The day in which Michael Thomas deafeningly demands to be paid tippy top dollar, through both his unrelenting play and his even less relenting Instagram account, is slowly but surely approaching. When that day comes I'm not so sure he'll be so quick to be sharing his sponsored sneaker collection with a head coach who has never financially advised breaking the bank on high-end offensive weapons. Until that day comes, however, I plan on enjoying the hell out of the fact that the New Orleans Saints have a 26-year old playmaker and a 55-year old play-caller that share a close enough relationship off the field for the former to be helping the latter flex all over the front 9 in some fresh J's.
Little things like a star receiver graciously gifting an authority figure three decades his senior an opportunity to get his fit off don't just speak to Sean Payton being far more relatable to his players than your average NFL coach. They also speak directly to the cohesiveness of the culture we've seen created throughout the entirety of the Saints' organization over the last two seasons.
Of course, monetary disagreements can sabotage even the most mutually beneficial of marriages, especially when both participants happen to be so preposterously prideful. Still, if only for the time being, having the ability to refer to the kinship of two people who, on the surface, have nothing other than a near psychotic level of competitiveness (and apparently a cleanness in kicks) in common is pretty damn rare and pretty goddamn cool.
As The Sharks and Golden Knights Prepare For Game 7, Their Coaches Have Found Themselves in a Clash of Classlessness
Add it to the long list of narratives. It's about the least interesting and most idiotic angle you could possibly focus on while watching the series finale to what's been an oddly unstable show, but it's an angle nonetheless. Gerard Gallant is allegedly classless for talking a little shit to the occasional opposing player, and Peter DeBoer is allegedly classless for exaggerating the proverbial size of Gerard Gallant's mouth to the media. Personally, you can spare me all of the class when it comes to the neighborhood dog fight that is a winner-take-all battle between overly familiar opponents. The louder, the brasher, the...more clownish(?) the better, as far as I am concerned.
However, I can certainly understand frustrations arising while doing the thankless task of trying to comprehend what the hell is going on in this series. Even just trying to figure out whether it's Martin Jones the zero or Martin Jones the hero in net on a nightly basis must have anxiety levels at all-time high behind both benches. When you consider that the Golden Knights looked to be ones ferociously feeding after having smelled blood in the water late in Game 4, Peter DeBoer is probably about as tired of his team being on the ropes as Gerard Gallant is of trying to make sense of how his team also found their backs located there. Mix in the Joe Thornton suspension, his unforgiving response to it, the psychically and verbally expressed hatred between Evander Kane and Ryan Reaves, and you end up with the type of mercilessly merciful Game 7 where everyone involved is at their wit's end.
Of course, that should only manifest itself in more entertainment for the viewing audience, but it has clearly manifested itself in overly sensitive irritability amongst those that have had to answer to the up's and down's of a two-week duel between divisional rivals that despised each other about as quickly as they grew acquainted with one another.
The most obvious way to react to this video would be to slowly shake your head while sighing and muttering "fucking soccer" through a light snicker. After all, helplessly flailing to the ground like you just stepped in a bear trap every time someone lightly grazes your person has long been an epidemic in the most worldwide of sport, and almost everyone in this clip appeared to be both infected and handicapped by it.
That said, I can't help but be impressed by how quickly each floundering fraud of an athlete managed to upstage the flop before them. Honestly, if that video had continued being filmed I'm not entirely sure we wouldn't have witnessed an evil-spirited blade of grass cause a sham of a seizure, because as the severity in contact decreased the level of dramatics increased. It was like a comedy sketch in that it became easier and easier to perceive the parody as the same joke kept being made with escalated absurdity. You legitimately couldn't mock the sport of soccer anymore seamlessly than it mocked itself, as hiring good actors to create laughs wouldn't have created anywhere near as perfect a production as just filming bad actors engaging in what was supposed to be an intense competition. Long story short...stereotype, solidified.
