Jeremy Freeborns Weekend Sports Preview

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    The Daytona 500 takes place Sunday (11 a.m. PT, FOX). For many it is the Super Bowl for NASCAR. What makes NASCAR distinct from all other professional sports in North America is the fact that the biggest competition in their sport is at the beginning of their season rather than the end.

    It will be all Hendrick Motorsports on the front row. Chase Elliott of Dawsonville, Georgia is in the pole position and Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Kannapolis, North Carolina will start second. At 42 years of age,Earnhardt Jr. will be going for his third Daytona 500. He previously won in 2004 and 2014. Elliott meanwhile is half of Earnhardt Jr.’s age at 21. The defending champion is Denny Hamlin of Tampa,Florida, who qualified sixth.

    Here are the other events I will be watching this weekend:

    Saturday

    Curling—Scotties Tournament of Hearts—TSN—There will be wall-to- wall curling this weekend on TSN.

    The 3-4 game will take place Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PT, the semi-final on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. PT and the final on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. PT. What we know right now is that Manitoba’s Michelle Englot or Ontario’s Rachel Homan will play in the final. Last night Englot finished first in the round robin standings with an impressive 9-5 win over Homan, the two-time Scotties champion. Other teams that are in contention are the finalists from a year ago—the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts gold medalist,Chelsea Carey of Calgary, and the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts silver medalist, Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

    NHL—Anaheim Ducks @ Los Angeles Kings—Sportsnet One—1 pm PT—In this all-Pacific Division battle, it is an important game for the Los Angeles Kings as they are currently four points back of the Calgary Flames for a playoff spot. The Kings are struggling at the moment as they have only won two of their last eight games. Goal scoring also seems to be a problem for the Kings as they have been shutout three times in February and have only scored five goals in their last four games.

    NHL—Philadelphia Flyers @ Pittsburgh Penguins—NBC—5 pm PT—In the fourth and final National Hockey League outdoor game of the season, the Philadelphia Flyers will be playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. In this all-Metropolitan Division battle, the Penguins at 82 points, have 19 more points than the Flyers in the standings. Philadelphia is currently five points back of the Boston Bruins for a playoff spot. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby leads the NHL with 33 goals. He has three more goals than Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets.

    NHL—Vancouver Canucks @ San Jose Sharks—CBC—7 pm PT—The Vancouver Canucks’ playoff chances at the moment do not look very strong. At 58 points, they are currently eight points back of the Calgary Flames. Do not be surprised if this will be one of Ryan Miller’s final games in Vancouver as he is expected to be traded at the NHL trade deadline on Wednesday. The Sharks lead the Pacific Division with 66 points. They have a three point lead over the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks. One of the biggest stories in the NHL this season has been the play of San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns. He not only leads the NHL with 242 shots on goal, but is also third in the NHL with 64 points (only behind Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby).

    Sunday

    World Bobsled Championships—www.cbcsports.ca—6:30 a.m. PT—The Canadian men’s bobsled team is facing adversity heading into the 2017 World Four-man Bobsled Championships in Konigssee,Germany. That is because Canadian pilot driver Justin Kripps of Summerland, British Columbia has reported that he believes his runners have been stolen and German police have started to get involved.

    The runners cost $10,000. Kripps and Jesse Lumsden of Edmonton won a silver medal last weekend in the two-man. The final run of the four-man can be seen at a respectable hour Sunday morning.

    NHL—Boston Bruins @ Dallas Stars—NBC—9:30 a.m. PT—In this interconference matchup, the Boston Bruins end a four game Western road trip in Dallas. The Bruins are one of three teams in the Eastern Conference with 68 points, as they are tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders. One Bruins player who has had an excellent season is Brad Marchand. On Thursday night in a 4-1 Bruins win over the Los Angeles Kings, Marchand had one goal and one assist for two points. It was his 12 th multi-point game of the season. It is doubtful the Stars will be making the playoffs this year as they are currently 11 points back of the Nashville Predators for a playoff spot.

    NHL—Calgary Flames @ Carolina Hurricanes—Sportsnet—1 p.m. PT—The Flames are coming off an impressive road trip so far where they had two one-goal wins in Nashville and Tampa Bay this past week. Calgary’s leading scorer at the moment is Mikael Backlund, who has 43 points and is an impressive +8. He has put himself into the Selke conversation for the season. The Hurricanes have the worst record in the Eastern Conference with 56 points.

    NHL—Edmonton Oilers @ Nashville Predators—Sportsnet 360—2 p.m. PT—The Edmonton Oilers will continue their longest road trip of the season as this will be their fifth of six games. The biggest story in Edmonton at the moment is who will be on the Oilers defense. Adam Larsson is day-to- day with a lower body injury. Andrej Sekera is out with a hand injury. Darnell Nurse is close to coming back after ankle surgery. The Predators are at 67 points and are holding down the final playoff spot in the Central Division.

    NBA—Portland Trail Blazers @ Toronto Raptors—Sportsnet One—3 p.m. PT—So far this season, the Raptors have been excellent in 2016 (22-10) and below average in 2017 (11-13). The new acquisitions of Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic and P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns should help. However one must realize that the Raptors still need production from players other than all-stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan if they hope to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year.

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