Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Guide to the Stanley Cup Playoffs From a Dude Who Doesn't Know Hockey All That Much

Yeah Playoff Hockey! We Love the Penguins! (Christopher Hanewickel/USA Today)

Ah! its springtime in the US of A. The flowers are beginning to bloom, college kids are getting ancy for the end of the semester, and it is starting to get warm out! (not). More importantly, sports are awesome right now. Baseball is back, the Masters just concluded, and its time for the playoffs in the NBA and NHL.

The NBA is cool and all, but its Stanley Cup Playoff time, which means heart rates increase, the hits get harder, and overtime goals create nuclear like explosions in the form of Doc Emerick's commentary. I love the Stanley Cup Playoffs and I am a huge New Jersey Devils fan (we're back baby!), but to be honest, I don't know everything or even as much as I do about the NFL, MLB, or college athletics.

My knowledge comes straight from the sometimes dumb questions I ask to my igloo friends that watch all 82 games and know all the moves in relation to all 31 teams. So this will not be an analysis of who will win and how they will do it, but just what I will do to enjoy the thrill ride of the next two months.

1. DO NOT PICK THE WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Hockey's version of Groundhog Day (Justin K. Aller)

What is wrong with Washington D.C.? Okay we all know what is is wrong with the Capital Wasteland, let me clarify. What in the bloody hell is wrong with Washington D.C. sports teams? The Wizards, Nationals, and the Capitals all have superstars in the form of John Wall, Bryce Harper, and Alex Ovechkin, yet they somehow find ways to not even make it to their conference's version of the final round.

For the Capitals, it has gotten embarrassing, even though not as bad as the Nationals who cannot seem to win a single playoff series with superstar sluggers and an elite starting rotation. It seems that the poor Caps cannot beat the Penguins or the Rangers when they run into them. And now find themselves down two games to none to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Save yourself the trouble, and if you ever find yourself in a playoff pool, never pick the Washington Capitals. They are just the sad little dunce in the corner that cannot find a way to tie their shoes even when those shoes are Velcro.

2. Nashville and Winnipeg Are Everything That is Right About Hockey
SMASHVILLE YEAH!!!!!!!

Okay, I admit it, I have a soft spot for the Nashville Predators. I also can admit that even as an Atlanta sports fan, that I cannot hate the Atlanta Thrashers for moving to Winnipeg, a city that just flat out loves hockey. What I can say is that these two teams are flat out fun to root for. And if for some reason my Devils do not win it all (which they will because they are the bestest hockey team in the entire world) I'll root for them.

Why are they fun to root for? Because of their amazing fanbases in their respective small markets. For Nashville, it is all about their amazing culture infused with their love for professional wrestling and outstanding country culture that is just down the road on Broadway. They stole the show in last year's run to the Stanley Cup Finals with their catfish antics. And seeing them do it again as the favorite President Trophy winners would be amazing and the reaction would be incredible.

For Winnipeg, it is a return to the playoffs after making the playoffs only once in Winnipeg and once in Atlanta under the new franchise, getting swept both times. Winnipeg is not only the home of Chris Jericho, but it is a proud Canadien hockey town that already lost a hockey team due to the politics of the NHL. Their crowd chants are one of a kind and their team is ready to reciprocate the craziness of Winnipeg with a possible series win over the Minnesota Wild.

These two teams by far have the best fanbases in the playoffs and are, for the most part, always the underdogs. It would be great to see one of these teams succeed if only once.

3. BOSTON SUCKS!!!!!!!
BAHSTAN!!!! (Matthew J. Lee)

I am tired of Boston. You are tired of Boston. The whole damn world is tired of Boston. Thankfully, the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl, so we do not have to suffer through that again, but their teams still remain elite with all the talent in the world with the Celtics and Bruins poised to make runs. So let's make this clear, DO NOT ROOT FOR THE BOSTON BRUINS!!! We could go on about Brad Marchand and all of his terrific antics, but in all honestly, I do not want to see Boston win anymore, simple as that. It is tired, their fans are extremely annoying and entitled, and it is simple as they just need to lose, or else we will all suffer the wrath of the most annoying fanbase and city in the country who just will not let you be.

