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Shooting from the lip

Biggest shocker

Canada will announce its Olympic hockey roster on Tuesday, and there's a general consensus that the Lightning's Marty St. Louis is on the bubble.

To which I say, "Are you kidding me?!''

St. Louis led the league in scoring last season. This season, going into Sunday, he was 12th in scoring among Canadian forwards (and second among Canadian right wings) despite playing much of the season without superstar linemate Steven Stamkos. He's a captain, a power-play asset and his game is predicated on speed, which will serve him well in the speedier international game.

How is this even a discussion?

Here's another thing to consider: Canada's general manager is Steve Yzerman, who also is the Lightning's GM. Yzerman isn't alone in putting together the Canadian team, but he has a big say. And if he doesn't take St. Louis, it will be a major problem for the Lightning. St. Louis was irritated with Yzerman and Team Canada when he was left off the 2010 team. That was before Yzerman came to Tampa Bay.

Can you imagine how St. Louis would feel if Yzerman and Team Canada left him off this time around?

This isn't to say that Yzerman should take St. Louis just because he's on the Lightning. He should take him because St. Louis deserves to go. But, I'm telling you, if St. Louis isn't picked, it will be a messy situation in Tampa Bay.

Best point

Another one-and-done season in Cincinnati. The Bengals, who lost at home Sunday, haven't won a playoff game since 1990. This is the third season in a row and fourth time in five years they've lost their first playoff game. Coach Marvin Lewis is 0-5 in the postseason.

"He runs the risk of being Marty Schottenheimer-esque,'' NFL Network's Brian Billick said. "(That means) being very good in the regular season, getting into the playoffs and now you're one-and-done."

Strangest comment

The website TheBigLead.com noticed this. In writing about Charlie Strong taking over as head coach of the University of Texas, the Dallas Morning News spoke to ESPN college football analyst Lou Holtz.

Holtz said, "(Strong) is great with players … but he's not a hip-hop coach. He really, truly could have coached for (Ohio State's old-school taskmaster) Woody Hayes with no problem whatsoever.''

Not a "hip-hop coach?'' I don't know what Holtz was trying to say, but it doesn't sound like something he should have said.

Best call and biggest dagger

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again many, many times: NBC's Al Michaels is the best football play-by-play announcer there is and just might be the best who has ever lived.

He had the best call of the weekend, though it probably felt like a punch to the gut of Eagles fans.

When the Saints' Shayne Graham drilled a 32-yard field goal with no time left to win Saturday's NFC wild-card playoff game, Michaels said: "Right down Broad Street.''

It's not "Do you believe in miracles?'' but it was pretty good.

Best question

Let's see. The Dolphins bungled away a playoff spot over the final two weeks of the season. There was that whole Richie Incognito mess. The 2013 draft class played fewer downs than any class in the NFL. All of this led Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard to ask, "How is it possible that general manager Jeff Ireland, one of the most unpopular figures in the history of South Florida sports, still has a job?''

Strongest comment

Last week, much was made about how the Colts, Packers and Bengals needed extensions to assure sellouts and avoid having their home playoff games blacked out on local television. Some used the excuse of weather, particularly in Green Bay where wind-chill temperatures were predicted to be well under zero, as a reason fans were not buying tickets.

But here's the thing: People are hesitant to pay hundreds of dollars for an in-game experience that isn't as good as the at-home experience. Fans would rather watch games in the comfort of their own home, especially with all the advances in television technology over the past decade.

You're going to see more and more occasions where teams have trouble selling out games in the future.

Meantime, check out this slam of MetLife Stadium, the site of this year's Super Bowl, from a well-respected voice. ESPN's Outside the Lines host Bob Ley said, "They spent a billion dollars at the Meadowlands, and I'll speak as somebody who goes there maybe two or three times a year to watch a football game: If you don't sit in a premium seat, it is a quantum step back in value for your dollar and ease as a fan. They whiffed with that stadium, in my opinion."

Best prediction … so far

Sterling Sharpe, on NFL Network's GameDay Morning, said, "(Chargers quarterback) Philip Rivers is going to have the playoffs of his life."

So far, so good. Rivers was a dependable 12-for-16 for 128 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions in San Diego's 27-10 upset of the Bengals on Sunday.

Best local reference

Something that might make you smile:

New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick wrote over the weekend about Jets coach Rex Ryan keeping his job:

"I do know the one young man who deserves so much of the credit for Ryan's resurrected status has been ingloriously ignored. Where would Ryan be without Lavonte David?''

Mushnick reminds readers that the Bucs linebacker's personal foul penalty at the end of the season opener helped move the Jets into position to kick the winning field goal in their game. The Jets finished 8-8.

"Would the Jets still have been alive for a playoff spot as late as they were?'' Mushnick wrote. "We'll never know, exactly. But we do know Ryan, minimally, owes Lavonte David a thank you — if not his job.''

Best approach

Good job by Fox covering Sunday's 49ers-Packers NFC wild-card game. The weather was a factor with extremely cold temperatures, but Fox didn't overdo it with the constant shots of thermometers and such. It gave the most attention to what it was calling: a football game.

Three things that popped into my head

1. Maybe it's because Florida and USF weren't playing, but didn't the college football bowl season seem more boring than usual?

2. The college basketball season officially started about two months ago, but most of us don't pay attention until college football is over. That means the college basketball season gets going for real on Tuesday.

3. You can argue he's not a very good NFL coach, but recently fired Bucs coach Greg Schiano is a good man.

tom jones' two cents

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Shooting from the lip 01/05/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 6, 2014 12:21am]

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