The most important thing is the Toronto Maple Leafs picked up another two points.
Was it hockey that will make them successful in March, April, May and beyond? No. But do they need points more than anything else right now? Yes. It’s not like they have breathing room to try other things out. They need points.
A win is a win, but beyond that, the hope is that Ilya Mikheyev is okay. He suffered a wrist laceration on a nasty skate cut and went straight to the hospital. The broadcast indicated he will be okay and we are definitely all thinking of him. Get well soon, Ilya.
Your game in 10:
1. After an entertaining but kind of sloppy win against Carolina, I was curious to see how the team would respond riding a hot streak and playing against a weaker team, especially following the time off. The first few minutes were fine; the Leafs had a number of chances, including William Nylander and Mitch Marner in the slot. But a John Tavares turnover was capitalized on, giving the Devils the early lead instead. It marked the first time the Leafs have trailed in the first period with Sheldon Keefe as head coach.
In truth, the Leafs just generally outplayed them to start the game – they outshot the Devils 18-9 in the first period and probably could have been up 3-1 or 4-1 after the first.
2. The Leafs had a four-minute power play in the first period and didn’t get a ton out of it, and then suddenly scored. The best chance up until their goal was probably Morgan Rielly, from the top of the circle, just missing on a backdoor pass to Kasperi Kapanen where he would have had a tap in. The second unit was the one that cashed in through Zach Hyman in front of the net:
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) December 28, 2019
We have wondered about Hyman as a net guy before; in this game, he cashed in there. That’s his game: greasy, battle-winning rebound goals. The second unit was much better than the first unit during that extended power play look.
Of note: When the Leafs did the drop pass breakout on the PP, there was only one player back instead of the two that they were starting the season with.
3. There were so many things to like on the Leafs’ second goal. In particular, they actually lost the offensive zone faceoff, but Ilya Mikheyev and William Nylander were ready to go and were aggressive, skating right through their checks and causing a turnover. From there, they cycled it to the point, put the puck to the net, and benefitted from some good work in front to tip the puck.
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) December 28, 2019
It’s noteworthy that the Leaf who put the immediate pressure on the Devils, Mikheyev, was the one who got to the net at the end of the play to score the goal. Nylander was the one who actually reclaimed the puck and he was dancing throughout the first period. We’ve seen this type of response from him after being demoted before. He ended up with a three-point night and three shots on net in a little over 16 minutes of ice time.
4. A game that started to feel in control for the Leafs began the second period with a penalty and then a delay of game penalty while shorthanded. The Devils tied it immediately. There wasn’t much they could do on the goal itself – a shot from the point deflected straight to a Devil on the side of the zone, leading to a relatively easy goal. When it went back to being a 5v4, the Leafs got a little cute on the penalty kill and almost got burned by it.
First, it was Pierre Engvall and Ilya Mikheyev getting caught in the offensive zone; Engvall had a nice backcheck, but a sharper team would have a 3v2 rush to try to capitalize on. Mikheyev went for a change on that play and on came Kasperi Kapanen, who gave it away in the defensive zone trying to make a pass to a tired Engvall instead of just shooting it down. The Devils worked the puck around and had a few good chances after that.
5. This website for the past few weeks has been noting that Kasperi Kapanen is a right winger. We have seen enough evidence for the time being that he cannot play left wing in the top six. Two coaches have tried it now. Back on the third line on the right side, he scored a great goal showing him at his best, flying down the right wing, protecting the puck wide and using his shot — which is great.
It’s also worth mentioning that he was back on the half-wall on the power play on his one-timer side. He has kind of bounced around on the power play playing every role except defense at one point or another. Kapanen actually played almost 20 minutes on the night – only Tavares, Marner and Matthews played more than him among forwards on the team.
6. Tyson Barrie complained right after the Devils’ tying goal, but he was way too nonchalant playing the puck and paid the price. Seconds before, he helped to kick start the partial 2v1 rush for Devils by pinching without real support, but Marner hustled back to help break it up.
After the goal, the Leafs put out the Muzzin – Holl pairing with the Gauthier line; they got outplayed (after an initial shot attempt by Spezza) and had to ice the puck on the shift. I wonder how many more times we will see that line get used after a goal against after that. Nobody on that line played over seven minutes on the night and this doesn’t seem sustainable to have basically a non-existent fourth line that isn’t making any impact.
7. It’s not Tyson Barrie’s fault on the next goal (a 2v1), but he also could have played it better. Anytime the pass gets through, the defense is of note on the play. All your job is in that situation is take away the pass; if the goalie is beat clean on the shot, there isn’t much to say. The goal was primarily on Kasperi Kapanen, though, as he got way too cute at the offensive zone blue line and got burned.
