2020 NHL Playoffs First Round Series Odds and Picks for ...

[Game Thread] St. Louis Blues vs Dallas Stars - Game 6, Round 2 (May 5, 2019)

  • GAME NOTES
The task couldn't be more straightforward at this juncture of the Stanley Cup playoffs. With their season on the brink, the St. Louis Blues have one mindset as they head to Dallas to face the Stars on Sunday afternoon for what could be a series-clinching game.
Dallas leads the best-of-seven semifinals series 3-2, having gained the upper hand with a 2-1 win Friday night. The score might indicate a very close game, but the Blues were outplayed heavily during critical junctures -- notably in the waning minutes when they struggled to break out of their zone and pull the goalie for an extra attacker -- and even were booed off the ice by the home crowd at the end of the second period.
Sure, Dallas goalie Ben Bishop needed to make 38 saves to earn the win, but too few of the stops required the Vezina Trophy candidate to exert a ton of effort, and the Blues know it. As much as the Dallas defenders excelled at preventing the St. Louis skaters from getting to loose pucks, the Blues did not have that extra oomph in their game.
Over the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs, teams that win Game 5 when a best-of-seven series is tied 2-2 end up advancing more than three-quarters of the time. The odds are in the favor of Dallas, but it would be a fool's game for the Stars to simply think the Blues -- the club that sat last in the league on Jan. 2 before going on a torrid run to make the playoffs -- simply will roll over.
INJURIES: Oleksiak - lower body (D2D), Hanzal - Back (IR), Johns - Head (IR), Methot - Knee (LTIR)
Game notes from espn.com. As you discuss the game, please abide by sub rules.
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  • BE LOUD! WEAR GREEN! GO STARS!
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OFFSEASON DIGEST/SEASON PREVIEW

It’s that time of the year again. Maybe you took a few months off from thinking about hockey and might have missed a few things this offseason. Maybe you’re a fellow miserable Steelers fan trying to switch gears and think of something else. Maybe you just want a 10 min refresher. In any case, I thought I’d make a little cliff notes recap of everything involving the Pens and the NHL from this offseason and sprinkled a few takes in at the end. But let’s start with the one thing that nobody missed...
Phil Kessel to Arizona for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre-Olivier Joseph - The deal also sent prospect Dane Birks and a 4th to the Coyotes. We will probably never know the full extent of the reported tension Kessel had with Sullivan or Malkin and how much of that was overblown, but it was pretty clear that things got to a point where there was no way around moving him. And considering those circumstances, Rutherford did about as well as he could.
Galchenyuk is coming off a 19/22/41 season in 72 games, but has several 50+ seasons under his belt. Way too early reports out of camp suggest he’s taking some drills with Malkin and he’s also a strong candidate to slide into Kessel’s place on the top power play unit. Joseph is a 2017 first round pick who possesses great skating, passing, and power play experience. The only consistent criticism of him through his whole juniors career is that for some inexplicable reason he can’t put on weight. It will be a situation worth monitoring as he begins his pro career in WBS.
Olli Maatta to Blackhawks for Dominik Kahun - After being healthy scratched for the last 3 games of the Islanders series, the writing was on the wall that Maatta could be the odd man out. In return, the Pens get a versatile (albeit undersized) 24 year old winger in Kahun who is coming off a 13/24/37 stat line in his first NHL season. Think “Dominik Simon with better hands” and that should give you a benchmark of how Kahun plays. He figures to start the year in a bottom 6 role but I have a sneaking suspicion that it might not be long before he gets a look with Crosby and Guentzel. His game seems to fit the mold of what Sullivan likes in that role.
Penguins Sign Brandon Tanev - Ok, lets get the obvious out of the way. The 6 year 3.5M AAV contract is not good. You never want to tether yourself to a bottom 6er for that long, especially when you’re strapped on the cap. But with all that being said, I actually really like the fit here. Tanev is coming off a career high 14/15/29 season where he was 3rd in the league in hits (278) and 3rd among forwards in blocked shots (81). Most importantly, he wins puck battles, which is something the Penguins sorely lacked while being eviscerated by the Islanders last spring.
RFA Roundup - The Penguins took care of business with their 4 main RFAs: Marcus Pettersson (1 x 875k), Teddy Blueger (2 x 750k), Zach Aston-Reese (2 x 1M) and Jusso Riikola (1 x 800k). The Penguins would have liked to get a longer term deal done with Pettersson but it was simply not feasible given their cap situation. Blueger and ZAR return looking to claim every night spots in the lineup, which Riikola showed enough promise in an up and down first North American season to warrant another look. AHL tweeners Adam Johnson and Joseph Blandisi also return on RFA deals.
Odds and Ends - 7th defenseman Chad Ruhwedel returns for another year, as do AHL defensemen Zach Trotman and Kevin Czuzman (2 years each). Familiar face David Warsofsky also returns for his 3rd stint with the Pens organization on a 2 year deal. On the forward side, AHLers Thomas Di Pauli and Ben Sexton return on 1 year deals while Andrew Agozzino comes over from the Avs organization as well. Departing the organization are Garrett Wilson (TOR), Ethan Prow (FLA), Chris Wideman (ANA), Chris Summers, and Jimmy Hayes.
Cullen Retires - Matt Cullen also returns to the Penguins, but this time he won’t be on the ice. Shortly after announcing his retirement, Cullen immediately rejoined the Penguins in a front office player development role. Given his popularity within the organization as a mentor for younger players, it’s a pretty safe bet to think he’ll excel in this new role.
Depth Goaltending - The Penguins top tandem of Murray and DeSmith remains unchanged. Tristan Jarry is back as well, but after a “just ok” 2.66 GAA and .915% season in WBS, he has some competition now. The Penguins added 22 year old Finnish goalie Emil Larmi, who backstopped his team to a championship in Finland’s top league with a stellar 18 game playoff run that saw him go 12-6 with a 1.72 GAA and .932 save percentage. Alex D’Orio also begins his first pro season, and although he struggled last year in the QMJHL, he’s coming off a great prospect camp and figures to be in the mix for playing time as well. WBS also added 9 year vet Dustin Tokarski on an AHL contract, who most recently served as backup for the Calder Cup winning Charlotte Checkers.
All of this really seems like writing on the wall that Jarry’s time with the organization could be numbered. He doesn’t have much standalone trade value, but could be an intriguing piece of a larger deal should one materialize.
Mike Vellucci - The least talked about but potentially incredibly significant organizational shakeup happened in WBS. After Clark Donatelli resigned as coach, the Penguins swooped in and hired Vellucci, who is coming off a season in which he just guided the Checkers to a Calder Cup. Then, when Billy Guerin left to become the Wild’s GM, Vellucci also assumed his responsibilities as the GM of the WBS Penguins. While this “double duty” may at first seem odd, it’s nothing new for Vellucci who served as assistant GM for the Hurricanes for 5 years and the last 2 of those as the Checkers head coach.
Guerin and Donatelli left WBS in a state of disarray, and it’s hard to think of anyone better suited to turn things around than the man who played an important role in both building the Hurricanes back into playoff contenders and building the Checkers into AHL champions. The only major question here is why Vellucci, whose name would surely have been in the mix soon for both NHL coaching and front office jobs, would want to make a lateral move like he did. Maybe he’s just loyal to his old boss Rutherford. Maybe he’s preparing to be his eventual successor? Maybe he feels Sullivan’s seat is getting hot? All fair questions but whatever his reason may be this is a huge get for the organization.
Sullivan Extended - While the Vellucci hire may have raised some suspicions about the Penguins confidence in Sullivan, Rutherford did his best to quiet those when he gave the 2 time champion coach a 3 year extension. No problems with this. Coaches salaries don’t count against the cap, so there was no reason to string things along.
Draft Recap - The Penguins actually made a first round selection this year, taking 6’2’’ 207 lbs power forward Samuel Poulin. Poulin projects as a “safe floor” pick with nice size and playmaking ability, although he does need to improve his skating. If safe and solid doesn’t get you excited, then maybe 3rd round pick Nathan Legare will. Possessing one of the best pure shots of the draft class and nice size and speed to match, Legare could develop into quite the player if he can improve on his ability to create for himself rather than just rely on the setup. But seriously, this guy shoots bombs and I suspect he will be a strong candidate to become the “hype bunny” of the preseason. The Pens also added big 6’3’’ defensive-minded forward Judd Caulfield out of USA development team in the 5th, and a pair of Finns in the 7th with selections of overage but speedy forward Valtteri Puustinen and defenseman Santeri Airola.
Prospect Pipeline - All of the above selections will return to their respective junior teams, but WBS will also be seeing an intriguing influx of first year pros. PO Joseph may have been the prized acquisition of the offseason, but it was his playing partner John Marino that was getting the buzz out of prospect camp. The Penguins acquired Marino from the Oilers for a 6th, and he projects to be a “jack of all trades” defenseman who doesn’t really have any overwhelming strengths or weaknesses to his game. He should make a splash in WBS. The Penguins also signed 27 year old Finn Oula Palve, who may not be a prospect anymore but will be treated as such as he enters his first North American season. Palve was a very productive player his past few seasons, although some of that may have been due to being line mates with Kappo Kakko.
The Pens also have an intriguing crop of home grown first year pros ready to make their WBS debuts. Most notable of those is 2017 preseason darling Jordy Bellerive, who is now a full year removed from his scary burn injuries and looking to bring his intriguing blend of speed and playmaking to the pro level. Joining him will be Justin Almeida, who is AHL eligible despite being drafted only last year as an overager. Almeida was an absolute scoring machine in the WHL, posting 111 points in 64 games last season. Kasper Bjorkqvist is perhaps the least flashy but also the most pro ready of the new crop, and while he may not have a history of scoring a lot, he’s a responsible 2 way forward with the kind of freakish conditioning routines that rival those of Kris Letang. Speedy Slovenian forward Jan Drozg will also be likely turning pro, as will defenseman Niclas Almari, who would have likely been the consensus choice for 2nd best D prospect behind Addison before the additions of Joseph and Marino. It will be interesting to see how those 3 are able to carve out playing time in WBS among the veterans.
AROUND THE METRO
Rangers- The clear “on paper” winners of the offseason, the Rangers kicked the rebuild into overdrive and went for broke. They signed Artemi Panarin to a massive 7 year 11.6M AAV contract, traded for Jacob Trouba, traded for prized Hurricanes defenseman prospect Adam Fox, and drafted young Finnish superstar Kappo Kakko with the 2nd overall pick. While it’s unclear just how all these pieces will fit together, this influx of talent at least gives them a seat at the table. How far they can go likely depends on the development of young goalie Alexander Georgiev and whether or not Henrik has any juice left in the tank.
Devils - If the Rangers were the offseason winners, Ray Shero’s Devils come a close 2nd. They drafted Jack Hughes #1 overall, made a blockbuster trade with the Preds for PK Subban, and won the trade sweepstakes for heavily hyped Russian defenseman Nikita Gusev. Like the Rangers, these additions put them in the conversation, but they have some serious question marks in net. Expect them to roll with a tandem of the promising but inconsistent young Mackenzie Blackwood and the oft-injured Cory Schneider.
Blue Jackets - For as good as things went for the Rangers and Devils, that’s as bad as things are in Columbus. After pushing all their chips to the middle last year, CBJ has parted ways with Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel and didn’t really bring in much aside from Gustav Nyqvist to replace that production. It’s back to the drawing board for these guys.
Hurricanes - They dodged a major bullet when they were able to match Montreal’s offer sheet for Aho, but continued to stay busy throughout the offseason. The Canes swapped out Calvin de Haan, Michael Ferland, and the retiring Justin Williams for Jake Gardiner (on a steal of a contract), Erik Haula, and Ryan Dzingel. They are also actively shopping Justin Faulk. It’s hard to say yet whether they got better or worse with this shuffle of players, but they’ll look to avoid statistical regression after their unexpected run to the ECF.
Capitals - Not too much change for Todd Reirden’s second year behind the bench. They’ll look to replace the departures of Brett Connolly, Andre Burakovsky, and Brooks Orpik largely from within, but the core remains intact, and we should expect to see more or less the same looking team as we have been accustomed to the past few years.
Islanders - Another team that (after losing the Panarin sweepstakes) didn’t have a lot of movement in the offseason, save for a potentially very significant development between the pipes. Robin Lehner is out after his breakthrough season last year, and replacing him will be journeyman vet Semyon Varlamov, who should figure to split about a 50-50 workload with Greiss. It’s puzzling that the team didn’t make a stronger effort to keep Lehner after he played so well for them last year, but they’ve proven before that they are willing to part with top talent and rely on their system to carry them.
Flyers - The biggest change here comes behind the bench, as Alain Vigneault returns to the metro division along with a pair of former Penguins Michel Therrien and Mike Yeo as assistants. They also made one splash signing in Kevin Hayes, who received a whopping 7 year 7.14M AAV deal. They also added Matt Niskanen, swapping Radko Gudas to the Caps. I feel like we already know what these guys are gonna be. They’ll go on some crazy mid season win streak, come crashing back to earth by losing 10 out of 12, and ultimately settle somewhere around the playoff bubble.
Make no mistake about it. This division is the Thunderdome now. With everyone but the Jackets projected to be in the playoff mix, there will be some talented teams that will miss the playoffs. Gone are the days where a second round Pens-Caps series is a foregone conclusion, and a slow start simply cannot be afforded in this suddenly wide open division.
Rest Of The East - In the Atlantic Division, the big 3 seem poised to continue their dominance. The Conference Champion Bruins remain mostly unchanged because, hey, if it’s not broke than don’t fix it. Coming off their historic regular season and inexplicable playoff exit, the Lightning mostly stood pat as well, making a minor alteration in the defense by bringing in Kevin Shattenkirk to replace Anton Stralman. They also still have some business to take care of with star RFA Brayden Point, although that is expected to be done at some point. The Maple Leafs opened their pocket books to give Marner his massive extension, and they now have a staggering 40.5M of cap space allocated to their top 4 players. They also had some considerable overturn with the rest of the roster, bringing in defenseman Tyson Barrie and forward Alex Kerfoot in a trade that sent Nazem Kadri to Colorado, and also adding Cody Ceci from the Sens.
The biggest movers in this division were the Panthers, who may have missed out on Panarin but made the biggest coaching hire in landing 3 time cup winner Joel Quenneville. Joining him will be Bobrovsky, Stralman, and Connolly. Does this get them closer to the top 3 in the division? Yes. Does it get them all the way there? Probably not. After whiffing on the offer sheet with Aho, the Canadiens came up empty handed with pretty much everyone else too. The Red Wings biggest change comes in the front office, as they finally parted ways with Ken Holland and brought in franchise legend Steve Yzerman who is largely responsible for assembling the juggernaut in Tampa. Jason Botterill’s Sabres, on the other hand, find themselves searching for answers after having to sacrifice Phil Housley at coach and replace him with Ralph Krueger. They also stayed active, adding Colin Miller, Jimmy Vesey, Henri Jokiharju, and Marcus Johansson. These all, on paper at least, seem like pretty shrewd moves but another underperforming season could see Botterill’s seat getting red hot. And the Senators...well, let’s just say that’s still a train wreck.
The Wild Wild West - Defending champion Blues return largely intact after locking up their young stud goalie Binnington, and like Boston, why wouldn’t they? The biggest movers in the entire conference have to be the Stars, who added veteran star Joe Pavelski as well as high upside reclamation project Corey Perry to an already star studded top 6. The PK Subban era is over for the Predators, but they still made a splash in signing Matt Duchene, who joins a core of centers that already included Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris, and Nick Bonino. The Avalanche were also very active, adding Burakovsky, Kadri, and Joonas Donskoi while losing Barrie as they look to take the next step towards becoming major players in the west. Most of the Jets offseason has revolved around the potentially concerning RFA stalemate with superstar Patrik Laine, but it’s worth noting that they lost Trouba as well. The Blackhawks look to infuse more youth into their core of forwards, but they got some needed insurance on the back end in Robin Lehner, who should join a tandem with the oft-injured Corey Crawford. And the Wild pretty much spun their wheels after the failed Kessel-Zucker trade, and ended up going with vet forward Mats Zuccarello.
In the Pacific, the top points finishing Flames remain mostly intact, although it seems now they have committed to young David Rittich between the pipes following the departure of Mike Smith. The Golden Knights nightmare cap situation forced them to offload Miller, Haula, and Gusev, but the core of the team remains the same and primed for another deep playoff run. The Sharks moved on from one face of the franchise in Pavelski, but locked up another when they gave Erik Karlsson a huge 8 year extension. The Coyotes showed that they believe they are ready to contend with the big Kessel trade, but did little else to improve their forward depth. The Canucks accelerated their rebuild with major veteran signings of Michael Ferland, JT Miller, and Tyler Myers, and when you combine these with their promising young core and the league’s thinnest division, they could be a sleeper playoff team this year. The Kings and Ducks continued their rebuilds with coaching changes, bringing on Todd McLellan and Dallas Eakins respectively. And the Oilers latest attempt to fix their issues involves James Neal and 37 year old Mike Smith, so expect them to once again go exactly as far as McDavid can carry them.
SEASON STORYLINES
Salary cap trade - The dirt cheap Pettersson contract allows the Penguins to go into the season cap compliant without having to make any major trades, but that doesn’t mean one still isn’t coming at some point. Ideally, you’d love to get Jack Johnson’s 3.25M off the books but that would involve another team actually agreeing to that, so the Pens may have to look elsewhere to open up some space. Bryan Rust is another popular name in these discussions, as the additions of Kahun and Tanev make his role a bit more crowded.
Schedule Difficulty - Once again the schedule maker did the Pens no favors, hitting them with 17 back to backs (tied for the most). In addition, 14 of their last 16 games of the season will come against metro division opponents (including all 4 against Carolina in the month of March) so expect everything to still be on the line deep into the year.
Sullivan’s System - While I don’t yet think Sullivan’s seat is hot (nor should it be), the Isles series exposed some glaring flaws that need to be addressed. The 2019 playoffs as a whole were a case study on how bigger, more structured teams are becoming increasingly effective in countering free-flowing speed and skill teams, and now it’s on teams like the Pens to adjust. The challenge for Sullivan will be finding a way to add some additional structure without suffocating the playmaking abilities of his best players.
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[OC] Lost Leagues: History of the Professional Spring Football League (1992)

