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Wild in pursuit of Stanley Cup This could be their year

One of the Wild’s most successful regular seasons is now complete, and again the team has reached the playoffs for the third consecutive year. Thursday night in St. Louis the Wild begin their pursuit of the Stanley Cup.
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The Wild finished the regular season with 100 points. Of the 16 NHL teams that qualified for the playoffs, no fewer than 12 had 100 points or more. The New York Rangers captured the Presidents Cup Trophy with the most points, 113. The 12 teams with 100 or more points is a new NHL record.

The Wild were led in scoring by Zach Parise, with 33 goals and 29 assists for 62 points, and by goalie Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk is such a great story. He came to the Wild in a January trade with Arizona and has been the major reason this team played so well the second half of the season.

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Dubnyk has been nominated for League MVP; his 2.07 goals against average and .929 save percentage is the second best in the NHL. This Wild team is loaded with experience and speed and with Dubnyk won a franchise-record 12 straight games on the road.

That will be important, because the Wild do not have the home ice advantage in this best-of-seven first-round series against the Blues. The series starts Thursday in St. Louis and shifts back to St. Paul on Monday, April 20 for game three at Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild set a new franchise record for regular-season attendance.

Coach Mike Yeo appears to have his team playing its best hockey right now. The Blues are a little bigger and more physical, but with the Wild speed advantage and hot goal tending like Dubnyk’s, don’t count the Wild out. This could be their year to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

Duke wins it 68-63!

Coach Mike Krzyzewski has done it again: After 35 years at Duke, he knows a thing about recruiting good student-athletes. To finish first, you must first finish. Year after year he has done the best job of, like a magnet, drawing that talent to tobacco road. Apparently it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

The Blue Devils are National Champions of College Basketball after rallying from 48-39 in the second half to deny the Badgers of Wisconsin their first National Championship. Wisconsin last played in the title game in 1940 — that’s 75 years ago.
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The game was tied at 31-31 at half and turned into a great championship game. Former Apple Valley High School star Tyus Jones was the star of stars. It looked like Duke was in deep trouble — down nine with star center Jahil Okafor saddled with foul trouble while battling Wisconsin’s senior center college player of the year Frank Kaminsky, 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Krzyzewski told his players to turn up the heat on defense and stay aggressive on offense. And that they did: Freshman guard Grayson Allen gave the Blue Devils the spark off the bench they needed to offset the patient, methodical offensive style of Wisconsin. He attacked on offense and defense, scoring 16 points huge points off the bench to help rally the Blue Devils.

Krzyzewski’s young squad wore down the Badgers. The will to win is important but the will to prevail is vital.

National Championship: Duke takes the crown

Four Duke freshmen combined to score 60 of Dukes 68 points led by the sensational Jones’ game-high 23 points with 19 coming down the stretch in the second half. He hit big shot after big shot in leading Duke to their fifth National Championship. The Duke guards combined to out-score the Badgers guards 45-12.

Duke shot 47 percent; the Badgers shot 41 percent. The game was well played by both teams: Duke and Wisconsin each had only five turnovers. Wisconsin outrebounded Duke 35-33 and had 13 assists to Dukes’ seven. Somebody said a long time ago defense wins championships; indeed, Duke blocked six shots in the game.

Krzyzewski tied UCLA’s John Wooden with his 12th team he has guided to the Final Four. He won this title partly by out-recruiting Kentucky’s John Calipari and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo for Jones. Now when you when you drive through Apple Valley, you will see the sign that says, “Home of Tyus Jones. The 2015 Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship.”

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

Mayweather triumphs as capitalist champ

The latest fight of century has again proven that champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr., at age 38, knows how to win big fights. His credibility and integrity have long been tarnished by awful domestic abuse issues. However, his ability to rise to the occasion and deliver under great pressure against the best in the ring with the title on the line is second to none.

This fight, which may have been the most hyped, talked-about and promoted championship in 25 years, proved again that boxing is not what it used to be. This was no Thriller in Manila, Ali vs. Frazier, Ali vs. Foreman, Robinson vs. Duran, Louis vs. Schmeling, or even Tyson vs. Holyfield.

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao was the richest fight of all time. No fight will ever come close to generating this one’s pre-fight excitement, and what we got was a mega event in Las Vegas that did not come close to meeting the pre-fight expectations of millions.

We all had to know that Manny Pacquiao, boxing’s good guy and only eight-weight-class champion, is a shadow of himself. An injury to his shoulder before the fight apparently limited his ability to reach deep inside and go after trying to knock Mayweather out.

Mayweather is a strategic and calculated boxer in the true sense of the word. His defensive style is not popular, but it’s very effective, and he’s smart enough to stick with a successful game plan. Tha’s why he’s 48-0 and, despite the controversy that follows him, he’s the greatest winner of his era.

But is he better than Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Jack Johnson, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvin Hagler, Roy Jones Jr, Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Jack Dempsey, or Rocky Marciano at 49-0?

Thanks to Mayweather, boxing is not dead, though it may be devoid of leadership. And yes, corrupt with a racist past. Mayweather, however, has boxing in his hands. He’s a skilled technician and defensively a magician.

He has calculated every fight and guarded his position. Even with most of boxing’s establishment openly rooting against him, he is definitely the bad guy who always wins. At 48-0, history says h’¹s the best after beating Pacquiao.

The public did not get the fight when they wanted, but they did get it. And Mayweather walks away with $120 million, having left the boxing world speechless. It’s time to recognize that he shouldn¹t be measured on human dignity ‹ he’s the best capitalist of his era by a long shot. He knows how to make money and generate thousands of people with money to passionately bet and root against his success.

He’s a prize fighter at 48-0 who has settled all scores. It’s no secret. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. might or might not be the greatest of all-time, but he’s without question the best of his era today.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.