Tag Archive | "russia"

Sep 14, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;Team Russia center  Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates with the bench after scoring a goal against Team Canada during the third period in a World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game at CONSOL Energy Center. Team Canada won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Canada the Team to Beat in World Cup of Hockey

Posted on 15 September 2016 by Ed Frankovic

The World Cup of Hockey is now officially set to commence on Saturday, September 17th with all games played over the upcoming two weeks at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Who’s going to win? Well that’s pretty easy, Canada. They have the best overall team and the home ice.

But you still have to play the games and if the pre tournament action is any indication, then this is going to be one heck of an event. All eight teams won at least one time in their three World Cup tune-ups. Some of the games were downright played at NHL playoff intensity level, with USA-Canada on Friday night being the most noteworthy. The Americans played a strong physical game, received excellent goaltending from Jonathan Quick, and took advantage of a rusty Carey Price to win, 4-2. The Canadians then returned the favor the next night in Ottawa, winning 5-3 (Quick and Price did not play).

Canada then needed overtime to defeat the Russians, 3-2, on Wednesday night to finish 2-1. USA, playing at the Verizon Center on Tuesday evening, raced out a 3-0 lead that could’ve been five or six zip if not for Finland goalie Pekka Rinne, before hanging on to a 3-2 victory.

Both the USA and Canada are in group A with Team Europe, who pan caked Sweden, 6-2, at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night, and the Czech Republic, who knocked off the North American speedsters on Wednesday afternoon in the first of a doubleheader at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Group B consists of Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the North Americans (USA and Canadian players aged 23 and under).

The top two squads in each group will advance to the semifinals where there will be a single elimination round. The top team in group A will play the runner up in group B while the first place team in group B gets the runner up in group A.

So there is a scenario where USA and Canada could meet in the finals, with the World Cup of Hockey being decided in a best of three games matchup.

Bottom line, this is going to be some really exciting hockey to watch.

Now, without further adieu, here are my picks for each group.

Group B:

First place: Russia. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Nikita Kucherov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov lead a talented forward group that is thin on the blue line. But they have some great goaltending that starts with Sergei Bobrovksy. If “Bob” gets hurt or struggles, then Semyon Varlamov is more than capable of coming in and shutting the door. This group sets up well for the Russians. They are bigger up front than the other three squads and I don’t see any of the other three teams having a blue line that can match that offensive talent.

Where it could go wrong for Russia: I mentioned their blue line, but to me, the biggest question mark with this squad is the coaching. Going back to 1980, when Viktor Tikhonov yanked Vladislav Tretiak in net after one period in Lake Placid, we’ve seen so many head scratching coaching decisions from this federation. In the pre tournament action, the Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Kucherov line was outstanding against the Czechs, but coach Oleg Znarok moved Kuzy off of the top line and to a wing, at times, in Wednesday’s game against the Canadians. Anyone who watched the NHL last season knows that Kuzy is a sensational playmaker with the puck. Putting him in position on the wall where he will rely on others to give him the puck coming out of their own zone makes very little sense.

Second place: Sweden. Many of the so-called experts are going with Sweden to win it all, but I watched the Swedes on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center and I was not impressed. Yes, they have a very talented and mobile defense led by Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson, but that whole blue line was a turnover machine, along with young forwards such as Filip Forsberg, in their loss to Team Europe. Henrik Lundqvist didn’t get much help in front of him and he wasn’t very good either in net. He’s 34. Up front, the coaching staff seems to rely heavily on the Sedin-Sedin-Eriksson line. They will try to cycle you to death. Nicklas Backstrom is a rock up the middle for Sweden and I don’t think he’ll get kicked out of this tournament for using ZYRTEC like we saw in the Sochi Olympics in 2014. That galactic screw up has left several in the NHL with a bad taste in their mouths over how that whole silliness went down. The NHL is controlling this event, so I don’t think we’ll see something stupid like that in this tournament, but Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly did tell me on Wednesday that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is involved with this tournament. Sweden has the talent to come close to Canada, but I’m not seeing it and there are legitimate concerns about King Henrik in the cage (cue Coldplay’s Viva La Vida).

