TSN reporter Mark Masters checks in daily with news and notes on Team Canada. The team skated at the practice rink at the Ostravar Arena on Friday.
With Canada down 2-0 in the first period on Boxing Day, Alexis Lafreniere looked to spark a comeback. But before he exploded for three assists and an incredible game-winning goal, the 18-year-old landed a couple big checks on the American top defensive pair of Mattias Samuelsson and Jordan Harris.
“I didn’t really realize it,” said smiling Ottawa defenceman Kevin Bahl. “I thought he was all skill, but he loves to throw around the body and I absolutely love that. I saw him just going full speed after that guy, dummied him and thought I better get a hit and I saw that guy coming down the wall.”
Moments later the 6-foot-7 Bahl delivered a bone-crushing blow on American forward Bobby Brink and it was game on in Ostrava.
“Early in the game the U.S. had a lot of the momentum,” said Flint centre Ty Dellandrea, “and we had a couple big hits all on the same shift and that turned the tide.”
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“I always try to bring some physicality in my game,” said Lafreniere, who stands 6-foot-1, 194 pounds. “It’s something I want to improve. Getting involved physically is always good. A couple good hits and it helped me just start to be in the game a little bit more.”
Lafreniere got himself going and the team going and then the Rimouski left winger, the consensus top pick in the next NHL entry draft, saved the day, striking back seven seconds after the Americans had tied things.
“Something else,” said captain Barrett Hayton of the game-winning goal. “I mean, you see his speed off the faceoff, he jumps through and bats that puck down. Not many guys are going to do that. That was a pretty flat pass by the American guy (K’Andre Miller). Just unbelievable hand-eye.”
But Lafreniere wasn’t done. He finished what he started by setting up Dellandrea for the empty-net goal.
“It’s incredible,” Dellandrea gushed. “Everything about him, it’s fun to watch. He’s skilled, but he’s also all over the puck, hunting and I think he showed last night that he can play an all-around game. He was on in the last minute and made that pass for the empty-netter and shutting down to finish the game. I think he can do everything.”
“He’s a gamer,” said assistant coach Andre Tourigny. “He’s a money player. He’s a competitor. He wants to win every battle and he’s the same in practice. He has a long stick and he’s always in it and stays on puck, that’s what I like about him and last year at U18 it was the same. He never quits. He’s relentless. He’s a great player for us.”
Quinton Byfield, the consensus No. 2 pick behind Lafreniere, had a relatively quiet debut at the World Juniors, failing to register a shot in 11:40 of ice time while also picking up a penalty.
“Those first couple shifts you’re a bit nervous,” he admitted. “I tried to play my best, play my hardest, didn’t have too much of a big impact on the game, but my team played exceptional. Laffy played really well. I’m just a guy hoping for the wins here and any way they come I’m good with that.”
But Team Canada may need the 17-year-old, who’s playing in the top six on a line with Hayton and Dylan Cozens, to be a factor down the road. And, with that in mind, Byfield is hoping to take a page out of his draft rival’s playbook.
“I’m still probably looking for more from myself,” Byfield said. “I definitely could be more physical, hitting a lot more people with my big body. Yeah, I definitely could have a lot more on the table.”
At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Byfield is Canada’s heaviest forward and wants to use that to his advantage.
“It definitely adds another level to your game,” he said of physical play, “creates separation, people might not want to come as close to you because they know your physical and stuff like that.”
After picking up a point in 27 of 30 OHL games this season, Byfield has now been held pointless in three straight outings with Team Canada, including the two pre-tournament games.
After allowing three power-play goals on Thursday, Team Canada dedicated a good chunk of practice to special teams work. Tourigny, who oversees that unit, struck an urgent tone on and off the ice.
“The way the Russians play, they play really low on their power play. They have four guys really low, so we want to make sure we cut seams and stuff like that,” Tourigny said.
The penalty kill looked fine in the pre-tournament games, but didn’t get a lot of work with Canada only shorthanded twice.
“Maybe we were just thinking too much,” said Dellandrea. “We have a lot of stuff we want to hit on when we’re on the PK and sometimes it gets confusing just running around thinking about a bunch of things at once. (Tourigny) talked a lot about practising it today so we don’t have to think so much when we’re out there tomorrow. So he wants to keep it simple and cover all the spots we need.”
