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Maple Leafs Takeaways: ‘Ideal display of hockey’ leads to best game yet – Sportsnet.ca

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One week ago things were pretty pessimistic in Leafs Land.

Must have been a day that ended with a “y”.

There were bumps in the road over the first three weeks. And after a three-game losing streak where the Maple Leafs dropped games to a tired San Jose Sharks squad, got humiliated by a Pittsburgh Penguins team without any of its stars in the lineup, and then outclassed in an “eye-opening” loss to their former goaltender and the Carolina Hurricanes, the Maple Leafs were surrounded by well-earned doubts from the outside.

Some of the same old problems were present. Shoddy defensive play, top players not pulling through on offence, and a power play that was inconceivably inefficient.

“I think that noise and that panic from the outside can’t shake us — because there’s no reason it should. It’s still early, and we’re still trying to figure out our game,” Auston Matthews said last Tuesday.

The Leafs ended that stretch of losses with back-to-back wins, but even those came with caveats.

They beat the Blackhawks. Ya, but Chicago didn’t have Patrick Kane. They beat the Red Wings. Ya, but Detroit didn’t have Tyler Bertuzzi. They won two games in a row! Ya, but the Hawks and Wings should be soft touches for a contender anyway.

This week was setting up to be a stretch of measurement stick tests for the Leafs, on par with that Carolina game, with Vegas, Tampa and Boston all rolling through Scotiabank Arena.

Vegas arrived with a slew of its stars out to injury as well, and William Karlsson was the latest addition to that list with a broken foot. The Maple Leafs dominated a 4-0 decision for their third win in a row Tuesday night, against a Vegas lineup that included recent waiver claim and former Leafs healthy scratch Michael Amadio.

Though it might be tempting to look over Vegas’ Tuesday lineup and asterisk this win as well, there were some meaningful positives to take away from the victory — the best full effort from the Maple Leafs through their first 10 games.

“Right from the start we took control of the game and I thought we maintained that all the way through,” head coach Sheldon Keefe said after his team’s cleanest performance of the season.

“We were good on special teams. Good goaltending. So ya it’s certainly more indicative of what we think we’re capable of. That’s a shorthanded team playing over there, but as we all know we’ve played against shorthanded teams before and it hasn’t gone like this here today. I thought we did what we needed to do here tonight.”

A FULL 60 MINUTES

Last week’s win over Chicago came after the Leafs dug a two-goal first period deficit and were rallied in the dressing room by passionate intermission speeches. On Saturday’s win against Detroit the Leafs couldn’t pull away from three separate two-goal leads and won a narrow 5-4 decision.

But Toronto didn’t let off the pedal against Vegas’ depleted roster. They took an early lead on Mitch Marner’s spectacularly silky goal, outchanced the Golden Knights by 20 at 5-on-5 and left Jack Campbell with a relatively simple clean up job for his first shutout of the season, turning aside 26 shots.

“I think just really complete from start to finish,” Auston Matthews said. “Just really good energy. I don’t think we gave them too much around our net, too many opportunities. Obviously ‘Soup’ played unbelievable. I think all four lines kept rolling all night. I think that’s an ideal display of hockey we’d like to play.”

Through two periods the Maple Leafs held an 11-3 advantage in high-danger, slot areas chances at 5-on-5, which Vegas clawed back at only a little in a desperate third period. Toronto owned the key areas and opportunities from start to finish.

The Nylander-Matthews-Bunting line which Sheldon Keefe said hadn’t played to its potential yet earlier in the day outshot the competition 10-6 at 5-on-5 and scored their first goal as a unit. The Kerfoot-Tavares-Marner second line continued its two-way dominance, outshooting the Knights 9-2 and outchancing them 10-0.

“I just love their start and the way we played for the full 60 minutes,” Jack Campbell said. “It always gives you a lot of confidence when we start that way. We get on the scoreboard early, heck of a play by Mitchy and the team took off from there, it was great.”

SPECIAL TEAMS A POSITIVE

The power play has been an unlikely sore spot for a star-studded unit dating back to last season and entered Tuesday’s contest ranked in the bottom-third of the league in 2021-22.

The Leafs were only given one man advantage against the Golden Knights in a decidedly un-chippy evening, but it came early in the second period when they held just a 1-0 lead. Miss on that opportunity and maybe Vegas finds a way to hang around; score on it and the flow of momentum continues to favour the Leafs.

Matthews, given a wide-open shot off a deceptive pass from Nylander, scored the type of goal we’ve seen so often from him. A goal scorer’s catch and release.

The penalty kill was equally as impressive, going a perfect 3-for-3 against Vegas’ own struggling power-play unit. The Leafs, in fact, had more scoring chances (5) on their one power play than Vegas (3) did on their three man-advantage opportunities. Heck, the Leafs’ penalty kill generated as many chances as Vegas’ power play.

