Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's Wednesday!











Here's what's happening for another week........

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After torrential rain washed out Sunday's scheduled running of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Indy Car race, the skies cleared enough on Monday for the race to be held. Will Power dominated, driving to victory with an average speed of 84.975 mph. Power's run, which also included the best lead lap speed of 101.423mph, highlighted a weekend in which the attendance of over 160,000 met or beat all expectations. Justin Wilson finished second, Ryan Briscoe third, Helio Castroneves fourth and Dario Franchitti fifth. The race featured 10 lead changes amongst 8 drivers and Briscoe notched the best improvement in the race, starting 19th and finishing third.

Power leads the Indy Car standings after two races, with 106 points. Wilson and Ryan Hunter-Reay are tied for second with 59. Next on the IZOD Indy Car Series schedule is the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham on Sunday, April 11th. Green flag drops at 3:00pm CDT, with TV coverage available on Versus. For radio listings and more, check out http://www.indycar.com.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning season continues to spin out of control, as the team went 1-2-0 since our most recent report. The week started with last Wednesday's impressive 5-3 win over the Bruins in Boston. Tampa Bay earned its 500th franchise victory behind a team-record 47 saves from Antero Niittymaki and got two goals in each of the first two period. Steven Stamkos and Paul Szczechura each scored twice, and Martin St. Louis also added a goal for the Lightning, who stretched their modest win streak to two straight.

That win streak came to a resounding end Saturday. Steve Downie scored the only goal, Vinny Lecavalier was tossed from the game after a first-period spearing penalty and Niittymaki and Mike Smith stopped just 19 of 26 shots as Buffalo clinched a playoff spot with a surprisingly easy 7-1 win.

The effort was much better last night in Columbus, but two third period goals lifted the Jackets to a 3-2 win. Mike Lundin scored in the first to stretch his point streak to a personal-best four games, Lecavalier scored a second period power play goal and Niittymaki made 22 saves, but it wasn't enough to prevent Tampa Bay's 7th loss in it's last 10 games.

The Lightning are now 30-34-12 for 72 points and have fallen to 14th in the Eastern Conference, 10 behind the 8th place Bruins and just 2 ahead of 15th (and last) place Toronto. Tampa Bay looks to rebound tonight against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Faceoff is set for 7:30pn EDT. The game can be heard on 620AM WDAE and seen on both Sun Sports and Versus. The Lightning then return home for their final four home games of the season. They host the New York Rangers this Friday(No TV), Carolina next Tuesday, Ottawa next Thursday and Florida on Saturday, April 10th. All games start at 7:30pm EDT and can be heard on 620AM WDAE and seen(Other than the Ranger game) on Sun Sports. The home game with Florida can be seen on WTOG. The season ends on Sunday, April 11th in Sunrise against the stinkin' Panthers, beginning at 5:00pm EDT on 620AM WDAE and Sun Sports.

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The Tampa Bay Rays continue their solid spring. Their 18 wins put them atop the AL Spring leaderboard and are just two fewer than the 20 posted by the NL's San Francisco Giants. Yesterday, the Rays scored 4 times in the 7th, and tied Boston 9-9. Justin Ruggiano leads all players with 30 or more at bats, hitting .447. Sean Rodriguez has hit 6 homers, Reid Brignac has driven in 18 runs, while Jeff Neiman has won 3 games, while James Shields has posted a team-best 2.11 era amongst pitchers with 20 or more innings pitched.

The Rays have four games left on their spring schedule: Today at the Twins at 1:05pm EDT, tomorrow vs. the Orioles at 1:05pm, FRiday vs. the Mets in Tropicana Field at 6:10pm, then Saturday at their Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls at 3:00pm. Tampa Bay opens the 2010 American League schedule next Tuesday, April 6th at Tropicana Field, against the Baltimore Orioles. First pitch is set for 7:10pm EDT.

The team looks quite improved over last season's disapointing finish. Let's hope their customer service imporoves as well.

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The USHL skates to the end of their regular season this Saturday. The only playoff still up for grabs is the number four spot in the West, being contested for by Sioux City and Tri-City. Both teams held the spot last weekend, with Tri-City currently one point ahead of the Musketeers. Sioux City hosts Waterloo on Friday and Lincoln on Saturday, while the Storm hosts Des Moines on Friday and Sioux Falls on Saturday(Why does it seem like, with the season on the line, Tri-City always plays Sioux Falls?).

Green Bay, Cedar Rapids, Indiana and Waterloo have clinched East Division playoff spots, while Omaha, Fargo and Sioux Falls have cliched in the West. Green Bay has also clinched their second straight Anderson Cup title for best regular-season record.

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There's not many things more exciting in sports than a game 7 in a hockey playoff series, and we've got one tonight in the Western Hockey League, as the Portland Winterhawks are in Spokane to face the Chiefs. Spokane started the series by winning the first two games in Portland, while the Hawks rebounded for three straight wins in Spokane(Where they have not lost a game this season). The Chiefs extended the series with a 4-3 win in Portland two nights ago. Faceoff tonight in Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena is set for 10:00pm EDT.

In other first round series, Calgary topped Moose Jaw 4 games to 3(after losing games 1 and 2 at home), Brandon, the 2010 Memorial Cup hosts, swept out Swift Current in 4 straight, Saskatoon beat Red Deer in 4 straight, Medicine Hat topped Kootenay in 6 games, Tri-City took 6 games to oust Chilliwack, Vancouver bounced Kamloops in 4 straight and Kelowna took 7 games to beat Everett.

In the second round, Calgary meets Medicine Hat, Brandon takes on Saskatoon, Tri-City tangles with Kelowna, while Vancouver meets the winner of tonight's Portland vs. Spokane contest.

In the Ontario Hockey League, Windsor plays Plymouth and Kitchener meets London in second round Western Conference action while over in the East, Barrie meets Brampton and Mississauga St. Michaels Majors (say that fast three times) plays Ottawa.

And, in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League second round, Saint John plays Gatineau, Drummondville tangles with Rimouski, Quebec takes on Victoriaville and Rouyn-Noranda meets up with Moncton.

None of the second round series have started yet in any of the three leagues.

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Right now, as my lovely bride Kim returns from another job interview(Extend your finger-crossing for good luck time please), Jimmy is in his room, playing in his crib, as he starts another day. Our favorite show on the radio, is listening to Jimmy each morning in the baby monitor. He's such a sweetie!











Snoopy and Smokey continue to hold daily puppy smackdown sessions, while generally taking great advantage of the liberal nap-time policy at our house. They sure are good boys!

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That's it for now. See ya soon!

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