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Leafs kiss 2019 goodbye with another victory under Keefe - Toronto Sun - Canada News Media
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Leafs kiss 2019 goodbye with another victory under Keefe – Toronto Sun

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Not a bad way for the Maple Leafs to hit the mid-point of the 2019-20 regular season.

And Happy New Year indeed.

The Leafs continue to grow under Sheldon Keefe, and continue to win hockey games while adjusting to a higher tempo, offensively-driven system, the latest victory a 4-1 triumph over the Minnesota Wild on New Year’s Eve.

Few teams can say afterward they enjoyed a never-in-doubt win, but the Leafs could claim as much on Tuesday at the Xcel Energy Center, building off a strong first period to improve to 13-4-1 since Keefe replaced Mike Babcock as coach.

“Efficient is a good term to describe it,” Keefe said. “I didn’t think we gave up a lot, especially in the third period when we expected them to push.

“I don’t think we made the best plays all the time through the neutral zone and that slowed us down a little bit.

“But we continued to get the puck back. We thought they would be forechecking us really hard and they would shoot the puck a lot and that didn’t seem to happen a whole lot. Just the way that we retained the puck took the wind out of their sails and we hope that that can continue.”

Overall, the Leafs are 22-14-5 and with 49 points will start 2020 in second place in the Atlantic Division.

The victory, the Leafs’ ninth in 11 games, was highlighted by another goal from Auston Matthews, giving him 27 and putting him on pace for 54. Certainly, if Matthews stays healthy, he should set a career-high, his highest output coming three seasons ago when he scored 40 goals.

As it is, Matthews finished the calendar year with 50 goals in 91 games, including playoffs.

William Nylander, for the first time in his NHL career, has scored a goal in four consecutive games. Nylander, who has had instant chemistry with captain John Tavares, also became the third Leafs player to score the winning goal in three consecutive road games, joining Mats Sundin (2001) and Alexander Steen (2007).

Tavares sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 25 seconds to play.

“Things are building, the confidence is getting better, I think we’re starting to have a really good feel about the way we want to play,” Tavares said of his level of optimism as the new year starts.

“We know we can still be better, but certainly I think the things (Keefe) has implemented have really translated well with the skill set of our team.

“We have responded to this point, there’s a lot of hockey left. We have to keep building from here.”

Matthews gave the the Leafs a 3-0 lead at 8:34 of the second on a power play, finishing a tic-tac-toe feed from Nylander.

The Wild got on the scoreboard at 11:46 on a power play when Ryan Suter, from the point, beat a screened Frederik Andersen.

The Leafs, who play in Winnipeg against the Jets on Thursday, couldn’t have played a much tidier first period.

Not only did Toronto take a 2-0 lead into the intermission on goals by Alex Kerfoot and Nylander, it killed off two penalties and held the Wild to just two shots on goal while the teams played five on five.

Kerfoot opened the scoring at 5:55 not long after Wild forward Zach Parise turned the puck over to Nylander. The Leafs kept control and Tavares eventually found Kerfoot, who snapped a shot over goaltender Devan Dubnyk’s catching glove.

Nylander scored with 31 seconds remaining in the period. Tyson Barrie, behind the goal line, got the puck to the front of the net where Matthews jammed away at it. Dubnyk got turned around, and before he could get set, Nylander put the puck in the open net.

“I think there’s still steps you want to take,” Nylander when asked if he thinks he is all the way back after missing a chunk of last season. “You’re never satisfied, so you want to keep going.”

The Leafs lost Travis Dermott and Pierre Engvall for brief periods, but both returned. Keefe indicated he didn’t think there were any health issues with either.

Toronto outshot Minnesota 29-27.

ALL-STAR THOUGHTS

Matthews will represent the Leafs in the NHL all-star game for the fourth year in a row, and no, he’s not getting tired of the experience.

And at the age of 22, Matthews isn’t anywhere near trying to beg off from the weekend. Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin is skipping the all-star festivities for the second year in a row, while Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin told reporters on Tuesday that though he is Detroit’s candidate for Last Man In voting, he would rather have the rest than head to St. Louis for the all-star festivities.

Matthews’ family enjoys the weekend as much as he does, but he can see the advantage in having those days to go on a quick vacation and relax.

“I understand both sides of it,” Matthews said. “A guy like Ovie wanting that extra rest, winning means the most.

“For me, it’s still pretty cool to go. It’s a tremendous honour.”

That Andersen, heading to his first all-star game, will be going will make the event that much more memorable for Matthews.

“Absolutely,” Matthews said. “Very deserving. You could have made an argument for him last year as well. The fact that we’re going to be going, we’re pretty stoked about it.”

Andersen, the first NHL goalie to win 20 games this season, said he has not made it a personal goal to get to the all-star game. Well, sort of.

“Both yes and no,” Andersen said. “If I play the way I can, I should have a good chance to be in there. We do have a lot of good players on this team and very few spots on the (all-star) roster. More guys have been deserving to go over the last few years and that’s just how it is.”

