Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Kings rookie Dwight King is checked into the boards by St. Louis Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk during the third period of Game 1 in St. Louis. The Blues players were checking King more than usual after his check of Alex Pietrangelo in the second period.
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
NHL playoffs, Western Conference semifinals, Kings vs. St. Louis: Game 2 tonight at St. Louis, 6 p.m., CNBC; Game 3 Thursday at Staples Center, 7 p.m., MSNBC; Game 4 Sunday at Staples Center, noon, Channel 4:
The Lakers and Clippers may generate more eyes to TV screens for their first-round Staples Center playoff games, but a Kings’ sighting this far into the post-season is a far more eye-opening occurrence. And after their 3-1 Game 1 win in St. Louis, there may be an eye-for-an-eye mentality coming out of the Blues’ locker room for the rest of the series after top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was face-first checked into the boards by Kings rookie Dwight King and drew blood. Pietrangelo is day to day with one of those “upper body” injuries, and King could be suspended if the NHL punishment team decides its worthy. The Kings know all about having some of their top players checked out — Kyle Clifford hasn’t played since Game 1 of the first round after taking an elbow to the head from Vancouver’s Byron Bitz, who was suspended for two games. In the first round, St. Louis won four in a row over San Jose after losing the opener. The Blues set a franchise record with 30 wins at home; the Kings have won four playoff games in a row on the road but suddenly find themselves in the same position as they were in the first round — coming home for Games 3 and 4 with an improbable 2-0 series lead.
MLB: Angels vs. Minnesota, 7:05 p.m., FSW:
Bottoms up: Maybe Albert Pujols, homerless in 22 games with the Angels and in 117 at bats going back to last season, just needs a new flavor of Budweiser. It’s on him. According to the website saveonbrew.com, Angels owner Arte Moreno continues to be the AL king of cheap beer as he leads the league in selling the least-expensive concession suds. At 32 cents an ounce (or $4.50 for a 14 ounce cup), Angels Stadium is almost half the price of what the Red Sox charge at Fenway ($7.25 for a 12 ouncer, or 60 cents per). The way the Angels have been playing, beer shots should be a requirement for the fans. Pujols went 2 for 13 with 1 RBI during the three-game series earlier this month in Minnesota, when the Twins took two of three. Put it this way: Twins shorstop Jamey Carroll (.225, 0 HRs, 6 RBIs) has better stats heading into May than Pujols (.216, 0 HRs, 4 RBIs). The teams meet again on FSW for Tuesday (with a Rally Monkey Beanie giveaway) and Wednesday (both at 7:05 p.m.)
MLB: Dodgers at Colorado, 5:40 p.m., Channel 9:
Matt Kemp has better careers stats (.324, 10 HRs, 39 RBI in 45 games) at Coors Field than at any other place outside Dodger Stadium, so the fact that he’s three short of the big-league record for most homers in the month of April may come to happen somehow. The Dodgers, who lost six of nine in Denver last year, have meetings arranged Tuesday (5:40 p.m., Channel 9) and Wednesday (12:10 p.m., Prime) with Clayton Kershaw set to rock ‘n’ roll in the finale. He was 0-1 with a 6.25 ERA in two starts at Colorado last year, giving up nine earned runs and 13 hits in 12 innings.
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, right, puts up a shot as the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, upper left, and Pau Gasol take a swipe at it in Sunday’s Game 1.
NBA playoffs: Western Conference quarterfinals Game 2: Lakers vs. Denver, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW, TNT:
During a third-quarter timeout in Game 1 of the series Sunday, ABC’s cameras and mikes caught Denver coach George Karl addressing his team as they trailed by 15 points: “Gentlemen, you’re in a series, you’re not in a game. What you’re going to do in the next two quarters is learn to do what we’re trying to do a little bit better because I don’t we’ve done it well enough for me to even say if it works or not.” Maybe he could have assessed things better if his view wasn’t blocked out most of the game by Andrew Bynum. The series goes to Denver for Game 3 on Friday (7:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN) and could be over by Game 4 on Sunday (6:30 p.m., Channel 9, TNT).
NBA playoffs: Western Conference quarterfinals Game 2: Clippers at Memphis, 6:30 p.m., Prime, TNT:
Maybe all that playoff beard growing means something to the Clippers, who avoided an embarrasing loss by coming back from 27 down to win Game 1. “When you lose a first game in the playoffs, it does shake the team’s will a little bit,” TNT analyst Chris Webber said during the third quarter of the opening game telecast, when all looked lost for the Clippers. “They have guys over there who know what they’re doing, and each game is its own series.” Guess that all goes out the window,right? Even with Caron Butler apparently done for the rest of the series, the Clips’ momentum could stunningly make them take a 2-0 lead by the time the series comes to Staples Center for Game 3 on Saturday (1:30 p.m., Prime, ESPN).
