Around the Water Cooler

In case you were too busy searching for Easter eggs or the afikoman, here’s what you missed this past week in the world of sports … 

NHL HOCKEY – The NHL season wrapped up this past Saturday, with all playoff spots already locked down before the day’s last games. The three biggest surprises of the year had to be St. Louis, Ottawa, and Florida. The St. Louis Blues finished second in the West, after a year of incredible goaltending. If anyone can name six Blues’ forwards, we’ll be impressed. No one forecasted the Ottawa Senators’ success this season, but they snuck into the playoffs and are left in an opening round matchup against the first-placed New York Rangers. The Panthers won their first division title in franchise history, and will be making their first appearance in the playoffs since the 2004-2005 lockout. This leaves the Toronto Maple Leafs as the only team left to have not made the playoffs since the lockout-impressive, right? In other non-playoff team news, Steven Stamkos scored his 60th goal on Saturday, giving him the NHL goal-scoring crown-now that is actually impressive. 

GOLF – The PGA Tour’s most coveted tournament took place this past weekend at Augusta National, as golfers competed in the 2012 Masters. Tiger Woods had all the attention leading up to the event after winning his first PGA tour event in over two years just two weeks before. However, he struggled after a solid first round and was not a factor on Sunday’s final 18 holes. Instead, it was all about Bubba Watson who had four straight birdies on the back nine to climb up the leaderboard, where he and his playing partner, South African Louis Oosthuizen, battled for the lead for the final two holes. Nothing was settled, forcing a sudden-death playoff. After Watson made an unbelievable shot on the second playoff hole, he was left with a tap-in to secure his first major victory. I think everyone is happy that a guy named Bubba just won the Masters. 

MLB BASEBALL – The boys of summer are back as the MLB season got underway last Wednesday night with the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals playing in the new Marlins Park against the Miami Marlins. Baseball’s real “opening day” occurred on Thursday, with seven games. Canada’s lone team, the Toronto Blue Jays, played against Cleveland in what became the longest opening game day in MLB history. The game lasted 16 innings, with Jays’ catcher J.P. Arencibia as the hero, blasting a three-run homer to end the tie in the top of the 16th.  In other opening weekend news, Albert Pujols went 0-3 in his Angels debut, while Prince Fielder hit two home runs in his second game with the Detroit Tigers. 

NBA BASKETBALL – Dwight Howard is causing trouble again. On Thursday morning during a press conference, Orlando Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters that star centre Howard asked management to fire Van Gundy during the season. Later in the presser, Howard went over to Van Gundy and gave him a hug, totally unaware of what his coach had just said. It made for some great awkward fun. This isn’t the first blow to Howard’s reputation this season. At the trade deadline in March, all indications were pointing towards him being dealt because he was not happy in Orlando. He then changed his mind at the last minute, and told the Orlando brass that he wanted to remain with the Magic through the next season. Genuine or not, he is definitely toying with Orlando. If he isn’t traded this off-season, we’ll be shocked. 

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