Competing football leagues in the offseason is all the rage right now. The Alliance of American Football started up this year, and promptly ended this year without even finishing its first season. And, the XFL is starting up again in 2020 (it’s almost impossible for the league to be as big of a failure as it was in 2001, when it flamed out in a blaze of glory).
Here’s the thing with other football leagues- I love getting my football fix at all times of the year. I was glued to my TV during AAF season, and watched practically every Orlando Apollos game. And when then XFL starts again in 2020, you can bet that I’ll be watching with a keen eye. There’s big names attached to the XFL, there’s financial backing, there’s a TV contract that is nothing short of impressive (half the games on network TV), and the rule changes look interesting.
But here’s the thing with other football leagues- 99 percent of them don’t work. In terms of outdoor professional football leagues in the United States, the only two outside of the NFL that worked were the AFL and the AAFC; they don’t exist anymore because they combined with the NFL. It’s extremely hard to get a pro football league up and running and give it any kind of success. There’s tons of leagues that have fallen by the wayside.
Case in point- the Professional Spring Football League.
Now seems like as good of a time as ever to revive the Lost Leagues series, where I take a look at failed professional football leagues. Some leagues, such as the United Football League post that kicked off the series two years ago, you may recognize. Others, like this one, you’ve probably never heard of. In fact, this league made such little of an impact that if you do a Google search for “Professional Spring Football League”, every link on the first page of results has absolutely nothing to do with the PSFL that I’m talking about.
With all of that said, let’s take a look at the incredibly short-lived existence of the Professional Spring Football League.
Part I: A Puzzling Formation
The league announced its existence on October 1, 1991, less than a year before the league was set to play in 1992. Already, you might be able to spot a major problem with this. There was already a pro football league in the spring in 1991, and that was the World League of American Football. That league had a lot of things that the PSFL would not wind up getting. For starters, it had the backing of the NFL. The league owners wanted to create a developmental football league in the spring that would also give the sport popularity overseas. The WLAF also had a television contract; not only were games shown on ABC and USA Network, but those networks actually paid the WLAF for the TV rights.
There were so many failed spring football leagues, and now, the PSFL was going to directly compete against a spring football league that actually had the backing of the NFL. Let’s put that in perspective. Professional hockey in Atlanta has not worked. The Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary in part because of low attendance, and the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in part because of low attendance. Imagine if the NHL decided, for whatever reason, to go back to Atlanta. Now imagine that after this announcement is made, a competing hockey league (and I use competing very loosely) announces that they’re going to be putting a team in Atlanta, and the season is going to run at the same time as the NHL. Why would that make any sense for the competing hockey league to do? Already, the league was behind.
But let’s take a look at that other pro league that was playing in the spring, and is still somewhat remembered to this day. The WLAF, in its inaugural season, averaged 25,361 fans per game. On its surface, that’s really good. However, if you take out the three European teams (London Monarchs, Frankfurt Galaxy, Barcelona Dragons) and the one Canadian team (Montreal Machine), you’re left with six American teams. Here’s the average attendance of those American teams:
Team Average Attendance
New York/New Jersey Knights 32,322
Birmingham Fire 25,442
Orlando Thunder 19,018
Sacramento Surge 17,994
San Antonio Riders 14,853
Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks 12,753
AVERAGE 20,397
Why do I bring this up? Let’s be very clear- an average attendance of 20,397 for a football league’s inaugural season is still extremely good… but only two of the six teams cleared 20,000. Remember that this was the league with the NFL’s backing and a relatively lucrative TV contract (it was in the eight figure range according to some reports). In the PSFL, a league with neither the league’s backing nor any TV contract to speak of, they needed each team to average 20,000 fans per game to stay afloat. Per the article:
[President] Vince Sette and the other league organizers figure each team will need to average just 20,000 fans per game to make this endeavor work. And they're not counting on television revenue to bail them out.
Each team needs to average just 20,000 fans per game? That’s all it’s going to take? A number that four out of six teams in the WLAF couldn’t reach? A number that, in the final season of the USFL, 8 out of the league’s 14 teams couldn’t reach? That seems like a fantastic business model that can’t possibly fail. You can probably already see some of the inevitable failures and red flags with this league just based off of the model.
But remember when I said that the PSFL did not have a TV contract? That doesn’t mean that they didn’t get some exposure on TV, in the form of an introduction video that aired on SportsChannel New York in 1991 (even though the league did not have any teams in New York). The video is… well, let’s just take a look at the video, because there’s a lot to dissect.
Part II: An Even More Puzzling Video
LINK TO THE VIDEO
I have no idea how I found this video, seeing as it has a grand total of 398 views on YouTube, two likes, and two comments. However, this is an absolute gold mine. This was a half-hour special aired on SportsChannel a few months prior to the launch of the league, and man, is it a weird video in all its early-90s cheese and glory. The first thing you’ll notice is that the commissioner of this league is Rex Lardner. About a quarter century later, he would try launching another pro football league in the spring. Considering the fact that the league has 195 likes on Facebook and the only video on the league’s website is literally five seconds long and is just a horribly-done Microsoft Word logo, I’m guessing that league is dead and that he learned nothing from the failures of this league.
After a shot of a logo that looks somewhat similar to the USFL logo, we get an introduction by a man who, literally less than one minute into the video, tries to stop skepticism of fans. In the first minute, they acknowledge that every other attempt has failed. That’s rather comforting. However, they explain why this league is different and won’t fail, and it’s because Vincent Sette (the founder and president of the league) said that he researched the other leagues. Checking in on what happened to Sette after the league’s demise, and it turns out that he’s doing great.
The founder of the league was also known Vincent Setteducate. There appear to have been no criminal charges filed in the aftermath of the PSFL. Five years later, he was charged by the SEC in a wire fraud case, and pleaded guilty, sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution in another business venture. He has had other brushes with the law as well.
And yes, according to this article, he goes by both names of Vincent Sette and Vincent Setteducate. Getting back to the video, after he promises that the league is going to work because he researched at the New York Public Library, you’ll also notice that Walt Michaels is the Director of Football Operations. I’ll give the league credit for that- Michaels is a recognizable name; in six seasons with the Jets and two seasons with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, he’s made the playoffs four times, and only had a losing record twice. He even guided the Jets to the AFC Championship in the 1982 strike-shortened season. Unfortunately, that’s the only recognizable front office figure associated with this league. Not once in the video does it mention any coaches associated with the league. Considering the league was starting up in spring of 1992 (the first game seemed to be scheduled for February 29), and this TV special aired in late 1991, that seems like a major red flag. Again, just to reiterate- this league was announced on October 1, and the first game was to be played on February 29. People criticized the XFL the first time around for moving too quickly, but that was a year. This is less than five months. This is 151 days between announcement and the first game.
But how are the players in this league? Remember that the talent pool with any secondary football league is going to be somewhat worse; factor in the WLAF already existing in the spring, and the PSFL was playing third fiddle. They held three combines, with the one in the video taking place in Atlanta in October (less than a month after the creation of the league), and others taking place in December and January. Who were some of the players?
You know it’s a good sign when the first player that’s mentioned is Mickey Guidry. When the FIRST PLAYER YOU HIGHLIGHT is a man that threw 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in his four years at LSU from 1985-88 and a man who was so buried on the depth chart with the Sacramento Surge of the WLAF that he didn’t even throw a pass in 1991, that’s a horrible sign. Other quarterbacks in this league included Tony Rice (who threw 2 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in his final season at Notre Dame in 1989, completed 48.5% of his passes over his career, and was dreadful with the Barcelona Dragons in the WLAF in 1991 with one touchdown pass and three interceptions), Bobby McAllister (an atrocious QB in the WLAF in 1991 with Raleigh-Durham, throwing 7 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 5.9 yards per attempt, a 46.7% completion percentage, and a passer rating of 54; Raleigh-Durham went winless), and Todd Hammel (a 12th round pick in 1990 who never played a snap, and then played in the WLAF with New York/New Jersey where he threw 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, had a passer rating of 53.7, completed just 45.5% of his passes, and averaged 5.8 yards per attempt). Remember- these were the guys they were highlighting, so this was their cream of the crop. Guys who were awful in the WLAF were, on paper, the best quarterbacks in this league.
As for the other offensive skill players, there were some recognizable names, even if they weren’t that good. Timmy Smith ran for a record-204 yards for Washington in Super Bowl XXII; he only had three regular season rushing touchdowns in his NFL career, and from 1989-91 (the three years before the PSFL’s scheduled inaugural season in 1992), had 6 rushing yards, but at least the name was recognizable. The second halfback mentioned is James Gray; while he was exceptional at Texas Tech, leading the Southwest Conference in 1989 with 1,509 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns, he never played a down in the NFL after getting drafted by the Patriots in round five of the 1990 NFL Draft. Lydell Carr had a solid career with Oklahoma, but after getting drafted in the fourth round of the 1988 NFL Draft, did nothing in the NFL, never recording a single yard from scrimmage (in fairness, he did score eight touchdowns with the Barcelona Dragons in the 1991 season of the WLAF). And then, there was Lorenzo Hampton, who scored 28 touchdowns in his NFL career. Those were the four halfbacks highlighted; two of them never got a carry in the NFL. Quality-wise, that’s not good. Also, you may notice that half of this video is just the PSFL Combine and almost plays like a football instructional video; I’m not sure why this is.
Another major red flag with this video comes with the announcement of the teams. We’ll get to the teams later, but the map only shows nine cities, even though there’s supposed to be 10 teams in the league. That means that a new team would have to be announced and formed with roughly 70 days to go until the first game of the season. Good luck with that.
But how is this league going to be any different from the other leagues? After an interview with former BYU tight end Chris Smith that, no joke, starts off with the line, “I love children,” we find out how. For one, the players are going to do community service. There’s going to be autograph sessions. I’m failing to see how this is any different, but then we get two weird things. The first is that the games are going to be when the fans want. They’re scheduling for the fans. I have no idea what this even means. Does this mean that if the fans want them to play a game right now, that they’ll do it? The second is a cool idea but has no practicality whatsoever, and that is the universal ticket. Any fan who buys a season ticket to a PSFL team gets all of their team’s home games plus a universal ticket that can be used at any PSFL game. Good idea… but who’s flying halfway across the country to watch a PSFL game? Sette brings up the idea of staying at a hotel in Tampa for a PSFL game… who’s going to do that? It’s an interesting idea, but one that I’m sure nobody would actually use.
Some frequently asked questions about the league pop up next, and it’s always a good sign when one of the questions is whether or not a franchise can go under. The PSFL actually had a good idea with a single-entity structure; MLS has a similar system and it has worked well in ensuring the league’s survival. But here’s where it gets somewhat eyebrow-raising for me- each team has a salary cap of $2 million, and an average player salary of $45,000. Adjusting for inflation, today, the average player salary is around $82,000. That’s a pretty large amount for a minor football league. For some perspective, even the AAF’s average salary was less than that at $75,000 per season. And even though the AAF didn’t work, it had a TV contract and actual investors. This league was formed in the blink of an eye, had no TV revenue, had a business model that relied on a rather unattainable goal of 20,000 fans at every game, and yet, had a higher average salary per season when adjusted for inflation than the AAF.
After watching that video, it’s time to break down the actual markets chosen.
Part III: The Teams
The PSFL was pretty ambitious with their inaugural season, opting to have 10 teams play in the league. Four of the teams would be located in cities with NFL teams, with the other six teams being in unoccupied professional football markets. The New England Blitz seemed like an odd choice for a team. While the league stressed going into unoccupied markets, Boston already had a team in the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, so this completely defeats the purpose. Additionally, the Boston Breakers were in the USFL in 1983, and drew the smallest average attendance in the league at 12,735 fans per game. Why Boston was chosen for a team, I’m not sure. The other baffling location was the Washington Marauders at RFK Stadium; the Washington Federals of the USFL bombed horribly (second-to-last in attendance in 1983 and 1984, including an average of just 7,694 fans per game in 1984), and there was competition in the area with the Bullets of the NBA and the Capitals of the NHL.
However, every other city makes sense. I’ll give the PSFL credit- they seemed like they had a good idea of where to go with their teams. Going to Tampa Bay with the Tampa Bay Outlaws made complete sense- in the USFL, the Bandits consistently ranked near the top of the league in average attendance, proving that spring football in Tampa Bay could work (if it’s done correctly, the XFL team playing in Tampa Bay in 2020 could have a strong following, though it’ll be tougher now that the city has an NHL team and an MLB team). Miami didn’t have the Marlins yet or the Florida Panthers (although Sunrise is an hour away from Miami), so there was little competition in the area for a spring football team to thrive. The other six locations were teams without NFL teams. The Arkansas Miners played in Little Rock (no pro sports teams), the Carolina Cougars played in Columbia (no pro sports teams), the Nevada Aces played in Las Vegas (no pro sports teams), the New Mexico Rattlesnakes played in Albuquerque (no pro sports teams), the Oregon Lightning Bolts played in Portland (only the Trail Blazers as competition), and the Utah Pioneers played in Salt Lake City (no pro sports teams). Yes, travel costs were going to be high, but the market selection seemed promising with a bunch of mid-sized markets who were starving for pro sports.
The logos, though? My, are some of them bad.
A lot of these logos would’ve been outdated very quickly. I have no idea what the New England Blitz logo is trying to be. The Carolina Cougars logo looks like the logo from Monster Energy (though the Carolina logo predates the Monster logo). Nevada’s logo is just the Alcorn State logo with cards coming off of it. And then there’s the Utah Pioneers helmet, which is the exact same thing as the Cleveland Browns helmet minus a logo on it. Why the Miami Tribe were named what they were, I’m not sure, seeing as the actual Miami Tribe is based in Oklahoma.
They were already thinking about expansion. As mentioned in this article, they were looking at expanding to 12 teams in the near future, putting teams in Fresno and Austin; both were large cities with no pro sports team.
So, we’ve got our teams. We’ve got our video promoting the league (even though we don’t have a television contract). And, we’ve got a schedule culminating with the Red, White & Blue Bowl at RFK Stadium on July 5. How does the first season of the league go?
Part IV: Collapse & Conclusion
Already, cracks were starting to show in 1992. Businessman Nick Bunick bought the Portland team a month before the season started, and immediately wanted to change the name to the Oregon Chargers. I’m sure the NFL would’ve been thrilled by that. They just hired a coach a month before the season started by taking former NFL quarterback Craig Morton.
February rolled around, and it was less than a month before the start. And when February rolled around, I’ll let Squidward explain why the league was struggling.
In what can only be described as a shocked Pikachu face for a lot of these other leagues, they had no money. It was February 12, just 17 days before kickoff between the Tampa Bay Outlaws and Utah Pioneers, and the league was in serious trouble. The Miami Tribe folded. The commissioner, Rex Lardner, said that they were considering shutting down the league. The Washington Marauders, who were a late addition to the league to begin with, threatened to cease operations by the end of the week if the league didn’t provide adequate financial arrangements. Remember those plans that said that the league needed each team to average at least 20,000 fans per game to survive? Less than three weeks before the season, and Washington had sold 100 season tickets. One hundred. I’m shocked that the team that was announced hastily in a market with lots of competition already and in a market where the USFL failed miserably could barely sell 100 season tickets.
And, as it turns out, nobody got any money. Washington wide receivers coach Brian Gardner said he was owed $5,000, and never got it, stating that “I have as much chance of getting that as I do of catching the clouds in my hands right now.” The league lied when they said that it had $50 million in the bank; only a small percentage of that was actually in the bank. The schedule, set to start on February 29, was in danger of getting pushed back two weeks. And the Marauders were running an awful operation:
The Marauders operation is tight. All the equipment is in Room 131 of the team's headquarters here, a Quality Inn. The shoulder pads are piled atop two beds; face bars sit on a table. Other pads and several jerseys are in the bathroom.
[Cornerback] Barry Wilburn kept his football shoes on after the morning practice today. That was because the tape he'd bought and used to anchor the shoes to his feet had run out. There was no tape for anyone. Until the season starts, players are responsible for their own football shoes. They pay their way to training camp -- and their way home if cut.
One week later, the league folded. On February 19, 1992, the PSFL shut down operations, and never played a single game. And thus, another professional football league collapsed. Considering the lack of name recognition or the lack of a TV deal, and considering the WLAF already happening in the spring of 1992 while this league was trying to get underway, I’m not sure many people noticed that this league died. But it goes to show you that trying to start a football league in five months is usually a bad idea.
Previous Posts
History of the United Football League (2009-2012)
History of the Spring Football League (2000)
History of the Fall Experimental Football League (2013-2015)
History of the Stars Football League (2011-2013)
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Wayback Wednesday - Howie's Heartbreak

