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Keefe: Matthews 'wasn't feeling great' – TSN

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Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews skated briefly before the team’s practice on Thursday, but departed the ice before the team session began.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe said after practice that Matthews’ status would be updated on Friday morning ahead of their rematch against the Edmonton Oilers.

“No real update other than he just wasn’t feeling great today coming off the game yesterday so just take the rest of the day here today and see how he is for tomorrow,” Keefe said. “I’ll have an update in the morning.”

Matthews logged 24:14 of ice time in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Oilers, scoring the team’s lone goal. He has two goals and five points in five games this season.

The Maple Leafs are also awaiting an update on forward Joe Thornton, who will undergo an MRI on Thursday after leaving the game early.

“He’s definitely going to miss some time,” Keefe said Thursday. “It’s not a day-to-day thing.”

The Maple Leafs used the following forward lines with Matthews and Thornton both absent on Thursday:

Vesey-Brooks*-Marner
Nylander-Tavares-Hyman
Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Simmonds
Barabanov-Engvall-Spezza

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Raptors-Bulls game postponed due to Health and Safety Protocols – TSN

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The Toronto Raptors’ issues with the coronavirus have worsened, prompting the NBA to call off their game scheduled for Sunday night against the Chicago Bulls.

The league said the Raptors are dealing with positive test results, without disclosing how many, and that combined with ongoing contact tracing issues meant they would not have the league-required eight players available to play.

Toronto played Friday without head coach Nick Nurse, several other assistants and staffers and starting forward Pascal Siakam because of virus-related issues. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo coached the team to a win over Houston and was in line to coach again Sunday.

All NBA players and coaches are tested daily. The Raptors used 12 players on Friday and had 14 listed as available to play that night. For Sunday’s game, Siakam was the only player who had been listed on Saturday’s injury report as out because of health and safety protocols — which indicates that results that came back on Saturday either showed more problems, or the contact tracing investigations showed that players had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have to quarantine.

The Raptors-Bulls game is the 30th to be postponed so far this season because of COVID-19 testing or contact tracing.

Chicago had travelled to Tampa on Saturday for the game and after the postponement was announced changed its travel plans to fly back home Sunday afternoon. The Bulls are scheduled to play Monday at home against Denver.

Toronto’s next game, for now anyway, is scheduled to be Tuesday against Detroit.

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Raptors' COVID-19 issues worsen, forcing postponement of Sunday game against Bulls – CBC.ca

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The NBA called off the Toronto Raptors game against visiting Chicago on Sunday night in Tampa due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The league said the Raptors are dealing with positive test results, and combined with contact tracing issues, wouldn’t have the league-required eight players available for the game.

Toronto was missing head coach Nick Nurse, five members of his staff and star forward Pascal Siakam for Friday’s 122-111 victory over Houston.

The Raptors-Bulls game is the 30th to be postponed so far this season because of COVID-19 testing or contact tracing but the first time Toronto has had to reschedule. Three NBA teams haven’t had a game postponed.

Toronto used 12 players on Friday and had 14 listed as available to play. For Sunday’s game, Siakam was the only player who had been listed on Saturday’s injury report as out because of health and safety protocols, which indicates results returned Saturday either showed more problems, or the contact tracing investigations showed players had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have to quarantine.

The names of players or staff members affected were not revealed.

WATCH | Lowry leads Nurse, Siakam-less Raps past Rockets:

Toronto defeats Houston 122-111, Nick Nurse and 5 other members of the coaching staff along with Pascal Siakam were not at the game because of health and safety protocols. 1:23

Players and staff are tested twice daily.

The Raptors announced Nurse and most of his staff would miss Friday’s game a few hours before tip-off.

At the time, Toronto general manager Bobby Webster said it wasn’t clear Siakam’s situation was linked to the coaches.

“The NBA is being extremely careful here,” Webster said. “It’s early in what’s going on here, so I think we’re all being conscientious and not taking any risks…. We’ll see what tomorrow brings us.”

