Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. Discount Balenciaga . This week, they give a special NHL playoff edition of Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, where the panel gives their Stanley Cup winner prediction. Bruce Arthur, National Post My thumb is up to the Boston Bruins who I think are going to be the 2014 Stanley Cup champions. Remember last season, there was a thought that Claude Julien would get fired if they lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round and jeopardy could extend all the way up to the general managers chair and they did what they did. I think theyre in better shape heading into the playoffs then they were last season, when they had a compressed schedule following the Boston Marathon bombings, they were a tired team in the first round and really, more than anything, they have the easiest road to the Stanley Cup Final of any Stanley Cup contender. I think Bostons ready. Steve Simmons, SUN Media It hurts me to say this just because of the history but Im going thumbs up to the San Jose Sharks, who year in and year out disappoint at this time of year, but I look at this team and all that size up front. The move of Joe Pavelski to left wing has really completed this forward group nicely and I think Marc-Edouard Vlasics play at the Olympics taught him that hes a big-time guy now. He can elevate his game and I think that team, with Todd McLellan coaching, can come out of the west and can beat the Boston Bruins. Theyre too big and theyre too fast. Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated My thumb is up to the Chicago Blackhawks because consistency is the hob gobble in little minds and nobody has a littler mind than I do. I picked them at the start of the year, I picked them at the deadline, and Im picking them now because Patrick Kanes going to be back, Jonathan Toews is going to be back, and because the Blackhawks have the best defenceman in the Stanley Cup tournament in Duncan Keith. Dave Hodge, TSN Im going to go through the apparently easy route in the east and say thumbs up to the Presidents Trophy winning Boston Bruins. Sure, they dont win as often as they lose but in this case, this is the best home team in the NHL, lots of playoff experience, theyre obviously good defensively, good goaltending, good special teams and they are reasonably healthy. Then theres that Eastern Conference path to the Stanley Cup Final again, and I think that ends up being the bottom line for my reason to pick Boston. Balenciaga Triple S Discount . According to USA Today the Finns have tapped forwards Jarkko Immonen and Sakari Salminen to replace injured forwards Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula at the Sochi Games. Balenciaga Triple S Clearance . Future Hall of Famer Ricky Ray is in his prime and back for a third season in double blue. The 34-year old was magnificent in 2013, throwing for just under 2,900 yards despite missing eight games, tossing an impressive 21 touchdowns against just two interceptions, completing 66 per cent of his passes in the process.TORONTO - The Toronto Maple Leafs longest losing streak since 2010 has their playoff hopes in serious doubt. The Detroit Red Wings longest winless stretch in three months has prevented the club from separating itself in the wild card race. The two clubs look to get on track Saturday night, when the Leafs try to snap a seven-game slide against a Red Wings team looking to win for the first time in four contests. Detroit and Toronto are two of four teams tied for the two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference with 80 points. The Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals all have nine games remaining on the season, while the Maple Leafs have seven left to play. That has Toronto on the outside of the playoff picture, while the Red Wings and Blue Jackets have the current tiebreaker over the Capitals with more non-shootout wins. Washington is hosting the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon, while Columbus is set to visit the Carolina Hurricanes in the evening. The Maple Leafs seemed in prime position to make the playoffs for a second straight season just weeks ago, but have lost seven in a row in regulation. That is the longest losing streak for the club since an 0-6-2 slide from Oct. 28-Nov. 13, 2010. Toronto doesnt have much time to regroup after dropping a 4-2 road decision to the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night. That setback did see winger James van Riemsdyk set a club record by scoring just four seconds into the second period, but it wasnt enough. Dave Bolland also scored and Jonathan Bernier allowed four goals on 29 shots faced. "I think our work ethic and all that stuff has been good. We havent quit, weve played hard to the