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With Erik Karlsson gone, Sens try to see the positives

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For Guy Boucher, it's not a rebuild.

"That's [not a] word for me. I'm a coach, and every year, you build," the head coach of the Ottawa Senators said during his first press conference since owner Eugene Melnyk announced a plan to rebuild the team.

"That's what we did this morning, come up and build with the players we have, with all the hope they bring."

Training camp opened Friday with drills and a scrimmage made up of a lot of young and, for many fans, unknown prospects.

Afterward, players spoke about the gap left in the roster by departure of superstar defenceman and captain Erik Karlsson.

"I texted him a little bit after. I just wished him the best of luck," said Mark Borowiecki.

"I thanked him for the way he treated me. He was really good to me with some off-ice stuff that I dealt with. I just wanted him to know it was something I'd never forget, and it was just a pleasure to play with him."

The Ottawa Senators took to the ice this morning for training camp, a day after their captain Erik Karlsson was traded to the San Jose Sharks. They've also learned that centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau will be out for up to six months after tearing his Achilles tendon. 0:56

Veteran players need to lead

But Borowiecki said the team has been developing what he called a solid core of "secondary leadership" under the captain, and that those more veteran players need to set an example if the new and untested roster loses too many games.

"I'm not saying it will happen, but it might, and how are we going to react to that as a group?"

Eighteen-year-old Brady Tkachuk, who the Senators selected fourth overall in the 2018 NHL draft, called the acquisition of Josh Norris a bright spot in Thursday's Karlsson trade.

"Josh Norris, he called me right as it was becoming official," Tkachuk said. "He was super excited."

New players made introductions and shook hands with each other on the bench as the Sens training camp opened. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Norris — who is nearly the same age as Tkachuk and played with him in the U.S. — is an old friend of Tkachuk's. He was San Jose's first-round pick in the 2017 draft, and was a member of the U.S. bronze medal-winning team at the world junior championship last year.

Asked if he would try to convince the college-enrolled Norris to leave school early to join the Sens, Tkachuk demurred.

"I haven't talked to him much about that. Right now he's focusing on [the University of] Michigan, but you never know what might happen in April or March, when the season ends."

Tierney 'a really smart player'

Asked about his experience in San Jose playing alongside Chris Tierney, one of the NHLers acquired in the Karlsson trade, Sens right winger Mikkel Bødker​ called Tierney "a really smart player."

"He sees the game really well and he's an accountable guy on the ice, so I think he'll fit in well with our group," he said. "He had 17 goals last year, so he knows where the net is, too."

As for the rest of the team still taking shape, the Dane was similarly optimistic.

"We have some really good, talented players on this team as well, so we just need to keep pushing, hold each other accountable, and we'll be good," Bødker​ said.

No obvious choice for captain

The Senators are without an obvious choice for captain at the moment. Boucher called the selection process "an organizational thing," and added that club GM Pierre Dorion will be involved.

Right winger and alternate captain Mark Stone is one possible candidate, and was asked Friday if he'd like to lead the club.

"It's a tough question to answer when your captain was traded, you know, yesterday," he said, but went on to acknowledge that he's already part of the leadership of the team and would be happy to take on more responsibility.

Centre Matt Duchene is the other name that comes up in conversations about who will wear the "C."

"There's a lot of really good candidates in here," said the 27-year-old, who joked that the team's slump and much publicized off-ice problems seemed to have begun when he arrived.

"Hopefully it's not me," he laughed. "Everybody wants to crap all over us, but we're going to use that as motivation."

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Meadows, Pham lead Rays past Blue Jays

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TORONTO — Blue Jays rookie shortstop Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., really appreciated it when veteran slugger Kendrys Morales came over to congratulate him in Toronto’s dugout.

Turns out, Morales wasn’t speaking about Gurriel.

Gurriel had a pair of solo home runs in the Blue Jays’ 11-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. His brother Yuli Gurriel, senior by 10 years, had a grand slam and a two-run jack in the Houston Astros 11-3 rout of the Los Angeles Angels.

“He told me ‘hey, congratulations!’ and I just said ‘thank you,’ and I thought it was because I hit two homers, but then he told me that my brother also hit two homers,” said the younger Gurriel through a translator. “I’m happy for him but for me as well.”

