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Canucks Game Day: Don't take the bait against those battling Blues – The Province

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Canucks Game Day: Pivotal Game 4 of series will see the Canucks all in on every shift

BEN KUZMA’S CANUCKS GAME DAY

Monday | Game 4

Vancouver Canucks vs. St. Louis Blues

7:30 p.m., Rogers Place, TV: Sportsnet, Radio: Sportsnet 650


Troy Brouwer of the St. Louis Blues checks Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in Game Two of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 14, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

THE BIG MATCHUP

The Canucks vs. The Bait

There are many sides to the pursuit of playoff excellence and the mental side can be just as intimidating as the physical demands.

In 2011, the banged-up and emotionally-spent Vancouver Canucks lost the psychological war with the Boston Bruins after building 2-0 and 3-2 series leads in the Stanley Cup Final and falling in seven games. Fast forward and there is some similarity as the speedy, big and bad Blues are testing the Canucks’ mettle to try and get back in the first-round series. 

Whether it’s targeting playoff newbies in the electrifying Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes with an extra check, shove, slash or punch to curtail the will of the offensive catalysts — or taking runs anybody regardless of experience or stature — the Blues are banking on the Canucks to crumble at some point. Could be a long wait. The Canucks are all in, no matter what.

“You have to stay pretty level-headed, but there’s the other sense where you have to stick up for your teammates as well,” said fourth-line centre Jay Beagle, who won a Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018. “You make decisions quick and you live and die by them. We have an all-in mentality and guys stick up for each other. We have a tight group in the room and we have a pack mentality and it’s a fun one to be on board with.”

Beagle took offence to Sammy Blais running Brandon Sutter from behind in Game 2 on Friday. The feisty Blues winger received a roughing minor and Beagle a double minor for taking issue with the hit. The Canucks had a 2-0 lead at that point late in the second period, but on the ensuring power play, Ryan O’Reilly scored and the Canucks had to rally to win 4-3 in overtime.

“They’re a big and physical team and looking back, I don’t think it was the smartest play by me,” said Beagle. “And if I were to do it over again, I don’t think I’d do it quite as quick and not take the four minutes. That obviously can change a game pretty quick.”

Said coach Travis Green: “It’s a fiery, competitive game. Guys will go the aid of their teammates and Beags probably felt there was going to be a penalty on the hit.”

FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Using Hughes shot

Quinn Hughes doesn’t get enough credit for his added power-play element. As much as he can walk the line to buy time and find the right passing option, the Calder Trophy finalist has become much better at getting his shots through, or have them tipped or create rebounds.

2. Pettersson’s defending

The Canucks are the home team and Green should be able to get Pettersson away from the O’Reilly matchup. What Pettersson can’t get away from is his strong 200-foot game that saved Game 2 with shot blocks in OT. His tenaciousness has an infectious effect on Brock Boeser to play a total game.


Captain Bo Horvat of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his shorthanded goal on Friday in Edmonton with Chris Tanev. Horvat also scored in overtime as Vancouver grabbed a 2-0 series lead against the St. Louis Blues.

Jeff Vinnick /

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3. Feeding bumper-boy

Bo Horvat is feeling it on every conceivable level and should be the first go-to option on the PP. By using his edges and making quick and smart pivots, the captain is finding open slot spaces in the bumper position for a quick releases. He’s also good at pivoting and finding open gunners.

4. Getting to Perron

The best way to get to the irritating and effective David Perron is to play the winger hard, so he takes penalties instead of drawing them to help ignite a struggling Blues’ PP. Tough task with the way he drives the net and drives the opposition crazy.

5. Ride Motte train

For added inspiration, the Canucks don’t have to look further than unsung fourth-line winger Tyler Motte. who is a first-pairing penalty kill king, a speedy and fearless forechecker, willing hitter and effective 5-on-5.

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POSSIBLE LINEUPS

CANUCKS

Forwards

J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Loui Eriksson

Antoine Roussel — Brandon Sutter — Jake Virtanen

Tyler Motte — Jay Beagle — Zack MacEwen

Defence

Alex Edler — Troy Stecher

Quinn Hughes — Chris Tanev

Oscar Fantenberg — Jordie Benn

Goal

Jacob Markstrom — Thatcher Demko

BLUES

Forwards

Jaden Schwartz — Ryan O’Reilly — David Perron

Oskar Sundqvist — Brayden Schenn — Tyler Bozak

Zach Sanford — Robert Thomas — Sammy Blais

Mackenzie MacEachern — Jacob de la Rose — Jordan Kyrou

Defence

Carl Gunnarson — Alex Pietrangelo

Marco Scandella — Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn — Justin Faulk

Goal

Jake Allen — Jordan Binnington

INJURIES

Canucks: Tyler Myers (shoulder), Tyler Toffoli (foot), Micheal Ferland (concussion symptoms), Josh Leivo (fractured kneecap).

Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko (undisclosed, day-to-day), Alexander Steen (undisclosed, day-to-day) Jay Bouwmeester (heart).

