Henning Named Boot Scooters Coach

The Nashville Boot Scooters introduced Kevin Henning as their coach for the X-treme Scooter Quidditch League (XSQL) franchise.

Henning formerly coached the Boston Night Riders of Major League Qudditch (MLQ). He had led Boston to league titles in 2015 and 2016.  He has a record of 29-12 over four seasons.

“I am excited to be here and to be a part of this unique league. It will be fun putting this team together and giving the fans a team they can be proud of.”

Nashville team manager Ryan Cooper was happy to snag Henning as the franchises’ first coach.

“He is a well known coach in the quidditch community. He knows how to put together a competitive team. Nashvillans don’t know it now but they will see the results on the field later.”

So what’s the next step for the Boot Scooters?

“We need to fill the roster and start practicing,” said Henning. “It is very important to get players playing together and in sync. You can’t just throw people out there and expect them to play well. This isn’t a playground league.  It requires timing, stamina and you have to be able to take the contact.”

Henning is known for his blunt comments but is also a fun coach. After winning back-to-back titles with Boston, he took his players to Fenway Park to give Red Sox players a chance to try quidditch.

Henning was also asked about Nashville Mayor’s threat to ban electric scooters.

“I think the city has more pressing problems to worry about than scooters. I mean that’s my personal opinion. To be fair, I am just visiting Nashville for the first time so I really don’t know the frustration people are having with it. I just think the mayor needs to concentrate on other things.”

Henning plans to take advantage of the open tryouts as well as experienced players from MLQ to fill the Boot Scooters roster.

Cooper also announced that the XSQL has reached a deal with the SciFi Network to televise weekly league games this season.  The network will feature a game-of-the-week of one live game on a weekend night during the season.  More details will be released when the league reveals the regular season schedule.  The regular season will be played in October.  Each team will play 14 regular season games followed by the playoffs.

The Boot Scooters are also narrowing down locations for their “home” field with Centennial Park, Bicentennial Park and a location in the Gulch in consideration.

[THIS IS A FICTIONAL SPORTS STORY.  IT IS INTENDED FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.]

First Time Champs

firstThis week the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Raptors won their first championship titles in their franchise histories.  The Blues defeated the Boston Bruins in the National Hockey League (NHL) to win their first Stanley Cup.   It took the Blues 52 years to bring home the Cup to St. Louis.  The Toronto Raptors claimed their first National Basketball Association (NBA) title by defeating the Golden State Warriors.  Raptor fans didn’t have to wait as long as the Blues.  It only took them 24 years to bring it to Canada.

So what other franchises are still looking for their first title in each sport? (Number of seasons without a title).  Franchises with longest droughts in each sport are in BOLD.

Major League Baseball

  • Colorado Rockies (26)
  • Milwaukee Brewers (50)
  • San Diego Padres (50)
  • Seattle Mariners (42)
  • Tampa Bay Rays (21)
  • Texas Rangers (58)
  • Washington Nationals (50)

National Basketball Association

  • Brooklyn Nets (43)
  • Charlotte Hornets (29)
  • Denver Nuggets (43)
  • Indiana Pacers (43)
  • Los Angeles Clippers (49)
  • Memphis Grizzlies (24)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (30)
  • New Orleans Pelicans (17)
  • Orlando Magic (30)
  • Phoenix Suns (51)
  • Utah Jazz (45)

National Football League

  • Atlanta Falcons (53)
  • Carolina Panthers (24)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (51)
  • Houston Texans (17)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (24)

National Hockey League

  • Arizona Coyotes (39)
  • Buffalo Sabres (48)
  • Columbus Blue Jackets (18)
  • Florida Panthers (25)
  • Minnesota Wild (18)
  • Nashville Predators (20)
  • Ottawa Senators (26)
  • San Jose Sharks (27)
  • Vancouver Canucks (48)
  • Vegas Golden Knights (2)
  • Winnipeg Jets (19)

If you are a fan of the Texas Rangers, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Falcons (ouch), Buffalo Sabres or Vancouver Canucks, I salute you.  It is difficult to always “wait for next season” but with Toronto and St. Louis winning this week, at least it gives you some hope that it is possible.

At this time in each league, the following teams look to be closer to winning their first titles based on their latest finishes:  Milwaukee Brewers (MLB), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Houston Texans (NFL) and San Jose Sharks (NHL).

