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Casually-dressed Canucks smother the Flames on Saturday – Vancouver Is Awesome

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The Canucks were casual off the ice on Saturday, which apparently helped them be less casual on the ice.

NHL teams are typically all business when they come to the rink on game days, wearing jackets and ties right from when they’re in junior hockey. On Saturday, however, the Canucks eschewed the suits as they arrived at Rogers Arena to play the Calgary Flames.

Instead, the Canucks wore whatever they wanted, which meant a lot of jeans, a fair amount of plaid, and hoodies for Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson. Boeser showed his Gen Z bona fides with his Squidward hoodie, while Pettersson went vintage with AC/DC.

Hockey players, like the criminals Batman faces, are a superstitious lot. The pre-game clothing switch-up was followed by the Canucks breaking their losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Flames where they out-shot their opponents by a massive 46-to-19 margin. As the fallacy says, “post hoc ergo propter hoc,” which translates to “after this, therefore because of this.”

“I hope so,” said Quinn Hughes, leaning into the microphones excitedly when asked if they’ll keep dressing casually on game days. “I think we had a lot of fun with that — I know I did, for sure — and I think that’s maybe the most promising thing coming out of the win. It’s pretty cool to just throw on a jacket and come to the rink.”

Hughes suggested that the casual wear bore some responsibility for their improved play.

“I think we’re just making more plays, we’re playing more confident, we’re having more fun,” he said. “To bring up the clothes again, I think we’re just trying to have fun as a group again. I think it’s been helping.”

It may sound silly, but a big chunk of professional sports is mental. Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90 per cent mental. The other half is physical.”

Dressing differently may have very well helped the Canucks loosen up before this game and play with more confidence and ease. Even just changing up the routine that had resulted in a six-game losing streak could have switched up their mentality and broken them out of a rut.

“When you’re in a skid like that, sometimes it’s hard to maintain that positivity coming to the rink,” said Thatcher Demko. “I think our group has done a good job the last week here of just coming together and trying to stay positive, bringing the fun to the rink.”

So maybe the clothes helped. Or maybe not. After all, the Canucks had played much better in their last two games before this, out-shooting the Toronto Maple Leafs 32-19 and peppering Jacob Markstrom with 34 shots two nights earlier against the Flames. Perhaps this win was already on its way and the change of attire had little to no influence.

Because it’s hockey, they couldn’t forego the dress code without a corny reason for doing so.

“We made a thing that we all had to wear work boots coming into the rink,” said Tyler Myers. “I think it showed on the ice that we were ready to work.”

Frankly, I’m surprised they weren’t required to bring a metal lunch bucket and wear shirts with blue collars too. So, it wasn’t exactly a complete dismissal of a dress code, just a slightly more relaxed dress code. Also, some of the players stretched the definition of “work boots” if you review the footage.

There’s a saying that applies to this situation: it’s not stupid if it works.

One of the positives about the change is that it was clearly spearheaded by the players, who evidently kept their coaches in the dark about the plan.

“To be honest, I didn’t know anything about it,” said head coach Travis Green. “I found out watching Hockey Night in Canada, saw some of the pictures of our guys coming in. I liked it! They would have gotten my blessing on it. I think maybe the coaches will have to get in on it now too.”

I can’t critique any of their fashion choices. Since I’m coming off a cold, I’m working from home instead of at the rink, which meant I was in my comfiest sweatpants when I watched this game.

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  • The Canucks absolutely dominated early in the game, out-shooting the Flames 10-to-0 in the first ten minutes and 20-to-4 in the first period. It was stunning: they were smothering the Flames like baking soda on a grease fire, making the neutral zone a quagmire for the Flames’ breakout. There was just one problem: they couldn’t get the puck past Jacob Markstrom.
     
  • With that kind of start, it could have been easy for frustration to set in and Green knew it. “That’s a fear as a coach, because you know that you’re playing well and you know that your team wants to win badly,” he said. “I give our guys credit tonight, they really stuck with it and didn’t deviate from how we wanted to play the game. I think we get in trouble when we start forcing too many plays.”
     