Where it could go wrong for Sweden: In addition to concerns about Hank in net and the blue line turnovers, the defense is not configured to clear the front of their own net. If I’m coaching in group B I’m sending a steady diet of players to the top of the circle on the Swedes and daring them to move my forwards out of there. I also don’t like the fact that they left Marcus Johansson off of the roster. Marcus can do so many things in the lineup yet they excluded him and took players such as Jakob Silverberg, Mikael Backlund, and Carl Soderberg who don’t have the experience or versatility that Jojo brings. Big mistake Sweden, big mistake.

As for Finland and North America, I still like both of these squads despite not picking them for the semifinals. Finland could squeeze in if Rinne plays at the top of his game, he’s that good and big in the cage. North America has some really fun and fast players. If Coach Todd McLellan gets his players to play smart and not turn the puck over, then they could sneak in, especially if Stanley Cup Champion Matt Murray continues to play well in net.

Group A:

First Place: Canada. They have the best roster, hands down, in this tournament. They will be playing at home. They are experienced having won gold in both Vancouver and Sochi. They have an excellent coaching staff, led by Mike Babcock. It’s almost a given that they will win this event.

Where it could go wrong for Canada: They’ll make the semifinals, and that is where they are most vulnerable if they run into a super hot goalie. But in a three game set, in either the preliminary round or in the finals, they are just too deep to be beaten. I give the Americans the best chance to take them down in the finals, but they will have to have Jonathan Quick pull a Mike Richter in net.

Second Place: USA. The American roster has been much maligned by several of the supposed experts in the media, but I’m not buying it. This club, put together by Kings GM Dean Lombardi, is built perfectly for this type of tournament on an NHL sized rink. They have great goaltending, led by Quick, a very mobile and strong two way defense, led by John Carlson and Ryan McDonagh, and a set of forwards that can hit and grind out goals with players like team captain Joe Pavelski and T.J. Oshie. They also have some top notch skilled snipers like Patrick Kane and Zach Parise. John Tortorella and Mike Sullivan are coaching this team and both have won Stanley Cups for a reason. Torts may not have shown any bench boss magic over an 82 game season in awhile, but a short tournament like this is right up his alley.

Where it could go wrong for USA: They could struggle to score goals if they don’t crash the net. Europe has a “can get really hot” goalie in Jaroslav Halak and the Czechs will start Michal Neuvirth, who has been in the zone in the cage recently, as well. In order to beat those guys, USA must get lots of traffic.

As for the Czechs and Europe, they are long shots to advance, but if any could do it, my money would be on Europe. While they are slow on the back end with the likes of the chippy Zdeno Chara, they are coached well by Ralph Krueger, who was a joy to cover on Wednesday night and was an advisor on the coaching staff for the victorious Canadian team in Sochi. Europe has one of the best forwards in the NHL in Anze Kopitar along with some other snipers like Tomas Vanek and the young Oilers forward, Leon Draisaitl, who had a hat trick at the Verizon Center against King Henrik.

Like I said earlier, this is going to be some intense hockey. The tournament starts at 3:30 pm on Saturday afternoon with USA taking on Europe on ESPN2. Canada plays the Czechs at 8 pm on ESPN News.

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The rings

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Winter Olympics Offered Escape

Posted on 01 March 2014 by Tom Federline

Where did the games go? Where is my release from everyday pressures and this relentless winter? Where is “lazy-one-eyed” Bob? I am in Olympic withdrawal. For a little over 2 weeks the Sochi – Winter Olympics offered a welcome relief to the doldrums of an undesirable rough weather February in B-town. Coverage on the two stations was predominantly stellar. Sometimes the primetime dragged on with personal stories and “Travel Channel” type coverage of vacationing in Russia, but that’s what is on the slate at that time of evening. Besides those 3-1/2 hours of primetime it seemed as if there was coverage almost 24 hours a day. Whether it was live, taped delay or rebroadcast, the Sochi Olympics became a favorite tune-in for this guy.

I enjoyed turning on the television and viewing fairly obscure sports presented at their highest level. Precisioned athletic maneuvers reflecting natural ability, combined with years of devoted practice and time. Final standings being decided by seconds, tenths of a second and even hundreds of a second. Case in point, sum total of (4) bobsled/luge or skeleton runs being decided by those increments. “Oh, there’s a little bump there, that’s going to cost them!” 60-80 mph on a sled? Are you kidding me?

