New Ads

New ads

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Les Schwab Invitational - Game Within The Game

By Harry Cummins

     Many of us who attend the annual Les Schwab Invitational basketball tournament every December, play the game within the game...trying to identify which of the elite high school players will be a slam-dunk NBA player.  A one-and-done wunderkind.

    In the past, this has been a somewhat easy exercise.  Some of these players looked like they could nearly hold their own in the NBA.... while still pondering their prom dates and future college choices.

     The treasure trove of LSI alumni to shine in the NBA is mind-boggling.  Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, Jahlil Okafor, Aaron Gordon, Ben Simmons, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Brandon Jennings, Tyson Chandler, Greg Monroe, Markelle Fultz, Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter Jr, etc.   In addition, there are a host of current NCAA D-1 stars who will soon join the LSI to the NBA progression.

    The bottom line ...this is perhaps the best high school holiday basketball tournament in America, a not to be missed event.  Personally, I have attended 22 of the 24 LSI  tournaments, year after year relishing the young talent on display.

     This years 2019 edition of the LSI presents a heightened challenge in identifying the sure-fire players who will ascend to the highest level of the game.  This present 16 team field is loaded with college level talent, including a hand-full of potential high D-l level players.

     This year's championship final (Monday, Jan 30) will feature Devin Askew of California's Mater Dei (Kentucky commit) vs a trio of fascinating juniors from Eastside Catholic in Washington. Eastside is led by Shane Nowell, Nolan Hickman and the most interesting player in the tournament, 6 foot 4 inch,270 pound J.T Tuimoloau, who is the number one rated (FOOTBALL) player in the national class of 2021.  He can also hoop!!  If you also happen to need a third baseman, give him a call!

     Drawing most of the headlines this week at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Oregon, has been 6'11" Jr. Nathan Bittle of Crater High School in Central Point, Oregon.  Bittle in ranked 13th nationally by ESPN and scored 41 points in the first round win over Clackamas and their own highly touted 6'8" junior, Ben Gregg.

     Also drawing interest from college coaches and 'amateur scouts' in attendance has been a pair of highly skilled local freshman.  Marquis 'Mookie' Cook of Jefferson and Jackson Shelstad from West Linn.  Fans of the "projection" game are envisioning great things ahead for this polished pair.

     So, who then will graduate from this prestigious current edition to go on to play in 'The League'?

     Although none are clear-cut choices,  I can imagine a handful of players from the 2019 LSI to play in the NBA.  If I could only select one would be 6'9" Jr.  Kaden Perry of Battle Ground, Washington, who has already given his verbal commit to play for Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

     May the 'game within the game' so many of us play, be alive and well at a high school gym near you!


Thursday, December 26, 2019

A Perfect Political Storm

By Harry Cummins

     The universe is an unpredictable place.

     To quote the closing line from one of my favorite movies 'The Shipping News'....

                          "Deadly storm takes house.....
                           ..leaves excellent view"

      Would anybody else like to see a tempestuous 2020 that could produce the following:

      Nikki Haley vs. Cory Booker to decide the next President of the United States.

      America needs a destructive political storm that leaves a better, if not perfect, view!!


Trump vs Biden

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Full disclosure I have always loved politics. Full disclosure, I watch C-Span. Full disclosure, no one ever knows who I vote for.

With all that above, we are not giving up on sports in Craw’s Corner, just adding politics to the mix. Here we go.

In 2020 presidential race I will be shocked if it is not Trump vs Biden. In sports terms, (we can never get away from it), you have got Biden coming in at 77, Trump at 73.

Enough of the “they are too old talk”. It is nearly 2020, people are living longer than ever and they are able too with modern medicine and technology. Heck Biden was making the same gaffes when he was 30 and Trump had that same ugly hair, whoops I meant ugly golf swing when he was 30.

Judge em on the issues voters, not on age. It is more fun.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas From Craw’s Corner

Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Merry Christmas from Craw’s Corner. We want you also to  have a great 2020.

We also listen here, you want more basketball and more power rankings. We will oblige. Still will be coming with some news, politics and weather.

If you live in the Portland metro area, here is great event to attend, 28th-30th. Opening day match ups for Clif Wegner Basketball Classic on the campus of Clackamas Community College.

Noon—- Centralia vs Skagit Valley

2:00——- Walla Walla vs Linn-Benton

4:00 ——— Edmonds vs Yakima Valley

6:00 —— South Puget Sound vs Clackamas CC

Acres of free parking, $7:00 admission gets you 4 games.

11 games, 3 days, champion crowned on Monday, 3:00

Additionally in 27th year, this is first time ever 2 teams have entered undefeated. Skagit Valley 11-0 and Clackamas CC 9-0, yes they are in different brackets. Uh oh.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

NBA Final Scores, Christmas Day

Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Philadelphia 110 Milwaukee 109

Clippers 120 Lakers 116

Golden State 130 Houston 120

Celtics 91 Raptors 90

Denver 111 New Orleans 106

Let me know how I did, I might watch only HGTV tomorrow

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Craw’s NWAC Power Rankings, 12/22/19

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

It is the time of year to bring back Craw’s Corner world famous power rankings. Per usual always done in 9s out of great respect for game of golf. We start with a tremendous basketball league the NWAC. Respectfully if you don’t like my choices, either play better or create your own.


9. Shoreline
8. Wenatchee Valley
7. Lower Columbia
6. Yakima Valley
5. Linn-Benton
4. Lane
3. Walla Walla
2. Clackamas
1. Umpqua


9. Peninsula
8. South Puget Sound
7. Lower Columbia
6. Everett
5. Spokane
4. Umpqua
3. Wenatchee Valley
2. Clackamas
1. Skagit Valley

Friday, December 20, 2019

Craw’s Corner Is Expanding

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops Founder of Craw’s Corner

We are expanding in 2020 here at Craw’s Corner. You will see more content than ever before and even better, we are adding news, politics, weather and more sports business to our content.

With expansion, we want you to expand with us. So if you feel you want to have some fun being a writer with us, just send an email to

Whether you are interested in sports, news, weather or politics would love to have you on our team.

Thank you,

Gregory Crawford

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

NHL News and notes

NHL news and notes

-#firejackedwards  The NHL's most insufferable homer fanboy announcer you could ever listen to on NESN for the Boston Bruins.  He makes Tommy Heinsohn look reasonably objective.

-Thoughts and recovery wishes to young Swedish forward Oskar Lindblom of the Philadelphia Flyers who at age 23 was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma.  He will miss the rest of the season and his future career is in doubt.  This was the same type of cancer that former NY Giants player Mark Herzlich was able to beat  when he was diagnosed at age 21. Herzlich was able to resume his career after his initial battle to beat this cancer and Herzlich has been cancer free for the last 10 years.  Hoping Oskar will beat this as well, resume his career, and be cancer free in the future.

-The Arizona Coyotes made the big move this week acquiring Taylor Hall in a trade from the New Jersey Devils.  The Coyotes are still in the bottom 10 in goals scored so the addition of a healthy Hall should give a much needed boost to the offense in a crowded and very competitive Western Conference  They have given up the 3rd least amount of goals this season and if Hall emerges as the offensive force he can be the Coyotes could emerge as an extremely tough out once the playoffs start.

-Another coach bites the dust this week as Peter DeBoer was fired by the San Jose Sharks.  He is the 5th coach fired this season and we still have not made it to Christmas.  Mike Babcock (Toronto Maple Leafs), John Hynes (New Jersey Devils), Jim Montgomery (Dallas Stars), and Bill Peters (Calgary Flames) were all previously let go but some teams have seen positive results in making the change.  The Flames won 6 straight after Peters was fired and the Maple Leafs have gone 8-4 since firing Babcock. 

-How is it possible that New Jersey Devils all star defenseman P.K. Subban has gone scoreless in 21 straight games?  That pretty much sums up the Devils year and you have to think with the trade of Taylor Hall that Subban will definitely be available as the trade deadline nears.  Even with his off year Subban could still be a difference maker for a playoff contender but with his hefty contract will there be a franchise who can take that contract.

-A great start to one of the toughest road trips (7 of 8) of the season for the Carolina Hurricanes as they have 3 road wins against Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg and only an 1-0 OT loss to the Vancouver Canucks.  They have a huge road test against the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow night (possible Stanley Cup preview?) and if they can finish strong to end this road trip they will then play their next 12 of 14 at home.  At 10-1 right now to win the Eastern Conference the Hurricanes could be a nice sleeper for a future book wager.

-Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry continues to amaze as he has now won his last 5 of 6 including pitching a shutout against the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 12th and cooling down a suddenly resurgent Calgary Flames offense with a 4-1 win last night.  Jarry now on the season has 10 wins in 15 starts, a 1.85 GAA, .940 save percentage and 3 shutouts. 

-Sidney Crosby has begun skating this last week but still no timetable for his return.  The Penguins will probably remain patient with Crosby as they have won 6 of their last 7 and remain in the upper division of the Eastern Conference.

-A nice win by the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night beating the Dallas Stars 2-1 on the road.  The Oilers for the first time this year were starting to show signs of vulnerability as they had lost 7 of 9 including 4 in a row before beating the Stars. 

-The Los Angeles Kings have shown some fight of late winning 4 of their last 5 including a nice OT win last night against the Boston Bruins 4-3 in Boston. Their only loss was a 5-4 OT loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins and not a bad effort considering they scored those 4 goals against the hottest goaltender in the league in Tristan Jarry. 

-The Vegas Golden Knights looks like they have righted the ship as they have won 4 of their last 5 and now have starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury back in the lineup after being out for personal time after the death of his father.  The "Vegas Flu" is probably not as big of a factor as it was in the first year when the Golden Knights came into existence as the Knights are only 10-9 in home games this year. 

Why Peter Snell Was My Hero

Never beaten in  major competition, Snell is shown here dominating the 1964 Tokyo Olympic 1500m final.
By Harry Cummins

     Sad news arrived this week from Dallas, Texas.  New Zealand's Peter Snell, who set world records in middle distance running in the 1960's, passed away in his home at the age of 80.

     Snell was one of my boyhood heroes, etching his name next to Mantle and Kaline in the batting order of my imagination.  I remember as a boy, clipping a photograph from a magazine of Peter Snell, clad in all black, racing the wind along a deserted New Zealand beach.  Long before awareness, the heart had begun its tracings of what was later to become my own romance with the mile run. For years, that picture of the solitary runner set against the sea hung on my bedroom wall.

     Snell won every major competition he entered, including the 1960 Olympic Games 800 meters, the 1962 Commonwealth Games 880 yd and one mile events, and his 1964 double triumph in capturing the 800m and 1500m races at the Tokyo Olympic Games.  In 1962, never having broken 4 minutes in the mile, Snell bested Herb Elliott's existing world record by clocking a stunning 3:54.4  in a mile race in Whanganui, New Zealand.

     Snell trained under legendary coach, Arthur Lydiard, and often would run up to 100 miles a week.  His favorite course was a grueling uphill 22 mile circuit in the Waitakere Mountain Range outside Auckland.

     In 1962, Snell won an 800 meter race in a world record time of 1:44.3, competing in stiff leather spikes and running on a thick grassy cricket field.

     After his running days concluded, Snell settled in the United States, moving to Dallas to do post graduate fellowship work at a research center where he focused on the effects of aerobic exercise on cardiac health. He later became Director of Texas University's Southwest Medical Center's Human Performance Lab.  Snell himself, had developed cardiomyopathy in the late 60's.

     In 2000, Snell was voted New Zealand's Athlete of the Century.  Soon afterwards, he was knighted.  Many regard his double Olympic victory in Tokyo as the greatest athletic achievement in New Zealand history.  He still remains as the only runner in the last 100 years to win Olympic gold in both the 800m and 1500m in the same Olympic Games.

     In my own subsequent passage into adulthood, the harsh realities of death, divorce and disappointment came upon me like mysterious visitations, early witnesses to my own mortality.  Yet, Sir Peter Snell always remained my hero.

     Heroism was slowly redefined, embodied in my friends and acquaintances who struggled with the very same mysteries.  These were the people who seemed to always be there when it counted most.

     In the lexicon of sport, this was Peter Snell's legacy.  He came thru when it counted.  Sport, of course, must never be mistaken as finally sufficient in itself when explaining life's circumstances.  But in experiencing these heroic and noble moments, they illuminate our existence and are worthy of  pursuit.  In the process, we learn about human limits and, perhaps, how to extend them.

      It can be a hostile world, four minutes to a mile and fourscore years to a lifetime.  We need traveling companions and heroes, other than our own thoughts, to accompany us on the journey.

     May 'The Man In Black' always be remembered as a fellow 'wind-runner' on the deserted beach we all must traverse.





Sunday, December 15, 2019

NFL Picks

Here are the picks this week, all late games

Last week 1-3-1
Overall 36-30-3

Cleveland -3
Atlanta +10
Oakland -6.5
LA Chargers +1.5
Buffalo +1

Good Luck!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

A Little Local Hoops, 15-20th

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Many posts on many subjects will appear on Craw’s Corner, including today’s post about a great week for hoops’ fans in Portland, Oregon Metro area. Happy to give you this schedule so get out and see a game.

Sunday 15th, Portland State at Portland women 2:00 tip.

Monday 16th, Florida A&M at Portland 7:00 tip

Tuesday 17th, Doubleheader men and women, Multnomah at Warner Pacific 5:30 and 7:30

Wednesday 18th, Tripleheader at Clackamas Community College, games 3:00, 5:00 and 7:00

Thursday 19th, Doubleheader at Portland, women 5:30, men 7:30.

Thursday 19th, Tripleheader at Clackamas Community College, games 1:00, 3:00 and 5:00

Friday 20th, Tripleheader at Clackamas Community College, games 11:00, 1:00 and 3:00.

In addition Monday through Saturday high games all over, for schedule

Just go see a game and you will go back.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

And The Winner Is ??

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

A big announcement in the sports business world could come tomorrow or as long as sometime in spring of 2020.

The winner will be who secures the new TV rights to the PGA Tour starting in 2022. At present CBS, NBC and Golf Channel own those rights. While it could be business as usual in 2022, some new/old contenders have entered the bidding including ESPN, Fox and AT&T.

Only one thing is certain, the coveted 4 Majors TV rights are completely separate deals and not in picture here.

Just why is this important.? While golf does not get close to other sports in TV ratings, it is attractive to advertisers for one reason, most golfers have a few extra bucks in their pockets and they spend it.

As well,
golf participation is on the rise after years of decline and on the pro side the young stars on Tour have never been better and more noticed.

Stand by, this will be a major story in sports world.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

News of the World - The First Edition

By Harry Cummins

     Waiting for this morning's News of the World to arrive, those tangled articles of impeachment and Gerrit Cole's complex new tax bracket, I pause to remember simpler days when daily dispatches first brought wonder to an uncluttered heart.

     When I was 6 years old, I lived with my mother on the shimmering edge of the world.  It was a luminous place known affectionately to us as Bird Rock By-the-Sea.

     My life then, the part I now choose to remember, consisted of collecting ladybugs every morning in canning jars filled with blades of grass.  In the afternoons, my mother and I would walk the short, steep hill down to the sea where she would sun herself on a smooth rock, her eyes fixed on me near the shoreline.

     In the many years that have since passed, my mother has died.  Our clapboard beach cottage was sacrificed long ago to Southern California sprawl, replaced by a conga-line of million dollar properties.  I, in the name of becoming "settled," have since wandered from one address to another.

     Reflecting on all this from shores many times washed over, I can still trace where  home-delivery of the news first began for me.  Glancing back up the beach at my mother, my anchor, day-dreaming on her favorite rock, I could safely sense the rush of a wider world lapping at my little feet.

     In those moments from where I stood in the late afternoon light, home was everything I saw and imagined. Although I was never really sure, I assumed the same was true for my mother.

     All 'breaking' news, especially the kind that once left sand stuck between your toes, is unmitigated and inherently local.  It's News of the World..before it gets reshaped by social media and the pile up of pain and doubt littering our adult landscape.

     Where we currently call 'home' and what's truly important there... are matters, above all others, that we simply cannot afford to ignore.  In terms of our own transformation, there is no such thing as a slow news day.

     News is in every breath we take.....may you be washed in the world's good tidings.
...First Anchor Desk

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Craw’s Corner Big Changes

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Big changes coming to Craw’s Corner starting tomorrow, December 11th. Here is your holiday list.

1. Much more basketball coverage, including NBA, college and high school as the one and only Gavin Amato joins us for prep coverage. As well plenty of sports business news.

2. You will see news coverage on Craw’s Corner for first time ever.

3. Starting in 2020 new writers will be joining our team and you will see their contest often covering both sports and news.

4. For first time ever, you will also see political coverage on Craw’s Corner, both on the heavy and light side. We will also have some in-depth weather analysis by a talented meteorologist.

