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NBA Playoffs 2018

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The first round of the NBA playoffs continues today with four more Game 1s. Follow along here for the latest analysis and commentary from The Post’s NBA reporter Tim Bontemps, and ask him questions in the comments section.There was a big debate in the closing days of the NBA’s regular season over whether LeBron James could surpass James Harden for the NBA’s MVP award.

Harden’s play Sunday, however, showed why he should win the award.

In a game that was there for the Minnesota Timberwolves to steal (more on that in a second) Harden’s ridiculous performance — 44 points on 15-for-26 shooting with eight assists — ensured that the Houston Rockets wouldn’t let them do so, and claimed a 104-101 victory in Game 1 as a result.

That said, Chris Paul did his best to try to give the game back to Minnesota anyway.

Capping a truly miserable game (14 points on 14 shots, four assists

and

six turnovers), Paul threw an insane pass that went out of bounds with nine seconds left when all he had to do was hold the ball, get fouled and make a free throw to seal the win for Houston. Instead, he gave the ball back to the Timberwolves down three, with a chance to tie the game.

In a game of terrible one-upmanship in the final seconds, Jimmy Butler then brought the ball up and — with Rockets Coach Mike D’Antoni

telling

his team to foul, and them ignoring him — Butler flung up a turnaround jumper with his foot over the three-point line (meaning it would have been a two) that didn’t come close to going in.

It was a fitting end to a chaotic final 15 seconds of what was an otherwise very entertaining game — one that Harden made sure his Rockets came away from victorious.The pressure is on the Houston Rockets.

Entering the playoffs, no team had more expectations heaped on it than Houston, which has been installed as the first credible challenger to Golden State since Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City for the Bay Area.

With those expectations come a need for the Rockets to back them up — and that’s with a star backcourt of James Harden and Chris Paul, who have their own history of playoff struggles.

Harden (31 points, seven assists) has

showed

up so

Anyone watching the TNT broadcast of Rockets-Timberwolves can hear Chris Webber losing his mind every time Karl-Anthony Towns fails to take advantage of a switch with a smaller defender on him. The “Inside The NBA” crew said the same thing at halftime.

They have a point.

A constant criticism of the Timberwolves all season has been the team’s inability to get Towns more involved in the offense. Towns

is

quite possibly the most gifted offensive big man in the history of the sport, with the ability to score from the rim to well beyond the three-point arc.

So how is it that he only has six points on eight shots — the same or less than Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford

and

Derrick Rose?

Minnesota, which finds itself trailing 76-72 after three quarters, needs that to change if it wants to pull off the Game 1 upset.

When it comes to the Houston Rockets, there is — understandably — lots of talk about James Harden and Chris Paul and volume three-point shooting.

But what sums up why the Rockets are leading halfway through Game 1 against the Minnesota Timberwolves — and why I picked them to win in four games — is the play of Clint Capela.

Houston’s center — who is going to get paid handsomely as a restricted free agent this summer — has 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots at halftime, partnering with Harden to relentlessly batter the Timberwolves into submission in the pick-and-roll.

Anyone who watched Minnesota’s final regular season game against the Denver Nuggets could see how much trouble Minnesota had stopping Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic in the pick-and-roll. And, for as good as those guys are, Houston is on another level entirely.

The Rockets have proven that so far tonight – and that’s why they lead 54-47 at halftime.

far. Paul? Not so much (12 points on 14 shots, plus three assists and four turnovers). Lose this

game,

and all the questions about how this team will hold up when the pressure mounts will come flooding back.

Lightning vs Devils

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2018 NHL Playoffs: Jets vs. Wild schedule, results, TV info, odds, predictions and matchup breakdown…
Read and Know About Jets vs Wild- The Western Conference might be home to the first-round matchup with the hottest team of the 2017-18 Stanley Cup playoffs, and that matchup has nothing to do with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Nashville Predators. Down the stretch, the Winnipeg Jets proved they can be an absolute force, and they got off to a good start in their opening-round series against the Minnesota Wild, taking a commanding 2-0 lead.

