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Canadiens Game Day: Habs will be the rested team against Oilers – Montreal Gazette

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Oilers are coming off 5-2 loss to Penguins Friday night and are 1-5-0 in their last six games, while Habs are on a roll.

EDMONTON — The Canadiens will be the rested team when they play the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night at Rogers Arena (7 p.m., SNE, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio).

While the Canadiens were relaxing in their downtown hotel Friday night, the Oilers were losing 5-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins across the street at Rogers Place. Saturday’s game is a 5 p.m. start local time, so it’s a quick turnaround for the Oilers.

After getting off to a great start this season, winning their first five games and going 7-1-1 in their first nine, the Oilers now have a 19-15-4 record and are 1-5-0 in their last six games. Oilers superstar Connor McDavid, who leads the NHL in scoring with 20-39-59 totals, was held off the scoresheet for the second straight game Friday night and has only two assists in the last four games. Teammate Leon Draisaitl, who ranks second in NHL scoring with 21-37-58 totals, was also held off the scoresheet by the Penguins and was minus-4. Draisaitl is minus-11 for the season and McDavid is minus-1.


Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber fires shot at Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Feb. 3, 2019.

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With McDavid and Draisaitl leading the way, the Oilers rank second in the NHL on the power play with a 29.8 per cent success rate, while the Canadiens rank 27th in penalty-killing at 75.2 per cent.

“With the skill they’ve got there you have to be disciplined and you got to stay out of the box,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said about the Oilers after his team skated Friday on the practice rink at Rogers Place. “There’s not only speed there, but there’s skill. They can beat you one-on-one, but their power play is obviously a big weapon for them and the offensive game is their biggest weapon and has been for a long time. As I mentioned to the guys earlier, I think tomorrow for us our defensive game is going to have to be at its best if we expect to win a hockey game here.”

Centre Phillip Danault will be given the job of checking McDavid.

“I got to move my feet, that’s for sure,” Danault said after practice Friday. “Just stay on top of him.”

This will be the first of two meetings between the Canadiens and Oilers this season. The Oilers will be at the Bell Centre on Jan. 9.

No lineup changes

Julien won’t make any changes to the lineup that beat the Flames 4-3 in overtime Thursday night in Calgary.

Victor Mete said after practice Friday there was a chance he could return to the lineup Saturday against the Oilers after missing the last nine games with an ankle injury. But that won’t happen.

“Well, it’s not tonight,” Julien said when he met with the media Saturday afternoon and was asked when Mete might return. “So that’s all I can say for now. But he is continuing to get better. The hope is that maybe in a couple of days from now he’ll be ready to go.”

That means Mete could be in the lineup Monday when the Canadiens wrap up their Western Canada road trip in Winnipeg.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi will miss his seventh straight game Saturday with a concussion and the centre remains day-to-day. Mete and Kotkaniemi both skated with non-contact jerseys at practice Friday, but Mete stayed on the ice afterward to do contact drills with a member of the team’s training staff.

Defenceman Christian Folin will be a healthy scratch for the 21st time this season and for the fifth straight game since getting called back up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket. Folin hasn’t played a game with the Canadiens since Oct. 15. Forward Lukas Vejdemo will be the other healthy scratch. He was called up before the start of this Western Canada road trip and has yet to play a game in the NHL.

Habs on a roll

The Canadiens have won the first two games of their Western Canada road trip and are 5-1-0 in their last six games. Since going through an eight-game winless streak from Nov. 16 to Dec. 1, the Canadiens have a 6-2-0 record.

Heading into Saturday’s games, the Canadiens (17-12-6) were in second place in the Atlantic Division and had a 9-4-3 record on the road.

“We just had a commitment level to the way we need to play and once we started to do that it took a little bit of time for us to get results,” Brendan Gallagher said after practice Friday when asked how the Canadiens worked their way out of their eight-game slump. “But we took some belief in, you hate to say it, the little moral victories even though we were losing games. You could see that we were going in the right direction and you have that belief that eventually the results are going to come. And once they did now they are and we kind of want to continue to feel this way because we know how quickly it can go the other way as well.”

What’s the feeling in the Canadiens’ locker room now?

“It’s one of those things where you win the game, you feel good, and then you don’t really have too much time to feel good about yourself,” Gallagher said. “You got to move on to the next one.”

