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Game in 10: Jack Campbell solid in return, Maple Leafs' penalty kill stays hot in win over Philadelphia – Maple Leafs Hot Stove

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PHOTO BY ERIC HARTLINE /USA Today Sports

The Maple Leafs won with their B- effort in Philadelphia on Saturday night, riding an opportunistic offense, a strong performance from Jack Campbell in his return to the crease, and yet another shorthanded goal to a 6-3 victory.

Your game in 10:

1.   With the completely-unreliable Petr Mrazek now something of an afterthought for the rest of the season due to another long-term groin injury, by far the most important aspect of this game was always going to be the performance of Jack Campbell in his first game back in the net. In that regard, this game was a positive step forward.

It was a .906 performance on the stat sheet, but there wasn’t anything he could do about any of the three Flyers goals, and most importantly, Campbell looked like the 2021 version of himself while keeping the score tied early, including a sprawling glove save on Morgan Frost just one minute into the game. The Leafs didn’t exactly ease him in with their play for the first two periods, which might not have been a bad thing in a way — Campbell got to feel the puck early and seemed to find his groove quickly in this game.

He opened and closed his first period in nearly a month with some big saves. With 10 seconds left in the period, Campbell turned aside a scoring chance for Oskar Lindblom, and he was in position on the second opportunity for Travis Konecny (who fired wide) to keep it at 0-0 entering the second period.

He also needed to be sharp to end the second period to keep the game tied at 2-2 as the Leafs were again sloppy closing out the period. Throughout the game, he was sharp reading the play, handled the puck outside of his crease better than he was before the injury, and didn’t give up much in terms of rebound opportunities.

Just one start, but it’s an important first step.


2.   The team’s best line by far in a mostly-forgettable first half of the game was the Pierre Engvall – David Kampf – William Nylander trio that generated the Leafs’ first good chance five minutes in and buzzed inside of the offensive zone on many of their shifts.

After a bland shift from the top line to start the second period, the third line came over the boards and generated the Leafs’ first good chance of the middle frame also. On their next shift in the middle frame, in response to the Flyers’ 1-0 goal four minutes into the period, the line went out and put together a hard-working shift where they were buzzing the Flyers’ net, ending in Engvall drawing a holding penalty.

The Leafs’ power play didn’t score on the subsequent man advantage, but it possessed the puck inside the zone for nearly the full two minutes and generated plenty of looks and momentum — that all started with the effort from the Nylander line in response to the goal against.


3.   On the surface, it may seem like a strange fit for William Nylander on that line (and I’m not necessarily suggesting that the Leafs’ optimal look up front includes Nylander centered by Kampf), but Pierre Engvall and Nylander, in particular, have had several positive games building chemistry together. When the two are at full flight on the rush, they can get in behind the defense or back the defense off with their speed. They also had a number of good moments applying puck pressure when forechecking and backchecking, where they were able to force turnovers and create offensive opportunities from them, in addition to linking up nicely a few times off of the cycle.

These past few games have been by far the most engaged Nylander has looked in the past month without the puck, and combined with Engvall’s efforts (and David Kampf’s dependable support play), it has led to some quality zone time and chances for this line at 5v5.

The famously inconsistent (in seasons past) Engvall has been stringing together runs of consecutive games where he is a consistent force driving play north with his puck transportation as well as his forechecking and cycling, in addition to his contributions on the penalty kill, where he scored a shorthanded goal that showed off an underrated weapon of his: a hard and accurate shot.


4.  The Leafs tied the game at 1-1 right around the midway point of the game after catching the Flyers sleeping on a line change during a called-off icing. TJ Brodie sprung Wayne Simmonds free on a breakaway that Simmonds got a bit of luck finishing off for his first goal in 33 games.

