Connect with us


Marner, ‘dumbfounded’ Maple Leafs salvage highest-scoring win since ’80s –



“Welcome to the 1980s!” Sportsnet play-by-play czar Chris Cuthbert said during a third period that should’ve forced TV viewers to adjust their antennae. Or duck outside and check their driveway for a DeLorean.

Because what in the name of Miroslav Frycer were they watching?

The final score was 10-7.

And, no, neither the Detroit Lions nor the Toronto Argonauts were playing.

Same goes for the four goalies involved, three of whom were pulled due to performance.

“Wild game, completely,” Mitch Marner said.

“I’ve never played in a game like that,” Auston Matthews said. “I don’t really have words for that third.”

The Toronto Maple Leafs led the Detroit Red Wings 7-2 after 40 minutes on Saturday.

In a night terror disguised as reality, the Leafs saw that goose-down cushion flatten to 7-6, then 8-7, before they pulled Jack Campbell, burned their timeout, and beared down.

“Dumbfounded” is how coach Sheldon Keefe described his bench.

“Hockey’s a funny game,” Michael Bunting said. “It wasn’t that fun to be a part of because we were getting scored on, and then it was fun again. It was up and down emotions.”

Key rush goals from depth wingers Ilya Mikheyev and Ondrej Kase (shorthanded) righted the ship and stunted a crowd-charged comeback.

“Adversity comes in different forms,” Keefe said. “When push came to shove, our team rose up.”

So, the Leafs sigh relief and jet out of Motown on the happy side of the franchise’s highest-scoring game since the Leafs defeated the Edmonton Oilers 11-9 on Jan. 8, 1986.

Frycer — Petr Mrazek’s first agent — snapped four goals for Toronto that night. Wayne Gretzky ripped a hat trick and posted six points.

In Saturday’s throwback, it was Marner hitting the Wings with four goals and six points, while the hottest trio in hockey, Bunting–Matthews–Marner, combined for a ridiculous six goals and 15 points.

“That line was outstanding today,” Keefe praised.

Marner gets his trick

On 14 occasions in his six seasons, Marner has scored twice in a single game. But not until Saturday has he triggered the caps to rain.

Well, Marner did so in style Saturday, scoring a natural hat trick in a span of eight minutes and 46 seconds during a dominant second period.

“It was pretty cool. I won’t lie,” Marner said.

Marner hit ’em with the four to cap off the night, thanks to a very Marner-esque setup by Bunting.

Can’t buy a save

All four goalies appeared in Saturday’s shootout, Detroit’s Alex Nedeljkovic twice.

Here are their save percentages: .800, .760, .750, .714.

Pretty, it was not.

Keefe started the suddenly shaky Campbell, in part, because he wanted to give him a game in his home state of Michigan.

But Campbell was so out of sorts to start the third period — allowing four goals in a five-minute span — that he was yanked with a lead.

Although the coach knew he was putting Mrazek in “a horrible spot,” throwing him in cold and late as the Wings stormed, he also couldn’t stand there and let Campbell’s confidence crumble. Or two points slip away.

The goaltending is a growing issue in Toronto.

One must believe Mrazek starts Monday in Washington, right?

Is Robertson being showcased?

“Time flies,” said Nick Robertson as he conducted his Detroit pre-game media availability inside the dressing room of the Little Caesars AAA club, his alma mater.

Robertson — also a former Toronto Red Wing in his minor hockey travels — found himself back in a familiar town facing some familiar colours.

“It’s kind of surreal. It kind of brings you back,” Robertson went on. “I was proud to wear these colours, and now I’m here playing for the Leafs.”

The 20-year-old was stuck in snowy traffic Friday, expecting a trip to Rochester with the AHL Marlies when he received a call from GM Kyle Dubas. The highly touted and often injured prospect was getting called up to the Show.

Pleased with his progression since returning from October’s broken leg but believing he needs more reps to reach his “absolute best,” Dubas’s call took the winger by surprise.

Unlike the 2020 playoff bubble and his six appearances in the Canadian Division, this time Robertson would be performing for fans.

“I’m just excited,” he said. “To be in a familiar area like Michigan, because I grew up here, it’s nice to have some family friends come out for the game.”

With Pierre Engvall sidelined due to illness, Robertson skated 9:19 on the fourth line, nearly scoring on a wraparound attempt, registering three shots with a minus-1 rating, and taking a boarding penalty.

