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Lightning not reaching for easy excuses after Game 1 letdown – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — The evidence that the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to make this an interesting Stanley Cup Final can’t be found as much in what they did as what they didn’t do.

Namely, they didn’t seize on any of the excuses easily on offer after a 4-1 loss here to the Dallas Stars in Game 1.

The most clear example came on the Jamie Oleksiak goal that stood up as the winner. The puck was clearly fired into the Tampa zone from the wrong side of centre ice by Miro Heiskanen, which was accompanied by an animated response from the Lightning bench in real time.

Yet, by the time everyone had a chance to double-check the receipts, a collective set of amnesia had taken hold.

“I didn’t really see it,” said Tyler Johnson.

“I didn’t look at the play,” said Yanni Gourde. “I don’t know.”

“To be honest, I can’t really remember the play,” said Kevin Shattenkirk. “Sorry, me either.”

As dull as those quotes might read in print, that’s exactly the response a team needs following an emotional loss. The Lightning had a built-in explanation for why this game might not have turned out in their favour, but the true reason for a 1-0 series deficit was found more in the slow start and a strong goaltending performance by Anton Khudobin than anything else.

Tampa didn’t respond particularly well to the 48-hour turnaround after winning the Eastern Conference Final and couldn’t reverse a 3-1 deficit even while outshooting Dallas 22-2 in the third period.

The Oleksiak goal was a back-breaker. The lineseman didn’t raise his arm for icing when Heiskanen fired the puck in from the wrong side of centre, which is almost certainly why Victor Hedman never got below the faceoff dot to get the puck there.

“Well you wouldn’t be asking the question if you didn’t think the same that we may have thought. But it’s a moot point now. So you can’t go back and change the call,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

They also couldn’t go back and find more purpose in the opening minutes. Dallas dictated the pace, grabbed an early lead and parked the bus.

That raised some questions about a Lightning team that has given up the first goal in six straight games. However, they’ve responded with the 1-1 goal each time, and lost their grip here in a second period where Dallas regained the lead.

“I’m just disappointed in the fact that we got away from our strengths,” said Lightning defenceman Ryan McDonagh. “They’re a great skating, great structured team, but I think we could have played to our strengths a little bit better. Simplified our game and get going north a little bit more early on and allow ourselves to so-called find our game with our forechecking and our offensive zone play.”

Those will be key talking points before Monday’s Game 2 at Rogers Place.

When the Lightning look at this Cup opener with clearer eyes, they’ll focus on creating more chaos in front of Khudobin. The power play will be a natural focus after going 0-for-3 in the third period and seeing it fall quiet late in the Islanders series.

“He’s a very good goalie,” said Johnson. “When he’s on, he’s on. I thought we generated some pretty good chances and he made some really big saves. Did we do enough? No, because we lost the game. I mean we’ve got to do more. We’ve got to do more than score one goal.”

Still, deep down, there were no excuses in this loss. Tampa didn’t play with nearly the same verve it had in the previous rounds.

But the Lightning have been buckling in for a real series.

“I think we probably dipped our toes in the water a little bit and watched them skate around for a bit,” said Cooper. “It’s too bad, but you’ve heard me say it a million times: Turn the page and move on.

“Short memory in the playoffs.”

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With the NBA focusing on a 2020-21 start date, where will the Toronto Raptors call home? – Yahoo Canada Shine On

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The NBA is focusing on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18) for a start date next season, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Among the issues the league is facing from this unconventional calendar means getting the NBA back on track for normalcy for the 2021-22 season, as in October to June. Before the pandemic shut the NBA down in March, many were openly campaigning to start the season on Christmas Day permanently, largely to avoid conflict with the NFL’s season.” data-reactid=”17″>Among the issues the league is facing from this unconventional calendar means getting the NBA back on track for normalcy for the 2021-22 season, as in October to June. Before the pandemic shut the NBA down in March, many were openly campaigning to start the season on Christmas Day permanently, largely to avoid conflict with the NFL’s season.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The lower ratings for the just-concluded Finals likely put a little bit of realism in the minds of the decision-makers about the viewing habits of the public as well as the appetite for the players to drag their season well into the summer and to the tip of fall.” data-reactid=”18″>The lower ratings for the just-concluded Finals likely put a little bit of realism in the minds of the decision-makers about the viewing habits of the public as well as the appetite for the players to drag their season well into the summer and to the tip of fall.

