The Midseason Acquisitions Who Are Making Major Strides in the NHL Postseason

On Sunday night, the New York Rangers took a 3-1 lead over the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals, thanks to a game-winning goal by Martin St. Louis six minutes into overtime of Game 4.It was the sixth goal of the playoffs for St. Louis, who was acquired by the Rangers in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 6. In 19 regular-season games with New York after the trade, St. Louis didn’t produce much of note — just one goal and seven assists — but he’s been the Rangers’ most productive offensive player during the playoffs, generating 5.1 goals created in 18 games this postseason.St. Louis’s performance during New York’s playoff run had me thinking about other players who were acquired during the season and played a major role in their teams’ playoff charges. We can try to measure how important a player’s basic offensive production was within the context of his team by dividing his goals created by the total number of goals scored and allowed by the team during the playoffs. For example, the Rangers have scored 49 goals and allowed 38 during the 2014 playoffs, so St. Louis’s 5.1 goals created represent 5.8 percent of the goals scored in the Rangers’ playoff games.If we do this for every player whose team made the conference finals since the NHL expanded in 1967-68, we see that St. Louis’s rate ranks 20th among players who joined their playoff team during the regular season. Here are the leaders:St. Louis has gotten a lot of press during the playoffs for spearheading the Rangers’ attack, but by this metric he hasn’t even been the most impactful midseason pickup by a 2014 conference finalist. Marian Gaborik of the Los Angeles Kings, acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets around the same time St. Louis was packing his bags for New York, has created 6.5 percent of the goals scored during Los Angeles’s playoff games this year.Gaborik doesn’t get as much attention because he’s been the Kings’ third-leading playoff scorer behind Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. According to these numbers, though, he’s had a hand in a slightly larger share of the available scoring than St. Louis has. read more

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Lakers Dwight Howard Primed For 2016 Olympics

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard shared his emotions Thursday with reporters about the time in 2012 when he learned that he would not play in the London Olympics.“I was pissed off,” Howard said. “I was mad I couldn’t play in the playoffs. I was mad I couldn’t play in the Olympics. I was pissed. I was looking forward to going to London. I was looking forward to making a big run in the playoffs last season, so I wasn’t too happy about the fact that I had to have surgery and miss a lot of basketball.”Howard, who won Olympic gold with the U.S. in the 2008 Beijing Games, missed the chance to repeat at the London Games to recover from back surgery. However, Howard said he is ready to join the team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.The ultimate decision of whether Howard plays is up to USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo. Howard said that he has maintained a close relationship with Colangelo.“He’s cool with me,” Howard said. “He’s always been someone that I’ve thought highly of and he’s always supported me.”Howard said Colangelo invited him to play with 2012 team before his back injury.“We were looking forward to it,” Howard said. “He was one of the first people that contacted me and asked me if I wanted to play. I was very excited about it. I wanted to play. He said, ‘OK.’ ”With one piece of the roster filled out, now all Colangelo has to do is find a new head coach.Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski announced earlier this week on ESPN Radio that he would not continue his head coaching duties with Team USA.But when the Rio de Janeiro Games roll around, Howard will be 30 years old, but for now he is not concerned about who the coach will be when that time comes.“My only concern right now is winning a championship with the Lakers and how we can get better,” Howard said. “I can’t control what happens in the Olympics.” read more

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LeBron James Mulling Magic Johnsons 1M Slam Dunk Offer

Miami Heat small forward LeBron James is considering former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson’s $1 million offer to finally give the fans what they want by participating in the NBA’s slam dunk contest.James said during a pregame interview on ESPN that he has not decided yet on taking Johnson’s offer.“Tell him I’ll get back to him,” he told the network’s Lisa Salters, who interviewed James.The 28-year-0ld James, on his way to a fourth NBA MVP, has been delighting fans during pregame warmups with an amazing aerial assault that eclipses anything the all-star weekend competition has seen in recent years. While those in attendance has marveled at James’ dunks, critics have blasted him for never participating in one of the league’s all-star weekend showcase events.James admitted during the interview: “I think about (participating) every year,” James said.Hall of Famers like Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant have all won slam dunk titles.Johnson, an NBA analyst for ESPN, made the offer on Friday during a live broadcast of ESPN’s “Kia NBA Countdown.” He said that he would pay James or anyone who can beat him in the dunk contest $1 million of his own personal money.“Please, LeBron, get in the dunk contest. I’m going to put up a million dollars,” Johnson said. “A million dollars from Magic to LeBron. Please get in the dunk contest. I go every year. I want to see you out there. A million to the winner.”ESPN analyst Jalen Rose raised the bar by calling for more elite players to take part, as well.“LeBron James, Blake Griffin both have to be in it,” Rose said Friday on the show, and Johnson agreed.Griffin, the league’s premier slam-dunker, won the dunk contest in 2011.The NBA pays $100,000 to the winner and $50,000 to the runner-up. read more

