The World Series kicked off last night and for the first four innings or so it looked like it would be a pitcher’s duel between the Dodgers veteran Clayton Kershaw and the hard-throwing youngster from the Rays, Tyler Glasnow. Then the Dodgers scored a bunch of runs and won 8-3.
It’s not the way anyone outside of Los Angeles wanted things to go, but the Rays can be heartened by the fact that their Tampa Bay sports siblings suffered the same start to their championship run and then pulled off the series victory. After all, the Lightning lost Game One to a team from Dallas while the Rays lost Game One to a team in Dallas (well Arlington). Symmetry.
Much like the Lightning, the Rays seemed a little off their game (especially their pitching staff) but showed a little life at the end of the game. Now that they are settled in to the World Series atmosphere perhaps Game Two will go their way.
This is the first championship series to feature live fans, about 11,000 folks were in attendance for the game at Globe Life Field in Arlington. It’s doubtful that there are enough folks in the stands to constitute a home advantage for either team, so dropping the first game doesn’t really add any pressure.
Hopefully the Rays right their ship and run off some wins over the next few days so that they can have another boat parade along the river. As you might be able to tell, nothing worth writing about really happened in the hockey world, hence the baseball talk. Maybe we’ll get a trade today to liven things up.
The Lightning drafted Nick Capone. Cool. Not sure where he fits in the system, but they have a few years to figure that out. [Raw Charge]
It’s hard for me to look at Capone and see much difference. The suspension issues are certainly a huge red flag that he plays a physical game, but one that isn’t a disciplined. You can’t come into the NHL and be a player that’s constantly putting your team down a man on the penalty kill, and even worse, taking major penalties and getting yourself kicked out of the game.
Corey Pronman rated the Lightning’s draft a C+, a grade we more or less agree with. Following the influx of young players he also updated his franchise organization rankings. Pronman is big on high-end talent among prospects and that’s something the Lightning just don’t have a plethora of at the moment. The Rangers are ranked first. The Lightning....a bit lower, but they’re not last. [The Athletic- subscription required]
The reigning champs are led by Mikhail Sergachev, who is emerging as a top young defenseman in the league. But this is an organization that has only made or kept one of its first-round picks in the past five years. All things considered, the Lightning’s depth is solid given the draft picks they’ve had, but it’s hard to see the pieces here — other than Sergachev and maybe Barre-Boulet — to help keep the window open. Tampa always seems to find a player, though.
One of the prospects that makes up that solid depth is heading to Russia. Alexei Lipanov is heading back to Dynomo Moskova on loan. After spending most of last season in Orlando the forward will return to the organization he played for as a teenager. He had 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists) for the Solar Bears last year, but didn’t make the leap to Syracuse as some hoped he would. He is just 21-years-old so there is plenty of time for his game to develop, and playing in the second best league in the world should help. [Dynamo Moskova - it’s in Russian]
Around the sport:
For GenXer’s such as myself, NHL94 will always hold a special place in our hearts. It was the first game with decent graphics that had both the blessing of the NHL and the NHLPA and that made this the pinnacle of sports games at the time. Even with Wendell Young as the starting goaltender for the Lightning. Because my generation is currently reveling in the nostalgia of our youth, Electronic Arts release NHL ‘94 Rewind, a standalone game (free to those that pre-ordered NHL ‘21) that features current rosters, but the beloved game play of the original. ESPN goes in-depth on why they released it. You kids laugh, but wait until 2040 when EA releases a 20th anniversary edition of NHL ‘21, you’ll be lapping it up like water. [ESPN NHL]
Since NHL ‘94 Rewind is exactly as you found it from the 1990s, that also means that there is no online multiplayer function. EA said it discussed the notion at length, but it was decided to make the game a “true couch experience,” just like the original. But the door isn’t closed if fans truly clamor for it. “If people want to play for longer durations of time and start to ask for more features to be added, such as online multiplayer, then I think we can have those conversations as well,” said Sean Ramjagsingh, EA NHL producer.
The IIHF released the schedule for the 2021 World Junior Championship. It’ll start on Christmas Day (as opposed to the normal Boxing Day start) and run until January 5th. The tournament will be held without fans in Edmonton in a bubble similar to how the playoffs were conducted. Since it’s running past the anticipated January 1st start date that the NHL had announced at the draft, chances are the start of the season will be delayed (or the Oilers have a heck of road trip to start the season).
One nice thing is that some of the top under-20 stars may be available to play in the tournament. There are always a handful of high-draft pick stars that stick with their NHL teams and skip the World Juniors. This year, with nothing else going on except training camp, teams may release players like Quinton Byfield and Alexis Lafraniere for one more run at a gold medal. [NHL.com]
The U.S. and Russia are in Group B for the preliminary round, along with Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic... Canada, the 2020 tournament winner, is in Group A, along with Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Germany.
Speaking of international hockey, the US Woman’s National Team has begun the process for constructing the team that will take the ice at the 2021 IIHF World Championship. Based on the players invited to the evaluation camp, it appears that the team is starting to develop the next generation of stars. [The Ice Garden]
Team USA fans — or really hockey fans everywhere — will want to watch Lacey Eden, even if she doesn’t make the 2021 Worlds Roster. She’s amassed seven points in 10 U18 Worlds games and averaged 1.82 points per game while at Shattuck St. Mary’s. Eden is part of Princeton’s Class of 2025, and was listed on PWHPA New Hampshire rosters in September.
The Chicago Blackhawks used the “rebuild” word in a letter to their fans.
A message to Blackhawks fans. pic.twitter.com/7wBXrJPDQ1— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 20, 2020
It’s always fun to think about the “What if’s” in the sports world. What if Steven Stamkos hadn’t suffered the injuries he has in his career? What if the Lightning had traded for Roman Turek? In today’s edition the folks over at Pennsburgh ponder over the possibilities of PK Subban as a Penguin. Which, according to the defenseman, almost happened when he was drafted. [Pennsburgh]
Subban certainly would have fit into then-general manager Ray Shero’s strategy of loading up on defenseman. Though Shero would take a forward in Esposito in 2007, the Pens usually loaded up on their high picks on defensemen. Subban would have joined Carl Sneep, Brian Strait, Simon Despres, Phillip Samuelsson, Joe Morrow, Scott Harrington, Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta to go down memory lane of Shero’s highly selected defenders, and surely the best of the bunch.