If you could, you’d bottle it.
You’d have scientists extract the formula and you’d reproduce this exact recipe of hockey every night the puck drops.
NHLers so often trot out “the full 60” objective that it doesn’t just feel cliché. That lofty achievement feels almost mythical, unattainable in a game composed of a zillion tiny mistakes on a slippery surface.
That a full 60 was executed without its No. 1 goaltender in the pipes or the league’s No. 1 sniper in uniform made Toronto’s NHL-best 16th victory all the more impressive.
“Everything really came up Leafs here tonight,” Sheldon Keefe said.
The coach began running down the checklist:
• The Leafs’ slumping power play ended its 0-for-12 stretch as William Nylander sniped through Joe Thornton’s stirred net-front havoc in the game’s lone 5-on-4 opportunity.
• Toronto did not commit a single penalty, marking the first time all season the deadly Oilers failed to draw a power play.
• Connor McDavid was limited to one shot on goal and finished the evening a dash-3, his worst stat line in more than five years. And he wore that frustration on his face.
• The Leafs scored in each period and produced even-strength goals from three different lines.
• After being sidelined for a month with a leg injury, Jack Campbell pitched his first shutout as a Maple Leaf — a 30-save gem — and improved his record to a pristine 3-0-0.
• Justin Holl instantly stuck up for Campbell when the goaltender’s head was clipped by a net-charging Tyler Ennis.
• And captain John Tavares thrived on the top unit in Auston Matthews’ absence, drawing the penalty, contributing two assists (his first multi-point effort in more than two weeks) and winning 72 per cent of his faceoffs. A seamless promotion to the Mitch Marner and Thornton line.
“John has not gotten enough credit for how he’s defended through this season,” Keefe said. “You ask a lot more of him here tonight, taking on tougher matchups, even more matchups, against their best players, and I thought he was outstanding. He was above the puck all night long. I don’t know how many shots he ended up with (a team-high five), but he had his own opportunities to score.”
McDavid, too, had a couple chances early — a wicked backhander off the rush blocked by Campbell, and a cut to the slot denied by T.J. Brodie’s deft stickwork — but once Toronto seized the lead, the visitors’ defensive structure took hold.
Sometime between Jason Spezza fooling Mike Smith with his patented fake-the-clapper, unleash-the-wrister snipe and Zach Hyman firing a beauty in tight, Leon Draisaitl could be seen smashing a Gatorade bottle in disgust.
Dave Tippett chucked his forwards into the Vitamix, but the consistency was off.
Edmonton entered this three-game set the hotter team with the hotter goalie.
Sweep the Leafs, and they’d seize first place. Now, the Oilers must regroup and figure out how to beat a Toronto team that has twice come out on top when Matthews takes time to rest his injured wrist.
“Even without Auston, they’re a very good team,” Tippett said. “They don’t get to be on top of the standings without being a good team.”
Campbell said Matthews was “fired up in room” when he greeted the boys in his civvies post-game and can’t wait to get back in. Maybe as soon as Monday.
“You lose a guy like that, you’re essentially taking a goal away from your lineup,” said Keefe, commending the defensive commitment. “If you’re going to score one less, you’ve got to make sure you give up one less. I think the players recognize that.
“For the most part, we had four lines, six defencemen and, certainly, the goaltender that were really on the same page here tonight.”
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 28, 2021
The fellas stepped up for Campbell, and Campbell held the fort for them.
“Man, we just played great. Every single guy on this team played amazing tonight,” said Campbell, his forever smile growing like the Leafs’ standings cushion.
“That was a full 60 minutes.”
Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season – Sportsnet.ca
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.
Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics
(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)
Masters 2021: Tiger Woods says he'll miss Champions Dinner, running up DJ's bill – Golf Channel
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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