The Gurriel brothers have never played each other professionally, but will get to on Monday when Toronto open their final home series of the season when the Astros come to Rogers Centre.

“I’m very happy but I’m also curious,” said Gurriel. “It’s a little bit weird. I’ll see how I’m feeling that day.”

The younger Gurriel had a two-run shot in Toronto’s seven-run comeback in the ninth inning of Thursday night’s 9-8 victory over Tampa. His homers on Friday made him the 14th Blue Jay to homer in three consecutive plate appearances and the first rookie to do so.

“I knew when I came back from my injury that sooner or later I was going to start getting the groove back a little bit,” said Gurriel, who twisted his left knee on July 31 and was re-activated on Aug. 24. “I didn’t lose confidence at all. I knew I had it in me.”

Randal Grichuk hit Toronto’s (70-84) other home run. Starter Sean Reid-Foley (2-4) pitched four-plus innings for the Blue Jays, allowing four runs — two earned — on six hits, striking out five. Jose Fernandez, Mark Leiter Jr., Taylor Guerrieri, Danny Barnes and Jake Petricka came on in relief.

Fernandez and Leiter gave up two runs apiece before Guerrieri allowed three. Reid-Foley walked four, while the bullpen combined to walk four more. Guerrieri and Petricka both struck batters as well.

“We walked too many guys, we didn’t help ourselves out at all, that’s for sure,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “But they hit it. They’ve got good balance, they throw all those lefties at you and if you go lefties they can throw the righties at you.”

Pinch hitter Austin Meadows had a pair of RBI singles for Tampa Bay (86-67), while Tommy Pham tripled and drove in two runs and speedy outfielder Mallex Smith doubled in a run and scored twice himself.

Diego Castillo pitched one inning, giving up first Gurriel’s homer, before getting pulled. Normally a reliever, Castillo’s start was part of a starter-by-committee approach the Rays have used all season. Jalen Beeks (5-1) gave up two runs in his three innings of work, but earned the win before Adam Kolarek, Hunter Wood, Austin Pruitt closed the door.

Gurriel hit his first homer in the bottom of the first, putting a single shot to dead centre. He connected on Castillo’s 99.1 mph fastball, the fastest pitch any Blue Jay has hit for a home run this season.

He hit his second home run of the night in the fourth inning, bringing the 21,167 in attendance to their feet. It was his 11th home run of his rookie season.

___

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Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays – 9/22/18 MLB Pick, Odds, and Prediction

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Tampa Bay Rays (86-67) at Toronto Blue Jays (70-84)

MLB Baseball: Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 4:07 pm (Rogers Centre)

Tyler Glasnow (2-6) (4.22) vs. Tom Pannone (3-1) (3.78)

The Line: Toronto Blue Jays +120 / Tampa Bay Rays -140 — Over/Under: 9 See the Latest Odds

TV: SUN

The Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays meet Saturday in MLB action at the Rogers Centre.

The Tampa Bay Rays look to stay hot after winning 11 of their last 14 games. The Rays have scored 28 runs in their last three games and four or more runs in 10 of their last 13 games. The Tampa Bay Rays have won 11 of their last 12 games when scoring more than one run. Matt Duffy leads the Rays with 148 hits and 44 RBI while Joey Wendle and Mallex Smith have combined for 172 hits and 94 RBI. Tyler Glasnow gets the ball, and he is 2-6 with a 4.22 ERA and 121 strikeouts this season. Glasnow is 0-1 with a 12.71 ERA and eight strikeouts in his career against the Blue Jays.

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Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays look for a victory after splitting their last 12 games. The Blue Jays have scored 13 runs in their last three games and three or less runs in seven of their last 11 games. The Toronto Blue Jays have lost six of their last seven games when scoring three or less runs. Justin Smoak leads the Blue Jays with 121 hits and 77 RBI while Kevin Pillar and Teoscar Hernandez have combined for 232 hits and 111 RBI. Thomas Pannone gets the ball, and he is 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA and 21 strikeouts this season. Pannone is 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA and four strikeouts in his career against the Rays.

