For the second time this season, the Canadiens have lost eight games in a row. They are now nine points out of a playoff position.
In the Habs' Room: Bounces just aren't going our way, Shea Weber says – Montreal Gazette
When you’re the best player in hockey, you tend to get the benefit of the doubt.
And that was the case early in the third period of the Canadiens game against the Edmonton Oilers Thursday. Connor McDavid, who is the best player in the game, had a step on Phillip Danault and the Canadiens player tried to slow him with his stick.
As McDavid struggled to keep his balance, the referee raised his arm to signal a hooking penalty on Danault. Thirty-nine seconds later, McDavid set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a power-play goal to tie the game 2-2 and the Oilers went on to win 4-2.
“I didn’t think it was a penalty,” said Danault, who suggested there might have been some embellishment on the part of McDavid.
It was the eighth consecutive loss for the Canadiens, matching a similar losing streak earlier this season. But Danault insisted this latest streak is different.
“I thought we learned a lot of stuff from the last one,” Danault said. “This time it’s different because we’re playing well, but we’re not getting results. We play with the lead and we can’t keep it. Early in the year, the third period was our best, but not now.”
The Canadiens have played just well enough to keep the games close. All eight of the losses have basically been one-goal games with the loss Thursday and the New Year’s Eve game in Carolina finishing with a two-goal margin after Montreal gave up empty-net goals.
There was a lot of talk about confidence — the Canadiens are lacking in that department — and bounces. Captain Shea Weber said it seemed the puck was bouncing at one end and not at the other. A case in point was late in the second period when Brendan Gallagher sprung Nate Thompson on a breakaway. Thompson had goaltender Mike Smith out of position, but his shot hit a post.
Claude Julien was asked about the challenge of maintaining morale during this slump.
“We’re professionals (who are) paid to do a job and, whether it’s the coaching staff, whether it’s the players, it doesn’t matter who it is, we got to come back to work every day and get back on our horse and do the job that we’re paid to do,” Julien said.
“We haven’t thrown the towel in as individuals or as a team,” said Julien. “We show up every game and compete but, you know, a mistake here or there ends up in our net. An opportunity here or there that we should have buried doesn’t go in. So those are the challenges that we have and somehow we got to overcome those things and you got to try and turn those things into your favour and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
That might be the right thing to say, but any talk of righting the ship and making a push for the playoffs isn’t rooted in reality. There’s nothing in the Canadiens’ recent results that suggests post-season action in a possibility. The Canadiens have fallen 11 points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, who hold the third spot in the Atlantic Division. And they are nine points behind the Philadelphia Flyers, who are in the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and hold a game in hand on Montreal.
And then there are the four other teams that currently are occupying the spots between Montreal and Philadelphia.
Heat ride 17-5 run in 4th quarter to draw even with Nuggets in NBA Finals – CBC Sports
Staring down a 2-0 deficit in the NBA Finals, as the visitors in a hostile arena where no road team had prevailed in more than two months, the Miami Heat decided to do what they’ve done throughout the post-season.
They found a way. Against all odds. Again.
“Our guys are competitors,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They love these kind of moments.”
They were down by as many as 15 points, down eight going into the fourth, and those numbers signified they were going to lose. Denver was 11-0 in these playoffs when leading by double digits at any point in a game, and 37-1 this season overall when leading by at least eight going into the fourth.
The Heat didn’t care. They outscored Denver 17-5 in the first 3:17 of the fourth to take the lead for good, eventually went up by 12, then frittered most of it away and had to survive a 3-point try by Jamal Murray as time expired.
Keep leaving Nnamdi open. <a href=”https://t.co/S2qAWtVNg5″>pic.twitter.com/S2qAWtVNg5</a>
“This is the finals,” Adebayo said. “We gutted one out.”
Max Strus scored 14 and Duncan Robinson had 10 — all of them in the fourth — for the Heat, who had a big early lead, then got down by as many as 15. They had no answers for Jokic, who was 16 of 28 from the floor, the last of those shots a 4-footer with 36 seconds left to get the Nuggets within three.
Denver elected not to foul on the ensuing Miami possession and it paid off. Butler missed a 3, and with a chance to tie, Murray missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“I just contested it,” Butler said. “Pretty glad that he missed it.”
