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Maple Leafs trade Kasperi Kapanen to Penguins – Sportsnet.ca

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded forward Kasperi Kapanen back to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a multi-player trade.

The deal, which was reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and officially announced by both clubs on Tuesday, also sees defenceman Jesper Lindgren and winger Pontus Aberg headed to Pittsburgh. Toronto receives Pittsburgh’s 2020 first-round draft pick (15th overall), as well as forwards Evan Rodrigues and Filip Hallander and defenceman David Warsofsky, in what is looking like a cap-clearing move for the Maple Leafs.

Kapanen has two seasons remaining on his current contract, a three-year, $9.6-million extension signed in June 2019, and carries a $3.2-million cap hit.

Both clubs involved in the trade were ousted in the qualifying round of the NHL’s 24-team return-to-play, making off-season changes a certainty following another disappointing post-season.

This deal brings things full-circle for Kapanen, who was Pittsburgh’s first-round pick (22nd overall) in 2014. The winger never actually suited up for the Penguins, as he was part of the 2015 blockbuster that sent Phil Kessel to the Penguins in 2015.

Kapanen, 24, tallied 41 goals and 90 points in 202 regular-season games across parts of five seasons with the Maple Leafs — a speedy complementary piece who has been plugged into various spots up and down the lineup with many top-six placements over the past few campaigns. He had his most productive season in 2018-19, during which he registered career-highs across the board: 20 goals, 24 assists, and 44 points through 78 games.

“Kasperi is a good, young player that brings speed to our lineup and plays the way we want to play,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said in the team’s press release. “Having previously drafted him, we know him as a player and feel he can improve our top-6. Aberg and Lindgren are both young players that will further add to our organizational depth.”

Aberg suited up for five games with the Maple Leafs this season — his first with the club after previously playing with Nashville, Edmonton, Anaheim, and Minnesota — and registered one assist. In 55 games with the AHL’s Marlies, the 26-year-old winger tallied 20 goals and 44 points.

Lindgren spent all of 2019-20 with the Marlies, recording a goal and eight assists in 31 AHL games. The 23-year-old played the 2018-19 season in Finland’s top league, and was recently loaned to MODO of the Swedish Hockey League for the upcoming campaign.

Toronto-bound Rodrigues, 27, has appeared in 199 career NHL games, mostly with the Buffalo Sabres after signing with the Sabres as a college free agent out of Boston University. In an out of the lineups over the course of the past six seasons, Rodrigues has registered 27 goals and 45 assists for 72 career points as an NHLer. He appeared in just seven games with the Penguins after being acquired at the deadline, scoring once.

Hallander has been playing in the SHL for the past two seasons. The 2018 second-rounder (58th overall) scored a combined 12 goals and added 23 assists over that time. He represented Sweden during the 2019 world juniors, but was sidelined in 2020 due to injury.

Warsofsky, 30, has played the majority of his games as a pro at the AHL level, tallying
10 goals and 23 assists with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2019-20.

August 25, 2020 – 11:28 am ET

tor
Toronto Maple Leafs

Acquire

  • 2020 first-round pick (15th overall)
  • Evan Rodrigues
  • Filip Hallander
  • David Warsofsky

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Nuggets’ customary comeback falls short as Lakers dominate Game 1 – Sportsnet.ca

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A funny thing happens when a professional sports team pulls off two minor miracles back to back: minor miracles start to feel inevitable.

The Denver Nuggets have made a habit in these playoffs of not just coming back from two 3–1 series deficits to the Utah Jazz and the Clippers, but massive in-game deficits as well. And so when the Los Angeles Lakers blew open Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals in the second quarter Friday night, it felt like just a matter of time until the Nuggets did what the Nuggets do.

But, of course, that feeling is more useful for making blowouts watchable than it is actually indicative of future success. And on this night, the comeback failed to arrive. Foul and turnover trouble — not to mention the one-two punch of newly minted all-NBA first-teamers LeBron James and Anthony Davis — teamed up to undo the Nuggets as the Lakers took Game 1 by 12 points.

