An outbreak of the mumps caused chaos and confusion throughout the NHL in December, with some of Hockey’s leading stars falling victim to the virus.

Anaheim Ducks were the first team to report players suffering from the viral infection, which is spread by coughing and sneezing. More often seen in children, mumps affects the saliva glands and causes painful swelling on either side of the face below the ears; serious complications are rare, but in some instances infertility could result.

Emergency immunizations and quarantines have been implemented since the outbreak and reviews of the NHL’s infectious disease prevention guidelines are underway.

As of 22nd December, 18 players across the NHL had been infected. These included star players such as Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh Penguins. Teams ranging from the Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers have all been affected.

Ironically, Rangers’ Derick Brassard missed the round of booster shots organised for the team at the end of November due to illness—he would later become one of those infected, along with forward Lee Stempniak, Tanner Glass, a minor league player and a coach.

The Rangers’ form has been barely affected, though. Their pre-Christmas 1-0 win over the Hurricanes completed their longest winning streak since 2011-12, when they managed 7-in-a-row. Demand to see the New York Rangers is always high, particularly over the holidays—and especially when on such a golden run of form, however, you can find here sold out tickets.

The US has seen large numbers of mumps cases recently: earlier in the year, there was a large spate of cases at Ohio State University. More than 100 students were infected. However, late 2014’s NHL outbreak is a rare occurrence in professional sport.

The NBA and NFL will be monitoring the situation closely. Not only to see whether precautions put in place are working, but also because many clubs across the various sports share the same arena or training facility.

In the meantime, Hockey has a busy holiday period to navigate—NHL tickets are available here.

We’re spreading the holiday cheer this season by partnering with our dear friends over at Rukkus, a cheap sports ticket website that finds the best deals on MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL tickets – plus everything in between. What’s in it for you, you ask? Well now you can win free tickets to ANY NY sports game. Just click on the image below.



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The slumping New York Knicks (4-11) will travel to Dallas to face the upstart Dallas Mavericks (10-5). During the off-season, these two teams engaged in a trade that sent center Tyson Chandler back to Dallas. Point guard Raymond Felton was also included in the trade, but Chandler, an ex-Defensive Player of the Year, was the key cog of the deal. In return, New York received point guards Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin, center Sam Dalembert, and two second round picks. New York’s star small forward, Carmelo Anthony, who is averaging only 23.2 points per game, is dealing with knee soreness and back spasms. Anthony exited Monday’s game against Atlanta due to back spasms and will not play in tonight’s contest. Anthony is averaging four fewer points per game than last season, but is shooting a lot better from 3-point range. Anthony is making 48 percent of 3-point attempts this season compared to just 41 percent last season. With Anthony injured, JR Smith and Amare Stoudemire will need to step up. Stoudemire is averaging 16.3 points per game over his last three contests. 

As a team, Dallas is averaging an NBA-high 109.3 points per game. Despite the lofty offensive totals, Dallas’ offense has struggled recently. Dallas has lost back-to-back games to the Houston Rockets and to the injury-ravaged Indiana Pacers. Dallas has averaged just 96 points per game in these two losses. Look for Dallas to get back on track against a New York team that is allowing 99 points per game. 

Even though Dallas and New York split last year’s meetings, Dallas has won 14 of their last 17 home games against New York. Anthony averaged 32 points per game during last year’s meetings, but will miss this game.

According the current NBA lines, Dallas is a 12.5-point home favorite over the short-handed Knicks. Since Anthony is not playing and given the revenge factor for Chandler, this feels like a blowout. While it’s never advisable to lay double digit points, the spot seems right and with Thanksgiving occurring tomorrow, I’m not expecting the Knicks to show up. Lay the big number with your NBA Picks.

Official Pick: Dallas Mavericks -12.5

The Patriots, winners of five straight games, will look to continue their winning ways when the Lions travel to Gillette Stadium. New England is coming off a 42-20 road victory over the  Colts.  Jonas Gray ran for 199 yards and four touchdowns in the easy victory.  Tom Brady was not asked to do much, but threw touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright. Gronkowski led the way with 71 yards on four catches while Wright’s only catch resulted in a two-yard touchdown. New England’s defense completely shut down Indianapolis’s rushing attack, limiting the Colts to 19 yards on 17 carries. Andrew Luck threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns, but New England controlled the clock and won the time of possession. 

The Lion will look to bounce back after dropping a 14-6 decision to the Cardinals. Matthew Stafford completed just 18-of-30 passes for 183 yards and no touchdowns. Calvin Johnson was targeted 12 times, but only came away with 59 yards on five catches.Joique Bell totaled 115 yards and did not appear to be limited by injury. Detroit’s defense sold out to stop Arizona’s rushing attack. Fans should not expect to see a huge yardage total from Gray in this meeting.