4. VEGAS?!?!?!?!??!
Viva Las Vegas!!!

Where did this team come from? The answer is actually out of nowhere. This time last year the Vegas Golden Knights did not exist and they had no players to their name. Now, on April 16 in the year of 2018, the Golden Knights sit up 3 games to none on their made up rival the Los Angeles Kings (nice job taking the Maryland rout fellas).

It is completely ridiculous how amazing it is for a first year expansion team to succeed this quickly in a league where teams like their neighbor Arizona Coyotes are laughingstocks for years. To compare, the Arizona Diamondbacks won their first World Series in 2001, three years after coming into existence. The Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA championship in 1971, two years after coming into existence.

Is it possible for the Vegas Golden Knights to seemingly do the impossible? Can they win the Stanley Cup in their first season of existence? The team known for their outlandish Twitter account could soon be known for the greatest expansion story in the history of North American sports. Why on North America? Well because I am not really immersed in sports outside of the continent so that is a job for you to find out. Yes, you person behind the screen skimming the article looking for anything creative to be said (Hint: you will not find what you are looking for). Either way, if you want to root for the seemingly impossible, Vegas is your choice, and that Twitter account is an elite follow.

5. Will We See the First Three-Peat in Big 4 Since 2002? 
No matter how many times you win, this can never get tired for a fanbase (Haley Nelson/Post-Gazette)

Here we are again, in the month of April, wondering the same thing we had wondered last season, can the Penguins repeat and win it all again? It is not who can beat the Penguins, like you would ask for your New England Patriots or Golden State Warriors, because the faithful fellows of Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Phil Kessel, and others have always had their obvious flaws, especially on the defensive side. But the same thing was said last season and as of April 16th, they have a 2-1 lead over their Keystone State rival Philadelphia Flyers. It is remarkable that with all of the great dynasties out there and lack of parity in leagues like the AFC in the NFL and the NBA in its entirety, that it is the Penguins who have a chance to three-peat for the first time in any Big 4 sport since 2002.

Back then it was Kobe and Shaq on those dangerous Los Angeles Lakers and before them in the late 90s-2000 it was those scrappy, yet somehow evil, New York Yankees and their Core 4. The NFL has never seen a three peat and the last time it has happened in the NHL? 1983, when the New York Islanders clinched their fourth Stanley Cup championship in a row. Can the Pittsburgh Penguins accomplish the feat of the three-peat where many other dynasties have tried and failed in the NHL?

For the rest of us, it would be a resounding no, because we are supposed to hate the dynasty, but you will never know with the overall skill lying in PPG Paints Arena springtime after springtime every year.

And finally.....

6. WE'RE THE DEVILS!!!!!!! THE DEVILS!!!!!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!
YEAH!!!!!!!!!
THAT IS RIGHT, THE NEW JERSEY DEVILS ARE BACK IN THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS BABY!!!!!!!! CRANK UP THE BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE BON JOVI BECAUSE JERSEY IS HERE TO KICK YOUR ASS AND RECLAIM THEIR SPOT AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN!!!!!!!!!!! THE ROCK IN NEWARK WILL BE ROCKING AND IT WILL BE YOUR TEAM'S PERSONAL HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I am not forcing you to like the New Jersey Devils at all, as fun as that would be. But there actually is a point to all of that. For the first time in six seasons, my favorite team is back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and my excitement level cannot be measured when the puck officially drops, and that feeling is amazing.

Having a team to root for come April is fantastic, and it makes every forecheck, every save, and of course, every goal so much more agonizing or so much more exciting to watch. If your team is in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, enjoy the living hell out of it, because it is the most fantastic post-season in the country and probably in the entire world. Even if the Devils are swept in the first round (can we please not) I will enjoy simply having those four games to look forward to then the agony of missing the greatest party on Earth.

So if you do not have a team for this postseason, pick one (except Boston). But make sure to get that poutine and Canadian lager ready for some epic showdowns on the ice because you will not want to miss one second of any period of action. Those five storylines will be something to watch for these next two months, but overall, it is party time in North America. Skip out on the silly Triple Crown this year and make sure to listen to the soothing voice of Doc Emerick as he possibly gives you a heart attack or simply rips your heart out. Go Springtime and overall go hockey!!!!!


