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After another loss to Senators, Flames’ season may hinge on next three games – Sportsnet.ca

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Here’s the thing about Bingo.

If you don’t take advantage of the free space in the middle of the card, you’re increasing the odds of everyone else around you.

The Calgary Flames’ dobbers went dry again Monday, becoming the first Canadian club to post two regulation losses against an Ottawa Senators team everyone else in Canada has feasted on.

To simply keep pace with division rivals, wins over the last-place Senators are a must, which is why the Flames’ season may very well hang in the balance over their next three games.

A Saturday matchup against the Edmonton Oilers is bookended by visits from a Senators team that just took the Flames’ lunch money once again.

A 5-1 loss Monday, combined with a 6-1 defeat Thursday, saw the rebuilding Senators outscore the Flames 14-8 over three games.

Sure the Senators are a hard-working squad that has improved steadily of late, winning six of their last nine.

But they’re still the Senators, a team the Oilers beat all four meetings, the Vancouver Canucks beat all three meetings and the Jets topped in four of five.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are 3-1-1 against their provincial rivals, leaving the sinking Montreal Canadiens as the only team that has played them to a draw at 1-1-2.

Then there are the sad-sack Flames, who lead the league in losses to last-place teams, giveaways and consecutive defeats while scoring just a single goal.

They increased that last dubious record to seven games Monday.

“All the teams in this division are good — there’s not much of a difference from the top teams to the bottom,” said Elias Lindholm, whose club escaped the first period with a scoreless draw before being outshot 22-6 in the second.

“Today, our first period was pretty solid and everything we did good in the first we did the opposite in the second and third. I think our patience out there was pretty bad and we started making some tough plays and turning pucks over — the kind of things we need to stop doing.”

The Senators opened the scoring after Sam Bennett was unable to handle a bad pass in the neutral zone from Milan Lucic.

Drake Batherson’s first of two goals put the Senators up 2-0 before a Lucic power-play marker lifted the Flames’ hopes. Briefly.

Eighty-four seconds later David Rittich got in on the giveaway game by mishandling a dump-in he promptly batted to Batherson, whose shot deflected in off of Mark Giordano as the Flames netminder tried scrambling back into the net.

It was another in the growing collection of moments that deflated the Flames’ bench and made it tough to create any offence as Ottawa sat on the lead and padded the humiliation with an empty-netter and a late deflection.

“We’ve got to come up with the solutions ourselves,” said coach Geoff Ward, whose team now sits closer to last place than it does to second-place Edmonton.

“As a team, we’ve got to be more committed to playing the game the right way. We’ve got to make sure we don’t let things compound. When something happens that’s not the way we want it to be we can’t fall back — we have to get a push in the right direction. Right now, when things are rolling the way they are for us, I think the confidence gets a little fragile and things start to compound, and we’ve got to find a way to make it turn the corner the other way.”

The Flames finish their gruelling, six-game roadie 2-3-1 and return to host Ottawa on Thursday having lost seven of their last 10.

Moral and consistency issues abound.

The players are struggling to come up with answers to the same old questions, and Matthew Tkachuk was so despondent after the latest setback he couldn’t muster up any of the fury you’d expect to hear from a leader on a team slipping closer and closer to losing control on the season.

“The easy answer is we’re at 10-11-2,” said Tkachuk when asked where his team was at.

“We’ve got to figure this out in the next two days before we play them again. We’re getting way too used to games where we’re down a couple in the third.”

Especially against teams previously considered the free spot on the Bingo card.

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Olympic champion Simone Biles withdraws from Tokyo all-around event – Sportsnet.ca

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TOKYO — Simone Biles will not defend her Olympic title.

The American gymnastics superstar withdrew from Thursday’s all-around competition to focus on her mental well-being.

USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Wednesday that the 24-year-old is opting to not compete. The decision comes a day after Biles removed herself from the team final following one rotation because she felt she wasn’t mentally ready.

Jade Carey, who finished ninth in qualifying, will take Biles’ place in the all-around. Carey initially did not qualify because she was the third-ranking American behind Biles and Sunisa Lee. International Gymnastics Federation rules limit countries to two athletes per event in the finals.

The organization said Biles will be evaluated daily before deciding if she will participate in next week’s individual events. Biles qualified for the finals on all four apparatuses, something she didn’t even do during her five-medal haul in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The 24-year-old came to Tokyo as arguably the face of the Games following the retirement of swimmer Michael Phelps and sprinter Usain Bolt. She topped qualifying on Sunday despite piling up mandatory deductions on vault, floor and beam following shaky dismounts.

