2015 Stanley Cup Preview

2015 Stanley Cup Blackhawks Lightning Towes Stamkos
Image: Sportsnet.ca – http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/gameplus-star-spotlight-jonathan-toews-vs-steven-stamkos/

Since ESPN will only give real hockey fans about 3 mins of a 24 hr news cycle dedicated to hockey, I felt like a REAL series preview from a REAL lifelong hockey fan was in order. The Blackhawks and Lightning may be one of THE best Stanley Cup matchups possible of all 16 playoff teams. Granted, for TV ratings purposes, New York Rangers vs. Chicago Blackhawks would’ve been better for the NHL; but, for the fans, this is like watching the Blackhawks play a younger version of their own team. It’s going to be fast, high scoring, exciting, and probably the most memorable Stanley Cup of the last 20 years. Between the Stamkos/Johnson and Kane/Toews combos, well, pick your poison, but let’s get down with the breakdown starting with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago:

Clearly the Blackhawks have experience on their side; this is their 3rd Stanley Cup berth in 6 years, you can call it a dynasty, and their core team has been together the whole time. The hawks even brought on Brad Richards, who played for Tampa during their last Stanley Cup run in ’04. Coach Q has about 9x the game experience as Tampa’s Coach. The Hawks have only had 5 losses this playoff season, and only 1 overtime loss, winning 4 other OT games, when it’s crunch time…they crunch. The media is making a big deal of the 4 man defensive rotation the Blackhawks are pulling; however, with a little more practice time this week, I think we will end up seeing the minutes numbers of Keith/Seabrook/Hjalmarrson/Oduya go down as other players chip in, especially with the intensity, speed, and skill the top two lines of Tampa possess. The Hawks have 3 players in the top ten in playoff points this year, they have played on this stage before, and nerves shouldn’t be an issue.

Tampa:

The Lightning really impressed me this post season, and after beating the President’s Trophy winning Rangers, they stamped their ticket to the final. The aforementioned top 2 lines have been on a tear as well, with both Johnson and Stamkos in the top ten in playoff points (Johnson leads the NHL). Ben Bishop has really shut down the opposition scoring, I wouldn’t say he has had a stellar playoffs, but he steps up when needed, and uses his big frame to keep the puck out of the net. Tampa has balls though, to win a game 7 in Madison Square Garden is no easy task, and the biggest glaring stat I see, is the Lightning special teams has the edge over the Hawks both on the kill and power play, so they should definitely use that to their advantage especially against the tired Hawks defense. The Lightning can score at will, but the real key is if they can keep opposition goals from happening.

Results:

Here’s how I see it, Blackhawks win in 5 games. It boils down to experience and star power. The Hawks have both, not to mention a goaltender that has won a cup and two perennial all stars to lead the way, oh, and Coach Q. The Hawks have shown they can win on the road this post season, and they can win in big games as well as in overtime. When the playoffs started, I thought the only hiccup the Hawks would have would be Anaheim because of their size and style of play. Well that hiccup came and went, and in my opinion, the western conference was just better top to bottom this year than the eastern. With all that being said, this is already a forgone conclusion that the Hawks win their 3rd cup in 6 years and a dynasty is here. The Lightning will have other chances at the cup with their great young team, but this year the Hawks will be too much for them. Every game will be fun to watch, but the cup is taking a trip to Chicago this summer.

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao 2…But Why?

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So, if you refer to our blog on May 2nd, well, we told you so. The ‘fight of the century,’ really was a bit too late for these two fighters. The powers that be in boxing want numerous fights for these guys on their way out towards retirement. Multimillion dollar deal times 3, sounds a lot better than a one off, not to mention, it’s boxing. Every major rivalry in boxing where guys were close in weight during their respective eras would lead to numerous sequel fights. It’s the nature of the beast.

Many people complained about the fight itself, the style and pace mainly. To that, all I can say is, have you EVER seen a Mayweather fight? He’s had 47 before this one. That is his style, make his opponent work and tire throughout the round, and then attack when opponent is tired. This makes combinations easier to parry and counter punching is like fighting an opponent who’s in slow mo; it’s just easier hitting a winded guy. To be mad at this fight and how Mayweather fought it is to admit you do not follow the sport.

