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Bruins at Hurricanes, Game 3

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BRUINS at HURRICANES

The Carolina Hurricanes are hoping a return home will help them get back in the Eastern Conference Final when they play Game 3 against the Boston Bruins at PNC Arena on Tuesday.

Carolina is 5-0 at home in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Boston is 4-2 on the road and has won five consecutive playoff games.

The Bruins won the first two games of the series at TD Garden by a combined 11-4, including 6-2 in Game 2 on Sunday. Boston had a 6-0 lead before the Hurricanes scored two goals late in the third period. The Bruins won Game 1 5-2.

Carolina also trailed the Washington Capitals 2-0 in the first round and came back to win the series in seven games.

Teams that take a 2-0 lead in the conference final round have gone on to win the series 30 of 32 times since 1981-82, when the NHL started using the conference format in the playoffs. The Bruins have won 24 of 31 series after taking a 2-0 lead.

“Playoffs is all about putting pressure on the other team and seeing how they do with a little bit of pressure,” Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said. “So we have to get a win first of all and then just push back a little bit, see how they respond. It’s not a do or die or go home, but it’s an important game for us.”

Here are 5 keys to Game 3:

1. Hurricanes need better goaltending

Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour won’t say if it’ll be Petr Mrazek getting his third straight start or Curtis McElhinney starting for the first time since May 3, when he helped the Hurricanes finish a four-game sweep of the New York Islanders in the second round.

No matter who it is, the Hurricanes can’t expect to win if their goalie has a save percentage anywhere close to the .808 Mrazek had in the first two games. He allowed 10 goals on 52 shots.

2. Focus on goalie tendencies

If it’s Mrazek, the Bruins have proven that his aggressiveness can be used against him. They have been patient with the puck, waiting for Mrazek to make the first move, which has opened backdoor plays that have been hard for him to defend when he moves laterally.

If it’s McElhinney, the Bruins likely will have to shoot quicker because he plays deeper in the crease and is focused more on being positionally sound than using his athleticism.

3. Scoring from defensemen

Boston has four goals from defensemen in the series, including two in Game 2 from Matt Grzelcyk. The four goals match the goal production the Bruins got from their defensemen in the first two rounds (13 games).

The Hurricanes have no goals from defensemen in the series and one in their past seven games. They led the NHL with 48 goals from defensemen in the regular season. Boston was 25th with 31.

The flip-flop is likely because the Bruins appear to be taking advantage of Carolina’s aggressiveness from the back end. If it continues, the Hurricanes might think about sitting back more, which isn’t what they want to do.

“Their ‘D’ pinch a little more so if you chip it behind them and your ‘D’ is part of the rush you can beat them up ice,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “That’s pretty typical of how Carolina gets their offense from their ‘D’. So if it’s there, take it.”

4. Hurricanes must forecheck

The Hurricanes’ forwards were stuck defending, chipping the puck out, going for a line change and then defending again too often in Games 1 and 2. It’s like having their game thrown right back at them because typically they are the aggressors, the team forechecking relentlessly.

The Hurricanes have to be the aggressors early in Game 3. It starts with their transition out of the zone. Move it quick, get up the ice and attack. They can put the Bruins on their heels and force goalie Tuukka Rask into some challenging situations. He had it too easy in Game 2.

“It’s going to take a lot more than we did in Boston,” Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho said. “It’s good that we get the home crowd going in here and try to use that to help us to get to our forecheck game.”

5. Bruins hot on power play

The Bruins power play comes into Game 3 red hot after having gone 2-for-2 in Game 2 and 2-for-5 in Game 1, and changing that game by scoring both power-play goals in the third period after trailing 2-1 through 40 minutes.

The Hurricanes clearly can’t keep giving the Bruins chances to beat them on the power play. The other part is Carolina has to do what it can to keep the game 5-on-5 because it can’t rely much on its power play, which is 5-for-45 in the playoffs (11.1 percent).

