EDMONTON – The Vegas Golden Knights are so deep and strong, with size, speed and firepower throughout their lineup, it’s easy to overlook how well they defend.
The Vancouver Canucks got a reminder on Saturday when they fell behind by a couple of goals early and rarely threatened before losing 3-0 to the Knights, who shut down the neutral zone while opening a 2-1 lead in their Stanley Cup Playoffs series.
It was the second time in three games that goalie Robin Lehner has shut out the Canucks, who had one of the National Hockey League’s top-10 offences during the regular season. Vancouver managed only 14 five-on-five shots Saturday and trying to chase down a two-goal deficit against Vegas felt a little like trying to chase down a freight train.
The Canucks’ best chances were all early, when the team’s three power plays in the first 11 minutes included a 78-second five-on-three.
There is so little margin for error for the Canucks in this series that getting out-goaltended and out-special-teamed creates a gulf between the teams. Vancouver’s marvellous and unexpected playoff run will be a game away from ending if the Canucks don’t execute and finish better on Sunday when the teams play for the second time in 25 hours.
Livestream the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, plus every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sportsnet NOW.
“I thought we were unlucky to be down 2-0,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “That happens in playoff hockey. I think our team, sometimes when we get down we tend to overpass the puck a little bit. I thought we had a few too many east-west plays in the offensive zone, especially in the second period. I really liked our first period. Skated well, drew some penalties. Give their goalie credit.
“I think we easily could have been up after the first period, but that’s all part of playoff hockey. Sometimes you have a good period but you don’t win it. Sometimes you’re going to play well and it doesn’t go in the net.”
At one stage in the opening 20 minutes, shots were 15-5 for the Canucks while the score was 2-0 for the Knights.
Between those early power plays, when the Canucks tested Lehner nine times but couldn’t get a puck past him, the Knights managed to build its two-goal lead as Alex Tuch and Zach Whitecloud scored on top-corner shots 83 seconds apart, starting at 4:05.
Tuch blew past flat-footed Canucks defenceman Jordie Benn to skate on to Nicolas Roy’s bounce pass, then deftly controlled the puck before burying a rolling forehand over goalie Jacob Markstrom’s left shoulder.
Two shifts later, struggling Vancouver defenceman Quinn Hughes had the puck bounce away from him along the boards for a defensive-zone turnover. Hughes recovered to prevent an initial scoring chance, but Whitecloud swooped in from the blue line to collect the loose puck and shoot far side as Markstrom was being screened by Chris Tanev, Hughes’ partner.
It looked more like bad luck than a bad play by Hughes, but the 20-year-old struggled again to find or create any room at even-strength against the physical Knights.
When the Canucks eliminated the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues last series, Hughes looked like the best defenceman in the NHL. He hasn’t been the best in any of the games against the Knights, who have stapled the five-foot-10 defenceman more in three games than the Blues managed to tag him in six.
The Knights aren’t letting Hughes skate the puck up ice and at times the rookie looks less confident than he did last week when trying to beat a defender one-on-one.
“He’s a young guy finding his way through another round of the playoffs,” Green said of his franchise player. “I think he’s fine; I’m not worried about him at all. That (Vegas) team can chew up ice and take away time and space. They’ve got a lot of speed on their team. He’s adapting to it. He’s still doing a lot of good things on the power play. I’m not worried about him one bit. He’ll be fine.”
Hughes had two shots on goal in 26:22 of ice time and Vancouver was outshot 8-3 when he was on the ice at five-on-five. It was his best game of the series, but the Canucks need something special from their special player to be able to take down the Knights over seven games.
Also disconcerting for Vancouver was the lack of shots, hits and faceoffs for power forward J.T. Miller, who had only one shot in 23:30 of ice time — second only to Hughes’ time on ice. One of the best faceoff men in the NHL this season, Miller took only three draws, possibly indicating the hand or thumb he hurt blocking a shot early in the playoffs is becoming a bigger hindrance.
