George Russell broke out into a beaming smile that even his mask couldn’t hide when he tried out for size his Mercedes ride for next weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Stepping up from perhaps the slowest car on the grid to F1’s fastest contender is a daunting task, but Russell will no doubt make the most of the unexpected but amazing opportunity to showcase his undisputable talent.
And who knows, this weekend’s one-off could be the harbinger of a full-time involvement with the mighty Mercedes team after 2021, a fantastic warm up of sorts for the 22-year-old charger.
Canucks’ quiet leader Sutter makes presence known in steadying performance – Sportsnet.ca
During the Canucks’ alarming start to the National Hockey League season, when attention has understandably been focussed on Elias Pettersson’s inability to score, J.T. Miller’s problems at even strength and the overall chaos on defence caused by turnovers, Sutter and a couple of other players near the bottom of the lineup have quietly been among the team’s best.
Monday, he wasn’t so quiet.
At the start of a very important week for the Canucks, Sutter scored his first NHL hat trick in his 735th game. Fellow grinder Tyler Motte also scored as Vancouver built an early lead and won 7-1 against the Ottawa Senators to ease, for at least a couple of days, some of the tension on the West Coast.
With conjecture percolating about the future of general manager Jim Benning, it felt perfectly scripted that Sutter, one of Benning’s least popular acquisitions, should score a hat trick to steady the team and take some of the heat off the GM.
Sutter is a pro’s pro, a guy who leads by example. But he was oversold to the market when he was acquired by Benning in 2015, and has struggled to stay healthy and score for most of the five years since then.
Teammates, however, love him.
“You never know when you’re going to get one or if you’re going to get one,” Sutter, 30, said after scoring once in each period. “It only took me 13 years. I’m pretty excited. It was a good win for our team… a little bit of confidence for our team going forward.”
It was a game that generated a lot of positive vibes for the Canucks. Rookie defenceman Olli Juoelvi scored his first NHL goal, rookie forward Nils Hoglander impressively set up Tanner Pearson on another, and Thatcher Demko made 34 saves in easily the best performance by a Vancouver goalie so far.
“It was enough is enough for me,” Demko said, relieved to improve on his 0-3 record and .866 save percentage. “First three starts of the year and not getting a win, that’s tough. That’s not the guy I want to be. I want to be a guy that’s going to get wins when the team needs it.
“(It was) the goals that I was giving up at the times I was. That was something that I really wanted to focus on. Just timely saves, making sure that when they do get chances… that I can come up big and kind of give the team a chance to pull away.”
With his team up 2-0, Demko stopped Connor Brown on a breakaway late in the first period. In the second, his point-blank save on Artem Anisimov immediately preceded Sutter’s shorthanded snipe that made it 4-1. Demko made another strong save against Josh Norris at the end of the middle period, allowing his team to comfortably go into the third and pull away.
But he was still happier for Sutter than he was for himself.
“One of the reasons why you play the game is moments like that,” Demko said. “You know he’s been around the league 13 years now, and you’re not sure if you’re going to get one. Everyone’s just really excited for him, giving him some hugs after the game.”
Demko and Braden Holtby have largely had a free pass during the Canucks’ poor start because there were so many other, more serious, problems.
But on Monday, the team was much better in front of him – albeit against a weaker opponent – and Demko provided goaltending you can win with. The Canucks need a lot more if it.
They could use more of the perfect penalty killing they had against the Senators, more of the positional discipline and composure they displayed, too. Hey, if Pettersson and the first line can start dominating at even-strength the way they did last season, everything will be fine.
“Everyone just needs to simplify,” Sutter said. “I know it sounds a little bit cliche. But when you do the right things system-wise and play the right way as a team, that’s when your highly-skilled guys kind of find their game and take over. That’s where they create their offence.”
The Senators are the only team in the Canadian division universally regarded as worse than the Canucks, and this was only one win. The Canucks are still 3-5-0. But players seeking confidence have something to build on. It’s a start.
The Canucks and Senators play again Wednesday and Thursday at Rogers Arena.
Canucks snap losing skid, rediscover scoring touch in drubbing of Senators – Sportsnet.ca
VANCOUVER — A hat trick from Brandon Sutter lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 7-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
It was a much-needed victory for Vancouver (3-5-0), which had not won in regulation since its season opener on Jan. 13.
