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Canada's Olympic men's hockey team is light on big names, but 2 stand out – CBC Sports

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This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Canada named its replacement Olympic men’s hockey team

Nearly five weeks after the NHL and its players backed out of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and just 15 days before the men’s tournament begins, Canada finally announced the roster that will try to improve on the country’s bronze-medal finish from the 2018 Games, which the NHL also skipped.

Stepping in to replace the likes of Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon are, well, mostly a lot of guys. Some, you might remember. Many, you’ve probably never heard of. Only two names really stand out:

Eric Staal: Seventeen of Canada’s 25 players have appeared in the NHL, and Staal is the most experienced and accomplished among them. The 37-year-old has played in nearly 1,300 regular-season games and notched more than 1,000 points, including 441 goals. Staal’s best season was his second in the league, 2005-06, when he had 45 goals and 100 points and then led the playoffs in scoring to help Carolina win an improbable Stanley Cup in that weird post-lockout year. Last season, Staal helped Montreal on its surprising run to the Cup final. He hasn’t played for anyone this season, beyond a brief conditioning stint with an American Hockey League team, but he stayed in shape while waiting for a call. Now he’s looking to add an Olympic gold medal without NHL superstar teammates after winning one with them in Vancouver in 2010.

Owen Power: The 6-foot-6 teenage defenceman is the most interesting player on the Canadian team. Picked first overall in last year’s NHL draft by Buffalo, Power opted to return to the University of Michigan for another season. At the world juniors in December, he became the first Canadian defenceman in the history of the tournament to score a hat trick. Unfortunately, he only got to play two games before the event was cancelled. Power also handled himself well against grown men at last year’s world championship, recording three assists in 10 games to help Canada win gold.

Other names that might ring a bell include forwards Daniel Winnik, David Desharnais, Adam Cracknell and Josh Ho-Sang; and defencemen Jason Demers and Maxim Noreau. The latter was Canada’s scoring co-leader at the 2018 Olympics.

The goalies are Devon Levi, Edward Pasquale and Matt Tomkins. They’re extremely light on NHL experience — just three games total, all by Pasquale. But the 20-year-old Levi, who plays for a U.S. university, did break Carey Price’s world juniors save percentage record a year ago.

Most guys on the roster earn their living in European pro leagues. Nine players are in the Russia-based KHL, while eight are in the Swiss, Swedish or German leagues. Five play in the AHL (North America’s top minor league) and three in the NCAA (American universities/colleges). See the complete roster and read more about it here. Get some more great tidbits on the team by watching the video below by CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo.

The squad was picked under the direction of former NHL star Shane Doan, who stepped in as Canada’s general manager after the NHL bailed on the Olympics. The head coach is former Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins bench boss Claude Julien. Apropos of absolutely nothing, have you ever seen Julien with hair? He looks like everyone’s dad in the ’80s.

Canada’s first game is Feb. 10 at 8:10 a.m. ET vs. Germany, a surprising silver medallist in 2018. Canada’s other group-stage contests are Feb. 11 at 11:10 p.m. ET vs. the United States and Feb. 13 at 8:10 a.m. ET vs. China.

No one is eliminated right after the group stage, but these games are still important because the top team in each of the three groups, plus the best second-place team, advance directly to the quarter-finals. Everyone else must try to play their way into the quarters via a one-game playoff. The quarter-finals are on Feb. 15 and 16 in Canadian time zones. The semis are Feb. 17 and 18. The gold-medal game is Saturday, Feb. 19 at 11:10 p.m. ET.

Getting to know Canada’s Men’s Olympic hockey team

15 hours ago

Duration 3:19

Rob Pizzo breaks down the roster that will wear the maple leaf in Beijing. 3:19

The results of one of the most controversial and consequential Baseball Hall of Fame votes ever will be revealed tonight

It’s last call for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Curt Schilling, all of whom are appearing on the ballot for the 10th and final time. Bonds and Clemens are among the very best players of all time. Literally no one disputes that their careers are Hall-of-Fame calibre. Sosa isn’t quite on that level, but the guy hit 609 home runs — the ninth-most in MLB history. His numbers say he belongs too. The problem for Bonds, Clemens and Sosa is that they’ve all been credibly linked to steroid use, automatically disqualifying them in the eyes of some voters.

