Tag:Los Angeles Kings
Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:03 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 2:07 pm
 

Clifford avoids suspension for hit on Brule

By Brian Stubits

Kyle Clifford's five-minute major for a hit on Coyotes defenseman Gilbert Brule likely cost the Kings the game in Phoenix on Tuesday night, but luckily for him that's all it will cost him.

After technically being suspended because of the match penalty until the league could review, there was no hearing scheduled by the league and thus no suspension for Clifford.

Late in the game with the Kings holding a 4-3 lead -- shocking, I know -- Brule pushed the puck up the ice along the boards through the neutral zone and watched as the play developed ahead of him. Moments later Clifford came from behind and delivered a hit that was either to the high chest or the head. Either way it ended up getting Brule's head and Clifford was shown the gate while also being given a five-minute major.

As you can hear, the Kings broadcasters -- who I must recognize as being some of the most impartial and rational home-team announcers in the NHL -- debate whether it was a hit to the head or not of Brule. What they can't argue is that the hit was delivered very high on Brule and as a result if nothing else the follow through caught Brule's head.

I didn't think Shanahan would go easy Clifford in this case. The hit was unnecessary; it came to an unsuspecting player more or less from behind well after the puck had advanced up the ice. Throw in the placement of the hit and Brule leaving the game and you get the sense it's going to be a couple games minimum for Clifford.

But I admit, I'm as lost as a lot of people with what's OK and what's not.

Plays like this seem to have greatly reduced as the season has gone along, Shanny hasn't seemed anywhere near as busy to me in the past few weeks. So perhaps the players are learning, but there will still be hits coming through like this.

On the season Clifford has four goals and six assists for the Kings, playing the dirty minutes on the bottom lines for L.A.

More from Eye on Hockey

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Winners & Losers: Vrbata helps Coyotes streak on

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 22, 2012 9:38 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 9:47 am
 

Morning Skate: Caps, Avs keep chasing playoffs

By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

There are only three games on the schedule for Wednesday night and who'd a thunk that the Bruins visiting the Blues would be the least interesting of the three in terms of the playoff picture? These two are both fighting hard for positioning in their respective conferences and in the case of the Bruins, actually for the division lead as hard as that might be to believe. But more on that a little further down.

7 ET, Washington at Ottawa: The Capitals have become everybody's favorite trainwreck to watch. For some reason I have never quite understood, fans around the league just love to watch the Caps fail and this season is shaping up to be a whole heaping of fail. It's to the point where they are ready to point fingers and find the biggest offenders of them all.

But here's the miraculous thing: The Capitals have gone 0-5-1 in their last six games against teams not named the Florida Panthers. Yet they go into Ottawa to finish up a four-game roadtrip only two points behind the Panthers -- and Winnipeg Jets -- for first place in the Southeast. They are the same distance from the eighth spot in the East. So yes, by deduction, the Southeast leader is good enough to be seventh best in the conference, not third.

Point is, getting two points tonight is massively important for the Caps. Not only does it forge ties for a playoff berth but sends them back home with a 2-2-0 roadtrip which isn't so bad when you consider it included an embarrassing loss in Carolina.

From the Senators perspective, the rest of the East has mostly caught up in terms of games play and they're still comfortably inside the playoff picture, five points clear of eighth. But now they can actually turn their sights on the Northeast Division lead. They enter Wednesday night only two points behind Boston, although the Bruins are one team who hasn't caught up in games played yet as they have four games in hand.

9 ET, Los Angeles at Colorado Talk about two teams fighting for their playoff lives. Each of them can see their postseason hopes fading away, so the good news is that at least one of them is going to get points tonight and stay in the race for that final spot out West.

Despite a complete inability to score goals (Tuesday night not withstanding) the Kings are clinging to that last spot right now, one point ahead of Calgary, two ahead of Dallas. At four back is the Avalanche who made it clear on Tuesday that they're still trying to make a push for the playoffs by acquiring Steve Downie from the Lightning.