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) December 28, 2019
That was three goals in about ten minutes for the Devils, the second straight game the Leafs were sloppy for an extended period of time and got burned. To the Leafs credit, they did respond with a good run of offensive shifts. Engvall got robbed, Tavares missed a tap in, and the Leafs had three shifts in a row of a strong offensive push.
Tavares put seven shots on net in this game, by the way, as he was all over the place making plays.
8. Before the Leafs scored on the power play to tie the game, it was a 4v4 and in order to preserve the top power-play unit for the man advantage time, Keefe went with Kerfoot – Kapanen / Muzzin – Dermott. I think Rielly was just getting some rest there because he was just on the ice (he doesn’t play top power-play unit right now).
The strategy worked — the Leafs put their top unit on once the power play started and they tied the game relatively easily. Nylander made the pass to Tavares for an easy goal (for him anyway). This isn’t particularly surprising, but of all Leafs playing their off-wing on the power play half-wall, Nylander seems the most comfortable. Matthews has a kind of awkward one-timer, but Nylander does not.
Matthews had a really awkward one-timer in overtime on the power play that led to a zone clear for the Devils. When it was 4v4 again with a little over a minute to go in a tie game, it was the same four Leafs that were trotted out for the 4v4 shift again.
9. Before the Leafs tied it, Michael Hutchinson made a big save on Jack Hughes, who got in all alone in front of him. It wasn’t a banner night for him – he let in four goals – but none of them were awful. The criticism of him has been pretty simple to this point: While every goal is not exactly bad, he has to make a save at some point. Ultimately, he picked up his second straight win and this is kind of where it’s at with this team: If he makes one or two big saves and doesn’t let in anything awful, he has a chance to collect a win.
10. I legitimately have no idea what Damon Severson was thinking on his own goal to end the game, but it was a somewhat fitting way for it to end as the game was pretty loose and messy overall. It was a nice play by William Nylander to create the turnover, but he was the one that turned it over in the first place for Hughes to take possession. At times over the years, we have seen Nylander turn those pucks over and not work to get it back, so it was nice to see that second effort from him — he was rewarded accordingly.
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) December 28, 2019
Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts
Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts
Video Poker and Its Difference from The Regular Poker Played at Casino
Poker is one of the most popular games to play at casinos and is enjoyed by millions of players all over the world. One of the reasons why poker is so popular is because of all the different varieties that can be played. The most common version of poker is Texas Hold ‘Em, but you can also play five-card draw, stud poker, casino hold ‘em and video poker. Video poker is a unique version of the game that can be described as a combination of poker and slots. It’s different from regular poker in that it isn’t played against other players and because the payouts depend on the hand.
While it’s usually played in person with real cards, it can also be played online. Poker sites that offer online games have become more popular than ever, and a growing number of people are now choosing to play online. Casumo is an online casino in Canada that offers lots of exciting poker games, including regular poker and video poker. Below are some of the key differences between regular poker and video poker.
For most people, video poker is a lot easier to play than regular poker. While they share a lot of similarities, the main difference is probably that video poker is easier to understand. In regular poker, you’re playing against other players, and you need to understand the strategy to get ahead. Choosing whether to fold, raise or call can be challenging, and there’s a lot more pressure when you’re sitting at a table playing against real players.
When you play video poker, you simply press the button on the screen or the terminal to deal. You then choose which cards to keep and which to swap and try to create the best poker hand. The game plays in the same way as five-card draw, only it’s all electronic. That means there’s no waiting for other players or deciding on the correct strategy.
In poker, payouts can vary quite a lot, as they’ll depend on how much each player adds to the pot. Different tables will have different big and small blind amounts, and these will also change later on in the game. For tournaments, buy-ins can vary quite a bit. Sometimes, they’re free to enter, while others will cost thousands of dollars for a single entry. On the other hand, video poker displays its payouts on the pay-table, showing just how much, you can win.
Unlike regular poker, where you win the pot by beating the other players, the payout in video poker is determined by your hand. If you have Jacks or better, you’ll win the lowest amount, while a royal flush will win the highest. For most video poker games, the royal flush awards a huge payout of 800x your stake. One thing to note is that for some games, the higher payout is only available for maximum stake bets. So, if you’re betting less than the maximum, it could be lower than 800x.
In regular poker, you need to wait for each player to choose an action before you can make yours. If you’re playing online, there’s normally a time to speed things up, but it’s still time that you’ll be sitting and waiting around. This isn’t the case with video poker, where the cards are instantly dealt to you when you press the button. There’s no waiting for a dealer to shuffle or any other players to make their decision because there aren’t any. As soon as you press the button, you’ll see your cards appear and can plan out whether you want to keep them or draw new ones.