The shoulder injury suffered by Manny prior to the fight is super convenient, in the aspect that it has already opened dialogue for a 2nd matchup. Frankly, a shoulder injury is never convenient, but now the argument is out there that, “well if Manny was 100% he would’ve won.” I’m not one of those people to believe the previous statement, but, for a fighter who sets up with his jab like Manny does, that would definitely make it difficult to throw combinations and hold a proper defense. I’m interested to see what happens with the 2nd go round, mainly to see the hype machine, because the buildup is guaranteed going to be better than the actual fight.

No one can be mad at Manny for not disclosing this injury information pre fight. If he did that, this may have never went down, and imagine how pissed the world would’ve been if an injury held up the fight. The casinos would have zero bets on a fight that didn’t occur, and big prize fights are big for Vegas; travelers spend loot all over town for a big fight night weekend. Stars and celebs, athletes, musicians, everyone is there along with their money, so if this didn’t go down I think it would’ve been a big letdown to many. Again, this injury gives people a solid reason to still bet on Manny, and because people will bet, Round 2 will be coming soon…You can bet on it.

May 2nd, 2015 is the Best Day in Sports…Ever

So by now, the hype machine has for sure let everyone know that the fight of the century (decade, in my opinion) is happening tonight. But, there is so much more going down all day, and here’s your guide for ruling the couch tomorrow.

Pacquiao-Mayweather-May-2nd

(All times listed as CST)

11:00 a.m.: NFL Draft Rounds 4-7. I don’t know what to say except here is where the “dice rolls” by GM’s are made. Maybe your team needs a primo punter? Well if so, this is the time to watch the draft, enjoy the kicking battery picks.

11:30 a.m.: NHL Playoff Round 2 Game 2 action between division rivals Washington and New York. Washington took game 1, and these teams don’t like each other, so this will end up being a good watch, maybe even a pre Pacquiao/Mayweather fight could occur.

12:30 p.m.-8:10pm: Baseball. BoSox vs. the Yanks for a traditional rivalry, or maybe you want to tune into Detroit vs. Kansas City; I’m fairly certain KC has had more fights this year than Mayweather, and it’s only May.

5:24pm: The Kentucky Derby…live from…Kentucky. Well, I’m not a huge pony guy, so let’s just say that you can be sure there will be some horses running in a circle, some may not be as fast as others. I’m also fairly certain this event is held in Kentucky. Fair enough?

7:00pm: NBA Round 1 Game 7 has the Clips at the Spurs. Do the ‘Ole Spurs’ still have what it takes to win in the playoffs? Will CP3 and the Clip-Show come in and have an alley-oop dunk contest for the win? I’d bet on ‘Los Spurs’ ft ‘The Big Fundamental’ in a game 7, I mean historically that’s the safe bet. But this game will lead right into the big fight.

8:00pm: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and undercard bouts. Well, this is what we all wanted (5 years ago). I really think it will be a split decision, no KO/TKO; this thing is going the distance so have your guacamole ready to be dipped hard. The fight is going to be a ‘scoring’ fight, a whole lot of holds and dancing and most likely not entertaining at all…but that’s because people like Bob Arum want a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao 2, 3, 4 maybe 5? This fight is what the world has wanted for so long, and after the last bell rings I think we are all going to wonder why we cared so much.

Saturday May 2nd, 2015 may go down in history, or even potentially infamy, but either way it’s a stupid busy sports day, and if you plan on leaving your living room, I hope it’s only for more beer, or to see “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Other than those reasons, I don’t see any other reason to get dressed and leave the house.

NCAA Hoops Beef

The NCAA gets a lot of praise during March. Frankly, I am not going to help give them a handjob, I’ll leave that to ESPN and Turner. Between recruiting violations, recruiting 12 year olds, and the series of “one and done” players, NCAA Basketball is so damn hard to watch. When most of the action occurs off the court, there’s a problem.