Especially considering the game is in Pepsi Center, it's a crucial game for the Avs. They really can't afford to fall six points back of the eighth spot. With so many teams in the mix for it, that's a lot of ground to make up being made more difficult by the number of teams to pass. When you're playing a team struggling as much as L.A., you can't miss the opportunity.

And yes, L.A. is struggling. It is 2-5-2 in its last nine games. But at least they showed some life in Phoenix, even if they did blow a three-goal first-period lead. Much like the Caps in the West, it's pretty hard to believe the Kings are only three points out of the division lead shared by the Sharks and Coyotes.

Your promised miscellany

  Zach Parise appreciated David Clarkson sticking up for him on Tuesday night and taking on Dion Phaneuf. Chalk one up for the pro-fighting side. (Fire & Ice)

  Claude Giroux accidentally broke a commentator's watch with a slash on Tuesday night in Winnipeg. (Puck Daddy)

  Canadiens goalie Carey Price has debuted another goalie mask, this one having an Old West theme to it. (Backhand Shelf)

  Lastly, relive the greatest moment in American hockey history, the Miracle on Ice. That happened 32 years ago today in the medal round against the U.S.S.R.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 21, 2012 11:52 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 12:55 am
 

Winners & Losers: Coyotes, Jackets, Flames

By: Adam Gretz

There's always a winner and a loser in the NHL, and this is a new nightly look at some of the winners and losers in the biggest games and biggest situations across the league.

Winners

1. Phoenix Coyotes: A 3-0 deficit against Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings seems like like it might be impossible to overcome with the way this season has progressed. Not the case for the Coyotes on Tuesday night as they continued their winning ways with a come-from-behind, 5-4 shootout win. It was their eighth win in the past nine games, and their ninth straight game with at least a point in the standings. It also moves them into a tie for first place in the Pacific Division with the San Jose Sharks, a team that had their lunches handed to them by our next winner, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

2. Columbus Blue Jackets: In what has become a lost, disappointing season, the Blue Jackets had their most complete and impressive performance of the year on Tuesday night with a 6-3 win over the Sharks. R.J. Umberger completed his first career Gordie Howe Trick scoring a goal, assisting on another and dropping the gloves … all in the first period. And it took him just 4:11 of ice-time to accomplish it. Talk about efficiency.

3. Another high-scoring Jets-Flyers game: Somehow, the Winnipeg Jets had a chance to move into the top spot in the Southeast Division (and the third spot in the Eastern Conference) with a regulation win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

They didn't win, but they still managed to gain a point with a 5-4 overtime loss and move into a tie with the Panthers, which is still pretty amazing. Are the Jets buyers? Sellers? A team that does nothing? Who knows at this point, but they're still in it thanks to the collective mediocrity that is the Southeast Division. But the most entertaining thing here is the Jets and Flyers played another high-scoring, back-and-forth game. In their four-game season series this year the two teams combined for 38 goals. That's an average of 9.5 goals per game in a league where the average game features just 5.46.

It's like 1985 all over again when these two teams get together, and as of now, a first-round playoff matchup isn't entirely out of the question.

We can only hope.

Losers

1. The Anaheim Ducks playoff chances: Much had been made of the fact the Anaheim Ducks were only five points out of a playoff spot entering Tuesday night, but here is why it's going to be next to impossible for them to catch up: Even with one of the best stretches in the NHL they're still back to being six points out and are still in 13th after Tuesday. Their best two-month stretch of the season has seen them gain four points and move up one spot in the standings since early December. Those points are just too hard to make up, and a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay doesn't help.  They have no margin for error, and losing to a team that's in selling off players every other team and makes the hole they're in even deeper.

2. Calgary Flames: There was one team on the ice on Tuesday night that looked like it was fighting for its playoff lives, and it wasn't the Calgary Flames in a 6-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. These are the points that the Flames need if they're going to earn one of the top eight spots in the West, and this one was a clunker.

