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In the Habs' Room: 'We beat ourselves,' coach Claude Julien says – Montreal Gazette



In the Habs' Room: 'We beat ourselves,' coach Claude Julien says – Montreal Gazette

‘Some really bad penalties in the offensive zone at bad times. Some real bad decisions,’ coach adds after 4-3 loss to Oilers.

EDMONTON — There’s nothing scarier for an NHL defenceman than to get caught flat-footed at centre ice with the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid coming right at you.

That’s what happened to the Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot early in Saturday night’s 4-3 loss to the Oilers at Rogers Place and it resulted in goal by Leon Draisaitl on a two-on-one with McDavid to open the scoring only 1:30 into the game.

“I was flat-footed because there was a battle on the half wall,” Chiarot said after the game. “I thought our forward was going to poke it out, but it got knocked down. So I was flat-footed and McDavid doesn’t really stop in his own end, he just kind of carries his speed. So he picks that puck up in top gear and I’m standing still. I don’t care how good a skater you are, you’re not catching that guy when you’re standing still.”

McDavid caught Chiarot and defence partner Shea Weber flat-footed again when he broke through the middle on an Oilers power play in the second period to go in alone on goalie Carey Price and score with a nice move to his forehand.

Patrick Russell of the Edmonton Oilers moves the puck past Canadiens’ Mike Reilly at Rogers Place on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Edmonton.

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“He’s definitely got a couple of more gears than anyone else,” Chiarot said about McDavid. “He’s on top of you so quick. It doesn’t look like he has anything and then he’s gone. Like the power-play one. It doesn’t look like anyone’s coming through the neutral zone and then it goes to Draisaitl on the wall and he just one-touches it and McDavid’s gone already. He’s good at carrying his speed. It looks like there’s nothing and then he gets the puck with speed and you’re not catching him once he touches the puck in full gear.

“Obviously, we didn’t do a good enough job of limiting his chances or keeping him to the outside,” Chiarot said. “We made it pretty hard on ourselves.”

Giving the Oilers five power plays certainly didn’t help. Jordan Weal took two tripping penalties and was in the box when McDavid scored. The Oilers have the best power play in the NHL, clicking at 29.4 per cent.

“I’m disappointed,” coach Claude Julien said after the game. “I felt, or we felt, like we beat ourselves. Some really bad penalties in the offensive zone at bad times. Some real bad decisions. Two two-on-one goals. I didn’t think we were sharp tonight. Simple as that. We battled back, but at the end we have only ourselves to look at because we beat ourselves.”

Before the game, Julien said the key to beating the Oilers was to stay out of the penalty box.

“It doesn’t matter what I feel like right now,” Julien said after the game when asked about his frustration level. “I’m disappointed that we took those penalties — simple as that. A lot of them in the offensive zone. So those aren’t good penalties and that’s why I say we beat ourselves. We gave them what they wanted, the momentum with some power plays and, eventually, it came back to bite us.”

Jeff Petry (short-handed), Phillip Danault (power play) and Max Domi scored for the Canadiens. The shots were 26-26 and Carey Price saw his career record against the Oilers fall to 3-8-1.

Danault’s goal was the first of his career on the power play.

“I’m trying to do all those little details,” said Danault, who would love to get more time on the power play. “I won the draw, we worked hard to get that puck. A nice shot by Petey. I’m in front of the net, that’s where you score. It was good to score, but it would be even better if we won.”

Danault, who is averaging 1:08 of power-play ice time per game, now has as many power-play goals this season as Weal, who is averaging 2:03 of ice time with the man advantage.

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Since it was a road game and Julien didn’t have the last line change, it was more difficult for the coach to get Danault — his best two-way centre — on the ice against McDavid. Oilers coach Dave Tippett reunited McDavid with Draisaitl on the same line with Zack Kassian, which made the defensive job even more difficult.

McDavid (21-40-61) and Draisaitl (22-38-60) rank 1-2 in the NHL scoring race after playing 39 games. They are the first teammates to reach 60 points before game No. 40 since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1996-97.

“Those turnovers we can’t afford against them,” Danault said about the McDavid-Draisaitl duo. “They live on that. They don’t play defence, they just play offence. So we make a little turnover on the hash mark and it’s over.

“They’re good on PP,” Danault added. “They’re tough to stop on PP. Five-on-five, too, they’re pretty good. It’s definitely a hard line to play against and they play every two shifts so you can’t match them every time. It’s a good line.”

Too good for the Canadiens to stop on this night.


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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s



Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.

Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.

Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.

Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.

He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.

Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.

“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.

“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

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Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills



North Division

It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.

The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.

Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.


Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.

Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.


A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.

Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.

Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.

Stick Handling

Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.

If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.

Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.

When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.

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Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards



Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards

Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.

Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.

Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.

“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.

“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”

After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.

Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.

Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.

“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.

“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.

“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”

Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.

“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.

“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”

For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.

“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.

“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”


(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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