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Canadiens, Golden Knights on divergent paths despite similar adversity – Sportsnet.ca

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MONTREAL — It was a win that pushed the Vegas Golden Knights to 6-5 on their season.

They’ve been without leading scorers Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone for nine of their 11 games. Their best two-way centre, William Karlsson, broke his foot three games ago. One of their most versatile players, Alex Tuch, was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday for a superstar, in Jack Eichel, who won’t be available for at least three more months, and regular defenceman Zach Whitecloud missed his seventh game of the season on Saturday.

But the Golden Knights have still found a way to be on the right side of .500 so far.

On Saturday, they looked like they brought the Vegas Flu with them to Montreal. After touching down in the city early on Friday and cancelling practice at the Bell Centre, they stepped back onto the ice in this building for this game and started with one shot to the Canadiens’ 20 and zero goals to their two before first intermission rolled around.

The Golden Knights began the second period by taking a penalty. They gave up many quality chances and relied on Robin Lehner to turn miracles in their net, and then they got a power play and immediately scored to get on the board.

Jonathan Marchessault made it 2-2 five minutes later, and Dylan Coghlan scored his first of the season to make it 3-2 Golden Knights with eight minutes to go in the frame.

They added two empty-net goals late in the third to win 5-2. They were out-shot 38-18 in the game and, as Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme accurately noted, out-chanced 23-7.

The Golden Knights found a way to win because that’s what good teams do.

“I think when you have a two-goal lead like that, good teams find a way to lock it down,” said former Golden Knight draft pick Nick Suzuki, who is now Montreal’s top centreman.

What does it say of the Canadiens that they found a way to lose?

They’ve been without top goaltender Carey Price since the season started. They’ve been without captain Shea Weber, who’s too injured to continue his career. Joel Edmundson, another pillar on defence, suffered an injury right at the onset of training camp and won’t be available for another couple of weeks. Speedy winger Paul Byron is out until late December or early January, top two-way centre Phillip Danault and key leader Corey Perry play for other teams now, and everyone understood they were going to be in tough to make it work without all of them.

But the expectations were that they still had enough good pieces in place to remain somewhat competitive until Price, Edmundson and Byron could return.

The Canadiens haven’t found a way to win more than three of 13 games, though. They haven’t even found a way to get to overtime or the shootout in any of their 10 losses.

And somehow, Saturday’s game must have felt worse than any of them. It was completely demoralizing.

Under different circumstances, it was a game that could’ve inspired a lot of confidence in the process.

We asked backup-turned-starting goaltender Jake Allen how differently the Canadiens might have viewed this loss had it occurred with the team hovering around .500.

“One hundred per cent it changes everything,” he said. “(But) to be 3-10, it’s a little bit different. If we were right there on the .500 mark, or right around that where we’ve won some good games, played some good hockey… But it’s tougher to take right now when you look at all the teams ahead of you and you’re 3-10.”

When contemplating how his team might take the positives out of its performance and feel good about things going into the next one, Allen said, “It takes balls to do that, to be honest right now.”

He wasn’t wrong.

Neither was Ducharme when he said, “nine times out of 10, the win would be on our side.”

But whether or not the Canadiens can build on the way they played to finally generate the result they so desperately need is completely up in the air and frustration lingers.

Suzuki, who started out with zero points over his first four games but has turned it around with 12 in his last nine — including a goal and an assist against Vegas — was feeling it.

“We’ve got to find a way,” he said.

Those were the same words uttered by Brendan Gallagher, who had Montreal’s best chance to tie the game 3-3 in the dying seconds of the second period and is stuck on just two goals and three assists in his 12 games.

He also said, “We understand it’s early (in the season), but we also understand the hole we’re in.”

The Canadiens just haven’t found a way to tackle adversity the way the Golden Knights have.

Vegas came into the game with zero goals on 19 power plays and managed to break the ice with two against a Canadiens penalty kill that went from not allowing a goal in 13 consecutive playoff games at one point last summer to allowing 16 goals on the opposition’s first 47 attempts this season. They’ve managed to score 2.73 goals per game despite the gaping holes they’re dealing with up front, while the Canadiens have averaged just two goals per game. And they started off losing four of their first five before winning five of their next six.

The Canadiens didn’t, and their season is quickly turning into a lost cause.

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Blue Bombers, Tiger-Cats find roles reversed ahead of Grey Cup rematch from 2019 – CBC Sports

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Head coaches Orlondo Steinauer of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Mike O’Shea of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will again be on opposite sidelines at the Grey Cup game.

Hamilton will have home-field advantage Sunday when it faces Winnipeg at a sold-out Tim Hortons Field. The Blue Bombers come in as defending champion after downing the Ticats 33-12 in the 2019 Grey Cup.

This time around, the roles are certainly reversed.

In 2019, Steinauer guided Hamilton to a CFL-best 15-3 record, tying the league mark for most wins by a first-year head coach. Steinauer also got the better of O’Shea that year as the Ticats swept the two-game series with Winnipeg, which posted an 11-7 record before advancing to its first Grey Cup appearance under O’Shea.