There’s always next season.

 

 

Pro Scooter League Reveals Rules

XSQL_photoThe new X-treme Scooter Quidditch League (XSQL) has hinted about the rules of this new hybrid sport since announcing their launch in the Spring. League officials have stated that the new sport would feature rules which are a variation of the fictional sport of quidditch. The most obvious difference, of course, is that the players will ride electric scooters instead of flying on broom sticks.

The use of electric scooters will add a twist to the game but fans should expect the same excitement as the game that was shown in the Harry Potter movies with the exception of the aerial maneuvers.  XSQL Commissioner Mark Rockwell says that the scooters will be the key component to make it work.

“We are currently working with a company to design special scooters for the league,” he said.

Rockwell would not reveal the company name at this time.

“The main difference will be the steering so that players will not need to keep both hands on the scooter if they are in possession of quaffle, bludgers or snitch.”

Yes, all those terms will be a challenge for anyone not familiar with quidditch.

The field will be SportCourt which is a form of artificial turf used by some college field hockey teams.  The surface is flat and will not impede scooters like natural grass fields would.  The field is rectangular with rounded corners (60 yards by 36 yards) with three hoops of varying heights at each end.  The ultimate goal is to score more points than the other team by the time the snitch is caught.  The snitch is a tennis ball placed at the bottom of a yellow long pouch which is attached to the back of the player’s shorts as if it were a tail.

XSQL Rules“We still have some work to do on the rules but we will do our best to stick to the original quidditch game.  Obviously some variations are needed with using electric scooters,” Rockwell added.

The game will be shorter with four 10-minute quarters rather than traditional quidditch so that players can keep their scooters charged.  Quick chargers will be available between quarters to allow players to keep sufficient charge.

In response to Mayor Briley’s threat to ban scooters, the Nashville Boot Scooters conducted their first educational party last weekend.  Thousands attended the party as the XSQL gave out hundreds of helmets to scooter riders in an attempt to help with safety issues raised by the mayor.  The party also included scenes from Harry Potter of quidditch as a way to attract attention to safety tips for riding scooters downtown.

“We hope it will be effective,” said team manager Ryan Cooper.  “I have seen a few riders whiz by me this morning wearing the helmets and abiding by the rules but there are many more who are not.  I’m not sure if we are going to be able to meet the mayor’s demands or not but we are doing what we can.”

The Boot Scooters are planning to hold another open tryout this weekend as they will be in Centennial Park on Saturday from 1-5.

[THIS IS A FICTIONAL SPORTS STORY.  IT IS ONLY INTENDED FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.]

 

Battle of the PKs

In-Ground-Basketball-HoopsIn the late spring of 1981, there was an epic basketball clash which took place that you may have not known about.  While the Boston Celtics with Larry Bird were facing the Houston Rockets led by Moses Malone in the National Basketball Association (NBA) finals, the unofficial Preacher’s Kid Basketball Association championship was being played out in the backyard of my house on Ogeechee Road in Savannah, Georgia.

My dad was the pastor of a church in Savannah.  During one week in late May, he scheduled a revival with a traveling evangelist at our church.  The evangelist arrived with his camper in tow along with his wife and son.  They were a big-time husband and wife team back then and my dad had snagged a revival.

The son – who I will call “Harold” – was a brat.  I don’t know any nice way to put it.  I tried to get along with him but he would kick and punch me when our parents weren’t looking.  When I would try to retaliate or defend myself,  he would curl up in a ball and call out for his mommy.  Yep, I knew it was gonna be a long week.

During this time, I was a junior in high school.  Harold was two years younger than me and was home schooled by his mommy in their little camper.

Harold was annoying and I was warned to play nice.

I had basketball goal that I had in the backyard and thought this might be a good distraction for him so we started with shooting some hoops and talking about the NBA finals.  He was good at trash talking and making fun of the fact that I liked Moses Malone and the Rockets.  I think he would have picked the opposite of whatever I had said anyway.   Did I mention he was annoying?

Finally, he threw down a challenge.

“I bet I can beat you in a game,” he said.

“Oh really,” I looked at him sideways.  There was no way this brat could beat me.

Although he was big for his age, I knew I could beat him and I wanted to shut his mouth.