LOOSE LEAFS

Keefe didn’t have to be told that Adam Brooks played just four minutes 50 seconds in his NHL debut on Saturday. “I thought he was good and I talked to him about the fact that I lost his line there for good chunks of the game,” Keefe said. “It’s on me, not on him. The nice thing I saw him doing was skating and playing with confidence. He’s skating at a higher level now than he has been that I’ve seen him in this time in pro.” Brooks played eight minutes 52 seconds against Minnesota … The Toronto Marlies ended the calendar year on a sour note, losing 4-1 to Cleveland on Tuesday at the Coca-Cola Coliseum. Kenny Agostino scored the Marlies goal, while Kasimir Kaskisuo made 32 saves. Toronto, which dropped to 19-10-2-1, next plays on Friday in Syracuse.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

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Oilers close decade of darkness with renewed hope for change – Sportsnet.ca

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Flames, Maple Leafs favourites on Saturday NHL betting lines – Sportsnet.ca

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The Ottawa Senators will try to snap a nine-game losing streak when they host the Calgary Flames on Saturday as +135 underdogs on the NHL betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Ottawa’s recent woes continued with Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, which marked the club’s sixth straight loss on home ice going into Saturday afternoon’s matchup at the Canadian Tire Centre.

The Senators’ offence has been silent during the team’s longest slide since an 0-9-2 run nine years ago, scoring just eight total goals over their past five contests. However, the Senators defence has tightened up of late, allowing just three goals per game over their past four losses, with just one of those defeats coming in regulation. That has resulted in a steady 3-0-1 run for the under on the totals at betting sites, after the over prevailed in 15 of the Senators’ previous 17 contests.

While the Senators have struggled, the Flames arrive in Ottawa on a high after escaping with a 2-1 shootout victory in Toronto as +125 underdogs on Thursday night. Now sporting wins in six of their past seven contests, Calgary takes on the Senators as -155 betting favourites.

The Flames have been far from dominant during their current surge, scoring two or fewer goals in four of their past five outings, and claiming victory by just a single goal in each of their six recent wins. However, the team has been dominant in recent dates with the Senators, posting wins in four straight meetings while holding Ottawa to a single goal each time.

Elsewhere on the Saturday NHL odds, the Maple Leafs look to rebound from Thursday’s loss to Calgary as they host the Chicago Blackhawks asheavy -210 favourites. Hobbled by injury, Toronto has earned just one win in five contests overall, and has lost three of four at Scotiabank Arena to fall 11 points back of Boston in the hunt for top spot in the Atlantic Division.

The Blackhawks ride a three-game win streak into Saturday’s contest as +175 underdogs. Chicago posted a decisive 4-1 win in Montreal as a +150 wager on Wednesday to improve to 6-1-0 over its past seven road dates, and has taken two straight from the Maple Leafs.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, vie for their fourth win in five games as they host Vegas as +110 underdogs, the Edmonton Oilers welcome the Arizona Coyotes to town as -130 chalk in a crucial Pacific Division matchup, while the Vancouver Canucks put an NHL-best seven-game home win streak on the line as they battle the San Jose Sharks as a -160 wager.

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Sonos, PopSockets speak out against Big Tech's dominance – CNET

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At an Amazon booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center during CES 2020 this month.


Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

As David Barnett tells it, Amazon is an abusive, unfair and uncaring partner to smaller businesses using its platform.

Barnett, founder and CEO of PopSockets, which makes adhesive grips for the backs of phones, on Friday lambasted the e-commerce giant for ignoring issues about counterfeit that he’d raised for months and bullying him to lower his prices. His comments were part of his sworn testimony before the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, which has been holding hearings to investigate the potentially excessive power of the biggest tech companies in the US.

“This is tiring, this is tiring week after week,” Barnett told lawmakers at the University of Colorado’s Wittemyer Courtroom, describing Amazon’s threats to extract better prices — a practice that ultimately caused him to end his partnership selling products directly to Amazon.

He says his company is now banned from selling on Amazon’s website on its own and he’s lost countless sales after cutting off the lucrative direct-sales relationship. Other companies, he suggested, would rather put up with Amazon pushing them around to keep getting paid.

Amazon, along with fellow tech giants Facebook, Google and Apple, have all faced tough scrutiny over the past year from lawmakers and regulators, who not that long ago looked at Silicon Valley in a far more positive way. Now officials are raising concerns about these companies’ growing dominance in the market, which could be squashing competition.

This work could bring about big changes in the tech industry, perhaps forcing big players to break up, cutting off future mergers, or creating new regulatory restrictions. Officials say they’re pursuing this work to make sure innovative new startups can thrive and customers can benefit from strong competition.


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These tech giants have defended themselves by saying they’re small players in their broader fields, like Amazon being a tiny part of global retail. Facebook has pointed to emerging competition like TikTok threatening its lead in social media.

