TORONTO – Give me 3-on-3 till infinity.
Lock me in a room with a 4K TV. Hand me pompoms. Feed me nothing but popcorn and odd-man rushes.
“Three-on-three is… I can’t use the words that I want to use,” says Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice, pausing to find some PG phrasing.
“It’s a free-for-all of fecal matter. It’s a s***show out there, and that’s great.”
I wasn’t the only media member who had issues sitting still in his assigned swivel chair Wednesday night between minutes 60 and 65 of a 3-3 hockey game between the talent-loaded Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs, skill on full display.
From end to end, the trios sprinted and swirled, conjuring glorious opportunities matched only by jaw-dropping saves.
“It was nuts,” Jets forward Mason Appleton said. “There were so many opportunities at both ends, I couldn’t believe that the game didn’t end in overtime.”
Together the sides crammed 15 shot attempts into five minutes, highlighted by decent chances to freeze the clock by stars like Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, and William Nylander.
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A whistle interrupted the action just once the entire overtime, when a deflected shot flew into the netting. Everything else was fast and fluid.
“That’s great entertainment for the crowd,” Laine said. “You know, trading chances and goalies were playing great. I think both teams had the keys to finish this game but couldn’t do it.”
Frederik Andersen stoned Jack Roslovic on a 2-on-0, then Mark Scheifele on a 1-on-0, spurring two rounds of “Fred-die! Fred-die!” chants as play carried on.
“I didn’t like it all. I didn’t enjoy any of it, as a matter of fact. I thought it was horrible for the Jets,” said Maurice, assessing Andersen’s sudden-death work.
“Just specialness comes out in the 3-on-3. You see a lot of 2-on-0s in a game where you make a save, or breakaways, but special players making those plays.”
Alas, the only thing OT solved on this night was boredom.
Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.
“Fun hockey. A lot of skill guys on our team, a lot of skill guys on their team, and it was really fun,” said Scheifele, admitting he felt like a swath of the fans, a tad let down once the format switched to the shootout. “You kinda want to keep it going, it was so fun.”
Would Scheifele be open to the idea of extending 3-on-3 beyond the five-minute mark?
“I’d be down for that,” he replied. “Yeah, for sure.”
Andersen agrees: “I’d like to see more overtime, to be honest.”
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe is open to the idea as well, figuring, “Once you get past regulation, all bets are off.”
We tried to convince a few of the other principals, but it’s easier to crave more when you’re on the edge of your seat, not the edge of exhaustion.
“I’d probably feel more tired. The fans get a kick out of it. Fans probably like the shootout too,” said Blake Wheeler, who ended the madness with a shootout winner.
“3-on-3, you get some talent and some open ice, some pretty cool stuff happens, and I think you’re seeing more often than not the games are being decided in that overtime, so I think that’s a good start.”
“My opinion is, I think five minutes is good,” Laine said. “For us, we’re playing with three lines. Each is getting like two or three shifts max, so in my opinion, that’s pretty good. It’s a little bit [exhausting]. It’s a lot of skating, a lot of room on the ice… but that’s why we work out during the summers.”
Maurice admits he wasn’t a fan of 3-on-3 when the NHL adopted the format in 2015. Now he thinks it’s outstanding entertainment.
“If you’re going to spend money to come to see a game, somebody should win and somebody should lose,” Maurice said. “I used to drive two-and-a-half hours to Norfolk during one of the lockouts to watch a hockey game. The idea that it would end in a tie after that is sad. So I love the shootout for what it is: it’s exciting for the fans; it’s not so much for the coaches.”
The notion of extending 3-on-3, however, and further taxing star players may never get approval from the Players’ Association, and Maurice understands why.
The Jets even stop practising 3-on-3 after training camp because of the physical cost of skating 200 feet for each shot and enduring those lung-straining shifts that can drag on well beyond the recommended 30 seconds.
“I don’t think you can do it to the players. I truly don’t,” Maurice explained, minutes before hoping a flight to try to win another game Thursday.
The last thing his best players need is another 3-on-3 shift of high-pressure hockey.
“We’re going to Boston, and we’re getting to our hotel at three o’clock in the morning. You add that, I don’t think it’d be good for the players.”
But, selfishly, great for my adrenaline.
Astros' Garcia to start Game 6 of ALCS against Red Sox – Sportsnet.ca
Garcia started Game 2 and gave up a grand slam in the first inning before leaving with no outs in the second because of discomfort in his right knee. Manager Dusty Baker announced Thursday that Garcia would get the ball for Game 6 and said the Astros are confident the problem is behind Garcia and he’ll be 100% healthy for Friday’s start.