5. In conclusion, we have listened. These are changes you the readers have asked for, including not seeing content once a week, but content every single day.

Thank you, Gregory Crawford, Founder of Craw’s Corner.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

NHL Power rankings

NHL power rankings

 #1 Washington Capitals  1st overall in points with 49, 1st in goals scored with 112, and only 4 losses in regulation.  Have won 6 straight including their last 4 on the road.   Two huge games this week playing Wednesday at home against Boston and at Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

#2 Boston Bruins  Knocking them down to the 2nd spot after back to back home losses to the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche after winning 8 straight. 3rd in goals score, 3rd best ranked power play conversion rate, and have given up the 2nd fewest goals.

#3 St Louis Blues  A rough night for Jordan Binnington getting the hook after giving up 4 goals in the 1st period to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 5-2 loss last night.  Still the Blues have the most points in the Western Conference with 42 and have played consistent hockey throughout the season with their defensive style and great goaltending from Binnington and Jake Allen.

#4 Colorado Avalanche  6 straight wins including winning their last 3 road games in impressive fashion beating Toronto, Montreal and Boston. They are starting to get key pieces back into the lineup with the return of Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Ratanen and Nathan MacKinnon is having an MVP type season, currently 3rd in the league in scoring with 45 points.

#5 NY Islanders  The Islanders have finally slowed down a little bit after their 17 game point streak ended and have lost 5 of their last 8.  They have only scored 14 goals in those 8 games.  However this team still has given up the fewest goals in the league and is only behind Boston and Washington in the Eastern Conference with 40 points.

#6 Philadelphia Flyers  The Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the league winning 7 of their last 9 and currently have the 4th most points in the Eastern Conference with 39.  The goaltending duo of Carter Hart and Brian Elliott have only given up 16 goals during that 9 game stretch and have finally given the Flyers the much needed day in and day out consistent goaltending that has been missing from many of the previous seasons.

#7 Pittsburgh Penguins  The Penguins keep rolling along even with their myriad of injuries winning 6 of their last 8.  One of those wins was an incredible 3rd period comeback against the Vancouver Canucks on 11/27 trailing 6-3 and coming back to win 8-6 scoring 6 goals in the 3rd period.  Back up goaltender Tristan Jarry (who might now have wrestled the starting job from Matt Murray) has been the big story posting back to back shutouts this week against St. Louis and Arizona and posting overall numbers of a 1.81 GAA and .945 save percentage in 11 starts

#8 Edmonton Oilers  They have remained consistent throughout the season not having a losing streak of more than 2 games and Connor McDavid (19 goals, 33 assists) and Leon Draisatl (19 goals, 34 assists) are still the top 2 scorers in league.  They have the top ranked power play converting at a sizzling 32.2% rate and the 2nd best power play kill rate at 86.6%.

#9 Arizona Coyotes  Another team that has stayed consistent throughout the season with only one 3 game losing streak. They do not have an individual player in the top 90 for scoring but with their defensive style and outstanding goaltending from Darcy Kuemper (1.92 GAA, .937 save percentage) and Antti Raanta (2.52 GAA and .926 save percentage) they will continue to be a tough out every night they take the ice.

#10 Carolina Hurricanes  The unfortunate part for the Hurricanes is they have the 6th most points in the Eastern Conference with 37 but sit 5th in the ultra competitive Metropolitan Division.  After a slow start Sebastian Aho has really come alive with 10 goals in his last 13 games and is tied for 9th in goals scored. A tough stretch before Christmas with 7 of their next 8 on the road including their next 5 at Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Colorado.

#11 Dallas Stars  The Stars have been the most wildly inconsistent team this year.   They started the season losing 8 of 9, won their next 14 of 16, lost their next 4, and now have won 2 in a row.  The goaltending of Ben Bishop (2.13 GAA, .932 save percentage) and Anton Khudobin (2.39 GAA, .922 save percentage) have carried the Stars but they need more offensive consistency if they want to be in the upper division of the Western Conference.

#12 Winnipeg Jets  You could make an argument for this year's MVP for goaltender Connor Hellebuyck since he has carried the Jets with a 2.20 GAA and .934 save percentage.  Most pundits expected the Jets to struggle defensively but score a ton of goals but the opposite has happened as the Jets are in the bottom 3rd of goals scored but have allowed the 6th fewest goals in the league.  The Jets have played well of late winning 11 of 16 and have not lost back to back games since October.

#13 Florida Panthers  Unless goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (3.35 GAA, .889 save percentage) comes around the Florida Panthers will not be an upper division Eastern Conference team.  They are 8th in goals scored (97), have the 6th best power play conversion rate (23.0%), and the 4th best power play kill percentage (85.5%).  They play 3 of the Eastern Conference heavyweights this week (Tampa Bay, NY Islanders, & Boston) all at home so we will have a better idea how good the Panthers really are.

#14 Tampa Bay Lightning  Since most teams still have 3 to 4 games in hand to the Lightning I will give them the benefit of the doubt and rank them ahead of teams with a few more points.  Still waiting for this team to go on a run as the Lightning still have not had a winning streak of more than 3 games.  They have battled injuries to key players like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman.  If they continue on their inconsistent path they could actually be in a fight to just make the playoffs.

#15 Vegas Golden Knights  The good news for the Golden Knights is that they have won 4 of 5 and back up goaltender Malcolm Subban has played well in the absence of Marc-Andre Fleury.  Subban has been the winning goalie in their last 4 wins and has only given up 11 goals in his last 5 starts.  The Knights have struggled in stretches losing 10 of 13 in November before winning their last 4 of 5.
#16 Vancouver Canucks  A rough November for the Canucks only winning 5 games but still right in the middle of the playoff chase.  They are 6th overall in goals scored (100) and have the 4th best power play conversion rate (27.2%).  The goaltending of Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko will determine if the Canucks will be a playoff team.

#17 Calgary Flames  It looked like the Flames were spiraling toward the bottom of the Western Conference after losing 6 straight in the middle of November but have bounced back nicely winning 5 of 6 and putting them back into the middle of the playoff chase.  A slumbering offense has shown signs of life of late (Even Milan Lucic has scored a couple of goals) but they are still 6th from the bottom in goals scored.  Johnny Gadreau has struggled badly this season and he and the rest of the offense will have to pick it up if they want to be a playoff team.

#18 Toronto Maple Leafs  The Maple Leafs have played a little bit better since firing head coach Mike Babcock and bringing in Sheldon Keefe but still lack night in and night out consistency.  We are in December and the Leafs back up goalie situation is still a mess with Michael Hutchinson sporting a 4.55 GAA, .876 save percentage and still with no wins.  Injuries have also hurt the Leafs this year and what looked like a year they could make a run for the Stanley Cup will be a year they will be in a fight just to make the playoffs.

#19 Minnesota Wild  Give credit to the Wild who have bounced back nicely from a slow start to get themselves within shouting range of the playoff picture.  Before losing last night to Carolina the Wild had won 7 of 9 and both of those losses were in OT.  The offense has picked up the scoring of late with 3.7 goals per game in their last 10 games but the Wild will have to be better defensively as they have given up the 7th most goals in the league.

#20 San Jose Sharks  Not sure which Sharks team you are going to get, the one who lost 11 of their first 15, the team who won 11 of their next 13, or the one who have lost their last 4.  Unless their is a major turnaround at the goalie position this team will not be going anywhere with the goaltending tandem of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell. The offense can't make up for the defensive deficiencies where they can outscore people per now being ranked only 19th in goals scored.

#21 Buffalo Sabres  The Sabres have lost 14 of 18 since November 1st and have not had a multiple game winning streak since late October.  Not enough secondary scoring and mediocre goaltending will in all likelihood keep the Sabres away from the playoffs for another year.  Good to see Jack Eichel stay healthy for the entire season as he is having an outstanding year being 7th overall in scoring with 18 goals and 23 assists.

#22 Montreal Canadiens  They have won their last 2 of 3 but were in total free fall before that as they had lost 8 in a row.  Carey Price has seen his GAA balloon up to 3.04 with a .902 save percentage and the Habs have been outscored 45-28 in their last 11 games.  The defense now has given up the 5th most number of goals (101) and they have the 4th worst power play kill percentage (75.5%).

#23 NY Rangers  This team is the definition of mediocrity.  An inconsistent win one night, lose the next night type of team who has not had a winning streak of more than 3 games.  I think it is time to give the full time goaltending job to Alexandar Georgiev (2.90 GAA, .919 save percentage) since he has been more consistent than Henrik Lundqvist (3.21 GAA, .910 save percentage) with the better numbers.

