What To Watch For In Sports This Week (6/6)
Sports |  Source: usatoday.com

What To Watch For In Sports This Week (6/6)

Other than the NBA Finals, of course.

Don't act like you don't know what's in store for this week.

Already down 2-0 to Golden State, LeBron James is two losses away from a 2-5 NBA Finals record -- which would make him just the second player in history to lose five finals next to Lakers legend Jerry West (1-8).

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh holds a 2-1 lead heading into a pivotal Game 4 at San Jose. The Penguins have an opportunity to steal another on the road before heading back home to close things out for their first Stanley Cup since 2009.

This is the only time out of the year where the absolute best basketball and hockey in the world is being played. Why miss out on that kind of opportunity?

Monday, June 6

NHL: Pittsburgh at San Jose, Game 4 (8 p.m. ET, NBC)
"We've battled through a lot this season,"San Jose forward Logan Couture told SI.com. "When we're pushed, we've pushed back. We know in our room we didn't play well at all last [game]. We made a lot of mistakes that we haven't been making throughout these playoffs. But Game 5 is a new opportunity for us."

Sustaining longer possessions and avoiding turnovers will be key for the Sharks in tonight's Game 5. Can they even the series out before heading back to Pittsburgh?

Wednesday, June 8

NBA: Golden State at Cleveland, Game 3 (9 p.m. ET, ABC)
Even if you predicted Golden State to win the first two games of the NBA Finals, it's unlikely you saw two blowouts like that coming. Cleveland followed up its 15-point loss in Game 1 by getting embarrassed, 110-77, on Sunday night.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, who did not play in last year's finals, have combined to shoot 35 percent. LeBron James is 16-of-38 (42.1 percent) thus far. The Cavaliers are shooting 36.8 percent as a team, and less than 28 percent from the 3-point line. That's not a winning recipe; especially against a Warriors team that won an NBA record 73 games during the regular season.

Cleveland needs to not only win Game 3, but win with confidence. Leaving Quicken Loans Arena without tying this series up will all but guarantee a second straight title for the Warriors.

Thursday, June 9

NHL: San Jose at Pittsburgh, Game 5 (8 p.m. ET, NBC)
Will Pittsburgh have the opportunity to finish things off in front of their own crowd, or will San Jose even the series at 2-2 in Game 4? Either way, the intensity and severity of the moment should be enough for you to have this on your TV during your Thirsty Thursday festivities.

Friday, June 10

NBA: Golden State at Cleveland, Game 4 (9 p.m. ET, ABC)
No team in NBA history that trailed 3-0 has ever won a four-game series. Even with one of the greatest players of all time in James, that's a statistic that wouldn't bode well for the Cavs.

Sunday, June 12

NASCAR: Sprint Cup Series at Michigan (1 p.m. ET, FS1)

NHL: Pittsburgh at San Jose, Game 6 (8 p.m. ET, NBC)*

*If necessary

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Sports |  Source: csnne.com

This NHL Playoff Game Had A Hail Mary And A Fail Mary

HOCKEY: STILL CRAZY.

This is an incredible time of year for sports fans. We've got the beginning of baseball season, the beginning of the NBA playoffs, and the beginning of the NHL playoffs. (And the NFL Draft!)

Thanks to its fourth-tier status in American sports, though, hockey's postseason is often pushed to the bottom of the pile even when it's just as entertaining as any sport's playoff, hands down. Then folks miss incredible games with incredible plays, like Game 3 of Senators vs. Bruins from Monday night, which had... some serious insanity.

First off, there was this super embarrassing mistake by a Senators defenseman, letting former St. Louis Blue and never-aging-ever forward David Backes to waltz right in on goal for the tally.

We've all been there in class, right? The professor is lecturing, but we get caught watching a bird out the window or scrolling through Facebook a little too intensely, and then all of a sudden you have nooooooo clue what is happening on the chalkboard. Whoops!

Luckily, it didn't sting too bad for the Senators. They had this incredible, play-of-the-year goal earlier in the game:

HOW. DO. YOU. DO. THAT?!?

Here's the thing: I can't imagine throwing anything even close to that accurately while standing on concrete, with no opponents trying to stop me from succeeding, from 20 feet away. Erik Karlsson just launched a rubber puck 116 feet, right to his teammate's tape, while standing on a sheet of frozen water, with very large men trying to stop him.