“I thought the power play in the one opportunity we got really snapped it around well and really hunt pucks and got pucks back and just kept creating chances,” Matthews said.

Toronto’s power play is now two for its past three opportunities after going 0-for its previous 17 over two weeks.

BREAKTHROUGH GAME FOR THE CORE STARS

The major narrative following this year’s Leafs is how they’ve doubled, even tripled, down on the “Core 4” forwards after past playoff failures. We can talk about how the new third line has been a positive shot driver, how Alex Kerfoot is obviously a better fit on the wing, or how well Campbell has played in the crease, but the Leafs will only go as far as the big guys will take them.

Part of the reason for the team’s bumpy start was that their big tickets weren’t paying off yet.

Matthews had one goal in his first six games. Marner had one point in his first seven games and wasn’t quite playing like himself, perhaps forcing the issue on offence a little. William Nylander came in to Tuesday’s game with two points over his previous six games.

They all showed up against the vulnerable Golden Knights.

Marner’s goal will be on your highlights Wednesday, but don’t forget the two assists he also added to this stat line for his first multi-point game of the year. Marner led the charge on the penalty kill as well and nearly broke out a couple of high-quality chances down a man. That’s now three solid performances in a row to follow a gripping-the-stick-too-tight first few weeks.

“He just looks like himself,” Keefe said. “That’s the Mitch we know and love, of course. He’s playing with confidence, he looks like he’s free out there. When he’s free and the game is just flowing for him, he makes great things happen on both sides of the puck.”

Matthews scored the aforementioned power-play marker to give the Leafs a two-goal lead and added a second goal in the final minute of the second period to keep the Golden Knights on the mat. He led the Leafs with six shots. Nylander had five shots himself, scored the final Leafs goal after being sprung by Bunting’s pass, and added an assist, too.

“I thought it was evident early in the game for Matthews and Nylander and Bunting, that line, I thought they had a little extra jump in their step right from the very beginning,” Keefe noted. “The Tavares line continued their momentum, they scored us a huge goal again here tonight to get us moving”.

The spreadsheets (and, you know, common sense) indicated this was inevitable. Here is the danger of drawing sweeping new conclusions too early.

Of course, this group of leaders will face far more defining moments than a Tuesday night in November. But this was a start.

The Leafs face another stiff test Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning who will be without their top star Nikita Kucherov and sit tied with the Leafs at 11 points in the Atlantic Division. The result against Vegas’ scraped-together lineup isn’t especially meaningful in a vacuum, but the takeaways are positive and timely. What happens next may be the better measure of impact, though.

One strong, full-game effort needs to lead to another for it to mean anything in the long-term.

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Canada Betting in 2022; What to Expect? The Latest News

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Canadian sports fans can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to Bill C-218, which was passed in August 2021. The additional legislation to the Criminal Code decriminalizes single-event sports betting, marking a new era for sports betting fans in the region. So if you’d like to wager on a single event you’re following, you can. The single-game wager options currently available to Canadian sports fans include:

  • In-game wagers on leading events
  • Wagers on various fantasy sports
  • eSports wagers
  • Wagers on novelty events

 

Reasons for the Shift in Gambling Laws

As witnessed with most North American states over the past few years, legalizing sports betting options has its benefits. So as US legislators worked on ways to accommodate their sports fans’ needs, they also pushed Canadian legislators to do the same. Thus, helping them take steps towards joining the billion-dollar iGaming industry.

For starters, legalizing online sports gambling means lawmakers in the region can set parameters to guarantee their residents’ safety while they’re on betting sites in Canada. These include measures like vetting possible operators’ services and regulating the market’s various offerings. In turn, bettors don’t need to rely on unverified sites to enjoy themselves. So, the government gets to keep all the revenue generated from its residents’ gambling activities.

The revenue collected can then go towards various developmental projects to improve the same residents’ lives. So it’s a win-win for everyone involved. Regulating the market also ensures the adherence to responsible gambling measures to reduce the risks associated with online gambling. Operators would follow the rules to stay in business, while sports fans will do what’s necessary to continue enjoying unrestricted sports gambling activities.

 

Canadian Regulations and Legal Operators by Province

Before Bill C-218 got passed, online bettors in Canada could only make parlay bets. These are a group of bets that rely on each other’s outcome to reward payouts. It makes it tricky to wager, especially if you only know about one of the events available to bet on.

To make a parlay wager, you need to bet on a minimum of two games on one slip. If your predictions for the two events are correct, then you win the wager. But if one loses and the other is successful, you lose the entire bet. But with the passing of Bill C-218, you only need to bet on the events you’d like to, even if it’s just one game per slip.