It hasn’t been decided whether the NBA can implement a full 82-game schedule, especially with an emphasis on getting some level of attendance in areas and upholding the recently-developed standards concerning player rest, cutting down on the back-to-backs and heavy travel.

The focus for next season, primarily, is getting things finished in a reasonable amount of time for the draft, free agency and rest in the summer of 2021 for a traditional mid-October start.

A Christmas Day start is still in play, approximately a three-and-a-half week gap between the two dates, and while some around the league are optimistic a start can occur closer to the Christmas holiday, it feels more pragmatic to foresee a start around Jan. 18, 2021. The league will give teams a two-month notice before the start of the season.

A Board of Governors meeting is slated for this coming Friday, where commissioner Adam Silver will focus on getting next season started on track. The bubble was a success, but Silver has been talking to owners heading into this week’s call, not wanting to bask in the recent history, knowing what’s ahead.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 07: General view during the Canadian national anthem prior to the game between the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 7, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Raptors defeated the Pacers 115-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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<figcaption class="C($c-fuji-grey-h) Fz(13px) Py(5px) Lh(1.5)" title="When the 2020-21 NBA season starts, the Toronto Raptors will likely not be in Canada. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)” data-reactid=”39″>

When the 2020-21 NBA season starts, the Toronto Raptors will likely not be in Canada. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Louisville Raptors?” data-reactid=”43″>The Louisville Raptors?

One big focus for next season has been the status of the Toronto Raptors. Due to the United States’ handling of COVID-19, travel into Canada has been banned.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays played their home games in Buffalo, and the Toronto FC of the MLS played its games in East Hartford, Connecticut.” data-reactid=”45″>MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays played their home games in Buffalo, and the Toronto FC of the MLS played its games in East Hartford, Connecticut.

The Raptors face a similar dilemma, and league sources tell Yahoo Sports one alternate location that has been broached is Louisville, Kentucky. Former NBA player and successful businessman Junior Bridgeman has been in contact with the NBA, considering Louisville has the KFC Yum! Center that is NBA-ready.

No decision has been made yet, as it’s on a laundry list of topics to be discussed on the upcoming call, along with the collective bargaining agreement, competitive formats for next season and an update on the social justice coalition.

Louisville wouldn’t be first in line in the event of relocation or expansion; Seattle is. But it seems to be an easier sell to get the Raptors in Louisville for a short period — or even sharing a current NBA market, according to sources.

How this goes with the league’s objectives of getting fans in seats is an interesting proposition if the Raptors would play home games in, say, New York or Chicago, given there’s no natural fan base there.

A league official told Yahoo Sports the same line Silver has been parroting for months now, that the virus will determine so much of the league’s actions. It doesn’t appear likely the virus will slow down enough for Canada to open its borders for frequent international travel anytime soon.

The NBA is appearing to take proactive measures similar to its professional counterparts.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 28: Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives with the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half at the Smoothie King Center on February 28, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 28: Jrue Holiday #11 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives with the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half at the Smoothie King Center on February 28, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Nuggets keeping an eye on Jrue Holiday” data-reactid=”76″>Nuggets keeping an eye on Jrue Holiday

Even though official league business hasn’t begun for next season, it hasn’t stopped teams from discussing parameters for trades.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="One hot name: New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. According to sources, around 10 teams are inquiring about his services and one team hot after him is the Denver Nuggets, eager to capitalize on their appearance in the West Finals.” data-reactid=”78″>One hot name: New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. According to sources, around 10 teams are inquiring about his services and one team hot after him is the Denver Nuggets, eager to capitalize on their appearance in the West Finals.

Holiday, an All-Defense performer capable of playing both guard spots, averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists for the Pelicans this past season and seemingly could fit in with the Nuggets’ youth and recent experience. He’s under contract for next season with a player option for 2021-22 at $27 million, and many teams believe the Pelicans will be looking to shed some salary going into next season.

So much of what Denver or any team can do depends on what the cap looks like, especially with the Nuggets having $107 million committed for next season, highlighted by max deals to stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

One executive theorized a sign-and-trade with Jerami Grant could happen, considering he’s expected to decline his player option and enter free agency.

Guard Jahmi'us Ramsey #3 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders stands on the court during the second half of the college basketball game against the Kansas Jayhawks on March 07, 2020 Guard Jahmi'us Ramsey #3 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders stands on the court during the second half of the college basketball game against the Kansas Jayhawks on March 07, 2020

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Texas Tech guard Jahmi’us Ramsey has the chance of becoming a top-five player in the league, according to scouts. (John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="One to watch: Texas Tech’s Jahmi’us Ramsey” data-reactid=”102″>One to watch: Texas Tech’s Jahmi’us Ramsey

Here’s a name some scouts feel will be a top-five player in a few years: Texas Tech shooting guard Jahmi’us Ramsey.

