Connect with us

Sports

Canadiens Takeaways: Nick Suzuki stars in big win over Flames – Sportsnet.ca

Published

on


What a wild league this is.

The Montreal Canadiens collected three points over an eight-game span from the middle of November through the beginning of December, and with their win on Thursday night in Calgary they capped a 6-2-0 run and took control of second place in the Atlantic Division.

You just never know what you’re going to get in this NHL.

On this night, there was no way of predicting anything about the game between the hometown Flames, who wore white, and the visiting red-dressed Canadiens.

Stream NHL games on Sportsnet NOW

Stream over 500 NHL games blackout-free, including the Flames, Oilers, Leafs and Canucks. Plus Hockey Night in Canada, Rogers Hometown Hockey, Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey and more.

It started with Calgary, who came into the game ranked dead last in the NHL in first-period goals, opening up a 2-0 lead over the first 20 minutes.

Then Flames goaltender David Rittich, who appeared infallible through the first half of the game, let a Brendan Gallagher shot from an impossible angle squeak through him.

Joel Armia tied the game for Montreal on a goal that was challenged for offside and easily could have been considered offside. Earlier this season in Montreal, Boston’s Charlie Coyle kicked a pass up to his stick but crossed the line before the puck caught up to his blade, and the goal that came off this skill play was disallowed on review because it was deemed he wasn’t in full possession of the puck. And on Thursday, in Calgary, Montreal’s Artturi Lehkonen tipped a pass to himself and crossed the line before the puck caught up to him, but it was deemed on a review he was in possession.

It was Lehkonen who set Armia up for his 12th goal of the season and the Canadiens got a power play on the failed challenge from Flames head coach Geoff Ward. Go figure.

After that, who would have predicted the Flames, who were 4-0-1 when tied after two periods, would take a 3-2 lead and then squander it and eventually lose it 4-3 in overtime to the Canadiens, who came into the game with a 4-6 record at three-on-three?

Not I. But here we are…

Sign up for NHL newsletters

Get the best of our NHL coverage and exclusives delivered directly to your inbox!

NHL Newsletter

Julien continues to show trust in Suzuki

With two minutes left in the third period, Canadiens coach Claude Julien had Nick Cousins, Nick Suzuki and Jordan Weal on the ice for a neutral-zone faceoff and motioned for them to make a change as soon as the puck was dropped.

On came Montreal’s top line of Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault and Gallagher.

Why?

Because Julien wanted to put Suzuki on with Cousins and Nate Thompson in the final minute. Yes, the coach with a (long-time) ill-perceived bias towards older players wanted his 20-year-old centreman on the ice in that pivotal situation.

Here we have yet another example of what coaches need to do in order to win games in today’s NHL and Julien is complying. They have no choice but to trust their young players, and the rewards of doing so often outweigh the pitfalls.

It helps that Suzuki is a rookie Julien referred to as “low maintenance” just last week.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

“He’s a good rookie, a smart rookie, and there’s been a lot of those coming through the league,” Julien said. “He’s having a good year so far. He’s shown progression since the start of the season. There’s still some areas we’d like to see him improve on, and that will come with time. It’s not because of a lack of something, it’s experience and him finding his way through this league.”

Last Saturday, following 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, Julien said he felt Suzuki was one of several players he wanted to see more on the inside of the action as opposed to on the perimeter, and he added that the young star in the making shouldn’t get ahead of himself and start buying the hype around his game and thinking he’s already a star.

But after a strong performance for Suzuki in a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, the kid was arguably Montreal’s best skater in Calgary and Julien didn’t hold him back.

Suzuki had tied Thursday’s game at 3-3 at the end of the 12th minute of the third period, making a brilliant tip off a Cousins shot from the sideboards. It was his team-leading sixth puck on net and it resulted in his seventh goal of the season.

And Suzuki’s shift in the final minute of the third, and the one he got in overtime, put him up to 17:28 of ice time for the game, which is exactly as much as leading-goal scorer Gallagher played.

To say the London, Ont., native’s development is coming along well would be understating it. And Julien—and the other Montreal coaches, and Suzuki’s teammates—deserve as much credit for that.

QUICK HITS:

• Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was beat for three goals for the first time in six games, but had no chance on any of them. Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm scored tap-ins on cross-crease passes, and Oliver Kylington capped off a beautiful play from Johnny Gaudreau in the third period for his first goal of the season.