Schilling’s predicament is a bit different. He’s never been tied to performance-enhancing drugs and was one of the best pitchers of his era. But his numbers aren’t as overwhelming, giving voters enough cover to punish him for being one of the great blowhards in baseball history (that’s saying something) and now also a relentless social-media s—poster.

To get into the Hall, a player needs to be named on at least 75 per cent of the 400 or so ballots submitted by baseball writers. According to Ryan Thibodaux’s wonderful Hall of Fame tracker, Bonds is polling at around 78 per cent based on the ballots that have been publicly revealed. Clemens is at about 77. But only half of voters have put their ballots out there and, historically, Bonds and Clemens end up getting far less support from those who choose not to. So they’ll be on pins and needles leading up to the 6 p.m. ET announcement. Things aren’t looking so good for Schilling (61 per cent) and Sosa (24).

Also fascinating are the polling numbers for a pair of first-time-eligible superstars. Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz are both all-time greats who have been linked to steroids. Objectively, Rodriguez is greater — he hit 696 home runs while spending a big chunk of his career at shortstop, helping revolutionize the position in the process. Ortiz, though he delivered many more post-season heroics than Rodriguez, hit 541 dingers mostly as a DH. Not as impressive. But, subjectively, Big Papi is one of the most beloved players ever. A-Rod’s personality is, well, a bit lacking. I’ll let you guess which one of them is polling at 84 per cent and who’s at 39.

Quickly…

Denis Shapovalov went down swinging. The 14th-seeded Canadian’s first trip to the Australian Open quarter-finals ended with a hard-fought, five-set, four-hour loss today to Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who’s going for his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam men’s singles title. No shame in that, but Shapovalov did not accept the result quietly. Frustrated by the lengthy breaks and amount of time between points afforded to his much older opponent, Shapovalov lashed out at the chair umpire, saying “you guys are all corrupt.” He also aired his grievances to reporters in his post-match press conference. “I respect everything that Rafa has done, and I think he’s an unbelievable player,” Shapovalov said. “But there’s got to be some boundaries, some rules set.” Canada’s hopes now rest completely on Felix Auger-Aliassime. The No. 9 seed’s quarter-final opponent is world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, the highest-ranked player in the men’s tournament after Novak Djokovic was kicked out of the country. The match goes tonight at 3:30 a.m. ET. Read more about Shapovalov’s heated loss and watch highlights here.

And finally…

A new NHL ironman will be crowned tonight. Philadelphia defenceman Keith Yandle tied Doug Jarvis’ all-time record last night by playing in his 964th consecutive game without missing one. He’ll break it tonight when the Flyers visit the Islanders. Jarvis’ streak ended 35 years ago. Yandle’s reign could be shorter-lived, as a slightly younger (and somewhat surprising) player is close behind him. Arizona’s Phil Kessel — not exactly the picture of elite physical fitness, at least at a glance — has played in 940 straight. Read what Jarvis thinks of his record being broken by Yandle here.

Have your say

Planning on following the Beijing Winter Games on the CBC Olympics website, CBC Olympics app or CBC Gem? If so, our digital research team wants to hear from you. Answer a couple of quick questions here and they’ll let you know if you’re eligible for their study.

You’re up to speed. Talk to you tomorrow.

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Bandwagon or 'mental anguish': Calgarians say they'll root for Edmonton in NHL playoffs – CBC.ca

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The Battle of Alberta ended with the Calgary Flames getting knocked out of the series on Thursday — making Edmonton the sole Canadian team left in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The Edmonton Oilers emerged victorious in the NHL’s first playoff Battle of Alberta in 31 years. It was a tough loss for Calgarians who were rooting for their home team, but some say they’ll get over the rivalry and root for the Oilers in the fight for the Stanley Cup.

