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3 things learned at Day 3 of World Juniors – NHL.com

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Monday is the fourth day of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is being held at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Day 3 results

Finland 4, Switzerland 1

Canada 3, Slovakia 1

Czech Republic 2, Russia 0

What we learned on Day 3
Skilled Russia players must start going into the dirty areas

Russia coach Igor Larionov was a member of three Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 1998, 2002). During those championship runs, he gained an appreciation for the way fellow forwards like Tomas Holmstrom, Darren McCarty and Kirk Maltby would go to the dirty area in front of the net and cause chaos in front of opposing goalies, especially during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Larionov would like to see his players follow suit during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Russia outshot the Czech Republic 30-29 in a 2-0 loss in Group B play Sunday. It was the first time Russia was shut out in the tournament since losing 1-0 in overtime to Sweden in the championshp game of the 2012 WJC, and Larionov thinks he knows why.

“I don’t think we have any concerns about our team in terms of our offensive play or team effort or anything like that,” he said. “We have to be significantly more around the net and finish our chances. We have to get shots to the net and get rebounds and score some dirty goals.”

Too many of Russia’s shots came from the outside, much to Larionov’s chagrin, allowing Czech Republic goalie Lukas Parik (Los Angeles Kings) to have a clear view. Russia went 0-for-3 on the power play in the third period and had trouble penetrating a defensive system that often had five players collapsing into the slot.

“Sometimes you have to use a game like this as a confidence leveler, a classroom,” Larionov said. “We need to play our best hockey and get on the scoreboard and get some guys getting their confidence back to score goals.”

Russia (1-0-0-1) plays Austria (0-0-0-1) on Tuesday.

Lundell’s leadership on display for Finland

Forward Anton Lundell (Florida Panthers) said he was thrilled to be named Finland captain two weeks ago. Through his team’s first two games, the 19-year-old is showing the type of leadership worthy of that distinction.

That was on display in the first period of a 4-1 victory against Switzerland on Sunday.

Despite coming into the game as underdogs, Switzerland (0-0-0-2) appeared to have the early momentum when forward Attilio Biasca (2021 draft eligible) opened the scoring at 3:44 of the first period. But any confidence Switzerland might have built from that early goal was dampened 36 seconds later when Lundell scored to tie the game 1-1.

The timing of the goal was a turning point for Finland (2-0-0-0), which went on to score three more times for the victory.

Lundell finished with two points (one goal, one assist) and has scored in each of Finland’s first two games. He opened the scoring in a 5-3 victory against Germany on Friday and is tied for the team lead in goals (two) with forward Aku Raty (Arizona Coyotes). Lundell (two goals, one assist), Kasper Simontaival (one goal, two assists) and Roni Hirvonen (two assists) have combined for eight points (three goals, five assists) through two games and have formed Finland’s most effective line.

“I would say that we have good chemistry,” Simontaival (Kings) said of Lundell. “We can find each other when we put pucks to the net and redirect them. We see each other great on the ice.”

Simontaival also praised Hirvonen (Toronto Maple Leafs).

“He’s been playing great for us,” Simontaival said.

Lundell has scored Finland’s first goal in each of the first two games and is setting the tone for his team like any good captain does.

Canada’s depth shows again

Defenseman Jordan Spence (Kings) was a healthy scratch for Canada’s 16-2 victory against Germany on Saturday. He took the ice for the pregame skate prior to the game against Slovakia on Sunday not knowing if he would play.

But when Canada learned that defenseman Braden Schneider (New York Rangers) was being suspended for a hit to the head in the win against Germany, Spence was inserted into the lineup to replace him.

He didn’t disappoint.

Spence, in his WJC debut, made the most of his opportunity by opening the scoring at 4:08 of the first period in Canada’s 3-1 victory in Group A. His ability to step into the lineup and be a difference-maker after sitting out the opener is an example of Canada’s deep talent pool.

“He did a good job,” coach André Tourigny said. “He was ready. We know he can really move the puck well.”

Tourigny said it was tough to decide who to sit out against Germany.

“We knew we would go to Jordan at some point because this is the World Juniors,” he said. “Adversity happens. We knew that because of injury or suspension Jordan would play at some point. We talked to him about it. We knew he could do it.”

Canada plays Switzerland on Tuesday (6 p.m. ET). With Spence making an impact and Schneider eligible to return, there will be another tough decision on who to scratch.

On tap for Day 4

All games on NHL Network in U.S., TSN and RDS in Canada

Austria vs. Sweden (6 p.m. ET) — Each team played a lopsided game in its tournament opener, although with significantly different results. Sweden (1-0-0-0) defeated the Czech Republic 7-1, a result that looks even more impressive after the Czech Republic’s 2-0 win against Russia on Sunday. Austria (0-0-0-1) was outshot 73-10 in its 11-0 loss to the United States on Saturday. Goal differential is one of the tiebreakers in the tournament, so Sweden will look to take advantage against an Austria team that was outplayed badly.