Hurricanes projected lineup

Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen

Nino NiederreiterJordan Staal — Justin Williams

Warren FoegeleLucas WallmarkBrock McGinn

Micheal FerlandGreg McKeggSaku Maenalanen

Jaccob SlavinDougie Hamilton

Brett PesceJustin Faulk

Haydn FleuryCalvin de Haan

Petr Mrazek

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Jordan Martinook, Jake Bean

Injured: Trevor van Riemsdyk (left shoulder)

Bruins projected lineup

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak

Jake DeBruskDavid KrejciDavid Backes

Marcus JohanssonCharlie CoyleDanton Heinen

Joakim NordstromSean KuralyChris Wagner

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy

Torey KrugBrandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk — Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, Karson Kuhlman, John Moore, Noel Acciari

Injured: Kevan Miller (lower body)

Status report

The Hurricanes did not hold a morning skate. … Cassidy said Acciari, who has missed four games with an upper-body injury, is cleared to play but will be scratched. … Maenalanen, who has missed four games with an upper-body injury, could replace Martinook.

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Specialness of Raptors veterans will help replace Kawhi, Green

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The Toronto Raptors didn’t just lose the NBA’s best two-way player, Kawhi Leonard, in the off-season, though that’s all everyone seems to talk about. The defending champions also saw one of the premier two-way role players, Danny Green, head to Los Angeles

Green had a tremendous season for Toronto, shooting a scorching 45.5% on three-pointers (third in the NBA) while also garnering plenty of All-Defensive team votes.

Though he struggled in the playoffs, Green was still a huge contributor toward the success of the team, both on and off of the court.

“He’s very consistent with the things that he’s going to do on the floor,” Marc Gasol told the Toronto Sun.

“He’s very vocal. Very positive. He doesn’t take things personal. He’s a veteran guy who has been around but has come up also through hard times and has been coached hard in his previous years (by Gregg Popovich in San Antonio) and knows what it takes to play at the highest level. And he was very good for us,” Gasol said.

“The general public doesn’t really notice what the other guys (besides Leonard) do (and) Danny’s one of those guys,” said Fred VanVleet.

He’s not flashy, his game isn’t very sexy, but I don’t know what he shot, 45% from three? Something crazy like that, at a high clip, played 80 games, played every night, guarded the best players on the other teams and he’s just solid every night,” VanVleet said. “You know what you’re going to get … (and) just having that experience here – He didn’t do a lot of preaching and teaching, he just was here and (led) by example and we’ll miss that.”

But life must go on. Nobody is singing a woe is me tune in Toronto.

“We don’t have that luxury (to bring back the full championship roster) so we have to find a new approach and a new path to get back there,” VanVleet told a few reporters in the lead-up to opening night.

“Just from a mental approach, there’s no chance for a championship hangover. If we don’t get it done it won’t be because we relaxed … We still have a lot to prove and we want to do it again,” he said.

With Leonard and Green gone there will be opportunities for everyone else to expand their games and their roles. From Pascal Siakam, to Gasol, VanVleet, Norman Powell and OG Anunoby, to Kyle Lowry likely looking more like the guy who averaged over 21 points a game from 2015-17 than the one who dropped to 14.2 a year ago, things are going to change.

“I always say it’s addition by subtraction and it’s great because those guys are going to bring something different than what (was lost),” Gasol said, not meaning it to be insulting in any way to Leonard or Green.

“I think the biggest thing is seeing how we key in offensively without those two guys,” VanVleet said. “Defensively I feel very comfortable … but offensively it can be a little tricky,” he said.

“It’ll take some time to figure it out, but I think having those two guys out is going to be a little bit more opportunity and also a chance to spread it around a little bit.”

Head coach Nick Nurse seems extremely confident with the group that he’s got for a number of reasons.

“I think there’s a specialness to some of these guys. And maybe it’s because they won or whatever, or maybe it’s just who they are,” Nurse said.

“To me, Marc Gasol is a really special player. Like, really special. Kyle Lowry, really special. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam. I mean, there’s a lot of guys. There’s IQ, toughness, competitiveness, skill, fight, that are at levels that, well as a coach you kind of dream about having guys like that,” he said.

