NHL Countdown: Tonight is the Night!

First things first: Tom Wilson was finally suspended for a reasonable amount of time for his offense.  Although, I don’t see how he is allowed to continue to play in the NHL, or why he would want to.  As the league mentioned, Wilson has not made any attempt to adjust his playing style.  I don’t understand how he would want to play in a league he clearly does not respect.  It’s not just an isolated incident or directed to just one team or player, he intentionally throws illegal hits at every opponent that dares to skate near him.  Maybe this will be a wakeup call for him to change his game.  Hopefully he’ll decide the NHL is no longer for him and move on.

Sadly, the Calgary Flames started the season with a loss while going 0 for 7 on the powerplay.  It seems that this is a recurring issue as they draw penalties left and right (many thanks to Johnny Gaudreau) but they just can’t seem to capitalize on them.  It wasn’t all bad though with Mony back, feeling and looking good on the ice.  Also, with the freshly stitched “A” on his chest, Tkachuk put a tally in the goal column last night.

Finishing up the preseason yesterday morning, Haie put up a good fight against the Oilers, who ultimately won in overtime.  It seemed that the Oilers would dominate after the first minutes of play, but Haie came back and their rookie goalie made some big saves in his league debut.

With a quick first goal to start the night, Comtois put the Ducks on the board in his league debut.  Not even Erik Karlsson on the blue line was enough to keep the Ducks from defeating the Sharks 5-2.

With the great John Tavares and Auston Matthews keeping his first game streak alive, the Toronto Maple Leafs topped the Canadiens 3-2 in overtime.

Tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins are tasked with holding off the Capitals, who shut out the Bruins last night with an impressive 7-0 score.  I believe the Pens are ready for the task.  They know what to expect from the Capitals: a hard-hitting, fast-paced game with big goals and a lot of shots.

The Penguins’ lines are stronger than ever and hopefully Murray worked on his glove side during the offseason.  There’s a lot of talk about Sprong being placed on the fourth line, but I believe it’s the best place for him at this point in his career.  He didn’t have the strongest training camp and still has a lot of learning to do.  Being on that fourth line with Matt Cullen is the best opportunity for him to grow his game, gain some grit, and really show his work ethic.  Besides, who would you take off of the first line for him to play with Crosby?  Certainly not Hornqvist or Guentzel.  Hornqvist is ready to go and always lives up to his name and his game.  His net-front presence is unmatchable and compliments Crosby’s ability to get the puck to the front of the net.  Guentzel’s stickwork and passing skills work extremely well alongside Crosby as well and he has certainly earned his spot on the top line.  One last note, I fully believe that Chad Ruwhedel has earned his spot on the team and should be paired up with Maatta for opening night.

That’s all for now!  LETS GO PENS!!!!

NHL Countdown: Meet My Teams & Players

Teams:

Pittsburgh Penguins

I grew up a Penguins fan but didn’t start to seriously follow them until I was around 13 years old.  Since then they have won 3 Stanley Cups, made many playoff runs, and drafted/traded for some big names, a few that are still in Pittsburgh.  No matter what happens, I will die a Penguins fan (unless they ever hire John Tortorella as a coach then I’m jumping ship and losing all respect for the organization).

Calgary Flames

I didn’t start following the Calgary Flames until Johnny Gaudreau joined them after his time at Boston College.  It also worked in their favor that they had Deryk Engelland at the time.  Since then, the organization has grown on me and I have liked the majority of their players, trades, and acquisitions.  My favorite that occurred over this past summer was trade that brought Noah Hanifin to Calgary.

Carolina Hurricanes

Jordan Staal being a Pittsburgh Penguins was ultimately what starting my being a fan of the Canes.  Through Jordan, I started to follow Eric and in turn the Hurricanes.  Jeff Skinner kept me a fan of the Hurricanes along with Jordan being traded to them for Sutter and the youngest Staal, Jared, playing for their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.  I have not been a fan of their trades recently as I don’t believe they are smart moves for the organization.  I would hate to be Sebastien Aho, playing on a team with high expectations for you that isn’t trying to put together a winning team around you.