Where the Canadiens rank

Heading into Saturday’s game, the Canadiens ranked 12th in the NHL in offence, scoring an average of 3.14 goals per game, and ranked 20th in defence, allowing an average of 3.14. They ranked 10th on the power play (21.2 per cent), 27th in penalty-killing (75.2 per cent) and 15th in faceoffs (50.1 per cent).

Tomas Tatar led the Canadiens in scoring with 13-17-30 totals, followed by Shea Weber (11-18-29), Gallagher (15-13-28), Phillip Danault (7-19-26) and Max Domi (7-16-23).

Price had a 15-10-3 record with a 2.84 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.

Where the Oilers rank

The Oilers ranked 20th in the NHL in offence, scoring an average of 2.87 goals per game, and ranked 16th in defence, allowing an average of 3.05. The ranked second on the power play (29.8 per cent), sixth in penalty-killing (84.3 per cent) and 27th in faceoffs (48.0 per cent).

McDavid led the Oilers and the NHL in scoring with 20-39-59 totals, followed by Draisaitl (21-37-58), Zack Kassian (13-12-25), James Neal (16-7-23) and Oscar Klefbom (3-19-22).

What’s next?

The Canadiens will fly to Winnipeg after Saturday’s game and enjoy a day off on Sunday with no practice before wrapping up their Western Canada road trip Monday against the Jets (8 p.m., TSN2, TSN3, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). The Canadiens will then enjoy a four-day Christmas break in the schedule before hitting the road again for games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, Dec. 28, the Florida Panthers on Sunday, Dec. 29, and the Carolina Hurricanes on New Year’s Eve.

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Winter’s Coming. Will Canada’s Pandemic Bicycle Boom Last? – The New York Times

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Since 1992, July for me has often meant spending three weeks driving thousands of kilometers to report on the cyclists competing in the Tour de France.

Credit…Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA, via Shutterstock

So even though I’m not there this year, it has still taken a bit of adjustment to deal with the tour being in September. Delayed and being held under special pandemic protocols, the race is nevertheless going on as coronavirus cases spike in France. Indeed, Nice was declared an infection red zone just as it was about to host the opening stages.

[Read: Masks in Place, the Tour de France Puts On a Brave Face]

Within the race, it looks as if the protocols have more or less worked. No team has had two positive tests, which would have forced it to withdraw. Although there has been a sprinkling of positives, including one from Christian Prudhomme, the race director.

[Read: A Relieved Tour de France Has the Finish in Sight]

While I’m not in France to experience the tour, another development in the world of cycling — a local one — has helped offset my disappointment. Canadians have gone crazy about cycling.

I don’t just write about cycling. As a low-performance athlete, I usually spend my summers putting in dismal results in time trials, races against the clock, and preparing for cyclocross, the end-of-season racing that mixes in some running and nearly every possible riding surface on its circuits, including deep mud and smooth tarmac. Lately, when I’ve been riding outdoors, I’ve been doing it with a lot more people.

Credit…Ian Austen/The New York Times

By late spring, it was becoming nearly impossible to buy a bike anywhere in the world. That was a reflection both of the unexpected surge in demand and a supply chain that was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Most bikes, aside from high-end, customized offerings, are churned out by a small number of companies based in Taiwan that have extensive operations in China. My colleague Raymond Zhong recently profiled the biggest of those companies, the aptly named Giant, and its chairwoman, Bonnie Tu.

[Read: Sorry, the World’s Biggest Bike Maker Can’t Help You Buy a Bike Right Now]

In Ottawa, Canada’s bicycle boom has exhibited itself in an unusual way. The morning and afternoon bicycle rush hour didn’t return. But when I’m out doing errands by bike, it’s now often a struggle to find a parking space outside stores. And on weekends, when I’m on rides measured in hours, it’s increasingly common to see people on very inexpensive bicycles, who are not wearing fancy cycling clothes, cycling well outside the city.

Many cities have responded. Cars have been temporarily barred from some lanes or entire roads in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and elsewhere. In addition to closing streets, Halifax has moved to slow motor traffic on some streets and limit vehicles to residents.

The question now is, will this enthusiasm for cycling survive winter and the post-pandemic period?

To get some sense of what’s to come and how cities might keep cycling fever going, I spoke with Beth Savan, a senior lecturer and adjunct professor in the geography and planning department of the University of Toronto. Dr. Savan was the main investigator in a study published last year by researchers at her university, along with others at McGill University and Simon Fraser University, about how to increase cycling in Canada.

