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Sens believe they can move forward without Karlsson

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OTTAWA—The Ottawa Senators are determined to prove they can survive and thrive without Erik Karlsson.

Looking to move into a rebuilding phase, ownership and management made the decision to trade their captain, and best player, to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher holds training camp in Ottawa on Friday.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

While the Karlsson trade didn’t come as a surprise, players acknowledged getting it done before the season probably was best.

“It had the potential to be a distraction,” defenceman Mark Borowiecki said Friday as the Senators hit the ice for training camp. “There was a lot of signs kind of pointing in that direction and now it’s just kind of time for us to move on. A time to look inwards here and what do we have to do now to get this thing righted and it gives us a bit of a chance to focus less on that situation and focus more on ourselves.”

The Senators, who finished second last in the league last year, understand life will be more difficult without Karlsson, but have confidence they have enough solid pieces to move forward.

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“Every season is hard, everybody starts from scratch on day one,” said winger Mark Stone. “We’ve got to build every day to generate a foundation that’s going to help us win hockey games and I think there’s a number of guys in this group that are going to help in doing that. I’m excited. We’re back here on day one with everybody and it was a great day and it’s fun to be here.”

The overall message Friday was the remaining veterans are determined to stick together and find the unity that was lacking last season.

“We’re not going to sit around here and drag our lips and mope and feel sorry for ourselves,” said Borowiecki. “Are there going to be tough times? For sure, it’s expected. We’ve got some great ideas, we’ve had some really positive meetings and we had a good, hard session (Friday). The true test is going to be what happens if we go on a five-game slide, seven-game slide. I’m not saying it will happen, but it might and how are we going to react to that as a group. That’s kind of going to be the true test for us.”

Adversity is nothing new for the Senators, who have produced a long line of negative headlines on and off the ice. Matt Duchene pointed out that they’ve been dealing with it for almost a year and joked it seemed to coincide with his arrival last season, when he was acquired in a trade from the Colorado Avalanche.

“Hopefully, it’s not me that’s the problem,” Duchene said with a smile. “Hopefully that’s all gone now and hopefully we can move forward and have a good season. Obviously everybody wants to kind of crap all over us, but we’re going to try and use that as a chip on our shoulder and motivation. We should use it to our advantage.”

The bad news continued Friday when the Senators confirmed centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau suffered a torn Achilles to his right leg during an agility test Thursday and is expected to miss six months.

In a depth chart released Wednesday, the Senators had pencilled in Pageau as their second-line centre. The 25-year-old had 14 goals and 39 points in 78 games last season.

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“That one was a kick for us,” said Duchene of losing Pageau. “He’s such a special player for us too. He’s a guy that plays such a big role and does things that a lot of guys can’t do out there in terms of the grit and the role he plays. That’s going to be really tough to replace.”

The injury will create opportunity as Zack Smith, expected to be on the third line, could move up or Chris Tierney, acquired from the San Jose Sharks as part of the Karlsson trade, could get a chance. Tierney had 17 goals and 40 points in 82 games last year.

With the Senators going with a youth movement, they will likely give Colin White, Logan Brown and Filip Chlapik an opportunity as well.

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Seahawks on brink of playoffs after win over Vikings – TSN

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SEATTLE — Bobby Wagner leaped over the line of scrimmage, swatted Dan Bailey‘s field goal attempt and sparked the Seattle Seahawks to two late touchdowns.

Whether or not what Wagner did was entirely legal, he frankly didn’t care.

“I’m not stressing about that. I made the play. They called what they called,” Wagner said. “There’s times in games where things happen all the time. I’m not stressing on it. It was a big block and we’ll definitely take it. It was amazing.”

Wagner’s block midway through the fourth quarter was the catalyst in a 21-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night that pushed Seattle to the brink of a playoff berth.

Chris Carson followed the blocked kick with a 2-yard TD run with 2:53 left, and Justin Coleman capped off the Seahawks’ fourth straight victory with a 29-yard fumble return for a touchdown 18 seconds later.