#24 Nashville Predators  They looked like a Western Conference Stanley Cup contender before the season started but they have only 5 wins since Halloween.  The goaltending tandem of Pekka Rinne (2.92 GAA, .897 save percentage) and Juuse Saros (3.12 GAA, .891 save percentage) have taken a step backwards and their power play units on offense and defense are both in the bottom 10.  This team on paper should be better but it looks like they will be in a fight just to make the playoffs.

#25 Chicago Blackhawks  Another team that just can't find any consistency as they have had losing streaks of 3 or more games 4 different times during the season while only having one winning streak of 3 or more games.  The big drop off in front line scoring from Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews from last season has been a big contributor to a struggling offense as the Blackhawks are ranked 24 in goals scored.  It will be interesting to see if the Blackhawks become sellers during the trade deadline.

#26 Anaheim Ducks  Only 4 wins since November 1st and no real surprise that they have the second lowest point total in the Western Conference.  They have scored the 4th fewest goals and only have 1 individual player with more than 20 points (Ryan Getzlaf at age 34 with 10 goals and 13 assists).  The Ducks will be sellers at the trade deadline and we'll see if any playoff contending team will take a chance on Getzlaf to fortify their scoring or other Duck players who are on the wrong side of 20.

#27 Columbus Blue Jackets  Another team not projected to do much this year and not looking like a playoff team so far.  They are 2nd to last in goals scored and do not have an individual player in the top 100 in scoring or an individual player with more than 18 points.  Cam Atkinson and Pierre-Luc Dubois who they counted on to pick up more of the scoring load have struggled for most of the year.  Will be in the market at the trade deadline to unload veterans and try to get younger.

#28 Ottawa Senators  Started the season losing 7 of 8 and have lost 6 of their last 7.  Projected as the worst team in the league the Senators have played some good hockey in small stretches but the overall talent gap and the youth of this team will prevent them from being any type of playoff contender for at least a couple of years.  They do have a nice core of young players to build with in future all stars Brady Tkachuk, Anthony Duclair, and Thomas Chabot.

#29 Los Angeles Kings  So when does the bloodletting begin in regards to trading all of their age 30+ veterans?  And does anybody really want any of these players? They are dead last in points in the Western Conference and in the bottom 5 in goals scored and goals allowed.  A major rebuild is necessary for this franchise to move forward.

#30 New Jersey Devils  A total disaster as they have had the "Nothing has gone right" season times 10.  3rd from last in both goals scored and goals allowed and have lost 5 straight being outscored 23-9.  And this season was summed up on December 2nd being outscored 5-0 in the first period against the Buffalo Sabres and eventually losing 7-1.  The million dollar question is will they trade Taylor Hall.  If they don't trade him they risk losing him for nothing if they can't resign him.

#31 Detroit Red Wings  The Red Wings haven't been this low as a franchise since the early 1980's as they are on an 11 game losing streak being outscored 49-20 in that span and only have 17 points on the season.  Steve Yzerman knows this will be a long rebuild as the Red Wings need help everywhere.

NBA Score Predictions, 12/8/19

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

You asked for this to comeback and we oblige. Of course our great writer Hermo Strong does a fabulous job picking the games, I will stick strictly to picking the scores. Thanks for reading.

NBA —— 12/8/19

Atlanta 100 vs Charlotte 99

Miami 125 vs Chicago 98

Portland 126 vs OKC 115

College —- 12/8/19

Washington 81 vs Gonzaga 80 in Overtime

Feel free to add your selections anytime and tell me if I am wrong.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

College football picks recap/NFL picks

Finished our college regular season picks last week, here are the final numbers.  Bowl picks will be given out if there is people interested.

Last week 4-1
Overall season 38-24-3

NFL Picks
Last week 2-3
Overall 35-27-2

This week

New Orleans -2
Miami +5
Tampa Bay -3
Oakland +3
Seattle +1

Good Luck!

CCC opens with Big Drama

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

The full league opening night of men’s basketball in Cascade Collegiate Conference brought some high drama last night when it came to outcomes. Just a sample below of what is year in and out the best men’s league in NAIA.

1. As expected, the #1 team in the country , Oregon Tech won easily, a team all basketball junkies should follow all
year long.

2. Unexpected, a rare league win by Walla Walla over the 24th ranked team Corban.

3. Another good upset, was Northwest over 17th ranked Southern Oregon.

4. Finally, Justin Martin of Multnomah padded his national scoring lead by getting 33 points, despite getting beat badly by the number one scoring team in NAIA Eastern Oregon.

The playoff race has started in the CCC, you do the math, in an 11 team league, 8 teams will see postseason. Stand by.

Craw’s Corner Sports Biz

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Great news for PAC-12. TV ratings for the championship game on Friday night we’re terrific, as the game was watched by 5.2 million viewers and topped the ratings for all of Friday night TV. 

Who said no one would watch a championship game on ABC between Utah and Oregon?

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Zach Richardson Drains 10 3's in Multnomah Romp

By Harry Cummins

     Multnomah sophomore Zach Richardson scored a season-high 32 points on 10 made 3's and teammate Stepan Zavydovskyy pulled down 15 rebounds and blocked a NAIA season-best and school record 12 shots, leading the Lions to a convincing 113-81 win over a road-weary University of Maine Ft Kent basketball team Saturday afternoon.

     Richardson has now made 40 3 point baskets in Multnomah's first 9 games and moves within five long range baskets of  teammate and national Div-2 leader Justin Martin, who has 45.  Richardson (17.1 ppg)  is now shooting an impressive 48% from distance on the season.  His 32 points against UMFK came in just a little over a half of play, as Lions coach Curt Bickley was able to give significant minutes to ten different players in the win, moving MU's record to 6-3 on the year.

     Zavydovskyy narrowly missed a 'triple-double' as he scored 8 points to go with his 15 boards and 12 blocks.  He now moves into second place in current NAIA D-2 stats in blocks per game.  Martin, the nation's leading scorer, contributed a fine all-around game to the win, scoring 22 points to go with 9 assists and 5 steals.  Martin is attempting to lead the country in both points and assists as he is averaging nearly 8 assists per game to go with his NAIA leading 32 ppg.

     Forrest Smith also filled the stat sheet for the victors, scoring 15 points, with 7 rebounds, 5 steals, and 3 assists.  The Lions recorded  18 steals on the afternoon as the visiting Bengals from Ft Kent, Maine were playing their 5th game of a winless 8-day West Coast road swing through California and Oregon.

     Multnomah now concludes the pre-conference part of their schedule, and will begin Cascade Collegiate Conference play next weekend.  It is the first of 5 straight games on the road for the Lions.

     The Lions, for the second consecutive year, are the highest scoring team in the NAIA D-2, averaging 105.3 ppg this season.  The second highest scoring team in the NAIA this season?  It's the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers, Multnomah's opponent next week at Quinn Coliseum in La Grande,Oregon  in a high-octane conference opener.

Notes:  Multnomah established a 2019-20 NAIA season high vs UMFK by launching a record 66 shot attempts from 3 point range!


Big Changes Coming To Craw’s Corner

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

When I started Craw’s Corner in 2011, it was strictly to have great content and develop a solid readership base. That continues in 2019 after we passed the 3,000 mark in posted articles. We also listen big time to our readers and we hear you.

You want more CONTENT and we will deliver. We also are SHAKING THINGS up. Starting December 11th, you will not only see more content as we will not only publish everyday, our big NEWS is we will be adding NEWS, POLITICS and WEATHER to our site, as well as continuing our outstanding sports coverage, that will include more golf, tennis, basketball and sports business.

It is the biggest change we have ever made. We want your feedback always, Even more look for some additional talented writers joining us.

Thank you
Gregory Crawford, Craw’s Corner Creator.

College/NFL picks

Sorry for the late update for the picks this week

College picks
Last week 2-3
Overall 34-23-3

Wisconsin -3
Auburn +3.5
Oregon -19.5
San Diego St +5.5
San Jose St +1.5

Last week 5-0
Overall 33-24-2

Pittsburgh +2
Indianapolis -1.5
Jacksonville +2.5
Baltimore -5.5
Seattle -3

Thursday, November 28, 2019

They Also Play The Game - A Holiday Viewing Guide

By Harry Cummins

     In Bertolt Brecht's The Life of Galileo, a character remarks, "Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero."  To which Galileo responds, "unhappy is the land that needs one."