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Beside The Points For Thursday Feb 1 2018

Oh, and don’t forgetThis game may have a lot of flags. 🙁 We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆  Join the squad. Subscribe NBA See more NFL predictions Things That Caught My EyeWill Philly get Gronked?The Philadelphia Eagles have a wonderful defense, but one Achilles’ heel could give them some trouble come Sunday. When opposing quarterbacks passed to wide recievers, on the whole their passer rating was 71.2 against the Philly defense. When they passed to tight ends or running backs, that passer rating jumped to 100.5, and the difference between the two — 29.3 — was the fourth highest in the league. Given the presence of a hulking superman named Gronk on the Patriots, this particular liability could be real trouble for the Eagles. [FiveThirtyEight]How to win with Nick FolesNick Foles of all people is now a Super Bowl caliber quarterback, and the real question is how the Eagles managed to retool an offense based on generational talent Carson Wentz to perform just as well under Foles. Turns out that the number of passes caught behind the line of scrimmage has jumped from 15.5 percent under Wentz to 28.6 in the Foles regime, while passes thrown 10 or more yards dropped from 40.2 percent of throws to 25.4 percent of throws. Plus, the Eagles are getting more of their passing yards after the catch, on average 6.7 yards under Foles compared to 4.8 yards under Wentz, to make up for the yards that they’re not racking up in the air, 5.5 under Foles to Wentz’ 7.7. on average. [FiveThirtyEight]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?Pistons roll the dice on GriffinThe Detroit Pistons are taking a huge gamble in acquiring Blake Griffin from the Clippers, with Griffin and Andre Drummond combining to cost the team more than $61 million in the 2019-20 season. That’s one of only five pairings currently slated to cost more than $60 million that year. [FiveThirtyEight]Pink could make a lot of money hereRight now, putting up a $150 wager on the Pink’s version of the National Anthem exceeding 2 minutes would get you $100 in profit, with 4 of the 5 most recent Super Bowl anthem renditions taking longer than 120 seconds. Pink could set herself up to make a pretty penny here, is all I’m saying, because a $100 wager gets you $110 in profit in Vegas if she sprints through the Anthem to get to the business at hand. [CBS Sports]Bucks reboundThe Milwaukee Bucks ranked 26th in the league in points allowed, giving up 111.3 points per every 100 possessions, and it’s probably the funky defense of recently sacked coach Jason Kidd that’s at fault here. Since switching to a conventional defense, they’re 4-0, albeit against mediocre opponents at best. [FiveThirtyEight]Big Number8.28 points allowedIt takes Bill Belichick 30 minutes to understand his enemies. In the first half of games this year, the Patriots defense allowed 5.85 yards per play and 10.06 points, placing them 30th and 11th place in the league, respectively. But after halftime, the Pats have their rivals cracked open like an egg: They allowed 5.43 yards per play and 8.28 points, making them 22nd and 2nd in the league. [FiveThirtyEight]Leaks from Slack, Sunday Night: neil:Former top pick Mark Appel leaves baseball without throwing a big league pitchSheeshI believe he’d be the only the 3rd No. 1 overall pick to never play in MLBPredictions NFL All newsletters See more NBA predictions read more

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Ohio State womens soccer falls to Rutgers in Big Ten quarterfinals 20

OSU sophomore midfielder Nikki Walts (4) makes a corner kick during a game against Purdue on Oct. 9 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Credit: Anbo Yao | Lantern PhotographerThe No. 7 seed Ohio State women’s soccer team fell to No. 2-seeded Rutgers on Friday afternoon in State College, Pennsylvania, in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.The Scarlet Knights defeated the Buckeyes 2-0 to end the Scarlet and Gray’s tournament run after they started it off with an upset win over Wisconsin in the quarterfinals. Rutgers got on the board early in the eighth minute when sophomore forward Colby Ciarrocca flicked home a finish from six yards out after a long throw-in by senior defender Brianna Reed.The Buckeyes had a golden chance to answer in the 12th minute, but Rutgers goalkeeper Casey Murphy made a leaping save. The Scarlet Knights scored again in the 39th minute to give them the 2-0 lead heading into halftime. Junior midfielder Jennifer Andresen took advantage of a giveaway just outside the box and finished from 18 yards out. OSU freshman goalkeeper Devon Kerr, who made the start but was pulled after the second goal, inadvertently passed it directly to Andresen, who had an open strike.Heading into halftime, the Scarlet Knights held the advantage in shots, 6-2, including 3-1 on the frame.Entering the second half, Rutgers pressed on, not content with its lead.In the final 20 minutes of play, the Buckeyes continued to push numbers forward but couldn’t find the back of the net.For the game, the Scarlet Knights held the 13-9 advantage in shots, including 5-3 on the frame.Now the Buckeyes have nothing to do but hope their 11-6-3 record is good enough to receive an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. OSU will learn whether its season will continue for at least one more game or not when the 64-team bracket is revealed at 4:30 p.m. on Monday. read more

