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After being embarrassed by McDavid, Flames must face Matthews next – Calgary Sun

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They probably pleaded with the pilot to fly them directly to Ottawa.

The Calgary Flames, after losing three straight and being outscored by a combined count of 14-3 during that free-fall, after questions about their competitive fire and their locker-room culture, after a complimentary clinic from arch-rival superstar Connor McDavid, really need a pick-me-up.

They need … anything but this.

Their visit to Ottawa, home to the cellar-dwelling Senators, will wait until later in the week.

First, they hit Toronto for a pair of meetings with North Division-leading Maple Leafs. Gulp.

The Flames, it seems, can’t keep the puck out of their own net.

Auston Matthews, it seems, can’t be stopped.

For a struggling squad, now south of the even-steven line at 8-9-1, it feels like a match made in hockey hell. Somewhere, you can hear Harvey the Hound whimpering.

“Well, we’re playing arguably the best team in the league these next two games and they’re going to be intense games because they came into our rink and took it to us for two games (in January),” said Flames alternate captain Matthew Tkachuk after Saturday’s Blowout of Alberta — a 7-1 landslide for the host Oilers — at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

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“And it’s our turn to give a little payback. They’ve got the guy who is playing the best in the league right now on their team (Matthews), similar to what we’ve seen the past two games against McDavid. So it’s a big test. A big test.

“We’re going to really see what we have in these next two games.”

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen makes a save on the Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk with some help from Adam Larsson at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen makes a save on the Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk with some help from Adam Larsson at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

Tkachuk had, earlier in the day, referred to this six-game getaway as a “make-or-break road-trip” for he and his frustrated friends. Saturday’s embarrassment — their most lopsided loss of the season — wasn’t an ideal way to start.

The Flames have now dropped four of their past five and been blown out in two of the past three. Stalwart netminder Jacob Markstrom, their most consistent bright spot in the early stages of this shortened sprint, has suddenly been mercy-hooked in consecutive appearances.

McDavid put up five points to lead Saturday’s shellacking. One of the post-game storylines was whether he and Matthews, a training partner this past off-season, are suddenly locked in a game of one-upmanship, the sort of back-and-forth that could convince a generation of kids that they’d be crazy to become goalies.

The Flames better hope not.

Matthews, coming off a pair of four-point outbursts, is threatening to run away with the Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy.

The Maple Leafs’ centre has so far suited up for 18 games. He has scored 18 goals. You shouldn’t need the calculator app on your iPhone to crunch the average.

Matthews was held without a point back on Jan. 15 so that’s … Wait, that was five weeks ago?!? Whoa.

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And the 23-year-old sharpshooter will likely be licking his chops when he watches video of his upcoming opponent.

“The gaffes that we give up are big ones,” groaned Flames coach Geoff Ward after the gut-punch in Edmonton. “And they’re coming at inopportune times.

“We can’t continue to give up the type of chances that we’re giving up, and earlier we were not. So you ask yourself why? We have a good handle on why it is, but now we have to stop it. We have to fix it. It bit us again (Saturday).”

Feb 17, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames head coach Geoff Ward (top, right) reacts from the bench during the first period against the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 17, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames head coach Geoff Ward (top, right) reacts from the bench during the first period against the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome. Photo by Sergei Belski /USA TODAY Sports

McDavid is the kind of guy who is going to capitalize on defensive brain-cramps.

Matthews is too. (The Maple Leafs also employ Mitch Marner, currently sitting second in the NHL with 21 assists, so this is hardly a one-man band.)

That whupping from the arch-enemy Oilers had a rock-bottom feel for the Flames, who learned the hard way over the past week that Markstrom had been masking a whole lot of ugly with his superb play. He’s now been shelled for 10 goals in his past 76 minutes of crease-time, although he is the last guy anyone should be worried about.

There’s certainly, for both Flames fans and the Saddledome brass, no shortage of stuff to fret over.

Worry about whether Tkachuk, who hasn’t looked enough like himself, can make good on his pledge to be more of an offensive engine and emotional sparkplug. He topped his troupe Saturday with seven shots and six hits, an encouraging sign.

Worry about what happens if Johnny Gaudreau, with a sky-high shooting percentage, starts hitting more pads or posts. Who scores then for a team that ranks in the bottom-third in the league with an average of 2.56 snipes per night, that fired 44 pellets on net in Edmonton and had just one tally to show for it?

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Worry about how long Gaudreau’s centre sidekick Sean Monahan might be missing with a mysterious lower-body injury.

Worry about the struggles of their third defence pairing, especially since they won’t have the luxury of last change in Monday’s showdown with the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena (5 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West) or in Wednesday’s rematch.

Worry, when it seems like things can’t get any worse for the Flames, if Matthews will prove otherwise.

Heck, the last-place Senators are probably excited for their crack at this fragile bunch.

“We have to take out of this game what we need to, but we really need to apply what we take out of it,” Ward stressed after the humbling on Hockey Night in Canada. “The mental framework of our team right now, moving forward, is important. It’s not always what you eat, it’s how you chew it. Our perspective coming out of this, how we take it and what we take out of it, is critical for us in terms of moving forward to make it better.”

wgilbertson@postmedia.com

Twitter: @WesGilbertson

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Advantages of Live Casino Games

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Casino Games

Seeing as the Internet has taken the world by storm, playing a mega role in day to day human life, more betting businesses are taking advantage of the numerous opportunities that the online gambling scene presents them. Today, any huge casino that you can think of has some form of online presence. As a matter of fact, playing Live casino with real money on the go has become so easy, as gaming websites are being developed to be highly mobile friendly!

