Good evening Eastern/afternoon Pacific! It's time to settle in and enjoy some playoff games! In case you missed last night's episode of "Sports," here's a recap:
- The Eastern Conference Final is going to a Game 7. Phil Kessel is so good that no goalie can hope to contain him; not even his own.
- Mitch Marner is putting up video game numbers in the Memorial Cup. You may, however, offend some non-Leaf fans by expressing joy about this turn of events. Please politely ask your local non-Leaf fan for permission before discussing Mitch Marner. Thank you./
Intermission reading: here's a piece from an American player on his experience playing third-tier pro hockey in Finland.
NHL: St. Louis Blues @ San Jose Sharks; Game 6 (9:00 PM ET; CBC)
Tonight, the Sharks can punch their first-ever ticket to the Stanley Cup Final with a win. The Blues, however, hope to win and force a Game 7 in Missouri on Friday night to keep alive their hope of advancing to their first Cup Final since 1970.
Now that I've got your attention, can we talk about the Stanley Cup Final schedule? It sucks. For all the complaints about how the postseason is too long, that really isn't the issue. The issue is that the NHL keeps stretching out the Cup Final for as long as possible for reasons that make sense to only them. Look at that abomination! Games 4 through 7 will be played over a ten-day span!
Not to mention there are guaranteed to be no hockey games this upcoming Saturday or Sunday. Why? The worst case scenario for travel if you had a Sunday game is the Sharks win in 7 and face Tampa Bay. If that happened, both teams would have to fly to the West Coast on 2-3 days' rest. Otherwise, the winning team in the West would either be well-rested or not need to travel too far for the next round. Then, you play on alternating days and wrap this thing up by June 10 at the latest. We don't need an extra day between games for piping hot leadership takes. OKAY, LET'S GO.
AHL: Hershey Bears @ Toronto Marlies, Game 3 (7:30 PM ET, TSN2)
The Marlies come home to the Ricoh Coliseum down 2-0 against the Hershey Bears. I haven't seen much of this series, but am told the Marlies let Zach Sill score on them. Zach Sill! That's bad and you should feel bad.
Speaking of weird schedules, the Marlies have home ice advantage but played Games 1 and 2 on the road. They're now playing three straight at Ricoh, then heading back to Pennsylvania for Game 6 before coming back for Game 7. The AHL playoff schedule is a wacky a la carte buffet, and I love it. What if they advance to face the Ontario Reign? Do they play three straight in California, then four straight in Toronto? I would enjoy that; that's some good and wacky hockey right there.
NBA: Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 5 (8:30 PM ET, SN)
If I may turn your attention to basketball for a second, the Raptors are playing perhaps their most important game in their most important series in franchise history. If you want some in-depth analysis, our basketball cousins over at Raptors HQ should have you covered.
Enjoy the games.
Who you got winning tonight?