"Pro Wrestling," NES

The NBA season is over, and it was a heck of a season. Much was decided on the final day, including both #8 seeds. Seeding itself was a big ado on that day, as San Antonio’s loss pushed them back all the way to #6 instead of being #2. As usual, the East was far weaker than the West, though there was still seed jockeying to be done there as well.

Stellar and unexpected seasons from the Hawks and Warriors helped shake up our standings, minimizing the points to be won from picking division winners. For the most part, it made it harder to get the ever valuable points from guessing seeds exactly right.

But in the midst off all the chaos, a winner has emerged from our panel. Since everyone is wondering who it is, the winner of the 2014-2015 NBA Pick ‘Em is.. Continue reading 2014-2015 NBA Expert Picks Results »

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Whenever a team enters a season as a favorite to be a Stanley Cup Contender and misses the playoffs, serious questions need to be asked. The Bruins, fresh of a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2013 and a President’s Trophy in 2014 looked primed to make some serious noise in 2015. Despite losing Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk prior to the season to the Avalanche and Islanders, respectively, the Bruins still looked to be a contender.

Expectations took a hit when the Bruins began the season 1-4 while playing a poor brand of hockey. They began to right the ship but then the injury bug hit, Boston lost Zdeno Chara and David Krejci for significant parts of the season. Despite these losses, the Bruins were still putting themselves in position to win games. The problem was they weren’t finishing. A full 60 minute effort was hard to come by and the Bruins seemed like a squad just going through the motions and waiting until the playoffs. Their play against elite competition was troubling also, going 0-4 against Montreal and 0-3 on a key west coast road trip in December.

A strong month on January was followed by a lackluster February that saw the team suffer another west coast losing streak, this time at four games. March was the month that finally quashed any doubts about the Bruins being contenders. Their five game losing streak in the middle of the month that included losses to three playoff teams and the league worst Sabres. Despite having a chance to sneak into the playoffs on the last day of the season, it would have been naïve to think this Bruins team would have made much noise in the postseason.

Several players performed well below expectations this season. The injuries to Chara and Krejci greatly affected their performance while Dennis Seidenberg and Milan Lucic only showed flashes of the players that helped bring Boston to two Cup Finals in three seasons. Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille were ineffective and have already been informed by the team that they will not be brought back. Chris Kelly was the best player on the team through October, but came back down to Earth offensively while still contributing on defense. Reilly Smith was ineffective throughout the season and did was constantly moved around the lineup.

Loui Eriksson played well as did Carl Soderberg, but at times lacked the necessary physicality. Adam McQuaid was not as effective as years past and Dougie Hamilton played well but was hampered by a late season ribs injury. Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask were stars for the Bruins, but unfortunately Rask had to play in 70 games because his backup, Niklas Svedberg, was woefully ineffective.

Three bright spots for Boston were Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Ryan Spooner. Bergeron was an elite player as always and Pastrnak and Spooner joined the team and made heavy contributions after the All-Star break. Both could end up being major pieces of the Bruins moving forward, but the fact that the Bruins relied on two rookies for most of their offensive production was a troubling sign in itself.

The question now is what’s next for the Bruins in their longer than anticipated offseason. The first shoe dropped earlier this week when the team fired General Manager Peter Chiarelli. Chiarelli had been with the team since 2006 and was a major factor in building the rosters that won a Stanley Cup in 2011 and the Eastern Conference in 2013. His struggles this year were too much for the Bruins, however, and they are now looking for his replacement.

The Bruins will not decimate their core, but it is possible one or two longstanding Bruins could be dealt. Soderberg and McQuaid could very well join Campbell and Paille in playing elsewhere next season. Matt Bartkowski, whose tenure with Boston has left much to be desired, will also probably be wearing a different uniform next season. Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic have been floated as potential trade names and it is possible that one of them gets dealt this offseason. Malcolm Subban, the team’s young goaltending prospect, could also be part of a deal.

The major question now is the fate of Coach Claude Julien. Julien, who has one Stanley Cup ring with the Bruins, will remain as coach for the time being. But a new GM could choose to make a move for a new coach, which would allow Chiarelli and Julien to reunite next season; possibly in Toronto.