The types of sports wagers available and where you can make them in Canada depends on where you reside. Canada has ten provinces and three territories, each deciding what they’ll offer their sports betting fans. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect from the various locations in 2022.

British Columbia

BC has been offering retail and online sports betting options for years. But it was one of the first provinces to take action after the passing of Bill C-218 in 2021. So its residents can now enjoy single-game wagers on their favorite games online. You need to have reached a minimum of 19 years to access online gambling options.

PlayNow is the legally licensed platform offering these options. It’s run by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). Through this site, you can also make mobile bets through your smartphone or tablet. But for the mobile version to work, you must have geolocation apps installed to verify where you’re accessing the site from.

Manitoba

Like British Columbia, Manitoba has been offering retail and online gambling for years. It’s currently able to offer single-game bets through PlayNow under the management of the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MBLL).

Residents of this province can also access sports betting options offered by offshore operators. That means you have the option to also gamble on mobile.

Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick

Also known as the Atlantic Provinces, these four locations all offer retail and online sports gambling activities to their residents. While Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick started offering online variations in 2021, Nova Scotia joined the fold in February 2022.

All four destinations have their online activities managed by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC). These can be accessed on PRO•LINE Stadium, the only sportsbook available locally to residents in the four regions.

Saskatchewan

Sports betting in this province is overseen by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SIGA). Residents can make in-person bets on Sport Select through participating retailers found at gas stations and convenience stores. But soon, online gambling options could become a reality. In June 2022, the SIGA signed an agreement with the BCLC to make PlayNow a legal online platform for its residents.

But while residents wait for this to become a reality, they can access offshore betting sites accepting Canadian bettors.

Ontario

Ontario makes up the country’s largest sports betting market. Residents can make their sports wagers at retail and online bookmakers through platforms like PRO•LINE Stadium which is managed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.

Besides that, bettors in this state can also make wagers on platforms like FanDuel, DraftKings, theScore Bet, BetRivers, and PointsBet Canada. These are among the 25 sportsbooks (40 operators) licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). So, all offerings on these sites are legal for Ontario residents.

Quebec

Quebec residents can enjoy online sports betting options through Mise-o-jeu+, which allows desktop and mobile gambling through its app. For in-person wagers, there’s Mise-o-jeu. Both these gambling options are managed by Loto-Quebec. Through them, you can also enjoy live betting on leading events, a rare offering in Canada.

Residents are hopeful that since the region has several casino gambling halls, it’ll soon add sports betting halls as well for its residents.

 

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Yukon, and the Nunavut

These locations are referred to as the Prairie Provinces. Bettors in each of these areas have been able to access a vast gambling selection on PlayAlberta.ca since September 2021. The platform is licensed by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis (AGLC).

For retail options, Prairie Province residents turn to Sport Select. This gambling option is run by the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC). There are also talks to add PointsBet Canada as one of the sportsbooks residents can access for the online betting options.

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2022 NBA Draft: Toronto Raptors select Christian Koloko with 33rd pick in 2022 NBA Draft – RaptorsHQ

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The Toronto Raptors selected Christian Koloko with the 33rd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday night.

The Raptors only had the one pick tonight; they traded their first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for Thaddeus Young at last season’s trade deadline. There were several strong candidates remaining at 33, but Koloko seems like a strong fit for the Raptors.

For one, he’s big — like, an actual big. He’s 7’1”! The Raptors leaned into length last year, but this is a whole ‘other story: he’s got a 7’5.25” wingspan!

By all accounts, Koloko is an athletic shot blocker, rim-runner and dunker; he can shoot a little, but not from range (yet); he’s a high-energy player.

That all sounds appealing! Well, OK, maybe not the “can’t shoot from distance part,” but hey, that’s what the NBA G League is for!

Koloko played three seasons in Arizona, and averaged 12.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and an insane 2.8 blocks in 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats last season. He also shot the ball well from the floor and the line (63.5% and 73.5%, respectively) but again, nothing from deep.

He’s also from Doula, Cameroon — Pascal Siakam’s hometown! Also like Siakam, he picked up hoops later in life, so he’s still raw — a real unfinished product.

Size, quickness, shot-blocking, energy. What more can you want? (Oh, yeah. Shooting.) Well, we can’t have it all, right?

Our draft expert JD Quirante will have a full breakdown of Koloko’s game and fit with the Raptors tomorrow.

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Colorado Avalanche Looking to Close Out Stanley Cup Final – VOCM

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The biggest game of Alex Newhook’s young career is taking place tonight as the Colorado Avalanche look to win the Stanley Cup.

The Avalanche won game four against the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night, securing a 3-1 series lead against the defending two-time Stanley Cup champions.

A win tonight would give the Avalanche their first cup since 2001, and bring the cup back to Newfoundland and Labrador with St. John’s native Newhook.

The game gets underway tonight at 9:30 island time.

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