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Alex Galchenyuk scores first goal as Leafs beat Flames – Pension Plan Puppets

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Alex Galchenyuk scored his first NHL goal with the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames. Morgan Rielly, John Tavares, and Auston Matthews all scored in the win, with Michael Hutchinson stopping 31 of 33 for his fourth win of the season (4-2-1). William Nylander created goals that got the Leafs tied and ahead at crucial moments, but was only credited for one. Tavares and Matthews led the way with two points; a goal and an assist each.

The Leafs didn’t have a great middle portion of their game, but a strong start and convincing third period added up to the win. It should also be noted that the Leafs failed to score on their lone power play in the game, extending the drought to 10 games (0/28).

1-0

Now in the top-10 in games played for Leafs defensemen, Rielly opened the scoring less than a minute in with a wicked shot. Rielly skated into open space created by the Flames getting caught overloading one side of the ice and losing the puck battle quickly. Marner was on one side with Hyman crashing the net on the other as Rielly stepped into a shot that beat Dave Rittich high blocker.

The Leafs were in solid control of the play in the first half of the first period. They won battles in their own zone and kept the Flames from having any cycles, while offensively they did a really good job of getting right in on Rittich with their shots. Galchenyuk had a nice solo chance off the rush, but he took a shot from distance while a Calgary defenseman was bearing down on him that was stopped.

Hutchinson was strong to start, beating Mikael Backlund on a breakaway with a nice pad save. It was a good first chance to settle him into the game and he looked comfortable on the lone other shot he got early in the game.

The fourth line for the Leafs was good, hemming the Flames in their own zone on one shift in particular. I think Mikheyev struggled to manage the puck in the offensive zone, both in handling but also in tactics. I think he’s being asked to do too much on that line sometimes. Thornton would be fun there if he’s going to be in the bottom six.

1-1

Joakim Nordstrom tied the game later in the period, tipping a point shot from Mark Giordano past Hutchinson right off a faceoff. Both Kerfoot and Spezza just drifted away from Nordstrom when the shot came through, leaving him all alone to tip it. I thought those motions were weird.

1-2

Oof. A turnover from the defense as Dermott and Bogosian both got beat to the corner cleanly and a pretty bad goal against from Hutchinson, and the Leafs entered the break down after starting so well. The shot was a floater, which makes it pretty rough.

After One

5v5 stats:

  • Shot attempts: 14-22 (39%)
  • Shots on goal: 12-11
  • Scoring chances: 8-9
  • Expected goals: 0.84-0.80 (51%)

Thoughts:

I thought the Leafs were good in the first half of the period, it seemed the Flames had no control of the puck. But in the second, they threw it all away and got completely overwhelmed. You can see in the gameflow the Leafs had put together some good shifts in a row, but immediately following the Nordstrom goal, they were on their heels until the Mangiapane goal and the buzzer for the period rang.

Spezza had the best chance in the period for the Leafs in xG but overall the Leafs offense wasn’t actually getting the chances the zone time should’ve allowed them. It definitely looked like the Flames weathered an early push and then counterattacked once they realized they were in the game.

Second Period

Hyman got tripped with the puck, the Flames guy didn’t lose his position as he fell over Hyman, but it was the Leafs who got the penalty. I don’t get that. Thankfully, the Leafs killed the penalty. At least they know how to do that.

The Leafs then got a power play when Brodie got tripped. On the same play, Matthew Tkachuk fell into an open penalty box door and had to go to the locker room. Matthews had a chance on the power play but his stick blew up on him. The power play was totally flat. Neither unit looks in sync. The fourth line got the closest thing to a shot as they started a shift with a few seconds left in the two minutes.

2-2

Alex Galchenyuk scores his first as a Leaf! Nylander made a great play to get into the zone, he found Tavares with his stick open at the side of the net. Tavares made an elite play to Galch for an awkward chance that he buried.

All the Galch Gifs!

