TORONTO – The Maple Leafs will try to get back in the win column on Tuesday without starting goaltender Frederik Andersen, who decided after the morning skate that he isn’t ready to return from a neck injury.
“It’s just part of the process,” explained head coach Sheldon Keefe, while denying Andersen had suffered any setbacks in his recovery. “He [wanted] to get another skate in today and see how he felt. He’s been progressing very well and working towards a return, but not quite there yet.”
Toronto will go back to goaltender Jack Campbell when they host the Arizona Coyotes, marking his third straight start for the club since being acquired via trade with Los Angeles last Wednesday. Campbell is 1-0-1 with a .900 save percentage and 2.85 goals-against average for the Leafs. Third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson will be the backup.
Andersen has been sidelined since hurting his neck in the first period of last week’s 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. Commenting on the injury for the first time following Monday’s practice, Andersen wouldn’t pinpoint exactly where in that opening frame the injury occurred – whether in a collision with Mark Pysyk or Frank Vatrano – but was feeling positive about his progress.
The fact Andersen was able to fully participate in Tuesday’s morning skate was encouraging for the Leafs, but Keefe is happy to have Campbell manning the net until his starter is back to full health.
“I just like the confidence that he has in himself and the confidence that he brings to our team,” Keefe said. “He’s excited for every opportunity that comes about, and it doesn’t matter how it comes about, he’s ready for it. Today he didn’t come to the arena necessarily thinking he’d be starting, but he’s ready for anything that comes.”
Facing the Coyotes, Campbell and the Leafs are prepared for an opponent riding high off their dramatic, come-from-behind victory over Montreal on Monday, and to challenge their own recent habit of letting games slip away in the third period.
Last week, the Leafs blew a 3-1 third-period lead in Monday’s loss to Florida, and did so again in Friday’s game against Anaheim before managing to win 5-4 in overtime. The next night in Montreal, Toronto had a 1-0 lead in the third but put only one shot on net the entire frame, eventually falling 2-1 in overtime.
Keefe insists the run of poor play exhibited by the Leafs late in those games isn’t indicative of a deeper problem.
“We think that we had a bad week in that regard,” he said. “Sometimes, when it happens like that, it can be something big that snowballs, and you want to control it and you want to be aware of it. Sometimes, it’s just happenstance. Each game is unique. We’re not overthinking that; we believe in our group, we’re confident in the greater sampling of what we’ve done and we want to make sure the focus is on not putting ourselves in that position again.”
Still, in the 33 games since Keefe took over as head coach on Nov. 20, Toronto ranks fourth in the NHL in third-period goals against (40), and sits seventh in goals for (41). That’s enough to suggest increased diligence in the third would go a long way in helping Toronto stay in the postseason picture.
With 26 regular-season games to go, the Leafs are perched at third place in the Atlantic Division, just two points ahead of Florida with the Panthers holding a game in hand.
“I think that maybe for a little bit we’ve been getting a little too loose in the third,” said forward Alexander Kerfoot. “I think last game [in Montreal], we did a really good job defensively, but maybe we overcompensated a little bit and we were sitting back maybe too much and they dominated the run of play in the third period. I don’t think we want to sit back, but we also have to have the right defensive posture.”
The Leafs have been focused on improving play in their defensive zone all season, but particularly since returning from the All-Star Break in January.
Over the past seven games, Toronto’s shots against have dropped slightly to 30.1 per game from 32.3 on the season. The trick for the Leafs is to find enough balance where attention to defensive detail doesn’t sap their offensive powers.
“I think it’s just challenging the inside a little bit more,” said Auston Matthews. “The focus a lot lately has just been our defensive play and making sure that structure is there, but at the same time, when we get the puck, it’s [like] get going and go the other way and play on offence and utilize our talent and ability. That’s obviously something that’s been lacking just a bit lately. But in the end, playing well defensively is going to lead the offence and we just have to make sure we capitalize on that.”
