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Rangers and Stars force Game 7s

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There will be five Game 7s played in the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs this weekend. That total is the second most in any round in NHL history. It should be an exciting couple of days for hockey fans, as it’s hard to find more drama and intrigue in the sport than a winner-take-all Game 7.

The New York Rangers rallied past the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Dallas Stars topped the Calgary Flames during Friday night’s action to force Game 7s in their respective series. The winner of the Rangers-Penguins contest on Sunday will play against the winner of Saturday’s Game 7 matchup between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins. The winner of the Flames-Stars game on Sunday will face the winner of Saturday’s Game 7 between the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings.

The only team that managed to close out their series on Friday was the Florida Panthers, as they became just the third team to advance this postseason following the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues. The Cats were given all they could handle with the Washington Capitals, but punched their ticket to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1996. Florida awaits the winner of Saturday’s Game 7 match between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning.

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NEW YORK RANGERS 5 PITTSBURGH 3 (Series tied 3-3)

Mika Zibanejad led the way for the Rangers with two goals and two assists. He picked up three points in the second period, including one goal and one assist on power plays, to dig his team out of a 2-0 deficit.

Chris Kreider scored a pair of goals, including a fluky game winner with just 1:28 left in regulation that popped up over Penguins netminder Louis Domingue and went into the net.

Zibanejad and Kreider also had six shots on goal each.

Adam Fox accounted for four assists, while adding one shot, one hit and two blocks.

Andrew Copp sealed the win with an empty-netter. It was his fourth goal of the series.

Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust scored for Pittsburgh in the first period.

Evgeni Malkin tied the game at 3-3 late in the second stanza. He had a game-high seven shots.

Ryan Strome, Kevin Rooney, Ryan Lindgren, Kasperi Kapanen, Jake Guentzel and Marcus Pettersson contributed one assist apiece.

Igor Shesterkin blocked 31 shots in the victory. He has won his past two outings.

Domingue stopped 33 of 37 shots in the defeat.

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FLORIDA 4 WASHINGTON 3 (OT) (Panthers win series 4-2)

Carter Verhaeghe was the hero again for Florida with the game winner 2:46 into the extra period. He added an assist on Friday to give him 12 points in six games this postseason. Three of Verhaeghe’s six goals were game winners.

Claude Giroux collected one goal and two assists for the Panthers. He posted two points in the third period and set up Verhaeghe’s winner.

Aleksander Barkov and Ryan Lomberg had the other goals for Florida.

Nic Dowd opened the scoring for Washington 3:44 into the second stanza.

Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, who got his sixth goal of the series to tie the game with just over a minute left in regulation, also lit the lamp for the Capitals.

Oshie also had a game-high seven shots, while supplying six hits and two blocks.

Patric Hornqvist, Eetu Luostarinen, Aaron Ekblad, Ben Chiarot, MacKenzie Weegar, Garnet Hathaway, Johan Larsson, Anthony Mantha, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Justin Schultz and Trevor van Riemsdyk chipped in one assist each.

Hathaway and Martin Fehervary were credited with seven hits apiece.

Sergei Bobrovsky shielded 34 shots in the triumph.

Ilya Samsonov defended 27 shots in the defeat.

CALGARY 2 DALLAS 4 (Series tied 3-3)

Roope Hintz and Michael Raffl produced one goal and one assist each for Dallas. Hintz also added four shots and six hits, while Raffl posted six hits as well.

Michael Stone had one goal and one helper for Calgary.

Miro Heiskanen’s first goal of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs held up as the game winner.

Tyler Seguin sealed the Stars’ win with an empty-netter.

Mikael Backlund found the back of the net to stretch his goal spree to three straight games.

Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Rasmus Andersson, Radek Faksa, Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson. Joel Kiviranta and Ryan Suter reached the scoresheet with one assist each.

Jake Oettinger turned aside 36 shots in the victory.

Jacob Markstrom made 36 saves on 39 shots in the loss.

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Four-star DL/TE Jaxon Howard names Miami football finalist with June 24 visit

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Sep 30, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 30, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Four-star 2023 defensive lineman and tight end Jaxon Howard has named the Miami football program as one of four finalists with LSU, Michigan and Minnesota. The Minneapolis Robbinsdale Cooper prospect tweeted his finalists on Monday afternoon with his visits that will include Coral Gables from June 24 through 26.

Minnesota is the favorite to sign Howard with a 21.6 percent chance to 18.6 for Miami according to On3 Sports. LSU is at seven percent with Michigan less than a one percent chance. Wisconsin which is not a finalist is listed ahead of LSU. Notre Dame and Oklahoma who are also not finalists are tied with the Tigers.

Howard previously took an unofficial visit to Miami in January. Miami also hosted Howard during their spring game in April. Howard reportedly additionally attended LSU and Minnesota’s spring games last month and is expected to commit in July. Howard is the son of former Stanford star Willie Howard.

As expected, defensive line coach Joe Salave’a and tight ends coach Stephen Field are leading the recruitment for Howard. Howard seems more likely to play DL in college than TE. At 6’4, 245 pounds, Allen Trieu of 247 Sports said of Howard “more of a rarer specimen on defense…he can be a combo inside-outside player on the defensive line.”