Families of Flight PS752 victims call for cancellation of soccer match with Iran – CBC News
Families who lost loved ones in the destruction of Flight PS752 are demanding that Canada Soccer abandon its plan to host Iran for a men’s soccer friendly next month in Vancouver.
The families call the planned match a slap in the face and say they want the federal government to refuse to grant visas to Iranian soccer players and those travelling with the team.
“They have no understanding, they have no sympathy, they have no hearts, in my opinion, Canada Soccer,” said Hamed Esmaeilion, spokesperson for the association representing families. His wife and 9-year-old daughter died on the flight.
“I feel betrayed by the organization and betrayed by the government … This is a way to normalize the relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran. It’s called sports-washing.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the Ukrainian jetliner with a pair of surface-to-air missiles shortly after takeoff in Tehran in 2020, killing all 176 people onboard, including 85 Canadians and permanent residents.
Iran has blamed a series of human errors for the downing of the commercial plane. Canada’s own forensic analysis found that the IRGC’s “recklessness, incompetence, and wanton disregard for human life” was to blame.
A UN special rapporteur went further, accusing Iranian authorities of multiple violations of human rights and international law in the lead-up to the missile attack and its aftermath.
The families say this soccer match opens up the border to the IRGC and they wonder whether Iranian intelligence agents will travel with the team to Canada.
Kambiz Foroohar, a journalist and strategic consultant focusing on Iran, has written that in recent decades most sports clubs in Iran have been “taken over by political or security-military organizations, with former Revolutionary guards holding the top positions.”
“Because of football’s popularity, there is significant involvement by regime insiders,” he wrote on the Middle East Institute’s website.
‘It wasn’t a very good idea’ — Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told CBC News that arranging the game was not a good idea and that Canada Soccer needs to explain itself. Asked whether the federal government might refuse to grant visas to the visiting Iranian team, Trudeau did not answer.
“This was a choice by [Canada Soccer],” Trudeau told a press conference in St. John’s. “I think it wasn’t a very good idea to invite the Iranian soccer team here to Canada, but that’s something the organizer’s going to have to explain.”
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in a statement that it could not comment on any specific visa requests “without written consent” due to privacy rules. It said that all visitors are “carefully screened” before coming into Canada and can be considered inadmissible for violating human or international rights, or if there are security concerns.
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacts to news of soccer match with Iran
On Tuesday, Canada Soccer issued a statement defending the decision to stage the match in Canada.
“At Canada Soccer, we believe in the power of sport and its ability to bring people from different backgrounds and political beliefs together for a common purpose,” said the statement.
“Iran is one of 32 participating member associations at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and Canada Soccer continues to follow all international protocols in staging this match. We are focused on preparations for our Men’s National Team to compete on the world stage.”
The destruction of Flight PS752 isn’t the only source of questions about the planned June 5 soccer match at B.C. Place Stadium.
Discrimination against women at soccer matches
FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, ordered Iran in 2019 to allow women to access its stadiums without any restrictions. Iran promised to end its roughly 40-year ban and changed the rules on paper.
But Human Rights Watch reported that Iranian authorities stopped dozens of women on March 29 from entering a soccer stadium to watch a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying match between Iran and Lebanon.
A video on social media appears to show women in front of the stadium alleging pepper spray was used to disperse them after they already had purchased tickets to the game in the city of Mashhad.
The Iranian Football Federation later issued a statement saying that, “due to a lack of preparation,” they couldn’t accommodate women at the game and that fraudulent tickets were given out by fans.
Iranian soccer fan Sahar Khodayari, nicknamed Blue Girl, died after setting herself on fire outside a court in Tehran in 2019. Khodayari had been charged after trying to enter a stadium dressed as a man.
‘My daughter Reera loved soccer’
Esmaeilion questions why a Canadian government that takes pains to present itself as feminist would want to have anything to do with this team.
“This government claims they are a defender of women’s rights,” he said. “They invite Iranian football federation here. They have no respect for women’s rights.”
His wife Parisa Eghbalian and 9-year-old daughter Reera Esmaeilion died on Flight PS752. Reera played for the Richmond Hill Soccer Club.
“My daughter Reera loved soccer and played the sport every week,” he said. “My memory of her love for this game makes this situation even more confusing and difficult to process.”
He said there’s a double-standard at work in the soccer realm that encourages countries to sanction Russia through sports, but not Iran.
Victims’ families have written letters to Canada Soccer and Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. The families say they have not received a response yet. They’re also calling on Canadian players to push back against the game.
