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Buffalo Bills: 3 Takeaways from the preseason opener

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ORCHARD PARK, NY – AUGUST 09: Pyrotechnics explode as the Buffalo Bills enter the field before a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at New Era Field on August 9, 2018 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Bills kicked off their preseason campaign against the Carolina Panthers as the team looks to build off of last season.

While there’s only a month left in the summer, Buffalo Bills fans were excited to see football return with many teams starting their preseason schedule.

There are many questions facing the team on the offensive side of the ball so the preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers was crucial for players to give a strong first impression. At the same time, the team knows that one game isn’t going to lead to major changes especially with the team losing.

The score is never the concern in preseason unless it’s a major blowout but a 28-23 win for the Panthers isn’t something fans are going to throw their arms up in the air about. In fact, there were encouraging signs from the game and some interesting storylines that will be ongoing as well.

Obviously, a lot of eyes are on first-round draft pick Josh Allen and whether he can make his case to be the starting quarterback in Week 1 or does Sean McDermott go with either A.J. McCarron or Nathan Peterman.

Here are some takeaways from the Bills first time taking the field in hegame action.

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Leafs' Morgan Rielly marvels at Kings' Drew Doughty's ability to eat up minutes

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Morgan Rielly doesn’t have the Los Angeles Kings’ schedule memorized.

Still, there’s a habit the Maple Leafs defenceman has fallen into each time the Kings play.

“I check his minutes after every one of their games and they are always 25 and north,” Rielly said on Monday.

“You want to be one of those guys who plays those kind of minutes. Not everybody is capable of doing that. He is certainly a guy who works hard and he is a great skater and he is able to get up and down the ice all night. Seems like he never gets tired.”

The player in question, of course, is Kings defenceman Drew Doughty, a player who has drawn the admiration of players across the NHL since his rookie season of 2008-09, just months after he was chosen second overall by the Kings.

If it seems like Doughty doesn’t take a shift off, it’s because he never really has: Through 775 career NHL games before the Kings and Leafs clashed at Scotiabank Arena on Monday night, the London, Ont., native averaged 26 minutes, 16 seconds a game, putting him among the NHL’s leaders in that span.

Doughty, who won the Norris Trophy in 2016, was atop the NHL at 27 minutes, 22 seconds prior to Monday, and in his previous 10 NHL seasons, has finished in the top 10 six times.

Does the 28-year-old Doughty spend much time pondering how it is that he is able to play with the kind of stamina that eludes the majority of NHL defencemen?

“I think I’m just lucky to have a good brain for the game,” Doughty said. “A lot of guys exude a lot of energy when they are on the ice. I’m able to be well-positioned, therefore I don’t need to give out as much energy as other guys. I think that’s the key.”

Fine, but how critical is rest?

“I don’t want to rest,” Doughty said. “I want to go out there, I want to play 30 minutes every night. I get tired, I do. But if I get my rest in between games on days off, they keep me off the ice and just throw me in the gym and stuff like that, I recover pretty quick.

“Rest is important, but resting mentally is more important than anything.”

Rielly was averaging 21 minutes, 15 seconds a game through the Leafs’ first six games; his career high for a season came in 2015-16, when he came in at 23 minutes, 14 seconds.

As Rielly makes the necessary steps to becoming a complete defenceman, he marvels at what Doughty consistently has done.

“For sure,” Rielly said. “And the difference between 23 minutes and 26 minutes might just be three minutes, but really, that’s a lot. It’s really impressive. (Doughty) is probably one of my favourite players in the league and a guy I really look up to.”

For Rielly and fellow Leafs defenceman Travis Dermott, what’s important now is staying committed to growth and development each day, while keeping in mind the broader view. Dermott is a few years behind Rielly, but Dermott is on the way to becoming a sharp top-four defenceman, one capable of getting tough minutes when he gets that tap from coach Mike Babcock.

“A big part of it is being strong mentally and really understanding that there is a bigger picture,” Rielly said. “You want to do everything right now. I do, and I’m sure (Dermott) does, but it’s tough.”

