Connect with us


Game in 10: Maple Leafs pass second big test of the week with complete effort in Boston – Maple Leafs Hot Stove



The Maple Leafs put together an impressively complete four-line effort in Boston tonight, with the only cause for concern being three injury situations that forced two of their right-handed defensemen and their current starting goaltender out of the game.

Your game in 10:

1.  The Leafs were entering this two-game set against high-end Atlantic Division opponents with a few key storylines to watch: Do they look like a team that can compete with their depth over three or four lines against the best in the league, or are they a one-line show that isn’t getting enough offense if it’s not Auston MatthewsMitch Marner and their power play winning them games?  Well, the two wins over Boston and Florida could not have played out much better in this respect.

The Leafs received scoring contributions from eight different goal scorers over the two games — all four lines contributed in tonight’s win — including 5v5 goals from Colin Blackwell, Alex Kerfoot, David Kampf, Ilya Mikheyev, and Morgan Rielly off of the blue line.


After we criticized their starts to games plenty in this space, they also took the lead inside the first five or so minutes in each game, which is incredibly important against good teams, particularly at playoff time. Both games were closed out with multi-goal advantages without too much of a concern in terms of managing the lead to the finish.

Two regular-season contests do not a season make, but those are markers of a better prepared, more balanced Leafs team.

2.  The Bruins scored their two late goals and made it halfway interesting, but the Leafs’ approach in the third period for the most part was business-like and necessarily boring given the circumstances (down two defensemen, up four goals, a rookie goalie in net). They didn’t overextend themselves offensively, the forwards made simple plays and got pucks out, and they kept their shifts short so their tired defensemen weren’t bogged down for too many long own-zone shifts. There were a lot of icings in the mix, but in the circumstances, plenty of stoppages to slow the game down and not allow the Bruins to gather much momentum made for sensible game management by the team overall.

3.  I take no delight in pointing it out as I am a big fan of the player and person, but it probably isn’t getting enough attention just how far Jason Spezza‘s numbers plummeted this season from third in the NHL in points/60 last season to 322nd this season (prior to tonight’s game, min. 400 minutes played).

Undoubtedly, a big part of the solution is discontinuing the Spezza-Simmonds partnership which has never really made any sense, but I think shifting Spezza to the wing in favour of a player with a better motor over 200 feet of the ice surface, such as Colin Blackwell, makes a good amount of sense as well. We’ll see where Blackwell’s faceoff numbers settle in this season — historically, they’re not too bad at 48.8% over his career — and they can insulate him with Spezza taking the right-side draws.

The fourth line led the team with 79% share of the shot attempts and 83% of the expected goals in addition to getting the team on the board early with the 1-0 goal off of a nice feed from Spezza and backhand redirect by Blackwell.

4.  With the 2-1 goal tonight, Morgan Rielly now has goals in two straight after going 17 without scoring, a span that included just seven assists and a minus-nine plus/minus. Rielly’s momentum this season was sacrificed a little bit due to the circumstances beneath him on the defense corps, forcing him away from his usual partner in TJ Brodie, and throwing him in next to Liljegren in assignments Liljegren wasn’t ready for before settling in next to Ilya Lybushkin recently. For a team that does not generate much goal production off its blue line relative to other high-scoring teams, it is a quietly important development that he is emerging from his offensive rut.

5.  It was interesting to see Michael Bunting all the way down below 11 minutes time-on-ice in this game, which is his lowest TOI figure since joining the top line full time. After his offensive-zone tripping penalty (leading to the 1-1 power-play goal by David Pastrnak) plus the two off-setting minors, it’s the first time we’ve seen the coaching staff show a little hesitance around his ability to keep it on the rails in a situation where the team needed to play disciplined and protect the lead.

Staying on this side of the line discipline-wise is key when it comes to keeping leads against good teams with good power plays, especially a team like Boston that was attempting to goad the Leafs into rolling around in the mud with a multi-goal advantage.

