Erickson: Watch the Stanley Cup playoffs

first_imgIn the middle of April, with deliciously warm days and baseball finally getting in full swing, hockey simply is not on the radar.But much to the contrary, the NHL playoffs are upon us. And oh boy, what a post season it has been so far.Between unbelievable upsets, buzzer-beaters for overtime and the utter amount of overtime games that have take place thus far, the Stanley Cup playoffs are quickly turning into an event that shouldn’t be missed.Here are a few reasons why.No frontrunnerThrough Saturday only two matchups had a 2-0 lead – both in favor of the underdog.Heading into the playoffs, Vancouver was widely expected to be playing for the title, earning the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference after finishing the regular season at a 51-22-9 clip – the best regular season record in 2011-12. But the Canucks couldn’t seem to get enough offense going their first two games, taking a 4-2 loss in both game one and two to the Los Angeles Kings.Similarly, the Penguins were also a favorite for the cup before the postseason was underway, and yet through the first two games, they were foiled twice by Flyers’ comebacks. Game two was especially concerning for Pittsburgh after it allowed seven goals over the course of the second and third period, giving Philadelphia an 8-5, game two victory and a 2-0 lead at the time. Heading into the playoffs with the most imposing offensive front between Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin the Penguins looked impressive, but the duo was all but silenced through those first two games, which coupled with a shocking lack of defense, rendered the Penguins socially awkward.Every other series that played two games through Saturday ended in a series tie.The New York Rangers, who earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, couldn’t close out game two against an Ottawa Senators team they should have easily handled. With just over four minutes left in regulation, Senators left winger Nick Foligno slapped in a rebound, beating Ranger goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to send the game into overtime. Lundqvist – who is largely considered the best netminder in the league this season – couldn’t fend off the revived Senators for long as they evened the series at 1-1 off a Chris Neil backhanded goal.It may only be a few games into each series, but so far it is safe to throw any predictions out the window as no team has stood out far and above the rest.Hockey essentials: fights and overtimeOne thing that certainly sets hockey apart from every other major sport is the fighting. And the playoffs have had no shortage of fights.For example, in the Rangers-Senators game Saturday night, both teams lost a player to game misconduct a mere 2:15 into the first period.Ottawa’s Matt Carkner hunted down New York’s Brian Boyle (in retaliation for an incident in game one), which resulted in Carkner and Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky being sent to the locker room for the remainder of the game.On his way out, Dubinsky overturned a Gatorade cooler out of pure frustration in a move that showed his deep disagreement with the refs.Just about every matchup – whether a deep-rooted rivalry or not – has ended up in fisticuffs on numerous occasions, rendering this post season one of the most high-strung affairs the sports world has seen in quite some time. (Although the Indians-Royals bench-clearing brawl Saturday night could give the NHL an infinitesimal run for its money.)But beyond the tantamount of fights that’s making these playoffs more intense and interesting than ever, the games are closer than ever before.Through Saturday, out of 15 games played, seven went into overtime – two of which went into double over time. Only the Kings-Canucks, Predators-Red Wings and Devils-Panthers avoided overtime play, as of Saturday.Badgers everywhereDespite not laying claim to its own NHL team, Wisconsin is well represented with 10 players across seven different teams.Recent Badgers forward Derek Stepan and defenseman Ryan McDonagh – who both skated with Wisconsin in its 2010 national championship run – are both with the New York Rangers, who currently face the Ottawa Senators and McDonagh’s former UW roommate, forward Kyle Turris (’07-’08). The most recent Badger to leave for the NHL, forward Craig Smith along with defenseman Ryan Suter (’03-’04), currently hold a 2-1 series lead after Sunday’s win with the Nashville Predators over the Detroit Red Wings.St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott, who anchored Wisconsin’s 2006 national championship team, squares off with his former teammate, forward Joe Pavelski and forward Brad Winchester (’99-’03) and the San Jose Sharks.Finally, defenseman Dave Drewiske (’05-’08) and the Kings are on a strong upset run against the Vancouver Canucks, while forward Jack Skille (’05-’07) and the Florida Panthers are looking to do the same against the New Jersey Devils.Essentially, if you have no current NHL loyalties, picking a team based on your favorite Badgers isn’t a bad idea, especially given how tight the playoffs are this year.Overall, the intensity of this year’s playoffs, even a few games in, is too palpable to ignore. With such a tight race, it’s currently a free-for-all – any team currently has as good of a chance as the next for the Stanley Cup.Kelly is a junior majoring in journalism. Which former Badgers have the best chance for the cup? Let her know on Twitter @kellymerickson or at kerickson@badgerherald.comlast_img read more

Dream Team VI Crush Sweden to Land in Q’final

first_imgFresh from scoring four goals last time out against Japan, Oghenekaro Etebo attempted several shots in the half—with his right foot, left foot and with his head—but he was unable to get the better of Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Linde.Nigeria eventually found the opener six minutes from time, when Stanley Amuzie delivered a pinpoint, curling cross in open play from the left wing that found Umar and the Roma man made no mistake, scoring with a diving header.The Dream Team continued their dominance in the second half, and just three minutes in, captain John Obi Obi took had a well-driven shot from the top of the area saved by Linde. The Swedish goalkeeper had to be alert four minutes later when Etebo dribbled inside the corner of the penalty box and attempted a curling effort, but once again, Linde saved.Coach Hakan Ericson did use all three of his substitutes—Ken Sema, Muamer Tankovic and Jacob Une Larsson to try and give his team a new dimension but, in the end, Nigeria’s backline was up to the challenge and held on to all three points.On Wednesday, Nigeria will close out group play against Colombia in Sao Paulo, while Sweden have a must-win match ahead against Japan in Salvador if they are going to continue their Rio 2016 journey.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Duro Ikhazuagbe with agency reportSadiq Umar’s diving header against Sweden was all Nigeria’s Dream Team VI needed last night to book a place in the quarter finals of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament of the ongoing Rio2016 Games in Brazil. Nigeria consolidated leadership of Group B on six points.Right from the kick off at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus, the Samson Siasia wards who battled against all odds to defeat Japan 5-4 in their opening game were in charge of proceedings for the greater part of the encounter.last_img read more