Connect with us

Sports

Canadiens Game Day: Carey Price gets third straight start vs. Canucks – Montreal Gazette

Published

 on


Coach Dominique Ducharme will switch up his lines in Vancouver, putting Brendan Gallagher with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tyler Toffoli.

Article content

Carey Price will be back in goal when the Canadiens play the Canucks Wednesday night in Vancouver (11 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

This will mark the first time this season that Price will start three consecutive games. Price has allowed only one goal in each of his last three starts and now has a 7-4-4 record with a 2.69 goal-against average and a .903 save percentage.

Head coach Dominique Ducharme will switch up his forward lines for the game, putting Brendan Gallagher with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tyler Toffoli, while Joel Armia will take Gallagher’s regular spot on a line with Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar.

“I’m excited, Toffoli said after Wednesday’s optional morning skate about getting Gallagher as a linemate. “Gally’s obviously a great player. He works hard. KK and I have played together for the majority of the season so we’re going to go out there and work hard and try and maintain possession of the puck and just play the right way and do some good things.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Toffoli, who leads the Canadiens with 15 goals, said he has been impressed with Kotkaniemi’s work ethic both on and off the ice.

“That’s obviously a positive thing for a young guy coming into the league,” Toffoli said. “I think throughout the season he’s been getting better and better every day. That’s a positive and I’ve said It before, he’s a big part of the team.”

Kotkaniemi has 2-10-12 totals in 24 games and is plus-7 while averaging 14:02 of ice time and winning 47.3 per cent of his faceoffs.

Gallagher has also been impressed by Kotkaniemi’s performance this season.

“I think everyone’s been pretty impressed with how he’s grown as a player all over the ice,” said Gallagher, who has 10-6-16 totals. “The skill and the talent level has always been there. I think he’s added a lot of little details to his game that are helping. He seems to be stronger on the puck, he seems to be winning battles, and when you do all those things the talent takes over. So for me, my job is simple, work hard, make their lives easier, try and put the puck on their stick, get to the net and hopefully as a line we should be able to have some success.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“I know KK when he has the puck in the middle of the ice he’s very dynamic moving it both sides and creating opportunities for his wingers,” Gallagher added. “I’m obviously looking forward to that. Hopefully the three of us can contribute and just do what we’ve been doing as a team here lately and that’s every line been clicking and you have that accountability within the lineup. It’s going to be on us to play well tonight.”

This Game Day notebook will be updated after Wednesday night’s game.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The lines

Here’s how the Canadiens’ forward lines and defence pairings are expected to look against the Canucks:

Drouin – Suzuki – Anderson
Toffoli – Kotkaniemi – Gallagher
Tatar – Danault – Armia
Byron – Evans – Perry

Chiarot – Weber
Edmundson – Petry
Kulak – Romanov

Forward Artturi Lehkonen will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game and the fifth time this season. Defenceman Victor Mete, who has only played five games this season, will be a healthy scratch for the 20th time this season.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Breaking up

Ducharme said he liked the way the Tatar-Danault-Gallagher line played the last few games and noted he can go back to that trio if he needs to.

“I think it’s a matter of making our young centres grow,” the coach said about his line changes. “Combinations and looking at what Armia can bring that is different than Gally. He’s a different player, obviously. When Army’s on his game he’s really strong down low, he protects the puck well. So I think it can be also a very good combination.

“We might see some movement on the right side within games, from one game to another,” Ducharme added. “You guys should expect maybe a little bit of movement on the right side … more than on the left side.”

The reason Ducharme has more options on the right side is because Toffoli is a right-hand shot who can play on either wing.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“We have a right-shot playing left wing right now, Toffolli,” Ducharme said. “I feel that right side with Gally, Anderson and Armia — and you can add Toffoli — they’re not the same players. They’re really different, they bring something different in their game. They have success differently. So sometimes that’s a feel of what a centre can need more, how can they fit together and within a game how can this impact the situation.”

Gallagher said his regular line with Danault and Tatar hasn’t been as consistent this year as it was the two previous seasons.

