The EA Sports NHL 13 cover photo tournament continues to narrow down top contenders and has become more personal as many of the finalists battle through the postseason.
After two rounds of eliminations, the initial 60 players in the running have now been dwindled down to 16 after a combined total of 26 million votes.
Wednesday marks the final day for the 'Bracket A' round of eight finalists to be slimmed down to four. Here's how the competition is broken up:
Claude Giroux (Flyers) vs P.K. Subban (Canadiens)
Scott Hartnell (Flyers) vs Tyler Seguin (Bruins)
Evgeni Malkin (Penguins) vs Steven Stamkos (Lightening)
Anze Kopitar (Kings) vs David Perron (Blues)
Now, here's where this gets fun.
Kopitar and Perron are not only fighting to win the cover, but also to advance to the Western Conference finals. Hartnell and Seguin could potential play one another in the Eastern Conference finals should both teams advance past the semis. This has given fans an additional incentive to vote for their team favorites, as well as add more excitement to the playoffs.
On Thursday, voting will begin to reduce the top eight in 'Bracket B' to just four finalists as well. The head-to-head battle will look like this:
Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings) vs TJ Oshie (Blues)
Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers) vs Erik Karlsson (Senators)
Pekka Rinne (Predators) vs Patrick Sharp (Blackhawks)
Jordan Eberle (Oilers) vs John Tavares (Islanders)
Click here to vote for your favorite players.
Quarterfinalists will be annouced May 11, semifinalists on May 24, and May 29 will mark the final round of voting.
Mark Potash (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Kevin Fishbain (The Athletic) join Kap on the panel. It’s another losing season for the Bears. So who deserves the most blame: Ryan Pace, John Fox or the players? Plus Mark Schanowski drops by to talk about the Bulls future and if the Celtics will win the East.
In his first year as an eligible candidate, Brian Urlacher was named as one of the 27 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The announcement doesn't come as much of a surprise considering the brilliant career the legendary Bears linebacker had. In 13 seasons with Da Bears, Urlacher proved how valuable he was against both the run and pass, tallying 22 interceptions, 41.5 sacks and 1,040 tackles.
In other words, yeah, he's a worthy first-ballot inductee.
As the captain of those tremendous Bears defenses in the 2000s, Urlacher made the Pro Bowl eight times, All-Pro teams five times and was honored as Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. And despite falling just short of capturing the team's first Super Bowl since 1985, the Bears were usually competitive even with consistent offensive woes and a revolving door for quarterbacks.
There are a few more hurdles to clear before No. 54 dons a Hall of Fame jacket, though. The list of 27 gets cut to 15 before voters make their final decisions as to who ultimately gets the call to Canton, Ohio, and there are several other deserving players. Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Ronde Barber and Terrell Owens are just some of the other headliners in the Class of 2018:
The Bears will soon have their first Hall of Famer since Richard Dent, who received the nod in 2011. The only question now is whether the voters make Urlacher wait a year.