Sports This Week - NHL parity keeping things close

The Toronto Raptors continue to do well, even as players seem to be on the sidelines from injuries far too often.

While the wins continue, it’s really difficult to know just how far the team might go in the playoffs.

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A Raptor team with their top-eight ready to go will be formidable.

However, the team has not been healthy one-through-eight for more than a game or two all season, if that. Who can’t answer the call come playoffs will be a huge factor in the team’s ability to manoeuvre through an NBA east that has a lot of teams that seem on the cusp of being contenders, but could fall away in a playoff set just as easily.

You might call it parity in the east, which mimics what is happening in the National Hockey League too.

As I sit writing this, only eight teams have yet to reach 70 points this season.

Some, like Chicago are a win away from the plateau.

Others such as Los Angeles and Detroit won’t make it by season’s end.

By contrast only one team has more than 90 points, the surprising, some might say annoying Boston Bruins.

That leaves 22 teams in the narrow band of 70-to-90 points. That is the essence of parity, and while the NHL has gotten to this point with some annoying rules at times, no one can argue it makes almost every game one where figuring out a clear cut favourite is not easy.

It should add up to an entertaining playoffs, where I do expect Toronto to be a short-lived visitor in the east.

The west is about as wild, and woolly as it gets, with four Canadian teams in the mix as I write this. I would expect at least one to miss the cut though, and dare I say it out loud my favoured Winnipeg Jets are likely to be that team.

A little gear shift over to rugby where the third season of Major League Rugby is under way.

The league just gets better by the season with the three new teams; Old Glory in Washington, the New England Free Jacks and Rugby ATL out of Atlanta all looking very good for fledglings.

Even better for Canadian fans is a Toronto Arrows team that has a hot start going 5-1 all on the road. The Arrows have a roster of mostly Canucks, and that bodes well for player development in this country, and ultimately the national team.

Interestingly, Superliga Americana de Rugby launched this past week. The South American league is sort of the MLR equivalent, with I suspect and eventual meeting of the champions a year or two down the road.

In the 2020 season the new league will have five teams with a team each from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay with a future team from Colombia joining in 2021.

The league can be another great tool in developing the sport on this side of the world. If interested SLAR games will be on YouTube as well.

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