Published: Friday, 21 April 2017 16:48
Written by Skylar Robinson
After one week of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, one word comes to mind for hockey fans: ease. While the Canadiens and Rangers go toe-to-toe each night, the rest of the league has not followed suit. The first round of the postseason is generally the most balanced in the NHL. This has definitely not been the case so far in the 2016-17 season as it appears only three series will head to a sixth game.
Dating back to 2014, the league has seen seven series pushed to the brink, in the first round alone. Will we see any this season? It doesn’t seem likely as only a few series have been somewhat competitive. Toronto and Washington are tied at two games apiece, while Edmonton took a 3-2 lead over San Jose last night. When the NHL re-formatted its postseason, it did not anticipate this many submissive matchups.
So, what has happened so far? Easily, the most surprising upset came in the west as perennial contender, the Chicago Blackhawks, fell in four straight games to Nashville. The Blackhawks finished atop the tough Western Conference with 109 points, while the Predators barely snuck into postseason play. The three-time Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, couldn’t even muster up a fight; getting outscored 13-3 in the four-game sweep. The Hawks were not alone, as the Calgary Flames suffered the same fate against the Anaheim Ducks, failing to win a single game.
For several seasons, the West has been the more dominant conference (they have claimed four of the past five cups). This postseason has exposed many of their supposed top teams as pretenders, not contenders. The Minnesota Wild, who finished second in the conference standings, seemed destined to be swept as well. They barely staved off elimination, heading into a fifth game against the Blues on Saturday.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the story remains the same. The Pittsburgh Penguins made quick work of the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that recorded the second longest win streak in league history this season. Although most of the games in this series were competitive, the Blue Jackets’ struggles in net were exposed by a potent Pittsburgh offense.
The Boston Bruins caught fire midway through the season when a coaching change was made. But, their postseason experience could be coming to a quick end tonight. The Ottawa Senators look to close out this series in five games. The Sens came into the playoffs with low expectations, due to nagging injuries to their best player, Erik Karlsson. Instead, this series has mirrored most of the other first round matchups: one-sided.
At this point, hockey fans can only hope the competitive play returns in round two. What separates the NHL from other sports is its balanced matchups in the postseason. While the NFL and NBA lack parity in the playoffs, the NHL has become famous for it. With a few more matchups like these, perhaps it’s time for the league to re-evaluate its playoff format in hopes of returning to the ultra-competitive series that fans have grown accustomed to.
Published: Thursday, 06 April 2017 23:11
Written by Skylar Robinson
The life of a snowboarder can be a difficult one during the spring and summer months. Boarders may try out activities like skateboarding and roller blading, but there really is nothing like shredding down a mountain. Surfing may be the best training technique in warmer weather, but ocean waves routinely disappoint the ultimate thrill-seekers.
Boarders may be counting down the days until snow falls again, waiting to get back on that mountain. Until one day, you are driving through the desert and you see someone riding a board down a huge sand dune. What is this new sport, you ask? Well, in fact, it’s not new at all. Sandboarding is currently sweeping the globe and could be the best summer activity for winter sport enthusiasts.
Nope, we don’t mean snowboarding! We mean sandboarding.
Sandboarding is an extreme sport and as the name suggests – you’ll be sliding down the sand, literally. The sport is gaining popularity in desert and coastal areas. Using a waxed board, participants are able to fly down these dunes. Sandboarding is very similar to all the other “boarding” sports like skateboarding and snowboarding, using practically all the same movements. And, there is good news for deprived snowboarders. On occasion, a snowboard will work on these dunes. At last, there can actually be snowboarding in the summer!
It’s unclear where this sport began, as many countries claim to be the first to try it, but it’s now trending all across the globe. Also, because of the location of these events (deep in the desert), this sport could have been created decades ago with little stir surrounding it. Regardless of the origins, sandboarding appears to be here to stay.
In places like Egypt, Australia, Germany, Peru, Chili and even Japan, there are plenty of competitions and professional sandboarding athletes. In just the next three months, the sandboarding calendar is packed. International sandboard day is followed by a sand master jam this coming July. Even companies like Red Bull and Burton are sponsoring these events. With financial support, who knows how big this sport can truly become.
The best places to try this out would be anywhere you can find sand dunes really. If you test it out a little bit, and decide you might want to take it a step further, you can try to hang with the big dogs in Egypt or South America. Namibia has even added something extra on to sandboarding, as they now feature sand-skiing for other athletes.
In America, the sport really took flight in Oregon, where the first sandboard park was created. Alamosa, Colorado is home to some of the tallest dunes in the country, making it a popular destination for sandboarders. Thousands of Americans get introduced to this sport every year, and many are likely snowboarders looking for a thrill.
So, quit praying for snow and get yourself ready for the sandboard world cup. At the very least, sandboarding can help clench snowboarders’ thirst for adventure and adrenaline in the summer time.