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Bruins hurt by Rask opt out in Eastern Second Round loss to Lightning

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The Boston Bruins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning, losing 3-2 in double overtime in Game 5 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round series Monday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Eastern hub city.

Despite finishing with the best points percentage in the NHL (.714) during the regular season and going 16-4-0 in its final 20 games before the season was paused March 12 due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus, the Bruins fell to the No. 4 seed in the East after going winless in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Here’s a look at what happened during the 2020 postseason for the Bruins and why things could be even better next season:

The Skinny

Potential unrestricted free agents: Joakim Nordstrom, C; Zdeno Chara, D; Torey Krug, D; Kevan Miller, D

Potential restricted free agents: Jake DeBrusk, F; Karson Kuhlman, C; Matt Grzelcyk, D, Jakub Zboril, D

Potential 2020 NHL Draft picks: 5

What went wrong 

Gone goalie: Not only did the Bruins have the best 1-2 punch in goal during the regular season, they had one of the top three goalies in the NHL in Tuukka Rask, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy (26-8-6, 2.12 goals against average, .929 save percentage, five shutouts). But on Aug. 15, Rask opted out of the playoffs because of a family emergency. Jaroslav Halak, who combined with Rask to win the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the regular season (167), took over. Though Halak was fine (2.76 GAA, .902 save percentage), especially in Game 5 against the Lightning, when he made 32 saves in the season-ending loss, he wasn’t Rask.

Seeding slide: Boston won the Presidents’ Trophy for having the best record in the NHL during the regular season (44-14-12), but slipped to the No. 4 seed in the conference after their three round-robin losses. That meant a second-round matchup against the Lightning (second in points percentage, .657), which did not work out to the Bruins’ advantage.

Vanishing offense: Boston scored 3.24 goals per game during the regular season. In the playoffs, that number dropped to 2.23. It wasn’t enough, especially against a team with the firepower of Tampa Bay even without forward Steven Stamkos. The Bruins struggled to score 5-on-5 in particular, with 17 goals in 13 postseason games. By comparison, they scored 10 on the power play in 45 opportunities (22.2 percent).

Reasons for optimism 

A new No. 1: Though it’s unclear what the future is for Chara, the Bruins’ 43-year-old captain and No. 1 defenseman since he joined them as a free agent in 2006, these playoffs made it obvious Boston has an heir to that throne in Charlie McAvoy. The 22-year-old has had two impressive playoff runs the past two seasons, and it was crystal clear this postseason he had surpassed his mentor and taken over as the most important defenseman for the Bruins, with four points (one goal, three assists) in 13 games, leading them with 25:10 in average ice time per game. Chara had two assists in 13 games, playing 19:47 per game.

More Pasta, please: It’s not just David Pastrnak‘s sunny personality that brightens the future for Boston. It’s also a scoring touch that seems to keep getting better. The 24-year-old forward has rounded out his game to match that of his defensively-responsible linemates, center Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Pastrnak tied the Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead with 48 goals, and has scored 379 points (180 goals, 199 assists) in 390 NHL games. He fell five points shy of 100 during the shortened regular season and looks to be motivated to hit that mark, along with targeting 50 goals, next season.

Depth down the middle: Though Bergeron and David Krejci are another year older, Boston seems to finally have the long-sought answer to their need for depth in the center spot with Charlie Coyle, who they signed to a six-year contract extension Nov. 27. Coyle, who struggled with the Minnesota Wild, has been a revelation with his hometown Bruins, especially during the postseason, with five points (three goals, two assists) in 13 games and a face-off winning percentage of 53.3 percent, second on Boston to Bergeron (56.1 percent, minimum 150 face-offs) If center prospects Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic pan out and Bergeron and Krejci continue to fight time, the Bruins are set at the position.

Source:- NHL.com

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Kansas State rallies to stun No. 3 Oklahoma – TSN

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NORMAN, Okla. — Skylar Thompson passed for 334 yards and ran for three touchdowns, and Kansas State rallied from 21 points down to beat No. 3 Oklahoma 38-35 on Saturday.

Freshman Deuce Vaughn caught four passes for 129 yards and ran for a touchdown for the Wildcats, who were coming off a season-opening loss to Arkansas State. It was Kansas State’s first-ever road win against a top-three team in the AP poll.

Oklahoma freshman Spencer Rattler passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns, but he threw three interceptions.

Kansas State upset Oklahoma 48-41 in Manhattan, Kansas, last year.

Kansas State said earlier in the week it was struggling to have enough players available at all position groups to play the game because of COVID-19.

In the opening moments of the second quarter, Rattler threw into traffic and found Drake Stoops for a 32-yard touchdown. It was the first career touchdown for the son of former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, and it gave the Sooners a 14-0 lead.

Thompson’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Chabastin Taylor in the second quarter cut Oklahoma’s lead to 14-7, but the Sooners answered with Marvin Mims’ 9-yard touchdown reception in the final minute of the first half.

Rattler’s 53-yard pass to Stoops led to Seth McGowan’s 5-yard touchdown run and a 35-14 late in the third quarter.

Two short rushing touchdowns by Thompson got the Wildcats back in the game. Kansas State’s Nick Allen blocked Reeves Mundschau’s punt, and the Wildcats took over at the Oklahoma 38. Vaughn’s 38-yard touchdown run on the Wildcats’ second offensive play and the extra point tied it at 35 with 8:17 to play.

Kansas State’s Blake Lynch hit a 50-yard field goal with 4:32 remaining. Kansas State’s Jahron McPherson intercepted Rattler in the final minute to help close out the win.

THE TAKEAWAY

Kansas State: The Wildcats didn’t fold when they fell behind and the defense improved in the second half against Rattler.