Mitchell, Ontario isn't where a lot of interesting stories start. It's the kind of place where they roll the sidewalks up at dusk, a small, rural town.
The most interesting story from the town starts more than a century ago in the cold of January.
There are about 4,500 people who call Mitchell home. On this cold winter day, there aren't a lot of them out - the church on Main Street is empty and the raccoons and foxes who normally dart around are tucked away.
It's quiet, except for an occasional whoop from at the bottom of the hill. Some of the farmer kids are skating around on the river. It's called the Thames River - not the River Thames, the locals will have your hide if you call it that - but it's more of a creek. It's still wide enough for the youngsters to skate on.
There are three of them down there. One is about eight, a pipsqueak - the others are a few years older, much stronger. The trio are brothers, racing down the river on a day off from school. They play hockey from time to time, but there aren't any sticks or pucks on the Thames today. The boys are racing.
You'd figure the older brothers, Wilfred and Ezra, would be quicker, but the smaller one, the runt of the litter, has taken a lead. As they push around the bends of the Thames, the little brother slowly sneaks out of sight. He has an odd stride - he squats down and takes long sleek pushes - and it works well for him.
Around one bend, Wilfred and Ezra lose sight of their brother. They keep pushing. He's nowhere to be found.
Unsure of whether or not the little one is still going, the boys keep skating downstream, hoping nothing bad has happened.
When they wind around the next bend in the river, they see their youngest brother, sitting on a snowbank, patiently waiting for them. He'd gotten so far ahead that he got bored, plopped down and took a seat.
He does this all the time. Nobody can keep up with him. It's getting a little old, honestly - and if there are two people who are most tired of it, it's Wilfred and Ezra Morenz.
Little Howie is already the fastest skater in town.
He's destined for great things.
Howie was born in Mitchell back in 1902, the youngest of six kids. He grew up on the Thames, on occasion picking up a stick and puck when beating his brothers in races got old.
For some reason, when he first played hockey, a coach put him in goal. Bad idea - he gave up 21 goals. The next game that coach decided to put him out as a rover. That decision paid off. As a teenager, Morenz led the Mitchell team to a regional title.
The Morenzs left town in his teens when his dad got a job at the Canadian National Railways (CNR) factory in Stratford, about 15 kilometres down the road. World War I had just broken out and Howie tried enlisting, but when recruiters found out he was just 15, that dream died fast.
Howie dropped out of school to work with his dad in the CNR factory. He started a machinist's apprenticeship there and filled his spare time with little hobbies, betting on horses and playing the ukulele. During the winter, however, the betting slips went away and the uke went in the corner - it was hockey time.
Howie used that odd stride and an all-consuming passion to become Stratford's best player. He played with the local junior team, leading them to a provincial title and nearly winning a Memorial Cup. Then, the next season, Howie played for both the junior and senior teams at the same time. He led both leagues in goals, assists, points and penalty minutes.
In 1922, Howie jumped on the train to Montreal for a CNR tournament. In the first game, fresh off the rails, he strapped on those skates and blew the roof off - he scored nine times.
Someone watching the game called a friend - Leo Dandurand, the owner of the Montreal Canadiens. The little farmer kid has some skill, he says - come by and see for yourself.
Dandurand sneaks into the next game and is impressed. He wants Howie on the Habs.
It wouldn't be easy, though. Morenz wanted to head back to Stratford and finish his apprenticeship. That would take two more years. The Toronto St. Pats, the Habs' chief rival, had also gotten wind of Howie and wanted to see him in their green and white sweaters.
For the first time, Leo Dandurand began to bully Howie Morenz. He mailed him a contract offer - $3,500 a year and a $1,000 signing bonus.
Dandurand made a public show of trying to woo Howie, claiming that Morenz was French Canadian and therefore belonged on the Habs, not the St. Pats.
Is Howie French? No. That was a lie. The Morenzs were German, but Dandurand would do anything to have this kid on his team.
At that point, 21-year-old Howie was torn. He and his father signed the contract, but before sending it to Dandurand, Howie got cold feet. Some local businessmen ponied up $1,000 to convince him to stay and play for Stratford. He also wanted to finish his apprenticeship.
Instead of sending the contract back, Morenz sent his signing bonus cheque to Dandurand, along with a letter saying he couldn't play with Montreal.
Enraged, Dandurand summoned Howie to Montreal to explain to him personally why he wouldn't sign. Howie hopped on the train. When he met with Dandurand, he explained his logic, bursting into tears halfway through.
Seeing some vulnerability, Dandurand leaned into the "bad cop" role, telling Howie if he couldn't play for the Habs, he'd make sure he couldn't play - period.
Morenz had to fold. He signed.
You see, there was a good reason why Morenz was torn. A farmer boy in the big city, an English speaker on a majority French team, Morenz would stick out.
Perhaps the biggest reason is one that most history books leave out.
When Howie played hockey, he was happy. Off the ice, the troubles of life hit him like one of the trains he worked on. Whenever his teams lost, Morenz would stay up all night, blaming himself and telegraphing plays that went wrong in his head again and again. This wasn't competitiveness - this bordered on mental illness. That ran in his family.
In his teen years, Howie came home from a hockey game to find out a shocking accident had happened. That night, his mother had gone downstairs and fallen in the family's cistern.
She had drowned. Nobody talked about it much, but scuttlebutt around the town was that it wasn't an accident.
His mom's death affected Howie greatly and made him to two things - to play hockey as a distraction and look after his family.
When Howie had any free time to just think, he'd get lost in his head. Sometimes, he had a hard time getting out.
Howie Morenz first suited up for the Canadiens in 1923. The team was coached by Dandurand, who put Morenz on a line with another young star, Aurele Joliat. The two gelled on the ice. It helped that Joliat, who grew up in Ottawa, was one of the few players on the team who spoke fluent English and French.
Riding the skill of Joliat and Morenz, the Habs finished in second in the four-team NHL, earning a spot in the league final against Ottawa. There, Morenz took control, scoring three of the Habs' five goals in the two-game series, which ended with a Montreal win.
From there, the Habs headed to the Stanley Cup playoff - at this point, the NHL champ faced off against champions from other leagues to determine who won the Cup. In order to win, the Canadiens would have to win two series - one against Calgary, one against Vancouver.
The Habs topped Vancouver, setting up a two-game winner-take-all series with the Calgary Tigers. Morenz scored a hat-trick against Calgary in game one, then added another goal in game two before a big hit broke his collarbone.
It was enough. Morenz had scored four goals by himself - Calgary only scored one. Paced by Howie's goals, the Habs won their first-ever Stanley Cup as an NHL team.
Morenz's play started to earn himself a reputation. When writer Hugh MacLennan saw him play, he noticed the little grin that peeped out when Howie played.
"The little smile on his lips showed that he was having a wonderful time."
Howie was playing with courage, and it couldn't come at a better time.
The next year, Morenz scored 28 goals and led the Habs to another NHL title. The team finished just short of the Stanley Cup, but that reputation started to build. Some people took to calling him by nicknames. A few looked at his birthplace to call him the "Mitchell Meteor", while the more popular name came from the Montreal papers themselves, who used his adopted hometown - the "Stratford Streak".
Morenz became hockey's first legitimate superstar. One rival player called him "that near-perfect human hockey machine". Eddie Shore, famous crotchety hardass defenseman from the archrival Bruins, called Morenz the "Babe Ruth of Hockey."
That term drew some objection from a new friend of Howie's - Babe Ruth himself. He thought Morenz was bigger than that. Babe Ruth once said Morenz had the biggest heart of anyone he'd ever known.
Morenz tallied 25 goals in 1926-27, and then became the first NHLer ever to score 50 points in a season the next year. He was doing things people didn't think were possible - all while flashing that grin.
It seemed like hits couldn't affect him. From time to time, when he saw two players converging on him, he used his foot speed to dodge both and make them crash into each other.
In 1929-30, Morenz scored 40 goals and became the NHL's first-ever three-time Hart Trophy winner.
Businessmen saw him play - and the crowds that showed up when the Habs were in town - and wanted to get in the game. One of them, Boston grocery store magnate Charles Adams, was so inspired after watching Morenz that he filed to start an expansion team in Boston. That team became the Bruins.
In 1930, those Bruins would make it to their third Stanley Cup final. Unfortunately, they did it against the Habs, who beat them soundly - with Morenz scoring what turned out to be the Cup-winning goal.
The Habs with Morenz were such a draw that they played the new team in New York, the Americans, in their first game, and drew a capacity crowd. The new team's owners personally requested that they play the Habs. Later in 1930, Morenz scored five goals against them.
Another businessman, Tex Rickard, saw that and had a vision for hockey in Madison Square Garden. Not long after that, the Rangers materialized.
Finally, in 1933, Morenz hit the pinnacle. He scored his 249th goal in the NHL - breaking the all-time record.
All was good for the kid from Stratford.
Then came 1934.
Two days after New Years', Morenz was playing against the Rangers in New York and fell awkwardly. He twisted his ankle, tore a ligament in his leg and bruised a bone. He couldn't play for a month, and when he did, he wasn't nearly as fast.
If there's one thing that's been proven time and time again over the years, it's that Montreal Canadiens fans may be the most bipolar bunch in sports. If you succeed and all is well, you're a demigod. If your play drops, you're scum and should be moved for a bag of pucks.
Fans booed Morenz during games. Newspaper columnists called for him to be traded.
Suddenly, big superstar Howie Morenz was back to being Howie from Stratford. He retreated back into his own world. He began overanalyzing his play and overthinking things. He lost sleep. He made it to the NHL's first-ever All-Star Game - a benefit game for Maple Leaf Ace Bailey, who had sustained a career-ending injury - but that didn't help.
