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The Matchup Is Set: Panthers, Oilers Will Meet In The Stanley Cup Final

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Oilers | AP news Image

There is serious star power on both sides. Florida has Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart and Sergei Bobrovsky among its leaders; Edmonton has McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, and Nugent-Hopkins among its top draws.

Tkachuk came to Florida in a trade from Calgary in 2022 and famously discussed the ties that bind—or don’t bind—hockey in Alberta at his introductory news conference with the Panthers, saying, “I hate Edmonton, but I hate Tampa more now.”

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Olers | AP news Image

The Matchup Is Set: Panthers, Oilers Will Meet In The Stanley Cup Final

This season’s playoff run for Tkachuk and Florida started with Tampa Bay, a five-game win. It’ll end with Edmonton, and Tkachuk will surely be welcomed back to Alberta less than warmly.

“Nothing better than playing hockey in June,” Tkachuk said.

McDavid’s first Stanley Cup Final game will be in the building where he officially pulled on an NHL sweater for the first time. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, held in the building that the Panthers call home. Commissioner Gary Bettman was there to greet him with a handshake and a few words of congratulations when he took the stage that night — “this is awesome,” Bettman told him — and in a couple of weeks, Bettman will hand either McDavid or Barkov the Stanley Cup for the first time, the moment that captains in the NHL want to enjoy most.

“Feels like a dream, honestly,” McDavid said.

A slew of names will be etched onto the Cup for the first time when this series is over since hardly anyone on either side has previously been part of a championship.

For Florida, Vladimir Tarasenko won with St. Louis in 2019 and Carter Verhaeghe with Tampa Bay in 2020. For Edmonton, Corey Perry won it with Anaheim in 2007 — and is now back in the title round for the fourth time in five years, with a fourth different franchise. He lost with Dallas in 2020, Montreal in 2021, and Tampa Bay in 2022.

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Oilers | CTV News Image

The Matchup Is Set: Panthers, Oilers Will Meet In The Stanley Cup Final

“It’s unbelievable, being back in the finals,” Tarasenko said.

Neither head coach has won the Cup, either. Florida’s Paul Maurice has coached 1,978 games in the NHL, which is third-most in league history; Edmonton’s Kris Knoblauch has officially coached 87 games, which is tied for 275th-most in league history. He filled in as coach for the Rangers in six other games in 2021, called up from the team’s American Hockey League affiliate because then-Rangers coach David Quinn and his staff were sidelined by COVID-19 protocols.

The Panthers won both games against the Oilers this season, 5-3 at home on Nov. 20 and 5-1 at Edmonton on Dec. 16. Knoblauch took over as coach after 13 games this season when Edmonton fired Jay Woodcroft following a 3-9-1 start; the only opposing coaches Knoblauch didn’t beat this season were Maurice and Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper, going 0-2-0 against both.

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Oilers | AP News Image

The Matchup Is Set: Panthers, Oilers Will Meet In The Stanley Cup Final

“Last year, after we finished the Carolina series, trying to find the right word … pandemonium is not the right word, but the energy level postgame was through the roof,” Maurice said, comparing this year’s East title win to last season’s victory in that round. “Slightly subdued this year relative to that. It was lots of happy people. But maybe we’ve got a little more experience now. And I feel that way, even on the bench. It wasn’t insanity. When the buzzer went, it was excitement, and rightfully so. We worked pretty hard to win.”

The hardest challenge of them all starts in Sunrise on Saturday night.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Caitlin Clark Is Looking Forward To Some Time Off After A Record-Setting Night

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Caitlin Clark | AP news image

Arlington, Texas (AP) – As much as she wanted to play in the Olympics, Caitlin Clark relishes the prospect of some downtime during the WNBA’s month-long sabbatical for the Paris Games.

Never mind that Indiana’s rookie star didn’t need any as she set a WNBA record with 19 assists in the Fever’s penultimate game before the break.

“I feel like I’ve been nonstop go since, like, probably September of last year,” Clark said before her milestone moment Wednesday night against the Dallas Wings, which ended 101-93.

That’s because she did.

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Caitlin Clark | AP news image

Caitlin Clark Is Looking Forward To Some Time Off After A Record-Setting Night

Clark was the first overall choice in the WNBA draft, two weeks after making her second consecutive trip to the national championship game for Iowa.

About three weeks later, her preseason debut took place in a sold-out stadium on the University of Texas at Arlington campus, where she also set the assists record in front of another sellout.

