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Mailbag: Cup Qualifier intensity level, Blue Jackets goalie choice –



Do you think we’ll see teams come out of the gate banging bodies and playing with high intensity because everyone is rested and feeling good? — @SIickRick23

Without question, and not just because everyone is healthy and rested. 

I write that based on the comments I’ve heard from players in the past two days of training camp and from what I’ve seen watching the New York Rangers practice in person. There’s already an intensity that suggests the players and coaches understand they need to get up to speed quickly and test their limits. Rangers coach David Quinn said, “This isn’t training camp,” and he meant it; it’s not anything like what a traditional training camp is like, when there are 65 or so players broken up into groups on multiple ice sheets and veterans skating with players who have no realistic chance of being on the team that season. 

I specifically think the intensity level among teams playing in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers will be at playoff level. Though it’s technically not considered the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it is a series between two teams with the winner moving on and the loser going home. You will see what we know of playoff hockey in those games. 

The round-robin games played by the top four teams in each conference might not have the same feel. Those might be more like the regular season because they do not present the potential of finality; those teams are moving on into the first round of the playoffs regardless of what happens.

Because of the contrast between the round-robin games and the games in the best-of-5 series, people think the teams that win each series will have the advantage in the first round, having already played with the intensity required to win in the playoffs. That can’t be manufactured even in round-robin play for seeding. And because they were just off for four months, nobody should be tired after playing a maximum of five games with zero travel. 

I believe in that argument and I think those teams will have an advantage, but through a seven-game series the best team usually comes out on top, and I don’t think that will be different. But without question we’ll see the intensity that we normally see in the playoffs. If you don’t bring it, you’ll be going home.

In your opinion, are the Columbus Blue Jackets at an advantage with their goaltender situation or is it a complication? Has there really been any playoff run recently where the goalies were switched back and forth? And neither Elvis Merzlikins nor Joonas Korpisalo has any NHL postseason experience. — @moonlighthaley

I don’t think it’s a detriment. Competition is good. But my preference would be to have one goalie I know I can rely on, the closest thing to a sure thing in my mind, with a backup I trust should my sure thing fail. 

Every coach is going to try to make the best of the situation he has available, and for Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella it looks like a win-win; each goalie is good and coming off a quality season. But neither, as you mentioned, has played in the NHL postseason, which makes it a pressure-filled choice. Choose wisely and I think the Blue Jackets will defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Qualifiers and advance. Choose poorly and my feeling is Columbus will be eliminated quickly by Toronto. But how do you choose when you don’t have history or recent games to base your decision on? Instead, you’re relying on practice, maybe an intrasquad scrimmage or two, and one exhibition game that won’t have near the intensity of the games the Blue Jackets will be playing against the Maple Leafs. It’s a tough call. That’s why I’d prefer one goalie I trust. That doesn’t mean you have to start him, but at least you know you can fall back to him, like the Washington Capitals did in 2018. Philipp Grubauer started Games 1 and 2 for Washington against Columbus in the Eastern Conference First Round; the Capitals lost twice and turned to Braden Holtby, who carried the Capitals the rest of the way to the Stanley Cup.

Video: DET@CBJ: Merzlikins denies Filppula with blocker

As for the second part of your question, in 2016, the Pittsburgh Penguins flipped to Marc-Andre Fleury for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was his first start since he sustained a concussion before the regular season ended. The Penguins lost 4-3 in overtime and went back to Matt Murray for Game 6. He started the rest of the way and Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup. 

Usually, though, you’ll see a coach make one change and stick with it. It’ll either work or he’ll run out of time to make the second change. For example, there was the Grubauer to Holtby switch in 2018. It also worked in 2017, when Fleury played the first two rounds for Pittsburgh because Murray was injured in warmups for Game 1 against Columbus in the first round. Fleury got the Penguins through two rounds and two games in the conference final against the Ottawa Senators before Murray replaced him with 7:08 remaining in the first period of Game 3, after Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots. Murray helped Pittsburgh the rest of the way to its second straight Stanley Cup championship. Fleury never played again for the Penguins.

Is this the last hurrah for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and company? Does Penguins coach Mike Sullivan need to make the most of the opportunity now while the core is still intact? — @theashcity

Pittsburgh needs to make the most of this opportunity now because there’s no telling how much longer its talented core will remain intact, but you’re not going to hear me saying this is its last hurrah. 