The Jets entered the playoffs on a five-game winning streak and a 9-1 record over their last 10, and they’re far ahead of schedule, leapfrogging preseason expectations of playing spoiler to enter their first postseason series in three years. They’re the favorites against the Minnesota Wild, who have now been to the playoffs six years in a row. Minnesota, meanwhile, are in quite a different position, having long accomplished the goal of reaching the Cup hunt but always failing to advance.

Here, we break down every angle of the Central Division showdown and offer our predictions. This is where the Jets do their damage, and it’s where they should be able to scare Minnesota on a nightly basis. Patrik Laine was worthy of the spotlight in 2016-17, but this year, he’s even better. Mark Scheifele’s health could be worrisome down the road, but Winnipeg simply isn’t lacking for firepower otherwise, scoring more than anyone except the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. Eric Staal should produce, but the Wild will need Zach Parise to be on another level to have a shot.Had Ryan Suter not broken his ankle, the Wild might hve matched up more evenly here. Even if Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba step up, they’re going to face a tall task trying to slow the Jets’ young scorers, whereas Winnipeg has allowed the fifth-fewest goals per game with the help of some top-tier goaltending. The Jets’ giveaway totals aren’t great, so the Wild could benefit there, but it’s still hard to give Minnesota a definitive edge.Devan Dubnyk has proven capable of putting the Wild on his back and carrying the team to victory, so his talent isn’t to be overlooked. In fact, in any other matchup, he’d probably be close to a lock of a favorite, especially since he was nimble to close the regular season. This isn’t any other matchup, though, and the man in between the pipes on the other end of the ice is Connor Hellebuyck, who’s done nothing but dominate in a career year, logging six shutouts and an NHL-best 44 wins.If the Wild can bait the Jets into the kind of penalties they fell victim to in recent seasons, maybe Minnesota will have a shot to offset some of Winnipeg’s statistical advantages here, but the safe bet is on the Jets simply overpowering their division rivals with the strength of their power play. The Wild’s penalty kill hasn’t been that much worse than Winnipeg’s, but the latter has also been a force with extra-man advantages, ranking fifth in the NHL in power-play success.Benjamin: It was nice to see such a big year from Staal, and the Wild have a couple guys, like Joel Eriksson Ek, who could be primed for a playoff emergence, but there’s just way too much high-powered talent — starting with Laine — on the Jets to ignore Winnipeg’s momentum, which is unfolding a year ahead of schedule. Jets in 5.

Blackburn: Winnipeg is so dangerous and deep up front. It’s hard to imagine Minnesota being able to hang with the Jets’ explosive offense, especially with Ryan Suter and (possibly) Jared Spurgeon out of the lineup. Jets in 5.

Bruins vs Maple Leafs

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2018 NHL Playoffs: Jets vs. Wild schedule, results, TV info, odds, predictions and matchup breakdown…
Read and Know About Jets vs Wild- The Western Conference might be home to the first-round matchup with the hottest team of the 2017-18 Stanley Cup playoffs, and that matchup has nothing to do with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Nashville Predators. Down the stretch, the Winnipeg Jets proved they can be an absolute force, and they got off to a good start in their opening-round series against the Minnesota Wild, taking a commanding 2-0 lead.

The Jets entered the playoffs on a five-game winning streak and a 9-1 record over their last 10, and they’re far ahead of schedule, leapfrogging preseason expectations of playing spoiler to enter their first postseason series in three years. They’re the favorites against the Minnesota Wild, who have now been to the playoffs six years in a row. Minnesota, meanwhile, are in quite a different position, having long accomplished the goal of reaching the Cup hunt but always failing to advance.