Boston College Golden Eagles

While not an NHL team, the BC Eagles are why I’m a fan of many NHL players.  I started following BC when they played in Robert Morris University’s 1st annual Three Rivers Classic.  Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Brown, and Kevin Hayes impressed me with their on-ice presence and skill and I’ve been following them and the Eagles ever since.

 

Players:

Olli Maatta:  He is the epitome of Finland’s development program, has overcome so much in his young career, and continues to improve his game.

Jordan Staal:  J. Staal was an easy Penguin to like.  He was always a dependable third-line center that produced and could kill a penalty.

Sergei Gonchar:  Gonchar was my very first “favorite player” and Penguin.  I don’t know why I initially started to like him but his well-rounded game play is why I continued to follow him even after he left the ‘Burgh.  He wasn’t gone for too long though and very few people were happier than I was to see him hired on as a defensive coach.

Johnny (Hockey) Gaudreau:  Johnny Hockey loves the game and plays it well.  His work ethic is what made me notice him at the Three Rivers Classic.  He was all over the ice while still complementing his teammates and setting them up for opportunities.  Despite his accomplishments and phenomenal collegiate turned NHL career, he remains humble.

Marc Andre Fleury:  I have never, nor will ever, understand how any fan of hockey can hate on Fleury.  The guy is a magician on the ice, a trickster with his teammates, and the ultimate family man.  I will forever be thankful for all Fleury and his family have for the city of Pittsburgh both on and off the ice.

Beau Bennett:  Beau Bennett had such promise, but his injuries definitely had a significant impact on his career.  I liked his game play with the Penguins, now I admire how he has acclimated to his changed career path and his sense of humor/personality through it all.

Noah Hanifin:  Hanifin is a BC alum and an up-and-coming defenseman in the league.  I enjoyed watching him on the ice for BC and the Canes and I can’t wait to see what he will bring to Calgary this year.

Conor Sheary:  aka Lil’ Conor worked hard every second he was on the ice and rarely lost a battle in the corner boards despite being quite smaller than some of his opponents.  I’ll miss seeing #43 in a Penguins jersey.

Honorable Mentions: Jeff Skinner, Matt Cooke, Deryk Engelland, Brian Gibbons, Matt Niskanen as a Penguin, Jayson Megna, Cam Atkinson, Eric Staal, Brandon Sutter, William Nylander, Kevin Hayes, Bobby Farnham, Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Alex Tuch.

 

NHL Countdown: It’s More than a Game

It’s not always what happens on the ice that counts.  The league and individual teams plus the players and their families contribute a lot of time, money, and effort into charitable projects and foundations.  Especially over the summer, the aforementioned parties go above and beyond serving their hometown and franchise areas with the work that they do.

Here in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation partners up with many local charities and businesses to serve the surrounding area.  One of their biggest, ongoing efforts has been Project Power Play.  “Project Power Play takes advantage of the growing popularity of hockey in the tri-state area by affording young players access to newly constructed, outdoor, multi-use athletic facilities in partnership with Highmark.”  Basically, they build Dek Hockey rinks in parks and recreation areas in and around the Pittsburgh area.  Their latest Dek was built in Youngstown, Ohio earlier this month.  They also team up with the Mario Lemieux Foundation (MLF) to host a 6.6K run and 3.3K walk every October that starts and ends on Fifth Avenue (RIP Mac Miller) in front of PPG Paints Arena.  Additionally, the MLF works to provide X-Boxes, games, and other entertainment to those in/at Children’s hospitals in the area by sponsoring the building of Austin’s Playrooms named after Austin Lemieux.  Similar Foundations exist in accordance to all the other 30 NHL teams.

