Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 4, 2013

James Cook: Day of sports ends with clunker

BY JAMES COOK jcook@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

— If you’re a sports fan — and if you’re reading this, it’s likely you are — Sunday was likely a great day.

You had the Red Wings trying to snap Chicago’s insane points streak, Michigan against Michigan State in a matchup of top-10 squads, and then the Detroit Pistons.

OK, maybe the Pistons game wasn’t so hot.

The Tony Parker-less San Antonio Spurs dismantled the Pistons, winning by 39. But, hey, it was a fairly appropriate lead-in to "The Walking Dead."

Let’s start with hockey.

The Red Wings took control from the Blackhawks after surviving a shaky first period. In the third, Detroit was generating all kinds of pressure and only goalie Corey Crawford kept Chicago’s streak alive at 22 games.

The Wings were up 1-0 on a Tomas Tatar goal when Detroit’s defense suddenly started to forget basic rules of the game. Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall were both called for delay of game for shooting the puck out of play in their own end in the last 2:30. Ericsson’s resulted in Patrick Kane’s game-tying goal, and Kane would then win the game with a shootout score as well.

So that was a bummer for many in-state hockey fans, but at least it was a good game.

Detroit’s penalty kill needs to improve. Know who they could use? A guy like Winnipeg’s Zach Redmond, who will be a restricted free agent this year. Before his freak practice injury, he had a sabermetric Corsi rating that would have been in the top five last season. He’s expected to miss the rest of the season, and perhaps the Jets will foolishly let him go.

Here’s some bad news for bandwagon Blackhawks fans: Just ask the Red Wings what tends to happen to teams that breeze through the regular season. That’s right — an early exit. And bitter disappointment. Get ready, Windy City fans, get ready.

And there’s the Michigan-Michigan State game. That probably ticked off about half of you, but it also was an excellent game as neither team really took control and it remained pretty close throughout. In the end, Michigan pulled out a one-point win to even the season series at one apiece.

Then there’s the Pistons. Oy vey.

That one was hard to watch. But it felt almost required to in order to complete a day of Michigan sports.

If only the Detroit Tigers spring training game would have been on TV as well, it would have been a near perfect storm. They lost, but it’d be good just to catch a baseball game on the tube again. It seems like ages since the Tigers were playing in the World Series.