Tag Archives: Nick Craddock

Kings will win the Stanley Cup (I think…)

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. This was the scene late last night as the Los Angeles Kings (pictured above) clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup. Can they win it all?

By Nick Craddock

Don’t fret about the aging Lakers, good people of Los Angeles, your Los Angeles Kings will win the Stanley Cup and bring joy and a championship banner to the Staples Center soon enough. Without being so bold as to bet my own money, I would assure any willing (and possibly chronic) gamblers to place their bets on the team in Black and White to hoist the Cup as NHL champions in June.

Despite Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference Finals arguably being the sloppiest two games of the Kings’ playoff run to date, the boys from LA managed to edge the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime in Game 5 to take the series in five games and advance to the Stanley Cup to face the winner of the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. Somehow, the Kings survived a lackadaisical start, particularly from stars Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, a 5-on-3 Coyotes powerplay in the third period, and a Phoenix powerplay in overtime to avoid giving the fellow upstart Coyotes yet another breath of life in the series.

Really, the Kings were just a “Mike Smith” away from sweeping the Coyotes in four games as the Phoenix goaltender briefly returned to his earlier round form in pushing the series back to Glendale, Arizona for what turned out to be the decisive Game 5.

Still, the fact remains that the Kings have only needed 14 games to dispose of the Western Conference’s top three seeds and own a perfect road record (8-0). The small sample size of games has been proof enough that the Kings are playing the best hockey of any team in the playoffs. Continue reading

The Conn Smythe Trophy Frontrunners

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Dustin Brown (pictured above) is a major favorite to bring home the Conn Smythe Trophy.

By Nick Craddock

The 2012 NHL playoffs are coming to a crescendo.  Between a closely contested Eastern Conference Finals featuring the rival New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils and what has turned into a one-sided Western Conference Finals featuring the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes, the muddled playoff picture which began with 16 teams vying for Lord Stanley’s Cup is coming into focus.

Of all the players who have made their mark this postseason in helping their teams to this stage, these five look poised to have the best shot at capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the NHL playoffs’ Most Valuable Player.

1. Dustin Brown, right wing, Kings: Brown is proving why he wears the “C” on his jersey this spring. He leads his team in scoring with seven goals and eight assists, including three game-winning goals. He’s tied with teammate Anze Kopitar for the best plus/minus rating of any player in the playoffs. He delivers crushing hits. And even when he’s not making an incredible play, he influences the game to such a degree that it affects his opponent’s psyche (i.e.Phoenix’s Martin Hanzal cross-checking Brown from behind into the boards during Game 2, resulting in a one-game suspension).  All in all, Brown’s outstanding play makes it unfathomable to think the Kings contemplated trading Brown at the trading deadline. Simply put, the Kings’ stellar play through these playoffs thus far would not be possible without Brown. That description sounds like the embodiment of a Conn Smythe winner. Continue reading

Jets’ target Asomugha now a must-get?

Photo courtesy of nflgridirongab.com. Arguably the biggest prize of the free agent class, Nnamdi Asomugha (pictured above) should find a home in the very near future. Could it be with the New York Jets?

By Nick Craddock

Revis Island might become a part of a greater archipelago if the New York Jets are successful in their pursuit of one of the biggest prizes in this free agency bonanza.

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who has spent the past eight seasons (seven of which were losing seasons, save for last year’s 8-8 mark) with the Oakland Raiders, is the prototypical shutdown corner and could be the last key to completing the Jets’ quest for a Super Bowl.

And the Jets’ hopes of landing Asomugha, a three-time Pro Bowler, were given a boost Thursday when the Houston Texans, one of Asomugha’s leading suitors and a team capable of offering the free agent about twice as much money as the Jets, opted to sign Johnathan Joseph instead. Continue reading

Shaq puts the KiBosh on Miami big man

Photo courtesy of youvalley.com. Shaquille O'Neal (pictured above) is already making his voice heard from the broadcast booth as expected.

By Nick Craddock

Shaquille O’Neal may have retired, but he’s still making headlines off the court. In a TV gig as an NBA analyst for Turner Sports, Shaq gave viewers their daily dose of scrutiny directed at the oft-vilified Miami Heat.