He’s rated as a late first-round pick but one executive who’s high on him feels Ramsey will ultimately be a point guard.

“He’s big [6-foot-4], strong, will get to his spots,” the executive said. “He doesn’t get a lot of love from the analytics folks because he played with a ball-dominant point guard but he’ll wind up being a lead guard.”

Ramsey shot nearly 43% from 3 in his one season at Texas Tech but surprisingly shot just 64% from the free-throw line. He struggled a bit to finish the conference season, which likely contributed to his stock dropping.

But an executive tells Yahoo Sports it’ll all be forgotten soon enough.

“He’ll be better in the NBA for the spacing and the way this game is played,” the executive said. “He’ll end up, when it’s said and done, like Draymond Green, in five years, people will say he’ll be a top-five player in the draft.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Yahoo Sports:” data-reactid=”111″>More from Yahoo Sports:

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With the NBA focusing on a 2020-21 start date, where will the Toronto Raptors call home? – Yahoo Sports

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The NBA is focusing on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18) for a start date next season, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Among the issues the league is facing from this unconventional calendar means getting the NBA back on track for normalcy for the 2021-22 season, as in October to June. Before the pandemic shut the NBA down in March, many were openly campaigning to start the season on Christmas Day permanently, largely to avoid conflict with the NFL’s season.” data-reactid=”17″>Among the issues the league is facing from this unconventional calendar means getting the NBA back on track for normalcy for the 2021-22 season, as in October to June. Before the pandemic shut the NBA down in March, many were openly campaigning to start the season on Christmas Day permanently, largely to avoid conflict with the NFL’s season.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The lower ratings for the just-concluded Finals likely put a little bit of realism in the minds of the decision-makers about the viewing habits of the public as well as the appetite for the players to drag their season well into the summer and to the tip of fall.” data-reactid=”22″>The lower ratings for the just-concluded Finals likely put a little bit of realism in the minds of the decision-makers about the viewing habits of the public as well as the appetite for the players to drag their season well into the summer and to the tip of fall.

It hasn’t been decided whether the NBA can implement a full 82-game schedule, especially with an emphasis on getting some level of attendance in areas and upholding the recently-developed standards concerning player rest, cutting down on the back-to-backs and heavy travel.

The focus for next season, primarily, is getting things finished in a reasonable amount of time for the draft, free agency and rest in the summer of 2021 for a traditional mid-October start.

A Christmas Day start is still in play, approximately a three-and-a-half week gap between the two dates, and while some around the league are optimistic a start can occur closer to the Christmas holiday, it feels more pragmatic to foresee a start around Jan. 18, 2021. The league will give teams a two-month notice before the start of the season.

A Board of Governors meeting is slated for this coming Friday, where commissioner Adam Silver will focus on getting next season started on track. The bubble was a success, but Silver has been talking to owners heading into this week’s call, not wanting to bask in the recent history, knowing what’s ahead.

<figcaption class="C($c-fuji-grey-h) Fz(13px) Py(5px) Lh(1.5)" title="When the 2020-21 NBA season starts, the Toronto Raptors will likely not be in Canada. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)” data-reactid=”43″>

When the 2020-21 NBA season starts, the Toronto Raptors will likely not be in Canada. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Louisville Raptors?” data-reactid=”47″>The Louisville Raptors?

One big focus for next season has been the status of the Toronto Raptors. Due to the United States’ handling of COVID-19, travel into Canada has been banned.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays played their home games in Buffalo, and the Toronto FC of the MLS played its games in East Hartford, Connecticut.” data-reactid=”49″>MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays played their home games in Buffalo, and the Toronto FC of the MLS played its games in East Hartford, Connecticut.

The Raptors face a similar dilemma, and league sources tell Yahoo Sports one alternate location that has been broached is Louisville, Kentucky. Former NBA player and successful businessman Junior Bridgeman has been in contact with the NBA, considering Louisville has the KFC Yum! Center that is NBA-ready.

No decision has been made yet, as it’s on a laundry list of topics to be discussed on the upcoming call, along with the collective bargaining agreement, competitive formats for next season and an update on the social justice coalition.