During the off-season there are different charity games that take place throughout the US and Canada that are hosted by NHL players themselves or different colleges/universities/organizations that invite NHL players to compete in.  Mentioned in a previous post (justmysportsopinions.com/2018/08/28/comm-ave-charity-classic-bc-cause-i-wouldnt-wanna-bu/) is the Comm Ave Charity Classic that takes place in Boston, Massachusetts every year hosted by either Boston College or Boston University.  They invite back alumni to draft two full rosters of mostly NHL players to support the Compassionate Care ALS, Pete Frates Home Health Initiative, and the Travis Roy Foundation.  Henrik Lundqvist and Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers host their own Summer Classic in Norway where they invite players from around the league and draft their own teams.  This event “aims to assist children and young people in challenging situations around the world.”

Like Zuccarello and Lundqvist, NHL players take it upon themselves to create their own foundations and give back to their communities.  In Pittsburgh, Kris Letang would probably be the guy that stands out when it comes to servicing the community as a family.  The family volunteers at various events around the city and Letang collaborates with Edgar Snyder and Playworks, making appearances at floor hockey and other field day type events.  Players around the league also participate in community events such a PRIDE Parades and the Calgary Flames ride in the Calgary Stampede parade every year.  The NHL as a whole also comes together in support of their Hockey Fights Cancer and Hockey is for Everyone initiatives.

The hockey community comes together in many ways to support one another.  The best example of this would be the follow up of the community after the Humboldt Broncos tragedy.  From the league and NHL teams to online apparel companies and fans around the world, an astronomical amount of support was sent their way.  The surviving members were invited to the NHL Awards this past June where there was a tribute to those who were lost including Head Coach Darcy Haugan who was awarded the inaugural Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.  The GoFundMe created to support the surviving members and the families of those who didn’t make it, reached over $15 million.  Contributing to this total was various online apparel companies such as Everything Hockey that created and sold decals, and other companies t-shirts and hoodies, where 100% of the profits were donated to the Humboldt Broncos.  Similar actions and support was sent to Vegas and Stoneman Douglas High School after their respective tragedies.

Overall, the ice hockey community is arguably one of the strongest and most supportive in the world.  We come together to support one another in amazing ways.  Get involved today in your local foundations/charities/events by checking out your team’s or favorite players’ foundations.

 

For more information on the above foundations and charities, check out the links below.

https://www.mariolemieux.org/austins-playrooms/about-austins-playroom/

https://pittsburghpenguinsfoundation.org/program/project-power-play/

http://summerclassic2018.com/en

https://humboldtstrong.info/

NHL Countdown: Is it October Yet?

We’ve been saying it since the end of last season: Is it October yet?  So, here are 10 reasons why it needs to be October already.

  1. Summer is great to see the players being people but, it’s time for them to be hockey players again.
  2. There is nothing like hockey season for hockey fans and we’re ready for it to be hockey season.
  3. Sooooo ready for hockey player antics. We can’t wait to see what the guys get up to this season and who will be the pranksters vs. the pranked.  Fleury needs to bring the fun to Vegas this year!
  4. We need something to do with our lives at 7pm ET every night. Starting in October we can watch hockey almost every night until June.
  5. Rivalries are real. It’s harder to hate on other teams and their fans when they’re off the ice doing charitable work and all.
  6. Perfect shirsey and jersey weather. Shirseys during the day, jerseys when the sun sets.
  7. On-ice bromances are back! Hockey provides the world with the best bromances, it’s a proven fact.
  8. All hockey starts up. Prospects are playing everywhere: AHL, ECHL, QMJHL, OHL, NAHL, IIHF, etc.
  9. We are one month closer to playoff hockey. No further explanation needed.
  10. Hockey apparel will be back in stores and who cares about football anyway?!