Tanner Pearson had a goal and an assist for the home team, while Tyler Motte, Quinn Hughes and Olli Juolevi also scored. Bo Horvat tallied two assists.
Ottawa’s (1-4-1) lone marker came from Austin Watson midway through the second period, with assists from Thomas Chabot and Mike Reilly.
Thatcher Demko had 34 saves and collected his first win of the season for the Canucks.
Sens goalie Matt Murray stopped 28-of-35 shots.
With just 54 seconds left on the game clock, Sutter snuck his third goal of the night in behind the Ottawa goaltender.
Juolevi beat Murray with a long-range blast to make the score 6-1 three minutes earlier.
It was the Finnish defenceman’s first NHL goal.
Hughes had widened Vancouver’s lead to four 12:12 into the final frame after Horvat’s shot clinked off both posts. The young defenceman deftly snatched up the rebound and deposited it home
Watson got Ottawa on the board 11:58 into the second, deflecting in a shot from Chabot, despite having two Canucks defenders draped all over him. Demko didn’t appear to see the puck until it was behind him in the net.
Vancouver was quick to regain the two-goal lead.
Thirty seconds after Watson scored, Horvat won a draw in his own zone and sent the puck to Nils Hoglander in the neutral zone. Hoglander chased the puck over Vancouver’s blue line and dived, poking it to Pearson. The left-winger fired a wrist shot past Murray for his first goal of the season.
Sutter padded Vancouver’s lead with a short-handed marker, his second goal of the night, 17:44 into the second frame.
Canucks winger J.T. Miller had been called for slashing on Ottawa’s prized rookie Tim Stutzle, drawing the ire of some Sens players. Chants of “boot him!” emanated from the ice as Miller made his way to the box.
Artem Anisimov blasted a shot at Demko on the ensuing power play and the Canucks netminder dived backwards to make the stop.
Antoine Roussel picked up the loose puck and got it to Sutter, who streaked down the ice and took a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle that found the top-left corner of the net.
The veteran centre already had a highlight-reel-worthy goal on the night, having flicked a diving backhand in past Murray 9:31 into the first frame.
Motte put the Canucks up 2-0 before the end of the first, stealing the puck as Ottawa tried to clear it from deep within their own end as Vancouver changed lines.
Motte sent a pass to Beagle, who waited for the right moment to put it back on the Winger’s tape. Motte then buried a snap shot from the top of the crease.
Roussel and Josh Brown drop the gloves midway through the third period, with boisterous encouragement from their respective benches. Neither seemed to get a blow in before the pair were separated by officials and sent to the box.
Tempers flared again shortly after Hughes scored. Watson took umbrage with Zack McEwen’s hit on Brady Tkachuk and faced off with the big forward at centre ice. They continued to have words in the box and their teammates appeared to exchange verbal jabs from the benches.
Monday’s matchup was the first in a three-game series between Ottawa and Vancouver. The Canucks will play host again on Wednesday and Thursday.
NOTES: Stutzle returned to the Sens lineup after missing three games with a wrist injury. ? Vancouver has allowed more goals (34) than any other team in the league this season.
Quick Reaction: Pacers 129, Raptors 114 – Raptors Republic
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|A. Baynes14 MIN, 9 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 4-9 FG, 1-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -2 +/-
Baynes clearly has a lot more pep in his step since righting his early season wrongs over the past few games. Tonight was another stride in the right direction. Indiana’s bigs were cheating off of him on numerous occasions, and Baynes burned them for it. The big Aussie displayed some really soft touch around the rim, and helped free up space for his guards with some rock solid screens on the perimeter.
|K. Lowry32 MIN, 12 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2-11 FG, 1-5 3FG, 7-7 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -4 +/-
Kyle started this one looking a little hungover from his 2 game absence, turning the ball over and playing quite sloppy basketball by his standards in the first half. Lowry failed to counterbalance his shoddy offense with any other sort of real contribution in this game. He notched up the intensity up a bit in the fourth quarter, but relied heavily on his teammates for points as he struggled to put the ball in the net all night long.
