Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New Jersey Devils’ Patrik Elias is down on the ice and Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is without a mask after a third-period collision in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday in New Jersey.
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
NHL Stanley Cup Final: Kings vs. New Jersey:
Game 3: Tonight at Staples Center, 5 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Game 4: Wednesday at Staples Center, 5 p.m., NBC Sports Network
If necessary: Game 5: Saturday at New Jersey, 5 p.m., Channel 4:
Ask a Kings’ season-seat holder for the last 20-some years — and one who admits to have spent more than a quarter of a million dollars for that privilege — what it’s like to see the Kings play two home games in the Stanley Cup Final this week. “For those people who’ve loved the Kings over the years because they’ve loved hockey, you feel like you’re in some kind of Fantasyland right now, that this really can’t be happening,” famed broadcaster Al Michaels gasped during an appearance on Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show last week. “I’m like a 12-year-old kid now thinking, ‘How did we get here? How did we become the best team in the league’?” You’d think hockey miracles wouldn’t faze someone like him at this point.
The Kings being up 2-0 has a lot of people wondering what’s been turned upside down in the hockey world. By the end of the week, they could be wearing a new crown. It makes no sense. And you can watch it if someone can find the NBC Sports Channel ASAP. That could be the real miracle. Some may wish the Kings were still playing a road playoff game — their only two losses in a 14-2 run since April 11 have been at Staples Center. Michaels, the longtime Brentwood resident more familiar to NFL fans hearing him on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” will be part of the pregame show for NBC Sports Channel (sorry, not NBC Channel 4) to give his impressions on whether this annual event even goes back to New Jersey to finish up. And by the way, no matter how many local L.A. TV “reporters” will do something stupid this week, WABC-TV in New York has already reported that the New York Islanders — not the New Jersey Devils — were taking on the Kings, and that was after last Wednesday’s Game 1 already happened. Maybe they were confused that the NHL Stanley Cup Final logo was already decked out in silver and black. Where’s Puddy with his Brodeur jersey and painted face screaming at Kings’ fans for that one?
MLB: Dodgers at Philadelphia, 4:05 p.m., Channel 9:
Not to get into any kind of Phanatic attack, but with an injured Roy Halladay already out of the Phillies’ rotation, former Long Beach State standout Vance Worley comes off the DL for tonight’s opener of the four-game series having spent the last 15 days with a tender right elbow. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw (4-3, 2.42) has been on the losing end his last two starts, allowing seven walks and seven earned runs over the last 12 2/3 innings. Cliff Lee (0-2, 3.00) also has something of a backwards record, pitching the second game Tuesday (4:05 p.m., Channel 9) against Chad Billingsley. Lee is 2-0 with a 0.40 ERA in three career starts against the Dodgers in the regular season, giving up one run in 22 1/3 innings. After Wednesday (4:05 p.m., Prime), we’ll see which Dodger rookie callup Cole Hammels wants to tag in the finale (Thursday, 10:05 a.m., Prime).
MLB: Angels vs. Seattle, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m.:
The Angels won all four in Seattle a week ago, but they’ve only got three in this reunion tour, closing out a homestand by giving away a cooler on Tuesday (7:05 p.m., FSW) and a dashboard hula girl on Wednesday (7:05 p.m., FSW). Mahalo.
MLB: First year draft, 4 p.m., MLB Network:
The Dodgers have the 18th overall pick and may be able to grab Harvard-Westlake pitcher Lucas Giolito with it (or, he could go to UCLA instead). His teammate, Max Fried, is projected by one draft service to go seventh overall to San Diego. The Houston Astros have the No. 1 pick overall. Twenty years ago, when they last were in this situation, they took Phil Nevin, fresh off the Cal State Fullerton campus, and passed on a high school shortstop named Derek Jeter. But then, Paul Shuey, B.J. Wallace, Jeffrey Hammonds and Chad Mottola were also taken ahead of Jeter in 1992. Nevin only played 18 games for Houston. The Astros could make Mark Appel, a pitcher out of Stanford, the top grab. He’s a lifelong Astros fan. This is just the start of the three-day, 40-round draft. The Angels gave away their 19th overall choice to St. Louis by signing Albert Pujols.
NBA Western Conference finals Game 5: Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 6 p.m., TNT:
“Whoever wins the next game will win the series,” Shaquille O’Neal decided to boldly predict after Saturday’s Game 4, having watched the Thunder tie the series up a two apiece. That means the Spurs will have the energy to do it in the OKC on Wednesday (6 p.m., TNT) or, more likely, in a Game 7 back in San Antonio on Friday (6 p.m., TNT).
NBA Eastern Conference finals Game 5: Boston at Miami, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
There’s more speculation about the Heat’s Chris Bosh potentially returning at some point in this series — he traveled with the team for the first time in a while to Boston, but was a no-go for Game 4. He’s also had a full week of rehabilitation work on his strained abdominal muscle that included some basketball drills. Why not just rest him up for the NBA Finals at this point? If they need more games, they’ll have Thursday in Boston for Game 6 (5:30 p.m., ESPN), and a seventh game in Miami on Saturday (5:30 p.m., ESPN).
