The Nashville Predators are on the verge of franchise history.
With a win in St. Louis on Friday, the Predators will advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time since joining the NHL in 1998.
It would complete a heck of a run. Nashville swept the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, holding Chicago to just three goals in four games. That defensive prowess carried over against the Blues: The Predators have allowed just 11 goals in eight total playoff games.
The key for St. Louis, then, would obviously be scoring first. The Blues have led in this series for a grand total of 3:51.
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But before we get there, let’s revisit what we’ve learned.
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Let’s start with the Most Valuable Player race that is still raging. We had every narrative and every argument come to life during the first round and there still is no consensus.
You and I both had Russell Westbrook. I felt bad about shortchanging James Harden, who really didn’t do anything to lose his hold on the top spot, and I wasn’t at all surprised by the 4-1 series outcome. Is it wrong that I still back Russ?
Not at all. Nothing about the series made it clear Harden is more valuable than Westbrook right now. The Thunder continued to revolve around Westbrook in every way; the Rockets continued to be better than the Thunder because of Harden’s excellence and a superior supporting cast. That series was essentially a microcosm of each team’s season (though the Thunder obviously had a good deal of success in the regular season).
Edelman is a frequent comparison, but he was a quarterback in college who only lines up in the slot about half the time.
Danny Woodhead also comes to mind, but he played much more running back than slot receiver.
The latest in the perceived Welker line for New England is Chris Hogan. Although Hogan studied Welker, he plays on the outside and is nearly five inches taller.
But Switzer will in fact join the Cowboys’ young core of exciting young skill players forming a triumvirate with Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott to continue to pursue an elusive world championship in this millennium for America’s Team. The last time they won a Super Bowl, Barry Switzer was the head man.
But no, Ryan’s not related to Barry, although Barry did call Ryan’s father just to make sure as the young Tar Heel’s career ascended, now he’s landed in the NFL.
“He just talked about where he was from, where we are from. He wondered if it was a possibility if we were related,” Michael Switzer said. Leonard Fournette weighs 240 pounds and runs like a swarm of angry bees. Dalvin Cook’s record-setting career at Florida State has helped everyone forget his character issues. Joe Mixon hasn’t been as lucky. Christian McCaffrey does just about everything well, including playing the piano.
Those may be the first four tailbacks off the board April 29, but they’ll be followed by a handful of runners who may go on to even more lucrative careers. Alvin Kamara and Curtis Samuel are versatile rushing/receiving threats. D’Onta Foreman ran for more than 2,000 yards in just 11 games last season. Donnel Pumphrey finished his career with more rushing yards than any FBS player besides Ron Dayne and Tony Dorsett.
John Ross will hear his name called in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft on Thursday in Philadelphia. The fastest player in NFL Combine history hails from Washington, where he was one of the best receivers in the Pac-12.
Ogunjobi only played three years of organized football before signing on with Charlotte, but his raw talent made him the backbone behind the program’s transition to the FBS. The burly run-stopper lit Conference-USA on fire, recording 29 tackles for loss in two seasons at college football’s top division. The 49ers never had a winning season — or even won a Homecoming game — but the raw Ogunjobi still did enough to cement his place as one of 2017’s top defensive line prospects.
Ogunjobi is a relative football noob whose strength and athleticism helped him overcome a lack of experience. His strength and girth in the middle often means two blockers have to keep him at bay — but despite an abundance of double-teams, he was still a monster against the run. He was a black hole that swallowed up tailbacks in the middle of the field, creating several X-and-long situations for opponents in college.
The North Dakota State product made good on his potential, standing out as a potential franchise quarterback and raising the profile of his prairie-based alma mater. Wentz hit the turf running and opened his NFL career with a bang, but he struggled once opponents got more usable game footage of him. An extra season to correct those mistakes should help him settle into his role as the team’s quarterback of the future.
The Eagles paid a ransom to get Wentz, but like Goff, he’s a better prospect for the coming year than any member of this season’s draft class.
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