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NHL Playoffs 2022: The Path for Each Remaining Team to Win It All

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NHL Playoffs 2022: The Path for Each Remaining Team to Win It All


The NHL Playoffs had a captivating start. Five of the eight first-round series went the full seven games, and another two lasted six games, with one of those (the Panthers’ win over the Capitals) finishing up in overtime. Apart from the Colorado Avalanche body-bagging the Predators in a four-game sweep, the first round of these playoffs was frenetic and competitive.

Eight teams remain, and outside of maybe one or two, they each have a strong chance of lifting the Stanley Cup this year. The second round of the NHL playoffs starts Tuesday, with games airing across ESPN, TNT, and TBS. Here’s a look at every club left in the fold, with a focus on how they might become the last team standing.

NHL Playoffs 2022: The Path for Each Remaining Team to Win It All

Eastern Conference: Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The case for the Panthers: This franchise has never won a Cup, but there’s reason to think this year’s team is good enough to outskate history. That’s primarily because they can outskate their opponents with startling ease.

The Panthers are puck possession menaces. At even strength in the regular season, they controlled 56.6 percent of the shot attempts, the best margin in the league. They forecheck in relentless waves, and once they corral the puck, they put on an incredible skill show. Left winger Jonathan Huberdeau’s 85 assists were the fourth-most in any single season since the league’s 2004-05 lockout. The Panthers had two other players (centers Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart) average better than a point per game.

They also get pretty effective goaltending from longtime netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad has turned in the best season of his career to anchor the back end. They’re going to have to figure out their power play, though: They went 0-for-18 against the Capitals in the first round of the NHL playoffs.

The case for the Lightning: It’s straightforward, isn’t it? They’ve won the Cup the last two years with the same formula they are deploying now: Goaltender Andrei Vasilievskiy gobbles up pucks like he’s Pac-Man, future Hall of Fame forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov fill the net, mountainous defenseman Victor Hedman settles everything on the blue line, and the entire team plays committed two-way hockey.

The Lightning always find forward depth somewhere; lately, it’s been in the form of big winger Nick Paul, who had five goals in 21 regular season games and scored both of Tampa Bay’s goals in a Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs on Saturday. Arguing “the case for the Lightning” is silly. You already get the idea. One does wonder, though, if all the playoff games they’ve played over the last two years will catch up with them and result in a team that’s just tired enough to finally get caught.

Eastern Conference: Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers

The case for the Hurricanes: The Canes are just solid. They lack the high-end scoring power of most of the league’s best teams, but they make it work with depth and strong fundamentals. Their penalty kill was the best in the league in the regular season (88 percent), and while they didn’t have a player score more than Sebastian Aho’s 81 points, they had 12 players with 34 points or more. Nine of them were forwards, meaning the Canes have rolled out three full lines of players who are finding the scoresheet more than once every three games.

Even so, in a first-round win over Boston, the Canes did lean heavily on their top line of Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Seth Jarvis. As the NHL playoffs unfold, they’ll need more of their roster to show up.

The case for the Rangers: They’re outrageously resilient. They trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins three games to one in the first round. In Game 5, facing elimination at home, they trailed 2–0 and figured out a way to win. In Game 6, backs still to the wall, they trailed 2–0 and won again. And in Game 7, they were a goal down with six minutes left before exploiting a couple of Penguins mistakes to tie the game and win it in overtime.

The Rangers have already demonstrated that they can’t be counted out until they’re all the way out. They also have a game-changing goaltender (and likely Vezina Trophy winner) in Igor Shesterkin. In the first round,  the Penguins clearly bested the Rangers on offense. By expected goals, a measurement of teams’ scoring opportunities, the Rangers were dominated worse than any other team in the first round. Shesterkin was an equalizer against Pittsburgh, and he could play the same role against other teams this summer.

Western Conference: Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues

The case for the Avalanche: They are the best team in hockey, period. They’ll be favored against anyone they face from this point onward, and with good reason.

Defenseman Cale Makar (shown above, doing something very few defensemen have ever been able to pull off) is the most impressive young blueliner the NHL has had in years. Nathan MacKinnon remains one of the most well-rounded superstars in the league, and the Avs have also seen a breakthrough this year from 31-year-old former Toronto Maple Leaf Nazem Kadri, who has grown from a pretty good player to one of the best in the league. Neither MacKinnon nor Kadri led the team in points, though: That was winger Mikko Rantanen at 92. Together, those players and Makar bludgeoned the Predators in a four-game sweep.