Blue Jays shift Kikuchi to bullpen; White to start vs. Yankees – TSN
Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider confirmed the team will start righty Mitch White Saturday against the New York Yankees while struggling southpaw Yusei Kikuchi shifts to the bullpen.
Kikuchi did not sit in the dugout for Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles and was instead seated in the bullpen with other relievers, indicating an apparent change in role.
The 31-year-old has struggled mightily in 20 starts this season, posting an ERA of 5.25 and a WHIP of 1.51. His latest outing came Monday night when he allowed six runs (three earned) in 3.1 innings in an eventual 7-4 loss to the Orioles. It was his second tough outing against Baltimore in as many starts as he surrendered five earned runs in 5.0 innings one week prior at Camden Yards.
Signed to a three-year, $36 million deal in the off-season, Kikuchi is due $16 million this season and then $10 million in 2023 and 2024.
Meanwhile, White was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers on trade deadline day earlier this month and will start his third game for the Jays Saturday in the Bronx. In 17 appearances split between the two teams this season, White is 1-3 with a 3.72 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 65.1 innings.
Canada at The 2022 FIFA World Cup: Time To Build Excitement
It’s been a long time since Canada made it to the FIFA World Cup Finals. Indeed, for younger Canadians, this will be the first time they get to see their national team on soccer’s biggest stage — the last time they played in the finals was way back in 1986. They’ll be hoping that things go a little better this time since, in their previous outing, they lost all three games without scoring a goal, making them the worst-performing team in the competition.
Still, there are two things to remember. First, just making it to the World Cup is an achievement. And second, the World Cup is a lot of fun even if your team doesn’t win! So it’s going to be an exciting month of football. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some essential information that’ll help you to build excitement for the tournament.
Who Canada Will Play And When
Canada are guaranteed to play at least three games. Their first match will take place on November 23 (2 pm ET, 11 am PT), when they take on Belgium at the Al Rayyan Stadium in Qatar.
Next up is Croatia, who they’ll play four days later on November 27 (11 am ET, 8 am PT). Their final group game will be against Morocco, who they’ll play on December 1 (10 am ET, 7 am PT). If they finish in the top two, they’ll play again on December 5 or 6. But it’s best not to mark that potential date in your calendar just yet.
What Are Canada’s Chances of Winning?
Canada do not, unfortunately, have all that much chance of winning the World Cup — there are simply too many sides stronger than them. They’re unlikely to make it out of the group stage, in large part because they were given an especially difficult draw. Belgium have some of the world’s best players, while Croatia made it to the final of the World Cup last time out in 2018. Stranger things have happened, but don’t be too disappointed if they’re returning home early — they’re still heroes!
Extra World Cup Fun
There’s more to enjoy about the World Cup than just Canada’s participation. This, after all, is a tournament that’s easy to love even if your country did not qualify. During the competition, there’ll be plenty of ways to get into the World Cup spirit, including listening to themed podcasts, participating in BetVictor’s Crack The Code competition, challenging yourself in a fantasy football tournament, and organising viewing parties for you and your friends.
Throw yourself into all that the World Cup provides, and you’ll find that you enjoy the month of sporting action even if Canada don’t go as far as you would like.
What Else To Know About The World Cup
This World Cup is unique because it’s the first to take place in the winter and also the first in the Middle East. This means it’ll be slightly different from previous tournaments, but if you think it’ll be any less enjoyable, think again. The World Cup is a global spectacle that’s fun no matter when it’s held!
Between court ruling and new world rankings, LIV golfers facing long road back to PGA Tour – Sportsnet.ca
WILMINGTON, Del. — Long before the PGA Tour’s post-season opener ended with a winning bogey in a three-hole playoff, the biggest drama was in the clubhouse at the TPC Southwind.
A dozen or so players gathered around a screen to watch the outcome in the first of what figures to be many court fights between the PGA Tour and Saudi-funded LIV Golf.