Here, we break down every angle of the Central Division showdown and offer our predictions. This is where the Jets do their damage, and it’s where they should be able to scare Minnesota on a nightly basis. Patrik Laine was worthy of the spotlight in 2016-17, but this year, he’s even better. Mark Scheifele’s health could be worrisome down the road, but Winnipeg simply isn’t lacking for firepower otherwise, scoring more than anyone except the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. Eric Staal should produce, but the Wild will need Zach Parise to be on another level to have a shot.Had Ryan Suter not broken his ankle, the Wild might hve matched up more evenly here. Even if Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba step up, they’re going to face a tall task trying to slow the Jets’ young scorers, whereas Winnipeg has allowed the fifth-fewest goals per game with the help of some top-tier goaltending. The Jets’ giveaway totals aren’t great, so the Wild could benefit there, but it’s still hard to give Minnesota a definitive edge.Devan Dubnyk has proven capable of putting the Wild on his back and carrying the team to victory, so his talent isn’t to be overlooked. In fact, in any other matchup, he’d probably be close to a lock of a favorite, especially since he was nimble to close the regular season. This isn’t any other matchup, though, and the man in between the pipes on the other end of the ice is Connor Hellebuyck, who’s done nothing but dominate in a career year, logging six shutouts and an NHL-best 44 wins.If the Wild can bait the Jets into the kind of penalties they fell victim to in recent seasons, maybe Minnesota will have a shot to offset some of Winnipeg’s statistical advantages here, but the safe bet is on the Jets simply overpowering their division rivals with the strength of their power play. The Wild’s penalty kill hasn’t been that much worse than Winnipeg’s, but the latter has also been a force with extra-man advantages, ranking fifth in the NHL in power-play success.Benjamin: It was nice to see such a big year from Staal, and the Wild have a couple guys, like Joel Eriksson Ek, who could be primed for a playoff emergence, but there’s just way too much high-powered talent — starting with Laine — on the Jets to ignore Winnipeg’s momentum, which is unfolding a year ahead of schedule. Jets in 5.

Blackburn: Winnipeg is so dangerous and deep up front. It’s hard to imagine Minnesota being able to hang with the Jets’ explosive offense, especially with Ryan Suter and (possibly) Jared Spurgeon out of the lineup. Jets in 5.

ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters 2018

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Following the ‘Sunshine Double’, which was completed less than two weeks ago, Masters 1000 action kicks off once again this week, with several of the top ATP stars heading to the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.One big notable name missing is Roger Federer, who is skipping the entire clay court season, though the tournament sees the return of world number one Rafael Nadal, a ten-time champion in Monte Carlo who will be making his first appearance on the ATP Tour since his retirement in the Australian Open last eight.

Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev, and Grigor Dimitrov round out the top four seeds.This section of the draw is undoubtedly highlighted by the return of the ‘King of Clay’, who looked mighty impressive in his return at the Davis Cup this past weekend, though this section is graced by two other notable names; fifth seed Thiem, who is back on by far his best surface, and former champion Novak Djokovic, who is continuing his return to the tour.

Goffin does not necessarily have an easy start, with Denis Shapovalov a potential second round opponent for the Belgian, whilst projected third round opponent 11th seed Roberto Bautista Agut has played well in Monte Carlo in the past. Dimitrov may also have a tricky start against either Paolo Lorenzi or Filip Krajinovic, though his projected third round opponent, 15th seed and 2017 runner-up Albert Ramos-Vinolas, has been struggling for form of late. Several dangerous players are here, such as clay-court specialist Philipp Kohlschreiber and Benoit Paire, though both Dimitrov and Goffin will be hopeful of kickstarting their seasons.

After an average start to the season, Zverev kickstarted his season with a run to the final in Miami, and having played well on clay before, he could be primed for a strong run on what is his first tournament of the surface. The German should start well, with Gilles Muller his likely (and a beatable first round opponent), though a potential third round clash against 13th seed Fabio Fognini could prove to be interesting; the Italian starts against a qualifier, and has been fairly consistent in the early stages of the 2018 season.

The 2018 Monte Carlo Masters got underway on Sunday as the beginning of the singles draw marked its official opening, and Karen Khachanov beat Thanasi Kokkinakis to become the first entrant to play his way into the second round.Khachanov defeated Kokkinakis 7-5, 6-4 and will face either Gilles Simon or Adrian Mannarino in the next stage of the competition, with that French duo scheduled to face off on Monday afternoon.Mischa Zverev is also into the second round after beating Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets.

The German looked on course for a straightforward win after taking the first set 6-2 but dropped the second on a tie-break. He came roaring back in the third set and clinched it 6-1 to book a meeting with France’s Lucas Pouille.The French revolution continued as Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Andrej Martin 6-3, 6-3. Italy also had a pair of competitors advance, as Andreas Seppi and Marco Cecchinato progressed from the batch of qualifiers.Read on for a roundup of Sunday’s results from Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in France.