|N. Powell39 MIN, 24 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 8-19 FG, 2-7 3FG, 6-6 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -14 +/-
Powell provided the offensive spark Toronto needed in this one, filling it up from multiple areas from the moment the game tipped. Shades of 2017 Playoff Powell were on display tonight, as Norm was both ultra aggressive and efficient whenever he touched the ball. He slashed to the cup like a madman in control, and his jumper was looking buttery. Without Norm’s immeasurable offensive boost, this one might have been over at halftime.
|O. Anunoby27 MIN, 10 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 4-8 FG, 2-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -5 +/-
OG followed up his best game of the season with a fine performance on Monday evening. The work he’s putting in to his jump shot is clearly paying off, as he’s been an absolute marksman to start the year. His night was cut short by a bloody lip, but he still managed to hit double figures for the 9th consecutive game. Yeah that’s cool.
|F. VanVleet34 MIN, 25 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 11-21 FG, 3-5 3FG, 0-1 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -16 +/-
With Lowry back at his side, FVV demanded less defensive attention on Monday evening than he did yesterday, which directly increased his appetite to score. Fred did a solid job of supplementing his barrage of pull up jimmys with attacking open space early and often. Offense was tough to come by at points in this one, but Fred was one of the few who seemed to keep it rolling all night long.
|C. Boucher29 MIN, 9 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 3-12 FG, 1-6 3FG, 2-4 FT, 2 BLK, 2 TO, -15 +/-
The boy was back tonight. Well, at least from a defensive standpoint he was. After a couple rather pedestrian outings for the wacky-waving-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube man, Boucher served up a tasty defensive performance on Monday. Boucher saw the fear in his teammate’s eyes when they looked at Myles Turner in the first half, then said, “hold my beer”. He was an absolute shot-bothering stud during the second half, anchoring a performance which could’ve only been improved by a much more accurate jump shot.
|S. Johnson25 MIN, 4 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 4-4 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 3 +/-
Stanimal began his night with one hell of a nasty swat on an Aaron Holiday transition lay-up attempt, and never looked back. Johnsons value might not be recognized from those lightly skimming the stat sheet, but if you watch him play, his impact on the game is pretty clear. He’s an intuitive disruptor who’s skillset shone bright in the minutes he played tonight.
|Y. Watanabe15 MIN, 9 PTS, 5 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 2-6 FG, 1-4 3FG, 4-4 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -8 +/-
Yuta had a couple bad turnovers and didn’t show the touch around the rim that we’re used to seeing from him, but he still made a few great plays in timely spots. He’s got a smooth-looking jumper, and as has been mentioned in many a QR before, is extremely agile for a player his size.
|T. Davis6 MIN, 3 PTS, 0 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1-2 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -9 +/-
Not much to say about TD’s 6 min in this one. Took two 3’s and made one. He was part of a unit that gave up a ton of points in the 2nd quarter.
|D. Bembry5 MIN, 2 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-2 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -4 +/-
He filled in for OG for a couple minutes in the forth while he was getting his lip tended to, but didn’t do much that was noticeable.
|M. Thomas2 MIN, 4 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-1 FG, 1-1 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 4 +/-
Thomas was standing out of bounds when he caught the ball on his first touch of the game, but swiftly made up for it with a 4-point play on the next possession. Great work staying ready from a guy who hasn’t seen the court much since the first couple games of the season.
Nurse definitely did a good job of instilling some change in the locker room at half time, turning his clubs defensive performance around. However, he was 2 quarters too late, not being able to respond to the small ball, rapid pace which Indiana played from the jump.
Things We Saw
- Talk about a tale of two halves. The Raptors were god awful from a defensive stand point for the first 24 minutes, then came out looking like a totally different team in the third quarter. They outscored the Pacers by 9 in the frame, but more importantly, they held them to 28 points. That doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, but for the pace this game was being played at, it was.
- Maybe it’s nagging pain from the toe infection, or it might be rust from being out of game action for a few days, but the Raps need their star player in Kyle Lowry to make more of an imprint on the game if they hope to keep trending in the right direction. Very peculiar to see Lowry, who usually contributes in multiple areas, be pretty ineffective across the board tonight. Let’s hope it’s just an aberration in the perennial All-Star’s game.
- Toronto has righted the ship somewhat, going 6-2 in their last 8 contests against several banged up teams. Now a real test presents itself in the form of their next game. The Raptors play the Bucks at home on Wednesday, in what should be a good litmus test for how far this club has come.
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