“And it shows when the group of them goes out together you see a level of smart basketball. A level of competitiveness and a toughness and those are important things.”

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Bianca Andreescu makes Canadian history by reaching No. 4 in rankings

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Bianca Andreescu has become the highest-ranked Canadian tennis player in WTA Tour history.

The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., jumped one spot to No. 4 in the rankings on Monday following a week off.

That pushes her one spot ahead of her career-best No. 5 ranking, which tied a Canadian record set by Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.

Ranked outside the top 150 entering the season, Andreescu rocketed up the rankings with tournament wins at Indian Wells, Calif., and Toronto followed by her first Grand Slam win at the U.S. Open in New York last month.

Andreescu had a 17-match win streak snapped when she lost a quarterfinal match to Naomi Osaka at the China Open earlier this month.

The Canadian is scheduled to return to action at the WTA Finals, which begin on Sunday in Shenzhen, China.

Milos Raonic reached No. 3 in the men’s rankings in 2016, the best ranking achieved by a Canadian man.

On the men’s side, Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., jumped seven spots to No. 27 after capturing the Stockholm Open on Sunday for his first career ATP Tour title.

Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime is the top Canadian at No. 18.

Raonic has dropped to No. 32.

Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Raonic all are entered in the Erste Bank Open this week in Vienna, Austria.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2019.

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Mike Babcock out coached the Bruins

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At the beginning of the Maple Leafs 4-3 OT win over the Boston Bruins, I thought it was odd that Mike Babcock had switched Mitch Marner and William Nylander. I worried about how the Leafs were going to keep up with Boston’s depth and not lose out because of it. If only one line was able to produce, and it went up against the Bergeron line, the team wasn’t going to succeed.

Babcock’s solution was much more complicated than rolling four lines and it was brilliant.

Babcock and his coaching staff get an A+ for their effort and creativity last night because they were able to have their best matchup line (Matthews and Marner), while also maximizing Nylander’s time with the top line. Alex Kerfoot was a man on a mission and showed us that he’s much better at driving play than we thought he was. That goal he scored was fully deserved.

Jason Spezza wasn’t used much, but Frederik Gauthier and his mates killed it last night, they were super impressive. They beat the Bergeron line when they needed to, gave the Leafs positive and energetic minutes against the depth, and allowed Babcock to be super creative with his top-eight forwards.

That careful management and line matching honestly gave the Leafs the win. Without John Tavares — and for half the game Andreas Johnsson — they would not have beaten the Bruins in a normal game.

I’m less worried about the playoffs on Sunday than I was on Saturday.

Oh, and Mike Babcock (and all of you yelling at me) were right about Dmytro Timashov. I was wrong. He’s a fun little bugger.

The Branches

Here is the recap from the game I just talked about. It’s from Seldo so proceed with caution.

During the intermission, Nic Petan was brought up by Elliotte Friedman. The Leafs might be looking for a trade partner here. Gosh, I hope no one has any opinions about this in the comments.

From our friend-enemies at MLHS, the difference between reasonable and ridiculous takes and why you’re at fault for it.

For those who like to “hate watch” things, have fun with O-Dog’s ridiculous takes on… John Tavares?

Update on Andreas Johnsson: nothing broken, but he won’t practice tomorrow. Leafs play the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Bruins again on Monday and Tuesday this week.

From the Marlies, Kasimir Kaskisuo recorded his first shutout of the season in a 2-0 win over the Cleveland Monsters. Darren Archibald got his first as a Marlie and Egor Korshkov scored his fifth goal in five games. The Marlies are 5-0-0 to start the season and remain *perfect* on the penalty kill to start the season.

Captain Morgan?

Just kidding. Freddy Gauthier for Captain.

Branches Around the League

The Tampa Bay Lightning got trampled by three minutes of the Colorado Avalanche, in case you still want to say the Leafs are doomed.

Billie-Jean King is a QUEEN!

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