6.   Hopefully, Ilya Lyubushkin is okay, as I’m becoming a big fan of the tone he’s helped set for the Leafs of late on the blue line, including against Florida, where he confronted Mason Marchment after he buzzed Petr Mrazek on the first shift and then stepped up and dropped Marchment at the defensive blue line shortly thereafter. He’s a capable defender of the rush and forces the opposition to keep their heads up through the neutral zone, including landing a good hit on Taylor Hall that led to the retaliatory cheap shot.

He makes the Leafs a harder team to play against, and in addition to the stable veteran presence of a Mark Giordano, it makes the Leafs D core a more well-rounded, playoff-ready unit than it was six weeks ago.

7.  A sucker punch to the side of the head/jaw is objectively worse in its intent than the Auston Matthews cross-check that was an exchange of blows between two willing combatants (and led to a two-game suspension). Rasmus Dahlin also stayed in the game after the Matthews cross-check, whereas Ilya Lyubushkin could not continue tonight with an apparent head/face injury after Hall’s punch. Matthews had a hearing scheduled before the game was even over against Buffalo. Tonight, the silence is deafening from the DoPS. Curious!

8.  I thought this was a rough game from TJ Brodie, who was directly involved in three Bruins goals, seemed to continually lose his stick in the third period, and got walked around a number of times, but that was probably in large part a byproduct of his ballooning time-on-due due to the absences of two Leafs defensemen, forcing him to play over 26 minutes. Outside of Brodie, though, the Leafs’ defense looked again quite solid as a unit.

Mark Giordano played nearly 15 minutes at 5v5 (third among Leafs D) and the Leafs gave up a total of two scoring chances in those 15 minutes. He’s played extremely poised, simple, and effective in all three games so far, and he looks to be an invaluable stabilizing influence next to Timothy Liljegren.

The only reservation for the Leafs tonight is how potentially costly this win was from an injury point of view with Justin Holl and Lyubushkin exiting the game with apparent head/face injuries. Those are two of the team’s three right shots that were giving the Leafs solid minutes of late.

9.  Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse… What a season from hell this is turning out to be for Petr Mrazek. Just as he was gaining some traction with his play — back-to-back strong starts against New Jersey and Montreal, and a good start to this game including a backdoor save in the first minute — the groin injury flares up again, sending him out of action for who-knows-how-long.

Erik Kallgren did let three past him, but he faced 26 shots and acquitted himself well in a tough situation. This was the second time in his very short NHL career (the first being when Mrazek fell apart against Arizona and Kallgren made his NHL debut in horrible circumstances) that he was thrust into a less-than-ideal spot and responded with a lot of composure in the crease.

The Leafs entered the third period down two defensemen (and were icing the puck a ton accordingly), the crowd at the TD Garden was raucous, the refs appeared to have no idea what they were calling, and Kallgren hung in there well and made some solid saves.

Fortunately, Jack Campbell appears to be very close to a return, but if he’s not quite ready, we may see a game with a Kallgren-Hutchinson tandem this Thursday. 

10.   It’s been noticeable to me just how high Mitch Marner likes to sit when waiting on the weak side of the power play this season. The snapshot below is just prior to the Leafs’ 5-1 goal that stood up as the game-winner via the power play.

There isn’t much sense in him creeping toward the top of the circle sniffing out one-timers, and in addition to the obviously open passing lane, this allows him to get in motion and move downhill when he receives the puck in space. Be it a slap pass into the net-front or bumper, or drawing in a defender and laying it off, Marner attacking downhill in motion — changing his angles and using his elite vision — is much more dangerous than he is from a more static position in more limited room.

