HEADLINES AND SIDELINES BY KEVIN ADSHADE
Let's take a walk back through time, shall we?
Back to early October of 2013, one of the best times of the year for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, because a.) a new season was before us; and b.) the Leafs hadn't screwed over their fans for several months, so memories dimmed and hope sprang eternal.
Until the spring.
In my NHL preview, I predicted that five of the seven Canadian NHL teams would find their way into the playoffs; Montreal (correct! yay!); Toronto (brutal defence, brutal a lot of things); Vancouver (messed up their goaltending situation, got old fast); Ottawa (overrated them, they couldn't score enough); and Edmonton (not ready, might not be for awhile).
So one out of five correct isn't bad (it's worse than bad), but those are just for fun, and now that the smoke has settled and the playoffs have gotten started, here are a few more thoughts to entertain and inform you, but more importantly, to amuse myself.
1.) Montreal could go deep in the playoffs, might even threaten to win the Eastern Conference and make it all the way to the Stanley Cup final. Unfortunately, a Canadiens fan said something to me this week that I didn't appreciate, so instead of wishing the Canadiens and their fans good luck, I now have to hope they get gonged in the first round just to shut up supporters of the rouge, blanc et bleu. (Kudos for cleverly dropping some bilingualism onto this page. To be honest though, I had to get some help from someone who knows French, to make sure nothing wrong got in the paper.)
2.) There's not one team in the playoffs this season I am interested in. I resent them all, but if I had to pick one that I could cheer for, it would be the Pittsburgh Penguins.
3. The St. Louis/Chicago series might be an old-fashioned street fight. That is two very good teams going up against each other in the first round.
4. Never count out Detroit. They play Boston in the first round and the Red Wings more than held their own against the Bruins this season. Last season in the playoffs, the Red Wings almost beat the Chicago Blackhawks, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings have a certain mystique that doesn't leave them even when they're not as talented as they used to be.
5. San Jose always gags in the playoffs; Joe Thornton is not a player who can elevate his game in the post-season. I only say that because he's never done it before.
6. Stanley Cup final prediction: Pittsburgh/St. Louis.
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Bubba Watson is kind of odd, especially for a golfer. He is up and down emotionally like a roller coaster; cries when he wins (that's not a bad thing, but guys named Bubba aren't supposed to cry, are they?); looks slight, but hits the golf ball a mile because he swings for the fences every time he draws back his driver, and almost comes out of his shoes in the process. But Bubba has now won two Masters, is currently one of the best players in the game and, if his big swing doesn't lead to injury, he will threaten for years to come.
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Non-Sports Thought of the Week: Musical taste is such a subjective thing and I kinda feel bad for even writing this (not too much, though, at least not enough to leave it out altogether), but I thought the lineup for the 2014 Pictou Lobster Carnival is more interesting than the lineup for this summer's Riverfront Jubilee, and I don't think been able to say that very often.
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There's still roughly 145 games to go in the Major League Baseball season, but fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have to be somewhat relieved that the Jays' starting pitching has held up enough so that they at least look competent. Their starting pitchers are still question marks, and that team will live or die by them (like all major league teams, really), but the Jays so far have given fans reason for cautious optimism. It also helps that Boston and New York have looked thoroughly average. So far.
Kevin Adshade is a sports columnist for The News.