Regarding its PopSockets relationship, an Amazon spokesperson on Friday said it’s continued to work with PopSockets on counterfeits even after the direct partnership ended, calling the company “a valued retail vendor.” The person said Amazon does require some popular brands to sell directly to Amazon, so the company can ensure the best prices are available for customers.

Amazon also pointed to an IDC study, which Amazon funded and which was released Thursday, that discusses the sales growth of small- and medium-sized businesses on Amazon’s platform.

This theme of imbalanced, dominating business relationships kept resurfacing during the hearing. As part of their relationship, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence told lawmakers, Google tried to restrict his company’s innovations and wanted insights into Sonos’ future product plans. Sonos this month sued Google, claiming the company stole its wireless speaker technology.

“There’s such a dominant power that exists with these companies that really even as a company of our size you feel like you have no choice,” Spence said.

A Google spokesperson responded: “Sonos has made misleading statements about our history of working together. Our technology and devices were designed independently. We deny their claims vigorously, and will be defending against them.”

Kirsten Daru, general counsel at Tile, and David Heinemeier Hansson, chief technology officer of Basecamp, offered similar complaints that tech giants Apple and Google so thoroughly dominated their markets that it was virtually impossible not to work with them. Those companies then use that power to make unexpected and unfair changes that can harm smaller businesses, they said. 

For instance, Hansson complained that Apple has been able to charge developers a 30% fee for paid apps for years because it faces little competition. Barnett, of PopSockets, said other online marketplaces that rival Amazon certainly exist, “but most of them are really tiny.”

Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, said Friday that the company built its App Store as a safe, trusted place for customers, and a great business opportunity for developers.

Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, who’s chairman of the subcommittee, has already raised serious concerns about these companies’ power, using terms like “economic nightmare” and “one algorithm tweak away from ruin” when talking about them on Friday.

Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado, shared these concerns, showing there’s bipartisan cooperation on this issue, but he warned against unnecessary government interventions.

For now the chance that any of these tech giants could get broken up is remote, and Wall Street has pushed all these companies’ stocks higher despite this negative attention. Still, when Microsoft went through similar antitrust reviews 30 years ago, the process lasted for a decade, so it’s anyone’s guess what the outcome will be over such a long timeline.

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Over a thousand 'likely' infected by Wuhan virus in China: study – Al Jazeera English

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The number of people infected by a mystery SARS-like virus that has killed two people in China is likely hundreds more than officially reported, researchers have said on Friday.

The news comes as Chinese health authorities said on Saturday that they have discovered four more cases of pneumonia following an outbreak of what is believed to be a new coronavirus strain.

The four individuals were diagnosed with pneumonia on Thursday and are in stable condition, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a statement published shortly after midnight. Saturday’s statement marked the first confirmation.

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Chinese authorities previously said that the virus has hit at least 41 people in the country, with the outbreak centred around a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan.

But a paper published on Friday by scientists with the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London said the number of those affected in the city was likely to be well over a thousand.

The scientists at the Centre – which advises bodies including the World Health Organization – said they estimated a “total of 1,723 cases” in Wuhan would have been infected as of January 12.

The researchers took the number of cases reported outside China so far – two in Thailand and one in Japan – to infer how many were likely infected in the city, based on international flight traffic data from Wuhan’s airport.

SARS virus taught scientists new lessons

“For Wuhan to have exported three cases to other countries would imply there would have to be many more cases than have been reported,” Professor Neil Ferguson, one of the authors of the report, told the BBC.

“I am substantially more concerned than I was a week ago,” adding, however, that it was “too early to be alarmist”.

“People should be considering the possibility of substantial human-to-human transmission more seriously than they have so far,” he added, saying it was “unlikely” that animal exposure was the main source of infection.

Airport screening 

Two people are known to have been killed by the virus, a pathogen from the same family as the deadly SARS virus – even as health authorities around the world sought to assure the public that the overall risk of infection remained low.

Authorities in Hong Kong have stepped up detection measures, including rigorous temperature checkpoints for inbound travellers from the Chinese mainland.

The US said from Friday it would begin screening flights arriving from Wuhan at San Francisco airport and New York’s JFK – which both receive direct flights – as well as Los Angeles, where many flights connect.

The latest outbreak comes ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, when many of China’s 1.4 billion people will be travelling to their home towns or abroad.[File: Andy Wong/AP]

So far, health officials do not consider the new virus from China to be as lethal as SARS, but the investigation is evolving and much is still not known about whether the virus can spread easily from person to person.

“This is the stage of the investigation where we need to proceed cautiously and be prepared for any eventuality,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, an expert in respiratory diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.

SARS originated in southern China in 2002 and infected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries before it was brought under control.

Nearly 800 people died worldwide. China was accused of covering up the case.

The latest outbreak comes ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, when many of China’s 1.4 billion people will be travelling to their home towns or abroad.

The Chinese government expects passengers to make 440 million trips via rail and another 79 million trips via aeroplanes.

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Al Jazeera and news agencies

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