Justify

Today was the second jewel in horse racing’s triple crown at the Preakness Stakes.  Justify had to deal with the elements just like he did two weeks earlier in winning the Kentucky Derby.   Justify’s victory will set up the Belmont Stakes in three weeks and a chance to become the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown.  Horse Racing rode American Pharaoh to a triple crown and huge ratings on NBC.   Justify has the same opportunity at the Belmont and horse racing could be better for it.    Horse Racing has an audience that wants to know who to bet on and why.    Since I don’t bet I enjoy the sport because of the action of who is the favorite and what is the betting line.   In three weeks,  Justify will be the favorite at the Belmont and every fan whether they bet or not will be watching.

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2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Game 6 Vs Capitals

It was a must-win game for the Penguins this evening.   The first period was scoreless and both teams were tentative early on.    In the second period, both teams had great scoring chances.   Alex Chaisson would give the Capitals a 1-0 lead and Braden Holtby made it stand until the midway point of the second period.   Kris Letang fired a slap shot to tie the game at 1.   The game would remain tied up to the end of regulation.   Tom Kuhnhackl would fire a shot and for a moment it looked a game seven in Washington, but it hit the post.     However, Evgeny Kuznetsov took a pass from Alex Ovechkin and scored on a breakaway beating Matt Murray at 5:27 of overtime.  That goal would put the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1998.   They will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at a time TBD.

That goal would end the Pittsburgh Penguins chances to win a third straight Stanley Cup.  Instead, there will be a new Stanley Cup champion this summer.   It is also a reminder that repeating in any sports is difficult.  But winning 3 titles in a row is something few teams would get to accomplish.

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semi-Final Game 5 Vs Capitals

The Penguins had to come out with a good start in-game five and they did.  Jamie Oleksiak scored to give them a 1-0 lead.   Then late in the first period, the Capitals would get two goals.   John Carlson would score on the power play to tie the game at 1.  33 seconds later Brett Connolly would give Washington a 2 to 1 lead at the end of the first period.    The Penguins would score twice on the power play to retake the lead.   Sidney Crosby would tie the game and under three minutes later Patric Hornqvist would give them the lead at 3-2 after the second period.

The Capitals would tie the game 52 seconds into the third period on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal.  It was set up by a defensive breakdown by the Penguins Kris Letang.   The game would stay tied until 4:28 left in the game.   Another defensive breakdown by Letang would set Jakub Vrana go-ahead goal. However, that goal was set up by great save by Braden Holtby on a Brian Dumoulin shot.  Empty-net goals by T.J Oshie and Lars Eller would give the Capitals a 6 to 3 win and 3 games to 2 lead in the series.

The Penguins have to win the next two games in order to continue their chances to 3 peat as Stanley Cup Champions.  First is game six Monday night at the PPG Paints Arena with face off at 7:00 P.M.

2018 Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Game 4 Vs Capitals

Game 4 was another tough close game between the Penguins and Capitals.  It was the second straight game there was no score after the first period.   Both goalies were on their game.   Jake Guentzel who has been outstanding in this playoff year scored near the halfway mark of the second period to the Penguins a 1-0 lead.   Guentzel would get called for a tripping penalty and that would set T.J Oshie power-play goal that would tie the game at 1.  Then with 2:29 left in the second period Evgeni Malkin made lunged to put the puck by Braden Holtby and the officials reviewed it.   The officials didn’t blow the whistle and the replay saw the puck in the net for a goal.  The Capitals would challenge it for goaltender interference, but the goal would stand for a Penguins 2-1 lead going into the third period.

That lost timeout would haunt the Capitals late in the game when they pulled Holtby and was called for a penalty for too many men on the ice.  Guentzel would score on the power play into an empty net giving the Penguins a 3 to 1 win and a tied series at 2 games each.   Capitals were playing without Tom Wilson who was suspended three games for his hit on the Penguins Zach Ashton-Reese.    Matt Murray had a bounce-back game and Carl Hagelin was back in the lineup after missing 3 games due to an injury.  However, Phil Kessel is still struggling and there was no secondary scoring to help the offense.  Game six is Saturday night at the Capital One Arena set for a 7:00 P.M faceoff.

2018 Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Game 3 Vs Capitals

It was a rough and tumble game and the scoring didn’t start until the second period.   John Carlson would score 48 seconds into the second period on a power play to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.   Under 4 minutes later Jake Guentzel would tie the game at 1.  Then on the power play, Patric Hornqvist would score to give the Penguins a 2 to 1 lead.    Off a turnover, Chandler Stephenson would tie the game at 2.   Sidney Crosby would give the Penguins a 3 to 2 lead after the second period.   In the past, the Capitals would have folded their tent but not on this evening.