She posted on social media on Monday that she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. The weight became too heavy after vaulting during team finals. She lost herself in mid-air and completed 1 1/2 twists instead of 2 1/2. She consulted with U.S. team doctor Marcia Faustin before walking off the field of play.

When she returned, she took off her bar grips, hugged teammates Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and Jordan Chiles and turned into the team’s head cheerleader as the U.S. claimed silver behind the Russian Olympic Committee.

“Once I came out here (to compete), I was like, ‘No mental is, not there so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself,’” Biles said following the medal ceremony.

The decision opens the door wide open for the all-around, a title that was long considered a foregone conclusion. Rebeca Andrade of Brazil finished second to Biles during qualifying, followed by Lee and Russians Angelina Melnikova and Vladislava Urazova. The four were separated by three-tenths of a point on Sunday.

Carey now finds herself in the final, capping a remarkable journey for the 21-year-old from Phoenix. She spent two years traveling the globe in an effort to pile up enough points on the World Cup circuit to earn an individual nominative spot, meaning she would be in the Olympics but technically not be part of the four-woman U.S. team.

Carey posted the second-best score on vault and the third-best on floor during qualifying, earning trips to the event finals in the process. Now she finds herself competing for an all-around medal while replacing the athlete considered the greatest of all-time in the sport.

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Tokyo Olympics: Penny Oleksiak becomes Canada's most decorated summer Olympian – The Globe and Mail

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Canada’s Penny Oleksiak races in the women’s 200m freestyle final at the Tokyo Olympics on 
July 28, 2021. Oleksiak won bronze, making her the Canadian athlete with the most Summer Games medals.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

Latest Olympic highlights

OLYMPIC EVENTS FOR JULY 28
  • Gymnastics: Decorated gymnast Simone Biles has withdrawn from the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics, a day after she pulled out of the team event, putting a sharp focus on mental health at the Games. Canadian gymnast Ellie Black is also out of the final with a sprained ankle.
  • Swimming: Penny Oleksiak swam to her sixth Olympic medal yesterday – the most ever won by a Canadian athlete at the Summer Olympics. This puts her among the ranks of speedskater Cindy Klassen and cyclist and speedskater Clara Hughes, who also have six Olympic medals each. As the Globe’s Cathal Kelly writes from Tokyo, she shows up when it matters, and that’s why she’s Canada’s greatest summer Olympian.
  • Boxing: Canadian boxer Tammara Thibeault will advance in the women’s middleweight boxing event after winning her bout against Nadezhda Ryabets of Kazakhstan by split decision last night. Canadian Caroline Veyre lost in her featherweight quarter-final bout against Italian Irma Testa.
OFF THE FIELD
  • COVID-19 surge: Governors of three prefectures near Tokyo are likely to ask the government to declare states of emergency for their regions, media said on Wednesday, after COVID-19 infections spiked to a record high in the Japanese capital. Tokyo recorded 3,177 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, a new record for the second day in a row. The total of Olympics-related COVID-19 cases since July 1 has risen to 169.
  • Food waste: Olympic organizers have apologized for ordering too much food for their staff during the opening ceremony and letting it go to waste. Videos of trucks carting off boxes of uneaten food went viral online, forcing the apology.

Get the Olympic highlights in your inbox every day with our newsletter, or follow @globeandmail on Twitter for breaking news. Here are yesterday’s Olympic highlights in case you missed them.

Situation in Tokyo, by numbers

WHAT IS THE OLYMPIC MEDAL TALLY IN TOKYO SO FAR?

JAPAN’S LATEST COVID-19 DATA

WHAT TIME IS IT IN TOKYO RIGHT NOW?

More Olympic updates for July 28

  • Rowing: Jessica Sevick and Gabrielle Smith missed the podium finishing sixth in women’s double sculls after posting the fourth-fastest time in the semifinals.
  • Volleyball: Canada’s men’s volleyball team beat Iran in straight sets in its first game of the Olympics.

The Olympic experience

Globe sports reporter Rachel Brady watched a different kind of event at the famous Budokan arena – a Games team changing out the competition mats between the daytime and nighttime sessions Read more behind-the-scenes perspectives from Globe staff at the Olympics.

