WINNIPEG — The ice was empty, with the exception of Laurent Brossoit and goalie coach Wade Flaherty.
With roughly 30 minutes to go before practice officially began, Brossoit was laser-focused on executing his side-to-side fundamentals with precision.
It would be five more days before his first start in nearly three weeks, but that willingness to put in the work when almost no one was watching would eventually pay dividends for the Winnipeg Jets backup goalie.
Mental toughness is a prerequisite for anyone in the backup job, where the line between pedestrian and excellent can often be razor-thin.
On Friday night against the Vancouver Canucks, Brossoit left no question which column this performance would fall under, turning aside all 29 shots he faced to lead the Jets to a 2-0 victory at Rogers Place.
“(Brossoit) was excellent. Obviously, our best player,” said Jets defenceman Neal Pionk. “He’s got one of the harder jobs in the league. He knows that (Connor Hellebuyck) is going to get most of the games and he comes in and he’s been ready to play this year. It’s been awesome.”
It was the second shutout of Brossoit’s NHL career, with both of them coming in Vancouver against the Canucks (the other came on Dec. 22, 2018).
Shining in his home province brought a wide smile to his face when the topic was broached during his post-game interview.
“If there’s a city I want to have those stats, it’s probably this one. I’ll take it,” said Brossoit, who has turned aside all 88 shots he’s faced in three NHL appearances in Vancouver, including a relief stint with the Edmonton Oilers in October of 2017. “I mean, whether I’m playing or not, my day-to-day looks the same. It’s not too difficult to stay prepared. I’ve got my routine and I stick to it.”
Brossoit made a number of impressive saves, including one on Canucks defenceman Nate Schmidt on a clear-cut breakaway.
Although the puck got behind Brossoit for a brief moment, he was able to reach back and cover it up before it crossed the goal line.
“I felt fast and on that breakaway, I felt a little bit too fast. I overreacted a bit,” said Brossoit, who improved to 3-1, lowered his goals-against average to 2.24 and raised his save percentage to .935. “Saw he was going blocker and jammed my blocker out toward the puck and a bit of an overreaction so it hit my armpit and I felt it dropped and I made sure I covered it up.”
In a condensed season, the Jets knew they were going to have to lean on Brossoit more than they did last year, when Hellebuyck started 56 of 71 games before the pause.
With Brossoit’s ability to stay as sharp as he has in the early stages of the season, he’s instilled confidence in his teammates and the coaching staff — which is essential given how hectic the schedule is about to become.
Even when the reigning Vezina Trophy winner needs to take a night off, the Jets are confident there won’t be much — if any — dropoff between the pipes.
“Yeah, and maybe less so this year, but in the past, yeah, he’s gone long runs (between starts) because of the schedule, and been able to come up with some really good performances,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “He’s underrated, and rightfully so Connor Hellebuyck gets all the accolades that he should, he’s a Vezina winner, but our goaltending tandem is just exceptionally strong.
“(Brossoit) is just so powerful getting from post to post. He had a couple of really good stays where he had to get across hard, but by the time he got there he was really in his own structure, he was composed with it. And then the rebound control. There was maybe one that got away from him, the rest he had a real good handle on the first shot and then put the puck where he needed to put it. He was just right on.”
This is the third consecutive season that Hellebuyck and Brossoit have worked as a tandem and having a strong personal relationship has served them well.
They train together and incorporate many of the same movements in the crease, which could create a series of spin-off benefits.
“They both agree on the same philosophies of where they’re trying to put pucks off shots, how they get across the net on certain things,” said Maurice. “I might be reaching on this one, but it may be subconscious. They both play the puck with a similar mindset. For your defence, they get to come back to the same holes, if you will, for the outlet (pass).
“Two very, very big men and neither one of them scrambles. They’re both square and strong in the net. And the pucks come off them, a lot of the times, in the same way. There’s no difference in the room going out to the ice or in the way our back end plays, regardless of who is playing in the net. And that may well be all of those nuance things that aren’t spoken about, they’re just played with. I think there’s an advantage there, I would agree with that.”
The Jets were coming off a split against the Edmonton Oilers, winning a 6-5 game that they could have easily lost because of how loose things got defensively and losing a 3-2 game that they could have easily won, were it not for a couple of defensive lapses during a span of 21 seconds.
