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Canadiens’ off-season spending spree brings much-needed depth and balance – Sportsnet.ca

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MONTREAL — There it is, shining in all of its glory on the Montreal Canadiens’ balance sheet: a big fat zero.

Zero, as in zero cap space. Not a number closer to 10, which is the amount the Canadiens carried into three consecutive failed seasons, but zero.

That would be a problem for most other teams—especially now, with the global pandemic snuffing out NHL revenues for the foreseeable future—but not for this one. For this one, it’s the result of a monumental transformation since the middle of March.

It’s also a sign that Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is betting on this group with everything he’s got.

With backup Jake Allen and his $4.35-million salary on the books, the Canadiens’ have secured the most expensive goaltending tandem in the league. Damned if it isn’t the best one.

Joel Edmundson and Alexander Romanov have bolstered their defence for close to $5 million. And there’s nearly $10 million going to newly-signed top-six forwards Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli.

Here’s the kicker: there isn’t much maneuvering for Bergevin to do from here to the start of next season, whenever that will be. He’s got a full NHL roster signed, a full AHL roster signed, and both groups are much-improved on paper. And he can make some minor tweaks to free up the $1.5-$2 million he said he’d like to have as a cushion for trade deadline additions, which should be easier to make with 14 total in the next draft—six in the first three rounds—and with one of the deepest prospect pools in the league to dish from.

So you could say the Canadiens are about as well-positioned today as they had a chance of being before this off-season got underway.

Zero has never looked better in this context.

“They look like a legitimate playoff team to me,” texted one Western Conference executive just moments after the Canadiens announced Toffoli’s four-year, $17-million contract on Monday.

He liked the deal, and we think it has promise too. Especially at $4.25 million per season.

We’re talking about a 28-year-old pure shooter. A reliable right-hander who can help the five-on-five numbers as much as he can the power play.

Toffoli’s a four-time 20 goal-scorer who topped out at 31 in 2016. He’s scored 145 goals at this level, with just over 22 per cent of them coming on the power play. And with a 155 assists, it’s fair to say he’s an underrated playmaker.

“He’s very, very good at finding open space,” texted former Canadien Nate Thompson, who played with Toffoli with the Los Angeles Kings from 2017-19.

“He’s also a lot more gritty than people think,” Thompson added.

We got a glimpse of Toffoli’s edge with the Vancouver Canucks this past summer, when he played a hand in their impressive run to within one win of the Western Conference final. He was a threat nearly every time he hit the ice.

And if you’re wondering what Toffoli brings off of it, Thompson saying, “He’s a great teammate and the guys will love him,” seems reassuring.

Max Domi, who was traded from the Canadiens to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Anderson last week, said something similar about his former teammate with the OHL’s London Knights.

“I’m so excited for Montreal to have a guy like him,” Domi said about the six-foot-three, 222-pound Anderson. “It’s definitely something that they haven’t had for a long time, and Josh is a guy that there’s very few guys that can do what he does. He can go out and be a force in all aspects of the game. He’s obviously a power forward on the wing. He can skate very well for his size, a big body. He’s the kind of player that will come up big for you in games where you need some physical presence, and also a guy that can put the puck in the back of the net.”

Anderson had an injury-plagued 2019-20 season and scored just one goal and four points in 26 games. But one he’s only one year removed from scoring 27 goals, and he says he feels healthy and primed to deliver.

At 26, Anderson still has the upside to score 30, and the Canadiens hope he’s able to at least be close to the number on multiple occasions over the duration of his new seven-year contract with the team.

When you look at what he and Toffoli could bring, it’s easy to recognize how the dynamic up front changes. It’s fair to say neither of them are bona fide top-liners, but their additions help give the Canadiens three second lines and push some players from what was a decent third down to the fourth.

Edmundson and Romanov joining the defence core will have a similar effect.

Edmundson is a no. 5 defenceman who’s capable of playing up the lineup, and Romanov’s a future no. 2 who’s being afforded time to develop on the third pair thanks to the depth the Canadiens now have at the position. The former is a six-foot-four veteran with 337 games of NHL experience under his belt, and the latter is five-foot-11 rookie who plays big.

They round out a group that has Shea Weber, Jeff Petry and Ben Chiarot at the top end—three oversized players who play with bite.

“That whole defensive group is not going to be fun to play against,” texted the Western Conference executive.

And then you’ve got Carey Price and Allen behind them.

It’s a full squad. A deeper, stronger and better squad, with every penny invested. Bergevin should have zero regrets about that.

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Prediction: New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills NFL Picks 10/25/20 Odds – Sports Chat Place

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Buffalo Bills (4-2) at New York Jets (0-6)

NFL Football: Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 1:00 pm (MetLife Stadium)

The Line: New York Jets +10 — Over/Under: 48
Click Here for the Latest Odds

TV: CBS Stream live sports and exclusive originals on ESPN+. Sign up now!

The Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets meet in a week 7 AFC East division matchup in NFL action from MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Buffalo Bills will try to rebound from back-to-back losses after a 26-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night football. In the loss to Kansas City, Josh Allen threw for 122 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception on 14 of 27 passing, by far his least productive passing game of the year as it was Allen’s first game without at least 24 pass completions. Allen also led the Bills with 42 rushing yards while Devin Singletary and Zack Moss combined for 42 rushing yards as well. Stefon Diggs led Buffalo’s receiving group with 6 grabs for 46 yards and a touchdown while Cole Beasley had 4 receptions for 45 yards and a score. On defense, Tremaine Edmunds led the Bills with 12 total tackles while Jordan Poyer had 10 total tackles with a team-high 9 solo tackles.

The New York Jets will look to pick up their first win of the season after falling to the Miami Dolphins by a final score of 24-0 last time out, stepping back to 0-6. Sam Darnold has thrown for 792 yards, 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions but is currently dealing with an injury, leaving Joe Flacco to throw for 397 yards, a touchdown and a pick on 51.9% passing. Frank Gore leads the Jets in rushing with 250 rushing yards while Jamison Crowder has a team-high 29 grabs on 48 targets for 383 yards and a pair of TDs. Braxton Berrios has 141 receiving yards with a. pair of TDs as well and Chris Hogan and Jeff Smith each have 100+ receiving yards for the Jets this season. Defensively, Neville Hewitt leads New York with 46 total tackles including 26 solo tackles while Avery Williamson has 27 solo tackles. Marcus Maye and Quinnen Williams each have a pair of sacks while Pierre Desir has 26 solo tackles with a team-high 3 interceptions and Brian Poole has a team-high 28 solo tackles with a pair of picks.

Wonder who the Top Experts Picked? Click Here To Find Out

Buffalo is 1-3-1 Against the Spread in their last 5 road games and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games as a favorite while the under is 4-0 in their last 4 games following a loss. New York is 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 division games while the under is 4-1 in their last 5 games against a team with a winning record. The road team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings between these two teams.

I get that the Bills are playing on a short week, but the New York Jets have been an absolute joke of a football team so far this season. I mean the majority of their losses have come by double-digits and the Jets aren’t just 0-6 SU, they’re 0-6 against the number as well this year. I just think things will get worse for the Jets before they get better, so I’ll lay the points with Buffalo on the road here by default.

See Who The Experts Picked To Win This One

Chris’s Pick
Buffalo -10

The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a Sports Chat Place site consensus.

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Bills' Knox tests positive for COVID-19 – TSN

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Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox has tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss Sunday’s road game against the New York Jets.

The team said Saturday he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list along with three players in close contact with Knox — Lee Smith, Tommy Sweeney (on the PUP list) and Nate Becker (on the practice squad). They, too, will miss the game.

This is the first positive coronavirus test for a Bills player since the season began. Each of Buffalo’s previous two games were moved from their initial dates because of the the outbreak in the Tennessee Titans organization.

The Bills will travel as scheduled Saturday afternoon and continue preparations for the Jets.

Buffalo has two remaining tight ends on its roster — Tyler Kroft and Reggie Gilliam.

Four players were promoted from the practice squad to the active roster — wide receiver Duke Williams, offensive lineman Jordan Devey, linebacker Andre Smith and cornerback Dane Jackson.

The team said backup linebacker Tyrel Dodson (hamstring) was placed on injured reserve.

The Bills were previously affected by a string of false positive tests in late August. They sent their rookies home in late July to work remotely after five players tested positive.

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Kershaw shines against Rays to put Dodgers back on course toward World Series glory – CBC.ca

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Clayton Kershaw’s glittering career lacked two of the most satisfying accomplishments: a win deep in the World Series and a championship ring.

He took the mound Sunday night with the Los Angeles Dodgers shaken, and Kershaw steadied his team with a gritty performance, plus one particular delivery home that will long be remembered.

Now with one more victory, the Dodgers would claim their first title since 1988.

Kershaw beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the second time in six days, escaping a fourth-inning jam with a quick reaction throw to cut down Manuel Margot trying for a rare steal of home, and the Dodgers held on for a 4-2 win and a 3-2 Series lead.

“Well, it’s happened to me before, at least one other time that I can remember,” Kershaw said. “Carlos Gomez tried it against me in Houston one time. You know, I work on that with the first basemen.”

Max Muncy, looking on from first, was ready.

“I was fortunate enough to see one or two guys break hard, so I knew what to expect when he broke,” Muncy said. “I sprinted toward Kersh and said, `Home! Home! Home!'”

Mookie Betts and Corey Seager sparked a two-run first inning, and Joc Pederson and Muncy homered off long-ball prone Tyler Glasnow, whose 100 mph heat got burned.

Joc Pederson of the Dodgers celebrates a solo home run in the second inning. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

His scraggly dark brown hair dangling with sweat, Kershaw was cruising when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts removed the 32-year-old left-hander in favour of Dustin May after getting two outs on two pitches in the sixth inning.

The mostly pro-Dodgers fans in the pandemic-reduced crowd of 11,437 booed when Roberts walked to the mound, well aware of what happened with the bullpen the previous night, when closer Kenley Jansen wasted a ninth-inning lead in a stunning 8-7 loss.