“You’re on.  Let’s make it a best-0f-seven series like the NBA,” I proposed.  “We will play every day when I get home from school.”

The battle was on.

Each game was played to 21.  I thoroughly trounced him in the first two games.  He was no competition.   His trash talking grew silent as I was dribbled around him on the dirt court and cut to the basket like Moses Malone would have.  He couldn’t block any of my shots unless he fouled me.  I relished in the way I was easily scoring on him.

Midway through the third game of our championship series, I could see the light leave his face and the arrogance was being drained from him.

This is when I made a crucial mistake.  I felt sorry for the brat.

It wasn’t much fun beating the crap out of him and I wanted some kind of competition so I did the unthinkable – I let him score a few baskets to make the game close.

Then I let him win the next game – huge mistake.  I now led the series 3-1.

In game 5, he resorted to fouling – a lot.  I still let him stay close and he hit some impossible shots with his awkward style – if you can call it that – and he pulled out a stunning win to pull the series back within 3-2.

The light was back in his face and the trash talking returned.  I was intent on ending the series in game 6.  Dispose of him and be done with it.

He played the best game of our series and I couldn’t hit anything.  He won another close game and now the series was tied 3-3.

Our game 7 was played on a Saturday so I didn’t have school and had all day to get ready.  I felt some nerves and felt the pressure of the do-or-die finale with the bratty preacher’s kid.  The nerves showed in my game.  My usual moves failed me and my shooting percentage was way off.  I couldn’t hit the side of a barn.  Meanwhile, everything was falling for Harold.  He got more vocal with each score.  The game went back and forth.  I wasn’t going to show any mercy or let him score anything.  My game failed me.  Harold hit the game winning basket.

Harold won.  I dropped my head in defeat while Harold jumped around me and yelled in my face something about being the best and beating me.

To make matters worse, he bragged about it to the entire church that night – the final night of the revival.

Everyone looked at me, then looked at him.  They were puzzled.

How was this possible?

I didn’t bother with the “I let him win” explanation.   That would certainly be the loser’s claim in any defeat.

I never saw Harold again.  I never wanted to.

A rematch?  What good would that do?

Boston defeated Houston in six games to win the NBA title in 1981.

I lost to a bratty P.K. in seven games.

The agony of defeat still stings as much as the stupidity over the decision to let him win a few games.

 

XSQL Responds To Nashville Mayor Threat to Ban Scooters

Last week, Nashville Mayor David Bailey issued an ultimatum to scooter companies operating downtown to get control of scooter issues in 30 days or he would push for them to be banned.

The Xtreme Scooter Quidditch League (XSQL) is hoping to broker the problems between the mayor’s office and scooter companies to resolve the issues.

“We want to bring a solid resolution to the concerns brought up by the mayor and help the scooter companies in meeting the 30-day deadline,” said XSQL Commissioner Mark Rockwell.

Responding to downtown complaints, Briley has raised concerns over the clutter of scooters on the city streets as well as the safety issues of riders not wearing helmets or riding scooters in the appropriate areas.

Nashville Boot Scooters Team Manager, Ryan Cooper agrees with the mayor.

“He’s absolutely correct. Things have gotten out of hand with the management of the scooters. There have been too many too fast and it has overwhelmed the city. Now is the time to get a handle on it.”

The Boot Scooters are already proactive with the helmet issue by distributing free helmets to riders. Cooper, who formerly worked with the Nashville Predators, also got 100 Predators’ hockey helmets donated to distribute to riders.

“Most scooter riders have this idea that wearing helmets aren’t cool,” Cooper said. “By having the Predators donate some helmets we are hoping they will think it is the cool thing to wear a Predators’ helmet,”

The Boot Scooters are also providing their own helmets hoping to promote the new team and league. Other businesses such as Tootsies and Acme Feed ‘n Seed have also sponsored helmets.

Rider safety is another hot topic on the Mayors concern.

The Boot Scooters are going to hold rider parties over the next few weeks with the goal of enforcing the rules of the road for scooter riders. The local XSQL franchise is working with the league to sponsor the “educational parties” with free giveaways and merchandise to encourage attendance and get the attention of scooter riders. Several local sports personalities have agreed to participate in the parties.

“We’re hoping that the party atmosphere along with some local celebrities will help bring in scooter riders and spread the word about safety and the proper use of electric scooters.”