Ben Watson Appears Open to an NFL Encore, Which is a Relief As No Career Should End The Way His Was Thought To
I don't know that Ben Watson announcing his intent to return to an NFL field signals an inevitable return to New Orleans. I would love that to be the case, as it would lessen the blow the Saints have had dealt to their leadership group with the departure of Mark Ingram and the retirement of Max Unger, as well as give them proven depth at a position whose depletion hurt them when it mattered most last season. However, with the addition of Jared Cook, the extension of Josh Hill, the curious case of Dan Arnold, and the presumed interest in adding some youth at tight end in the draft, I hardly think his role has been left wide-open for the re-taking. I'd hope to see him back in black & gold since the 38-year old's contributions go far beyond his numbers, but at the end of the day there's only so many roster spots available.
That being said, I'm just glad Ben Watson has apparently decided to search for one somewhere. For as great a person and productive a player as he's been while putting together a resume whose length defies logic, being helplessly sidelined only to get a closer look at having his Super Bowl sendoff get stolen from him by the world's most flagrantly un-thrown flag is no way to call it quits. No team's season should end that way, never mind the career of one of the most universally respected veterans in all of sports.
Therefore, if only to pen a final chapter that isn't eternally demoralizing, I'm relieved that Ben Watson has decided to open back up the book to his football life in reconsidering retirement. Hopefully that chapter provides a storybook ending with him hoisting the Lombardi Trophy alongside Drew Brees, but the truth is that any conclusion would be exponentially better than the heart-wrenching and mind-numbing one it was left with prior.
Am I Watching a Different Play Than The One That Has Capitals' Fans Trying to Re-Attach Their Pets' Heads?
In the sense that the NHL and their crew of officials is about as good as explaining themselves in the moment as a man whose been caught with his pants down and his dick up, I do understand the frustration. You've got game-changing goals being waved off, and the best reasoning provided by a professional hockey league is basically that of an irritable mother telling her teenage son to take the garbage out for the tenth time in ten minutes. Simply put, as fans, we deserve better answers than those that more or less amount to "because I said so" from referees that were just given plenty of time to come up with a description of what happened while watching it over and over again at 1/100th of the speed.
That being said, now that we have been offered a belated explanation, I fail to see how anyone could say it's one that is definitively wrong...
Questionable? Sure. Controversial? What judgment call that keeps a lead alive in an elimination game isn't? The product of some anti-Capitals conspiracy that serves as undeniable proof that a broken system is broken? Yeaaaaah, no.
Because there is legitimately no angle that tells me otherwise, I'm left to believe the puck was loose somewhere underneath Petr Mrazek's pads. Therefore, it stands to reason that using a stick to push said pads, to the point where it undergoes a non-ironic weird flex, back towards the net is primarily what propelled said loose puck into the net...
As is the main reason that borderline decisions are deemed to fall on a border's line, I wouldn't have taken issue with whatever direction the NHL happened to fall in ruling on such an impactful play. I'd hear you out if you wanted to argue that it shouldn't matter that Alexander Ovechkin jabbed the goaltender en route to the puck because the goaltender had a better chance of guessing which hand I had my beer in than guessing where the puck was.
However, consider me deaf to the incessant and illogical bitching of Capitals' fan that are coming damn close to making my ears bleed. No one is out to get the reigning champs during what's been a preposterously unpredictable postseason where their presence would be even more appreciated in the next round. Referring to a 50/50 call in implying as much is as crazy as Alexander Ovechkin himself, so perhaps the opinion of the person who had their game-tying goal disallowed in the third period of a playoff game isn't the end all, be all. You're entitled to think it's a bad call, but to go to the extreme that it's one that's impossible to understand is objectively idiotic.
Tim Anderson, Of Bat Flippin' Fame, Was Suspended One Game For Using the N-word Towards a Pitcher Named Brad, Because...Well...Baseball
I initially figured the MLB concussed themselves doing the amount of mental gymnastics it must have taken to conclude that a black batter using the n-word towards a pitcher named Brad (I'll let you guess the race on that one) off-camera while presumably being ejected for getting plunked after celebrating a home run on the previous at-bat was a suspension-worthy offense.