So as they looked to rebound from a loss that was much closer to resembling the template they’d hope to employ to enjoy some sustained success, it was critical for the Jets to not abandon the willingness to pay attention to the defensive details.
By improving to 5-0-1 after suffering a loss this season, the Jets are 10-6-1 going into Sunday’s rematch with the Canucks.
“It’s hard to win in this league and it’s hard to get on a roll of winning. If you lose a game in the NHL, you should come out the next night and have a little extra intensity, a little extra burr in the saddle, so to speak, in terms of not wanting to lose two in a row,” said Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey. “That’s the identity of a great team. That’s another fundamental that we’re trying to play to and have every day as a part of our identity. And then, you just handle that situation. Things are going to happen. You might lose two in a row, who knows. Try to never let that happen and continue to up that intensity level.”
Prior to a late empty-netter from Mason Appleton — which came after a couple of superb defensive efforts from Pionk — the Jets’ lone marker came from centre Mark Scheifele, who got in alone on Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko and beat him with a nifty forehand-backhand deke.
“I obviously saw he was far out of the net, but he’s a pretty stellar goaltender, a big body, so I just kind of made my move and he bit a little bit so I was happy to put it in,” said Scheifele, who extended his point streak to nine games. “I don’t get many breakaways, so it’s fun when you put them in.”
Scheifele’s skill set was on full display as he moved to nine goals and 22 points in 17 games.
“I saw a move that I couldn’t pull off, that’s for sure. Mark is an elite hockey player, that’s definitely right up his alley, the skill part,” said Pionk. “The other day in the hotel, we were talking about hockey and some of the skill stuff and a lot of it went right over my head.
“He thinks about things that a lot of people don’t think about. It was a heck of a move and got us going in the right direction.”
The other guy that got the Jets going on Friday was Brossoit.
“Yeah, he’s been fantastic. Every game he comes in he gives us a chance to win,” said Scheifele. “It’s pretty awesome when you have two great goalies that no matter who’s in, we know we’re going to get their best. It’s definitely huge when you have your backup that plays so amazing on pretty much every night.
“He works his bag off every single day. He comes to the rink and he’s one of the fittest guys on our team, does all the things to prepare every single day so you know those guys that come in day in and day out and work their hardest and give it their all and prepare their bodies like Laurent does, it’s something that’s so commendable and we see it every single day. We see the work he puts in on and off the ice and it’s awesome to see him shine on the ice as well.”
More people watched Seattle NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 than Cubs-Cards on ESPN – Awful Announcing
In the grand scheme of things, 637,000 viewers nationally is not a huge number for a cable channel with any level of significant distribution. Most things on broadcast TV not only beat that, but beat it by quite a bit, and that kind of number isn’t usually even amongst the top cable broadcasts. However, the news that ESPN2 pulled that number in for its (NHL-produced, but featuring ESPN figures) coverage of the NHL expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken Wednesday night was certainly interesting, especially as so much of the actual news around that draft was reported in advance, and also given that their main-network coverage of the MLB game between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals drew fewer viewers. Here’s a comparison of Wednesday night sporting events from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal:
Sports TV of note from Weds:
AEW Dynamite on TNT: 1.148 million viewers
Primetime Oly programming on NBCSN: 773,000
PTI on ESPN: 648,000 viewers
NHL Expansion Draft on ESPN2: 637,000 viewers
Cubs-Cardinals on ESPN: 509,000 viewers
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) July 22, 2021
On the negative side, that draft didn’t even draw the numbers of studio show Pardon The Interruption (however, that airs on ESPN rather than ESPN2; they’re similar in distribution, but many people turn on main ESPN first). It also didn’t draw the numbers of early Olympic programming from NBCSN. On the positive side, it outdrew a national MLB game. And it drew more than the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft five years ago (595,000 on NBCSN for a combined broadcast of that draft and the NHL Awards). And it’s a good sign for ESPN, as this is their first big NHL event they aired under their new deal.
And yes, as Ourand noted in a follow-up tweet, that Cubs-Cards game didn’t have regional sports network blackouts, so Cubs and Cardinals fans could still watch it on their local RSNs. And most probably did, so it likely primarily pulled the national audience that didn’t have those RSNs. But it’s still interesting to see an ESPN2 event outdraw an ESPN event, especially when the ESPN event is a live game and the ESPN2 event is a one-team expansion draft (and one where most of the information was previously available to the public).
