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Lightning, Stars resume punishing Stanley Cup Final as Stamkos nears return –



Steven Stamkos has been out so long, there’s probably a “believe it when I see it” element to his potential return for fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The coach of the Dallas Stars, however, is operating on the assumption No. 91 could be cocking his stick from the top of the circle any moment now.

“I bumped into him the other day in the hallway,” Stars bench boss Rick Bowness said with a chuckle before Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. “When I see him walking out to the ice surface in full gear, I know where he’s going and he can’t be that far away [from playing]. We’re prepared.”

From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.

Tampa coach Jon Cooper said his team’s captain is “inching closer” to skating in his first NHL game since Feb. 25. While acknowledging a lot would go into Stamkos’s return in terms of shaking the rust, Cooper also emphasized the obvious: Put a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner back in the lineup and it’s bound to move the needle.

“He’s a threat,” Cooper said. “So he’s just another thing for a team to think about when he’s out there. Whether that’s on the power play or five-on-five, you get another player who, if the puck gets on his stick in the offensive zone, it might go in the net.”

Preventing the Bolts from scoring in Game 3 could actually get easier for the Stars. Regardless of whether or not Stamkos comes back, Dallas will be the home team for the first time in the 1-1 series, giving Bowness the last-change advantage of lining up his preferred defence pair against whoever Tampa is throwing at him.

“We’ve always put more emphasis on getting the right D out there [compared to matching forward lines],” Bowness said. “Some of these matchup decisions are based on score, time on the clock, if you need a goal you put your offensive guys out. A lot of factors come into play, but the constant one will be getting the right ‘D’ out there against the top lines.”

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One person Bowness hopes can become a tougher defensive matchup for the other squad is his leading goal-scorer from the regular season, Denis Gurianov. The 23-year-old Russian — though still second on the team with nine playoff goals — has hit the net just once in his past 10 outings. He played fewer than 11 minutes in Game 1 and just over 13 in Game 2.

“Nervous,” is how Bowness assessed Gurianov’s play from the most recent contest. “He was nervous.”

When people aren’t speculating about the possibility of a Stamkos sighting, much of the talk through two games has been on how punishing the series has been as both games featured over 100 hits apiece. Early in Game 2, superstar Tampa right winger Nikita Kucherov took a couple of serious knocks before setting up a pair of goals in his side’s 3-2 win. Dallas’s Blake Comeau was rocked by Ryan McDonagh in the second period and did not return. Bowness said Comeau is a game-time decision for Wednesday’s tilt.

Tampa’s Tyler Johnson was asked if the suppressed existence everyone is experiencing with bubble life could be contributing to the nastier scene once the puck drops, as the teams kick off a particularly gruelling stretch of three games in four nights.

“I think everyone is [feeling] couped up a little bit, so you let your anger out on the ice,” Johnson said, perhaps only slightly kidding. “Going into this, I think a lot of people [were wondering] what the playoff hockey would be like: I think the questions have been answered that the guys are competing and working hard and it’s been physical and guys are doing everything they can to win.”

Few in the league have a longer history of mixing it up when it matters most than Dallas veteran Corey Perry. Back in the Final for the first time since winning a ring with the Ducks in 2007, Perry had no trouble identifying the root of the acrimony.

“We’re battling for the Stanley Cup — plain and simple,” he said. “Nobody is going to give you any room on the ice, you’re going to have to earn it. They’ve been here before and we have some guys in our room who have been here before, so we know what it takes as well.”

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Lowe, Wendle help Rays even World Series with win over Dodgers – TSN



Brandon Lowe went deep twice and Joey Wendle drove in three to help the Tampa Bay Rays to a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the 2020 World Series on Wednesday. The series is tied 1-1, with Game 3 scheduled for Friday.

Here is’s running recap of the Rays’ Game 2 victory:


Loup is back out to pitch the ninth inning with Diego Castillo throwing in the bullpen.