Louisville wouldn’t be first in line in the event of relocation or expansion; Seattle is. But it seems to be an easier sell to get the Raptors in Louisville for a short period — or even sharing a current NBA market, according to sources.

How this goes with the league’s objectives of getting fans in seats is an interesting proposition if the Raptors would play home games in, say, New York or Chicago, given there’s no natural fan base there.

A league official told Yahoo Sports the same line Silver has been parroting for months now, that the virus will determine so much of the league’s actions. It doesn’t appear likely the virus will slow down enough for Canada to open its borders for frequent international travel anytime soon.

The NBA is appearing to take proactive measures similar to its professional counterparts.

<figcaption class="C($c-fuji-grey-h) Fz(13px) Py(5px) Lh(1.5)" title="The Denver Nuggets are interested in trading for point guard Jrue Holiday. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)” data-reactid=”72″>

The Denver Nuggets are interested in trading for point guard Jrue Holiday. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Nuggets keeping an eye on Jrue Holiday” data-reactid=”80″>Nuggets keeping an eye on Jrue Holiday

Even though official league business hasn’t begun for next season, it hasn’t stopped teams from discussing parameters for trades.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="One hot name: New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. According to sources, around 10 teams are inquiring about his services and one team hot after him is the Denver Nuggets, eager to capitalize on their appearance in the West Finals.” data-reactid=”82″>One hot name: New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. According to sources, around 10 teams are inquiring about his services and one team hot after him is the Denver Nuggets, eager to capitalize on their appearance in the West Finals.

Holiday, an All-Defense performer capable of playing both guard spots, averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists for the Pelicans this past season and seemingly could fit in with the Nuggets’ youth and recent experience. He’s under contract for next season with a player option for 2021-22 at $27 million, and many teams believe the Pelicans will be looking to shed some salary going into next season.

So much of what Denver or any team can do depends on what the cap looks like, especially with the Nuggets having $107 million committed for next season, highlighted by max deals to stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

One executive theorized a sign-and-trade with Jerami Grant could happen, considering he’s expected to decline his player option and enter free agency.

Texas Tech guard Jahmi’us Ramsey has the chance of becoming a top-five player in the league, according to scouts. (John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="One to watch: Texas Tech’s Jahmi’us Ramsey” data-reactid=”106″>One to watch: Texas Tech’s Jahmi’us Ramsey

Here’s a name some scouts feel will be a top-five player in a few years: Texas Tech shooting guard Jahmi’us Ramsey.

He’s rated as a late first-round pick but one executive who’s high on him feels Ramsey will ultimately be a point guard.

“He’s big [6-foot-4], strong, will get to his spots,” the executive said. “He doesn’t get a lot of love from the analytics folks because he played with a ball-dominant point guard but he’ll wind up being a lead guard.”

Ramsey shot nearly 43% from 3 in his one season at Texas Tech but surprisingly shot just 64% from the free-throw line. He struggled a bit to finish the conference season, which likely contributed to his stock dropping.

But an executive tells Yahoo Sports it’ll all be forgotten soon enough.

“He’ll be better in the NBA for the spacing and the way this game is played,” the executive said. “He’ll end up, when it’s said and done, like Draymond Green, in five years, people will say he’ll be a top-five player in the draft.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Yahoo Sports:” data-reactid=”115″>More from Yahoo Sports:

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Toronto Maple Leafs: Projecting the 2020-2021 Forward Lines – Editor in Leaf

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TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 07: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple . (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)

Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs have done an excellent job of filling out their roster. Now, Head Coach Sheldon Keefe and his staff are left with the tough task of determining how to best deploy their forward group.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have added a large group of forwards to fill out their roster, including bringing in Wayne Simmonds, Joe Thornton, and Jimmy Vesey on cheap 1-year contracts. While the merit of these signings can and have been debated, barring any unexpected moves this will be the group that Keefe and Dubas are rolling with.

It’s more than likely that the lines on Day 1 of the season aren’t the lines that the Leafs will end the year with. Expect Sheldon Keefe to mix and match depending on injury, player performance, and matchup. Dubas has done an excellent job providing the coaching staff with a plethora of options on offense, and the onus is now on them to use that depth and flexibility to compete for a Stanley Cup.

Because of the Leafs salary cap situation, roster flexibility is a priority for Dubas and co., expect players who will not be exposed to waivers to be given the first shot at cracking the roster. (per CapFriendly)

Let’s take a look at what the lineup could look like once things get rolling next season, whenever that may be.

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