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Stanley Cup Playoffs Lacking Excitement Thus Far

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.

Western Conference 

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.

Eastern Conference 

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. 

Can Canada Break Its Stanley Cup Curse?

While snowboarding season may be winding down, the NHL’s current campaign is just warming up. The Stanley Cup Playoffs began last evening, with three more series getting underway tonight. Perhaps the most intriguing matchup pits the Washington Capitals against the upstart Toronto Maple Leafs. Led by rookie phenom Auston Matthews, the Leafs are viewed as the next great hope for our neighbors up north. Will 2017 finally be the year the Stanley Cup makes its way back to Canada?

The country’s beloved sport has seen a dry spell in championships recently.  The last time a Canadian team hoisted a Stanley Cup was way back in 1993 (Montreal Canadiens). Since then, the country has seen five of its teams fall just short in the Stanley Cup Final; Vancouver being the last team to claim second place in 2011.

Canada's Cup Drought 

This is a relatively new phenomenon for the northerners that once dominated the NHL landscape. Before Montreal claimed the cup in the early-90s, Canada won seven straight championships from 1984-1990 (thank you, Wayne Gretzky). The country has only come close a few times since, with Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary all sending the final series to a seventh game, before falling just short.

This season has seen a revival for Canadian teams across the Eastern and Western Conferences. Five of the country’s seven teams have qualified for the postseason. This comes just one year after the nation was completely shut out of the playoffs altogether. Now, the Leafs, Canadiens, Flames, Ottawa Senators, and Edmonton Oilers all have a shot at hockey’s ultimate prize. So, which team represents the best chance at bringing the cup back to the sport’s motherland

While the Leafs look to be contenders for years to come, it may be too soon for their young nucleus including Matthews and other emerging superstars, William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Same goes for the Calgary Flames, led by a youth invasion including Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Ottawa may struggle in their first-round matchup against a tough Bruins squad, especially with a hampered Erik Karlsson. An entire country may rest its hopes on two teams: Edmonton and Montreal.

Top Canadian NHL Stars

The Oilers possess the most explosive player in the game in Connor McDavid. This year’s Art Ross Trophy winner definitely has his work cut out for him in the quarterfinals. Edmonton was victim of a rough draw; matching up with 2016’s Stanley Cup runner up, the San Jose Sharks. After dropping game one in overtime, will the Oilers respond with a win or will inexperience shine through when the going gets tough?

Montreal won the Atlantic Division, once again riding the strong play of netminder Carey Price. Price and company have come close to Lord Stanley before, and many pundits believe this is their year to win it all. But, will facing a high-flying Rangers squad knock the Canadiens out of the postseason prematurely, once again? The team that began the 2016-17 season at a scorching 9-1 pace, has since cooled off considerably. A game one loss to the blue shirts must have a nation wondering if their top team will let them down again.

Nonetheless, this season has definitely been a bright spot for the folks above the border. Vancouver and Winnipeg were the only Canadian teams to not qualify for the playoffs, already making this year a success for the country.  But the question remains, can hockey’s homeland end its curse and claim a Cup in 2017? With stars like Matthews, McDavid, and Price on their side, Canada may not have to wait much longer to claim its first championship in nearly 25 years.

New Snowboarding Trends Coming To A Mountain Near You

Whether your preference is the park, powder, or both, these are the best snowboards this year in several different ways. Some new snowboarding trends will be responsible for making a huge impact across the popular winter sport. From breathtaking jumps to environmental responsibility, board creators will make this a year to remember across the industry. Built with both beauty and functionality, you can’t go wrong with any of the following boards this winter.

Ride Helix

The Helix is an incredible board for riders. It is centered, trick-friendly, and has heel-side and toe-side edges to make turning as easy as ever. It’s fast, fun, and works just as well on the mountain as it does in the park. Click here for more information.

Burton Flight Attendant

The Flight Attendant was created for just about any type of snowboarding adventure. It coasts easily through the deepest and toughest snow. If you’re looking for some major air, then this is the perfect board. It is meant to be ridden with the nose as its focal point, so it is ideal to launch wherever you are ready to leap. This board is available for $500.