Unfortunately, on second thought, I think something far more stupid is true. I think that they actually found this decision to be a simple one that, to them and them alone, made all the sense in the world. That would be far more on-brand, as baseball's braintrust sharing an understanding of the cultural complexities of the n-word with the former high school acquaintance you had to unfriend on Facebook after the umpteenth teen he felt it necessary to publicly comment that it's actually ALL lives that matter isn't surprising. Disappointing that the executive decision makers for a league with a massive minority presence are still the type to quietly wonder why rappers are given free reign with a root word that haunts the roots of their pastime's pastime, sure, but not in the least bit surprising.
Tim Anderson triumphantly tossed a bat in a way that demanded the attention of the demographics least likely to give a crap about mid-April baseball, and received a heater to the hip as his punishment. That's really all it had to be. Yet, the league in which institutional racism is still a sore subject (that is ironically sometimes seen through the repression of personalities) basically struck out swinging on what was supposed to be an intentional walk in creating an uncomfortable conversation by bending over ass-backwards in being overly sensitive to "racial insensitivity" at its most irrelevant.
The fans didn't need to know that a hard 'a' was dropped and, considering the circumstances, the players certainly shouldn't have cared that a hard 'a' was dropped. Therefore, regardless of the fact that Brad Keller was also suspended a start, this was a counterproductive overcompensation and/or a sign that the MLB still doesn't understand how to get out of the way of their own, for lack of a better word, whiteness. After all, seeing as old white managers get away with loathsome language on a weekly basis, they basically pulled the race card on themselves in thinking what was inconspicuously said was as "racially charged" as it was culturally influenced.
Teddy Bridgewater Ran Out of Bikes, Toys, and School Supplies to Give Away to Kids in His Community so He Started Passing Out $20 Bills Like a Boss
Considering the hesitancy I will always have towards believing that Drew Brees will retire until he actually does, I haven't the slightest clue what Teddy's Bridgewater's future holds on the football field. Even if things shake out as conveniently as some Saints' fans think/hope they will, there would still be a ton of questions as to whether he would make for a viable successor under center.
What won't be up for debate, however, is whether Teddy Bridgewater possesses the selflessness and humility that have made the person atop him on the depth chart into a damn ambassador for the city he's helped to inspire and uplift. Now, due to the most dire, disastrous, and devastating of circumstances, Drew Brees' impact on New Orleans (and vice-versa) is entirely unprecedented throughout sports' history so no one will never be able to fill those shoes. That, however, doesn't make it any less cool that Teddy Bridgewater is apparently pretty quick to give a whole shitload of smaller pairs away to the kids in his hometown as yet another consummate good guy in a quarterback room whose embarrassment of riches is being spent generously.
Dude looks to be a leader, and I would say that could imply that the Saints' offense is in good hands going forward if that were anywhere near as important as Mr. U-Haul keeping those hands out in giving back to the community that helped raise him by any monetary means necessary.
Probable Devils' Prospect Jack Hughes Padded Enough Stats For a Princess to Get Beauty Sleep on in USA's Shellacking Of Slovakia
Seeing as he's already being hailed as a savior of sorts to a New Jersey Devils' lineup whose annual search for a second top-six center somehow always leads back to Travis Zajac, you'd think I'd be throwing around bleach by the bucket-full in cleansing my walls after watching Jack Hughes post a 7-spot against Slovakia. However, the truth is that there wasn't much to take away from a effort that was, for lack of a better description, statistically stupid, as all it proved is that he might as well be playing against actual infants in going up against his own peers.
The same couldn't be said yesterday when he had some struggles against Sweden, but - as for today - someone who looks 12 years old with his helmet off had his opponent looking like they were the type to be overly proud of each and every pubic hair once he put his helmet on. Simply put, it was a performance that taught me nothing that I didn't already learn lusting over every available highlight since the fateful night of April 9th. That doesn't mean I wasn't rocking a wry smile after each and every tally, but it does mean that Jack Hughes is so supremely skilled that he almost made a touchdown-like point total look too easy to truly appreciate.