3. The New Islanders slow starts: Scoring first is a big deal in the NHL, and no team seems to get off to slower starts on a nightly basis than the New York Islanders. They were down 2-0 just three minutes into Monday's game, and then on Tuesday against Buffalo they fell behind just 1:12 into the first period of their 2-1 loss to the Sabres. It's tough to win games when you're spotting the other team a one-goal lead almost right off the opening faceoff every night.

Goal of the Night: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins.

New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella said this goal by Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, his 33rd of the season, was the result of "a dumb play by Michael Del Zotto." His turnover may have led to it, but it's still a big-time move on a play that involved two of the NHL's MVP favorites going one-on-one.



For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: February 21, 2012 11:06 am
 

Latest on Rick Nash, other trade deadline rumors

Is Columbus closer to a Nash deal? (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

We've not come down to the final week of the NHL's trading season and we've had so little action so far that you'd be forgiven if you mistook the deadline for a Kings game.

The only thing keeping this trade deadline interesting with all the non-action has been the discussion of Rick Nash's future in Columbus, which doesn't seem to be much anymore. That's because this season the Blue Jackets are the only real seller. Every other team is close enough to the playoffs to convince themselves they might still have a shot except for the Oilers, who don't really have many more players they would trade.

That's the price of parity in the NHL. At this point no team in the Eastern Conference is more than seven points out of the playoffs. That's pretty crazy.

So the only real blockbusters waiting to happen out there -- that we know of -- involved Nash or his teammate Jeff Carter.

It's just a matter of time before the Jackets swing a deal or deals. GM Scott Howson says he is getting closer but nothing is pending or anything right now. Here's what he told the Columbus Dispatch.

"We're waiting for the right deals," Howson said. "We're getting closer. But we're not there yet."

According to Bob McKenzie of TSN and the NHL Network, that "right deal" for Nash would involve a high-end player, two elite prospects and a draft pick. No word if the kitchen sink is part of the asking price as well or not.

NHL Trade Deadline
More NHL coverage

Whether or not it happens this week or this summer, it certainly seems like the Nash and Columbus marriage has hit an end.

The trade deadline is also massively important for Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who could see his marriage with Los Angeles end with this trade deadline, too. The Kings need so badly to make a deal for an elite scorer and only Nash and Carter seem to fit that bill right now of available players. The fan base has reached the point of expectation to deliver with high hopes all around entering this season.

It's really not an exaggeration to say that Lombardi's job is on the line with this trade deadline. That's what Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times believes.

I'm of the belief that the Kings should take to upgrading the offense this offseason. I don't foresee any addition this season that's going to do any more for the Kings than get them to the playoffs, perhaps. It's not like they will transform into a true contender this season with Nash.

But if Lombardi isn't guaranteed a job, then I get the urgency to do a deal now from his standpoint. Desperate men will do desperate things.

With all of that said, don't expect the trade deadline to remain dull. There will be some deals and McKenzie has the latest on the buzz, including a few teams who are slipping into selling mode and the other hot names of the season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 19, 2012 10:59 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 11:50 am
 

Clock controvery favors Jackets against Rangers

By Brian Stubits

It's a good thing the Columbus Blue Jackets aren't involved in a playoff race this season or else these clock issues would be killing the NHL.

For the second time in a month, the Jackets were involved in a last-second clock controversy in their game against the Rangers in New York. But this time the call went in their favor.

With the second period winding down, Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto beat Jackets goalie Steve Mason and it was originally called a goal. We'll let the Fox Sports Ohio broadcast crew take it from here.

Just in case that video's not working for you, the replays show the puck going in with either 0.1 or 0.2 seconds left. Yet the ruling was no goal, it came after the period had ended. Huh?

That's right, the clock that you see on TV and at games isn't the official clock. As disorienting as that is, the video replay booth is staring at the actual game clock on their feed and in this case, the MSG clock was just a touch behind the actual one, leading to this discrepancy.