Slovakia vs. Germany (9:30 p.m. ET) — Germany (0-0-0-2) hoped a day off Sunday provided the rest its players needed. Germany was limited to 14 skaters — nine forwards and five defensemen — because of coronavirus issues in a 5-3 loss to Finland on Friday and its 16-2 loss to Canada on Saturday. The IIHF said Sunday that three players are eligible to return after being released from quarantine. Slovakia (1-0-0-1) felt it deserved a better fate in its 3-1 loss to Canada on Sunday and will be looking to take advantage of a shorthanded Germany team.

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Canada's first medal of the Olympics is silver: Women's 4x100m freestyle relay team edges U.S. for second place – National Post

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Showstoppers at the Rio Games five years ago, Canadian women swimmers are back in a big way

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Showstoppers at the Rio Games five years ago, Canadian women swimmers are back in a big way serving notice they are driven to be a world powerhouse in their sport.

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Anchored by yet another brilliant swim from 2016 superstar Penny Oleksiak, the 4 x 100-metre relay team claimed their country’s first medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday night, finishing second in the final.

It was a buoyant performance on the first medal night of the meet, immediately backing up the breakout six-medal heist the Canadian women extracted out of the pool in Brazil. The silver medals the four Canadian women placed around each other’s necks during the post-race ceremony were a shiny update from the bronze they captured in Brazil.

And the legend of Oleksiak continued as she won a fifth Olympic medal, tying middle-distance runner Phil Edwards and rowing coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie for the most summer Olympic medals among Canadian athletes.

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Based on the form the foursome flashed, Saturday’s effort set the tone for more success to come in the nine-day meet. Medal opportunities could come almost nightly and the confidence created from the opening silver could be huge for the Canadians who had far less racing opportunities than most of their competitors.

First-time Olympian Kayla Sanchez swam the opening leg of Saturday’s event, held at a spectator-free Tokyo Aquatic Centre. Sanchez was followed by Maggie Mac Neil and Rebecca Smith. Those three kept the medal pursuit alive, even if the favoured Australians were sprinting away to a runaway gold.

And then it was Oleksiak – the four-time medallist from 2016 – who brought it home, sending an early indication that she’s returned to top form by doing what she does best. The 21-year-old once again showed her pure racing prowess, a trait that earned her gold in the 100-metre freestyle event at Rio.

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Kayla Sanchez, Maggie MacNeil, Rebecca Smith and Penny Oleksiak celebrate after winning the silver medal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Kayla Sanchez, Maggie MacNeil, Rebecca Smith and Penny Oleksiak celebrate after winning the silver medal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

“If you are going to want someone racing the 100 free or anchoring your relay, you probably want it to be Penny,” Sanchez said in an interview prior to the Games. “She knows how to finish those last 50 metres. She knows how to do anything in her power to touch that wall first.”

Favoured Australia took gold, as expected and set a world record in the process while U.S. with Simone Manuel anchoring took bronze.

Emma McKeon of Australia, Meg Harris of Australia, Cate Campbell of Australia and Bronte Campbell of Australia celebrate after setting a new World record REUTERS/Marko Djurica
Emma McKeon of Australia, Meg Harris of Australia, Cate Campbell of Australia and Bronte Campbell of Australia celebrate after setting a new World record REUTERS/Marko Djurica Photo by MARKO DJURICA /REUTERS

Gunning for Canada’s first medal of the Games, the Swimming Canada braintrust juggled the lineup from the heats to the final, a strategy it has employed in the past for big event relays. Taylor Ruck, who like Oleksiak was part of the 4 x 100 bronze medal relay squad in Rio, was replaced by Mac Neil for Saturday’s final and inserted in the second spot, following leadoff swimmer Sanchez.

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“I’m so proud to be part of this team,” Sanchez said. “We did what we needed to do. We’ve been saying all afternoon: ‘it’s Game 1 and Canada has so much more to go.”

It was the first Olympic medal for Sanchez, Mac Neil and Smith, who are all making their Games debut.

Smith, Sanchez, and Mac Neil react after winning the silver medal in the Women’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final.
Smith, Sanchez, and Mac Neil react after winning the silver medal in the Women’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final. Photo by Tom Pennington /Getty Images

Despite limited racing opportunities over the past four years, the Canadians have kept their competitive drive engaged, something Oleksiak unleashed yet again on Saturday.

“Honestly, we are already one of the most dominant countries in the world in swimming and all the girls are working so hard every single day,” Oleksiak said. “I’m really excited to see these specific girls make a mark on the world again.

“Hopefully we can get a few more going.”

And in every event they have been called upon to leave the blocks.