That's obviously a great sign, but if we're being completely honest then it was a pretty guilty watch once the third period got to looking like a pro-bullying PSA about as quickly as Jack Hughes has dumbfounded teenage defenseman doing damage control.
Kevin Hayes Made a Game-Changing Save on his Own Insurance Goal in What Serves as the Perfect Example of Playoff Hockey Being The Most Fickle of Bitch
I do my best to avoid pointing to a single circumstance - throughout a competitive 60 minute contest filled with hundreds of consequential decisions, bouncing pucks, and moving parts - in saying "that one thing right there completely changed the game", so I won't do it here either. Specifically in the sports, the butterfly effect is far too real for its wings to be clipped in the process of trying to give a clean and convenient explanation to the otherwise inexplicable sequences of events that play out on an NHL ice surface come late April and on.
All that being said, I'm also not going to sit here and pretend that the goddamn hockey gods can't be a blasphemous bunch of sadists. The fact that the argument can even be made that Kevin Hayes, during his most productive game as a member of the Winnipeg Jets...
...went on to counterproductively change the entire outlook of the series by accidentally going full-on Robin Hood in stealing a sure goal from himself only to gift just a little bit of life to a Blues' team that could have potentially been buried by it is absolutely insane.
Again, it's impossible to know what would have gone on to happen had his stick grazed that puck on its way towards the net as opposed to its way back, but coming back from down three goals in a raucous arena on the road is undeniably more difficult than doing so from two goals down. You can bet your ass that fact wasn't lost Kevin Hayes as that replay ran through his head on repeat and he tossed and turned his way to shitty slumber last night. After all, playoff hockey being so preposterously unpredictable doesn't cause any emotional detachment to the thrilling and/or deflating effect of deflections that, in certain situations, might as well be destiny defining dice rolls.
Look, I get it. I really do. As far as American hockey players are concerned, TJ Oshie is a goddamn rockstar. If that wasn't made clear when he singlehandedly ripped Putin's cold, dead heart from its body five years ago than it damn sure was when he was running around the nation's capital binge drinking championship beers through his shirt regardless of time and place as if the social laws of society didn't apply to him this past summer. Therefore, anything that costs us his beloved presence on the ice is almost guaranteed to be treated as it were as tragic as a terrorist attack.
With that being said, while the play that did cost us his beloved presence on the ice was dangerous, it wasn't exactly unfitting of an inherently dangerous sport during the time of year when it's at its most fast and physical. Of course, a shove of a crosscheck into the swell of an opposing player's back, be it ten feet from the boards or two feet from the boards, is never not illegal, but it's also not anything close to uncommon. Warren Foegele (who did himself no favors with the following idiotic explanation, by the way) earned his two minutes, but let's not act like there would be any cries for five and/or a suspension if not for a slick skater's edge betraying him at the most inopportune of time.
TJ Oshie, who is no stranger to bruising hockey, wasn't anywhere near as defenseless as some are making him out to be when he was hit, as he's played far too much playoff puck to be unaware that contact is constantly coming (as evidenced below). He was made that defenseless when his skate did what it wouldn't do 99.9% of the time in awkwardly giving out from under him.
I hate to say so insensitively because the postseason is better when TJ Oshie is a part of it, but shit happens. Sometimes it's really just as simple as that when you are talking about a bunch of professional athletes zipping around the rink and pounding each other all over a sheet of ice in desperate hopes of realizing their dream. Warren Foegele certainly could have played the situation in a much smarter way that would have guaranteed everybody's safety, but you could say the same about almost every player, including the one who was left clutching his arm in agony, involved in a puck battle during the playoffs.