Oilers and Flames alumni recall Battle of Alberta from playoffs past – TSN
Marty Gelinas saw the Battle of Alberta from both sides over a number of years but there’s one memory that stands out above the rest.
On April 14, 1991 during overtime of Game 6 of the Smythe Division Semifinals, Calgary Flames forward Theo Fleury picked off a Mark Messier pass in the neutral zone and beat Edmonton Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr to tie the series at 3-3.
Gelinas was just 20 and in his third season as a left-winger with the Oilers, in the last playoff series they played against the Flames, back in 1991. There were plenty of goals, fights, and penalties in that seven-game series, but the former first-round draft pick will never forget Fleury’s celebration after he scored in OT to end Game 6.
Fleury slid on his knees across centre ice at the old Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, an iconic celebration that still makes highlights reels three decades later. For the home team Oilers that night, however, Fleury’s celebration was motivation for Game 7, which Edmonton won with an overtime goal of its own by Esa Tikkanen.
Gelinas, who now works in player development for the Flames, still remembers – 31 years later – the impact Fleury’s celebration had on his underdog Oilers team.
“I remember Theo Fleury coming in our building in Edmonton and he scored a goal in overtime and went the full length of his ice and got on his knees and celebrated,” Gelinas recalled. “You know, those things fuel up the opposite team and it fuelled us up. We went there to Calgary in Game 7…that goal [by Fleury] stuck with us.”
Gelinas, now 51, spent parts of five seasons with the Oilers (and was part of the return for Wayne Gretzky when No. 99 was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings on Aug. 9, 1988), and also scored several big goals for the Flames during their 2004 run to the Stanley Cup Final.
In the old Smythe Division, postseason Battles Of Alberta were not once-in-a-generation events, but almost an annual rite of spring. Between the 1982-83 and 1990-91 seasons, the two teams met in the playoffs five times, with the Oilers winning four of the meetings.
“I think it was more or less the cities that were excited that the two teams were always facing off back then,” Joel Otto, who was a big rugged centre for those Flames teams, told TSN.
“Having bragging rights is a big thing out here in Alberta. Unfortunately Edmonton got the better of us more often than not, but they were some memorable series and we are all looking forward to this round. It’s been a long time coming.”
In those days, the Alberta rivals would play each other up to 16 times during the regular season – and that built-up animosity would carry over into the postseason. For the now 60-year-old Otto, the physicality of those rounds stands out.
“I do remember the ‘91 playoffs was very physical,” he said. “I kept saying after the fact that I’d never been hit that hard so many times. Edmonton had a pretty big defence. That was how the game was played.”
He isn’t alone.
“There was a lot of hate involved,” former Flames goalie Mike Vernon said. “I was fortunate enough to play in the ‘86 series and it was just mayhem. Even the trainers got into it, hopping over the glass to get a stick that was thrown in the crowd. There was a lot going on. It was probably a lot more physicality.”
“It was a jungle out there,” said Gelinas.
While the games were raucous on the ice, the fans were cordial off it.
“The fans were very respectful,” Otto said. “They were awesome…the passion from the fans for the most part was the same, it’s just the stakes are higher during the playoffs.”
Vernon agreed, although he did have one intense experience involving Flames fans in Edmonton.
“One time, I made the mistake on an off-day of going to the golf course and hitting some balls on the range,” he said. “My own fans were like, ‘Shouldn’t you be practising? Shouldn’t you be doing this? Shouldn’t you be doing that?’ I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m out of here.’”
Vernon, now 59, also remembers the gamesmanship.
“The coaches don’t say much, they hide things, they say things that are off the wall, and you’re scratching your head,” he said. “It’s all about keeping your team focused in what their job is on the ice.”
Vernon, being from Calgary, felt the extra pressure of shining against the provincial rivals.
“There’s a lot of excitement about it but there’s also that pressure,” he said. “Grant Fuhr was the same way [growing up in Edmonton]. Patrick Roy played for the Montreal Canadiens and he grew up in Montreal. It adds a lot of pressure, there’s no doubt. That’s just part of the game. That’s what drives us a bit and maybe forces us to play better. Us three, we had longevity in the NHL. It also pushed us to be better players, I believe.”
Alumni from both teams will no doubt be watching as this second-round series unfolds starting Wednesday in Calgary, and a new chapter of the Battle Of Alberta is written.
“I anticipate good hockey but very physical,” Vernon said. “I think that with the two-referee system, you can’t get away with anything on the ice. I think discipline is going to be a big key in this. Teams don’t want to be in the penalty box. Both teams have great power plays…I think both teams are going to play very cautiously from that standpoint so you’ll just see good hits. You’ll see great hockey. It’s a given.”
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