2015 NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament

Watching the “I Hate Christian Laettner” documentary, I was reminded that we no longer will have a dynasty like the Fab5 in college hoops again. With players jumping into programs for just one season, it’s hard to get behind a team anymore. Of course we will always have the fans who LOVE their local team (because places like Kansas, Arkansas, and many other rural states without a big city have ZERO pro team in any sport, so what the hell else will they watch?) and alumni who support their particular schools, but I think these examples are the minority. People are now following a player they like, and after one season in college, that player is in the NBA, and eligible to be on a “fantasy team.” If the NCAA and NBA don’t come together to figure out a better way to develop these players, the NBA D-league is going to have to add expansion teams, because there are going to be a lot of shitty players out there.

You now have players turning to Europe to gain some polish, instead of spending time in college. Granted, Euro teams pay these kids and colleges don’t pay, so I don’t blame them for going abroad, but that just shows how flawed this system is. Furthermore, the news ticker has more lowlights than highlights; all we see about college ball anymore is recruiting violations, Lebron’s young son being recruited before high school, or some sort of booster paying players with the occasional arrest of a player. I don’t recall seeing any awesome dunks, big plays or anything like that on Sportscenter, really the only highlights are the lucky buzzer beaters that catapult a team into the next round of the tourney.

Basically, the game is watered down like a mother fucker. Players are leaving the college ranks underdeveloped and eventually that’s going to totally kill interest in the college game other than during March. This is going to have a carryover into the NBA, so these two organizations need to get together and change the rules about when you can go pro. If there was a 2 year rule as opposed to a one year rule, these players may gain some extra experience, and end up being NBA ready by draft time, instead of some back of the bench turd for 3 years. Something needs to be done before NCAA Basketball is viewed like the WNBA in this country.

NHL Trade Deadline Wrap Up: Western Conference

The NHL trade deadline has brought a lot of action this year, and I’m anxious to see a lot of teams take the ice this evening to see what these shakeups will do to the playoff bound teams. Because the NHL has a very deep minor league system, more deals occur than in the NBA, so for the sake of saving you the trouble of reading every team’s activity, I’m only going to look into playoff bound teams and their deals, and give a take on each team. Furthermore, trades occur more frequently in the NHL, we are specifically covering the last week of activity, in the West, and we’ll have the East up next.

Nashville Predators: Nothing, but when you’re leading the pack, why alter what’s working?

Anaheim Ducks Acquisitions: Korbinian Holzer (D), Simon Despres (D), James Wisniewski (D), Michael Sgarbossa (F), Tomas Fleischmann (F).
For what players were sent out of Anaheim, I really feel like they did pretty well, and didn’t give up too much, they definitely bolstered the skill and depth of their defense.

"Jokinen silver stick" by Resolute
“Jokinen silver stick” by Resolute

St. Louis Blues Acquisitions: Olli Jokinen (F), Robert Bortuzzo (D), Zybnek Michalek (D), Adam Cracknell (F).
Big moves here. The Blues look poised to make a splash in the playoffs this year, Olli will help big-time with goals, solid D pickups as well.

Chicago Blackhawks Acquisitions: Andrew Desjardins (F), Antoine Vermette (F), Kimmo Timonen (D), Spencer Abbott (F).
The Hawks needed help at forward with Kane missing the regular season and most of the playoffs, Brad Richards and Patrick Sharp have been duds this year too.

Vancouver Canucks Acquisitions: Sven Baertschi (F), Cory Canacher (F)
Depth Deals, offensive line shakeups.

Calgary Flames: They threw in the towel and will not be in the playoffs by the time the season is over, injuries are killing them.

Winnipeg Jets: The Jets did most of their moves in the Evander Kane deal earlier in February, however they did add some depth with the pickup of Jiri Tlusty (F) and Lee Stempniak (F).

Minnesota Wild Acquisitions: Chris Stewart (F), Jared Knight (F), Jordan Leopold (D).
Definitely are making a play to get into the bottom half of the playoff tree.