Simply put, just because the result was injury doesn't mean the intent was. If you want to argue the outcome warranted a major then fine, but save your Tom Wilson comparisons for a circumstance in which there's an actual comparison to be made. After all, it was hardly full-force or an unforgivable predatory play that pushed TJ Oshie in the general direction of the boards before shit did what it has the tendency to do in the unforgiving confines in which insanely competitive contact sports take place and...well...happened. In fact, it was probably one that you could find he, himself harmlessly committing at some prior point in this series if you were at all interested in anything other than being outraged by his unfortunate absence.
Saquon Barkley Thinks He Did His Best to Prove His Draft Position in Winning 'Rookie of the Year' Honors, And There's Just One Problem With That...
Welp, you can't say the kid doesn't have a point.
I'm quite certain it's not the point he tried to make in living up to his billing as an absolute bull of a game-breaker, but a point nonetheless. With a 'Rookie of the Year' award under his belt, there is now nothing more Saquon Barkley can do to prove that he was the right selection at #2 overall for a team that oddly still isn't as desperate for a QB as they should be. In breaking a ton of long touchdown runs and catches while flashing the freakish combination of size, speed, and agility that had him accurately considered the most talented player in the entire class, he added more to the offense than could have possibly been asked of him...for a Giants' team that won all of five games.
Now, in the same vein that Saquon Barkley did all he could, he also said the only thing he could in doing his best to defend his draft status. It's not like anyone would ever expect a potentially generational running back to downplay the impact and importance of the position he's dedicated his life to mastering. That said, all the well-deserved accolades in the world wouldn't change the fact that nothing has changed. The New York Giants are still crappy, incompetently managed franchise whose face is aging the exact opposite of gracefully. It's just now they are a crappy, incompetently managed franchise whose face is aging the exact opposite of gracefully, but...oh...look, an exciting toy to continue to waste time beating to shit by way of overuse due to a complete lack of other toys.
That's a bit hyperbolic in being a gross mischaracterization of who Saquon Barkley is as a player, but the truth is that you need not do more than five minutes of unwatchable film study to realize it never, ever mattered who Saquon Barkley was as a player. Just sucks he was left to hopelessly attempt to answer to having his role in an NFL offense overvalued when that should always be the job of the idiot who didn't stop at overvaluing it in drawing up a laundry list of inexcusable mistakes.
The Cardinals Made Some Edits to Their Schedule Release/Hype Video After "Forgetting" to Include Josh Rosen in it Even One Single Time
Second time's a charm:
Normally I'd say we might be reading way too far into the contents of a 90-second social media schedule release by using them as cold, hard evidence to a rumored franchise altering personnel decision of an NFL organization. I honestly wouldn't even have noticed Rosen going entirely unChosen in the first video without having been made aware of it prior to watching, so it's probably a bit premature for the second year, first round pick to start packing his bags based solely on its circulation.
That being said, as underwhelming and uneventful as his rookie season may have been, it is near impossible to incidentally put together a highlight package for a professional football team without once featuring the man who holds the hand with which the ball passed through on all offensive plays of note. I mean, even if I wanted to offer the benefit of the doubt, I'd have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to consider that there were close-up cameos made by EIGHT other NFL quarterbacks, none of which are currently employed atop the Cardinals' depth chart under center. If that's not a sign that, at the very least, the online marketing team has taken their first step to securing a seat on the Kyler Murray bandwagon then I don't know what the hell is.
You don't go from getting a glimpse as the future face of the franchise to being a forgotten face in the franchise's glimpse into the future in one year without something being afoot. What's afoot could very well just be the passive aggressive hands of a presumptuous video editor, but me thinks the whispers in Cardinals HQ are about as Josh Rosen-friendly as the "returning" starting quarterback needing to be remixed into a role bigger than that of the team's long snapper. One just can't help but wonder where those whispers originated...
