"The Stack" is here on this Wednesday with a lot of different headlines to talk about. There's also the Stanley Cup Finals preview as well. We won't leave any of the headlines out so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Wednesday, May 30:
1. Spurs top Thunder to take 2-0 series lead
The San Antonio Spurs continue to dominate the NBA playoffs following their 120-111 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder last night. The Spurs were absolutely terrific last night. They had a twenty-two point lead at one point before the Thunder tried to chip into the lead. Outside of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the Thunder got zero contribution from anyone else. That can not happen against a team like the Spurs. The Spurs are playing great team basketball right now. Tony Parker was the star of the night scoring 34 points on sixteen of twenty-one shooting. Wow! Will the Spurs ever lose? At some point they will. They have to, don't you think? The Thunder will win at least one game in OKC, but they will not win this series. The Spurs are playing too good right now and are too dominant for the Thunder. The Thunder it appears are another year away. The Spurs are a stupid 10-0 right now. Unbelievable. They may not be flashy or be a big draw, but there is no denying just how good of a basketball team they are.
In other NBA news, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro will be back next season to coach the team. It's a smart decision by the team. The Clippers are coming off a year in which they won a playoff series, only their second playoff series win in what fifteen, twenty years? Sure they had high expectation after trading for Chris Paul to pair up with Blake Griffin, but given that there was no training camp and a strike shortened season, it seems only reasonable that the Clippers give Del Negro another season to see what he can do with this team. If the Clippers start out bad or have a season that doesn't meet their own expectations, then Del Negro will be looking for a job. But good decision to keep him around for another team so that the team has an offseason to gel.
2. Big name pitchers headed to the DL
For a couple of MLB's best pitchers, they'll be spending some quality time on the DL. They include:
- Phliadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay, who will miss six to eight weeks with a right latissimus dorsi strain. Basically, his back and part of his shoulder are causing him pain. Bad news for the Phillies who can't seem to shake the injury bug and who may not recover in time to make a run at the NL East division title.
- Anaheim Angels pitcher Jered Weaver is headed to the 15-day DL after suffering a lower back injury in the first inning against the New York Yankees Monday night. That's not great news for the Angels, who need everyone healthy to catch the Texas Rangers, but they should be thankful it's not more serious.
Speaking of the Rangers, they signed pitcher Roy Oswalt to a minor league deal. If he is called up prior to July 1, he'll make four million dollars this year. He may not have the stuff he had the last few years, but he will make an impact on this Rangers pitching staff, perhaps one that will push the Rangers over the hurdle and get them a World Series championship.
3. NFL quick hits
HBO's Hard Knocks finally has a team willing to be on its series. That team is....the Miami Dolphins. The Miami Dolphins, really? That doesn't scream sexy and a must-watch series. But with so many teams not wanting to do it for a variety of reasons, Hard Knocks chose the Dolphins. Head coach Joe Philbin said that this was a football decision first. Right. You aren't trying to create excitement for a fan base that is struggling to barely sell 40,000 season tickets and plays in fron of a ton of Dolphin fans dressed as empty orange seats. You don't have an owner in Stephen Ross who craves the entertainment value and wants the spotlight on his team. The Dolphins need this sort of buzz, but will enough be generated to get more butts in the seats. A few, but the Dolphins don't scream must-see TV.
**Quick note: Dolphins NFL schedule talk has been pushed back to tomorrow. "The Stack" apologizes for any inconvenience.**
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Terrell Owens was released from the Allen Wrangles of the Indoor Football League. Not only did Owens lose his roster spot on the team, but he also lost his share of ownership of the team. Life has not been all that kind for Owens in recent years. He recently said on the Dr. Phil Show that he squandered a lot of his money and that he owes a lot of child support to three women he has kids with. Perhaps had Owens worried more about his finances instead of throwing teammates and coaches under the bus, he'd be in a better spot. His story sadly is like many that we've heard from many other athletes when their careers are over.
4. Serena out at the French Open
A shocker at the French Open. Serena Williams has been knocked out of the French Open in the first round for the first time in her career at a grand slam. Not just a French Open. Any grand slam event. Multiple times Williams had a chance to beat her opponent, Virginie Razzano. She was up by two points frequently and couldn't close the door. And in the end, she lost the match 6-4, 6-7, 3-6. Some will say it was a mental collapse on the part of Williams. Perhaps it was. Regardless, this is a stunning upset at Roland Garros. Will we see more? Possibly. After Williams was knocked out, we know anything is possible.
5. Stanley Cup Finals preview
Only one series remains to determine who is left holding sports most famous trophy, the Stanley Cup. Lord Stanley would probably be very surprised by the matchup that we have too. Out of the western conference, the eight seed Los Angeles Kings. Out of the eastern conference, the six seed New Jersey Devils. Neither team is playing like the seed that they earned in the regular season. The Kings dominance in the postseason is almost unheralded for a team that just barely made the playoffs. The Devils, with a 40-year old goalie, a hall-of-fame goalie at that, riding their way back to the finals in hopes of snagging their fourth Stanley Cup title.
The Kings run this postseason is nothing short of amazing. Here"s how they've gotten to this point:
- 4-1 series win over the #1 seed Vancouver Canucks in the first round.