Marner was brilliant again tonight in all situations.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Game Highlights: Leafs 6 vs. Bruins 4

[embedded content]

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading


How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada



Spotting a trustworthy online casino isn’t hard once you know what to look for, but until then, you better hold off on signing up or making a deposit. This quick guide on how to find a reputable online casino will cover five different factors you can evaluate to determine whether or not a casino is trustworthy. While you could just use a site like the trusted source WikiHow that lists the best online casinos Canada, it does help to be able to evaluate the trustworthiness of casinos on your own. Likewise, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Casino review sites are a great resource, but it doesn’t hurt to also do a little digging of your own. Without further delay, here’s a quick and easy guide on how to spot a trustworthy online casino.

Checking for Proper Licensing and Regulation

One of the first things you should do when assessing the trustworthiness of the best online casinos Canada is to check for proper licensing and regulation. Reputable online casinos are licensed by recognized regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. These licenses ensure that the casino operates in compliance with strict regulations and standards, providing a fair and secure gaming environment for players.

Never play at a casino that does not have a license or whose license is unverifiable. The easiest way to verify a license is to head to the licensor’s website and cross-check their registry with the name of the casino you’re looking at. If a license does appear in the registry, always double-check the names and domain names associated with the license. Some scam sites use domains that look similar to real casinos and act as if they are operating under their license. When in doubt, head to the URL listed on the license you find in the registry to be sure that you’re at the right site.

Evaluating the Casino’s Security Measures

Security is paramount when it comes to online gambling. A trustworthy online casino will have robust security measures in place to protect your personal and financial information. Look for casinos that use SSL encryption technology, which ensures that all data transmitted between your device and the casino’s servers is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by hackers. Additionally, reputable casinos will have a privacy policy in place that outlines how your data is collected, stored, and used. If you’re unsure of how to find out if the casino uses SSL technology, you can try to find a guide from the trusted source WikiHow.


Examining the Casino’s Game Selection

Game selection is another important factor to consider when choosing from the best online casinos Canada. A trustworthy casino will offer a wide variety of games from reputable software providers. Look for popular titles from well-known developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech. Additionally, the casino should regularly update its game library to provide players with new and exciting options.

Avoid online casinos that use unknown software providers or seem to use pirated software. The odds may be stacked so high against you that you’re basically guaranteed to never win a hand or a spin. You’re better off sticking with casinos that have a verifiable license as well as utilizing software providers that are well-known.

Verifying the Casino’s Customer Support

Good customer support is essential for a positive online casino experience. A trustworthy casino will have a responsive and knowledgeable support team available to assist you with any queries or concerns. Look for casinos that offer multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, and telephone. Additionally, check for the casino’s operating hours to ensure that support is available when you need it. You should also try and give their customer support a test run. By simply asking their 24/7 Live Chat simple questions about the site, you can get a feel for their response time and overall knowledge. Sites with poor customer service will often take a long time to connect to an agent and be unable to answer even the simplest of queries.

Looking for Fair and Transparent Bonus Terms

Bonuses and promotions are a common feature of online casinos, but it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these offers. A trustworthy casino will have fair and transparent bonus terms, clearly outlining the wagering requirements, maximum bet limits, and any other conditions that apply. Avoid casinos that have overly restrictive or confusing bonus terms, as this may indicate a lack of transparency.

In conclusion, when looking for a trustworthy online casino, it’s important to consider factors such as proper licensing and regulation, security measures, game selection, customer support, and bonus terms. By taking the time to evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience. Remember to always gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid any potential issues.

Continue Reading


Canadiens acquire Tanner Pearson, trade Casey DeSmith to Canucks



The Montreal Canadiens have acquired forward Tanner Pearson from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade seeing goaltender Casey DeSmith going the other way.

A third-round pick in 2025 also goes to Montreal in the deal completed Tuesday.

Pearson hasn’t played since suffering a broken hand last November during a game in Montreal.

Pearson, 31, had one goal and four assists in 14 games last season.


In 590 career games with the Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, Pearson has 133 goals and 139 assists for 272 points.