Clark’s long break is ongoing because she’ll play for the WNBA All-Stars versus the US women’s Olympic team in Phoenix on Saturday night.

Clark will soon take roughly a week off before the Fever settles into a regimen to keep sharp after the break. The majority of the roster will be at home for the Olympics. Indiana’s first game back comes on August 16 at home against Phoenix.

“I think it’ll be really good for myself and my body,” Clark admitted. “You’re coming up on a whole year of relentless basketball. So it will undoubtedly seem strange for me not to play games. But I think it will be healthy for my physique.”

Clark had 24 points despite shooting 2 of 9 from deep in the loss against the Wings.

Clark leads all rookies in scoring (17.1 points per game) and assists (8.2). Clark has averaged 11.9 assists in his last nine games.

“She’s going to take a breather and recuperate. “I think it’s great,” Fever coach Christie Sides remarked. “She’s been working extremely hard for quite some time now. It will be beneficial for her to unwind.

Since Iowa’s season opening on November 6, Clark has played 65 games that counted and two that did not — Indiana’s brief exhibition season.

Clark became an unintentional participant in arguments about racism as a young white star rose to prominence, and hard fouls on her drew more attention than normal.

One of Chicago’s Chennedy Carter’s fouls was elevated to a flagrant foul the next day after Carter’s coach, Teresa Weatherspoon, informed her guard that the play was inappropriate.

The off-court turmoil coincided with the Fever’s shaky start against a tough schedule. They returned from a 1-8 start to go 10-7 before the break and are now in the postseason picture.

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Caitlin Clark | AP news Image

Caitlin Clark Is Looking Forward To Some Time Off After A Record-Setting Night

If Indiana makes the tournament in September, it will be over a year since Clark began preparing for her final season with the Hawkeyes, culminating with a second consecutive loss in the NCAA championship game.

Honestly, I’m feeling pretty good,” Clark remarked. “The beginning of the season was the most challenging for me. Simply adjusting to playing at this level. Second, we had a timetable that included playing a game, taking a day off, and then playing a game.

After we got into a rhythm and had a couple of wins under our belts and some additional practice time, everything settled down and flowed more smoothly. My feet are getting beneath me more and I’m gaining confidence.

SOURCE | AP

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LeBron James At 39 Still Is The Center Of Attention For USA Basketball. That Won’t Change In Paris

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Lebron James | AP News Image

LAS VEGAS — This is how the United States Olympic men’s basketball team took the court for warmups before an exhibition game in Abu Dhabi. Stephen Curry started with a layup, followed by Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, and Derrick White before Devin Booker nailed a short jumper.

All were greeted with cheers. LeBron James then took possession of the ball. The audience immediately became louder until his dunk elicited the arena’s biggest yell.

“He’s still LeBron,” U.S. assistant coach Erik Spoelstra explained.

At 39 years old, beginning his 22nd season in the NBA, the all-time leader in NBA points, and about to become the first men’s player to represent the United States at the Olympic Games in three different decades, LeBron James is LeBron. That’s why USA Basketball desperately wanted him on the team that will compete in the Paris Olympics later this month. He unquestionably makes the team a favorite for a fifth consecutive gold medal.

“Listen, once I got the clearance from Savannah James, that’s the one I had to get the clearance from to give up my summer pretty much to play basketball at 39 years old,” James told reporters, referring to his marriage. “Once I got the clearance from her, I didn’t have to have much convincing.”

James saw the U.S. World Cup team, which included 12 NBA players but needed more pedigree than those on this Olympic roster, struggle in the Philippines last summer and finish fourth. He did not like it. So he began ringing around to see if guys like Curry would be ready to play in Paris, to remind the world that the United States is still strong at basketball. He didn’t have to twist many arms.

LeBron James At 39 Still Is The Center Of Attention For USA Basketball. That Won’t Change In Paris

“He was the first person I talked to in the fall about whether this would be something I wanted to do,” said Curry, who will make his Olympic debut. “And from there it was like, ‘Let’s get it.'”

LeBron’s Olympic past
James made his Olympic debut in 2004, following his rookie season, on the squad that placed third at the Athens Games. The Redeem Team won gold in 2008, followed by another gold medal at the 2012 London Games. James hasn’t competed in the Olympics since, so it was legitimate to wonder if he’d do it again.

The United States won Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo three years ago without him, and now, with him back in the fold for what appears to be the final time, it is bidding for a fifth consecutive title.