Comm Ave Charity Classic: BC, ‘Cause I Wouldn’t Wanna BU

Boston University hosted the 4th Annual Comm Ave Charity Classic on Friday, August 24th 2018 in the Walter Brown Arena.  The Charity Classic was setup by Boston College Alumni Pat Mullane and Andrew Orpik where they invite fellow alumni now playing in the NHL/AHL to compete for a great cause.  “Current and former NHL players face off in this BC vs BU alumni hockey game in honor of Pete Frates, Dick Kelley, Travis Roy, and all those who have been affected by ALS and spinal cord injuries. All proceeds benefit Compassionate Care ALS, Pete Frates Home Health Initiative, and the Travis Roy Foundation. The game has raised over $180,000 since its inception in 2015.”  This year’s Classic set a record raising $78,432 to be added to the sum of past years.

Outside the Walter Brown before the event, the players had to walk from the parking garage across the street to enter the arena where swarms of children and fans waited to greet them.  The players all stopped to get pictures and sign shirts, programs, and other memorabilia while still carrying their bags, gear, and sticks.  And since it was at an intersection, we all got to see a lot of children almost get hit by cars.  A grown man also stopped one of the players in the middle of the street to sign his program while cars were trying to drive through the intersection.  Like it’s cool, he wanted his autograph and everything I get that but let’s not put his health and career at risk by getting him hit by a car on his way to a charity game, okay?

At the beginning of the game itself, Travis Roy spoke, welcoming and thanking everyone for their attendance and support.  He kept his speech short and sweet as he was ready to watch some quality hockey.  Also going on was a silent auction and basket raffle of autographed memorabilia of the present alumni and ticket packages for each school.  Additionally, they sold Comm Ave Charity Classic t-shirts and I was super happy to see they were donated (I assume, they were donated with it being a charity event and all) by ’47 brand as their shirts are suuuuuper soft and durable.

Being a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, it was fun to watch all the new, current, and former Penguins compete with and against each other as they were well represented.  Nick Bonino played for Boston University while Brooks Orpik, Brian Dumoulin, Brian Gibbons, Jimmy Hayes, and Philip Samuelsson participated as Golden Eagles.  Being one of the newest Penguins, Jimmy Hayes had a lot of pressure placed on him (mainly by myself) and he held his own out on the ice.  Although, little brother Kevin put on a better show.

The outcome of the game could’ve been better but Boston University topped Boston College 10-5.  However, Boston University couldn’t field a full roster with just their committed alumni for this year’s Classic so they invited NHL players Jimmy Vesey, Ryan Donato, and Adam Gaudette to play for them.  It was a good thing they did as the three put up five of BU’s goals.  So technically, BU’s alumni only scored five goals which means that they did not beat BC but tied them 5-BU, 5-BC, 5-Harvard/Northeastern.

Overall, this was a really great experience and the trip from Pittsburgh, PA for the game was definitely worth it.  I highly recommend that everyone attend a type of charity game like this one!

 

 