Los Angeles Kings: Surprisingly did not do much, they are currently slotted towards the bottom of the playoffs and only added Andrej Sekera (D) this week, either they are happy with their team and/or did not want to add to payroll to increase their odds?

The Playoffs will be fun to watch this year for certain; the Central seems to be much stronger than the Pacific top to bottom. Some teams went real hard at the deadline, and I’m going to watch and see what GM made the biggest impact at year’s end. We’ll follow up with an Eastern Conference wrap up soon!

The Thing about Derrick Rose is…

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/207798970282840170/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/207798970282840170/

…compared to previous knee issues, this new “clipping” surgery is very minor. However, you have to wonder about the psyche of a man who has gone through as much as he has in such a young career. I’m not 100% sure, but by the time these 4-6 weeks are over to heal from the most recent surgery, I believe he will have missed more games than he has actually played in his career. Full disclosure, I’ve been a Bulls fan my entire life, over 3 decades of fandom, so this hits me hard, but I just do not think we will ever have the MVP Rose we once had, and it may be time to move on and get out from under his contract.

When you have this many serious knee issues at a young age, you have to worry about a few things, for any player, but especially D.Rose. Through media encounters, Rose has made it very clear that he wants to be able to walk when he’s retired; totally understandable as walking is pretty damn important. A couple seasons ago, Rose was coming back from another knee surgery and the Bulls were poised for a playoff run. The team doctors cleared him to play in the playoffs, but he chose to not play. The team even had his locker ready for him and still he was suited up with a tie as opposed to a warm-up jacket and sneakers. Personally, that burned me out on him, how are you going to bail on your team when they need you, bail on the city that raised you, bail on every Bulls fan across the globe? It’s a mental thing, D.Rose wasn’t ready, and he opted to sit…I’ve never seen that before.

Before this season started, Rose made it very clear that he would rest when necessary for a long playoff push, and he did indeed rest up a lot after hamstring issues arose in the first month of the 2015 campaign. Rose sat, and that’s what we expected. The MVP Rose is gone, we have a different player now, and I feel next season, the Bulls should really try to limit his activity and try to work a trade…UNLESS…Rose decides to put work in and become a jump shooter/actual point guard. With his injury history, the slasher speedster game he once had needs to go away to preserve his body for an 82 game season. He really needs to adjust his game if he wants to stay relevant in the NBA, and I truly believe he has the talent to do so. If he became a TRUE point guard ala Steve Nash, imagine what kind of team the Bulls would have.

Will the handlers in Rose’s camp keep him from coming back this year for a playoff run? Only time will tell us that answer, but if he does not return this year, and he doesn’t alter his game/style of play for next year, I really feel the best thing for the bulls to do is try and move him in the off-season, pay Jimmy Butler, and find a true point guard that could feed Gasol, Butler, and Noah the ball, thus putting the Bulls in a better position to win.

Laker Nation 5 Letters: R-E-L-A-X

Kobe Bryant
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Kobe may be done for the year (or most of it), but that doesn’t mean that he’s done for good. There are MANY reasons as to why I think he will be back; Kobe has a drive that separates him from other NBA’ers, which is why so many players hate playing with him. He pushes other players to play up to his standards, and generally that pushes them away, but it’s that same drive, and desire to do better, which is why I think Kobe will return for another campaign with the Lakers in the ’15-’16 year.

The Lakers, with or without Kobe this year, were going to have a very bad record. I don’t know if that was exactly the plan in the front office, but it seems to be the plan now, total rebuild mode. With the bad record, comes a high draft pick, and for the first time in many years, the draft is pretty full of good players. The Lakers could get significantly better from a top ten pickup to pair with Kobe, maybe use a later round pick or two for depth, and add a few free agents to fill out the starting lineup and bench, and Kobe could have a playoff team to lead. The Lakers should have a ton of cap space at years end to bring in at lease 1 really good free agent, and a couple others to add depth to the rotation.