...and GO DEVILS!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sports Opinions Podcast: Episode 15 with guest David Cuesta


On this edition of the Sports Opinions Podcast host Alex Cuesta and David Cuesta talk about a bevy of topics. They talk March Madness, NFL Free Agency, MLB Spring Training and Opening Day and a potential Tiger Woods comeback!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sports Opinions Podcast: Episode 14 March Madness Preview Special with guest Josh Siegel



On this special episode of the Sports Opinions Podcast, host Alex Cuesta and guest Josh Siegel give a preview of the upcoming March Madness. Admittedly, it is a marathon episode, neat two hours of content, but I'm sure you'll want to listen to the whole thing! Who can make a run? What upsets are there to watch out for? What teams just don't really matter? Find out on this weeks episode! Click the link above in the title to listen!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Sports Opinions Podcast: Episode 13 with hosts Kyle "K-Doc" Doctor and Mat Santos



With normal host Alex Cuesta out for the week with the birth of his first child, Kyle "K-Doc" Doctor and Mat Santos fill in! And not only do they fill in, but they do a special as well! The top-3 worst fanbases in each league. Strap in for this one, and enjoy!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Sports Opinions Podcast: Episode 12 with Marist College Women's XCTF Head Coach, Chuck Williams



One of my favorite episodes yet. I am joined by Marist College Women's XCTF Head Coach, Chuck Williams, as we talk about a range of sports topics. We talk Marist Running, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Yankees and more!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sports Opinions Podcast: Episode 11 with #KnicksTape Co-Creator Luke Teitelbaum



On this special episode of the Sports Opinions Podcast host Alex Cuesta talks with the co-creator of the #KnicksTape movement Luke Teitelbaum. They discuss the Knicks, Mets, Jets and more on this great episode!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sports Opinions Podcast Extra: PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games



Host Alex Cuesta talks about the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics from PyeongChang, South Koreaa!

Twitter: SportsOpinion30

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sports Opinions Podcast Extra: Super Bowl LII Predictions


Host Alex Cuesta (@ACuestaNBN) gives his Super Bowl LII prediction! Give it a watch to see what he says!

Twitter: SportsOpinion30

Saturday, February 3, 2018

'Scoop B': On LeBron James' future, "It ain't in a Warriors jersey."


In Episode 10 of the Sports Opinions Podcast, host Alex Cuesta spoke with Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson on the future of LeBron James.

When asked where he will end up next season, Scoop paused and answered "It ain't in a Warriors jersey." Alluding to an article written that said that James would be willing to listen to a Warriors offer if they can clear up max space.

So where does Scoop think he will end up? Is it back in Cleveland? Find out below on the Sports Opinions Podcast.


'Scoop B': Rondae Hollis-Jefferson draft fashion, "I got that inspiration from Odell Beckham"

Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson fixing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's tie at the 2015 NBA Draft

On Episode 10 of the Sports Opinions Podcast, Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson discussed Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's fashion sense. He talked about the first time he met RHJ and what that interaction was like. "Yo, I like those pants!" was how Scoop said he started the conversation with a kid he barely knew at the 2015 NBA Draft.



Since then, Scoop and RHJ have maintained a friendship that centers around fashion as much as basketball. Hollis-Jefferson told Scoop that he "...got that inspiration from Odell Beckham." Beckham being the superstar receiver from the New York Giants and fashion trendsetter in his own right.

Scoop went on to recount his connections that he and Hollis-Jefferson have in their lives and their relationship. "He and I see each other, and we both have a flare for just different things. He'll compliment me on my stuff, I'll compliment him on his stuff. There's a mutual respect." Scoop says.

Check out this and more on this episode by clicking below!


Sports Opinions Podcast: Episode 10 with guest Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson



Sports Opinions Podcast fans, are you in for a treat. Very special guest Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson joins host Alex Cuesta as they talk mostly about NBA Basketball. You will get your fill of Knicks and Nets talk as well as an array of other topics including the Greatest Team of All-Time. Scoop also drops his Super Bowl pick and it may surprise you. Enjoy!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Sports Opinions Podcast: Episode 9 with guest Kyle 'K-Doc' Doctor



Episode 9 of the Sports Opinions Podcast is filled with great content from host Alex Cuesta and guest/blog contributor, Kyle 'K-Doc' Doctor. They discuss the MLB Hall of Fame, LeBron James, the Super Bowl and much more!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sports Opinions Podcast: Episode 8 with host Alex Cuesta



Host Alex Cuesta flies solo on this episode and discusses the NFL Playoffs, New York Giants, New York Jets, NBA, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Rutgers Football. Enjoy!

