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2012 Stanley Cup: Top 5 NHL Teams Heading into Final Five Nights

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Four nights from now, the last second of the last game of the 2011-12 NHL regular season will tick away. That night will complete the last meaningful game for months for over 300 NHL players.

But for many of those who play on, merely making it is not good enough. Only eight teams play into the month of May, and only four remain after Mother’s Day. These are the teams that matter. They made it at least half way there.

Are the identity of these teams sometimes hidden from view with five nights of games still to play? Absolutely.

Every Cinderella story seems to end too soon (photo courtesy SodaHead.com)

Over the last eight seasons, one of the teams in the Stanley Cup Finals alone has made it there despite starting lower than the fifth seed. But they never have won. Teams go on Cinderella runs all the time, but the clock eventually strikes midnight.

Thus, if I had to put my faith in any five teams, I would believe one of these five will win Lord Stanley’s Cup in June:

  1. Pittsburgh: Though the Penguins will go in as a fourth seed, they have experience winning from there. This team is better than their season average because of the return of Sidney Crosby as well as other injured players.
  2. Predators: Nashville is another non-division winner that is best in its conference. The Predators have arguably the best blue line pair in the world, one of the three best goalies two years running, and incredible forward depth. Their lack of a strong first line is more than made up for in team discipline and hunger…someone major is likely to be lost this summer.
  3. New York: The Rangers are for real. Their better than anticipated blue line play has finally bridged the gap between their top-tier forwards and goaltender.
  4. Boston: The Bruins are essentially the same team as last year’s champion. Their goaltending is not the same, but Tim Thomas might have one more run in him and he does not even have to play as well as he did last year.
  5. Los Angeles: The Kings became everything they wanted to be out of the Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter trade. Since then, they are averaging 3.15 goals and still giving up only 1.84 per game while amassing a 13-5-1 record..they are the conference contenders they were supposed to be before the season started.

So the obvious question is, “Where are the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers, all scheduled to finish top-5 in their conference and top 10 in the league?” Each merits its own explanation, and here they are in the order of likelihood they squeeze their way in:

  1. Vancouver Canucks: This team has the talent, but there are two reasons to believe that the longer the playoffs go, the less likely they will be at their best. They travel more than any team in the league, and could face brutal itineraries in the playoffs. Also, count me among those who doubts they have the character it takes to win the hardest trophy in all of sports—the link details many reasons why. Add this to their drop-off in goaltending this season and they are not a good back to repeat as conference champions.
  2. St. Louis Blues: Since Ken Hitchcock was hired, no NHL team has been better. They play suffocating defence with two good goaltenders, possess experience and depth up front and have the best home record in hockey. Trouble is, once they played on the road down the stretch, they lost enough to be facing four road games by the conference finals. That is potential trouble, but the reality is that teams that have not been to the playoffs in the last two seasons rarely win their conference, much less the Cup.
  3. Philadelphia Flyers: Ilya Bryzgalov is not the answer. Had the Flyers asked me, they could have avoided hitching their wagon to a horse that can carry the load in the regular season but not his team in the playoffs. The last time Ilya beat the San Jose Sharks was 2009 because he could not shut down the top team in front of them. Had he gotten them half of those games, they win the Pacific Division both years. His playoff record with Phoenix is not great, either—he does not win the big games. True, he will have more support in Philadelphia than he did in Phoenix, but they do not have the skating talent they have in years past and will face other teams whose goalies can rise up for their teams better.

MLB

The New World of Sports Betting in the United States

Anthony DiMoro

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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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NHL

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

Anthony DiMoro

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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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How Will the Dallas Cowboys do in 2018?

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How will the Dallas Cowboys do in 2018? That is tough to answer. Last season, it was a turbulent season for the Dallas Cowboys. In 2017, the Cowboys finished with a record of 9-7 which placed them second in the nFC East. However they did not make the playoffs. RB Ezekiel Elliott missed five games due to his domestic violence suspension. When he returned, he was a very productive member of the team.

Entering the 2018 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys are looking to return to the playoffs and ultimately looking to go to the Super Bowl. To start the 2018 campaign, the Dallas Cowboys had to go through Free Agency. During the Free agency period, the Cowboys signed six players which include Joe Thomas of the Green Bay Packers and Allen Herns of the Jacksonville Jaguars. OG/C Joe Looney re-signed a 2-year contract with the Cowboys while LS L. P. Ladouceur resigned with Dallas for a 1-year deal.

For the players that have departed, a total of 15 players have left the Cowboys. Since their departure from the Dallas Cowboys, some players have either signed with other teams, looking for work, or retired from the NFL. Here is the breakdown:

QB Kellen Moore, TE James Hannah, and Jason Witten retired from the National Football League. WR Bryce Butler, OT Benson Mayowa, and CB Bene Benwikere all signed with the Arizona Cardinals. FB Keith Smith, OLB/MLB Kyle Wilber and WR Ryan Switzer all signed with the Oakland Raiders. OG Johnathan Cooper signed with the San Francisco 49ers, OLB/MLB Anthony Hitchens signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, and CB Orlando Scandrick signed with the division rival Washington RedskinsAs for players looking for work, that honor goes to RB Alfred Morris and WR Dez Bryant. 

Once Free Agency had finally concluded, it was time for the 2018 National Football League Draft. This years Draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It is the first draft to be done in a NFL stadium. For the Dallas Cowboys draft board, the Cowboys will have eight picks this year. During the draft, 6 out of eight players were offensive players. Also during the draft, the Cowboys traded their pick to the Los Angeles Rams for WR  Travon Austin. 

With the players the Dallas Cowboys wanted to draft now on the Dallas Cowboys roster, it’s time to take a look at the 2018 Dallas Cowboys regular season schedule. This season, the Cowboys will start the 2018 season on the road against the Carolina Panthers on September 9. The Cowboys first division test comes in the second week when the New York Giants come to AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys bye week comes during week eight. After the thanksgiving game against the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys will have another Thursday Night Football game. This time it’s at home against the New Orleans Saints. The Dallas Cowboy regular season finale will be on November 30, 2018 at MetLife Stadium against the New York Giants.

So after breaking down the 2018 offseason and upcoming schedule, I believe it will be a tough season but I believe that the Cowboys will do better in 2018.

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