Chris Bosh, considered by many to be the weakest (and, on occasion, weeping) link of the Miami’s “Big Three,” found himself in O’Neal’s crosshairs; Shaq Fu questioned whether Miami had a “Big Three,” but instead only a “Big Two” — LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

Evidently, this was a gibe at Bosh, and, well, I’m siding with the Diesel in this debate. Continue reading

Aside

By Nick Craddock I’ll probably watch a smidge of tonight’s Home Run Derby.  But only a smidge. I love the longball during an actual game of baseball, but after seeing home run after home run during this pre-All Star Game … Continue reading

Aside

By Nick Craddock If you had asked me this time last year whether or not Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista was worth a five-year, $65 million guaranteed contract, I would have been skeptical. Fast forward to the present and I think … Continue reading

Jagr returns to the NHL, inks with Flyers

Photo courtesy of thenhl.wikia.com.

By Nick Craddock

Jaromir Jagr will be playing hockey in the state of Pennsylvania again. But he’ll be donning a different jersey.

Today, the first day of NHL free agency (and fittingly Canada Day), Jagr signed a one-year contract worth $3.3 million with the Philadelphia Flyers, the fiercest Atlantic Division rival of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who Jagr helped guide to two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.

Having spent the past three seasons in Russia with Kontinental Hockey League’s Avangard Omsk, Jagr, 39, impressed while in Russia and at the IIHF World Championship in May, when Jagr scored a hat trick in a game against NHL-level competition for his native Czech Republic, proving he had plenty to offer any team. Continue reading

Looking ahead to NBA free agency (if and when it happens)

Photo courtesy of watchesbydesign.com. Yao Ming (pictured above) could be a potential bargain pick up for a contender when the CBA situation is eventually figured out according to our very own Nick Craddock.

By Nick Craddock

With a Thursday midnight deadline looming, NBA owners and the NBA players union appear nowhere near close to hammering out a new collective bargaining agreement that would allow for free agents to start negotiations, as regularly scheduled, on July 1.

However, whenever the 2011 free agency period does commence, there will be some talented ballers available for general managers to sign. How a new CBA affects player contracts is yet to be seen, but here is a list of this summer’s free agents who are overvalued and in line to start taking baths of Benjamins. On the other hand, potential bargain players could reap huge rewards for teams:

5 overvalued players

1. Jose Juan Barea (Dallas Mavericks): The diminutive Puerto Rican point guard won many admirers for his performances during the Mavericks’ 2011 championship run, but whether or not this former undrafted player and star from Northeastern is ready for primetime is yet to be seen. Sure, Barea sliced-and-diced the Lakers during the playoffs, but could this career bench player sustain such success for 82 games a year in a more demanding role? Regardless of my skepticism, his playoff heroics will be the most recent memory general managers have of Barea and, consequently, he will undoubtedly cash in with a hefty pay raise. Once Barea receives a bump in pay, one can only hope he will follow the path of fellow Puerto Rican Jennifer Lopez; although he used to have a little, but then a lot, he’ll remember where he came from because he’s J.J. from the block.      Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets are back in business. Finally.

Photo courtesy of truthfullylying.wordpress.com. The Atlanta Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg and becoming the new version of the Winnipeg Jets.

By Nick Craddock

The Jets are back.

In the past month, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg, an NHL franchise-less city since 1996, a new general manager was named, a new coach was appointed, and before the relocated franchise began its first draft on Friday, it was announced that the team would once again be referred to as the “Winnipeg Jets” (jerseys and logos will follow at a later date).

Bringing back the old “Jets” moniker is not only nostalgic, but this link to the past symbolizes the professional hockey hiatus in Winnipeg that never should’ve happened. Continue reading

NBA draft 2011: 5 must-miss prospects and 5 possible steals

Photo courtesy of USAToday.com. Kenneth Faried (pictured above) led the country in rebounds this past season. Our very own Nick Craddock thinks that Faried can one of the major steals of this year's lackluster draft class.

By Nick Craddock

As you’ve probably heard, the 2011 NBA draft is shaping up to be one of the weakest in years.

Rumor has it that one of the possible taglines the NBA league office considered to promote the event was: NBA draft 2011…where underwhelming talent happens.

In fact, if we likened all the hopeful hoopers waiting to hear their name called at the Prudential Center in friendly Newark, N.J. — Madison Square Garden is unavailable to serve as the venue this year because of scheduled renovations — to popsicles, then all the NBA teams have a disappointing box full of grape-flavored popsicles to select from (maybe there’s an orange or raspberry hidden somewhere in the box).

Just as any sane person should consciously avoid grape popsicles (I don’t care how hot it gets, I won’t settle for grape), if I’m an NBA GM, I’m avoiding taking these prospects: Continue reading