Crosby scored 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 41 games this season. The 32-year-old Penguins captain overcame core muscle surgery and remained one of the game’s elite players. I think he has a few more years left at the top of his game because he adjusts with the changing times and maintains his elite level of focus, conditioning, preparation and ability. Also, he’s not a player who relies on one elite skill, like speed or a shot. His overall game is still the best in the NHL and will remain so for a while. 

Malkin had a terrific rebound season, scoring 74 points (25 goals, 49 assists) in 55 games after scoring 72 points (21 goals, 51 assists) in 68 games last season. Nothing there suggests to me the center, who turns 34 on July 31, is nearing the end. And Letang, for all of his injury and health scares, remains one of the League’s most dynamic defensemen. The 33-year-old scored 44 points (15 goals, 29 assists) in 61 games. Few players rush the puck and skate the way Letang does. He’s nowhere near done. 

Last hurrah? No chance. No matter what happens this season, the Penguins will be a contender again next season because of Crosby, Malkin and Letang.

Video: ANA@PIT: Letang sets up Crosby’s power-play goal

Brock Boeser‘s name is constantly coming up in trade rumors. We’re used to this with our superstars. Is Jack Eichel for Boeser even worth debating? — @daveyboy604

It is not for multiple reasons; the most significant is the Vancouver Canucks aren’t even exploring the idea of trading Boeser, general manager Jim Benning said Monday. Benning squashed those rumors by saying, “I have no intention of trading Brock Boeser.” The 23-year-old forward said he was upset the rumors even began because he’s focused on returning to play with the Canucks and never thought about a potential trade since the NHL Trade Deadline came and went on Feb. 24.

But if Vancouver’s focus does change to exploring the market for Boeser, the impetus would likely be because of NHL salary cap constraints, and that all but eliminates the idea of a trade for Eichel, who has six years remaining on an eight-year contract that carries an annual $10 million salary cap charge. Boeser has two years left on his three-year contract that carries a $5.875 million salary cap charge. The math doesn’t add up, and the Canucks would have to throw a lot more to entice the Buffalo Sabres to trade their captain. 

The challenge for Vancouver is the salary cap will stay flat at $81.5 million next season and could only grow to $82.5 million the following season, when center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes will each need a new contract. The Canucks also want to re-sign goalie Jacob Markstrom, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The flat salary cap will create difficult decisions for many teams, with Vancouver likely one of them.

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Investigators search doctor’s office, probing Maradona death



BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentine police searched the home and office of Diego Maradona’s personal doctor on Sunday as part of investigations into the death of the 60-year-old soccer star, which caused a wave of grief across the country.

Reporters saw several police officers stationed at the door of the offices of neurologist Dr. Leopoldo Luque in Buenos Aires’ Belgrano neighbourhood.

Court investigators have been taking declarations from Maradona’s relatives, according to a statement from the San Isidro prosecutor’s office, which is overseeing a probe into the medical attention Maradona received prior to his death on Wednesday.

It said investigators were trying to secure Maradona’s medical records.

Maradona was buried Thursday in a private ceremony attended by only two dozen people following a vigil at the presidential palace where tens of thousands of weeping fans lined up to filed past his coffin.

Maradona died of a heart attack in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation Nov. 3. He had suffered from a long series of medical issues, some related to overindulgence in drugs and alcohol.

Source: – World News –

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Romain Grosjean escapes horrific F1 crash at Bahrain GP



Romain Grosjean suffered minor burns and suspected broken ribs but was in a stable condition after his car smashed through safety barriers at the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix on the opening lap, bringing the race to a halt.

The Frenchman’s Haas car was ripped in half and engulfed in flames as it speared through protective barriers immediately after the start, following contact with the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat.

The impact was measured at over 50G, according to a spokesman for the sport’s governing FIA.

“[Romain] is stable and being taken by helicopter to the MDF MC Military Hospital for further evaluation,” the governing body said.

WATCH | Massive crash at Bahrain Grand Prix splits F1 car in half:


France’s Romain Grosjean crashed heavily into barrier splitting the car in half at the Bahrain F1 race. Grosjean walked away from the crash with minor injuries. 2:59

A spokesman for Grosjean’s Haas team said the 34-year-old had suffered minor burns on his hands and ankles and had one or more suspected broken ribs.

Grosjean clambered out of his car with the fire roaring behind him and his race helmet singed.



Moments later, Grosjean was shown on television chatting with the race doctor in the medical car and then helped into an ambulance.