After a strikeout and a long fly ball out, Castillo is on to try to close out Game 2.

Castillo gets Chris Taylor on strikes to slam the door and even the World Series at 1-1.


Jake McGee is on to pitch the ninth for the Dodgers.

Yandy Diaz reaches with a one-out walk.

Randy Arozarena also reaches with a walk, but after both men are lifted for pinch runners the Dodgers get out of the inning.


Corey Seager leads off the inning with a solo homer to slice the Rays’ lead to 6-4.

Justin Turner doubles to centre as the ball falls between two defenders in the outfield.

Aaron Loup enters the game for the Rays with two outs.

Turner is stranded at second, Rays lead 6-4 heading to the ninth inning.


Willy Adames doubles with two outs, but is stranded to end the inning.


Pete Fairbanks comes out of the bullpen and throws a three-up, three-down inning using only six pitches.


Alex Wood takes over on the mound for the Dodgers.

Yandy Diaz hits a ball off the wall, but is held to a long single with one out.

Diaz advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and Randy Arozarena is given an intentional walk.

Wood strands both runners, Rays continue to lead 6-3.


Will Smith hits a one-out homer off Nick Anderson to cut the Rays lead to 6-3.


Ji-Man Choi reaches with a single to lead off the inning.

Manuel Margot singles to left, Choi advances to third with none out.

Joey Wendle drives in Choi with a sac fly, Rays lead 6-2.


A. J. Pollock reaches on a walk, the third issued by Snell tonight.

Chris Taylor hits a two-run homer, first hit Snell has allowed, Rays lead is cut to 5-2.

Mookie Betts draws a walk and Nick Anderson is heating in the bullpen for the Rays.

Corey Seager singles and Anderson is on to replace Snell with two on and two out.

Both runners are stranded, 5-2 Rays after five innings.


Austin Meadows reaches for the Rays with a two-out single.

Brandon Lowe hits his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to put the Rays ahead 5-0.


Snell has eight strikeouts and has not allowed a hit through four innings.


Julio Urias and Dustin May are throwing in the Dodgers bullpen as Victor Gonzalez continues on the mound.

Randy Arozarena reaches with a one-out walk and is erased on a fielder’s choice after Kiké Hernández bobbles a double play ball, Ji-Man Choi is safe at first.

May enters the game to pitch for the Dodgers, their fourth pitcher of the game.

Margot slaps a single into right field, Choi advances to second.

Joey Wendle doubles into the gap, driving home both runners to extend the Rays’ lead to 3-0.


Snell responds with a three-up, three-down third inning as the Rays continue to lead.


Floro records the first two outs of the third and Victor Gonzalez replaces him to record the third out and keep the score at 1-0 Rays.


Max Muncy walks to lead off the second inning for the Dodgers.

Cody Bellinger also reaches on a walk, Muncy moves up to second with one out.

Both runners are stranded as the score remains 1-0 for the Rays.


Tony Gonsolin remains on the mound, with Dylan Floro heating in the bullpen for the Dodgers.

Manuel Margot draws a walk, steals second base and advances to third on a deep fly ball to centre field.

With one out in the second inning, Floro replaces Gonsolin on the mound for the Dodgers.

Margot is erased at the plate on a ground ball to Corey Seager, Willy Adames reaches on a fielder’s choice.

Adames is thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning.


Blake Snell takes the mound for the Rays with a 1-0 lead.

Corey Seager hits one to the warning track, but Globe Life Field holds it, keeping the Dodgers off the board.


Tony Gonsolin is on the mound and Game 2 of the 2020 World Series is underway from Globe Life Field in Arlington.

Brandon Lowe hits a solo homer in the first inning to put the Rays on top 1-0.


Southpaw Blake Snell (2-2, 3.20 ERA) will take the ball for the Tampa Bay Rays as they look to even the 2020 World Series after a Game 1 defeat.

