Weekly Nickel 12-5-2011

Photo courtesy of Cleveland.com. Can Aaron Craft (pictured above) lead the Buckeyes to a win in their first road test?

By Josh Kramer

At least this past week was not as marred with controversy as the past couple.  Sure developments continue to come out about the recent debauchery, but at least no brand new scandals came to fruition.  That was a victory in itself.  Most of the attention was focused on the gridiron and on the court.  And that is the way it should be.

Here are the events to keep an eye on this week.

5.  So the NHL has already lost some of it’s “brand new car” type of luster.  The NBA is right around the corner, Sid “The Kid” has made his almighty return, and now we are a quarter of the way into the season.  This is typically the time of year where the NHL takes a major backseat to football and basketball.  But I want to make sure you are aware, there is still some great hockey to be played this week.  The marquee matchup of the week will take place in Pittsburgh.

Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins:  Any time these two legacy filed franchise get together, it is fun.  To make things more interesting this year, these are currently the top two teams in the Eastern Conference in terms of record.  In addition, they have both really stepped up their game over the past two weeks.  There is a reason why Boston has gone 9-0-1 in their past 10 contests and possess the NHL’s top record.  They lead the League in goals allowed per game, and rank second in goals scored.   I would say that is a pretty good formula to win in the NHL.  Pittsburgh on the other hand, has been no slouch in their own right.  They rank among the League’s elite in both categories of goals allowed and goals scored.  Plus, they rank second in power play kill percentage.  Despite how hot the defending Stanley Cup Champions have been over the past few weeks, I like Pittsburgh to handle business at the CONSOL Energy Center tonight.  The Penguins have the best home record in the NHL.

4.  Jose Reyes appears to be taking his talents to South Beach. Though no games will officially be played, the next week is an extremely busy one for all MLB teams. Here are a few key items to keep in mind over the course of the next seven days.

-Today through Thursday are the always exciting Winter Meetings.  Owners will gather in Dallas to ensure success over the course of the next year.

-At 5PM on December 5th (tonight), is the last time to outright a player prior to the Rule 5 Draft.

-Midnight on December 7th (Wednesday), will be the last time a player who declared free agency to accept arbitration from their former club.

-Thursday, December 8th, the Rule 5 Draft will occur.  Will any Josh Hamilton’s pop up from this often overlooked spectacle?

3.  As the Christmas Day opener for the NBA season draws closer, this week will be jam-packed as teams continue to prepare for the upcoming 66-game season.  Keep your eyes and ears low to the ground.  I think  you remember what things were like shortly following an agreement on a new CBA in the NFL not too long ago.

2.  Kentucky and Ohio State both made major statements last week in the College Hoops world.  Ohio State embarrassed Duke, while Kentucky ripped the hearts out of the North Carolina Tar Heels.  One thing is for sure.  The Madness this year will be just that, “Madness.”  Saturday is shaping up to be extra “Super” this week.

-Kentucky at Indiana (Talk about a traditional filled matchup at Assembly Hall)

-Ohio State at Kansas (OSU’s first major road test)

-UNLV at Wisconsin (UNLV bested UNC while Wisconsin nearly pulled off the upset)

-Cincinnati at Xavier (Crosstown Shootout baby)

1.  Tebow did it again.  Cam Newton set some more records.  And Pittsburgh continued their recent dominance of the Cincinnati Bengals.  Week 13 is nearly in the books, but Week 14 is right around the corner.

-New Orleans at Tennessee  (A must-win for Tennessee)

-Houston at Cincinnati (Some of the AFC’s best)

-Oakland at Green Bay (Two likely playoff teams)

-New York (Giants) at Dallas (NFC East rumble for divisional supremacy)

All of the picks for Week 13 will be included in the weekly “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge” on Friday)

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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