The end result, in a perfect world, would be attaining the kind of status that Doughty has with the Kings, even if the minutes played aren’t equalled.

“The goal is that when you get into your prime years, you want to be able to play in all situations,” Rielly said. “You want to have the trust of the coaching staff, you want to be able to play huge minutes and be a big part of a winning team.”

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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Kenya's Only Hockey Team Comes To Canada To Play First-Ever Game

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Being part of an ice hockey team in Africa poses some challenges, as one can probably imagine.

Outdoor rinks are out of the picture, thanks to the weather. Indoor rinks are very hard to come by — there’s only one in all of East and Central Africa. Finding hockey skates and sticks is likely a hassle, if not impossible.

But for Kenya’s only hockey team, the problem was less so logistic, and more so very basic: they didn’t have anyone to play against.


Tim Hortons

A member of the Kenya Ice Lions walks through the streets of Nairobi with a hockey stick.

Despite holding twice-weekly practices at a 1,400-square-metre rink at the Panari Sky Center Hotel in Nairobi, the Kenya Ice Lions had never played a proper game. Instead, it was inter-team drills and shinny.

That is, until Tim Hortons came along.

The Canadian coffee chain heard about the Ice Lions and decided to bring 12 team members to Canada to play their first real hockey game.


Tim Hortons

The Ice Lions all decked out in their new gear and personalized jerseys.

The team was outfitted with new skates, sticks, protective equipment, and personalized jerseys.

Before they took to the ice, however, they were surprised with a double-double addition to the roster. To help stack the team a bit, Tim Hortons added Nova Scotia hockey phenoms Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon. (Crosby is the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins and MacKinnon is an alternate captain for the Colorado Avalanche, for those not up-to-speed on NHL superstars.)

In the video, one of the Kenyan players can be seen stroking Crosby’s face. “Is it you?” he asks, in disbelief.

“It is a dream to not only have the chance to play in Canada, but to play—for the first time—in full gear alongside two of the greatest players of the game,” said Benard Azegere, captain of the Kenya Ice Lions, in a statement.

“When we first started playing in Kenya, we didn’t even have full equipment, but now not only do we have that, we can say we’ve played a real game with some All-Star teammates.”

Watch the full video of the Ice Lions’ trip to Canada. Be sure to grab a few tissues, though, as it’s a tearjerker!

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Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon skate with players from Kenya in new Tim Hortons ad

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HALIFAX—Cole Harbour’s hockey stardom double-double are back in another Tim Hortons promotional video that will get the heart strings brewing.

The lengthy online ad posted Monday by the famous coffee company introduces the world to what is called Kenya’s only hockey team, players who are eventually brought to Toronto where they are introduced to Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche.

Sitting inside a dressing room, the players are soon greeted by Crosby and MacKinnon — both hockey stars from Cole Harbour, N.S. — who are in full uniform like the players from Kenya.

“Sidney … seeing him come through the dressing room door in full gear — I feel like I’m in heaven,” says one of the players in the ad.

“Is this true?” asks another player as he rubs Crosby’s face.

“It’s me, it’s me,” No. 87 bashfully replies.

From there, the players take the ice for a scrimmage game — with MacKinnon and Crosby serving as teammates.

“That’s the best part about the game — how it reaches so many people, places like Kenya where you wouldn’t even think there was any ice,” Crosby later says in the three minute and 20-second ad.

“To meet people from different places and to share the game that we love to play, I think I had just as much fun as any of those guys did today.”

Since early Monday, a Twitter post showcasing the ad has been retweeted more than 700 times and liked more than 1,300 times.

This is the latest work by Crosby and MacKinnon for Tim Hortons. Their work for the coffee brand is best remembered for the time they took over drive-thru duties at a Halifax location back in 2015.

Philip Croucher is a reporter and StarMetro bureau chief based in Halifax. Follow him on Twitter: @philip_croucher

Philip Croucher is a reporter and StarMetro bureau chief based in Halifax. Follow him on Twitter: @philip_croucher

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