Panthers hoist Stanley Cup; Tennessee wins College World Series; can Scheffler’s season top Tiger’s best year?

Written by on June 25, 2024

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🏆 Good morning to everyone, but especially to …

THE FLORIDA PANTHERS

Thirty years after they entered the NHL, the Florida Panthers are finally Stanley Cup champions. The Panthers held on for a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 to clinch the first Cup title in franchise history.

The Panthers didn’t make it easy on themselves. They became just the third team in NHL history to surrender a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, but that’s as far as it went. Florida made sure it didn’t become just the second team to lose a Final after leading 3-0.

Carter Verhaeghe picked a good time to score his second goal of the series, tipping home an Evan Rodrigues shot with just 4:27 gone in the first period. Sam Reinhart scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal, a snapshot past Stuart Skinner with 4:49 to go in the middle frame.

Reinhart was a fitting hero for the Panthers considering his 57 goals in the regular season led the Panthers and were good for second in the NHL.

From there, Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky shook off his shaky performances in Games 4, 5 and 6 to slam the door on the Oilers. Bobrovsky allowed just one goal on the 24 shots he faced, and many of those stops came with Edmonton throwing the kitchen sink at him in the third period.

Bobrovsky did get some help from defenseman Gustav Forsling, who made the biggest play that won’t show up in the box score. With just over seven minutes left, Forsling tied up the stick of Connor McDavid, who had Bobrovsky dead to rights at the top of the crease.

Despite not registering a point in Games 6 or 7, McDavid was named the MVP of the playoffs. It was the sixth time a player on the losing team — and only the second for a non-goalie — received the honor. None of the Panthers got to lift the Conn Smythe Trophy, but I’m going to assume they had more fun lifting the Stanley Cup anyway.

Two people who definitely enjoyed hoisting the Cup over their heads were Panthers head coach Paul Maurice and forward Kyle Okposo. It took Maurice 26 seasons as a head coach to finally win hockey’s greatest prize, and Okposo waited 17 seasons before laying his hands on Lord Stanley.

👍 Honorable mentions

🏒 And not such a good morning for …

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THE EDMONTON OILERS

The Oilers’ locker room was a little less jubilant than that of the Panthers on Monday night. After climbing all the way back from 3-0 down to force a Game 7, Edmonton came up one goal short of forcing overtime and two goals short of its first Stanley Cup since 1990.

Game 7 looked a lot like the first three games of the series for the Oilers. Edmonton fell behind, and it couldn’t find the equalizer as Florida went into lockdown mode defensively. The Oilers did have some close calls, especially in the third period, but too many of its biggest stars came up empty in Game 7 and the rest of the series.

  • Leon Draisaitl failed to score a goal in the series after scoring 10 in the first three rounds.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins registered just two points in the Final.
  • Connor McDavid was held off the scoresheet in Games 6 and 7.

Even after a frustrating finish to the Stanley Cup Final, McDavid was named the Conn Smythe winner after a historic postseason. McDavid’s 34 assists are an NHL record for the most in a single postseason, and his 42 points are fourth-most for a single playoff run.

Despite all of those accolades, it was still a bittersweet end to McDavid’s season, as I highlighted in my breakdown of his tremendous postseason.

  • Nivison: “After all the dazzling performances and record-setting point totals, McDavid came up one game short of hockey immortality. Tomorrow, those numbers will go back to zero, and he’ll have to start all over again next season.”

👎 Not so honorable mentions

⚾ Tennessee wins College World Series

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The college baseball champions are clad in Big Orange. Tennessee defeated Texas A&M, 6-5, in a winner-take-all Game 3 to claim the first national title in program history.

The Vols got the evening started in appropriate fashion. Christian Moore, Tennessee’s best hitter all season long, launched a leadoff home run over the left field wall in the bottom of the first inning to open the scoring.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Volunteers were clinging to a 3-1 lead when left fielder Dylan Dreiling came to the plate with one man on base. On the 0-1 pitch, Dreiling hit a moonshot that just scraped over the right field wall to extend the lead to 5-1.