According to current NFL odds, the Patriots are 7.5 point favorites over the Lions. Brady will seek his fourth career victory over Detroit. In their last meeting, Brady threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns in a decisive 45-24 victory. Stafford missed the game due to injury while Johnson caught four passes for 81 yards and one touchdown. Lay the points and take New England with your NFL picks.

Official Pick: New England -7.5

The Patriots, winners of five straight games, will travel to face the Colts on Sunday Night Football. Both teams enjoyed a Week 10 bye, so expect  an electric vibe when this game kicks off. The Patriots are coming off an impressive 43-21 home victory over the Broncos. Tom Brady threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns while Rob Gronkowski caught nine passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Shane Vereen also caught touchdown passes from Brady. New England’s defense gave up 481 yards of total offense, but won the turnover battle, two to one.

The Colts are coming off a convincing 40-24 road victory over the Giants on Monday Night Football. Andrew Luck threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns while Coby Fleener led the way with four catches for 77 yards a touchdown. Ahmad Bradshaw totaled 79 yards against his ex-team. TY Hilton and Reggie Wayne also scored while tight end Dwayne Allen hauled in a touchdown.

Brady has defeated Luck twice and has won four straight against Indianapolis, including a dominant 43-22 home victory last season in the playoffs. New England rushed for 234 yards and six touchdowns in the playoff win.

According to current NFL odds, the Colts opened as two-point home favorites against the Patriots. While this match-up favors the Colts since they’re playing at home, I like the Patriots in this match-up. I always take Brady and Belichick off a bye week especially in prime time. Take the Patriots today for your NFL picks!

Official Pick: New England Patriots +2

The New York Giants have lost three straight and a trip to Seattle will not make things easier. New York was embarrassed by the Colts on Monday Night Football, 40-24. New York faced a double digit deficit for nearly the entire game as its defense was unable to stop Andrew Luck.  Eli Manning threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. led the way with eight catches for 156 yards. New York’s once vaunted defensive line was unable to generate pressure on Luck, sacking him only one time. 

The Seattle Seahawks have won two straight games, but currently sit two games behind the Arizona Cardinals in a race for the NFC West. Last week, Seattle defeated the Oakland Raiders, 30-24. Running back Marshawn Lynch totaled 137 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Wilson only completed 17-of-35 attempts for 179 yards. Seattle’s defense, however, played very well and forced three Oakland turnovers. Seattle won the turnover battle, 3-0.

Current NFL odds list the Seahawks as 10.5 point home favorites. Last year, Seattle embarrassed New York 23-0 at MetLife Stadium. Manning threw five interceptions in the loss. Seattle out-rushed New York, 134 to 25. Expect Seattle’s raucous home crowd to make things extremely difficult for a New York defense that has struggled in recent weeks. Lay the points and take the Seahawks for your NFL picks

Official Pick: Seattle -10

It has been an indifferent season for the New York Giants. Expectations were never too high but, the playoffs were to be expected. With a record of 3-4 at the halfway mark they are by no means out of the running for the playoffs but it is going to be one hell of a challenge. A challenge that right now they don’t look capable of completing. But can they, and if so, how?

The Giants are currently way out with bet365 to win the NFC Eastern Conference, and in all fairness they are definitely not going to win that, but more worryingly, their chances of even making it as a wildcard entrant are diminishing by the weekend.

Everyone knows just how important the next few games are for the Giants. Unfortunately, they are pretty tough bunch of games to win. Not only do they have to go to defending Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks, but they welcome Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, an in form Dallas Cowboys and NFC East rivals the Philly Eagles. That is five extremely difficult games from their last nine fixtures. Assuming the worst and that the Metlife side lose all five of those games, which the way they are playing recently is not that much of a stretch of the imagination, it would leave them with a record of 7-9, and that is assuming they win the games that they should. The only thing a 7-9 record is good for is managerial dismissals.

If truth be told, the run in looks to strong for the Giants and far too many of the teams that they are competing against on the field are competing with them for the playoff position. Right now in the NFC there is already a two game deficit between the Giants and the playoffs. If that gap extends further than the Giants’ season is over.

However, this is the New York Giants we are talking about. The gutsy side that never throw in the towel. If they did the 2011 Super Bowl would be remembered as the year that the New England Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl. The Giants are a gritty, resilient bunch. When the pressure is on they raise their game and that is what you can expect them to do right now. They must, and will, treat these final nine games as if they are playoff matches, and when they have that mentality they are a different side all together. Victories over the Colts and the Seahawks in their next two games will galvanise the locker room and bring some cohesion to the fragmented roster.