Here are a handful of takeaways from the game:

SECOND YELPING

Both teams started off hot in this one. Davis led all players with 14 points on a mix of jumpers, stepbacks and aggressive play that got him to the line for free throws. Meanwhile, Denver’s Nikola Jokic netted 11 points in 11 first-quarter minutes, and teammate (and Canadian) Jamal Murray got nine of his own thanks in part to a buzzer-beating three in Davis’s face at the end of the frame.

But everything changed in the second quarter. The Nuggets came out as sloppy and cold as Winnipeg in March, and the Lakers started the frame on a 17–1 run. As mentioned above, a major culprit was turnovers.

Through the first five minutes of the quarter, the Nuggets had more turnovers (six) than shots (five — all of which they’d missed). Even worse for Denver was the Lakers managed to do all the damage with Davis on the bench.

Any hope of closing the gap was quashed by all three of Jokic, Murray and Paul Millsap leaving the game with three fouls. The Lakers shot 25 free throws in the second quarter alone, roughly equal to the 28 the Nuggets took over the entire game.

While the Lakers parade to the line ended in the second half, Davis didn’t need much more as he stayed hot. He finished with 37 points in 33 minutes.

THE ANKLE ROLL HEARD ’ROUND THE GYM

Early in the second quarter, James stepped on Jerami Grant’s foot while driving to the basket, and rolled his ankle slightly. The grimace on his face, the slow-mo replay, and eventually the super-shot first free throw made it seem like a bigger issue than it was, but roughly a minute later he rose for a huge dunk and put any questions to bed.

James didn’t need to score much in this one, but finished with 15 points on 11 shots, 12 assists and six rebounds in only 31 minutes.

After the game, James was asked about NBA MVP voting, in which he finished second to back-to-back winner Giannis Antetokounmpo. He wasn’t diplomatic.

Fair to assume James isn’t lacking for motivation at this point of either these playoffs or his career.

BIG TIME

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before the game he intended to play his twin towers of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee after giving them an average of 9.4 minutes combined throughout the team’s previous series against the uber-small Houston Rockets. On Friday, Howard matched his minutes total from the Houston series with 16 while McGee took the floor for 11, five of which came in garbage time.

And the bigs rewarded their coach’s renewed faith against the larger Nuggets lineup. Howard, in particular, was quick to shake off any rust that had gathered, blowing up Denver pick and rolls, and getting to the line eight times in the first half. For his effort, he got to start the second half in place of McGee, and put up eight points in the frame.

LOW-KEY DENVER STARS

Perhaps the biggest impact of the Lakers’ bigs was on Jokic, who had been one of the biggest stories of the playoffs to this point.

McGee helped set the tone by blocking a Jokic layup in the opening seconds of the game. Then the Lakers’ bigs played a big part in Jokic’s foul trouble, which resulted in just 25 minutes for the Nuggets’ MVP.

Jokic finished with 21 points but just two assists — his lowest total so far in these playoffs.

Murray also finished with 21, but the only other Nugget in double figures was Michael Porter Jr., who went on a late run to tally 14.

MIRROR BALL

(Is that a Neil Young reference or a Taylor Swift reference? You be the judge!)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the Nuggets play an L.A. team super tight in the first quarter before getting trounced in the second and third, before both teams coast to the finish in the fourth.

The ebb and flow of this game was dead on Game 1 of the Clippers-Nuggets series. In fact, with four minutes left in Friday’s game, the score actually hit on 120–97 — the final score in Nuggets-Clippers Game 1 — exactly.

This, along with other recent evidence, should serve the Nuggets well in looking for reasons not to take the loss to heart.

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Stars savouring rare opportunity to live out long-awaited dream – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — Ryan Bowness was a 33-year-old scout for Pittsburgh back in 2017 when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, bestowing upon the Bowness family their first Stanley Cup ring.

He had his day with the Cup that summer, and brought it to the Halifax home of his parents. There, father Rick — a hockey lifer who had pursued that very chalice for far longer than Ryan had been alive — hosted a party in his son’s honour.

“I couldn’t have been more proud of him than when he brought that Stanley Cup home for the old man,” said Rick, the Dallas Stars head coach who gathered round ol’ Stanley for the requisite pictures.

“Of course, I didn’t touch it.”

After all these years in the game, Rick Bowness — drafted in 1975 by both the defunct Atlanta Flames and the Indianapolis Racers of the defunct World Hockey Association — will take his shot at earning his day with the Cup this summer, when he leads the Dallas Stars into Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night in Edmonton.

