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Canadiens vs. Senators recap: Habs get back on track in convincing fashion – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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The Dominique Ducharme era hasn’t started the way many could have hoped for the Montreal Canadiens. Though the on-ice product did show improvement over their two games against the Winnipeg Jets, they left Manitoba with just one point out of a possible four. There were encouraging signs therein, but clearly still a lot of work to do in order to get where they want to be.

The team’s home record has been particularly problematic, so they took to Bell Centre ice for the first time against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday looking to reverse that trend and get their new coach his first win.

Another problematic aspect of these Habs has been their constant parade to the box. It didn’t take long for that problem to rear it’s ugly head, as Joel Armia would sit four minutes for a high stick. Ottawa had some quality chances early, but the Canadiens ultimately succeeded in killing the entire double-minor.

Outside of that, the first period was all Montreal. They were clearly the better team at five-on-five, and could have had at least a few on the board if not for some stellar goaltending from Joey Daccord. A scoreless frame, but an encouraging start for the Tricolore.

In the second period, Montreal would eventually get their own power play chance, and they would make the best of it. Very early in the minor penalty, Brendan Gallagher would find himself nearly alone out front, and scored despite being high-sticked in the process.

As a bonus for his efforts, Gallagher drew a double-minor against Erik Gudbranson, so the Habs were right back on the power play. The first half of that minor didn’t pay off, but in the second, Jeff Petry walked in from the right point and fired a perfect shot off the post and in to make it 2-0.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Habs game without their customary puck-over-the-glass penalty, which they took almost immediately after the Petry goal. Once more, they were able to execute a solid kill, and keep the score 2-0.

Also, a Habs versus Sens game must usually have a little ugliness. Austin Watson took a healthy run straight at the back of Jonathan Drouin in open ice, and the latter had to head off looking worse for wear. No call was made on the play, and though he left briefly, Drouin would end up finishing the game and looking healthy in the process.

Not long after the missed call, the Sens would reduce the deficit. After a weird play involving several incidental collisions, Artyom Zub found himself with more space than he could hope for, and walked in to beat Price and make it 2-1. And so we had ourselves a game heading into the third.

But the Canadiens kept convincing control of the game despite the late second-period goal. They controlled possession, limited Ottawa’s chances, and most importantly stayed out of the box. Though the penalty kill had been quite good on the night, they could scarcely afford to give the Senators an opportunity to get back in a g

Ottawa would eventually pull Daccord for the extra skater, but Tyler Toffoli was sent in alone on the empty net, and Montreal rewarded Dominique Ducharme with his first win in convincing fashion.

Thoughts

  • In my opinion, Austin Watson should be suspended for his hit on Jonathan Drouin. It was a hit squarely to the numbers of a stationary player. Charging, and hitting from behind all in one. Of course, the department of player safety will likely rule it a hockey play because that’s about all they ever do. Hopefully Drouin has no lingering effects, as he did look good finishing the game afterwards.
  • If the Habs could clone Artturi Lehkonen seven times, he would solve their penalty kill issues permanently. The hustle that he displays on the kill is impressive, and he had a major hand in disrupting anything the Senators tried to do when they had their chances. If the rest of the killers can take queues from him, they’ll keep being better on that front.
  • Jesperi Kotkaniemi was unbelievable. He clocked in with an assist, at 72.00% Corsi-for at even strength, and he was a perpetual thorn in the Senators sides. When he’s on top of his game he’s not only hard to separate from the puck, he’s voracious in his efforts to take it from the opposition. He was at the top of his game last night, and it’s a great game for him to build off moving forwards.
  • Speaking of players who will look to build from last night’s game… Carey Price has struggled of late, but he was relatively solid against Ottawa. I think he’d probably like a second crack at the Zub goal, though it wasn’t a glaringly bad one to let in. It was surprising to see him have some puck-handling issues, but overall a solid performance and hopefully a sign of things to come.
  • Overall, you have to be encouraged with this showing. They dominated at 5-on-5, and though they ran into an impressive goaltender, their power play was able to pick up the slack. More often than not, a performance like that will get you the even-strength goals as well, so no need to change much heading into Thursday against the Jets.

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Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season – Sportsnet.ca

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It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.

“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.

It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.

But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.

It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.

“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”

Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.

Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.

“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”

But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.

When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.

Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.

“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.

Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?

It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.

“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.

“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”

It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.

But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.

You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.

What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.

“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?

“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”

Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.

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Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics

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(Reuters) – Mike Scioscia, who won World Series both as a player and manager, was named manager of the U.S. men’s national baseball team on Tuesday, as they seek a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

After 19 seasons as manager of the Anaheim Angels, guiding them to their only World Series win in 2002, Scioscia will make his international coaching debut in June when the United States hosts the Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida.

For the tournament the U.S. will be grouped with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in Pool A while Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela will make up Pool B.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the country with the best overall record will earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic tournament.

Second and third-place finishers will advance to a final qualifier, joining Australia, China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

“Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler in a statement. “More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family.”

The Olympic tournament will take place from July 28-Aug. 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama.

Hosts Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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Masters 2021: Tiger Woods says he'll miss Champions Dinner, running up DJ's bill – Golf Channel

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Dustin Johnson will host his first Champions Dinner on Tuesday night in the Augusta National clubhouse, and he’ll be joined by several past Masters champions.

One former winner who won’t be there is five-time champ Tiger Woods, who is still home in South Florida recovering from a serious car accident in February near Los Angeles. Justin Thomas, who is still working toward his invite to the prestigious dinner, said Woods texted him Friday night and was “bummed” to not be at the Masters this year.

Woods then tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he’ll miss one of his favorite nights of the year.

“I’ll miss running up @DJohnsonPGA’s bill at the Champions Dinner tonight,” Woods said. “It’s still one of my favorite nights of the year.”

Johnson responded to Woods’ tweet, saying: “Will miss having you here. This week isn’t the same without you.”

The PGA Tour announced that the club would leave a seat open for Woods at the dinner, though the tweet has since been taken down.

Johnson will serve a menu including filet mignon, sea bass and peach cobbler.

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