Only two breaks were conceded in the match: Kokkinakis in his last service of the first set and his penultimate serve in the second—two well-timed pushes from Khachanov that mean his contest continues.Chardy and Hugues-Herbert advanced following wins over Mahut and Martin, with neither looking particularly troubled as they made their return to rubbing shoulders with some of the sport’s more elite stars.

Seppi and Cecchinato also went through after they got the better of Spaniards Marcel Granollers-Pujol and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, respectively.Cecchinato faced early opposition from Garcia-Lopez, but the 34-year-old’s stamina appeared to wilt as he faded to a 6-4, 6-2 defeat. Seppi, meanwhile, rarely looked to be out of second gear as he beat Granollers-Pujol 6-3, 6-3.

Stefanos Tsitsipas will join them in the main draw after the 19-year-old Greek challenger beat Bosnian Mirza Basic 6-1, 6-4, as will Dusan Lajovic after he triumphed 6-4, 6-4 over Sergiy Stakhovsky.German Florian Mayer advanced as a lucky loser at the Monte Carlo Masters despite suffering a 7-5, 6-0 defeat to Ilya Ivashka, the Belarusian who will face off against Fabio Fognini in his first-round fixture.

Nashville vs Colorado

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2018 NHL Playoffs: Jets vs. Wild schedule, results, TV info, odds, predictions and matchup breakdown…
Read and Know About Jets vs Wild- The Western Conference might be home to the first-round matchup with the hottest team of the 2017-18 Stanley Cup playoffs, and that matchup has nothing to do with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Nashville Predators. Down the stretch, the Winnipeg Jets proved they can be an absolute force, and they got off to a good start in their opening-round series against the Minnesota Wild, taking a commanding 2-0 lead.

The Jets entered the playoffs on a five-game winning streak and a 9-1 record over their last 10, and they’re far ahead of schedule, leapfrogging preseason expectations of playing spoiler to enter their first postseason series in three years. They’re the favorites against the Minnesota Wild, who have now been to the playoffs six years in a row. Minnesota, meanwhile, are in quite a different position, having long accomplished the goal of reaching the Cup hunt but always failing to advance.

Here, we break down every angle of the Central Division showdown and offer our predictions. This is where the Jets do their damage, and it’s where they should be able to scare Minnesota on a nightly basis. Patrik Laine was worthy of the spotlight in 2016-17, but this year, he’s even better. Mark Scheifele’s health could be worrisome down the road, but Winnipeg simply isn’t lacking for firepower otherwise, scoring more than anyone except the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. Eric Staal should produce, but the Wild will need Zach Parise to be on another level to have a shot.Had Ryan Suter not broken his ankle, the Wild might hve matched up more evenly here. Even if Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba step up, they’re going to face a tall task trying to slow the Jets’ young scorers, whereas Winnipeg has allowed the fifth-fewest goals per game with the help of some top-tier goaltending. The Jets’ giveaway totals aren’t great, so the Wild could benefit there, but it’s still hard to give Minnesota a definitive edge.Devan Dubnyk has proven capable of putting the Wild on his back and carrying the team to victory, so his talent isn’t to be overlooked. In fact, in any other matchup, he’d probably be close to a lock of a favorite, especially since he was nimble to close the regular season. This isn’t any other matchup, though, and the man in between the pipes on the other end of the ice is Connor Hellebuyck, who’s done nothing but dominate in a career year, logging six shutouts and an NHL-best 44 wins.If the Wild can bait the Jets into the kind of penalties they fell victim to in recent seasons, maybe Minnesota will have a shot to offset some of Winnipeg’s statistical advantages here, but the safe bet is on the Jets simply overpowering their division rivals with the strength of their power play. The Wild’s penalty kill hasn’t been that much worse than Winnipeg’s, but the latter has also been a force with extra-man advantages, ranking fifth in the NHL in power-play success.Benjamin: It was nice to see such a big year from Staal, and the Wild have a couple guys, like Joel Eriksson Ek, who could be primed for a playoff emergence, but there’s just way too much high-powered talent — starting with Laine — on the Jets to ignore Winnipeg’s momentum, which is unfolding a year ahead of schedule. Jets in 5.