With the allowance of these athletes being compensated for their efforts, the past few Olympic games have taken on a slightly more intensive approach. Now as you know, where there is money, there is the potential for “The Fix.” But for the most part, there appeared to be stricter enforcement and fairer award of points on the sports which included judgmental scoring. FYI – USA Medal payoff (which is minute compared to endorsements, sponsorship, etc.) – Gold $25,000, Silver 15,000, Bronze – $10,000. Some of these medal payouts in other countries were much more impressive.

Yes, these athletes are dedicated to their sport. Yes, these athletes have reached a level that the other 99% of us, only dream of obtaining. And yes, there is compensation for those efforts. Kudos for the Olympic committee for opening it up. It was rewarding enough for me just to witness the passion these athletes had for their sport. How many times did you hear, “What an experience this is” – “I am so happy for my teammates, my fellow competitors, my family, my son, my daughter…”, “Finally, it all came together!”, “Gave it my best shot, just wasn’t meant to be, etc. etc.” Truthful, honest, pure heartfelt spur of the moment reaction. Just how it’s supposed to be.

Disappointments were few: USA Hockey teams, USA speed skating. Opening Ceremony with the ring malfunction. Any on your plate?
Annoyances were apparent: I still do not get what qualifications are required for representing a country. Well I do – and that would be – “show me the money”. But I just don’t buy it. What was with that South Korean Russian speed skater (Victor Li Wan Ahn Romanovski?). Come on now, that one put me over the edge. Then there’s the figure skating scams. Here’s a hypothetical, but nonetheless – “Now introducing the skating couple from Suvlakia – he was born in Germany, she was born in Canada, they train in Colorado Springs. What the …..heck? Remember, I’m old school. If you are at the Olympics representing a country you were born there, you train there, you pay taxes there and you live there.

The positives far out weighed the negatives. So many highlights, here are a few of mine: 1. How about that USA/Russia hockey game with the 8 inning shoot-out? 2. USA Ski team – all of them. 3. The first gold medal of the Olympics going to the slope “dude”, Sage Katzenburg. Did you see his runs? Did you see the footage when he had a “Go-Pro” with him and shot himself on a practice run – so cool. 4. Bobsled, luge, skeleton any time of day. 5. Curling, yes, the Curling, “Mongo Ice Shuffle-Pucks”. I should have driven down to Laurel 8 years ago and signed up when I first got fired up about it. 6. Ashley Wagner figure skating to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” – (Pink Floyd) 7. And finally the cross-country skiing, skiathlon, biathlon, Nordic-combined events. Just great video, great setting and even better commentary. Yes, I was hooked by the combo team of Al Trautwig (deadpan) and Chad Salmela (over-zealous insight and knowledge). Those two captivated me that first Saturday. Anybody who can stop me in my tracks due and pull me in because of their delivery of a sporting event, is tops in my book. Hit me up with your “Top Moments”.

Bottom line – I needed some time to “Take it Easy” – (The Eagles) and coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics provided that outlet. I didn’t even get into ancillary coverage on other channels or the commercials (WalMart – RUSH (Working Man). Sounds like another blog. Teaser – Did you see any of Billy Bushs’ mini-clips on Access Hollywood? I saw 2: 1. Johnny Weir surf fishing on the shores of the Black Sea in a mink and “Rick Owens” green high heeled boots. and 2. Billy and Scott Hamilton at a spa. Priceless. Thanks you NBC and Sochi Winter Olympics for the change of pace.

D.I.Y.
Fedman

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Top 10 Baseball Distactions

Posted on 17 February 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Boxing-Angelo Santana vs. Hank Lundy (Friday 10:45pm from Cleveland live on Showtime); Golf: WGC Accenture Match Play Championship (Wednesday 12pm Thursday & Friday 2pm live on Golf Channel Saturday & Sunday 12pm live on Golf Channel 2pm live on CBS), Honda LPGA Thailand (Thursday & Friday 9am Saturday 2pm Sunday 1:30pm from Chonburi, Thailand on Golf Channel); Tennis: ATP Tour Delray Beach Open (Tuesday-Thursday 12:30pm Friday 6:30pm Saturday 8:30pm from Delray Beach, FL live on Tennis Channel); Women’s College Basketball: Florida State @ Maryland (Thursday 8:30pm from Comcast Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Maryland @ Georgia Tech (Sunday 4pm from Atlanta live on ESPN2); MISL: Pennsylvania Roar @ Baltimore Blast (Friday 7:05pm from Baltimore Arena live on YouTube), Syracuse Silver Knights @ Baltimore Blast (Saturday 6:05pm from Baltimore Arena live on YouTube), Baltimore Blast @ Rochester Lancers (Sunday 3pm from Rochester, NY live on YouTube)

10. Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week (Tuesday-Sunday throughout Charm City); Christian Finnegan (Friday & Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Sebastian Maniscalco (Friday-Sunday DC Improv); 3 Days to Kill” and “Pompeii” out in theaters (Friday)

Christian Finnegan is GREAT. You may remember him as Chad from “The Mad Real World” on Chappelle’s Show…

He’s skinny now. He’s still funny.

9. Kings of Leon/Gary Clark Jr. (Friday 8pm Verizon Center), Justin Timberlake (Monday 8pm Verizon Center); Lady Antebellum (Friday 7pm Patriot Center); The Bridge (Saturday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Joe Nichols (Friday 9pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Young The Giant (Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Black Joe Lewis (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club), G. Love & Special Sauce (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club); Bob Weir & Ratdog (Tuesday 6:30pm Lincoln Theatre); Josh Turner (Friday 8pm Strathmore); Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons (Saturday 8pm France-Merrick Performing Arts Center); Tim Reynolds and TR3 (Saturday 8:30pm The Hamilton); Lake Street Dive “Bad Self Portraits” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Every time you forget how freaking great KOL are they do something to quickly remind you.

You could never forget how freaking great GCJ is. NEVER.

I dare you to name five things better than Justin Timberlake’s Pusher Love Girl.

Cris Jacobs is a great Baltimorean.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 10 February 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Tennis-ATP Tour U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships (Friday 8pm Saturday 6pm Sunday 4pm from Memphis live on Tennis Channel); Women’s College Basketball: Maryland @ Duke (Monday 7pm from Durham, NC live on ESPN2); Soccer: Russia @ Team USA Women (Wednesday 7:30pm from Atlanta live on USSoccer.com)

10. Top Shelf Comedy Tour feat. Bruce Bruce/Earthquake/Gary Owen (Saturday 8pm Baltimore Arena); Ralphie May (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Katt Williams (Saturday & Sunday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Godfrey (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Sex At The Zoo (Friday 6pm Maryland Zoo); Cecily Strong/Mike O’Brien (Sunday 8pm Stevenson University); Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week (Friday-Monday throughout Charm City); RoboCop (Wednesday) and “About Last Night (Friday) out in theaters

I apparently made a mistake and included Cecily Strong last week instead of this week. “Oh no, more Cecily Strong in T10BD? That’s terrible” said no one in response.

O’Brien has actually had some nice highlights in his first year as a player as well.

9. Kanye West (Friday 8pm Baltimore Arena); JJ Grey & Mofro (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head Live); Johnny Winter Band (Saturday 8pm Sunday 7pm Rams Head on Stage); Rebelution (Thursday 9pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Umprhey’s McGee (Saturday & Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Dru Hill (Thursday 8pm Howard Theatre); Delta Rae (Saturday 7pm 9:30 Club); Eddie From Ohio (Friday-Sunday 7:30pm Birchmere); Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (Tuesday 7pm Lincoln Theatre), Jennifer Nettles (Friday 7pm Lincoln Theatre), Bob Weir & Ratdog (Monday 6:30pm Lincoln Theatre); Lake Street Drive (Wednesday 7pm The Hamilton); Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds (Saturday 7:30pm Carroll Arts Center); Eric Church “The Outsiders” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Dru Hill was so much more important to my childhood than I should ever admit.

Delta Rae is freaking wonderful. Here’s a night I saw them at Rams Head Live and FELL IN STINKING LOVE.

You might not be familiar with Lake Street Dive. But perhaps you’ve seen this wonderful video.

