Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NFL Draft Special

This Thursday marks the annual NFL Draft and this year, like every year, is covered in storylines and debate. Who will the Browns pick? How many teams will take a QB higher than they should? Which guys are the busts and which are the diamonds in the rough?

For the first pick of the draft it still appears the Cleveland Browns will pick Myles Garrett. A guy who is an absolute monster in all the tests. Plus an immediate pass rusher that should be able to make an impact like Joey Bosa did once he got going.

The only issues are that some former players have openly spoke against Garrett. Saying "he's lazy," or that "he only makes about 4 great plays a game." Those coming from Warren Sapp.

Next, you have the issue of who will pick a QB and which one will it be? At the moment it looks like Mitchell Trubisky from North Carolina is who people are liking more. Which confuses me because the kid has only played 13 games!

I know his mechanics looks good and he could be great in the future. But none of the teams that are going to be picking him will be getting him to develop. They are going to throw him out on the field too soon and ruin him.

You haven't seen enough from this guy to say "Oh yeah he's our guy right now."

Whereas Deshaun Watson from the National Champion Clemson Tigers has a lot more tape. Not only does he have the quickest release out of the field of QBs in the draft, but you can see how he played in virtually every situation possible.

You know what you're getting more with Watson, a great playmaker, who has always shown great poise under pressure, durable, and reliable. The last one being the most important, he's not an off the field headache.

I'm not saying he's going to have a Dak Prescott breakout year or anything, Watson's still got a lot of work to do as well. But if we're talking about the QBs in this draft he's the most ready to begin play in the NFL.

Down Go The Blackhawks!

It's official, the Chicago Blackhawks are knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. All done by the eighth seeded Nashville Predators non less! The dynasty that was the 'Hawks is now over.

Whether it's getting to be around the time the veteran players are too dinged up while the younger players don't have the experience to overcome it. Especially when you go down three games and scoring only two goals.

As a Blues fan I can't help but feel happy. Even if it's just for a short time, we still have to finish off Minni. The Western Conference is full of teams that seem more than capable to go all the way.

Unlike that of the East, where it's going to come down to New York Rangers or the always annoying Penguins. Washington is facing issues handling the young inexperienced Maple Leafs team. Let alone a team like Pittsburgh who has seemed to have their number.

Not even a couple of former St. Louis stars can catch a break in the playoffs. Both going from one team who blows it in the playoffs to the other.

I can't not talk about Jake Allen here, over the past few games is playing lights out again. Just unfortunately the rest of the team came out slow, dead, and nervous. Game 5 will be interesting in St. Paul with the series on the line.

I'm not so sure if we can get it done there. Bringing it back to home ice for Game 6, that's when the Blues take it. Luckily in the second round they will have home ice advantage against Nashville.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Nothing Like Playoff Hockey

With the first round of the playoffs coming to an end, there has been no disappointment. Unless of course you're a Blackhawks or Wild fan, to which I just have to say "HAHAAHAHAH."

Last night all four games managed to go into overtime, also every game had a team comeback from down at least two goals. What an outrageous night of hockey. Already this year there have been some major surprises and upsets.

Lets start with the obvious, the Chicago Blackhawks have somehow forgotten how to play hockey. The first two games, at home I'll add, they didn't even score a goal! Only in hockey can you see an eighth seed go up 3-0 on the number one seed.

I thrive in this misery of the 'Hawks. As an avid Blues fan seeing these struggles makes me smile, unfortunately they will have to play Nashville next. Which will be a great serious.

The Minnesota Wild surprise surprise are choking in the playoffs. Like I said in previous posts they are consistently one of the best teams in the NHL all season long, then fall apart in March and the playoffs. While on the other side St. Louis is firing on all cylinders for the first time all season.

Jake Allen has been lights out, and I'll admit, I've given my fair share of critiques on him but he's figured it out. Ever since the firing of Hitchcock and the new regime of Mike Yeo, Allen has been the best in the league. Through the first three games of the series he's posted an astonishing .91 GAA while also having a .974 save percentage. Lets not forget that 51 save performance in Game 1.

Wow, is that a good three game stretch or what?!

Over in the East the number one overall seed and Presidents' Cup winners are struggling more than ever. All by the likes of a bunch of teenagers out just having fun. The youth and inexperience of Toronto might be a strength rather than the weakness most thought.

Now I said the Leafs would give Washington some trouble, but through three games I didn't think they would play this well. Giving the Capitals everything they can.

