What's Up With Justin Verlander?
And what that does is put in motion a chain reaction. There is less separation between his fastball and changeup in terms of velocity, therefore making his changeup less effective. It also has the same bearing on his breaking ball. The other factor is, he seems to lack an "outpitch" to get him out of trouble. It was his changeup or 100 mph - when his velocity was up.
There are a couple things Tiger fans should be hoping for here. One is that there is nothing wrong with him physically. Verlander, obviously, is as key to the Tigers' success as anybody on their roster. And secondly, that he isn't spooked by the prospect of being their ace. He needs to develop the same type of will and aura Jack Morris had, where he seemed to get the job done in crucial starts - even when he didn't have his best "stuff."
- It was amazing how quickly the blame was put on Dominik Hasek when the Red Wings lost just one playoff game Monday night.
He had played well in Game 1 and Game 2 against Nashville. The Red Wings would not have won those games without Hasek's stellar play. He made several tricky saves.
He was all right in Game 3 despite the loss, but what happened in Game 4 Wednesday was unacceptable. It was a soft goal he allowed to Nashville's Greg DeVries that took away all the momentum the Red Wings had developed.
It was a killer. The Red Wings lost the game and are in a precarious spot in an opening round playoff series again because of it. And it was the cardinal sin of goaltending in the playoffs.
A team like Nashville is able to go into a defensive shell after taking a lead like that. Doesn't matter if the Red Wings are carrying the play and bombarding the net with shots. Nashville's Dan Ellis, you see, was up to the task in net. Hasek wasn't. And this is the first time Ellis has played in the playoffs.
Chris Osgood is the obvious choice to start in goal for the Red Wings in Game 5 Friday. He played well in relief of Hasek, but it was too late.
- I have heard buzz about the Lions schedule being difficult, but honestly I don’t see it as daunting. They should get off to a good start. They will be facing Atlanta and San Francisco within the first three weeks on the road, but neither one of those teams is very good. The home game in-between is the Packers, but they will be adjusting to life without Brett Favre, and the Lions have had some success against the Packers at home down through the years. Other than a road trip to Indianapolis, their non-division road schedule is kind (Houston is the other road trip). I think the biggest issue is whether the Lions have improved in relation to other NFC North teams. I have to think the Bears and Vikings will be better than last season, although it’s not like either has solved their quarterbacking woes.
This is a better schedule for the Lions than they had last season. If they make a couple decent moves on the draft day, and play sound fundamental football, it is (and please don’t start laughing at me) not out of the realm of possibility they can make the playoffs.
- Dallas has put Anaheim on the brink of elimination. The road is being paved nicely throughout the playoffs for the Red Wings. But it is up to them to not blow it during this opening round against the Predators.
- Did you know: Chris Osgood has lost his last five playoff series dating back to 2000. His playoff record since is 10-20.