Pretty amazing that here we are in 2012 and we still can't have the actual game time on the broadcasts or in the arena. It makes for some unnecessary controversies like this one.

Not to mention it only lends the league to strong criticisms and opens up opportunities for people to start conspiracy theories. This was a makeup call for the Jackets for the blown call in Los Angeles. See how easy that was? There's your conspiracy. Now have fun with it.

The NHL has been looking at the clocks since the infamous situation in L.A. that introduced coulombs and Dean Lombardi's brilliance to everybody. Colin Campbell told Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times that the league is fixing this.

“We will find a way to bleed the clock feed into the overheads now. We have implemented a few other items into the clock process as well to make sure there can be no burps.”

Obviously that hasn't been taken care of yet.

In the end, this turned out to be more or less insignificant. The Jackets did tie the game -- on a Rick Nash goal, no less -- and take it to overtime before losing. So the Rangers still got their two points and the Jackets got one that they likely wouldn't have picked up, but they're so far behind the other 29 teams it doesn't much matter. The only way the controversy will hear its read is if the Rangers fall into a tie situation and regulation wins are taken into account.

It's just something that needs to be fixed and ASAP. It's hard to keep having situations like this from an image standpoint.

H/t to Puck Daddy for the video

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 18, 2012 10:42 am
 

The Kings need to find some offense

RichardsBy: Adam Gretz

The Los Angeles Kings have one of the best goaltenders in the NHL this season, and a pretty solid defense anchored by young star Drew Doughty.

Unfortunately, they're running the risk of letting it all go to waste with what has been one of the worst goal-scoring teams the NHL has seen over the past 14 years.

Entering Saturday's game against Calgary, the Kings are clinging to the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference, just two points ahead of the Flames team they're hosting. If not for the stellar play of Jonathan Quick it's worth wondering if this team would even be in playoff contention right now.

Quick, who is currently third in the NHL in goals against average and save percentage, has been the very definition of a hard luck loser. He has had 10 games this season where he's allowed two goals or fewer and still come away with a loss, whether it be in regulation or in overtime/shootout.

That includes Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, the third time in the past month-and-a-half he's been on the wrong side of a 1-0 decision. There is only so much he can do.

As of Saturday morning, the Kings are averaging just 2.07 goals per game, by far the worst total in the NHL. And this is a team that has had the 6th most power play opportunities in the NHL. Granted, it's not exactly been a great power play (23rd in the league), but they've had more chances on the man advantage than most teams. Outside of that, there is almost no 5-on-5 scoring to speak of with a league-worst 76 goals during 5-on-5 situations this season. The second-worst team, the Minnesota Wild, has 84.

But how does this season stack up against recent goal-scoring shortages? Since the start of the 1997-98 season, only three teams have finished a full season averaging fewer goals per game than '11-12 Kings are currently averaging: The 2000-01 Wild (2.05), 2001-02 Blue Jackets (2.00) and 1997-98 Tampa Bay Lightning (1.84). Keep in mind, that Wild team was in its first year of existence, while the Blue Jackets were in their second year of existence.

At their current pace, the Kings would finish the regular season with just 169 goals, a total that would actually fall nearly 50 goals short of what would be the league average. This is a big problem.

The last time the lowest-scoring team in the NHL actually qualified for the playoffs was the 1988-89 Vancouver Canucks after finishing with a 33-39-8 record to claim the fourth and final playoff spot in the Smythe Division. It's only happened three other times since the NHL expanded beyond the original six in 1967 -- the '86-87 Detroit Red Wings, the '70-71 Minnesota North Stars, and the '68-69 Philadelphia Flyers.

Feeling optimistic?

Great goaltending will only take you so far. In the end, you still need to score goals.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:28 pm
 

Video: Rick Nash's wish list put into song

By Brian Stubits

Ever since the word got out that Rick Nash could be traded from the Blue Jackets, I don't think there has been a fan base more excited than the Kings. They need scoring help in the worst way.

