The Stanley Cup final is upon us and in Sin City the odds are heavily stacked in favour of the Vegas Golden Knights to win hockey's biggest prize.
The Knights are meeting the Washington Capitals and if you have been following me since April, you know I love the Golden Knights in this series.
The Knights are a much fresher club than Washington, which just finished a seven-game series, are a faster skating club and very physical with more snipers, especially Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson than Washington who have the Great Eight and that's about it. The Caps are getting great goaltending from Braden Holtby while his counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury has been sensational throughout the playoffs.
Vegas head coach Gerard (Turk) Gallant not only does all the right things behind his own bench but he is always gracious to his opponents. After the Winnipeg series, he suggested the very physical seven-game series between the Jets and Nashville wore down Winnipeg prior to the West final and softened them up for the Vegas series. We agree with Turk's assessment but the fact remains, the Golden Knights were the better team.
The Knights have a nice break this week and that being the case, I love the Knights in the Stanley Cup final.
In my view, the Golden Knights are a much more talented club than Washington and barring a key injury or the possibility that famous Las Vegas-based illusionists David Copperfield or Criss Angel may make Fleury, Marchessault and Gallant vanish, this Stanley Cup final will be a short and lopsided one.
Take the Knights in five games, but very likely four straight.
In local baseball, the Charlottetown Junior Islanders entertain the defending New Brunswick league champion from Moncton, the Metro Mudcats, today in a twinbill at Memorial Field with the first game starting at noon.
The probable pitchers for the Islanders will be Johnny Arsenault and Porter Smith and you should note Arsenault has an interesting sports pedigree. Johnny's grandfather is the legendary Roy (Buck) Whitlock, one of the greatest athletes ever to come out of this province and his uncle is Garth Arsenault from Borden, a standout hockey player in his day with Charlottetown senior Islanders and with UPEI Panthers.
Handled by head Coach Dave MacIsaac, the Islanders opened the campaign here last Saturday winning two nail-biters against Chatham Ironmen. Let's get out and support the Islanders.
In local softball news, manager George Weatherbie sends word the P.E.I. under-23 junior team, the Kevin Quinn Re/Max Ravens, are preparing for the nationals in Quebec from July 31-Aug. 5.
The team is made up of many of the players on last year's Canada Games team under head coach Mike Bishop and Weatherbie, who doubles as assistant coach.
Owen and Johnny Arsenault picked up pitching wins in exhibition play last week versus the Charlottetown Fawcetts while Logan Gallant and Sam Walsh led the Ravens offence. More on this team as they get some games under their belt.
On the local golf front, it's been too cold and damp to get out on a regular basis, but I still get to hear some wonderful golf tales. Here's one you may enjoy.
Avondale golf pro Dave Bowlan was, and still is, a talented player but back in his Florida university days he was paired with Lee Janzen in a 1990 tournament in Fort Myers, Fla. Three years later, Janzen won the 1993 US Open and Bowlan won the Rustico Open here on P.E.I.
I talked to Dave last week about help for my game, and he suggested it is never too late, all I need is warm weather.
Live harness racing continues tonight at the city track with a 10-dash card beginning at 6 p.m.
Euchred has the outside in the five-horse $2,400 top class against a small, but classy, field that includes Winter Blast, Cartoon Daddy, Czar Seelster and Rose Run Quest.
Sunday at 1 p.m., Summerside has a 13-dash card, which features the Bob Dewar stakes for three-year-old colts and the Ruby Chappell for sophomore fillies.
At Yonkers, New York, the $300,000 Art Rooney Stakes for three-year-olds has a nine-horse field where Rene Allard's Springsteen (Brian Sears) looks like the favourite in a field that includes Trump Nation and Major Authority (Mark MacDonald). Mark also drives Checkered Past in the $111,000 Lismore final.
At London's Western Fair, Greg Blanchard, who is director of racing, and Sugar Doyle, the track announcer, have fashioned a great card of racing and a great evening as the $150,000 Camluck Invitational is in the spotlight tonight. Easy Lover Hanover (Doug McNair) and Rockin Ron (Louie-Philippe Roy) are at short odds, but Bit of a Legend (Jordon Stratton) and Dr J Hanover (James MacDonald) could surprise.
The Camluck Classic, previously called the Molson Pace, was usually raced on a Friday night but Blanchard and his board opted to change to Saturday night where there were much more opportunities on the simulcast side of the business, especially in New Zealand and Australia.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.