The Globe and Mail

Tokyo Olympics: Today in photos

From The Globe’s Olympic team

Simone Biles’ legacy may be her courage to look after herself, not the IOC

After experiencing what she called “demons” leading into and during Tuesday’s team competition, superstar gymnast Simone Biles pulled herself. In choosing her mental health over more gold medals, a superstar American gymnast is showing other athletes how much power they have to stand up to the athletic-industrial complex.

Reminder: Before and after the Olympics, women’s sports coverage is lacking

John Doyle: “I’m here to offer you a periodic reminder – before and after the Olympics, women’s sports get less attention than they merit. We will cheer on, or even worship, our women athletes now. Their accomplishments will lift the spirits of a nation and inspire young women to devote themselves to a sport. Then, afterwards, the achievement will become a memory and the activities will barely feature in media coverage, especially on television. This has to stop.”

Tokyo Olympic events to watch tomorrow, July 29

  • Swimming: Penny Oleksiak of Canada swims for gold at the women’s 100 m freestyle event.

Check the full Olympic schedule for the latest event times and competitors.

The Tokyo Olympics: Essential reads

What athletes and teams should Canadians look out for? Consult our guide.

How did Canada’s swimmers use data to get stronger? Grant Robertson and Timothy Moore explain.

Female street skateboarders like Annie Guglia demonstrate the possibility of broader change, writes Nathan Vanderklippe

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The Tokyo Olympics are turning into NBC's worst nightmare – Yahoo News Canada

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka leaves the court after being beaten by Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova during their third-round Olympic match in Tokyo. (GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP via Getty Images)

No one said these Olympics would be easy. Not even watching them.

Midway through the first week of the Tokyo Games, even the most cautiously optimistic viewer of Friday’s opening ceremony is now likely to be rubbing their eyes: With shocking upsets, unexpected exits, a 16-hour time difference and a thicket of broadcast, cable and streaming options, the most tumultuous Olympics in years are starting to catch up with the NBC stable of networks, which hold the lucrative U.S. television rights to the two-week event.

Times television editor Matt Brennan, senior writer Greg Braxton and digital editor Tracy Brown have been keeping an eye on the Games from the comfort of their homes. Read on for their discussion of the difficulties facing the Olympics and its American broadcasters — and a few of the silver linings that have emerged so far.

Matt Brennan, TV editor: As I prepared for bed Monday night, idly checking Twitter, the news broke of Japanese star Naomi Osaka’s third-round upset by the Czech Republic’s Markéta Vondrousová in the Olympic tennis tournament. Tuesday morning, I awoke to an Apple News push notification that the U.S. women’s gymnastics squad had silver-medaled in the team competition after its top athlete, Simone Biles, withdrew citing her mental health. And my first reaction to this one-two punch was, “Welp, I guess that means I can skip tonight’s telecast.”

I am a casual Olympics viewer, admittedly — following the bold-faced names, like Osaka and Biles; the big events, like swimming and track and field; and the most important stories, like… what in the heck is going on with the Tokyo Olympics? Amid a set of unprecedented challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a crisis of legitimacy for the International Olympics Committee, I’m hard-pressed to remember a more chaotic and deflating start to what has been a TV juggernaut for most of my lifetime. I know y’all have been watching. What has your experience been so far?

Greg Braxton, senior writer: Today I tuned in to the USA women’s beach volleyball team trying to play a match in typhoon weather, which might sum up the Olympic viewing experience: The event has been overcome by a figurative typhoon. The spotlight and emphasis that NBC has placed on these opening marquee events, featuring some of sports’ biggest stars, have been crushed by a perfect storm of unimaginable disappointment and anticlimactic performances. Trying to make sense out of the maze of coverage among the various platforms of NBC, Peacock, the Olympic Channel, USA Network and others is difficult enough. Combine that with the news coming out of Tokyo about the stumbles of star athletes and it becomes doubly frustrating.

I watched the USA Men’s Basketball Team match on Sunday while reading the paper — there was no reason to pay close attention because a news bulletin several hours before announced they had lost to France. The result for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team was also broadcast far in advance, as you say. You would have had to stay in a closet all day if you didn’t want to know the outcome before turning on your TV tonight.