If ESPN versus ESPN2 programming decisions were made strictly from a standpoint of what they thought would draw more viewers, this result would go against that. That’s not entirely the case here, as the MLB on ESPN package comes with some restrictions on where games can air. But it’s still interesting to see the NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 outdraw a live MLB game between two prominent teams.
That is also perhaps further evidence that draft “spoilers” don’t always damage the ratings that much. That’s long been a debate, from the NFL’s heavy pushes against pick-tipping to the NBA’s more moderate approach (which sees pick-tipping still happen with some different language, and which hasn’t really led to obvious ratings losses).
In the case of this draft, figures who don’t work for expansion draft rightsholders Sportsnet (Canada) and ESPN (U.S.) reported many of the picks early, with Frank Seravalli (formerly of TSN, now of Daily Faceoff) and Pierre LeBrun (TSN/The Athletic) getting many of those, other national figures getting some more, and local reporters getting some others. So a mostly-full picture was available before the broadcast for those who wanted to find it. But that didn’t stop a significant amount of people from watching this, and that maybe shows that the league pushes against pick-tipping aren’t always that impactful.
[John Ourand on Twitter]
Cleveland changes MLB team nickname to Guardians after months of discussion – CBC.ca
Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will be called Guardians.
The ball club announced the name change Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names that are considered racist.
Together, we are all… <a href=”https://t.co/R5FnT4kv1I”>pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I</a>
The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of the club’s die-hard fans.
The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just over a month ago. But the process quickly accelerated and the club landed on Guardians.
Social unrest spurred name change
Team owner Paul Dolan said last summer’s social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the name.
Dolan is expected to provide more details on the choice and background on the change at a news conference at Progressive Field before Cleveland hosts the Tampa Bay Rays.
Dolan said the new name mirrors the city and its people.
“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. ‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us.”
In 2018, the team stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps. However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature that was protested for decades by Native American groups.
The name change has sparked lively debate among the city’s passionate sports fans. Other names, including the Spiders, which is what the team was once called, were pushed by supporters on social media platforms.
But Guardians does seem to fit the team’s objective to find a name that embodies Cleveland’s ethos while preserving the team’s history and uniting the community.
Not far from the downtown ballpark, there are two large landmark stone edifices — referred to as guardians — on the Hope Memorial Bridge over the Cuyahoga River.
The team’s colours will remain the same, and the new Guardians’ new logos will incorporate some of the architectural features of the bridge.
The change comes as the Washington Football Team continues to work toward a similar makeover. The franchise dropped its name before the 2020 season and said it will reveal a new name and logo in 2022.
LIVE BLOG: Opening ceremony kicks off 2020 Olympics in Tokyo – Global News
The Olympic Games opening ceremony is typically a chance for competing countries and athletes to show off their pride and culture, but this year will be a little different.
Normally held in a stadium full of ecstatic fans, this year’s ceremony will have international athletes parade around a near-empty venue after it was announced fans would not be allowed to attend because of rising COVID-19 cases in Japan.
Athletes from around the world, including Canada, are taking part in the ceremony for the Summer Games, which will run until Aug. 8.
Canada has sent 370 athletes to the Olympics, the nation’s largest delegation since 1984.
Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games
But only 30 to 40 athletes are marching into the Olympic Stadium, the Canadian Olympic Committee has previously said, saying athletes aren’t allowed into the Olympic Village until five days before they compete.
Many of them will be too close to the start of their competition to join flagbearers Miranda Ayim of the women’s basketball team and men’s rugby sevens co-captain Nathan Hirayama.
The ceremony’s theme is “United by Emotion,” as officials are aspiring to reaffirm the role of sport and the value of the Olympic Games, express gratitude and admiration for the efforts made over the past year, and also bring a sense of hope for the future, the Olympics website says.
Despite all the difficulties the International Olympic Committee has faced to stage the Games amid a global pandemic, president Thomas Bach previously said he believes the ceremonies will be a moment of “joy and relief.”
The event runs from 7 a.m. ET to 11 a.m. ET
You can follow along here.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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