…

The pick:  The Kings in 6.

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That’s it from here, America.  Catch ya later.  More tonight, methinks.

Wildly Inaccurate 2012 NHL Conference Final Playoff Predictions

Pic of the day:  First Stanley cup.  A pic of the Montreal Hockey club  after winning the first ever Stanley cup in 1893.

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Now, before I get to my picks I have to make a statement.  It was a complete and total aberration that I picked all four winners for the second round.  Shocked the hell out of me.  I do not think that in the last 5 years I have been quite that successful with my picks.  In any sport.  My best pick before this was nailing the score of the Steelers – Cardinals Superbowl.  And that was overshadowed by the fact that I picked the Cardinals to lose in every round.

No such shadow over last rounds amazing success.   Well… actually there is.  But I don’t know that I can be blamed for them.  I don’t think anyone would have picked the Blues to get swept, and I had them losing in 6.  And frankly I am disappointed with the Predators. I had them putting up a helluva better fight in that series than what they actually did, and while I had them losing I had them losing in 7, and they were lucky to make it to 5 games.

I had the Devils in 6 (Devils won in 5) and the Rangers in 7(nailed it,) so there I was closer than I was with the western conference picks.

Well, knowing me, the accuracy of the picks of the last round were pure luck.  I’m not expecting that to continue, so with out further adieu,

ON WITH THE INACCURACY!

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Eastern Conference Finals1)  New York Rangers vs.  6) New Jersey Devils;  Smashmouth hockey.  Get used to the term.  These teams know each other, and they don’t like each other.  The first two rounds for the Rangers have been tough hard fought battles, but they will seem minor skirmishes in comparison into the bloody mosh pit that these games are going to be.  And the Devils are walking in rested and ready.

Now the Rangers have suffered from a dearth of scoring, but that is more a product of the team defenses they faced, and superlative goalies they’ve faced than an actual lack of capacity to score.  When they find open ice they score and they win. Example:  Michael Del Zotto’s game 7 game winner against the Caps.  He was free for a few seconds, and he sent the Caps home because of it

The Devils have had more scoring than the Rangers all postseason.  The Devils never scored less than 3 goals in any game against the Flyers, and only twice scored less than 2 goals since the playoffs began. The Rangers only scored more than 3 goals 4 times in both rounds they’ve played, 2 in each round.

The Rangers have shown great resiliency in the face of extraordinarily stifling defense while bringing their own.  The Devils haven’t had to.  The Devils will need to show they can overcome strong defense, which they have yet to face.  I don’t see them doing it, and I see the Rangers opening up their offense here just a bit. Rangers in 6.

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Western Conference Finals3) Phoenix Coyotes vs 8 ) Los Angeles Kings;  Both of these teams have had strong scoring, and both of these teams have had outstanding goal-tending.  Mike Smith, a man who cut his teeth in the NHL backing up Marty Turco in Dallas a few years ago has more than come out of Marty’s shadow and shown himself to be a force in net to be reckoned with.  A 1.77 GAA and a .950 save percentage is as close to perfect as a goalie can get.

Jonathan Quick has matched him and more, as far as his numbers are concerned, with a minisculce 1.55 GAA and an identical .950 save percentage, and has only lost once, and no one has been more successful in net than J. Quick that way.

The offenses here are going to be hard pressed to score with those stone walls out there in net.  Here I think I see one team that has an advantage.  And that is the Kings.  Anze Kopitar, who is a great player who has not yet shined in these playoffs(only 3 goals,) will step it up a notch here.  Justin Williams and Mike Richards are a hellacious tandem that have scored and played well together.

The ‘Yots do have scoring on their team as well, they didn’t get here just with goal-tending, but I do not know that it will be enough to get past the steamroller than is the L.A. Kings.  Kings In 5.

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And is it me, or does Brian Boyle of the New York Rangers look exactly like a Guy Fawkes mask?  Just saying…

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Wildly Inaccurate Second Round 2012 NHL Playoff Predictions

Pic of the day:  First Stanley cup.  A pic of the Montreal Hockey club  after winning the first ever Stanley cup in 1893.

Hmmm…. Deja Vu…

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A few times a year I put on my prognosticators hat and try to figure out what will happen in the NHL playoffs before they actually happen.  Silly me.  Only occasionally do I get it right, and when I do it’s usually more about dumb luck than anything else, something I have in common with everyone else who does this crap.

Reading that statement, you might think that I either have no confidence in my picks and picking ability (which could be further implied by the title of my picks columns in general) or am jaded enough to not care.  Not true.  I have plenty of confidence in my picks, but confidence doesn’t make the picks right, any more than having an opinion about politics makes it automatically right just because you have it.   I’m plenty confident, I just get it wrong a fair bit.  Nothing to be ashamed of.