Those boos quickly turned to cheers as the LA rooters saluted Kershaw, a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, as he walked to the dugout. Kershaw improved to 13-12 in post-season play, including 4-1 this year.

May, Victor Gonzalez and Blake Treinen combined for two-hit scoreless relief. May got five outs, Gonzalez stranded a pair of runners in the eighth by retiring Randy Arozarena and Brandon Lowe on flyouts, and Treinen got three outs to become the fourth Dodgers pitcher with a post-season save.

“Kersh, a lot of credit goes to him for what we’ve been able to do in this World Series,” Treinen said. “There’s a tough narrative on him. He’s a phenomenal pitcher on the biggest stage.”

Los Angeles starter Clayton Kershaw pitched five and-two-third innings on Sunday, setting a new mark for post-season strikeouts with his 206th and then 207th K to become the all-time leader. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Margot singled leading off the ninth, but Austin Meadows struck out, Joey Wendle flied out and Willy Adames struck out.

Thirty of the previous 46 teams to win Game 5 for a 3-2 lead have won the title, but just six of the last 14. Teams that wasted 3-2 leads include last year’s Houston Astros.

Los Angeles did not have an obvious candidate to start Game 6 on Tuesday, when Game 2 winner Blake Snell starts for Tampa Bay,

Walker Buehler, the 26-year-old right-hander who has supplanted Kershaw as the Dodgers’ ace, is waiting in the wings for a a Game 7, like a Hollywood understudy ready for a leading role.

With a 175-76 regular-season record, five ERA titles and an MVP, Kershaw ranks alongside Dodgers greats Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser. He won World Series openers in 2017 and again this year, but he faltered in Game 5 in both 2017 and 2018 and has never won a title.

Tampa’s Randy Arozarena hits an RBI-single during the third inning. (Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press )

A Dallas native pitching near his offseason home, Kershaw shut down the Rays on two runs and five hits with six strikeouts and two walks. He is 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in 15 2/3 innings over two starts in this Series with 14 strikeouts and three walks. Kershaw also set a career post-season record with 207 strikeouts, two more than Justin Verlander’s previous mark.

Provided a 3-0 lead, Kershaw allowed Tampa Bay to pull within a run in the third when Kevin Kiermaier singled, Yandy Diaz tripled on a ball down the right-field line that skipped past Betts and Arozarena’s single. The 25-year-old Cuban rookie asked for the ball after his record 27th post-season hit, one more than San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval in 2014.

“I didn’t have my stuff like I did in Game 1,” Kershaw said. “My slider wasn’t there as good as it was, so fortunate to get through there.”

Kershaw escaped a first-and-third, no-outs jam in the fourth after Margot walked leading off, stole second and continued to third when the ball got away from second baseman Chris Taylor for his second big error in two games. Hunter Renfroe also walked, but Wendle popped out and Adames struck out.

Manuel Margot of the Rays is tagged attempting to steal home by Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes during the fourth inning. (Tony Gutierrez/Associates Press )

With Kiermaier at the plate, Margot bolted for home as Kershaw raised both hands over his head in his instantly recognizable stretch position. While many pitchers might have panicked and perhaps balked, Kershaw coolly and quickly stepped off the rubber and calmly threw to catcher Austin Barnes.

Barnes grabbed the ball and got his mitt down on the Margot’s outstretched hand while the runner’s helmet tumbled off and cut his own lip.

Margot went on his own, manager Kevin Cash said, and became the first runner caught stealing home in the Series since Minnesota’s Shane Mack in Game 4 in 2001.

Globe Life Field’s roof was closed on the cool, rainy night, as it was for Game 3, and the visiting Dodgers broke on top within 10 pitches against Glasnow, a lanky 6-foot-8 right-hander who appeared to be overthrowing.

Glasnow allowed four runs and six hits in five innings, leaving him 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in the Series. The two home runs raised his total to a record nine in a single post-season.

Betts doubled on a 99 mph fastball leading off and scored two pitches later when Seager pulled a curveball into right field for a single and his 19th post-season RBI. This Series joined 1932 as the only years with runs in four straight top of the first innings.

Randy Arozarena, left, of the Rays gets tagged at second by Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Seager advanced on a wild pitch, Muncy drew his 20th walk of the post-season and after a two-out wild pitch, Cody Bellinger hit a grounder that was stopped with no play by Lowe, the second baseman positioned on the right field grass. Seager scored the Dodgers’ 58th run with two outs this post-season and became the first player to cross the plate in each of the first five Series games since the Yankees’ Derek Jeter in 2000.

Glasnow tied a Series record with two wild pitches in the 34-pitch inning and set the mark with three in the game.

Pederson hit a 428-foot opposite-field drive to left on a fastball at the letters for a 3-0 lead in the second.

Glasnow retired eight straight before Muncy homered in the fifth to make it 4-2. He became the record ninth Dodgers player to homer in the post-season, one more than the 1989 Oakland Athletics of Bash Brothers fame.

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