The Falcons Snuck An NFC Shampionship-Inspired Troll Job Into Their 'GoT' Schedule Release, And It's About Damn Time They Made a Funny
When you're so quick to give it, you got to be able to take it. Seeing as the Falcons have, through their unforgettable failures as a franchise, given the Saints and their much more faithful fanbase no choice but to give it, it was theoretically a matter of time before those same fans had to take it. For that reason, I tip my cap to Atlanta's social media team for putting together that clever animation, despite it being a nod to a play that still rips my heart out on...ahem...replay. Like it or not, and I most certainly do not, it's objectively funny.
Now, is it as objectively funny as putting billions of dollars into the building of a mechanical butthole that's perennially half-full and shares a sponsor with the much louder and prouder stadium of your most hated division rival? Good question. Is it as objectively funny as not only having to pipe in artificial crowd noise to your home venue for it to sound like anything remotely close to an NFL atmosphere, but also getting caught doing so? Who's to say? Is it as objectively funny as defying the constraints of time as a construct by blowing a 25-point lead in the second half of the biggest game in your franchise's history while on the brightest stage in sports? It suppose it's all a matter of perspective, but from my perspective the Saints pack far less as a punchline than does the organization that's unsurprisingly much less arrogant and accomplished as an antagonist, especially since having vacated the divisional throne.
Despite Spending the Pistons' First Two Playoff Games in a Suit, Blake Griffin is Padding His Stats...With Technicals
I'll admit, Blake Griffin having made himself a thorn in the side of officials by picking up two technicals despite spending a grand total of zero minutes in uniform throughout the start of what's all-but-guaranteed to be an early and otherwise uneventful finish to the Pistons' postseason is statistically impressive.
It's just not nearly as statistically impressive as the 75 games played this season by a freakish talent whose body has betrayed him more often than a sociopathic lover with a crippling sex addiction.
In all likelihood, it's the second stat that explains the first one. This has been Blake Griffin's healthiest season since he was 24 years old, never mind one of his most productive, and yet he's still been shunned to the sidelines when it matters most by the only body that's been able to consistently limit him as an otherworldly athlete, with that quite obviously being his own.
I'm sure the fact that his team is getting predictably pissed all over by the unrelenting water pressure of the Greek Freak's golden shower is making the matter worse. However, what's really the matter is that he can't do anything about it for the umpteenth time in a career that will sadly be remembered for what it could have been. That's not to discredit what it actually has been, which is one of sports' most seducing cockteases, as much as it is a testament to the MVP-worthy talent in a DNP-worthy skeletal structure. We can laugh at him quickly working towards ejections from games he's not even participating in, but if you were Blake Griffin then untimely injuries would have you feeling pretty damn irritable too.
Wesley Matthews Threw an In-Bounds Fade Pattern to...Basically No One In Sealing a Game 2 Win For The Celtics
I just have one question and shockingly it's not "dude, WTF?". Well, on second thought, I suppose it could be pretty easily translated as such, but in the interest of my own curiosity I'd just like to ask what the plan was there. Far be it for me to think I have better court vision than an NBA player, but like...in his perfect world, how did Wesley Matthews see that cross-court, overhead throw-in to a blanketed teammate playing out?
From the outside looking in, it kinda seems like the optimal result would have been suboptimal in prospective completion percentage. With all due respect to Bojan Bogdanovic, he doesn't exactly strike me as a Randy Moss-type receiver who is even open when he's not, so depending on him to pull in the type of circus catch that saves NFL head coaches from their own lack of creativity in calling untimely fade patterns seems questionable at best.
Maybe there's something I'm missing, but I don't think it's a good sign that I'm struggling to see whatever the hell it was that Wesley Matthews thought he saw. In fact, I don't think I'm going out on too much of a limb in saying the absolutely absurd outcome lends more support to my confusion than his confidence, so perhaps an explanation would do some justice to his Fail Mary of an instant turnover that all-but-ended a playoff game in anti-climactic fashion. Probably not though.