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NCAA finds no new violations at OSU

The NCAA has informed Ohio State that the university will not face charges of failing to monitor its football team. The NCAA report also said it has not uncovered any new violations by OSU officials or players. The NCAA agreed with the university that former head coach Jim Tressel was the only university official aware of any violations by football players. “The enforcement staff, institution and Tressel are in substantial agreement as to the facts of both allegations and that those facts constitute violations of NCAA legislation,” according to the statement that OSU received Thursday and released on Friday. “There are no remaining issues regarding either allegation.” The statement reiterated that Tressel’s actions were wrong, that he acted alone, failed in his duty to report violations and wrongfully fielded ineligible players. “Other than (two names redacted) and (Ted) Sarniak, there is no indication that Tressel provided or discussed the information he received from (Chris) Cicero with anyone else, particularly athletics administrators,” the statement said. The statement said the need for a hearing is necessary due to the nature of the case, but there are no new violations to be reported. “Nonetheless, the enforcement staff believed that a hearing was appropriate, rather than a summary disposition report, due to the nature of unethical conduct involving the head football coach,” the statement said. Due to this response from the NCAA, the university is not going to face charges of a lack of institutional control or failure to monitor. That means OSU will not face the harshest penalty the NCAA has to offer, the death penalty, which could have prevented the Buckeyes from participating in the 2011 football season. On Aug. 12, when OSU will meet with the NCAA on these violations, the university could learn what punishments the NCAA could give to the university. “The enforcement staff reviewed information related to the institution’s education and monitoring efforts prior to and during the time frame of the violations but concluded that a failure to monitor charge was unwarranted,” the NCAA informed OSU. The NCAA said it believed the university provided student athletes with proper education on compliance protocol. “The institution demonstrated that each fall and spring during the time frame of the violations, it provided education to football student-athletes and staff regarding extra benefits and preferential treatment,” the NCAA continued. “Thus, the student-athletes were aware that it was impermissible to receive payment, benefits and free or discounted services on the basis of their athletics reputation or skill.” In April 2010, local attorney Chris Cicero sent Tressel an email saying that several players were involved with a now-convicted drug dealer. Cicero said this tattoo parlor owner and drug dealer, Edward Rife, had several pieces of memorabilia belonging to current student athletes. In March, Tressel, university president E. Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith, addressed the media and public that Tressel had knowledge of these violations without reporting them. Tressel resigned from his post of head football coach on May 30. Since his resignation, the terms have changed to a retirement, and the original $250,000 fine inflicted on him was waived. Former quarterback Terrelle Pryor, one of the players involved in the scandal, left the university on June 8 to pursue a professional career in the NFL. In addition to Pryor, five other players that received suspensions because of their affiliation with Rife and the tattoo parlor. Wide receiver DeVier Posey, running back Dan Herron, linemen Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas all received a five game suspension in 2011. Linebacker Jordan Whiting also received a one-game suspension. A Columbus news station, WBNS-10TV, reported Friday that Tressel verbally disclosed the tip he received about the players’ involvement with Rife around Dec. 16, when he was interviewed as part of OSU’s internal investigation. This information differs from the investigation by the NCAA that Tressel disclosed the information to university officials in January. The university “categorically” denied the report by 10TV, standing by the facts presented by the NCAA in its statement to the university. read more

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Ohio lacrosse team helps set world record

