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Sporting chances

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff May 1, 2009 10:13 AM

Bruins-Canes. Game 7. Red Sox-Rays. Dashing ponies.

Yeah, hun, about that night outÖ

Iím really not sure what my wife had planned for this weekend, but going out for a nice dinner wonít be on the docket. Unless her idea of a nice night out all of a sudden is hitting up the local public house to join some fellow, boisterous fanatics witness men sweat on ice, parquet, and turf, which would be fine.

If itís scheduled after 6 p.m. this weekend and doesnít include the words TV, couch, remote, and India pale, itís not liable to happen. With all apologies to the popular assessment that last weekend was the best sports weekend weíve seen this year thus far (I donít have enough time to waste on the tremendously overrated NFL Draft), these next three days are the goods.

  • Tonight, the Bruins play their first Stanley Cup semifinal game in a decade.

  • The Celtics and Bulls face off in Game 7 tomorrow night at the Garden, the conclusion of a playoff series that, like you need someone to tell you, is one of the best of all time.

  • The Red Sox are in Tampa for three more after what was the low point of the season last night, a 13-0 trouncing by the Rays over the Man Once Known As Red Sox Ace Josh Beckett.

  • Hats, Juleps, and Neumie at the Kentucky Derby.

Letís break down each event in order of appearance, shall we?

Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Game 1, Friday, 7:30 p.m., NESN and Versus

Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Game 2, Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Versus

Itís the old, time-honored debate of playoff sports: Is it more advantageous to enjoy a week-plus of rest, or to come off an emotional Game 7 win just three nights prior? I take rest, for any rust that the Bruins are apt to showcase tonight should likely wear off after one period. For that one reason, I think Eric Staal and company can steal Game 1 tonight.

But for all the laudation the Hurricanes Ė and rightfully so Ė are getting for dispatching the Devils, letís not forget that in one win, it took a last-second goal (literally), and in the Game 7 win, it was a BU-like chain of events that propelled them. For all the talk of how hot Staal is coming into this series, he scored five goals in seven games. Both Phil Kessel and Michael Ryder scored four in four games vs. Montreal. The Hurricanes netted 17 total goals against Martin Brodeur over seven games. The Bruins scored 17 over four games against Ca-Rey Price.

Now, Les Habs ainít exactly the Devils, and Price ainít Brodeur, so donít look too much into all that. Now the Bruinsí domination of the Hurricanes this season is another matter, outscoring the former Whale by an 18-6 margin over four games. Coincidentally, thatís the same number of goals Tim Thomas allowed over his four most recent games against the Canadiens.

Bruins in 6.

Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, 7:35 p.m., NESNplus

Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays, Saturday, 7 p.m., NESN

Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday, 1:30 p.m., NESN

There was a moment there last night when I felt just awful for Tom Caron and friends. There were TC and Jim Rice, trying their damndest to break down a 13-0, one-hit trouncing by the Rays in the postgame show. Meanwhile, a channel up the digital box (do the kids even know what we mean when we say ďdial?Ē) the Celtics and Bulls were embroiled in a game for the ages. In reality, they could have packed up the NESN studio early, and nobody would have noticed, including the WB Mason/Granite City execs.

Justin Masterson and Tim Wakefield go the next two nights, looking to nail down a split of the four-game series. And I say split because Brad Penny is pitching on Sunday. Luckily, that is the one game this weekend that most of us will watch in its entirety. Sweet.

The Kentucky Derby, Saturday, 6 p.m., NBC

Everything I learned about horse racing came from the Kenny Rogers classic film, ďSix Pack,Ē which I grant is something of an oddity since that movie was about car racing. You might argue that means I donít know much about horse racing, to which I might reply, ďDude, theyíre horses running.Ē We canít all be Randy Moss. (No, not that one.)

In any case, my early pick is Friesan Fire, at 6:1 as of Friday morning. If Dunkirk (4:1) or Bob Baffertís Pioneer of the Nile (4:1) falls back a bit, one of them might be worth a gander. Trifecta? Letís go with Friesan, I Want Revenge, and Desert Party. None of this, of course, will be correct, so pat yourself on the back for wasting the last 25 seconds and move on.

Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls, Game 7, Saturday, 8 p.m., Comcast Sports Net, TNT

The NBA wants to know where amazing will happen this year. I particularly like the commercial that shows patron saint Lebron James going over Kevin Garnett for a dunk in last yearís playoff matchup, which must suggest that Jamesí feat propelled the Cavaliers to ďamazing.Ē Could have sworn the Celtics won that series though.

In any case, if the Celtics have any hope in their quest to repeat as NBA champs, they need to put the Bulls away for the summer tomorrow night. Iím going to miss Chicago. The Bulls are young, fast, and damn can they shoot the ball. I donít know if the Celtics can get ultimately get past Cleveland, but Iím pretty confident that despite any wear and tear they might have from these games, if they win tomorrow night, they can handle Orlando with relative ease after what the Bulls have given them.

Celtics take Game 7. In a blowout. Unless Tony Allen sees significant time. Then, Celtics win by 2 in double OT.

Of course, all this could mean that next Sunday, Motherís Day, will potentially carry a Bruins-Hurricanes Game 5, Celtics-Magic playoff game, and Red Sox-Rays from Fenway. Hope Mom wants to eat in.


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by eric wilbur

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