And I threw up my hands Monday when I found a rugby match on during NBC’s primetime programming block — and not Osaka, who was playing her match live on the Olympic Channel. The most famous female athlete in the world was being treated almost as a sideshow on a small stage when she should have been in the center ring. The outdated model of packaging the day’s events in primetime rather than showing one of the most anticipated stories of the Games live illustrated the network’s haphazard approach to the Olympics, which the age of social media has cast in an ever-harsher light.

It was Tuesday, though, that Olympic plans went south fastest. The hype surrounding the women’s gymnastics competition has been steadily building for months and hit a crescendo Sunday during the qualifying events. To hear this morning that Biles had pulled out due to mental health issues after making some mistakes in the preliminaries was really heartbreaking. Everything seems to be going wrong, and that — on top of the logistical issues — makes it hard for an Olympics fan like me to maintain interest in watching.

The Olympics used to be the ultimate watercooler event. People rushed home, had watch parties, talked about these amazing athletes the next day. That whole era is gone, but it’s particularly obvious during these Olympics. That became clear with the “opening ceremonies.” It’s a shame.

Tracy Brown, staff writer: For me, figuring out how to watch the Olympics has felt like an Olympic-caliber obstacle course because I’ve been trying to catch the events I care about live before I get a news alert or see results trending on Twitter. This has meant figuring out, as has been mentioned, the various broadcast and livestream schedules — all while running on very little sleep. Even then, there’s no way to stay on top of everything, so I also am strategic about choosing what to watch when.

Luckily, the sport I’ve been most excited about — softball returning to the Olympics for the first time since Team U.S.A.’s stunning loss to Team Japan at the ’08 Games — is one I’ve been able to watch more or less spoiler-free. Softball kicked off its preliminary rounds even before the opening ceremony, so I got an early start in trying to adjust to the time difference. And, as of this writing, I still haven’t watched the Gold medal rematch between rivals U.S. and Japan that took place in the predawn hours Tuesday (in Pacific Time). But because so many other big storylines have dominated the headlines, I think I’ll be able to experience it as if it were live — if I’m careful.

And that’s kind of how the strategy part comes into play for me. I stay on top of the events I know I want to experience unspoiled and prioritize watching those live whenever possible. I appreciate the packaged primetime programming block for what it is, but I leave that for the nights I haven’t picked anything specific to see, or when no live event holds my interest. And then there are some sports, like gymnastics, where the feats of athleticism are so amazing that even if I know the results, I’ll tune in anyway. While it may not always be the specific athlete or team I’m rooting for, someone is going to have some incredible Olympic moment or memorable story.

All that is to say, I very much had mixed feelings in the lead-up to the Games, with the reality of the surging pandemic and the people of Tokyo and Japan calling for the event to be canceled. And I still have moments of playing mental gymnastics when I think about the bigger Olympics picture. But I love sports stories — even when I have no idea what the rules are sometimes — so as soon as the events got started I got sucked in despite how hard NBC, and the real world, have made it.

Brennan: You are so right, Tracy, about the silver linings: Whether the star is a Tunisian swimmer or a Filipino weightlifter, there are inspiring stories to be found in the Olympics so far, even if the spotlight isn’t shining where we might have expected. That’s the nature of sports.

Ultimately, my disappointment is not in the competition itself, but in the sense that the Olympic television I grew up on has not grown up with me.

In my job I often say that people don’t watch TV the way they used to, so we can’t cover TV the way we used to — and NBC has unfortunately failed to reinvent the model developed in Sydney, Athens and Beijing for an ecosystem now dominated by streaming platforms and social media. All of the struggles you’ve enumerated above and others cited to me by our Times colleagues, are symptoms of this problem: live coverage bouncing between networks, the lack of timely on-demand replays, Peacock’s unintuitive design. Even the tradition of focusing the lion’s share of promotional attention on a handful of name-brand American stars like Biles seems parochial in a climate of global fame and increased sensitivity to the pressures on elite athletes.

I don’t envy the decision-makers at NBC, who are faced with broadcasting a highly complex, real-time sporting event to a notoriously fickle audience. Certainly, no one could have predicted what the media landscape would look like today when the network became the Summer and Winter Olympics’ exclusive U.S. home starting in 2000, or even when NBC and the IOC signed their last contract extension, through 2032, seven years ago. But it’s hard not to think that the Tokyo Games are shaping up to be NBC’s worst nightmare: evidence that one of TV’s most lucrative events won’t transition smoothly into the medium’s streaming age.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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