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Swimmers dive off the blocks in the final of the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. (AFP/Jonathan NACKSTRAND)
Swimmers dive off the blocks in the final of the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. (AFP/Jonathan NACKSTRAND) Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND /AFP via Getty Images

The focus on strong relay teams is a huge part of the Canadian program under head coach John Atkinson. With an emphasis on depth, Canadian women showed their strength in that area at the 2016 Rio Olympics where they captured a pair of medals.

  1. Canada's Kylie Masse competes in a heat of the women's 100M Backstroke during the swimming competition at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest

    Kylie Masse’s Olympic journey: How the 25-year-old became one of the swimming world’s best backstrokers

  2. Among the 16 first timers are Summer McIntosh, a 14-year-old Torontonian who beat Oleksiak in the 200-metre freestyle at the Canadian trials. Another Toronto teen, Josh Liendo, is an up and coming prospect that could help key the resurgence of the men’s arm. 

    The pandemic disrupted their training, but Canada’s swimmers aren’t afraid of Tokyo

The emphasis for most swimmers such as freestyle ace Oleksiak, backstroker Kylie Masse and butterfly speedster Mac Neil is their individual events. But Atkinson is determined to parlay that talent into relay success.

“It’s a nine-day competition in the pool,” Atkinson said. “We have selected a team that can compete in six relays and be competitive through all nine days, in individual events as well as relays.”

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Naomi Osaka beats Zheng Saisai in Tokyo Olympics debut – Sportsnet.ca

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TOKYO (AP) — Naomi Osaka is back playing, still winning, and also talking to the media again.

The Japanese superstar who lit the Olympic cauldron defeated 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday in her first match in nearly two months.

Osaka hadn’t played since she withdrew from the French Open in May to take a mental health break, revealing that she has dealt with depression. She then sat out Wimbledon.

Osaka stopped to talk with reporters afterward, having said in Paris that she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” before meeting with the media and that she would be skipping news conferences.

“More than anything else I’m just focused on playing tennis,” Osaka said. “The Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was a kid so I feel like the break that I took was very needed. I feel definitely a little bit refreshed and I’m happy again.”

She added that she was “happy” that reporters were asking her questions, then added: “I feel a little bit out of my body right now.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my body, I just felt really nervous,” Osaka said. “I haven’t played since France so there were definitely some things that I did a bit wrong but I think I can improve in the matches that I continue playing.”

The second-ranked Osaka was sharp from the start, serving an ace down the T on the opening point of the match and and racing out to a 5-0 lead.

Wearing a bright red dress and a red visor and with her hair styled in red-and-white braids to match the colors of the Japanese flag stitched onto the left side of her chest, Osaka served six aces in all and produced 25 winners to Zheng’s 10.

Osaka’s match was originally scheduled to open the tournament on Saturday but then was pushed back a day before her starring role in Friday’s opening ceremony.

“I feel very very proud,” Osaka said, revealing that Olympic organizers asked her to handle the cauldron honors back in March.

“When I lit the flame I was super honored,” she added. “I think that’s a position that you dream about and not anyone can do it so for me when they asked me if I wanted to I was very surprised but very honored and I’m just very happy to be here and very happy to play — especially in Tokyo.”

Osaka will next face 50th-ranked Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland.

For other top players in the tennis tournament at the Tokyo Games, it wasn’t so straightforward.

Top-ranked Ash Barty was upset by 48th-ranked Spanish opponent Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-3 and two-time defending gold medalist Andy Murray withdrew from singles because of a right quad strain.

Both still remain in the doubles competition.

Barty won with Australian partner Storm Sanders on Saturday while Murray and British partner Joe Salisbury beat the second-seeded French team of Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.

Barty’s singles defeat came 15 days after she won Wimbledon for her second Grand Slam title.

She struggled with a whopping 55 unforced errors to Sorribes Tormo’s 13 and got in only 54% of her first serves compared to her opponent’s 83%.

Murray pulled out shortly ahead of his scheduled opener against ninth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada on Center Court.

“I am really disappointed at having to withdraw but the medical staff have advised me against playing in both events, so I have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the singles and focus on playing doubles with Joe,” Murray said.

It’s the latest setback for the 34-year-old Murray after only recently returning to the tour from a three-month absence because of a groin problem. He has also had serious issues with a bad hip that wound up requiring two operations.

Murray has a total of three Olympic medals. He also won a silver in mixed doubles at the 2012 London Games with Laura Robson.

Max Purcell of Australia was to play Auger-Aliassime instead.

Heat and humidity were issues again with the temperature rising to 91 degrees F (33 degrees C) and the sun baking the hard courts at Ariake Tennis Park.

Also advancing was Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who beat Alize Cornet of France 6-1, 6-3, while third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus eliminated Magda Linette of Poland 6-2, 6-1.