What was an ugly and mostly forgettable first three quarters turned into a Seattle party in the fourth as the Seahawks (8-5) moved to the brink of wrapping up a wild-card spot in the NFC. One win in Seattle’s final three games — including matchups with lowly San Francisco and Arizona — should be enough to put the Seahawks into the post-season.

“It’s really about the defence. I loved the way they played, they played so hard and so spirited,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “It was almost poetic after last week’s game that Bobby would get to block the field goal and he pulled it off and did it. That was an incredible play.”

Minnesota (6-6-1) twice had scoring chances in the fourth quarter when it was still a one-score game but was turned away each time. Minnesota’s chances of winning the NFC North took a major hit with its second straight loss, but the Vikings still hold the No. 6 spot in the NFC.

“Part of it is being better on third downs. We haven’t really done a good job there. Part of it is being better in the red zone,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “We had the ball on the 2-yard line and didn’t score.”

But much of the conversation centred on Wagner’s block of Bailey’s 47-yard attempt with 5:38 left and whether it was entirely legal. Wagner’s jump through a gap in Minnesota’s offensive line was fine, but it appeared he used his teammates to gain leverage, which allowed him to come through and block the kick. A flag was initially thrown but was picked up by the officials.

Wagner said he attempted it four times in practice without a problem but acknowledged it could be tough to pull off the play during the fourth quarter of a tight game.

“When I did it in practice I was pretty fresh,” Wagner said.

Zimmer said he asked for an explanation of what happened but wasn’t given one. He was told he couldn’t challenge.

“Quite honestly, I didn’t see what happened. I was told what happened,” Zimmer said.

Seattle took possession and Russell Wilson immediately scrambled 40 yards deep into Minnesota territory. Five plays later, Carson scored and Seattle finally had a cushion. Two plays after that, Jacob Martin sacked Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins and the ball popped to Coleman, who weaved his way for the clinching touchdown.

Cousins threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Dalvin Cook with 1:10 remaining, but Seattle recovered the onside kick.

“I feel like all of our losses we, as an offence, we are so slow,” Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said. “Our defence is keeping us in games. And we’re not pulling our side of the bargain.”

Wilson had one of the worst passing games of his career, completing 10 of 20 attempts for career-low 72 yards and a baffling interception late in the first half, one of the many mistakes by Seattle that allowed Minnesota to hang around. But Seattle’s ground game was outstanding against one of the better run defences in the NFL. The Seahawks finished with 214 yards rushing, led by 90 yards from Carson.

Sebastian Janikowski hit field goals of 37 and 35 yards to account for all of Seattle’s scoring until the closing minutes.

“If you run it 40-something times, you ought to win. That was pretty good,” Carroll said.

FOURTH QUARTER WOES

Minnesota hung around despite failing to run a play in Seattle territory until there was 4:16 left in the third quarter. Cousins was 20 of 33 for 208 yards, most of that coming late. But he failed to get the Vikings into the end zone from inside the Seattle 5 while trailing 6-0 early in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings had first-and-goal at the Seattle 4 but turned the ball over on downs with 9:06 remaining. Two short runs and an incompletion brought up fourth-and-goal at the 1, and Cousins’ pass for Kyle Rudolph was knocked away by Bradley McDougald. Bailey’s field goal was blocked on Minnesota’s next drive.

REACHING 100

Minnesota fell to 0-6 when allowing its opponents to run for at least 100 yards. The Vikings came in to the week giving up 99 yards per game on the ground, good for seventh-best in the NFL. Seattle had 136 yards rushing in the first half.

OTHER CENTURY MARK

Thielen tied Cris Carter as the fastest Minnesota player to reach 100 receptions in a season, both accomplishing the feat in 13 games. Carter did it in 1994 when he finished the year with 122 catches. Thielen is the first Minnesota receiver to get to 100 catches since Randy Moss in 2003. But Thielen didn’t get his first catch until midway through the third quarter. He finished with five catches for 70 yards.

UP NEXT

Minnesota: The Vikings return home to host Miami on Sunday.

