Blackhawks

Random News of the Day: Wedding Brackets

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Random News of the Day: Wedding Brackets

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
8:58 a.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Guys know sports. We eat, sleep and breathe them. We love and respect the games, the players, the competition, the hype and the excitement. They make us who we are and we can never get enough. We love talking about the MVP-performance we watched on TV the night before, or the MVP-performances we say we had back in school. We love talking complex strategy, like why you should bunt a speedy runner over to second when you have a solid lefty hitter on deck. And we also like turning everyday situations into something, anything, that is sports related: placing basketball nets over the garbage can, folding papers into triangles so you can kickflick field goals, throwing snowballs as if we were the next Roy Halladayyou name it. And when were in uncharted waters, its relieving to know that we can always channel the sports world to put us back in a safe harbor.

And for guys, nowhere is this more apparent than in wedding planning.

You see, I am in the selecting a type of wedding invitation phase with my fiance. Obviously, this is her domain. Its all her on this. And frankly, thats the way it should be. I feel about as out of place as the Ernest Goes To Camp producers were on Oscar night, 1988. We got through two of those gigantic invitation selection books and declared that the ball was in her court from that point forward (haonce again: sports references make it easier). But as we were discussing our invitation list, along with the differences between Esperanza and Monotype Corsiva fonts, I fell into a sports trance and had a vision: a wedding invitation list is a clone of the selection process for the NCAA basketball tournament. Guys: if you have gone the marital distance, or if youre in the wedding on-deck circle (like me), or if youve ever filled out an NCAA bracket before, then you can relate to the following. Picture what a wedding looks like. Now merge it with March Madness. It should look something like this:

1 Seeds: Bride, groom, best man, maid of honor - The ones that go the distance. Theyre the teams that have consistently met the challenge in the past and the ones most likely to stick with you all the way to the end.

2 Seeds: Parents Of the Bride And Groom - When making a wedding invitation list, placing these teams anywhere below a 2-seed would be an outrage.

3 Seeds: The Rest Of The Wedding Party - These people are likely to be very good friends and family members. Sure, you might have a 3-seed who plows through too many whiskey sours and falls victim to The Electric Slide by the end of the night, but heyupsets happen.

4 Seeds: Most Aunts, Uncles & Grandparents - They earned their ticket to the big dance. Some made it because of their names alone. We all have the consistent Uncle North Carolina and an Aunt Wisconsin in our family, right? And sometimes theres a Grandpa Gonzaga that comes around and becomes the life of the party.

5 Seeds: Everyday Friends - Solid, loyal and fun to be around. Theyre a must-invite. But as weve seen in the NCAA tournament in recent years, a lot of five seeds have been known to turn sour. Decide which ones can will show up down the road in life and proceed with guarded optimism.

6 Seeds: Cousins - Most are very deserving of the invite. The party wouldnt be the same without themespecially if one of them can distract the banquet hall manager so that extra booze can be sent in through the side door.

7 Seeds: Friends From Work - Great group, albeit somewhat unpredictable. They deserve the invite because theyve fought in the trenches with you day in and day out.

8 Seeds: Bulk Family - Something you could buy at Costco? Maybe. Anyway, bulk family refers to the other family members you see 2-3 times a year: not necessarily the distant relativesbut the ones with names you actually remember (which is a problem for me at times). In the NCAAs, the 8-9 game is usually one of the more entertaining games because they beat each other up so much that they usually have nothing left when they match up against the 1 seed. Kind of brings you back to a heated argument at Thanksgiving dinner, eh?

9 Seeds: (See 8 Seeds)

10 Seeds: High School Friends - As we all know, high school is a popularity contest. In March Madness the 10 seeds are popular picks, not only because they can get past the first round, but also ones that can wreak havoc for 2 seeds (look out, parents of the bride and groom: high school friends tend to know how to party). High school friends at a wedding are like Butler in the NCAA big dance: old school, fun, predictable, yet kind of annoying if people start overcrowding their bandwagon.

11 Seeds: The Wedding Connoisseur - The 11 seed comes to the wedding and automatically megaphones, So this table is the cool tableright? Good people, but you could do without them. Theyre fancy themselves as good Lambada dancers. Fun for some, unsettling for most.

12 Seeds: The Family Black Sheep - Probably doesnt deserve an invite, especially because they are the odds-on favorite to dive through the wedding cake like its a Guns N Roses video. Yes, the black sheep invite is one that is somewhat out of obligation and yes, they probably wont stay past the first dance, but theres also a good chance that they provide some visual ribaldry. (Note: keep these people away from a live microphone)

13 Seeds: The Wedding Personnel - What? We need to reserve a dinner spot for the photographer? Cant we just sneak them a few dinner rolls?

14 Seeds: Any Wedding Crasher - Frankly, you have no idea who these people arebut they always seem to make the dance more exciting. After 10 minutes, especially if theyre creating a lot of fun, you stop questioning why they showed up.

15 Seeds: Your Childhood Friends That You Havent Seen Since 1995 - It goes like this: you know how you catch up with someone you havent seen in years, and the conversations really exciting for the first few minutes, but it always falls flat soon after because you both realize you have nothing in common anymore? Thats the 15 seed for you. They cant go the distance. Nothing says wedding fun like comparing your childhood friends to, oh, Austin Peay.

16 Seeds: Your Second Cousin Owen From Pittsburgh - Owen, not to mention your other second cousins from Sioux Falls, have no reason being at the dance. Theyre on the obligatory invite list solely because of conference tie-ins (in a wedding sense, it means they happen to have the same last name as you).

Oh, and Im sure you might be saying, Whoawait? What about the NIT Tournament? I have that covered too! Here are the wedding NIT teams that should never make it to the big dance: ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-cons, the gun enthusiast uncle whos also a fan of the open bar, Carrot Top, Charlie Sheen, your parole officer, your therapist, the one cousin who smells like taco mix and Dane Cook.

Whether its planning a wedding, a funeral even a day at jury duty, sports can always be mixed in. Just take it one game (or wedding invitation shop) at a time.

Or something like that.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
 
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.