Credit…Ian Austen/The New York Times

She said she was encouraged that people rushed out to buy new bikes rather than dust off old ones because it suggests that they may be more invested in sticking with cycling. She also noted that this is the first bicycle boom since the advent of the e-bike. (Gretchen Reynolds recently reported on studies looking at whether electrically assisted bikes are safe and if they actually provide good exercise.)

Dr. Savan has also noticed in recent months that the lines between recreational and transportation uses of bikes are blurring, another sign that the national interest in cycling might persist.

“People will now take a nice route to go on their errands to get some exercise or some pleasure along the way,” she said. “It’s kind of a new situation.”

Augmenting that effect has been the large number of people working from home who are now also largely shopping within their neighborhoods. Many of those people, she said, have discovered that bicycles are more effective than cars for those short trips.

For the winter, Dr. Savan said that Canadian cities should think about adopting the model of some places in Scandinavia, where sidewalks are cleared first, then bike paths and finally roads. Her group’s study, by the way, shows that winter cycling before the pandemic was strong in many places that bore the full brunt of the season.

Dr. Savan urged local government to view their current cycling accommodations as pilot projects to cycling rather than as temporary pandemic measures.

“To try and engineer lower a lower proportion of trips undertaken by car, that’s really where the challenge is,” she said. “As people start to feel more confident about going back to work in indoor spaces, they will be tempted to drive more.”


Credit…Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters

A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


We’re eager to have your thoughts about this newsletter and events in Canada in general. Please send them to nytcanada@nytimes.com.

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Novak Djokovic damages racket in fit of anger during Italian Open quarter-finals – CBC.ca

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Less than two weeks after getting defaulted from the U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic lost his cool again midway through a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over German qualifier Dominik Koepfer in the Italian Open quarter-finals Saturday.

When Djokovic was broken at love to even the second set at 3-3, he slammed his racket to the red clay in anger in Rome.

With the frame broken and the strings all mangled, Djokovic was forced to get a new racket and received a warning from the chair umpire.

“It’s not the first nor the last racket that I’ll break in my career,” Djokovic said. “I’ve done it before and I’ll probably do it again. I don’t want to do it but when it comes, it happens.

“That’s how, I guess, I release sometimes my anger and it’s definitely not the best message out there, especially for the young tennis players looking at me, and I don’t encourage that — definitely.”

WATCH | Djokovic loses his temper yet again:

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was angry after being broken at love during the 2nd set but would go on to defeat German qualifier Dominik Koepfer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the Italian Open quarter-finals. 0:34

The top-ranked Djokovic had said Monday that he learned “a big lesson” after he was thrown out of the U.S. Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball in a fit of anger. Djokovic also acknowledged then “that I have outbursts and this is kind of the personality and the player that I have always been.”

At the Foro Italico, Djokovic had already appeared frustrated during the game before he broke his racket, glaring toward the umpire following a couple of overrules and a point that was ordered to be replayed.

“That’s just me,” Djokovic said. “Of course I’m not perfect and I’m doing my best.”

WATCH | Novak Djokovic hits line judge with ball at U.S. Open:

Novak Djokovic’s U.S. Open was cut short after he hit a line judge with a discarded tennis ball during his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreño Busta. 4:17

Ruud 1st Norwegian to reach semis of Masters 1000 tourney

The 97th-ranked Koepfer, who screamed at himself in frustration throughout the match, was also warned for misbehaviour early in the third set.

Aiming for his fifth title in Rome, Djokovic’s semifinal opponent will be Casper Ruud, who eliminated local favourite Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in a match that lasted two hours 57 minutes.

Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach the semifinals of a Masters 1000 tournament. His father, Christian Ruud, got as far as the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters in 1997.

Shapovalov into semis

The other semifinal will feature No. 12 seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., against No. 8 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.

Shapovalov edged No. 15 seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, while Schwartzman upset clay court specialist and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5.

WATCH | Shapovalov’s 100th win sends him into semis:

21-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill earns his 100th career ATP tour-level win by beating  Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.  2:23

While fans have not been admitted to the tournament yet — Italy’s sports minister said Friday that 1,000 spectators will be allowed in for the semifinals and finals — workers, family members and other onlookers inside the picturesque Pietrangeli stadium provided some support for Berrettini, who is from Rome.

Nicola Pietrangeli, the 1957 and 1961 Rome champion and the man the stadium is named after, was also among those sitting on the white marble stands.