Oklahoma: The defense fell apart much like it has many times in recent years.

UP NEXT

Kansas State: Hosts Texas Tech on Saturday.

Oklahoma: Travels to Iowa State on Saturday. The Cyclones beat the Sooners three years ago and nearly upset them last year before falling 42-41.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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NBA Finals 2020: LeBron James' 10th trip to the Finals is a reminder of his all-time greatness – NBA CA

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4h ago


Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James went 10-for-17 (58.8%) in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ Game 5 win over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

Yes, I’m aware that LeBron actually finished with a ridiculous 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists on 15-for-25 shooting – this isn’t a box score thing.

Allow me to clarify.

In his 17th NBA season, LeBron James is now set to make his 10th appearance in the NBA Finals.

If you take away the three years in which James-led teams failed to qualify for the postseason, you’re looking at him appearing in the Finals 10 out of a possible 14 times (71.4%). And after tonight, teams that feature James have only lost once in the conference finals, his lone loss coming against the Orlando Magic in 2009.

Yes, LeBron now holds a 10-1 record in the conference finals.

James has become just the fourth player in NBA history to make 10 or more Finals appearances, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Boston Celtics legends Sam Jones (11) and Bill Russell (12) are the only two players that have played on the NBA Finals stage more.

Most Finals appearances, NBA history
RankPlayerAppearancesTitles
1.Bill Russell1211
2.Sam Jones1110
3.Kareem Abdul-Jabbar106
3.LeBron James103
4.Tom Heinsohn98
4.Magic Johnson94
4.Jerry West91

Say what you want about Finals records but to be quite honest, you can only lose in the Finals if you make it to the Finals. Jerry West, the Logo, took seven losses in the Finals before capturing that elusive title on his eighth try, only to lose for an eighth time while in pursuit of a repeat. Winning titles is hard, and getting to the Finals – win or lose – is not the type of accomplishment to scoff at.

The standard to which James is often held speaks to his greatness. That he’s expected to lead teams to the Finals – in his 17th year, no less – is not normal.

Like, we-may-never-see-this-again abnormal.

We also know LeBron’s star has shined its brightest in the Finals. The last time he was there, he opened with a 51-point, eight-rebound, eight-assist performance in what I consider to be one of the greatest individual performances I have ever seen – regular season or postseason.

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Now, after a one-year hiatus from the postseason, James is four wins away from title No. 4 with team No. 3.

It’s worth mentioning that Robert Horry and John Salley are the only players in league history that have won titles with three separate franchises. While Horry and Salley executed their respective roles to a T, LeBron is the first player to lead three separate teams to the finals, posting averages of 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists through the first three rounds, and also has a chance to become the first player to ever win a championship and Finals MVP with three different franchises.

With that being said, James and the 2020 Lakers still have four wins to earn before attaining basketball immortality. And in this league, nothing is guaranteed.

For now, appreciate the greatness of the accomplishment at hand. Unlike the fairly common sight of a player shooting 10-for-17 from the field, we may never see a player lead a team to the Finals in 10 of his 17 seasons ever again.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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Israel Adesanya dominates Paulo Costa, finishes with devastating second-round knockout in UFC 253 main event – MMA Fighting

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It was supposed to be the toughest challenge of his career, but Israel Adesanya made it look easy as he dominated Paulo Costa to retain his middleweight title in the UFC 253 main event.

“The Last Stylebender” predicted that precision would beat power and that’s exactly how the fight played out as he avoided just about everything Costa threw at him while chopping down the Brazilian contender with leg kicks throughout the opening round. Adesanya then finished the fight with a blistering counter left hand that put Costa down and out for the final time.

The end came at 3:59 in round 2.

There was a lot of bad blood between the middleweights in the days and weeks leading to the event but Adesanya ultimately needed less than two rounds to dispatch Costa and hand him the first loss of his professional career.

“I’ve been telling you guys. Like Roy Jones said, ya’ll must have forgot. Ya’ll must have forgot,” Adesanya said in reference to his previous win over Yoel Romero before making short work of Costa on Saturday night.

“I see you media people with your little clickbait headlines. I had to make ya’ll remember.”

Wary of the power coming from Costa early, Adesanya concentrated on leg kicks in the opening exchanges while looking to chip away at his opponent’s foundation. Rather than rushing ahead to close the distance, Costa countered with a couple of stiff kicks of his own to the body while inviting Adesanya to come after him.

As the fight continued, Adesanya was methodical while dishing out a steady diet of those same leg kicks with Costa willing to stand directly in front of him. While Costa was constantly taunting Adesanya, it was the former kickboxer turned UFC champion who was inflicting far more damage.

Midway through the second round, Adesanya’s leg kicks paid off when he was able to go up to the head where he connected and opened a cut over Costa’s eye.

With a dazed look in his eyes, Costa never really recovered as Adesanya saw the hurt painted all over his opponent and he knew the end was near.

At that moment, Adesanya welcomed an exchange on the feet where he showcased his dazzling defense and then tossed the counter left hand that ultimately led to the finish. As soon as the punch connected, Costa crumbled to the mat and Adesanya only had to threw a few more shots before the referee rushed into stop the contest.

The win moved Adesanya to 20-0 in his career, 9-0 in the UFC and he’s now a two-time defending middleweight champion. Never one to sit back and wait for the next challenge, Adesanya already had a name in mind as he looked ahead to UFC 254 in a few weeks when a former champion squares off with a top ranked contender at 185 pounds.

“I already DM’d Jared Cannonier. He’s a hell of a dude. I love his energy. He’s a beautiful man,” Adesanya said. “I said you destroy Robert Whittaker and you’re next.

“He’s the one I want to fight next. He deserves it. If he beats Robert Whittaker handily and dominates him, he’s next.”

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