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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. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Digital Age Goes Dark

Digital Age Gets Dark Around Here

By Allan Classen

The digital age was supposed to be all about information. Almost every topic one could imagine would instantly be at our fingertips.

Somehow this information wave as forsaken high school sports in Oregon.

The golden age of prep sports news may have been the 1970s, when The Oregonian routinely ran ample stories and photos of metro area games. Small town newspapers also went all in. Last week’s football game could be counted on to fill the front of the sports section.

As newspaper coverage tapered off, OregonLive’s sports forums snowed us with raw details and commentary. If one combed through enough of it, a few nuggets about coaching changes or transfers might be found. Now it’s hard to find anything beyond the final score of games. OregonLive shut down the forums years ago. My hometown weekly in Dallas prints nothing at all about half the football games and other sports tend to get even less ink.

One might expect websites and social media to fill the gap, but you would be disappointed. School websites or fan Facebook pages might tell you when players are to board the bus to away games, but few have anything on the games.

Information on professional sports is everywhere, and one can learn the spin rate of every major league pitcher for each pitch he throws, which only emphasizes the blackout of high school coverage.

The Oregon School Activities Association now covers a few key games with online reports by professional journalists, and a few papers around the state also continue to do a good job. But for most schools and most teams, fans have to be in the stands to know how the home team did. Unsurprisingly, game attendance is also generally declining.

Sports fans can see the best athletes in the world on TV every night and read about them until they go blind. But the digital age is not democratic, at least when it comes to sports, and it has not provided a diversity of information on smaller teams and towns disconnected from the world of national championships. All politics are said to be local, but sports coverage in the digital age is anything but local.

The Ghost of Fred Hare

   "You know, I believe we have two lives.
     The life we learn with... and the life we live after that"
          -Iris Gaines,from the movie The Natural

By Harry Cummins

     It has been nearly 60 years since they played the greatest basketball game I ever saw.  A persisting ghost from that game still lives in my attic, loosely pressed between the pages of a variegated and wrinkled game program.

     However, this story is not about that snowy December night in 1964 when Nebraska sophomore guard Fred Hare blindly flipped the ball backwards over his head as the buzzer sounded, giving the Huskers a 74-73 upset win over No 1 ranked Michigan and their near-mythical All-American Player of the Year, Cazzie Russell.

     No, this story is about the rest of Fred Hare's life that ended on October 2, 2014, at the age of 69. His final years were spent in the isolation of a small north-central Texas town, confined to an electric wheelchair and separated from family and friends. News of his passing failed to reach his own family for almost a year.

     Since that celebrated winter's night in Nebraska basketball lore, this much has been pieced together from the turbulent and nomadic years that shadowed Fred Hare as tightly as any lock step defender:

      Two days before Christmas 1967, early into his final year at Nebraska, Hare quickly showered at halftime of a Big 8 game against Wyoming and walked out of the locker room, never to return. The exact circumstances remain clouded.

     After a tryout with the Los Angeles Lakers, he traveled extensively with the Harlem Clowns and Harlem Globetrotters.  He also played briefly in Canada.

     His mother died in 1967 at the age of 47. After the funeral, Hare sold all his belongings and boarded a plane for Mexico, where he played three seasons for the University of Americas, averaging 35 points a game.

     In 1972, Hare survived a life-threatening head-on crash on a Colorado interstate, spending months recovering in a local hospital.

     Fred Hare came from a large family of 18 brothers and sisters, including stillborn twins and triplets. Many of his siblings met tragic ends and by 2000, Hare was the only one left, living with his second wife and helping a son with a roofing business.  His own father, a sharecropper,had passed away when Fred was just an infant.

     Hare had open heart surgery somewhere around 2008, having already suffered two heart attacks in Mexico in earlier years.  Two of his sons were born in Mexico.

     His final years were spent in the company of a live-in caretaker in Krum,Texas  Hare died as an enshrined member of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame. Those who saw him play say he was  perhaps the best player to ever come out of the state.  They said he was a natural.

