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(ht to Vice Sports. Read full article here)
In this corner: The Presidents' Trophy winning Capitals (56-18-8, +57 true goals differential), moving on to the second round for the fifth time in eight years. They've lost each of their previous four visits, including three that went to Game 7.
And in this corner: The Penguins (48-26-8, +42), a team packed with elite talent that stumbled out of the gate before changing coaches and transforming into a powerhouse
In round one: The Capitals raced out to a 3-0 series lead on the Flyers before losing two straight to resurrect the ghosts of playoff collapses past; they ended that talk, at least temporarily, by closing out the series with a 1-0 win in Game 6. The Penguins speed-bagged Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers in a five-game series.
Injury report: The big name is Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins' goalie who missed the entire first round with a concussion. He's been skating lately and could return at some point, but until then the Pens will rely on rookie Matt Murray, who played well against the Rangers. The Penguins did get Evgeni Malkin back during the opening round, and the rest of the key names are relatively healthy.
The Capitals are also in fairly good shape, although they've been missing veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik and winger T.J. Oshie looked shaken up by a high hit in Game 6 (but did return for the third period).
Dominant narrative: Ovechkin Crosby Ovechkin Crosby Ovechkin Crosby Ovechkin Crosby Ovechkin Crosby Ovechkin Crosby. The NHL spent years trying to market these two as the Magic vs. Bird rivalry of their era, but they've only actually met in the playoffs once before. That was in 2009, a seven-game Penguins win that many consider one of the best series in recent memory.
The big question: Which secondary stars show up? Crosby and Ovechkin will get the spotlight, and rightly so, but this matchup is just packed with elite talent. If Crosby stumbles, the Penguins still have Malkin and Phil Kessel. If Ovechkin goes cold, the Caps have Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom. Any of those guys are skilled enough to take over a game or two single-handedly.
The Penguins have one thing the Caps don't: a true blueline stud in Kris Letang (John Carlson isn't quite there yet). But the Capitals have an all-star in goal, while the Penguins... well... let's get to that.
One player to watch: Matt Murray. With Fleury still experiencing concussion symptoms, it looks like Murray will be the guy, at least early on. The rookie was up to the challenge against the Rangers, outplaying Henrik Lundqvist. But the Capitals aren't the Rangers, and there won't be much margin for error for a kid with just 16 NHL games under his belt.
Key number: 16—Combined powerplay goals for these two teams in the opening round. They each had eight, while no other team had more than six. Discipline and staying out of the box are important in every series; in this one, it will be absolutely crucial.
Old YouTube clip to get you fired up: Ovechkin and Crosby both record hat tricks in a high-scoring Game 2 during the 2009 showdown.
Prediction: Nine of the Capitals' 12 series since 2008 have gone the distance. This one is no different. In the most exciting series of the playoffs, the Penguins win a seven-game classic.
Bonus prediction that is oddly specific: The winning team loses more games in this series than they do in the next two rounds combined.
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Saturday night, NBA All-Star Weekend had one of the best Slam Dunk contests we've seen in a while. Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine battled each other with perfect 50 scores in an epic final round. We're still not sure Zach should've taken it.
Judge for yourself...
Here's our list of the top 5 least intimidating team names.
5) ORLANDO MAGIC
4) WASHINGTON WIZARDS
3) NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
2) SAN DIEGO PADRES
1) CLEVELAND BROWNS
In the NHL, the month of February is a time when teams and General Managers have one last chance to look at their rosters and decide if they want to go for it all or sell off and hope for next season.
This year the trade deadline is March 2 and everyone is eager to see what their favorite NHL team will do.
The NHL trade deadline has become so hyped up that some die hard fans have deemed this day a national holiday. Fans love to see their team bolster it's lineup. It's a vote of confidence from the organization and a will to win. Will your team make a deal or will the competition steal your player?
If you are planning on taking the day off, tune into your local sports TV provider and they will most likely have a panel of sports broadcasters on air, checking their twitter feeds, e-mail accounts and text messages to see which players are on the move.
If TV is not available to you (because you are at work), there are even websites that will list all of the nhl trades that have occurred (in real time) so you can follow directly from your desk.
In most cases, the deadline deals are close and both teams get fair value but there have also been a number of completely crazy and lopsided deals over the past 30 years. Below, we’ll be looking at some of the worst nhl trades made at the deadline and maybe you can help us figure out what the GM or team was thinking at the time.
What were these hockey teams thinking? Why did they make the trades at the time? I guess, as an NHL fan, you must be careful what you wish for, if your team's general manager pulls the trigger on the deadline day, cross your fingers the deal does not end up on next year's "Worst NHL Deadline Deal" list.
If we missed any deals that you think should be on this list, let us know!
Some people are true icons that transcend their industry and are practically synonymous with what they do (Bill Gates to Computers, the Wright Brothers to Airplanes and Jack Nicklaus to Golf) and if you ask anyone to name the best basketball player ever, Michael Jordan is likely to be the first name they say.
With Michael's birthday on February 17, we decided to dig deep to find some truly interesting, unknown and current facts about the amazing Michael Jordan, #23.
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Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 17th 1963. It may seem strange but when he was in tenth grade he did not make the basketball team, losing out to a kid named Leroy (although he would get a strange revenge of sorts when he would use his name when checking into hotels).
His success began when he enrolled at the University of North Carolina. During this time as a Tar Heel, he would become extremely close to the college basketball coaching legend, Dean Smith. He even said in a USA today article that, "Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach – he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father." Under coach Smith, Michael would thrive and become the NCAA College Player of the Year in both 1983 and in 1984.
After his junior year in college Michael decided to turn professional and was drafted 3rd overall (Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie were drafted 1,2 respectively) to the Chicago Bulls organization. This is where he made his name and turned into a basketball legend and by acclamation, the greatest basketball player of all time. His achievements include:
You would think that being in the NBA for so long would result in arch rivals but many people have said that Michael never really had rivals (he was that good).
If we had to chose a few players that we would consider to be even close, we would say: Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Reggier Miller, Isiah Thomas, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
Actor - Space Jam
Michael Jordan has long been associated with branding. His Nike range of shoes continue to earn him millions of dollars a year and he is still the ambassador for numerous others. But one of the oddest brand extensions was the feature film Space Jam, playing alongside Bugs Bunny and company (it was also a rather odd cameo appearance by Bill Murray and Wayne “Newman!” Knight).
2 Sport Athlete - Basketball and Baseball
It has not always been easy for Michael, when his father was killed during an attempted armed robbery he retired from basketball to briefly take up baseball, which did not go very well. He played for the Birmingham Barons for 1 year (1994) and batted .202.
Sports Franchise Owner - 2 Basketball Teams
He would also go on to be the part owner of the Washington Wizards before his retirement in 2003. In 2006 he purchased a minority stake in the then called Charlotte Bobcats. In 2010 Jordan and his group purchased the Bobcats outright. Finally in 2013, Jordan filed papers to change the Bobcats' name to the Hornets, which became effective in the 2014–15 season.
He is no longer playing basketball at a professional level so what is he doing now? Michael Jordan is definitely still working hard. According to Forbes, he has a working relationship with a number of commercial sponsors including Gatorade, 2K sports and of course Nike. According to some other sources his endorsement deal with Nike alone is worth more than $60 million a year. He has over 25 million Facebook fans, ranked #10 on the top athlete Facebook pages (behind other global soccer superstars David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi etc...). He also owns a stake in the Montana State Bobcats.
What is clear is that this iconic athlete is going to continue to enthral sports fans for years to come.
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