  • The Canucks didn’t force plays; they just made plays. Nils Höglander was his usual shifty self all game, darting around the offensive zone to create scoring chances, but others got into the act as well, like Nate Schmidt, who showed tremendous confidence at the blue line to undress Matthew Tkachuk, thus rendering him powerless. As Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”

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  • Despite Schmidt’s best efforts, however, Höglander still reigns as the shiftiest Canuck. He nearly had the game-winning goal in the third period with a crafty slalom around the Flames after Tanner Pearson created a turnover. Höglander used the threat of a backdoor pass to Bo Horvat to slip around the defence and rung a backhand off the post.

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  • Quinn Hughes finally solved Markstrom halfway through the game. It was a brilliant individual effort, as he stepped up to pick off a pass from Sean Monahan to Johnny Gaudreau, moving in 2-on-1 with Elias Pettersson. Hughes faked the pass with the conviction of a Shakespearean actor, then ripped a shot off the post and in.
     
  • It was such a good fake pass that Hughes even fooled himself. “I think Marky thought I was going to pass it — I think I thought I was going to pass it — and the D took him away, so I just shot it,” said Hughes.
     
  • Just as impressive was the bold read to lurk at the blue line instead of backing up into the neutral zone as the Flames started their breakout. “I saw Monahan was passing that puck and he wasn’t looking at me and Johnny was looking at Monahan, so I knew I could sneak up on Johnny,” said Hughes. “He had no idea I was there. Everyone was going north and me and Petey were the only ones that stayed. It worked out.”
     
  • The Flames tied the game just over a minute later despite the overwhelming differential in shots, 32-to-8 at the time of the goal. It came off one of the Canucks’ few turnovers and defensive breakdowns in their own zone, as J.T. Miller’s pass was out of Pettersson’s reach, leading to a scramble. Pettersson fell to the ice trying to get the puck out of the zone and Miller and Boeser didn’t read that one of them needed to pick up Pettersson’s man, Sam Bennett, who walked into the high slot unopposed and beat Thatcher Demko on the blocker side.
     
  • That was all the Flames could get past Demko, who only had to face 19 shots. He was still excellent when called upon, but it was easy to see how much better the Canucks were defensively in front of him. It was like the Canucks suddenly discovered structure, as if defence was a piece of complicated IKEA furniture that they were previously putting together without reading the instructions. 
     
  • “Huge improvements, for sure,” said Demko. “I can’t say enough about the commitment to the D side that we’ve seen in the last few games here… Tremendous job tonight — anyone who was watching the game has seen it — our D core did a great job and our forwards also, coming back and helping out, making sure that they were covered hard, and that way our D can have good gaps.”
     
  • As part of the defensive whole, the penalty kill shone bright like a diamond and was equally hard to crack for the Flames. They managed just one shot on goal in three power plays. 
     
  • Speaking of defence, this was Olli Juolevi’s best game. Shot attempts were 24-to-10 for the Canucks at 5-on-5 when he was on the ice and he was snapping passes around with fantastic confidence. He also showed a physical edge, leveling Tkachuk after the Flames winger kicked out his skate a moment earlier. 

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  • Yes, the Flames got a chance out of this play, but stepping up on Tkachuk was absolutely the right move and Juolevi needed to trust that his defence partner would take care of what was behind him. Tyler Myers sliding out of the play on one knee wasn’t ideal and is a slight blemish on an otherwise outstanding game from the giraffian defenceman.
     
  • “Olli is getting a lot better at using his voice and I think it’s helping our breakouts a lot more,” said Myers. “He’s playing well for not having a lot of games under his belt and I think he just keeps improving each and every game.”
     
  • Myers led the Canucks in corsi percentage, with the Canucks out-attempting the Flames 32-to-9 when he was on the ice at 5-on-5. That’s unreal. He topped it off with a fantastic game-winning goal to boot. As Demko put it, “Big man comes down the zone and wires one in there, it was great to see.”
     
