The NHL had it’s first of two Game 7’s last night as the Tampa Bay Lighting beat the New York Rangers 2-0 to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. It was a 0-0 game until the 3rd period when Alex Killorn scored a couple minutes into the period to give the Lighting the lead. Ondrej Palat scored the 2nd goal for Tampa Bay about 11 minutes into the 3rd period to ice the game. Ben Bishop made 22 saves for Tampa Bay in the shutout and is 7-1 with a 1.25 goals-against average, a .951 save percentage and two shutouts following a loss in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was his second shutout of the series and third of the postseason. Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves for the Rangers, who entered 7-0 in Game 7 at home but were denied a return trip to the Cup Final. Lundqvist had won six consecutive Game 7’s, an NHL record. The Stanley Cup finals start on Wednesday and Tampa bay will find out tonight if they will be facing the Anaheim Ducks or the Chicago Blackhawks. Anaheim is the home team tonight; the game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. (Central Time) start time. If form holds in this series the team that scores first will win. No matter how they have gotten there if you’re the first team to out the puck in the net you win. Barry Melrose mentioned in his preview of the game that there could be quite a bit offense tonight. So will we get a 5-4 game or a 2-1 game?
So the NHL gets 3 days off before they start the Stanley Cup Finals on the other hand the NBA has 8 days off between the end of the conference finals and the start of the NBA finals. By the time the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers take the court to start the finals I won’t even care who wins it. The days off may be a blessing for the Warriors as Klay Thompson got a concussion in the series clinching victory over the Houston Rockets and can use these days to rest and get ready. Depending on the what grade of concussion Thompson received will be the final decision on if he’ll be ready for Game 1. Thompson will not return to practice until he is symptom free and is being listed as out indefinitely. The longer break should also help the Cavaliers as well. Guard Kyrie Irving has been slowed by knee tendinitis and a sore foot, and four-time NBA MVP LeBron James has been banged up as well. If you’ve listened to a LeBron James interview you wouldn’t believe it. but neither of those injuries seems as serious as the one the Warriors are facing now. The NBA’s concussion policy requires players to pass a series of steps without experiencing symptoms before they can return. That starts with riding a stationary bike and progresses to jogging, agility work and non-contact team drills, according to the league. Players must start over if they experience any symptoms. The protocol also requires the team physician to discuss the process with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the director of the NBA’s concussion program, before a player can return. If Thompson is out for any length of time will the Warriors be able to replace him?
Stephen Strasburg exited his start last night against the Cincinnati Reds after pitching 1 inning. Strasburg showed signs of an injury in the 1st inning, but came out for the 2nd inning before Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams and a trainer came out and removed him from the game. There is no official announcement on Strasburg’s condition or if he’ll miss a start, but in his post game interview he mentioned how he felt he couldn’t get his throwing shoulder loose. This is the second early departure from a start in a row for Strasburg. He pitched just 3 2/3rds innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 23rd. Strasburg has made 10 starts this season and is 3-5 with an E/R/A. of 6.55. Strasburg was the #1 overall pick by the Nationals in 2009. When the pick was made there were scouts and baseball experts talking about how Strasburg might win multiple Cy Young awards during his career and he still might. Strasburg did pick up a small share of votes for the Cy Young award last season (2014) and did lead the National League in strikeouts with 242 and games started with 34. In 6 seasons Strasburg has made 119 career starts, but only twice gas he started 30 or more games in a season; remember though he did miss most of the 2011 season. He made just 5 starts in 2011 because of an arm injury that required Tommy John surgery. Strasburg has one more year of arbitration with the Nationals before hitting the free agent market in 2017. There’s a very good chance that Strasburg will go out onto the open market since he is represented by Scott Boras. If this arm issue os something that will cause Strasburg to miss time you have to think it will affect his value a couple of seasons down the road. Then instead of what might he get on the free agent market will we be talking about the fact that he was a bust as a #1 overall draft pick.
Josh Hamilton made his return to the Texas Rangers this week. I’m not sure how I feel about this as I’m in the camp that thinks he should’ve been suspended. He’s appeared in 5 games for the Rangers and has 5 hits in the last 3 games. Hamilton actually hit 2 home runs against the Red Sox last night. Texas is 3-2 with Hamilton on the line up including a 7-4 last night in the game he homered twice in. The Rangers are 24-25, 6 games out of 1st place in the American League West. I don;t think anyone was expecting Hamilton to lead the Rangers to a division title or a World Series win, but this does have a chance to be a good story. Hamilton has a chance to be an example to a lot of people who have the sane issues as he does. The question will be; can he stay clean?