This season, Winnipeg (CFL-best 11-3 record) was certainly the class of the league with two of its three losses coming after it had clinched first in the West Division. Hamilton (8-6) finished second in the East Division behind the Toronto Argonauts (9-5).

Steinauer and O’Shea definitely have a long history together.

WATCH | Winnipeg fans await highly anticipated 2019 Grey Cup rematch:

Winnipeg fans ecstatic as the Blue Bombers head to the Grey Cup

2 days ago

Duration 2:25

Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans are over the moon the CFL team are now heading to the Grey Cup for the second time in three years after defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West Division final Sunday. 2:25

They were teammates in Toronto (2001-08), O’Shea a hard-nosed middle linebacker and Steinauer a versatile performer in the secondary. They often spent time together evaluating game film as part of their preparations.

O’Shea and Steinauer won a Grey Cup as players with Toronto in ’04 before adding another as Argos assistant coaches in 2012.

O’Shea, 51, from North Bay, Ont., is in his seventh season as Winnipeg’s head coach. He’s a finalist for the CFL’s coach of the year honour for the first time.

Ryan Dinwiddie, who completed his rookie year as Toronto’s head coach, is the East nominee.

Steinauer, a 48-year-old native of Seattle, is in his second season as Hamilton’s head coach. He was the CFL’s top coach in 2019.

WATCH | Ticats to play 108th Grey Cup on home soil vs. Blue Bombers:

Grey Cup host Ticats earn berth in CFL championship

3 days ago

Duration 1:32

Papi White’s 92-yard punt return touchdown propelled Hamilton to a 27-19 win over Toronto in the East Final. 1:32

Hamilton and Winnipeg met just once this season. The Bombers began their title defence with a 19-6 home win over the Ticats to kick off the CFL’s resumption of play.

The league didn’t hold a 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, the two teams that began the ’21 campaign will now close it out.

Ticats look to avenge 2019 loss

Hamilton comes into the Grey Cup having won six of its last seven games. And the Ticats’ defence has been solid in the playoffs, anchoring wins over Montreal (23-12) and Toronto (27-19) in the East semifinal and final, respectively.

Hamilton registered six sacks and five turnovers versus the Alouettes while holding CFL rushing leader William Stanback to 29 yards on 12 carries. On Sunday, the Ticats didn’t allow a touchdown as Toronto’s scoring consisted of six field goals and a single.

Twice in the first quarter, Toronto drove inside the Hamilton five-yard line and each time had to settle for a field goal. Ticats quarterback Dane Evans also stripped Argos’ defender Shaq Richardson of the ball at the visitors’ 25-yard line that prevented the Double Blue from adding to a 12-0 advantage.

Evans was also instrumental in Hamilton’s win over Toronto. He relieved starter Jeremiah Masoli in the second quarter and finished 16-of-16 passing for 249 yards and a TD.

Evans also ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Ticats became the first team to secure a home Grey Cup berth since the ’13 Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Steinauer hasn’t said who’ll start Sunday against Winnipeg. Masoli was under centre for the season-opening loss to the Bombers.

Hamilton will attempt to earn its first Grey Cup crown at home since 1972. That year, standout Ticats defensive lineman Angelo Mosca capped his illustrious CFL career by hoisting the hallowed trophy with teammate Garney Henley before a partisan Ivor Wynne Stadium gathering.

The legendary Mosca, who was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1987, died Nov. 6 at age 84 following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s.

Two years ago, Winnipeg native Andrew Harris put an exclamation mark on the Bombers’ championship season. He was named Grey Cup MVP and top Canadian after rushing for 134 yards and a TD on 18 carries while adding five catches for 35 yards and a touchdown against Hamilton.

On Sunday, Harris ran for 136 yards and a TD as Winnipeg dispatched the Saskatchewan Roughriders 21-17 in the West Division final despite committing six turnovers. The game was Harris’s first since Oct. 15 due to a knee injury.

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Williams not on January's Australian Open entry list – TSN

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Not long after Serena Williams’ name was absent from the entry list for the Australian Open, she confirmed the obvious: the seven-time champion won’t play the 2022 edition of the season-opening major in January.

The 40-year-old Williams hasn’t played since retiring from her first-round match at Wimbledon with a right hamstring injury and her ranking has slipped to No. 41. She won the last of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles at the 2017 Australian Open, and was beaten in the semifinals this year by Naomi Osaka in straight sets.

The Australian Open’s website Wednesday said the seven-time women’s singles champion would not compete in Melbourne “following advice from her medical team.”

“While this is never an easy decision to make, I am not where I need to be physically to compete,” Williams told the website. “Melbourne is one of my favorite cities to visit and I look forward to playing at the AO every year. I will miss seeing the fans, but am excited to return and compete at my highest level.”

Novak Djokovic was on the men’s entry list at No. 1 in a further indication that he’ll be playing at Melbourne Park beginning Jan. 17 despite Australia’s strict regulations requiring all players, officials and fans to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Djokovic has declined to comment on his vaccination status in recent months, although he was included last week on the Serbian team for the ATP Cup which starts Jan. 1 in Sydney.

The nine-time Australian Open champion is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the men’s record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles. Nadal is also entered for the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 17, but Federer is skipping the tournament as he continues his recovery from surgery.

Daniil Medvedev, who ended Djokovic’s bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam with a victory in the U.S. Open final, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev are listed above No. 6 Nadal, who is not playing for Spain at the ATP Cup.

Ash Barty tops the women’s entry list and will continue her quest to end a long drought for Australian women at the tournament. No Australian woman has won the singles title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

On Monday, Canadian Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, said she will take a mental break from tennis and sit out the start of next season, including the Australian Open.

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Canada joins U.S., U.K., in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics – National Post

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Said China’s foreign ministry of the Australian diplomatic boycott: ‘Whether they come or not, nobody cares’

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OTTAWA – Canada will not be sending diplomats to the Beijing Olympics in early February, effectively joining a diplomatic boycott with the United States, United Kingdom and Australia denouncing China’s alleged human rights violations.

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“As many partners around the world, we are extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Wednesday, flanked by Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly and Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge, as well as MP and former Olympian Adam Van Koeverden.

As the boycott only involves diplomatic staff and government officials, Canadian athletes will still compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympic games beginning next February. The foreign minister argued that Canada’s decision sends a “strong signal” to China without unfairly affecting athletes working to compete in Beijing.

  1. A card calling the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

    John Robson: There is value in a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics

  2. A snowboarder stands in front of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics logo in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, China, on Nov. 20, 2021. Canada should join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the Games, writes Tasha Kheiriddin.

    Tasha Kheiriddin: A diplomatic boycott of Beijing is a no-brainer, except in Ottawa

  3. In this file photo taken on December 01, 2021, people walk past the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics logo at the Shougang Park in Beijing. - Canada will not send officials to the Beijing Olympics in February, Trudeau announced on December 8, 2021, joining the US and other allies' diplomatic boycott of the Games.

    Matt Gurney: Trudeau’s diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics the absolute least he could do

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Joly and St-Onge said their top priority for the country’s athletes competing in China was their safety, and that the RCMP would be working with the Canadian Olympic Committee to ensure they are properly protected during the games.

But neither minister was able to provide details of what that meant.

“There are already agents that have been hired to ensure the security of the athletes and we’re still in discussion with the RCMP with (Public Safety Minister) Marco Mendicino. Everything will be in place to make sure that the athletes are safe,” St-Onge said.

China is facing strong and increasing international criticism over what many countries, including Canada, have called the “genocide” of its Uyghur minority, as well as its recent strongarm tactics to increase its control over Hong King by cracking down on democracy and civil liberties via a security law enacted during the pandemic.

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China also recently released two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained for over three years due to what Canada described as “hostage diplomacy.”

Federal opposition parties criticized the Trudeau government for taking so much time to decide to boycott the Games and not acting sooner to push for them to either be postponed for one year or even relocated to another country.

According to former Canadian ambassador to China Guy St-Jacques, delaying the games for one year to allow an international investigation into human rights abuse allegations in China would have been the clearest and most effective message Canada could have sent.

But a widespread diplomatic boycott is the second-best option at this point and will still send a strong message to Chinese President Xi Jinping without requiring Canadian athletes to suffer the consequences of a full boycott, he said.

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“It will have an impact because this will result in a loss of face for President Xi Jinping. We know that he wanted to use the Olympics to showcase that China’s a modern country, a superpower that knows how to organize things,” said the former ambassador.

It will have an impact because this will result in a loss of face for President Xi Jinping

“He was hoping that having foreign leaders there would confirm that, in fact, China has become so powerful that nobody would dare to criticize it,” he continued, adding he expects many more if not all members of the European Union to join the boycott.

The U.S. was the first country to formally announce that they would send no diplomatic envoys or staff with their athletes to the upcoming winter games during a press conference on Monday, citing China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang” against the Uyghur people.

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“U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the [People’s Republic of China]’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing.

Two other Canadian allies, Australia and then the U.K., followed suit on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, each denouncing China’s repressive actions and human rights violations against its own people.

Joly said that she has used every opportunity possible to discuss the Olympics with Canada’s allies in the G7 and NATO, likely to exhort them to follow suit in the diplomatic boycott.

“There are still many countries studying the question but clearly, I want to make sure as I’m heading to the G7 … that I raise this issue and I want to make sure that more countries in the world send a strong signal,” Joly said.

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The decision is likely to aggravate Canada’s already strained relationship with Beijing, notably as the Trudeau government is also expected to announce a formal decision on whether Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei will be allowed to participate in Canada’s 5G network.

In an interview with National Post last week, China’s ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu warned that such boycotts are not in line with the values of the Olympic Games.

“It is for the people. It is for humanity. It is not for politicians,” Cong said. “It is against the spirit of the Olympic Games to politicize these issues.”

China has denied any wrongdoing in Xinjiang and said abuse allegations are fabricated.

Its foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing in Beijing that Australian politicians were engaged in “political posturing.”

“Whether they come or not, nobody cares,” he added.

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