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The Clippers, US Junior Hockey and NHL. Oh My!

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Photo by Paul!!! via Flickr
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This weekend provided us some very unexpected results that were alternately great and frustrating. From the NBA to World Junior Hockey to the NHL, they demanded to be noticed from the juggernaut that is the NFL playoffs. And here they are.

1. Who would have thought that the Clippers would thoroughly annihilate the Golden State Warriors on Saturday? On Wednesday the Warriors took the Clippers out back to where they keep the unruly Raiders fans and beat a whole day's worth of dignity out of them to the tune of 115-94. On Saturday the Clippers exacted their revenge with a 115-89 victory leading by as many as 39 points in the third quarter.

Blake Griffin set the tone for the Clippers in the first quarter outscoring the Warriors by himself 14-12. Meanwhile the Warriors could not shoot the ball to save their lives. David Lee went 3-for-10, Stephan Curry 4-for-11, Klay Thompson 4-for-10. The Warriors only hit five of the 20 three-pointers they attempted. So you can see how the Clippers got 21 fast break points.

Most importantly for the Clippers was outrebounding the Warriors 41-30. As a result the Clippers outscored the Warriors 22-6 in second chance points.

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It's amazing to see how fast the sky-is-falling sentiment has given way to oh-they-were-only-in-a-mini-slump. Sure their half-court offense could still use some work. But they don't seem to be conceding anything yet.

2. A Southern Calfornian native would bring US the gold in hockey. The 5-foot-6 Orange County native Rocco Grimaldi was the hero for the United States in Ufa, Russia. At the World Junior Hockey Championships in the gold medal game, he tied the game in the second period on a bad-angle shot that somehow got past Sweden's goalie. Then three minutes later after a Sweden turnover in their zone at the blue line, he deflected a shot from the right point by Jacob Trouba to make it 2-1.

The US scored an empty-netter in the final minute to win the gold 3-1.

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Grimaldi was drafted in the second round with the 33rd overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers and is playing for the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux. His contribution was so unlikely having been demoted to the fourth line and sat on the bench for the game against Slovakia in the final game of the preliminary round.

So why doesn't this shawty get my juices flowing like the Satanic Johnny Manziel?

Well like the other Orange County evangelicals, he has a fear of women. Take this Twitter sermon from over a year ago. He wants women to cover up because men are weak and give in to temptation. You know, the whole "the woman deserves to be raped because of the way she dressed" defense.

I sure as hell hope his philosophy has evolved into the 20th century since then. But he did help win the gold for the US.

3. The NHL lockout is over. When I went to bed Saturday night, the NHL and NHL Players' Association were still negotiating with the help of federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh (perhaps a distant relative to Sam Peckinpah?)

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I wake up this morning, and the lockout was over. After 113 days and missing more than half of the season, we will finally get to see hockey.

Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy blog has some of the details of the 10-year collective bargaining agreement.

According to Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports, the league will play a 48-game season starting Jan. 19 with training camps to open this weekend.

It should be noted that the Clippers host the Wizards at 7:30 p.m. on the 19th.

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Last month I penned a fuck you to the NHL telling them when they got their shit together, I'd see if I had any interest left. It's amazing how all the anger quickly evaporated into tears of joy this morning, but that's mostly because I hadn't had my coffee yet when I saw the news.

So get ready for tons of hockey stories.

4. Lakers lose again. I'm really hiding this one. The Lakers lost to the Denver Nuggets 112-105 losing four of their five games to fall to 15-18. I've been making comparisons to the 2002-03 team, but that team started making a run at this point of the season. There isn't much more analysis I can make other than they play shitty defense.

5. NFL Aftermath. My NFL wild card predictions weren't that far off with the notable exception of the Vikings and the Packers. I maintain that if Christian Ponder had started for the Vikings, they probably would have won.

Predicted Texans over Bengals 21-13. Actual: Texans over Bengals 19-13.
Predicted Vikings over Packers 24-21. Actual: Packers over Vikings 24-10.
Predicted Ravens over Colts 31-10. Actual: Ravens over Colts 24-9.
Predicted Seahawks over Redskins 13-10. Actual: Seahawks over Redskins 24-14.

Here are the opening lines on next week's divisional round games:

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-9.5): Saturday 1:30 p.m. CBS.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3.0): Saturday 5:00 p.m. Fox.

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (-1.0): Sunday 10:00 a.m. Fox.
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-9.5): Sunday 1:30 p.m. CBS.

My predictions on these games with updated odds later this week.

6. BCS Championship Game. The number of the day seems to be 9.5 since that's also how much Alabama is favored. This is going to be an awful game, an unwatchable contest where the only highlights will be on defense. Alabama has no offense outside of their running backs, and Notre Dame has to be one of the most imperfect undefeated teams in recent memory. I wonder how many times ESPN will feature Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's stupid douchebag chest tattoo. Alabama 6; Notre Dame 5.