Kobe is #3 in NBA history in points, he just surpassed MJ this year, and I don’t think he will stop without being #1. Back to Kobe’s competitive drive again for this one; It’s either a 6th career ring, or #1 in points, whatever comes first, that will be the end to Kobe’s career, he won’t let an injury end it. It’s just how Kobe operates; he does things his way, for reasons we don’t understand. He’s the Frank Sinatra of the NBA in his mind. He will always have something to prove to fans and the history books, I guess constantly being compared to players your whole career, past or present, will do that to someone. He’s like the whiny middle child, who needs approval and coddling constantly for achievements. Maybe that’s why Phil Jackson left/retired? Another reason Kobe won’t hit the golf links and call it a career now, I really feel that Kobe will get the farewell treatment that Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter got in baseball. A little gift from each team that decides to have a little PR opportunity pregame with the NBA great, probably will end up being an NBA mandate to all teams. This type of sendoff could have some sponsorship dollars to be had for Kobe, and the NBA, so I’d think it’d be something they would want to explore, and Kobe has rarely said no to more money, case in point, his current contract with the Lakers.

I’d be willing to bet anyone, that Kobe is back for the Lakers next year. I’m sure he will be under a minutes limit/restriction of some kind, but he’ll be back. I also would be willing to guess that his surrounding cast will be significantly better than this year’s team thus far. I’m not going to speculate which free agent, or who the Lakers will draft, but I KNOW the Lakers GM and front office will definitely give their aging star a better team to work with in the ’15-‘16 year. The window is closing for Kobe to get his 6th with the Lakeshow, the Lakers will do anything to make that a possibility for Kobe, as he probably would’ve already retired and held a press conference if he thought he would play with the same caliber of team next year, as he had this year. I guess we will have to wait and see what the rehab process has in store for the Black Mamba.

Football Final Four: NFL Edition

Football-Cash-Playoff-Betting

So we’ve made it to January football. 4 teams and 3 games left to go (4 if you include the Pro Bowl, but no one cares about that game; furthermore, if you bet the Pro Bowl, you my friend have a gambling problem). I like to bet, I always have been pretty successful with bets because I stick to what I KNOW. I don’t bet Olympic Curling, or Women’s Soccer, but, when it comes to Football, Basketball, and Baseball; I like to think I know what I’m doing. Let’s get into these games.

(Lines taken from scoresandodds.com, and are subject to change)

Green Bay @ Seattle -7.5, o/u 46

My gut says Green Bay to WIN is the payoff pick to click, but for the sake of others, I’ll beak it down. The key for me here: the opening numbers on this game, Sea -7, o/u 47. As a bettor, that should tell you the public is betting the Under and Seattle HEAVILY. Vegas doesn’t lose, the public loses, so my money will move to GB here. This A-Rod injury, idk, I think they are pulling our leg…get it? Yeah, so my picks are better than my jokes. I’m going moneyline on Green Bay personally, but if I HAD to pick, I’d say def take the points on GB, and the Over feels good too.

Indianapolis @ New England -6, o/u 53.5

This one is a tough call. I really feel like New England wins the game, but possibly in OT, or by a field goal. Indy is scrappy, and can score quickly. New England is, well, New England. With under a minute left I don’t know who else better than Brady to be under center. I probably would not bet this game with my own money to be honest, and if I did, I’d be checking the lines hourly to try to get a value bet, and bet it cheap. I hate these numbers for this game because I feel Vegas did too good of a job making them, I’m avoiding this game like the herpes, but if I had to pick: Indy +6 and the Over.

Clearly, I’m going to be glued to the couch on championship Sunday. Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the games; good luck if you’re tossing some cash around.

-Daddybets

(Note: This is intended as advice, for entertainment purposes, you are responsible for your own decisions after reading)

Holidays & Sports, ’tis the Season

With Christmas over, and New Years upon us, this really is the best time of the year to be a sports fan. The weather is cold, so why not sip cold beer and watch some live action while wearing a sweat suit on the couch in the comfort of your own home?