Blackburn: Winnipeg is so dangerous and deep up front. It’s hard to imagine Minnesota being able to hang with the Jets’ explosive offense, especially with Ryan Suter and (possibly) Jared Spurgeon out of the lineup. Jets in 5.

Predators vs Avalanche

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2018 NHL Playoffs: Jets vs. Wild schedule, results, TV info, odds, predictions and matchup breakdown…
Read and Know About Jets vs Wild- The Western Conference might be home to the first-round matchup with the hottest team of the 2017-18 Stanley Cup playoffs, and that matchup has nothing to do with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Nashville Predators. Down the stretch, the Winnipeg Jets proved they can be an absolute force, and they got off to a good start in their opening-round series against the Minnesota Wild, taking a commanding 2-0 lead.

The Jets entered the playoffs on a five-game winning streak and a 9-1 record over their last 10, and they’re far ahead of schedule, leapfrogging preseason expectations of playing spoiler to enter their first postseason series in three years. They’re the favorites against the Minnesota Wild, who have now been to the playoffs six years in a row. Minnesota, meanwhile, are in quite a different position, having long accomplished the goal of reaching the Cup hunt but always failing to advance.

Here, we break down every angle of the Central Division showdown and offer our predictions. This is where the Jets do their damage, and it’s where they should be able to scare Minnesota on a nightly basis. Patrik Laine was worthy of the spotlight in 2016-17, but this year, he’s even better. Mark Scheifele’s health could be worrisome down the road, but Winnipeg simply isn’t lacking for firepower otherwise, scoring more than anyone except the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. Eric Staal should produce, but the Wild will need Zach Parise to be on another level to have a shot.Had Ryan Suter not broken his ankle, the Wild might hve matched up more evenly here. Even if Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba step up, they’re going to face a tall task trying to slow the Jets’ young scorers, whereas Winnipeg has allowed the fifth-fewest goals per game with the help of some top-tier goaltending. The Jets’ giveaway totals aren’t great, so the Wild could benefit there, but it’s still hard to give Minnesota a definitive edge.Devan Dubnyk has proven capable of putting the Wild on his back and carrying the team to victory, so his talent isn’t to be overlooked. In fact, in any other matchup, he’d probably be close to a lock of a favorite, especially since he was nimble to close the regular season. This isn’t any other matchup, though, and the man in between the pipes on the other end of the ice is Connor Hellebuyck, who’s done nothing but dominate in a career year, logging six shutouts and an NHL-best 44 wins.If the Wild can bait the Jets into the kind of penalties they fell victim to in recent seasons, maybe Minnesota will have a shot to offset some of Winnipeg’s statistical advantages here, but the safe bet is on the Jets simply overpowering their division rivals with the strength of their power play. The Wild’s penalty kill hasn’t been that much worse than Winnipeg’s, but the latter has also been a force with extra-man advantages, ranking fifth in the NHL in power-play success.Benjamin: It was nice to see such a big year from Staal, and the Wild have a couple guys, like Joel Eriksson Ek, who could be primed for a playoff emergence, but there’s just way too much high-powered talent — starting with Laine — on the Jets to ignore Winnipeg’s momentum, which is unfolding a year ahead of schedule. Jets in 5.

Blackburn: Winnipeg is so dangerous and deep up front. It’s hard to imagine Minnesota being able to hang with the Jets’ explosive offense, especially with Ryan Suter and (possibly) Jared Spurgeon out of the lineup. Jets in 5.

WWE Raw 2018 Live

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Just under 24 hours after the conclusion of WrestleMania 34, WWE had an opportunity to knock their “night after” show out of the park. And while the company did have some surprises in store for Raw, it’s hard to claim that the totality of those moments did enough to generate for the lack of heat that was obvious over the course of the three-hour show.

Bobby Lashley received a warm welcome upon his return to WWE, as did a trio of NXT call-ups in Ember Moon, the Authors of Pain and No Way Jose. Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy also came back from health issues, and it was clear that their impact on the show was greater than the aforementioned five superstars combined.