“But there’s been nights where we’ve been playing fine and pucks don’t go in, little things like that,” he added. “It’s hard to say that we won’t be back together as well. But I think for the time being for me, just focusing on what you have now and try to make it work with KK and Toff.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Gallagher a sparkplug

When Michel Therrien was coaching the Canadiens he liked to juggle his lines regularly and Gallagher moved around the lineup a lot.

During the last two seasons with Claude Julien as head coach, Gallagher was almost always with Danault and Tatar.

“I know personally the way I was used with Michel, he kind of used me around the lineup to spark a guy here or there, help a guy out if he was struggling,” Gallagher said. “With Claude, I think what he found with me, Phil and Tuna, we were just able to be consistent and have success and there was really no reason to split us up. I think right now within our lineup you can try some different things. It’s just kind of the nature of the sport. As players you just got to be ready to do your job when you’re put on the ice regardless of who you’re with and make it work. I think I have a pretty good relationship with every single guy in that room that I’m comfortable playing with them. The battle level will be there for me.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“I’ve said this, regardless of who I’ve been playing with my game is pretty simple and can translate to whoever I’m playing with and I just try to help the guys I’m playing with and make their lives easier,” Gallagher added. “If I can do that, hopefully as a line we can have success.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

No changes on defence

Ducharme will stick with the same defence pairings for the seventh straight game since taking over as head coach from Julien.

The coach spoke last weekend about how he wants to let his defence pairs grow together, especially the third pairing of Brett Kulak with rookie Alexander Romanov.

“A guy like Romanov, I think he’s shown some good improvement,” Ducharme said on Saturday. “We got to help him out taking another step and growing. We want to put him in successful situations so that he keeps growing and builds his confidence also and so on. So there’s many things to take in consideration.”

After Wednesday’s morning skate, Ducharme spoke about what he has seen so far from his defence pairings, which include Jeff Petry with Joel Edmundson and Ben Chiarot with Shea Weber.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“Jeff is skating well and he likes to jump into the offence when it’s time,” the coach said. “Eddie is defending well, he’s hard to play against. Weby and Benn, when we saw them in the playoffs they are hard to play against. They give hard minutes to the forwards on the other side. Romanov and Kulak, those two are skating well. They can be able to jump on both sides. It’s a matter of letting Romy grow and taking it step-by-step. Right now, we feel that’s the way we need to play.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Standings getting tight

Heading into Wednesday night’s game, the Canadiens were in fourth place in the North Division standings, only three points ahead of the fifth-place Canucks with the top four teams making the playoffs. The Canadiens do hold five games in hand on Vancouver.

Gallagher said the Canadiens aren’t feeling pressure when they look at the standings.

“No pressure,” he said. “It’s going to get really fun. When you look at the start of the year and you see the way the season was set up with the North Division you knew how competitive it was going to be and no team is going to fall out of it. You can look at the standings, teams are going to be going on winning streaks, losing streaks. Throughout the year it’s going to bounce around. You just got to make sure you’re taking care of your own business.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“It’s going to get fun,” Gallagher added. “These points are going to be so hard to come by. It’s going to be competitive. I hope the fans are going to enjoy it because I know as players we’re definitely going to.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Perry earns his spot

After starting the season on the taxi squad, Corey Perry has earned a regular spot in the lineup and on the power play.

The 35-year-old has 3-5-8 totals in 17 games and is plus-5 while averaging 12:13 of ice time. The only player on the Canadiens averaging less ice time is Jake Evans with 11:40.

“The schedule is something that we consider, for sure, but we like what Corey brings,” Ducharme said when asked about his usage of Perry. “He’s one of the best around the net, whether it’s on the power play or we’ve seen him six-on-five the other night. He’s got experience, he’s a great presence in the locker room, on the bench. His decisions on the ice … the guy went through so many things. He’s won everywhere, so he’s got a lot to bring to our young guys and our group and, like I said, he’s one of the best net-front.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

  1. Alex Burrows says he was shocked when he got the call from Canadiens GM on Feb. 23 naming him the team's new assistant coach.

    Stu Cowan: New Canadiens assistant coach Alex Burrows a ‘hockey nerd’


  2. Canadiens Notebook: Alex Burrows getting results with Habs’ power play

What’s next?