WATCH | Romain Grosjean escapes car after crash at Bahrain GP:


French driver Romain Grosjean escapes his fire-filled car after a heavy crash that tore his car in half at Sunday’s F1 race in Bahrain. 1:03

Drivers and team members stood and applauded as they saw the images of Grosjean climbing over the barrier to safety and being sprayed with a fire extinguisher.

‘The risk we take is no joke’

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton expressed his relief on Twitter while waiting for the race to restart.

“I’m so grateful Romain is safe. Wow … the risk we take is no joke, for those of you out there that forget that we put our life on the line for this sport and for what we love to do,” Hamilton wrote. “Thankful to the FIA for the massive strides we’ve taken for Romain to walk away from that safely.”

It appeared an extraordinary escape after Grosjean’s car was sliced in half upon impact with the barrier.

The accident happened when Grosjean lost grip and slid to the right, where his back wheel clipped the front of Daniil Kvyat’s Alpha-Tauri and he flew off into the barrier.

Grosjean’s teammate Kevin Magnussen looked distressed when he saw the footage as drivers waited in the paddock for the race to restart, while officials returned to the site of the crash to pick up debris littered around the destroyed car.

Officials worked quickly to build a makeshift crash barrier where the old one was destroyed.

The race restarted about 1 1/2 hours later with the positions of the drivers when the crash happened. Hamilton was leading, ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Force India’s Sergio Perez.




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Dana White reacts to Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr.: ‘I hope they both made a zillion f*cking dollars’ – MMA Fighting



UFC President Dana White rarely holds back when he doesn’t like something, particularly when it comes to boxing. But on the exhibition fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., he didn’t really have a bad thing to say.

“You guys have been asking me questions leading up to this thing, and I didn’t want to say anything negative, because I love Tyson and he’s a good friend of mine,” White said after the boxing legends faced off Saturday for social media website Triller. “He’s 56 years old. Time is undefeated. Time takes us all down, and one of the things that I was worried for Mike is he has this incredible aura still, and 56 years old, fighting is a young man’s game. All that being said, he looked f*cking awesome tonight. I was blown away by how good he looked.”

Sitting octagon-side at UFC APEX, UFC President Dana White watched three screens during UFC Vegas 15: his fights, Tyson vs. Jones Jr., and college football.

“I was worried about Roy – Roy is 51 years old, but Roy has been way more active than Tyson has been, but Roy actually got more tired than Mike tonight, which was shocking,” White said. “I’m happy for them. I hope they both made a zillion f*cking dollars, and it exceeded my expectations.”

The eight-round boxing match was declared a draw by three former fighters turned judges that scored the bout for the sanctioning body WBC. Even though the decision didn’t count against either fighter because it was an exhibition, the internet erupted with criticism.

White might have been impressed by Tyson and Jones, but there was a clear winner.

“Tyson won that fight,” he said.

The former heavyweight boxing champ and feared legend didn’t complain about the result on Saturday night. In the leadup to the internet-streamed pay-per-view, Tyson said no matter what happened, he might continue on in the fight game, using his platform to serve charities that help as many people as possible.

Tyson doesn’t need White’s blessing, but the UFC boss isn’t upset about that, either.

“Listen, he’s a grown-ass man – he’s going to do what he wants anyway,” White said. “But good for him. It was actually a good fight, it was an entertaining fight to watch, and I thought he looked really good. I’m happy for him.”

As to whether that support would extend to Jones Jr., who said the bout with Tyson could open the door for a long-awaited showdown with former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, White wasn’t as positive. As successful as Triller appeared to be in capturing the attention of fight fans around the world, completely drowning out the UFC’s offering on Saturday night, the UFC exec said he isn’t interested in competing with other promotions who attempt to capitalize on nostalgia.

“I don’t know,” he said of Silva vs. Jones Jr. “To my core, I”m a f*cking fight fan, and what I truly believe is the fight business is for young guys. It’s not for old guys. Listen, I get that there’s still some name value out there, and you can make some money. But when you’re a fight fan, I want to see the best in the world, the up-and-coming kids, I want to see these guys fight, and I want to know who the baddest mother f*cker in the world is in every division. As a fight fan, that’s who I am, and that kind of stuff doesn’t interest me.

“Anderson Silva had his day. Roy Jones Jr. had his day. Today is not their day. It’s just not. These guys that you saw fight are the future. This is what I’m interested in. I could sit here all f*cking night and watch kids that fought tonight fight. It’s just not really what I do. There’s other people out there that do that, plenty of people that do the old guy stuff. I don’t do the old guy stuff.”

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