The Rays are 4-0 in their last 4 Saturday games, 37-18 in their last 55 during game 3 of a series and 2-5 in Glasnows last 7 starts. The Blue Jays are 5-2 in their last 7 vs. American League East, 4-2 in their last 6 games vs. a right-handed starter and 5-2 in their last 7 overall. The Rays are 11-4 in the last 15 meetings and the under is 7-2 in the last 9 meetings.

I’m not looking to back either one of these pitchers, so I’d avoid this game. But if forced to pick, I’d side with the Rays. Glasnow has been rather tough to hit this season, as he’s allowing a .208 batting average overall and a .185 batting average on the road. The Tampa Bay Rays have also been one of the hotter teams in the game over the last couple of weeks as there’s still a mathematical chance of them sneaking into the playoffs. The Rays have also owned the Blue Jays in recent meetings. I’ll lay the cheap price with the Rays on the road if forced to pick this game.

Tampa Bay Rays -140

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Toronto 20-12 Widnes: Widnes relegated from Super League

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Last Updated: 22/09/18 10:12pm

Adam Sidlow looks to take on the Widnes defence.

Adam Sidlow looks to take on the Widnes defence.

Widnes’ seven-year stay in Super League came to an end as they were beaten 20-12 by promotion-chasing Toronto at the Lamport Stadium.

The Vikings have flirted with relegation all year and ended the regular season eight points adrift at the foot of the table with just three wins.

They were handed the chance of a reprieve via the Super 8s Qualifiers but made the worst possible start with a home defeat by London Broncos and, although they grabbed a lifeline with victory over Halifax a week ago, defeat in Toronto sealed their fate.

With Toulouse and London Broncos also claiming victories over Super League opponents in round six, it means the make-up of the top tier in 2019 will now be decided in the last weekend of the season.

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Cummins hails Widnes character

Cummins hails Widnes character

Salford host Toulouse on Thursday while Toronto, who finished eight points clear in the Championship, play Leeds at Headingley on Friday and London Broncos are at home to Halifax next Saturday.

The Vikings led 6-0 against the Wolfpack after second rower Chris Dean, back in the side after recovering from injury, offloaded from the tackle to get full-back Joe Mellor over for the game’s opening try after 11 minutes.

Krisnan Inu added the conversion and also kicked a penalty after Toronto second rower Cory Paterson had brought the home side level with an 18th-minute try.

Harrison Hansen of Widnes Vikings is tackled by Chase Stanley, Andrew Dixon and Ashton Sims of Toronto Wolfpack. Harrison Hansen of Widnes Vikings is tackled by Chase Stanley, Andrew Dixon and Ashton Sims of Toronto Wolfpack.

Harrison Hansen of Widnes Vikings is tackled by Chase Stanley, Andrew Dixon and Ashton Sims of Toronto Wolfpack.

The home side were temporarily reduced to 12 men in the 24th minute when centre Chase Stanley was sin-binned for a crusher tackle on winger Owen Buckley, but they managed to regain the lead in his absence after a cut-out pass from Gareth O’Brien got winger Matty Russell over in the corner.

O’Brien failed with the conversion attempt and was also wide with a penalty as the Wolfpack reached the interval 10-8 in front.

Widnes regained the lead two minutes into the second half when Liam Finn’s delayed pass got Dean through a hole in the Wolfpack defence for his side’s second try and the game became frantic as both sides strove to gain the ascendancy.

Cory Patterson of Toronto Wolfpack celebrates a try with teammates. Cory Patterson of Toronto Wolfpack celebrates a try with teammates.

Cory Patterson of Toronto Wolfpack celebrates a try with teammates.

Paterson thought he had scored his second try, but a last-ditch tackle from Sam Wilde forced the ball from his grasp over the line and at the other end Harrison Hansen forced his way over from close range, only to lose his grip on the ball.

The lead changed hands for a fourth and decisive time in the 56th minute when Toronto half-back Blake Wallace darted over from dummy half on the last tackle and O’Brien’s conversion made it 16-12.

The Vikings were then denied when forward Chris Houston was held up over the try line and it proved to be their last chance as O’Brien’s two late penalties secured the win for the hosts.

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