The excitement further ramped up when word came down that the Kings might be one of five teams on Nash's approved list for trades considering his no-trade clause. Don't believe me? Just check out this video from the Royal Half, a Kings blog (and great follow on Twitter).

Now I've seen some song parodies before, but this one is outstanding. The lyrics and vocals are enough to make Hall & Oates probably not cry. By the way, for comparison's sake, here's the original song Kiss on My List.

See, it's for reasons like this that I love trade season in the modern age. A part of me hopes the Kings can get Nash as a reward for this effort.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 17, 2012 1:58 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:01 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Hockey Weekend in America

Hossa and the 'Hawks are about ready to return home. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Weekend schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

In case you didn't know -- and chances are you didn't -- this weekend is Hockey Weekend in America. Mostly it's a name attached to a normal weekend of games, but dammit it's Patriotic and I'll be a son of a gun if Old Glory doesn't get me pumped up for anything.

The weekend showcase will be the triple-header early Sunday in what has become the spotlight game of the week now that football is in hibernation until the end of summer. Your choices -- OK, NBC's choices to show you based on where you live -- are Sharks at Red Wings (yes please!), Blues at Blackhawks (I'll take that) and Penguins at Sabres (hey, it looked good at the start of the season). It wraps with a game at 3 ET on NBC Sports Network as the Bruins visit the Wild.

With no slight to that Blues-Blackhawks game back in Chicago (home sweet home, eh 'Hawks?) the Sharks-Wings battle is the one to really watch. For if the Red Wings are still riding their record win streak into Sunday -- a mighty big "if" with the Predators visiting the Joe on Friday night -- then this will be the biggest threat to date.

There aren't many teams that can say this, but the Sharks have had Detroit's number recently. They are one of the few teams who have won in Detroit this season, doing so way back before Halloween. Go back to the beginning of last season and the Sharks are 9-4 vs. the Wings, including the playoffs. That includes five consecutive wins in regular-season matchups.

Must be coach Todd McLellan still knowing a secret or two to beating his old squad.

So while the bout in Motown might be the best from an action standpoint and as far as NHL history is concerned, I argue the more meaningful game is the one in the Windy City.

It was such a massive relief for the Blackhawks to finally end their losing streak that had peaked at nine games. Against the Rangers, no less. That's not like ending the skid against the Blue Jackets -- their final stop on this massive road trip Saturday -- it's the type of win that can really signify that things are alright. Taking down the best team in the league in their barn? Talk about a slumpbuster.

A return to home ice will be nice. Think about how you feel when you walk back in your front door after a vacation. Now think of how great that feeling is when you've had about the worst vacation you can imagine.

Then again, it's not so great when you have a house guest like St. Louis sitting on your porch awaiting for you to let them in. The good news is they aren't the type of guest who trashes your place, they're respectful that way. They are just 10-12-3 away from Scottrade Center.

Extended metaphor aside, there's no better time than now for the Blackhawks to regain their footing. That would put an end to the ridiculously stupid Patrick Kane trade suggestions and allow them to safely put space between them and the playoff chasers in the West.

One thing to consider: Face-off will be at 11:30 local time to accommodate NBC's time slot. That's an awfully early wakeup call after so long away from home.

Southeast showdown Part V

The Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals will square off for the fifth time this season Friday night in Florida. Strangely enough, it's going to be the first time that Tomas Vokoun has started a game back in Sunrise, his former stomping grounds, and the first start against the Capitals period for Jose Theodore this season. It's a bit odd that the No. 1 goalies have only received two of the eight starts in this series so far this season.

It makes sense both starters get the nod on Friday. It's another massive night for these teams. If the Panthers can do what they have done twice already this season and beat the Caps at home, they'll move six points up on Washington in the division. That's a nice cushion when we're getting down to 25 games or fewer left this season. Not insurmountable, but nice.

