Ryder Hesjedal (Luca Volpi, Wikimedia Commons)
Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria will not repeat as the Giro d’Italia champion.
On Friday, Hesjedal made the decision to pull out of the race after falling to 37th place. Hesjedal was 183rd in Thursday’s stage.
It seems that Hesjedal is simply not feeling well. He cited “a deteriorating physical decision”, according to the Canadian Press, as the major reason why he decided to pull out of this marathon cycling race.
Hesjedal actually dropped 34 places in only one week as he was third last week.
Another top cyclist who has pulled out is Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain because of a chest infection. Wiggins is the 2012 Olympic Gold medallist in the time trial and is the 2010 Tour de France champion. Wiggins also has great success in track cycling as he won a Gold medal in the team pursuit at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and won the Gold medal in the individual pursuit at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Tony Parker (Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons)
The San Antonio Spurs will play the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
On Thursday, the Spurs defeated the Golden State Warriors 94-82 to win the Western Conference Semi-Final series 4-2.
The game was extremely close with about 3:46 left and the Spurs only leading the Warriors 77-75. Then the Spurs showed their experience by outscoring the Warriors 17-7 down the stretch, headlined by 10 points from Tony Parker, including two baskets from beyond the arc.
The Spurs also went with a smaller lineup down the stretch in the game interestingly enough. Head coach Greg Popovich elected to put Tiago Splitter in the game rather than his star Tim Duncan. The move paid off.
In other action, the New York Knicks have forced a game six Saturday night in their Eastern Conference semi-final against the Indiana Pacers. Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points as the Knicks defeated the Pacers 85-75. Indiana still leads the series 3-2.
The Boston Bruins have taken a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-final with a very close win over the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
Brad Marchand scored with 4:20 left in the first overtime as the Bruins defeated the Rangers 4-3.
It was a very impressive win for the Bruins mostly because of the amount of injuries on the Boston blueline. On defense the Bruins had rookies Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski to replace the injured Dennis Seidenberg, Wade Redden and Andrew Ference.
Krug in fact scored his first NHL career goal to send the game into overtime.
The win was the Bruins third overtime win in a row. Another Bruin that deserves praise is defenceman Zdeno Chara, who played 38:02 in game one. He also had a goal and an assist, was a +2 and had nine shots on goal.
This is sounding like a broken record, but once again Raffi Torres of the San Jose Sharks has been suspended.
This time it is for the remainder of the Western Conference semi-finals for his hit to the head of Los Angeles’ Kings forward Jarret Stoll.
Torres received a two minute minor for the infraction in game one of the series, a series in which the Sharks currently find themselves down 2-0.
A major reason that Torres was suspended for a maximum of six games is because he is a repeat offender. Torres has been suspended three times in the past for 27 games.
It was a disappointing day for Team Canada on Thursday at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden.
Team Canada was unable to hold on to a 1-0 third period lead and lost 3-2 to Sweden in a shootout.
Modo right winger Nicklas Danielsson scored two very similar goals from the blueline on the power play in the third period to put Sweden up 2-1 before Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers tied the game up for team Canada.
We now know half the teams who have qualified for the National Basketball Association’s conference finals.
On Wednesday night, the Miami Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference Final with a 94-91 win over the Chicago Bulls to win the Eastern Conference semi-final series 4-1, while the Memphis Grizzlies advanced to the Western Conference Final with a 88-84 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder to win the Western Conference semi-final series 4-1 as well.
The Heat win over the Bulls I think I can safely say was expected. However the fact the Grizzlies beat the Thunder is significant. It just proves how much the Thunder were missing their point guard Russell Westbrook, who needed knee surgery after suffering an injury against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference quarterfinal.
Patrick Sharp (Wikimedia Commons)
The Chicago Blackhawks have taken a 1-0 lead over the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semi-final.
Wednesday evening at the United Center in Chicago, Patrick Sharp had a goal and two assists as the Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1.
After a relatively even first forty minutes, the Blackhawks completely dominated the third period, outscoring the Red Wings 3-0 in the final frame. Chicago also outshot Detroit 19-9 over the final twenty minutes.
A big goal for Chicago came with 8:37 left in the game. With the Blackhawks leading 2-1, Chicago got a goal from their fourth line as Marcus Kruger scored from Daniel Carcillo. When you know your fourth line is producing offensively, you know thngs are going very well.