The case for the Blues: According to conventional hockey wisdom, the Blues have one of the most important assets this time of year: Stanley Cup experience. St. Louis won it all in 2019, and several key contributors from that team remain.

But the roster has turned over a lot in three years. The best defenseman on this 2022 team, Justin Faulk, wasn’t here three years ago. Nor was goalie Ville Husso or winger Pavel Buchnevich, and center Jordan Kyrou (a point-a-game player this year) was just a minor league call-up at the time. Center Robert Thomas was just a bit player. The point is that the Blues have changed considerably, and this group is trying to write its own Cup story.

If it happens, it will have a lot to do with their deadly power play. The Blues scored on 27 percent of their man advantages in the regular season—second-best in the league behind the now-eliminated Leafs. They clicked at 30 percent (8-for-26) on the power play against the Wild in a six-game series win to start their journey into the NHL playoffs.

Western Conference: Edmonton Oilers vs. Dallas Stars or Calgary Flames

The case for the Oilers: Here’s another one to not overthink. The Oilers have the best player in the world, and there’s a pretty strong case that they have the second-best player, too.

Connor McDavid seems to get better each year. His dominance means that Leon Draisaitl can score 55 goals and add 55 assists this season and still be second fiddle. The only teams in recent NHL history that have had anything like the Oilers’ current center tandem were the Penguins when they had a peak Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin down the middle. Those Penguins won three Cups, and it seems likely that McDavid and Draisaitl are eventually going to bring the Oilers one of their own. Goalie Mike Smith also had an excellent first round: He leads the league in goals saved above expectation, a measurement of the difficulty of shots a netminder lets in and keeps out.

The case for the Flames: They don’t have McDavid and Draisaitl, but they have a pretty good alternative in Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. Gaudreau is a 5’9” stick of dynamite who scored 115 points in the regular season and continued to pace Calgary through a seven-game slog against the Dallas Stars in the opening round. Tkachuk had 105 points himself and brings a physical edge to go with his scoring excellence. Center Elias Lindholm matched him with 42 goals. Goalie Jacob Markstrom has been sharp all year, too.

While McDavid and Draisaitl give the Oilers the biggest pair of guns in the Battle of Alberta, the Flames have respectable firepower to throw back at them.


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Top 2022-23 Fantasy Football Rookies | Men’s Journal

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Top 2022-23 Fantasy Football Rookies | Men’s Journal


Rookies are one of the hardest pieces of the fantasy football puzzle to put into place, but they also present a pretty good value opportunity if you’re able to get them right. Lots of fantasy general managers spent early picks in 2021 on Steelers running back Najee Harris, and he rewarded them with one of the best fantasy scoring seasons of anyone. Fewer spent high picks on Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase, but those who did found themselves with one of the most productive wide receivers in fantasy. Others made late-year waiver pickups of Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who starred down the stretch.

Let’s talk about six rookies who merit consideration in 2022 fantasy roster decisions. My qualification to give you this information is that I watch a lot of college football, which you, too, can do. I also took Chase in the fifth round of my draft last year, which essentially makes me the ultimate authority on all things “drafting rookies for our fake football leagues” (or something). The top of the 2022 draft tilted heavily toward defense, which makes it harder to take a stab at rookie fantasy contributors. But let’s try anyway.

Drake London, Falcons WR

The Falcons made London the first receiver pick in the draft—No. 8 overall—and there’s good reason to think they’ll rely on him right away. London is one of those dreamy receivers who has top-end speed, a big frame, and oven mitts for hands. He fractured his right ankle last October at USC but seems healthy heading into the season, and he should get the ball a lot, both because he’s good and because the Falcons are not drowning in other receiving options beyond second-year tight end Kyle Pitts. Whether Marcus Mariota can efficiently get London the ball is another matter, but someone’s got to rack up catches on any NFL team. Atlanta does not have a better candidate than London.