FINAL 4

The past 3 years I have been blessed to be offered by over 60 amazing colleges. I built genuine relationships with so many coaches & value all the time they have spent with me. After 41 Unofficial Visits & much Prayer I have Narrowed my Top 4 and will take my Officials pic.twitter.com/3QXdA9Fbx1

— Jaxon Howard (@11JaxonHoward) May 16, 2022

The Miami football program has five commits for 2023 with only three-star linebacker Bobby Washington on defense. Mario Cristobal has made the DL a priority in just over five months since being hired. Miami has added eight DL in the Class of 2022 and through the transfer portal since Cristobal was hired in December.

The addition of Howard to 2022 signees Nyjalik Kelly and Cyrus Moss would provide Miami with a bright future at edge rusher. Cristobal and Salave’a coached Kayvon Thibodeau at Oregon who was the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. Howard is the 87th ranked player in the Class of 2023.

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Is Elieser Hernandez not good enough for the Miami Marlins rotation?

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 15: Elieser Hernandez #57 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Chicago Cubs at loanDepot park on August 15, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

MIAMI, FLORIDA – AUGUST 15: Elieser Hernandez #57 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Chicago Cubs at loanDepot park on August 15, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Elieser Hernandez seems to be an unpopular member of the Miami marlins rotation, with many calling for his replacement. We even suggested it ourselves. Should Elieser really be pushed out of the rotation though? Is there potential? Let’s find out…

Elieser Hernandez is somehow still in the Miami Marlins rotation.

Elieser Hernandez has so far started 7 games and pitched 33.2 innings. He has a 6.15 ERA/6.52 FIP. He has 8.02 K/9 and 3.21 BB/9. Yeah this isn’t good to say the least. The bright sides are his 4.46 xERA and 4.96 xFIP. Well bright as in better than his ERA and FIP.

He doesn’t have a track record of better results either. Elieser’s best ERA has been 3.16 in 2020 and his best ever FIP has been his 3.89 that same season. Unfortunately both came in a very short sample of 25.2 innings. These are promising results, but the short sample size is a major red flag.

Is there promise when looking at his Minor League statistics? Let’s take a look… he did well in AAA in in 2018, starting 9 games and delivering 48 innings of 1.12 ERA ball. He also had 12.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. Those are impressive numbers, but so far they haven’t translated to the Majors.

What about Elieser Hernandez’s fastball velocity? He sits at 91.3 MPH. That’s not very promising either. Unfortunately the more I look at his stats, the more I feel that he just needs to be replaced at this point. I just don’t see a reason for giving him more starts.

Max Meyer? Edward Cabrera? Why not just give one of them a chance already? Find out what we really have with them? I think that at this point Elieser Hernandez is best as a swingman type, filling in when there’s an injury. I just don’t see much point in continuing to give him starts and there’s just no obvious upside to keep hoping for.

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Miami Marlins career retrospective: A.J. Burnett

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 24: A. J. Burnett #34 of the Florida Marlins pitches against the San Francisco Giants during an Major League Baseball game July 24, 2005 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. Burnett played for the Marlins in 1999-05. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JULY 24: A. J. Burnett #34 of the Florida Marlins pitches against the San Francisco Giants during an Major League Baseball game July 24, 2005 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. Burnett played for the Marlins in 1999-05. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Do you remember A.J. Burnett? I recently wrote a career retrospective on his more famous Miami Marlins (then Florida Marlins teammate). Burnett was once a highly touted prospect who was supposed to be an ace of the future. He was officially a part of the 2002 World Series winning team, though he didn’t actually pitch during the playoffs. Let’s take a look at his Miami Marlins career.

A.J. Burnett was drafted in the eighth round of the 1995 draft by the New York Mets. On February 6, 1998 he was traded to the Miami Marlins in the Al Leiter trade along with Minor League OF Rob Stratton and Minor League LHP Jesus Sanchez (yes he has the same name as our current CF). The Fish traded Leiter and Minor League 2B Ralph Milliard in the trade. If you’re interested to know who won that trade using Wins Above Replacement, the Miami Marlins ended up with 12.5 WAR and the New York Mets with 28.1 WAR, so the New York Mets won by 15.6 WAR.

A.J. Burnett rose up the prospect rankings and finally got the call in 1999. He started 7 games and pitched for 41.1 innings, delivering a 3.48 ERA/4.30 FIP. The following season he received 13 starts and delivered 82.2 innings of 4.79 ERA/4.68 FIP ball. In 2001 he started 27 games and delivered 173.1 innings of 4.05 ERA/4.63 FIP. At this point he appeared as perhaps best a mid-rotation arm , however he was going to improve.

In 2002, A.J. Burnett broke out with a 3.30 ERA/3.19 FIP in 31 games (29 starts) and 204.1 innings pitched. Unfortunately the newly crowned ace then got injured and only started in 4 games in 2003, with a 4.70 ERA/4.94 FIP. Coming off a World Championship the previous season, the Miami Marlins welcomed Burnett back in 2004 for 20 games (19 starts) and 120 innings of 3.68 ERA/3.19 FIP ball. Burnett was back as an ace, but needed to work his way back to a full workload.

2005 turned out to be the final season for A.J. Burnett in a Miami Marlins uniform, as he left after the season as a free agent. In that season, Burnett capped off his tenure with The Fish with a 3.44 ERA/3.11 FIP in 32 games and 209 innings pitched. It was a great platform season and led to him leaving for Toronto. A.J. Burnett had a couple very good seasons for The Fish, but he was never an integral part of a pennant or a World Series winning team and didn’t provide longevity, thus not having a memorable career in the end unfortunately.

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