Friday, January 12, 2018

2017 NFL Wild Card Results & Divisional Round Power Rankings and Predictions

Saints QB Drew Brees

Wild Card Round

My Prediction
Games
Final
28-19 KC
(KC -8)
Tennessee Titans (9-7) vs Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
22-21 TEN
33-23 LAR
(LAR -6.5)
Atlanta Falcons (10-6) vs Los Angeles Rams (11-5)
26-13 ATL
27-13 JAX
(JAX -8)
Buffalo Bills (9-7) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
10-3 JAX
44-36 CAR (CAR +6.5)
Carolina Panthers (11-5) vs New Orleans Saints (11-5)
31-26 NO

Wild Card Round Results: 0-4
Playoffs Results: 0-4

Recap:

An odd set of games to start the playoffs. Marcus Mariota guides the Titans past the Chiefs by throwing a TD to himself, Rams were a no-show and both the Jags and Bills were terrible offensively. The only game that lived up to playoff billing was Carolina vs New Orleans with the Saints holding off the Panthers in the end. As for my picks, I don't want to talk about them. 

Divisional Round Power Rankings

1.       Minnesota Vikings (13-3) +/-No Change
2.       New England Patriots (13-3) +/-No Change
3.       Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) +/-No Change
4.       New Orleans Saints (11-5) +2 Rise
5.       Atlanta Falcons (10-6) +5 Rise
6.       Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) +/-No Change
7.       Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) +1 Rise
8.       Tennessee Titans (9-7) +3 Rise
9.       Carolina Panthers (11-5) -5 Fall
10.   Los Angeles Rams (11-5) -5 Fall
11.   Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) -2 Fall
12.   Buffalo Bills (9-7) +/-No Change

Division Round Predictions Against the Spread

Atlanta Falcons (10-6) vs Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) – 24-20 ATL (ATL -3)

Tennessee Titans (9-7) vs New England Patriots (13-3) – 30-20 NE (TEN +13.5)

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) – 27-14 PIT (PIT -7)


New Orleans Saints (11-5) vs Minnesota Vikings (13-3) – 29-23 MIN (MIN -5)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sports Opinions Podcast: Episode 7 with guest Mat Santos


with guest Mat Santos

On this episode of the Sports Opinions Podcast, host Alex Cuesta touch on their Super Bowl picks, whether the CFP got it right, if Trae Young is legit and  an array of topics about the NBA. Listen, comment and enjoy!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sports Opinions QB Ranks vs Bleacher Report QB Ranks

Panther's QB Cam Newton

A few weeks ago on Episode 5 of the Sports Opinions Podcast, host Alex Cuesta (me) and guest Joe Hackett went through their list of the top quarterbacks this season. Recently, Bleacher Report let out a similar list, so I took it upon myself to do a side-by-side comparison of each list. As you will see below, I give you the Sports Opinions Pick, the Bleacher Report Pick (B/R) and then what the difference is between the two in terms of rank. So here is the two lists, I'll talk a little more about them down below.