George Pickens, Steelers WR

The Steelers have a lot of credibility in the wide receiver drafting department, and Pickens, their second-rounder this year, is their latest attempt to find high-end production outside the first round. It’s worked with Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, Diontae Johnson, and a few others, and early indications are that it might work with Pickens, who has been the talk of training camp. Injuries cost Pickens a lot of games during his college career at Georgia, but he’s a big target (a listed 6’3″ and 200 pounds) and has the athleticism and ball-tracking ability to clown defensive backs. It’s not clear who will play quarterback for the Steelers, and you shouldn’t look to draft QB Kenny Pickett unless you’re in a keeper league. But Pickens might turn out to be a major fantasy contributor right away.

Breece Hall, Jets RB

Hall was an awesome college running back at Iowa State. The league’s devaluation of running backs in the draft meant that despite being the first running back picked, Hall’s name didn’t get called until the second round, 36th overall. He should probably go around that same pick in 2022 fantasy drafts, but it’s worth keeping in mind the format: Hall was not a hugely prolific pass-catcher at Iowa State, so he might be worth an earlier pick in standard scoring formats than point-per-reception leagues. An injury to the Jets’ star left tackle, Mekhi Becton, is a significant problem, but it also might mean Jets QB Zach Wilson has to offload a bunch of quick passes to players near the line of scrimmage—maybe like his running back.

Skyy Moore, Chiefs WR

Moore was a receptions machine at Western Michigan last year, when he caught 95 balls. The AFC West is not exactly the MAC, but Moore has a few things going for him. Namely, Patrick Mahomes is throwing him the ball, and the Chiefs traded their best receiver, Tyreek Hill, to the Dolphins after last year. Mahomes has plenty of other options and Moore does not seem likely to start early in the season, but he’s probably worth a look as a No. 3 or 4 fantasy receiver with upside. There’s a non-absurd world in which Mahomes takes a quick liking to him and Moore is the most productive rookie fantasy wideout.

Kenneth Walker III, Seahawks RB

Walker is a special running back who, at Michigan State, showed a knack for getting yards even when his offensive line didn’t bulldoze big holes or get much forward push on his behalf. He’s going to need to tap into that in Seattle, because the Seahawks have quite possibly the worst offensive line in the NFL. He’s also not a clear-cut No. 1 on the depth chart and might need some time to overtake Rashaad Penny. But the good news for Walker’s fantasy value is that the Seahawks have a brutal QB situation, with either Geno Smith or Drew Lock starting. They’ll have to run the ball and throw checkdowns, and both of those would benefit Walker’s Year 1 fantasy value. He’s a potential late-round value pickup.

WanDale Robinson, Giants WR/RB

It’d be a big risk to take Robinson before the last few rounds, but: Think about him! He is a quintessential Swiss army knife player who has expansive college experience as both a running back and receiver. The Giants offense may be a bleak scene, but in PPR leagues, Robinson might generate real value as a slot wideout. And I very much hope this doesn’t happen, but if Saquon Barkley’s health problems continue atop the Giants’ running back depth chart, it seems reasonable that Robinson will get even more touches, no matter where the Giants decide to line him up in their formations. He hasn’t been a true running back in three years, but for fantasy purposes, all touches are good touches.

 


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How to Disconnect From Social Media | Men’s Journal

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How to Disconnect From Social Media | Men's Journal


What does social media have in common with cave drawings, the printing press, and the telephone?

They’re all part of an elite group of inventions we celebrate for having revolutionized the very nature of human communication. They were so instrumental in our civilization’s advancement that we think of history as divided into the periods before and after each. For social media, that distinction came in 2003 with the release of Myspace. Although we didn’t realize it at the time, our relationships, culture, and way of life were on the precipice of an extraordinary and irreversible transformation—one that history will judge as either a giant leap forward for mankind or a stumble into the abyss.

The best and worst of social media

At its best, social media leads to unlikely friendships, positive social movements, and connections that transcend physical distance. At its worst, social media amplifies the darkest instincts of human nature. It fuels jealousy and anger, provides a safe harbor for hatred, and feeds into a mob mentality.

Instead of using social media for good, advanced algorithms give bad actors the power to reinforce unconscious bias, sow distrust, and foster cultural balkanization by controlling the flow of information. While initially unassuming, social media has proven to be the most powerful weapon in human history.