His is just another of the many tales that are authored whenever two teams of 40-some players, coaches, managers and organizational hockey folk get this close to The Dream.

For half of them, The Dream will be realized. For the other half, having spent two-plus months in the bubble only to lose the Cup Final, they will reel from the cruelest of blows. Some for years to come.

“When I was growing up (in Kazakhstan and Russia) my dream was to play in the NHL,” said Stars goalie Anton Khudobin. “I didn’t really think to win the Stanley Cup, but when I came here and realized it’s not so easy to get here to the Final, I start thinking it would be a great accomplishment to get there and sometime win the Cup.”

Today, Khudobin is 34 and near the end of the line. Like teammates Joe Pavelski (36) who has never won, and Corey Perry (35), who won as a sophomore in Anaheim and has never been back, this is very likely their last kick at the cat as well.

“My first time going to the Final (in 2007) we played Ottawa, and pretty much three-quarters of my family is from Ottawa,” recalled Perry. “So there were a lot of people at every game. Here, my wife is coming in (Saturday), and I’ll see her in four, five days — after the quarantine. It’s a little different. Not travelling across the country, everything is right here. It’s just a matter of going out and playing hockey.”

For every Bowness and Pavelski, however, there is a Tyler Seguin. He won a Cup as a rookie in Boston in 2011, defeating Vancouver, where Bowness was an assistant coach, in seven games. Seguin returned in 2013, where the Bruins fell prey to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Seguin was 21, and had two Finals under his belt and his name on the Stanley Cup.

At age 28, how does it feel to be back again?

“I have more respect for it. More of a smile,” he said. “You realize how hard it is to get to this point. Back in the Boston days you figured it was going to happen every other year, with how my career started. (Now) I know the worth of the Cup a lot more, and how it is to get here. So, I am definitely knowing every moment.”

If only we all had a chance in life to relive our biggest moments two or three times. To get enough reps so it’s not all a blur, whatever your moment may be.

“And with the experience I have, you want to go talk to guys if they look nervous, or they’re not smiling,” Seguin said. “This is what we all dream about. The best time of year, a best position to be in.

“It’s the opportunity you have. Everything that’s happened so far? Nothing matters. It’s one series. Anything can happen in these moments.”

Seguin recalls stressing over setting up tickets for family at his previous Cups, a rite of passage for any player who gets this far — until this season.

“Big Markets,” he said. “Back in Boston, playing in Vancouver and Chicago in the years I went to the Final, tickets were pricey. Worth every dollar to have your family and friends there, but these are different times. It’s 2020. Nothing is unexpected.”

Begrudgingly, Seguin smiles as he admits even to missing us scribes. OK, not personally. But the media presence at a Final is what helps make the experience, another facet that simply doesn’t exist in these bubble playoffs.

Friday was Media Day, which meant a series of Zoom calls. Woo hoo…!

“Honestly, you miss those (media) days,” Seguin admitted. “Being there twice, it feels like you’re a football player. There is so much media. Cameras in your face. It’s definitely surreal, and a memory I have.”

There are so many elements that are different this year. The result, however, will not be cowed by COVID-19.

Win the Stanley Cup, and it is something these players and coaches will never forget.

Lose? Same.

“The Vancouver one stays with you every day of your life,” Bowness admits. “When you get to Game 7 and you lose a Stanley Cup Final? That stays with you.

“I’ve only been there a couple of times, but any time you get to those Stanley Cup Finals, man, it stays with ya. The rest of your life.

“It’s painful.”

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NBA Playoffs 2020: Eight observations as Lakers dominate and cruise to comfortable Game 1 win over Nuggets – NBA CA

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No more Game 1 losses for the Lakers.

Their 126-114 win over the Nuggets to begin the Western Conference Finals is their first Game 1 win of the 2020 playoffs and snaps a four-game skid in Game 1s leading back to the first round of the 2012 playoffs.

Their All-Stars led from the front as LeBron James finished with 15 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds while Anthony Davis also stuffed the stat sheet with 37 points, and 10 rebounds. The Lakers reserves showed up, scoring 48 points led by Dwight Howard who had 13 points.

