Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Randomization: 1/17/06

Ugh. UMD swept by Michigan Tech. Ugh. Let's move on.

Holy power play, Batman! While UMD has not scored a power-play goal since December 10, Wisconsin showed part of why they're the nation's best college hockey team right about now, as Bucky scored four power-play goals on one penalty against Colorado College. I'm sure they're grateful to CC Tiger D Brian Salcido for taking a five-minute major so they could accomplish the feat. The four-goal power play outburst led Wisconsin on their way to a six-goal first and a 9-1 stomping of Colorado College in Colorado Springs on Saturday night. Bucky swept the weekend and they now lead the WCHA by a gaping eight points over Denver and Minnesota. In other words, neither Denver nor Minnesota have any hope of catching the Badgers unless they sweep them at the Kohl Center (they are in for back-to-back weekends, starting with Denver on Friday night). While Wisconsin is one of a number of WCHA teams to currently be playing better on the road than at home, I don't think either team is sweeping them in Madison.

I've been less accurate than this before. My football picks went well (3-1 for the second straight weekend), and my hockey picks were pretty solid, despite UMD's Massive Egg-Laying That I'm Trying To Pretend Didn't Happen. I went 7-3 on ten WCHA games (I nailed the score of North Dakota's win over Minnesota, and was on the money in predicting the results of three league series out of five). The only things I missed were the UMD-MTU games and Wisconsin's slaughter of CC on Saturday. I'll take that for a first weekend, and it's almost solid enough to trick me into doing it again for this weekend. Maybe I'll pick UMD to get swept and hope for the opposite result again.

Congrats...to the St. Scholastica hockey team, ranked in the latest USCHO.com poll for what I believe is the first time ever. Mark Wick, Randy Barker, and former UMD goaltending legend Brant Nicklin are doing an outstanding job with this team. The Saints have 13 freshmen on the roster (yeah, yeah, I know..."they're not freshmen anymore"), and all they've done is start 11-5 and vault themselves right into the thick of a tight race for the NCHA title and a potential NCAA Division III playoff berth. Meanwhile, UWS continues to struggle, as they lost twice at home on the weekend, and now find themselves fighting off the dreaded .500 mark one year after starting with 20 straight games without a loss. Since that streak ended, losing has become more of a habit than it's been at UWS in a long time, which is still not saying much given the program's successes over the past 12 years.

What is wrong with the officiating? Actually, nothing new is. People are just starting to notice now that NFL officiating sucks. Pete Morelli's made-up reversal of Troy Polamalu's interception in the fourth quarter Sunday is just the latest in a long line of inconceivable calls made by highly overpaid part-time officials. When you consider that some of these guys make as much money in a month on a part-time job than I do in a year, you start to wonder how any mistakes could possibly be tolerated. It's incredible, actually, that it's taken this long for most people to recognize that there is indeed a problem. Between the maddening inconsistency and the failure of officials to follow even the newest rules (horse collars, anyone?), I don't know how the issue has been swept under the carpet, except that the NFL doesn't want anyone to talk about it. But that's just a theory. Hopefully, there won't be any made-up rules or made-up pass interference calls (or no-calls) this weekend. However, I'm guessing that's too much to ask.

Later this week: More on the NFL playoff games from this past weekend, some early baseball talk, and previews of both the weekend in WCHA hockey and Conference Championship Sunday in the NFL. As always, you can hit the comment button to post your thoughts, or send e-mail to bruce@wgee.com

Blog recommendation. They're not posting as much during the offseason, but if you're looking for some free entertainment at the expense of the media idiots types that fill the TV screen and radio dial, check out http://firejoemorgan.blogspot.com and read some of the archives. Especially notable are May and October of 2005. The FJM people are absolute geniuses.

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