‘Let’s talk about effort’
Denver lost at home for the first time since March 30, and for the first time in 10 home playoff games this year. And just as he did after a Game 1 win, Nuggets coach Michael Malone sounded the alarm after a Game 2 loss.
The Kitchener, Ont., native Murray had 18 points and 10 assists for Denver, while Aaron Gordon had 12 points and Bruce Brown scored 11.
“They just played hard, and like I said, it was more discipline,” Murray said. “It’s defeating when you’re giving up mistake after mistake, and it’s not them beating you, you’re giving them open dunks or open shots. That’s tough to come back from.”
WATCH | Kitchener, Ont., cheering on Murray:
Strus, who was 0 for 10 in Game 1, had four 3-pointers in the first quarter of Game 2. Butler made a jumper with 4:56 left in the opening quarter to put Miami up 21-10, tying the second-biggest lead any opponent had built in Denver so far in these playoffs.
In a flash, it was gone — and then some.
The Nuggets outscored Miami 32-11 over the next 9 minutes, turning the double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead thanks to an absolute 3-point barrage.
Boom, boom, boom, and boom. Murray had five straight points to end the flurry, and Denver led 44-32 when it was over. It looked like everything was going Denver’s way.
Miami insisted otherwise. And for the 44th time this season, the Heat won a game by five points or less. None of them was bigger than this one.
“When it comes down to the wire,” Vincent said, “we’re strangely comfortable.”
Montreal Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to eight-year contract extension – Habs Eyes on the Prize
The forward re-signs with the team for the maximum length.
The Montreal Canadiens have signed forward Cole Caufield to an eight-year contract extension, the team announced on Monday.
The Canadiens have agreed to terms on an eight-year contract extension (2023-24 to 2030-31) with forward Cole Caufield.#GoHabsGohttps://t.co/BZ1gBIzndL
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) June 5, 2023
The contract will have an average cap hit of $7.85 million per season, just under the AAV for the same length of contract signed by team captain Nick Suzuki last year. The contract will last until the end of the 2030-31 season.
Caufield finished last season with 26 goals, and held the team lead in that category for most of the season despite playing only 46 games before undergoing shoulder surgery. He also had 10 assists.
The contract now locks in the two franchise cornerstones Caufield and Suzuki for the maximum length and cap hits under $8 million. It’s a good bit of business for Kent Hughes to get this done before free agency, and has the potential for great cap management as the years go by.
In the sixth year of the contract, per CapFriendly, there is a 15 team no-trade clause that drops to 10 teams in year seven and five in year eight.
Patrik Bexell, Matt Drake, and Jared Book discuss the contract in a special Habsent Minded Extra.
Blue Jays’ Chris Bassitt announces birth of child to cap ‘perfect weekend’
The Toronto Blue Jays had a memorable few days in New York, thanks to a three-game sweep of the Mets, but that’s not the biggest reason starting pitcher Chris Bassitt is all smiles these days.
Bassitt and his wife, Jessica, welcomed their second child over the weekend, with the veteran right-hander reporting that both mother and baby are doing well.
“Perfect weekend complete,” Bassitt wrote on Twitter. “Momma and Colson are doing great.”
Jessica went into labour Friday, while her husband took his normal turn in the Blue Jays’ rotation. Bassitt channelled all of his “dad strength” in that outing against the Mets, firing 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball with eight strikeouts in a 3-0 Toronto win. In a cruel twist from the universe, the start of the game was delayed more than 90 minutes due to inclement weather.
Once his outing was over, Bassitt rushed back to Toronto via private plane to be with Jessica for Colson’s birth. He made it in plenty of time, tweeting Saturday morning that the baby hadn’t arrived yet.
The 34-year-old will now be able to enjoy a few days with his family, as the Blue Jays placed him on the paternity list Saturday. Reliever Jay Jackson took his place on the 26-man roster.
Bassitt’s Blue Jays teammates gave him even more reason to cheer by eking out a 2-1 victory Saturday before getting the brooms out with a 6-4 win in the series finale.
Brandon Belt was the hero Sunday, connecting for a go-ahead, two-run home run in the seventh inning after Toronto squandered an early 4-0 advantage. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also went deep for the Blue Jays, while Whit Merrifield delivered a two-run double in the second inning.
Next up, Toronto welcomes the Houston Astros to Rogers Centre for a four-game series that begins Monday. Bassitt is listed as the probable starter for Wednesday’s contest.
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