TSN senior hockey reporter Frank Seravalli has more on Canada’s penalty kill here:
The Boxing Day showdown with the Americans wasn’t just the World Juniors debut for Nico Daws, but also his first ever game for Canada at an international competition.
“Definitely special,” the Guelph goalie said. “Putting on that jersey, hearing the fans cheer for you, it’s something I’ll never forget.”
Daws stopped 28 of 32 shots and settled down nicely after Canada fell behind in the first period.
“A little bit shaky, obviously, first game, a lot of nerves,” the 19-year-old said, “especially against a good team like that, that scored some good goals and probably one or two I’d like back. But, overall, I’m pretty happy with the way I played.”
In the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s win, Dale Hunter wouldn’t commit to starting Daws against Russia, but the coach spoke positively about the Burlington, Ont. native.
“He was solid,” Hunter said. “Remember, these are the elite shooters of this age group, so it’s a little different than your club team where you have a couple elite shooters. Everyone on that team can score and they’re a good offensive team.”
The only even-strength goal allowed by Daws came off the stick of Leafs prospect Nick Robertson, who used defenceman Jacob Bernard-Docker as a screen.
“Coming over, pulling it through and around and through the legs and it’s just a great shot,” said Hunter, “and that makes it tough on goalies.”
Lines at Friday’s practice:
Power-play units at Friday’s practice:
Lafreniere – Veleno – Hayton
Byram – Lavoie – Foote
Jimmy Butler steals the show on NBA media day with ‘emo’ phase look following Damian Lillard’s trade to the Milwaukee Bucks
Whether or not Miami Heat’s golden child Jimmy Butler’s new “emo” look is just a phase, the NBA star carried it off with some aplomb, drawing plenty of laughs from his teammates.
One year on from his memorable fake dreadlocks look, the 34-year-old outdid himself by turning up at the Heat’s media day on Monday sporting a straightened fringe, piercings in his eyebrow and lips and painted black nails.
Butler said he’s now “emo” and after the summer he and the Heat have had, who can blame him?
After former Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and his agent publicly stated on numerous occasions that he would only want to play for Miami, it seemed like a matter of when, not if, the 33-year-old would end up in South Beach.
Butler led the Heat to an improbable NBA Finals appearance as the eight seed last season, so it’s easy to imagine his excitement at the prospect of Lillard’s addition to the roster pushing the team over the top and to its first title in the post-Lebron James era.
However, the Milwaukee Bucks swooped in last week with a package that blew Miami’s out of the water, meaning Lillard will now be plying his trade in Wisconsin and not Florida.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, laugh it up,” Butler said as he entered his press conference, pushing his fringe out of his eyes. “I’m emo. This is my emotional state, I’m at one with my emotions so this is what you get.”
Despite failing to acquire Lillard and losing key contributors Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, Butler remains confident ahead of the upcoming season, telling reporters the Heat are going to win it all.
If it’s good news that he’s now at one with his emotions, Butler might just also be a gifted method actor and isn’t actually going through a belated “emo” phase. The six-time All Star could be heard saying “don’t make me break character” as he entered the press conference.
His new character was certainly a hit with his teammates and had Bam Adebayo crying tears of laughter as the pair were having their photos taken for the new season – which means, yes, Butler will have this hair in official photos for the entire year.
Certainly not someone to do things by halves, Butler was fully immersed in his new state and even posted songs from emo bands on his Instagram story throughout the day.
Finding Your Perfect Match: The Best Ways to Choose an Online Sportsbook
In the ever-expanding world of online sports betting, selecting the right sportsbook is crucial. This is to ensure an enjoyable and secure gambling experience. With numerous options available, it can be challenging to find the perfect fit. For instance, you can be looking into sites like BestOdds to find a sportsbook to go with but do not know what exactly to check.
This article will explain the basics of finding an excellent online sportsbook.
Licensing and Regulation
The first and most critical factor when choosing an online sportsbook is ensuring it operates in a legal and transparent manner. A reputable sportsbook should possess a valid license from a recognized regulatory authority. These licenses indicate that the sportsbook adheres to strict standards, including fair play, responsible gambling and financial security.
Before registering, check for the sportsbook’s licensing information. In most cases, you will find this in the footer of their website. Some of the most reputable regulatory bodies for online sports betting include the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission.
Additionally, research the sportsbook’s track record for regulatory compliance and any previous non-payment or unethical practices incidents. User reviews and industry news sources can provide valuable insights into the sportsbook’s reputation.