Young people are at greater risk

Unfortunately, today’s hyper-connected world often portrays life as a competition, which is entirely the wrong mindset. It isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about being present in the moment. How can someone be happy and live a life of impact if they never feel good enough? Comparison is the thief of joy, and while promoting life as a zero-sum game is far from new, social media has lent credibility to this dangerous concept.

In 1954, psychologist Leon Festinger introduced Social Comparison Theory. His working hypothesis was that individuals unconsciously determine their level of self-worth by comparing themselves with others. Much of his research centered on social comparison bias and the causation between comparison and feelings of injustice, depression, and jealousy. Dr. Festinger found that this practice can impact a person’s mental health and result in substance abuse, self-harm, and eating disorders.

A recent study concluded that “social media use was associated with a greater likelihood of…depressive symptoms.” While the study focused on adults, younger people are at even greater risk. Many young people fail to realize that social media influencers manipulate their videos and are multi-million-dollar brands that only reveal what sponsors want you to see.

In the past, beauty magazines came under fire for promoting an unattainable standard. Social media companies are involved in these same disturbing practices—except they have unprecedented access into the minds of our children. Advertisers can reinforce harmful messages each time a young person checks their device, which, for many, is a lot! What chance does a teenager (or younger) have at defending themselves against sophisticated, scientifically developed marketing campaigns designed to reinforce social comparison bias? The answer: little chance at all.

Learn to detach

Even with these flaws, social media itself is not inherently evil. It can be a powerful tool if we rethink how we use it, become more aware of its dangers, and teach our children how to consume content responsibly (let’s be honest, adults need to work on that too). With its widespread adoption across society, eliminating social media from your life is unrealistic, but limiting it is not. Along with being healthy, setting limits can help you achieve your goals. Success requires focus, dedication, and time; the countless hours wasted scrolling through videos could be time spent bettering yourself.

I invite you to unplug each Saturday by turning off your screens and silencing distractions. While limiting your digital access won’t be easy, it’ll be well worth it. Here are two essential things to remember when you do:

1. Accountability: Tell a friend or family member what you’re doing, preferably someone who is with you a lot. They can be your support system and help you remain accountable.
2. Resiliency: Don’t be too hard on yourself for slipping up. Just be prepared to get back on track and keep moving forward. At the same time, that’s not an excuse to give it anything less than 100 percent.

We’ve all been convinced that life is about staying connected. After spending some time making memories with friends and being present with family, you’ll realize that life isn’t about staying connected; it’s about experiencing genuine connections.


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Best Gin Experiences in London, Birthplace of the Martini Cart

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The Sipsmith Distillery in London


Ordering a gin martini at the bar might be a modern day signal of impeccable taste, but like other once-villainized spirits (we’re looking at you, absinthe), gin is actually marked by a surprisingly contentious history. Over the years, the juniperus spirit has experienced quite the revamp—going from London’s public enemy No.1 to one of the most popular in the world.

Today, you can find quality craft gin nearly anywhere you look. It’s imbued with flavorful, local botanicals that help tell the story of the bottle’s terroir. It’s London, though, where gin has (literally) made a name for itself. It’s also where visitors can experience some of the most interesting ways to taste a variety of London Dry Gins, from the city’s opulent gin palaces to tableside martini services fit for the queen herself.

An Abbreviated History of Mother’s Ruin

We’re not going to lie: London in the early 1700s sounds like a tough place to be. The city was practically drowning in alcohol—as the notorious Gin Craze took over the city. At the time, a reported one in four homes were distilling what they called “the mother’s ruin.” In 1730, there were an estimated 7,000 gin “distilleries” that dotted the city. Lower-class Londoners took to concocting a rudimentary and dangerous, form of gin. It’s a far cry from the London Dry variety we enjoy today. In place of the rich, herbaceous flavors we know gin for now, Londoners were adding ingredients such as turpentine, sulphuric acid, and even sawdust into their moonshine-esque liquor.

After a number of unfortunate gin-related deaths, Parliament was forced to take action by requiring the acquisition of a distiller’s license, and introducing bills to further limit the creation of gin—chief among them the 1751 Gin Act, which drastically curbed the number of “distillers” in the city by prohibiting them from selling to unlicensed merchants and increasing fees.