The Boot Scooters have already teamed up with Bird and Lime to provide sponsorship to the events.

“I think it’s great that this new league is working with us and the mayor’s office to help us to meet the demands by the city,” said local Bird representative Eric Wallace. “We really don’t need any bad press over this so the XSQL’s involvement is key.”

The first “educational electric scooter” party will be held at the plaza in front of Bridgestone Arena on Friday at 6 p.m.

The Nashville Boot Scooters are one of eight teams scheduled to play in the XSQL’s first season in October. The sport is a hybrid merging of electric scooters and quidditch. Instead of broomsticks, players will “fly” around on scooters.

[THIS IS A FICTIONAL SPORTS STORY. IT IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.]

Friday Flashback: 1970 Stanley Cup Final

stanleyIt has taken 49 years for this Stanley Cup rematch between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.  While Boston has had more recent success, winning the title in 2011 and losing in the final in 2013, the Blues have not returned until this season.

In the 1970 final, the Bruins swept the Blues in four games.

Boston, coached by Harry Sinden, finished the regular season in second place in the Eastern Division behind the Chicago Blackhawks but defeated the New York Rangers in six games and swept the Blackhawks in four games to get to the final.  The Blues, led by Scotty Bowman, finished first in the Western Division then dispatched the Minnesota Northstars and Pittsburgh Penguins in six games to make it to their third straight Stanley Cup final.  They had been swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the two previous finals.

The Bruins breezed through the first three games winning 6-1, 6-2 and 4-1.  The most competitive game of the series was the fourth game.  Larry Keenan scored 19 seconds into the third period on a power play goal to give the Blues a 3-2 lead.  The Bruins tied up the game with 7:32 left in regulation on a goal from Johnny Bucyk.   The game went into overtime but not very deep as Bobby Orr scored the game winner – and series winner – just 40 seconds in to complete the sweep.  It was his only goal in the cup final.  Orr was named the Most Valuable Player.

The image of Orr flying through the air, his arms raised in victory — who was tripped by Blues’ defenseman Noel Picard immediately after scoring the goal — is one of the most famous and recognized hockey images of all time.

Click here to watch Orr’s game winning goal.

orr

Since 1970, the Bruins have been in the Stanley Cup final nine times (1972, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2011, 2013, 2019).  The Blues have not been back until this season.

 

 

With The First Pick of the NFL Draft….

The National Football League’s annual draft of college football players has begun in Nashville. My office is a few blocks away from the activity and I want no part of it as over 100,000 have blitzed downtown making it a headache to drive or park.

What’s the deal with all this fuss about the draft anyway? It is becoming an event like the Super Bowl. Adults are painting their faces and wearing costumes as they cheer who general managers of their pick for their teams. They cheer when it is announced that they have picked a center or guard which is like getting underwear for a Christmas present. Cameras show the college players getting picked and some with their families as mothers are jumping up and down and fathers shedding tears as they realize they have won the lottery.

These are college players who may or may not make it in the NFL. It is an incredibly wasteful production and hype over players going from college to the NFL.

I watched some of the first round on ESPN until the local Tennessee Titans made their first pick which was a player named Jeffrey Simmons, a defensive lineman from Mississippi State. Instead of showing highlights from his games, ESPN apparently felt it was necessary to talk about the “mistake” he made in 2016 when he punched a woman repeatedly after breaking up a fight with his sister and the woman. They even showed video from it. I thought it was unnecessary and poor taste by ESPN. I was done. I didn’t watch anymore of the draft.

As I saw the thousands crammed into the area here know as Lower Broadway, I was amazed at how huge the NFL Draft has become and I really don’t understand it. No other professional sports league has made as much of a big deal with picking college players. Now that the NFL has taken it on the road, other cities will jump onboard and host the draft.

It’s just another excuse to have a party and Nashville definitely didn’t need it. One news story that pops up today is about how the NFL Draft is ruining the bachelorette parties. Oh my. We can’t have that now can we?

Traffic is already bad on a normal day and on most days parking costs about $16.80 but the same now during this “special event” costs $40.00. I guess the NFL needs the money.

I’m not a fan of the NFL Draft.