     In a span of a week, toward the end of his senior year at Omaha Tech, Hare was voted 'Prom King' by his fellow students, most of them white.   A few days later, Parade Magazine named him one of top 15 high school basketball players in America, a list that included a 7 foot sophomore  Lew Alcindor, later to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

     Hare spent many years attempting to write a book about his roller-coaster life.  Trying to chronicle his journey was "For the Lord, and part of a promise to my mother that I'd finish college" Hare said in a 2011 interview. He took writing classes to finish his college credits.  The book was finally finished by his son, Freddie Lee Hare, Jr.

     I never knew Fred Hare, although I met him once in the men's department of Gold's Department Store in Lincoln, Nebraska, days after his unforgettable no-look shot had reverberated across the sports pages of America.  "Thanks for the memory" I said, and shook his hand. At the time, we both were shopping for warmer clothing to shield us from the cold landscape that lay ahead.

     We were also both students then, learning all we could about the tumultuous world as we knew it in 1964.

     To this day, I remain haunted by the ghost roaming my attic.  Haunted still by the shadowy significance of every human life.







Friday, November 8, 2019

College/NFL picks

Here are the picks this week:

Last week 4-1
Overall 24-19-2

Texas Tech -2.5
Illinois +14.5
Baylor -2.5
Kansas State +7
San Jose St. +8

Last week 4-1
Overall 24-21

Cleveland -3
Dallas -3
Detroit +2.5
Tampa Bay -4.5
Atlanta +13.5

Good Luck!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Prolific Pair Soar To Top of National Charts

Multnomah University Co-Captains Zach Richardson and Justin Martin have teamed to currently lead the nation in 3 individual categories....points,assists and 3 point baskets.

By Harry Cummins

     Playing three home games on consecutive days this past weekend in Portland,Oregon, Multnomah University teammates Zach Richardson and Justin Martin parlayed 3 straight wins into a swift trip to the summit of college basketball's individual early season statistical charts.

     Boasting the nation's highest scoring offense last season at 97 points per game, the Lions (4-1) of the Cascade Collegiate Conference turned their backcourt tandem loose in an offensive display that saw Multnomah post 128,113, and 137 points on successive nights.  The offensive onslaught was highlighted on Saturday when the 6'1"sophomore sensation Richardson went 7 for 10 from 3 point range to take over the No 1 spot in the NAIA this season in 3 point baskets made with 22.  For the 3-game weekend set, Richardson canned 17 of 26 from long distance, averaging 21 points per game while collecting 20 rebounds

     Meanwhile, Martin, the explosive 5'7" senior, has simply resumed where he left off last season when he was the NAIA's leading scorer at 32 ppg.  Martin averaged an impressive 40 points and 10 assists for the recent trio of games, and has assumed the NAIA total points lead again this year with 151 points in 5 games.  In Saturday's 137-116 win over New Hope Christian, Martin had 35 points at halftime before retiring to the bench in the second half with 42 points and 8 assists.  As a result, Martin has now assumed the NAIA D-2 national lead in total assists as well as points this year, a rare feat for a prodigious scoring guard.  In his second season at Multnomah, Martin has now recorded an amazing 10 games where he has amassed 40 or more points in a single game.

     "Incredible 3 days of shooting" understated Lions Coach Curt Bickley.

     In Saturday's win over New Hope, Multnomah had to survive a note-worthy 46 point, 10 rebound effort from Robert Knox of the visitors, who as a team, shot an impressive 57% from the field in defeat.  Knox made 21 shots in 31 attempts, the same number of baskets scored by Justin Martin last season in his NAIA record-setting 71 point game against Warner Pacific. The 21 baskets by Knox is a 2019-20 season high, breaking the 16 baskets by Martin set just 2 nights earlier in a 41 point, 13 assist showcase performance.

     Both Zach Richardson and Justin Martin display skill sets that portend long-term sustainability.  By season end, neither should stray far from their albeit early, but lofty perch.







Friday, November 1, 2019

College/NFL picks

Here are the picks this week

Last week 3-2
Overall 20-18-2

Virginia +2
Kansas State -5
Washington +3
Ole Miss +19
Buffalo -1

Last week 1-4
Overall 20-20

Pittsburgh -1
Green Bay -3.5
Baltimore +3.5
Houston -1
Oakland -2.5

Good Luck!