To my eye this season, Brodie has been more of a factor offensively with stretch passes that have sent Leafs attackers in alone or sprung odd-man rushes; it’s good to see him contributing a little more in this area after he was really quiet offensively last season (while bringing a ton of defensive value, to be clear). It’s particularly notable that he’s chipping in a little more offensively knowing he’s currently playing on a pairing with Justin Holl and not Morgan Rielly, with whom he provides the safety valve that supports Rielly’s offensive exploits.

At even strength, Brodie is up to four goals and seven primary assists after recording just one goal and three primary assists last season. If we look at the defensemen that played more than 900 minutes last season, Brodie was bottom five and bottom 10 in goals per 60 and primary assists per 60, respectively; this season, he’s middle of the pack in both categories.


5.   Overall, it wasn’t Auston Matthews’ sharpest game over 200 feet, as he was out to lunch in front of his own net on the first two Flyers goals. I think I would’ve gone in a different direction with the starting line for the final frame (if not the second period) after the top line didn’t seem to have its usual stuff and started each period a little bit flat.

Of course, this line can change a game in an instant with a moment or two of brilliance, and that’s exactly what happened in the third period. Matthews’ 50th goal was scored into an empty net, and so was his 51st, only the Flyers hadn’t pulled their goalie for this one. Mitch Marner patiently and surgically sliced through the Flyers defense, froze the goaltender, and handed Matthews one of his easiest goals of the year on a pass from behind the net for the 3-2 go-ahead goal.


6.  After the Flyers narrowed the lead to one at 4-3, the top line also switched it on for a shift leading to the Morgan Rielly goal that all but put the game away at 5-3. That’s Rielly’s third goal and ninth point in his last four games. Safe to say he’s heating back up after his zero-goals-and-seven-points-in-17-game stretch.

In a similar vein, coming off of a 14-game goalless drought, John Tavares is now up to seven goals and 15 points in his last 14 after his 6-3 snipe that sealed the game.


7.   When you don’t have your best stuff at 5v5, it certainly helps to have a penalty kill that is consistently outplaying power plays and generating chances (and goals) galore of late. Over the last two weeks (seven games), the Leafs’ PK has four goals for and five goals against. And it’s not some unsustainable shooting percentage bender that has them leading the league with 12 shorthanded goals. Over the course of the season, the Leafs’ shot attempts for, scoring chances for, and expected goals for generation at 4v5 are leaps and bounds above the next best team.

The best chance of the Flyers’ first-period power-play went to Pierre Engvall and Ilya Mikheyev, who nearly connected on a backdoor play on a 2v1. On the Flyers’ third-period power play, the Leafs grabbed the game-winner right at the end of the PK via Engvall’s goal off the rush.

The team has multiple forward-pair combinations that can burn the opposing PK with their speed the other way, allowing them to keep the aggressive puck pressure and transition threat alive over the full two minutes; the Flyers were gassed at the end of their power play, and Engvall simply coasted down the ice and ripped it far side.


8.   That is two games in a row where the Leafs capped a high-scoring win (7-3 and 6-3) with a fight at the end of the game that their combatant won handily — first, it was Kyle Clifford beating up Brendan Dillon against Winnipeg (a rematch from their Dec. 5 bout), and tonight it was Wayne Simmonds getting the better of Zack MacEwen after the two nearly squared off early in the game (the refs jumped in and broke it up before it started).

I am not here to blow it out of proportion and it obviously has to be kept in perspective in terms of the actual win-loss impact, but there is something to be said for beating a team on the scoreboard and capping it with a win in the alley to settle a score; it probably adds a little swagger to the group and makes everyone skate a little bit taller.


9.   Not a ton to dissect about Nick Abruzzese’s nine minutes of ice time tonight in what was mostly a forgettable night for his line with Colin Blackwell and Wayne Simmonds. After one relatively harmless turnover early in the game, Abruzzese completed a few passes throughout the game to continue sequences on the breakout, and he didn’t make any errors of note in terms of missed assignments defensively. All in all, a non-descript first taste of NHL action for the Harvard product, who had zeros across the board on the game sheet.


