It feels like just a few weeks ago that we were watching the NHL’s opening night. And it was. Thanks, Bettman!
But in this lockout-shortened season, we’re already in the home stretch. In fact, today is one of just 18 days left on the NHL schedule. In a perfect world, you’d watch them all. But in this imperfect world, there’s a good chance you’re stuck with things like “a job” or “family” or “friends,” so you have to pick your spots.
I’m here for you. I went through each of the remaining 18 days on the NHL regular-season calendar to figure out which were likely to be worth watching, and which could safely be skipped.
In case you were busy recording your sophomore album, It's Hard Out There (On the Road), here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
The Chicago Bulls used their strength and rebounding advantage to beat Miami, 101-97, snapping the Heat's 27-game winning streak. After the game, LeBron James complained about the Bulls' physicality and hard fouls: "I believe and I know that a lot of my fouls are not basketball plays." Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau responded, saying, "I'm soooooo sorry. Reeeeeeallly. I would never tell my guys to be physical in a big game. Especially a brute like Kirk Hinrich. My deeeeeepest apologies."
Despite the absence of Metta World Peace, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 22nd straight time, 120-117. The game was not without controversy, however, as Ricky Rubio appeared to be fouled by Kobe Bryant on a game-tying 3-point attempt. After the game, Bryant was defiant when asked about the non-call, saying nothing as he pulled down a large map of the world from above his locker and blacked out Spain with a magic marker.
In case you were busy singing John Philip Sousa tunes with your loved ones, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
The New York Knicks overcame a 22-point deficit and a knee injury to Carmelo Anthony to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 102-97. Anthony, who's day-to-day with knee stiffness, said after the game, "I'm glad we won, but I'm really just glad Pablo Prigioni didn't put up a career night. I'm not at all ready for Prigloonacy."
We’ll use the same format as we did earlier this week — expectations, reality, and whether it will continue — but add a special fourth category to deal with the possible fallout if the player continues to struggle.
It was fitting, really, that the most recent round of bad news for the Phoenix Coyotes was released late last week. The announcement that prospective team owner Greg Jamison had failed to raise enough money to buy the unwanted franchise was made because of a January 31 deadline with the city of Glendale, Arizona, where the team's arena was built in 2003. But really, the timing made even more sense than that. What better moment to subject everyone to such a bleakly repetitive outcome than just before Groundhog Day?
Welcome to a weekly blog post of thoughts and observations from the past few days and/or decades of NHL hockey.
The Three Stars of Comedy
Recognizing the three moments or personalities from around the league that produced the most comedic fodder for fans this week.
The third star: P.K. Subban attempts to nickname himself “The Subbanator”
It’s hard to describe the crushing disappointment of finding out that a player generally considered one of the coolest and most charismatic in the league is actually a “tries to give himself a nickname” guy. How did it go over with Subban’s teammates? About as well as you might expect.
The second star: Alex Burrows has a unique take on the spinorama
We’re roughly 10 percent of the way through the NHL season, and that means it’s time for some teams to panic.
Not really, of course. Even in this abbreviated season, jumping to conclusions based on four or five games would be downright irrational. So any of you hockey fans who are completely rational when it comes to your team can go ahead and stop reading right now.
The other 98 percent of you still with me? Good. Let’s hit the panic button.
One note: We’re focused here on teams that are struggling relative to expectations. The Blue Jackets may have been iffy so far, but they’re clearly in rebuilding mode, and just about everyone had already picked them for last place. A team like that can’t be considered to be in panic mode by any reasonable definition.
The same can’t be said for many of the early season’s other underachievers. Here’s a look at some of the teams that aren’t living up to expectations right now:
Last week, The Flaming Lips unveiled “Thunder Up! Racing for the Prize" — a track based off their seminal 1999 single “Race for the Prize.” It’s a whimsical and catchy pop song that the band hoped would latch on as the Oklahoma City Thunder’s anthem during the NBA playoffs. In sharing “Thunder Up!” with the world, the fellow OKC group actually did fill a void for Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook & Co. — a team that lacked a defined musical identity since moving from Seattle.
An effective theme song can be adopted as part of a team’s culture. If it’s a good tune, it becomes the soundtrack to a playoff run. If it’s a epic hymn, it lasts for a lifetime. There have been plenty of attempts — we’ve ranked the 10 best in recent memory.
Here is a video of the Official Team of L.A. Live the Only Team Still Currently Playing at L.A. Live, the Los Angeles Kings, beating the Phoenix Coyotes to advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1993.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
Tim Duncan scored 21 points and Tony Parker added 17 as the Spurs moved on to the Western Conference Dinals with a 102-99 win (and a 4-0 sweep) over the Clippers. After the win, Duncan sneaked off to the parking lot, sat in the backseat of his minivan, and filled a plastic cup to the halfway line with red wine. "This is your moment, Tim," he whispered to himself. "Enjoy." He took one sip, stared at the wine, and whispered, "Don't be a glutton" before carefully pouring the rest back in the bottle.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Tim Duncan scored 26 points and grabbed 10 boards as the Spurs took a 1-0 lead on the Clippers with a painless 108-92 win. Duncan said he was able to focus because he's finally learned to cope with Blake Griffin, who infuriates him during games by whispering things like, "science is fake," and "electricity is based on magic."
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Angels hurler Jered Weaver threw MLB's second no-hitter of the season, striking out nine and walking one in a 9-0 win over the Twins. "Why couldn't you be perfect?" screamed Weaver's mother, who was actually Weaver himself wearing a wig and staring in a mirror. "You're nothing! You'll always be nothing!" Man, Jered Weaver is complicated.
Poor Mike Smith. In two recent games, the Phoenix Coyotes goalie has made saves — one during overtime and one in a shootout — that may well end up on year-end highlight reels. In both cases, though, he didn't get to go home with the win.
When Marian Gaborik, one of the best goal-scorers in the league this season, earned an overtime penalty shot in the New York Rangers' contest against Phoenix last week, it seemed like the game might be over. But Smith's improbable stick save kept hope and the game alive — for a short while, at least. (The Rangers ultimately won in the sixth round of a shootout.)
Less than a week before the beginning of the season, an article about the Phoenix Coyotes in the Arizona Republic had this to say about the team's personnel in net: "Mike Smith, who calls parts of his game 'a work in progress,' will be in goal when the Coyotes open the regular season Saturday night at San Jose."
It wasn't exactly a rousing outlook for the Coyotes, who lost their starting goaltender, Vezina Trophy candidate Ilya Bryzgalov, in the summer to the far richer Philadelphia Flyers. The Coyotes, who are currently owned by the league and may not be long for Phoenix unless a new buyer can be located, instead inked former Tampa Bay and Dallas backup Mike Smith to a far thriftier two-year, $4-million contract than the nine-year, $51-million deal Bryzgalov ultimately wrung out of Philly.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Nelson Cruz hit the first walk-off grand slam in postseason history as the Rangers beat the Tigers 7-3 in 11 innings. The moment was so joyous that when Cruz crossed the plate, a camera caught Texas owner Nolan Ryan almost not scowling for the briefest of moments. Then he was definitely scowling again.