“Weekly Nickel”

A rivalry renewed on Friday. All eyes in the baseball world will be on Fenway Park (pictured above) come Friday, as the Yankees and Red Sox square off for the first time of the 2011 season.

It’s another Monday.  And what a great week of sports in store for the upcoming 7 days.  Championship games, MLB Action, NFL Court Cases, and I could go on.  Strap in, because this week will be a wild ride.

Here is a look at the top 5.

5.  There are only 3 or 4 games left remaining in the NHL Regular Season.  And guess what.  Most of the playoff picture has still not be painted.  In the East, only 5 of the 8 spots have been secured, while in the Wild Wild West, only a mind-boggling 3 of the 8 playoff spots have been locked up.  Talk about excitement.  By 10PM Sunday, the playoff portrait will be painted, and ready to be dissected.

Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings:  The defending Stanley Cup Champions are fighting for their lives, while hockey’s version of the New York Yankees are looking to remain atop San Jose for the #2 seed in the West.  Nobody wants to have to play the team that sports the NHL’s top record (Vancouver), before the Conference Finals if they can help it.  The Blackhawks somehow have a +34 goal differential this year, which is 2nd in the Western Conference behind none other than Vancouver, yet they are scrambling for dear life looking to secure the 8 spot?  It has been a weird year in Chicago following their amazing Stanley Cup run last year.  Call me crazy, but I expect the fire to still be burning in Chicago.  Look for the Blackhawks to take advantage of a Detroit team who has not been all that great at home the entire season. The Blackhawks inch closer to securing the 8 seed in the West, after a huge road W at Detroit.

4.  I know I have been saying for weeks how boring the NFLPA versus the Owners shenanigans have been.  And I still think it is just a ludicrous scenario which has demonstrated major greed from both parties involved.  Sadly, the fans are the big loser if a new CBA is not formed in time for the season in September. But all bias aside.  At least we will get to witness some action this week.  On Wednesday, the Brady vs NFL case gets under way.  If a preliminary injunction is granted from this, NFL operations will begin to resume just in time for the NFL Draft at the end of the month. 

In all honesty, I do not care how these matters get resolved.  The Owners and players are playing tug of war over 9 billion dollars.  Who cares how this gets split from a fan’s perspective.  The Owners are greedy in that they want a higher percentage of the revenue, yet they will not show the players the books in the first place.  The players are being stubborn in that they will not even entertain the thought of looking at deals that the Owners have been placing before the NFLPA.  Both sides are at fault.  Yet, the one side that will come out the biggest loser is the fans.  Who put tax money into these stadiums.  Pay outrageous amounts for tickets, memorabilia, and television packages, etc, just to watch these guys play every week.  I pray this case on Wednesday is the start of things moving in a positive direction for the NFL.

3.  The NBA regular season has 6 or 7 games remaining.  In the East, 7 of the 8 playoff spots have been locked up, with Indiana closing in on locking up the 8th spot.  In the Western Conference, 5 spots have been clinched, while only a game separates the next 3 teams vying for spots 6-8.  The Regular Season comes to a close a week from Wednesday.  So it is nearly playoff time.  And the timing is perfect with the NCAA March Madness coming to a close this evening.  People love postseason basketball, whether at the Collegiate or Professional level.

One matchup this week has really caught my attention.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets:  This will very likely be the 4/5 matchup in the Western Conference.  And I for one would love to watch these teams duke it out in the playoffs.  The Thunder are 7 and 3 over their last 10 games, but have lost 2 in a row.  The Nuggets are 15 and 4 in the post-Melo era and appear to be loving their acquisitions from the deal.  Both of these teams can really light up the scoreboard and love to get out and run.  Denver currently leads the League in points per game at a outragous 107.5.  Denver has had one Achilles heel all year-long though.  They have struggled to win on the road.  Now I realize that they beat LA at the Staples Center yesterday, in what was probably their biggest win of the season.  But was this a fluke?  Or are they capable of beating playoff caliber opponents in a postseason road atmosphere? 

On the year, these teams are 1 and 1 against each other, with both defending their home court.  So you would think that Denver would be the ideal pick in this game right?  Wrong.  Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the very exciting OKC Thunder are gearing up for a deep playoff run. Tuesday in Denver will be their first statement of many as they look to wreak havoc on the West.  Also remember the age-old saying.  “After every high comes a low.”  Well Denver had a major high at LA yesterday.  Tuesday night, they will have a low against the Thunder.  Expect the Thunder to steal a key road game to maintain breathing room over the Nuggets for the #4 seed in the West.

2.  Major League Baseball is back in full swing people.  And what could be better than watching the best rivalry in sports rekindling their hatred for the first time in the 2011 season?  If you do not know what two teams I am talking about when I say, “the best rivalry in sports,” you have much to learn.  It is no problem either way though.

New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox:  The Yankees head to Fenway Park on Friday afternoon for Round 1 of the always highly entertaining, highly personal, 18 Round slugfest between the AL East foes.  And this does not even include the typical extra innings that we have come to know and love in playoff baseball.  I for one am extremely excited to see the two best teams in the American League (in my opinion), go to war. 

Boston is off to a slow start while the Yankees are 2 and 1 after their first 3 game set of the year.  Past and future games do not mean a thing when these two bitter rivals play.  I am taking the Yankees in Round 1 on Friday.  Look for Phil Hughes to redeem himself from a horrible first outing of the season. 

1.  If you were unsure of what was going to be number 1 this week, you probably have been living under a rock the past 3 weeks.  Tonight, at 9:23, the final basketball game of this epic 2010/2011 season tips off.  In my post yesterday (https://sportskraze.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/national-championship-prediction/), I summarized my thoughts on this great championship matchup.  I fully expect Kemba and Co to be cutting down the nets and giving Jim Calhoun the 3rd National Title of his illustrious coaching career.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

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