An NHL-level left wing, Kyle Clifford, was already on the Leafs roster. So, was Robertson being rewarded for his determined play on the farm? Or is he being showcased a few weeks out from the trade deadline?

“Anything’s possible,” Robertson told The Athletic’s Joshua Kloke of the March 21 trade deadline. “I’ve got to prepare myself and showcase myself out there for any possibilities.”

“I’ve seen guys get traded out of nowhere, and they thought they were going to be somewhere forever. Like I said, I want to play as well as possible. And after the deadline, if I’m here, I’m here. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Keefe says the Leafs will take it a day at a time with Robertson: “We want to give him some more experience and an opportunity to grow.”

Bunting refuses to change his game

Bunting says he won’t alter his greasy, in-your-grill, crawl-under-your-skin style of play despite his recent $2,000 fine for embellishment.

He vows to continue to crash the crease, stare down opponents, and absorb their hacks and whacks.

“I’m willing to put the body on the line,” Bunting said. “If I get cross-checked and taken down, it’s a power play for the team.

“That gritty style—I don’t shy away from that,” he went on. “It gets me into the game. It kinda wakes me up. So, I don’t mind it.”

Keefe shrugged off the ding for diving. Because the emotional Bunting is always in the thick of the action, officials are paying attention.

“The big thing with Bunts is that he’s an absolute competitor,” Keefe said. “Because he’s involved in everything, he’s usually the most hated guy on the ice.”

When Toronto visited Detroit last month, Bunting registered a hat trick. Matthews teased his winger, asking if he’d be eating the same pre-game meal. Bunting conceded he probably would. Chicken and pasta. Typical.

The food fueled Bunting’s five-point showing and a climb up the Calder Trophy power rankings.

He co-leads all rookies in goals (18) and now ranks second in points (40).

Hey! Detroit has a couple of Calder candidates, too

Some nice insight into the Red Wings’ stud freshmen by teammate Sam Gagner on Spittin’ Chiclets this week.

Gagner on Mortiz Seider: “He has great hockey IQ. He’s one of those guys who isn’t afraid of the moment — ever. If you saw a clip earlier in the year, after a whistle, he just takes the puck from [Victor] Hedman and is just toying with him. It’s situations like that that he’s just not scared of the moment, which is awesome. I imagine in playoff hockey he’s going to be an absolute beast.”

[embedded content]

Gagner on Lucas Raymond, who enjoyed a three-point Saturday: “He controls the game like a Mitch Marner would. Everything kind of goes through him. The puck’s on his stick all the time. He makes a ton of great plays. He’s got amazing hockey IQ. And he’s one of those guys who just keeps getting better as the year goes on. It’s been awesome. Both those kids, they’re great kids, too. They want to get better. So, it’s been a lot of fun.”

One-Timers: Jake Muzzin (concussion) was spotted around the Maple Leafs practice facility Friday, which is a positive sign. If he’s healthy before season’s end, he’ll play…. John Tavares did not get a point Saturday, extending his goal drought to 12 games, his longest since 2011-12…. Justin Holl had himself a three-assist, plus-3 night, a fine response after consecutive healthy scratches…. Ilya Lyubushkin registered his first point as a Leaf.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Oilers score four unanswered, even series with Game 2 win over Flames – TSN



CALGARY — Zach Hyman scored the winning goal shorthanded for the Edmonton Oilers in Friday’s 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames to even their playoff series at one victory apiece.

Edmonton captain Connor McDavid‘s goal and assist Friday made him the fastest active player to reach 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in a single post-season, and fastest among any player since Mario Lemieux in 1992.

Leon Draisaitl and defenceman Duncan Keith each had a goal and two assists and Evan Bouchard also scored for Edmonton.

After he was pulled early in Game 1, Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 37 saves for the win and assisted on Draisaitl’s insurance goal.

Michael Stone, Brett Ritchie and Tyler Toffoli scored for Calgary, which led 3-1 midway through the second period.

Johnny Gaudreau had two assists. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped 35 shots in the loss.

The best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal heads to Edmonton’s Rogers Place for Sunday’s Game 3 and Tuesday’s Game 4. The Oilers went 18-4-2 at Rogers Place over their final 24 games of the regular season.

Calgary (50-21-11) topped the Pacific Division ahead of runner-up Edmonton (49-27-6) in the regular season. The Alberta rivals are squaring off in the playoffs for a sixth time, but the first since 1991.

One of the NHL’s top teams five-on-five, the Flames were shorthanded for almost 11 minutes Friday. Edmonton scored its first power-play goal of the series midway through the second period to send the game into the third deadlocked 3-3.