I saw Sister Sparrow in Brooklyn during Super Bowl week. They played Led Zeppelin IV in its’ entirety. I’m certainly glad they did.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 04 February 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Pitt @ Maryland (Thursday 7pm Comcast Center), Clemson @ Maryland (Sunday 2pm Comcast Center); Soccer: MISL-Baltimore Blast @ St. Louis Ambush (Thursday 8:35pm from St. Charles, MO live on YouTube), Baltimore Blast @ Missouri Comets (Sunday 4:10pm from Independence, MO live on YouTube); Russia @ Team USA Women (Saturday 3:30pm from Boca Raton, FL live on ussoccer.com)

10. Timonium Motorcycle Show (Friday-Sunday Timonium Fairgrounds); Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling (Thursday 8pm Baltimore Comedy Factory); Jim Norton (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); Motor Trend International Auto Show (Thursday-Sunday Baltimore Convention Center); Cecily Strong (Sunday 8pm Stevenson University); Dallas Buyers’ Club” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); The Monuments Men” and “The Lego Movie” out in theaters (Friday)

Everyone is saying The LEGO Movie is awesome. As awesome as this LEGO version of M&T Bank Stadium?

Also…Cecily Strong rules.

9. Steve Earle (Monday 7:30pm Rams Head on Stage); Karmin (Friday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Railroad Earth (Friday & Saturday 7pm 9:30 Club); Travis Tritt (Wednesday 7:30pm Birchmere), Vanessa Carlton (Thursday 7:30pm Birchmere), Arlo Guthrie (Friday & Saturday 7:30pm Birchmere), Jeffrey Osborne (Sunday 7:30pm Birchmere); The Wild Feathers/Saints of Valory (Tuesday 7pm U Street Music Hall); Bobby McFerrin/Chick Corea (Saturday 8pm Clarence Smith Center); Lauryn Hill (Sunday 8pm Lincoln Theatre), Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (Monday 6:30pm Lincoln Theatre); John Butler Trio “Flesh & Blood” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

The Wild Feathers are the most important on this or any list.

Saints of Valory ain’t too bad either.

Lauryn Hill is amazing. But may it be known: I still have not forgiven her mother’s character from Sister Act 2.

I dig John Butler Trio. I’d kinda like to claim them for America if that’s still an option.

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My best 2012 Baltimore sports story is Jessica Long…and yours will be too!

Posted on 31 December 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

Perhaps you already know parts of the story of local swimming sensation Jessica Long. Maybe you’ve seen her on the evening news or you’ve seen her honored locally or even nationally on the ESPY’s or as the 2006 James Sullivan Award winner.

As a journalist here for 29 years, I’ve had the privilege of knowing some special athletes and people around sports. The Baltimore connections and heroes are among some of the greatest names in the sports universe from Johnny Unitas and Brooks Robinson to Ray Lewis and Cal Ripken not mention from Michael Phelps back to Babe Ruth. But the story of Jessica Long is better than any of them because of what she doesn’t have.

Jessica Long doesn’t have legs.

While all eyes and focus were on Baltimore’s worldwide star Michael Phelps this summer during the Olympic Games from London, another local swimmer & world-class competitor was waiting in the wings to make her third splash in the Paralympic Games, which followed the Closing Ceremonies in England.

Jessica Long first gained local and national attention as a 12-year old at the 2004 Athens games and now has been through the Beijing and London games and is emerging as a model, spokesperson and inspiration to people all over the world. Oh, and she’s turns 21 in February but her eyes have seen the world in a big way and this past year and this unfolding story I’m about to tell is incredible, heart-warming and still doesn’t have an ending – happy or otherwise.

Then again, almost everything surrounding Jessica Long always seems to turn out with an immense level of happiness and smiles all around. This blog will end with a video of her surrounded by Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, John Harbaugh draped with her Paralympic gold medals and you’ll see her mantra for the coach in regard to the Baltimore Ravens’ playoff run:

“Pressure is a privilege,” she says.

*        *       *

The Paralympics Games attract an all-too-small fraction of the attention of the sports and media spotlight so it’s up to people like me in places like Baltimore to tell you about my favorite sports story of 2012 and hope to inspire you as we enter 2013.

My favorite Baltimore sports story of 2012 is about Jessica Long and you’ll soon find out why.

This story is lengthy because it needs to be and contains various links and pictures that I personally hope you check out and read as you begin another year. Your 2013 will probably begin with two legs so think about the courage of Jessica Long and her amazing narrative

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