The Maple Leafs will be without Mitch Marner for the next several weeks.
The Maple Leafs will be without Mitch Marner for the next several weeks.
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said on Tuesday morning that Marner suffered a shoulder injury in the collision with teammate Jake Muzzin at practice last week, and that the prognosis is that Marner will be out for “about three to four weeks, probably.”
The Leafs play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday night.
“(The Leafs’ medical staff) were assessing it and giving it some time to settle,” Keefe said. “It’s a little bit worse than they thought it was going to be at that time.
“They’re going to stay on top of it, I think he’ll be back on the ice probably sooner than later. But in terms of when he gets back to play, we’re going to be cautious with it and make sure that he’s ready.”
Marner, who did not play on the weekend trip to Minnesota and Winnipeg, has 21 points (six goals and 15 assists) in 24 games. Whether the injury impacts Marner’s Olympics hopes remains to be seen. The roster for the Olympic hockey teams must be submitted in the second week of January and Marner, in good health, would have an inside track for a role with Canada.
Marner leads Leafs forwards in ice time with an average of 20 minutes 47 seconds a game, a shade over Auston Matthews’ average of 20 minutes 29 seconds.
Where will the Leafs miss Marner, whose work on both special teams is crucial, the most?
“Everywhere,” winger Alex Kerfoot said. “He is on the ice the whole game.”
Defenceman Rasmus Sandin, meanwhile, could be back sooner than originally thought after he was kneed by Winnipeg Jets defenceman Neal Pionk on Sunday. Pionk was suspended two games by the NHL for the hit.
“We got good news on Rasmus, I would say better than we were expecting, given that you saw him leave the arena on crutches and was unable to put any weight on his (right) leg and (Monday) wasn’t a whole lot better,” Keefe said. “He has had an MRI and the results came back positive in the sense that there is no real structural damage to his knee. Just going to take some time here for it to settle down, swelling and bruising and stuff like that, where he can start to be weight-bearing. Once that settles, he will recover pretty quickly.”
And defenceman Travis Dermott was absent from the morning skate. He is dealing with a shoulder injury as well, Keefe said, but it did not sound as serious as Marner’s prognosis.
Goalie Petr Mrazek, in his recovery from a groin injury, has rejoined the team after a conditioning stint with the Toronto Marlies. But Joseph Woll will back up Jack Campbell against Columbus.
The Leafs recalled defencemen Kristians Rubins and Alex Biega, and forward Alex Steeves, from the Marlies. Keefe confirmed that both Steeves and Rubins will make their NHL debuts on Tuesday night.
Hanging over everything was the impending suspension for Jason Spezza, who was scheduled for an in-person meeting with NHL player safety Tuesday afternoon via Zoom for his hit on Pionk.
That came about after no penalty was called on Pionk for the hit on Sandin.
“Given the fact that is still on-going and he has not had the hearing, I think I’ll reserve comment on that,” Keefe said. “Everybody that’s involved in the game knows Jason Spezza and his character very well. I would expect or hope that that is taken into account.”
What did Keefe think of the two-game suspension for Pionk?
“I thought the play at the time was worthy of a penalty, and clearly the league agreed,” Keefe said.
Michael Bunting-Auston Matthews-Wayne Simmonds
Alex Kerfoot-John Tavares-William Nylander
Nick Ritchie-David Kampf-Ondrej Kase
Alex Steeves-Pierre Engvall-Kyle Clifford
Morgan Rielly-TJ Brodie
Jake Muzzin-Justin Holl
Kristians Rubins-Timothy Liljegren
Edmonton’s playoff hopes took a serious hit on Thursday, with the 13th-place team losing 6-0 to Florida. It was the Oilers’ seventh straight loss — and their 13th loss in the past 15 games — and it put them six points back of San Jose for the final Wild Card spot in the West.
The team needs Evander Kane more than ever, as well as an upgrade in net and possibly a new voice behind the bench.
Based on what lies ahead, it could also use a ventilator.
On Wednesday, the league released its revised schedule for all the games that had been postponed due to COVID-19. Mostly, the NHL’s schedule makers just crammed a bunch of games (95 in total) during the three-week window that was originally blocked off for the Olympic break.
Now, there is no break. And for the Oilers, who play their final 46 games over 98 days — roughly a game every other day for the next three months — there’s little chance to take even the slightest of breaths.
Seriously, what did Connor McDavid ever do to Gary Bettman to get him so angry? Edmonton’s path to the post-season is not just an uphill climb — it’s now also littered with potholes, as well as several back-to-backs and a couple of insane stretches where they will play three games in four nights.
Even if they manage to survive this gauntlet and sneak into the playoffs, what’s the point if they won’t have anything left in the tank?
Of course, it’s not just Edmonton that will be challenged in the weeks ahead.
Every team got a bunch of games dumped on their lap next month. Winnipeg now has 10 games in 17 days, while Montreal will play eight games in 15 days.
All it means is that February, which typically represented the dog days of the calendar might now be the most pivotal month on the schedule.
Depth is going to be tested like never before. You better have a backup goalie, because you’re going to need him. And you better have a fourth line that plays more than six minutes a night.
For Edmonton, this could be just a little problematic.
The Oilers don’t have a backup goalie. These days, they don’t even have a No. 1 that they trust. As for spreading the minutes around, Oilers’ defenceman Darnell Nurse is averaging the second-most ice time of any player in the NHL, while Leon Draisaitl and McDavid are logging more minutes than any other forward.
