Monday is the fourth day of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is being held at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
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.
The Maple Leafs are a joke – Pension Plan Puppets
The first period got off to a pretty tepid start. The first five minutes of action were characterized by unscreened point shots and board battles that didn’t really lead anywhere. The Leafs had more territorial control, as you’d expect against a team of the Senators quality, but they weren’t really able to turn it into great chances.
About seven minutes in, the Leafs get a break as Derek Stepan fires the puck out of play in his own zone, and they get a power play. The Leafs appear to be persisting with the spread out power play units, breaking up the loaded unit we saw under Keefe last season. The Tavares / Nylander unit got the first 45 seconds, with the Matthews / Marner group finishing it off. The latter looks better than the former, as they were able to maintain great possession in the offensive zone. However, Matt Murray stops the only real chance they generate, a Matthews one-timer off a scramble.
Shortly thereafter, Cedric Paquette holds Alexander Kerfoot, and the Leafs get another power play. And this time, the Leafs score! Nylander passes to Tavares in the bumper spot, who fools a defender by holding for a beat, rather than one-timing. Tavares shoots and the rebound pops up perfectly for Hyman to bunt into the net. 1-0 Leafs.
Matthews’ line came out for the next shift, and like we saw in the Blue/White scrimmage, they’re great at offensive zone puck recovery. This led to a Marner shot off a pass from Matthews, but it’s wayward (to say the least).
Tim Stützle had been quiet (hard to blame him, given the power plays of the Leafs), but he draws a slashing penalty on Travis Dermott. The power play led to the first real work for Frederik Andersen in the game, and he handles it ably. Politely, the Leafs gave him another chance to demonstrate his prowess, as Joe Thornton caught Thomas Chabot with a high stick with about two minutes remaining.
Hyman got a breakaway that he was unable to convert on, and afterwards, the Leafs took another bench minor for too many men. This resulted in a minute-long 5v3 that the Senators needed about half of to capitalize on. Drake Batherson finds Chabot for a one-timer, and he pounds it by Andersen. 1-1 game.
The rest of the period passes without incident, as the Leafs attempted to kill off the part of the bench minor.
In general, the 1-1 score is relatively fair. The Leafs haven’t generated much at 5v5, and what they have generated was almost entirely from the Matthews group. However, the Senators have generated even less. Both teams got reasonable chances via their power plays, and took advantage.
The second period started with Ottawa having a 40 second power play. However the Leafs manage to kill it without issues. It’s worth noting that Matthews didn’t get any PK time.
About five minutes in, the Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Hyman line hems the Senators in for about 90 seconds. Because it’s those three, there were precisely 0 dangerous shots, but hey, it’s better than spending time in your own zone. The shift afterwards, Justin Holl and Thornton somehow found themselves on a 2-on-1. Presumably shocked, Holl did literally nothing and the chance evaporated.
That said, the Leafs looked better in terms of territorial advantage and pressure in this part of the game. That said, they still didn’t really generate a large amount of great chances, especially when Matthews and his crew isn’t on the ice.
But sometimes, you don’t need great chances to score. Alex Kerfoot wired one in from the point, with Hyman and Mikheyev both providing effective screens. 2-1 Leafs.
Shortly after the Kerfoot goal, the Sens generated a mad scramble in front of Andersen that did not inspire confidence in the Leafs’ ability to lock this game down, but the puck stayed out. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the ensuing shift, where a Nikita Zaitsev shot from the right half-boards is tipped by Brady Tkachuk. 2-2 game, and the Sens aren’t going away quietly.
Joe Thornton then displayed some of the superlative skills he still has. He managed to box out a Sen below the net, and found a darting Matthews at the netfront. Matt Murray makes a great save to keep it tied. On the other end, the Leafs don’t get quite as good goaltending.
Nick Paul made a good play to get the puck off the boards in the offensive zone, finding Braydon Cobourn, who drops it off to Austin Watson. His shot from the right circle goes bar down, and it’s 3-2 Sens.
It’s a great shot, don’t get me wrong… but in a game where the Leafs have gotten more chances, you’d like Andersen to make a big save here.
The period then went from bad to worse for the Leafs. On a delayed penalty, Chris Tierney shovels a rebound into the net while facing the wrong way. 4-2 Senators and this is not ideal at all. While I’d say the Leafs have gotten more chances than the Senators on the whole, they’re not creating tons of golden chances offensively. And the few chances that the Sens are getting are basically right in front of the net, and pretty high value.
With three minutes to go, the Leafs received a chance to atone for some of their sins, with Chabot getting the gate for high sticking. Did they take it? Reader, they did not. Instead, Nylander turned the puck over in his own zone, and Spezza took a penalty as a result.
Toronto escaped the second without further damage.
Like the second period, the third started with Ottawa on the power play, and like the second, nothing happens in that time. Two minutes in, Chabot took another penalty, this time for holding. However, Toronto was unable take advantage of the power play.
At this point, Keefe started busting out the line blender, with Hyman moving up to join Tavares and Nylander.
After a pretty unforced icing from the Leafs, Brodie turns the puck over behind his own net. Derek Stepan finds Batherson in front, and his shot results in a loose puck that Stepan tucks home himself. 5-2 Senators.
The Leafs then loaded up their top unit power play with the five guys who you would expect to see there. It immediately paid off as Tavares absolutely rips a wrister home on a broken play. 5-3 Senators, and the Leafs have a glimmer of hope.