The Blackhawks also got solid goaltending from Corey Crawford, who made 20 saves. The Blackhawks and Red Wings will now have two full days off as they will not play again until Saturday morning.
Steven Stamkos (Wikimedia Commons)
We now know the matchups for the four quarterfinal games at the 2013 World Hockey Championships in Stockholm, Sweden on Thursday.
Russia will play the United States, Finland will play Slovakia, the Czech Republic will play Switzerland while Canada will play Sweden in the final game on Thursday (12pm, TSN).
The biggest surprise in the round robin was Switzerland, who went through the full eight game round robin undefeated. It really seems there is significant progress at the moment regarding the level of play in the Swiss League, and that is transcending into success for Swiss hockey at the international stage.
It ha been an excellent tournament to date for Nashville Predators defenceman Roman Josi, who led Switzerland with seven round robin points.
Jonathan Quick (Wikimedia Commons)
The Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins have taken a 1-0 lead in the conference semi-finals after Tuesday.
Last night in Los Angeles, Jonathan Quick made 35 saves as the Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks to take a 1-0 series lead.
Slava Voynov and Mike Richards each notched a goal and an assist for the Kings.
The Penguins meanwhile got two points each from Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz in a 4-1 win over Ottawa.
It looks like Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma has made a firm decision to move forward with goaltender Tomas Vokoun over Marc-Andre Fleury.
Vokoun, who is now a perfect 3-0 in the postseason, made 35 saves on 36 shot attempts.
The Dallas Stars are now in search of a new head coach. On Tuesday they fired Glen Gulutzan after two years on the job.
Gulutzan, was 64-57-9 over the last two seasons, but failed to take the Stars to the Stanley Cup playoffs in each season.
The news shouldn’t be of huge surprise because the Stars fired General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk two weeks ago and replaced him with Jim Nill.
According to the Canadian Press, Andrew Wiggins, quite possibly the second best Canadian basketball player ever, has chosen to play next season at the University of Kansas.
Wiggins, from Toronto, could be drafted first overall in the 2014 National Basketball Association draft. That would be the very first time a Canadian would have gone first overall.
Wiggins chose the Jayhawks over the University of Kentucky, the University of North Carolina and the University of Florida State.
James Naismith of Almonte, Ontario, who is considered the founder of basketball, was the head coach of the University of Kansas from 1898-1907 , before becoming the Jayhawks’ Athletic Director.
With just over ten minutes remaining tonight it looked all but certain that the Toronto Maple Leafs would advance to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Then a comeback of the ages started to take place. Down 4-1, the Bruins scored three unanswered third period goals before Patrice Bergeron capped off the remarkable comeback in overtime. The final two regulation goals, one from Milan Lucic, the other from Bergeron, came in the last 1:22 of the contest. The Bruins won the series 4-3 with the 5-4 victory, but in the process stunned hockey fans around the continent.
With the win, the Bruins will face the New York Rangers in round 2. The Rangers got a dominating performance by their entire franchise in a game 7 victory over the Washington Capitals. Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves, while Steve Eminger and Derick Brassard has two assists each in a 5-0 Rangers win and a 4-3 series victory.
Henrik Zetterberg (Dan Nicholas, Wikimedia Commons)
The Detroit Red Wings are off to the Western Conference semi-finals, making them the third original six team to win yesterday.
On Sunday night in Anaheim, the Red Wings beat the Ducks 3-2 to win the best out of seven series 4-3. This was the only series in the four Western Conference quarterfinals in the 2013 NHL playoffs that went to a game seven.
Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula led Detroit in scoring with a goal and an assist each, while Justin Abdelkader scored a huge shorthanded goal on the breakaway in the first period.
Abdelkader’s goal was sweet for him as he was suspended two games earlier in the series for his hit on Ducks’ defenceman Toni Lydman.
The Red Wings will now play the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks will play the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference semi-finals.
Henrik Lundqvist (Robert Kowal, Wikimedia Commons)
Two original six teams forced a game seven on Monday night.
At the Madison Square Garden in New York Sunday afternoon, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves as the New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals 1-0 in game six of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal. This series is now tied up at three games apiece heading into the American national capital city this evening.
The lone Rangers goal came in the second period on a goal from Derick Brassard from John Moore and Mats Zuccarello of Oslo, Norway.
It was a bit of a tough game for Capitals rookie Tom Wilson.