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Vivek Jacob discusses Fred VanVleet’s all-star snub:

Vivek Jacob is joined by Raptors reporter William Lou, to discuss Fred VanVleet not being selected to the 2021 All-Star Game and the Raptors getting back to the .500 mark after a slow 2-8 start to the season. 4:40

The Raptors’ staff was already shorthanded, given Chris Finch left the team earlier this week to become head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Adrian Griffin, Jama Mahlalela and Jon Goodwillie make up the remainder of Nurse’s coaching staff.

The Raptors are scheduled to host Detroit on Tuesday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., before wrapping up its first-half schedule on Thursday in Boston. They are playing home games in Florida due to Canada’s border regulations around COVID-19, and health and safety measures in Toronto.

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Player grades: No joy in Mudville as Edmonton Oilers whitewashed 4-0 by Toronto – Edmonton Journal

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Maple Leafs 4, Oilers 0

Objects in first place may be further than they appear.

When Edmonton Oilers took to the ice on Saturday night for the opening game of a three-game set against Toronto, they had designs on overtaking the Maple Leafs’ four-point lead in the standings in the days to come. But the first move in that journey was a giant step backwards, as the homestanding Oilers were dominated 4-0 by a Toronto club missing its marquee player and its #1 goaltender. Playing without NHL goal scoring leader Auston Matthews, the rest of the Leafs checked like demons, giving Edmonton’s star players little room to weave their magic. They also took taking advantage of some wide open spaces at the other end of the ice and a couple of holes in a shaky Mike Smith.

In a game that featured just one powerplay for the two teams combined (and quickly resulted in the game winning goal for the visitors), the Oilers weren’t good enough at even strength. While they did generate a significant plurality in shot attempts (58-39), many of them were from the outside, and some of their best looks missed the target. Actual shots on goal were 30-29 Edmonton, but that included 14 shots by Oilers defencemen vs. just 6 by their counterparts in white and blue.  By the Cult of Hockey‘s count of Grade A scoring chances, the visitors held a 10-8 advantage (running count).

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Perhaps the shift that exemplified this game was when Dave Tippett sent out his “In Case Of Emergency, Break Glass” Line of McDavid, Draisaitl and Yamamoto for a late second period push that saw the Oilers threesome pinned below their own hashmarks for the entire shift by the Pierre Engvall trio. You know it’s not your night when…

Player grades

#4 Kris Russell, 4. Accomplished something no other player on either team was able to do when he took a penalty 14 minutes into the first period, the game still scoreless. 24 seconds later he took the “skate of shame” back to the bench and Toronto had the lead for good. Otherwise a quiet, solid game.

#6 Adam Larsson, 5. His night was epitomized by one play where he twice swung and missed at a slow pass across the slot, then deflected the subsequent shot on his own net.

#13 Jesse Puljujarvi, 5. One of the few Oilers who created some traffic in the low slot. 5 shot attempts, but just 1 on net when he was set up by Draisaitl.

#15 Josh Archibald, 5. Played with edge all night, landing a season-high 10 hits in the process. Was among the culprits on the Toronto powerplay goal. first losing a puck battle in the corner, then getting pushed by Joe Thornton into his own crease where he got in Smith’s way. He of all people was left to defend a wide-open 2-on-1 and did cut out Jason Spezza’s passing option; even as the Leafs veteran was able to convert all on his own with a nifty move it wasn’t on Archibald.

#16 Jujhar Khaira, 6. His line did its job, sawing off in 11 minutes and change. Played a solid 2-way game, landing 5 hits in the process. 1 decent shot from the edge of the crease, and a team best 63% on the dot (5/8).

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#21 Dominik Kahun, 4. Oilers controlled territorial play during his 14 minutes but created precious little of actual danger. 0 shots, and 0 involvement in Grade A scoring chances.