MLB: Angels vs. Toronto, 7:05 p.m., FSW:
Nothing says more than an Angels promotion gone ape-crazy than a Cinco de Mayo stuffed Rally Monkey with a red sombrero giveaway during Saturday’s game (6:10 p.m.) of the four-game series. Pre-event sales are already on eBay asking for north of $20 per for one of these things, which, if we aren’t mistaken, were advertised during the Angels’ broadcasts as “Cinco de Munko” novelties. The series continues Friday (7:05 p.m.) and Sunday (12:35 p.m.) on FSW.
Golf: PGA Wells Fargo Championship, Charlotte, N.C. first round, noon, Golf Channel:
Tiger Woods, coming off finishing 40th at the Masters and then taking some time off, will avoid media pre-event contact as much as possible this week, choosing only to answer questions by video posted by fans via Facebook and Twitter, said his agent, Mark Steinberg. “We wanted to have a little bit more direct interaction with fans, and they’ve been very good to him over the years,” Steinberg said. “We’re probably a little bit behind with social media and this is a way to do that.” That’s OK. We’re a little behind, and bored, with what kind of hard-hitting questions we’d like to ask him anyway. “If he thinks this is a way to connect with the fans, he’s badly mistaken,” wrote SI senior editor Mark Godrich at Golf.com. “Take those questions in a live setting. That would show me something.” CBS has the last two rounds Saturday and Sunday, and may send David Feherty to find him if necessary.
MLB: Dodgers at Chicago Cubs, 11:20 a.m., Prime:
Of course it’s a shame Vin Scully doesn’t accompany the team to Chitown for its only ivy-league appearance of the season, a three game, all-day light set that continues Saturday (10 a.m., Prime) and Sunday (11:20 a.m., Prime). The Cubs, last in the NL Central, are also 25th out of 30 big-league teams in runs scored so far and hitting just .237 as a team.
Horse racing: The 138th Kentucky Derby, from Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky., 1 p.m., Channel 4:
We’ve come to learn by now that no matter how many horses Bob Baffert or D. Wayne Lucas or Todd Pletcher are squeezing into the field, no matter what celebrity has a 1-100th piece of a 3-year-old phenom, and no matter which one has the best name for a headline, the secret to Derby picking is to answer this question: Which pony is Calvin Borrel riding today? That would be Take Charge Indy, the Florida Derby winner. “Bo-Rail,” who rode three Derby winners in the last five races — Street Sense in the ’07 Derby, Mine That Bird in ’09 and Super Saver in ’10 — also has himself a horse that was sired by A.P. Indy (himself, a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew). The actual race takes place at about 3:24 p.m. — closer to prime time for the East Coast.
Volleyball: NCAA men’s championship, at USC’s Galen Center, 7 p.m., ESPNU:
Top-ranked USC wormed its way into the Final Four, despite losing in the semifinals of its conference tournament to eventual top seeded UC Irvine. The Trojans have to get past second-seeded Lewis (26-6), the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association winner, for either a rematch against the Anteaters or Penn State. The semifinals are Thursday at USC.
Boxing: Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto: 6 p.m., PPV:
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told one of the boxing websites appropriately called FightHype.com that this card, which includes Sugar Shane Mosley against Saul Alvarez, will be the most-watched pay-per-view event since Mayweather’s May 2007 win over Oscar De La Hoya, which attracted 2.4 million purchases. All it would have to do is pass the 1.45 million buys for Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III last November. They’re asking $69.96 for HD, or $10 less for regular. What’s the incentive to see Mayweather, who knocked out Victor Ortiz in the fourth round last November then got into a cursing match with HBO’s Larry Merchant? Or to see Cotto, who hasn’t fought since he was knocked around by Pacquiao three years ago?
MLS: Galaxy vs. New York Red Bull, Home Depot Center, 5 p.m., ESPN:
The Wall Street Journal reported the other day that Red Bull star Thierry Henry’s image is on 300,000 cans of Red Bull in stores across the New York area, and they’re going to start circulating another 1.3 million cans of Red Bull with midfielder Rafael Marquez in “markets in Western states.” When does David Beckham start appearing on cans of Becks beer? All this may be a bit ill timed. Henry was lost to a strained hamstring early in the Red Bulls’ 1-0 win last week over New England and might miss his star-studded meeting with Beckham. The Galaxy, meanwhile, take a trip before this one to Seattle on Wednesday (7 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56).
Soccer: FA Cup final: Liverpool vs. Chelsea in Wembley, England, 9:15 a.m., Fox Soccer Channel:
Liverpool is the slight favorite to win the world’s oldest football tournament .
NASCAR: Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499, Talladega, Ala., 9 a.m., Channel 11:
One more lap wouldn’t kill you?