After Two

5v5 stats:

  • Shot attempts: 12-17 (41%)
  • Shots on goal: 6-9
  • Scoring chances: 5-7
  • Expected goals: 0.41-0.51 (44%)

Thoughts:

At one point, the shots were 11-3 in the first period. They ended the second down 18-24.

Hutchinson definitely had to work in this period because the Flames were really strong all throughout. Credit to him, he stopped everything that came his way and allowed the Leafs to tie it up at the end of the period.

I don’t expect Keefe or Malhotra to listen to me on this, but I have a few suggestions for the power play:

  1. Nylander on the first unit and stick in him front of the net, end the madness.
  2. Dermott on the second unit, he might as well do something as an offensive guy on the third pair.
  3. Try some high-low plays to force the defense out wide a little bit. That’ll create lanes and openings for players like Marner, Matthews, and Nylander to find. I get what the East-West passing is trying to do, but I think teams have caught onto it, time to change it up.

Third Period

3-2

Nylander, once again, picked up an outlet pass from Tavares, got a great chance on Rittich. The puck rebounded to Tavares, who’s shot from the same area bounced off Noah Hanifin and into the back of the net. This second line has fully deserved to score some goals in this game. Nylander wasn’t given his second assist on the goal since technically Hanifin touched it, but Tavares his second primary point. Don’t tell me Tavares is slowing down, he’s still worth every penny. Plus, they’ve had so much fun with Galch, I really like this line.

4-2

Not to be out-done, Matthews and Marner connected for a goal seconds after Tavares put the team ahead.

Engvall had a nice rush up the ice that nearly opened Spezza up for a chance. I really liked this from them.

The Flames pulled their goalie with four minutes left while down two goals. Hutchinson was good in the final stretch of the game, stopping several chances in the last five minutes that could’ve been trouble. Nylander nearly got an empty netter, but he hit the side of the net. Hyman missed another empty net. And Tavares missed a third!

After Three

Full game 5v5 stats:

  • Shot attempts: 43-50 (47%)
  • Shots on goal: 30-28
  • Scoring chances: 25-22
  • Expected goals: 2.20-1.96 (57%)

Thoughts:

There were some red flags in this game as Matthews and Marner didn’t have their best nights — but hey, they scored. The bottom half of the defense didn’t inspire me much confidence. Holl was his normal awkward self, and was fairly effective nonetheless. Dermott and Bogosian looked overwhelmed several times and they finished the game with the worst shot and expected goals share.

I think it’s quite interesting that the Tavares line played only two fewer shifts than the Matthews line in this game, but their time on ice were somewhere around four minutes less. The Kerfoot-Thornton-Spezza line had the longest shift lengths on the team and they were also benched for the end of the period. Spezza and Thornton the only ones under 10 minutes. I wouldn’t worry too much about the Tavares line’s minutes, they got the deployment they (and we) wanted.

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For Oilers, Archibald’s selfish anti-vaccine stance is not worth the risk – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — One is a player who opted to honour his commitment to his new team in Edmonton. The other, just another selfish anti-vaxxer who is betting on himself, somewhat foolishly.

One is a player the general manager staked his reputation on, with much pedigree and a handful of Stanley Cup rings. A guy who came to town billed as a leader, and then backed it up when he rolled up his sleeve despite obvious misgivings about being vaccinated.

Sure, Duncan Keith should have gotten vaccinated a month sooner. But give him some credit for putting the team — society and the Oilers — ahead of himself. Even if he waited until the 11th hour to do it.

Then there is depth winger Josh Archibald, who will be replaced by Game 1 of the regular season if he doesn’t give his head a shake. He is from that young, conspiracy-oriented demographic that has been suckered in by far-right disinformation, and tweets about idiocy like “the plandemic.”

“I’m happy that he’s going to be part of our team this year, fully vaccinated,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said of Keith, a player Holland had seriously dug in on to convince him to get vaccinated. Mike Smith took some work, too, we are told, but now both are vaccinated and ready to do what they were brought in to accomplish.