He’ll have little time to heal or rest in a playoff schedule further compressed by the two-day, player-driven shutdown this week to focus attention on racism and social justice.
Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said Saturday morning that he believes the hectic schedule favours the Knights.
“I’ve said from Day 1, I think that’s advantage to us,” DeBoer said. “The tighter the schedule, the more back-to-backs, the more your depth comes into play. And that’s at all positions. I think we welcome that. It tests your depth, it tests your character and we like where we are on those things.”
The Canucks are being tested now.
Lakers Considered Heavy Favorites By Oddsmakers To Win Finals – RealGM.com
The Los Angeles Lakers are heavy favorites to win the Finals against the Miami Heat with BetOnline posting them at -350.
The Lakers are nearly 78 percent likely to win the series, according to the implied odds. Miami is at +280 as the underdogs.
The Lakers are generally considered the NBA’s most public team in terms of gamblers.
Sportsnet announces broadcast schedule for first two days of MLB playoffs – Sportsnet.ca
The expanded MLB playoff format created a wild race to the finish but now that the dust is settled, the wild card round matchups are now set.
The 2020 season, already unique due to the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the start of play, will feature 16 teams instead of the usual 10 and begin with eight best-of-three series. All three games in each series will be played on consecutive days and be hosted by the team with the higher seed, with one playing eight, two playing seven and so on.
The wild card matchups are as follows:
All games involving the Blue Jays can be seen exclusively on Sportsnet and SN Now. Coverage of Game 1 between the Blue Jays and Rays will begin at 4 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. PT with a special one-hour Blue Jays Central pre-game show before first pitch at 5 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. PT. Coverage of Game 2 will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET/ 12:30 p.m. PT with first pitch at 4 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. PT.
Former Blue Jays pitcher John Axford joins Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell and Pat Tabler for the special one-hour Blue Jays Central pre-game show, featuring a musical opening by The Arkells and a video essay from Stephen Brunt that explores the Blue Jays extraordinary 2020 season.
After the wild card round, the playoffs will continue in the traditional format with the best-of-five division series, best-of-seven league championship round and best-of-seven World Series.
The division series will pit the winners of the one/eight matchups against the winners of the four/five matchups and the winners of the two/seven matchups against the winners of the three/six matchups.
MLB is adopting a bubble format for the post-season following the success of the NHL and NBA’s playoffs.
As a result, the American League division series will be played in San Diego and Los Angeles and the championship series will be played in San Diego. The National League division series will be played in Houston and Arlington, Texas. Arlington will also host the NL championship series and the World Series at Globe Life Park, the newly opened home of the Texas Rangers.
Below is the full schedule for the MLB playoffs. All times Eastern.
WILD CARD SERIES (BEST OF THREE)
|Tuesday, Sept. 29||Rays (1) vs. Blue Jays (8), Game 1||5 p.m.||SN|
|Athletics (2) vs. White Sox (7), Game 1||3 p.m.||SN360|
|Twins (3) vs. Astros (6), Game 1||2 p.m.||SN1|
|Indians (4) vs. Yankees (5), Game 1||7 p.m.||SN1|
|Wednesday, Sept. 30||Rays (1) vs. Blue Jays (8), Game 2||4 p.m.||SN|
|Athletics (2) vs. White Sox (7), Game 2||3 p.m.||SN360|
|Twins (3) vs. Astros (6), Game 2||1 p.m.||SN1|
|Indians (4) vs. Yankees (5), Game 2||7 p.m.||SN1|