It will be interesting to see what WWE does to counter such a lineup Tuesday night on SmackDown, but unless they put some big-time names on that show, it is going to once again feel like an embarrassment of riches on one brand and a relative lack of star power on the other. Of course, WWE also announced a Superstar Shake-Up next week, so anything can happen.After the Raw commissioner opened the show praising herself for her performance at WrestleMania while fighting off chants from the crowd, she introduced Rousey and claimed they will do great things together now that the WWE machine is behind Rousey. This led the former UFC champion to shake McMahon’s hand and hug her … only to quickly turn and lock her into the armbar submission. McMahon tapped out immediately. The crowd was hot for the entire segment, razzing McMahon and cheering on Rousey. It was rather formulaic and expected but nevertheless successful.Before the match, Bliss cut a promo on Jax’s weight, calling the new champion the real bully and saying she lost only out of compassion for James being injured. Jax cut bliss off, telling her to shut it before introducing Moon. The quick match featured Moon and saw the newcomer hit her Eclipse on the former women’s champ Bliss for the clean win. Solid pop and top-notch performance by Moon in her debut. Strong move by WWE letting her pin Bliss.

Walking up to Raw general manager Kurt Angle alongside Nicholas, Strowman vacated the Raw tag team championship due to a scheduling conflict on the part of Nicholas. The youngster then shouted Strowman’s catch phrase as the crowd popped. Whether you like the move with Nicholas or not, the fact that Strowman gave up the titles is absurd. That’s twice in the last few months champions have just relinquished titles for no good reason.

After complaining that they deserved the tag team titles back, The Bar was told they would get a chance to win them by facing the finalists of a two-week Tag Team Eliminator tournament at the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia. Good enough rebound from the Strowman segment. Grade: B

The Revival def. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows via pinfall (Tag Team Eliminator semifinal): A blind tag allows The Revival to get the upper hand on Anderson, surprising him with the Shatter Machine for the clean win. There were multiple beach balls during the match, which was absurd during a good bout. Grade: C+

Jeff Hardy returns, intercontinental title picture murky: New intercontinental champion Seth Rollins put over that every member of The Shield is now a Grand Slam champion, but as Rollins was about it take it further, Finn Bálor interrupted to say that Rollins deserved the title but never beat him for it. As Rollins agreed to make Bálor the No. 1 contender, The Miz’s music hit. He said Rollins did not deserve the title and that beating him made his newborn daughter and wife Maryse cry, in turn making him cry. Rollins said everyone cries when they watch him wrestle, and he may be good but he can’t lace Rollins’ boots. The Miz said Bálor is owed nothing but he deserves a rematch – at Backlash. After challenging Rollins and Bálor to a handicap match, Hardy jumped in to make the save, though the match never happened. Bálor can never successfully challenge anyone, and it didn’t necessarily make sense to have Hardy there.

With tears in her eyes, Paige grabbed a mic after the match and told fans what she has known for a while: She can no longer perform as an in-ring competitor. Paige thanked all her supporters, all the women superstars, and her family — as well as both Daniel Bryan and Edge, who she says have given her hope. Paige thanked the crowd, the same one she made her debut in front of four years ago, and appeared to be saying she was done with WWE complete as the crowd chanted, “This is your house!”

Ducks vs Sharks

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2018 NHL Playoffs: Jets vs. Wild schedule, results, TV info, odds, predictions and matchup breakdown…
Read and Know About Jets vs Wild- The Western Conference might be home to the first-round matchup with the hottest team of the 2017-18 Stanley Cup playoffs, and that matchup has nothing to do with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Nashville Predators. Down the stretch, the Winnipeg Jets proved they can be an absolute force, and they got off to a good start in their opening-round series against the Minnesota Wild, taking a commanding 2-0 lead.

The Jets entered the playoffs on a five-game winning streak and a 9-1 record over their last 10, and they’re far ahead of schedule, leapfrogging preseason expectations of playing spoiler to enter their first postseason series in three years. They’re the favorites against the Minnesota Wild, who have now been to the playoffs six years in a row. Minnesota, meanwhile, are in quite a different position, having long accomplished the goal of reaching the Cup hunt but always failing to advance.