The Canadiens will fly to Calgary after Wednesday night’s game and play the Flames Thursday night (9 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) and again on Saturday night at the Saddledome (7 p.m., SNE, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

Next week, the Canadiens will play the Jets in Winnipeg on Monday (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) and Wednesday (9 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM), before returning to Montreal for six straight games at the Bell Centre.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

In ever-evolving NBA, Raptors’ length and athleticism opens doors on defence – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


Under head coach Nick Nurse, the Toronto Raptors have always worked to stay abreast of league trends, or even push the envelope on what might be next.

As an assistant coach, Nurse received a considerable amount of credit for overseeing an effort to inject more spacing, ball movement and player movement into an offensive approach that had grown too reliant on DeMar DeRozan’s mid-range isolations. The result was a team-record 59-win season in 2017-18. Nurse also had his fingerprints on the “bench mob” – the high-tempo, aggressive defence-first group that was a big part of the Raptors’ regular-season success.

Since becoming head coach in 2019-19, Nurse’s defensive focus has been more apparent, with the Raptors embracing liberal switching on the perimeter as well as a growing reliance on zone defences – tactics that were less common across the league than they quickly became.

But basketball’s pace of change hasn’t stalled. You can only pay so much attention to games that don’t matter, but it’s hard not to notice that in pre-season play the Golden State Warriors are putting up an astounding 55 three-point shots a game. Four other teams – Sacramento, Denver, Utah and Oklahoma City are averaging 45 three-point attempts.

For context the only teams in league history to average 45 three-point shots a game were the 2018-19 and 2019-20 Houston Rockets, with James Harden at his gun-slinging peak. A decade ago NBA teams averaged 20 three-point attempts a game. Last season it was 34 and still climbing apparently.

“I don’t know if any of us sat here at some point and said the amount of threes are going to be double … or whatever the number is,” said Nurse. “… It does evolve pretty quickly though.”

Given the value of those shots, a team that wants to be effective defensively must have a plan to discourage them being taken, or at least make them more difficult.

One of the benefits of a roster rounded out with so many players in the six-foot-six to six-foot-nine range – the Raptors only have four players in training camp shorter – is the pressure they can put on perimeter shooters.

The Raptors got a taste of it last season, when six-foot-nine Chris Boucher led the NBA with .84 blocked three-pointers a game and was ranked fourth in the league in the percentage that opponents shot when he was the closest defender. Pascal Siakam ranked second in the league in the number of three-pointers contested after leading that category in 2019-20.

As a whole, the Raptors weren’t especially good at defending the three-point line – opponents shot 37.9 per cent from deep, which was above league average and ranked them 24th overall – but given the range of mitigating circumstances they faced last season it’s probably not something to dwell on. The Raptors led the NBA in that category in 2019-20 when the set a franchise record for winning percentage.

This is a different team with plenty of new faces, but maybe having a roster full of athletic, agile guys in the mould of Boucher and Siakam could pay dividends in a league where it looks like more teams are going to be hoisting threes than ever before.

Raptors rookie Dalano Banton has certainly had the importance of getting to three-point shooters impressed upon him in his weeks-old NBA career, and as a nimble six-foot-nine guard, he can play the part.

“Shot contesting is one of our pillars that we go off of on defence as well as pressuring the ball so guys don’t get easy shots so, running them off the line,” said Banton after practice Friday. “In this league guys make shots and they make it at a high clip so I feel like just doing the best you can to run out at every shot that gets put up by the other team is big for us and being in our defensive stance, just showing length and just discouraging them from making plays they’d make if we weren’t in our right spots.

“…Just being in the right spot is just the biggest part of the battle and showing your hands. Once you’re there, it puts your whole team in a better position to play defence.”

Selling out on three-point shooters takes trust. Actually blocking a shot is rare and smart teams and players will look to pump fake on careless closeouts and look for a side-step three, a chance to penetrate the paint for layups, generate kick-outs to open shooters or simply swing the ball to take advantage of a scrambling defence.

It’s not enough to run at a shooter, it has to be done properly.

“Just playing the game the way you practice — running guys off lines and the next guy helping and making the next play,” says Banton. “So, it’s just about the offence having to make the next play, not giving them that shot or that layup, having to make them make that extra pass. The guy behind you is gonna help, we’re all playing defence in one line together so we’re all trying to work in a tandem and move where we have to move and rotate to the right spots.”