This is the third time these two have met this month. The last meeting was a 4-0 whitewashing by the Capitals in D.C. Coach Dale Hunter referred to that as a playoff game before it began and the Caps make it look as such. Since? They're 1-3-1. By my count, that'd have them eliminated (from the mythical Feb. playoffs, folks).

The good news is that Mike Green might return for the Caps against the Panthers. He's stopped and started so many times this season you'd think he was driving on the Washington Beltway during morning rush hour.

There will be a lot of interesting things to watch for in the game, but one for me will be the intensity of the Caps. In their last visit to Florida, Karl Alzner explained away their poor start by the lack of energy in the building. A pretty soft excuse in a pivotal division matchup.

They can't afford to start slow again. The Panthers have been doing that a lot lately themselves and coach Kevin Dineen is determined to make that stop in such an important game.

Desert streaking dogs

Holy Coyotes that team is hot right now.

Perhaps it's been a push to help garner interest to keep them in Phoenix, I don't know, but the Coyotes have caught fire. Just when you were ready to bury them in the desert sand, they spring off a run like this. "This" would be six wins in the last seven games to get into the playoff seedings at the moment.

To further their standing in the, um, standings, they get their own pivotal matchup. The Dallas Stars, one of the plethora of teams on their heels outside of the playoff picture at the moment, come to the desert on Saturday night.

It's a classic "four-point game" for the teams battling in the West and Pacific Division. Here's hoping there's a better than normal crowd to watch it, should be close to a playoff atmosphere.

Keystone clash rekindled

The Flyers and Penguins will renew acquaintances again this weekend. It's the start of a stretch with a lot of meetings for the intrastate rivals.

It will be the first of four meetings for the teams from now until April 7, the final day of the season. No wonder the chirping between the fan bases has been mostly quiet this season, they have hardly met.

The importance here should be pretty clear. As of now they are jockeying back and forth -- and with New Jersey -- for that all-important fourth spot in the East, the only home-ice award that goes to a non-division winner. It's very possible that these four tilts, starting with the Saturday matinee, will decide that race.

Plus it's about that time of the season where the Flyers could really stand for Ilya Bryzgalov to heat up and carry some momentum into the postseason. He's back in action now after an illness and this is the type of game where it would be so big if he came up humangous big for the Flyers but unfortunately the kind we've come to expect a few bad goals this season.

Sibling rivalry renewed

Unlike the last time the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings met, this one won't be about the coaches. Very much, at least.

Brothers Brent and Darryl Sutter this time get the undercard billing with another battle of teams at the bottom of the playoff picture out West.

After their own long road trip, you'd think coming home might be enough to jolt that putrid 2.07 goals per game number for the Kings. Well they were shut out by the Coyotes on Thursday night at Staples Center, so you can probably shoot that theory down. Fact is they haven't been able to score much anywhere, no matter if it's at home or not.

The way it stands going into the weekend, L.A. is clinging to the eighth spot out West and Calgary is right behind them. Pretty astonishing I think, but the Flames are still right there.

So you see, this one is about a lot more than a sibling rivalry.

We're going streaking!

Here are the streaks -- both good and bad -- headed into the weekend.

Red Wings: Considering they've been playing a lot at home recently and they have an NHL record win streak going, it's no surprise they've won four straight. Two toughies this weekend with Nashville and San Jose visiting.

Anaheim Ducks: In the midst of an eight-game road trip, the Ducks have run off three in a row. They head to the Southeast now and face the Carolina Hurricanes and Panthers.

Sabres: It keeps getting worse and worse. After seven unanswered goals against on Thursday, they now have a three-game skid. They have the Canadiens on Friday and Penguins on Sunday.

Capitals: Needing to go on a tear late like they have in recent seasons, the Caps are instead sputtering. They do the Florida double-header this weekend entering with a three-game slide.

Wild: Six-game skid ... and likely counting. A back-to-back at the Blues and vs. the Bruins doesn't figure to be the remedy. This weekend could all but officially bury their once promising playoff hopes.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com