On Wednesday night, the Stanley Cup Finals went to overtime for the third time in five games—tying a record for second place in OT games in Stanley Cup Finals histor—when the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins in game four of what's already been a compelling series.
The instant classic game one was incredible and set the tone for two teams that have both shown a willingness to fight for every scrap. Chicago needed three extra periods to get it done, but winning at home was expected. Chicago did, after all, finish the regular season with the best record, thus earning home ice advantage in the Finals. But game 2 went to overtime as well and, despite the home ice, Boston stole the game, negating Chicago's raucous crowd.
Boston pressed their momentum by capturing game 3 in what was a disappointing letdown compared to the thrills of games one and two. With a two-nil victory, it seemed as though Boston had solved the problem of Chicago's defense, while cementing Tuukka Rask's reputation as a goalie destined for greatness.
The claim almost immediately became moot, as Rask allowed five goals in the three regulation periods and the Blackhawks crashed into their latest victory with a goal by Brent Seabrook just under 10 minutes into the extra time. Rask will remain one of the top names in the game and one loss won't tarnish his record too much, but his teammate Jarmoir Jagr will surely attest to the need for not only winning but continued winning.
The series now heads back to Chicago for game 5 on Saturday night, which can be seen on NBC at 6 p.m. MST.
This past weekend, the National Hockey League should have been entering its ninth week of the season. While ESPN's front page for the NHL touts their collaboration with EA Sports on an innovative video game, no simulation highlights package is going to cover up the fact that the NHL, having canceled their season through mid-December's All Star Break, is in a precipitous position.
When the NHL announced that it was scrubbing the All-Star Game, the season should have already been under way. In truth, this has been a long time coming. Some hockey fans might even claim that it's a remnant from the previous lockout.
The poll results on ESPN's article, although far from scientific, speak strongly to people's beliefs that there will not be a hockey season this year. The commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman, has taken his fair share of the blame for this lockout. But there will always be those who look at the situation from the outside and think any players refusing to play a game for thousands—or hundreds of thousands—of dollars are the greedy ones. With the NHL Players’ Association union chief, Donald Fehr claiming that the sides are close to working out a deal and Bettman claiming the opposite, it's hard to know what exactly is going to happen with this season.
Stars such as Sidney Crosby are reportedly looking into playing overseas. This is a fine option if you're one of the most marketable names in the entire league, but doesn't help many more than the top ten percent of the NHL. Having gone witnessed one recently, NBA fans are familiar with situations such as JR Smith's delayed return from China and the troubles that might be associated with playing outside the U.S.
The back-and-forth of professional hockey has been more of a rule than an exception in comparison to other leagues, but that doesn't excuse the lack of progress by now. Bettman's palpable anger at a recent press conference is merely the latest salvo in a war that's been waged since he took over as commissioner of the league. It's also a sharp reminder that the NHL is the only major sports league in America to ever miss an entire season. Seven years ago, the entirety of the 2004-2005 season was lost to labor disputes.
With rumors circulating this morning that that more games had been canceled, the NHL is teetering on the brink of furthering its own irrelevance and setting back most, if not all, of the gains that had been made since that lost season.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. had another spectacular performance on Saturday and mostly dominated Shane Mosley. Mayweather might be the cockiest professional athlete alive, but his skills cannot be denied.
Mosley's trainer, Naazim Richardson, and Mosley himself were in good spirits despite failing to crack the Mayweather puzzle. Resident ESPN boxing expert Bryan Kenny gave a good recap for those who didn’t catch the pay-per-view fight.
Normally the horses rank pretty low on a sports weekend, but the annual Kentucky Derby always attracts attention. This year’s race was pretty entertaining, even though rainfall almost ruined the event. Calvin Borel, jockey of winner Super Saver, could soon be a household name as he has won three out of four Derbys. Is the Triple Crown is in his future?
Philadelphia Flyers played the Boston Bruins on Saturday and delivered an overtime thriller. If this doesn't get fans to watch the NHL playoffs, what will?
The KRQE sports office caught up with head coach Steve Alford to talk recruiting, scheduling, and his latest fundraiser to battle cancer.