It’s music to Nurse’s ears. The goal of his scheme, he says, it to challenge every shot, everywhere.

“It’s kind of icing on the cake when we get a block [on a three-pointer],” he said. “I think I’m really more concerned that we’re making a heavy contest. Obviously the block is the heaviest of all contests. We just want to make sure we make it contested. It goes to hustle and hard play: You’ve got to keep playing the whole possession. Sometimes you’ve got to fire out, fire out, fire out.

“Every now and then you get put in rotations and some teams are really good in making you do it. But you’ve got to do it. That’s just an effort and hustle thing that we want the heavy contest. Chris [Boucher] has certainly got a knack, incredible timing on that stuff. I’m not sure it’s teachable or transferable … What we teach and what we drill every day is heavy contesting.”

Changing times call for changing measures – and maybe a lot of long, athletic guys flying around at the three-point line like never before.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Blue Bombers beat Elks to clinch playoff spot – TSN

Published

 on


EDMONTON — Zach Collaros threw two touchdown passes as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Edmonton Elks 26-16 on Friday night to become the first CFL team to clinch a playoff berth.

Winnipeg (9-1) captured its seventh straight victory and improved to 7-0 within the West Division. Collaros finished 15-of-24 passing for 210 yards with an interception to remain the CFL’s passing leader (2,565 yards) but is also tops in TD passes with 15.

This marks the fifth straight season that Winnipeg, the defending Grey Cup champion, has made the playoffs.

Edmonton (2-7) suffered its fifth straight loss and dropped to 0-5 at home this season.

Edmonton’s defence forced a safety at 9:31 of the first quarter, then came up big five minutes later as Trumaine Washington intercepted Collaros in the end zone. The Bombers closed out the opening quarter with a 37-yard Ali Mourtada field goal.

The Elks responded with Sean Whyte’s 34-yard field goal at 11:22 of the second.

Winnipeg took the lead with three minutes left in the first half as a 47-yard completion to Kenny Lawler set up Collaros’s five-yard TD strike to Andrew Harris. But Harris appeared to suffer an injury to his right knee and did not return as Brady Oliveira finished up with 105 yards rushing on 16 carries.

Whyte kicked a 25-yard field cut Winnipeg’s half-time lead to 10-8.

Mourtada converted from 27 and a career-high 43 yards to start the third. Edmonton tied it 16-16 on Taylor Cornelius’s 11-yard TD toss to Shai Ross. Backup quarterback Dakota Prukop added the two-point convert.

Rookie Cornelius got the start as incumbent Trevor Harris was a healthy scratch.

Moments after Elks defender Aaron Grymes couldn’t hang on to an easy interception opportunity, Collaros hit Rasheed Bailey on a 48-yard completion before finding him on a five-yard scoring strike six minutes into the fourth.

Mourtada cemented the win with a 23-yard field goal with 50 seconds remaining.

Winnipeg hosts the B.C. Lions next Saturday while Edmonton has a bye week before returning home against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Oct. 29.

NOTES: Harris being sidelined while healthy has led to speculation the Elks are actively shopping their veteran quarterback on the trade front… Lawler returned to the lineup after being suspended by Winnipeg for its last game for an impaired driving arrest… The actual attendance appeared to be far beneath the announced 24,276 fans.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2021.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

With a timely home run, Carlos Correa delivers Game 1 of ALCS to Astros – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


HOUSTON — Carlos Correa paused a few seconds at the plate, tapping the spot on his wrist where a watch would be, after hitting a tie-breaking home run in the seventh inning that propelled the Houston Astros over the Boston Red Sox 5-4 Friday night in the AL Championship Series opener.

“It’s my time,” he screamed before trotting around the bases.

That it is.

And if his time with the Astros runs out at the end of this season, the star shortstop sure is making this an October to remember.

Correa teamed with Jose Altuve to do just enough to overcome the heroics of Kike Hernandez, who starred with his bat and glove for the wild-card Red Sox.

Altuve tied the game with a two-run shot in the sixth before Correa connected off losing pitcher Hansel Robles with two outs in the seventh to put the Astros ahead 4-3.