His play got worse. Much worse.
Morenz broke his thumb, right after his ankle and leg had healed. At one point, a burglar broke into the home of Morenz and his family. The invader found Morenz and pistol-whipped him before taking valuables and fleeing into the night.
That definitely didn't help. His play dropped even more.
The fans kept booing and the headlines kept coming. When Morenz finished up with some games, he would head to his spot in the dressing room and break into uncontrollable sobbing.
Then, the character assassination started coming from the Habs front office itself. His new coach, Habs great Newsy Lalonde, told reporters he didn't like Morenz. When Howie was asked, he said he would never leave to play for another team. When he asked Dandurand or Habs co-owner Joe Cattarinich what was happening, neither would talk with him.
Finally, the unimaginable happened. Morenz was traded.
Howie would be going to Chicago, along with goalie Lorne Chabot and a defenseman, Marty Burke. The Habs didn't get a bag of pucks back, but that might have been more valuable than what they actually ended up with. Altogether, the three players the Habs got back played less than a hundred games with the Canadiens.
Heartbreak had come for Howie.
In Chicago, the same self-analysis that had hindered Morenz in Montreal hit him hard. After a good start, Howie ended up on the bench. He was then traded again, to the Rangers - a team he had helped inspire the creation of. He stunk, getting six points in 19 games.
It looked like the good times were over. However, that offseason, hope jumped up again.
The Habs had re-hired Cecil Hart, the coach who had led the Habs during Howie's glory days. Hart agreed to the job, on one condition - the team had to reacquire Howie.
They bought his contract from New York. After an awful season spent in the US, Morenz was back in le bleu, blanc et rouge.
He wouldn't be the big guy anymore, but Howie got the chance to play for his old team once more. He jumped at it, getting to play with his old buddies, especially Aurele Joliat.
After returning to Montreal, the same fans that had run him out on a rail welcomed him back with hugs. With the love easy to find, Morenz got back in his groove. Working mostly as a playmaker and working to get his speed back, Morenz racked up 16 assists and 20 points in 30 games that season, much better than his numbers in Chicago or with the Rangers.
There was so much hope. The slate had been cleaned - carte blanche.
Then the lights went out.
January 28, 1937. The Habs are at home, playing Morenz's former team, the Black Hawks. It's the first period and Morenz is feeling good.
The puck is loose in the Hawks' zone. A pass is misfired and it ends up in the corner. Morenz, behind the net, gets in a footrace with Chicago defender Earl Siebert, who's coming in behind him. Morenz has a good chance of getting this puck.
Howie is back at full speed, just like back on the Thames River as a kid, when his left skate catches a rut in the ice.
His foot kicks up and the blade of his skate catches a piece of the boards, stopping quickly and wrenching Howie sideways. He falls down hard.
Meanwhile, Siebert doesn't have time to stop. He keeps barreling down on the puck. He can't dodge Howie - Howie can't dodge him.
Impact.
"CRACK."
They say you could have heard it in the very back of the Forum. Even if you couldn't, the screaming was clear.
Howie Morenz's left leg was shattered.
His teammates skate over and unhitch his skate from the boards. After a short conversation, they carry him to the bench.
Howie is strapped to a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital. He has four separate breaks in his leg.
Nobody wants to say it, but it seems likely Howie Morenz has had his last hurrah.
Once he was in the hospital, the tone of the public shifted once more, from happiness and occasional anger to concern. The boos stopped altogether. People showered Howie with gifts and visited him at the hospital at all hours. His family were near him throughout the days, along with his teammates. Even opponents came to see him when they faced the Habs.
People brought him drinks to numb the pain. The joke at the time was, "The whisky was on the dresser and the beer was under the bed."
Howie's leg was kept in traction while the hubbub continued. After visiting hours, Morenz was left by himself.
The last thing that should have happened, happened - Howie Morenz, unable to do the thing he loved, with no one else around to distract him and unable to provide for his family and friends, crawled back inside his own head.
Sleep was rare for Howie. He'd spent most of the night reading the papers, religiously following how the Habs were doing. The team was dropping in the standings in his absence. Morenz blamed himself.
More and more, he felt like he would never play again. Hope disappeared. The future was bleak. Howie was in his own head, and he'd tunneled in there deep.
This time, it looked like he might not get out.
After Howie had been in the hospital for a month, something happened. We're not entirely sure what it was, more than eight decades later, but we do know that Morenz was despondent. Some whispered remembrances said he had trashed his hotel room.
The team doctor for the Habs came to visit and made a fast diagnosis. Howie Morenz had suffered a nervous breakdown.
Morenz was, at one point, put in a straitjacket. It was becoming more and more clear to him, each day, that he would never play hockey again.
The doctor banned almost all visitors from seeing Morenz and had security guards stationed outside during visiting hours. Only Howie's family and Canadiens personnel were allowed to see him. Howie's beloved father, who thought his son would be okay at first, got on the first train to Montreal.
Howie's wife and son came almost every day. When Howie's dad made it to Montreal, he almost never left. The new company may have helped Howie's mental state, but his medical condition was beginning to fail.
On March 8, Morenz said he was having chest pains. Doctors had told him he had a mild heart attack. It turned out not to be the full story - Morenz, stuck in bed for almost six weeks now, had developed blood clots in his damaged leg.
A doctor scheduled a heart surgery for later that day, but for some reason, it was delayed.
That night, Morenz took a turn for the worst. Howie's wife, dad and Coach Hart were all called to come and see him.
That night, the story goes, Morenz had tried to climb out of bed to go to the bathroom. In his struggle to get free, one of the clots lodged inside a blood vessel, blocking it.
Morenz fell on the floor.
Minutes later, his loved ones arrived.
There was nothing they could do. It was too late.
At the age of 34, the Stratford Streak had gone out.
Montreal was plunged into mourning after Howie died. Three days after his passing, a funeral mass was held at the Montreal Forum. The old barn could seat around 18,000 people - about three times that showed up. Radio stations broadcast the service live. Four of Howie's teammates and friends formed an honour guard near his casket.
One of them was Aurele Joliat, Morenz's close friend. Heartbroken, Joliat laid down a flower wreath shaped like Morenz's jersey number 7. Joliat won the Hart Trophy that year, but never had a season like that again. Later, this photo of him sitting in the dressing room next to Morenz’s equipment was taken.
When Howie was laid to rest, his son, Howie Jr., was near. He looked down into his father’s grave, shaken.
A few days after Howie's death, the Canadiens were due to play the Montreal Maroons, their cross-town rivals. The game was going to be cancelled until Morenz's wife Mary said they should continue. It's what Howie would want, she said.
Both teams wore black armbands and held two minutes of silence pre-game. In New York, the Rangers and Americans - two teams that may have never started in the first place without Morenz - did the same.
The NHL held a second All-Star game to raise money for the Morenz family, with a Habs/Maroons all-star team taking on the rest of the league. The Habs built a statue of Morenz and pledged to retire his number 7, saying only one player could ever use it again - Howie's son, Howie Morenz Jr.
Then, the dark side of Canadiens fandom came out. With his son now seen as a sort of successor to Howie's mantle, fans began to harass the Morenzs. At one point, people called the family home and threatened to kidnap Howie and his two siblings.
On top of that, without Howie Sr. around to provide for the family, money quickly ran short. The funds from the NHL charity game, instead of being directly to the family, were placed in a trust that couldn’t be accessed until Howie Jr. turned 25 - not very helpful when he was only eight. Mary couldn’t find work, and none of the kids were nearly old enough to have jobs.
The stress became too much to bear for Mary. She sent all three of her children to an orphanage for safekeeping. They stayed there until she remarried years later. One of the boys got sick and died while in the orphanage.
Once he was reunited with his mother, Howie Jr. took to the ice to attempt to live up to his family's name. He played in the minor leagues and had a tryout with the Habs in 1949 at age 22 - the same age his father was when he made his Montreal debut - but an eye condition stopped his NHL career before it started. He owned a string of businesses and passed away in 2015, age 88, having had only slight involvement with the team since.
Today, the Morenz family name lives on with Howie Morenz III. Instead of trying to live up to the pressure, Howie III actively avoided the hockey world.
Both Howie Jr. and Howie III have spent large amounts of their lives dissuading myths about their ancestor’s death. In a New York Times story written about his grandfather, Howie III told a reporter that his family doesn't believe the media story that circulated after Howie's death - that he had died, essentially, of a broken heart.
"The broken heart, we felt, was really a romantic way of implying he may have taken his own life," he said.
"We don't believe that at all."
That makes a lot of sense. After all, the blood clots were definitely enough to take down a man like Howie. But maybe, if there was more hope, if he hadn't been depressed, if there was a chance he could play again, would he have fought harder?
We'll never know.
Howie Morenz was a lot of things. He was an idol, a star.
But deep down, somewhere, Howie Morenz was always that kid on the Thames River, hanging on to that feeling, the thing that produced what Hugh MacLennan called "the little smile on his lips."
Everything seemed so easy on the ice.
If you want to read more about the weird, forgotten or amazing bits of hockey history, visit our subreddit at /wayback_wednesday. You'll find dozens of articles just like this one.
If you'd like to write an article as part of this series, message me or the moderators of /wayback_wednesday. We're always glad to have extra hands on deck.
We'll be back soon with another article. If you have any ideas or information for later Wayback Wednesday posts or if you're interested in writing one, please don't hesitate to message us or comment below.
submitted by react_and_respond to hockey [link] [comments]