The Good Side of Online Casinos

As mentioned before, live casinos are seemingly blowing up, given the tons of opportunities that are available online. Ever since live casino games were introduced online, gaming enthusiasts have had a reason to smile. The convenience that online gaming brings, alongside the same thrill gotten from a physical casino location is just out of this world.

Let us highlight just some of the pros of live casino gaming now, explained in the live casino guide prepared by industry experts from CanadaCasinoHub.com.

Get to enjoy games in real time with Live Dealers!

This one tops the list of online casino games pros. The fact that you can enjoy your favorite table game with a real dealer in real time is just mind blowing! With this special feature, you get to witness state of the art gambling in a super authentic setting, giving off the land based casino version vibes. Players can follow through the Dealer’s actions closely and observe the gaming action as it unfolds. In addition to this, the dealers in leading live casino brands are all well trained professionals, leaving players rest assured of proper, safe and fair gaming.

Indulge in your favorite Live Casino Games from anywhere and at any Time!

Playing on the go has never been so easy. Never has it ever been so effortless and easy to access fun gaming, with the best thing being the fact that you need not travel for miles on end to be able to do this. Not only do you get to cut on all those travel expenses, but you also get the chance to enjoy high quality gaming just as if you were in an actual brick and mortar location.

Top notch quality technology

Nearly all leading live casinos will integrate high quality gaming technology and systems, offering players a smooth wagering process. Thanks to the live streaming feature, gamers can observe all action to detail as it happens from the beginning of the game to the end of it. This high level tech also comes with high level kind of protection to user information, adding on to the peace of mind.

 Live Chat

Thanks to cutting edge technology, bettors can interact with other game participants and the dealer as well. This not only makes the game more enjoyable and real, but the personal connection established takes things to a whole new level.

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LeBron James re-injures ankle

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LeBron James

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reinjured his right ankle on Sunday night and his status is unclear for Monday night’s game against the visiting Denver Nuggets.

James departed the 121-114 loss to the Toronto Raptors with 6:42 remaining in the contest.

“His ankle is battling some soreness,” Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel said afterward. “We decided not to bring him back.”

James was playing for the second time since missing 20 games due to the injured ankle. He said it has tightened up on him at halftime in both games.

Vogel and James were both in wait-and-see mode per whether the star forward could play against Denver.

“The plan is to see how I feel and go from there,” James said.

James also was thinking about the big picture.

“The most important thing for me is to be healthy and be at full strength when it really matters,” James said.

James recorded 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists against Toronto as the slumping Lakers lost for the sixth time in seven games. They are 0-2 since James returned.

“I think our team is predicated on health,” James said. “That is the No. 1 thing for our ball club. We need to be healthy and we need to be at full strength.”

 

–Field Level Media

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FTB: What’s in store for the Maple Leafs in their final five games? – Pension Plan Puppets

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The Maple Leafs played their last game for this season against the Canucks last night, and they made it a game the Canucks would like to forget, easily defeating them 5-1.

So that’s it for the Canucks, and the Leafs have already finished up with the Oilers and the Flames for the season, so what’s left?

Next week the Leafs have three games against the Habs; Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Monday’s game is in Montreal, while the others are in Toronto. Saturday’s game is also the final home game for the regular season. These games could help determine who the Leafs play in the first round since the Jets continue to flounder, losing six games in a row, and are now only two points up on the Habs. Some Montreal wins next week could put them in third place, knocking the Jets down to fourth where they would face the Leafs in the playoffs. That would also mean the Leafs would have to lose to the Habs all week, which… I don’t like any of these options! Just win all the games, Leafs.

The following week the Leafs wrap up the season on the road, with a trip to Ottawa, and then ending it rather unceremoniously on Friday in Winnipeg in what looks to be a regionally blacked-out game broadcast only on TSN4 in Toronto. That certainly lacks the grandeur of the final scheduled game of previous seasons, but hopefully it will be the start of a very long playoff run. The playoff games will all be on Sportsnet with no blackouts on NHL Live.

ICYMI

Hardev caught us up on the Marlies yesterday morning.

The Marlies played the Senators yesterday afternoon and lost 5-3. Joseph Woll was in net. He’s being backed up by Veini Vehvilainen who you may recall the Leafs picked up in exchange for Mikko Lehtonen in early March.

The Marlies host the Senators again this afternoon at 3:00 p.m.

Other News

Sportsnet is at it again with the wonky charts. I don’t even know what to do with this one. As Fulemin noted, if Matthew Tkachuk is down to bringing nothing but “size” to his line, it’s no wonder the Flames are having such a bad season.

Then again, this all sort of played out last night as the Flames lost 4-1 and Tkachuk fought (checks notes) Tyson Barrie? What?! Yes, it actually happened. Here’s the video!

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The Hurricanes’ goalie picked up a primary assist on this game winner. Also <3 Dougie

The next Connor: Hockey’s latest phenom went distance to find a game in pandemic – CBC
Connor Bedard, the first player granted exceptional status to suit up in the WHL a year early and tabbed as the likely first pick in the 2023 NHL draft, saw his inaugural junior season put on ice by COVID-19. That began a long road, including a trip to Sweden with his sister, to where he is now.

Capital Gains: Van Riemsdyk Making Most of Opportunity – Japers’ Rink
The 29-year-old has maintained a positive attitude despite an up-and-down season, and it’s paying off in his return to the lineup and sudden resurgence.

High school hockey in desert flourishing despite lack of AIA sanction – PBS
Hockey is one of the few sports not sanctioned by the AIA, but it has managed to be successful. Much of that has to do with the Arizona High School Hockey Association.


Enjoy your Sunday. Our Back to Excited podcast has been postponed until Tuesday this week.

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