10.   This was just the third game this season in which the Leafs lost the Corsi battle in all three periods of play, but they turned it on in the third period, generated some big shifts and scoring chances, and took full advantage of their opportunities to claim the two points.

Sheldon Keefe’s reflections after the game suggested the players thought they could switch it on intermittently and win this game; they were proven right about that, which is probably why Keefe was harsh in his public assessment of the performance — a bit of extra vigilance around any complacency setting in at this time of year.

The level of urgency is rising with just a dozen or so games left to play, and the Leafs need to bring their best stuff for this big back-to-back against Florida and Tampa on Monday-Tuesday. 


Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts


Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts


Game Highlights: Leafs 6 vs. Flyers 3

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Oilers score four unanswered, even series with Game 2 win over Flames – TSN

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CALGARY — Zach Hyman scored the winning goal shorthanded for the Edmonton Oilers in Friday’s 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames to even their playoff series at one victory apiece.

Edmonton captain Connor McDavid‘s goal and assist Friday made him the fastest active player to reach 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in a single post-season, and fastest among any player since Mario Lemieux in 1992.

Leon Draisaitl and defenceman Duncan Keith each had a goal and two assists and Evan Bouchard also scored for Edmonton.

After he was pulled early in Game 1, Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 37 saves for the win and assisted on Draisaitl’s insurance goal.

Michael Stone, Brett Ritchie and Tyler Toffoli scored for Calgary, which led 3-1 midway through the second period.

Johnny Gaudreau had two assists. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped 35 shots in the loss.

The best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal heads to Edmonton’s Rogers Place for Sunday’s Game 3 and Tuesday’s Game 4. The Oilers went 18-4-2 at Rogers Place over their final 24 games of the regular season.

Calgary (50-21-11) topped the Pacific Division ahead of runner-up Edmonton (49-27-6) in the regular season. The Alberta rivals are squaring off in the playoffs for a sixth time, but the first since 1991.

One of the NHL’s top teams five-on-five, the Flames were shorthanded for almost 11 minutes Friday. Edmonton scored its first power-play goal of the series midway through the second period to send the game into the third deadlocked 3-3.

Hyman turned Calgary’s offensive-zone turnover into a breakaway. He scored the shorthanded, go-head goal going upstairs on Markstrom at 10:14.

Smith head-manned the puck to Draisaitl for another breakaway just over two minutes later. The forward, who is playing through a lower-body injury, put the puck off the post and in on Markstrom’s stick side at 12:36.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins penalized for slashing at 16:48, the Flames couldn’t convert a power play into a goal. Calgary went 1-for-5 with a man advantage in the game, while the Oilers were 1-for-6.

Two broken Oiler sticks contributed to a pair of Flames goals in the first two periods. Defenceman Darnell Nurse was hampered down low without his in the second period and didn’t manage an exchange with a forward.

Gaudreau threaded a pass to the front of the crease for Elias Lindholm to flip to Toffoli, who scored a power-play goal at 2:04 for a 3-1 Calgary lead.

Draisaitl’s goal at 2:31 of the second was waived off. Flames head coach Darryl Sutter successfully challenged goaltender interference by McDavid.

But McDavid struck seconds later to draw Edmonton within a goal. He rolled off Calgary defenceman Nikita Zadorov into open ice, took a pass from Keith and stickhandled the puck by Markstrom’s outstretched pad at 3:05.

Bouchard pulled the Oilers even at 15:03 during Stone’s double minor for high-sticking. The defenceman wired a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle upstairs on Markstrom.

After setting the record for the fastest two goals to start a playoff game in the series opener with a pair within 51 seconds, Calgary struck early again, 63 seconds after puck drop.

Edmonton, and Smith, recovered faster than in Game 1, however. The Oilers carried offensive zone time and had more chances from the slot than Calgary in the first period.

