"The Stack" 5-8-17
Always Dreaming got by the rest of the field on a sloppy track to win the 143rd Kentucky Derby.
The Stack is back on this Monday and apart from some NBA and NHL Playoffs, we don’t have too much to talk about today. Let’s get right to it though and see what is in “the stack” for today, Monday, May 8th:
Cavs advance, Warriors close in in sweep, other series evened up
The Cleveland Cavaliers are still undefeated. They held off the Toronto Raptors for a 109-102 victory to sweep the series and move on to the eastern conference finals. A big second quarter propelled the Cavaliers to the victory as they outscored the Raptors 33-21. LeBron James is playing some of the best playoff basketball of his career. He had 35 points and looks almost unstoppable. He has really turned it up a notch in the playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors also remain undefeated in the playoffs though they haven’t quite clinched their spot in the western conference finals yet. They beat the Utah Jazz 102-91 Saturday night to put the Jazz on the brink of elimination. It looked like it was going to be a long night for the Jazz before they went on a big run in the second quarter that gave them a one point lead at the half. The Warriors would pull away in the fourth quarter and Kevin Durant was a major reason why they won this game. He had a game high 38 points. He has been tremendous when healthy this postseason.
The other two series are all even. The Rockets and Spurs are tied 2-2 after the Rockets won 125-104 on Sunday. Kawhi Leonard got in foul trouble and had to sit a bunch in the second half and that spelled doom for the Spurs. No starter had more than 16 points. The Rockets meanwhile had four of their five starters in double figures and had plenty of contribution from their bench led by Eric Gordon who had 22 points. Now the series shifts back to San Antonio. This series has seven games written all over it. Meanwhile in our nation’s capital, the Washington Wizards ran away from the Boston Celtics 121-102 to even the series up 2-2. The Wizards have been the better team almost all series long and Sunday was no exception thanks to a big run that helped propel them to a lead they would never look back on. John Wall and Bradley Beal were a lethal one-two combo with 29 points and 27 points respectively. They didn’t even need Kelly Oubre Jr. who was suspended by the NBA for his incident on Friday night. I fully expect them to win this series.
NHL Playoffs update
The Nashville Predators are on to the western conference finals for the first time in franchise history. They trailed early out of the gates in this when Paul Stastny scored two minutes into the game to put the St. Louis Blues up 1-0. From then, the Predators would do the rest of the scoring. Roman Josi scored less than a minute into the second period to tie the game. Then in the third Ryan Johansen scored three minutes into the period to give the Predators a 2-1 lead. They would add an empty net goal. The Blues had more shots and applied more pressure right away in the game, but the Predators fended them off. I did not expect this from the Predators, but good for them getting to this point. They are a fun team to watch. The city is having a good time celebrating this run.
At least one of the remaining series is going seven games. The Edmonton Oilers scored five goals in the first period in route to a 7-1 rout of the Anaheim Ducks to force a winner-take-all game seven in Anaheim. The Oilers should have won this series if they had not given up a three goal lead with just under four minutes to go and scored three goals with the goalie pulled. It was unbelievable. Game seven is going to be a lot of fun.
In the eastern conference, the New York Rangers once again let a lead slip away in Ottawa as they would lose 5-4 in overtime to put the Rangers in a must-win situation for games six and potentially seven. They got off to a 2-0 lead five minutes into the game only to see the Senators score the next three goals. The Rangers responded with the next two goals and the Senators would once again strike late to tie the game before Kyle Turris scored in overtime to give the Senators a 5-4 win and a 3-2 series lead. If the Rangers could just hold a lead on the road this series would be over. Now thye have been pushed to the brink of elimination.
The final series that everyone is paying attention the most is the Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals series. Capitals head coach Barry Trotz moved Alex Ovechkin to the third line and it up until the third period it looked like that may not do the trick and the Capitals would once again disappoint in the playoffs. They still could disappoint and exit early in the playoffs, but there will be a game six after the Capitals took down the Penguins 4-2. The Capitals scored just under three minutes into the third to tie the game thanks Nicklas Backstrom’s fifth goal of the playoffs. The Capitals would break it open five minutes later when Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin scored 27 seconds apart to put the Capitals up 4-2. This time around when the Penguins pulled the goalie they could not score and the Capitals hung on for victory. Sidney Crosby did play which is encouraging for Penguins fans. He’ll be better in game six back in Pittsburgh. Can the Capitals force a game seven? I tend to doubt it.
Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby
If you watched the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, you were not dreaming in thinking that the favorite won the derby for a fifth straight year. Always Dreaming had the lead down the stretch and lengthened the distance between him and the next horse as the 9:2 favorite by race start won the 143rd Kentucky Derby. A sloppy track made the race somewhat unknown. Some people liked Thunder Snow like myself, but he got spooked by the wet track it appeared and pulled up almost right out of the gates. Classic Empire, one of the favorites headed into Saturday finished fourth. Irish War Cry, another horse that people liked going into the race was way behind the pack. Two longshots, Looking at Lee and Battle of Midway placed second and third respectively. Can Always Dreaming win the triple crown this year? I doubt it, but you just never can know. A wet track does make the field a little more even. At the Preakness in a couple of weeks we’ll see if we have another shot at a triple crown winner or not.
Monday’s playoff schedule
Golden State Warriors @ Utah Jazz 9 PM ET TNT (Warriors lead series 3-0)
Washington Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins 7:30 PM ET NBCSN (Penguins lead series 3-2)
Coming up Tuesday: NBA and NHL Playoff reaction plus other top stories in sports