Meanwhile, without Price, the Canadiens would have had no chance at gaining one point in the standings, let alone two. He made remarkable saves throughout, finishing the game with 24.

In the second, Price made a brilliant stop on Tkachuk, who pulled the puck between his own legs and tried to beat the Montreal goaltender over his right shoulder. That kept the game at 2-0 Calgary and gave the Canadiens a chance to get back into it a couple of minutes later with Gallagher’s goal.

And in the third, Price’s point-blank toe-save on a T.J. Brodie one-timer was out of this world and it kept the score knotted at 3-3.

Senior Writer Ryan Dixon and NHL Editor Rory Boylen always give it 110%, but never rely on clichés when it comes to podcasting. Instead, they use a mix of facts, fun and a varied group of hockey voices to cover Canada’s most beloved game.

• One of the reasons 20-year-old Ryan Poehling was sent down to the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket after his first four games with the Canadiens this season was because there was no room at centre and he looked terribly out of place on the wing, where he had never played before at any other level of hockey.

Well, it’s a clear sign of Poehling’s greatest skill—his hockey sense—that he has played exceptionally well on the wing since return from Laval four games ago. He’s looked so good at the position that Julien was asked on Thursday morning if that’s where he belongs.

“I’m not going to write off the fact that he can’t play centre,” Julien said. “But it’s nice to see those guys being able to be versatile because you need that. If something happens at centre and I need somebody, I know he can play there. There’s a lot of other guys, too, on our team, whether it’s (Jordan) Weal and that, we have a lot of guys who can play that position. But it’s not a bad thing for him to be able to play there right now.

“Maybe a little less responsibilities down low, although he’s been good at it. It just gives him an opportunity to play more energetic (and) forecheck. Instead of coming from low in your end, he’s up a little higher so his forecheck is valuable. He’s a big body, which we can certainly use, and he’s physical on the forecheck and also a big body going to the front of the net. So that’s been a good asset for us.”

Poehling was a good asset against Calgary.

• The game-winner off Max Domi’s stick was his seventh goal of the season, his first in 12 games and just his third goal in his last 22. Meanwhile, it was his 23rd point in his 35th game, which isn’t quite as disappointing as some have made it out to be.

Granted, Domi’s on pace for only 54 points after registering a career-high 72 a season ago. But it’s fair to say the 25-year-old misses Jonathan Drouin (injured on Nov. 15 and expected to be out until at least mid-January) more than just about anyone else on the Canadiens.

UP NEXT:

The Canadiens travel to Edmonton, where they’ll take on the Oilers on Saturday. They’ll be rested, but the Oilers will play against the Pittsburgh Penguins at 9 p.m. ET on Friday before playing at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday against Montreal.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Kirk’s breakout game against Yankees comes at ideal time for Blue Jays – Sportsnet.ca

Published

on


TORONTO – Just last week, the Yankees swept the Blue Jays in a series so one-sided that manager Charlie Montoyo started fielding regular questions about a potential mercy rule in baseball. No team in baseball history has allowed as many home runs over a three-game span as the Blue Jays did in the Bronx, and the three losses that followed in Philadelphia were perhaps not shocking considering the team was, to borrow Travis Shaw’s words, still a little ‘shell shocked.’

Even on Monday afternoon, as the Blue Jays prepared for their final series of the season against the Yankees, Bo Bichette hesitated when asked about the rivalry between the two AL East teams.

“I don’t know if you could call it a rivalry,” Bichette said. “They beat us up pretty good. Hopefully, we can make it one soon, but I wouldn’t call it a rivalry when we lost three pretty bad games. But we’re going to come out here and try to show everybody that we can compete with them.”

Livestream Toronto Blue Jays games all season with Sportsnet NOW. Plus, watch marquee MLB matchups, the post-season and World Series.

For one night, at least, the Blue Jays did just that, beating the Yankees 11-5 in a game that included a few encouraging developments beyond the result itself. Most importantly, the win gives the Blue Jays a 28-26 record and lowers their magic number to three with six games to play. There are no guarantees, as last week’s skid shows, but the Blue Jays’ chances of reaching the playoffs remain in the 98 per cent range, according to FanGraphs.