Odds and Betting Markets
The quality of odds and the variety of betting markets offered are key factors in determining the suitability of an online sportsbook. Competitive odds provide better potential returns for your bets, while a wide range of markets allows you to explore different betting options.
Compare odds from multiple sportsbooks to ensure you get the best bet value. Some websites and apps even offer odds comparison tools to make this process more convenient.
Moreover, consider the breadth of sports and events covered by the sportsbook. Whether you’re into mainstream sports like football, basketball, or soccer or niche sports and events, the sportsbook should offer diverse markets to cater to your preferences.
Security and Payment Options
Security is paramount when sharing personal and financial information with an online sportsbook. Look for sportsbooks that employ the latest encryption technologies, such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer), to safeguard your data. Consider factors like two-factor authentication (2FA) to enhance account security further.
Payment options are another critical aspect. Ensure the sportsbook offers convenient and secure methods for depositing and withdrawing funds. Common payment methods include credit/debit cards, bank transfers, e-wallets (like PayPal or Skrill) and cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin). Choosing a sportsbook that supports your preferred payment method is essential to streamline your betting experience.
As LeBron James enters Year 21, the theme of Lakers media day was passing the torch and sharing the load
The budding relationship between fifth-year forward Rui Hachimura and four-time MVP LeBron James has been one of the stories of the offseason for the resurgent Los Angeles Lakers. Stories of the two working out together have become commonplace. “I call him my Daniel-san and I’m Mr. Miyagi,” James joked at Lakers’ media day Monday. It was an appropriate comparison not just between James and Hachimura, but the legend and his entire team.
Now that Udonis Haslem has called it a career and Andre Iguodala is seemingly headed in that direction, James is officially the NBA’s oldest active player. He proved that he is still a superstar on the court last season, but aside from Anthony Davis and Taurean Prince, all of his Laker teammates are at least a decade his junior. In a perfect world, the days of James pushing for 30-point triple-doubles on a nightly basis are now over. He has a group of young teammates eager to learn from his example and lift him up when he needs it.
“I think with this team we have the most depth,” new Lakers big man Christian Wood said Monday. “No team in the league has more depth than we have.” This was the goal of the Lakers’ offseason. Though they didn’t make any particularly splashy additions, six of the seven Lakers to play at least 200 postseason minutes are back this season. Joining them are Gabe Vincent, a starter on Miami’s finalist from a season ago, and Wood, one of the NBA’s most dynamic scoring big men. Rounding out the new-look bench are former first-round picks Taurean Prince (29), Cam Reddish (24) and Jaxson Hayes (23). That youth-oriented approach was no accident, as Lakers coach Darvin Ham explained Friday.
“Now that we have, top-to-bottom, what we feel is a highly balanced, skilled, athletic, younger team of guys that have logged a ton of NBA minutes, we can surround both he and AD with these players who are coming in eager to contribute, eager to show that they can impact winning,” Ham said. “That’s gonna allow us to be able to be more efficient with his game-to-game minutes.”
Managing James’ minutes was difficult last season. The Lakers lacked depth on a roster depleted by the Russell Westbrook trade, and when Davis was hurt, James needed to carry a remarkable burden just to keep the Lakers afloat. He averaged 24.1 shots and 34.6 points per game between Dec. 18 and Jan. 24, Davis’ longest extended absence of the season. Roughly one month later, he suffered the foot injury that hampered him for the rest of the season. It’s an outcome Davis is hoping to avoid this time around.
“It’s my goal every year to play 82,” Davis said. Though likely unobtainable, keeping Davis on the floor will be essential to the Lakers’ championship hopes this season. In fact, James might even argue that his co-star’s health is more important than his own. “He is the face [of the franchise],” James said at media day. For stretches last season, he was among the NBA’s best players. Between Nov. 13 and his own injury on Dec. 13, Davis averaged 32.4 points per game while doubling as the league’s best defensive player.
But for the Lakers to realize their considerable potential, he’ll have to sustain that dominance for longer stretches. The supporting players, who were so instrumental in lifting the Lakers from out of the top-10 in the West and into the Western Conference finals, will have to continue to benefit from James’ presence as Hachimura has. The Lakers went from cellar-dweller to contender last season when they morphed from an older, star-driven roster to a younger, balanced one, and whether that means Davis stepping into James’ role as the focal point of the team or the role players improving with another year in the system, the Lakers made it clear at media day that they plan to continue that transformation.
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