MLB: Tampa Bay at N.Y. Yankees, 4 p.m., ESPN:
Because, for some reason, not everyone will be interested in the Kings-Devils’ Game 4.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images Europe
Golf: LPGA Championship in Pittsfield, N.Y., first round, 9 a.m., Golf Channel:
One of these gals is not like the others. The top women golfers got together above for a group shot before the season-opening event in Singapore, it might not be a stretch to say that Taiwan’s Yani Tseng (fourth from left) is the least dressed for, ahem, success. She may not have the cheesecake legs to show off like, from left, Kyung Kim, Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, Beatriz Recari, Melissa Reid, Suzann Pettersen, Se Ri Pak, Paula Creamer (not in pink?) and Natalie Gulbis, but she’s got a leg up on the competition. Besides, how do you leave the kid with the Bieber cut out of the group shot? At last year’s LPGA Championship, two-time tour player of the year Tseng became the youngest female golfer in history (age 22) to win four major titles, shooting a final-round 66 to win this one by 10 strokes. The 2008 LPGA Championship winner has held her No. 1 ranking and has more than $8.5 million in career earnings. Golf Channel has the entire event, including five hours each day of the last two rounds (11 a.m., Saturday and Sunday).
MLB: Dodgers at Seattle, 7:10 p.m., Prime:
For the second game of the series at Safeco Field on Saturday (4:15 p.m., Channel 11), the Mariners are having an “Ichiro Bendy Day,” giving away a “miniature and flexible Ichiro figurine” to the first 10,000. This thing “can be twisted and contorted into a variety of poses,” the team says in its promo sheet. Don’t have to twist our arm for that one. The series ends Sunday (1:10 p.m., Prime).
MLB: Angels at Colorado, 5:40 p.m., FSW:
Where in the world is Brandon Wood these days? The 27-year-old former Angels’ can’t-miss third baseman, a first-round pick in 2003, has seen his rocky road stall for now in the Rockies’ organization, at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Rene Lachmann is the team’s hitting coach. And if Wood makes it back to the bigs, former Angels MVP Don Baylor will be hit hitting instructor. The series continues Saturday (1:10 p.m., FSW) and Sunday (12:10 p.m., FSW).
WNBA: Sparks vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 8 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56:
Candace Parker had 27 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots to lead the Sparks ove the Mercury when the faced off last time in Phoenix a week ago. Sparks rookie Nneka Ogwumike added 22 points.
Tennis: French Open women’s finals, 6 a.m., Channel 4:
Maria Sharapova just may have this clay stuff figured out by now. She can finish off a career grand slam by winning her first French Open, and there’s hardly a Williams sister in the vicinity to derail it. Unless you like the chances of China’s Li Na, who beat her in the French Open semifinals a year ago. This year’s semifinals are Thursday (5 a.m., ESPN2). The men’s doubles final is also scheduled for today, as Camarillo’s Mike and Bob Bryan, seeded second, go for their 12th grand slam title.
Horse racing: The 144th Belmont Stakes, 3:35 p.m., Channel 4:
The facts that’ll just get in the way of a good story here: There are only 11 Triple Crown winners ever, and none in the last 34 years. Over that time, there have been 12 horses who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to come up short in the 1 1/2 miles in New York. But Santa Anita Derby champ I’ll Have Another has another day to prove himself as one of the all-time best. Trainer Doug O’Neill says I’ll Have Another “continues to amaze me the way he’s handled all this (attention and travel) and continues to thrive. . . . I can’t believe I’m in this spot. I’m proof if you have a talented horse and got a great team and a great staff, miracles can happen. It’s all about the horse and he is an amazing horse.” It’s also amazing how O’Neill is allowed to be in the spotlight with I’ll Have Another while he serves a 45-day suspension and $15,000 fine by the California racing board for giving one of his horses an illegal performance-enhancing mixture. NBC’s Bob Costas told Jim Rome on his radio show last week that he’ll “hit this issue hard, including with direct interviews with O’Neill. … (but) you have to be careful even though there’s an issue here. Let’s say I’ll Have Another wins the Triple Crown, and there’s O’Neill standing there. … Would you ask Richard Nixon about Watergate while he was descending the steps of the church after one of his daughter’s wedding? … If we’ve addressed all of these issues prior to, then I think it can be confined to a single question, and I won’t be afraid to ask it.” Without rival Bodemeister in the field, I’ll Have Another has already been made the overwhelming 4/5 favorite by Daily Racing Form oddsmaker Mike Watchmaker. Dullahan is the next at 5/1 with Union Rags at 6/1.
Boxing: Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley Jr., 6 p.m., pay-per-view:
Define for us what makes a great matchup in the ring? Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) defends his WBO welterweight belt opposite WBO junior welterweight titleholder and Palm Springs native Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and it goes for $64.95 in high-def, or $54.95 standard defintion. There’s your definition right there of high expectations and a moderate quality of product, which HBO tries to boost with its “24/7” fake documentary series. Bradley tried to grab more media attention by tweeting out that he’s already got a rematch figured out for Nov. 10 — and a poster to promote it — after he defeats Pacquiao this time. “Gonna be so nice we gonna do it twice,” wrote @timbradleyjr. Will the public demand it?
Tennis: French Open men’s final, 6 a.m., Channel 4:
A Raffy Nadal-Roger Federer meeting in the championship means top-seed Novak Djokovic lost to Federer in the quarters. The semifinals are Friday (4 a.m., Tennis Channel; 8 a.m., Channel 4).