Predators Fall Short…Again.

predators-loseJohn Klingberg probably did us a favor when he scored from the left circle in overtime which ended the season for the Nashville Predators.  He put an end to the most frustrating experience I have had since I moved to Nashville four years ago and became a Predators’ fan.

Yes, the Predators did repeat as Central Division champions – and they will probably raise another banner for that one to go with all the others that have fallen short of a Stanley Cup champion.  I honestly don’t know how they won the division this year.  They certainly didn’t make it easy.  This is the earliest exit for Nashville since losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in 2015.

This team once had so much promise but the future is uncertain.  Will the Predators fire Coach Peter Laviolette?  What moves with the team make in the off season?

There is definitely a problem that is hard to put a finger on.  Maybe there are personality issues in the locker room.  Perhaps there is a lack of leadership.  Right now there are a lot of questions about this team.  If they don’t correct it soon, the window of opportunity to win the Stanley Cup may be closing.

After watching the Predators this season here are the glaring weaknesses:

Power Play

The Power Play is awful and ended up doing them in against Dallas.  They were 0 for 11 in the series and had a power play in the final two minutes in Game Six.  I know these guys try to set up the play but at one point I counted seven passes before they turned the puck over without even attempting the shot.  Something has to be done about this.  Oddly enough, it seemed during most of the season that our best scoring chances were when we were shorthanded.  The Power Play must be fixed.  The Predators were the first team in 10 years to qualify for the playoffs with the worst power play in the league.  They finished 33-for-269 during the season and did not score a power play goal in the playoffs.

Lapses on Defense

The Predators used to be the best in the National Hockey League (NHL) on defense but they have gotten awful on defense.  Too many defensive zone breakdowns and turnovers have made goalkeepers Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros’ jobs much harder than it needed to be.  While it is easy to blame the goaltenders for goals, they have kept the team competitive.  Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and P.K. Sabban were once the main guys for defense but they aren’t getting the job done.

Inconsistent Scoring

While Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and Craig Smith are usually pretty reliable in getting the pucks to the net, the others are horribly inconsistent.  This is clearly evident when you get someone like Rocco Grimaldi who comes in and out plays the other “stars” on offense.  Maybe it’s time to trade some of those stars.

So, if I were in charge, what moves would I make?

#1 – Trade P.K. Subban

Yep, I know he’s a fan favorite and all that but his defense has been terrible this season.  I think it’s time for a change.

#2 – Trade Kyle Turris

Turris is one of those offensive stars who was supposed to be the goal scoring machine when he came to Nashville.  Since coming to the Predators in 2017-18, he has only scored 20 goals.  I think he’s expendable.

#3 – Bring up Eeli Tolvanen

There was quite a splash when the Predators signed Tolvanen but what have they done with him?  I don’t think they have given him much of a chance to prove himself.  Bring him up now and insert him into the lineup.

#4 – Restore home ice dominance

Enough with the “someone sucks” chants by the fans.  Bridgestone Arena has not be a good place for the home team to play.  When your team plays better on the road than at home then something is wrong.  Change up the goal songs and get some new energy in the home games.  Make it a feared place for opposing teams to play again.

It’s time to take a break from hockey.

While it has been frustrating to watch the Predators this season, I’m still a fan and always will be.  It’s sad that the season is over but a relief that we can take a deep breath and take a break for the next five months.   Some times it’s easy being a fan because I don’t have to make these difficult decisions and can actually forget about hockey for the summer.

 

 

Obscure Sports News

AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE

Scores from Week 3:

  • Charlotte Energy 90, Peach State Cats 0
  • Carolina Predators 23, Carolina Cowboyz 14
  • Cape Fear Heroes 40, Georgia Doom 37

CHAMPIONS INDOOR FOOTBALL

Antonio Bray rushed for two touchdowns and caught a third to lead Omaha to a 44-21 win over Wichita at Ralston Arena in Champions Indoor Football action on Saturday night. The win vaults Omaha back into 1st place in the CIF Northern Division.

The Beef (2-1) also had five interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. Chris Perry opened the scoring with a 28-yard return four minutes into the game, and Trey Dudley-Giles capped it with a 44-yard score with 36 seconds left.

The Beef led 30-7 at halftime after Bray scored from 1 yard out. But the Force (1-3) cut the lead to 30-21 midway through the fourth quarter when Mikhail Lindsay scored on a 1-yard run of his own.

