Hockey playoffs still rule | NevadaAppeal.com

Hockey playoffs still rule

Joe Ellison
Nevada Appeal Betting Columnist

The National Hockey League playoffs have been extremely competitive and intense.

Of the 65 games played in the first two rounds, an amazing 40 of them were decided by one goal. Thirteen of those went to overtime totaling 22 extra periods, and a few others had empty-net goals that widened the final margins.

Now, players must have the ability to play through pain and overcome the physical and mental fatigue associated with trying to win a Stanley Cup. It can become a war of attrition as everyone is hitting, and anyone is capable of sacrificing his body in front of a screaming puck.

Considering the speed and danger involved, the high amount of skill needed to play, the competitiveness of games, and the overall class displayed by its athletes off the ice, hockey is always a sport deserving of more positive recognition from the media and general public.

Conference Finals:

Buffalo vs. Ottawa – During a game last February 22nd, Ottawa’s Chris Neil failed to bring the NHL any positive recognition. Neil blind-sided Buffalo co-captain Chris Drury, giving him a concussion and producing a deep gash across his forehead. Neil’s actions instigated a huge fight that resulted in 100 minutes of penalties and the ejections of both goalies. Given the opportunity, Neil says he would make the same hit again. Needless to say, there is a lot of bad blood between these divisional rivals, which ensures an intense and physical series.

Prediction: In a match-up of the two highest scoring teams in the league, the pick is Buffalo in 6.

Anaheim vs. Detroit – With 2003 playoff MVP Jan-Sebastien Giguere in goal, and defensemen Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer patrolling the ice, Anaheim is difficult to score against. Mike Babcock was the coach of that 2003 NHL Finals Anaheim team, but now he is with Detroit, who just held high-scoring San Jose to only nine goals in six games. This should be a low-scoring series.

Prediction: Anaheim wins in 6.

Finals – The pick of Anaheim to defeat Buffalo is still going strong.

NBA

The first round of the NBA playoffs is usually a formality and nothing very interesting happens. But this year was different. Almost everyone was happy to see Chicago sweep Miami clean out of the playoffs, and Golden State became the first No. 8 seed ever to win a best-of-7 series with its big upset over Dallas.

Second round predictions – Factoring in their regular season meetings, last week the pick was for Chicago to upset Detroit, but down 0-2 before last night’s game it didn’t look good for the Bulls. San Antonio will beat Phoenix in 6, Cleveland will eliminate New Jersey in 5, and Utah will outlast Golden State in 7.

Finals – Sticking with San Antonio over Cleveland.

BOXING

To no surprise, last Saturday’s prize fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya created plenty of controversy. Many felt that De La Hoya won, with the “Golden Boy” being more of the aggressor, and taking on the belief that a challenger must seize the belt from the champion in a convincing fashion. Many others felt that Mayweather’s excellent defense and strong finish were clear deciding factors. Everyone else felt that the fight was too close to call.

It is understandable that the result was a split decision, so no one can really argue with the Mayweather victory. Regardless of retirement talk, a rematch could end the argument, and of course, it is inevitable, especially considering this was the most lucrative fight in the history of boxing. Hopefully, though, the second one will have more action and less controversy, and be truly worth the price of admission.