Hyman celebrated an Oilers goal with just over four minutes left in the opening period, but officials waived it off. The whistle blew before the puck crossed the goal-line in a crease scramble. The Flames took a 2-1 lead into the second.

Keith halved the deficit at 13:45 of the first . McDavid circling out from behind the net held off Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson with one arm and held the puck on his stick with the other.

Edmonton’s captain shovelled a one-handed pass to Keith, who beat Markstrom far side.

The hosts led 2-0 at 6:02 when Smith bobbled an Erik Gudbranson shot. Ritichie pounced on the loose puck in the crease and put a backhand by the Oilers’ goalie.

Hyman broke his stick and wasn’t able to retrieve another from the bench before Stone’s slapshot from the point beat Smith bottom corner glove side at 1:03.

The Flames were minus top shutdown defenceman Chris Tanev for a third straight game. He was injured in Game 6 of Calgary’s first-round series against Dallas. Tanev skated in practice this week, but hasn’t dressed for games.

Notes: Gaudreau extended his playoff point streak to seven consecutive games (two goals, 10 assists) and tied Lanny McDonald (1984) for the fifth-longest in Flames history . . . McDavid stretched his playoff multi-point streak to five straight games. The only other players in NHL history with a run of five or more multi-point games were Wayne Gretzky (1983), Tony Currie (1981), Darryl Sittler (1977), Evgeni Malkin (2009) and Dale Hawerchuk (1993) . . . Keith became the oldest Oiler to score a playoff goal at 38 years, 308 days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2022.

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How the internet has changed the sporting world

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The internet has slowly changed how people participate in sports. One of the areas that were greatly influenced was virtual games. While there was a time one needed to get a PlayStation or Xbox, this has changed over time. Most players simply go online and get to play on their phones or computers. As such online games have become more popular over the years.

Perhaps one of the leading games to thrive has got to be online betting. If you want to find out more about bet365 sportsbook Canada, you can get all that information on the internet. It has made it easier for more people to join the online gaming space and become active members there.

Fans have also changed how they consume their sporting activities. Before the internet era, one needed to go to the stadium to watch a live game. The only other option aside from living sports was watching it on television or listening to the radio. With the internet, live games keep being aired daily.

As long as you have the internet on your phone or device, you can access games from any part of the world and watch them live.

You can also save the game and watch it later if you want to analyze it. It has led to an increase in the fan base since so many more people can watch the sports. It has also helped those who want to place bets on certain games to do it without an issue.

The introduction of virtual games has led to the international online tournament being arranged. While other sports need most people to travel from one place to another, this is no longer the case.

Fans from around the world gather and participate in different games without traveling. It has led to a rise of online players with their community and laws over them. The online gaming community has come together in the past and done things for strangers they have never met.

While there is some good in the online space, there is also negativity that comes from it. The anonymity the online space gives its people has made it easier for most people to judge others without fear of repercussions.

There have been cases where players have been bullied so much that they quit a sport. There has also been a situation where teams have lost sponsorships because online fans boycotted the matches. Whether these fans were on the right or not, it shows how much reach the online space has.

More sports companies hire PR teams to ensure that whatever happens in a game or with their players is taken care of. That way, the game’s credibility is maintained, and more fans can keep streaming in. Most players have also learned to be more cautious of how they carry around their fans lest they get painted in a bad light.

Running a sports academy has been made easier with the internet of things connecting so many tools. Managers simply need to put the right system in place, and they can monitor how their business is running.

With the touch of a button, staff gets paid, and invoices are made. New players can also sign up for these programs. It ensures that sports academies can run without hassle.

The internet has transformed how we look at things, and the sports areas are not different from all these changes. Soon all fans and players will have to be on these platforms. It is the only way to connect and offer whatever support one is giving a team or a sport.