Here, we break down every angle of the Central Division showdown and offer our predictions. This is where the Jets do their damage, and it’s where they should be able to scare Minnesota on a nightly basis. Patrik Laine was worthy of the spotlight in 2016-17, but this year, he’s even better. Mark Scheifele’s health could be worrisome down the road, but Winnipeg simply isn’t lacking for firepower otherwise, scoring more than anyone except the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. Eric Staal should produce, but the Wild will need Zach Parise to be on another level to have a shot.Had Ryan Suter not broken his ankle, the Wild might hve matched up more evenly here. Even if Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba step up, they’re going to face a tall task trying to slow the Jets’ young scorers, whereas Winnipeg has allowed the fifth-fewest goals per game with the help of some top-tier goaltending. The Jets’ giveaway totals aren’t great, so the Wild could benefit there, but it’s still hard to give Minnesota a definitive edge.Devan Dubnyk has proven capable of putting the Wild on his back and carrying the team to victory, so his talent isn’t to be overlooked. In fact, in any other matchup, he’d probably be close to a lock of a favorite, especially since he was nimble to close the regular season. This isn’t any other matchup, though, and the man in between the pipes on the other end of the ice is Connor Hellebuyck, who’s done nothing but dominate in a career year, logging six shutouts and an NHL-best 44 wins.If the Wild can bait the Jets into the kind of penalties they fell victim to in recent seasons, maybe Minnesota will have a shot to offset some of Winnipeg’s statistical advantages here, but the safe bet is on the Jets simply overpowering their division rivals with the strength of their power play. The Wild’s penalty kill hasn’t been that much worse than Winnipeg’s, but the latter has also been a force with extra-man advantages, ranking fifth in the NHL in power-play success.Benjamin: It was nice to see such a big year from Staal, and the Wild have a couple guys, like Joel Eriksson Ek, who could be primed for a playoff emergence, but there’s just way too much high-powered talent — starting with Laine — on the Jets to ignore Winnipeg’s momentum, which is unfolding a year ahead of schedule. Jets in 5.

Blackburn: Winnipeg is so dangerous and deep up front. It’s hard to imagine Minnesota being able to hang with the Jets’ explosive offense, especially with Ryan Suter and (possibly) Jared Spurgeon out of the lineup. Jets in 5.

West Ham vs Stoke City

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In their last home game, West Ham United claimed a crucial 3-0 win over Southampton. They will aim to make it two in a row at home when second-from-bottom Stoke City visit London Stadium on Monday.Following the win against Southampton, the Hammers picked up a creditable 1-1 draw at Chelsea, and they would fancy their chances against the Potters, who are on a poor run of form.

The Hammers sit in the 15th spot with 34 points, and they also have a game in hand on teams around them. The threat of relegation is not fully over, but a win on Monday would take them very close to survival.Meanwhile, for the Potters, it’s arguably the last chance to save their top-tier status. They have lost their last four games in the league, and they are without a win in their last nine. As things stand, the Potters are placed 19th with 27 points, and they are six points adrift of the safety.

Stoke have performed even worse on the road this season and have managed just one away win all season. Earlier in the season, the Hammers claimed a 3-0 win at Bet365 Stadium, and we are backing them to complete a double over their opponents.Time is running out for Stoke in the scrap to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

The Potters sit five points away from safety ahead of the latest round of top-flight matches. That’s courtesy of their appalling goal difference of -33, which is worse than bottom-of-the-table West Brom on -26.It’s all going wrong for Stoke and I can’t see an end to a four-match losing run when they travel to West Ham on Monday night.

Paul Lambert’s squad is in complete disarray. On-loan forward Jese is reportedly AWOL after his latest spell of compassionate leave to visit his sick son in Spain, Saido Berahino has been sent to the under-23s after turning up late for a reserves game, Ibrahim Afellay has been told to stay away from the club because of his disruptive influence and Erik Pieters was fined for breaking a curfew before last month’s defeat at home to Everton.

Not a great indication of the discipline within Stoke’s ranks.The Potters have only won once in 15 games since Boxing Day so it’s hard to see them getting the minimum of three wins required from their final five matches to avoid the drop.West Ham have pulled away from the relegation zone on the back of a 3-0 win at home to Southampton and 1-1 draw on the road at Chelsea.