2018 ROSTERS

Boston College

Joe Pearce / G / 2007 / Boston College

Mike Mottau / D / 2000 / Florida Panthers

Ian McCoshen / D / 2017 / Florida Panthers

Noah Hanifin / D / 2018 / Calgary Flames

Mike Matheson / D / 2016 / Florida Panthers

Brian Dumoulin / D / 2013 / Pittsburgh Penguins

Jimmy Hayes / F / 2012 / Pittsburgh Penguins

Brian Boyle / F / 2007 / New Jersey Devils

Kevin Hayes / F / 2014 / New York Rangers

Stephen Gionta / F / 2006 / New York Islanders

Brian Gibbons / F / 2011 / Anaheim Ducks

Colin White / F / 2019 / Ottawa Senators

Chris Kreider / F / 2013 / New York Rangers

Paul Carey / F / 2012 / Ottawa Senators

Patrick Brown / F / 2014 / Carolina Hurricanes

Zach Sanford / F / 2018 / St. Louis Blues

Philip Samuelsson / D / 2013 / Charlotte Checkers

Chris Venti / G / 2012 / Boston College

Ryan Fitzgerald / F / 2017 / Boston Bruins

Nathan Gerbe / F / 2009 / Columbus Blue Jackets

Brooks Orpik / D / 2002 / Washington Capitals

Boston University

Charlie Coyle / F / 2014 / Minnesota Wild

Brandon Hickey / D / 2018 / Buffalo Sabres

Matt Grzelcyk / D / 2016 / Boston Bruins

Kevin Schaeffer / D / 2007 / Providence Bruins – Retired

Brian Strait / D / 2009 / New Jersey Devils

Adam Gaudette / F / Northeastern 2019 / Vancouver Canucks

Clayton Keller / F / 2021 / Arizona Coyotes

Danny O’Regan / F / 2016 / Buffalo Sabres

Nick Bonino / F / 2011 / Nashville Predators

Jack Eichel / F / 2019 / Buffalo Sabres

Ryan Donato / F / Harvard 2019 / Boston Bruins

Drew Melanson / F / 2018 / New York Rangers

Jimmy Vesey / F / Harvard 2016 / New York Rangers

Jay Pandolfo / F / 1996 / Boston Bruins

John McCarthy / F / 2009 / San Jose Sharks

Evan Rodrigues / F / 2015 / Buffalo Sabres

Charlie McAvoy / D / 2019 / Boston Bruins

Mike Condon / G / Ottawa Senators

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://commaveclassic.com/

https://twitter.com/CommAveClassic

The Olli one that Maattas!

My absolute favorite active player in the NHL is Olli Maatta, if you didn’t already know.  Today, August 22, 2018, just happens to be his 24th birthday.  I’d say he definitely accomplished and overcame a lot in his life thus far.  A defenseman from Finland, Maatta has his haters, but they just don’t appreciate the progress of his career.

  • He played in multiple World Junior Championships and many other international competitions both for Finland’s U18 and U20 teams.
  • He was the youngest player to ever play for Finland’s World Junior team
  • While in the OHL, he and his team made it to the Memorial Cup championship game not once, but twice.
  • He finished in fifth place for Calder Cup voting after his rookie season with the Penguins.
  • He won a bronze medal with Team Finland in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
  • He was selected to Finland’s team for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
  • Olli Maatta has played a part in the Penguins winning back to back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

Mind you, he achieved those two Stanley Cups after overcoming a shoulder injury that required two separate surgeries about six months apart.  In the midst of that, he was diagnosed with low-grade thyroid cancer which kept him off the ice for only two weeks after surgery.

The kid has only gotten better over time.  His skating, which everyone complained about it being an issue his first few seasons, has improved greatly and is no longer a hindrance to his game.  He has been relied on to step up with alllllllll of the injuries that have plagued the Penguins’ blue line over the last few years.  Maatta is steady and secure in his game.  He’s not one to get in his own head and let one bad shift affect the rest of the game.

It’s been exceptional, tremendous, enlightening, and just really, really cool to watch him grow his game and develop as a player over the last few years.  He’s the one that really introduced to me to the greatness of the developmental program that Finland has created and maintained.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him and hope he stays in Pittsburgh for a long, long time.

 

 

 

 

Sources that helped out with some of the stats:

https://www.nhl.com/player/olli-maatta-8476874

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olli_M%C3%A4%C3%A4tt%C3%A4#Junior

World of Dance: Duels Part 2

World of Dance showcases the best of the best in the dance world of all styles, from around the world.  The second round of the competition involves two (occasionally three) contestants within the same category to battle it out to see who continues in the competition and who goes home.  After the last two nights of the duels, here are my favorite routines/battles and reasons why:

Watch the last two episodes of the duels here:

https://www.nbc.com/world-of-dance/video/the-duels-3/3772032

https://www.nbc.com/world-of-dance/video/the-duels-4/3775666

Lucas Marinetto.  It was sad to see him go.  He made his name in dance on Abby Lee’s Dance Competition and has stayed true to his style from the beginning.  He puts a modern flare on the classics: Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.  No matter what he brought forth to that stage in this dual, he still wouldn’t have beat Jaxon Willard as his technique is flawless and his story makes the judges cry every time.

