We interview the best 'cappers and books here at the Dish, so we'd be remiss if we didn't weigh in on this whole Wayne Gretzky thing. So here goes: For an older gal, that Janet Jones is hot. There. See, we're not interested in bashing the Great One just yet, because he's kind of a hero of ours. So instead, we'll expend this week's energies on Gretz's erstwhile mission over the next couple weeks: Olympic ice hockey.
While this tournament doesn't have quite the sex appeal that Salt Lake did in 2002, compared to the World Baseball Classic it's friggin' Heidi Klum. There will be so many stars on so many different teams, it's going to be hard not to find a great game from the quarterfinals on. Let's take a brief tour around our favorite squads: Canada: Duh.
The '02 champs boast a fourth line that would make the Pittsburgh Penguins weep. And we hear that Brodeur guy might amount to something someday. Sweden: If Peter Forsberg is really out, the Swedes are probably done, though Daniel Alfredsson and Mats Sundin aren't bad (along with some guy named Nicklas Lidstrom).
Forsberg may sit out the prelims to try to get his groin healthy for the medal round. Czech Republic: If Dominik Hasek stands on his head as he did in Nagano, they'll have a chance, and Jaromir Jagr is having a terrific year for the Rangers. Plus this team won the world championship in '05.
Not as much brawn on the back line for the Czechs as normal, though, so you can forecheck against them. Slovakia: Oh, the forwards. They will score goals. Marian Hossa is one of the NHL's best-kept secrets, and Pavol Demitra and Marek Svatos are very good as well.
Their problems come down to stopping the other team. Russia: Hard to know what to expect from a team that didn't have a GM until early last year. Alexander The Great (Mr. Ovechkin to you) is a stud, and watching him and Ilya Kovalchuk patrol the left wing is unbelievable.
Alex Kovalev, Pavel Datsyuk.boy, they'll fly around. Goal Evgeni Nabokov is having a sub-.900 save percentage season for the Sharks. United States: The big problem here isn't that guys like Brian Leetch aren't coming, it's that guys like Bill Guerin are. As indifferent as Nabokov has been in net, Rick DiPietro has been worse.
Brian Gionta (and his 33 goals) is our fave player on this team. Finland: Teemu Selanne has 26 goals and is +20 for the Ducks, and Saku Koivu continues to be one of the best combinations of grit and skill in the NHL, but who plays net? Some guy named Antero Nittymaki. In the end, it's hard not to like Canada to take gold, but it sure will be fun watching the rest of the world trying to knock off these prohibitive favorites. We'll take Russia for silver (because we're scared off by Forsberg's groin), and Czech for the bronze.
But really, just about everyone we list above will contend. Have fun! Lasting impressions of Super Bowl XL? Greg Jorssen, BoDog.com: Definitely was not an exciting game, and some of the calls were brutal and most probably took the life out of the Seahawks. The offensive pass interference call on Jackson was weak, and the reviewed Roethlisberger touchdown should have been overturned due to the football clearly not crossing the line. Even the Hasselback penalty for blocking below the waist after the interception had me scratching my head. All that said, the Seahawks lost the game due to a really poor performance on the field.
Stevens dropped easy catches all game long and Seattle punter Tom Rouen seems to have forgotten all about the coffin corner. I think he had six punts in the game, most of which went into the end zone for a touchback. This game was theirs for the taking as I don't believe the Steelers' performance was all that great either. Just look at Roethlisberger's numbers. His QB rating was 135.7 points lower than Randle El's! A disappointing 22.
6 rating on the biggest day of his life! And don't get me started on the Rolling Stones. Time to put a fork in them I think. Aretha, however, brought chills down my spine during the anthem, I must admit. In retrospect, what was the overall handicapping landscape like for the big game? Did the books do well? Were there any particular bets that you saw that made a few select bettors extremely happy? GJ, BoDog.
com: I think all books did pretty well, mostly due to the total falling well out of teaser range, as well as the spread knocking out most teasers. The spread itself made us big Seattle fans, however we were big fans of the Steelers on the moneyline. The perfect outcome would have been a last-second Seattle touchdown and two-point conversion, but in the end was a nice finish to a roller coaster of an NFL season. Our bookmanagers down south did a masterful job of balancing the action for this game, thus ensuring any losses on the day would be minimal.
Bettors betting on the Steelers obviously were the happy ones, thus the number of late wagers coming in on Seattle helped balance the action quite nicely. What happens now that football is over? What do 'cappers and books turn their attention to? GJ, BoDog.com: One thing, and one thing only: March Madness. The final three games of the Tournament equal the Super Bowl in terms of hype and handle, thus there is no rest for the sportsbooks at all after the Super Bowl. We do everything we can to convince football bettors to keep a little in their accounts and throw some money down on college basketball action.
Do you have any interest (gambling or otherwise) in the Winter Olympics? GJ, BoDog.com: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Aside from the hockey, I can't think of anything that will generate interest with me or with our bettors. We will have a few lines up, particularly on some of the American athletes, but aside from that this should be a non-event. .
By: Christopher Harris