How Many Dunks Are A Lot? [OC]

Note: If you don't have Reddit Enhancement Suite running, or are on mobile, you may find more success reading this piece using this mirror from Google Docs. The superscript numbers are footnotes, which contain references and/or additional information about a topic.
How Many Dunks Are A Lot?
On Thursday night, LeBron James dunked the ball 8 times in a game. Any casual fan would be able to tell you that 8 dunks is a lot of dunks. There is little dispute that LeBron is one of the greatest NBA players (and athletes) of all time, and even for him, 8 dunks is a lot. Cleveland ended up losing by four to the Detroit Pistons, but LeBron attacked the basket and finished above the rim at will, including 6 times in the half court. As Greg Kelser1 astutely observed, it is very rare that any non-center gets 3 or more dunks in the halfcourt, simply because it is so difficult to get a good defense to move far enough away from the rim, especially when the player in question attracts the attention of the defensive scheme. After the game ended and the commentators started commentating, it became apparent that 8 dunks in a game tied LeBron's career high, and was his most in the last 8 years. In other words, it was really special. But how special, you might ask?
I'll spare the suspense. It's almost certainly the case that Wilt has the most dunks in an NBA game, if not during his 100 point game then in some other game where he dunked on scores of hapless short white dudes (and Bill Russell) for 48+ minutes. If we limit ourselves to the modern NBA, and more specifically the modern NBA where there was enough accessible game footage to answer this question, we find ourselves somewhere around the turn of the millennium. Not coincidentally, the good people at Basketball Reference have been tallying up NBA dunks since the 2000/2001 season, which gives us a good statistical baseline. Because the numbers are only easily accessible from the 2000/2001 NBA season onwards, we are going to limit our discussion to that time frame. Sorry Wilt, Bill, Kareem, Charles, Hakeem, and Orlando Shaq - maybe you should have negotiated for better TV deals2.
In 2001, when the powers that be decided to start recording dunks as a separate statistic, the specter of Prime-Shaq loomed large over the landscape of the NBA. The Lakers would go on to win their first Shaq-Kobe championship, and would eventually three-peat as NBA champs 3 4. Shaq was also on his way to an MVP season, and about zero teams in the NBA had any personnel to even pretend to stop him. In this context, it's a bit less shocking that Shaq put up 61 points and 23 rebounds against the hometown rival (and hopelessly incompetent 5) Clippers. In this game, Shaq dunked the ball through the basket a total of 11 times 6.
It's very possible that some other player in the past 17 seasons has had more than 11 dunks. Corey Brewer (who's never averaged more than 13 points in a season) once scored 51 points in a game. LeBron once scored 8 points in a playoff game. James Harden once had a game with zero turnovers. Weird things happen, and it's not a given that the most dominant game of the most dominant season of Shaq's career also happens to have the most dunks by a player in the past 17 years. But it's very probable, and here's why we know that.
Statistics is a crazy world, and probability is even crazier. Imagine a world where a 70 year old reality TV star is president, scientists and politicians disagree about basic facts of nature, and a smartphone app with no revenue is worth 40 billion dollars - that's what probability theory is like. Weird symbols, equations that don't look like equations, lots of weird logical rules and conclusions - it's a complicated and fascinating field, and one that I'm by no means an expert in. But we can strategically apply a couple of simple rules from probability theory to help us get to the bottom of the core question at hand - How Many Dunks Are A Lot?
The Math Part
When economists talk about "their models" what they are really referring to is a series of math equations that they designed to fit a bunch of data that was provided to them. Statistical models are the backbone of many industries, most notably the investment banking sector. The ability to accurately model and predict the movements of individual stocks (or bonds) results in limitless fortune 7 - for those who can maintain it long enough to get wealthy. Statistical modeling has also become a more public part of the NBA - both inside of the front office (Daryl Morey sits on the forefront) and in the Vegas betting rooms (Bob Voulgaris among others). In our case, we can use a relatively simple probabilistic approach based on what's known as a Normal Distribution. The specifics of a normal distribution function aren't incredibly complex, but for our purpose what matters is the concept itself - that provided a sufficiently large sample of random variables, averages of those random variables drawn from independent distributions converge towards a normal distribution. If we subtract out the fancy words, we get what's widely known as a bell curve.
One consequence of the Normal Distribution is a rule that is not aptly referred to as the 68-95-99.7 Rule; roughly 68% of values in a normal distribution fall within 1 standard deviation of the mean. As you might suspect, 95% of values in a normal distribution fall within 2 standard deviations, and 99.7% of values fall within 3 standard deviations. This rule acts as a shorthand for remembering the percentage of values that fall within the range of 1, 2, or 3 standard deviations from the mean in a normal distribution. Human height is commonly used to exemplify the 68-95-99.7 Rule - if the average American male has a height of 5'7 with a standard deviation of 3" 8, then we would roughly expect the following trends.
Interestingly, the same general strategy can be used to approximate 9 many large scale data sets, including weight, shoe size, bench press, boob size, or mile time. Knowing the value of the normal distribution and the 68-95-99.7 Rule, we can now build a simple model to help provide insight into our data set of both player and team dunks.
The Numbers Part
Basketball reference provides us with a lot of data - and if you find yourself using them a lot definitely throw them $20 a year to support their mission. And it's not just basketball, they do NFL, MLB, and NHL as well.10 Unfortunately, they don't have individual game numbers for dunks, only year by year stats. If we start by grabbing all the teams who had 400+ dunks in a season from 2000/2001 to now, we get something that looks like the following.
Fig.1
And when we divide these numbers by the 82 game NBA season (or the lockout-shortened 66 game season in 2011/2012).
Fig.2
As you might suspect, Excel's conditional formatting feature turns the highest numbers the brightest shade of green, and it becomes apparent that Denver's 2013 season contained by far the most dunks of any season in modern NBA history. We may never know, but it could very well also be the highest number of dunks in a season in all of NBA history. From this data, an obvious conclusion can be drawn - Denver didn't get exactly 7.8 dunks in each game during the 2013/2014 season, but instead had some games of (probably) 3 or 4 dunks, and some games of 12 or 13 dunks. At the end of the season they averaged 7.83 dunks per game, but there was an obvious game-by-game variation that accounted for the final season total.
At this point we run into a problem - how do we know (or calculate) the game-by-game variation of an NBA team without knowing the 82 data points that make up the data set? The unfortunate answer is of course that we don't have enough information, and that any further attempt to calculate this number is not mathematically valid. But out of the ashes of mathematical certainty rises the phoenix of probability theory - and a way out of our current conundrum. Using the magical powers of watching a lot of NBA games, combined with superior googling and “insider” facebook conversations, I developed a mathematical model to approximate the variance of dunks in an NBA game. This model combined with the 68-95-99.7 Rule and my amateur grasp of NBA game theory allows us to create a modified version of a normal distribution (known as a weighted normal distribution) to estimate the rate of occurrence of various conditions as outlined below.
Fig.3
It's definitely not perfect, but there is some logic to the choices made, particularly as it relates to the percentage factors assigned to the normal model. First, clearly there is no way to have a negative amount of dunks in an NBA game 11, so we know that there's a hard lower bound. Following a similar line of thought, there is no upper bound on the number of dunks achievable in an NBA game 12, but it is more likely (due to a smaller sample size and thus higher individual variation) that a player gets 3x their average amount of dunks in a game than it is that a team does the same. So I tried to adjust my variation points to account for these factors - regardless of the technical validity of the specific numbers I chose, the next step is the same.
From this model, if a team averages 5 dunks per game, we would predict that they would exceed 10 dunks (or two standard deviations from the mean) roughly one out of every 44 games. That makes conceptual sense - it's totally believable that an average team would have twice as many dunks as average roughly twice per season. In the same manner, the model estimates that a player who averages 2 dunks per game would have 1 dunk about as often as he has 3 dunks, and would have 5+ dunks about 2 times per season. Again, the specifics of the numbers chosen are debatable (and very much worth debating), but regardless of the exact model used, the general process is the same.
Conclusion - How Many Dunks are A Lot?
Using this model with our data from Basketball Reference, we can make some interesting observations and evaluate the relevance of our model with real world examples. Since the '00/01 NBA season, the '12/13 Denver nuggets reign supreme as a slam-dunking team, and if our assumptions about game-by-game variance are accurate, we could reasonably estimate that they exceeded 12 dunks around 12 times during that season, or an average of about 6.3 times per game. This is a reasonable prediction, and reasonable estimations are the cornerstone of probability theory - if a model fails to provide reasonable data outside of the outlier situations, it's probably a bad model. In this case, we get reasonable estimates like that '12/13 LeBron had 1 dunk about as often as he had 3 dunks, or '04/05 Shaq has about 9 dunks about twice per season.
Fig.4
Speaking of Shaq, there's still one last question to be answered. Does it make sense (from the combination of the raw data from BBREF and our probabilistic model) that Shaq's 11 dunk game in 2000 was indeed the most dunks of any game since? If we take this case to our model, we find that if 1999-2000 Shaq was averaging 4 dunks per game ('99/00 is the last year for which we don't have data), we could reasonably estimate that he would have a 10 dunk game (250% of 4 dunks) about once every 44 games, and there's certainly a reasonable chance that 11 dunks would occur at some point in an 82 game season - and indeed it did, late in the regular season as Shaq was wrapping up his MVP award and on the way to his first of three straight NBA titles. And although our statistical model doesn't attempt to predict how an opponent might affect the number of dunks, it certainly is reasonable that Shaq would have 11 dunks in his best game of his best season against the worst team in the NBA.
Epilogue - What about other NBA Players?
For a player who averages 2.75 dunks per game, our model estimates that we would see an 11 dunk game (400% of 2.75), roughly once every 769 games, or about once every ten seasons. Appendix A outlines the career dunks of 4 players - Shaq (‘00/01 onwards), LeBron, Dwight, and DeAndre Jordan - two of whom (Shaq and Dwight) have averaged very close to 2.75 dunks per game over their careers. In fact, if our model is accurate, we would consider it relatively likely that Dwight Howard (2.65 dunks/game over a 939 game career) has achieved 11 dunks in a game (If anyone can find footage, I’d love to see it). As for LeBron and his career high 8 dunks (533% of his 1.5 dunk/game career average), our model indicates that 8 dunks is an exceedingly rare occurrence (less than 1/20,000 games) which would seem unreasonable until you take into account the indisputable fact that LeBron is not human and is thus not governed by the probabilistic laws of mere mortals.
Liner Notes & References -
  1. Current Pistons Color Commentator and former Pistons Player
  2. Just kidding, blame your NBAPA reps, the cable media, and the lack of DVR.
  3. *** Detroit Pistons Homer Alert ***
  4. Before getting DESTORYED by the Detroit Pistons in 5 games, in one of the biggest finals upsets in NBA history.
  5. Clippers finished 15-67, with the worst DRTG and second worst ORTG in the league.
  6. Shaq finished the game with 61 points and 23 rebounds on 69% shooting in 45 minutes, which is good for 21st all time on Basketball Reference’s Game Score metric. YouTube.
  7. See Bridgewater Associates
  8. As referenced in this [Columbia Statistics Course Assignment](www.stat.columbia.edu/~martin/W1111/Review2.pdf) - I don't get Google sometimes. Is it really that hard for Google to find a better source for the first overall hit? (My search was “standard deviation of male height”). Also, Reddit won't let me inline this link (I'm assuming) because it is a .PDF.
  9. Important Disclaimer: this is a modeling technique; just because a dataset seems to fit a normal distribution does not mean that it does perfectly or that it will continue to in the future. It’s also true that nothing in nature perfectly follows a normal distribution, just that a normal distribution is a good approximation of many natural phenomena.
  10. Too important for a footnote. Seriously this site is one of the best NBA resources on the web.
  11. Unless you count dunking on your own basket a la Gerald Green - Good thing he didn’t do this in the NBA, or else our whole statistical premise would be flawed.
  12. Unless you’re playing in the All-Star Game- then all bets are off, all models break down, and the sheer number of alley-oops and dunks permanently warp the fabric of space time.
Appendix A - Dunks/Game per Season, Career (Basketball Reference)
submitted by danforhan to nba [link] [comments]

