The Rangers and the Kings played a game of inches in the Stanley Cup Final. The Miami Heat hatched a Machiavellian plan to lure Carmelo Anthony to South Beach. Meanwhile, in Anaheim, Yoenis Cespedes launched another Cuban missile strike.
A lot happened last night. That's why we're here for you with the a.m. recap. It's Flagrant 2 time.
Rangers Survive, By Thiiiis Much
The New York Rangers were granted a stay of execution Wednesday night, beating Los Angeles 2-1 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and avoiding a royal flush at the hands of the Kings.
The Blue Shirts struck first, on a deflection by Benoit Pouliot at 7:25 of the opening period – their first goal in more than 120 minutes – got some lucky bounces (and heavy pucks that stopped on the goal line), then held on for dear life in the third. It almost wasn't enough, as the Kings came within inches of tying it up late in the final period. Like, literally inches:
That would be forward Derek Stepan sweeping the puck off the line and keeping the Rangers' faint Cup hopes alive. Henrik Lundqvist turned away 40 shots (only Dustin Brown beat him, after a horrible giveaway by Dan Girardi) and made several sprawling saves on breakaways by Los Angeles. Martin St. Louis added a goal for New York.
The Rangers are now 11-2 in their past 13 games when facing elimination (including an NHL-record 8 wins in a row at home), but the Kings were clearly the better team on this night, out-shooting New York 41-19 in the game and 15-1 in the third period. After blowing two-goal leads in Games 1 and 2, you had the feeling this one would end the same way. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, and Rangers survived, down 3-1 but headed to Game 5, Friday night in L.A.
Carmelo Anthony Joining The Miami Heat, Because Why Not?
It will take creative accounting and a collective checking of the egos, but it appears that the Miami Heat are prepared to make a serious run at signing Carmelo Anthony.
That's according to an ESPN report that cites the anonymous sources as saying "Heat officials and the team's leading players" have hatched a nefarious plan to snag Anthony, the Knicks' high-scoring forward. Carmelo can opt out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks (and, let's face it, he's going to), but changing the Big Three into the Big Four won't be easy.
For starters, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would all have to opt out of their current contracts by the end of the month, agree to new deals for less money, and convince both U.D. and Birdman to play for reduced salaries next season. Oh, and then team president Pat Riley would have to figure how to deal with cap space for pending free agents and the Heat's first-round pick at the upcoming draft. But other than that, it should be no problem.
Much less clear: How will there be enough shots to go around?
Anyway, LeBron is good friends with Anthony, and, really, he could probably play for $1 next year. He's got that Beats money now. Of course, before the Heat can sign Carmelo and give your dad one more reason to stop watching the NBA, there's still the matter of three-peating, which, at the moment, isn't going all that well.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off today, when host nation (and presumptive favorites) Brazil take on Croatia. The U.S. begins play Monday against Ghana. Wear those "Bomb Pop" kits while you still can. ... One day after uncorking the throw of the year, Oakland A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was at it again last night, nailing Albert Pujols by approximately 34 feet with a rocket toss from the wall. Can we just call him the Cuban Missile Crisis already? ... Enjoy this awesome baseball trickery, complete with outraged cries from parents in the stands, Radiohead's "No Surprises."