Tampa Bay Rays starting lineup

Tony Gonsolin (0-1, 9.95 ERA) will start for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They are the home team for Game 2 of the Fall Classic from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting lineup

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Report: Louisville a possibility for Raptors home games in 2021 –



Discussions have been had about the possibility of Louisville serving as a temporary home for the Toronto Raptors during the upcoming NBA season, according to Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill.

Per Goodwill, the potential stems from former NBA player and now-businessman Junior Bridgeman having contacted the NBA to bring attention to the fact that Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center is NBA-ready.

Canada and the United States agreed to close the border for non-essential travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic back in March, and on Monday that agreement was extended until at least Nov. 21. Due to the restrictions, Toronto-based teams such as the Blue Jays and Toronto FC have had to play their home games out-of-country, in Buffalo and East Hartford, Connecticut, respectively.

If those same restrictions continue to be implemented into the forthcoming NBA season, the Raptors, too, may be forced to play somewhere other than Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena.

The league has yet to make any official decisions about the 2020-21 campaign, and is still in the process of figuring out the salary cap, the opening date for free agency and a myriad of other topics.

Commissioner Adam Silver has reiterated several times over the past few months that the league’s decisions will be necessarily be determined by the novel coronavirus.

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Raptors ‘making the best’ of challenging circumstances ahead of NBA Draft –



TORONTO — Despite looking to have slim pickings with picks No. 29 and No. 59 in this year’s NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors think there’s a lot of talent to be found at those spots and are doing a lot of homework right now to cover their bases before the Nov. 18 date.

“It seems to be a very balanced draft this year,” said Raptors assistant general manager Dan Tolzman in a conference call with the media Wednesday, “which for picking almost smack dab in the middle of it, at 29, we feel pretty confident that we could be looking at 50 different players maybe just for that one pick because we have really no idea who could go at the 20 picks in front of that pick, or the 20 picks after, and it’ll be anywhere in between.

“We have interest in guys in that whole range because there’s a lot of uncertainty just because of the typical draft process not being the same… usually there’s a lot of risers and fallers based on whether it’s the draft combine, individual workouts, three-on-three workouts, all that kind of stuff, that isn’t happening so a lot of the same names that we usually would have maybe bounced around on our list a little more frequently… they’re still very much in the mix and a handful of those guys will probably end up going well before our pick and we’ll be looking at some names that we may not expect at both of our picks.”

Though the great NBA bubble experiment has come to a close, the effects of COVID-19 are still impacting the league in big ways, most notably right now in the fact that the draft has been moved to November from its usual June date and the pre-draft process has gone entirely virtual, creating hurdles not seen before.

Thankfully for the Raptors, however, they haven’t been too disrupted by their new reality.

“It’s very different than what we’re used to, I can tell you that,” Tolzman said of the workflow happening now. “It’s one-of-a-kind and it seems like it’s never-ending, to be totally honest with you. It’s one of those things where we are doing what we can within the guidelines that the league has given us, and we’re making the best of it. Thankfully, our scouting department, our front office is designed to not be too thrown off by these new ways of doing things.

“It’s just it seems like forever since we’ve seen these players. They might be completely different from the last time we saw them playing in March. We’re basing a lot of these decisions on extensive film work, discussions as a staff, and a lot of background digging on players to get as much info as we can to make an educated decision come draft night. So it’s gonna look a little different, the process leading up to it, but hopefully when it’s all said and done, looking back on it, it won’t be much different in terms of outcome of it.”

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The Raptors take a holistic approach to their entire draft process and rely on data they’ve accumulated on players over the span of multiple years rather than just looking at a players’ most recent season. So it makes sense when Tolzman says his team is well-equipped for these extenuating circumstances. Still, he does admit that not being able to see players live face-to-face for interviews or to bring them to Toronto to work out has made the process more challenging than before.