The Beef answered with a four-play, 37-yard drive, with Bray rushing 26 yards for a touchdown with 1:54 remaining to put the game away.

INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Green Bay Blizzard defeated the Nebraska Danger on Saturday night at the Resch Center by a score of 60-50.

In a game that saw 30 total points scored in the last 2 minutes and 25 seconds of the game, the Blizzard were able to hold on to win. With the score at 45 to 35 in favor of the Blizzard, Danger quarterback Tommy Armstrong made his only poor throw when defensive back Bakari Triggs stepped in front of a pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown. As the Green Bay holder as well, Bakari took the bad snap and ran it in for the 2-point conversion. The Blizzard took an 18-point lead at 53 to 35. The Danger answered back on the next drive to score and add the 2-point conversion to bring the score back to a 10 point difference at 53 to 43. The Danger then recovered the on-side kick and 2 plays later scored on a pass from Armstrong to John Jackson for 24 yards. With the extra point good, the Danger were within 3 points with 15 seconds to play. The next on-side kick attempt was recovered by the Blizzard and 2 plays later, running back Rameses Owens ran in the final score of the game with only 6 seconds to play.

MAJOR ARENA SOCCER LEAGUE

The Ron Newman Cup Playoff season begins on Thursday in Kansas City as the Comets host the Milwaukee Wave in the opening game of the South Central Division Championships. This is the eighth playoff meeting between these two teams in the past nine years. The Southwest and Pacific Divisions begin on Friday night as the RGV Barracudas host the Monterrey Flash and the Tacoma Stars host Landon Donovan and the San Diego Sockers.  The Eastern Division regular season champion Utica City FC travel to open their series against the Baltimore Blast on Saturday afternoon, one of three games that day.  The Divisional Championship round of the Ron Newman Cup Playoffs feature a home-and-home series between the two teams. If the series is tied after two games, a 15-minute Mini Game is played immediately after Game Two to decide the winner.

osr

Seattle’s Brock Staller is MLR Player of the Week

MAJOR LEAGUE RUGBY

The San Diego Legion battled RUNY in MCU Park and became the first team to leave New York victorious, winning 29-19 and earning the Week 12 Team of the Week Award. Seattle Seawolves wing Brock Staller spearheaded a 52-point offensive onslaught in victory over the Houston SaberCats, scooping Week 12 Player of the Week and becoming the 2019 season’s first two-time award winner.

Rugby United had yet to lose at home in their inaugural season, relying on one of the stingiest defenses in the league. Seven minutes into Sunday’s match, the San Diego Legion faced an early 12-0 deficit on the road in a game with huge playoff implications. But after half-time, the esteemed San Diego defense exerted control and swung the match, not allowing a single second-half point. The Californians’ well-rounded offensive unit won 100-percent of their scrums and saw five different players score a try, Joe Pietersen’s show-and-go solo effort a particular highlight. The Legion climb to third in the standings with the win, propelled by the league’s best point differential. Meanwhile, RUNY are on the outside looking in for the playoffs following the loss, sitting at fifth.

The Houston SaberCats and Seattle Seawolves played out a tight opening half at the newly opened AVEVA Stadium, only the second full-time rugby venue in the United States. But the second half was the Brock Staller show. After drilling two penalty kicks to extend Seattle’s lead to 19-5, in the 57th minute the speedy Staller intercepted an errant offload and ran over untouched from 60 meters for his fifth try of the season. By the final whistle, Staller had accumulated 22 points, a 2019 MLR single game record, and stuffed the stat sheet in the Seawolves’ 52-10 victory, piling up 127 meters on nine carries, four conversions, three penalty kicks and a try. Staller tops the league by a sizable margin in individual points scored, recording 128 points so far, 17 points ahead of second place JP Eloff of the NOLA Gold. This is Staller’s second MLR Player of the Week Award of the season, the first occurring in Week 5.

NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE

The Orlando Predators’ franchise returned to the field after two years and started another chapter in a new league with a 43-40 win over the Columbus Lions.  Robert Brown Jr. intercepted the first pass of the season and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.  Orlando quarterback Kyle Israel had five touchdown passes including two to L.J. Castile in the final minutes as the Predators edged the Lions.

