From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
With the summer season slowing slipping away, it’s only natural to let us check the recent mailbag of fall and winter sports:
Question: The New York Islanders are an interesting team with some depth at all position and a very smart head coach in Barry Trotz. How far do you see them going in the Stanley Cup playoffs?
Answer: The brightest move the franchise did was to acquire Trotz, who let go by the Capitals just less than two weeks after winning the franchise’s first crown in 2018. Trotz is the best head coach of the eight remaining teams left in the playoffs. They have young developing stars in Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier, four solid lines up front, an underrated defense, led by shutdown pair Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, and solid goaltending with Semyon Varlamov. When everything clicks, the Islanders play a stifling forechecking game and know how to play with a lead. They will oust the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals and most likely play the Lightning in the East final. With a little luck, the Islanders could make the final.
Q: Do you think that either MLB or the NFL will consider a bubble environment at some point?
A: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is already considering a bubble — where teams and players are essentially quarantined from COVID-19 infections — once the regular season ends. The NFL, meanwhile, under commissioner Roger Goodell, will march forward regardless of little or no fans in the stands. The worth of those mighty TV contracts says games will go on. Period.
Q: College football seems to be all over the map, with some conferences delaying or even canceling their seasons. Is Syracuse going to play?
A: As of now, the Orange will play 10 ACC opponents and host a nonconference foe Liberty at the Carrier Dome. Orange head coach Dino Babers and his coaching staff have been doing their diligence monitoring COVID-19 and following social distancing guidelines. The big question is, if one team has an outbreak of infections, how will that impact the ACC schedule for the rest of the season. The ACC, SEC and Big 12 plan to go ahead with their seasons with modifications. The MAC and Mountain West canceled their seasons. The Big Ten and Pac-12 could start in the spring.
n From Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times: Taking no chances with flying or bussing after the pandemic sidelined them for 17 days, the St. Louis Cardinals took 41 rental cars to get to a twin bill in Chicago. In baseball terms, that’s what you call a long line drive.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org