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Mitch's Sports: U.S. Men Advance In Olympic Hockey; Red Sox Sign Free Agent Slugger J.D. Martinez

The U.S. men's hockey team is heading to the quarterfinal round of the Olympics after a 5-1 defeat of Slovakia today in Pyeonchang.

Ryan Donato, son of former Boston Bruins forward Ted Donato, is making sure his Dad will be dining out on his name for a while, scoring two goals in the win over Slovakia, after having scored both goals in an earlier 2-1 U.S. win over Slovenia.

The U.S. broke this one open with a three-goal second period, including a one timer by James Wisniewski on a two-man advantage. Troy Terry picked up 3 assists and the U.S., which got off to a slow start by losing its first game of the group play, is now heading on to face a tough opponent in the Czech Republic, but they're still very much alive for medal contention, while Slovakia is now out of the running with the loss.

Of course the biggest game of the tournament so far will be late tomorrow night when the U.S. women go up against their arch rivals from Canada, with the winner capturing Olympic Gold. The Canadian team is seeking its third straight finish atop the podium, with the previous two coming at the expense of the U.S.

In other Olympic news of local note, Devin Logan failed to advance from qualifying in the freestyle halfpipe, but the West Dover native still has the distinction of being the first Olympic athlete to compete in freestyle, slopestyle and halfpipe in the same Games.

Now, it would have been wonderful to see Burke Mountain Academy alum Mikaela Shiffrin ski in the same event as the only other American skier with as high a public profile as she has, and that would be the world famous Lindsey Vonn, but weather conditions have put the kibosh on that. Ominous weather forecasts led officials to move the women’s combined slalom-downhill up a day, putting it right against the women’s downhill.

Shiffrin, particularly after her slalom result in which she finished a disappointing fourth in her signature event, wants a chance at redemption in the combined. So, while Shiffrin would love to ski in the same event as Vonn in what will most likely be Vonn’s final Olympic race, Shiffrin will not compete in the downhill, saving herself for the combined the following day.

To the pros, and in the NHL the Boston Bruins were seeking a bounce-back game after starting their western Canada road trip with an embarrassing 6-1 loss to Vancouver, and they got the win they needed thanks to stellar goaltending from Tuukka Rask and a beautiful goal scorer's goal in overtime by Brad Marchand.

The Bruins were tied 1-1 with the Calgary Flames, their lone goal off the stick of David Pastrnak, his 22nd of the season, but in the 3 on 3 overtime period the Flames stormed the Bruins end of the ice, and if not for a series of spectacular saves by Rask, the game would have ended in Calgary's favor. But Rask held the fort and then Boston's Riley Nash picked up a loose puck in his own end and saw Marchand bolt for open ice, threading him a soft lead pass that Marchand collected and took in all alone for a breakaway on Calgary netminder David Rittich. The crafty Bruins forward moved to his backhand and got Rittich to open up the five-hole as he slid over the counter the move and Marchand calmly slid the puck between his pads for the game winner, and the Bruins get the two points for a 2-1 victory, and a costly loss for the Flames, who are trying to get into the playoff structure and still sit one point out, picking up just one point for the regulation tie instead of two for the win.

Finally, Red Sox fans, your team finally has acquired some power for the middle of their line-up, and kudos to Red Sox head of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski for not panicking earlier and over-paying for former Arizona Diamondbacks slugger J.D. Martinez, who has been signed to a five year deal at $110 Million with a clause that allows him to opt out after two years if things don't go swimmingly.

Martinez' agent Scott Boras had been playing a game of financial chicken with Dombrowski and the rest of the league, publicly announcing that he was seeking a deal for his client worth upwards of at least 7 years and some $200 Million, and as good as Martinez is, he ain't worth that amount of coin for that length of time.

This deal is much more reasonable and it's not like the Red Sox are getting a mid-level player. Martinez blasted 45 home runs last season, 29 of which came after he was traded to Arizona, and remember that the power-starved Red Sox were dead last in the American League in home runs in 2017.

Does this deal put the Red Sox on even keel with the NY Yankees after they fleeced Derek Jeter for last year's National League home run leader and MVP Giancarlo Stanton? No, it doesn't. The Yankees with Stanton and Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez in their line-up are going to wear out baseballs this season and will probably run away with the division, but the Red Sox at the very least are giving themselves a chance to compete for the wild card with some much-needed RBI power in the heart of their line-up, and if you can have patience for the long game, realize that by not over-paying now for Martinez, the Red Sox should be able to get in the game for some even more enticing free agents in 2019, with stars like Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, and Manny Machado all scheduled to be up for grabs to the highest bidder next year.  

 

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