“He’s just meant so much to the game of basketball, especially in my career since I was in high school following him, and he’s almost 40 years old now,” said U.S. forward Kevin Durant, pursuing his fourth Olympic gold medal. “He continues to play at an exceptional level, which inspires me as well. So, every moment I get to be around LeBron, even if it’s just for a brief bite to eat or to see him for a few minutes, his excitement is contagious.”

It’s still there in bunches.

When the U.S. team began camp in Las Vegas, coach Steve Kerr questioned two of his coaches – Spoelstra and Tyronn Lue, both of whom have coached James in the NBA – if the intensity with which he was practicing was normal. They nodded.

He goes all out all the time despite having four NBA championships, a Basketball Hall of Fame position, a permanent presence in the never-ending Greatest Of All Time debate, and a net worth of more than $1 billion. He has nothing to prove and continues to practice defensive slide drills like Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Kerr finds a lot of similarities between James and Curry, who faced off in four consecutive NBA Finals when Golden State and Cleveland ruled the league from 2015 to 2018 — and now gets to witness them play together for the first time. Curry notices them as well.

“I know exactly what he’s about,” Curry explained. “I get to see a new side of him in the job he does, how he approaches practice, and the way he speaks and communicates. I get to see that side of things, which is really, really cool. I suppose he gets to see it from me as well.”

LeBron says ‘game is in terrific hands’
The team is exactly what James would have wanted if he had put it together himself. Durant and Curry have veteran experience even though Curry has never played in the Olympics. Anthony Davis, Bam Adebayo, and Joel Embiid are all big players who can protect the rim. Championship players — Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday, and White are all from the current NBA champion Boston Celtics lineup. Young stars in Haliburton, Booker, and Edwards.

LeBron James At 39 Still Is The Center Of Attention For USA Basketball. That Won’t Change In Paris

James won’t have to play many minutes. The plan is for the Americans to use their depth, employ many players, keep everyone as fresh as possible, and recognize that no team has anywhere near the top-to-bottom skill on their squad that the United States possesses.

James must play in one Olympics alongside several who will most certainly be considered for the Los Angeles Games in 2028, such as Haliburton and Edwards.

“The game is in excellent hands… I mean, it’s very amazing that we can not only lead by example, but also simply be around them,” James remarked. “They have their own thing going on, so we don’t trip on their toes or anything like that, but we just hope that we can continue to establish a benchmark for them of what excellence is all about, because they are already excellent. I hope we’re simply establishing the benchmark for them.”

In Paris, there will be a lot of people sporting James shirts, especially from the Los Angeles Lakers, but also from the United States, Miami, and Cleveland. Everything he does and says will become news. Even at this point in his career, James continues to captivate fans. Some love him, some don’t, but they’re all keeping an eye on him. After all, as Spoelstra mentioned, he is still LeBron.

“I just feel incredibly honored to be coaching LeBron,” Kerr told the crowd. “And it’s definitely way better to coach him than coach against him.”

SOURCE | AP

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Lionel Messi Exits Copa America Final With Apparent Leg Injury, Ankle Swollen

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Lionel Messi | AP News Image

Miami Gardens, Florida – Lionel Messi’s night ended early in the Copa America final on Sunday night. He dramatically fled the field in the 64th minute with an apparent leg injury, and cameras subsequently showed him on the bench with a severely swollen right ankle.

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Lionel Messi | AP News Image

Lionel Messi Exits Copa America Final With Apparent Leg Injury, Ankle Swollen

The 37-year-old looked to have a noncontact injury while running on the field as Argentina defeated Colombia 1-0 for their record 16th Copa America title.

As he fell to the ground, Lionel instantly looked toward the Argentina bench. He remained down for several minutes until the trainers arrived. He was brought to his feet, and his shoes were promptly removed from his right foot.

As he went off the field, the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner removed his captain’s armband and flung his shoe on the ground in disgust. An emotional Lionel was then observed concealing his face and sobbing in his seat.

Messi appeared limping after the game, but he seemed in high spirits. He celebrated with colleagues Nicolás Ottamendi and Ángel Di María, clapping and laughing as they lifted the trophy.

“We were able to win for him,” Di María remarked, “give him the joy.”

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Lionel Messi | AP News Image

Lionel Messi Exits Copa America Final With Apparent Leg Injury, Ankle Swollen

Lionel, making his 39th and possibly final Copa America appearance, scored one goal. He went down in the 36th minute after Santiago Arias caught his left ankle, but he returned to the pitch three minutes later.

Lionel had been struggling with a leg injury and discomfort for most of the competition, missing Argentina’s group stage final. He attempted one shot in the first half on Sunday.

SOURCE | AP

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