Hyman turned Calgary’s offensive-zone turnover into a breakaway. He scored the shorthanded, go-head goal going upstairs on Markstrom at 10:14.

Smith head-manned the puck to Draisaitl for another breakaway just over two minutes later. The forward, who is playing through a lower-body injury, put the puck off the post and in on Markstrom’s stick side at 12:36.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins penalized for slashing at 16:48, the Flames couldn’t convert a power play into a goal. Calgary went 1-for-5 with a man advantage in the game, while the Oilers were 1-for-6.

Two broken Oiler sticks contributed to a pair of Flames goals in the first two periods. Defenceman Darnell Nurse was hampered down low without his in the second period and didn’t manage an exchange with a forward.

Gaudreau threaded a pass to the front of the crease for Elias Lindholm to flip to Toffoli, who scored a power-play goal at 2:04 for a 3-1 Calgary lead.

Draisaitl’s goal at 2:31 of the second was waived off. Flames head coach Darryl Sutter successfully challenged goaltender interference by McDavid.

But McDavid struck seconds later to draw Edmonton within a goal. He rolled off Calgary defenceman Nikita Zadorov into open ice, took a pass from Keith and stickhandled the puck by Markstrom’s outstretched pad at 3:05.

Bouchard pulled the Oilers even at 15:03 during Stone’s double minor for high-sticking. The defenceman wired a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle upstairs on Markstrom.

After setting the record for the fastest two goals to start a playoff game in the series opener with a pair within 51 seconds, Calgary struck early again, 63 seconds after puck drop.

Edmonton, and Smith, recovered faster than in Game 1, however. The Oilers carried offensive zone time and had more chances from the slot than Calgary in the first period.

Hyman celebrated an Oilers goal with just over four minutes left in the opening period, but officials waived it off. The whistle blew before the puck crossed the goal-line in a crease scramble. The Flames took a 2-1 lead into the second.

Keith halved the deficit at 13:45 of the first . McDavid circling out from behind the net held off Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson with one arm and held the puck on his stick with the other.

Edmonton’s captain shovelled a one-handed pass to Keith, who beat Markstrom far side.

The hosts led 2-0 at 6:02 when Smith bobbled an Erik Gudbranson shot. Ritichie pounced on the loose puck in the crease and put a backhand by the Oilers’ goalie.

Hyman broke his stick and wasn’t able to retrieve another from the bench before Stone’s slapshot from the point beat Smith bottom corner glove side at 1:03.

The Flames were minus top shutdown defenceman Chris Tanev for a third straight game. He was injured in Game 6 of Calgary’s first-round series against Dallas. Tanev skated in practice this week, but hasn’t dressed for games.

Notes: Gaudreau extended his playoff point streak to seven consecutive games (two goals, 10 assists) and tied Lanny McDonald (1984) for the fifth-longest in Flames history . . . McDavid stretched his playoff multi-point streak to five straight games. The only other players in NHL history with a run of five or more multi-point games were Wayne Gretzky (1983), Tony Currie (1981), Darryl Sittler (1977), Evgeni Malkin (2009) and Dale Hawerchuk (1993) . . . Keith became the oldest Oiler to score a playoff goal at 38 years, 308 days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2022.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


How the internet has changed the sporting world



The internet has slowly changed how people participate in sports. One of the areas that were greatly influenced was virtual games. While there was a time one needed to get a PlayStation or Xbox, this has changed over time. Most players simply go online and get to play on their phones or computers. As such online games have become more popular over the years.

Perhaps one of the leading games to thrive has got to be online betting. If you want to find out more about bet365 sportsbook Canada, you can get all that information on the internet. It has made it easier for more people to join the online gaming space and become active members there.

Fans have also changed how they consume their sporting activities. Before the internet era, one needed to go to the stadium to watch a live game. The only other option aside from living sports was watching it on television or listening to the radio. With the internet, live games keep being aired daily.

As long as you have the internet on your phone or device, you can access games from any part of the world and watch them live.

You can also save the game and watch it later if you want to analyze it. It has led to an increase in the fan base since so many more people can watch the sports. It has also helped those who want to place bets on certain games to do it without an issue.

The introduction of virtual games has led to the international online tournament being arranged. While other sports need most people to travel from one place to another, this is no longer the case.

Fans from around the world gather and participate in different games without traveling. It has led to a rise of online players with their community and laws over them. The online gaming community has come together in the past and done things for strangers they have never met.