Jared Dudley Took an Exaggerated, But Not Entirely Untrue Jab at Ben Simmons' Offensive Abilities Ahead of Game 3
Typically I would find it very dumb of a veteran role player and leader of a young team whose biggest advantage is that they have nothing to lose to provide motivational material to one of most impactful members of a much more talented opposition ahead of a pivotal Game 3.
The key word being typically, for as much as I think Jared Dudley should have just shut up and let the crowds in both Philadelphia and Brooklyn loudly remind Ben Simmons of his offensive inadequacies, I hardly think of the latter as the type of player who is more successful playing with spite. After all, if he could be instigated into playing with more aggression in an effort to prove people wrong then it probably would have manifested itself in a couple more wide-open jump shots during the first hundred times he casually crossed the 3-point line like it didn't exist and turned his own fanbase's hopeful cheers turned into exasperated sighs.
Point being, until proven otherwise, Ben Simmons just is what he is on the offensive end. That happens to be a athletic marvel who is selflessly innovative, ultra-skilled, and stupid fast regardless of having a frame that makes him an immediate mismatch. What he is not, on the other hand, is someone who is going to mercilessly use that to his advantage in taking over a game by scoring a basketball that he's simply afraid to shoot from outside 10-12 feet. Still a massive threat, of course, but not the type you'd dread looking dead in the eyes after challenging him.
Now, I'm still not sure I agree with any Nets' player, never mind one that's extremely limited in his own skill set at this stage of his career, going out of their way to offer the Sixers' billboard material. However, it does say quite a bit about Ben Simmons' reputation around a league in which confidence is key that the lumbering 33-year old who successfully helped shut him down in Game 1 before sitting out Game 2 was far from worried that slighting him will stoke his competitive fire and bring the best out of him in Game 3.
Martin Jones Was MIA When it Came Time For His Media Availability Following Another Rough Start And Early Finish
The main problem, other than an inexplicable percentage of shots finding the back of the Sharks' net, is that this was far too predictable. By that, I don't mean it was inevitable that Martin Jones would end up MIA after having been burnt by a rough night in Las Vegas like Doug from 'The Hangover'. Rather, I mean that they should have known they might have to make up some such shitty excuse to protect what little, entirely shaken confidence he has been playing with all year by shielding him from the media more successfully than he's shielded the puck from the net.
Of course, goaltending hasn't been San Jose's only problem throughout what's shaping up to be a short and sour playoff run. Just last night their two stud defenseman got walked around like they were as permanent in their defensive position as actual studs...
...thus making way for the game to get out of hand and for two of their 30 goal scorers to get mercifully escorted off the ice like they were being led to the principal's office for being juvenile jackasses during the formality of a final period to an absolute mollywhoppin'...
Still, the fact that the best thing I've seen in the Sharks' crease is their backup goaltender's pads (which are fire, for the record) speaks directly to how many times they've had their back broken by bad goals. Like, even if Martin Jones was as lost literally as he has been figuratively, it's not like his team could enlist the services of the puck as part of the search committee with it being unable to find him since the series started.
Of course, it's even more inexcusable for veteran leaders like Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson to let themselves get treated by pylons while knowing their last line of defense has been offensive, so there is plenty of blame to get passed around. I just think a lot of that blame should be directed at their front office for not being proactive and presumably needing more than decades of undeniable proof that you need consistent and competent goaltending in the postseason. Most of the mental immaturity and physical mistakes can be attributed to the players, but the team having nowhere to turn when they need even a mildly big save is on the organization, as Martin Jones has long left far more juicy rebounds than doubt to the type of leaky goaltender he's been all season.
I'll admit, peaking at the wrong time during the regular season is absolutely something that can come back to haunt you during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In fact, I'll even go as far as conceding that the NHL's most prolific scorer who no-showed two playoff games before selfishly and stupidly getting himself suspended for a third didn't have too many satisfying responses at his disposal when it came to answering to his team getting soullessly swept.
