Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. The most interesting South Florida sports story right now might actually be Luis Arraez’s batting average.
In today’s SI:AM:
If you're reading this on SI.com, you can sign up to get this free newsletter in your inbox each weekday at SI.com/newsletters.
South Florida’s other team isn’t doing so hot
The Golden Knights have dominated the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final. After winning Game 1, 5–2, Vegas squashed the Panthers again in Game 2, winning 7–2 to head to Florida with a 2–0 series lead.
The game got out of hand quickly. Less than halfway through the second period, Golden Knights forward Brett Howden scored to make it 4–0. The goal led Florida coach Paul Maurice to pull goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who faced 13 shots and stopped only nine of them. It was the fifth time in 19 games this postseason that Vegas chased its opponents’ starting goalie. Only the 2011 Bruins forced their opponents to yank their goalie more times in a single postseason.
Bobrovsky is perhaps the biggest reason why the Panthers—which had the worst regular-season record of any playoff team—have made it all the way to the Final. After struggling late in the regular season and not even starting Game 1 against Boston in the first round, he was excellent as Florida pulled off consecutive upsets of the Bruins, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes. But he allowed four goals on 33 shots in Game 1 and was quickly chased last night after letting in four more. His replacement, Alex Lyon, wasn’t much better, allowing three goals on 15 shots.
“He’s been our best player all playoffs,” Panthers forward Sam Bennett told reporters after the game. “We have total belief in him. We have to do a better job helping him out and not give up so many grade-A chances on him. But yeah, there’s no issue there. We have the utmost confidence in him.”
The other player who has been leading the way for the Panthers in the playoffs is Matthew Tkachuk, but he’s spent a shocking amount of time in the penalty box over the first two games. He racked up 14 penalty minutes in Game 1 and 22 last night. His 36 penalty minutes are the second most for a player in the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final in NHL history. Tkachuk earned two 10-minute misconduct penalties last night, the first following a scrum with Vegas’s Ivan Barbashev after Tkachuk leveled Golden Knights star Jack Eichel in the second period and the second after Tkachuk knocked Michael Amadio’s stick out of his hand during a stoppage.
One explanation for the lopsided start to the series is that Vegas, which had the best regular-season record in the Western Conference, is simply the better team. But there’s also one big factor that could be working against the Panthers. Florida swept the Hurricanes in the last round in a series that ended May 24, leaving the team with nine days off before the Final began Saturday. Vegas, meanwhile, took six games to beat the Stars and had only four days off before the Final. Maurice believes the long layoff could be hurting his team.
“Of all the people in the room, Sergei would be the one I’m least worried about,” Maurice told reporters. “There’s a bunch of challenges being off nine days and there’s a list of about 10 things that could negatively affect your hockey team. It’s just a fact.”
Whatever the reason, the Golden Knights have been the sharper team over the first two games. They’re really firing on all cylinders. Their 12 goals in the first two games have been scored by nine different players, a Stanley Cup Final record. In last night’s game, all 18 Vegas skaters were on the ice for at least one even-strength goal. Everything’s going right for them at this point, and, for the Panthers, just about everything is going wrong.
The best of Sports Illustrated
- Tom Verducci spoke with several people around MLB about how it’s getting harder and harder for pitchers to avoid tipping their pitches.
- Chris Herring breaks down how the Heat adjusted their defense in Game 2 to avoid getting burned by Nikola Jokić and even the series.
- Kyrie Irving reportedly wants the Mavericks to trade for LeBron James. (I think the majority of NBA players would want their team to trade for LeBron.)
- What’s the outlook for the Buccaneers as they enter life without Tom Brady? Matt Verderame breaks it all down.
- Emma Baccellieri writes about the Women’s College World Series, which has come down to Florida State, thanks to an unlikely offensive hero, and Oklahoma playing for the national title.
The top five...
… things I saw last night:
5. William Karlsson’s effort to get the puck and his unstoppable assist for the Golden Knights’ sixth goal.
4. Gary Sánchez’s third home run in seven games with the Padres, his third major league organization of the season.
3. Jack Eichel’s assist on his first shift back after Matthew Tkachuk’s big hit sent him to the locker room.
1. Luis Arraez’s three-hit night to raise his batting average to .399.
On this day 10 years ago, the Astros selected Mark Appel with the first pick in the MLB draft after a dominant three-year career at which school?
- Florida State
Yesterday’s SIQ: On June 5, 1957, Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale threw the first of his 49 career shutouts in a Dodgers home game played in which city where Brooklyn played 15 regular-season “home” games in ’56 and ’57?
- Los Angeles
- Albany, N.Y.
- Jersey City, N.J.
- New Haven, Conn.
Answer: Jersey City, N.J. The games at Roosevelt Stadium in the city on the opposite shore of Hudson River from Manhattan were part of Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley’s efforts to find a new home for his team. Deadlocked in negotiations to build a new stadium in Brooklyn, O’Malley began exploring the possibility of moving the team. In August 1955, after unproductive discussions with powerful urban planner Robert Moses, O’Malley announced that the Dodgers would play some home games in Jersey City in each of the following two seasons.
The Dodgers ended up playing seven games at Roosevelt Stadium in 1956 and eight in ’57. Attendance at the games that first year was strong. While the 25,000-seat stadium was not filled to capacity on all seven occasions, Dodgers games in Jersey City averaged 21,196 fans per game, 5,400 more than games at Ebbets Field. But the fans didn’t stick around in ’57. Attendance slipped to 16,014 fans per game, although that was still higher than games in Brooklyn.
The move to Jersey City did prompt officials in New York to renew talks about a new stadium in Brooklyn, but they weren’t able to keep the team from moving to Los Angeles the following year.