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"The Stack" 5-9-16

Nyquist won the 142nd Kentucky Derby on Saturday and remains undefeated in his racing career. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Nyquist won the 142nd Kentucky Derby on Saturday and remains undefeated in his racing career.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Stack is back after a very relaxing weekend.  It was a weekend that saw the Chicago Cubs sweep a four game series from the Washington Nationals, the Kentucky Derby, Penn State’s legal settlements regarding Jerry Sandusky child abuse victims go back to 1971 and more so let’s get right to it and see what’s in “the stack” for today, Monday, May 9th:

 

NBA playoff action from the weekend

 

The Toronto Raptors have taken home court advantage back in their series with the Miami Heat following the team’s 95-91 win Saturday night.  Kyle Lowry’s work in the gym after game one paid off for at least one night. He was eleven-for-nineteen from the floor for 33 points.  DeMar DeRozan redeemed himself from the foul line going 7-for-8, but the Raptors are going to have a difficult time closing out this series as their big guy Jonas Valanciunas is out for the rest of the series with an ankle injury.  Considering he gets a double-double it seems like every game, this is a big loss for the Raptors. 

 

Portland took advantage of not having to go against Steph Curry in Portland for game three and the Trailblazers got back in the series for at least one game after beating the Golden State Warriors 120-108.  A big second quarter in which the Trailblazers doubled up on the Warriors 36-18 was too much for Golden State to overcome.  One would think that the Steph Curry will be back in the next game or two (possibly tonight) and that that will end Portland’s chances.  The Trailblazers at least showed that they are not going down without a fight.  Damion Lillard put up 40 points for the Trailblazers in the win.

 

There is one team in the NBA Playoffs that is still undefeated.  That would be the Cleveland Cavaliers who will have another lengthy rest period following their sweep of the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.  It was a close game on Sunday in which the Cavs won 100-99 in a back and forth final few minutes.  The Cavs battled back on Friday too.  Bottom line is that the Hawks just didn’t have the personnel to match up with the Cavs and LeBron James and company are playing their best basketball of the season.  I believe it was ESPNs Brian Windhorst that said that the Cavs were playing their best basketball since James came back to the team in 2014.  That is high praise.  We’ll see if the result will be any different this year.

 

Finally, the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs appear to be going the distance with Kevin Durant matching a playoff career high with 41 points and carrying the Thunder in the fourth quarter with 17 points to even the series up 2-2 following the Thunder’s 111-97 victory.  Tim Duncan was scoreless in the game.  That never happens and it won’t happen again and the Spurs were dreadful from beyond the arc.  Don’t anticipate that happening again either.  The Spurs still should win this series, but the Thunder are not going to go away easily.  Here is tonight’s playoff schedule:

 

Toronto Raptors @ Miami Heat 8 PM ET TNT (Raptors lead series 2-1)

 

Golden State Warriors @ Portland Trailblazers 10:30 PM ET TNT (Warriors lead series 2-1)

 

Stanley Cup Playoffs update

 

The St. Louis Blues are back in control of their series with the Dallas Stars and can close the series out at home following their 4-1 win Saturday over the Stars in Dallas.  Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen once again was not strong in net for the Stars while Brian Elliott stopped 27 of 28 shots for the Blues.  Goalie has to be an area where the Stars improve this offseason if they want to get over that final hump.

 

The Washington Capitals are still alive and have not fully disappointed yet again in the playoffs (though inevitably they will) following their 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Capitals played like the more desperate team and scored two goals in the second period to put the Penguins away in game five including a goal from Alexander Ovechkin.  Now they just have to win one game in Pittsburgh to send the series back to D.C. for the decisive game seven.  I hope they can do it, but it is going to be very tough.

 

Following that three overtime thriller in Nashville Thursday that actually finished on Friday, the San Jose Sharks appeared to be the only team with legs on Saturday, crushing the Predators 5-1.  Game four hero (and Carrie Underwood’s husband) Mike Fisher scored the only goal for the Predators, but it was the Sharks who dominated and now they can close out the series back in Nashville.

 

There is one series that is done and that would be the Tampa Bay Lightning-New York Islanders series where the Lightning finished off the Islanders 4-0 in game five after a couple of hard fought victories up in Brooklyn.  The Lightning are starting to play like the team that went to the Stanley Cup last year.  Whoever plays the Lightning, Penguins or Capitals, should not overlook the Lightning though I still think the winner of that series will beat the Lightning.  Tonight’s playoff schedule is as follows:

 

Dallas Stars @ St. Louis Blues 8 PM ET NBCSN (Blues lead series 3-2)

 

San Jose Sharks @ Nashville Predators 9 PM ET CNBC (Sharks lead series 3-2)

 

Nyquist wins the Kentucky Derby

 

As correctly predicted by The Stack on Friday, Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs.  Nyquist is now a perfect eight for eight in races in his career.  Jockey Mario Gutierrez is now two-for-two to start his career at the Kentucky Derby which is awfully impressive.  Gutierrez helped Nyquist hold up from unleashing all of the speed early on in the race and made his move towards the final turn.  He was in contention pretty much the entire race.  Exaggerator was second and Gun Runner finished third.  Danzing Candy had a lead for a part of the race and seemed like he was going to be right up there, but finished in a disappointing 15th place.  There is a reason why the call the Derby the fastest and most exciting two minutes in sports.  The big question now facing Nyquist and the team is whether or not he indeed has what it takes to win the triple crown.  It sounds like experts believe he should be the favorite to win the Preakness, but that the Belmont Stakes could be more difficult due to the length of the race.  Considering Nyquist is undefeated, I’m not going to cast any doubt on this horse to possibly win the crown, but then again, don’t we always say this after the first leg of the triple crown?  Yes, but it isn’t every day that we have horses who are undefeated heading into the triple crown and right now, that’s what Nyquist is.  The Preakness is up next on May 21st.

 

Boudreau hired as Wild head coach

Bruce Boudreau is the new head coach of the Minnesota Wild.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

 

We end today’s “the stack” with a story about a team near and dear to my heart…the Minnesota Wild who hired their new head coach late Saturday night.  That would be Bruce Boudreau who was fired from the Anaheim Ducks after they were ousted by the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs this year.  Boudreau will be a tremendous addition to the Wild and a hire that they didn’t expect to make when they opened their coaching search.  Boudreau’s teams have had great success in the regular season and after the roller coaster regular season the Wild went through last year and in previous years, Boudreau should do just fine with them.

 

Coming up Tuesday: Playoff reaction plus other top headlines in the sports world


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