GNU Eco Choice

Is there anything better than doing what you love, while knowing you are making a positive impact in the world? Imagine shredding on your new snowboard that is also eco-friendly. Thanks to GNU, this is now a reality, as they have just introduced the Eco Choice snowboard. Team rider, Nicolas Muller is the one responsible for this new model. The board features water-based inks, recycled plastic sidewalls, and a wooden core. The environmental alterations have failed to make this any less of a quality board, though. This board still possesses control and flex. This is a snowboard that you can truly feel great about.

Lib Tech Jamie Lynn Fundamnmental

This design gives you a laid-back feel that is easy to control. Every turn will be handled with ease as you glide down the mountain. This year’s coolest named board can be purchased for $560

K2 Eighty Seven

Not all trends have to be brand new. This is something that K2 hopes to cash in on very soon. This new model brings back a retro feel, while keeping up with modern technology. Another unique aspect of the eighty seven is its shape. This model is wider and shorter than most snowboards on the market. The shape gives it better float and stability, which is a huge plus for snowboarders of all skill levels. Don’t let its shape fooled or intimidate you, this board is perfect for the mountains.

Arbor Shreddy Krueger

The shape of the Shreddy Krueger is old school in design, much like the eighty seven, but the deck is a seasoned reverse camber. The board can maintain float in snow, but when it comes to shredding the mountain, it will live up to its name. Read more about Arbor here.

With these products now on the market, this upcoming winter will likely be unforgettable. From environmental responsibility to retro looks, snowboard creators have certainly set the bar high across the country.

Sandboarding: Snowboarding In the Summer

 

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.

ScottDW- YouTube

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 Background 

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.

Sandboarding Events

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.

 

Top Five Best Snowboards For Every Rider

Winter comes and goes before the blink of an eye. Even though our coldest season only tends to last a couple months, it is important to make the best of it when it comes to hitting the snow properly! Having the right gear is essential. It can either enhance or hinder your snowboarding outing. For your benefit, we have listed the top five best snowboards for various types of riding that will best suit you during the snowy season!

PARK AND PIPE: CAPITA TOTALLY – Fk’N Awesome

Capita is one of the most exciting and innovative new boards that is about to hit the market. The board is park-inspired, but altered a bit to allow for more forgiving mistakes and landings for the intermediate riders. This board has a camber between the feet and rocker at the tip and tale that encourages a springy ride that boarders seek. You can check out some user reviews on this board right here.

HIGH PERFORMANCE: JONES – Snowboards Aviator

The Jones Flagship has been one of the best boards on the market for the past decade and their sales would back that up. The board features a smooth-turning stick that can handle itself in the most arduous terrain. Yes, this is the perfect board for the most intense of riders. Unfortunately for some, this board was targeted for that very specific type of rider, making it too advanced for basic boarders. The Aviator, however, is one of the best all-rounder boards! Its combination of camber and beveled contact points allow excellent edge, and provides plenty of speed.

ALL-MOUNTAIN RIDING: SLASH STRAIGHT

This board is ideal for all-mountain riding purposes. The Slash Straight has great floating ability, thanks to a hybrid base profile with camber under the back foot. The rider will be able to stay in control, allowing for more forward and intense boarding posture. The directional free-ride shape offers up much of the balance. The board also comes equipped with exceptional grip on tough terrain, which will allow the rider to access on all parts of the mountain without much difficulty.

ADVANCED RIDERS: BURTON – 2014 Custom X

The 2014 Custom X is at the top of its class with a classic camber-shaped board. Burton’s super lightweight construction and technology, make it less bending than most new boards. But, for riders seeking a classic feel, it may be the best product on the market. If you are used to regular camber riding and have no intention of switching it up, this board may change your thinking. It is a more responsive shape, and definitely a worthy upgrade from what you are currently using.

POWDER: GNU BEAST DC3 BTX

The GNU Beast DC3 BTX is a directional free-ride snowboard. It features a rocker between the feet and aggressive camber in the front and back. This beast features a set-back stance and a long nose that provides unrivaled float in the deepest and thickest snow.

Whether you are a casual rider or competing at a pro level, all five of these boards possess qualities that make them a great buy for any rider.