In retrospect, the 2014-15 Bruins have no one to blame but themselves for their failure to make the playoffs. Although they were not as talented as Bruins teams from the past five seasons, they still had more than enough talent to make the postseason. One major change along with several minor ones has already been made. It seems only as though there will be more changes coming and next season’s Bruins team could look quite different from this year’s squad. It will be a long offseason in Boston.

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Calgary is back in the postseason; can they take out their fellow Canadians in Vancouver to move ahead? (WWE Smackdown)

Now that the playoffs are upon us, it’s time for the annual Pick ‘Em competition. Especially with defending champion Los Angeles out of the bracket entirely, things have opened up far wider than they have in some time. It has the appearance of a tricky but entertaining bracket, so keep your eyes glued to the games.

As usual, picking the winner of each series is worth two points, while picking how many games each series will last is worth one point.

Though our panel is mostly in agreement as to winners, a steal of a victory here or there could still create an early leader, especially with series length choices a little more diverse.

So with that in mind, complete Round 1 picks are below, and be sure to come back once the round is complete for updated results. Continue reading 2015 NHL Expert Playoff Picks: First Round »

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Mookie Betts stole the show in the Red Sox home opener at Fenway Park. (Boston Herald)

The ceremony took place after the first inning.

It didn’t have quite the same formality or pomp and circumstance as the preface ceremony. There were no Lombardi trophies on display. Tom Brady had already left after throwing out the first pitch (or trying to).

But by the bottom of the first inning, before the second out, before David Ortiz could even lift the bat off his shoulder, 40,000 Red Sox fans ordained that the first game of the season at Fenway Park would no longer be known as the “Home Opener.”

Instead, with serenades of “Moooooookieeeeee!”, the Fenway faithful decreed in unison that, henceforth, the home opener would be known as the Mookie Betts Coming Out Party.

Continue reading Red Sox Rename Home Opener “Mookie Betts Coming Out Party” »

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In somewhat of a stunning series of events, the 2014-15 Boston Bruins missed the playoffs after dropping their final three games of the season this past week. While in the midst of a more comprehensive season review, it is interesting to look at three games that had they gone the Bruins way; would put the team in the playoffs beginning this week.

October 13, Avalanche at Bruins: In this Columbus Day contest, the Bruins met old-friend Jarome Iginla for the first time since his departure from Boston. The game was a grind-it-out affair with each team missing some chances as well as looking in a bit of a malaise during the matinee game. Continue reading Three Games That Could Have Changed the Bruins Playoff Fortunes »

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Joe Kelly impressed in his season debut as he held the Yankees to just one run on one hit in seven innings. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

After the most brutal winter in the history of Boston, the start of a new season of Red Sox baseball is just what we needed. The temperature is finally rising and there is legitimate buzz surrounding this team. Thanks to the additions of high-profile free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, the young players like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts have a great supporting cast while they develop. The biggest problem with the lineup last year was lack of veteran depth, forcing the younger players to carry the load way too early. This year their biggest strength on offense is their depth. It’s a good sign when you’re able to send one of your highest paid players in Rusney Castillo to triple A to start the year, and you’re still 4-1.

– With all the additions on offense there was a huge loss this off-season when the Red Sox weren’t able to bring Jon Lester back to Boston. Instead they traded for Wade Miley and Rick Porcello, and signed Justin Masterson. Without being able to lock down a sure ace pitcher, they filled the rotation with a bunch of guys who all have the ability to post double-digit wins. Another benefit of this pitching staff is age. Buchholz and Masterson are the oldest at 30, and they locked Porcello, 26, up for four more years at about $82 million. All five of these pitchers have shown the ability to be great in their careers, but as cliche as it sounds it all depends on their health. The offense is good enough to bail the pitching out of some games, but at the end of the day pitching wins championships. I do expect some young arms down in the farm such as Matt Barnes and Henry Owens to make an appearance at some point in the year to add to the team whether it be in the bullpen or the rotation. Continue reading Red Sox Weekly Round Up: Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz Shine Early »

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"Pro Wrestling," NES

The NHL season is now over, after the last playoff spots were clinched on the season’s final day. There were plenty of surprises along the way, which had a big influence on our Pick ‘Em.

The Bruins, Sharks and Kings all missed out and cost us in our standings, while the Canucks, Flames and Islanders all helped out a bit.

But in a tough season, who came out on top? Without further ado, the winner of the 2014-2015 NHL Pick ‘Em is… Continue reading 2014-2015 NHL Expert Picks Results »

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