For Flames fan Austin Hill, it comes down to Canadians cheering for their own teams. 

Flames fan Austin Hill says he’ll cheer for the Edmonton Oilers now. (Charlotte Dumoulin/CBC)

“Definitely have to get behind the Oilers,” he said. “When your local team gets eliminated, you have to put your support behind the next Canadian team. It’s the right thing to do.”

It’s bittersweet, though, as the Red Mile on 17th Avenue — the centre for a lot of cheering from bars and restaurants — was quiet Friday morning. 

“I really wanted to feel the energy of Calgary, be down here, 17th, feel the Red Mile,” Hill said. 

“I would love to see the Oilers and [Connor] McDavid do a playoff run. That would be amazing. That would be a great time for the Oilers and Alberta as well.” 

Diehard fans like Brian Baker, who watched the game at the Saddledome, had to take the day off to recover from the loss. 

Brian Baker watched Thursday’s game at the Saddledome. (Charlotte Dumoulin/CBC)

“It was a great game until overtime, and then I didn’t like the ending at all. I had to take today off to recover from the mental anguish of seeing the Oilers go on,” he said. 

“They [the Flames] had a good season. Nothing to complain about there. It would have been nice to see them go further.… I would like to see a Canadian team continue on.” 

Some might call it jumping on the bandwagon, but others call it being a part of a community. 

Australian Thomas Stefoulis, who previously lived in Calgary for a few years, says he thinks Albertans can get past their rivalry, albeit begrudgingly. 

“It just leads to feeling that sort of a sense of community, which I think is very valuable. So even if people want to be bandwagon fans, that’s totally fine. Get involved for the day, get involved in the game. It’s just important for keeping community alive,” he said. 

Kate James-Loth is new to Calgary but already knows where her loyalties lie. (Charlotte Dumoulin/CBC)

Other Calgarians won’t be rooting for the Oilers, or anyone else, for that matter. 

“I feel like because it’s kind of done in the city with the Flames being out, I will probably stop watching,” said Kate James-Loth, who is new to the city but got swept up in the playoff excitement and tuned in to the games. 

“I have to be loyal now that I live in Calgary.” 

With an early end to the series, in Game 5, it’s still unclear who the Oilers will face next, the Colorado Avalanche or St. Louis Blues.

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Jays Win a Close One – Bluebird Banter

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Blue Jays 4 Angels 3

My first Apple TV+ game and there was good and bad. I liked the cleanness of the video. I liked the field noise.

I hated the commentary. They didn’t seem to know anything about the Blue Jays. Talked about Kirk’s speed (speed doesn’t slump), talking about Star Wars way, way too much. The sideline woman talked too much, for my liking.

And they missed action on the field. The Jays’ first run scored while they were showing some set-piece. And they talked to people dressed in Star Wars gear while the game was going on, instead of showing the play.

The game?

A heck of a good game.

Alek Manoah was good, maybe as great as he’s been all season, but good. He gave up a couple of solo homers (Jared Walsh and Tyler Wade taking him deep). And he was hurt by some poor defense. Raimel Tapai had a single get through him, giving the runner an extra base and setting up the Angels’ first run.

Manoah went 6, allowed 7 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned, 0 walks and 9 strikeouts.

He was also helped out by a nice play by Bo Bichette. In the fifth inning, with Mike Trout on third, Walsh ground one at Bo. Bo threw home and Trout was just barely out. Called safe on the field, the replay showed that he was out by the slimmest possible margin. I was surprised that they overturned the call on such a close play.


Offensively? Well, we did enough. Barely enough, but enough.