While there is some good in the online space, there is also negativity that comes from it. The anonymity the online space gives its people has made it easier for most people to judge others without fear of repercussions.

There have been cases where players have been bullied so much that they quit a sport. There has also been a situation where teams have lost sponsorships because online fans boycotted the matches. Whether these fans were on the right or not, it shows how much reach the online space has.

More sports companies hire PR teams to ensure that whatever happens in a game or with their players is taken care of. That way, the game’s credibility is maintained, and more fans can keep streaming in. Most players have also learned to be more cautious of how they carry around their fans lest they get painted in a bad light.

Running a sports academy has been made easier with the internet of things connecting so many tools. Managers simply need to put the right system in place, and they can monitor how their business is running.

With the touch of a button, staff gets paid, and invoices are made. New players can also sign up for these programs. It ensures that sports academies can run without hassle.

The internet has transformed how we look at things, and the sports areas are not different from all these changes. Soon all fans and players will have to be on these platforms. It is the only way to connect and offer whatever support one is giving a team or a sport.


Continue Reading


Hockey’s Battle Of Alberta Is Back



The path to the Stanley Cup is going through one of hockey’s signature rivalries this spring, with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers squaring off in the NHL’s Western Conference semifinals. (The Flames took Game 1 in a wild 9-6 shootout on Wednesday night; Game 2 is Friday night in Calgary.) Not only will the series determine who carries the banner for all of Canada in hopes of ending its painful 29-year Cup drought,<a class=”espn-footnote-link” data-footnote-id=”1″ href=”″ data-footnote-content=”

Before the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, Edmonton and Calgary were the second- and third-most recent Canadian teams to win it all (in 1990 and 1989, respectively).

“>1 but it represents a fierce clash between provincial neighbors with almost as much history, and hostility, on the ice as off.

So with the help of our Elo ratings, let’s take a tour through the history of the rivalry, tracing the rise and fall — and rise again — of Western Canada’s most bitter foes.

Though the two franchises started out at the same time, they took very different paths to what would eventually become an iconic rivalry. The Oilers first played in 1972 as a charter member of the upstart World Hockey Association and were known at the time as the Alberta Oilers, under an early plan (which never materialized) to split home games between Edmonton and Calgary.<a class=”espn-footnote-link” data-footnote-id=”2″ href=”″ data-footnote-content=”

After the WHA’s initial Calgary franchise (the Broncos) ran into funding problems and moved to Cleveland before playing a single game in Alberta.

“>2 Rooting itself explicitly in Edmonton — and changing to a more familiar name — starting in 1973, the team still found little success in the WHA … until it bought the rights to a skinny 17-year-old prospect named Wayne Gretzky. With Gretzky leading the way as a rookie in 1978-79, Edmonton nearly won the WHA’s last Avco Cup title, and his Oilers were absorbed into the NHL when the leagues merged in 1979.

Meanwhile, the Flames were born in 1972 as well, beginning their NHL life in the unconventional hockey market of Atlanta. Though largely forgotten now, the Atlanta Flames had some pretty good seasons in the mid-to-late 1970s — and in a certain sense, they can be seen as an early audition for the NHL’s later, more successful forays into the American South. But when financial losses mounted for Flames ownership in 1980, the team was sold to Canadian investors and moved northwest. Thus it came to be that the NHL had two Alberta-based franchises, destined to battle across the deep cultural divide that has always separated Edmontonians from Calgarians.

The conflict was fierce from the start, with one of the most penalty-filled games in the history of the rivalry taking place in just the second Edmonton-Calgary game ever. The teams avoided playoff confrontation early in their time as neighbors — until 1983 and 1984, that is, as the Oilers eliminated the Flames en route to the Stanley Cup final both years. (Game 7 of the 1984 division finals was a particularly wild affair, with Calgary taking a 4-3 lead midway through before Edmonton scored four unanswered goals to advance — a stepping stone on the path to the Oilers’ first Cup.) While the two teams had been on the same level in Elo at the beginning of the 1980s, the emergence of Gretzky and Edmonton’s high-scoring offense gave the Oilers a dynasty — and a clear edge in the Battle of Alberta by the middle of the decade.

But things got more competitive as the Flames began building a strong talent base of their own. Calgary improved from minus-3 in goal differential in 1984 to plus-61 in 1985 on the strength of the NHL’s second-best offense, trailing only Edmonton. And when the two teams matched up again in the playoffs in 1986, Oilers defenseman Steve Smith scored an infamous own-goal in Game 7 — accidentally banking the puck off netminder Grant Fuhr’s skate on a pass from behind the net — providing Calgary the margin to finally beat their rivals in the division finals. (The Flames would go on to lose to Montreal in an all-Canadian Cup final.)

That was a rare miscue for Edmonton: It marked the only time from 1984 through 1988 that the Oilers didn’t win the Cup. As much as Calgary improved over the course of the ’80s, Edmonton usually was a step ahead; even when the Flames finished a franchise-best No. 2 in Elo in 1987-88, the Oilers were No. 1. But Gretzky’s shocking departure for Los Angeles in August 1988 changed the rivalry — and the Flames seized on the opportunity to surpass their rivals, closing out the decade with the franchise’s first (and, for now, only) Stanley Cup triumph.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Oilers bounced back from their post-Gretzky downturn to begin the 1990s, capitalizing on their former captain’s own first-round win (with the L.A. Kings) over Calgary to then sweep Los Angeles in the following round and ultimately win yet another Cup. For those counting, that meant either Edmonton or Calgary had won four consecutive championships and six of the previous seven. The Battle of Alberta was effectively the battle to control the entire NHL.

But little did the teams know that would be the last Cup for either franchise in three decades and counting. As the economics of the NHL shifted during the 1990s to favor higher-payroll teams — and, relatedly, the American dollar — the Flames and Oilers fell behind. From 1992-93 through 2002-03, the teams combined to win only two playoff series: Edmonton’s pair of improbable seven-game victories over No. 2 seeds in 1997 (the Dallas Stars) and 1998 (the Colorado Avalanche). But while Oilers goalie Curtis “Cujo” Joseph was brilliant in both upsets, the decade as a whole was a time of decline and mediocrity in Alberta.

That trend carried over into the 2000s at first, reaching its nadir when neither team made the playoffs at all in 2001-02 — the first time that was true in the rivalry’s history. But each franchise was due for a moment of excitement, however brief.

The Flames had their turn first, improving by nearly 20 points in the standings under former (and, incidentally, current) coach Darryl Sutter in 2003-04. Hall of Fame winger Jarome Iginla finally had the goaltending help — in the form of Miikka Kiprusoff — to power a deep postseason run, and Calgary even held a 3-2 lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Cup final before losing a double-OT heartbreaker at home in Game 6 and another tight contest in Game 7.

After a lockout torpedoed the entire 2004-05 season — and radically changed the economics of the league yet again — Edmonton went on a run of its own behind the standout play of defenseman Chris Pronger and journeyman goalie Dwayne Roloson (a former Flame!). Falling behind three-games-to-one against the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup final, the Oilers rallied to force a Game 7, though they lost on the road to match their rivals’ fate from two years earlier.

The Battle of Alberta had seen both of its competitors come close to winning championships in the mid-2000s. But instead of serving as the prelude to another era of 1980s-style dominance, those Cup final runs were mostly a mirage. Edmonton would miss each of the next 10 postseasons, and Calgary failed to muster another series win for nearly as long.

Which brings us to the current era of the rivalry. The Flames have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league since the mid-2010s, bouncing between decent seasons and bad ones across multiple coaches and an influx of younger talent such as Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm. The Oilers spent most of the 2010s squandering draft picks, making horrible transactions or generally wasting their chances to build around the once-in-a-generation talent of Connor McDavid.

And yet, both franchises have been on the rise recently. Calgary was one of the NHL’s best teams throughout the 2021-22 regular season, with a deep roster, plenty of star power and a rock-solid goalie in Jacob Markstrom. Edmonton received its typical 1-2 superstar punch from McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but the Oilers also finished the regular season as the best stretch-run team in the league according to Elo. Along those lines, both clubs were among the top three in goal differential over the second half of the schedule. These teams were in good form for their first playoff meeting since 1991, despite both requiring seven games to dispatch lower-seeded opponents in Round 1, and that showed with 15 total goals in Game 1.

After Calgary’s win, our model gives the Flames a 69 percent chance of winning the series and moving on to the Western Conference final. But if the history between these teams is any indication, anything can happen from here on out. In many ways, this series has been decades in the making — and not just because of the cartoonish, 1980s-style scoreline of the opener. While Alberta is no longer the center of the hockey universe it once was, the path to the Stanley Cup will still run through the province. And that means this rivalry is officially back as one of hockey’s best.

Source link

Continue Reading