Thursday, May 9, 2013

Off To Annapolis

One of the best games that TigerBlog has ever seen was the one where Bobby Nystrom scored in overtime to beat the Flyers and give the Islanders their first Stanley Cup.

Of course, since it was in May 1980, it wasn't quite the best hockey game that TB had seen that year.

The "Miracle On Ice" notwithstanding, that Islanders-Flyers game was an extraordinary one, even before Nystrom's game-winner. TB isn't going to look up all the details, though he does remember a controversial goal after the Islanders appeared to be offsides and a back-and-forth OT before Nystrom's goal off a perfect feed from John Tonelli.

TigerBlog doesn't watch much of the NHL during the regular season. Actually, he doesn't watch much during the Stanley Cup playoffs either.

If he had to pick a favorite NHL team, it would be the Islanders, who won four straight Stanley Cups beginning with the one in 1980. The team has been awful for years, and being saddled with a long-out-of-date arena hasn't helped.

Now the team is in the playoffs again for the first time in a long time, tied 2-2 with the Penguins heading into tonight's Game 5 in Pittsburgh.

Like most casual NHL watchers, TB does recognize the drama of playoff overtime.

Last night, TB stumbled upon the Maple Leafs-Bruins game just as it was going to OT, so he stayed with it until the Bruins' game-winner.

TB was in Toronto once and absolutely loved it. He likes Boston as a city, but he would never, ever root for the Bruins. Some teams are just like that.

The drama of playoff overtimes is obvious, and it's even more acute in a Game 4 where one team leads 2-1. Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs (why isn't it Maple Leaves?), the series turned against them in a major way when they lost that game. Instead of 2-2, it's now 3-1 in favor of the Bruins, who have two home games left. That's a lot riding on one goal.

TB doesn't understand why women's lacrosse plays two three-minute overtimes and then goes to sudden death, rather than just starting out in sudden death, like hockey and men's lacrosse (and college soccer).

The drama quotient is way higher when the next goal wins, and TB has seen so many wild overtime games on the men's side, especially in NCAA championship games (Princeton has won four of its six NCAA titles in OT).

TB also can't stand when the team that wins in overtime in women's lacrosse wins by more than one goal. He wishes he had the stats on how many times a team that scores first in OT ultimately loses.

Penn won this year's Ivy League women's lacrosse title, going 7-0 in the league while winning four of those games in overtime.

Princeton finished second in the league, going 6-1 with just a loss to Penn in, of course, overtime. The Tigers then fell last week to Dartmouth in the league tournament semifinals.

Those two results left Princeton on the NCAA tournament bubble, and it broke Princeton's way when the seedings were announced Sunday.

Oh, and why did the NCAA announce the men's and women's tournaments at the same time? With the way the men's selections were spread over an hour when a half-hour or even 15 minutes would do, why not combine the two selections into one show, rather than having the men on ESPNU and the women web-only?

Wouldn't that be a nice thing to do for the women's game?

Princeton's reward is a trip to Annapolis, where the Tigers will take on Duke tomorrow night in the opening round. The winner of that game will play the winner of eighth-seeded Navy and Monmouth Sunday.

The women's bracket has an oddly even number of 26 teams in it, largely because of the rule requiring at least an equal number of at-large bids to automatic bids.

The resulting bracket has some oddities, most notably some sites that have three teams and others than have four. Penn and Dartmouth also received bids, and they are both in three-team brackets, where the winner of their opening-round games will play a team that does not play a first-round game.

As for Princeton's opponent, Duke is a proven NCAA commodity making its 13th straight appearance. The Blue Devils and Tigers both average right around 12 goals per game, so it could be a high-scoring one.

TigerBlog has been to the Naval Academy for women's basketball, and it's an incredible place. Just seeing the Midshipmen as they walk around the campus is beyond impressive.

The lacrosse game will be a few blocks off the campus, at Navy Marine Corp Stadium.

Still, Annapolis in May?

Princeton's goal is to spend the weekend.

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