Jets need better goaltending before taking next step

The Winnipeg Jets have a lot of things going for them right now. They have one of the best, young offensive talents in the league in second-year forward Patrik Laine. They have a budding star in 24-year-old center Mark Scheifele, and one of the better point-producers lately in the league, right-wing Blake Wheeler. On the back end, Dustin Byfuglien is an established defensive presence, and 22-year-old blue liner Jacob Trouba has shown lots of promise.

But in the NHL, it’s difficult to win, and nearly impossible to get anywhere near the Stanley Cup, with subpar goaltending, an area which has long been an Achilles heel in Winnipeg. And if the Jets can’t plug their leaky crease, Winnipeg will likely once again find itself on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

Personally, I don’t want to give up hope. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we see of him in an NHL arena. He’s someone seemingly everyone can enjoy watching, and I learned that as well as anyone. You see, there’s no reason for Hossa to be one of my favorite players to watch in recent NHL history. In fact, growing up a Penguins fan, I have plenty of reasons to dislike him, including the way he left the Penguins for the team that defeated them in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, the Detroit Red Wings — even citing that he felt he had better of a chance to win the Cup in Detroit. Once he signed with the Red Wings, I assumed I would go on silently hoping he’d never win a Stanley Cup.

But all it took was that one play, seven games into his stretch in Detroit, to remember everything about what makes Hossa such a wholly unique player, and one worth rooting for even as he demolishes your favorite team.

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NHL playoffs 2017: Chris Kunitz ends epic Game 7 in double OT, sends Penguins back to Cup Final

Four months since his last goal, Chris Kunitz scored twice, including 5:09 into double overtime, to send the Penguins back to the Stanley Cup Final for a second straight year with a 3-2 win in Thursday’s epic double-overtime win against the Senators.

In an Eastern Conference finals that tested every ounce of winning will remaining in the defending champions, it’s especially fitting Kunitz, the 37-year-old veteran, did the honors.

And somehow, some way, the Penguins, injured and exhausted, having played more games in two years than any other NHL team, found a way to edge the never-say-die Sens in their 207th game since the start of the 2015-16 season. They’re the first to make back-to-back trips since the Red Wings in 2007-09.

Pittsburgh led by a goal on two occasions in Game 7, first thanks to Kunitz in the second period and again when Justin Schultz scored on a power play with just under nine minutes remaining in regulation that figured to be the decider.

In the second period, when Nashville won the shot battle 11-0, Pittsburgh became the first team to go without a shot on goal in a Cup Final period since the NHL started tracking shots in 1957-58. The Pens’ 12 total shots, a franchise record low, were the fewest by a winning team in Final history.

Pittsburgh got its 3-0 lead thanks to three goals in the final 4:28 of the first period. Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary and Bonino did the honors.

Eventually a catfish found its way to the ice, despite Pittsburgh’s fishy ban. That led to Ryan Ellis’ fifth goal of the playoffs moments later and Colton Sissons made it 3-2 10:06 into the third period before Gaudreau evened the ledger.

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We’re thrilled to have him join us

He’s built championship teams and organizations and has managed stadiums, ballparks and arenas across the United States. Most importantly, he previously worked in our market and has the necessary corporate and political relationships to help us secure a long-term home for the Coyotes in the Valley. We’re thrilled to have him join us.

The Coyotes have used Gila River Arena in Glendale as their home stadium since 2003, but the team has recently been at odds with local politicians, who convinced the city to cancel its arena management deal with the Coyotes in 2015. That ended all public subsidies the team was receiving. The franchise has since said it is no longer financially viable to play at the arena due to its inconvenient proximity to the majority of its fans and sponsors.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in March the Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed and cannot and will not remain in Glendale.

Less then a month before Bettman’s statement, an Arizona Senate committee passed a Senate Bill 1149 that would help provide funding to build the Coyotes a new $395 million arena. That bill, however, was essentially declared dead in late April. That is where Patterson, and his local connections, come in.

Joshua Norris (No. 19 overall, SJS): His father, Dwayne, was drafted 127th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1990 NHL Draft and appeared in 20 games with the Nordiques and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim from 1993 to ’96.

Pierre-Olivier Joseph (No. 23 overall, ARI): His brother, Mathieu, is a forward who was selected 120th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 NHL Draft and competed at the 2017 Memorial Cup with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.

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The offensive outburst helped bail out goalie John Gibson

Jakob Silfverberg scored his ninth goal of the playoffs 39 seconds into the second period, erasing the 2-0 lead Nashville had built early in the first period. Filip Forsberg took it back seven minutes later, but Anaheim broke through thanks to a goal by Ondrej Kase and another from Nick Ritchie to take a 4-3 lead into the third period.

