Kings vs. Devils: A Cinderella story

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Kings vs. Devils: A Cinderella story

If someone told me back in March that the Kings and Devils would be going to the Stanley Cup finals, I would have thought that person is crazy. Heck, if you told me a week ago that Los Angeles and New Jersey would be the two advancing, I still wouldn't have believed it.

But after last night's 3-2 overtime win against the Rangers, the Devils will be returing to the finals since they won it all back in 2003. Both teams have different advantages that could make this upcoming series more exciting than some may think.

Goaltending:

Jonathan Quick is the the number one reason the Kings qualified for the playoffs to begin with. He's recorded a .946 save percentage, two shutouts, earning himself a 1.54 goals against average during Los Angeles' 12-2 postseason run.

In the East, Martin Brodeur has earned a .923 save percentage and one shutout, recording a 2.04 GAA throughout the playoffs. He has led his team to a 12-5 record as they head into the finals.

Advantage: Kings

History:

The Kings haven't been to the finals since 1993, and they were eliminated in five games against the Montreal Canadiens. They have yet to win a Stanley Cup. That wouldn't seem like too much of a setback after seeing how well they've played throughout the postseason, but the Devils' statistics would make any Los Angeles fan a little nervous.

Back in 1995 and 2003, the Devils competed in the finals against the Red Wings and then the Ducks; two teams that entered the series with a 12-2 record. New Jersey defeated both. Given the fact that the Devils have won three Stanley Cups since 1974 also gives them an advantage--the Kings' franchise hasn't been there before.

In addition, if you take a look at the regular season, the Devils defeated the Kings in both their matchups back in October. But I don't think those statistics should be applied when analyzing the postseason since Los Angeles has played at an entirely different level since the beginning of the year.

Advantage: Devils

Momentum:

This is a tough one. The Kings have clearly defied all odds by going from the worst offensive team in the league to a top-contender for the Cup, but their last two games against Phoenix were shaky. Los Angeles was dominated in Game 4, and their Game 5 series win could have gone either way during overtime.

The Devils' record isn't as impressive as the Kings, but their last two games were more impressive overall. Although Game 6 against the Rangers was also a pretty even match, their aggressive play in overtime led to their win rather quickly. Plus, they were definitely the more dominant team in their Game 5 victory.

Although New Jersey played better in their last two games leading up to the finals, their overall playoff run hasn't been as consistent as the Kings' has, and Los Angeles' team chemistry has been more difficult to defeat. As long as the Kings remain focused and don't allow another slip-up like they did against Phoenix, they will be the stronger team.
Advantage: Kings

My overall prediction: Kings in 6.
Who would you like to see take home the Stanley Cup this year, and what are your final series predictions?

Chance the Rapper throws shade toward the Cubs

Chance the Rapper throws shade toward the Cubs

Chris Sale will be back on the mound on Thursday night for the White Sox after serving a five-game suspension for a well-known clubhouse incident.

According to Chicago native Chance the Rapper — who was recently named a club ambassador for the South Siders — Sale being back guarantees a win over the Cubs in the Crosstown Classic.

The up-and-coming rap star threw some shade at the Cubs on his Twitter page on Thursday:

With so many celebrities from Chicago supporting the Cubs, it's nice to see that someone has the White Sox back.

 

 

Kevin White not looking like a rookie as Bears open training camp

Kevin White not looking like a rookie as Bears open training camp

BOURBONNAIS — Call it a linebacker’s worst nightmare. Twice.

First it was outside linebacker Lamarr Houston, who found himself with wide receiver Kevin White on a pass route that made the wideout — he of 4.35 speed in the 40 — the coverage responsibility of a 274-pound defender whose specialty is going after quarterbacks.

White streaked away from Houston and caught Jay Cutler’s pass for a win for the offense.

Two snaps later it was inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, whose first NFL interception was of a Cutler pass while Freeman was a member of the Indianapolis Colts, and who suddenly became the latest Bear defender to understand that with White, “if he’s even, he’s leavin’." To his credit, Freeman never lost sight of White, but neither was the overmatched linebacker more than a minor annoyance on the route that ended with another completion from Cutler.

“You know I think having our receivers out there healthy and able to practice, whether it’s Kevin or Alshon [Jeffery] or even Eddie Royal,” head coach John Fox said. “I think you feel the difference when they are out there playing.”

[MORE: Rough first camp day for Kyle Long, Bears No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd]

(Motion seconded by Messrs. Houston, Freeman.)

White was not done looking like anything but an inexperienced young player who’d missed his rookie season and virtually all of training camp with a stress fracture to his left leg. He made a twisting grab of another Cutler toss in the 7-on-7 drill, and later worked himself open on a broken play, making a sliding catch to save a pass from Cutler on the run.

Cutler and White spent time together in the offseason, away from football, and one result is the receiver understanding what his quarterback needs and demands.

“If he wants me at 9 yards, at 10 yards, come back down the line or run back to him, that’s what I have to do,” White said. “We’re continuing to do that.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

White was practicing late last season before the Bears opted to leave him shut down after their season all but ended with the disappointing losses to San Francisco and Washington. The lost season set him behind on his learning curve, particularly given his relative inexperience playing at the highest level at West Virginia.

But the Bears also gave White’s injury time to heal rather than rush their No. 7-overall draft choice onto the field. The time off allowed more than just the stress-fracture surgery to mend.

“I had a whole year to recover, mentally and physically,” White said. “If we’d had had this talk last year, it would have mentally been a little rough as far as getting on my routes and trying not to run with a limp. And obviously taking a hit.

“But I’ve had a whole year to get it right. I thank the organization for giving me the time, and so I’m ready mentally and physically.”

Sports Business: NBA players intern at Google to prepare for life after basketball

Sports Business: NBA players intern at Google to prepare for life after basketball

There are many different ways professional athletes choose to spend their offseason — from traveling and relaxing, to practicing and preparing for the upcoming season.

For a group of NBA players, they decided to spend this offseason as interns at one of Silicon Valley's most powerful companies, preparing for life after basketball.

C.J. Watson, Wilson Chandler, Dahntay Jones, and D-Leaguer Moses Ehambe were among the players who interned at Google's headquarters last week, getting a crash course in how a tech giant operates. It's a smart decision by the seasoned veterans, as the average NBA career lasts less than five years.

This opportunity was part of the NBA's "Career Crossover" program, which the league launched in 2011 to help players prepare for their "second life" after basketball — something very few players plan sufficiently for.

In fact, in 2009 Sports Illustrated reported that 60 percent of former NBA players are broke five years into their retirement, and even highly-paid superstars like Allen Iverson, Latrell Sprewell, and Scottie Pippen have run into tremendous financial trouble after their playing days were over.

"One of the top priorities in regards to player development is talking to guys early and often about the importance of thinking about what you are going to do career-wise after the ball stops bouncing and your playing career is over," said Greg Taylor, the NBA's senior vice-president of player development, via VICE Sports.

Watson, Chandler, Jones and Ehambe spent their time at Google learning about how the company builds their products and makes money, as well as discussing platform analytics and YouTube.

The tech industry has been the top choice from NBA players in career discussions, leading the league to partner with companies such as Google and Facebook for offseason opportunities for players.

Just a short time spent preparing for life and a career after basketball will go a long way for these athletes, and who knows, maybe they'll be back at Google next offseason, or at the end of their time in the NBA.

Read the full story from VICE Sports here.