This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.
Good morning to everyone but especially to…
MATTHEW TKACHUK AND THE FLORIDA PANTHERS
Matthew Tkachuk did it again. Seriously. With Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final tied 3-3 and only 4.3 seconds left in regulation, Tkachuk fired the puck past Carolina Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen for a goal that both won the game and punched the Florida Panthers’ ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.
Florida has won the Prince of Wales Trophy for the first time since 1996 after budging their way into the Stanley Cup Playoffs by a single point. That just barely begins to encapsulate just how wild this Panthers run has been.
- The Panthers (28%) are the only team in the NHL’s expansion era to make the postseason after holding a playoff spot for under 30% for the season, and they join the 2017 Predators as the only Wild Card teams to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
- In the first round, Florida came back from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins, a team that set NHL records in regular-season wins (65) and points (135).
- Tkachuk has 21 goals in 16 games this postseason, and he helped the Panthers sweep the Hurricanes by scoring three of the four-game winners and assisting on Sam Reinhart’s in Game 3.
- The game-winner Tkachuk scored to eliminate the Hurricanes last night tied an NHL record for the latest series-winner in regulation.
If this story kind of sounds familiar, it’s because it’s not that different from what the Miami Heat are currently doing in the NBA playoffs.
Please check the opt-in box to acknowledge that you would like to subscribe.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
The Panthers now await the winner of the Western Conference Final, a series that’s been similarly lopsided. The Vegas Golden Knights have a commanding 3-0 lead over the Stars and can eliminate Dallas on Thursay.
Do the Celtics have any chance at all to ice the Heat? 🏀
Down 3-0 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics rallied back from a halftime deficit to beat the Miami Heat and escape an embarrassing playoff exit.
Boston’s chances of winning the series remain slim, however, as no team in NBA history has successfully come back from a 3-0 hole. And yet, the Celtics still have hope, at least from their longtime emotional leader Marcus Smart, whosaid after Game 4 “all that matters is the next game.”
Our Brad Botkin broke down whether believing is worth the Celtics’ time at this point of the series. The situation isn’t as bleak as the pre-Game 4 results would indicate:
- Including Tuesday’s win, the Celtics are 6-0 over the last two seasons when facing elimination against Eastern Conference opponents. Boston will try to make it 9-0 this series, and only one of those wins would have come to on the road as Games 5 and 7 — should the Celtics make it that far — will be in TD Garden.
- The Celtics shot 40% from 3-point range in Game 4, a number much more representative of their regular-season production — Boston was the sixth best 3-point shooting team in the league at 37.7%. Boston was 34%, 28% and 26% from deep in Games 1, 2 and 3, respectively.
Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla has faced significant criticism during the playoffs over his rotations and timeout usage — or lack thereof — as well as his team’s inconsistent effort and mental toughness. But after helping Boston stave off elimination in front of a Miami crowd hungry to see their team crowned the Eastern Conference champions, Mazzulla has earned his flowers from Botkin.
We’ll see tonight in Game 5 if the Celtics can stay alive.
Coyotes’ franchise instability began long before failed Tempe relocation 🏒
If you’re one of the many “Succession” fans pre-grieving over Sunday’s series finale, fear not. The Arizona Coyotes have been as amusingly unstable as the Roy children for 25 years, and they’re not going anywhere — organizationally, that is.
The Coyotes’ physical home for the coming years remains unclear, though, as Tempe voters recently denied a proposal for a new arena and entertainment complex in the city. Arizona infamously played last season’s home games at ASU’s Mullett Arena — a venue so tiny even the NHL’s next smallest arena, the Winnipeg Jets’ Canada Life Centre, is three times the size.
Our Austin Nivison did a deep dive into the Coyotes’ 25-year run of instability, and here’s one of my favorite lowlights:
- The Coyotes played their first seven-plus seasons at America West Arena in Phoenix, but the venue was so unsuitable to hockey that then-owner Steve Ellman, unable to finalize a deal to renovate the venue, had to move the team to a new arena in Glendale midway through the 2003-04 campaign.
- Jerry Moyes, who bought the Coyotes from Ellman in June 2006, declared bankruptcy less than three years later and planned to sell the team to BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie — who was played by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Glenn Howerton in the recent indie film “BlackBerry.”
It really is worth reading the entire story to see how the they got here.
With the Tempe plan scrapped, the Coyotes are scheduled to stay at Mullett Arena for the next two seasons. Relocation could very well be the team’s outcome after that, as Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont are among the many pitching their cities as a new potential home for the Yotes.
How MLB is taking steps to improve players’ mental health ⚾
Professional athletes take meticulous care of their physical health to be able to wow fans with monster home runs, 360 dunks, tackle-breaking touchdown runs and much more. Now, MLB is aiming to bring that same effort and energy to players’ mental health.
CBS Sports’ Isabel Gonzalez spoke with MLB senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion Billy Bean, along with the Rockies’ clinical psychologist and director of mental skills development, about what steps the league and teams are taking on the mental health front.
- Rockies clinical psychologist Ed Chavez uses a mental health bank method with players in which negative things such as doom scrolling on social media are “withdrawals,” while positives like getting a good night’s rest are “deposits,” reminding them they can’t keep withdrawing without depositing.
- Douglas Chadwick, the Rockies’ director of mental skills development, helps players focus on their confidence and effectively reframe their thoughts, as well as ensuring they don’t tie their identities to their athletic performance.
- By virtue of a new MLB rule, Chadwick and mental health professionals like him are now allowed in teams’ dugouts.
Chavez and Chadwick said younger players are more likely to talk about mental health than veterans, and the former believes it becoming as frequent a topic of conversation as physical health can change that.
What we’re watching Friday 📺
🏒 Golden Knights at Stars, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Heat at Celtics, 8:30 p.m. on TNT