It's a little early to predict the final outcomes I know, but unless Minnesota, Chicago, and Washington make some major changes their season will be over soon. Tonight will be the final test and if the Blues get a first round sweep, that will give all the momentum in the world.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Playoffs?- East

This year's Stanley Cup Playoffs are going to be exciting this year in the East. Unlike the Western Conference where it really only comes down to a few teams and a wild card (Go Blues!).

But the other half of the league is a little more open for the taking. The Metropolitan Division with Pittsburg, Washington, Columbus, and the Rangers. Then you got the always powerful Montreal Canadians and the young guns in Toronto.

The saying "anything can happen," never truer than in this case. While I would like to sit here and say that this is going to finally be the year the Capitals get over the hump; I don't know for sure.

Yeah they have some of the best goal scorers in hockey and just locked up their defense, with another acquisition from the Blues; but the road this year is going to be tough. Lucky for them though is if the current standings hold, Columbus and Pittsburg will knock each other out.

If the Capitals can get past the fast and electric Maple Leafs, led by the outstanding rookie Austin Mathews, they won't have to face them until the Conference Championship.

The problem, they most likely will face the ever dangerous Habs in the second round. It's a tough road to get over the youth and speed in the first, then the veterans and physical play of Montreal.

All followed by either the Penguins or Blue Jackets in the Eastern final.

Who knows for sure if they can pull it off. But if Washington can get moving and get momentum on their side, then they might be able to finally reach the mountain peak.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Playoffs?- West

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are around the corner and that's when Murphy's Law takes over. Many times before as the underdog gotten hot at the right time and manages to sneak through the cracks.
Then, before ya know it they're lifting and kissing The Cup after you failed to realize the magic.

That's why I love the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It looks like at the moment when the puck drops the Blues' will be matched up against division rival Minnesota. The Wild started out as one of the league's top teams, but since the turn of the new year have fallen off slightly.

It's a common assumption that the Wild will consistently be great in the regular season and then blow it in the postseason. That's what this blogger is hoping for, the Blues are playing at the near top of their game (finally). Also Jake Allen has remembered how to play goaltender (FINALLY).

If we can get past the Wild in the first round I believe will give St. Louis the confidence needed to beat Chicago. Which is always a helluva series, this year being no different. After Chicago the Western Conference should be theirs for the taking.

Outside of the 'Hawks and Wild the Pacific Division is weak this year. Although you never know what can happen as stated before. The Blues should be able to handle any team after defeating those previous two.

Putting St. Louis over the hump that is the Western Conference Championship and into the Stanley Cup Final. At that point, I'm not as confident if they can complete it. The East is extremely tough, but that's for another day.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Short Stacks Are The Best Stacks

Something important I've learned over the past few months is to be short and sweet. Keep what you want to say short and to the point. People, including myself, turn away when a story is too long. Learning how to balance getting everything I want to say in fewer words is big skill.

My poor poor heart is gets bluer and bluer

When I first started out on this blog it was a tail-end of the football season and hockey. But now that obviously football is over it has become more about just hockey. Furthermore, it has more so evolved into a St. Louis Blues' blog. I'm an avid fan of the Blues and know them best to talk about.

"You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take"

This quote from "The Great One" says it all. If you want to make it in the sports journalism or even broadcast world, you need to take a shot. Having a blog, as insignificant or famous it is, can be the key. Why not at least take the shot and see what happens.

It's a star in the making

This class has affected me in the way that now I have something to put out into the world. Blogging is a great tool to get one's voice heard or at least available to be. Maybe someday someone will like what they hear and want more.

Nobody can be you better than you

Write like you really are. That is the biggest lesson from this class. It may be formal or educational or even humorous; but make sure to still have your voice. Write something like you're talking to the reader and having a conversation. Not just meaningless words on a page saying something.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Basketball vs. Hockey Season

I know I might be a little biased on this topic being the nature of this blog is about hockey. But, over the past few weeks a topic has risen up in the NBA that has gotten a lot of attention. The epidemic of NBA players skipping games for "rest."

Yes I realize I called it an epidemic, I call it this because that's what it is. Healthy player missing a game because they're tired is embarrassing. How as a professional athlete, and a competitor of the highest degree, decide to not play a game purely on the fact that you don't feel like it.

I won't even get into the argument about money and the fairness to fans that don't get to see big time players. Or the billions of dollars networks are paying the league to air games that don't even have the players they are promoting.

No disrespect to the NBA or its players, everything they do is far more than any average person could do. But they aren't average, which is how they got to where they are, so why not do they not rise up to the challenge.

This is where the NHL comes into play.

Although hockey doesn't bring in the same revenue as other major sports, and has been overshadowed by basketball. It's a great league of competitors.

You would NEVER see someone like Alex Ovechkin just say, "Ya know what? I need rest I don't think I'm going to play today." That just wouldn't happen.

