The 2018 Stanley Cup and Who to Watch For

The 2018 Stanley Cup and Who to Watch For

May the best team win.

It’s the middle of spring! Which means it’s Stanley Cup Playoff Season! This year there are plenty of talented and interesting teams in the running. The Playoffs started in April and we have just hit the end of round one and will start round two in this upcoming week. To win a series, a hockey team needs to win best of seven games against their opponent. In the last round, only two teams swept their round one opponent, two won the round in five games, two won in six and only one team won the round in seven games. Playoffs consist of three rounds of series against teams and then the final two winning teams to compete for the cup.

There are eight teams in the running for the Cup in round two with seven teams from the United States and only one team from Canada. There already have been some interesting match ups with two Pennsylvanian teams and two Californian teams going head to head as well as the seven game series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. The next round will feature matchups of the Boston Bruins versus the Tampa Bay Lightnings, the Winnipeg Jets versus the Nashville Predators, the Vegas Golden Knights versus the San Jose Sharks and the the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Washington Capitals.

I personally don’t think the Boston Bruins will get far, though admittedly I might be bias as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Though I will say, with the series they played, having botched a possible 4-1 win by losing two games, I don’t think they’re go as far against a team like Tampa Bay which has been number one in the NHL all season. In general, a lot of hockey fans dislike the Bruins, mostly due to the fact that the team tends to get away with way too much as far as penalties and bad sportsmanship, as well as the collective hatred of player Brad Marchand that many have nicknamed the “Rat King.” Most of his hatred this season came from the amount of suspension amassed due to injuring other players, his last major one giving him a five day suspension. It’ll be interesting to see how many games the two play in this series.

The Jets veres Predators matchup is also interesting as the Winnipeg Jets have never won a Stanley Cup before in the history of their franchise. It’ll be cool to see them make it far, however the Predators are a relentless team containing a very talented goalie, Pekka Rinne, as well as an incredible defensemen, P.K. Suban. The team had been finalists against the Pittsburgh Penguins last year, losing two nothing in game six. The Predators have been second in the league for most of the season, climbing to the second spot near the end.

The Vegas Golden Knights have proven to be a very tough team to beat despite being a rookie team. In their first ever season, the team has been in the top three consistently. They contain a slew of experienced characters from teams all over the league which adds to their strength however, it’s still rare for a team this new to be this good. Never in the recent history has a rookie team won a Stanley Cup, but due to great players like goalie Marc Andre- Fleury and James Neal, they are definitely a team to watch out for. As for the San Jose Sharks, they are an interesting team in the running as well. This team has also never won a Stanley Cup but have been finalists for the 2016 cup. And let’s be honest, we can’t get enough of the gnarly beast on the ice who is Brent Burns. I mean look at those teeth.

And finally, the matchup between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins could also be interesting, however peoples money seems to be on the Penguins. Last year, they won the cup against the Nashville Predators and also won against the San Jose Sharks in 2016. One player, Sidney Crosby has been called by a lot of sportscasters as possibly the best player in the NHL right now, (next to Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers) due to his hight stats. Personally I’m sure how the Capitals will do. They haven’t been entirely remarkable in series so far and their only star player really is Alexander Ovechkin. In all honesty I can’t really see them giving the Penguins much of a fight. Who knows, they might surprise us.

Personally, I’ll be rooting for the Vegas Golden Knights and the Nashville Predators because I find the way both teams play to be very interesting, but only one of the two will make it to the finals. There are a lot of teams in the running who already have rivalries, most notably Predators and Bruins especially the rivalry of P.K. Subban and Brad Marchand who both used to play for the Montreal Canadiens. As well as the the Predators and the Penguin; and the San Jose Sharks and the Penguins who have both competed in the most recent Cups. Either way, it’ll be a very fun series. Who are you rooting for?

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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11 Things Fastpitch Softball Players Know To Be True

You'll never remember your Facebook password, but you'll remember softball cheers for the rest of your life.

There comes a time in every little girl's life when she must come to terms with the fact that she will never play Major League Baseball. So, she turns to softball. From tee-ball to coach-pitch to travel ball, to playing on your school team, softball has played a crucial role in your life. It taught you the value of teamwork, the importance of sunscreen, and introduced you to your best friends. For former and current fastpitch players alike, these truths are universal.

1. The rays of a thousand suns couldn't even out your tan lines.

Tan arms and a V-neck tan line is the unofficial uniform of the softball player. Years after you stop playing softball, at 2 p.m. on the second Monday of every month when the sun is shining through your bathroom window at a 90-degree angle, you'll swear you can still see the slightest hint of a racerback tan line between your shoulders. Good luck finding a flattering sundress!

2. Pitchers are a different breed of human.

It's a tale as old as time: You saw that the pitchers got to skip all of the intense drills at practice so they can go off to the side with the catcher to chat and have a catch for an hour and you said, "I gotta get in on that." So, your dad paid for your pitching lessons, you mimicked Jennie Finch as best as you could, and three years later, you're contemplating changing your name just to forget about that time you spent as a pitcher. Successful pitchers must have no other interests, future career goals, or a family who loves them because pitching just destroys everything you believe in. If you do survive being a pitcher, congratulations, because you are now fully equipped with nerves of steel that will allow you to conquer the worst that life has to throw at you.

3. An 8 a.m. game on Sunday means you had a really bad Saturday.

Where is the most tranquil and somber place that people often go to on Sunday mornings to reflect on their wrongdoings? No, not church. It's the softball field. When you have to be at the field before the sun, you start thinking irrationally, like "Maybe if I used the Demarini instead of the Stealth in the third inning of the second game yesterday we would've only lost by six runs instead of seven which would have put us in the winner's bracket!" Have fun running a lap for every error you made the day before.