  • There was a little more to it than that. Myers made a great read in the neutral zone, pressuring Bennett and poking the puck off his stick. He countered immediately and used Miller and Pettersson as distractions to dart into the slot between two Flames with surprising grace, proving that giraffes can dance. He kicked the puck up to his stick and fired a shot under Markstrom’s arm to make it 2-1.
     
  • The Canucks allowed just two more shots on goal after Myers gave them the lead and got two shots of their own. One of them went into an empty net. Loui Eriksson, the king of the empty net, picked off a pass in his own zone and swatted the puck to Brandon Sutter, who hit the middle of the net from his own blue line for the insurance goal.
     
  • The team celebrated hard for both goals. “The emotion was just because we got the lead at the end of a game, it’s been a while,” said Myers after the game. “I think we had the same amount of emotion for Suttsy’s empty netter if you look at the bench. It just felt really good to get back in the win column.”
     

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Large hits three-run homer, Jays beat Phillies – TSN

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DUNEDIN — Cullen Large belted a three-run home run to lead the Toronto Blue Jays past the Philadelphia Phillies 7-1 in exhibition baseball action Saturday.

Large’s blast anchored a five-run inning for Toronto, which finished with 10 hits in a contest that was halted in the seventh.

Kirby Snead (1-0) took the win, allowing no hits and no runs over a 1 1/3 innings. He had a strikeout while issuing two walks.

Toronto used six pitchers in the game. The Blue Jays, who’ve won two straight, face the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

Toronto also claimed right-hander Joel Payamps off waivers from the Boston Red Sox while designating right-hander Jacob Waguespack for assignment.

Toronto claimed Payamps from Boston on Feb. 11 but the Red Sox claimed him back 11 days later. The six-foot-two, 225-pound pitcher has made four career major-league appearances, allowing three earned runs over seven innings.

Payamps was originally signed by the Colorado Rockies in 2010 and has compiled a 41-43 record and 4.15 earned-run average in 145 minor-league games.,

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.

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Full transcript: Wayne Gretzky eulogizes his late father Walter – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Wayne Gretzky paid tribute to his late father Walter on Saturday in a heartfelt eulogy during the Gretzky patriarch’s funeral in Brantford, Ont. Below is a complete transcript of the eulogy, as transcribed by CTVNews.ca, edited for length and clarity.

Wayne Gretzky: Obviously, with the pandemic that we’ve had, it’s been horrible for everyone throughout the world, Canada, North America. I really want to tell everyone that my dad and my sister and our family were so conscious of it and that COVID had nothing to do with the passing of my father. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, he sustained a bad hip injury and, as I said earlier, we thought weeks ago that the end was here. He has a tremendous amount of faith. Faith like I’ve never seen, but he had a love for life and he didn’t want to leave. And we were 21 days sitting with him, and just enjoying life and we got a chance, an opportunity to tell stories.

Our grandchildren have… seen my dad after his brain aneurysm, and we were telling them all you’re thankful that you didn’t know him before his brain aneurysm because he was a lot tougher. So it’s been a tough time. I want to thank everyone in the community who dropped off food, who dropped off sandwiches, they knew we were all there for 21 days. My sister was a champ, she was beside him, each and every minute of the day. The grandkids were wonderful. My dad and mom, I know are so proud. So I thought I would tell a couple stories.

I spent the last four nights talking with my wife Janet, thinking what I was going to say and, like I usually do, I try to just kind of wing it and speak from my heart. So years ago, as everyone knows, my dad was such a huge sports fan and hockey guy, and we were playing in a hockey tournament outside of Toronto, and my dad was so proud of the fact we’re going to play against better teams than little towns in this area. On a Friday night, we were going to the tournament and my mom said, ‘No. Walter, we’re going to have this baby this weekend.’ And he said, ‘That’s OK, you can wait till we get back.’