  • That was the third straight game in which Dreiling hit a seventh-inning homer.
  • Dreiling took home the College World Series MVP with 13 hits, three HRs and 11 RBI.

Tennessee starter Zander Sechrist, a senior, went 5 1/3 innings and allowed just one earned run on six hits while striking out seven.

Things did get a little hairy for the Volunteers as the Aggies clawed back to make it a one-run ballgame, even bringing the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth. However, that’s when relief pitcher Aaron Combs closed the door and delivered a national title.

Vols head coach Tony Vitello took over the program six years ago and has steadily built it up into a perennial national title contender. Following this 60-13 campaign, Vitello’s record now stands at 294-112 with some hardware to go along with it.

🏈 Mike McCarthy already feeling the heat in Dallas

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USATSI

The temperature is rising in Big D, and not just when it comes to the weather. We’re still months away from Week 1 of the NFL season, but the tension between Mike McCarthy and Jerry Jones is already growing.

McCarthy, who is entering his fifth year with the Dallas Cowboys, is reportedly “fed up” with Jones’ constant interference. It’s also notable that 2024 is the final year of McCarthy’s current contract, and there are plenty of questions about his future with the team.

In his first four seasons as the head coach, McCarthy has led the Cowboys to a strong 42-25 record and three playoff berths. The issue is that McCarthy is 1-3 in those postseason appearances.

There’s a reason McCarthy is one of our 12 non-quarterbacks under the most pressure in 2024. As our own Cody Benjamin explains, this is a make-or-break season for the Cowboys’ head coach in more ways than one.

  • Benjamin: “McCarthy has all the numbers to justify a top job, with three straight playoff bids under his belt. He also has just a single postseason victory in his last six seasons as a head man. With Dak Prescott also on the hot seat as he enters a contract year, McCarthy is under pressure to finally make good on owner Jerry Jones’ roster, and deliver a big-stage win.”

McCarthy isn’t the only one feeling the heat this summer. Other big names under the microscope include Calvin Ridley, Stefon Diggs and Nick Sirianni.

🏌 Scottie Scheffler chasing Tiger’s historic 2000 season

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Tiger Woods‘ 2000 PGA Tour season is regarded as the best year in the history of the sport. Few have even found the same zip code since then, but Scottie Scheffler might just be giving Woods a run for his money.

Coming off his win at the Travelers Championship last weekend, Scheffler is building an all-time resume this season, and there might be even more to come. Scheffler already has six wins, including the Masters and The Players Championship.

That puts him within reach of Woods, who will have an edge in the majors category. Woods rattled off three major victories in 2000, and Scheffler can only max out at two if he were to capture the Open next month.

As our own Kyle Porter points out, Scheffler does have a unique opportunity to separate himself from Woods by winning a gold medal at the Paris Olympics later this summer.

  • Porter: “Let’s presume for a moment that Scheffler wins out. He said Sunday he’s planning on playing the Open, the Olympics and the three FedEx Cup playoff events. That would be 11 victories — two more than Woods had in 2000 — along with a likely edge in scoring average, proportion of money earned and top-five finishes. Scheffler would fall one major short (with a PGA asterisk given the complications surrounding his arrest) but have the Players and a gold medal to his name.”

By the end of 2024, the debate about the greatest PGA Tour season ever might be closer than anyone ever imagined.

📺 What we’re watching Tuesday

⚽ Euro 2024 — France at Poland, 12 p.m. on Fox
⚽ Euro 2024 — Netherlands at Austria, 12 p.m. on FS1
⚽ Euro 2024 — Denmark at Serbia, 3 p.m. on FS1
⚽ Euro 2024 — England at Slovenia, 3 p.m. on Fox
⚽ Copa America — Peru at Canada, 6 p.m. on FS1
⚾ Yankees at Mets, 7:10 p.m. on TBS
🏀 Commissioner’s Cup — Lynx at Liberty, 8 p.m. on Prime Video
⚽ Copa America — Chile at Argentina, 9 p.m. on FS1

The post Panthers hoist Stanley Cup; Tennessee wins College World Series; can Scheffler’s season top Tiger’s best year? first appeared on CBS Sports.


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