NHL: The NHL Season is coming down to stretch run time and the bad teams are slowly being weeded out. The League has been so great to this point because it feels like every night a new team jumps into a playoff spot and another drops out. It’s awesome and the competitive nature of it has brought out the best in teams resulting in some really good hockey.
Who’s Hot? The story of the season has been how dominant the Vegas Golden Knights have been. It’s cliché but it seems like they have really taken to a family culture; they are “the island of misfit toys” that all the other teams didn’t want and wouldn’t give a chance but they are thriving under the new roles they’ve been given. They are a legit cup contender but there are a ton of teams playing well right now and here is who has been the hottest:
•Winnipeg Jets– They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 and have been playing unreal. With good goaltending in (our former teammate) Connor Hellebuyck, great scoring, great defense and awesome home ice advantage, they look legit right now
•Pittsburgh Penguins- Never sleep on the Pens. They have two of the top 5(ish) players on the planet and they know how to win. They’re 8-1-1 and have scored 44 goals in their last 10 games. Phil Kessel is having a career year while still eating like a teenage skateboarder and Matt Murray is settling in. I would not want to play them in the playoffs.
•Philadelphia Flyers- 7-1-2 in last 10. They are playing really well but lose some key pieces like, well, their starting goalies and Wayne Simmonds. They’re hot and picked up an average starter in Petr Mrazek for the time being but will be interesting to see if they can hold on.
•Boston Bruins- They could be the deepest team in the NHL right now and can play a different, successful style versus every team. I like the addition of Nick Holden but I think they’ll make another minor move to cement themselves as a contender
Who’s Not? This year has been an absolute nightmare for perennial basement dwellers like the Coyotes and Sabres but my goodness some teams who had huge expectations have been atrocious. It’s almost be sad to watch.
•Edmonton Oilers- They stink. Really bad. Best player in the NHL isn’t enough to make a team win. They clearly were not ready to become a year in and year out threat. Worst PP and PK in the NHL. They stink, Trade McDavid….
•Chicago Blackhawks- Weird year for the Hawks. Just never can get going on a run of any sort and it looks like their vets are tired from years of long playoff runs. Keith and Seabrooke have being off and their depth just isn’t there.
•New York Rangers- Sell Sell Sell. Trade everyone, start over. Team has been in flux since the Cup run against LA. Nash, McDonagh, get rid of them all. Go young and build what you have for a solid 6-7 year stretch and hope you bring a cup home this time
Don’t sleep on: Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Trade Deadline is Feb. 26th, look for it to be a slow moving, late market. Not a ton of huge deals but definitely moves that will solidify bubble teams or make contenders that much better. Rich Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Thomas Vanek, Mike Hoffman, Evander Kane are the big names to look out for.
NBA: The NBA is baffling to me these days. In no other sport can we guess, with relative certainty, who the teams playing in the championship series will be. At least this season feels like there could be 4 teams that will fight for the Finals. Golden State, Houston, Boston, Cleveland. These are the 4 teams that come to mind when it comes to winning it all. But what about the Toronto Raptors? 41 wins, dominant at home and a +8.5 point differential. Don’t forget about Drake’s boys up north!
The All Star Game went pretty well I thought. Watched the whole thing and it was pretty sloppy early on. Not just the players but Fergie was wailing away like a wounded animal and almost had me turn it off before it began. Have Lebron sing. The dunk contest was entertaining and Donovan Mitchell continues to impress as a young star. The game in general was intense in the fourth quarter with it coming down to the final possession. It made me wonder if the NBA should just have a 4 team league and have those types of games every night! Also, awesome they played for charities, that’s what it’s all about.
The deadline saw some big trades like Blake Griffin head to the Motor City, Emmanuel Mudiay to NYC but the story was the Cavaliers. They weren’t playing up to standards that were in line with Lebron’s expectations. They essentially traded away their entire team, including Isaiah Thomas to the Lakers and DWade headed back to Miami, which now has them looking like a contender again with young guns who can shoot, have energy, and play defense. Big names going to Believeland were Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood and George Hill.
One thing that bothers me about the NBA is the lack of competitiveness. We tweeted a few days ago:
The #NBA has 16 playoff spots. There are realistically only 3 others that have chances of getting in (DET, LAC, UTA) and 7-8 that are trying to get the first pick. How is this competitive?”
It’s crazy how there just aren’t many teams competing for playoffs. It doesn’t bring out the best in a game that can be so fast, entertaining and fascinating. It honestly feels like there is nothing to look forward to until the Conference Finals in the NBA.
NCAA basketball is really heating up. Can’t wait for Conference Tournament time. March Madness will be awesome with some different name schools being contenders. We will have a big NCAA MM segment moving forward.
MLB: Spring Training has started which means that every (eh..) team has new hope for a big year. Prospects are trying to make an impact in camp and guys are trying to grab spots. Obviously, there are some teams who realistically come into the season with slim chances of making playoffs, but this year seems like there are a good amount of teams who can make a run at a title. Cactus and Grapefeuit League games start Feb. 23rd, and we will now have baseball regularly until late October!
2018 promises to have huge storylines like:
•What will Shohei Ohtani actually do?
•Will there be more “Pace of Play” changes?
•Can the Astros repeat?
•Could the Yankees have two 50 HR bats?
•Just how bad will the Tigers and Marlins be?
In the past couple weeks we have seen big names finally start to sign/ be moved after a slow off season. Guys like Yu Darvish (CHC), JD Martinez (BOS), Eric Hosmer (SDP) all signed big deals but there are still big names on the market like Jake Arrieta, Mike Moustakas, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Johnathon Lucroy, Neil Walker and Carlos Gonzalez that could effect playoff races in a big, big way.
Our next The4 promises to be chock full of MLB information once Spring Training really gets going and more Free Agents sign!
NFL: Kind of a dead period in the NFL right now. Jimmy Garoppolo signed a mega deal, the Browns still stink and we all miss Football Sundays. The Eagles and the city of Philly have been parading for 3 weeks now and have good reason to be as Carson Wentz could lead them back next year. Jarvis Landry got Franchise tagged by the Dolphins.
The most exciting thing going on in the league is clearly the draft coming up. There could be 4 QBs taken in the first 10 picks; Allen, Barkley, Mayfield and Rosen. There are definitely some monster prospects coming from big name schools who can make impacts right away like Saquon Barkley (RB, PSU), Roquan Smith (LB, UGA), and Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB, Bama). We will track the NFL Draft a lot moving forward!
I miss you NFL (and you redzone), please hurry back.
Check back in on March 8th for the next THE4 Roundup!