Anyone who argues that the NBA is tougher and longer than the NHL regular season is wrong. The two seasons and playoff structures are completely identical. Only in the NHL, there isn't as much parity in the league.

Teams that squeak in the playoffs have won the whole Stanley Cup on several occasions. Hockey is the most physical game in the country behind obviously football.

It's sad to see the NBA going through this after the new CBA agreements and is on TV more than ever. I hope it gets better, but at the same time if the game of basketball and the NBA continue to not give the fans what it wants then maybe we should look elsewhere.

Look, every sport in America is ultimately competing for second place behind the NFL. So maybe we should stop looking at this watered down product that the NBA has become, and turn our attention to a league of stars that actually love to play the game they're in.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Las Vegas... Golden Knights?

I thought having a professional hockey team in places like Florida, Arizona, and even Nashville were crazy. But, this new expansion team takes the cake bar none. Las Vegas, of all cities in America, is where the NHL thinks should have a team?

I got nothing against Sin City, it's the place of fun and excited. Although it is right in the middle of the desert. What Las Vegas native was sitting around their house going, "We need a hockey team."

The city is growing at a exponentially rapid pace, but there are plenty of other options to expand the NHL brand. How about the greater Northwest? Somewhere in Northern California or Washington State.

Hopes for success are falling all over them right now, and they deserve to succeed. I just don't think in a place like Las Vegas, a hockey team can grow and develop into a franchise the city and its people love.

Not only is the city itself a wonder, but the name of the newest edition to the NHL is just laughable. The Golden Knights, really?

Whoever was in charge of choosing the name and logo for the team should be fired before it even begins. Choose something that has a close connection to city. Don't just pick something random because you think sounds cool.

It's a complete rip off of Army, the Army Golden Knights. As well as the logo in general is a copyright issue. The logo resembles the helmet the character Magneto wears in Marvel's X-Men series.

Not a good start to the organization as a whole. But on the bright side, there's only one way to go. And with a whole lot of young, hungry players coming of age; as well as players from other teams, the Golden Knights of Las Vegas have a shot.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What a Blue Streak It Has Been

The Blues' Success-

Over the past five games the Blues have played like the team of old. Slow pace, grinding it out along the boards with a heavy forecheck. Wearing down their opponents both physically and mentally.

All of this during a five game road stretch.

The physical play from St. Louis isn't the only thing that has improved. The goaltending has finally began to get on the right path. 

Both Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have been playing lights out as of late. Hutton playing the first of the road trip in Philadelphia, Allen taking the three in the middle, and Hutton again to finish in Detroit.

Where did this come from?-

I hate to say this recent success is in part the result of the firing of the Head Coach, Ken Hitchcock; but, I think this is partially the case here. It's not uncommon for teams to respond well after a firing or change in the locker room.

Also, Hitchcock's coaching style is different than his predecessor Mike Yeo. Switching it up for the players may have had a positive impact on them. Yeo has a little more loose style of coaching and players are more free to play.

Not to take away anything from one of the best coaches in history, but the strict regimented gameplan that Hitchcock had in place. 

Will the success continue?-

If the goaltending can continue to improve and bring out their inner Martin Brodeur they should be fine. Brodeur, arguably the best goaltender in NHL history, is the goaltender coach for the Blues. With his expertise and lessons on being dominant between the pipes, both Hutton and Allen can only get stronger.

The blue line of St. Louis is second to no one in the league. Behind Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk's ability to go deep into the offensive zone is great. It puts pressure of the opposing team that makes the game much more difficult. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Midwinter Blues May Change With the Season

Hello and I apologize for not posting about hockey in awhile. It has been the end of the football season and frankly I've been coping with it.

But, that did not take me away from noticing my team, the St. Louis Blues, fired our head coach Ken Hitchcock. It's hard to say whether or not this was a good move at first. I understand as much as any other fan the trouble the Blues have had this season.

The inconsistency at goalie and making poor decisions with the puck. St. Louis has made winning three or more games in a row way more difficult than it use to be. So, I understand management needed to make a change.

The fact that executives in hockey don't care about the "legendary" status Hitchcock has. The biggest thing they worry about is wins, and winning the greatest trophy in sports. The Stanley Cup. I must applaud the front offices of the Blues for this move now.

After making the decision, the team seems to be responding well. The new Head Coach Mike Yeo seems to be having the team in a good spot, asking a little more of them. Jake Allen doesn't look like he's scared to get hit by the puck lately.