Of course, not all wins are created equal, and in this case, how the Blue Jays won is also important. Alejandro Kirk, the 21-year-old catcher who had never played above Class A until this month, has now exceeded any realistic expectations the Blue Jays could have had when they made the surprise decision to promote him nine days ago. He became the youngest catcher in franchise history to homer and finished the night with four hits.

“It felt great,” Kirk said through interpreter Hector Lebron. “The satisfaction that I felt. When you make contact and sometimes you don’t even feel the ball hit the barrel. It was just unbelievable. I can’t describe it.”

Added Montoyo: “His approach at the plate has been amazing.”

If and when the Blue Jays reach the point that they’re building a playoff roster, Kirk must now be on it. And to be sure they make the most of his discerning eye, consistently hard contact and sneaky power, the Blue Jays might even want to roster a third catcher like Reese McGuire. In theory, that would enable Montoyo to use Kirk’s bat off the bench without worrying that he’ll be caught short-handed later in the game.

Meanwhile, Matt Shoemaker pitched well in his return from the injured list, going three innings against a Yankees lineup that offers little room for error. Despite missing a month with a lat strain, the right-hander was throwing harder than usual with a fastball that topped out at 95.9 m.p.h. over the course of 54 total pitches.

“I didn’t even know I hit that until some of the guys told me,” Shoemaker said. “My body’s in good shape, and maybe velocity ticks up as a result.”

Radar gun readings aside, Shoemaker felt strong during and after his start. Already, he’s looking forward to his next chance to pitch.

“It felt phenomenal,” he said. “When you’re out there on the mound, it’s where you belong. It’s so exciting. I’m so thankful to be back.”

This season, Dan picks an issue, trend, news item or story from around MLB, and digs in on it with a guest. And he does it five times a week for about 15 minutes a day. Enough time to inform and entertain, but also get fans back to all the sports going on.

His command eluded him at times, and two second-inning walks helped the Yankees score their first run of the game, but some rust is understandable after an extended absence. Holding New York to one run over three innings has to be considered a success for Shoemaker, who suddenly looks like an option to start a playoff game.

On paper, his next start would be Saturday and the one after that would be a week from Thursday when Game 3 of the wild card round would take place if necessary. At this point it’s still too early to make final calls on who pitches when, but if nothing else Shoemaker belongs in that conversation.

“If we can stretch him out enough, he’ll be in the conversation for sure,” Montoyo said. “You can count on that.”

In contrast to those positives, the Blue Jays’ bullpen looks weaker now than it has in weeks (and did even before Wilmer Font’s rough ninth-inning appearance). The club announced Monday that closer Ken Giles will undergo Tommy John surgery, officially removing him from the equation. Even beyond Giles, Rafael Dolis remains day to day with right knee discomfort and Julian Merryweather was placed on the injured list with right elbow tendinitis.

Considering Merryweather was starting to look like a valuable multi-inning reliever, his absence will hurt down the stretch and potentially into the playoffs. Perhaps Nate Pearson, who was up to 97-98 m.p.h. in a 25-pitch live batting practice session Monday, can fill that role but there are just six days remaining in the regular season and as Shoemaker’s start shows, there’s value in working through some things before the playoffs begin.

Either way, this isn’t the first time the Blue Jays have had to adapt on the fly. Many times, their momentum slowed before the Yankees stopped it completely last week. And yet here the Blue Jays are, firmly in playoff position with less than a week remaining in the season.

“Internally, we’re not surprised at all. We’re where we expected to be. Maybe even a little bit under,” Bichette said. “We’re excited to get going this last week and hopefully clinch.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Two-time Stanley Cup winner Bob Nevin dies at 82 – ESPN

Published

on


Bob Nevin, a fan favorite who won two Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs before a successful run as captain of the New York Rangers, has died. He was 82.

The NHL said he died early Monday but did not give a cause.

Nevin played 1,128 NHL games with Toronto, New York, Minnesota and Los Angeles, totaling 726 points (307 goals, 419 assists) while compiling just 211 penalty minutes.

“His honest, two-way play and leadership earned him the respect and admiration of teammates and fans alike,” the Rangers said on Twitter.

Nevin, one of the first NHL players to wear contact lenses, was part of one of hockey’s more surreal moments. During a 1962 game with Toronto in Chicago, he lost a lens. Time was called, and players and officials dropped to their knees to scour the ice, looking for the wayward lens. It never turned up.

He played his first full NHL season in 1960-61, scoring 21 goals as a rookie and finishing runner-up to Maple Leafs teammate Dave Keon in the Calder Trophy voting.

