This is one of the most exciting weekends of the year for Canadian Football. The division finals go this weekend in the Canadian Football League and the Vanier Cup semi-finals go this weekend in Canadian Interuniversity Sport. Here is what I will be watching over the next two days.
ATP World Tour Semi-Finals—(1) Andy Murray– GB vs. (4) Milos Raonic—6 am PT—TSN5—Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic is participating in his final event on the 2016 tennis schedule and has gone deep once again. He will have a tough test Saturday in London however because his opponent is Andy Murray of Great Britain. Head-to- head Murray is 8-3 against Raonic including a straight set win in the finals of Wimbledon this year. This is Murray’s first tournament as the world’s number one ranked player in the world. He took over that spot from Novak Djokovic of Serbia earlier this month. If Raonic wins, I will be watching the final on Sunday on TSN2 at 10am Pacific Time.
CIS—Uteck Bowl—Wilfrid Laurier @ Laval—9:30 am PT—Sportsnet 360—In the first of two Vanier Cup semifinals, the Ontario champion Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks takes on the Quebec champion Laval Rouge et Or. This will be a road game for the Golden Hawks, however if they were to win they will play the Vanier Cup in their home province as Hamilton is hosting the Vanier Cup next weekend. Both teams went 7-1 during the regular season. Last weekend the Golden Hawks beat Western 43-40 in the Yates Cup and Laval beat Montreal 20-17 in the RSEQ Finals.
NHL—Tampa Bay Lightning @ Philadelphia Flyers—10 am PT—Sportsnet—The Lightning will once again be without Steven Stamkos who will be out four months with knee surgery. Stamkos tore his meniscus in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 win over Detroit on Tuesday. The Lightning are 11-6- 1 and the Flyers are 8-7-3.
PGA—RSM Classic—10:30am PT—Golf Channel—Rookie Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ontario has the surprise lead after the second round of the final PGA event of 2016 at Sea Island, Georgia. The two-time Canadian Amateur champion is at -14 and has a two stroke lead over Cheng-tsung Pan of Taiwan.
Americans Chad Campbell, Blayne Barber, Hudson Swafford and Chesson Hadley are three strokes back.The third round goes Saturday and the fourth round goes Sunday.
CIS—Mitchell Bowl—University of St. Francis Xavier @ University of Calgary—1pm PT—Sportsnet 360—In the second of two semi-finals, the University of Calgary will be looking to advance to their tenth Vanier Cup in school history. However the Dinos have not won the Vanier Cup since 1995 as they have lost their last three Vanier Cup berths. The X-Men have been to two Vanier Cups in school history. They won in 1966 and lost in 1996.
NHL—Edmonton Oilers @ Dallas Stars—4pm PT—CITY—The Edmonton Oilers (9-8- 1) have finally dropped down to earth. They have now lost five games in a row after a fast start.
The Stars meanwhile hold the final playoff spot in the West at 7-6- 5 and are tied with the Oilers with 19 points. Even though Oilers superstar Connor McDavid has not scored a goal since October 28, he is still fifth in the NHL in scoring with 19 points.
NHL—Winnipeg Jets @ Boston Bruins—4pm PT—Sportsnet—Both the Bruins and Jets have 20 points in the NHL standings. Boston has a record of 10 wins and 7 losses and Winnipeg has a record of 9-8- 2. It has been a fantastic start to the season for Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele. Laine leads the NHL with 12 goals and Scheifele leads the NHL with 22 points. No Winnipeg Jet has ever won the Art Ross Trophy.
NHL—Florida Panthers @ Ottawa Senators—4pm PT—Sportsnet One—Don’t expect Panthers backup goaltender James Reimer to play for a while. That is because he gave up six goals on 30 shots in a 6-1 thrashing to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. The Panthers will be sure to go with veteran goalie Roberto Luongo, who has a goals against average of 2.36 in 2016-17.
NHL—Chicago Blackhawks @ Vancouver Canucks—7pm PT—CBC—One of the top teams in the West plays one of the worst. The Canucks are only four points back of the Stars for a playoff spot and are coming off a huge 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
CFL—Eastern Conference Final—Edmonton Eskimos @ Ottawa Redblacks—10am PT—TSN—For the second time in the history of the Edmonton Eskimos, they will be playing in a CFL Eastern Division Final.
However unlike 2008 when they lost 36-26 to the Montreal Alouettes, the Eskimos will be favourites to represent the Eastern Division in the 2016 Grey Cup. Even though Edmonton lost twice to Ottawa this year, they had a better regular season record than Ottawa and have been much better than the Red Blacks since Labour Day.
NFL—Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings—10am PT—FOX—After a great start to the season, it has been a terrible struggle for the Vikings (5-4) over the last month as they have lost four straight. The Vikings will need to stop Cardinals running back David Johnson, who is second in the NFL in rushing yards, if they hope to get into the win column for the first time since October 9. The Cardinals are at 4-4-1.
NFL—New England Patriots @ San Francisco 49ers—1:30pm PT—CBS—This may be a very lopsided game on paper. The Patriots are 7-2 and the 49ers are 1-8. However, everyone thought the Patriots would hammer the Chip Kelly coached Eagles last season and were shocked 35-28 in a high scoring affair.
CFL—British Columbia Lions @ Calgary Stampeders—1:30pm PT—TSN—There is no question that the Stampeders had a great regular season with a record of 15-2- 1 and that quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell will be named the Most Outstanding Player. However when was the last time the Stampeders had a meaningful game? One could argue it was sometime in the summer. The Lions may have less talent, but are battle tested, and came away with an impressive come from behind 32-31 win over Winnipeg last week.
NHL—Calgary Flames @ Detroit Red Wings—4:30 pm PT—Sportsnet—The Flames are coming off two wins on back-to- back nights over Minnesota and Arizona this week. However in order for them to keep winning, they will have to do so without their top sniper Johnny Gaudreau, who is out for the foreseeable future with a broken finger.
NFL—Green Bay Packers @ Washington Redskins—5:30 pm PT—NBC—In a surprising tale it is the Packers who are below .500 at 4-5 at the midway point of the season, and the Redskins are 5-3- 1. Even though Washington is ahead of Green Bay in the standings, I have a hard time believing the Redskins are the better team. They have a chance to prove me wrong Sunday night.
NBA—Toronto Raptors @ Sacramento Kings—6 pm PT—Sportsnet One—The Toronto Raptors will finally get to play an easier opponent after a brutal stretch this past week to their season. However they cannot be too confident. Their opponent are the Sacramento Kings who upset the Raptors earlier this season 96-91 at the Air Canada Centre. The second top scorer on the Kings is Rudy Gay, who played parts of two seasons with Toronto before being traded to Sacramento on December 9, 2013.