Unreal.

The Senators won in overtime, 4-3, to cap off a truly ridiculous hockey night.

Lesson: watch more hockey!

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Sports |  Source: dollartapeclub.com

The Beauty Of The Playoff Beard

You don't even have to be an athlete to do it.

It started in the 1980s with the New York Islanders team that won four straight Stanley Cups. Now, I've seen it more and more on campuses since first entering undergrad. I, of course, am talking about the superstitious practice known as playoff beard.

For those who don't know, playoff beards are grown by players of teams who make their league playoffs, and the players stop shaving. This continues until the player's team has been eliminated from the postseason or wins the championship.

SOURCE: BEARDSOURCE.COM

While the playoff beard is generally a hockey thing, it has seen crossover to players and fans of MLB and NFL teams.

SOURCE: SPREEGOOGS.COM

Personally, I generally feel superstitions are stupid and depended on way too much. But this one I can really dig. I even participate in it myself -- both in and out of hockey (more on that later).

It's something so simple, and yet it means so much for a player and/or his team to not shave, with all of their fortune and future seemingly depending on it. That, or it's just some traditional playoff fun.

But that simple act gets the player in a "playoff hockey mindset" from the moment they start the practice. Once the razors are stored away somewhere and those few extra hairs around the lips, chin and neck start growing in, the focus is intensified. Suddenly the game, teammates and performance mean a hell of a lot more in players' minds.

It definitely can give a boost to team unity, too, if the team is all behind it.

SOURCE: THESTAR.COM

It can also help to connect the team and its fans. Because it's such a simple action, fans can grow out their beards, too. The ladies and kids can even buy fake beards to support the team's playoff run. It's all something I have seen year after year since first falling in love with hockey.

I definitely encourage those who can to grow out their beards in support of their NHL team's chase for the Cup. And so has the NHL -- they've hosted Beard-A-Thon campaigns in an effort to raise money for charities while fans grew and grew two support two great causes.

Unfortunately, not everyone is behind it. Some NBC Sports exec said he feels the beards ruin the ability for the players to be recognized on TV. Well, a lot of the time we're seeing the players from wide shots anyways, meaning we generally see the jerseys more than the player's faces.

No thanks, I'm having fun with this tradition.

And for you big hockey guys out there, not every gal out there will be fully supportive of you growing out a big, fluffy beard. So, exercise caution...or make her put up with it for a little while. It's your team, dammit. And more importantly, it's the Cup, dammit!

It doesn't even have to be a sports thing.

Okay, so, confession: when the last week or two of classes come, any shaving I'd do comes to a halt, period. I might trim the beard beforehand, but once that time period hits, and finals come into full swing, it stops. I generally use this superstitious tradition as both a good luck charm and some fun during a completely stressful time (we're all in our own playoffs during finals, aren't we?)

Turns out, I'm not the only one who does this, which is also called a study beard or finals beard.

SOURCE: ROOSTERTEETH.COM

Again, if your girl doesn't like facial hair on you, this may prove an unpopular decision. But dammit, we've all done crazy s*** for finals. They should understand!

So, grow out those playoff/study beards and enjoy their majestic beauty.

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Sports |  Source: sportsoverdose.com

25 Years Later, The Redwings Finally Miss The Playoffs

It only took a quarter century...

On Wednesday, the Detroit Red Wings were officially eliminated from the playoffs. It will be the first time in 25 seasons that they won't be contending for the Stanley Cup. The last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs was the 1989-90 season, one year before the NHL veteran Jaromir Jagr entered the league.

Detroit's streak puts them 3rd all time behind only the Boston Bruins (29) and Chicago Blackhawks (28). With their streak coming to an end, the Pittsburgh Penguins now hold the longest active streak as the last time they missed the playoffs was the 2005-06 season.

This streak for hockey franchises brings attention to the current NBA streak of the San Antonio Spurs who have been a part of every playoff since 1998. In the NFL, the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots are tied at eight for the current active streak. Both are only one season behind the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts who hold the record of 9 consecutive seasons. The Patriots and Packers both look poised to tie, if not break that record in the upcoming years. The active streak in the MLB is significantly shorter as the Los Angeles Dodgers are currently at four which is highest among the active streaks.

Overall these streaks are very impressive. However, it remains to be seen if current powerhouses like the Warriors, Blackhawks, Cubs, and Patriots can surpass them.