Rank #
Sports Opinions Pick
B/R Pick
Difference +/-
1
Tom Brady (NE)
Tom Brady (NE)
None
2
Aaron Rodgers (GB)
Aaron Rodgers (GB)
None
3
Cam Newton (CAR)
Russell Wilson (SEA)
+5
4
Carson Wentz (PHI)
Drew Brees (NO)
+7
5
Jared Goff (LAR)
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
+1
6
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Matt Stafford (DET)
+4
7
Philip Rivers (LAC)
Carson Wentz (PHI)
-3
8
Russell Wilson (SEA)
Cam Newton (CAR)
-5
9
Kirk Cousins (WAS)
Jared Goff (LAR)
-4
10
Matt Stafford (DET)
Case Keenum (MIN)
+5
11
Drew Brees (NO)
Matt Ryan (ATL)
+8
12
Andy Dalton (CIN)
Kirk Cousins (WAS)
-3
13
Deshaun Watson (HOU)
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF)
+5
14
Sam Bradford (MIN)
Philip Rivers (LAC)
-7
15
Case Keenum (MIN)
Dak Prescott (DAL)
+3
16
Alex Smith (KC)
Jameis Winston (TB)
+12
17
Dak Prescott (DAL)
Blake Bortles (JAX)
+10
18
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF)
Alex Smith (KC)
-2
19
Matt Ryan (ATL)
Deshaun Watson (HOU)
-6
20
Josh McCown (NYJ)
Derek Carr (OAK)
+2
21
Eli Manning (NYG)
Josh McCown (NYJ)
-1
22
Derek Carr (OAK)
Tyrod Taylor (BUF)
+3
23
Joe Flacco (BAL)
Marcus Mariota (TEN)
+1
24
Marcus Mariota (TEN)
Andy Dalton (CIN)
-12
25
Tyrod Taylor (BUF)
Nick Foles (PHI)
+4
26
Jay Cutler (MIA)
Eli Manning (NYG)
-5
27
Blake Bortles (JAX)
Joe Flacco (BAL)
-4
28
Jameis Winston (TB)
Carson Palmer (ARI)
+4
29
Nick Foles (PHI)
Ryan Fitzpatrick (TB)
+8
30
Mitch Trubisky (CHI)
Mitch Trubisky (CHI)
None
31
Jacoby Brissett (IND)
Drew Stanton (ARI)
+12
32
Carson Palmer (ARI)
Brian Hoyer (NE)
+3
33
DeShone Kizer (CLE)
Jay Cutler (MIA)
-7
34
AJ McCarron (CIN)
Jacoby Brissett (IND)
-3
35
Brian Hoyer (NE)
Bryce Petty (NYJ)
+22
36
Tom Savage (HOU)
C.J. Beathard (SF)
+15
37
Ryan Fitzpatrick (TB)
Brock Osweiler (DEN)
+2
38
Trevor Siemian (DEN)
Brett Hundley (GB)
+4
39
Brock Osweiler (DEN)
Matt Moore (MIA)
+2
40
Blaine Gabbert (ARI)
Kevin Hogan (CLE)
+15
41
Matt Moore (MIA)
Tom Savage (HOU)
-5
42
Brett Hundley (GB)
Trevor Siemian (DEN)
-4
43
Drew Stanton (ARI)
DeShone Kizer (CLE)
-10
44
T.J. Yates (HOU)
Mike Glennon (CHI)
+5
45
Chad Henne (JAX)
Blaine Gabbert (ARI)
-5
46
Geno Smith (NYG)
T.J. Yates (HOU)
-2
47
Matt Cassell (TEN)
Paxton Lynch (DEN)
+6
48
Ryan Mallett (BAL)
N/A
N/A
49
Mike Glennon (CHI)
N/A
N/A
50
E.J. Manuel (OAK)
N/A
N/A
51
C.J. Beathard (SF)
N/A
N/A
52
Cody Kessler (CLE)
N/A
N/A
53
Paxton Lynch (DEN)
N/A
N/A
54
Derek Anderson (CAR)
N/A
N/A
55
Kevin Hogan (CLE)
N/A
N/A
56
Scott Tolzien (IND)
N/A
N/A
57
Bryce Petty (NYJ)
N/A
N/A
58
Kellen Clemens (LAC)
N/A
N/A
59
Nathan Peterman (BUF)
N/A
N/A
60
Jake Rudock (DET)
N/A
N/A
61
Sean Mannion (LAR)
N/A
N/A
62
Joe Webb (BUF)
N/A
N/A
63
Cooper Rush (DAL)
N/A
N/A
64
David Fales (MIA)
N/A
N/A

Clearly, Joe and I added more players to the list than Bleacher Report did, but the differences are interesting. They had both Bryce Petty and C.J. Beathard much higher than we did, and they omitted Geno Smith completely, to the dismay of Joe. Looking at the top, we both agreed with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but then we start to differ. They obviously drink the Kool-Aid on Russell Wilson, like the rest of the sports world does, but if that's the case, maybe we're wrong? Bleacher Report also puts an old Drew Brees really high, which Joe made a point of disagreeing with my rank on the podcast, but I can't put a guy who is now reliant on the run and can't play in cold weather that high. Overall, I found making the list and doing the podcast lots of fun, and I was shocked we were so close on Josh McCown and Jimmy Garoppolo and completely agreed on the placement of Mitch Trubisky.

What do you think of our list compared to theirs? If you want to go listen to the podcast yourself go click on the drop at the top of the page!