One of my favorite broadcasters is ESPN's Chris Berman. Berman has always seemed like a guy who just loves his job and he has kept the same sometimes corny style throughout his career which is both shameless and often chuckle worthy. While I wouldn't say Berman is a great play-by-play man but I think he's great as a studio host where he consistently finds ways to add an element of levity to contrast against the big egos and opinions of retired professional athletes and coaches. One element of Berman's old school approach to sports is the nicknames he gives players. Instead of the boring shortening of names like A-Rod, RG3, or hockey's compulsion with adding a y to a player's first name or some condensed last name Berman opted to play on words. Eric "sleeping with" Bienemy or Ben "Technicolor dream" Coates and during the Wild's improbable playoff run in 2003 he even chimed in with a few including Andrei "suddenly" Zyuzin. He doesn't give out those kinds of nicknames as frequently anymore, but I think one axiom of his stays with me more than anything else. When he goes through highlights, and he's talking about a game that from the outset seems like an obvious shutout he prefaces it with "that's why they play the games" to foreshadow the outcome may not match what you think. I think that applies perfectly for the WCHA teams playing in the NCAA tournament. No conference had more teams in the tournament than the WCHA which was a tip of the hat to the 'strength' of the conference and the NCAA may be questioning that decision a bit after what has been lousy weekend. For Minnesota, Wisconsin, Denver, North Dakota, and Minnesota State they all went to the tournament feeling pretty confident and of those clubs on North Dakota managed to advance beyond the first game. St. Cloud State, a 4th seed in their respective region was the only WCHA team to advance to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh next weekend. Good for the Huskies, well deserved, but overall a pretty dismal performance for the WCHA as a whole.
Last year, the Blues were like a steamroller in the Western Conference after the arrival of Ken Hitchcock as coach. A super stingy defense and plethora of big bodied, gritty forwards with a dash of skill made for a killer combination in the regular season. The Wild were not able to match that level of intensity, but things are different. The Wild are demonstrating they can play with anyone and the once super stingy defense of the Blues isn't quite so air tight. Can the Wild earn another home victory against a strong opponent like the Blues or will St. Louis give Minnesota a few sour notes?
Click on "Continue Reading" for the rest of the article...no comments