     Try out Galileo's axiom.  Go witness a live sporting event in our great land this holiday season.  Telescope with a keen eye those we dismissively describe as "role players."  Study the orbit of the offensive lineman who seems to be merely taking up space.  The undersized forward who battles for position in the key.  Take your eyes off the touchdown makers and the rim-rattlers.  Stop 'star-gazing' long enough to see a sacrificial community at work for the 'other.'

     A new way of seeing maybe.

     For a couple of hours anyway.

     Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

NHL team reviews

As we are a quarter of the way into the NHL season lets give each team a grade.

Anaheim Ducks:  10-10-3 23 points, 3 way tie for 5th in the Pacific Division. 

Letter grade C

Not much was expected from the Ducks this year but they surprised many people out of the gate with their hot start as they won 6 of 8 and only gave up 14 goals in that span. Reality has now set in as they have now lost 7 of 8 including blowing a 4-0 lead in their last game to the Florida Panthers.  In that span they have been given up 34 goals and goaltender John Gibson has come back to earth after carrying the Ducks early in the season.  They have shown more scoring punch than expected as Richard Rakell, Jacob Silfverberg, Adam Henrique, and Ryan Getzlaf have combined for 32 goals and 32 assists.  Probably not as bad their current form but the Ducks will still not be a playoff team.

Arizona Coyotes: 13-8-2 28 points, 2nd place in the Pacific Division.

Letter grade B+

The goaltending has carried the Coyotes this season as Darcy Kuemper is your early Vezina favorite posting a GAA of 1.93 with a .935 save percentage and 9 wins while the backup Antti Raanta has a GAA of 2.69, .922 save percentage and 4 wins.  The Coyotes are tied for 2nd with the Boston Bruins in goals allowed with 52.  The offense still struggles in stretches as they are tied for 22nd in goals scored and they need to get Phil Kessel going as he has struggled early in the season with only 4 goals.  With a balanced Western Conference and the early struggles for the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks expect the Coyotes to be a playoff contender for the rest of the season and if things fall right they could possibly win the Pacific Division.

Boston Bruins  14-3-5 33 points, 1st place in the Atlantic Division.

Letter grade A

Except for a recent early November swoon where they lost 5 of 6 the Bruins have been one of the best teams in the NHL this season.  Brad Marchand (15 goals, 22 assists), David Pastrnak (20 goals, 16 assists), and Patrice Bergeron (8 goals, 12 assists) have been the best line in the NHL this season and the Bruins are tied for 3rd in goals scored.  Defensively they have been just as good tied for 2nd in goals allowed with 52 and arguably have the best goaltending tandem in Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak who have combined for a 2.36 GAA and .926 save percentage.  The only real negative for the Bruins is the secondary scorers like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, and Danton Heinen have struggled early so any injuries to their top line could spell trouble offensively down the line for the Bruins.  Expect this team to continue to be among the elite in the Eastern Conference and a Stanley Cup contender.

Buffalo Sabres  10-9-3 23 points, 5th in the Atlantic Division

Letter grade C

You have to hope as a Sabres fan that history is not repeating itself from last season with the hot start and huge fade.  The Sabres started the season winning 9 of 12 but now have hit the skids losing their last 9 of 10.  They averaged 3.25 goals per game and gave up 2 goals per game for the first 12 games of the season but in their last 10 the offense has dried up only scoring 2 goals per game and allowing 3.6 goals per game.  Jack Eichel is staying healthy and has scored 13 goals with 13 assists but the lack of scoring depth behind Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Sam Reinhart, and Victor Olofsson is hurting the Sabres.  If Marcus Johansson, Casey Mittelstadt, Conor Sheary, Kyle Okposo, Zemgus Girgensons, and Jonah Larsson don't contribute more this will be another year missing the playoffs.  Until they show more consistency the Sabres are probably a year or two away from being a playoff contender.

Calgary Flames 10-12-3 23 points,  3 way tie for 5th in the Pacific Division

Letter grade D

So did the Flames overachieve last season with the most points in the Western Conference and now are showing their true form?  The Flames in my book are the biggest disappointment this season.  They have now lost 6 straight and if the playoffs started today they would not be in the tournament.  The biggest mystery for the Flames is where has all of the goal scoring gone?  They were tied for 2nd in goals scored last season and now are in the bottom five.  30 goal scorers from last season Johnny Gadreau and Sean Monahan have each only scored 5 goals this year and Milan Lucic has been a total bust coming over from the Edmonton Oilers with zero goals and 4 assists on the season. Making it more painful is James Neal's hot start for the Oilers with 13 goals. Lucic is performing the bust hat trick as he was horrible for the Los Angeles Kings, horrible for the Edmonton Oilers, and now stinking it up for the Flames.  The Flames have also given up the 4th most amount of goals and the goaltending tandem of David Rittich and Cam Talbot have been below average with a combined 3.12 GAA and .900 save percentage.  You never want to write off anybody this early in the season but the Flames will have to show a lot more soon if they want a return trip to the playoffs.

Carolina Hurricanes  13-8-1 27 points, 3rd in the Metropolitan Division

Letter grade B

The Hurricanes had themselves a mini early November swoon losing four straight but overall have lived up to their preseason expectations of being a playoff contender.  They are tied for 5th in goals scored and defenseman Dougie Hamilton has had an all star start to the season with 9 goals and 14 assists.  As long as starting goaltender Peter Mrazek gives them consistent starts they will be a playoff team and like last year could be in position for a Stanley Cup run.

Chicago Blackhawks  9-9-4 22 points, 5th in the Central Division

Letter grade C

The Blackhawks have not underachieved but haven't overachieved as well playing .500 hockey and right now on the fringe of the playoffs like most pundits projected them before the season started.  They did have a nice stretch recently of winning 5 of 6 but have lost their last 2.  The question for the Blackhawks is should they continue to platoon goaltenders Robin Lehner (2.52 GAA, .934 save percentage) and Corey Crawford (3.02 GAA, .914 save percentage) or give the job to Lehner full time per having the better numbers.  The defense has improved this year as they are in the top 10 in least number of goals allowed after giving up the 2nd most goals last year.  They will need more offense from Jonathan Toews (4 goals in 23 games) and Alex DeBrincat (5 goals in 22 games) after they combined to score 76 goals last season.  Probably still not a playoff team but if Lehner can get hot and the scoring picks up they could sneak into one of the last 2 playoff spots.

Colorado Avalanche 13-7-2 28 points, tied for 2nd in the Central Division

Letter Grade B+

The Avalanche have survived some early season key injuries to top players like Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog to put themselves among the best teams in the Western Conference. Center Nathan MacKinnon is putting up early MVP numbers with 13 goals and 19 assists and Cale Makar is looking like the runaway winner for rookie of the year as the 21 year defenseman already has 7 goals and 18 assists.  The off season acquisitions of Joonas Donskoi (9 goals, 6 assists) Nazem Kadri (7 goals, 8 assists), and Andrey Burakovsky (10 goals, 10 assists) have paid off handsomely for the Avs and even with Rantanen and Landeskog missing significant time they are 3rd overall in goals scored.  Once they are relatively healthy this team will be a major factor in the Western Conference with their scoring depth.

Columbus Blue Jackets 9-8-4 22 points, 6th in the Metropolitan Division

Letter grade C+

The Blue Jackets have held their own this season after all of the major free agent departures from last season's playoff team.  John Tortorella has gotten the most out of this team playing close to .500 hockey even with a roster most NHL pundits would say is one of the least talented.  Goal scoring has been a problem for the Jackets as they have scored the 2nd fewest in the league.  This will not be a playoff team but you will always get a good effort night in and night out and they will steal their share of wins by outworking and outhustling unprepared teams.

Dallas Stars  13-8-2 28 points, tied for 2nd in the Central Division.

Letter grade B

After a slow start the Dallas Stars have put it together and have now won 5 straight and 12 of their last 14.  They started the season scoring only 17 goals in their first 9 games but during their latest run have scored 41 goals in their last 10 games.  As good as goaltender Ben Bishop was last season he has been equally good this season with a 2.25 GAA and .926 save percentage.  The veteran scorers like Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, Tyler Seguin, and Radek Faksa have recovered from slow starts and once they get Roope Hintz back from injury the offense should be fine.  With their defensive style and as long as the veteran scorers can avoid major slumps this team will be a major factor in the Western Conference.