Connection is a great, well-rounded group.  They are entertaining every performance and bring new moves to each routine.  It’s fun just watching them dance and give it their all.

Thamost is an up and coming group but I don’t think they’re there yet.  S-Rank was the superior crew in this battle.  Their choreography and thoughtfulness behind it combined with their grit and grooves sets them apart from the other crews in the competition.  They also know how to put up a good fight and incorporate burns into the routine in a classy manner that fits with the rest of the choreo.

Second to None came in second to Josh and Taylor.  Honestly the trio aspect didn’t work to their favor and I was watching the guy in the middle the entire performance with the other two falling into the background.  Josh and Taylor are kind of Mari and Keone like with a sharper, hard-hitting edge to it as well.  They always tell a great story and make up the perfect duo.

The judges said it best, we’ve never seen anything quite like Morning of Owl.  While they put on a good show and are very entertaining, they just don’t fit into the competition that well as what they do is so abstract even for dance.  Ashley and Zack are two powerhouses that fit together to be an awesome duo with relatable storylines and perfect technique.

 

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Cullen & Kids

Pittsburgh and Penguins fans could not be happier to have Matt Cullen, aka “Dad”, back for one more season.  However, Cullen and his sons might be even happier to be back in the ‘Burgh and with the Penguins organization.  Joey, Wyatt, and Brooks Cullen love Pittsburgh and their dad’s Penguins teammates.  Over the summer, since he signed back with the Penguins, the Penguins media crew met up with the Cullen’s and did a series on them.  In one picture, his son could be seen wearing a Penguins shirt but not with his dad’s name on the back.  Instead, the Cullen kids wear Pens gear with their favorite players on the back such as Evgeni Malkin and of course Sidney Crosby.

Crosby is a bit of a legend in the Cullen household.  First off, the oldest Cullen boy, Brooks, has a huge Fathead wall display featuring Crosby in his bedroom.  Also, part of the media series covered knee hockey tournaments in the Cullen’s basement with special guests.  Crosby was named the “best goalie” and Hornqvist took home the title of “best player” while Phil Kessel wasn’t as good as his sister, Amanda, and Carl Hagelin was too “slow”.

It was cool to see into their lives outside of hockey (although their lives outside of hockey still contains a lot of hockey).  Matt Cullen will always be the Dad of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh will always be a second home for this Dad.

 

Sources:

https://twitter.com/penguins?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

https://www.nhl.com/penguins/news/cullen-enjoying-dad-duty-during-offseason/c-299704722

Flames on Fire

The Calgary Flames have been putting in the work this off-season and it just might pay off.  Over the last few seasons the Flames have been “that close” to a phenomenal team that can compete in the post season.   They’ve struggled to maintain an offensive force and were in need of consistent defensemen in front of their netminders.  With the additions of Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm from the Carolina Huricanes and some veterans in the league, they have taken a major step in filling the holes throughout the lineup.

Noah Hanifin was drafted in 2015 by the Hurricanes after completing only one season at Boston College under the best coach in collegiate ice hockey, Jerry York.  At BC he played in 37 of 38 games with 5 goals, 18 assists, and a +12 rating.  The Golden Eagles finished second in the Hockey East that year.  Following his collegiate success, Hanifin was the only defensemen in his draft class to start the season that same year in the NHL.  This past season was, offensively, his best yet with 10 goals and 22 assists.  He definitely needs to improve on his +/- rating this year with Calgary in order to make a difference.  However, giving him the benefit of the doubt as I did with Skinner in a prior post, the entire Hurricanes lineup struggles to keep the puck out of the net and Hanifin’s rating at least shows he received a lot of ice time.