/r/hockey NHL Power Rankings: Week 17

Here are the individual responses that were submitted by Monday night. Records and most write ups were done prior to Monday night's games.
Ranking (1st Place Votes) Team Record Last10 Comments
1 (16) Predators 38-12-6 7-2-1 Preds are getting desperate for some defence as their weak 6 man unit is allowing way too many shots on the below-average Rinne. We're demanding that our underachieving offensive corps bail us out of too many games. Just kidding. We fucking rock in every department. Can I get a WOOOOOOOOOO. (WOOOOOOOOO)
2 Blues ↑3 37-15-4 8-2-0 ***
3 Canadiens ↑3 36-15-4 7-2-1 OT is our new thing! Our last 3 games went in OT, win3, lost one against…. The Oilers. Yeah, that’s us. Can’t compete against struggling team. I don’t really have joke today. Kinda tired. It’s fucking cold right now. I tripped in my stairs and bang my arm pretty bad. Fucking ice snow. Money is tight too. I had somewhat of a lazy weekend. My daughter is always awesome though, so there is that. OH? You don’t care about me? Well, than Subban have the record this season for most TOI. He is a beast. Je t’amour vous! Bye!
4 (1) Islanders ↑4 37-18-1 6-4-0 After a series of setbacks including injuries, the Islanders have began to find ways to win again. Winning their last 4 heading into a President's Day matchup against their crosstown rivals the Rangers, the Isles have managed to win by pure scoring, even without Kyle Okposo. The team has no shortage of getting pucks on net however, special teams has been an Achilles heal and sloppy defensive zone play, which may still bring them to the playoffs but severely hinder their ability to make a deep run once they are there.
5 Ducks ↓1 35-15-7 4-5-1 It really hurts to rank the Ducks as low as I have, but right now they don't deserve to be higher. Our defense team needs to step it up asap. This is the time of the year you should start getting better, not worse.
6 Lightning ↓4 35-17-6 5-3-2 February is hands down Tampa's worst month of this season, with lots of road games against tough opponents. Last week was particularly painful, with frustrating losses to Nashville and St. Louis. We've played fairly solidly, but with a very young and inexperienced blue line we're dropping important points. Look for Stevie Y to add a defenseman in the next couple of weeks.
7 Red Wings ↓4 31-13-10 7-2-1 Went from being the hottest team in the league to having an 0-1-1 week. Lost a game in the first period, and then played only the first half of the next game. I think some of their issues this week were from not playing regularly with a 4 day break followed by a 3 day break, that might have thrown them off of their game. No matter what it's great to have Howard back and he's started to look like Jimmy Howard again after a shaky first game. They are entering a 6 game road trip and I think if they beat Chicago on Wednesday the trip will end well.
8 Blackhawks ↓1 35-18-4 5-3-2 The Hawks continue to play up and down leading fans only to hope that they are saving it for the playoffs. Zone exits have been absolutely horrid as of late.
9 Penguins 32-15-9 6-3-1 So it was a mostly positive week for the Penguins, going 2-0-1. They went up against the Red Wings and completely outplayed them. It was a full sixty minute performance by the Pens and would have netted Fleury his third shutout in a row if it wasn't for a "Stupid" penalty by Downie. Against Ottawa, the Pens had a commanding lead going into the third but allowed a couple goals in the last couple of minutes which took the game to OT, but still won in a shootout. Finally, they played the Blackhawks at what would be a very early 11:30 start, and although they finally got a goal from their third line, they would end up losing in a shootout with Fleury allowing all three shots that were attempted against him.
10 Rangers 33-16-5 6-3-1 The Rangers finished off a 4 game road trip last night in style erasing 3 different 2 goal leads including a 5-3 3rd period deficit to beat the Islanders 6-5 in regulation. The win marked the Rangers 4th in a row and came in what many are calling the most exciting game of the season so far (seriously if you didn't watch it it felt like a playoff game). The win jumped the Rangers ahead of the Penguins for second place in the Metro Division, and puts the Rangers within striking distance of the Isles for first in the division whom they trail by 2 points with 2 games in hand.
11 Capitals ↑1 30-17-10 6-3-1 ***
12 (1) Wild ↑4 28-20-7 8-0-2 Doobie doobie dooo! The Wild have been getting it done but it's becoming clear that catching up is going to take maximum effort every night. Nobody looks to be dropping a ton of points any time soon.
13 Flames ↑1 31-22-3 6-4-0 Our Western Conference friends are serving up some of the finest salt I've ever tasted on the heels of our 10th come from behind victory. Sweet and savory, that's Flames hockey.
14 Jets ↑1 29-19-10 3-5-2 I'm glad the saga is over. Myers and Stafford are both looking capable, chipping in points in a win over the Red Wings. Hopefully talk will return to what is looking more and more like a playoff spot for the first time in Jets 2.0 history. The bounceback after our string of losses has been great, and if Pekka Rinne weren't superhuman we'd probably be victors in 4 straight. also if we could stop taking so many penalties that would be great
15 Canucks ↑2 31-21-3 5-5-0 Underwear sales were at a record high on Tuesday morning in Vancouver after a final minute mad scramble against the Wild on Monday night. With 3 of top 4 d-men out injured, D Alex "Hey Cherry, don't call me Biesga" Biega netted the game winner & 1st star in his very first NHL game. This week the Canucks have rolled four lines, which is good news because injury-wise, the team has been absolutely (steam)rolled. Going (3-1-0) this week, the Canucks beat down the Bruins at home, edged out the Hawks on the road, and on Saturday (to my admiration) against the Flames showed that it is still possible to put in no effort and get fucked on Valentine's Day by putting in no effort, losing and having to continue to battle for a playoff spot (this sounded better before I wrote it but it's late / I'm kinda drunk. Sorry, not sorry). Ronalds "Came in like a wrecking ball" Kenins updates ofs thes weeks: After netting a goal against Calgary, RK41 powered his way to the top of the league in goal scored/60. I love this kid in the most unironic way possible.
16 Sharks ↓3 29-21-8 4-4-2 ***
17 Kings ↑1 25-18-12 5-4-1 ***
18 Bruins ↓7 28-20-7 4-5-1 Something's got to give with this team. After getting a glimpse of a winning streak and some good fortunes, they lose their heads again. A loss at the Habs game (I should actually just say "The Habs game") led to more losses and more losses still. This team needs some better talent and some definite attitude adjustment. If not, well.... McDavid here we come?
19 Panthers 24-19-12 4-4-2 ***
20 Flyers ↑1 24-22-10 6-1-3 A story line I personally never thought I'd hear is that the Flyers goaltending is keeping their playoff hopes alive. While their offense has seemingly gone cold, Ray Emery has stepped up big time in the absence of Steve Mason. However, two blown leads left a big 2 points on the table this past week, leaving the Flyers 6 points out of the playoffs at the start of this week. 4 games presents a big chance to continue to make up ground.
21 Stars ↓1 26-22-8 5-4-1 Wins over NYR, Boston and Florida are nice but Seguin is gone for some time so it might all be for naught. The game against Col wasn't real good telling of how they would play without Seguin as they lost 3 players in the game versus Florida and had to play the next day. A betting indication will be vs St Louis tomorrow.
22 Avalanche 23-22-11 4-5-1 The Rangers were a wake up call. And a quick team meeting after the game came up with a brilliant plan of playing 3 periods of hockey. So far it has worked out in Dallas, let's hope the Avs cane keep up the energy and fight for a spot.
23 Senators ↑3 22-22-10 4-4-2 ***
24 Blue Jackets 24-27-3 4-6-0 If you're not familiar with Ohio weather, it goes a bit like this: December 1st, 2014: 58o F High (which was at 12:00 am), 28o F Low (which was at 11:59 pm). This is exactly how the Jackets are lately. Outscore opponents 11-2 in two games, then get outplayed by the Kings. Come back in glorious fashion against Philly, and compete with the Isle for two periods, then lay an egg in the third.
25 Hurricanes 19-28-7 5-3-2 ***
26 Devils ↓3 21-26-9 5-4-1 And the Devils are back to being one of the worst teams in the NHL. Look for the team to unload veterans such as Jagr and Zidlicky in the coming days. However, Kanye West and Vic Mensa killed it at the SNL 40th anniversary special. Kanye West gets me so fucking hype woo. I can't wait for his new album to be released. Unfortunately I will be attending nearly all of the remaining Devils home games because I never quit on my team. Tuesday's game will be on NBCSN so feel free to join in on watching the worst nationally-aired game of the season.
27 Coyotes ↑1 20-30-7 4-5-1 ***
28 Maple Leafs ↓1 23-29-5 1-7-2 ***
29 Oilers 16-32-9 4-6-0 This team, this team is confusing. One day we'll play a very good game, outworking a good team, next game we get curb stomped. Our goal-tending has been really disappointing lately. I don't know what else to say.
30 Sabres 16-37-3 2-8-0 ***
submitted by HockeyPowerRanker to hockey [link] [comments]

[THE FARMIES] Recapping Tonight's Utica Comets (30-22-5-2) vs. Syracuse Crunch (35-17-3-2)

THE FARMIES

 
Good Evening Canucks fans! Before we settled into darkness, our old friend, as the Canucks face off against the literal greatest team in hockey, Canada’s Team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, lets settle for a little bit of the sunshine, as our Farm enter into the 8th game of the “Galaxy Cup,” a 10 game series between the Utica Comets and the Syracuse Crunch. After going 3w-0L against the Crunch in January, the Comets returned to a bit more of the familiar as they dropped a 4-0 game to the Crunch last month.
 