I gotta be honest. The fact that when the chips are down, the Leafs move Vesey off Tavares’ wing and play their five best players on the PP suggests that maybe they should do that from puck drop, instead of waiting until their win probability is in single digits.
After Dermott iced the puck under literally zero pressure, he then failed to clear the puck on the ensuing shift. As usual, the Leafs were terrible in their own zone, which led to a great chance for Erik Gudbranson, of all people. Andersen made a great save to keep it superficially close.
Nylander capped off a brutal performance by giving the puck away and then taking a high sticking penalty to kill off any chance of a comeback. After a strong opening night from him, this was a game to forget.
Nothing happens the rest of the game. I mean, maybe something did, but I paid as much attention as the Leafs evidently do when south of their own blue line. Final score, 5-3 Senators.
One thing I want to be clear about here. The Senators have not executed a smash and grab. They are basically going even with a team that they are far worse than on paper. There are universes where this performance resulted in a win for the Leafs, but Ottawa was by no means undeserving of the result here.
This third period is especially bad. Maybe the Leafs deserved better in the first two frames, but they’re in the position they’re in. To have a third period where you generate nothing offensively at 5v5, trailing, against a team like the Senators is inexcusable. Just a straight up terrible effort.
Olympic champion says she was assaulted by sports official – CBC.ca
Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou of Greece has accused an unnamed sporting official of sexually assaulting her in 1998 during preparations for the Sydney Games.
Bekatorou, who won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said the male official from the Hellenic Sailing Federation performed a “lewd act” after inviting her to his hotel room to discuss team preparations.
Bekatorou said she had made it clear that the act was not consensual, adding that she was left feeling “exhausted and humiliated.”
She did not name the official but described him as having a senior rank in the federation.
In a statement Friday, the sailing federation said it had not received any formal or informal complaint from Bekatorou but urged her to make one.
Harden on trade request: Rockets ‘didn’t have a chance’ to compete for title – Sportsnet.ca
Such is often the case in high-profile NBA deals: rumours of unhappiness long precede any official trade calls taking place. It happened when Vince Carter wanted out of Toronto, his on-court performances doing as much of the talking as his post-game interviews. It happened with Kawhi Leonard, whose quiet dissatisfaction with the San Antonio Spurs’ handling of his chronic quad injury was one of the few details leaked to the public, and eventually became a contributing factor in his trade to the Toronto Raptors.
And it happened for Harden in the weeks leading up to his blockbuster acquisition by the Brooklyn Nets this season, with reports swirling about the specific nature of why he wanted out. On Friday, he explained it in his own words.
“After the bubble, after that loss, I just wanted to re-evaluate my career and the team and the direction that the organization was going,” Harden told reporters during his first media availability as a member of the Nets. “You look from top to bottom, from the general manager leaving, to Mike D’Antoni leaving, to re-evaluating our personnel and seeing if we had enough to compete with the best teams in the league. As time went on, free agency and that started to go on, it was like, well, I felt like we didn’t have a chance.”
The Rockets’ post-season shortcomings have been a recurring issue for the team during Harden’s tenure — not a one-off event in the NBA’s bubble. Harden’s box-score performances were predictably stellar. He averaged 28.4 points, 7.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds across 85 post-season appearances with Houston. But only twice in his eight Rockets seasons did his on-court excellence, and Houston’s willingness to mould their team to fit his strengths, result in Conference Finals appearances — and a pair of losses to the Golden State Warriors.
This past off-season, after a second-round loss to the eventual-champion Los Angeles Lakers, the Rockets underwent a significant front-office overhaul. They replaced head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey, the lead architects behind every roster and on-court iteration of the Rockets that tried to best-suit Harden’s needs.
But the roster changes themselves were limited until Harden’s co-star, Russell Westbrook, was sent to the Washington Wizards in exchange for John Wall. The early results were mixed, with Houston opening the season 4-6.
“As much as I love the city of Houston — loved being there — I think at this point in my career it’s not about money, it’s not about anything else but having a chance to reach that ultimate goal. It’s winning at the highest level,” Harden said. “It didn’t go as smooth as I would have loved it to go but I think both sides are happy.”
Since his displeasure with the Rockets was first reported, Harden has been at the centre of multiple non-basketball related incidents.
Prior to the season starting, Harden’s arrival to training camp was delayed when he decided to breach COVID-19 protocols by attending rapper Lil Baby’s birthday party in Atlanta. Neither Harden nor Lil Baby were wearing masks in the photo Harden shared on his personal Instagram.
Then, ahead of Houston’s season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder, an investigation was launched by the NBA into a viral video that showed a mask-less Harden attending an event at a club — violating the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Harden was fined $50,000 for the violation.
On the court, Harden’s final days as a member of the Rockets saw him held out practice after he publicly commented that he did not think his issues with the team could be fixed.
“I regret [the way things ended in Houston],” Harden said. “I don’t need the attention, especially the negative energy, the negative attention. I’ve never been that guy. There were some things that I felt like were out of my character. But the ultimate goal was to get somewhere where I can compete and here I am in Brooklyn.”
The Nets acquired Harden from the Rockets on Thursday in a blockbuster deal that will reunite him with Kevin Durant, his teammate in Oklahoma City. Harden could play as early as Saturday if all the players in the deal pass their physicals in time.
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