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Friday’s FTB: New Year, New Leafs – Pension Plan Puppets

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In the proud tradition of New Years resolution-ers around the globe, I have decided to start 2020 by completely disregarding the failings of the previous year(s), and pretend that the goals that the Toronto Maple Leafs have for 2020 are brand new, and not at all even a little bit a retreading of their 2019 goals.

Make the playoffs? Hell yeah we’re on track to make the playoffs, and that definitely was not something that we were deeply worried about for a significant potion of the fall!

Facing the Bruins in the first round? First time we’ve ever discussed it! A brand new and not at all nauseating possibility! Zero history there to even begin to think about!

Sign all of our players to great value contracts? I mean, did you see the Holl signing?!

Execute a killer powerplay? For sure bud, the Leafs powerplay is sitting at 23.89%, fifth in the league! Successful from the start! No bumps along the way!

And of course all of this with our fearless head coach Sheldon Keefe in charge, just as he always has been!

ICYMI

Falling behind on the Marlies? Don’t worry, we’ve got you, with a recap of their last three games from Hardev Lad:

Report card time!

January always feels like a good time to take a look back at how players on the Leafs performed over the first half of the season. From the reasonable to the comical, here’s who’s handed out grades (and superlatives) so far:

Offside Toronto:

The Toronto Sun:

The Athletic:

And if you’d prefer to know what a random selection of people on twitter think, twitter user @rahef_issa has the results of her annual polling of the people:

Elsewhere

CBS Sports has the Leafs rising four spots in their power rankings – and also took the opportunity to suggest New Years resolutions for every team:

An inside look at what the Leafs get up to on road trips:

Kristen Shilton breaks down Keefe’s recent experimentations with the Leafs’ lines:

And finally…

The best goals of December to enjoy alongside your morning coffee:

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Happy Friday everyone! Vote for Mitch as the last man in for the Atlantic Division for the 2020 All-Star Weekend!

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Virtanen signs two-year, $5.1 million contract with Canucks – NHL.com

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Jake Virtanen signed a two-year, $5.1 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. It has an average annual value of $2.55 million.

The 24-year old forward was a restricted free agent and avoided a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for Oct. 28. He scored 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists) in 69 games with the Canucks last season and three points (two goals, one assist) in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

“Obviously there’s a bright future with the Canucks organization, so many young, talented players coming in and the moves that we’ve made, I think it’s going to be just a brighter future for our team moving forward,” Virtanen said. “I’m excited to see how it all pans out and how our team’s going to do and super excited to get things going.

“[Contract negotiations] felt like a long time but obviously super excited to get this done and be back with the Canucks for two more years. Just happy to get it done and get it over with and just focus on training and skating and the whole thing, being ready to go.”

With forward Tyler Toffoli signing a four-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 12, it opened up a spot on one of the top two lines, and Virtanen is hoping he’ll get a chance to play there.

“Obviously I’d love to play top six and have a bigger opportunity, more responsibilities,” Virtanen said. “That’s what I really hope I get. I want to be able to prove that to the team and my teammates that I can play up there and be consistent every night, making sure that I can play night in and night out. It’s an opening for me to try to jump up there. I’ve got to make sure I’m coming to camp ready to go.”

Selected by Vancouver in the first round (No. 6) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Virtanen has scored 95 points (50 goals, 45 assists) in 279 regular-season games and three points in 16 playoff games.

“Jake has continued to make progress on his two-way game and remains a contributor offensively, using his speed and size to generate chances,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. “We look forward to him taking additional steps in his growth this year to help our team be successful.”

NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report

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NHL postpones Winter Classic, All-Star Game – TSN

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The NHL has announced the postponement of the 2021 Winter Classic and the All-Star Game. The annual outdoor game was scheduled for Jan. 1 at Target Field in Minnesota. The All-Star Game was scheduled for Jan. 30 in Sunrise, FL.

The postponements were expected as the dates were scheduled prior to beginning of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The NHL concluded the 2020 playoffs in September — over three months later than originally scheduled — as part of the league’s negotiated Return To Play format. The regular season concluded on Mar. 11, after the league was forced to its season on pause due to the pandemic.

“Fan participation, both in arenas and stadiums as well as in the ancillary venues and events that we stage around the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend, is integral to the success of our signature events,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer. “Because of the uncertainty as to when we will be able to welcome our fans back to our games, we felt that the prudent decision at this time was to postpone these celebrations until 2022 when our fans should be able to enjoy and celebrate these tentpole events in-person, as they were always intended. We are also considering several new and creative events that will allow our fans to engage with our games and teams during this upcoming season.”

Both events will be rescheduled, according to the league.

The NHL also announced that the postponement of the events doesn’t change their target date of Jan. 1 to begin the 2020-21 season. 

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Thursday Night Football Picks: Philadelphia Eagles vs New York Giants NFL Predictions 10/22/20 – Sports Chat Place

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New York Giants (1-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-4-1)

NFL Football: Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 8:20 pm (Lincoln Financial Field)

The Line: Philadelphia Eagles -3.5 — Over/Under: 44
Click Here for the Latest Odds

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The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles meet Thursday in week 7 NFL action at Lincoln Financial Field.

The New York Giants have a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time since December of last year. The New York Giants have lost eight of their last nine road games. Daniel Jones is completing 61.2 percent of his passes for 1,223 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions. Jones has one touchdown pass in his last five games. Darius Slayton and Evan Engram have combined for 583 receiving yards and three touchdowns while Golden Tate has 19 receptions. The New York Giants ground game is averaging 87.8 yards per contest, and Jones leads the way with 204 yards on 27 carries. Defensively, New York is allowing 25.3 points and 342 yards per game. Blake Martinez leads the New York Giants with 64 tackles, Leonard Williams has three sacks and James Bradberry has two interceptions.

The Philadelphia Eagles need a victory here to rebound from a rough 1-4-1 start to the NFL season. The Philadelphia Eagles are winless in five of their last seven home games. Carson Wentz is completing 58.7 percent of his passes for 1,401 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. Wentz has two or more touchdown passes in six of his last 11 games. Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward have combined for 475 receiving yards and five touchdowns while Zach Ertz has 24 receptions. The Philadelphia Eagles ground game is averaging 122.3 yards per contest, and Miles Sanders leads the way with 434 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, Philadelphia is allowing 29.2 points and 355.2 yards per game. Nathan Gerry leads the Philadelphia Eagles with 49 tackles, Brandon Graham has five sacks and Alex Singleton has one interception.

Wonder who the Top Experts Picked? Click Here To Find Out

The Giants are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 road games, 17-5 ATS in their last 22 games as a road underdog and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Thursday games. The Eagles are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games as a favorite and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall. The over is 9-4 in Giants last 13 road games. The under is 8-2 in Eagles last 10 home games. The road team is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 meetings.

The New York Giants continue to compete, as five of their six games this season were decided by 10 or less points, and they finally were able to close the deal last week with a win over Washington. The Philadelphia Eagles have just one win this season as well, but they went toe-to-toe with the Steelers and Ravens in back-to-back weeks and have to feel better about the way they’re playing. The Eagles are the better team, they’re playing the better football and they’ve won each of the last seven meetings against the Giants. While they won last week, the Giants still feel like a bottom feeding team that’s going to be climbing uphill most weeks. There’s still flashes of promise with the Eagles and you feel like they can climb out of this whole with the roster they have.

I’ll take the Eagles in this game by a touchdown. 

See Who The Experts Picked To Win This One

Randy’s Pick
Philadelphia Eagles -3.5

The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a Sports Chat Place site consensus.

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