“There would have been a lot more adrenaline with fans,” Berrettini said.

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NBA Playoffs 2020: The Boston Celtics need Gordon Hayward now more than ever – NBA CA

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Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics could be up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals just as easily as they are down 2-0.

Blowing double-digit leads in each of the first two games of the series, the Miami Heat have out-hustled the Celtics for 48 (and some change) minutes in back-to-back games to give themselves a commanding lead.

With Boston on the brink of the infamous 3-0 deficit that no NBA team has ever come back from, Game 3 becomes a must-win if the Celtics are going to continue their push for their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.

There’s been a common thread in Games 1 and 2 (aside from the double-digit comebacks) that have placed Boston in this situation: Miami’s 2-3 zone defence. Our Scott Rafferty analyzed that issue in detail, and it’s been a glaring weakness for Boston’s offence all season.

But luckily for the Celtics, they still haven’t used all the cards up their sleeve. They still have a weapon stored away that could present itself at any moment now, as former All-Star forward Gordon Hayward‘s return is on the horizon.

https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/NBA_Global_CMS_image_storage/fa/57/brown-hayward-ftrjpg_1nnap1z3ortjr1dinz8y8cfwxl.jpg?t=1390428030&w=500

Hayward, who suffered an ankle injury in the Celtics’ first game of the postseason and has been out since, was upgraded to “doubtful” before Game 2. While that wasn’t much of an update, it showed he was getting closer to returning to the floor. The Athletic’s Jared Weiss confirmed that following Thursday’s loss, stating that Hayward is “progressing toward a return for Game 3,” adding that he felt good after Wednesday’s practice and will “get more on-court work Friday with the hope of playing Saturday.”

On Friday, he was officially listed by the team as “questionable” for Game 3.

It will surely take some time for Hayward to get back into the flow of things after missing one month of action, but he immediately helps Boston take steps toward breaking that impenetrable zone defence.

His 19.0 points per game in the bubble speaks for itself, giving the Celtics an extra scoring threat that the Heat will have to worry about. He can shoot from the perimeter (converting 38.3% of his 3s this season), he’s a solid slasher with the ball and cutter without the ball, and he’s a strong midrange shooter, pairing well with sharp playmaking skills that should help dissect that zone.

Most importantly, Hayward loves working in the soft spot of the 2-3 zone (right at the foul line), which should give Miami’s defence more trouble than its seen thus far.

https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/NBA_Global_CMS_image_storage/eb/42/shotchart-4png_kyt48ogz4yd0161k9got88xdi.png?t=-1561273676&w=500

In Games 1 and 2, the Celtics elected to go with Marcus Smart or Daniel Theis to try and pierce the heart of that zone. Smart’s passing makes him an OK option for that middle spot, but he’s better off on the perimeter, where he’s converting 42.1% of his 3s this series. The Heat will live with him or Theis taking that midrange pull-up, whereas it becomes a much more efficient source of offence for Boston with Hayward taking that shot.

According to NBA Stats, Hayward shot 49.3% on midrange jumpers and 43.4% on shots in the paint (non-restricted area) this season. Having him in the middle will prevent the zone’s two defenders up top from expanding so far out, shrinking that long and athletic defence even just a tad bit more.

The Heat will be forced to collapse on Hayward, where he can showcase his playmaking ability to find open shooters on the perimeter. That makes Miami much more reliant on perfect and quick rotations to challenge Boston’s 3-point shooters.

If the Heat’s defenders don’t collapse on him or the centre (typically Bam Adebayo) doesn’t take a step up, Hayward will gladly take looks like the one below over and over again.

Even though he misses that particular jumper, it’s a shot Miami is much less likely to live with compared to Smart or Theis pulling up from there. Even when Hayward attacks from the perimeter, he has no problem stopping short of that centre defender for little pull-up jumpers like this one against the Heat earlier this season:

The Celtics have been dependent on quick passes for (often contested) 3-pointers, which has also developed into bad decisions for live ball turnovers or long rebounds going the other way to spark Miami runs off of offensive droughts. Having someone that can hit shots like the ones above makes that zone defence much more vulnerable than it has been so far.

Hayward’s return wouldn’t just be a luxury for the Celtics, it’s essential for them to keep their season alive in trying to even the series.

The Celtics need Gordon Hayward now more than ever if their title pursuit is going to continue.

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