Nevin helped the Maple Leafs win Stanley Cup titles in 1962 and 1963 before being dealt to the Rangers along with Arnie Brown, Bill Collins, Dick Duff and Rod Seiling in a blockbuster trade that sent star winger Andy Bathgate and forward Don McKenney to Toronto.

While Bathgate helped the Maple Leafs win another championship in 1964, Nevin became an important part of the Rangers, serving as captain of the team from 1965 to 1971.

He helped the underachieving club end a four-year playoff drought in 1967. He led the Rangers to their first series win in 21 years in 1971, when New York beat the Leafs 4-2 in the quarterfinals.

Nevin was dealt to the North Stars before the 1971-72 season and spent two seasons in Minnesota before joining Los Angeles. His career was rejuvenated in his three seasons with the Kings. He had his highest-scoring campaign in his next-to-last NHL season — 31 goals and 41 assists with Los Angeles in 1974-75.

Nevin joined the World Hockey Association’s Edmonton Oilers for the 1976-77 season but broke a collarbone 13 games into the season and retired.

Nevin was from South Porcupine, Ontario, and came to the Maple Leafs via junior hockey’s Toronto Marlboros. He lived in the Toronto area after his 19-year career.

“Bob was ever-present at Leafs games and within the alumni community,” the Maple Leafs said on Twitter.

Survivors include his wife, Linda.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Former Leaf, Rangers captain Nevin dead at 82 – TSN

Published

on


TORONTO — Bob Nevin, a fan favourite who won two Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs before a successful run as captain of the New York Rangers, has died. He was 82.

Nevin died early Monday, according to the NHL. No cause of death was given.

Nevin played 1,128 NHL games with Toronto, New York, Minnesota and Los Angeles, putting up 726 points (307 goals, 419 assists) while compiling just 211 penalty minutes.

The Maple Leafs, Rangers, Kings were among the organizations offering condolences on social media.

“The Rangers are saddened to learn of the passing of Bob Nevin,” the team posted on Twitter. “A captain and fan favourite during his tenure with NYR, his honest, two-way play and leadership earned him the respect and admiration of teammates and fans alike. Our thoughts are with Bob’s wife, Linda, and his family.”

Nevin, from South Porcupine, Ont., came to the Maple Leafs via junior hockey’s Toronto Marlboros, where he played four seasons and helped the team to a Memorial Cup title in 1956.

He played his first full NHL season in 1960-61, scoring 21 goals as a rookie and finishing runner-up to Maple Leafs teammate Dave Keon in the Calder Trophy voting.

Nevin helped the Leafs win Stanley Cup titles in 1962 and 1963 before being dealt to the Rangers along with Arnie Brown, Bill Collins, Dick Duff and Rod Seiling in a blockbuster trade that sent star winger Andy Bathgate and forward Don McKenney to Toronto.

While Bathgate helped the Maple Leafs win another championship in 1964, Nevin became an important part of the Rangers, serving as captain of the team from 1965 to 1971.

He helped the underachieving club end a four-year playoff drought in 1967, and led the Rangers to their first series win in 21 years in 1971, when New York beat the Leafs 4-2 in the quarterfinals.

The 2009 book “100 Ranger Greats” listed Nevin at No. 51.

Nevin was dealt to the North Stars before the 1971-72 season and spent two seasons in Minnesota before joining Los Angeles.

His career was rejuvenated in his three seasons with the Kings. He had his highest-scoring campaign in his penultimate NHL season, putting up 31 goals and 41 assists with Los Angeles in 1974-75.

Nevin joined the World Hockey Association’s Edmonton Oilers for the 1976-77 season, but suffered a broken collarbone 13 game into the campaign and retired.

Nevin, who the Maple Leafs had at No. 64 on their list of 100 all-time players released for their 2016 centennial season, lived in the Toronto area after his 19-year playing career.

“Bob was ever-present at Leafs games and within the Alumni community,” the Maple Leafs said in a Twitter post. “Our deepest sympathies go out to Bob’s wife Linda.”

Nevin, one of the first NHL players to wear contact lenses, was part of one of hockey’s more surreal moments when he lost a lens during Toronto’s 1962 game against the Blackhawks in Chicago. Time was called, and players and officials dropped to their knees to scour the ice looking for the wayward lens. It never turned up.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending