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Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets must ‘reset’ selves in Game 5 of Cup Qualifiers

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With memories of one of the most crushing losses of his NHL career still fresh in his mind, Nick Foligno came down from his hotel room Saturday morning and was greeted with smiles from his Columbus Blue Jackets teammates.

The captain would not have expected anything different.

Less than 12 hours earlier, Columbus had blown a late three-goal lead in historic fashion and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 of the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Instead of wallowing in the frustration of missing a chance to eliminate Toronto, the Blue Jackets, the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference, have set their sights on taking advantage of their second chance to finish off the Maple Leafs, the No. 8 seed in the East, in Game 5 on Sunday in Toronto, the conference hub city (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS, FS-O).

“This isn’t going to faze us,” Foligno said. “You know, there was an upbeat group at breakfast today, and we know we have a great opportunity in front of us. So we’re not going to let that go to waste just because it’s something that went wrong in one game.

“I mean, this is going to be how it’s going to probably go all playoff long. There’s things that are going to go wrong, and it’s how you respond and how you get ready for the next shift or the next game.”

To the forward’s point, the key to winning this series could be handling the emotions of Friday and approaching the series finale as a win-or-go-home game.

For the Blue Jackets, that means not getting too low after becoming the first team to lose a potential series-ending NHL postseason game after leading by three goals with less than four minutes remaining in the third period.

For the Maple Leafs, it means not getting overconfident and thinking the series has shifted in their favor.

It’s a message Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe has been drilling into his players.

Keefe understands the euphoria of such a rousing win can’t simply be siphoned out of the Toronto dressing room. The raw joy he witnessed from his players after the game was at a level he’d never experienced since replacing Mike Babcock on Nov. 20.

Those emotions are real, they’re tangible, and they can be used as motivation in Game 5. But only if they are tempered, Keefe said.

“[The win] was a huge boost for us,” Keefe said Saturday. “It gives us great positive momentum. The enjoyment that I saw from our team is beyond anything I’ve seen from us. The moment reflected that.

“But while we have to bring that momentum forward with us, we have to realize that this is a new game and we have to have a better start than we did yesterday. And we have to recognize the opposition is going to reset themselves. Both teams are going to leave it all out there tomorrow.”

Video: TOR@CBJ, Gm4: Maple Leafs stage comeback, win in OT

It looked as if Toronto’s season was over when defenseman Morgan Rielly was stripped of the puck at his own blue line, leading to Boone Jenner‘s goal at 14:18 of the third period that gave Columbus a 3-0 lead. The image of a devastated Rielly, hunched over with a pained look on his face after the goal, appeared to be the symbol of a team that had once again seemingly underachieved in the eyes of their fans.

But a goal by Maple Leafs forward William Nylander at 16:03 ignited the stirring comeback. John Tavares followed with a goal at 16:54, and Zach Hyman forced overtime with 23 seconds left.

Auston Matthews scored on the power play at 13:10 of overtime to complete the comeback.

Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner, who had three assists, said the excitement made it difficult to sleep Friday night. “The adrenaline does keep you up a little bit,” he said.

Marner said he and his teammates are taking a pragmatic approach to Game 5 and that the lessons they learned from the experience will go a long way.

“We have to play smart with the puck,” he said. “We know their chances are coming off the turnovers we’re giving them on the odd-man rushes the other way. For our team I think doing well in our D-zone, staying tight, staying five-man …

“We can’t beat ourselves. We have to play the way we want to, forecheck fast, being physical on that first touch and getting to the net.”

For the most part, the Blue Jackets’ top defense pair of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski has done an admirable job of slowing down the Marner-Matthews-Hyman line, which has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in the series. But Werenski left Game 4 at 9:08 of the third third period, and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen had no update Saturday.

As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the No. 7 seed from the East and face the Tampa Bay Lightning, the No. 2 seed, in the first round.

The loser of Game 5 will home dreaming of what might have been and have a 12.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Monday.

With or without Werenski, Kekalainen was asked how the Blue Jackets will regroup.

“Just getting ready for Game 5,” he said. “I mean, nobody expected this to be easy.”

Source: – nhl.com

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Senators part ways with longtime goalie Craig Anderson – CBC.ca

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Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion says longtime Senators goaltender Craig Anderson will not be offered a new contract by the NHL club.

In an availability with reporters Wednesday, Dorion thanked Anderson for his contributions to the Senators over the years but said the club would be moving in a different direction.

Anderson is an unrestricted free agent after completing a two-year, $9.5-million US contract this season.

The 39-year-old Anderson joined the Senators in a goaltender swap with Colorado on Feb. 18, 2011, that sent Brian Elliott to the Avalanche.

WATCH | Anderson makes crazy, no-look save against Sabres

Craig Anderson somehow was able to make a no-look backwards facing blocker save on the Sabres’ Evan Rodrigues. 1:02

Anderson has a 202-168-46 record over 435 appearances (422 starts) with a 2.84 goals-against average and ,914 save percentage over nine-plus seasons with the Senators. He helped the Senators reach the Eastern Conference final in 2016-17, though the team has struggled the last free seasons.

Dorion also said he expects defenceman Mark Borowiecki to test the free-agent market.

WATCH | Frustration building in the bubble?

In his daily recap, Rob Pizzo talks about the bubble, gambling, and previews Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. 2:47

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Scanning the Wire: Finding help after injuries took their toll in Week 2 – TSN

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Congratulations if you managed to survive Week 2 of the fantasy football season without losing one of your star players to injury.

The second Sunday of the NFL season was especially brutal, as injuries tore through the league at an unprecedented rate, shelving several of the game’s biggest stars.

Six of the top-30 players in TSN fantasy football leagues by ADP were forced to the sideline, five of which are expected to miss significant time.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, the consensus No. 1 fantasy pick, is out four-to-six weeks with a high-ankle sprain (the same injury that reigning receiving king Michael Thomas suffered).

Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who was a consensus top-three overall option, tore his ACL and is done for the season.

With so many stars now on the sidelines, nailing the waiver wire this week is extremely important to your fantasy success.

So without further delay, here are the top pick-up options that could still be available in your league heading into Week 3.

RB: Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers

The absence of CMC creates an abundance of opportunity in the Panthers backfield. McCaffrey was averaging 24 touches a game and that work has to go somewhere.

Enter Mike Davis, one of only two healthy RBs on the team. Davis was a big part of the Carolina offence once McCaffrey left the game, and faces little competition for work.

As of right now, the only one standing between him and 15-20 touches a week is special teamer Trenton Cannon, making Davis a must-add in all formats. He’s currently available in over 99 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

RB: Darrell Henderson Jr, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams backfield suddenly doesn’t seem so crowded. Week 1 star Malcolm Brown and talented rookie Cam Akers left Sunday’s game versus Philadelphia and both are question marks moving forward.

That’s great news for Darrell Henderson Jr., who ripped off 81 yards and a score on the ground, and added another 40 yards through the air. The Rams lead the NFL in rushing rate (56.83%) and Henderson is available in 55.4 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

RB: Devonta Freeman, Free Agent

This is a bit of a leap of faith. Freeman, not Dion Lewis or Wayne Gallman, is the guy you want to replace Barkley. He already worked out for the Eagles and reportedly worked out for the Giants on Tuesday.

Multiple reports out of the Big Apple suggest the Giants are interested in bringing in a free- agent running back, and Freeman is the best name available.

Even if he doesn’t land in New York, with so many injuries to his position he’s bound to sign somewhere. When he does, he’ll have real fantasy value, which makes him a great add this week. He’s currently available in 92. 1 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

WR: Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

A.J. Brown is dealing with a knee injury, which makes Corey Davis an enticing add for wide receiver-needy teams. The former first round draft pick has yet to live up to his potential so far in his career, but is off to a nice start so far in 2020.

Davis has produced double-digit points in back-to-back outings and is tied for the team lead in targets (13). He’s currently available in 64.4 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

WR: Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

Mecole Hardman, everyone’s favourite 2020 sleeper, is in line for an increased workload due to the head injury to Sammy Watkins. The 4.33 speedster should now see work in three receiver sets.

Although he won’t be Patrick Mahomes’ first look, he has the talent to single-handedly swing your fantasy matchup in the blink of an eye.

Hardman converted six of his 26 catches into touchdowns last season. He is currently available in 57.8 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

TE: Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans

Fresh off a two-touchdown performance in Sunday’s win over the Jaguars, Jonnu Smith is the biggest priority-add at the tight end position. He’s tied for the team lead in targets (13) and leads all Titans with three touchdowns.