Antoine Vermette’s empty netter, his first goal of the playoffs, gave the Ducks their third game of five or more goals in the playoffs.

What’s more, Anaheim solved its woes on the man advantage when Sami Vatanen scored on the power play in the first period. The power-play unit had gone without a goal in its last 21 opportunities, an ominous drought for a Stanley Cup semifinalist.

The offensive outburst helped bail out goalie John Gibson, whose inconsistency streak reared its ugly head when the Predators scored three goals on their first 13 shots. But Gibson buckled down in the second and third periods.

The Caps’ goal explosion came courtesy of stars like T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who had been criticized at times for playing short of their typically high standards. All combined for multi-point efforts and Andre Burakovsky chipped in a pair of goals to send the series back to the nation’s capital.

Of course, merely making it to a Game 7 won’t be good enough for the Capitals. The Presidents’ Trophy winners need to win it if they’re to put to rest the playoff choker label that’s consumed the franchise.

A win Wednesday and Washington would become the first team since 2010 to erase a 3-1 series deficit and advance.

The Penguins have won all three of their previous Game 7 meetings against the Caps, including in 2009, when they rode that victory to a Stanley Cup.

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Stanley Cup Final three stars: Predators find their groove in Music City

Between an Alan Jackson concert outside and tens of thousands who packed Bridgestone Arena and the honky tonks up and down Broadway, it was clear long before the puck dropped on Saturday’s Stanley Cup Final Game 3 that the rest of the NHL had never seen hockey quite like this.

It turned out to be just what was needed for the Predators to claw their way back into the series.

Two unfortunate losses in Pittsburgh behind them, the Predators returned to their country confines a rejuvenated bunch and punched back on the Penguins for a decisive 5-1 victory.

There was no telling how the Music City’s first-ever Cup Final game would go over.

Craig Smith’s clean breakaway 4:54 into the third period to give the Preds a 4-1 lead was the dagger.

As good as the Predators offense was Saturday, their defense was even better. Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were each held without a shot in a playoff game for the first time ever.

Based off production alone, Niederreiter continues to make the case that he’s ready for a more prominent role. He’s coming off his third straight season scoring 20 or more goals. His ice time though in Minnesota has plateaued: He actually saw a decrease in average time on ice this past season, down to 15:04 per-game from 15:33.

Niederreier was third on the Wild with 25 goals and fourth with 57 points. He’s got his sights set on an even bigger offensive performance though, and knows there will be expectations that come with a long-term, big-dollar extension.

My big goal is to get 30 (goals) in this league, he said. For that I have to work hard, and help my game, and shoot more pucks to the net.

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Golden State outscored Cleveland 36-11 over the next 9:05 of game time

Durant has been a monster in transition, averaging 6.5 points per game in transition during the regular season and 7.0 in the playoffs while doing so efficiently at 1.13 points per possession. It turns out having a 7-footer who can rebound and lead the break is a huge advantage. Go figure.

It’s still funny to see a James line of 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists and know he can be much better. But it’s true.

James had his turnover issues and shot less than 50 percent from the field (9 of 20), not to mention multiple defensive possessions where he was out of position. LeBron will do his usual LeBron things, as expected, but if the Cavs want to win back-to-back titles, he must be the best player in this series. That means putting him in positions to succeed.

The Cavs mentioned pushing the pace in Game 2, a dangerous proposition when you consider they had the worst transition defense in terms of efficiency during the regular season. But choosing spots to push the ball does allow James to gain momentum, and he is all but unstoppable at that point.

Monday, his take was proven correct. Apparently, it wouldn’t have even been a personal foul. James, the highest-profile player in the league, complained as well and didn’t get the same consideration.

After the no-call on LeBron’s dunk, Durant remained in the game. Golden State outscored Cleveland 36-11 over the next 9:05 of game time, a stretch in which Durant scored 13 of his team-high 39 points and added three rebounds, an assist and a steal.

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Tom Brady can’t call Falcons star receiver Julio Jones

The New England Patriots are a dynasty in the NFL, but they win the right way, with good draft classes, great coaching and an excellent organization backing them. That’s what I saw in the dominant San Antonio Spurs teams led by a top coach in Gregg Popovich and the league’s best big man in Tim Duncan during their championship run.

Tom Brady can’t call Falcons star receiver Julio Jones, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and Broncos pass rusher extraordinaire Von Miller and say, Play out your contracts and then we’ll join forces. Not when those players would be hit with the franchise tag.

So for the integrity of the game, and to achieve a playoff season that presents intrigue in every round, the NBA needs to get with the program and follow the other major sports that rarely see repeat champions.