end," noted van Riemsdyk, who bested Mats Sundins previous club record set when he scored six seconds into overtime on Dec. 30, 1995. "Like I said, sometimes we just arent getting those bounces and were just going to have to find a way to just clean things up a little bit more where were not making any mistakes because it seems like when we do were not gettingg the bounces that we need. Balenciaga Shoes Clearance. quot; That is especially true for Torontos goaltenders. Bernier has allowed four goals in both games he has played since returning from a five-game absence caused by a groin injury, while James Reimer has yielded 18 goals over a personal five-game losing streak. Bernier will get the start again for Toronto. He is 2-1-1 with a 2.85 goals against average versus the Red Wings. Toronto opens a four-game homestand tonight and will then close the season with three straight on the road. The Leafs are 22-14-1 at home on the season. The Red Wings are trying to avoid missing the postseason for the first time since 1990 and remain without a number of injured players, including Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. They come into this key meeting having gone 0-2-1 in their last three games, the longest winless stretch for the Red Wings since they went 0-4-2 from Dec. 7-17. Detroit tried to rally on Thursday night against the visiting Montreal Canadiens, but came up short in a 5-4 decision. Tomas Tatar scored twice in a span of just over three minutes in the third period to tie the game, but the Habs went back on top 78 seconds later. Montreal then restored a two-goal edge before Johan Franzen tallied to get the Red Wings within a goal, but another comeback was not in the cards. "Catch-up hockey is losing hockey," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. Riley Sheahan recorded a goal and an assist in the loss, but Jimmy Howard stopped just 24-of-29 shots. Babcock said Howard is his likely starter for tonight as the Red Wings also are set to host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. Howard is 1-1-1 in his career against Toronto with a 2.61 GAA. The Red Wings have won two of three against the Maple Leafs this season, with the lone setback coming in a shootout on Jan. 1 outdoors at Michigan Stadium. Detroits 5-4 shootout victory on Dec. 21 snapped a four-game series road losing streak as the Red Wings won in Toronto for the first time since Nov. 16, 2002. ' ' '
BOISBRIAND, Que. Spencer Haywood Jersey . - The Drummondville Voltigeurs handed the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada just their second loss of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season on Thursday. Georgs Golovkovs and Guillaume Gauthier each had a goal and an assist in Drummondvilles 4-1 win over Blainville-Broisband. Nikolas Brouillard and Christophe Lalancette also scored for the Voltigeurs (13-6-1). Emil Aronsson spoiled Louis-Philip Guindons shutout bid at 8:16 of the third period. Guindon finished with 25 saves for Drummondville. Armada (15-2-2) goalie Etienne Marcoux handled 14-of-18 shots, and also got a slashing penalty. --- WILDCATS 8 SEA DOGS 3 MONCTON, N.B. — Ryan Penny scored in every period to lead the Moncton Wildcats to a rout of the Sea Dogs. Conor Garland opened the scoring for Moncton (10-12-1) 54 seconds into the game, while third-period goals by Cameron Yarwood, Christophe Lalonde, Ivan Barbashev and Will Smith put the game out of reach. Matthew Highmore, Noah Zilbert and Jeremy Doucet scored for the Sea Dogs (6-13-2). Doucets goal, with under four minutes left, was his first of the season. Alex Dubeau made 35 stops for the Huskies, and Antoine Landry made 31 saves Saint John. --- ISLANDERS 5 TITAN 3 BATHURST, N.B. — Antoine Bibeau made 42 saves and Charlottetown rallied from a 2-0 deficit with four unanswered goals. Acadie-Bathurst (8-11-2) opened the scoring in the first period with goals from Christophe Boivin and Scott Oke. The Islanders (11-7-2) tied the game before the period was out with goals from Jack Nevins and Alexandre Goulet. Kameron Kielly put Charlottetown in front with a power-play goal at 3:44 of the second period, and a few minutes later, Alexis Pepin made it 4-2. Spenser Cobbold scored his first of the season in the third period for the Islanders, before Alexandre Gosselin closed the scoring for Acadie-Bathurst. Mason McDonald stopped 23 shots for the Titan. --- HUSKIES 4 TIGRES 1 ROUYN-NORANDA, Que. — Antoine Waked opened the scoring for the Huskies, who built a 4-0 lead en route to the win. Liam OBrien and Francis Perron scored in the second period, and Quinn OBrien closed the scoring for the Huskies (12-6-2) in the third. Victoriavilles (9-10-1) Jan Mandat spoiled Alexandre Belangers shutout bid at 14:44 of the third period. Belanger finished with 20 saves, while Tigres