He has been very dodgy this season but still, you never back against a Manning. With Eli in your side you know you have a quarterback capable of picking out passes from impossible distances. He, like the Giants, just needs a couple of good games to get the old mojo back. When he does… look out.

The success of the Giants’ season will be decided in the next three matches. If they win at least two of the three they give themselves a shot, anything less and they are too far adrift.

The New York Jets (1-7) have lost seven straight games. Given their recent struggles, New York has benched quarterback, Geno Smith and gave the starting job to journeyman, Michael Vick. Smith threw three first quarter interceptions and was promptly benched. Vick played the rest of the game, but committed three turnovers in the loss. Running back Chris Ivory scored two touchdowns in the loss, but New York’s quarterback play must improve if it wants to save face during this disasterous 2014 season. Don’t expect things to get any easier when New York heads to a raucous Arrowhead Stadium.

The Kansas City Chiefs (4-3) have won two straight games, including a 34-7 victory last week against the St. Louis Rams. Running back Jamaal Charles ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns while wide receiver Dwayne Bowe caught six passes for 64 yards. Kansas City is the NFL’s third best rushing team with 140.7 rushing yards per game. Kansas City’s defense is only allowing 195.7 passing yards per game, which will present a huge issue for New York’s porous passing attack. Kansas City is 2-1 in its home games this year. 

Current NFL odds list Kansas City as 10.5 home favorites over New York. While things have been porous for New York, I’ll be happy to take double digit points. I fully expect New York to bounce back. Vick will be given all of the reps during practice and will have an opportunity to develop some chemistry with his receivers. Vick also adds a dynamic rushing element to New York’s offense. Take the Jets for your NFL picks.

Official Pick: NY Jets +10.5

Every single fan of the New York Knicks has been extremely disappointed with the play of Amar’e Stoudemire since arriving a few seasons ago. Injury issues and inconsistent play have plagued him during his entire tenure with the team, but he seems to be showing at least a little bit of promise in the preseason so far. It is not out of the question to think that he could good together somewhat of a bounce back season in 2014-2015. If he is able to provide some decent value in fantasy basketball, the New York Knicks could be a surprising team in the Eastern conference.

It is just the preseason, but Stoudemire seems to be saying all the right things. He has been going on record saying that he feels happy and young again on the floor, and that is great news for a guy who has cost only been on the trainer’s table throughout his career. Despite all the wear and tear on his body, he is still just 31 years of age. His body is severely damaged, but it might not be broken just yet. He is never going to be that same highflying act in the paint, but he has talked about changing up his game and contributing in other ways.

The best players in the NBA are able to redefine themselves once they lose a little bit of their athleticism. Stoudemire is no longer able to dunk on the opposition at will, but he is working on his game on the other side of the ball in order to provide value on defense. New York desperately needs some inside defense now that Tyson Chandler is back in Dallas. It is still a work in progress, but he has shown some promise early on in the preseason.

On offense, Stoudemire has worked hard on his jump shot in order to space the floor it little bit more. He should be able to fit in nicely in the triangle offense if he’s able to knock down shots outside of the paint. With his career at a serious crossroads, he sees that this might be his last chance to really show that he still belongs in the NBA. For his team’s sake, hopefully he is able to have a pretty successful campaign.

Two AFC East rivals will square off this Sunday at Metlife Stadium when the New York Jets (1-6) host the Buffalo Bills (4-3). New York has lost six straight games and is coming off a tough 27-25 road loss to the New England Patriots. New York’s offense compiled 217 rushing yards against New England, but its defense could not stop Tom Brady. Running back Chris Ivory had for 107 yards and one touchdown while Geno Smith completed 20-of-34 pass attempts for 226 yards and one touchdown. New York’s defense yielded 261 passing yards and three touchdowns to Tom Brady. Expect Smith and Co. to bounce back at home against a team its had some recent success against.

The Buffalo Bills are coming off a thrilling last second 17-16 home victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins caught nine passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Watkins second touchdown proved to be the game winner. Buffalo lost its top two running backs, CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson to injury and will rely on Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown to carry the rushing load. New York’s defense has only allowed 88 rushing yards per game, so expect the onus to fall on quarterback Kyle Orton, Watkins, and the rest of Buffalo’s passing attack. 

Current NFL odds list the New York Jets as 2.5 point home favorites against Buffalo. New York has won its last four home games against Buffalo, including a 27-20 win at Metlife Stadium last year. This spot is great for the Jets. Buffalo is coming off an emotional, last second home victory where it lost two of its best play makers while the Jets have been stewing over their lost to New England on Thursday Night Football. Lay the small number and select the New York Jets with your NFL Picks!

Official Pick: NY Jets -2.5