So, Brent was born on the Saturday. We went to this tournament in Whitby, Ontario. We played against good teams like Burlington, Oshawa, Hamilton, Toronto Marlies, Nationals. We won the tournament, we got in the car and we weren’t sure if the car to get us back from Oshawa to Brantford. So we finally got back, and the next day, mom came home with Brent, people were coming by — families, friends, sisters — congratulations on the baby, and every single person would say to my dad, ‘Walter, I can’t believe you missed the birth of your son.’ So our next door neighbour Mary Rosetto came over and she was the last person to come over. She said, ‘Walter, I can’t believe you missed the birth of Brent,’ and when she walked out the door he was so mad, he stood up and grabbed the trophy and he goes, ‘Yes, but we got the trophy.’

So, as time goes on, he was so nice to all the grandchildren. Every grandchild loved him, close to each and every one of them. They understood how important he was not only to our family but to the culture of Canada. He came here, his family as an immigrant. They came here because he wanted a better life. I don’t think I’ve ever met a prouder Canadian than my dad. And all my five children are American, born in United States, and I always tell them you should be as proud of the United States as your grandfather is of Canada, because that’s how much he loves the country.

I always tell my kids there’s nothing better in life than family. My dad would come every year to our summer house. My sons Ty, Trevor, Tristan they had a hockey school and dad would come out, he’d go to the rink, sign autographs like he always does. We were playing golf one day, and he’s picking up golf balls. And I’m like, ‘We have all these golf balls, what are these golf balls for?’

And finally the next day, Ty, Trevor, and Tristan, my friend Mike and Tom, they’re in the fairway, they’re in the rough, they’re grabbing all these balls. And I finally grab them, I said, ‘You guys got to stop grabbing golf balls.’ And they’re like, ‘What do you mean? Your dad wants them for the kids.’ I said, I know he wants them for the kids, but I got to sign them for the kids.’ So I take my dad to the airport at 5 a.m., sure enough we get to the airport and there’s two big bags, and my brother Glen he runs out of the car, he’s going to get a cup of coffee, and my dad goes, ‘You’ll sign these for the kids, right?’ I’m like, ‘Oh my god.’ So there I was signing for hours, but that’s how he was.

He was a remarkable man who loved life, love family. We’d be a way better world if there was so many more people like my dad. Very special. We’re all hurting, this is a tough time. I’m so proud of the fact that so many people have reached out and given him such great tributes because he deserves it. He has a heart of gold and just wonderful. Thank you.

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Ace, bunker hole-out, massive putts all part of Jordan Spieth's third round – Golf Channel

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Jordan Spieth got off to a hot start Saturday at Bay Hill.

After sinking a 20-footer for birdie at the par-4 opening hole, Spieth dunked his tee shot from 223 yards at the par-3 second hole. The hole-in-one was Spieth’s third career ace on Tour, following aces at the 2013 Puerto Rico Open and 2015 BMW Championship at Conway Farms.

“I hit a 5-iron, it was 205 front, 220 hole, and the wind wasn’t blowing very hard, so I was trying to peel it left to right to hold the wind and land it a little right of the hole. I hit it a little thin but it was right on the line I wanted and knowing that the grass was wet, you get some skid, I thought in the air it was going to be pretty good. Certainly not as good as it was,” Spieth said.

Spieth’s birdie-ace start moved him to 8 under, a shot off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

He then hit his next shot, a tee ball at the par-4 third, into the water, but he rallied to save par by holing a 32-footer.

The fireworks continued on the next par 3, the 201-yard seventh. No ace this time, but a birdie courtesy a 71-foot bunker hole-out.

Spieth then grabbed sole possession of the lead with this 36-foot birdie putt at the par-4 10th.

Spieth would two-putt for birdie at the par-5 12th but that was the end of his scoring. He missed a 6-footer for par at the 14th and an 8-footer for par at the 17th to drop two shots coming in. He finished with a 4-under 68 and, at 9 under par, was two back of leader Lee Westwood.

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