4. If the other team is wearing shorts, you know you're going to win.

There's just so much leg! Shorts and softball go together like ketchup and strawberry jelly, as in, that's what your knees are going to look like if you even attempt to slide wearing a pair of shorts. Don't even get me started on the tan line from mid thigh to mid shin. You know the one. This is the big leagues, ladies, put on some pants.

5. If you aren't dirty after a game, you didn't play hard enough.

If you don't come home from a tournament, look in the mirror, and go, "Wow I got a good tan today!" only to take a shower and find out that it was all just dirt, then you probably missed that slide sign from the third base coach when you were rounding second.

6. Cheers are a necessary evil.

Cheering in softball is like having a dead-end job that you hate; it's unfulfilling, robs you of your dignity, and tires you out, but you have to do it anyway. You'll never remember your Facebook password, your parents' anniversary, or that you left your laundry in the washer, but you'll remember softball cheers for the rest of your life. Unless, of course, you fall into the water and bump your little head like that damn froggy.

7. Pre-wrap is a hot commodity in the dugout.

"I'll trade you a bag of Ranch sunflower seeds for your light blue pre wrap."

"No way, I had to get my mom to drive me to three different Sports Authority's last night just to find this color!"

8. You may get along with other teams between games, but they are not your friends on the field.

It's perfectly normal to meet another player in line for the bathroom at a tournament, compliment her on her cheetah print hair ribbon, and then trash talk her on the field half an hour later. You can make it up to her by giving her a high five and a poignant smile in the handshake line after the game.

9. If you get hit by a pitch and there aren't lace marks in your skin, it's really just a waste of time.

You love being able to showcase your bruises at school on Monday when all of your non-softball friends ask, "Does it hurt to get hit with a fastball?" and you can coolly and calmly answer, "Nah." Bruises up your street cred, and lace marks are just bonus points. So, when you don't have any stitching embedded in your skin, you wish you could just have the chance to bat. Take your base.

10. When the bat meets the ball juuuuuust right, it is the most powerful feeling in the world.

Your dad was right when he told you to keep your head down when you swing. You always thought that the "sweet spot" of the bat was just a myth until you hit your first home run. The rush of adrenaline will make you feel so powerful that you'll try to see if you can pick up a car in the parking lot with your bare hands after the game, but you still can't.

11. You will always consider your team to be your best friends.

After spending every weekend together, you and your team create a bond so close that it borders on uncomfortable. You may take out your frustrations on each other from time to time like when someone steps on the freshly chalked line before the game, or when you all fight over the ball with the best, most prominent laces for your warm up toss. But at the end of the day, your team will always be the biggest bunch of weirdos you know, and that is irreplaceable.

Cover Image Credit: Art Mad

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Andy Ruiz Jr. May Not Look Like The Typical Boxer, But It Doesn't Make His Victory Any Less Deserved

Andy Ruiz Jr. just proved that dreams can come true.


On June 1, boxing fans witnessed something special as Andy 'Destroyer' Ruiz Jr. defeated Anthony Joshua via TKO after going seven rounds in the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York City to become the first ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion of the world. Ruiz Jr. (33-1) was a heavy underdog (+1100) heading into the match-up with Joshua (22-1) but ultimately flipped the script to hand the British fighter his first professional loss ever. Surely the fight will go down as one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Some members of the media and fans have been quick to label the fight as a 'fluke' and 'rigged' which in the end is no surprise to me. That always happens in the sports world. Many did not believe we would get this result yet failed to remember the one rule of sports -- expect the unexpected. Over the past week, I've been coming to the defense of Ruiz Jr. in the wake of others choosing to call him a joke.

I was shocked and surprised to hear two of my favorite sports analysts, Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, make fun of Ruiz Jr. and frame him as just a guy that looked like 'Butterbean.' When I viewed their tweets on social media it honestly made me upset. Sure, Ruiz Jr. may not have fit the mold of what a professional boxer should look like, but they simply should not have just judged a book by its cover.

Personally, I thought it was disrespectful for Smith and Sharpe to throw shade at Ruiz Jr. in the way they did. I felt like they should have done a better job of acknowledging the winner considering the result of the match. Yet choosing to bash someone because of their physical composition appeared like a low blow. The very foundation of sports allows people of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, and backgrounds to compete -- that's why most people follow them in the first place.

Smith was open behind his reasoning for his tweets in which I'd like to shed some light on. Smith was upset about how boxing time after time contains elements of corruption with fans having to wait years until promoters schedule big fights. He along with other followers of the sport were looking forward to the highly anticipated yet potential future match-up between Joshua and fellow heavyweight Deontay Wilder. Smith believes that by Ruiz Jr. beating Joshua it essentially diminished the chances of that fight ever happening with the same amount of buildup, but that still doesn't provide any excuse for mocking the new heavyweight champ.

Ruiz Jr. was there for a reason and ultimately seized the opportunity that was right in front of him -- that's not his fault for getting the job done. Just because someone doesn't look like the part doesn't mean they don't possess the same qualities and characteristics as their counterparts. The following pair of videos display the amount of talent Ruiz Jr. does have in the ring. Even fellow boxer Canelo Alvarez and former UFC lightweight/featherweight champion Conor McGregor acknowledge that and have come out to say something on their behalf.

Unfortunately, I don't expect much to change because most will stand their ground and continue to behave the same way. All I'm saying is I did not enjoy some of the top figures within sports media stereotyping Ruiz Jr. based on his looks. I would think that we would be better than that and recognize that anyone can accomplish something great in this world. It all just starts with a simple dream.

I understand and respect other people's takes on this subject, maybe I'm looking into things deeper than what they are, but it struck a chord with me and I felt the need to say something about it.

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