Just too much is what one headline read in describing the victorious 2016-17 Warriors. Yes, they do have too much.

I don’t care what the TV ratings say. I do not want to see Golden State coast to a third title in four years. Because, again, barring major injury, that’s a foregone conclusion.

Having Luck is certainly an advantage, but Indianapolis has several holes that need to be plugged before it can boast a postseason level of structural integrity. Grigson’s tenure left a laundry list of free agent signings that failed to pan out, along with some regrettable departures from homegrown players. Between 2012-16, he handed out big contracts to players whose name recognition exceeded their ability to contribute on the field.

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Would Judge have it in him to call his shot like Babe Ruth did in 1932?

It’s going to be hard to top that Indians-Cubs World Series for the foreseeable future, but imagine the Cubs facing off against the Yankees and Aaron Judge, whose rise has New York back in the hunt in the American League. The Yankees swept the Cubs in the World Series in 1932 and 1938.

Better than C-W III? It’s close. This would be a big deal. Would Judge have it in him to call his shot like Babe Ruth did in 1932?

There was an even more blatant example of Curry’s gravity as a shooter a couple of minutes later, this time following a turnover by James. The Warriors had a four-on-three advantage with J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert acting as the last line of defense for the Cavaliers, and the result was incredibly similar. Not only did the defender you’d expect to stop the ball decide to close out on Curry, Durant sauntered into the lane for another uncontested dunk.

The problem? The Cavaliers learned from their mistakes in the second half and it resulted in this…

When Smith slides over to get in front of Durant, it leaves Irving having to decide between closing out on Curry or Klay Thompson. Either way, someone who makes around 44.0 percent of their catch-and-shoot 3-pointers is going to be left wide open, which puts Irving in a lose-lose situation. The Cavaliers would probably prefer Irving to close out on Curry, but the risk of Thompson getting an open 3-pointer and potentially breaking out of his postseason shooting slump is equally terrifying.

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Be careful, Lonzo: Recent NBA Draft history shows No. 2 could be bad omen

Lonzo Ball is just the player the Lakers need to turn their fortunes around. Says who, LaVar Ball?

No, actually. It’s Lonzo, who sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when his father is busy going viral by attacking Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Foxs Kristine Leahy or anyone else LaVar can randomly think of.

They have a lot of good players, the UCLA product said after working out for Magic Johnson and the Lakers last week. I just think they need a leader, a point guard, and I feel like I can bring that to the team.

In a separate statement, Griffin termed the decision as his own.

As of today, I am stepping down from my role as GM of the Cavs, he wrote. Our basketball family, at the CCC and at the Q, has experienced unprecedented success together both on the floor and off and I remain deeply appreciative of the opportunity Dan Gilbert and his ownership group afforded us to build and lead this world-championship caliber organization.

Bottom line, we can expect plenty more rumors and drama, if not more trades, leading up to Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2017 NBA Draft, including date, time and full draft order for both rounds.

The 2017 NBA Draft is Thursday, June 22, at 7 p.m. ET. The draft will be held in Brooklyn, N.Y., at the Nets Barclays Center for the fifth straight year. The entire draft is only two rounds with a total of 60 picks.

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Watch: C.J. McCollum guesses Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann’s NBA impressions

When worlds collide, the results are often entertaining.

Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum made a trip to Madrid to visit with Atletico Madrid forward, and basketball enthusiast, Antoine Griezmann to shoot some hoops.

While doing so, Griezmann quizzed McCollum on some of his peers’ habits on the court. The result was fantastic.

Players with at least four previous pension-credited seasons are subject to the waiver system for the remainder of the regular season and postseason.

At 4:00 p.m., New York time, signing period ends for Franchise Players who are eligible to receive offer sheets.

Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to sign their unsigned Franchise and Transition Players, including Franchise Players who were eligible to receive offer sheets until this date. If still unsigned after this date, such players are prohibited from playing in the NFL in 2017.

The Clippers are getting this pick, too, clearly trying to use this deep draft to stock up on potential role players next to their stars. Overall, these are smart picks, even if Chris Paul and Blake Griffin don’t return. Thornwell is a killer defender, and he became a stronger shooter over the course of the year.

Cancar is a playmaking 4 who needs to improve as a jump Cheap Hockey Jerseys Canada shooter, but he has some passing skills at 6-9 with length. He’s the prototypical player for Denver, who has a better Cheap High Quality Jerseys scouting staff than any in the NBA, to keep overseas.

Lessort is a draft-and-stash that recently signed with Bamberg in Germany, meaning he’ll get minutes at the highest level in Euroleague. He’s an athletic 6-9 bruiser who rebounds and produces.