NATIONAL LACROSSE LEAGUE

Here are the current standings:

Eastern Division

  1. Buffalo Bandits (12-4)
  2. Georgia Swarm (12-5)
  3. Toronto Rock (11-6)
  4. New England Black Wolves (8-8)
  5. Rochester Knighthawks (5-11)
  6. Philadelphia Wings (3-14)

Western Division

  1. Saskatchewan Rush (10-6)
  2. San Diego Seals (9-7)
  3. Calgary Roughnecks (9-8)
  4. Colorado Mammoths (6-10)
  5. Vancouver Warriors (5-11)

NATIONAL WOMEN’S SOCCER LEAGUE

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath has been voted Week 1 NWSL Player of the Week by the NWSL Media Association.

Heath tallied a goal and an assist to propel the Thorns ahead of the Orlando Pride 2-0 on Sunday.

Heath’s assist came in the 45th minute after receiving a pass in the 18-yard-box from Christine Sinclair. Heath pulled her defender wide and then backheeled a pass to teammate Caitlin Foord, who drove the ball into the back of the net for the first goal of the match.

Heath’s goal came in the 49th minute when Foord returned the favor, sending a low cross to Heath, who pulled off a behind-the-back touch with the inside of her right foot to redirect the ball into goal.

Heath finished the game with four total shots, three on goal and eight chances created.

This is the second time Heath has been named NWSL Player of the Week. She last earned the honors in Week 6 of 2016.

PRO CHESS LEAGUE

The Baden-Baden Snowballs and Armenia Eagles rounded out the four teams have booked their ticket to the live PRO Chess Leagues semifinals in San Francisco this May. The Snowballs and the Eagles join St. Louis and Chengdu in qualifying for the event.  With Tuesday’s action coming to a close, the results mean that three of the four contestants will be returning to the semifinals, as Ljubljana was relegated during regular season play. The semifinals will see a rematch between St. Louis and Armenia, as Chengdu will take on newcomer Baden-Baden.

Toothless Predators Enter The Playoffs

Toothless PredatorsI will save you the suspense.   No, the Nashville Predators will not win the Stanley Cup.

Don’t judge me.  I am fan of the Predators but after coming within two games of winning the Stanley Cup two summers ago, the Predators have not had that “it” factor since the bitter defeat in Game 6 against Pittsburgh.

It is amazing that the Predators managed to squeak past the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues to win the Central Division title on the last day of the season.  This season has been quite frustrating to watch the Predators.   They started the season on fire by going 9-3 in the first month of the season but injuries, lack of scoring and a season-long disability on the Power Play kept them from being the same team in the past two seasons.

The main problem with the Predators is scoring.  They can’t seem to find consistency with putting the puck into the net.  Aside from Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg, the Predators have no scoring punch.  The acquisitions of Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds have not fixed an inept power play either.  The defensive effort has been a glaring weakness at times with defenders giving up the puck in their own end too many times.  I have lost count the times I have heard the play-by-play announcers tell us that P.K. Subban  has turned over the puck.  If not for the awesome goaltending of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, the Predators would have been sunk.

One of the announcers made a painfully obvious statement in one of the games when he said “you can’t score unless you shoot the puck”.   The Predators have driven us crazy with passing way too many times before taking a terrible shot attempt.  I have joked during the season that maybe we can get a banner for that too.   Stop looking for the perfect shot.  Take the shot!

One thing that we have also wondered about the team is if there are some problems in the locker room.  I haven’t heard or read about any rumors of any personality issues in there but there is definitely a problem as the team seems to be out-of-synch.  That “it” factor or “mojo” they have had in the past is definitely not there now.  They need to figure out how to get it back or they could be done early this season.

Tonight they open the playoffs with the Dallas Stars.  The Predators were 2-1-1 against the Stars this season.  If there’s anything we have learned about the Predators this season is that they play better on the road than they do at home and no lead is ever safe.

Oh I want to Predators to prove me wrong and win the Cup but honestly there are better teams in the playoffs with more offensive power than Nashville.  If the Predators can miraculously revive their 29th-ranked power play in the playoffs it might change things.   If they can build on the momentum from their come-from-behind win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the regular season finale, maybe they can regain that “it” thing.

I’m being a realist here and say that I expect the Dallas Stars to eliminate the Predators in six games.