Ohio’s newest professional sports team, the Ohio Machine of Major League Lacrosse, has already made a record-setting contribution to the Columbus community. The Machine organized the largest lacrosse game ever played with 112 people Wednesday at Columbus Commons, setting a new world record for the largest documented lacrosse game in history. There was no previously documented record. Guests were invited to bring their own lacrosse sticks and play with the professionals that make up the first-year MLL franchise. Those who registered for the game were given a complimentary Ohio Machine T-shirt in either blue or red and a number. After registration, players tossed the ball around with kids, and just after noon, players and fans took the field. Matt Hastings, director of ticket sales for the Machine, said becoming a part of the community is what the new franchise is all about. “We want to introduce lacrosse to the community and make this a fun league that they can enjoy and connect with,” he said. “And we’re doing that by hosting stuff like this and teaming up with other teams in Columbus.” Former Columbus Crew player Frankie Hejduk, who recently returned to the team in the role of brand ambassador, was there to join in on the action. “It was fun. I had a blast,” Hejduk said. “It’s great to get out here in the community and promote a new team and sport.” Hejduk, who said he has never played lacrosse, emulated his sport of choice as he ran down the field with the ball in the net of his stick before picking it out with his hand and punting it down the field. “It’s kind of a similar sport to soccer,” he said. “You have to put the ball in the back of the net.” Machine attackman and former Ohio State player, Mario Ventiquattro, said the experience was surreal. “This experience is unbelievable,” he said. “It was so great to see all the kids and adults out here running up and down the field with us. It was just a blast.” Ventiquattro said he doesn’t think introducing the city of Columbus to the sport will be too difficult. “Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the world right now,” he said. “It’s not hard to have people pick up a stick and fall in love with the game. And I know as soon as people are exposed to the game, it will take off.” And the sunny, 75-degree weather made the event a “10,” Hastings said. “Whenever you have a bunch of kids and even adults smiling, I’d say it was really successful,” he said. “With this weather on top of it, I’d have to give it a 10.” The Machine will host the Rochester Rattlers in their home opener at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Selby Stadium in Delaware, Ohio. read more

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Brice Allen honored to be associate head coach of OSU mens track

On Friday, 22 days after being named head coach of Ohio State’s men’s track and field team, Ed Beathea announced his first official hire for his coaching staff. The coach he hired was Brice Allen, who has been selected as the team’s associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. As associate head coach, Allen will lead OSU’s distance runners and serve as the coach for the men’s cross country team. As recruiting coordinator, he will also be responsible for organizing the team’s recruiting efforts. “It’s a privilege to be a member of the athletic department, and most of all to work hand in hand with Coach Beathea,” Allen said. Prior to joining the Buckeyes, Allen’s most recent coaching experience came at the University of Louisville, where he spent seven years. He joined Louisville as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator in 2004, and was promoted to head men’s and women’s cross country coach in 2008, a position he continued to hold through the 2010 season. Prior to his coaching career, Allen had his own experience as a collegiate distance runner, competing in cross country and track at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. He later worked as an assistant coach at Northern Arizona University prior to joining the Louisville staff. Beathea, whose coaching background is working with sprinters and hurdlers, said it was necessary to hire a coach with experience working with distance runners. “When I was looking for a coach, I think it was understood across the country that what I was looking for was a distance coach to fill the position,” Beathea said. Beathea said the position was not advertised as an associate head coaching position, but he felt Allen deserves that title. “It was advertised as an assistant coach position, but with Brice’s experience and responsibility at Louisville, I thought it appropriate to make him the associate head coach,” Beathea said. Beathea estimated there were between 60 to 90 candidates who applied for the assistant coaching position. Beathea added that he has not yet made any further decisions on who will make up the remainder of his coaching staff. In both of his previous coaching jobs, Allen worked simultaneously with both male and female athletes. He said he is looking forward to the opportunity to focus his attention on coaching only one gender. “I’m anxious to focus on one gender, and I think that’s going to be a completely different dynamic,” Allen said. “I was balancing 20-25 athletes at Louisville with the co-gendered program, and to focus just on the men’s program is certainly going to be a different dynamic.” Allen listed “intensity, a commitment to be competitive and a sense of urgency” as three fundamental traits he says he will bring to OSU. Allen said his expectations, both for the upcoming season and going forward, are in line with Beathea’s. “We want to be a conference contender, a regional power and a national representative year in and year out,” Allen said. Allen also discussed the team’s recruiting strategy for the upcoming season. “We’re going to focus on Ohio, and we’re going to recruit Ohio very hard,” Allen said. “Then we’re going to recruit the peripherary (sic) states and peripherary regions, so we’re going to work from the inside out.” Wanting to get off on the right foot with OSU fans, Allen was cautious about naming any other specific states that the staff would focus their recruiting efforts toward. “I understand that in Ohio, we want to talk about Ohio and Ohio only,” Allen said. “There’s a very good state very close to us, but we’re going to focus on Ohio first.” read more

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Urban Meyer Ohio State football get their men on National Signing Day

OSU assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers did not know what school Vonn Bell, a five-star safety from Rossville, Ga., would sign to play for on Wednesday. Withers did, however, make a request to Bell’s head coach from Ridgeland High School, Mark Mariakis, on Tuesday night.“I said, ‘Coach, if it’s going to be a good phone call, make sure (OSU) coach (Urban) Meyer gets it. If it’s going to be a bad phone call, just call me,’” Withers said he told Mariakis.Meyer said he received a call from Bell, whose recruitment Meyer called a “street fight” with Tennessee and Alabama, two minutes before Bell announced his decision to become a Buckeye in a televised press conference.Bell was one of 19 recruits who faxed their letter of intent to OSU on Wednesday – National Signing Day – joining five already enrolled members of a 2013 recruiting class that ranks among the nation’s best.“It was a great day,” Meyer said. “I thought it was going to be a very good day, but I’d put it in the great category.”Most of the players who signed Wednesday had already made verbal commitments to OSU, but Meyer said he came into the week with three targets not yet committed to the Buckeyes: Bell, James Clark and Dontre Wilson.Wilson, a running back/wide receiver from DeSoto, Texas, who had previously committed to Oregon, announced his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes on Monday. Clark, a wide receiver from New Smyrna Beach, Fla., committed to OSU on Wednesday. Wilson and Clark are both rated as four-star recruits by both Scout.com and Rivals.com.The final recruit to fax his letter of intent Wednesday was Ezekiel Elliott, a running back from St. Louis, Mo., who became the 24th official member of the recruiting class when he reaffirmed his commitment during a 5 p.m. press conference Wednesday.Elliott is also considered a four-star prospect by Rivals and Scout.Bell, Wilson, Clark and Elliott are among the 13 signed recruits in the Buckeyes’ 2013 recruiting class from outside the state of Ohio. Ten of those recruits were players who signed their letters of intent Wednesday, also including tight end Marcus Baugh (Riverside, Calif.), defensive lineman Joey Bosa (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), offensive lineman Tim Gardner (Indianapolis), defensive lineman Michael Hill (Pendleton, S.C.), linebacker Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas).Three of the Buckeyes’ five early-enrollees – cornerback Eli Apple (Voorhees, N.J.), quarterback J.T. Barrett (Wichita Falls, Texas) and defensive end Tyquan Lewis (Tarboro, N.C.) – are also from outside Ohio.The Buckeyes also have 11 signed recruits from within the state of Ohio, including nine who signed Wednesday: athlete Gareon Conley (Massillon), athlete Darron Lee (New Albany), offensive lineman Evan Lisle (Centerville), wide receiver Jalin Marshall (Middletown), defensive lineman Donovan Munger (Shaker Heights), defensive lineman Billy Price (Austintown), wide receiver Corey Smith (Akron), defensive back Jayme Thompson (Toledo) and safety Christopher Worley (Cleveland). Cornerback Cam Burrows (Trotwood) and defensive end Tracy Sprinkle (Elyria) enrolled earlier this semester.OSU took advantage of a national footprint in this year’s recruiting, with seven recruits from states along the eastern seaboard, three from Texas and one each from Indiana, Missouri and California. Meyer, however, said the coaching staff’s focus is still on the state of Ohio.“We recruit Ohio,” Meyer said. “I would rather get, probably, another three or four from the in-state from now on.”Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said being associated with Meyer and OSU is a recruiting advantage throughout the nation.“It’s not challenging when you go 12-0 and Urban Meyer’s your head coach and you’re wearing the Block ‘O’ on your shirt,” Herman said. “Those three things certainly help you (in recruiting).”With their 24 commits, which is one scholarship below the limit of 25 for the recruiting class, the Buckeyes’ recruiting class is ranked No. 1 nationally by Scout and No. 2 nationally by Rivals as of Wednesday night. The Buckeyes have two five-star recruits, 16 four-star recruits and six three-star recruits, as rated by Rivals.Meyer said the Buckeyes were “just trying to find the best players possible,” but added that there was an emphasis on finding players with speed.“This year was a concerted effort to go find fast guys,” Meyer said.Meyer said the coaching staff emphasizes finding players who are ready to contribute immediately as freshmen.“Really, we don’t redshirt here at Ohio State,” Meyer said. “We want to go recruit guys that are ready to go jump in the fire and want to go play as soon as they can.”With that said, Herman emphasized that the coaching staff should focus first on developing returning players before counting on immediate contributions from their recruits.“To say that we’re going to rely on all these guys, as excited as we are, would certainly be putting our eggs in the wrong basket,” Herman said. read more

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