Friday, December 23, 2016

The IIHF World Juniors Have lost it's Flare

Around this time of year, Team Canada is making their final selections for the annual IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships played between December 25th and January 5th every year. 
The tournament hosts many of NHL's future superstars that will alter NHL Mock Drafts from various hockey experts and scouts as they prepare for the 2017 NHL draft in June. 
It has became a Canadian Tradition as Hockey Canada assembles the best roster they can as they know that anything but a Gold Medal for Canada will be unacceptable especially on home ice where they came away with Gold last time the tournament was held in Canada in 2014. 
The last decade has been Canada's gold mind as many current elite NHLers are playing major roles in various teams right now. From 2005-2009 Canada won gold every year. In fact, from 2004-2011 the Canadian U20 team went on a unheard of run that saw them go 52 Wins 2 losses 3 overtime losses and 1 tie. To make things even more remarkable, Canada's two regulation losses were blown third period leads. 
Canada has came back down to earth in recent years only winning one gold medal since 2009. What has also changed is the anticipation for the tournament. Despite stars still playing for Canada like Connor McDavid in 2015 and Jonathan Drouin in 2014. 
The tournament has became old news the last few years, the question used to be, how awesome will Canada be this year to now a scouting tournament to see which player they want their respective team to have in the upcoming draft. 
In the past, Canada's team usually has a handful of drafted CHL players that were sent back to Junior because they weren't strong enough. However, in the new era of hockey where having speed is a valuable asset, players under 20 have been making NHL rosters quite frequently and therefore don't play in the World Juniors that year. 
This has resulted in a lesser talent pool every year and therefore, has made the rest of the teams catch up to Canada in hockey talent.  For instance, all the U20 players that are holding spots in the NHL are hurting the World Junior talent and making the tournament have way less quality. 
This could be why the anticipation is down. Unless, you follow CHL hockey, none of the 2017 draft eligible players are household names yet which is a major problem when trying to achieve high TV ratings. 
Nevertheless, TSN will still advertise the hec out of it, as they this is their high point to their hockey coverage with no NHL coverage to atleast 2026. They will cover the tournament wall to wall as they bring you the coverage from Toronto and Montreal. 
To tell you the truth though, the tournament has been missing something the last few years and sadly, I'm not sure it will ever be the same. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Is it time to Worry about Oregon Football?

When talking about one of the more consistent programs in latter-day college football, the name Oregon should come to mind. Outside of Alabama, the Ducks are the second-winningest program in the past decade, notching up nine consecutive 9+ win seasons and six 10+ win seasons from 2007 to 2015, totaling 97 victories. Through that span, Oregon has also achieved stellar postseason success, appearing in five major bowls games, including two that landed them in the National Championship Game.
However, just this past month, Oregon completed its worst single-season in nearly 15 years, going 4-8 and missing a bowl for the first time since 2004. The Ducks’ most recent campaign was dreadful enough to get Mark Helfrich fired after four seasons (for Oregon, it was their first head coach firing since 1976). Weeks later, this then prompted the hiring of Willie Taggart, former head coach of South Florida. If anything, it will be a fresh start for the Oregon program. But will it be enough?
In a sport that is dominated by powerhouses and historic programs like Alabama, Ohio State and USC respectively. Oregon’s pursuit for a dynasty proved to be spectacular in the sense that they emerged as a national threat by constituting their own brand. For so many years, the Ducks have produced electrifying offenses that score points at will, through prodigies at the skilled positions such as LaMichael James, Marcus Mariota, Kenjon Barner and Darron Thomas. A break-neck playing style such as that enriched Oregon fans, as they each embraced it whole-heartedly. But after experiencing the program’s golden years, Oregon unfortunately failed to make it out with a national title trophy– something that the school is still searching for.
With Mariota now thriving in the NFL, plus someone who holds no “Oregon affiliations” running the ship, it’s clear to admit that Ducks have lost their swagger. Something is missing with the Quack Attack and to make matters worse, they are not even the second best team in the Northwest anymore. Arch-rival Washington and Washington State have not only jumped ahead of Oregon, but they have zoomed past the Ducks and are miles ahead of them in terms of recruiting and long-term stability.
In order for Oregon to get back to where they once were, Taggart has to handle the adversity calmly. Oregon’s 2017 non-conference schedule offers stiff tests at home versus Nebraska, followed by a trip to Laramie to play Wyoming. A 3-0 start is possible but by no means a given. With that said, the Ducks will return quarterback Justin Herbert, who throughout his true freshman season in 2016, offered glimpses of optimism. Tony Brooks – James also emerged as a key cog in the backfield this season, rushing for 771 yards and nine TDs on 101 carries, and he’ll be back. In an attempt to correct Oregon’s defensive shortcomings, Taggart decided immediately to not retain Brady Hoke as the team’s Defensive Coordinator for next season, replacing him with former Colorado DC Jim Leavitt.
Moves like these present optimism for Taggart in the short-term, as well as confidence for Oregon fans moving forward. It’s worth mentioning that Taggart just recently rebuilt the USF program from the ashes, inheriting a 3-9 team in his first season to eventually leading them to 8 and 10 win regular seasons. 
For Oregon’s sake, the program will know within the next two years whether or not this was a good hire. Because, believe it or not, college football is better when the Ducks are chasing a Rose Bowl birth every year. But with Chris Peterson now building a budding program in Seattle, it’s a must for things to be turned around sooner rather than later in Eugene.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Will Anyone Slow Down Chelsea FC?

