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Keystone State Battle

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If it wasn’t already a heated rivalry, after Sunday, it became white hot. The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are on a crash course for a first round matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Does April get any better than this? Well rest assured that it can, and will get better. Sitting currently, at the number 4 seed in the Eastern Conference of the NHL, are the Pittsburgh Penguins. As of today they hold a one point lead on the 5th seeded Philadelphia Flyers. The only question left to answer between these two teams, is who ends up 4th and who ends up with the 5th seed. So how did this heated rivalry, turn white hot?

      Sunday at the Console Energy Center, the Flyers and Penguins squared off, in what was the first of two meetings of the last week of the regular season. What was on the line? Home ice advantage. If the Penguins won, that would have put them five points ahead of the Flyers and all but assured them home ice advantage for the round 1 matchup. The Flyers had other plans, because if they won, it would put them back in the hunt for a 4th seed, and  a shot at home ice advantage. Before we go any further, let’s examine what home ice advantage really would mean for both of these teams. The Flyers, who are 21-12-6 at home, have a far better record on the road (25-12-3). The Pens, on the other hand 27-10-2 at home, and 21-15-4 away from the Console Energy Center. So do the numbers add up? Some would suggest the Flyers sit in 5th and remain, as they play better away from the Wells Fargo Arena, whereas purist would have you believe that home ice advantage is huge come playoff time. Another factor, come playoff time, is that the Flyers are 5-0 in the Console Energy Center. So one might wonder if there is any truth to the term home ice advantage, when it comes to this series.

James Neal

James Neal celebrates after scoring his 39th goal of the season in the first period of Sundays game. Peter Diana/Post Gazette

      At 1:14 of the first period, Steve Sullivan scored on backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. A sign that the Penguins came to play, and that sign was confirmed three and a half minutes later when James Neal snuck in a wrister making it 2-0 within 4 minutes of the puck drop. Was this going to be a blowout?  Flyers coach Peter Laviolette brought out his secret weapon, the one timeout per game he has. During that timeout Laviolette was very animated, Claude Giroux recounts.

“Coach told us that we needed to challenge ourselves, to play better defensively, and to play for each other. He told us that the way were playing was unacceptable, and that if we didn’t put forth the effort, he would give the ice-time to someone who did”

Philadelphia Flyers

Claude Giroux working hard against the boards. AP

    Well apparently that timeout worked, because Claude Giroux snuck a shot from the Penguins red line, past Marc-Andre Fleury to cut the deficit in half going into the dressing room after one period of play. Despite being down two goals, the Flyers were back in the game, and coming out to start the second period, it seemed as though there was carry over from that late goal, because just under two minutes in, Max Talbot netted  his 19th goal of the season, bringing the score back even. That’s where it stayed for the remainder of the second period

        The third period started off tight checking, until Pittsburghs Chris Kunitz was called for an interference penalty, putting the Flyers fifth ranked power play on the ice. The Flyers fifth ranked power play seemed sluggish for the first half of the period. Then finally set up in the Pittsburgh zone, Claude Giroux took the puck off of the half boards, fired a cross ice pass to Jakub Voracek, who deftly sent a one time pass to Wayne Simmonds, who was parked to the right of Marc-Andre Fleury. Simmonds quickly redirected the puck into the back of the net making the score 3-2, and from there on it was all Flyers. Jakub Voracek, Marc Andre Bourdon scored the next two goals making the score 5-2. Steve Sullivan scored  at the 15:18 mark, bringing the Pens back to 5-3, but Jakub Voracek scored his second on an empty netter making the score 6-3. That is when all hell broke loose. After the puck drop, Danny Briere had the puck on his stick skating it out of his own defensive zone when  Joe Vitale crushed Briere with a clean hit, and what ensued could only be described as pandomonium. Every player on the ice then  found a partner and began to fight, but it didnt end there. Peter Laviolette, very upset with Dan Bylsma for putting out his fourth line, stood on top of the dashers across the benches, and screamed at Assistan Coach Tony Granato, as Flyers assistan Craig Berube played peacemaker, holding Laviolette back. After order was restored, and Laviolette, Simmonds, Rinaldo, Granato, and Asham were escorted off the ice. Giving the Penguins a power play, where Chris Kunitz quickly scored with only 33 second remaining in the game making the score 6-4, which was the final.

