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Monday Blog: While NBA Conference Finals disappoint, NHL delivers

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Each year, the NBA and NHL Playoffs go head-to-head in terms of timing, with basketball capturing the attention of most sports fans. But in terms of entertainment, this year’s 2014 conference finals edge belongs to hockey.

Typically, I’m in the majority as my attention shifts to the NBA Playoffs in late spring. As the playoffs shift into the conference finals, there is rarely an occasion when hoops isn’t on. But as this year’s edition produced lopsided games, my interest shifted to NHL as excitement was happening on the ice.

In the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers finished off the Montreal Canadians in six games, despite the Habs scoring seven goals in Game 5 in an attempted comeback. While this was a fun series filled with hard-hitting teams, the real showcase was happening in the Western Conference.

Where do I even start with the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks?

I can’t remember a time when I was fully drawn into a hockey series until this match-up. I’m certainly not the biggest puck fan out there, but thanks to the Kings and Hawks, my interest level went up a notch.

The Kings jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the series, but Chicago bounced back to knot the series at three all. A double overtime affair really got me going, and watching Patrick Kane score the decisive goal in Game 6 really had me pumped for Game 7.

Boy, did Game 7 live up to the hype.

There is no other Game 7 in any playoff sport that is more exciting than in hockey. The energy level is off the chart, just ask LA as a reported earthquake occurred. No confirmation yet on if it was from the Staples Center where the game was being played. In the first period, the theme of high scoring games continued as the Kings and Blackhawks combined to total five goals in 20 minutes. That in itself will put you on the edge of your seat. Chicago led 4-3 going to the third and finally period, but the Kings tied the score to send it to overtime.

Overtime. In a Game 7. A fitting end to a remarkable series.

Five minutes into overtime, Alec Martinez scored the game-winning goal as the puck deflected off to find the back of the net. It was sort of disappointing to see it end on a deflection, but I can’t complain. It more enjoyable than what the NBA had to offer this week.

Let me say this first: there were a handful of NBA Conference Final games that were fun. Game 6 between the Spurs and Thunder was a good game as overtime was needed for San Antonio to advance, and Russell Westbrook and Paul George’s respectable 35+ performances were impressive to watch.

But for the most part, the Spurs-Thunder series scores, along with Heat-Pacers, weren’t close. Six games were decided by nine or more points, with two of those being major blowouts.

Sure, I could watch LeBron James and Kevin Durant play all day, but I want to see those classic games of year’s past. Remember those Heat-Celtics that came down to the wire as Paul Pierce and James shot the lights out?

We all expected these two match-ups to happen, especially Miami-Indiana. The Pacers competed as George finally came alive to play like a star, but the Heat had control of the series all along in my eyes. And you know what made this series even more of a disappointment? Yep, you guessed it.

Lance Stephenson.

I’ll just hand the mic to Bill Simmons who said it best regarding him:

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Sure, I’m going to watch the NBA Finals as the Heat play the Spurs (again), but I’m not missing a game between the Rangers and Kings.

Hockey, you have won me over.

Finals picks

For my playoff picks, one of them took some thought, while the other is fairly easy for me.

Hint: NBA is the easy one.

I’m taking the Heat win it all again in six games. With Tony Parker’s injury still a concern, the Spurs can’t keep up with the “Big 3”. I almost pulled the trigger on it going just five games, but I’m go with the safe bet of six.

In hockey, I’m going with LA in seven. The Rangers are certainly the fresher team with the Finals starting on Wednesday, and I see them taking two of the first three games. But the Kings are battle tested and I say they hoist the Stanley Cup in front of their home fans in Game 7.

Bat Govs in summer leagues

Even during the offseason, baseball is still being played across the country. Many Govs will join developmental leagues, with the full list below.

  • Garrett Copeland – Alaskan Summer League (Anchorage Bears)
  • Shane Lantigua – Cal Ripken League (Alexandria Aces)
  • Levi Primasing – Cal Ripken League (Alexandria Aces)
  • Logan Gray – Northwoods League (Mankato Moondogs)
  • Ridge Smith – Northwoods League (Mankato Moondogs)
  • Griffin Ganick – The Hamptons League (Montauk Mustangs)
  • Wesley Purcell – The Hamptons League (Montauk Mustangs)
  • Cayce Bredlau – The Prospect League (Terre Haute Rex)
  • Mark Hendrick – The Prospect League (Danville Dans)
  • Dre Gleason – The Valley League (Waynesboro Generals)
  • Chase Hamilton – The Valley League (Waynesboro Generals)
  • Jordan Harmon – The Valley League (Waynesboro Generals)
  • Caleb Powell – The Valley League (Waynesboro Generals)

APSU sports updates

  • Senior Marco Iten closed out his golfing career at APSU at 4-over in the NCAA Championship. Overall, Iten finished tied for 75th.
  • Sophomore track star Breigh Jones is heading to Oregon for the NCAA Championship. Jones finished seventh in the 400m in North Florida, setting a new school record at 52.65. She’ll become the first Lady Gov to reach the NCAA Championship since 2001.
  • Also in track and field, Kaylnn Pitts finished 32nd in the triple jump at the NCAA East Preliminaries, ending her freshman season.
  • In football, Brandon Jordan and Leron Eaddy has been hired as assistant coaches. Jordan served as a graduate assistant last season, and will now be promoted to coaching the defensive line. Meanwhile, after suiting up last season in the red and white, Eaddy will take over as defensive back coach.

Photo by Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times

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