We had 11 hits, 3 extra-base hits (all doubles). We scored:

  • 1 in the second: Bo started off the inning with a ground-rule double in the right-field corner. Teoscar Hernandez beat out an infield single. And Bo scored on Alejandro Kirks’ double-play ball. Not that we got to see it or anything.
  • 1 in the fifth: This time Kirk started it off with a double. Tapia singled him to third. And Lourdes doubled home Kirk (doubling home Kirk from third is about as good a description of Kirk’s speed as you will ever get). Something of a miracle happened that inning. We had two hits with RISP. That’s where the fun ended. With runners on second and third. Cavan (not Kevin as the announcer called him) lined out (bad luck for Cavan, he hit it good), George Springer popped out and Santiago Espinal struck out.
  • 1 in the seventh: Danny Jansen (pinch-hitting), had a one-out single. Bradley Zimmer pinch-ran (a good move as it turned out). Gurriel lined a single to left, Zimmer to second. Matt Chapman (also pinch-hitting) got an infield single to the second baseman and Zimmer came all the way home from second. He has amazing speed. Unfortunately, Springer struck out and Espinal hit a soft fly out.
  • 1 in the ninth: Kirk had an infield single (prompting the commentator to tell us that speed never slumps). Zimmer put down a nice sac bunt (but with all that speed at first, it didn’t have to be that good). And Gurriel singled to right, a ball that bounced past right-fielder Juan Lagares and Kirk scored. Again that would be all we’d get. Chapman struck out and Springer ground out.

Lourdes had 3 hits (can we hope he is out of his slump?). Kirk had 2 hits. Everyone else had 1 hit except for the 3 guys at the top of the order. Springer, Espinal (he did make a very nice play at third base), and Guerrero went 0 for 11, with 3 strikeouts, and 2 walks.


Our bullpen did a great job.

  • Yimi Garcia had a clean inning.
  • Trevor Richards’ clean inning featured 2 strikeouts. He gets his second win.
  • Jordan Romano picked up his 15th save. He struck out the side in the ninth, getting pinch hitter Shohei Ohtani for the last out of the game. I thought it was nice that Angels fans chanted MVP for Romano during the at-bat.

Jays of the Day: Gurriel (.573 WPA), Chapman (.172), Romano (.187), Chapman (.172), and Richards (.102). Tapia came close (.090) but that error cost him a JoD.

Suckage: The top of the order, Springer (-.259), Espinal (-.251) and Vlad (-.159). Manoah had the number too (-.119) but I don’t think that’s fair.

Tomorrow night the Jays go for their fourth win in a row. Yusei Kikuchi (2-1, 3.47) vs. Michael Lorenzen (5-2, 3.05). It is a 10:00 Eastern start.

Of note, Lourdes was miked up, but about all we got was him huffing his way into a double. I was hoping for more.

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Never mind the disallowed goal, Flames couldn’t keep up with the Oilers’ track meet – Sportsnet.ca

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The Calgary Flames built their reputation on Darryl Sutter Hockey – that heavy-forechecking, quality-defending style that smothers opponents and wins back pucks, which makes the burden of creating offence a struggle for their opposition. On the backs of that plan, the Flames allowed the third-fewest goals during the regular season. They were a force.

The Edmonton Oilers can be given no greater compliment than the way the Flames were reduced to playing in the Battle of Alberta, chasing more and more offence to try to keep up with an Oilers top-six that simply could not be stopped. There was a desperation there that we hadn’t seen from the Flames, and by Game 5 I kept thinking, “Just catch the pass and shoot it” rather than trying to rush a one-timer on a hot pass or on one that was in a bad spot. Their usual poise disappeared.

A look at a few of those fanned one-timers in Game 5:

By the end, little of the Flames’ identity was left, not the physical play, not the elite goaltending, or the line of Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk, which was arguably the best in the league in 2021-22.

The Flames played with offensive impatience, which left room for the Oilers to fly back the other way. Too often it became a track meet, and with that style imposed on the series, the Flames, ironically, were cooked. Rush chances were 11-3 for the Oilers in Game 5.