This all sets up to make the last week of the season worth watching, as the final game between the Flyers and Pens will be played on Saturday, and could mean all the difference between 4th and 5th seed. Who will answer the bell come Saturday? Will there be carry over? These are all questions that will get answered. Until then, was a message sent? I say yes, the message was sent by each club, and that message is: We are ready! Let’s see how this plays out, because this very well could be the best first round matchup in the Stanley Cup playoffs, in years. Just another day in the state of Pennsylvania!

 

MLB

Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith

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The Philadelphia Flyers have joined the New York Yankees in the removal of ties to singer Kate Smith, whose famous rendition of “God Bless America” was played at both Flyers and Yankees games.

Earlier this week, the Yankees decided to suspend the use of Smith’s rendition, which was played during the seventh-inning stretch, while they investigated allegations of racism against the later singer.

According to a report from the New York Daily News, there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” which
originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire but includes racist language, including the line;
“Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

The song was recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson, who was black.

The Flyers put out the following statement on Sunday (h/t ESPN):

“The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with ‘God Bless America,’ as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.

“But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”

Smith, who was popular during the WWII era, recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among various other treats. 

Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” back in 1939 which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman similar to Aunt Jemima.


“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”

The odds aren’t good that Smith’s songs will return to their prominent places during sporting events such as they were with the Yankees and the Flyers.

There is a lot of cleaning up to do when it comes to racism in sports, and weeding out songs attached to artists with questionable, and controversial, backgrounds such as Smith’s, is important in pushing forward towards the future.

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The New World of Sports Betting in the United States

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Earlier this year a monumental breakthrough was achieved when the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known as PASPA, allowing each state in the nation to decide if it wants to allows legal sports betting or not.

That led the nation, and all of the states, on a new path, with a lot of lucrative opportunities in an industry that has operated underground for decades.

With casinos and eSports thriving, sports betting adds a brand new element to the gambling industry and presents one of the richest outlets for businesses, the government, and the nation.

There will likely be a boost in employment rates, a growth spike in business, and an influx of money that no longer has to be hidden from the eyes of the government.

As of now, a number of states have already started their journey, and another, Utah, has decided not to act on the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of sports betting, opting to maintain their stance on forbidding sports betting, at least for the time being.

As the world of sports, eSports, and gambling embark on this industry shifting journey, let’s take a deeper look at what has been going down so far, and what is in store for the sports betting industry, thanks to an info graphic from NJGames.org.

The info graphic will take a look into the impact that sports betting legalization is expected to make on the nation’s economy.

The info graphic takes into account that the United States’ gambling industry already generates around $28 billion. The legalization of ports betting legalization is expected to increase tat number dramatically.

Additionally, sports betting operations will also result in a higher number of jobs, and the info graphic will provide you with an estimated number of both direct and indirect jobs that will open with the introduction of sports betting.

As the fantasy football season is ready to kick off for many of you, we should start seeing a lot of changes to the sports betting landscape and it will be interesting to see just how companies in fantasy sports navigate through the implementation of these changes.

The future of the sports betting industry seems bright, and there seems to be quite the trickle down effect that will have an immediate benefit to numerous industries.

Whether you’re ready or not, legalized sports betting is on the way, if it hasn’t arrived in your state already, and big things are on the horizon.

 

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Capitals owner Ted Leonsis Pays for 200 Employees to go to Stanley Cup Final Games

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Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is celebrating the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final for the 1st time in 20 years in a special way.

According to the Washington Post, Leonsis surprised 200 employees of Monumental Sports & Entertainment with tickets and a chartered flight to Vegas for the first leg of the Stanley Cup Final.

The employees were chosen based off how closely they work with the Capitals, as well as seniority, and they received an email last week from a senior VP that had the subject line: “Let’s go to Vegas.”

The selected employees received tickets to Games 1 & 2.

“It’s truly amazing and out of this world,” Omar Castro, a guest relations manager, said.

“I never expected an owner of the company to do this. We get to share in this with them. … He’s thinking of us as part of a family, as part of the experience. There’s no reason for him to do it. All I can say is a big thanks to Ted and his family for the opportunity, and for truly making this into something memorable for all of us here in the company.”

Not only did Leonsis provide tickets, but he also organized two chartered flights and is putting the employees up at the Excalibur.

 

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