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In tight Flames-Stars series, Gaudreau is under pressure to bury limited chances – Sportsnet.ca

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DALLAS – Blake Coleman has a prediction: his Flames are going to bounce back and Johnny Gaudreau will play a major role in it.

He may want to do it soon, as the Flames have dropped two in a row in a tight series with Dallas they now trail 2-1.

Gaudreau had a golden opportunity to turn things around late in Saturday’s 4-2 loss when he broke in alone with four minutes left in a one-goal game.

An attempt to go five-hole was thwarted by Jake Oettinger, prompting a blunt assessment from the coach:

“Got a breakaway with two or three minutes left, those guys got to put it away,” said Darryl Sutter. “That’s their job.”

Coleman was a tad more diplomatic.  

“He’s getting looks – that was just one of many chances we probably could have finished on,” said the Texan. “Things get magnified based on the time of the game. 

“Johnny is a great player. He was a great player all year. He’s going to bounce back. We have all the confidence in the world in his game and he’s going to be a big reason why our team bounces back next game.”

Critics raining down on Gaudreau early in these playoffs will easily gloss over the five shots on goal he had in the game and the sublime pass he made to set up Elias Lindholm early in the second period to put the Flames up 2-1.

He hasn’t been awful by any stretch.

But when time, space and chances are at a premium, it puts even more pressure on go-to players like him to make good on the few opportunities out there in a defensive battle like this.

They don’t get any better than the situation he found himself in after Tyler Toffoli spun to find Gaudreau alone at the blue line for a one-on-one with Oettinger he’d love to have back.

Gaudreau wasn’t the only one who might have had trouble sleeping afterward. Coleman’s homecoming didn’t exactly turn out as he dreamed it might.

In a game in which penalties continued to be a major storyline, there sat Coleman in the sin bin as Joe Pavelski scored the game-winner. The same Pavelski who scored earlier in the evening before selling the call on Coleman, who tapped the winger’s glove with 11 minutes left in a 2-2 game.

Sutter suggested afterwards the call was made because it was Pavelski.

“A penalty with (11) minutes left, you can’t take it,” said Coleman, who had 50 friends and family members in attendance at American Airlines Center.

“Being a ref is one of the most difficult jobs out there. I will say, if you’re going to call the ticky tacky stuff with (11) minutes left you better call the high sticks with a couple minutes left.  You’ve got to call it both ways, in my opinion, if you’re going to do it that way.

“Obviously a disappointing game, one I thought we let get away”

[brightcove videoID=6305779030112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Penalties continue to disrupt the Flames’ desire to roll four lines, taking away from their five-on-five play, which was their bread and butter all year. 

The Stars continue to frustrate and punish the Flames by out-hitting them 44-23, prompting plenty of post-whistle calls the Flames know they need to eliminate.

“Too many penalties, we’ve got to stay out of the box,” said Trevor Lewis, who tied the game 1-1 late in the first with a rebound over Oettinger the Stars thought came courtesy of goalie interference by Milan Lucic. (they lost the challenge). “The stuff after the whistles, we’ve got to cut that out.”

The coach agreed, as his club hasn’t fared well playing four on four either.

“It’s tight, there’s not a lot of room,” added Lewis, whose fourth line was deemed the team’s best forechecking unit by Sutter. “We’ve just got to dig down a little deeper and find out what we’re made of. And get those second and third efforts. We had chances to win the game for sure.

“I don’t think anyone thought it was going to be easy. We know we’ve got a great group in there and we’ve been doing it all year. We’ve just got to refocus and try to win the next game.”

While plenty of fans in Calgary are starting to wonder if this is yet another one of the franchise’s playoff faceplants in the making, Coleman said no one has lost faith in their room.

“Our group still feels really good, really confident in our ability,” said Coleman, whose club outshot Dallas 41-32, but went 0-for-4 on the power play.  “We win one game and we’ve got home ice back, and that’s the goal coming in here.

“There’s no panic in our room. We’ve got a lot of guys that have been there and been in these situations and it’s seven games for a reason.”

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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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