 

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Hockey’s Battle Of Alberta Is Back

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The path to the Stanley Cup is going through one of hockey’s signature rivalries this spring, with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers squaring off in the NHL’s Western Conference semifinals. (The Flames took Game 1 in a wild 9-6 shootout on Wednesday night; Game 2 is Friday night in Calgary.) Not only will the series determine who carries the banner for all of Canada in hopes of ending its painful 29-year Cup drought,<a class=”espn-footnote-link” data-footnote-id=”1″ href=”https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/hockeys-battle-of-alberta-is-back-and-as-entertaining-as-ever/#fn-1″ data-footnote-content=”

Before the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, Edmonton and Calgary were the second- and third-most recent Canadian teams to win it all (in 1990 and 1989, respectively).

“>1 but it represents a fierce clash between provincial neighbors with almost as much history, and hostility, on the ice as off.

So with the help of our Elo ratings, let’s take a tour through the history of the rivalry, tracing the rise and fall — and rise again — of Western Canada’s most bitter foes.

Though the two franchises started out at the same time, they took very different paths to what would eventually become an iconic rivalry. The Oilers first played in 1972 as a charter member of the upstart World Hockey Association and were known at the time as the Alberta Oilers, under an early plan (which never materialized) to split home games between Edmonton and Calgary.<a class=”espn-footnote-link” data-footnote-id=”2″ href=”https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/hockeys-battle-of-alberta-is-back-and-as-entertaining-as-ever/#fn-2″ data-footnote-content=”

After the WHA’s initial Calgary franchise (the Broncos) ran into funding problems and moved to Cleveland before playing a single game in Alberta.

“>2 Rooting itself explicitly in Edmonton — and changing to a more familiar name — starting in 1973, the team still found little success in the WHA … until it bought the rights to a skinny 17-year-old prospect named Wayne Gretzky. With Gretzky leading the way as a rookie in 1978-79, Edmonton nearly won the WHA’s last Avco Cup title, and his Oilers were absorbed into the NHL when the leagues merged in 1979.

Meanwhile, the Flames were born in 1972 as well, beginning their NHL life in the unconventional hockey market of Atlanta. Though largely forgotten now, the Atlanta Flames had some pretty good seasons in the mid-to-late 1970s — and in a certain sense, they can be seen as an early audition for the NHL’s later, more successful forays into the American South. But when financial losses mounted for Flames ownership in 1980, the team was sold to Canadian investors and moved northwest. Thus it came to be that the NHL had two Alberta-based franchises, destined to battle across the deep cultural divide that has always separated Edmontonians from Calgarians.

The conflict was fierce from the start, with one of the most penalty-filled games in the history of the rivalry taking place in just the second Edmonton-Calgary game ever. The teams avoided playoff confrontation early in their time as neighbors — until 1983 and 1984, that is, as the Oilers eliminated the Flames en route to the Stanley Cup final both years. (Game 7 of the 1984 division finals was a particularly wild affair, with Calgary taking a 4-3 lead midway through before Edmonton scored four unanswered goals to advance — a stepping stone on the path to the Oilers’ first Cup.) While the two teams had been on the same level in Elo at the beginning of the 1980s, the emergence of Gretzky and Edmonton’s high-scoring offense gave the Oilers a dynasty — and a clear edge in the Battle of Alberta by the middle of the decade.

But things got more competitive as the Flames began building a strong talent base of their own. Calgary improved from minus-3 in goal differential in 1984 to plus-61 in 1985 on the strength of the NHL’s second-best offense, trailing only Edmonton. And when the two teams matched up again in the playoffs in 1986, Oilers defenseman Steve Smith scored an infamous own-goal in Game 7 — accidentally banking the puck off netminder Grant Fuhr’s skate on a pass from behind the net — providing Calgary the margin to finally beat their rivals in the division finals. (The Flames would go on to lose to Montreal in an all-Canadian Cup final.)