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Sports |  Source: heavy.com

Hocktober Is Upon Us

Puckheads everywhere, rejoice.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...and Pittsburgh fans...the time is finally here. After four excruciatingly long months of endless waiting, it's finally, finally here.

I'm not talking about fall, or PSL season, or homecoming. My friends, it's HOCKTOBER.

For those poor souls who have no clue what that means, Hocktober is just a name for the month of October used by avid hockey fans across the nation. The beginning of October marks the beginning of preseason professional hockey games, which will eventually lead to regular season. October means the next nine months will consist of OT nail-biters, rivalry Wednesdays, goal cellies, fights, and hockey beards.

I'll speak as a Chicago native when I say that Blackhawks fans get so emotionally invested in hockey that we can only refer to it as a way of life, and I'm sure the other teams share this sentiment (even Detroit). As a way to kick off Hocktober, I thought I'd share some classic hockey moments that make puckheads like me get up and do the Ovechkin happy dance.

National anthems before games.
I think of hockey national anthems and my mind goes directly to the United Center in Chicago. Jim Cornelison belts out the Star Spangled Banner like only Jim Cornelison can, whilst the audience roars thunderously throughout the entirety of the song. The atmosphere is almost indescribable. I get chills just thinking about it. The anthem before a hockey game is a pump-up regardless of your team.

OT winners.
There's nothing like sitting through multiple anxiety-inducing overtime periods and watching your team finally get the sudden-death winning goal. You're amped up on adrenaline from watching 98 minutes of hockey while simultaneously relieved and excited that your team snuck away with a point despite going into OT.

Fights.
Fights are a part of hockey. Otherwise crowds wouldn't erupt in cheers when players throw off their gloves. Like...is it really a hockey game if Andrew Shaw doesn't hit someone?

Empty netters.
Quick definition: the opposing team pulls their goalie from the game, giving themselves another attacker...and your team ends up getting past the extra attacker and scoring a goal into the empty net. I love empty netters. It's a last-ditch effort by the other team to score, and it's SOOO satisfying to watch it backfire.

Rivalries.
We love to hate our rivals (ahemVANCOUVERahem) almost as much as we love to love our favorite teams.

The Cup.
No. Explanation. Necessary.

I could rant for ages about my favorite hockey lingo (net-front presence, obviously), goal cellies, and the way Pat Foley screams HAWKS WINNNNNN!!! For now, I'll anxiously await tomorrow and let the game speak for itself. Happy Hocktober!

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Sports |  Source: streamable.com

Even Metallica Couldn't Will The Sharks To a Win

Sad but True...

Game 4 had all the potential for a monumental momentum shift in the Sharks favors. San Jose was playing on home ice after mounting a comeback in Game 3 despite trailing at the end of the second period. With the puck primed to drop, the home crowd was roaring after Metallica's rendition of the national anthem.

Apparently the Shark's aren't a fan of the sandman because the next 30 minutes were all Pens. Not even the slushy conditions of the SAP center could slow them down. The Sharks brought the physicality to the game winning the hit war 46-31.

In fact despite the end result of 3-1 Pittsburgh, the Sharks led not only in hits but shots (24-20) and face-off wins (37-30). The later fueling a surge in the 3rd period. This discrepancy will be quickly forgotten in large part to the performance of the Pen's X-factors, Murray and Malkin.

Murray exhibited perhaps the greatest assets a goalie can have, short term memory. Bouncing back from a mediocre Game 3, Murray was a wall shutting down a number of golden San Jose opportunities. His performance tonight was bolstered by solid team defense, including one example of Hornqvist putting his money-maker on the line.

It's unfair to call one of the top 10 players in the league an x-factor. However, Malkin entered Game 4 with no points and the presence of tinder match who hasn't sent a message in days. Apparently, Malkin is a fan of making a fashionably late entrance.

Much akin to the Lightning series, Malkin arrived late in stellar fashion. It wasn't only his one timer off a slick Kessler dish, but his overall presence. He was a terror in the neutral zone initiating one counter attack after another.

Leading the series 3-1, Pittsburgh will have a chance to close out in front of the hometown crowd in Game 5. The odds are in their favor and they are incredibly close to finally fulfilling the long held expectations that come with possessing two generational talents. Then again, this is playoff hockey.