SPECIAL TEAMS

(prior to Game 3)

Power play

Canucks: 1st (32.1%)

Blues: 16th (14.3%)

Penalty kill

Canucks: 11th (83.9%)

Blues: 24th (68.0%)

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Blue Jays sit 1 win away from clinching playoff berth after thumping Yankees – CBC.ca

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The Toronto Blue Jays showed Wednesday night why they could be a dangerous wild-card team in the playoffs.

Danny Jansen hit two solo homers as the Blue Jays used a 16-hit attack and eight-run sixth inning to bulldoze the New York Yankees 14-1 at Sahlen Field. Jansen had four hits and three runs to help the Blue Jays move closer to nailing down a playoff berth.

“Putting ourselves in this spot is a great feeling,” Jansen said. “But we’ve still got work to do.”

Toronto (29-27) trimmed its magic number to one with the victory and can secure its first post-season spot since 2016 with a win in Thursday’s series finale.

Cavan Biggio scored three times, Randal Grichuk added a pair of runs and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., had three RBIs. Starter Robbie Ray was effective over four-plus innings and A.J. Cole threw a scoreless fifth inning for the win.

Under Major League Baseball’s expanded playoff structure, 16 teams will reach the post-season. Division winners will be seeded No. 1 through No. 3 in each league, second-place teams will be seeded fourth through sixth, and two third-place wild-card teams will get the seventh and eighth seeds.

The Los Angeles Angels, currently ninth in the AL, kept their faint playoff hopes alive earlier Wednesday with a 5-2 win over the San Diego Padres.

Facing veteran right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (3-3), the Blue Jays took advantage of a couple breaks to put up two quick runs in the first inning.

With Biggio on after a leadoff walk, Teoscar Hernandez hit a double-play ball up the middle that took an unexpected high bounce near the lip of the grass and rolled into the outfield.

Guerrero stroked a single that scored Biggio with the game’s first run. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez tried to pick the young slugger off first base but a wide throw went down the right-field line as Hernandez trotted home.

Ray earns timely outs

Ray breezed through the first inning but issued two walks in the second. Gio Urshela singled to load the bases and a passed ball allowed Luke Voit to score the Yankees’ lone run.

New York loaded the bases with none out in the fifth inning. But Cole (3-0) held off the heart of the Yankees’ order by fanning Giancarlo Stanton and getting Voit — who leads the majors in homers — on an infield fly and then Gleyber Torres on a flyout.

“That was really the game,” Jansen said. “Saving that was huge for us. Bases loaded, no outs, coming in and getting that. There’s a lot of momentum swing right there.”

Toronto followed New York’s lead by putting its first three batters on base in the sixth. The Blue Jays took full advantage by batting around with a two-run single by Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Biggio’s two-run double serving as highlight blows.

The victory came a day after New York dumped Toronto 12-1.

“Today was a big game after yesterday,” said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo. “That’s what they’ve done all year — come back from top losses. It was great to see, facing another good pitcher like Tanaka, coming back tonight and scoring all those runs. A big win for us.”

New York (32-24) had four hits and a season-high four errors. The Yankees have a magic number of one to secure a second-place finish in the East Division.

Ray, who was pulled after the first two batters reached in the fifth, allowed three hits, four walks and had five strikeouts. Tanaka gave up three earned runs, eight hits and three walks while striking out five.

Jansen, who went deep off Tanaka in the fourth, added another shot in the eighth off Yankees catcher Erik Kratz, giving the Toronto backstop six homers on the season.

Toronto was a wild-card entry when it last reached the post-season four years ago. The Blue Jays went on to reach the AL Championship Series for the second straight year.

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Jays win big, magic number is 1 – Bluebird Banter

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Yankees 1 Blue Jays 14

Our magic number is now 1. A win tomorrow (or in any of our last four games) would put us into the playoffs.

It is nice when the other team forgets how to play baseball. The Yankees made 4 official errors and a few unofficial ones. They were just playing bad baseball all night.

We got a good start from Bob Rae (as much as it hurts the old man in me to say that 4+ innings is a good start). Through four innings he allowed just 2 hits and 3 walks with 5 strikeouts. There was an unearned run against him, scoring on a passed ball (he and Jansen got crossed up, Ray threw a fastball, Jansen thought something bendy was coming). He went to full counts too much, but he kept the Yankees off the bases.

Ray allowed a walk and a single to start off the fifth and that was it. A.J. Cole came in a gave up a walk to load the bases. Looking at the final score, it doesn’t seem like there should have been a big moment of the game on the pitching side, but this was a big moment. We were up 5-1 with Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Viot and Gleyber Torres coming up. But Cole got a strikeout, popout and fly out. It was nice to see because Cole has had a rough time of it lately.

Ross Stripling pitched the last four inning, giving up just 1 hit with 1 strikeout. He gets a save on a game we won by 13.