“It’s unfortunate for that side of things to kind of miss out on that opportunity. We’re still getting some one-on-one time,” Tolzman said. “We’re doing a lot of Zoom interviews. Of course, it doesn’t recreate the inter-person discussions, but we’re doing our best to at least get to know them through those sorts of interviews, but then also reaching out and talking to people within their circles to just kind of learn as much as we can.

“More than anything, a lot of times what we do is we’ll talk to guys early in the pre-draft and they’ll talk about all the different things they’re working on, what they’re hoping to change in their game as they transition to the NBA, and usually the workouts, the visits, that’s where we get to see that first hand and see all the transitions they’re making. We’re not getting a lot of that this year…

“I’d definitely say it’s not something that’s going to make it impossible for us, but it’s just a valued part of the process that we just won’t have this year.”

Another complication for the Raptors, in particular, Tolzman mentioned was the fact the team puts a lot of emphasis on player development and utilizes tools like Summer League and the G-League to help develop young players recently drafted or signed. With no concrete information about when next NBA season is going to start, those development opportunities are also on hold, adding another variable for the Raptors to considerer heading into this draft.

“It’s definitely something that we’re trying to figure out right now,” Tolzman said. “It’s going to impact how we address the two-ways, the Exhibit-10, G-League kind of mentality big time because we just don’t know… what those sorts of deals that these players will be on, how it will impact their ability to go and continue to develop.”

With that said, however, Tolzman is confident the team’s player-development program will still be able to help whoever the Raptors bring in from the draft with little to no drop-off.

“Honestly, we feel really comfortable with whoever we target and bring in,” he said. “We know that our development program is in place regardless of what type of deal they’re on or what the status is within the organization, but we know once guys get with us they’ve shown enough potential to draw the interest in the first place. We just feel comfortable that as long as we bring in the right types of guys that are wired the way all the guys we’ve had success with are, regardless of what the season actually brings, the development work is still going to be there, all the hours of work are still going to be put in and we fully trust our development staff to work with these guys.”

And it’s probably for this reason that the Raptors are so confident picking where they are right now and why they’re looking to cast their net as wide as 50 possible players they could be interested in. No matter who they acquire, the team’s player-development program has proven to be one that can turn prospects into good NBA players with names like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell being shining examples of that.

So while this is a draft that may lack the kind of star power of previous ones to draw casual eyeballs, Tolzman’s assessment that this is a balanced pool of players seems very fitting and explains why he suggested that even players who go undrafted could get plenty of attention from around the league.

“There’s going to be a lot of rotation-level players that come out of this draft, kind of all across the board, and I think probably more than usual the undrafted market is going to be huge because normally players that maybe early on were expected to go undrafted, they worked their way into the draft picture and those workouts and those opportunities for them to do so just didn’t happen this year. So a lot of these guys that have maybe been earmarked unfairly as an undrafted player, they’re going to end up on that market and you’re going to see guys come out of nowhere and be contributors next year.”

Some of the players that may get overlooked are the Canadian contingent, which includes point guard Karim Mane of Montreal, shooting guard Nate Darling of Saint John, N.B., and power forward Isiaha Mike of Toronto. Unlike 2019’s record-setting draft for Canadian basketball, the crop of Canadians hoping to have their name called on draft night in 2020 is much smaller in both number and profile.

“I think the few [Canadian] players that are in the draft are interesting and we always like to make sure that we get to know all of these guys and we don’t want to miss anything with any local guys because we kind of pride ourselves on having a pretty thorough program in terms of keeping guys developing with some local ties because it makes it easier for them to get comfortable and develop as young players as well,” Tolzman said.

“So, there’s definitely some interesting players who we see with the right development, the right program put in front of them they could absolutely turn into legitimate NBA players.”

The Raptors have never drafted a Canadian player in the franchise’s history. Given the kind of draft this is, this year might not be a bad one to cross that particular bit of Canadian basketball history off of the club’s list.

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