What you should watch this weekend
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Here's what you need to know right now from the world of sports:
The Penguins are in last place. Hard to believe, but look at the low end of the NHL's Eastern Conference standings:
Pittsburgh hit bottom last night after a 4-3 home loss to Tampa Bay. The 2016 and '17 Stanley Cup champs have lost seven of their last eight while being outscored by 12 goals in that span. The Lightning's Brayden Point scored a hat trick in 91 seconds of game time (all on the power play, two of them at 5-on-3) and Sidney Crosby sat out with an "upper-body injury." Coach Mike Sullivan said it's not a concussion but suggested Crosby could miss a week. Pittsburgh will probably be fine — its plus-1 goal differential is better than Montreal's, and the Habs are fourth in the East. Oh, and the Pens still have 65 games left. Way too early to panic.
The Italian government will chip in for the 2026 Olympics after all. Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said last month that the government "won't provide one Euro" to the Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo bid. So why the change of heart? Probably didn't hurt that Calgary all but dropped out of the race this week when its citizens voted "no" to pursuing the Games. That left only the Italians and Stockholm as finalists. The former has to be considered the front-runner now. Even before this new federal support, the Milan-Cortina bid had financial backing from the regional governments of Lombardy and Veneto — two of Italy's wealthiest. Stockholm, meanwhile, is trying to pull this off without taxpayer funding. The winner will be announced in June.
Houston pulled the plug on Carmelo Anthony. Rockets GM Daryl Morey announced yesterday the team is "parting ways" with the 10-time all-star after only 10 games. Houston reportedly had no immediate plans to cut him, and NBA rules say he can't be traded until Dec. 15. So it could take awhile for 'Melo to find a new team. The 34-year-old is a polarizing figure among basketball fans. Some consider him a star, others think he's overrated. The No. 3 pick in the 2003 NBA draft (LeBron James was already off the board, but Denver could have picked Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh), Anthony has never been able to help his teams go deeper than the conference finals.
Baseball is trying to be more colourful. Starting next season, players will be allowed more freedom in the colours and designs of their cleats. This is partly a response to the criticism Major League Baseball got for prohibiting the Cubs' Ben Zobrist from wearing black cleats (as a tribute to old-time players) and Cleveland's Mike Clevinger from sporting a tie-dyed pattern and a drawing of Jimi Hendrix. So good job, baseball. That should make the game more fun. Now maybe do something about the endless pitching changes and the ball never being in play anymore.
Here's your weekend viewing guide
The weekend is here. That means a lot of sports. This is what you should watch:
NBA — Raptors at Celtics (7 p.m. ET). This was supposed to be the Celtics' year. They made a surprise run to the Eastern Conference final last spring despite being without two of their star players in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. With those guys back and second-year man Jayson Tatum emerging as a star, Boston was the pre-season favourite to win the East. But the Celtics are just 8-6 and Hayward hasn't looked like the same player he was before a gruesome lower-leg injury sidelined him for basically all of last season. Toronto, meanwhile, is 12-3 since acquiring Kawhi Leonard over the summer, though the Raptors have lost two in a row.
Figure skating — Grand Prix of Russia. Yuzuru Hanyu is the best figure skater in the world and he's on his way to becoming one of the best ever. Only 23, he's already got two Olympic gold medals and a pair of world titles. Watch the Japanese star perform his free skate in Moscow, where he's already built up a massive lead with a dazzling short program. If you're up early, CBCSports.ca is streaming the men's free skate live, starting at 5:30 a.m. ET. Or sleep in and catch it on CBC's Road to the Olympic Games show at 3 p.m. ET.
NHL — Montreal at Vancouver (7 p.m. ET). These were supposed to be two of the NHL's worst teams this season, but they're both holding down a playoff position at this (very) early stage. Montreal is third in the Atlantic Division and Vancouver is second in the Pacific. The Habs' Max Domi has been a big surprise with 23 points in 19 games after coming over in a trade from Arizona. Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson is one of the most talked-about players in the league and already has 10 goals in 15 games.
CFL — Division Finals (1 p.m. ET and 4:30 p.m. ET). The winners of these two games will meet for the Grey Cup next Sunday in Edmonton. The early game is the East final: Hamilton at Ottawa. The Redblacks are 3.5-point favourites and well rested after a bye week, but the Tiger-Cats are coming off a 48-8 thrashing of B.C. Out in the West, Calgary is favoured by five points and remains most people's pick to win the Grey Cup after losing the title game two years in a row. This could be the Stamps' year: they had the best regular-season record (13-5) and gave up by far the fewest points. Winnipeg, which got past Saskatchewan last week, also has a strong defence and scored the most points. The winner of this matchup will be favoured to take the Grey Cup.
NFL — Chiefs at Rams (8:15 p.m. ET). We're cheating here (Monday is the exact opposite of the weekend) but this one's just too good not to mention. Two of the NFL's three best teams (New Orleans is the other) and its two top offences square of in what could be a Super Bowl preview (if we're lucky). Expect a lot of scoring. This game was supposed to be played in Mexico City until poor field conditions prompted the NFL to move it to the Rams' stadium, tilting it in L.A.'s favour.
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