goalie Brandon Whitney turned back 34 shots. --- Sarunas Marciulionis Jersey . And all things considered, the first 40 games have offered a little bit of everything from a hockey club that faced many questions in its first year under new management, with a new head coach and with a number of new faces in the lineup. However, with a recent dip in scoring, it seems some of the same old questions persist and several new ones have been raised after a somewhat troubling homestand. Tommy Burleson Jersey . Mladenovics quick hands at the net made the difference while Bencics inexperience in doubles showed. "We took a lot of pleasure," Mladenovic told Sport Plus television. "Its extremely difficult to play in such conditions, but our doubles team showed a lot of quality. HARROGATE, England -- Marcel Kittel of Germany won the first stage of the Tour de France for a second straight year after a late crash brought down British rival Mark Cavendish in the presence of royals on Saturday. Kittel, who earned four Tour stages last year, won the 190.5-kilometre (118-mile) run in mainly bucolic Yorkshire countryside from Leeds to Harrogate. The German raised his arms skyward and cried after he edged Peter Sagan of Slovakia in second, and Ramunas Navardauskas of Lithuania in third. "I am incredibly proud of this victory," Kittel, a Team Giant-Shimano rider who also won two Giro dItalia stages in May, said through a translator. "It happened pretty easily. It was like coming out of a tunnel. I was able to accelerate like never before. "Its really awesome. Deja vu, yeah." Christian Meier of Langley, B.C., was the top Canadian, finishing 141st in 4:44:07, while Svein Tuft, also from Langley, placed 163rd in the same peloton. The two favourites for victory in the three-week race, Alberto Contador and Chris Froome, finished safely in the trailing pack that clocked the same time as Kittel. With fewer than 400 metres to go, and the speedsters rushing ahead, Cavendish veered slightly to his left, tilted his head and bumped into Australias Simon Gerrans. The two crashed alone, with Cavendish landing hard on his right shoulder. Cavendish got up gingerly and cruised over the finish line -- cradling his right arm. X-rays revealed he separated his right shoulder, a Tour statement said. Omega Pharma QuickStep said in a separate statement that a decision about whether he will continue the race will be made on Sunday morning. "Im gutted about the crash today," Cavendish said in the statement. "It was my fault. Ill personally apologize to Simon Gerrans as soon as I get the chance. In reality, I tried to find a gap that wasnt really there. I wanted to win today." Many British fans were hoping for a win by Cavendish, a native of the Isle of Man, whose mother is from Haarrogate. Gus Williams Jersey . Prime Minister David Cameron, Princes William and Harry, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, were on hand among throngs of British fans who lined the route -- a testament to the cycling craze in the U.K. England hosts the first three stages of this 101st Tour before riders enter France on Tuesday. In all, the 198 riders are to cover 3,664 kilometres (2,277 miles) of road before the July 27 finish in Paris. Stage 2 on Sunday covers 201 kilometres from York to Sheffield, in southern Yorkshire. Cavendish previously said that winning the first Tour stage was his main goal this year. He was hoping to capture his first yellow jersey and his 26th Tour stage win. "Its sad because he (Cavendish) was racing in front of the home country," Sagan said. Added Kittel: "I hope he gets well soon. Im looking forward to seeing him on the race tomorrow ... its not nice to have Mark crash. Nobody wants that." A second German excelled on the English roads: Veteran Jens Voigt took the polka-dot jersey as the races best climber, after getting out early on a three-man breakaway that first cleared three low-grade hills including Buttertubs pass. At 42, the Trek Factory Racing rider is the oldest competitor this year: This is his 17th Tour, equaling the record. The nervous first day included more mishaps. Untold tens of thousands of fans turned out in such big numbers that a train service shuttle between the start and finish towns was crammed, and some had to wait for 90 minutes or even longer to get aboard -- or gave up altogether. Yorkshire, the largest county in England, has paid richly for the right to host the Tour. The peloton sped by abbeys in ruins and sights like 14th century Bolton Castle, near Leyburn, before finishing in Harrogate, known for its spas. Nearly three dozen countries are represented at this Tour, led by France with 44 riders. Its the second time cyclings greatest race has begun in Britain, though the Tour also crossed the English Channel for stages in 1974 and 1994. ' ' '