Apparently, there was also a goal disallowed, but the things below are about how the Oilers got the Flames in a position where one play not going their way could mean the end of the series, and their season.

How did the Oilers do it?

McDavid-Draisaitl

I was tempted to skip over this obvious point because you, the reader, are well aware of what Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl do. But I just couldn’t. How could I? Everything about the Oilers hinged on this, with two players combining for **checks stats** – no, that can’t be right – **checks again** 29 points in five games. They set all kinds of records.

The Flames got much better at slowing down McDavid in Games 4 and 5, but it took all their focus and attention, which opened them up everywhere else.

Depth contributions from Kane, Hyman, RNH

In Game 5, Zach Hyman had one goal and two assists for three points, he was plus-4, he had seven shots, he played nearly 24 minutes, he led the team in hits, he had a big blocked shot, there’s just not much more I can say about this guy.

In the summer, I use a plastic oar to stir my kids’ kiddie pool and get the water going in a “whirlpool,” and that’s what happens when Hyman is on the ice. He’s an oar, and he gets the play going in the direction he’s skating whenever he’s out there.

With McDavid and Draisaitl sucking up all the attention – as they have in years past – the question was asked of the Oilers depth: when those guys see all the best defending, can you capitalize on your extra space or weaker opposition?

Hyman said yes. Evander Kane said yes; he’s on pace to threaten the all-time playoff goals record of 19 (he has 12, so if they Oilers play two more rounds … ?). Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had six points in five games; the Nuge said yes too.

McDavid and Draisaitl were like a collective boxer doing so much damage to the body in the early rounds that their opposition starts to drop their hands, while these guys were suddenly free to take shots at the head.

Good coaching

I thought Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft showed a willingness to be flexible and go away from what’s worked if it wasn’t working on a given night. Case in point: Kane had been on an unbelievable run alongside McDavid, as mentioned above. It would’ve been easy to leave him in that role, no matter what. This is speculation on my part, but I don’t think the Oil loved how Kane defended a Flames set breakout early in the game, followed by his positioning on the Andrew Mangiapane goal. Whether it was that or something else, Woodcroft bumped Kane off that line for Hyman, who did … all the things I mentioned in the section above. It was the perfect change in a game McDavid didn’t have an inch of room and couldn’t create much or drive play. Hyman did it for that line at times.

I also given Woodcroft credit for sticking with what would give the team the best chance in the big picture: Mike Smith over Mikko Koskinen. After Game 1, he could’ve bailed on Smith and been justified. Then Game 2 starts with two softies, where you’d think he’d have a hair trigger, but he stuck with Smith yet again. The roller coaster Mike Smith Experience includes the type of highs you need to get by great opponents, and Woodcroft gave their team the chance to see that through.

An exposed weakness, and a surprise goaltending slump

Flames coach Darryl Sutter gave a telling response in a post-game when he talked about their “inexperienced defence.” They don’t have guys who’ve seen deep runs playing D for them, and, in the end, the little defensive gaffes made just enough room for the Oilers (a miscommunication with Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm on the OT winner cost them) to expose them. In Game 5, the Oilers had 18 slot shots to the Flames’ nine.

The Flames needed goaltending to bail them out, but Edmonton has had Jacob Markstrom’s number all year. He ended up posting just an .852 save percentage in the series, and the crease was supposed to be where the Flames had a clear advantage. I haven’t heard it said much lately, but McDavid is in an awkward body position on that OT winner and doesn’t get a ton on it. They needed a few more saves from Markstrom.

When all is said and done, the Battle of Alberta was decided because the Oilers’ best players had their ‘A’ games, and that dictated everything that came next from the Flames. Calgary was reduced to counterpunching, when it had been used to coming out swinging.

In the NHL, the sport’s all-time greats almost always find their way to a championship, as at some level they become all their opponents can think about and the team around them is free to rise up. That’s what’s been happening for the Oilers, and no matter who their next opponent is, that game plan has every chance of being effective in yet another round.

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