It is a very interesting sports weekend to say the least. Among the events that will be taking place include the World Junior Hockey Championship, the Spengler Cup, outdoor NHL action from Toronto and the semi-finals of the NCAA Football Championship. Oh and Happy New Year to all of our readers on the Independent Sports News!
Saturday—Spengler Cup Final—Team Canada vs. HC Lugano—TSN—3am PT—For the second straight year, Canada is playing HC Lugano in the final of the Spengler Cup. Last season, Team Canada beat HC Lugano 4-3 to win the tournament. In the semi-final on Friday, former Edmonton Oilers center Marc-Antoine Pouliot of Quebec City led the Canadian attack with one goal and two assists for three points in a 3-2 win over HC Dinamo Minsk. HC Lugano meanwhile has former Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski on their roster.
Saturday—NCAA Football—Citrus Bowl—Louisiana State vs. Louisville—TSN2—8am PT—This will be an opportunity to see Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in action. Jackson, the Cardinals quarterback, became the youngest Heisman Trophy winner ever earlier this month at only 19 years of age. What sets Jackson apart from other quarterbacks is his outstanding mobility. Jackson had 1538 yards rushing and 21 rushing touchdowns, to go along with his 3390 yards passing and 30 touchdowns in 2016.
Saturday—World Junior Hockey Championship—Sweden vs. Czech Republic—TSN3—10am PT–Sweden has already clinched first place in Pool A in Toronto with a perfect record of three wins and zero losses. Calgary native Alexander Nylander, who was the first round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, is second in the tournament in scoring with seven points. The Swedish star is only one point back of Kirill Kaprizov of Russia. The Czech Republic meanwhile are 1-0-2, and will look to get some momentum in Montreal before the quarterfinals on Monday.
Saturday—NCAA Football Championship Semi-Final—Peach Bowl—Washington vs. Alabama—TSN2—12pm PT—The top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will battle the fourth ranked Washington Huskies in the first of two NCAA Football Championship semi-finals. The game will be coming from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Alabama is the dominant favourite to win their 17th NCAA football title in 2017. They seem to have the best nucleus of offense and defense among the remaining four teams left battling it out for a national championship.
Saturday—World Junior Hockey Championship—Canada vs. United States—TSN—12:30pm PT—First place in Pool B is on the line in this all-North American battle from Toronto. So far to date both Canada and the United States have easily beaten Slovakia and Latvia, and have come away with challenging victories over Russia. The Americans have got solid goaltending by Calgary Flames’ prospect Tyler Parsons of Chesterfield Township, Michigan. Parsons is 2-0 so far with a goals against average of 1.50 and save percentage of .923.
Saturday—NCAA Football Championship Semi-Final—Fiesta Bowl–Ohio State vs. Clemson—TSN2—4pm PT—The second ranked Clemson Tigers will face the third ranked Ohio State Buckeyes from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Tigers are looking to advance to their second consecutive College Football playoff national championship game. Last year in a classic the Tigers lost 45-40 to the Crimson Tide. In order to get revenge on Alabama this year, they will have to beat Ohio State first.
Saturday—NHL—Montreal Canadiens @ Pittsburgh Penguins—CBC—4pm PT—The best team in the Atlantic Division is facing the reigning Stanley Cup champions in an elite NHL weekend matchup. The Canadiens at 22-9-5 have had great goaltending from Carey Price, who has a goals against average of 1.99 and save percentage of .931. The Penguins meanwhile are led once again by Sidney Crosby, who leads the NHL with 26 goals and is the NHL’s co-leader in points (tied with Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers) with 42.
Saturday—NHL—Vancouver Canucks @ Edmonton Oilers—CBC—7pm PT—The Vancouver Canucks got a brilliant goaltending performance from Ryan Miller on Wednesday night in a 2-1 Canucks win over the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena. The Canucks have defenseman Alexander Edler back in their lineup after he missed the last 13 games with a broken finger. The Oilers are also coming off a win over the Kings as they beat Los Angeles 3-1 at Rogers Place on Thursday.
Saturday—NHL—Arizona Coyotes @ Calgary Flames—Sportsnet—7pm PT—The Flames should close out the 2016 year with a victory as they face the ice cold Arizona Coyotes who have lost six straight games. The Coyotes have only won 11 games this season, the least in the National Hockey League. The Flames meanwhile are getting great production from Mikael Backlund. The Swedish center has 23 points and is a +4.
Sunday—NHL—Detroit Red Wings @ Toronto Maple Leafs—NBC—12pm PT—In this original six matchup, the Red Wings are playing the Maple Leafs in what the National Hockey League is calling the Centennial Classic. The game is taking place outdoors at BMO Field in Toronto—home of the CFL’s Argonauts and the MLS’s Toronto FC. The Red Wings find themselves in a very unfamiliar position. At 16-16-4, they are currently out of a playoff spot. They have been in the Stanley Cup playoffs every year since 1990-91.
Sunday—NFL—New York Giants @ Washington Redskins—FOX—1:30pm PT—The Redskins (8-6-1) simply control their own destiny. A win over their NFC East Division rivals and they are in the postseason for the second consecutive year. If they lose, they are out. The Redskins have got strong quarterback play all season long from Kirk Cousins of Holland, Michigan. Cousins has 24 touchdowns compared to only 10 interceptions and has 4630 passing yards, the second most in the NFL.
Sunday—NFL—Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions—NBC—5:30 pm PT—First place (and possibly a playoff spot) will be on the line in Michigan Sunday night. The NFC North Division title is up for grabs, with the loser being eliminated from the playoffs if the Redskins beat the Giants. If the Giants win, both the Packers and Lions will be in the playoffs regardless how they do Sunday night.
Sunday—NBA—Toronto Raptors @ Los Angeles Lakers—TSN2—6:30 pm PT—The Raptors are trying to get back on track after losing this past week to the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns. At 22-10, they lead the Boston Celtics by three and a half games for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Lakers meanwhile are at 12-24, but are only four games back of the Sacramento Kings and the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.