That being said, on the long, long list of unsatisfactory responses, referring to some sort of slow organizational watch following a 62-win season is second only to "well, I had a vacation scheduled, so..." in terms of absolutely infuriating answers. Blaming the stars for their refusal to align in your favor following an unlucky overtime bounce in Game 7 is one thing. Talking fate after getting brushed aside quicker than Spring cleaning is quite another. A failure to adopt an astrologically friendly offense isn't what has Tampa Bay icing their asses at home as opposed to getting ready to regain home ice advantage. Entitlement, maybe. Complacency, probably. A false sense of security, definitely. But for sure not some Daylight Savings Time-style shift in their competitive clock.
This Lightning team was as built for success as any team in the history of hockey, so skirting accountability by pointing the finger at vague, mystic circumstances immediately after the Columbus Blue Jackets finished picking the final remnants of professional pride out of their brooms is evidence of mental weakness throughout a locker room that's the furthest thing from short on physical talent.
Perhaps it's just a coincidence that Nikita Kucherov was the one that happened to speak to it while in the process of trying to explain an inexplicable embarrassment. However, it's quite fitting as his absentee series alone is a pretty perfect example of the Tampa Bay Lightning waiting for the wins to come easy as opposed to going out there and taking what they earned. Artemi Panarin certainly can't relate...
For it to still be a surprise that the NHL postseason is a fickle beast whose results so often fly in the face of 82 games worth of evidence to everything we thought we knew requires a dedication to logic and rationale that is entirely unwelcome in most hockey circles this time of year. Therefore, while we weren't yet to the point where the unexpected is to always be expected, seeding being nothing more than a formality is far from a new concept.
Still, there were very few things that you can get the vast majority of society to agree upon in the year 2019, and the love of a true underdog was one of them. Unfortunately, with a mesmerizing meltdown for the ages, the 62-win Tampa Bay Lightning took that love and stomped all over it, as there is no longer such thing as a sure thing to root against during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As fans of unforeseen failures, we've officially peaked in watching the Columbus Blue Jackets go all-in to win their first ever playoffs series by way of an uncompetitive dusting of a team whose talents will undoubtedly make for multiple hilariously uncomfortable appearances at the NHL awards. In terms of shock value, it is now eternally depreciating. Every other matchup in which the favorite falls short for the foreseeable future will be met with a mere shoulder shrug, as we've been desensitized to dumbfounding outcomes by the All-World juggernaut that took not one single step in a middle ground in going from Valedictorian to dropout in six days time.
If there is a saving grace to a series that was really only intriguing in the way that a billionaire going broke is intriguing then it's that an organization managing their assets how a drunk college kid might manage his bank account actually worked out in a way that might result in franchises being less risk adverse going forward. The Columbus Blue Jackets gave a middle finger to the future on behalf of the present, and not only narrowly avoided suffering an embarrassing end to their own season but basically pulled down the pants of the Presidents' Trophy winners and sent them into the summer with the most public of spankings. At least we can appreciate the boldness it takes to even attempt that, because we certainly can't continue to appreciate even the most astronomical of NHL postseason odds after they were overcome with such ease.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Blamed His Birthday Cake-Heavy Diet For His Out of Shape Showing at Offseason Workouts, Which is Quite Fitting
Honestly, who has got it better than Ryan Fitzpatrick? Never mind being subjected to a dumpster of a diet that comes part and parcel with having to sneak in ways to satiate yourself while raising an entire touchdown worth of children. The truth is, he might as well wake up and eat some cake regardless of whether or not the calendar says it's a date on which he once successfully reproduced.
36 years old. Starting NFL quarterback. Still living good off an Ivy League education in and on a field where it largely doesn't translate. No real expectations of which to speak. Can show up unkempt and overweight to his job as a pro athlete and have it be a laughing matter. His blessed life might as well be the product of blowing out all the right candles, so who is to say every day isn't his birthday? All his wishes have seemingly some true, like two dozen times over, so it would simply be ungrateful of him not to show his appreciation by bulking up on a bunch of batter and icing for another stress-free gig under center that probably best described as...well...cake.