Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Kings vs. New Jersey:
Game 1: Wednesday at New Jersey, 5 p.m., Channel 4
Game 2: Saturday at New Jersey, 5 p.m., Channel 4:
Not to be a Devils’ advocate in this series, but they’ve already beaten the Kings twice this year. Even if it was in a period of 12 days way back in October. Devils goalie Martin Brodeur tweaked his right shoulder at the time and had to leave after the first period in an eventual 2-1 shootout victory over the Kings on Oct. 13 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Ilya Kovalchuk, a free agent whom the Kings pursued in the off season, scored one of the shootout goals for the Devils (pictured above), who were otherwise constantly turned away by Jonathan Quick. Given that it was the Kings’ first game back on the mainland after their first two games in Europe, they could be expected to be a little disposition challenged.
But then, on Oct. 25, neither Brodeur nor Quick played, and the Devils snatched away a 3-0 win at Staples Center. Quick had a team record three consecutive shutouts coming in, but then-coach Terry Murray put in Jonathan Bernier. (Sorry, Terry, not a smooth move). Johan Hedberg started for the Devils, as Broudeur still was suffering from the shoulder injury, and stopped 31 Kings’ shots.
As for the 40-year-old Brodeur (above, during the Eastern Conference Game 6 final victory over the Rangers), the four-time Vezina Trophy winner and a league-record best 24 playoff shutouts in his 19 seasons in New Jersey has an 12-5 record so far in the playoffs with one first-round shutout and a 2.04 GGA. He’s never faced the Kings in the playoffs and has a 8-6-0-1 in his career against them with a 2.13 GGA. The Kings, in the final for the first time in 19 years, are in position to do something their rival Anaheim Ducks have never done — defeat Brodeur in a Stanley Cup final. And they start in perfect fashion, away from home for the first two.
MLB: Dodgers vs. Milwaukee, 5:10 p.m., Prime:
Hold you applause: Ryan Braun makes his first L.A. appearance since winning last year’s NL MVP award, but will runner-up Matt Kemp be ready to go bat-for-bat against him? The Dodgers have Kemp targeted for coming off the DL on Tuesday (7:10 p.m., Channel 9), the same day they’re giving out a four-headed bobblehead of Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey. The four-game series continues Wednesday (Kershaw vs. Gallardo) and Thursday (Billingsley vs. Greinke), both at 7:10 p.m., Prime.
MLB: Angels vs. New York Yankees, Angel Stadium, 6:05 p.m., FSW:
Andy Pettitte’s comeback attempt at age 39 (he turns 40 in a couple of weeks) is on schedule to arrive in Anaheim for a meeting Tuesday (7:05 p.m., FSW) against Dan Haren. Raul Ibanez, another soon-to-be 40-year-old, helped Pettitte beat Cincinnati recently with a two-run homer. The Yankees still need a closer, with Mariano Riviera and David Robertson down. Any volunteers? The series finishes Wednesday (7:05 p.m., FSW).
NBA Eastern Conference finals, Game 1: Boston at Miami, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Rajon Rondo can’t do it all himself. The Heat knocked out the Celtics in five games in the conference semifinals last year. In 2010, the Celtics eliminated the Heat in the first round and then knocked LeBron James and the Cavaliers out in the second — his final game with Cleveland. Game 2 is in Miami on Wednesday with Games 3 and 4 in Boston on Friday and Sunday (both 5:30 p.m. on ESPN).
College lacrosse: NCAA men’s final: Loyola (Md.) vs. Maryland, 10 a.m., ESPN:
At Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., No. 1 Greyhounds (17-1) should have the upper stick over the state-rival Terps (12-5).
NBA Western Conference finals, Game 2: Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 6 p.m., TNT:
What, you were expecting a Lakers-Clippers matchup all of the sudden. They’ll continue with Game 3 and 4 in OKC on Thursday (6 p.m., TNT) and Saturday (5:30 p.m., TNT).
College golf: NCAA Division I tournament, at Riviera Country Club, first round of individual play, 7 a.m.:
UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay, the first Bruin to win college golf’s top honor in receiving Ben Hogan Award, has plenty of familiarity with this Palisades layout, having played in last February’s PGA Northern Trust Open (he didn’t make the cut, shooting 8-over 150). The 20-year-old is the world’s top- ranked amateur, finishing in a tie for 47th at the Masters and was the also the low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open (tying for 21st). As a freshman, he was second in last year’s NCAA championship. UCLA, ranked third in the country and the team winners in 1988 (with coach Eddie Merrins) and 2008 (with coach Derek Freeman, and Kevin Chappell as the individual winner), qualified for its 10th straight NCAA championship last week. Augusta State is the two-time defending men’s NCAA champ. Three rounds of stroke play team competition ends Thursday, and then the top eight seeds compete in a three-day match play starting Friday.