#22 Tyson Barrie, 3. Lost a battle on Toronto’s second goal, then had a bad read on the third when he jumped on the ice on a line change but with his partner already trapped up-ice on the rush. He didn’t recognize the danger of an imminent counter attack and got caught in no man’s land.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 3. Very active in the offensive end with 13 shot attempts, 7 of them on goal, both of which led the team by a mile. But most of those shots were from outside, and were in need of a deflection which never seemed to happen. Had a tough night in his own end, as he was on the ice for all 4 Toronto goals and was among the defensive culprits on 3 of them. Twice he dropped to a knee trying to stop Mitch Marner, and both times the shifty Leaf held the puck and beat him to the outside, once to set up a goal, the other time to score himself. Lost a battle in the corner on the game’s final tally.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 4. Is reportedly banged up and it showed at times. Was repeatedly double-teamed by Leafs defenders along the wall and lost the majority of those battles. Had precious little support from his regular wingers; 2 of the 3 Grade A chances he was involved with came on a shift with Archibald, and the third when he set up Puljujarvi in the slot late in the game after Tippett switched out the lines. 2 giveaways but 3 takeaways. 5/12=42% on the dot in just 17:19 in ice time.  No issues defensively. Absorbed a heavy hit that almost dislodged his helmet, though no call was forthcoming on See No Evil Night at Rogers Place.

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#39 Alex Chiasson, 6. His line with Haas and P.Russell was Oilers’ best, holding a significant edge in play (shot attempts were 14-3 Oilers during his 13 minutes). Twice set up Haas for excellent chances. Played a hard physical game with 4 hits.

#41 Mike Smith, 3. After being at the very top of his game in Thursday’s shutout win in Vancouver, he was off his form on this night. He struggled to track the puck, to stay square to the shooter, and to control or even find rebounds. Got lucky more than once with quick whistles or uncontrolled rebounds that dribbled past the post. First two goals went right through him, while he was completely fooled by Spezza’s fake slapshot and move to the outside. Made a couple of decent stops along the way but rarely looked comfortable doing so. 29 shots, 25 saves, .862 save percentage.

#52 Patrick Russell, 5. 12 solid minutes on an effective depth line. 1 shot, 3 hits, plenty of grinding.

#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 4. Quiet, too quiet. 1 shot on net, a decent chance off a McDavid feed after the lines were shuffled.

#63 Tyler Ennis, 6. Very involved in this game. His 5 shot attempts were the most of any Oilers forward, even as he missed the target with his best opportunity, a clear slap shot from the slot after a Leafs turnover in the early going. Shortly after he was pushed into Toronto netminder Jack Campbell while driving the net, resulting in the one scrum of the game. Had a couple of issues on the defensive side of the puck, including a pair of giveaways.

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#74 Ethan Bear, 4. Still finding his game after a lengthy stint on IR. Among the defensive culprits on the first and last Toronto goals. Not much sign of his trademark outlet passing game.

#82 Caleb Jones, 5. Played 16:27, about 10 minutes of it with Bear before spending time with his early-season partner Larsson down the stretch. Had some issues defensively, but nothing costly. Did fire 3 shots on net, 1 of which produced a dangerous rebound.

#91 Gaetan Haas, 5. His line buzzed around at even strength and created a couple of decent chances. Continued to struggle on the faceoff dot (2/9=22%) to drop to below 40% on the season. One of those lost draws came at the beginning of the Toronto powerplay, leading directly to 24 seconds of pressure ending in a goal.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 4. A very quiet night, with 2 harmless shots and 0 contributions to scoring chances. Unlucky on the third Toronto goal when he was driving the middle but McDavid’s pass to Nurse on the far wing caught his skate, creating a turnover and a quick counterattack. Oilers didn’t get enough from their stars in this game.

#97 Connor McDavid, 3. Speaking of which… Edmonton’s captain had a rare off night, beyond a solid 12/20=60% on the dot. Under heavy Leaf checking he generated precious little offensively (just 1 early shot and 1 other contribution to a Grade A chance) while also having a poor time of it at the defensive end. Was burned on all 3 of Toronto’s even-strength goals. Unlucky on the one detailed in the previous comment on RNH, but had no such excuse with weak backchecks on the second and fourth Toronto tallies. Not his night, nor his team’s.

Recently at the Cult of Hockey

McCURDY: Oilers first three-game set a showdown vs first-place Leafs

STAPLES: Everybody loves Jesse Puljujarvi, even his coach

STAPLES: Player grades — Brilliant goaltending at both ends as Oilers beat Canucks

McCURDY: Oilers have depth scoring! Oilers have depth scoring!

STAPLES: How to ramp up Yamamoto’s even-strength scoring

LEAVINS: Player grades in comeback win over the Canucks

McCURDY: Caleb Jones finally gets his chance

Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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