And while I’m jaded I care about my picks, even if they SUCK.

Even if they are amazingly wrong.  Before I get to the second round crapfest, lets review what I picked in the first round and how that turned out.

My Eastern conference picks were sub-par, and that is being nice about it.  The only pick that I nailed was my pick of the New York Rangers beating Ottawa in 7.  And even there I was wrong.  I said that Callahan and Gaborik would have to do well in order to not lose.  Gaborik was a non factor throughout the series.  I picked the Bruins to win in 5 games, and they lost in 7.   I don’t think anyone foresaw Braden Holtby holding the B’s at bay, or the Bruins underachieving quite as much as they did.  I had the Devils winning in 5.  They won in 7 and the Panthers were much stronger against them than I gave them credit for, so I’m calling that a miss.  And I picked the Penguins in 5.  With the porous goal-tending the Pens put up, I could have beaten the Pens this series.

My Western conference picks were just as bad as my Eastern conference counterparts.  I picked the Canucks in 7, and they lost in 5. Roberto Luongo sucked so hard that he didn’t see a second worth of time after he got his ass handed to him by the Kings the second time in a row.  The only pick I got right was the Blues winning in 5, with the Blues holding the Sharks to 1 goal or less for 3 games.  And I picked the Blackhawks in 5 and the Red Wings in 7.  I’m not sure I could have gotten those picks more wrong.

2 of 8 on the picks.  Wow.  Those picks just plain Sucked.  Out.  Loud.  Which brings us to the…

NEXT ROUND OF WILDLY INACCURATE NHL PICKS.

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Eastern Conference picks: 

1) New York Rangers  vs.  7)  Washington Capitals.  The Capitals scored 16 goals against the Bruins.  Most of the time the Caps had a very hard time scoring.  The reason they won was Braden Holtby and the defense in front of him held down the Bruins, not their own offense.  The Rangers won much the same way.  It was King Henrik and the D in front that gave the Rangers the win vs. Ottawa, especially when the chips were down and they had to win 2 in a row, including game 6 on the road.  All things here point to a low scoring long grind of a series. Sounds like more of the same for both teams.  Home ice will be kingmaker here.  Rangers in 7.

5) Philadelphia Flyers vs 6)  New Jersey Devils.  The Flyers scored at what could only be called an unprecedented pace.  The Devils, like the Rangers, had to come back to win 2 in a row.  I don’t know that the Flyers can keep up the offensive pace against the Devils.  Claude Giroux and Danny Briere are good, but I don’t know that these two can continue at an over a point a night pace.  I don’t see the Flyers being able to multiple players put up hat tricks on the same night against Marty Brodeur.   Devils in 6.

Western Conference picks:

2) St. Louis Blues vs. 8)  Los Angeles Kings.  The Kings pulled off the upset on the ‘Nucks.  The Blues are not the ‘Nucks.  They have better goal-tending.  They have a better defense.  The Kings are not a joke though.  They proved they have offense against Roberto Luongo and the two headed ‘Nucks goal tending tandem.  And Jonathan Quick is one of the best goaltenders around, and proved it against the ‘Nucks. On top of that the Blues O is limited, half of their goal scoring in round one was from 2 people.  That’s a problem the Kings’ll be able to exploit.  Kings in 6.

3) Phoenix Coyotes vs.  4) Nashville Predators. Both teams played up to their opponents and beat them down.  The Coyotes had a slight edge offensively, and the Preds had a slight goal-tending edge in round one (though the ‘Yotes had 1 shutout and the Preds none)  These teams are nearly mirror-images of each other in a variety of ways, offensively and defensively.  I’m leaning towards the better playoff offense here.  Radim Vrbata needs to shine here for this pick to work though.  He got shut down by the Hawks, and he needs to step up for the Coyotes to win in 7.  Which they will.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Wildly Inaccurate First Round 2012 NHL Playoff Predictions

Pic of the day:  First Stanley cup.  A pic of the Montreal Hockey club  after winning the first ever Stanley cup in 1893.

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It’s gonna be a party.  A big party.  A big messy ass whupping party in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Here are my WILDLY INACCURATE picks for the first round.  Enjoy.

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Eastern Conference:

1) N.Y. Rangers vs. 8) Ottawa Senators  The pick:  Rangers in 7.  The Sens are a damn good offensive team.  The Rangers are a great defensive team with a few top notch scorers.  That D should be enough to hold down the Sens, even though they couldn’t do it during the regular season. Callahan and Gaborik have to stand out here.  If they don’t, you could watch this Rangers team collapse and lose in round one, but I’m sticking with the Rangers here.