That was a rare miscue for Edmonton: It marked the only time from 1984 through 1988 that the Oilers didn’t win the Cup. As much as Calgary improved over the course of the ’80s, Edmonton usually was a step ahead; even when the Flames finished a franchise-best No. 2 in Elo in 1987-88, the Oilers were No. 1. But Gretzky’s shocking departure for Los Angeles in August 1988 changed the rivalry — and the Flames seized on the opportunity to surpass their rivals, closing out the decade with the franchise’s first (and, for now, only) Stanley Cup triumph.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Oilers bounced back from their post-Gretzky downturn to begin the 1990s, capitalizing on their former captain’s own first-round win (with the L.A. Kings) over Calgary to then sweep Los Angeles in the following round and ultimately win yet another Cup. For those counting, that meant either Edmonton or Calgary had won four consecutive championships and six of the previous seven. The Battle of Alberta was effectively the battle to control the entire NHL.

But little did the teams know that would be the last Cup for either franchise in three decades and counting. As the economics of the NHL shifted during the 1990s to favor higher-payroll teams — and, relatedly, the American dollar — the Flames and Oilers fell behind. From 1992-93 through 2002-03, the teams combined to win only two playoff series: Edmonton’s pair of improbable seven-game victories over No. 2 seeds in 1997 (the Dallas Stars) and 1998 (the Colorado Avalanche). But while Oilers goalie Curtis “Cujo” Joseph was brilliant in both upsets, the decade as a whole was a time of decline and mediocrity in Alberta.

That trend carried over into the 2000s at first, reaching its nadir when neither team made the playoffs at all in 2001-02 — the first time that was true in the rivalry’s history. But each franchise was due for a moment of excitement, however brief.

The Flames had their turn first, improving by nearly 20 points in the standings under former (and, incidentally, current) coach Darryl Sutter in 2003-04. Hall of Fame winger Jarome Iginla finally had the goaltending help — in the form of Miikka Kiprusoff — to power a deep postseason run, and Calgary even held a 3-2 lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Cup final before losing a double-OT heartbreaker at home in Game 6 and another tight contest in Game 7.

After a lockout torpedoed the entire 2004-05 season — and radically changed the economics of the league yet again — Edmonton went on a run of its own behind the standout play of defenseman Chris Pronger and journeyman goalie Dwayne Roloson (a former Flame!). Falling behind three-games-to-one against the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup final, the Oilers rallied to force a Game 7, though they lost on the road to match their rivals’ fate from two years earlier.

The Battle of Alberta had seen both of its competitors come close to winning championships in the mid-2000s. But instead of serving as the prelude to another era of 1980s-style dominance, those Cup final runs were mostly a mirage. Edmonton would miss each of the next 10 postseasons, and Calgary failed to muster another series win for nearly as long.

Which brings us to the current era of the rivalry. The Flames have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league since the mid-2010s, bouncing between decent seasons and bad ones across multiple coaches and an influx of younger talent such as Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm. The Oilers spent most of the 2010s squandering draft picks, making horrible transactions or generally wasting their chances to build around the once-in-a-generation talent of Connor McDavid.

And yet, both franchises have been on the rise recently. Calgary was one of the NHL’s best teams throughout the 2021-22 regular season, with a deep roster, plenty of star power and a rock-solid goalie in Jacob Markstrom. Edmonton received its typical 1-2 superstar punch from McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but the Oilers also finished the regular season as the best stretch-run team in the league according to Elo. Along those lines, both clubs were among the top three in goal differential over the second half of the schedule. These teams were in good form for their first playoff meeting since 1991, despite both requiring seven games to dispatch lower-seeded opponents in Round 1, and that showed with 15 total goals in Game 1.

After Calgary’s win, our model gives the Flames a 69 percent chance of winning the series and moving on to the Western Conference final. But if the history between these teams is any indication, anything can happen from here on out. In many ways, this series has been decades in the making — and not just because of the cartoonish, 1980s-style scoreline of the opener. While Alberta is no longer the center of the hockey universe it once was, the path to the Stanley Cup will still run through the province. And that means this rivalry is officially back as one of hockey’s best.

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