Dec 07

His name was announced in the Golden State Warriors’ starting lineup but was obscured by a cloud of boos.

In the five games since Kyle Turris landed on in Nashville, the Predators’ newly formed second scoring line — also featuring Fiala and Craig Smith — has combined for 16 points, including seven goals. While we’ve already tooted Smith’s horn as a promising fantasy dark horse, Fiala merits his own turn. A breakout year could be in play for the 21-year-old sophomore.

While he isn’t seeing that much action, Kuemper is making the most of his opportunities with his new club in Los Angeles. Filling in for Jonathan Quick here and there, including a back-to-back start and relief appearance over the weekend, Kuemper sports a 1.62 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.

Every time he touched the ball: boos. At the free throw line: chants of “cupcake.”

The Warriors routed the Thunder and Durant was brilliant, but the night was emotional. Durant and his teammates walked off the floor wearing cupcake shirts, a returned volley toward the fans.

If the small sample size doesn’t scare you, Subban’s numbers through three earlier games (2.06 goals-against average and .936 save percentage) offer much appeal.

When Durant takes the floor Wednesday night, there will still be some boos and cupcake chants. But the visceral, vitriolic animosity between Thunder fans and Durant is largely gone. One, because they got it out of their system with that night in February. And two, because the Thunder organization has pressed the conversation forward, rather than backward.

There were a lot of examples, like general manager Sam Presti’s message of “carry on” the day Durant announced his decision to leave. Or the metaphorical reminders of passing out baseballs, or pictures of MacGyver. But nothing sent the message stronger than what the front office did.steelers_014

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