The Comets are going to be missing more bodies from the lineup as Guillaume Brisebois was called up to the Canucks today due to a possible lengthy foot injury to Ben Hutton, so with that the Comets had to sign another defenseman PTO, this time, Matt Petgrave joins them from the Brampton Beast of the ECHL, where he put up 8 goals and 32 assists and a +/- of +25 in 50 games. I don’t think Petgrave slides into tonight’s lineup due to the short nature of his call-up but given how badly in need of healthy bodies, the Comets lineup is, the likelihood of him getting a start in this weekend’s double header is pretty high.
 
The Crunch are 6-2-1-1 in their last 10, while the Comets are 5-3-2-0 in theirs…its Crunch time (not for the Crunch, but for the Comets) as they desperately need points heading down this last stretch of games for the season…the Belleville Senators are HOT on their tails, sharing the same points as the Comets (67), but they lose out due to games played (Utica 59 to Belleville’s 60) and then on points percentage (Utica’s .568 to Belleviles .558).
 
With all that ominous and terrifying foreboding out of the way lets get into tonight’s game,
But first, a final word about Jonathan Dahlen (until he does another interview that cause the Canuckleverse to implode)...
 

BE NICE TO ROOKIE HOCKEY PLAYERS ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM, YOU FUCKS

 

Starting Lineup

 
LW C RW
Gadjovich Hamilton Bancks
Boucher Kero MacEwen
Gaunce Woods Lind
Pyatt Darcy Jasek
LD RD
McEneny Sifers
Anselmini Chatfield
Graham Saucerman
G
Michael Leighton
 
RE: INJURY REPORT
 
Injury Report -- -- --
Bachman Blujus Juolevi LeBlanc
Out for the Season hand Out for the season Undisclosed
 
Healthy Scratches -- -- --
Arseaneau Gardiner Petgrave Thomas
1 1 1 4
 
Arseneau slots out of the lineup with the returns of Tanner Kero and Wacey Hamilton to the lineup, Kero missed the last 4 games due to injury, while Hamilton (I believe) was a healthy scratch, but may also have been on IR given how hard the illness bug seemed to go through that locker room in the past two weeks.
 

Streamable Clarity Improvement Notice

 
Continuing with last issues theme, going to be Players full name (jersey number) – place in streamable (if not outright obvious) then every sub sequential play featuring that player it’ll be last name(jersey number) – place in streamable (if not outright obvious) I’m also going to reduce the amount of hyperlink in the GOAL streamables, since that’s what I think MOST people are here for and don’t want some gaudy blue taking up the screen.
 

1st period

 
Comets in Blue
 
 

Score at the end of the first period: 3-0 Crunch

 
I mean…it could be worse…right? Remember the 10-1 game? … They at least had SOME sustained pressure towards the end of the period. They were outshot 15 to 8, but they had some good looks from Jasek, MacEwen and Anselmini in that period…if those two shots off the post make it in, it’s a totally different game we’re looking at…just need to see more of that fight that we saw at the end of the first.
 

2nd Period

 
 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 3-0 Crunch

 
Oh boy, I mean, if everyone could stop cycling along the walls and just take shots on the net from wherever they can that’d be greaaaaaaaaat. Comets, despite 3 powerplays, manage to get oushot 6 to 5 that period…and if I’m being completely honest, probably 4 of those 5 shots were 0-danger chances for. Everyone of Syracuse shots on goal were off speedy zone entries that led to a lot of time and space for Crunch shooters. There is little pieces of gold in this game, with some great passing plays from Jasek, but man the timing and play making of this team without their core defenders is just truly awful.
 

3rd Period

 
 

Final Score: 5-3 Syracuse Crunch

 

Scoresheet

 
Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Syracuse Gabriel Dumont Andy Andreoff Ben Thomas SHG
1st Syracuse Ross Colton -- -- 5v5
1st Syracuse Carter Verhaeghe -- -- 5v5
3rd Utica Reid Boucher Zack MacEwen Jalen Chatfield 5v5
3rd Syracuse Carter Verhaeghe Taylor Raddysh Nolan Valleau 5v5
3rd Utica Zack MacEwen Brendan Gaunce Kole Lind 5v5
3rd Utica Brandon Anselmini Kole Lind -- 5v5
3rd Syracuse Jan Rutta Cory Conacher -- EN
 

Takeaways

 

Comets Three Stars

  1. Brandon Anselmini
  2. Kole Lind
  3. Zack MacEwen
HM: Brendan Gaunce, who looked much more like the Gaunce of old while playing on the wing, as opposed to his recent run of playing at center where he looked much more uncomfortable.
 
What’s Next?
 
Well it’ll be a lot of scoreboard watching for me…as the Comets fail to pick up a point tonight despite their best efforts; the Belleville Senators play Thursday and then again on Friday, in matchups that could prove to be the difference maker against the Comets in this playoff push. The Comets are back against the Crunch this Friday…and depending on how Belleville’s games go, this could be a Canucks vs. Vegas type of game…a do or die if you will.
 
Until Friday, I Hope you guys enjoyed this edition of the Farmies, and as always any feedback, improvement suggestions, content or highlights you’d like me to focus/pick out during games, let me know and I’ll do my best to provide during the next Farmies!
 
As always, if you want to read up on this Farmies or past Farmies editions you can find them all at my Farmies Blog here
submitted by THRILLHOIAF to canucks [link] [comments]

Why your team sucks, St. Louis Blues Edition.

Some people are fans of the St. Louis Blues. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the St. Louis Blues. This 2018 Deadspin NFL team preview format was shamelessly stolen by yours truly and adapted for hockey and is intended for the latter readers. Please enjoy
Your Team: The St. Louis Blues, a hockey market dedicated to a bunch of people who dress like fat Kevin Smith in jorts and smell like they just bathed in Bud Light for the entire off season. #ROARBACON is definitely an appropriate hastag for this fan base as I'm pretty sure most of you use it in your hair as well as use it for 2nd breakfast. In order to change that image, Rizzuto, unofficial mascot of the team has literally eaten himself instead of Jack-in-the-Box tacos.
The only mention our team got in the post-season was that Vegas did what we did back in '67, ran into a buzzsaw of an experienced team in our first season in the cup finals. With our Luck, Vegas will make the finals again the next two seasons and then actually win the last time at which time the entire fanbase will commit harikari.
Your 2017 Record: 44-32-6 for 94points, 1 point out of the playoff picture. You even had your own fate in your own hands down the stretch and you couldn't close it out. The end of the season was almost as bad as Gretzy's "Had it, Lost it". But hey, this team would just give up whenever they didn't lead in the 1st period anyway. This team was ready to hit the Golf course after March once they realized Chicago was much worse than they were so the fan base could at least celebrate that. WE BEAT CHICAGO! FUCK TOWES AND KANE AND THE CUBS! WOOOOOOOO MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
Your Coach: Mike YEEOOOOOO! What an unfortunate last name. I bet he hates it when the entire team trolls him with YEO COACH or when he walks into a bar and one of the drunk Kevin Smiths stands up and yells at the top of their lungs THERES MIKE YEOOOOOOOO THE BLUES HEAD COACH with a chicken wing dangling from their Guy Fieri goatee. He probably just puts his head down in an aw-schucks fashion and tries to shield himself from the attention.
Mike Yeo doesn't really show his emotions except this face after being informed Jake Allen is already hurt and so is Robby "TheGramGame" Fabbri. I would have that exact same look if I knew my pet snake just got run over while my friend actually pulled his snake. This is how Angry Mike Yeo gets. That's him on a 10 right there. Not much intensity there so this team will get a pat on the ass when we miss the playoffs again this year.
This was Yeo's 1st full season at the helm and Doug Armstrong had just pulled some magic out of his ass and fleeced Ron Hextall out of Brayden Schenn for fan favorite whipping boy Jori Lehtra. A lot of experts were high on the team even with injuries to Steen, Berglund and Fabbri. Notice how Colorado and Vegas were never mentioned in that preview and Chicago was in the playoffs in most of those?
The team was off to a great start even down a line. Tarasenko, Schenn and Schwartz had chemistry all through October and November and Jake Allen was actually holding his own until December hit. Yeo, after Allen getting injured decided to play with the lines a bit and move Pauly Walnuts to center Tarasenko and Schwartz, causing Schenn's 17 goals through October, November and December to go to 11 goals to the rest of the season. Looking back on it it was to generate trade interest in Stastny because he likely wasn't going to take a "home town discount" even though we were still in the hunt for a playoff spot. The team officially threw the towel in when Stastny moved to the first line at center.
Also this season was probably one of the worst seasons in recent memory on special teams. Our Power Play or lack there of definitely cost us the playoff spot and Yeo's coaching staff really didn't have an answer.
Your Goalie: JAKE THE SNNNNNAAAAAKKKKEEEE, let's look back on some other famous people who got the nick name Snake. Jake Plummer who coincidentally was given the nick name as a tribute to Jake "The Snake" Roberts professional wrestler, who in-turn took his nick name as a tribute to Oakland Raiders Quarterback Ken Stabler. This fan base merely adopted the name JAKE THE SNAKE from 3 other famous people, Ken Stabler was born in it, molded by it, probably because the fanbase thinks WRASTLIN IS REAL, DON'T YOU TALK SHIT ABOUT CENA!!!
Anyway, Jake enters this season with an unproven backstop after being in a time share with Brian Elliott and Carter Hutton. Jake is poised to take over the No.1 duties all by himself until his almost clockwork DecembeJanuary slump. It is also Jake's 5th season with the team, which, if history repeats itself, means that the organization is just about done with him. I give Allen this season and next season to see if he can truly stand as a No. 1 goalie and win a playoff series in the 2nd round of the playoffs or else we'll be looking to grab Braden Holtby or maybe Jack Campbell once 2020 Free Agency rolls around.
What's old that sucks: You guys have no idea how much I wanted to dedicate this section to Patrick Berglund but then Army used his wiles and somehow got something halfway decent in return for him during the off season. OH GAWD!
There is still so much else though. Jay Bowmeester is still slated to be a top defensive pairing after an injury shortened season. Alex Steen is still here but can't find his teeth for an interview. Chris Thorburn is here to be the token old forward. We brought back David Perron for a 3rd time. I'm pretty sure Army loves James Bond movies and just sends David Perron to infiltrate good teams to see if he can rub some of the playoff magic off on the roster but he picked the wrong guy because he notoriously disappears in the playoffs.
Our Power Play is garbage, our Penalty kill is still shit. Jake Allen will play 80 games, 60 of which he will be hurt. We'll miss the playoffs by a wider margin and Chicago will beat us.
What's new that sucks: Ryan O'Reilly. Seriously, the fan base thinks he's going to come in and automatically elevate Tarasenko and Schwartz to some scoring gods and we'll run the table and have the number 1 seed locked up by Mardi Gras. I don't see it. He's a 60 point guy, he likes to hold out on contract negotiations and now we've put Schenn in the same position Schenn put Stastny in last season. Be ready for Yeo to have 100 different line combinations besides the obvious chemistry lines.
The need to have a "HOME TOWN" hero on the roster in some capacity. Cam Jansen then Ben Bishop paved the way for Paul Stastny to "COME HOME" and then get traded so the Blues signed Patrick Maroon to fill that much needed "HOME TOWN" player role to "connect with the fan base." This fanbase has been connected to this team like the South City chick you bang in a parking lot at Barney's one night and she some how finds your number 9 months later and oh by the way YOU'RE A DAD NOW! Nothing makes you feel old like fathering a child. Thankfully this is a hypothetical for me but probably not for a lot of you.
What might not suck: We're balls deep at Center, like deeper than me in your mom last season. O'Reilly, Schenn, Bozak, Sunqvist, Barbashev. None of those names scream Yzerman or Oates but there is some talent here and with O'Reilly and Schenn able to play wing adds for some interesting looks Yeo will be able to roll out. Now if only we could score some goals.
Not to mention Army's still got game. He can still manage to fleece GM's out of top tier talent for mere peanuts in return. If the team is in playoff position by the trade deadline, I imagine Army will dangle some sort of kompromat on a GM and somehow land one of these free agents minus Karlsson, at the deadline for a late 2nd round pick and a used bin out towels.
HERE IT FROM THE FANS
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Idiots Guide to Soccer

