Today in the bag, I'm taking hockey, basketball, and, for the first time since April, a little baseball
Click below for the bag...
Around the NHL Playoffs -
Chicago Blackhawks vs Los Angeles Kings
Just a week ago, My 'Hawks were swimming along nicely, up 1-0 in their conference final matchup with the Kings, and holding a 2-0 lead deep into the second period of Game 2. Then, the damn chuck wagon flipped over, and all hell broke loose. A late second period goal from LA's Justin Williams was the start of a six-goal onslaught that evened up the series in declarative fashion. It was as surprising as it was demoralizing.
Heading to LA, it was thought (hoped) that the six-goal reversal was a hiccup, rather than a harbinger of doom. Indeed, as the Blackhawks played to a 2-1 lead through the first quarter of Game 3, it looked as if all sins would be forgiven. However, LA would dominate the second period en route to a 4-3 win, and yesterday's Game 4 was a disaster that saw the 'Hawks surrender three first period goals on their way to a 5-2 beating.
|Corey Crawford has imploded over the last two and a half hours of hockey.|
New York Rangers vs Montreal Canadiens
It's a similar story in the Eastern Conference final, but for completely different reasons. Still deprived of star goalie Carey Price, the Canadiens have been forced to turn to third-string net-minder Dustin Tokarski. While he hasn't been the sieve most expected, the Rangers have been able to take advantage, and now hold a 3-1 lead headed back to Montreal.
|Tokarski is doing his best, but it won't be enough to hold back the fired-up Rangers.|
Around the NBA Playoffs -
Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers
I mockingly prodded Miami for a response to Indiana's shocking Game 1 victory, and the Heat have, of course, responded like champions. They've won three straight by a combined total of 28 points, and look to be on the verge of closing this series out in five, regardless of whether or not Paul George thinks that his Paces have been getting the better of the matchups.
|George is seriously mistaken if he thinks the Pacers outplayed Miami in Game 4. From: USA Today|
San Antonio Spurs vs Oklahoma City Thunder
This series got a little of its spice back after the shocking return of OKC's Serge Ibaka helped propel the Thunder to a 106-97 win in Game 3. It had been though that Ibaka was done for the season, but apparently 'God and ice' was all that was needed to turn that diagnosis on its head. Yep, God and ice, nothing else needed... *cough*
|Well, look who's back... From: USA Today|
Baseball a third of the way through the season -
I always take the opportunity presented by the Memorial Day weekend to check in, for the first time on the season, with the MLB standings, specifically in relation to my favorite teams. I don't like to look before now because I feel that anything less than two months of baseball results is too small of a sample size to form a coherent opinion. Given that we've now crossed my ceremonial threshold, here are where both the Rox and Sox stand:
Colorado Rockies - 27-24, 3rd place in the NL West, 5 games back of the San Francisco Giants
Chicago White Sox - 26-27, 2nd place in the AL Central, 5 games back of the Colorado Rockies
What happened to the Rockies? Just weeks ago they were riding high and challenging for first place. A recent swoon that saw them lose four of their last five has kicked back into third place. The resulting reaction that I've observed from the fanbase - 'Same old Rox, when do the Broncos start camp?' - is both a testament to the mental conditioning of the fans and the consistency with which the Rockies have squandered strong starts. I still believe that Colorado can contend in the NL West, however. The pitching is a massive concern, but that offense should be enough to sustain them over 162 games, if only for an eventually failed bid at a wild card berth. Stick with this team, I bet they will surprise you.
As for my Sox, I couldn't be happier with 26-27. The 2013 White Sox were so terrible that they made me question my very love of the sport. While the team this year is no where near perfect, at least in 2014 they're trying every game. Gone it seems are the days of surrendering efforts after only a few innings, as the boys lead the world in 9th inning runs. They don't quit, they play a fun, aesthetically pleasing style, and have, at the very least, reaffirmed my faith in the greatest game ever invented. That's damn good value for a team that has struggled with the .500 line since opening day.
There's still a long way to go for both teams (four months, in fact), so anything is still possible. All I know is that both the Rox and Sox have exceeded my expectations to date, and I look forward to what they have in store as the summer develops.