2)  Boston Bruins vs. 7) Washington Capitals  The pick:  Bruins in 5.  The Bruins haven’t changed all that much from the team that won it all last year.  And they know it.  Tim Thomas is still one of the best goalies in the league, he should be able to hold down whoever the Caps have in goal as well as Ovie and the rest of the Caps.

3) Florida Panthers vs. 6) New Jersey Devils  The pick:  Devils in 5.  The Devils, though a number 6 seed, are one of the better teams in the east.  Jose Theodore and the defense in front of him won’t be able to stop the Devils second line, and the Devils first line will burn them worse than the Henrique and the second.

4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 5) Philadelphia Flyers  The pick:  Penguins in 6.  This is going to be a knock down drag out fight, and could frankly go either way.  The Penguins have the advantage with their potent offense that only got more dangerous when Sidney Crosby came back and quietly had perhaps the best end of the season any player had this year.  The only reason I don’t have the Pens sweeping here is that The Flyers ain’t no joke.

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Western Conference:

1) Vancouver Canucks vs.  8) Los Angeles Kings  The pick:  Canucks in 7. The Canucks are a great team, but they lose something when they don’t have both Sedin twins on the ice.  With Daniel Sedin out at least for some of this series with a concussion, expect the ‘nucks to struggle a bit before finding their playoff legs.

2) St. Louis Blues vs.  7) San Jose Sharks  The pick:  Blues in 5.  The Sharks aren’t a bad team by any stretch of the imagination.  The Blues are not a great offensive team, what they are is a dominant defensive team that takes what few opportunities it gets and capitalizes.  They’ll capitalize here.  Plus, the Sharks always suck come playoff time.

3) Phoenix Coyotes vs.  6) Chicago Blackhawks  The pick:  Blackhawks in 6. The Blackhawks have a plethora of scorers that can take apart even the best of goaltenders. Mike Smith is having a helluva year as the  #1 starter for the first time in his career in Phoenix.  That won’t help him here.  The Blackhawks are gonna tee off on him here.

4) Nashville Predators vs. 5) Detroit Red Wings   The pick:  Red Wings in 7.  The Wings are always a team that threatens to go deep into the Stanley cup Playoffs. The Predators though are no joke.  They have scoring punch on all 4 lines, a power play that is second to none, and Pekka Rinne, one of the best goalies in the NHL.  If it wasn’t the Red Wings they were playing, I’d pick Nashville to go deep into the playoffs.  The Wings are just too good to be contained in the first round.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Hard Day To Be A Harbaugh

Statement of the day:

Today was a hard day in the NFL to be a Harbaugh.

The day began with there being a chance that the two head coaches of the teams in the Super Bowl would be the brothers Harbaugh.  Both teams that the Harbaughs coached played well, and they were competitive throughout the games they participated in, but in the end both lost.

But the hard part has to be said to be the fact that it was a miss and a mistake that kept the two brothers out of the Super Bowl.  The miss by Billy Cundiff with time ticking down cost the Ravens a shot at getting the game to overtime.  As a consequence the Ravens lost. The Ravens were in the game the whole time, and Joe Flacco, a man I think of as a second rate QB, put together some really good plays to keep his team in it.  Put it like this, on this day Joe Flacco was a better QB than Tom Brady.  He was not the reason they lost, like he usually is.

The Niners Giants was kind of the same, only more so, at least as far as the brothers Harbaugh are concerned.  The Niners played a great game , aided somewhat by the refereeing, but mainly they were held up by the most stout defense you may ever see in a losing effort.  The Niners offense was sparse but effective, Vernon Davis being the only real threat that the Niners O had.

Enter Kyle Williams.  2 mistakes that cost his team a shot at the Super Bowl.  The first flub by the Niners Wide out/ Kick returner (Kyle was playing for a hurt Ted Ginn Jr.) was a ball that just touched his left knee on a punt.  He played like it didn’t but the astute NY Giant Devin Thomas kept his eye on the ball and grabbed it and ran it to the endzone.  Now a punt can’t be run back for a touchdown like that, but he gave the Giants the ball, and they drove for a touchdown that gave the Giants the lead.

Fast forward to overtime, after the two teams played some very good defense and both teams kicked the ball back and forth, the Giants kicked the ball to Kyle Williams, who ran the ball back with 9:32 left.  During the run back Jacquain Williams knocked the ball out of Kyle’s hands and again, man of the hour, tower of power Devin Thomas picked up the ball and the Giants had the ball deep in Niners territory.  They then moved the ball  on the ground for a few yards on a few plays that got the Giants closer to the end zone, and then Lawrence Tynes kicked the Giants into the Super Bowl.