The other player is more selfish than that.

Archibald is a nice, fourth-line penalty killer in a normal season. He’ll get you 10 goals a year. But for this, the third COVID-affected NHL campaign, an unvaccinated Archibald just isn’t worth it.

Holland and head coach Dave Tippett sat down with Archibald on Tuesday and spelled out how many games he would miss and what it would mean to be Canada’s only unvaccinated NHL player. It would cost him up to 40 per cent of his $1.5 million salary. Maybe more.

Now Holland sits, and hopes that Archibald changes his mind before the GM has to send him to AHL Bakersfield. He is virtually untradeable, as Archibald could not play games in Canada for a U.S.-based team, and poses a risk that no fourth-liner can justify.

“There are a team or two out there that have made the decision that unvaccinated players are not welcome at training camp. I have not made that decision as of this time,” Holland said on Wednesday. “I think the player is going through the process to decide. It’s a difficult decision. I’ll give [Archibald] the appropriate time, and I’ll see where I’m at in a week, 10 days from now. We’ll see.”


Editor’s note: With overwhelming consistency, research has shown vaccinations against COVID-19 are safe and effective. Residents of Alberta who are looking to learn more about vaccines can find up-to-date information here. Further details on COVID-19 and the country’s pandemic response are available on Canada’s public health website.


In a strange twist of fate, Keith — who received his vaccination in the United States only this week — is in quarantine until next Friday, while the unvaccinated Archibald is undergoing daily testing while attending Edmonton Oilers training camp.

But here’s the reality of all this: A Canadian team simply can not have an unvaccinated player on its roster.

By Holland’s math, an unvaccinated player who must serve a 14-day quarantine every time he comes over the U.S. border and into Canada, would miss “30-plus games” this season. He’d also miss a ton of practice time, and would lose one-200th of his pay for every day missed due to the federally mandated quarantine.

It would be impossible to hold his place on an NHL roster.

“After you quarantine for 14 days, if we’re playing well you’re not just taking someone out to put that person in,” Holland said. “The number of times we cross the border, it’s going to be very difficult.”

Had Keith and Smith not relented, the Oilers’ season would have been derailed.


Related reading: Edmonton Oilers goaltender Alex Stalock contracted COVID-19 before the shortened 56-game season. Now, the 34-year-old is likely going to miss the 2021-22 season due to a heart condition.


Now that Holland has his starting goalie and No. 3 defenceman in the fold, why on earth would you want an unvaccinated, 13:33-minutes per game player flying on the same charter and inhabiting the same dressing rooms as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl?

Between the peer pressure, the risk of lost salary, and the ridiculous nature of his stance, I expect Archibald to relent and get the jab. Let’s face it: It’s a business, and there is no moral high ground in sport.

“In July I heard talk that there were 80, 90 unvaccinated players,” Holland recounted. “We had a Board of Governors meeting (Tuesday), and Bill Daly said we’ll be in single digits of players unvaccinated going into the season. So, basically, 70, 80, 90 players eventually made the decision to get vaccinated.”

Some because they didn’t want to lose the salary, and some because they put their team and others before themselves.

There is one player left on a Canadian team who puts himself before everything else, and his name is Josh Archibald.

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Kiermaier on getting hit by pitch by Blue Jays' Borucki: 'Oh yeah, it was intentional' – Yahoo Canada Sports

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The Tampa Bay Rays clinched a spot in the postseason on Wednesday, but that was the secondary story against the Toronto Blue Jays.

During the game prior, Rays centrefielder Kevin Kiermaier was the centre of attention as he snatched a dropped data card from Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk, which the Rays refused to hand back to the visiting club. Less than 24 hours later during the series finale between the two AL East teams, Kiermaier re-entered the spotlight as he was struck by a pitch thrown by Blue Jays reliever Ryan Borucki in the eighth inning.