Detroit Red Wings  7-14-3 17 points, Last in the Atlantic Division

Letter grade D

Not a big surprise that this team has struggled but I don't think most Red Wing fans thought this would be the worst team in the league with only 17 points. They have scored the 3rd fewest goals with 58 and have given up the most goals in the league with 90.  Anthony Mantha has had a nice season with 12 goals and 11 assists but there is virtually no secondary scoring with the Wings and the goaltending tandem of Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier has been a disaster with combined 3.75 GAA and .881 save percentage.  This team will be trying to move veteran players once the trade deadline comes closer and it looks like General Manager Steve Yzerman might be in line for a long rebuild.  No chance for the playoffs.

Edmonton Oilers  14-7-3 31 points, 1st in the Pacific Division

Letter grade A

Connor McDavid is proving again he is the best player in the NHL and is your early favorite for MVP.  McDavid and his teammate Leon Draisaitl are running 1-2 in scoring each with 16 goals and 28 assists and are a big reason why the Oilers are leading the Pacific Division. They have also gotten great contributions from James Neal with 13 goals and Zach Kassian with 8 goals and 8 assists.  The Oilers power play is ranked #1 converting at a sizzling 31.4 % and the power play penalty kill is ranked 2nd at 87.6%.  The goaltending is improved as well with Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen splitting the duties 50-50 and combining for a 2.79 GAA and .910 save percentage.  The Oilers have remained consistent through the early season with never having a losing streak of more than 2 games. I think the only thing that could slow down the Oilers would be a major injury to McDavid or Draisaitl and as long as Smith and Koskinen remain consistent the Oilers should be a playoff team and a possible contender for the Western Conference.

Florida Panthers  12-5-5 29 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division

Letter grade B+

After a slow start losing their first 4 of 5 coach Joel Quenneville and the Florida Panthers are starting to finally blossom into an Eastern Conference contender.  This team has been a goal scoring machine with the 2nd most goals in the league with 81, 4th most shots on goal per game, and the 5th highest rated power play at 25.0%.  Jonathan Huberdeau (10 goals, 20 assists) is 7th overall in scoring and Aleksander Barkov (7 goals, 22 assists) is right behind him in 9th.  The Panthers have to feel good where they are at considering the major struggles of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Their big free agent signing in the off season has a GAA of 3.47 and save percentage of .886.   I think Bobrovsky will eventually come around and if they can get Bobrovsky straight this should be a playoff team and like Carolina last year could be a sleeper team to make a run in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Los Angeles Kings 9-12-1 19 points, last in the Pacific Division

Letter grade D

This was not projected as a playoff team and not a big surprise this team is currently last in the Pacific Division. They are tied for 3rd in fewest goals scored and have given up the 6th most goals.  They more or less told veteran Ilya Kovalchuk to take a hike as they promised him no more playing time so the question for the Kings is when will they start to unload more veterans like Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, or Jeff Carter if they continue to struggle.  It looks like goaltender Jonathan Quick is on his last legs as he has struggled mightily with a 3.54 GAA and .883 save percentage.  It will always be a losing formula when your core players are all in their 30's with hefty contracts.  No chance for the playoffs and should be a major seller at the trade deadline.

Minnesota Wild  9-11-2 20 points, last in the Central Division

Letter grade D

Like the Kings the Wild were not projected to be a playoff team and losing 9 of 13 to open the season didn't help the cause.  They have played better of late winning 3 of 4 but it will be an uphill climb to get themselves in playoff contention.  This team is in the bottom 10 in goals scored (tied for 26th) and goals allowed (tied for 7th) and don't have enough young play makers to help veteran scorers Zach Parise and Eric Staal.  One bright spot for the Wild has been the play of back up goaltender Alex Stalock who sports a 2.56 GAA and .913 save percentage.  A big longshot for the playoffs and will probably be in the market to unload veteran players near the trade deadline.

Montreal Canadiens  11-6-5 27 points, 3rd in the Atlantic Division

Letter grade B

The Habs overall have to be pleased where they are standing at this point of the season but there are concerns of late with a 3 game losing streak and some recent injuries.  The biggest loss is center Jonathan Drouin who will be out 8 weeks after wrist surgery.  They have to hope Max Domi, who is off to a slow start with only 4 goals, Nick Suzuki and Phillip Danault can pick up the scoring load.  Defenseman Shea Weber has bounced back nicely from his recent injuries and is playing at an all star level.  Carey Price hasn't been spectacular but has been consistent this season with a 2.71 GAA and .912 save percentage.  This team should be in the mix for a playoff spot but hard to predict which way this team will go.  As long as Weber and Price stay healthy they have a shot.

Nashville Predators 9-9-3 6th in the Central Division

Letter grade D

This team has been in a major free fall of late losing 6 straight and 8 of 9.  The most alarming part of this skid has been the major struggles of goaltender Pekka Rinne.  After starting the season with an 8-0-2 record with a .923 save percentage in his last 4 starts he has given up 18 goals on 78 shots and has been pulled in 2 of his 3 last starts.  Back up goaltender Juuse Saros has struggled as well with a 3.35 GAA and .888 save percentage and the Predators are dead last in penalty kill percentage.  The offense has been fine as they are tied for 8th in goals scored.  The question going into the season was how the Preds were going to compensate losing all star defenseman P.K. Subban and unfortunately that is where they have shown their vulnerabilities.  You expected this team to be a contender for the Western Conference but until they get Rinne right at age 36 you have to be concerned.  I would wait until we are halfway through the season to really assess this team since I think they can turn it around.  There is to much talent on this team to flounder this badly for this long. 

New Jersey Devils 7-10-4  Last Place in the Metropolitan Division

Letter grade F

There were expectations that this team would have a major turn around and contend for the playoffs with their off season acquisitions of P.K.Subban and Wayne Simmonds, the addition of the 1st overall draft pick in Jack Hughes and the return from injury of 2017-2018 league MVP Taylor Hall.  However this season has been an unmitigated disaster as the Devils lost their first 6 games, have not had a winning streak of more than 2 games, and are dead last in goals scored with 51. Hall has struggled mightily with only 3 goals in 21 games, Simmonds 4 goals in 21 games and Hughes having a difficult start to his rookie season with  only 4 goals and 6 assists in 21 games.  They already waived goaltender Cory Schneider who had a 4+ GAA  and now will rely on 22 year old goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood for the rest of the season.  It looks like this will not be quick fix for the Devils so it will be interesting once we get near the trade deadline if they will be sellers.  In a deep Eastern Conference and to many questions on defense the Devils will not be a playoff team

New York Islanders 16-3-1  2nd place in the Metropolitan Division

Letter grade A+

The Islanders are proving last years regular season run was no fluke as they are tied for the 2nd most points in the Eastern Conference and are right now on a 16 game point streak as they have won 15 of their last 16 and their only loss was in overtime after they blew a 3-0 3rd period lead to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  After giving up the fewest goals last season they again have given up the fewest goals this season and allowed the lowest number of shots on goal per game even with losing goaltender Robin Lehner to free agency.  Goaltenders Semyon Varalamov and Thomas Greiss are splitting the goaltending duties evenly and have combined for a 2.45 GAA and .922 save percentage.  The big surprise offensively has been 22 year old left wing Anthony Beauvillier who has 8 goals and 8 assists after only have 28 total points all last season.  Coach Barry Trotz is working his magic again and this team has to be considered a top contender in the Eastern Conference.

New York Rangers  9-9-2 6th place in the Atlantic Division

Letter grade C

The Rangers have been one of the more unpredictable teams this season with some really good wins and some head scratching losses.  This Wednesday they beat the team with the most points in the NHL the Washington Capitals 4-1 but then followed that up with a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.  The goaltending has been inconsistent as Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev have combined for a 3.47 GAA and .903 save percentage.  2nd overall draft pick rookie Kaapo Kakko struggled early in the season but is starting to come around as he has 6 goals in 17 games.  The Rangers have really missed center Mika Zibanejad who has missed the last 11 games with an upper body injury and had 11 points in his first 9 games.  The Rangers don't look like a playoff team and the only chance they would have is if Lundqvist or Georgiev get super hot, they get Zibanejad back in the lineup, and Artemi Panerin and Kakko start producing more.

Ottawa Senators  11-11-1 5th place in the Atlantic Division

Letter grade B

Would you ever think at this point in the season that the Senators would have more points than the Tampa Bay Lightning?  I know the Sens have played 4 more games than the Lightning but it is a tribute to the Sens for their A+ effort night in and night out when most pundits thought this team would easily be the worst team in the league.  John-Gabriel Pageau is tied for 7th in goals scored with 13 and Brady Tkachuk and Anthony DuClair have combined for 17 goals on the season.  This will not be a playoff team but with such a young roster you have to be optimistic about the future.

