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🏒Five NHL Highlights from August 15-16

August 17, 2020
 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS/NHL.COM
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS/NHL.COM

The GIST: We’re trying something new today. Instead of giving you the ol’ boxscores, we’re giving #thegist on our five favorite NHL highlights from the weekend. Let us know what you think by replying to this email.

Wildest save: Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo (pronounced YOH-NUHS) could've been a gymnast in another life. Check out these splits.

Best baseball play: Boston Bruin Charlie Coyle has crazy hand-eye coordination, batting this goal in from the air. The Bruins — who are without star goalie Tuukka Rask after he opted-out of the rest of the postseason to be home with his family — won this one 3–1.

Most entertaining game: Game 4 between the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames was a fun one. The Stars netted the game winner in OT and tied the series 2-2.

Sweetest return: Philadelphia Flyer Oskar Lindblom was back on the ice yesterday, taking part in his first practice since being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer, in December. All the feels.

Favorite feel-good story: In 2000, Dr. Joel Boyd became the first Black team doctor in the NHL, and now his kids are helping run the show in Seattle. Talk about a legacy!

🎾🏀

Lewis Wins Ladies Scottish Open, Andreescu Pulls Out of U.S. Open, The GIST Predicts a Western Conference Team to Win WNBA Championships

August 17, 2020
STACY LEWIS/TWITTER
STACY LEWIS/TWITTER

LPGA: Yesterday’s Ladies Scottish Open was decided by a four-way playoff (on brand for this overtime obsessed August) that saw new mom Stacy Lewis win her first LPGA tournament since giving birth to her daughter, Chesnee, in 2018. What a badass momma.

Tennis: Another player dropped out of the U.S. Open, and this one really broke our hearts. Last year’s winner, Bianca Andreescu, has pulled out of the Grand Slam, which starts August 31st, meaning that neither of the 2019 champs will be there to defend their title this year. Classic 2020.

  • Last year’s runner-up, the GOAT Serena Williams, is still in contention though, and we're desperately hoping it stays that way. She’ll be looking for some sort of redemption after a super unexpected loss to world No. 116 Shelby Rogers in the Top Seed Open’s quarter-final on Friday. Shake off the rust, queen!

WNBA: We’re coming up to the midway point of the WNBA season (yes, already!) so we’d like to make a bold prediction right now: a Western Conference team will win the WNBA Championship.

  • You want proof? Of the six teams in the West, five have winning records, and the top four, led by the Seattle Storm, are also the top four teams in the league. The Storm are probably the top contenders, having lost just one game in 11, and also have the legendary Sue Bird leading them.
     
  • By contrast, only one of six Eastern Conference teams, the Chicago Sky — currently ranked 5th overall — have a winning record (7-4). Looks like the West Coast really is the best coast.

🏒Players Working Overtime in First Round of Stanley Cup Playoffs

August 13, 2020
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING/TWITTER
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING/TWITTER

The GIST: The first round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs is barely three days old, and yet we’ve already seen about a million hours of hockey, thanks to a few games going the distance. Oh playoff overtime, how we’ve missed you.

Tell me about it: As if to make up for all the hockey we lost during the pandemic, Tuesday’s opening game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning went on for six hours and 13 minutes, stretching over seven and a half periods. We’re tired just thinking about playing for that long.

  • The Lightning’s Brayden Point finally scored the 3–2 game winner with 9:34 left in the fifth OT period to end the fourth-longest game in NHL history. It went on so long (ending at 9:22 p.m.) that the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes had to push their 8 p.m. ET matchup to 11 a.m. ET Wednesday morning.

And then...more overtime?: You guessed it. The Bruins won that game 4–3 in double OT, and while the game was the most exciting thing you’ll probably see on a Wednesday afternoon, it was the post-game comments that caused a real stir.

  • Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour was fined $25,000 for basically calling the officiating garbage, arguing that the Bruins’ second goal shouldn’t have been allowed because they made an illegal hand pass before scoring.
  • Brind’Amour said, “This is why the league’s a joke, in my opinion, on these things,” and referred to the play as a “crime scene.” Turns out, you can’t say that in hockey.

How are the Canadian teams doing?: The Vancouver Canucks started their battle against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues, in last night’s late game. The underdog Montreal Canadiens lost 2–1 to the No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers, and the Calgary Flames lead the series 1-0 against the Dallas Stars. Let’s do that hockey

🎾🏀

Serena and Venus Williams to Compete Today while NBA Play in Tournament Begins

August 13, 2020
JULIAN FINNEY/GETTY IMAGES
JULIAN FINNEY/GETTY IMAGES

Tennis: Is there anything more fun and super competitive than sister versus sister? Our tennis fangirling will be at an all-time high today when sisters Serena and Venus Williams play each other for the 31st time in their pro careers in the Top Seed Open’s Round of 16.

  • Venus, the older sister, has won 49 career singles titles to Serena’s 73, and together they’ve won 22 doubles titles. Head-to-head, Serena has the advantage, though the record isn’t as skewed as you’d think: Serena leads 18-12 in their 30 previous meetings. No. 31 is anyone’s guess.

NBA: For the first time ever, there will be a play-in tournament to decide the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but who will be playing has yet to be decided. Spicy. It’s come down to four teams (who are all playing today): currently, the Portland Trail Blazers are the team to beat in the No. 8 spot. The Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns are both a win behind, and the San Antonio Spurs are praying for a miracle from 11th place.

  • Portland will face the Brooklyn Nets, the Grizzlies will play the top team in the East, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the undefeated-in-the-bubble Suns will have an easier go against the No. 7 Dallas Mavericks. There are a ton of win/lose scenarios that give any of these three teams a chance to make it to the play-in.
     
  • Meanwhile, the Spurs will need a win and two of the other three teams to lose today to have a chance at the No. 9 spot. Unlikely, but not impossible. Follow all the fun here.
🏀🏒

Bubbles Work in Creating a Safe Environment for Sports

August 13, 2020
MIKE EHRMANN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MIKE EHRMANN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The GIST: The bubbles are working. The WNBA, NBA and NHL, three leagues playing inside bubble environments, have collectively gone another week without a positive COVID-19 test. So why the heck isn’t everyone sticking to the bubble plan?

Who’s out of the bubble?: Baseball, still. The MLB has been avoiding the bubble for months, ultimately agreeing on a regionalized travel schedule, which has resulted in more positive cases and postponed games than we care to count.

  • But they might finally be getting the hint. The league is apparently in preliminary talks to hold the postseason (which will start September 29th) in a bubble and are looking at good-weather options like Texas and Southern California. About damn time.
  • In contrast, the MLS is going the opposite route. After conducting the MLS Is Back Tournament (which the Portland Timbers won, BTW) inside a bubble environment in Florida, they’re switching to the MLB’s modus operandi for the regular season, which started yesterday.

So bubble is best?: Yes, but someone needs to remind the NBA. Despite their good results, the league is looking to bend the bubble rules. They’ve laid out their plans to allow guests into the bubble when the postseason starts next week.

  • The policy will allow players and staff to be with their significant others and children after over a month-long separation, but the league has made one thing very clear: they’ll require proof of long-standing relationships before letting any significant others in. Sorry boys, no Tinder hook-ups allowed!
  • Meanwhile, the NHL and WNBA are sticking to the status quo and loving their bubble lives. We highly recommend following the WNBA and NHL Bubble Life accounts on Twitter for behind-the-scenes best-of-the-bubble highlights, and listening to this week’s edition of The GIST of It for more NHL hot goss.