Borucki was ejected after the umpires met to review the struck batter, which then caused Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo and a very red-faced pitching coach Pete Walker to storm onto the field.

Walker was also tossed from the game for his outburst.

Kiermaier didn’t let up after the 7-1 victory, focusing on the late-game dramatics.

“Oh yeah, it was intentional,” Kiermaier said of the incident. “Pretty much almost went behind me. I thought it was a weak move, to be quite honest. It’s over. It didn’t hurt by any means, so I don’t care. Whatever. We move on. We got a series win, and I hope we play those guys, I really do.”

When Kiermaier was asked why he wants to face the Blue Jays again, it was mysterious to say the least. “The motivation is there,” he said. “That’s all that needs to be said.”

Despite Kiermaier being so sure it was intentional, Montoyo had a different idea of what happened, but was certainly sympathetic to the Rays’ reaction.

“Pete’s reaction told me everything about it,” the Blue Jays manager said. “He missed. He hit him, but I understand what it looks like. I understood how the Rays got upset about it. That thing was on for two days.”

With just 10 games remaining in the regular season, Toronto is on a hot Wild Card race with fellow divisional rivals Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The two clubs involved in the ruckus will not face each other again unless the Blue Jays earn a spot in the postseason and are able to beat their opposition in that single-game playoff matchup.

As if the MLB postseason wasn’t dramatic enough, now there’s an underlying narrative ready to boil over at any moment if the two face each other in a series.

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Eichel stripped of Sabres captaincy, placed on LTIR – TSN

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Jack Eichel is no longer captain of the Buffalo Sabres.

Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Thursday morning Eichel has been stripped of the ‘C’ after three seasons in the role.

“I spoke to Jack two days ago, I spoke to the team yesterday and addressed this, Jack Eichel is no longer the captain of the Buffalo Sabres,” Adams said. “From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team, and we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision.”

Adams added the Sabres will not have a captain this season.

Adams also confirmed that Eichel will start the season on long-term injured reserve as he remains in a holding pattern with the team on how to best treat his neck injury.

“I think we would all agree that we were hoping to avoid surgery…unfortunately, yesterday Jack did not pass his physical. At this point, Jack is not willing to move forward with what our doctors are suggesting…we will continue to work toward a solution,” Adams said.

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported Wednesday that there is nothing close on the trade front for Eichel, who has been looking for a trade throughout the off-season.

“Well, it’s tough to pinpoint a timeline but we do know there is ongoing discussions with Jack Eichel’s agent Pat Brisson and Kevyn Adams, the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres. They’re on good terms, they have an excellent relationship,” Dreger said on Insider Trading. “We also know that Jack Eichel will start the regular season on LTIR. Now, he saw a team of specialists over the course of the off-season. Some encouraged the artificial disc replacement surgery; however, the Buffalo Sabres remain adamant that the fusion surgery is the best option.

“It’s possible that Eichel gets traded and has the disc replacement surgery under the blessing of a new club, but there’s no guarantee and it doesn’t seem like anything is real close on that front.”

Eichel was limited to 21 games last season due to the neck injury and there has been a long-standing dispute with the team this summer over how to treat the injury.  

The 24-year-old centre has been the subject of trade talk since the end of last season and his former agents released a statement in July trying to spur a trade. He switched agents to Pat Brisson in August.

“What’s critically important to make sure is clear is that we’re in control of this process,” Adams said in July, prior to the statement from Eichel’s then-agents. “We have a player under contract. We don’t feel any pressure.

“If there’s a deal out there that we feel is the right thing for the Buffalo Sabres, that’s going to help us improve – whether that’s improve right away or improve down the road, those are all the things weigh – we’d be open to it. But we’re not in a position where we feel we’re just going to do something to do it. That doesn’t make any sense.”

Eichel had two goals and 18 points in 21 games last season and has five years remaining in the eight-year, $80 million contract he signed with the Sabres in 2017.

He had served as captain of the Sabres since 2018.

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