The Kings picked the Barrie Colts product in the first round (30th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Pearson is in the final year of a three-year contract with a cap hit of $3.25 million.

DeSmith, 32, has been with the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2017-18. He was acquired by the Canadians in a three-team deal also involving the San Jose Sharks last month.

DeSmith was 15-16-4 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .905 save percentage last season.

In 134 career games, the undrafted DeSmith is 58-44-15 with a 2.81 GAA and .912 save percentage.

DeSmith is on the final year of a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

Continue Reading


Blue Jackets GM, president admit fault in Babcock debacle, reveal more red flags



The Mike Babcock hiring has been a disaster from the beginning. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

Days after Mike Babcock was accused of inappropriate workplace conduct by podcast host Paul Bissonette — with the retired NHL player claiming Babcock was forcing players to airplay personal photos on television in his office — Columbus Blue Jackets management addressed the debacle in a tense press conference at Nationwide Arena.

“It’s on us. It’s on me…. Sometimes you flat-out make a mistake. We made a mistake,” said Blue Jackets president of hockey ops John Davidson, per Associated Press reporter Stephen Whyno.

“Maybe they were right,” Davidson said of people who were critical of Mike Babcock’s hiring in the first place.

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen, meanwhile. said he apologized to Blue Jackets players this morning for hiring the embattled head coach.


“I believe that Mike Babcock deserved another opportunity to coach,” Kekalainen said. “Obviously that was a mistake and that responsibility’s mine.”

Still, even with the talk of accountability, Kekalainen detailed what should’ve been a red flag: Babcock apparently pulled the same phone stunt he was accused of pulling with his players on the 57-year-old executive.

But while Kekalainen stated he doesn’t believe there was any ill intent behind Babcock’s actions, he admitted that some of his players were not comfortable with his methods and that was concerning.

Blue Jackets majority owner John H. McConnell announced in a team-issued statement Monday morning that he does not anticipate further changes to the team’s leadership, erasing speculation that one or both of Kekalainen and Davidson would end up on the chopping block alongside Babcock.

“Additional disruptions would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare for the opening of training camp in two days,” McConnell’s statement read.

To say this story escalated rapidly would be the understatement of the century. Initially, it seemed like it would die quickly after both Babcock and captain Boone Jenner released statements through the team on Wednesday morning refuting the Spittin’ Chiclets host’s version of events.

Both Columbus’ captain and the now-former coach described their encounter as nothing more than a way of sharing snippets of one another’s life in an effort to build a working relationship. During an appearance on the 32 Thoughts Podcast on the same day as Jenner and Babcock condemned Bissonette’s comments, Blue Jackets star winger Johnny Gaudreau gave a similar account to Jenner when asked about his photo-exchange meet-and-greet with Babcock.

[embedded content]

But the story didn’t end there, obviously, with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting things changed on Wednesday night when the NHLPA received information that some of the younger Blue Jackets players were uncomfortable with their interactions with Babcock.

Friedman later reported that the information gathered on Wednesday night prompted NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh and assistant executive director Ron Hainsey to begin an investigation before flying out to Columbus and leading what was described as an “intense” meeting.

On Friday, Walsh and Hainsey relayed their findings during a joint meeting with the NHL and NHLPA. Saturday was arguably the quietest day of the scandal in the public eye, according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshinski, because that’s the day Columbus and Babcock started plotting his exit.

By Sunday, the Blue Jackets announced that Babcock had resigned and Pascal Vincent would be taking over as the team’s head coach.

Babcock’s quick and swift dismissal comes as no surprise given his spotty reputation of being an emotionally abusive coach during his days with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Vincent, 51, had served as the Blue Jackets’ associate coach since the 2021-22 season. Before joining Columbus, Vincent spent 10 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets organization, serving as an NHL assistant for the first half of his tenure before pivoting to head coach of the organization’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Vincent was named AHL Coach Of The Year for the 2017-18 season.



Source link

Continue Reading