Meanwhile, for the Nuggets, their superstars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray only combined for 42 points on 15-of-26 shooting from the field but were battling foul trouble and couldn’t impact the game as they would have liked.

For more, here are the biggest observations from this game:

1. Superstars shine in high-scoring 1st Q duel

Lakers have had great 1st quarters in these 2020 playoffs, averaging a league-best 31.2 points. Nothing changed in this one as they raced to 36 points on 13-of-22 (59.1%) shooting from the field.

Rajon Rondo and Los Angeles’ two All-NBA players in LeBron and AD had their hands all over this period, scoring or assisting on 31 of the team’s 36 points in the first quarter. AD led the way with 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists.

But the young Nuggets were right up there with the Lakers. Courtesy of Jamal Murray’s buzzer-beating three, the Nuggets took a 38-36 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.

Denver’s two superstars in Murray and Jokic (11 points, three rebounds, two assists) were responsible for 32 of the team’s 38 points in the period as the team shot 14-of-22 (63.6%) from the field in a quarter that saw four lead changes and six ties.

The rest of the game saw just one lead change and tie.

2. Lakers’ huge 2nd quarter

Los Angeles jumped to a 70-59 halftime lead on the back of a huge second quarter. The experienced squad outscored the Nuggets 34-21 including a 20-3 over the first 5:52 minutes of the second quarter.

James was responsible for scoring 10 of those points including a couple of thunderous slams.

During the run, Lakers shot 7-8 from the field while restricting the Nuggets to just the one field goal and forcing them into six turnovers.

3. Dwight Howard BIG early impact

After playing just 15 minutes in five games in the Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets including three DNPs, 16-year veteran Dwight Howard didn’t take long in this one to remind how impactful and valuable he is as part of the Lakers’ second unit.

In just seven minutes, all in the second quarter, he had five points (all FTs), two rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.

4. Nuggets early foul trouble

Part of Denver’s troubles in the second quarter was their key players battling foul trouble.

Jokic picked up his third foul with 7:22 left in the half and sat out the rest of the period. Jamal Murray, fresh of scoring six straight points after he was called for his third foul, had to be pulled with 3:53 left in the second quarter because he picked up his fourth foul.

Veteran Paul Millsap, having played just 5:29 minutes in the period, picked up his third with 3:19 left and he sat out the rest of the way.

Despite the double-digit halftime deficit, Denver should actually be credited to hang around despite all the foul trouble. They were down by 13 when Jokic went to the bench to not return and at the end of the period, they trailed by 11.

5. Howard gets the 2nd half start

His energetic second quarter earned Howard the second half start over JaVale McGee and he made an immediate impact, dunking home this alley-oop early:

In the third quarter, Howard made his presence felt once again finishing with eight points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting and a +7 in 9:28 minutes.

6. Lakers late 3rd quarter charge

Both teams were trading buckets for much of the early portion of the third quarter. However, over the final 6:07 of the period, the Lakers went on a 25-12 that opened up this game and gave the Lakers a 24-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

During the run, with consecutive dimes to AD, Rondo tied and then passed Michael Jordan for 10th on the all-time playoff career assists leaderboard. He finished with seven points, nine assists, and zero turnovers in his 22 minutes on the floor.

In the closing seconds of the quarter, Jokic picked up his fifth foul and given the scoreline at that point, he never checked back into the game.

7. Can MPJ carry 4th Q form to Game 2?

The game was already out of hand before the final quarter began as much of the period was played with the team’s second units.

For the Lakers, JR Smith passed Kobe Bryant for ninth all-time on the leaderboard for most career 3s made in the playoffs.

More importantly, the period saw Michael Porter Jr. getting some key minutes. After finishing with just four points (1-6 FGs) in 16 minutes through the first three quarters, the rookie seemed to get into some rhythm in the final period.

He scored 10 (2-3 FGs; 5-6 FTs) of his 14 points in the final period and eventually, also finished with 10 rebounds and four assists for the game. Can he carry this late-game rhythm into Game 2 to provide the Nuggets with an additional option?

8. Up Next

Just like 2009, the previous conference finals matchup between the Lakers and Nuggets, Los Angeles has taken the 1-0 series lead. How will Game 2 go?

It’s scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 20th at 7:30 PM ET.

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