“I walked by player dining and I saw about 10 really nervous people pacing all around the room and I thought, ‘Well, there’s something going on,’” Jon Rahm said.
He was curious enough to stay for the finish.
This one went to the tour. A federal judge denied the request of three LIV golfers to compete in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones were in Memphis, Tenn., in case they got the green light but soon were headed home.
When will they return?
That was one of the realities that came out of the ruling, even if it was an emergency hearing. More detailed arguments for a temporary injunction could come later. U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said her first open spot for an evidentiary hearing was Sept. 27-29.
That’s the week of the Presidents Cup. Such is the year.
The assumption is the three players — possibly more if they chose not to resign from the PGA Tour — want freedom to play both circuits. For now they are suspended — or banned, which is the word used in a text exchange from February between Sergio Garcia and Greg Norman.
“Hi Sharky! It’s official, the Tour has told our manager this week that whoever signs with the League, is ban from the Tour for life! I don’t know how are we gonna get enough good players to join the League under this conditions. What do you think?” Garcia said in his text, now part of the court documents.
Norman replied: “They cannot ban you for one day let alone life. It is a shallow threat. Ask them to put it in writing to you or any player. I bet they don’t. Happy for anyone to speak with our legal team to better understand they have no chance of enforcing.”
Judge Freeman ruled otherwise.
For some players, it might be awkward to be in the same tournament as the 10 players who are suing the PGA Tour. This is starting to get personal. Until now, any hard feelings was over someone wearing spikes too long or getting called “Brooksie.”
The notion of a lifetime ban is premature. Even so, the reality is LIV golfers might not be seen on the PGA Tour anytime soon whether they want to or not.
“It doesn’t look like it,” Rahm said. “I’m confident that the LIV side of things are still going to push strong to keep trying to change some things. But I also know that the lawyers on the PGA Tour side are going to keep fighting for the way things are going right now. It’s not the last thing we are going to hear from them.”
Outside of court are two issues still to be determined.
The majors have not announced their criteria for eligibility next year. The U.S. Open typically waits until the fall to go over any tweaks it wants to make. The USGA hasn’t make any significant changes to its exemptions since going to the top 50 (from top 20) in the world ranking in 2001 and doing away with money lists on the PGA Tour and European tour in 2012.
The Masters began using the top 50 in the world ranking in 1999. Masters champions currently have lifetime exemptions, and six of them since 2010 are now part of LIV Golf. There isn’t a seating chart for the Masters Club dinner on Tuesday night for past champions. This might be a good time to start a new tradition.
The Open Championship leans heavily on the world ranking for exemptions and an alternate list. The PGA Championship uses the PGA Tour money list and a catch-all “special invitations” category that seems to always catch the top 100 in the world. It just doesn’t say that in writing.
At this rate, maybe the majors don’t have to make many adjustments if they want to limit the number of LIV golfers.
LIV Golf no longer has anyone in the top 20 because Dustin Johnson dropped to No. 21 this week. Its players don’t get world ranking points, and its July 6 application to be included in the world ranking system probably won’t be decided until next year at the earliest. The process historically takes one year or longer.
It’s a safe bet that with few exceptions, the only players who will be exempt for all the majors already are exempt because they won one in the last five years — Phil Mickelson, Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed (who has one year left).
That leads to another reality also unveiled last week. The world ranking began the switch to a modernized system that is reputed to be more accurate and in doing so eliminates minimum points for smaller tours and weak fields.
Reed played the Asian Tour last week. He tied for 31st and received 0.31 points. The winner got just under 7.4 points — about half what the Korn Ferry Tour winner received.
A year or so from now, good luck finding anyone from the top 75 who isn’t a PGA Tour member.
Players are free to choose whatever path they want. If that means guaranteed money — more than they could reasonably have earned on the PGA Tour — it’s hard to fault them.
But it could be a long road back, if that’s where they even want to go.
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