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Maple Leafs season at crossroads after Rielly goes down with injury – Sportsnet.ca

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In a bitter slice of irony, it was a crisply fired puck that never reached the Toronto Maple Leafs’ net Sunday that wrought worlds more damage than the eight that bulged the twine.

Morgan Rielly was trying to do the right thing when his left foot ended up in the precisely wrong spot: directly in line with an Aleksander Barkov blast at close range that, thanks to Monday’s afternoon’s CT scan, we now know fractured his foot.

The most-used, longest-serving Maple Leaf will be sidelined a minimum of eight weeks, and by the time he’s fit to return to action, Toronto’s now-tenuous playoff fate could already be settled.

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Rielly joins regulars Ilya Mikheyev, Jake Muzzin and Trevor Moore on a crowded injured reserve that, yes, is clearing salary-cap space but clouding the hopes of talent-rich roster than has been dealt repeated rounds of adversity.

Will this young core allow themselves to be defined by this rash of hard-luck injuries, or will they, like Pittsburgh has this season, grow stronger for persevering through it?

Many a critic has questioned the Leafs’ grit, a characteristic whose definition can be subjective in hockey circles.

But since Christmas, two Leafs defenders have now finished out the majority of a road game on a fracture foot (Muzzin did so in New Jersey on Dec. 27) and hobbled out of the rink on their own power.

“He’s a team-first guy and he’s out there doing everything he can for us,” coach Sheldon Keefe said only a few days ago, recognizing Rielly had already been pushing through the pain of a lingering, unspecified, lower-body ailment.

“He’s an important guy for our team, and we’ve seen the improvements with his game.”

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Today, Keefe is staring directly into the maw of his first crisis in his new gig, just a week after setting a franchise record with 15 wins in his first 20 games.

So perhaps he was in denial or holding out faint hope when his most trusted defenceman was standing in pain and getting checked over by the team’s medical staff post-game Sunday. At the time, Keefe said he thought Rielly was “fine” but didn’t sound certain.

Suddenly, little is.

In the midst of a three-game losing skid that has seen two quick (and justifiable) goalie pulls, odd-man rushes galore and 17 goals allowed, Rielly is the last player (outside of No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen) the Leafs can afford to lose.

He plays in all situations, contributes to both special teams, and holds a strong voice in the dressing room. He’s been munching minutes (24:15, both a career and team high) and driving offence.

The injury to Muzzin — who was still walking around with a boot on his foot in Florida — has already exposed the Leafs’ weakest position, with call-up Martin Marincin seeing some top-four nights.

The left side of Toronto’s D corps has lost its two best components, and we expect the relatively inexperienced Justin Holl and Travis Dermott to be leaned on even more heavily.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

The optimist, however, spots two things.

One: That the forced rest will serve Rielly well in the long run. After scoring more goals (20) than anyone else at his position last season and finishing fifth in the Norris vote, he’d taken his first step backward in years. Despite consistently downplaying it, he’s been hurting.

Two: Hope arrives in the form of a teenage Swede named Rasmus Sandin, full of confidence and fresh off wowing at the world juniors, claiming a bronze medal and the tournament’s top defenceman honours.

GM Kyle Dubas won’t hesitate to burn the first year of Sandin’s entry-level contract now. There’s no choice anymore.

So, Sandin runs right into the fire Tuesday versus the New Jersey Devils, as the season of turmoil takes another drastic turn.

Two months of life without Rielly: It’s either going to steel them or do them in.

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Discover the Best Online Casino in Canada

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Are you the one who loves to play at a real online casino? Win big with the best online casino for Canadian players. Gambling games are created to give you great gameplay moments. If you are not yet familiar with the different types of casino slots and how to play them, it’s time to learn about the reels and the pay-line.

Types of Games at an Online Casino in Canada

There are many different types of online casino games in Canada:

  • slots;
  • poker;
  • roulette;
  • blackjack;

The most popular top casino online games are slots. So, we will describe them in more detail below.

Types of Online Slot Machines in Canada

We are interested in this last game because it has two beautiful variants, the three-reel, and five-reel slots.

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Three-Reel Slots

These are the classic slot machines, the ones that have flooded casinos and bars since their creation in 1898, by Charles August Fey. Today, you can find these slot machines directly on your connected devices.

Canadian three-reel online slot machines are distinguished by their quality graphics, atmospheric music, and payouts. These include Colossus Fruits and Jocker’s Corners, both of which are high-value slots.

Five-Reel Slots

The more reels, the better the gameplay. Five reels allow you to win via a variety of combinations, which we’ll discuss below.

Five reel online  games in Canada increase the odds of winning and multiply the amount of real money you will pocket.

Just go to an online slot machine in Canada, like Book Of Demi Gods III, and you’ll enjoy a clean player interface and a great atmosphere.

And with five-reel slots, big wins are certain. We’ll explain it to you now.

How to Play Online Casino Games in Canada?

You can play gambling games in Canada without downloading them at the best online Canadian casino. Games on a server allow you to play on all your devices. You spin the reels, you land on a good configuration, you win a bonus and you pocket the winnings directly into your account.

The other advantage of playing online is the availability from all regions of Canada. Accessing the site of a Canadian online casino allows gamblers to enjoy their favourite games from the comfort of their homes.

How Does the Payline Work?

Top online casino games allow you to win large amounts of money. The 243 different combinations of five-reel slots offer right-to-left, diagonal, and left-to-right combinations.

Plus, they are regulated by law. Online slot machines in Canada must:

  • be games of chance;
  • have a displayed minimum stake;
  • have a return rate of more than 93%.

You can choose the games at a casino online and play for real money for big wins! At King Billy, the best online casino in Canada, you can get up to $2,500 and 250 spins for the first four deposits. Play casino online games and win big with generous King Billy!

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Novak Djokovic’s father won’t attend Australian Open semi-final after Russia flag controversy

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Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan said on Friday he would not attend his son’s Australian Open semi-final and would instead “watch from home,” after a video emerged showing him posing at Melbourne Park with fans holding Russian flags.

The video caused controversy in Australia, leading to the country’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Friday reiterating Australian support for Ukraine and criticizing supporters of Russia’s invasion.

“I am here to support my son only. I had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption,” Srdjan Djokovic said in an e-mailed statement.

“So there is no disruption to tonight’s semi-final for my son or for the other player, I have chosen to watch from home.”

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Novak Djokovic declined to comment.

“I will make this point, that Australia stands with the people of Ukraine,” Albanese told a news conference after a reporter asked if Srdjan Djokovic should be deported after he was seen posing for pictures with fans holding Russian flags.

“That is Australia’s position and Australia is unequivocal in our support for the rule of international law.

“We do not want to see any support given to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that is having a devastating impact on the people of Ukraine.”

Albanese did not respond directly to the question about whether Srdjan Djokovic should be deported.

Police questioned four fans seen with “inappropriate flags and symbols” after a quarter-final match on Wednesday between Russia’s Andrey Rublev and favourite Djokovic, organizers Tennis Australia said.

The Serbian player, who was at the centre of a storm of controversy over his COVID-19 vaccination status at last year’s Australian Open, has not commented on the incident and his spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A video emerged on social media showed a fan on the steps of Rod Laver Arena holding up a Russian flag with the image of President Vladimir Putin on it.

Photos also showed one fan with a large “Z” on his shirt. Russian forces have used the letter as an identifying symbol on their vehicles in Ukraine following their invasion. Some supporters of the invasion have also used the sign.

Srdjan Djokovic was seen in some posts posing with the Russian supporters.

Australian Open organizers on Thursday issued a reminder to players and their entourages about their policy on flags after the video of Djokovic’s father emerged.

On Friday, Tennis Australia said they “continue to strive for the safety of fans at the event and reiterate our position banning flags from Belarus and Russia.”

Russian and Belarusian athletes are able to compete as individual athletes without national affiliation at the Australian Open, though their flags are banned from the tournament grounds after a complaint by Ukraine’s ambassador last week.

Djokovic was deported on the eve of the tournament last year for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 and received a three-year Australian travel ban.

That ban was rescinded in November, allowing him to compete this year.

Djokovic will continue his bid for a record-extending 10th Australian Open title and 22nd Grand Slam crown to match Rafa Nadal when he takes on unseeded American Tommy Paul in their semi-final later on Friday.

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Falcons hire defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen from Saints

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons found their new defensive coordinator from an NFC South rival’s coaching staff on Friday by hiring Ryan Nielsen, the former New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator.

Nielsen replaces Dean Pees, 73, who retired on Jan. 9 following two seasons in charge of the defense on coach Arthur Smith’s staff.

The Falcons also announced three defensive assistants will not return next season: defensive line coach Gary Emanuel, outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino and secondary coach Jon Hoke.

Nielsen will be reunited with Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot, who worked 18 years with the Saints before he was hired by Atlanta in 2021.

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Nielsen, 43, interviewed with the Falcons on Tuesday. He had worked on the Saints’ staff since 2017 and was the defensive line coach this season.

Nielsen’s success with the Saints’ pass rush may have impressed Fontenot. The Falcons ranked 31st with only 21 sacks this season after having the league’s fewest sacks in 2021. Atlanta ranked 27th in total defense, allowing 362.1 yards per game while finishing 7-10.

The Saints have recorded 282 sacks since Nielsen joined the staff in 2017, the second-most in the league during that span. New Orleans finished in the top 10 in sacks in five of the six seasons. The Saints finished in the top four in rushing defence in four of the last five years.

In Nielsen’s six seasons working with the Saints’ defensive line, Cameron Jordan became the first New Orleans defensive lineman to be named a first-team All-Pro. Jordan also earned two second-team All-Pro honors and was named to five Pro Bowls.

Nielson was a defensive assistant and recruiting coordinator at North Carolina State from 2013-16. He also coached at Northern Illinois, Tennessee-Martin, Central Connecticut State, Mississippi, Idaho and Southern California.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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