A very intriguing weekend to say the least. The Australian Open is now into its full swing, the NFL has its conference championships, and there is also NHL and amateur sports action to watch. Here is what I will be keeping my eye on.
Friday—Australian Open—Men’s third round—(3) Milos Raonic—Canada vs. (25) Gilles Simon—France—TSN—11 p.m. PT—The best Canadian singles tennis player ever, Milos Raonic has a chance to do something very special at the Australian Open. He is now the second highest seeded player left in the tournament after second ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia was upset by Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan earlier in the week. In the third round, Raonic will face France’s Gilles Simon. Head-to-head, Raonic has the 3-1 advantage, including a five set win in the third round of the 2014 French Open.
Saturday—Australian Open—Men’s third round—(15) Grigor Dimitrov—Bulgaria vs. (18) Richard Gasquet—France—TSN3—2 a.m. PT—In one of the most intriguing third round tennis matches, two seeded players clash at the Australian Open. Dimitrov is coming off an impressive tournament victory in Brisbane leading up to the Australian Open where he beat Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori. Head-to-head, Gasquet has the 5-1 advantage.
Saturday—Freestyle Skiing World Cup—cbcsports.ca—10:30 a.m. PT—The best moguls skiers on the planet will be competing on Canadian soil—specifically Val Saint-Come, Quebec. Canadian stars Mikael Kingsbury and the Dufour-Lapointe sisters will try to bounce back after a very disappointing weekend in Lake Placid, New York, when no Canadians reached the podium in moguls.
Saturday—Australian Open—Men’s fourth round—(5) Kei Nishikori—Japan vs. (17) Roger Federer—Switzerland—TSN—Time TBA—In a very intriguing fourth round matchup in men’s singles at the Australian Open, it is now safe to say that Roger Federer seems to be back after battling injuries throughout the 2016 tennis season. On Friday morning, Federer dominated Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in straight sets, but will probably face a stiffer challenge from Kei Nishikori, the fifth ranked player in the world. Head-to-head Federer has the 4-2 advantage.
Saturday—NHL—Edmonton Oilers @ Calgary Flames—CBC—7 p.m. PT—This will be the final installment of the Battle of Alberta during the regular season. However, there is a possibility that the Oilers and Flames could face each other in the playoffs for the first time since 1991. The Oilers and Flames are third and fourth respectively in the Pacific Division.
Sunday—NFL—NFC Championship—Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons—FOX—12 p.m. PT—Expect a high scoring affair for the NFC Championship at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons have the edge at the moment because they appear healthier. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones will be in action, while we don’t know about the Packers wideouts of Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison. Back on October 30, the Falcons beat the Packers 33-32 in Atlanta. Expect much of the same type of game Sunday.
Sunday—NFL—AFC Championship—Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots—CBS—3:30 p.m. PT—The Steelers and Patriots are clearly the best two teams in the AFC at the moment and the fact they are playing for the conference championship Sunday should come as no surprise. If you include the playoffs, the Steelers have won nine straight and the Patriots have won eight straight. Both offenses are comparable, but I give the slight edge to the Patriots. New England is better defensively as a unit, will have home field advantage and will have an extra day to prepare for the Steelers than the Steelers had for the Patriots.