Good morning! It's still April, so it's too early for Red Sox fans to panic, but the defending champs are now 6-12 after getting shutout 8-0 by the Yankees.
Speaking of flat-out embarrassing...
Photo: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images
A week ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning were the favorites to win the Stanley Cup after a historic regular season. Last night, they were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets, who had never won more than two games in a playoff series.
Why it matters: This is the first time in NHL history that a team with the best regular-season record failed to win a single playoff game. The Lightning won 62 games this year, tied for the most ever.
What happened: It's hard to fathom such a historical collapse, but here's one explanation: The Lightning, who won 30 of their 62 games by three or more goals, were victims of their own success.
"When you have the amount of points we had, it's a blessing and a curse, in a way. You don't play any meaningful hockey for a long time. Then all of a sudden, you have to ramp it up. It's not an excuse. It's reality."— Lightning coach Jon Cooper
Between the lines: The story of this series is, of course, the Lightning's abrupt exit. But the Blue Jackets deserve a ton of credit for executing a game plan to slow them down.
The big picture: The last four teams in the four major U.S. sports that have set or tied the record for regular-season wins have failed to win a championship.
📺 Tonight: Bruins vs. Maple Leafs (7 pm ET, NBCSN), Predators vs. Stars (8, USA), Flames vs. Avalanche (10, NBCSN)
Elite young athletes are being offered college scholarships as early as middle school, and because many of those offers come with a "take it or leave it" deadline, teenagers often make rash decisions. That could change this week.
What's happening: The NCAA Division I Council will vote on a proposal tomorrow that would ban all recruiting contact between coaches and athletes until June 15 of the student's sophomore year of high school.
The bottom line, via Karen Weekly, the co-head softball coach at the University of Tennessee: "Ten years ago, we thought sophomores committing was too young. Sixth graders? Enough is enough."
Nuggets 114, Spurs 105: Jamal Murray missed his first eight shots but rebounded with a scorching fourth quarter in which he scored 21 points to the Spurs 23. ... Gregg Popovich postgame: "We gave up 38 points in the fourth quarter. End of story." Series tied 1-1.
Trail Blazers 114, Thunder 94: CJ McCollum (33 pts, 8 reb, 5 ast) and Damian Lillard (29 pts, 4 reb, 6 ast) combined for 62 points to propel Portland to victory. ... Rough night for Russell Westbrook (14 pts, 5-20 FG). Portland leads 2-0.
Raptors 111, Magic 82: Kawhi Leonard poured in 37 points, Kyle Lowry broke out of his mini-slump with 22 points and Pascal Siakam — who is literally the NBA's most valuable player — chipped in with 19 points and 10 rebounds to help Toronto even the series. Series tied 1-1.
📺 Tonight: Pacers vs. Celtics (7 pm ET, TNT), Pistons vs. Bucks (8, NBATV), Jazz vs. Rockets (9:30, TNT)
Photo: Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images
Just over a month after knocking out three-time defending champion Real Madrid, Ajax topped Juventus 2-1 on the road to advance 3-2 on aggregate and land a spot in the Champions League semi-finals.
Why it matters: "For only the second time in six seasons, Cristiano Ronaldo will not win the Champions League. For the first time in a decade, and only the second time in 13 years, he won't even appear in one of the four semi-finals," writes Deadspin's Billy Haisley.
The big picture: Ajax is a historical giant in the soccer world, albeit in the same way General Electric is a historical giant in the industrial world.
More Champions League:
Bo Kimble during his Loyola Marymount days. Photo: Mike Powell/Allsport/Getty Images
Mindy and Paul McCord founded Jacksonville University's women's lacrosse program in 2010, and they have quickly turned the team into an offensive juggernaut thanks to ... a "30 for 30" documentary.
The backdrop: It all started when Paul, a former Jaguars special teams coach, saw "The Guru of Go," which tells the story of Loyola Marymount's men's basketball team of the late 1980s that scored an ungodly amount of points thanks to coach Paul Westhead's unique offensive system.
Details: "In Westhead's system, the fast break is predicated on very specific court lane assignments," writes The Athletic’s Daniel Popper (subscription). "The 1 brings the ball up the floor. The 2 runs to the right corner. The 3 runs to the left corner. The 4 occupies the high left post. The 5 sprints down to the low right block."
What they're saying: At first, Kimble had no idea what lacrosse even was, but he quickly realized that it was similar enough to basketball that applying Westhead's system made a lot of sense.
"Instead of having one point guard, you've got four [midfielders]. So I'm like, OK, well that's fascinating because all they're doing is creating pace. That's going to wear the dickens out of every team. ... So I had zero doubt about what they were doing."— Bo Kimble
The bottom line: In their first nine seasons, Jacksonville led the nation in scoring five times. And last season, they averaged 18.45 goals per game, their most ever.
Photo: Focus on Sport/Getty Images
43 years ago today, Phillies legend Mike Schmidt hit four consecutive home runs to tie an MLB record and lead one of baseball's most epic comebacks in a game that featured a staggering 34 runs.
What happened: The Phillies were trailing the Cubs 12-1 after 3 innings — and then Schmidt and his teammates went off. The Hall of Famer hit his final homer in the 10th inning, giving Philadelphia an 18-16 lead and sealing the game.
Answer at the bottom
My new favorite thing is the British game show — or at least the competition on a British game show — where you slide a mini fake pint of beer across a mini fake counter inside of a mini fake bar.
Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
Pro tip: Download The Action Network app to master the art of sports betting.
1. Who will cover the spread in Rockets (-6.5) vs. Jazz?
2. Will Bruins vs. Maple Leafs go over or under 5.5 goals?
3. What will be the fewest points scored in a quarter by either team during Pacers vs. Celtics?
🎰 Play now: Make your picks (cutoff time: 7 pm ET)
Yesterday's results: 46% correctly predicted that the Nuggets (-6.5) would cover the spread ... 23.6% correctly predicted that the Lightning would be eliminated ... 14.8% correctly predicted that Kawhi Leonard would lead all players in points.
Kendall "Let's stop recruiting middle schoolers, folks" Baker
Trivia answer: UNC (Mack Brown and Roy Williams) and Kansas (Les Miles and Bill Self)