The Astros fell behind 2-1 in the series after two big wins by the Red Sox. But they rode their powerful offence to consecutive victories in the last two games to take the series lead and move within a win of advancing to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.
The Astros won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal, before losing to the Washington Nationals in seven games in the 2019 World Series.
The Red Sox previously announced that Nathan Eovaldi would start Game 6. Eovaldi got the win in a solid Game 2 start but was charged with the loss in Game 4 after giving up the go-ahead runs after coming in with the game tied in the ninth.
The Astros got eight terrific innings from Framber Valdez in a 9-1 win in Game 5. The performance gave Houston’s taxed bullpen a much-needed break after relievers pitched 29 1/3 innings combined through the first four games.
Baker said Jake Odorizzi would be available for long relief Friday if needed. Odorizzi threw 82 pitches in four innings in Game 2 after taking over following the injury to Garcia.
Baker also said rookie center fielder Jake Meyers, who hasn’t played this series after injuring his shoulder in the final game of the ALDS, probably wouldn’t return to the lineup in this series. He said Meyers could pinch-run or pinch-hit but isn’t ready to return to the field. Fellow rookies Chas McCormick and rookie Jose Siri have filled in at center against the Red Sox.
Houston is without ace Lance McCullers Jr. for this series because of a flexor pronator muscle strain in his right arm. Baker said Thursday that McCullers still hasn’t resumed throwing, so it’s unclear if he would be available to return if the Astros were to advance.
If necessary, Game 7 would be Saturday night in Houston.
NFL Prop Picks For Browns vs. Broncos: Bet This Donovan Peoples-Jones Over/Under On Thursday Night Football – The Action Network
Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Peoples-Jones #11 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after a touchdown
Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, is highlighting his favorite player prop for every primetime game throughout the 2021 season. He has a 428-326-6 (56%) all-time record on NFL bets he’s tracked in the Action app.
Broncos-Browns Prop Bet
Donovan Peoples-Jones Under 2.5 Receptions
Editor’s Note: Now that Odell Beckham Jr. is officially active, Browns player props are off the board at most books.
Peoples-Jones has been on fire over the past two weeks, posting lines of 5/70/0 & 4/101/2 against the Chargers and Cardinals, respectively. However, I believe it’s time to “sell high” on him as he’s due for some regression.
He’s caught a ridiculous 86.7% of his targets this season despite seeing an aDot of 15.7. Players with an aDot that high typically average a catch rate in the 57-60% range.
There are a few other reasons why my projections are lower for him compared to the market:
- Case Keenum is starting in place of Baker Mayfield tonight. Peoples-Jones has shown great chemistry with Mayfield over the past couple of games. The QB change seems like a setback for him.
- Weather could be a factor tonight. Steady winds of approximately 20 mph are expected with the possibility of some occasional rain. That would (in theory) negatively impact a high-aDot player like Peoples-Jones.
- Jarvis Landry is making his return from IR. He should be Keenum’s main target tonight, while the TE group should also see an increase in target share after a season-low five targets as a group last week. I also expect RB/WR Demetric Felton to have an expanded role tonight and he has been heavily targeted (37.5% of routes run) when on the field this season.
I’m projecting DPJ for 2.3 receptions tonight with a median projection of 31.5 receiving yards (market is currently at 38.5) — I’d give this under about a 60% chance of hitting. He’s the type of player who could clear his yardage prop on a couple of deep catches, so the safer play here is to take the under for his receptions, especially since we are getting + money. I would bet this down to -105.
Pick: Donovan Peoples-Jones Under 2.5 Receptions (+115) at BetMGM
Canadiens fans welcome Kotkaniemi back to Montreal with boos, vulgar chant – Yahoo Canada Sports
The Carolina Hurricanes were in Montreal on Thursday night to face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, marking the return of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was at the centre of petty off-season drama after signing an offer sheet with the Canes.
In true hockey fashion, the Bell Centre crowd greeted the 21-year-old with boos and taunting chants.
The Canadiens acknowledged the former third-overall pick by displaying him on the jumbotron, which in turn sparked another wave of disapproval from the near-sellout crowd.
It was Kotkaniemi who got the last laugh, though, tipping in a goal in the third period for his first point with the Hurricanes — much to the delight of Hockey Twitter. Carolina ended up walking away with the 4-1 victory, keeping Montreal winless on the season.
The native of Pori, Finland appeared in 171 games for the Habs over three seasons, scoring 22 goals and notching 40 assists. He also registered 12 points in 29 playoff games, including five goals in Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last season.
Carolina tendered an offer sheet to Kotkaniemi in late August, offering a one-year contract at $6.1 million. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin chose not to match, and Montreal received a first- and third-round pick as compensation.
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