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That said the Giants and the Patriots were the better teams out there.  If they weren’t they would not have won.

Victor Cruz ate up the Niners secondary, and helped bring the Giants to the promised land.

Bear Pascoe scored his first ever Touchdown in the NFC championship.

Tom Brady decided he was super when he kept the ball and went over the top on the Ravens D with 11:29 to go in the 4th, and put the Pats up to stay.

The Pats D held Ray Rice to 67 yards on the ground, when the Pats D had been seen as a weakness all year.

Eli Manning proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is a road warrior, winning his fifth road playoff game, which I believe is a record.

The Giants are the road team for Super Bowl XLVI.

Giants – Patriots in the Super Bowl is going to be an absolutely great game.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Impressions of the Day

8:00pm  – 10:30 pm:

As I write this, I am listening to the news from Lake Wobegon and Garrison Keillor.  I’ve just finished doing some writing, about the Iowa caucuses and a story on e-book piracy.  Both were pretty easy, neither took all that long, and the preparatory research barely took an hour for each piece.  And it was fairly easy research at that.  How hard is it to simply find the search engine of your choice, type in “E-book piracy”, see what pops up, read a few stories, and corroborate by checking a number of stories?

You can tell which sites did the original research pretty quickly, and which ones are written by aggregators.  The original stories are usually long and precise, and the aggregators stories are usually 3 paragraphs long, and use snippets of the original that are at least half of their story.  Aggregators are lazy.

When I write stories, I try very hard not to look like that, and avoid lazy writing like the plague.  I make points that the original stories (never just one story, never just one source) does not, and write my own commentary that usually asks questions, and attempts to force the reader to think why the things in the stories took place in the first place, when writing single subject news pieces.  Which is radically different from what I do here, this is more artistic and less formal.

Writing those stories was fun.  And to summarize in one sentence what I wrote:  Look for Santorum to finish well, and possibly even win in Iowa, but that doesn’t mean he’s a viable candidate nationally, and E-book piracy exists because there is no software that makes sure the e-reader gets only non-pirated books, and publishers are pushing e-book prices too high, making it easier for pirates to find places to get in.

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6:15 pm – 8:00 pm:

I went to the hospital today.

I saw my father there.

I nearly cried.

I will say no more.

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3:00pm – 6:15 pm:

There was a hockey game today, between the Rangers and the Flyers.

I watched it, or parts of it, and I have to tell you it was a thrilling game, but thrilling isn’t always a wonderful thing.  Just ask the Flyers fans, it was thrilling for everyone, but their team, the home team lost.  This despite the fact that the referees made sure that enough calls went the Flyers way late that the flyers would get every chance to get the game to overtime.

The Flyers looked very much in command early, and had a much greater command of the ice early in the game, playing much of the first and second period in the Rangers end of the ice, eventually grabbing a 2 goal lead.  It looked at that point, with 6 minutes left in the second period, like the Flyers were in control, and would win.

30 seconds later, Mike Rupp scored a goal, and things changed.  The Rangers weren’t perfect after that, but the goal stabilized things for them.  They began to play stronger, and a few minutes into the third period, Mike Rupp, not what you would call a scoring machine, scored his third goal of the year on a short range shot that just went under Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s stick arm, and scored his second goal of the game, tying things up.

You could feel the air let out of the Flyers after that.  Wayne Simmonds, who was a force before that, seemed less able to run around the Rangers after that.  And a few minutes later, Brad Richards earned the respect of Rangers fans everywhere, by grabbing the deflection from Brandon Dubinsky who grabbed a great pass from Ryan Callahan, and stuffed it past Bobrovsky for the game winner.

Viddy of the day: Brad Richards puts Rangers up @WC 2012

I’m still annoyed that Ryan Callahan got called for holding the stick with less than 2 minutes to go when Kimmo Timonen tried to smack him in the head with his stick.  He never grabbed Timonen’s stick, but the refs didn’t want the Rangers to have a man advantage with time expiring, and called Callahan to keep things even.  Idiots.

And I knew that penalty shot wasn’t gonna get past King Henrik, and as a result, the Rangers now sit with the overall points lead in the Eastern Conference and are tied for most points in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Go Rangers!

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Early today:

I did 17 sets of chin-ups today.

8 repetitions each set.

By the time I was done my forearms felt like stones, and my triceps were on fire.

It was great.

I ran 7.1 miles in 30( ish) degree temperatures with 20 to 30 mph winds.

That was great too.

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How can I tell that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the end of the Galaxy

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Pic of the day:  Time saving truth from Falsehood and Envy, by Francois Lemoyne

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.