- 4-0 series win over the #2 seed. St. Louis Blues in the second round.
- 4-1 series win over the #3 seed Phoenix Coyotes in the third round.
We all know about their phenomenal goalie by now, Jonathan Quick. Folks around the NHL heard about this kid during the regular season and how good he was, but that he wasn"t getting the goal support he needed to pick up wins. During the regular season, the Kings were in a tremendous offensive drought and Quick kept them afloat, winning games and earning points that would not have come had Quick not been in net, making this postseason run non-existent. They fired head coach Terry Murray in December and replaced him with Darryl Sutter. The move has paid off. The Kings made it to the postseason and are on a tear. A 12-2 tear as they march towards their ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup. This is only the second appearance for the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. The last was in 1993 with head coach Barry Melrose. Wasn't Wayne Gretzky on that team? Anyway, this Kings team is doing it in so many ways. They are generating offense, scoring some shorthanded goals (five, which leads the NHL), and everyone is chipping in. Older players, younger players. Defensemen, centers, wingers. The powerplay unit hasn't been good, six for seventy-four, but hey, can't be good at everything. Everyone is doing their part, including Quick who makes save after save, game after game. And, they just may be getting Los Angeles excited about hockey. The Lakers and Clippers are out of the NBA playoffs. The Kings have the whole spotlight to themselves. There are no Lakers or Clippers events at the Staples Center. Only Kings. And with the second largest city and media market, the NHL is hoping that the fans latch on to this team.
The New Jersey Devils have had an interesting postseason, getting pushed to the brink of elimination in double overtime in their first round. Things have gotten easier since then. Here's how they've made it to the Stanley Cup Finals:
- 4-3 series win over the #3 seed Florida Panthers in the first round.
- 4-1 series win over the #5 seed Philadelphia Flyers in the second round.
- 4-2 series win over the #1 seed New York Rangers in the third round.
The Devils are led by their phenomenal goalie Martin Brodeur. Now 40, Brodeur played very well last series against the Rangers. He's had his moments where he perhaps is showing his age, including getting pulled one game against the Panthers in the first round. His backup in case you're wondering, is Johan Hedberg. The Devils at times have struggled holding onto leads this postseason. Multiple times against the Panthers, they failed to hold leads in games. Some they won, some they lost. Last series against the Rangers, they had a 3-0 lead in game five against the Rangers, only to see that lead vanish. The Devils wound up winning 5-3 though. In game six, they had a 2-0 lead, only to see the Rangers tie the game up and force overtime. The Devils wound up winning that game 3-2 and move on to the Stanley Cup Finals so they are showing some resiliency and mental toughness. They are looking for their fourth Stanley Cup title. The New York Rangers won one in 1994. The Devils, who consider New York their rivals, have won three since. They shouldn't be the little brother in the New York metropolitan area anymore. The NHL, whether they admit it or not, would have loved to have the Rangers, one of the original six, and home to the country's largest city and media market in the finals, but they are hoping the Devils can carry some ratings from the New York area. Zach Parise has played great this postseason. He is a one of the better players in the game and Devils fans better enjoy him while they can, because he may very well be gone after the season. Ilya Kovalchuk is starting to live up to his mega contract he signed a couple of seasons ago. He is playing really well this postseason. Then there is rookie Adam Henrique who has scored two game-winning overtime goals this postseason including game six against the Rangers. He is playing with so much poise, more poise than you would think a rookie would have. The Devils have the pieces, but can they win the cup?
The Stanley Cup schedule is as follows:
Game 1 (in NJ) Wednesday (today) May 30 8:00 PM ET NBC
Game 2 (in NJ) Saturday June 2 8:00 PM ET NBC
Game 3 (in LA) Monday June 4 8:00 PM ET NBC Sports Network
Game 4 (in LA) Wednesday June 6 8:00 PM ET NBC Sports Network
**Game 5 (in NJ) Saturday June 9 8:00 PM ET NBC
**Game 6 (in LA) Monday June 11 8:00 PM ET NBC
**Game 7 (in NJ) Wednesday June 13 8:00 PM ET NBC
So it's time to make the pick. The last time the Devils were in the Stanley Cup was 2003. They played another Pacific Division team and another team from the L.A. area, the Anaheim Ducks. The Devils won the Stanley Cup. Now not saying that that will in any way mean the Devils will win the Stanley Cup Finals this year, but it is worth mentioning. The Kings are on a roll. No team has played better than them this postseason. The Devils have veterans who have been in this sort of position before led first and foremost by Brodeur. The Kings have a few guys like Jarrett Stoll who was on the Edmonton team that made it to the finals in 2006 and Justin Williams who was on the Carolina team that beat Stoll's Oilers in 2006, but nothing like the Devils have. They will need their power play unit to step up big in this series. But they are 8-0 this postseason on the road. No opponent arena is going to scare them. The Devils will make a good series, but I like the Kings in six games and to hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. It will be an exciting series. I will be tweeting live on the Sport DFW twitter account. Be sure to watch a few games. Hockey is very exciting and the Stanley Cup Finals truly live up to the expectations of championship caliber. Very soon, Lord Stanley's Cup will have a new owner. Will it be LA or will it be New Jersey? We're about to find out.