Correa, who has been with the Astros since being selected first overall in 2012, becomes a free agent at season’s end and it seems likely that he won’t remain in Houston.

Correa has a history of big hits for Houston that includes 18 postseason home runs, several of them in key, late situations.

“Playoff time, baby,” Correa said.

“We want to be in the spotlight,” he said. “We want to be in the moment.”

Hernandez, who won a World Series with the Dodgers last year, homered twice among his four hits and likely saved multiple runs with two terrific catches.

His second homer came off closer Ryan Pressly to start the ninth and cut the lead to 5-4. But Pressly retired the next three batters to get the save.

Game 2 is Saturday in Houston.

Ahead 4-3, the Astros loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth when Hirokazu Sawamura plunked Martin Maldonado. Houston added some insurance when Yuli Gurriel slid in just before the tag to score on a sacrifice fly by Altuve that made it 5-3, beating a terrific throw by Hernandez.

Hernandez has been red hot for the Red Sox this October, with 13 hits in his last four games to set an MLB record for most hits in a four-game span in one postseason. He passed Billy Hatcher (1999), Marquis Grissom (1995), Hideki Matsui (2004) and Randy Arozarena (2020), who all had 11.

“Enrique is en fuego,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.

Chas McCormick singled with one out in the sixth before Altuve became the fourth player in MLB history to hit at least 20 postseason homers with his shot to left-center off Tanner Houck that tied it at 3.

Hernandez opened a three-run third with his soaring homer to centre field to tie it at 1-all.

Xander Bogaerts walked with one out and Rafael Devers singled. J.D. Martinez hit a grounder to Altuve for what should have been a routine play. But the ball grazed his glove and rolled between his legs to allow Martinez to reach and Bogaerts to score to put Boston up 2-1.

Hunter Renfroe then hit an RBI double to left field to extend it to 3-1 before Houston’s two brightest stars came through late.

“Experience matters,” Correa said.

Altuve and Correa, connecting again for a team trying to reach the World Series for the second time in three years. The Astros also won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Both teams leaned heavily on their bullpens after both Boston starter Chris Sale and Houston’s Framber Valdez were chased in the third.

Ryne Stanek got the last out of the seventh for the win.

“We stay in the moment. You win, you turn the page, you prepare for tomorrow. You lose, you turn the page, you prepare for tomorrow,” Cora said.

“We lost the first three games of the season to Baltimore, and we felt like Game 4 against Tampa was the season, to be honest with you. We’ve been living like this for a while, so we’ll be ready for tomorrow,” he said.

Sale, who was tagged for five runs in one inning in his previous start against Tampa Bay in the AL Division Series, permitted five hits and a run in 2 2/3 innings Friday. Valdez gave up six hits and three runs — two earned — while also getting just eight outs.

The Astros led 1-0 after Altuve scored on a sacrifice fly by Yordan Alvarez in the first.

For the next few innings it looked like it wouldn’t be the Astros’ night.

Houston loaded the bases with one out in the second, but Altuve struck out before Sale escaped the jam with a huge assist from Hernandez in center field. Hernandez, whose MLB debut came when he subbed for Altuve late in a game in 2014, sprinted to rob Michael Brantley with a diving catch in shallow center to end the inning.

The Astros had runners at first and second with two outs in the fifth when Hernandez struck again. He made a back-handed grab in right-center on a ball hit by Kyle Tucker to leave them empty-handed once more.

Hernandez even seemed surprised he made the grab, contorting his face into a shocked look after the ball hit his glove.

UP NEXT

Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 2.61 ERA) will have a homecoming of sorts Saturday when he starts opposite rookie Luis Garcia (0-0, 16.88). Eovaldi grew up in the Houston suburb of Alvin, also home to Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, and visited the Astrodome and Minute Maid Park often growing up.

“It’s definitely one of my favorite ballparks to pitch in,” Eovaldi said.

Saturday will be his third start this postseason. He struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings and got the win in the wild-card victory over the Yankees. He also started Game 3 of the ALDS but did not factor in the decision in a 6-4 Red Sox win.

Garcia struggled in a Game 3 start in the division series, permitting five runs in just 2 2/3 innings of a 12-6 loss.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending