Wakeup Call: Blackhawks stake their claim as best of the West

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Wakeup Call: Blackhawks stake their claim as best of the West

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, February 6.

AUTO RACING
-- After a tire test Tuesday at Darlngton Raceway, drivers give a thumbs-up to the new Gen-6 race car. (AP)

BASEBALL
-- The burgeoning drug scandal has implicated Ryan Braun -- again -- but the 2011 N.L. MVP is ready with an explanation. (AP)

-- And it'd better be good, because MLB has started its own investigation into the Miami New Times report. (AP)

-- That investigation may lead to suspensions, but the Rangers -- whose Nelson Cruz was named in the New Times story -- say they're planning on having Cruz in right field until they're told otherwise. (AP)

-- Um, Derek? Does the phrase "beggars can't be choosers" mean anything to you? (NBC's Hardball Talk)

-- Funny, I never heard the words "Jed Lowrie" and "veteran leadership" used together before. (CSN Houston)

-- Spring training hasn't even started and already the Cardinals have suffered a big loss. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
-- If we can get a couple more games that match No. 3 Michigan's 76-74, overtime win over No. 10 Ohio State on the excitement meter, we'll consider this a successful season. (AP)

-- So stop worrying about college hoops, will ya? (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

-- So much for that No. 2 ranking, eh, Florida? (AP)

-- Wouldn't this be considered a hostile act against foreign entities? (AP)

-- Old Dominion raises a number of questions about coach Blaine Taylor as it fires him with eight games to go in the season . . . and then refuses to answer any of them. (AP)

-- A tip of the hat to Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw as she records her 700th career coaching victory in the Irish women's 59-52 win over Villanova. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
-- Starting soon, Northwestern will be calling Wrigley Field home, at least once a year. (AP)

HOCKEY
-- The Blackhawks stake their claim as best in the West with a 5-3 victory over the Sharks in San Jose. (CSN Chicago)

-- The Sharks might be blaming the refs for this one, but that wouldn't be completely accurate. (CSN Bay Area)

-- Blame them for what, you ask? Take a look. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

-- The NHL did, and immediately rescinded the match penalty that was handed to Andrew Desjardins. (CSN Bay Area)

-- It probably won't be rescinding this one, though. (Pro Hockey Talk)

-- An acid flashback for the Rangers, as they suffer a 3-1 loss to the Devils . . . the team that beat them in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. (AP)

-- It's the dreaded lower-body injury, and it may cost the Flames the services of Miikka Kiprusoff for a while. (AP)

-- Can't quite decide on the proper phrase -- Grasping at straws? Whistling past the graveyard? -- for Adam Oates' declaration that the Capitals are "going in the right direction" after a 3-2 loss to Toronto that drops their record to 2-7-1. (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
-- Bet when you heard that the Rockets nailed 23 3-pointers in their 140-109 blasting of the Warriors, you thought, "Hmm, bet that's a record." And you know what? You were right! (AP)

-- Bet you also thought, "Wow, bet the Warriors were pretty upset that they were launching 3s with such a big lead." And you what? You were right again! (CSN Bay Area)

-- But if you thought the Rockets were at all remorseful about the whole thing, you were wrong. (CSN Houston)

-- Even when the Lakers win these days, they lose. Players, that is. (AP)

-- The word's in on Thaddeus Young: He's out three weeks because of that Grade 1 hamstring strain. (CSN Philly)

PRO FOOTBALL
-- That intentional, last-second safety taken by the Ravens Sunday night may not have meant much to you, but it was a killer to the Nevada sports books, who had to pay off on the will-there-be-a-safety-in-the-game? and will-the-49ers-last-points-come-on-a-safety? prop bets. (NBC's Off The Bench)

-- They still don't know what caused the third-quarter power outage, so Superdome officials and the utility companies are bringing in "outside experts" to investigate. (AP)

-- No Super Bowl halftime show next year? There is a God! (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

-- Quite the day for the Ravens: They had their victory parade . . . (AP)

-- . . . and President Obama phoned in his congratulations to John Harbaugh. (CSN Baltimore)

-- But today is the first day of the rest of their lives, and it's starting with Joe Flacco's agent saying that his client should be the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. (Pro Football Talk)

-- And Bernard Pollard warning that the Ravens have to bring back Ed Reed. (Pro Football Talk)

-- And ex-Raven Trevor Pryce ripping Ray Lewis' performance in the Super Bowl. (CSN Baltimore)

-- Sorry, Jim Harbaugh: Despite your theatrical, over-the-top pleas for a holding call on the 49ers' final offensive play, Mike Pereira says the referees were right when they didn't flag Jimmy Smith for whatever it was he did, or didn't do, to Michael Crabtree. (CSN Bay Area)

-- As one season ends and a new one begins, teams begin to shed those onerous contracts or declining veterans. In Detroit, the Lions say goodbye to Kyle Vanden Bosch and Stephen Peterman. (AP)

-- In New York, the Giants bid farewell to Michael Boley. (AP)

-- And in Cleveland, the Browns say so long to Frostee Rucker. (AP)

-- But in Philadelphia -- surprise, surprise -- the Eagles aren't parting ways with Michael Vick. Not yet, anyway. (Pro Football Talk)

-- A new season means a new look for the Jaguars. Literally. (AP)

-- Only the fourth? (CSN Chicago)

SOCCER
-- The U.S. begins its final push for the 2014 World Cup today with a match in Honduras. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

TENNIS
-- So far, so good on Rafael Nadal's comeback. (AP)

Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

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Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while hoping everybody on this Memorial Day takes some time to appreciate all of those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. We should also take a moment to say thanks to people like the three heroes in Oregon that stood up to a hateful bigot earlier this week, and in doing so reaffirmed what the majority of people living in the US believe we are all about while trying to live up to that ideal every day.
 
-- A number of NHL legends are shaking their heads at the dirty play that we’re seeing in these playoffs, particularly those plays targeting the superstars that people pay big money to see in the postseason. Why should anybody be shocked by this? The rooting out of enforcers, and fighting, has taken accountability out of the game for the cheap-shot artists and dirty players, and leaves little real deterrant for players looking to take out opponents with dangerous plays. I wrote about this a couple of years ago when the NHL threw the book at Shawn Thornton for going after Brooks Orpik, and in doing so chose to protect somebody trying to hurt opponents (Orpik) and punish somebody trying to protect his teammates (Thornton). It was a sea change for the league, and something players didn’t forget as more and more enforcers were quickly weeded out of the NHL. This is what the rule-makers and legislators wanted, and now it’s what they’re getting just a couple of years later with dangerous stick-work, cheap shots and a general lack of respect for fellow players.
 
-- Here's why the Tampa Bay Lightning would consider trading a player like Jonathan Drouin, and the major impact that could have on the offseason trade market.
 
-- Down Goes Brown has a Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for the other 28 other fan bases now that Nashville and Pittsburgh are in the final series.

-- So which goaltender has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, or Pittsburgh's two-headed monster of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury?
 
-- Scotty Bowman says winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles has become monumentally difficult since the advent of the salary cap.
 
-- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are pushing each other to be betters, and showing exactly how a team should be led by its superstars in the salary-cap era for the league.
 
-- For something completely different: We can confirm through this report that a lot of hot dogs are eaten in the summertime. So glad we have people to research these kinds of things.
 

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.