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🏒Four Teams, Four Games Remaining in 2021 World Juniors

January 04, 2021
SOURCE: JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS
SOURCE: JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada vs. Russia: A year ago today, Canada and Russia both won their semifinal games, only to meet in the next day’s final. Canada won that gold medal game, and Russia has probably been plotting their revenge ever since. Well, their day has finally come: the two hockey powerhouses will face off at 6 p.m. ET tonight in the first of two semis.

  • Canada is the tournament’s only undefeated team, and they have the best goalie we’ve seen in a long time in Devon Levi. If Canada can capitalize on some quality scoring chances while Levi keeps the puck out of the net, their ticket to Tuesday’s final should be well within reach. Touch wood.

USA vs. Finland: The Americans and the Finns have matching 4-1 records: Team USA lost their first match of the tournament to Russia while Finland’s only loss came against Canada. Now they’ll face each other in today’s second semi at 9:30 p.m. ET.

  • Finland knocked Team USA out last year, so, like Russia, the Americans will be playing with a chip on their shoulder, but if they can stay disciplined and keep scoring goals like these, they’ll likely send the Finns packing.

The final: If our predictions hockey dreams come true, then we could see a Canada-U.S. final on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET. Could there be a better way to start off 2021 than with a World Juniors victory over the Americans? We think not.

⛷️🏀🏒

Quick Hits: This week in sports, Canada

January 04, 2021
SOURCE: GIOVANNI AULETTA/AP
SOURCE: GIOVANNI AULETTA/AP

🎿Skiing: The first women's World Cup slalom event of 2021 took place in Croatia over the weekend, and legend Mikaela Shiffrin came within 0.27 seconds of her 100th podium. Close but no cigar. Her fourth place finish was still admirable though, in a rain-soaked slalom that her greatest rival, Petra Vlhová, won instead.

  • Meanwhile, Canadian Erin Mielzynski had her best showing in five years: a fifth place finish. Amazing.

🏀NBA: We’re five games into the new season, but our beloved Toronto Raptors, who a mere year-and-a-half ago were on top of the basketball world, have managed to eek out only one win so far. We’re not panicking yet, but if they can’t pull out a W against the Boston Celtics at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight, we might just start.

  • In other news, Canadian superstar Jamal Murray and his Denver Nuggets, who made the Conference Finals just four months ago, are hanging around the bottom of the Western Conference. Yeesh.

🏒NHL: As the World Juniors wind down, the NHL is winding up for their January 13th start. But — and it’s a big but — the Canadian division still doesn’t have the all-clear, despite the federal government waiving the mandatory 14-day quarantine for players returning to Canada.

  • Alberta and British Columbia have approved games to be played in their provinces, but Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba are still weighing the risks, as teams like the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to host games amidst local lockdowns. Time’s a tickin’.

🏈NFL Postseason Stage is Set

January 04, 2021
SOURCE: WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM/TWITTER
SOURCE: WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM/TWITTER

The Browns and Bills: Not to be blunt, but these two teams have been the laughing stock of the NFL for a long time. However, now that they’ve been replaced by the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars, things are looking up as we head into Wild Card weekend (aka the first of four playoff rounds).

  • With yesterday’s 24–22 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns secured their first playoff spot in 18 years. Yes, their playoff drought was old enough to legally order draught in England. They’ll now face a rematch against the Steelers in Sunday’s wild card game.
     
  • Meanwhile, the Bills walloped the Miami Dolphins 56–26 to solidify the AFC’s second seed. The Bills haven’t won a playoff game since 1995 though, so we won’t hold our breath during Saturday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Wild thing: Other teams moving on to the postseason include the Baltimore Ravens, who clinched with a laughable win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Tennessee Titans, who won the AFC South by a single, almost missed, field goal.

  • But it all came down to the regular season’s final game and the worst division in the NFL, the NFC East. All four division teams finished with a losing record, but the Washington Football Team was the best loser and took the title — and the final playoff spot — with a 20–14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Bye-bye Miss American Pie: Finishing first in the conference doesn’t just get you bragging rights — it means a first round bye, too. The Kansas City Chiefs locked up the AFC’s top spot ages ago, and with a win over the Chicago Bears yesterday, the Green Bay Packers claimed the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Let the games begin.

🏈NFL - All I want for Christmas is you

December 25, 2020
SOURCE: USA TODAY SPORTS
SOURCE: USA TODAY SPORTS

Coma cure: Tomorrow’s 4:30 p.m. ET matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings may not be exciting enough to rouse you from a turkey coma, but the Saints could clinch the NFC South division title and the Vikings are still clinging to playoff hopes, so at least both sides will be playing for something.

Hangover fix: The fun stuff starts this weekend. The Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers could both lock up playoff spots on Saturday, and the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and LA Rams could clinch on Sunday, but it’s not all smooth sailing to the postseason. Check out all the possible playoff clinching scenarios here and the full schedule here.

🏀Gonna find out who's naughty or nice - CAN

December 25, 2020
SOURCE: CARMEN MANDATO/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: CARMEN MANDATO/GETTY IMAGES

Naughty: James Harden is getting coal in his stocking. The Houston Rockets star violated COVID-19 protocols earlier this week by visiting what seems to be a strip club (though he claims otherwise) and was deemed “unavailable” for the Rockets’ home opener last night while the NBA investigated.

  • That game — after seven Rockets players were placed on the COVID-19 list — was postponed anyway, as the team didn’t have enough players to make up the league-required eight-man roster, and Harden was fined $50k for his rule breaking. But since there’s room for everyone on the nice list, there might be hope for him yet.
  • Seems like the Toronto Raptors are trying to make the naughty list, too. Not only did they lose last night’s “home” opener to the New Orleans Pelicans, but rumor has it they’re in “exploratory talks” to trade for Harden. Interesting.

Nice: The Brooklyn Nets weren’t too good this year, but they’re making a convincing last-minute push for the nice list. With Kevin Durant back on the court for the first time since June 2019, the Nets won the league’s season opener 125–99 over the Golden State Warriors. The Nets play again tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET against the Boston Celtics.

Extra nice: Santa knows it’s been a rough year, so he’s gifting us five CanCon-friendly Christmas Day games. Along with the Steve Nash–run Nets and Tristan Thompson’s Celtics matchup, Andrew Wiggins’ Warriors and Jamal Murray’s Denver Nuggets are also set to play. Check out the full schedule here.