Seattle: The Seahawks play their final road game Sunday at San Francisco.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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The St Louis Blues are a mess after getting blown out by Canucks – Daily Hive

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The St Louis Blues are in a crisis of sorts after getting booed off home ice following a 6-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson had their way with St Louis. Boeser picked up his second career hat trick, while Pettersson had his second five-point game of the season and was named NHL First Star of the Week.

Starting goalie Jake Allen was chased from the net after giving up three goals on six shots, while backup Chad Johnson didn’t fare much better, giving up three goals on 15 shots.

Vancouver’s three first period goals marked the first time the Blues allowed three in the opening stanza to the Canucks since December 15, 1996. The Canucks won 8-0 that night (goals were scored by Alex Mogilny x3, Pavel Bure x2, David Roberts, Gino Odjick, and Markus Naslund, in case you were wondering), leading to Blues head coach Mike Keenan being fired five days later.

St Louis might have considered canning their bench boss after this latest pathetic effort, but of course, they’ve already played that card, firing Mike Yeo last month.

“We gave up eight scoring chances in the game and six goals against,” said new Blues head coach Craig Berube. “There are a lot of areas that have to be better tonight, for sure.”

The Blues aren’t a good team this year, but losing badly to the Canucks — a team that dropped 12 of their previous 14 games — was a new low.

Vladimir Tarasenko even felt the need to apologize for his team’s effort.

“I apologize to all our fans,” he said. “We can’t play at home like this. I don’t know how to fix it. We work on it but it doesn’t work for now.”

Not long after the game, the Blues called up goaltender Jordan Binnington from the minors, while Johnson found his way on waivers.

No, not that Chad Johnson, but hilarious stuff from Ochocinco nonetheless.

Tensions boiled over at Monday’s practice, when teammates Robert Bortuzzo and Zach Sanford got into a fight, with Bortuzzo landing a couple of good punches.

Meanwhile, rumours have circulated that the Blues might be willing to offload their captain, Alex Pietrangelo.

The Canucks will hope the Blues remain a wreck for the foreseeable future, as these two teams meet again at Rogers Arena on December 20.

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Rob Williams

Man of the people, voice of the fans. Daily Hive Sports Editor.

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Russell Wilson revelation made by Vikings coach Mike Zimmer ahead of Seahawks game – Express

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That is the option of Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, who takes his team to Washington tonight to face the Seattle Seahawks.

Zimmer believes the 30-year-old Seahawks quarterback is still improving as a player.

“He still throws the ball very accurately,” Zimmer said about Wilson.

“Maybe his deep ball is better than I’ve seen it, it looks like to me.

“That’s just off the top of my head. I know he’s throwing it good now.”

With both teams looking to secure a wildcard playoff place Zimmer understands the importance of this upcoming Week 14 game.

Zimmer is expecting the Seahawks to try and establish the run game.

“Well, it’s going to be difficult,” Zimmer said.

“I think they do an excellent job in the run game, obviously.

“I think Chris Carson is maybe one of the best backs in the league, really, watching him run. He’s physical, he’s downhill, he hurdles, he does so many good things.

“They do a great job in their scheme and the way they block with the different schemes they have off of it.

“Russell Wilson keeps the ball and makes another added dimension, and then quite honestly they’ve got really good receivers too.”

Since Week 5, Wilson has 22 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 128.3 quarterback rating – the second-highest in the league over that span behind Drew Brees at 128.9.

And Zimmer was full of praise for Wilson’s ability to read a defence.

“He sees blitzes,” Zimmer said.

“I can remember a few years ago, we had a zero-blitz and he checked it and hit a touchdown.

“I remember the scramble he made in the playoff game where the ball went over his head.”

Zimmer feels the key to dealing with Wilson is not just applying pressure with the front four men.

“I think you have to mix it up on him,” Zimmer said.

“They have some movement passes where they get out of the pocket.

“Then they have some scrambles and they have some normal play action drop backs.”

Despite the Seahawks focusing on their run game, Zimmer believes there has been little change in what the Seahawks are asking of Wilson.

“They still use him and move him on passes out of the pocket with the boots and things like that,” Zimmer said.

“I mean, to me, it looks like – he’s always been really good.”

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