Philadelphia Flyers 11-7-4  5th place in the Metropolitan Division

Letter grade B-

No real surprises from the Flyers as they were projected to be a fringe playoff team and are sitting mid-pack in the Eastern Conference.  It looks like goaltender Carter Hart has come back from a miserable early season slump and him and Brian Elliott have finally given some needed stability in net combining for a 2.91 GAA and .900 save percentage. The Flyers have given up the 7th fewest goals this season and have the 6th best power play kill percentage at 84.8%.  Young forwards Travis Kocecny (8 goals, 15 assists) and Oskar Lindblom (9 goals, 7 assists) have been nice early season surprises but the Flyers will need to get more production from veterans like Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk, and Kevin Hayes.  The Flyers are a hard team to predict.  I don't expect a total free fall during the season but wouldn't expect them to be near the top of the Eastern Conference and will remain on the fringes of the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Penguins  12-7-4 28 points, 3rd in the Metropolitan Division

Letter grade B

The Penguins have shown strong resiliency as they have battled early season injuries to many of their key players in Evgeni Malkin (missed 11 games), Sidney Crosby (out until late December or early January), Bryan Rust (missed 11 games), and Kris Letang (currently out with a lower body injury).  Even with all the injuries the Penguins are still scoring as they are ranked 5th in goals scored with 77.  The main reason the Penguins keep winning is on the defensive side.  They have given up the 5th least number of goals and have the 3rd best penalty kill percentage at 86.7%.  Starting goalie Matt Murray has been a consistent presence with a 2.60 GAA and .907 save percentage but the real story is the emergence of back up goalie Tristan Jarry who in 6 starts has a 1.80 GAA and .945 save percentage.  If the Pens can survive while Crosby is out and they continue to excel on the defensive side this will be a mid level playoff team.

San Jose Sharks  11-11-1, tied for 5th in the Pacific Division

Letter grade C-

It looked like this team was going into severe decline losing 11 of their first 15 games but have rallied nicely in November winning 7 of 8 and putting themselves near the playoff cut line. Scoring goals was a big problem early in the season as they scored only 36 goals in their first 15 games but the offense has come alive of late scoring 31 goals in their last 8 games.  Forwards Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, Timo Maier, Kevin Labanc, and except for Evander Kane, who carried the offense early in the season, have all come alive offensively to spark the Sharks.  The usual problem with the Sharks is the continued sub par goaltending from Martin Jones (3.34 GAA, .883 save percentage) and Aaron Dell (3.33 GAA .895 save percentage) but it looks like they will continue to ride them out this season.  The surprising statistic for the Sharks is they have the #1 power play penalty kill at 90.2%.  A bigger question for the Sharks is when are they going to pull the plug on Joe Thornton who at age 40 has 0 goals and 6 assists with a plus/minus of -9.  Unless their goaltending improves dramatically it looks like the best the Sharks will be able to do would be to squeak into one of the last 2 playoff spots.

St Louis Blues 14-4-5 33 points, 1st place in the Central Division

Letter grade A

The Blues have come out strong to start the regular season trying to prove last years Stanley Cup run was not a one year fluke.  The number one question for the Blues was if goaltender Jordan Binnington was a flash in the pan and if could bring his A game for an entire regular season.  Binnington has answered his critics early posting a stellar 2.19 GAA and .926 save percentage with 11 wins.  Also the Blues have given up the 5th least number of goals with 60.  Offensively the Blues have survived the injury absence of Vladimir Tarasenko (likely out until the playoffs) as David Perron (10 goals, 11 assists) and Brayden Schenn (11 goals, 9 assists) are off to good starts and the Blues have the 7th highest power play conversion rate at 24.3%.  As long as Craig Berube is behind the bench and they play his system and Binnington continues to shine the Blues will be one of the favorites in the Western Conference.

Toronto Maple Leafs 10-10-4 24 points, 4th in the Atlantic Division

Letter grade D

The Leafs have been one of the biggest underachievers this year and it eventually cost coach Mike Babcock his job as he was fired early in the week.  The biggest area of slippage has been on the defensive side as they have given up the 2nd most goals in the league with 80.  Tyson Barrie who came over in a trade from Colorado has been the biggest scapegoat as he has struggled both defensively and offensively with only 1 goal and 7 assists and a plus/minus of -10.  Goaltender Frederik Andersen has been a steady presence in net with a 2.69 GAA and .915 save percentage but the back up goalie position has been a disaster as they have no wins from the back up this year as Michael Hutchinson was winless in 6 starts with a 4.44 GAA and in his NHL debut Kasimir Kaskisuo was shelled by the Penguins losing 6-1.  Offensively they are still scoring goals standing 8th in goals scored this season and the offense should pick it up with a healthy John Tavares and Mitch Marner back in the lineup.  We'll see if the new coaching change to Sheldon Keefe will spark the Leafs who I think can turn it around but if Andersen gets injured this could turn into a lost non playoff season.

Tampa Bay Lightning  10-7-2 22 points, 7th in the Atlantic Division

Letter grade F

The Lightning have played the least number of games this season with only 19 but for arguably the most talented team to be sitting a point behind the Ottawa Senators and almost dead last in the Atlantic Division is inexcusable.  The offense has yet to really get untracked as the Lightning do not have a player even ranked in the top 25 in scoring (Steven Stamkos tied for 29th with 20 points) and they are only 14th in goals scored. Last year's league MVP Nikita Kucherov is off to a very slow start with only 6 goals and 12 assists.  Projected over a full season on that pace would put him at 24 goals and 48 assists compared to his MVP season of last year of 41 goals and 87 assists.  Brayden Point also has started slowly with only 5 goals and 8 assists after tallying 41 goals and 51 assists last season.  Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been just average after signing his long term contract with a 2.95 GAA and .904 save percentage.  I expect this team to snap out of it and go on a run and make the playoffs but they are far from a lock from being a favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference.

Vancouver Canucks  12-8-4 27 points, 3rd in the Pacific Division

Letter grade B

The Canucks have won 2 straight after a rough stretch in early November where they lost 7 of 8.  The improved offense has propelled the Canucks into being a playoff contender as they are tied for 9th in goals scored after finishing 26th overall in goals scored last season.  Elias Petersson has shown no signs of a sophomore slump with 10 goals and 19 assists and the Canucks are getting nice contributions from Brock Boeser (10 goals, 13 assists), J.T. Miller (9 goals, 14 assists), and Bo Horvat (8 goals, 10 assists).  Quinn Hughes (2 goals, 16 assists), and Alexander Edler (4 goals and 11 assists) are in the top 20 in scoring for defensemen.  Also the Canucks have the 4th highest rated power play conversion rate at 27.1%.  As long as goaltenders Jacob Markstrom (2.85 GAA and .905 save percentage) and Thatcher Demko (2.50 GAA, .916 save percentage) give the Canucks consistency in net they should continue to lurk near playoff contention and could possibly grab one of the last playoff spots toward the end of the year.

Vegas Golden Knights  11-9-4 26 points, 4th in the Pacific Division

Letter grade C-

The Golden Knights before the season looked like one of the favorites in the Western Conference but have struggled in stretches as they lost 7 of 8 in early November and are hovering around the playoff cut line.  The big question for the Golden Knights is their back up goaltender position as they have yet to get a win from the back up.  In 7 starts the back up goaltenders (Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk, and Garret Sparks) have given up 23 goals on 185 shots for a .875 save percentage.  Starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at age 34 has shown no signs of regression with a 2.45 GAA and .922 save percentage but if he goes down with a major injury Vegas could go from contender to a non playoff team.  The offense is 12th in goals scored and they have enough firepower and depth to put the puck in the net night in and night out.  I expect the Golden Knights to be a playoff team and have a talented enough roster to make a major playoff run but they have shown some vulnerabilities this year and are by no means a lock for the playoffs.

Washington Capitals  16-4-5 37 points, 1st in the Atlantic Division

Letter grade A

You might have thought a regression was coming for the Caps but they have shown no signs of a drop off and sit atop the Atlantic Division.  They are first in goals scored and tied for 10th in fewest goals allowed. Defenseman John Carlson is having a spectacular start to the season leading blue line scorers with 8 goals and 28 assists, is tied for 4th in overall in scoring and tied for 2nd in  plus/minus with a rating of +15.  Alex Ovechkin has shown no signs of regression with 15 goals and 3 other Caps have reached the double digit mark in goals scored with Jakub Vrana (11 goals), Evgeny Kuznetsov (10 goals), and T.J. Oshie (10 goals).  Tom Wilson has also sparked the offense with 9 goals and 9 assists.  Goaltender Braden Holtby hasn't had a great season posting some mediocre numbers (2.98 GAA and .904 save percentage) but the Caps have had a nice surprise with back up goalie Ilya Samsonov playing well with a 2.65 GAA, .912 save percentage and 5 wins.  It looks like the Caps are prepared again to make another Stanley Cup run and should be a factor the rest of the way in the Eastern Conference.