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Last week I found myself trying to explain the layout of the different soccer (football) leagues and competitions to a friend who told me he just didn’t understand soccer. This article is for those who relate to being that friend.
Bare with me I am going to try to outline it as simply as humanly possible, it is a lot to learn so if you need to take a break I certainly encourage it. Feel free to skip to the sections that interest you. IF you are here looking to choose a team to root for this is not going to be for you. With that said let’s get going. Below this is a rough outline to get you started, it will lay out the topics I will cover so you can finally at least understand what those guys talking soccer mean.
Stop and imagine a world which the NFL had a competitor. Yup I know it is hard, but imagine the Mexican and Canadian Leagues had worthy competition of the NFL. The Tijuana Tigers had won the Mexican League and now are trying to beat their chests, they think they are better than the New England Patriots. Same goes for the Canadian League Champions, the Saskatchewan Eskimos. Now all of North America is divided (not by walls) but by different leagues and levels of competition. The fans in Canada think that their defense would silence Brady. Oh shit, now New England is picking up their shovels and ready to go to war. Only so long can this go forward without male bravado needing to be played out. Thus the Champions League is born. A league for the best of the best to compete and decide who the true undisputed #1 champion is.
  1. Champions League (UCL)
    1. This is for the top tier teams of the European leagues where they square off to receive the ultimate crown.
  2. Europa League
    1. The little brother of Champions league.
  3. League Play
    1. Premier League (EPL)(England)
    2. Bundesliga (Germany)
    3. La Liga (Spain)
    4. Serie A (Italy)
    5. Ligue 1 (France)
  4. World Cup
    1. Divide all the players by their nationality to represent their countries and see which country has the most firepower (Don’t get me started on Fra(ud)nce).
  5. Other Competitions
    1. Irrelevant until you have been watching for a season if we are being honest.
Champions League (UCL)
We are starting with this due to the coincidental timing of the article publication and with the hype surrounding this competition. These are the games that seem to be populating that time slot on TNT where you were hoping to rewatch The Dark Knight for the 20th time. As outlined above, we got here by different countries in Europe proclaiming that their top team was the best in the world. This was founded in 1955, originally titled the European Champion Clubs’ Cup. Certainly didn’t roll of the tongue. Had a quick rebranding in 1992 and now we are at the UEFA Champions League, a round robin, ultimate champion decider.
How do you qualify?
For the long drawn out explanation, give a peep to the Wikipedia page here, there is a whole piece on mathematical coefficients (fuck that). But for those looking to understand it on a fundamental level, if you are in a top league the top few teams in the standings would qualify. Semi-similar to the College Football Playoff system that was recently established. As of this year, the top four leagues were La Liga, Bundesliga, EPL, and Italy in order. Each of those four leagues had their top 4 teams qualify for this tournament. France’s Ligue 1 is currently on the out looking in with their top 3 teams qualifying. Then the tournament is rounded out with play-in rounds, as any good competition should.
Format (Group vs Knockout stages)
This one is pretty simple to grasp as a concept. We start off with group drawings, 32 teams in total. Then from there it is a double round-robin. Eight groups are split into four teams, and each team will play each other twice. Below is an example from this year’s tournament. Top two teams from each group will advance into the knockout stage. The third place team will be placed into the Europa League which is covered later. The knockout stage differs from most American sports in one specific way, so let’s jump over to that.
Check out the example of a Champions League table (formatting issue when I tried to insert it)
https://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2019/standings/round=2000980/#grp-2006091
In the knockout rounds, each team will receive a draw (again a little complicated process, but just know that number one seeds are not pitted against each other to start). There is a home leg and an away leg, with the score being aggregate. Quick example for those back home:
This year Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain played in the knockout round. First game we have PSG taking it to Man U in Manchester, final score 2-0. Then in the second game, which is played in Paris(important), Man U wins 3-1 over PSG. For those keeping score we have a 3-3 tie, right? Wrong. Manchester United upsets PSG and advances. The first tie-breaker is away goals. So with 3 away goals Man U beats PSG’s 2 away goals.
The UEFA Champions League Final DOES NOT have 2 legs. Played in a neutral site, the two teams play, winner takes all.
Quick Q&A:
When does Champions League start? And how often are games played? Why so long?
The Group drawing occurs at the end of August. This past year was August 30th, in Monaco. The first set of game was played on September 18th-19th, with the second set on October 2nd-3rd. The reason there is a decent amount of time between games is because teams are deep in their league play and the players are already stretched thin as it is.
How important is it to be in Champions League?
Considering the fee the team receives just for being in the group stage is €15,250,000 it is pretty important if you want your club to hang around with the big boys.
Isn’t it just Real Madrid, Man U, and Barcelona winning all the time?
Well, yes and no. Real Madrid’s rich history can not be argued. They are sitting atop the championships table with 13 UCL trophies, but Milan, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Ajax, and Inter Milan are all above Man U so the field is a little more open than you would think.
Europa League (UEL)
The formation of this competition is a bit convoluted, so lets make some sparknotes.
With Europa League since it is meant to play as the little brother competition to the UCL, you will find a vast spectrum of teams participating in it. Yes, teams like Arsenal and Chelsea are in it but so are clubs like Slavia Sofia, or Prishtina. 10 points if you can name the country either of those clubs plays in without Googling it. This is important as it can give exposure to smaller clubs all around Europe and give them a chance at glory, or even just to be seen by some of the talent directors of those big clubs. The big clubs are perpetually on the lookout for talent they can rip out of the clutches from these smaller clubs. That is how the game is played for better or worse and is actually one of the ways smaller clubs can build themselves into relevancy with the money they receive for these players. Enough about that though, this competition is aimed to provide a platform for even more soccer to be played in these months and decide who the “best of the rest” is in Europe.
League Play (English Premier League)
OH BOY. If you are still reading I have to give you credit for being persistent I will do my best to keep it flowing. Starting off with the most lucrative individual league in the world, the English Premier League (EPL). Wikipedia has them listed as the 4th highest revenue generating league in the world. Over the NHL and under the NBA (EPL has 10 less teams than the NBA).
In 1992 the FA Premier League was founded. This was to secure one hell of a TV rights deal, isn’t it always? In 2013-2014 the rights were sold for £1 billion per season. Currently the Premier League is the most-watched sports league in the world.
With 20 teams in the league, each team plays each other twice. Yes as you can see there is a slight pattern in soccer with the home and away legs of these matchups. A total of 38 games per team are played, a win is three points, a tie is 1 point, and it goes without saying but a loss is none. At the end of the season the standings are FINAL. There are NO playoffs. Just a table staring you in the face and having to accept the effort your team put forth during the season is all you will have to your name.
Is there a punishment for the bottom teams? Funny I should ask myself that, yes there is. The bottom three teams of the EPL are banished (the technical term is relegated) to the EFL Championship. Don’t let the title fool you all it is is the EPL’s second tier. There are 4 main leagues in England and teams will bounce up or down according to their play every season.
These are the games you see on TV on Saturday mornings. Post Super Bowl this is my favorite time of the week for sports. All I can recommend to you is that you pick a team. Eventually I will write an article on which team you should support and why but for now Buzzfeed can probably do it better. Once you have picked that team just follow it. Understand that sometimes they are playing in the UCL, UEL, or EPL and although this may be confusing at first a natural understanding comes with time. You will hear the announcers discuss their current form (whether they are hot or cold) and talk about the general landscape of the league.
League Play cont. (Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1)
We are going to group these together for my sake and your sake. Honestly if you are someone reading in the US your options to watch these games can be quite limited and daunting to try to line up with the time differences. Right now if you are an ESPN+ member I recommend checking out the Serie A, Bundesliga I believe runs pretty frequently on FS1, but I struggle to find La Liga or Ligue 1 games for the most part. I am going to run through the leagues sort of similar to Europa League, lets just spark notes it all.
Bundesliga
La Liga Santander (One hell of a sponsorship to actually name the league!)
Serie A
Ligue 1
To give you some perspective these are the 2017-2018 revenue totals from the top leagues in the world. Displayed in millions of Euros.
  1. National Football League - €11,394
  2. Major League Baseball - €8,957
  3. National Basketball Association - €6,271
  4. Premier League - €5,340
  5. National Hockey League - €4,119
  6. Bundesliga - €3,810
  7. La Liga - €3,363
  8. Serie A - €2,267
  9. Champions League - €2,089
  10. Formula One - €1,830
  11. Ligue 1 - €1,644
Thanks for reading, I hope you learned a thing or two as you went through this. My best advice if you truly want to give soccer fandom a try, is to pick a club, research just a tiny bit about the tradition behind the club, research its top 3 players, then just watch a game and see if it sticks. If you are lucky and have friends to argue with about it then it will become just another sport to uselessly yell over with good friends. Best of luck to you.
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OddsShark Live - YouTube NHL Rapid Fire Betting Picks & Predictions - Tuesday 3/2/20 l Bookie Blasters NHL - YouTube NHL Quick Picks and Betting Odds - Stanley Cup Futures NHL Playoffs: Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins Betting Odds and Pick  Game 3  May 2, 2018

1950 Stanley Cup Final: Red Wings 4, Rangers 3: Game 1: Red Wings 4, Rangers 1: Game 2: Rangers 3, Red Wings 1: Game 3: Red Wings 4, Rangers 0: Game 4: Rangers 4, Red Wings 3 (OT) When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the NHL in mid-March, it appeared the remainder of the season would be lost and we wouldn’t have any action until the fall. Well, as the curve started to flatten, the NHL and the NHLPA came to an agreement for an expanded 24-team playoff – with 12 squads from each conference – being hosted by two hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton, to finally crown a ... NHL playoff series prices and betting trends for first-round matchups The Tampa Bay Lightning are the clear team to beat on the betting lines at sportsbooks as the 2019 NHL playoffs get underway ... The Calgary #Flames are the first team in NHL history to win a playoff series in Rogers Place — Adam (@Massonite) August 7, 2020. However, Seguin, the leading scorer on a team that was 26th in the NHL in goals, and goalie Ben Bishop, a Vezina finalist last season, are both out of the lineup with the NHL’s mysterious “unfit to play ... One of the best markets to gain an edge on in NHL playoff betting is wagering on the outcome of each individual series. There are plenty of upsets in the postseason, and seeding isn’t ...

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OddsShark Live - YouTube

There is nothing like a Game 7 in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and we get one Thursday night as the Nashville Predators host the Winnipeg Jets in the finale of their Western Conference series. Jonny OddsShark is red hot with his betting picks going 7-0 on the previous two episodes of OddsShark Live. Thursday features four games across the NBA and NHL Playoffs with the Toronto Raptors ... OddsShark Live: NBA Playoffs Betting Tips and Picks THE PLAYERS Picks and Props May 9, 2018 NHL Betting Quick Picks & Odds - November 27, 2018 ... NHL Playoffs Betting Preview and Pick (05.23.17) ... NHL Playoffs: First Round Series Preview and Picks With this NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs series knotted at one-game apiece, the Boston Bruins will look to take the lead on home ice as -140 favorites against the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night.

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