With the team chasing the pack — and playing from behind in most games — there’s little chance that their ice time will be decreased. If anything, it’s probably going to be going up, especially if Dave Tippett is still coaching.
After all, the Oilers can’t afford to have another losing month. They can barely afford to have another losing week.
With so many games scheduled in so few days, the playoff picture is coming into focus faster than ever. By the end of the month, we should have a clear indication of where teams stand heading into the March 21 trade deadline.
That is, if any teams are left standing by then.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Record: 24-10-3, 51 points (3rd in Atlantic)
Games rescheduled: 9
The result: From Jan. 31 to Feb. 27, Toronto plays 12 games in 29 days. But that is still less than the 14 games they played in the month of November.
What it means: The Leafs got off real easy. They now have two back-to-backs scheduled, but one is a home-and-home against Devils — meaning both teams will be at a disadvantage — and the other features the 10th-place Blue Jackets and the last-place Canadiens If anything, this could be Toronto’s chance to put points in the bank.
Record: 11-20-2, 24 points (9th in Atlantic)
Games rescheduled: 15
The result: The Senators’ schedule looks completely different. They now have 10 new games in February — including two that were originally scheduled for April and got moved up. Too bad fans won’t be allowed in the building for most of those games.
What it means: Though Ottawa is probably not going to make the playoffs, there had been talk that the Senators would be playing games in May. That didn’t happen. But there are 16 games in April, at a time when the 31st overall team could be playing meaningless hockey.
Record: 8-25-6, 22 points (10th in Atlantic)
Games rescheduled: 12
The result: During a three-week span in February, Montreal will play eight games in 15 days. All but one of those games is at home, which might not be a good thing based on how the team has been playing.
What it means: Not a whole lot. It’s a pity the NHL even bothered to reschedule Montreal’s games. All it does is delay the inevitable.
Record: 18-11-6, 42 points (5th in Pacific)
Games rescheduled: 10
The result: The revised schedule includes three back-to-backs in February and increases the number of games they’ll play in the month from four to 11. But Calgary also gets seven straight games at home.
What it means: Compared to the teams they’re jockeying with for playoff positions, the Flames got off relatively easy. Their toughest stretch is a back-to-back against Vegas and Toronto. But they are book-ended with games against Arizona and the New York Islanders, which should allow Calgary to breathe while others might be running out of breath.
Record: 18-18-3, 39 points (6th in Pacific)
Games rescheduled: 7
The result: Vancouver will play six of the seven rescheduled games during what was supposed to be the Olympic break (Feb. 7 to 22). All but one of those games are at home. Consider it payback for what the league put the Canucks through a year ago.
What it means: If you were hoping the Canucks had a shot at grabbing a wild card spot, you’re probably feeling optimistic right now. Sure, they still have to win those games. But considering that the team is 10-3-1 since Bruce Boudreau stepped behind the bench, would it surprise anyone if Vancouver ends up with the most points out of the Canadian teams out West?
Record: 18-16-2, 38 points (7th in Pacific)
Games rescheduled: 9
The result: Someone in the league office does not appear to be an Oilers fan. How else do you explain that Edmonton now comes out of the All-Star Game (in which Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are both attending) and immediately plays eight games in 13 days? Or that the team twice plays three games in four nights?
What it means: Kiss those playoffs goodbye! Seriously, this schedule is going to reveal what the Oilers are made of. This has already been a difficult season for McDavid and Draisaitl, who are feeling the pressure like never before. Now, they have to chase a playoff spot while running on fumes, with the team staring down a five-game road swing at the end of February against Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, Philadelphia and Chicago.
Record: 17-13-6, 40 points (5th in Central)
Games rescheduled: 9
The result: From Feb. 11 to Feb. 21, Winnipeg plays seven games in 11 days.
What it means: After playing six times in the past four weeks, the Jets are going to be busy in February. There are now 12 games scheduled, with 11 of them coming in the final three weeks of the month. The team will pretty much be playing every other night — or every night, considering there are three back-to-backs also scheduled. And because six of those games are against divisional rivals, this should be a make-or-break month for Winnipeg.
The two-time defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers re-signed another cornerstone player on Friday, inking All-Star offensive tackle Stanley Bryant to a one-year contract.
The 35-year-old was selected as the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman for a third time in his career this season in addition to being named to his sixth All-Star team.
The Bombers also signed All-Star linebacker Adam Bighill as well as starting quarterback and Most Outstanding Player Zach Collaros to extensions this week.
Bryant had played in 103 consecutive games for the Bombers since arriving in Winnipeg in 2015 before that streak came to an end in November.
The East Carolina product also won a Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders in 2014.
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said on Friday players must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to take part in this year’s league championship,
The CBF said it was in constant contact with health bodies and had sent an updated list of requirements to member clubs.
“One of these is the obligation to present a full vaccination certificate against COVID-19 to the CBF’s Medical Commission,” it said in a statement.
The top four national divisions kick off in the second week of April.
Brazil coach Tite has said he was not selecting Atletico Madrid defender Renan Lodi for his squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers because he was not fully vaccinated.
The issue of athletes’ stance on vaccines has dominated sports headlines recently after tennis player Novak Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, was deported ahead of the Australian Open.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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