Soccer: U.S. Open Cup: Galaxy at Carolina RailHawks, 4 p.m.:
Is this the moment in the season when AEG sends Darryl Sutter over to Home Depot Center to whip Becks, Donovan and the boys into shape? That makes as much sense as sending the team all the way to Cary, N.C., to play a game in the middle of a stumbling MLS season. The hillbillies have bought up all the tickets in hopes of seeing some real Hollywood stars … so what if there’s a U.S. Open Cup victory when this charade is all over. (Oh, right, because they’re no where near defending their MLS Cup with a 3-8-2 mark, last in the Western Conference. The Galaxy’s second-round match up could be against Chivas USA on June 5. Chivas has to beat the Ventura County Fusion tonight at Ventura College. Good luck to y’all.
WNBA: Sparks vs. Tulsa, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.:
The Sparks also host Seattle for the second time in about two weeks on Sunday (5:30 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56), having defeated the Storm twice by eight and 13 points in the first two games of the season.
NBA: Draft Lottery, 5 p.m., ESPN:
They’re distributing ping-pong balls again, this time in New York’s Times Square, for the top 14 picks in the June 28 draft. Charlotte as the most-favored status (a 25 percent chance of winning) for the chance to grab Kentucky’s unibrowed wonder Anthony Davis (or any of his four Wildcat teammates that also declared entry). But New Orleans has two lottery picks (taking one from Minnesota, which originally took it from the Clippers). Those two picks give the Hornets an 14.8 percent chance of the No. 1 choice. Of the 14 teams eligible, the newly-renamed Brooklyn Nets have a 7.5 percent chance of coming up with the top pick.
Scripps National Spelling Bee: Semifinals, 7 a.m., ESPN2; finals, 5 p.m., ESPN:
There’s a 6-year-old in the field: Lori Anne C. Madison of Woodbridge, Va., who, according to the organization, is the youngest speller in the event on record. She won the Prince William County Spelling Bee against constants who, in some cases, were twice her age. Do we have to spell this out for you – it’ll be compelling, life-scaring TV at its reality-show finest. Madison, who is home-schooled, told Fox News: “I was confident because I have been in spelling bees with older kids before and I judge them by who they are, not about age.” Madison said she started spelling and reading when she was 3 years old — “very early,” she explained. “Plus, I work hard and love to find new interesting words in the dictionary.” That attitude doesn’t succedaneum (a word meaning “to act as a substitute,” which was the winning word use in the 2001 competition. All preliminary rounds on Wednesday start at 5 a.m. on ESPN3, the website. Sage Steele is the event’s anchor person. Samantha Steele is a reporter. Where’s Iron Man when you need him? More info: www.spellingbee.com
MLB: Angels vs. Texas, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:
On Saturday (7:05 p.m., FSW), the Angels will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the “largest gathering of people wearing cowboy hats,” since everyone in attendance will be handed one. Sponsored, appropriately, by Yokohama. Nice to make the Rangers feel at home. “These record attempts are becoming an annual event for us,” Vice-President of Sales & Marketing, Robert Alvarado said. “By attempting our third world record to compliment the last two seasons’ events, we will deliver a unique and memorable experience that our fans have come to expect.” At the start of the fifth inning, an anticipated sellout of more than 40,000 will be prompted to wear their Angels cowboy hats for 10 consecutive minutes — which apparently does the trick. This is the third Guinness World Record attempted by the Angels, after going for the “largest gathering of people wearing blankets” (2010) and “largest gathering of people wearing masks” (2011). The current record for the largest gathering of people wearing cowboy hats — a mere 500. That can’t be right. Ever been to bar on a Wednesday afternoon in Houston? The series ends Sunday (12:35 p.m., FSW).
MLB: Dodgers at Colorado, 5:40 p.m., Prime:
Jamie Moyer is slated to make a return outing in the series opener against the Dodgers, unless he yields to old age or boredom. The Dodgers roughed him up for seven hits and five runs on May 11, but he also whiffed seven. This is the first of 19 road games that the Dodgers will play in the month of June, and it could start with some altitude sickness, even though the Dodgers swept the Rockies in three during Colorado’s visit to Dodger Stadium recently. The series continues Saturday (1:10 p.m., Prime) and Sunday (12:10 p.m., Channel 9).
Running: Prefontane Classic, noon, Channel 4:
Meet director Tom Jordan has proclaimed to the Eugene Register-Guard that the list for this year’s Bowerman Mile at the 38th Pre Classic on the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field is the “greatest field of milers ever assembled on American soil … superior to anything you’ll see at the Olympics or World Championships (because) we have no limits on the number of entrants per country. No limits. Sounds like a catchy movie title. Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop (right) and Silas Kiplagat, both 22, are the world’s top-ranked milers and are entered. Kiprop won gold in the 1500 meters at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Golf: PGA Memorial at Dublin, Ohio, final round, 11:30 a.m., Channel 2:
Steve Stricker won this event last year, and Zach Johnson won the PGA event last week, but the buzz in the tour world for this event is that Dustin Johnson, bothered by back pain for the better part of the past two months, plans to return for this event. He hasn’t played since he tied for 35th at the WGC event in the second week in March. Johnson finished fourth at the event a year ago, four shots back of Stricker, with a final round of 65. Golf Channel has the first two rounds Thursday and Friday; CBS has Saturday’s third round.