Elias Lindholm has 188 points in 374 career games.  He’s a young, strong center with a lot of potential.  It might have been a risky move for the Flames to sign him to such a big deal, but I believe it will pay off for them.  The other big addition the Flames have made this summer is signing James Neal.  The Hurricanes are the fifth organization he will be a part of in the league.  Neal is a dependent, passionate winger with a lot of playoff experience.  He just might be the perfect line mate for Lindholm or is he going to be the third with Monahan and Gaudreau?

A re-signing that the Flames hope will pay off for them in the long run is their goaltender Mike Smith.  He won 25 of his 55 starts this past season with a .916 save percentage.  Goaltending has been an issue for the Flames over the last few years, hopefully Smith can change that this upcoming season.

 

References:

https://www.nhl.com/player/noah-hanifin-8478396

https://www.nhl.com/player/elias-lindholm-8477496

https://www.nhl.com/player/james-neal-8471707

https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/s/smithmi01.html

World of Dance: Duels Part 1

World of Dance showcases the best of the best in the dance world of all styles, from around the world.  The second round of the competition involves two (occasionally three) contestants within the same category to battle it out to see who continues in the competition and who goes home.  After the first two nights of the duels, here are my favorite routines/battles and reasons why:

Watch the first two episodes of the duals here:

https://www.nbc.com/world-of-dance/video/the-duels-1/3764363

https://www.nbc.com/world-of-dance/video/the-duels-2/3768298

Expressenz is one of my favorite groups in the competitions.  As the judges have said multiple times, their technique is astounding.  I’ve never seen anything like their turn sequences with that many dancers being completely in sync from their leg level to their rotation speed to the placement of their heads and arms.

Michael Dameski.  He is one of the most athletic contemporary dancers I have seen on the show.  The height on his jumps is un-matchable.  His choreography shows off all his strengths and his perfect technique.  There was no comparison between what he put on the stage and what Angyil put forth.  I see him making it very far in the competition.

Although they went home, I always have to pay homage to the tappers.  The Jam Project brought the grittier side of tap to the stage, but in my opinion wasn’t strong enough as far as the performance went.  Their choreography had a decently high difficulty level, however the routine didn’t showcase it.  To a non-dancer/non-tapper it was hard to see and hear it in the number.

Eva Igo became Eva Igone in the duals this year.  I loved watching her grow through last season and her pieces this season as well.  I believe one of the judges commented that her performances this season were slightly one dimensional.  They were all strong, emotional routines that showed off her strength and tricks but that’s what we’ve seen before.

Avery and Marcus were the ones to send Eva Igo home this season.  Their different style mixing and choreography sets them apart from every other individual/duo/group in the competition.  Avery’s daring-ness to go on pointe on World of Dance makes what they do that much more intense and interesting.

My favorite group in the competition is The Lab.  They drew me in last season and I love being able to see their growth since then.  They had some tricks and cool movements, but they definitely brought a whole new arsenal into this season.  One of their biggest issues was cleanliness, but with their routines so far this season, you wouldn’t know it.  They bring their own style and leave everything on the stage with every performance.  Again, there wasn’t much of a competition when it came to them versus Lil Killaz Crew.

Sean and Kaycee.  They are new, different, interesting, captivating, and oh yeah, just teenagers.  They established themselves on the show with their qualifier number and stood their ground in the duals.  Their chemistry and the way they move together is insane, not to mention Sean’s choreography skills.  They’re really going to need to step up to take outlast Charity and Andres in the competition, but I think they have what it takes and could easily have the second perfect score in World of Dance history.

Since I just mentioned them, Charity and Andres.  They blew the judges and the world away with their qualifiers performance, and while I thought it was really good, I wasn’t impressed.  They definitely changed that with their duals piece.  In the pre-performance clips they run, Charity had said that most of their tricks just come from them messing around in the studio and with choreography.  Did I mention that they co-choreograph all of their routines?  Cause that is awesome.  With their technique, musicality, choreography skills, personalities, and overall performance quality, it’s no wonder they earned the first perfect score in World of Dance history.

Who are your favorites and why?  I want to know!  Share them in the comments.