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Most casual basketball fans will agree that the meat and potatoes of the NBA schedule starts in earnest on Christmas Day. We get to see who is who in the NBA by this point about 2 months into the season. The playoff picture is still a bit out of reach, but at least we know by now who the contenders are in each respective conference. At almost the same time, NCAA basketball is getting into their conference matchups, and games that actually matter are a weekly occurrence. With all this round ball, have the remote ready.

Hockey has lost some popularity in the U.S. since their lockout and loss of contract with ESPN, but with all of the young stars in the game, and large markets winning Lord Stanley’s Cup recently, I feel resurgence is right around the corner in terms of popularity of the sport, especially in smaller markets. These New Year’s Day Winter Classic games are a stroke of genius as well, playing outdoor games in a baseball stadium is a nice way to try and gain a larger audience, I only wish that the Classic was limited to ONLY “original six” teams to participate in, either way, once the holidays are over, the season is about half over, and playoff spots are on the line. Get serious time.

Baseball hot stove is always a fun and exciting time for baseball fans and winter meetings just ended with only about a month and a half left before pitchers/catchers report to spring training. A lot of teams made some huge moves this offseason, I’m not going to play favorites yet, but eventually I will do a top to bottom division by division preseason comparison and preview once rosters are more settled.

Of course, with all the bowl games on TV, it’s clearly bowl season for NCAA Football. The first ever College Football Playoff is about to happen on New Year’s Day, and if that isn’t enough excitement for you, the NFL playoff picture is now finally solidified, and Wild Card games begin next weekend, check back towards the end of the week for our NFL playoff picks to click.

What if? Retraction Vs Expansion in American Pro Sports

professional sports logos

I was drinking some IPAs the other night, for a blog review…yeah…anyway, and I had a thought, “What if we removed 2-4 teams from every American major professional sport? Think about it, revenue sharing between the league and teams would go up as they absorb the other teams share, and also, payroll would go up, so your favorite team can sign that needed player or two in free agency, or keep that superstar with a long term deal.

Every league could stand to lose a couple teams, a lot of reasons stand out from attendance, to bad stadium situations, or maybe just poor location because the degeneration of a city that was once more economically sound. The NHL would probably benefit from this the most, they’ve had numerous teams move and change names because of bad markets/lack of fans during 90s era expansion. Realistically, does there REALLY need to be two teams in Florida? Two New York teams (3 if you include NJ I, in the New York greater metro area)? Two LA teams (Kings/Ducks)? I’d say you could move any of the above teams to a Canadian city lacking a NHL team, and it’d be a greater success, then simply fold 2 other teams of the above. I mean the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets (again) so there is definitely some history here.

The NFL, well, I’m just going to say a couple teams need to move. The most profitable league in the US really doesn’t need my opinion, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it type of thing. But, there has to be better markets out there for a team like the Jaguars, Rams, or even the Bills of Buffalo.

In the MLB, just think if they squashed the Rays, Marlins, Astros, and Brewers, hypothetically. There could be an awesome free agent signing season, their revenue sharing would be divided up between the remaining teams, and the farm systems of these teams could be redrafted by the other MLB clubs, bolstering their own farm systems making for more active trade deadline deals. Your favorite team would be able to afford 2-3 more stars, and definitely afford to have a deeper and more talented bullpen or starting rotation. It just leads to better competition all around the league with every game and at bat.

As far as the NBA is concerned, a move for Sacramento seems imminent, but they need to go to Seattle or Vegas. One of the Texas and California teams could definitely go away though, and that would make for heartier rotations around the league. Like baseball, this would provide more depth in the NBA-D League, to stash talent in case of injury. Again, revenue sharing goes up for remaining teams, and your team maybe is able to add one more max contract player. Better competition, less market saturation, and more fun for the fans in general.

This is clearly a hypothetical scenario, but how much fun would it be to watch it all go down? All the free agent signings, redrafts, more robust payrolls, deeper benches and minor/developmental leagues, to me, in the current economy, it just makes sense.

-Mr_Sneakerjunkie