Evgeni Malkin almost increased the Penguins lead, but his shot went off the left-hand side of the post.   Then Matt Niskanen would score 5:08 into the third period to tie the game at 3.   The tie would stay that until 1:27 left in the game Alex Ovechkin scored to give the Capitals a 4 to 3 win and a 2 games to 1 series lead.    The Capitals Tom Wilson hit Penguins forward Zach Ashton-Reese with a questionable check.  Ashton-Reese suffered a concussion and a broken jaw.   The NHL might punish Wilson for his hit and it could be several.    The Penguins are trailing and need more secondary scoring, plus Matt Murray has to make some big saves.   Game 4 is Thursday night at the PPG Paints Arena with faceoff at 7:00 P.M.

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semi-Final Game 2 Vs Capitals

forThe Pittsburgh Penguins had to deal with two opponents this afternoon the Washington Capitals and the officials.  It started out when Alex Ovechkin scored at 1:26 into the first period.  The Capitals scored on a power play goal by Jakub Vrana to increase their lead to 2-0 passed the midway point of the first period. The Penguins would challenge that goal because of goal interference.  However, the goal still counted and it would remain 2-0 Capitals after the first period.  Brett Connolly would score 2:08 into the second period to increase the Capitals lead to 3-0.   Kris Letang would score on a 4 on 4 to cut the deficit to 3 to 1 going into the third period.  The Penguins would play the remainder of the game with 5 defensemen because Brian Dumoulin was injured on a hit by the Capitals Tom Wilson.

There was no penalty on that hit, but the NHL will review the hit and there might be some supplemental discipline on Wilson.  However, there was more misfortune for the Penguins.   Patric Horniqvist apparently scored to cut it to 3-2, but the officials didn’t count it.   The reason was the officials didn’t see the puck in the net.   However, there was one still picture from the NBC telecast and it showed the puck in the net.  Nicklas Backstrom would score an empty net goal to make the final score 4-1 Capitals and the series is tied at 1 game apiece.   The Penguins have to regroup and get some players back for game three Tuesday night at the PPG Paints Arena with faceoff at 7:30 P.M.

Steelers Draft Day 3

The Pittsburgh Steelers had 3 draft picks in the last 4 rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.   Their first pick of the 5th round was safety Marcus Allen from Penn State.  That need had to be addressed due to the release of Mike Mitchell in the off-season.  Their second pick of the 5th round was running back Jaylen Samuels of North Carolina State.  Since Le’veon Bell could be lost to free agency at the end of the season.   Samuels could get some playing time as a backup or returning punts and kickoffs.   Their 7th round draft pick was defensive tackle Joshua Frazier from Alabama.  He could provide depth and become a future starter.

The Steelers also signed 13 undrafted free agents and some could make the team or wind up on the practice squad.  Those decisions will be made during OTA, mini-camp or Training Camp in Latrobe during the summer.

Steelers Draft Day 2

The Pittsburgh Steelers started day two of the 2018 NFL Draft looking for some needs. In their 2nd round they selected James Washington wide receiver from Oklahoma State.  They filled the need the of receiver after the trade of Martavis Bryant to the Oakland Raiders for an additional 3rd round pick.   With that additional 3rd round pick, they selected quarterback Mason Rudolph from Oklahoma State.   They may have found the successor to Ben Roethlisberger at the quarterback position.

With the other 3rd round pick the Steelers took Chukwuma Okorafor offensive tackle from Western Michigan.    He could add some depth to the line and start if one of the current starters leave via free agency next season.   Could the Steelers get some depth on the defense or get a running back.    Day three of the NFL Draft start at 12:00 P.M. and anything could happen

Steelers 1st Round Pick

The Steelers 1st round pick was the second important topic in the area after the Penguins victory over the Washington Capitals.   I was surprised that wide receiver Martavis Bryant traded to the Oakland Raiders for a 3 round pick.   Their draft needs were safety, inside linebacker, and cornerback.  They were able to fill one of their needs in the first round.   The Steelers drafted safety Terrell Edmunds from Virginia Tech.   Since the Steelers have three draft picks tomorrow night they could get the other needs done.  However, the could get some future needs done before the end of the draft on Saturday like quarterback.

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semi-Final Game 1 Vs Capitals

Game one versus the Washington Capitals was a tough game.   It started out rough for the Penguins when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 17 seconds into the game to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.  Braden Holtby would make the lead stand for two periods with some outstanding saves to keep the Penguins off the board.

Alex Ovechkin would score 28 seconds into the third period to increase the Capitals lead to 2-0.   The Penguins would take control of the game from that point on.  Patric Hornqvist would cut the lead to 2-1 and Sidney Crosby would tie the game at 2.  2:28  later Jake Guentzel would give the Penguins a 3 to 2 lead.

Matt Murray would make some outstanding saves down the stretch and that helped the Penguins win the game 3 to 2.  That great comeback would give the Penguins a 1 game to none series lead.   The series will resume with game two at the Capital One Arena on Sunday afternoon with the faceoff at 3:00 P.M.