Those results followed on from the unrest from supporters during the 3-0 defeat against Burnley and it’s credit to David Moyes that he’s managed to avoid the hyperbole and get the Hammers out of trouble.West Ham now sit 14th and they’ve won four and drawn one of the five home games against the teams currently sitting below them in the standings.

Swansea, Huddersfield, Southampton and West Brom have all lost at the London Stadium this season and Crystal Palace picked up a 1-1 draw at the end of January.Former Stoke forward Marko Arnautovic is the main threat to his former club. The Austria international netted a double in the recent victory over Southampton.He’s 6/4 to net on Monday night but I’m happy just to take a slice of the Hammers to collect maximum points.

A home win is available at around even-money across the board and that’s well worth an interest.Joe Allen and Badou Ndiaye are being backed to produce something close to another midfield masterclass to try and see Stoke through tonight’s game at West Ham.

The pair have played the last two games together in central midfield after a re-jig in formation to accommodate Xherdan Shaqiri’s switch inside and Moritz Bauer’s move to right midfield.The changes haven’t brought any points, but did bring decent performances against North London duo Arsenal and Tottenham ahead of a third successive fixture against capital opposition.

Quizzed ahead of the West Ham fixture (8pm) about Allen, a player he has previously lauded by saying he’d love to have 26 Joe Allens in his squad, manager Paul Lambert said: “I think him and Ndiaye against Spurs were outstanding, against (Mousa) Dembele and (Victor) Wanyama, going toe-to-toe with them and being more than a match for them.

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Six more Major League Baseball games were wiped out Sunday, running this season’s total number of postponements to 21 in only 2 1/2 weeks. It’s baseball’s highest number through the end of April since it had 26 in 2007, and there are still a couple weeks to go this month.

The last time six games were wiped out in a single day was Sept. 12, 2008, and that situation was partly caused by Hurricane Ike battering the Gulf Coast. There was more dicey weather in the forecast for Monday, and Boston postponed its annual Patriots’ Day game for the first time since 1984.

“If it was up to me, no one would play north of Atlanta or east of Colorado in the first few weeks, but that’s not going to happen,” Braves reliever Peter Moylan said.

Aaron Judge and the Yankees were set to play a doubleheader against the Tigers after a rainout on Saturday, but the twin bill was pulled, too, with icicles all over Comerica Park. The last three games of Minnesota’s series at Target Field against the Chicago White Sox were lost to rain, then a blizzard.

Also postponed were Blue Jays at Indians, and Braves at Cubs one day after the teams played through miserable conditions at Wrigley Field.

The start of St. Louis’ game at Cincinnati was delayed for more than 2 hours because of the weather. Fans and players wore ski masks at Citi Field, and there was free hot chocolate at the concession stands at Fenway Park.

It was 31 degrees in Kansas City with an 18 mph wind, making it feel like 20 degrees. A night earlier, the Angels and Royals finished up in the snow.

This major league season began on March 29 for its earliest start ever, excluding special openers in international sites such as Japan and Australia. It also spans 187 days, instead of 183, as part of the labor agreement between players and owners, but that extra room to maneuver is taking a hit.

Chicago’s game against Atlanta was rescheduled for May 14, creating a stretch of 11 games in 10 days for the Cubs and 16 straight games for the Braves without an off day. Cleveland plays 18 games in three cities over 17 days after its weekend against Toronto was rescheduled for a traditional doubleheader on May 3.

The Angels get to return to Kansas City on June 25, between a home series against Toronto and a visit to Boston. The Yankees had a nine-game, three-city trip turn into 11 games and four cities when they were rescheduled for a doubleheader June 4 in Detroit, but at least that stretch concludes back in New York at the crosstown Mets.

Molitor and the Twins were set to escape chilly Minnesota for the warmth of Puerto Rico and a two-game series against Cleveland beginning on Tuesday night. Molitor planned to hold an optional workout Monday in Puerto Rico after the lost weekend against the White Sox.

“Baseball’s all about a routine, developing a routine and going about yourself every day at the park, knowing when you’re going to play and all that stuff,” Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. “It does throw you for a loop, I guess, in that sense. At the same time, we make a living ad-libbing. You got to ad-lib in this game and you got to take it in stride.”