This August, I had a vision that Chelsea would win the English Premier League. The reason, the addition of N'Golo Kanté who was Leicester City's best defender last year and they weren't playing in any European competition this year thanks stop their disappointing 10th place finish last year.

On the booklist online. They were a 5.5 to 1 odds to win the Premier League. That means a $10 bet would win you $55 if Chelsea won the EPL title. I definitely thought hard if I should make the bet. Unfortunately, I didn't because I didn't know how to create an account online.

Now, I'm kicking myself right now. Chelsea FC have won 10 in a row while in the process have outscored their opponents 24-2 in the process. The run has been splendid as they have opened up a six point gap on inner city rival Arsenal.

Crystal Palace will be the next team on the list to try to slow down Chelsea. That game goes on Saturday at 7:30 ET on NBCSN.

As of now, Chelsea has a overwhelmingly 69% chance of winning the league. That is according to Sports Club Stats website that calculates every teams chance to win the EPL title. It puts into account form, roster and games remaining on the schedule along with home and away number of games left.

As the site demonstrates, Chelsea would only have to go 12W-6T-4L the rest of the season and they would have a 90.1% chance of winning their second EPL title in the last three years.

Things are looking great for Chelsea, a win against Crystal Palace seem likely as the Eagles are 1W-1T-7L in their last nine games as Palace are inching closer and closer to the drop zone in the standings.

Here are the other games of Week 17 in the EPL:

Saturday, 17 December 2016
7:30 AM ETCrystal PalaceChelseaSN World 
10:00 AM ETMiddlesbroughSwansea CityNONE 
10:00 AM ETSunderlandWatfordTSN4 
10:00 AM ETWest Ham UnitedHull CitySN 
10:00 AM ETStoke CityLeicester CityTSN5 
12:30 PM ETWest Bromwich AlbionManchester UnitedSN 
Sunday, 18 December 2016
8:30 AM ETBournemouthSouthamptonSN World 
11:00 AM ETManchester CityArsenalTSN4 
11:00 AM ETTottenham HotspurBurnleyTSN5 
Monday, 19 December 2016
3:00 PM ETEvertonLiverpoolTSN4 and 5 

PosTeam PldWDLGFGAGDPtsQualification or relegation
1Chelsea1613123411+2340Qualification for the Champions League group stage
4Manchester City1610333419+1533Qualification for the Champions League play-off round
5Tottenham Hotspur168622711+1630Qualification for the Europa League group stage
6Manchester United167632217+527
7West Bromwich Albion166552319+423
10AFC Bournemouth166372225−321
12Stoke City165561722−520
14Leicester City164482127−616
15West Ham United164481831−1316
16Crystal Palace164392831−315
18Swansea City1633102034−1412Relegation to the Football League Championship
19Hull City1633101435−2112

Friday, December 9, 2016

EPL Week 15

We are into December and we have big matches for the Premier League in a condensed weekend with six games on Saturday and four games on Sunday. This is because we have EPL games on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

All 20 teams will be on TV somewhere in Canada this weekend which is great news for fans that cheer for the underdog in the EPL. Hull City is desperate for a win when they host a Palace team that is on a mission to prove that last weeks game against Southampton was no fluke.

Other games that have intrigue are Burnley hosting Bournemouth and Arsenal trying to keep pace with the rest of the top teams as Stoke travel comes in the the Emirates.  

On Sunday, the big battle of the day pits Tottenham against Manchester United. This is a huge game as if the Spurs win, the gap between the Top 5 and the rest will open up significantly. Furthermore,  frustrating West Brom will travel to Stamford Bridge to try and slow down Chelsea.

Saturday, 10 December 2016
7:30 AM ETWatfordEvertonSN 
10:00 AM ETArsenalStoke CityTSN4 
10:00 AM ETHull CityCrystal PalaceTSN1 
10:00 AM ETBurnleyBournemouthSN 
10:00 AM ETSwansea CitySunderlandTSN5 
12:30 PM ETLeicester CityManchester CityNBC 
Sunday, 11 December 2016
7:00 AM ETChelseaWest Bromwich AlbionTSN5 
9:15 AM ETManchester UnitedTottenham HotspurTSN5 
9:15 AM ETSouthamptonMiddlesbroughSN 
11:30 AM ETLiverpoolWest Ham UnitedSN 

PosTeam PldWDLGFGAGDPtsQualification or relegation
1Chelsea1411123211+2134Qualification for the Champions League group stage
4Manchester City149323015+1530Qualification for the Champions League play-off round
5Tottenham Hotspur147612410+1427Qualification for the Europa League group stage
6Manchester United145631916+321
7West Bromwich Albion145542017+320
9Stoke City145451619−319
10AFC Bournemouth145361922−318
14Crystal Palace144282426−214
16Leicester City143471724−713
17West Ham United143381529−1412
18Sunderland143291424−1011Relegation to the Football League Championship
19Hull City143291129−1811
20Swansea City142391631−159