Hockey will take center stage this weekend with the conference finals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Memorial Cup starting in Windsor and the semi-finals and gold medal game of the 2017 World Men’s Hockey Championship from Cologne, Germany.
In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the big story is the Ottawa Senators, who currently are leading the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. On Wednesday in game three, the Senators got off to a great start as they scored four times in the first 13 minutes en route to a 5-1 victory. Game five will take place Sunday afternoon at 12 pm Pacific (NBC).
Meanwhile in the Western Conference Final, the Anaheim Ducks will host the Nashville Predators in the sunbelt series in game five (Saturday, 4pm, NBC). On Thursday in game four, Corey Perry scored his third overtime winner of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to tie the Western Conference Final at two games apiece.
In the Memorial Cup, the Western Hockey League champion Seattle Thunderbirds will play twice this weekend. They will play the Ontario Hockey League champion Erie Otters on Saturday (Sportsnet, Noon PT) and then the host Windsor Spitfires on Sunday (Sportsnet, 4pm PT). Notable Thunderbirds include New York Rangers draft pick Ryan Gropp, New York Islanders draft pick Mathew Barzal and Edmonton Oilers draft pick Ethan Bear.
Also in the World Hockey Championship, they are down to four semi-finalists. On Saturday, Canada plays Russia (TSN, 6 am PT) and Sweden plays Finland (TSN, 10 am PT) with the gold medal game on Sunday on TSN at 11:30 am PT. In the quarterfinals, one might think by looking at the score that Canada was tested in their 2-1 win over Germany. Well you are wrong. Canada outshot Germany 50-20. The Russians meanwhile have the two leading scorers in the tournament. Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks has 14 points and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning has 13 points.
Here are the other events I will be watching this weekend:
Saturday—Preakness Stakes—NBC—3:45pm PT—The second leg of America’s Triple Crown goes Saturday from Baltimore. Even though Always Dreaming is the 4-5 favourite, I think you have a decent chance of betting the field. Do not forget that Always Dreaming was not the dominant favourite leading up to the Kentucky Derby even though Todd Pletcher’s horse performed admirably down the stretch at Churchill Downs, I still think there is a chance for an upset here.
Saturday—NLL Eastern Conference Final Game 2—Toronto Rock @ Georgia Swarm—Twitter—4pm PT—This will be something revolutionary and new for me but I will give it a try. That is watching a live sporting event on Twitter. Tonight two NLL playoff games will be seen on NLL.twitter.com for the first time. The Swarm currently lead the best out of three series 1-0 after an 11-8 win over the Rock last week. If Toronto happens to win game two, they will play a 10 minute mini-game immediately afterwards.
Saturday—NBA Western Conference Final Game 3—Golden State Warriors @ San Antonio Spurs—TSN3—6pm PT—The Golden State Warriors dominated game two on Tuesday after coming back from 25 points to beat the Spurs in game one last Sunday. With Kawhi Leonard questionable with an ankle injury, the Spurs will have their hands full in trying to beat one of the most explosive offensive teams in the NBA in recent times. On Tuesday the Warriors scored 136 points, including a minimum of 30 points in each quarter. Golden State’s offense was spread around. Seven Warriors players reached double figures in total points.
Saturday—NLL Western Conference Final Game 2—Colorado Mammoth @ Saskatchewan Rush—Twitter—6:30 p.m. PT—In the second game of the Western Final, the Rush will try and continue their momentum. Last week in Denver, the Rush dominated Colorado with a 18-9 victory. Adam Jones of Owen Sound, Ontario led the Rush attack with nine points (six goals and three assists). Like the Eastern Final, if the Mammoth happen to win game two, they will play a ten minute mini-game afterwards.
Sunday—WTA Italian Open—Women’s Final—TVA Sports—4 a.m. PT—In the last big women’s tennis match prior to the French Open, the final will have the winner of Simona Halep of Romania and Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands play the winner of Garbine Muguruza of Spain and Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine. Of the four semi-finalists, there is only one major winner. That is Muguruza, who is the reigning French Open champion. Halep meanwhile is the hottest player on tour at the moment. She is coming off a 7-5, 6-7, 6-2 win over Kristina Mladenovic of France at the Italian Open last week.
Sunday—ATP Tennis Masters Series Rome Men’s Final—TSN2—7 a.m. PT—In Friday’s quarterfinals, Canada’s Milos Raonic lost 7-6, 6-1 to Germany’s Alexander Zverev in only 89 minutes while Austria’s Dominic Thiem ended Rafael Nadal’s 17 match winning streak with a straight set 6-4, 6-3 win. In the semi-finals on Saturday, Novak Djokovic of Serbia faces Thiem, who lost in the final a week ago to Nadal in Madrid. Zverev’s opponent will be American John Isner.
Sunday—MLB—Toronto Blue Jays @ Baltimore Orioles—Sportsnet—10:30 a.m.—In the third of a three game weekend series at Camden Yards, the Blue Jays will look to rebound after losing three of four games to the Atlanta Braves. Toronto currently is the second worst team in the American League and they desperately need all of their injured players to get healthy soon before they get completely out of contention.
Sunday—MLB—Detroit Tigers @ Texas Rangers—TSN2—5 p.m.—Two teams who are battling for the second wildcard in the American League will be playing in Arlington. At 22-20, the Rangers currently have the second Wildcard spot with the Tigers half a game back.
Sunday—NBA Eastern Conference Final Game 3—Boston Celtics @ Cleveland Cavaliers—TSN—5:30 p.m.—Even though the Cavaliers do not have home court advantage against Boston, they are clearly the dominant favourite. On Wednesday, the Cavs improved their playoff record to a perfect nine wins and zero losses with a 117-104 win over Boston. There is a reason why LeBron James’s nickname is the King. He had a game high 38 points in Cleveland’s game one win.