|Dodgers (1) vs. Brewers (8), Game 1||10 p.m.||SN360|
|Braves (2) vs. Reds (7), Game 1||Noon||SN & SN360|
|Cubs (3) vs. Marlins (6), Game 1||2 p.m.||SN NOW|
|Padres (4) vs. Cardinals (5), Game 1||5 p.m.||SN NOW|
|Thursday, Oct. 1||Rays (1) vs. Blue Jays (8), Game 3||TBD|
|Athletics (2) vs. White Sox (7), Game 3||TBD|
|Twins (3) vs. Astros (6), Game 3||TBD|
|Indians (4) vs. Yankees (5), Game 3||TBD|
|Dodgers (1) vs. Brewers (8), Game 2||TBD|
|Braves (2) vs. Reds (7), Game 2||TBD|
|Cubs (3) vs. Marlins (6), Game 2||TBD|
|Padres (4) vs. Cardinals (5), Game 2||TBD|
|Friday, Oct. 2||Dodgers (1) vs. Brewers (8), Game 3||TBD|
|Braves (2) vs. Reds (7), Game 3||TBD|
|Cubs (3) vs. Marlins (6), Game 3||TBD|
|Padres (4) vs. Cardinals (5), Game 3||TBD|
DIVISION SERIES (BEST OF FIVE)
|Monday, Oct. 5||AL Division Series A||Game 1||San Diego, (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|AL Division Series B||Game 1||Los Angeles (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|Tuesday, Oct. 6||AL Division Series A||Game 2||San Diego, (1/8 vs 4/5 winners)|
|AL Division Series B||Game 2||Los Angeles (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|NL Division Series A||Game 1||Arlington (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|NL Division Series B||Game 1||Houston (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|Wednesday, Oct. 7||AL Division Series A||Game 3||San Diego, (1/8 vs 4/5 winners)|
|AL Division Series B||Game 3||Los Angeles (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|NL Division Series A||Game 2||Arlington (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|NL Division Series B||Game 2||Houston (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|Thursday, Oct. 8||AL Division Series A||Game 4||San Diego, (1/8 vs 4/5 winners)|
|AL Division Series B||Game 4||Los Angeles (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|NL Division Series A||Game 3||Arlington (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|NL Division Series B||Game 3||Houston (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|Friday, Oct. 9||AL Division Series A||Game 5||San Diego, (1/8 vs 4/5 winners)|
|AL Division Series B||Game 5||Los Angeles (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|NL Division Series A||Game 4||Arlington (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|NL Division Series B||Game 4||Houston (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|Saturday, Oct. 10||NL Division Series A||Game 5||Arlington (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|NL Division Series B||Game 5||Houston (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES (BEST OF SEVEN)
|Sunday, Oct. 11||ALCS||Game 1||San Diego|
|Monday, Oct. 12||ALCS||Game 2||San Diego|
|Tuesday, Oct. 13||ALCS||Game 3||San Diego|
|Wednesday, Oct. 14||ALCS||Game 4||San Diego|
|Thursday, Oct. 15||ALCS||Game 5||San Diego|
|Friday, Oct. 16||ALCS||Game 6||San Diego|
|Saturday, Oct. 17||ALCS||Game 7||San Diego|
|Sunday, Oct. 18||NLCS||Game 7||Arlington|
WORLD SERIES (BEST OF SEVEN)
|Tuesday, Oct. 20||World Series||Game 1||Arlington|
|Wednesday, Oct. 21||World Series||Game 2||Arlington|
|Thursday, Oct. 22||OFF DAY|
|Friday, Oct. 23||World Series||Game 3||Arlington|
|Saturday, Oct. 24||World Series||Game 4||Arlington|
|Sunday, Oct. 25||World Series||Game 5||Arlington|
|Monday, Oct. 26||OFF DAY|
|Tuesday, Oct. 27||World Series||Game 6||Arlington|
|Wednesday, Oct. 28||World Series||Game 7||Arlington|
Jeff Van Gundy, Ty Lue Emerge As Early Candidates For Clippers – RealGM.com
Jeff Van Gundy and Ty Lue have emerged as the early favorites to become the next head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers parted ways with Doc Rivers on Monday.
Lue is also a candidate for the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans.
Van Gundy is a candidate for Rockets.
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