Winnipeg Jets  13-9-1 27 points, 4th in the Central Division

Letter grade C

The Jets are on a nice run winning their last 7 of 10 and it looks like they will be one of many teams right in the middle of the playoff chase.  The surprise for the Jets is that their supposed strength for scoring goals has not been as prolific this year as they are only ranked 24th in goals scored after finishing 7th last year in goals scored. They do however possess the 4th ranked power play with a conversion rate of 24.8%.  The Jets need to get Blake Wheeler going as he has struggled this season with only 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) after posting 91 points (20 goals, 71 assists) in the previous season. Their supposed achilles heel on defense hasn't been that bad as they are mid-table ranked 15th in goals allowed.  Connor Hellebuyck has had close to an all star season in goal posting a 2.45 GAA with a .928 save percentage.   Back up goaltender Laurent Brossoit has been downright awful this season with a 3.92 GAA and .871 save percentage but does have 3 wins.  The Jets have to think their offense will eventually pick up but if it doesn't the defense is still vulnerable and not sure if Hellebuyck can hold up for the entire regular season.  This team could go either way.

Friday, November 22, 2019

NAIA Season Best 53 Point Performance by Justin Martin Goes for Naught

By Harry Cummins

     Multnomah University senior guard Justin Martin's spectacular 53 point offensive onslaught Friday night, the high-water mark this season in the NAIA, went for naught as touted 6'9" freshman Nathan Presnell countered with a breakout 39 point, 10 rebound performance of his own to lead visiting Simpson (Calif) of the Cal Pac Conference to a 112-91 win over the Lions of the Cascade Collegiate Conference.

     Martin, the defending NAIA D-2 scoring champion and its current scoring leader at 33.6 ppg, also had 7 assists to go with the 53 points, before forced to retire late in the second half with severe leg cramps. It marked the third time in two years that Martin has scored 50 or more points in a game, second only to his record-setting 71 point game last year against cross-town rival Warner Pacific University.

     It was also the astounding 11th time in just over a full season that Martin has tallied 40 or more points in a single contest.  Martin was also nearly perfect from the charity stripe vs Simpson, making 13 of 14 free throws as a net result of his acrobatic drives to the basket.

     Simpson (4-3) had a narrow 51-46 lead at the half, but rode a  torrid .703 shooting percentage in the second half to the impressive win.  Presnell was a Georgia Coaches Association  first team All-State selection last year at Hiram High School in Hiram, Ga,  and was also an outstanding quarterback and punter on the football team.

     Presnell received plenty of support from Red Hawk teammate Harvey Barr who used his 7'1" frame to shoot 8 of 10 from the field, posting a 17 point, 10 rebound double- double effort against the much shorter Lions  Senior leader Blake Trent chipped in with 20 points on 7 of 10 shooting, 6 of 9 from long range. Ken Anguik contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds to the win, while Dylan Banks dished out a career-high 10 assists.

    Simpson's international roster features players from Australia, Croatia, Slovakia, Nigeria, Turkey and England.  Coach Todd Franklin has a lot to smile about and says he is expecting 3 currently ineligible players to soon join the team.  This should be a team to watch closely later in the season.

    "We haven't even scratched the surface of how talented this team can be," says Franklin, who once attended and played for Multnomah University for one semester.   It was an enjoyable homecoming for the coach, as he saw his team score 112 points on back to back nights in the Portland gym.  The Red Hawks routed Northwest Indian College 112-52 on Thursday night.

Multnomah now drops to 5-3 on the year. MU center Stephan Zavydovskyy had 13 rebounds and blocked 4 shots for the Lions, while sophomore Zach Richardson had 8 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals.

     As for Justin Martin, known primarily as a defensive specialist in high school in Spokane, Washington, he is moving ever closer to his dream of playing basketball at the next level, leaving the NAIA record book reeling in his offensive wake.



College/NFL picks

Here are the picks this week:

Last week 3-1-1
Overall 32-20-3

Colorado +14.5
UCLA +13.5
Texas +5.5
Navy -3.5
Texas Tech -2.5

Last week 3-1-1
Overall 28-24-2

NY Jets +3
Dallas +6
Baltimore -3
San Francisco -3
Cincinnati +6.5

Good Luck!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

College/NFL picks

Here are the picks this week

Last week 5-0
Overall 29-19-2

Iowa -3
Georgia -3
Arizona +27.5
Texas +7
Ole Miss +21

Last week 1-2-1  (Did not count Detroit game last week per Stafford injury and line adjusted)
Overall 25-23-1

Miami +6.5
Baltimore -4.5
New England -4
San Francisco -10
Kansas City -4

Good Luck!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

NHL news and notes-Eastern Conference

NHL news and notes

The big story this week in the NHL was Sidney Crosby for the Pittsburgh Penguins being sidelined for approximately 6 weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery.  The Penguins are tied for 7th in the Eastern Conference with 22 points so it will be interesting to see how they survive without Crosby. Injuries have been an early story line with the Penguins as both Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin missed some time in the early season and have only played 7 games.  The Penguins are tied for 11th in goals scored but the main reason they are winning games this year is their defense is tied for 5th in goals allowed as they have gotten solid goaltending from Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry who have combined for a 2.61 GAA and .910 save percentage.  In an ultra-competitive Eastern Conference the goal for the Penguins would be to try to stay at least within shouting distance of the playoffs once Crosby comes back around Christmas time.

The hottest team in the Eastern Conference has been the New York Islanders who have won their last 12 of 13 and now have the 2nd most points in the conference only trailing the Washington Capitals with 32 points but having played 3 more games than the Islanders.  The same formula that worked last year in giving up the least amount of goals continues into this season as the Islanders lead that category again with only giving up 39 goals on the year.  The gamble of not resigning goaltender Robin Lehner in the off season has paid off handsomely as both Thomas Greiss & Semyon Varlamov have combined for 2.29 GAA and .928 save percentage.  And what is most amazing is that it could easily be a 13 game winning streak since they had a 3-0 lead against the Penguins entering the 3rd period but blew the lead and lost 4-3 in OT on November 7th.

If the playoffs started today the Tampa Bay Lightning would be on the outside looking in.  What is the reason for the slow start?   After leading the league in goals last year they are only tied for 20th in goals with 51.  Through 15 games Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point have only combined for 14 goals.  Last year's Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy is off to a little bit of a rocky start with a 3.01 GAA and .905 save percentage and back up goaltender Curtis McElhinney, who was outstanding as a back up last year for the Carolina Hurricanes, has struggled with a 3.76 GAA and .906 save percentage.  I'm expecting the Lighting to eventually take off as they swept a two game series against the Buffalo Sabres in Sweden and have also played the least number of games in the league.

Most pundits weren't sure if the Montreal Canadiens overachieved last season just missing out on the playoffs but it looks like the Habs will be in the mix again this season for a playoff spot as they have won their last 7 of 9.  Jonathan Drouin (7 goals, 8 assists), Brendan Gallagher (8 goals, 6 assists) and Thomas Tatar (6 goals, 9 assists) are off to solid starts offensively and defenseman Shea Weber is back in all star form tied for 9th in scoring for defensemen with 14 points including 5 goals. Goaltender Carey Price with an already early heavy workload is off to a good start with a 2.65 GAA and .916 save percentage.  The Habs have to hope they can keep Weber and Price healthy the entire regular season since they don't have a ton of depth on the blue line and Price's backup Keith Kinkaid has been a disaster with a 4.35 GAA and .879 save percentage in 3 games. 

Let's give the Ottawa Senators a lot of credit after a tough start losing their first 7 out of 8 games but bouncing back to win their last 4 of 6 games.  They were unanimously projected to be the worst team in the NHL but have proven to be a competitive team night in and night out and the future should be bright with such a young roster.  They are a still a major long shot for the playoffs this year but the Sens have a nice young core to build around with Brady Tkachuk, Anthony Duclair, Connor Brown, Thomas Chabot, Erik Brannstrom, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.  If they can develop one of their young goaltending prospects in Filip Gustavsson or 6'7 Mads Sogaard this will be a contending team in the future.