The London Dry style

“Following the gin craze, a time in the 1700s when many associated gin with the perils of overconsumption and poverty, gin’s image started to be rehabilitated in the 1800s with the emergence of the more refined London Dry style of gin,” says Sipsmith Master Distiller Jared Brown. “The London Dry style was synonymous with high-quality craftsmanship as it was often enjoyed neat in the gin palaces of the times.”

Brown tells us the London Dry style developed in response to new distillation methods. This allowed the gin to adopt a more refined taste. Despite its name, “London Dry” differs from other spirits like tequila and bourbon in that distillers can make it anywhere in the world. It must meet two specific criteria in order to earn the distinction of London Dry: 51 percent of the botanical mix must be juniper and no flavoring can be added after distillation.

Today, gin is distilled and enjoyed everywhere, but it was London that put it on the map. In classy, members-only haunts, high-end cocktail bars, and opulent gin palaces, the juniperus spirit remains the talk of the town.

London’s Most Iconic Gin Experiences

Jamie Steveson

1. Tour the Sipsmith Distillery

When Sipsmith started making London Dry gin in 2009, it was the first distillery to open in London proper in over 200 years. It was paving the way for a “ginaissance” that has led dozens of other distilleries to open their doors in London since. Brown says that once it was decided by the founders that they wanted to create a gin true to tradition, “I went to work, researching gin recipes from the 1700s and 1800s to find the perfect Sipsmith recipe.”

“The result is a recipe that uses botanicals, an ABV level and distillation techniques, including maceration of botanicals, copper pot still distillation and the one-shot method, that were traditionally used by some of the original gin distillers in London.”

Visitors to London are able to stop by Sipsmith, located in the charming neighborhood of Chiswick. Here’s where they make magic. If you happen to be visiting London during Wimbledon, you can also sip on gin-laden spritzes from their dedicated bar. Sipsmith is the official gin partner of the iconic tennis tournament.

The bar and martini cart at Dukes
Dukes

2. Order a tableside martini from Dukes

There is perhaps no place that delivers more of an authentic “London” cocktail experience than Dukes. It’s a small but mighty bar inside a refined hotel by the same name in the neighborhood of St. James’s. For more than a decade, Dukes has been the domain of head bartender Alessandro Palazzi, who gets to treat nearly every patron to the classic Dukes’ martini experience (it would be borderline blasphemous to order anything else there).

It was a favorite of James Bond author Ian Fleming. He enjoyed it so much that it eventually inspired 007’s signature order: the Vesper Martini. That’s how classic the Dukes martini is. Dukes prepares it tableside on a century-old rosewood trolley. Expect a cocktail so stiff that it’s against the rules there to enjoy more than two in an evening.

Preparing a martini at The Connaught
The Connaught

3. Choose your own bitters at The Connaught

The Connaught Hotel in Mayfair is the definition of posh. In fact, it’s the only hotel with permission to use the Buckingham Palace “royal red” for its carpets. Members of the British monarchy have come by for decades. Its namesake bar has been dubbed one of the world’s 50 best. This is largely thanks to its highly experiential Dry Martin, complete with a tableside martini trolley. Ordering one is sort of like a choose-your-own-adventure deal, from the gin selection (you can always stick with the bar’s own, which they distill right there at the hotel), to the flavor of bitters you prefer.

Your choice between eight house bitters could imbue your martini with flavors from cardamom to lavender to tonka. You get the chance to smell them beforehand through parfumerie-like flavor cards. Next, all there is to do is sit back and relax while they shake and pour your cocktail from daring heights—all the while infusing it with a fresh lemon twist.

Interior of the Viaduct Tavern in London
Viaduct Tavern

4. Explore the City’s Victorian Gin Palaces

Stepping into one of London’s grand gin palaces is like experiencing a time machine. These 19th-century bars came about in the 1830s, just on the cusp of the Victorian Era. Known for their elaborate decor, having even a simple gin and tonic becomes an experience. One of the most popular includes the Argyll Arms, which dates back to 1868 and remains largely unchanged from its original design. One of the most stunning examples is the Viaduct Tavern. Open since 1869, it features etched glass panels, detailed paintings, and an original Lincrusta ceiling and a cashier’s booth. Lacking history but making up for it with quirk is Mr. Foggs Gin Parlour, which resembles the gin palaces of yesteryear.


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