We scored 2 in the first, 1 in the third, 2 in the fourth, 8 in the sixth and 1 in the eighth. Our hitters:

  • Cavan Biggio was 2 for 5 with a walk, double and 2 RBI.
  • Bo Bichette was 2 for 4, with 2 walks, double, 2 RBI (he had 3 walks on the season before tonight).
  • Teoscar Hernandez 1 or 4.
  • Randal Grichuk 1 for 4, 1 walk, 1 RBI.
  • Vladimir Guerrero was 2 for 5, double, 3 RBI. He had an interesting night. He misjudged a popup in the first inning. Thankfully it didn’t cost us a run. He drew a pick off throw from Gary Sanchez, by taking a few steps towards second on a strike and Sanchez threw wide of first, getting us a free run. Then an crushed RBI double in third, an RBI ground out. And he made a very nice play, again a going a long way off first to get a ball, but Stripling got to the bag at first in plenty of time, and Vlad made a nice throw hitting the moving target.
  • Lourdes Gurriel was 3 for 5 with an RBI.
  • Travis Shaw was 1 for 5 with an RBI.
  • Joe Panik only managed a walk.
  • Danny Jansen hit 2 home runs on a 4 for 4 night, with 3 RBI. Yes, one of the home runs was off Yankees’ catcher Erik Kratz (but it still counts).

Jays of the Day: Cole (.119 WPA), Vlad (.190) and Jansen (.107).

No Suckage Jays. Shaw had the low mark at -.063.

Tomorrow is our last game of this four game series against the Yankees and then we have a weekend series against the Orioles to end the season.


We had 847 comments in the GameThread. I led us to victory (and I didn’t even have a beer tonight). But I did have a nice day. I took a drive out in the country and saw the changing of the colours, while avoiding the news for a day. I’d say it was a mental health day, but there really is no mental health left.

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Lightning’s Stamkos secures place in Cup lore with Game 3 goal vs. Stars – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — Seven seconds.

That’s how much time the puck spent on Steven Stamkos’s stick blade on this night, and perhaps that’s all it will spend there throughout the entirety of this Tampa Bay Lightning playoff run.

That’s all the hard-luck captain needed to secure his place in Stanley Cup lore. Seven freaking seconds.

Somehow, after spending 60 days as a practice-only player inside the NHL bubble and going 210 days between games, Stamkos scored the biggest goal of a career overflowing with them.

He was in full stride down the right boards when Victor Hedman hit him in the neutral zone. He blew past Esa Lindell, who defended the play poorly and managed to settle a bouncing puck in time to tuck it up under the crossbar behind Anton Khudobin.

The Lightning bench exploded. Jon Cooper said the reaction was “just a little bit louder” than any of the others during a playoff run that has included five overtime goals. The coach saw it as a sign his team wouldn’t be denied, and they weren’t while grabbing a 2-1 series lead over the Dallas Stars with a 5-2 victory Wednesday.

“It was pretty damn cool,” said Cooper.

Stamkos called it a dream come true.

Forget the unfortunate timing of the injuries that have cost him big playoff games and a chance at playing for Team Canada at the Olympics in recent years. Just being trapped inside the bubble with no guarantee of playing would be agony for someone who has given as much to the Lightning as Stamkos.

And then to get in for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, and only be able to play five shifts and score on one of them after not playing for seven months?

Hollywood might not accept that script.

“At this time of the year, you want to do anything you can to help your team win,” said Stamkos. “I’ve watched these guys be so committed to what our end goal is, and to be part of it tonight, it was a dream come true and I’m so proud of these guys. And to be able to share that moment with them and just even be on the bench and watch how well we played tonight, I have told these guys before: It’s inspiring.

“It was great to be part of.”

Quickly, the backstory: Stamkos underwent core muscle surgery on March 2 and was supposed to be recovered in time for the second round of a normal playoffs. Then we had the COVID-19 pause, he had some kind of setback while preparing for the NHL’s return to play and the Lightning have gone on a run without him.

But he’s remained a large figure in the shadows.

You could see him dousing Brayden Point with water after he scored a quintuple overtime goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round 1 and he was summoned to the ice to help the Lightning accept the Prince of Wales Trophy after they eliminated the New York Islanders.

Everything he had to endure in order to even play for two minutes 41 seconds of Wednesday’s game has happened behind the walls. And based on the fact he sat on the bench while not taking a shift for the final 46 minutes here suggests we might not see him in uniform again for the rest of this series.

So that goal? That was something.

“He’s worked extremely hard to get back to a spot where he could play,” said Brayden Point. “Just seeing him day in and day out — the positivity that he brings, and the leadership that he brings. It’s nice to see him work that hard to get back into the lineup. And then to score one? It’s pretty inspirational for everyone.”

Added Victor Hedman: “This is how much he means to us as a teammate and as a leader and as a friend. We were just super happy for him.”

Stamkos played six games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Final and didn’t manage to score. In this situation, the Lightning put him on the fourth line alongside Cedric Paquette (zero goals this playoffs) and Pat Maroon (one goal this playoffs) and he produced one in limited minutes before his injury forced him to become a spectator.

What happens next will determine what this means historically.

But what it meant to Stamkos and the Lightning won’t change no matter what. He’s only going to get so many chances like this one.

“It was amazing to be a part of a huge win for us,” he said. “I was just really happy to obviously contribute in a game that I didn’t play too much.”

This was a kid who used to go to shooting school twice per week and fire 500 pucks per session. That’s a skill that endured the injuries, the layoff, everything.

It made this moment possible.

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