Here's to having our fingers crossed and hope that we can go on a late season run into the playoffs. Then by a stroke of luck, win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history on the 50th anniversary. Until then, lets hope for some good hockey.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tom Brady The Legend

Sunday night we saw the greatest show everyone why he is and will always be the greatest. Tom Brady, down 25 points did something no one has ever done. More than that, no one in the WORLD would have predicted scoring 31 unanswered points.

Any other quarterback in the league would have been down and out. The Atlanta Falcons would be the Super Bowl Champions. But with Brady, it's hard to fully keep him down. Tom Brady is the stuff of legend, even with a loss he will go down as arguably the best QB ever.

With this his 5th Super Bowl and 4th Super Bowl MVP, both of which are records, Brady has transcended beyond football. He's joined the ranks of legends such as Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and so one.

For the longest time, unlike any other sport, it's been hard to place a single figurehead as the best player ever. For the fact that football is the most team orientated sport; but, as of Sunday night that has changed.

Tom Brady has become the model of success and can arguably claim is the best player to have ever played in the NFL. Over 200 players have come and gone over the past 15 years. Other than Randy Moss and currently Rob Gronkowski, there has never been a superstar to aid Brady. He's been the consistently the best with a revolving door of offensive lineman, receivers and even running backs.

Now I am in no way, shape, or form a New England fan. On the contrary you could say I hate the Patriots. But, no matter how badly you may hate them, there's no denying greatness. No one in history has done this, and that's something we should all take in and realize what we have witnessed may never be done again.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Saying Goodbye To America's Love

This Sunday will be the last football game we as Americans will enjoy until Autumn. The Super Bowl, the biggest and most important game of the year. It's something every football fan looks forward to every year. But, now that it's upon us I can't help feeling a little disappointed.

This game will be like when you're in a relationship that you know is coming to an end. The best times are over. After making a half-hearted attempt to save it (the Pro Bowl), you know this will be the end.

So what do you do? Have one last hoorah, enjoy one more night together before it all ends. This relationship between football and its fans is kind of the same right now. This Super Bowl is the one final bang where we can enjoy the violently beautiful game it is.

What will we do for an entire summer without it? Anyone who is a true football fan won't stop going through withdrawals until mid March. Where hopefully postseason hockey and basketball can ease the pain of this loss.

So at the end of the day, enjoy this week. Enjoy every down played and every ball spiked in celebration. Even take in and remember the commercials that will air for the first time. For this is the last time football will be in our lives for a little while.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Pointlessness of the Pro Bowl

Can we just be honest with ourselves and come to the conclusion that the NFL's Pro Bowl is a joke? I mean it hasn't really been relevant in years. Even when the league tried to "revamp" it by changing it.

Let's put two Hall of Fame players pick eligible players like its a school yard pick up game, that will fix it. With J.J. Watt playing quarterback and Odell Beckham Jr. playing safety, come on it's just sad.

Now, because the revamping of the Pro Bowl didn't work out at all, the league has decided to go back to the old way. The original format of the NFC and AFC playing each other.

People may still want to see their favorite players alongside some of the other greatest players in the game right now and that's fine. But, at least have these guys actually play some football.

I don't want to see a half-hearted attempt at a skills competition, especially one that is concluded with a game of NFC vs. AFC dodgeball game. Dodgeball, really? I'd rather just watch the movie.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm aware that this is football. The league in no way could or should tell the players to go out and play at a 100%. The game is too dangerous and players get paid too much money to play in the REGULAR season.

I know that there is no way for these guys to risk their bodies and injure themselves for a meaningless game that no one benefits from. So let's do ourselves a big favor and recognize the outstanding players of the NFL season in another fashion, particularly one that doesn't waste anyone's time.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Young Guns Ready to Carry The Torch

There's no doubt that the NHL is leaning towards a faster, more skillful style of play. There is no better time for the game to be changing, with young, dazzling skaters on the ice that are taking over the league. 

Let's start with the guy that has become the youngest captain in the league's 100 year history, Connor McDavid. 

In a time when the game is changing from brute strength to skill and speed, McDavid is a prime example of a complete player.With 57 points McDavid leads the NHL, yes even over the "masterful" Sydney Crosby. 

If I were a GM and building a team around one young player, McDavid would easily be that guy. He's young, he's a leader, he's a team player and only wants to win.

Next, we have the high scoring Toronto Maple Leaf, Austin Mathews. This young American hockey star is fourth in the league with 23 goals. 

The tenacity in which he scores and manages to find opportunities for others is out of this world for a teenage rookie.Much like Ovechkin, he seems to just find enough ice to get off a clean shot. If Mathews get off a clean shot, the puck is going in.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Looking Back at The NHL Season So Far

With the All-Star breaking coming up this weekend, many teams look to head into the break on a good note. Let's take a look back at what has happened so far, talk who is for real and who, won't make it for long.

Let's start with the obvious choice, the Washington Capitals. Behind Alexander Ovechkin the Caps are soaring through another great regular season. With a record of 32-9-6, the best in the league, Washington looks to continue their dominance. When it comes to five-on-five hockey no one in the NHL can hang with them right now. T.J. Oshie has finally started looking like he is comfortable in the system. Nicholas Backstrom is continuing to play like he does, Ovechkin doing Ovechkin things, and Brandon Holtby playing like an animal in the net, the Capitals look like the Golden State Warriors of hockey.

Arguably the hottest team in the NHL right now is the Minnesota Wild. Dating back to December 2nd the Wild has gone 19-3-2, jumping into first place in the Western Conference. Minnesota's speed and versatility has been key thus far in the season for much of their success. Devan Dubnyk in front of the net has been nearly unbeatable posting a 1.91 GAA (Goals Against Average). The only problem is the Wild have a history of putting together great regular seasons only to fall apart in the latter half of the season. So until we see consistency out of the break, don't put too much stock into them.

A surprise team right now is the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference. Much like the Wild, Columbus put together a remarkable winning streak of their own. With a 15 game winning streak in December the Blue Jackets vaulted themselves to the top of the division and the conference only behind, yes, Washington. Sergei Bobrovsky, the goaltender, has been playing his best hockey so far. Currently sitting in the top five in GAA, Save Percentage, and leading the league in wins with 28. Again, much like the Wild in the West, it will be interesting to see whether or not they can continue this play; and, if the situation presents itself, can they give Washington and the ever favorite Pittsburgh.

What seems to be the major similarity between these three teams? Yes, goaltending. Much like the quarterback in football, no team can win without a reliable goaltender. All three of the hottest teams right now have had exceptional goaltending, creating the opportunity to not have to stress for goals. A good example of what a great team without goaltending looks like is the St. Louis Blues. Offensively and defensively, the Blues can hang with just about anyone in the league. But, what sets them back is there is no reliability with either of the tendys.

So, with the All-Star break coming up and the game on the 29th, the infamous Stanley Cup is still up for grabs. Will the Wild and the Blue Jackets continue their great play? Is this finally the Capitals year, or will they fall apart in the playoffs again? One thing is for sure, it's going to be a great remainder of the hockey season.

Friday, January 20, 2017

NFL Conference Championship Weekend:

This Sunday the AFC and NFC Championships are underway between the Atlanta Falcon and Green Bay Packers of the NFC, and the New England Patriots against the Pittsburg Steelers in the AFC.

Four of the game's best quarterbacks are the last ones standing. Between these high potent offenses and less than stellar defenses, you can expect a lot of points. Let's begin with the big game taking place in the NFC at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Matt Ryan is looking like the MVP frontrunner he is. Along with the fact that Ryan has yet to revert back to his old ways and forgetting how to play QB. His decision making and playmaking abilities so far in the postseason have been remarkable.

The biggest change for the Falcons over the past few weeks is the emergence of a pass rush. The defense most of the year has been nonexistent, but Vic Beasley and the old man Dwight Freeney have caused some major turnarounds.

But, will that turnaround be enough to stop the seemingly invincible Aaron Rodgers?

Rodgers and company (if you can call what he has left around him company) have run the table so far in the past eight weeks. Everyone by now has seen his Hail Mary of the season, we've seen the late game heroics against the Cowboys in Big D last week.

The real question here, which won't be answered until Sunday, is who will have the ball last? Much like the game last week with Rodgers, if he has the ball last with the opportunity to tie or win the game, count on seeing the Packers in Houston.

On the other hand, if it's Matty Ice with the ball I'm a little less confident. I know Ryan has played well so far in their game before, but that was an Earl Thomas-less Seattle defense. It's a whole other story when its a must score situation. Especially with his poor performances in the past in this situation.

At the end of the day, Aaron Rodgers will lead the Packers to victory in a very high scoring and classic game. We might even see a Hail Mary or two. 41-38.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What's The Collision Zone?

Hello all and welcome to The Collision Zones, I'm Nate Baldwin and this is a blog where we discuss NFL football and NHL hockey. We will be discussing the seasons as they go along, talk match-ups, best player, who's hot, who's not, and so on.

With the Divisional Round of the NFL Postseason ending over the weekend, a review of the two games as well as who will make it past Championship weekend.

The NHL All-Star break is around the corner, what teams are hitting on all cylinders at the moment, what players look like potential MVPs. We will continue covering hockey after football ends, sticking with it throughout playoffs and there is a champion crowned (Let's Go Blues).