A freak athlete, Smith ranks 10th in the NFL in yards after catch (85) this season. He is still available in 59.7 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

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Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic Show Lakers That the Nuggets Aren't Going Away – Sports Illustrated

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Some NBA players are so smart, and process the game so fluidly, that they can play faster than superior athletes, and they make their teammates play faster, too. If you are really fortunate, you find a guy like that. The Denver Nuggets have two.

Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic probably won’t win the NBA championship next month. But they keep showing why they can, with a style of basketball that has to appeal to anybody who loves the game and not just the highlights. If they were a movie, you would want to watch it again and again, finding subtle charms and new bits of brilliance each time.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets’ 114–106 Game 3 win over the Lakers reminded us of what the rest of the playoffs have already shown: Murray and Jokic are not going away, in this series or in the next decade. The longer they play, the more they distinguish themselves. The Nuggets came back from 3–1 deficits in the first two rounds, and they are trying to come back from 2–0 down in this one, and people keep praising their resilience. That is part of it, to be sure. But also, with every game in a series, Murray and Jokic have more information to sort through.

“Hand in hand—there’s two parts to that,” Murray said. “You definitely learn more about your opponent, what to look for, tendencies and all that.”

On the two possessions that finished off the Lakers, Murray made winning plays. First, with Denver up 103–99, Murray started to back down the Lakers’ Alex Caruso, but as soon as Caruso bit on a fake, Murray dribbled away, realized he had time to set his feet behind the three-point line, and drained a three over Caruso. The craftiness that led to the three was every bit as impressive as the actual shot.

On Denver’s next possession, Murray drove, realized his shot would get block, dished to Paul Millsap, backpedaled so he was open, caught a pass, drove again, found Millsap again, and scored. He made a lot of choices, and executed them, in a very short span.

Denver coach Michael Malone said Tuesday night that “we have two superstars in Nikola and Jamal,” and it is amazing to think that a month ago, that would have seemed like hype. Now it is a statement of fact. If Murray was just a good player who had a hot series against Utah, somebody would have exposed him by now. Instead, he keeps exploiting every advantage.

Malone says that he sees teams game-planning more and more for Murray. It isn’t working. Blitz him and he passes the ball before he is trapped. Stick a bigger player on him, as the Lakers did at times, and he will beat his man off the dribble. Pester him with somebody smaller, and he uses his size. Murray is a master at creating just as much space as he needs.

nikola-jokic-nuggets

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jokic jokes that he is slow, and the jokes are funny because he is slow. But he doesn’t play slow. He is one of the best passing centers in history, capable of firing an overhand dart to a cutting teammate or making a no-look bounce pass in traffic. Still, the physical limitations are real, and this is especially evident against the Lakers.

In his first five games against Lakers this year, including Game 1 of this series, Jokic averaged 17.2 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists—a dropoff from his regular-season averages of 19.9, 9.7 and 7. It is easy to see why. L.A. has the freakiest center in the league, Anthony Davis, a player who is longer and much more athletic than Jokic. The Lakers can also throw a bunch of different large pests at Jokic—they have been starting each game with Javale McGee, then move on to Davis, Dwight Howard and others. For the first game and a half of this series, Jokic looked overwhelmed. But players this smart do not stay overwhelmed for long.

“We were one step slower than them,” Jokic said. “They were surprising us—by the pace, by the rebounding.”

Jokic has recovered in an assortment of ways. He counters the Lakers’ size by facing the basket. When he gets too much attention, he fires to a teammate. Howard has played this series like a pro-wresting heel. He appears to want to get inside Jokic’s head, but Jokic is far too smart to let it happen. He said he did not enter the game thinking about scoring.

“To be honest, they’re doing their job,” Jokic said of the Lakers. “I don’t think about it as a matchup. I’m just trying to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Murray and Jokic have an extremely advanced understanding of the way the game is supposed to be played. They are also both level-headed enough to be honest about when they don’t reach their standard, no matter what the stats say. After his 28-point, 12-assist night, Murray said, “I didn’t think I had a good game in total, to be honest with you. I didn’t get everybody organized. I had too many live-ball turnovers that led to points.”

The Nuggets still trail this series 2–1. The Lakers still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But Murray and Jokic have 48 more minutes of information in their brains that they can take to Game 4.

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