Carla Suarez Navarro, the Spaniard who plans to retire this year, beat Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-4, 6-1 for her first victory since recovering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Camila Giorgi of Italy eliminated Jennifer Brady, the American who was this year’s Australian Open finalist, 6-3, 6-2.

Among the men advancing were fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany, seventh-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland and 12th-seeded Karen Khachanov of ROC.

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In Maple Leafs' talks with Oilers about Hyman, Dubas isn't bending the knee – Sportsnet.ca

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Kyle Dubas is in no mood to be doing favours.

Still smarting after a difficult first-round loss by his Toronto Maple Leafs, and limited in the ways he can reshape the roster by cap space and a lack of draft capital, the generally affable general manager took a firm stance when approached over the weekend about facilitating a sign-and-trade agreement involving Zach Hyman.

The benefits of the arrangement were clear for two of the parties at the table — it would have allowed Hyman to add an eighth year to his rich free-agent contract while giving the Edmonton Oilers a chance to lower the winger’s annual cap hit by more than $400,000 per season.

As for the Leafs?

Well, Dubas didn’t view the late-round pick Edmonton was offering as being worth the trouble. Cap space is king in this league. And there’s a cost to wriggling free of cap obligations even if it’s part of a sign-and-trade scenario rather than a more common contract dump.

“We’ve been in that situation before at the trade deadline and when you’re in that spot the other GM’s aren’t helping you out. They’re pulling the pin from the grenade and they’re throwing it to you,” Dubas said Saturday. “I know that there’s a narrative that we should just get something, but when you’re saving a team significant dollars on the salary cap that comes with a cost and we’re not going to bend on that.”

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We’re starting to see a hardened public edge forming around a man who has watched his organization take a lot of bullets since squandering a 3-1 series lead against Montreal in May. The Leafs were even roundly mocked during Wednesday’s Seattle Kraken expansion draft, the brunt of jokes about the long gaps since they’ve last won a playoff series and Stanley Cup.

Dubas is meeting the criticism head-on.

He’s started speaking openly about attaching his own job security to the core of players he refuses to break up and even acknowledged that those players are guilty of being too passive in elimination games: “We’ve been in those moments now the last five seasons and we’ve fallen short in those moments.”

It had been his hope to keep Hyman in Toronto, extending a max term eight-year offer after the season. But he couldn’t get close to the kind of money on the table in Edmonton. That prompted Dubas to grant Hyman’s agent, Todd Reynolds, permission to speak to other teams and set the table for the possibility of the NHL’s first ever sign-and-trade agreement.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

The Leafs understand the value of cap flexibility as well as anyone — having surrendered the 13th overall pick in the 2020 draft to Carolina to rid themselves of the final year of Patrick Marleau’s $6.25-million annual contract and sent fourth-round picks to both San Jose and Columbus for double salary retention on Nick Foligno at the trade deadline.

They also added a 2020 fifth-round selection as a go-between in the Robin Lehner deadline day trade with Chicago and Vegas, absorbing $1.1-million of the goalie’s cap commitment.

What Edmonton stood to gain in a potential Hyman sign-and-trade eclipsed each of those precedent-setting trades in total value. The pending unrestricted free agent is believed to be in line to receive $5.075-million annually on an eight-year deal or $5.5-million per on a seven-year contract from Edmonton should he get to the open market.

“In terms of compensation, I think it’s fairly simple,” said Dubas. “There’s a big benefit to me of adding the eighth year on in terms of the cap savings to the team that’s going to sign him. … So we know what the value is of that retention, of going to the eighth year, the cap savings, and so if there’s a fair deal to be made to do that we’ll do that.”

The challenges of the cap system are one of the main reasons why Dubas had only three selections to make during the NHL Draft — taking forward Matthew Knies at No. 57, forward Ty Voit at No. 153 and goaltender Vyacheslav Peksa at No. 185.

He mentioned that his lack of draft capital and cap space also kept him out of the rampant trade discussions during a wild weekend of activity across the league.

The impending Hyman departure only adds to the challenge of getting his group over the hump, but Dubas trudges forward: “It’s a loss, but we have to pick up and move on and do all that we can to put the team in the best position possible for next season.”

They will be looking for a depth defenceman or two that can play with snarl and won’t break the bank when free agency opens Wednesday. They also need a goaltender to play alongside Jack Campbell and another left-winger to fill out their lineup.

Ideally, those needs will be addressed on the open market but Dubas isn’t boxing himself in if it doesn’t happen. He remains open to trades.

“We’ve got our high picks next year and our prospect pool, plus players on our roster that teams are always circling around and asking about,” said Dubas. “We’ll get to work here on Wednesday or prior to Wednesday and see what’s available. We’ll try to use every avenue we can to improve the team.”

That could still involve a sign-and-trade for Hyman if the Oilers come around to his way of viewing the situation. But there doesn’t appear to be a compromise.

Right now Dubas isn’t bending the knee for anyone.

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