After a two-week rest, Inside Sports is ready to type away once again. My apologies for the unannounced vacation. And away we go.
PENGUINS DOMINATE SERIES AGAINST OTTAWA
As of publication, the Pens hold a 3-1 series lead over the Ottawa Senators. Some big scores came in the Pens 7-3 win over the Sens in game four Wednesday night. James Neal and Jarome Iginla had two goals apiece.
With the score that lopsided, it almost erased the bad memories of the 2-1 double overtime loss to the Senators in Game 3.
Which team will show up for game five? That will be seen on Friday for game five at Consol Energy Center.
In other NHL Playoff news, the New York Rangers healthy-scratched Brad Richards for Thursday’s game four against the Boston Bruins. (Game being played at time of publication)
“WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER SCREEN”
Pardon the “Jaws” reference, but a recent video on the Penguins website shows the fans that gather outside the Consol Energy Center are really enjoying themselves. Every chance the Pens get, they will put their LCD big screen (nicknamed “Mario’s Big Screen”) outside the arena and put up a holding area for fans to bring their lawn chairs out and watch the game.
They treat the outside audience like they are fans, with activities just for them and giving them rally towels similar to the ones given to fans inside. Those fans should keep in mind that NBC may put the kibosh on any plans should the games be shown on NBC’.
As of now, any game on the NBC Sports Network (The former Versus) can be shown outdoors, but in the past, any games put on plain ol’ NBC are subject to their rules and regulations, which have stated that “Mario’s Big Screen” is not allowed. I hope NBC can lighten up a bit. Ratings aren’t everything, ya know.
By the way, check out this video to see a unique aerial view of the outdoor festivities. http://bit.ly/16X125N
PIRATES STRONG HOMESTAND
The goal of the Pittsburgh Pirates by the end of their 10-game home stand was to have won at least seven of those games. They won eight of them, with the home stand being capped off with a 4-2 win over division rival Chicago Cubs. Backed with a solid bullpen (Lead by save-master Jason Grilli) and some powerful hitting from Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates look to be serious.
One event that got me was when the Pirates were trailing 3-0 in the 6th inning when Travis Snyder was called in to pinch hit with the bases loaded. He made the most of his at-bat, by taking it for a ride to right-center field for a grand slam, the first for the Bucs since 2008.
The Pirates will need this confidence as they head to Milwaukee to start a weekend series at Miller Field with the Brewers. Historically, the Pirates have had nightmares about going to Miller Field or even facing the Brewers.
That changed as the Bucs took three of four from the Brewers in a recent four game stretch at PNC Park that started the stretch of home games. At Miller Field, the Pirates have not had a lot of success. We’ll see if the Pirates can exorcise some demons this weekend.
ROCK THE ROUNDBALL
In the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, it’s all controversy. Did a coach shoot himself in the foot accidentally when he benched his best player?
The Indiana Pacers lost to the Miami Heat in game one 103-102 in overtime when LeBron James nailed a buzzer-beating lay-up to secure the win. Pacers center Roy Hibbert was not on the floor for the last 2.2 seconds. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said he left Hibbert off the floor because he wasn’t sure what Miami would do with Chris Bosh in that scenario.
Vogel has admitted to the mistake, saying next time he would probably do something different. Yeah, hindsight’s 20-20 my friend. Get a pair of bifocals.
Meanwhile in the West, where the Spurs hold court over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Spurs lead the series 2-0 and are playing Thursday night in game three. (Game being played at time of publication.)
From these four, I will say the Heat will repeat. I have not seen anything that could remotely repel Miami’s “Big 3”.
JUST OFF THE TICKER (Formerly SHOP TALK AT SIX)
Going back to the NBA Playoffs, Hibbert accused Miami’s Shane Battier of dirty play during game one…Lebron and Kobe make All-NBA team first string, joining Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul…Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent will be in court Friday morning after an alcohol-detecting device found alcohol in his system, a violation of his bond conditions…Michael Jordan has asked the NBA to give control of the nickname “Hornets” back to Charlotte after the New Orleans Hornets decided to change their name to the Pelicans.
Charlotte will remain the Bobcats until the end of the 2013-2014 season and will switch to the Hornets for the 2014-2015 season. Charlotte has started to gear up with a “Back the Buzz” campaign…Colorado Avalanche hire former goalie Patrick Roy as their new head coach and VP of Operations…Team USA Olympic Basketball will have Coach Mike Krzyzewski back on the bench. He’s coached Team USA’s “Redeem Team” in 2008 and the 2012 team to two gold medals. Coach, good move.
ONE MORE THING…
Normally I end it with the Ticker, but I want to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day. Please remember the sacrifices given so we can celebrate. And if you do celebrate, do so responsibly and do not drink and drive.